31 May 2005


Kids home on half term hols. Its peaceful (which is really abnormal), I'm making lists of things to do (completely and utterly abnormal) and I'm doing them! Aaaargh! Whats going on? MY KITCHEN FLOOR IS MOPPED for crying out loud, it's the TWILIGHT ZONE!

Kittens and pearls, butterfly cakes, I'm a little teapot, shiny sink... hic durr blurble

30 May 2005

The Writers' And Artists' Year Book acknowledges Blogger.com

The 2005 copy of the Writers' & Artists' Yearbook is nearly out, which means that local libraries are beginning to remove the 2004 version from their reference sections and reclassify them for lending. I never realised, but it's published by A & C Black (site down at time of posting), the people who do Who's Who.

This means that in my house right now is the 2004 copy, mine for four weeks. All that has done is convince me how much I need to buy a copy and how much I don't know.

What do you think would be in that book? A long list of publishers, so you can rush off your manuscript in the wrong format and have it summarily binned without a reply? Yes and no.

The list is there (I mean lists - newspaper, magazine, book, script etc, all types separated) but half of the tome is made up of individual chapters on the whole process, hints and tips, explanations of proofing marks, law; the works. I never knew why some jokingly refer to it as a bible, but I do now.

GUESS WHAT! In their comprehensive list of websites for writers, there, under Storyware, is Blogger.com. Somehow that makes me feel as if I am on the right track, just running a blog with this provider. Okay so maybe I'm on the first paving stone of a 100 mile long 'right track' and maybe I'll never get any further; but I'm on it.

Speaking of getting further, someone who should is Cooper King ( a pen name, I think.)

He has been published, (one of his works made it into the BBC Get Writing Anthology) but doesn't have the recognition his wonderful, haunting, addictive short stories deserve. If you want to be led, trance like, through a slice of someone else's world, hooked from start to end and coming out going "Wow" like you've been on a fairground ride, his site, Cooper King's Tall Tales is it.

I don't think he advertises or belongs to any sort of clickthrough, so his site is a little gem, a secret and a real find. Go read and bookmark (and link!), so you can say you knew him before he ended up being feted on the telly.

29 May 2005

Power Lesbians?

That's ones with a cable instead of batteries then, yes?

I have been vegging out with the family today. Tonight theres a programme on Sky called Power Lesbians, and I really wanted to watch it to see if it had something to say, or was just a gimmicky piece from the male perspective that only women not thralled by the penis can actually achieve something in life.

I was half right, its presented by Rebecca Loos, which says it all - she is bisexual (it says in the programme blurb here) but has recently been feted for reaching the public eye on the coat tails of somebody else's fame. Somebody male, of course. Her time on Channel 5's The Farm included an infamous event that I am grateful to say I missed.

I still would have watched Power Lesbians, but it was more than Gary could stand to contemplate and he has turned over to Channel 4 Big Brother, which annoys me just as much. I refuse to watch this year. It seems that they were so pleased with the ratings regarding Kitten, who had a somewhat confused and uncomfortable time in last year's house, that they have gone out of their way to pick very very young people (= insecurity and tears) who profess to various fringe lifestyles and beliefs. Half the group is instantly dislikeable or pitiable (at least in the light they have been cast in.) And the rest? I havent spotted any 'rest', so I gave up.

Its one thing to put ordinary people into difficult situations and watch the fun, but this seems really contrived this year, its become about mockery, it seems.

Guess I'm going to stay on the comp and play cards.

28 May 2005

20 Reasons Why A Girl Should Call It A Night

This isn't my own creation, but an anonymous piece I received ages ago in one of those perpetual emails. My brain hurts, durr - I think it's got something to do with a long Bank Holiday weekend at the wrong end of the month - hyper kids, grumpy husband and me in the middle. So you get this instead. Maybe the choice has something to do with wishful thinking:

20 Reasons why a Girl should call it a night

1. You have absolutely no idea where your bag is.
2. You truly believe that dancing with your arms overhead and wiggling your bottom while yelling "She Bangs She Bangs" is truly the hottest dance move around!!!
3. You've suddenly decided that you want to fight someone and you honestly believe that you could do it too.
4. In your last trip to the toilet you
realise you now look more like Lily Savage than the goddess you were just four hours ago.
5. You drop your 3:00 a.m. kebab on the floor, pick it up and carry on eating it.
6. You start crying and telling everyone you see that you love them sooooo much.
7. There are less than three hours before you're due to start work.
8. You've found a deeper/spiritual side to the geek sitting next to you.
9. The man you're flirting with used to be your biology teacher.
10. The urge to take off articles of clothing, stand on a table and sing or dance becomes strangely overwhelming.
11. Your eyes just don't seem to want to stay open on their own so you decide to keep them half closed and think it looks exotic.
12. You seem to think that it's a really good idea to get your mates to push you down the street in a shopping trolley.
13. You yell at the bartender, who (you think) cheated you by giving you just lemonade, but that's just because you can no longer taste the vodka.
14. You think you're in bed, but the pillow feels strangely like the kitchen floor.
15. You start every conversation with a booming, "DON'T take this the WRONG WAY but..."
16. You fail to notice that the toilet lid's down when you sit on it.
17. Your hugs begin to resemble wrestling take-down moves.
18. You're soooo tired you just sit on the floor (wherever you happen to be standing)
19. You begin leaving the buttons open on your button-fly pants to cut down on the time you're in the bathroom away from your drink.
20. You take your shoes off because you really believe it's their fault that you're having problems walking straight.


27 May 2005


There are some albums and videos (yeah, you know, the original stuff, aka vinyl and tape) that become secret loves, that always bring a smile to the face, but never, under pain of death, an admission of approval to the lips.

Admitting, for example, to still liking one or two numbers by Mud or Showaddywaddy could be expected to go down like a concrete boot in the Hudson, wherever or whenever you blurted that out. If you have read some of my earlier posts, its pretty clear, I think, that biological functions don't phase me in the slightest, but owning up to a corny secret liking for some equally corny old music is making me squeamish and taking real guts, I promise.

I have to admit that Mud's version of the Buddy Holly song, Oh Boy, formed a seminal part of my development (influential, not spunky.) My dad was a radio four fan and 'owned' the radio, so I was never really concentrated on 'pop' like some girls and at fourteen years old back in 1975 I was also an academic type, aka late developer, so that track was one of the first that had me hankering for an album, or a copy of Disco 45 for the lyrics. The era was great, really, I mean I got all the overly passionate genius nerds when I did finally wake up, instead of the gum chewing bad boys.

Backtrack - maybe not so great, I was tired of being romanced by tomorrow's leaders in the end, and had a disastrous first marriage after falling for something inappropriate with a streetwise twinkle in its eye. Good grief, I never thought of that match as a rebound thing, before. Wow. Let's not go there, in any case I touched on that age in an earlier post, although I admit I still have a penchant for 'nerds' - guitar players (notch it up to 12 strings and you're it!), roadies, electricians and anyone really with long fingers with no curve at all to the tips. Have a look, all the guys with hands like that are into IT or piano playing or somesuch 'deep thought' profession. Oddly its one of the last things I notice, it just happens to be a recurring similarity.

I'm doing really well today, huh - half a dozen tangents in half as many paragraphs, so back to the point. Hic, durr, blurble.

I started this post and the remeniscences about Mud (I switched allegience briefly for the lead singer in Showaddy but then got swept off on the Bay City Roller thing), ahem - I started that as a short (haha! yeah right) preamble to admitting I like the equally ancient and kitsch George Hamilton movie, Love At First Bite.

The reason that particular work came to mind was because my husband is home today. I had visions of cramming every romantic or messy entanglement possible into the few hours before picking the kids up from school. He, however, announced he was walking to town to go to the bank. "Oh well" thinks I, ever the optimist, "I have time to do a post on my blog, just a quicky". My sarcastic side, however, was still staring at my lost plans for a romp, and thats where George came in with the one really memorable catchphrase from that movie.

"Never a qvicky, always a longy"

Yeah right George, good for you mate. Huh.

26 May 2005

The 7:56 To Paddington

Worked this up as a story, so the fact that it's true is by-the-by.

He jumped in front of the train, you know; the fast one, the intercity that sweeps through on the farthest platform, zooming from Slough to London. It kept going.

So there we were, my mother and I, we'd bought my ticket (she had a season), descended the stairs and by the time we reached the bottom, all the doors were shut. No-man's time, we landed in, missing both event and consequence, simply trailing merrily down the steps at eight o'clock on a balmy summer morning.

Mum saw first, and turned to march me back upstairs. Tormented by the awful view into another backward glance she saw what I had so completely missed, a little, old lady rooted to the spot, shivering on platform two in disbelief and shock.

So I was parked, half way up and half way down in no-mans land, as mother drew a deep, cold breath, steeled herself and strode back down, confidence and purpose beaming from her very soul, though God alone knows where they came from. Gently but firmly she took the lady by the arm, escorted her to the nearest bench which faced in the other direction, and the two of them sat, making small talk; hobbies, the weather; anything but.

I'd like to say that at twelve years old I braved my first good sight of a corpse. It isn't true. He doesn't really count, not when his legs were nowhere to be seen, and only one of his arms was there, still dressed in sleeve and cuff and lying on the platform 100 yards beyond my mum. His head, like a football, had come to rest, relatively undamaged, even further up the line.

His torso, well, it haunts me still, if haunted is the word. I don't recall the clothing (though I know that it was dressed), for shock descended, took me to that consecrated plane where feelings flee and silence reigns. Time stands still and every detail sharpens. Such focus, such a reverential peace surrounding fact. And my fact? He looked just like something at the butcher's shop. We are meat, and he was not there. His soul, his essence was as far from his carcass as any could fly and what remained was nothing more than fodder for the soil.

Mother came and fetched me before our train arrived, apologised and asked me please to sit beside her present charge, who still could not find her legs to exit from the scene. I was fine with that, happy to do as I was asked, no pain, no fear, until, once there, I saw. Not more corpse, for that held no fear for me, but up above us, on the railway bridge, an ever growing crowd of so-called people. No reverence there, but gossip, chatter, fingers pointing, even a camera. The reason why the gates get locked.

These days I forgive them; something so awful, so far against the proper way of things will have its dreadful fascination. Within us all there is unspoken truth, that this is not the way it ought to be, and how we deal with shock is just as individual as the way we rush headlong to face it is so universally irresistible. Then however, I was wrapt in peace, the platform was the holiest church of reverence and prayer and they destroyed it, chattering like monkeys as they were. My arms most certainly held the strength to batter each and every one to silence, though my legs did not. Useless they were, and quite determined not to move an inch.

When finally our train arrived, I don't remember how we got on board, or how it started to serenely move away. The tunnel displayed some mystic healing force and once beyond it, then our surroundings seemed fresh, back to normal like another world, and we were free to talk.

The strangest thing, poor mum, I felt detached and therefore rested, whereas she, it seemed, had left me at the bench because the Station Master, new to the job, was trying to carry on in tears. She knew him; normally without me she chatted to him every day, had even celebrated his promotion just a month before.

The entire journey, then, was her turn to release, to accept as I had done already, so she addressed me, after praising how I coped, with tales and intricate details of 'the poor dear man'. He'd been thoroughly sick, hadn't even had breakfast, so she bought him crisps and a hot sweet tea from the station machines, sat and fed him, forced him by her company to weigh his stomach down. Tormented now and wracked with guilt, he'd chatted with the man who died, yet noticed nothing wrong, excused himself a minute, nothing more, to tend his daily tasks and in that time his company had purposefully leapt beneath the train. His mind so racing, now the Station Master worried for his job, imagined wife and baby with no money coming in, declared himself in any case unfit to hold the post, as one unable to see thoughts of death so close behind another's eyes.

My mother is a gumboots girl, she coped by not coping, managed by managing others, and I am like that too, now. Greedy, we are, busying ourselves with others needs, and that way guaranteeing time to breathe before addressing our own souls. I am a hero, this I know, but cheat and coward is another name. Your pains are so much easier to see, to tend, than are my own. Rather yours than mine, you first.

How did I come to this? It's easy. 8 a.m. one Tuesday, years ago, I had a revelation. This body is a covering, a tool, a piece of meat, and death, death is another place entirely.

25 May 2005

God Bless, Sek Man Ng

Younger than two of my kids, at just nineteen years old, Sek Man Ng (aka Simon Ng) was a student, away from home and learning to get by on a budget, possibly for the first time ever. His parents were back in Hong Kong, but he and his big sister Sharon (Cho Man Ng) shared an apartment in New York, not too far from family; cousins in fact.

He was ill, under the weather long enough to be fed up with it, and, according to his blog, losing weight, having become used to getting by on one meal a day. The most poignant entry, for me, was made on 9th May 2005, when he commented that his sister would help him out if he asked, but that he never asked, always declined her offers, knowing that she was earning little enough money for herself.

On May 12th he had yet another ailment, probably from being run down and underfed, and missed his class at college due to a sore throat. I have to wonder whether this typical youngster would have been at home at all if it wasn't for that sore throat.

Here is his blog: ToTo247's Xanga Site. Because he was avoiding his unexpected visitor (some guy his sister had briefly dated), because he was working on an assignment, he was at the computer and had time to blog. Only because of that, the man who murdered both Sharon and Simon in a frenzied (and in Sharon's case premeditated) attack, has been caught.

The motive? Ridiculously, it was money. The guy just meant to steal enough to get himself a ticket home to Hong Kong, and things got out of hand when he realised how frugally the two were living - that there wasn't any money to be had. Having murdered the boy, he hung around even longer, to get his sister.

The story of how that day unfolded is too much to put here, but is in an article by the New York Daily News, first issued last Tuesday, 17th May 2005.

Simon, Sharon, Rest In Peace. I'm sorry it took me so long to find your story, and so very grateful that the New York police were faster than that - it took only five days for the information to be pieced together, for your killer to be arrested and the news to get out.

It really feels like 'one or ours' is gone. I finally know I see bloggers not just as a disparate mess of lifestyles and opinions, but as a community.

Its going to be an introspective kind of day.

Thanks to Philipp Lenssen at Google Blogoscoped for the story & links.

24 May 2005

A Very Nice Reply

(Postscript added - see end of blog)

John, who owns and runs Psychic World (link to my previous post, the link to his site is on that), has backtracked and found me and sent me a very polite reply.

Since I was bold enough to publish the information that the 'Psychic501.com' link is a total con (whether or not that makes Mr Sutton either culpable or remiss), the very least I can do is publish his reply.

Sent : 24 May 2005 14:50:50
To :
Subject : Mad Baggage


You kindly posted my photograph on your blogger site and made some observations about me that are basically off the mark.

1. The programme you refer to is an affiliate scheme run by a USA based company and that is how they market their services. If you look on my A-Z of The Psychic World pages you will find lots of informative links, look under intuition and follow that link if you enjoy tests.

2. You assume I make a fortune as the number one website for PSYCHIC on Google but you know nothing at all about me or my website, other than a cursory visit.

3. All of my website is free to the reader to view and it consists of hundreds of articles, features, poems, short stories etc. I work on this site on a daily basis and hope that it brings people some enlightenment and enjoyment.

4. What Derek Acorah may or may not think about my site is hardly material. I wrote his book and the publishers are offering a reduced purchase price for this title from the links on my site. So I imagine that Derek would be well pleased as he gets sent cheques every six months as royalty payments, me too.

5. If you have a look at the many articles on my site I feel certain you will understand that the creation and maintainance of this website must cost money. I am currently editing a series of filmed psychic investigations that will be free to view on the site. Each such investigation takes time and there is cost involved in travel, edit suite etc. Also this site is pretty big and hosting it is not free. So it has to pay for itself.

If all that seems unreasonable then maybe I am mistaken in thinking that a Limited Company has a duty to perform effectively. But I usually find that the feedback I do get is positive and if negative then I do my best to rectify this. The afiliate schemes methods are not my own, I have no control and they change these from time to time without reference to me.

I also read your blogger account of that thing you tried with the bunny on. That was amusing. Hope you have more luck next time.

Best wishes

John G. Sutton
John G. Sutton

Oh dear, we appear to be at crossed purposes here. The link to fraudulent claims, whoever they belong to, appears twice on the front page of the website, both times directly under Mr John Sutton's own details, in his role as Dylan. It says it's a link to Psychic501.com, which doesn't exist. It appears to be hosted on Mr Sutton's own site because clicking the link does not change the URL in the address bar.

The small print says it is copyrighted to OnlinePsychic.com, a Softec Online Inc. Company, which does appear to be American and if you are sucker enough to rush headlong into ordering a report, it starts asking you questions in dollars, not British Pounds.

THAT ISN'T the point. I was careful to reserve judgement on Mr Sutton, barring an assumption that he makes a lot of money from being the number one listing in a Google search for the word psychic. That's why all companies list on google, isn't it? I still assume that, whilst recognising, as I am so rightly reminded, that I do not know for sure.

The link is completely fraudulent and misleading, it states that you are being connected to a live reading with a person called Nancy, when you are really watching a pre-set loop. It claims belong to a URL that is not in use. It claims to be a real person, psychically establishing which card you were thinking of, in order to replace that card with another, when in fact every single card is replaced. Strangely, step two, 'hunt the sparkly thing' appears to have been cut out of the loop, at this point it now jumps directly to information on how to order, but I saved the screen prints last time I tried.

THE POINT IS that if Mr Sutton is genuine (and he may be) he does himself no favours at all by pushing this link (and I think posting it centre screen twice on his front page could be counted as pushing.) Why, if genuine, attach yourself so tightly to a misleading, fraudulent and illegal hoax?

I think my question is all the more valid now that Mr Sutton has read my blog and can no longer say it as an oversight. I don't think that needing the affiliate income is much of an excuse at all.

In my experience, there are real psychics out there, people who are genuine and who work tirelessly to help others find some peace. Then there are those who prey on the weak or the greedy, promising to alter the future, cast good luck charms, prophecy only good things etc.

It is also my experience that the first type do everything in their power to be firmly disassociated from the second, although I can glean no such intention from Mr Sutton's email. I am very worried that a person can own and manage a website, working on it every day, yet say that the affiliate scheme banners which appear on it are out of his control. Very worried indeed that any proper authority would see it that way at all, and just as worried that a reputable person could allow that to be the situation when the entire site reflects on his/her reputation.

Perhaps this is a matter for the Dept of trade and Industry? Aren't they the ones with a section for investigating internet fraud? Sadly, it probably won't be me that reports this, I have done my bit, and been noticed for it.

And yes, if the links miraculously fall off the PsychicWorld website I will be the first to shout about it - I love a happy ending.

Postscript: I Want One Of Those!

Being the nice sort I am, I finished this blog and then went to email John Sutton, to let him know. I tried twice, but his email filter is SO effective that I got bounced for using 'bad words', even when I had broken up any disparaging ones by adding ~s all over the place. No swearing, no attacks, just an email underlining my position regarding the link on his site.

Here, have a laugh:

Subject: re: re: mad baggage
Note: Message is being rejected
Reason: message contains 5+ bad words

The original message is included below. Our system has identified the message as spam / unsolicited / or unwanted. If you believe this is in error, please review the reason, listed above, and re-send your message. ********************************************
Your original message is shown below:

Second effort - bounced for bad words(?) - I can't work out which, so have added ~s in the words referencing the link on your site and any negative words used.

Dear John

Posting your photo was not meant to be kind (nor was it meant to be un~kind) but I appreciate your efforts to keep this at a pleasant level, so thank you.

It is always an in~justice when people are co~nned, moreso when they are predominantly people in need of help, and even moreso when that co~n is advertised through and lent weight by a seemingly reputable site. The fact that you are co-author of a book with Mr Acorah (one of three with your name on, I believe?) only adds to your credibility. Unfortunately, by inference, the same credibility is then granted to the link we are discussing, making the sc~am being perpetrated all the more upsetting.

I have checked with some business owner friends and some who are mediums, and believe there are strict codes of practice, and English laws, which that link breaks.

I have blogged your email. I trust that is alright with you - you did not mark it confidential. I am only out to destroy fra~uds, no-one else, and wanted my (very small) readership to see both sides.

Best wishes

23 May 2005

Yukky Cringe

EDIT: Too late! (Well I say that, but heck, a lady may change her mind! So is this better? Worse? You couldn't give a flying ffffffart?)


It's hard to think up a blog name before you have done any significant surfing. That's my excuse anyhow.

Now, with the surfeit of people whose blogs declare them to be musing or more specifically rambling, I am grossly humiliated at my choice of blog title. I would change the 'Mad Baggage' bit too, but as the only madbaggage on Google, I may have to stick with it. Or do I?

So, what to call this? Mad Baggage What? Something Else?

Anyone got any suggestions please?

(Please, please, pretty-please with sugar and a cherry on top.........)

I'm Not Built Funny!

Way back in December I blogged my opinion of Ann Summers shops selling rabbit dildos from a full height wall display, like a factory outlet (see Teeth Rattlers).

What I might have failed to mention since then is that my darling husband got the wrong end of the stick (and yes I know I could make a pun of that, but not now!) Anyhow - no prizes for guessing what I got as a secret surprise Christmas present when the kids weren't looking.

This was, until now, where it all got really embarrassing. I had absolutely no intention of treating it to a maiden voyage until the pressure was off - until Gary at very least stopped eyeing me up and wondering whether I was in seventh heaven from having had a go with the new toy yet. A week or so later I knew damn well that, whilst dissappointed (no-one likes to buy you a Christmas present that doesn't come out of the box for a fortnight, no matter what it is), Gary was still waiting for a report or at least a sign of approval or gratitude.

I have to tell you the damn thing was dissappointing to say the least (I couldn't say that to him of course, but did settle on mentioning that nothing beats the real thing. Is that tactful, or what? True, but tactful.)

The shaft might be 6 or 7 inches, but the bloody rabbit is attached two thirds of the way down. Mr bunny is also solid and fat - no give in it, he doesnt want to bend backward, so you lose another good inch of shaft because the stupid rodent is very upright, in other words the dildo part can't hit the spot for love nor money - well not unless you are, erm, smaller than average. Its also too big (the rabbit bit) and if you force the issue, i.e. the extra inch, it's silly little ears end up merrily buzzing away in thin air whilst its nose crushes parts you really dont want crushed - as much fun as a wedgy.

Just to add more to think about, the battery cover is designed to slide off with very gentle downward pressure, which, considering you have to reach just beyond your own groin, it gets, with alarming regularity, at the wrong moments. Try getting high at all when you have to keep stopping to clip things back together. I really draw the line at even trying to get friendly with a lump of jelly latex held together with sellotape.

My total and miserable failure to get it on with this so called be-all-and-end-all piece of equipment had me feeling pretty awkward, unusual, maybe even abnormal. I won't make personal comments about the kind of girls you see on late night second rate British sex advice shows, lounging across the bed in their Council house semi like landed whales, licking their lips and showing the poor cameraman all their toys. Nonetheless, when the only people you have ever seen mention these gizmos are going into raptures about them, if your own success with the damn thing is pretty hit and miss, it can be an isolating experience. Maybe I was too old, too grumpy, too picky, too frigid? There were all sorts of possibilities that crossed my mind.

Now I admit I was grumbling, privately, that Ann Summers might be the bottom end of the market. (Oi! DON'T even think it...) But, tanaa! A new girl has joined the team at the Homeworking.Com forum and she runs a very nice little website called Forbidden Delight, and they've got a special on just now, with the Jessica going for under half price at just £14.99! (Does that mean that dildos, like DVDs and all other electrical goods, gradually go down in price? I seem to remember full price being more than £30, last time I looked.)

So I asked! I found the guts from somewhere to approach a woman I don't know and ask technical questions. Anyhow, I am so chuffed to find out that I am normal, that the issue of the rabbit being too big, too upright and too high up are design faults that are inherent in most similar items and more than that, they ARE faults. Thank God for that. At least I'm not as big as the Dartford tunnel and half as sensitive, which I guess was the other option.

Really girls, with any other electrical equipment (such as might be sold to men, for example) you would expect the manufacturer to mention the measurements (in this case girth and length) of the major components, to allow for comparison shopping. Are we being conned into paying out for trial and error?

Rabbit successes? Rabbit disasters? Leave a comment!

22 May 2005

What's Your Thinking Style?

Mine seems to be based on two completely contradictory styles. Which pretty much sums me up - come up with a new way to do things, but based in methods that work. So I don't really think outside the box - just outside the box inside the box. Or something. Good 'ere, innit.

Your Dominant Thinking Style:


You thrive on the unknown and unpredictable. Novelty is your middle name.
You are a challenger. You tend to challenge common assumptions and beliefs.

An expert inventor and problem solver, you approach everything from new angles.
You show people how to question their models of the world.

Your Secondary Thinking Style:


Super logical and rational, you consider every fact available to you.
You don't make rash decisions and are rarely moved by emotion.

You prefer what's known and proven - to the new and untested.
You tend to ground those around you and add stability.


It's Sunday. It's a real family day, and having done some planting, mopped lino, changed sheets, sorted school uniform and now being 'treated' to a family movie on TV, I am buggered if I can think of anything to write.

So have a poem instead.

Oh, and shoot me if you've seen it already.


Life is too shallow, straightforward, simplistic.
We live out our moments absorbed in the mill.
This hurrying humdrum, so animalistic
Not real but surreal, like the world took a pill.

I'm living the downer, the first recognition
That something important evades my recall.
So horrible, hollow, this nagging suspicion
That life on a knife-edge is ripe for a fall.

What is it, what is it I cannot remember?
Some mind-numbing truth I am yet to be told?
The wind whistles viciously, sings of December
And suddenly life seems so terribly old.

I feel like a triplet whose siblings are dying,
Miles from my view and yet etched on my heart.
Indefinable panic, my synapses frying,
Ice-river blood, am I falling apart?


21 May 2005

Bangin' In The Bog

Reading other blogs, I followed link that took me to the Sun newspaper's online presence.

Poor Mel B (ex Spice Girl) was caught in a ladies toilet cubicle with a fella, at her own birthday party at a London Nightclub. Well if you can't get it on on your birthday, what hope is there?

It didn't say much else and I draw the line at buying the paper.

Still, the only answer I can come up with is: "And......?"

I am the first to admit I have led a boring, moral and sheltered life. One man at a time, with 'dates', even if you couldn't call it a full blown relationship, but sex in the loo is de rigeur, isn't it? Every big hotel party I have ever been to, the end cubicle has always been occupied by more than one person, it's an unspoken rule that you don't even try the door, isn't it? I've personally even nipped into a posh London pub-restaurant ten minutes before closing for a quickie in the end cubicle, back in the day. That's what the cleaner public toilets are for - for when you can't wait 'til you get home. It beats the hell out of a back alley.

The only thing I can see that should have made Mel's quick fumble (behind a locked door) anywhere near newsworthy would be if she had elected to use the gents. Now THAT would have been downright scuzzy.

By The Way - Gary is a Eurovision addict. I know, sad, isn't it. Still I can't help but hear it all from here, and I have already picked a winner. My vote (and I NEVER vote) goes to Moldova, with Grandmamma beats the drum-a. I am so seriously pleased to see that a fun item got into the final with all the wailing and crooning and jumping about.

Happy Birthay Melanie, and Go Moldova!

20 May 2005

Ever So Slightly Seething....

I looked again at my movie meme, below, and thought it would be nice to link to the favourite movies I posted. Truly, Madly, Deeply (for example) is the biggest tearjerker EVER and great for clearing out your sinuses. Forget a quiet snivel on the sofa, at the end of that one I am usually looking for suitable sackcloth and ashes and tempted to take the wailing off up the street, its all about the hard things we do for love (and there's a dead guy in this that does the hardest thing imaginable). Anyhow, it's probably not that well known being an English movie so I thought links would be good.

So, off I toddled to Google for the first on the list, Ghost. I was just realising I probably should have added a comma and followed it with something more specific such as 'Patrick Swayze' (phwoar) or 'movie', when I spotted a link to "Ghost Sites, where dead web sites live on".

This is an issue that interests me as stuff just sits there taking up space, ad infinitum. The first article, about the Dot.Com crash was really intriguing, so being the link hound that I am, I decided to test the contributor's claim that his psychic website was top of the google search listings for the word Psychic.

And now we are at the point where I got rather annoyed.

Top of the google search was a site called Psychic World, and sure enough the owner's name is John, just like the contributor at the other site. He is obviously very proud of it, and I imagine that, at the TOP position, it rakes him in quite a lot of money. On it he has at least two links on the front page to a 'free psychic reading' which briefly flashes the name 'psychics501.com' but it's still his URL once you are 'connected'.

I say connected because it claims to put you through to a live chat service, with a psychic called Nancy, and you have to hold whilst a connection is established, it says. It has been set up very well because if you sign out of that link half way through but then decide to go back in, it takes you to a different screen that explains the prices for a full reading. I got round this by signing out of Mozilla Firefox, in to Internet Explorer, and hiding my IP address. What happened then? I got exactly the same stuff all over again, from the claim to be live chat, to the exact same phrase from our friend Nancy. Not a thing had changed.

This link is a nasty, vicious little CON designed to make you think you are talking to a real person, then to think you not only have a 'strong psychic link' with them, but are actually quite psychic yourself, then to lead you on to pay money for more information about the wonderful things coming your way in the near future.

Here's my proof:


1. Go off and click the black square link to Free Psychic Reading, just under the picture and details of 'Dylan the Psychic-Clairvoyant Consultant' (who must surely be John G Sutton, the webmaster's twin???).

2. It will lead you to page one which asks you to hold for a connection and then says:

"This psychic reading is based on your ability to concentrate on a single item and my ability to "see" what item you have chosen. Once I have made a definite connection with you I will send back to the website my answer. Please be aware that I may not always get the answer correct and it is at these times that we would recommend that you come back another day for a psychic reading. If however I am correct there is a strong psychic connection between myself and you. Please follow the instructions below to continue - Nancy."

You then get a picture of five different royal playing cards, all Kings, Queens and Jacks. 'Nancy' goes on:

"Please concentrate on one card from above. Do NOT click on the card. Once you have chosen the card, please concentrate on it by closing your eyes and visualising the card in your mind. Once you have done this, click on the next button below"
3. Do NOT play along. Instead make a note of all the cards in the sequence: King Hearts, Jack Clubs, King Spades, Queen Diamonds, Queen Spades, Jack Diamonds.

4. Click the next button - you will be treated to a pair of eyes on a black screen and the information that you must wait whilst a psychic link is being forged (yeah, right).

5. Tanaa! Having done as Nancy told you (and not as I said), you will be amazed to see that the card you chose has been REMOVED FROM THE LINE UP and replaced with another royal card. The joke is that in fact every single card has been replaced. It's a CON, a trick, a sales hook for the gullible and the insecure and the desperate, and in my book those are exactly the people it is MOST WRONG to prey on.

6. The con that you are relating to a real person goes on, with congratulations and praise of your skill and starts to mention all the good things (nothing specific, just 'things') that 'Nancy' can see in your near future.

7. Click through again and you get to a test of YOUR psychic abilities. where a sparkly thingy is hidden under some plain thingies and you have to guess (ooh no sorry, use your psychic powers to "sense") where its hidden. I gave up here, I mean come on, it's going to be under every single one, isn't it.

8. I should add, if you don't want the fun but want to do this the short way, just go to the first screen with cards on and right click over it, you will have the options to Play, Loop, Rewind, Fast Forward and all the tools you can only use on pre-set sequence of screens.

John G Sutton

  • Isn't it ILLEGAL to mislead people to think they are talking to a real person? It's certainly totally immoral to con people that they have a psychic connection when there is none.

    I wonder what Derek Acorah would say about this (given that his face is plastered all over this site as an advert for his book, but at first glance it looks more like his stamp of approval). For that matter I wonder what the SNU would think of it. I may just pop along and ask them. Grrrrrr.........

    If John G Sutton is an honest man who removes this link from his site, completely, I will be the first to let you know.
  • Movie Meme

    Having praised me up, Annie has now tagged me for this movie meme.

    Here goes:

    1. Total number of films I own on DVD/Video: I had to go and count! At the moment we only have thirty four videos and twenty three DVDs, but then theres a box of old videos in the garage waiting to be junked and I'm sure I have just as many again round at my daughter's house because she snaffles them when my younger kids go over to visit.
    2. The last film I bought: would have been something 'on cheap' at Woolworth, 'Spend more than £X choose one of these fine ancient, DVDs for only £5!' I think it was Doctor Dolittle, or Casper.
    3. The last film I watched: this is tragic - embarrassing - I didnt mean to but I actually got hooked up in the movie channel yesterday daytime. Some badly acted, badly scripted B movie about a US high school footballer who donated a kidney to his granny. Still, if you want to feel crap about yourself, watching daytime movies achieves it quicker and more painlessly than picking a fight with someone.
    4. Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me: Well I never watch anything ' a lot', so these are the items I could never ever throw away, even if I havent seen them in 12 months or more: Ghost, Dirty Dancing, Truly Madly Deeply, Shirley Valentine, Educating Rita. To my mind thats every movie you could ever want for a girls night in, especially one that involved a lot of red wine. (Sigh.) One day.
    5. Tag five people and have them put this in their journal: I choose Ally, BadAunt, Cosmo-Tini, PantherGirl and PlatinumGirl.

    19 May 2005

    Blogging It Forward!

    In honour of Annie at Retrotype, I am hastily joining the 'blog it forward' day.

    Annie chose me! I am so chuffed (note to US readers, thats charmed and puffed up = proud.) Check her blog - redesigned, relocated and super smooth. She has a dry sense of humour and is annoyingly good at this - so while I'm sucking up, dear Annie, how do you fancy redesigning my blog, or at least teaching me (in-words-of-one-sy-lla-ble---durr) how you sussed all the links and pretties and technical stuff? I have such a mental block with all this. Seriously, if you didn't get here from there, pop over there from here.

    I am too dumb to work out how to snaffle the lovely 'Blog it Forward' button without giving it it's own post, but if you can get your post in while its still the 19th, then Annie has that and you can lift it from there I guess, or follow it back to it's root. Apart from Retrotype, then, (thoroughly recommended) here are a few blogs definitely worth a peep:

    Ella Michelle's 'Occasionally Glamorous Results of a Misused Youth'. EM has a dry (almost caustic) sense of humour, no airs and graces whatsoever, her feet firmly on the ground and is FUNNY. How else can I describe her? I imagine a good night out with her would involve finding some back street dive playing really good live music, shouting things like 'going to the loo' at each other over the noise, all night and walking back at gone 2am pissed as newts and singing. I don't often say that I'd like to go out and get rat faced with a woman, but this girl sounds like a daredevil. If you ever watched the old TV show Cybill, I would imagine Ella to be the perfect accomplice if you had your own Doctor Dick to see to. Muahahaha (evil laugh.)

    I Wasn't Always Like This. This is Kim's blog. Don't believe her, she is as funny as her stories of growing up - I wish I could find the link to the wedding dress item, I laughed til I cried. Word of warning, do NOT tell her she ought to be published. Oh we all know its blatantly true, but she can't see it and goes off pointing out less raucous, more poetic blogs to try and prove her point. Another word of warning, herniated bloggers should probably avoid this one - you might damage something if you laugh too much.

    63 Days. This is a complete change of tone. Don't even go here if you have traumas of your own and are liable to be triggered. Remember the story of summer camps where the kids were abused? Pictures of starved American children, thoroughly mistreated? This is one girl's story. Lets just say that malnutrition wasn't the only form of abuse going on. Its riveting but awful reading, a real condemnation and an incredibly brave work. If you read it you'll get hooked, needing to know what happened next and if/how she coped.

    Present Simple! Last but not least BadAunt, who is lovely. She is a New Zealand girl teaching English in Japan and coming up against all sorts of cultural, erm, nuances, both official and unofficial. A funny, educated, heartwarming and interesting blog that I make sure to read on a very regular basis.

    Aww Shucks, They Sussed Me!

    Star Wars Horoscope for Aquarius

    You can be cruel and torment people who disagree with you.
    Deep down, there is a peace-loving, friendly side to you.
    You have a knack for inflicting pain on people and use your intellect during battle.

    Star wars character you are most like: Darth Vader

    Old Zen Puzzle

    If you've seen this; tough!

    If you haven't; hahahaha!


    A man has to cross a river, taking with him a wolf, a sheep and a cabbage.
    The wolf wants to eat the sheep and the sheep wants to eat the cabbage.
    There is a boat which will carry the man and a single item, but he cannot leave the sheep alone with the cabbage or the wolf alone with the sheep.

    How, exactly, does he get himself and all his items across the river in one piece?

    There are two possible answers.

    On the off chance that my jokes are so old that a whole new virgin generation has sprung up unawares, here are a couple of sillier ones:

    1. A plane crashes precisely on the border between Austria and Swtizerland. Where do they bury the survivors?
    2. Frogs can jump 1 metre. There is a pond with a diameter of 2 metres with a 3 metre plank on the bank and a 5 metre plank crossing one side of the pond. Dead in the middle is a frog on a lilypad. How does the frog reach the bank?
    3. Poem: Stow on the Wold, where the wind blows cold, and the old woman can't cook puddin'. Take the Wold from the old, then the old from the wold, and spell it with two letters.
    4. Quick as you can: I saw Esau sitting on a see-saw, I saw Esau and he saw me. I saw Esau sitting on a see-saw, how many 'S's in that?
    5. If a funny story is called a joke, and several people are called folk, what's the white of an egg called?

    I'm a Scientist!

    I've got an Ology! Auntie Beattie would be so proud.

    Seriously, in just the same manner as Dr Braxton-Hick (or Braxton & Hick) 'discovered' practice contractions simply by officially recording them on paper, I hereby claim the following discovery as my own, plus the law which governs this phenomenon. Nominations for a Nobel prize are expected any day now.

    Time is constant, provided you measure it from a set position, correct?


    Time is vicious and malicious and has a sense of humour. That is my discovery which I shall call: Contrary Time (as in 'Mary, Mary', not as in 'opposite'.)

    Time warps and is warped, in whatever way you wish to take the meaning of that.

    Here we go then:

    Barring a few minor variables or interruption, a set task performed by a set operator may be said to take a constant amount of time: t

    This is equally true of my daughter tying her own shoelaces or my particular kettle coming to the boil. That is the crucial part, the 'operator' performing the 'function' need not be a human being (with our various quirks) at all, but may also be any device designed for a set purpose. Kettle, toaster, traffic lights etc.

    The time on the clock = T.

    Under normal circumstances the time measured on a clock, or more specifically the actual time that passes in the rest of the world, (T2 - T1) (end time - start time) = t, i.e. the time that the universe says has passed is exactly equal to the time it took to perform the function.

    Under the laws of Contrary Time this is no longer true.

    The law (which I propose naming Old Bag's Law) is as thus:

    In any situation where two tasks must be performed, the first (getting the kids coats on) governed by t, the time it takes to do the job, the second (being at school on time) governed by T the time, according to the universe, at which this should occur, where task 1 is exactly equal to the available time before task 2, it all, ALWAYS goes completely belly up.

    Whenever you have precisely X minutes to perfom a task which takes X minutes, then

    (T2-T1) = tn (where n>3) In other words the universe will always stare you in the face and tell you that the task suddenly and miraculously took you at least three times longer than normal.

    And thats the science bit over.

    Be honest, if you check a pizza in the oven and decide it needs another two minutes, you will use that time to perform a two minute task, only to return to a blackened lunch and a universe that says you took at very least six minutes, even when you know thats not true.

    If you live slap bang across the road from work or school you are always late.

    If you put a hot coffee to one side to do the washing up, you return in what you know to be five minutes, to a stone cold mug with a film on top that the universe says has sat for twenty minutes.

    Cheer up! You are not going nuts. It's not fair and it's not your fault. Time is sentient and has an evil sense of humour. (that's my excuse, anyway.)

    God, I feel smug. Applause would be nice..........

    18 May 2005

    I Feel Good!

    Ner na-ner-na-ner-na-ner
    (I knew that I would, Do ba-do ba-do ba-der)
    tra la-la la-la la-la and on and on.

    Poor Gary. His Head of Department at work has left. This leaves the Head of the rival department filling in, and, as her dept is flagging by comparison, she is taking every chance she can to slag off the opposition, annoy them, delay their paperwork and run them down to anyone who will listen, even in their earshot.
    The statistics don't support her innuendo (what innuendo? Out and out bloody accusations more like) but first impressions count. He is fuming.

    I had a nothing of a day myself, got home from dropping the kids to school, answered a few emails, couldn't get my head together, played an online game too long, did a tiny bit of housework and then had to go get the kids again, so was feeling really out of sorts and like I let myself down (my 'to do' list still has things on it from last Wednesday that were beyond urgent the day before that. To call it procrastination is good old British understatement.)

    Then Gary came home and sat on the sofa in front of the TV and frantically played adrenaline releasing shoot-em-ups on his laptop, poor soul, so I had a nothing of an evening also.

    All in all one of those days where it felt like I didn't do my school homework - lazy, slow, nothing to pat myself on the back for, nothing even worth remembering, barring this nagging certainty that sooner or later the kack must hit the fan and it will be all my fault.

    So there I was, body of a couch potato and mind of an obsessive worrier, carcass ready to collapse into bed but brain doing the four minute mile round and round in pointless little circles of shoulds and oughts.

    And then I got an email.

    An email from a lovely girl who had signed into the Homeworking Forum a few weeks back, unsure what to do with her life. Apparently, for questioning her skills and then quoting them back to her, giving them honest titles (facilitating, arranging, consulting, liasing etc) I am to be thanked for helping her into her new job, because she'd not looked at herself in such an approving light, but once she did, she sailed through applying for a Consultant's post with a company doing the sort of thing she loves.

    I made someone's day! And then they took the trouble to send me an email and tell me so! And there I was thinking I had achieved a huge amount of sweet bugger all; not true after all.

    I feel GOOD!

    For Steve, As He Asked Nicely

    Dear Steve
    You know me too well. Yes I answered; of course I did! I simply rattled off a little ditty and slammed it onto the site as a poem.

    This de-dum-de-dum nursery rhyme meter is one I am trying to escape (and I can hear real poets cringeing in the background, as they'll probably know its proper name, when I don't).

    A nothing, a confection, a ten minute prod:

    Dear little girl, please hold your tongue,
    It's obvious that you are young
    So I shall be magnanimous,
    Though startled at your silly fuss.

    Yes I take umbrage at the way
    You sought to mock me yesterday
    But comfort find and comfort take
    In each and every crass mistake
    You made within your sad attack,
    You poor and so illiterate hack.

    And question marks in rows of six
    Are ghastly, tacky, school-time tricks!
    Annoying, pitiable child,
    You think this harsh? Oh no, its mild.

    If vitriol is what you fear
    You shall not taste of mine, my dear,
    But, indolent, offensive pup,
    Return the favour, please grow up.
    That do you? :-))

    17 May 2005

    Stuck For Words, Now

    I am so very pleased and grateful to all the lovely people who commented yesterday, after my last post.
    Thanks for your encouragement and feedback, it means a great deal.

    Now take a good long look, gasp and remember this moment - this really is me stuck for words, or at least enough words for a post.

    Make the most of it! It doesnt happen often. To double pun (or something): Verbal diaorrhea runs in our family. Still, for now, I have banged the old noggin on the wall, fed it way too much caffeine, paced up and down physically and mentally, but no, the battery is well and truly flat. Hey ho.

    16 May 2005

    What is it with me and unstable loonies?

    I belong to FanStory, a site for writing poetry and short stories. Its OK as it goes, but occasionally is highjacked by people who write themselves the most outrageously big-headed profiles (Think "I want to be the Queen of your hearts") and produce absolute pap - you know the stuff, the type should never have come any further into the public domain than the back of a school exercise book.

    Thats why I rarely put one of my own works on this blog (see two posts down, Empty Serenade), and when I do I am fairly desperate for comments - honest ones, mind you, if its crap, I want to be told that its crap, please, so I dont go on deluding myself.

    If people who spew out total tripe all gang together and give each other five stars for their rubbish just as a mutual appreciation thing, what hope in hell do I have? I have no idea whether my stuff is good, or getting better, if the stars system cannot be relied on, and that is REALLY depressing.

    I gave a girl four stars today. Four stars = Excellent, and I was being generous. Her concept was witty, her rhymes were great, but there wasnt any rhythm AT ALL. I sat and counted to prove a point (eventually, when she insisted on more info) and in the first four verses there werent two single lines of the same length, I couldnt even find a pattern to say which lines were too short or too long, so I was vague and polite and (all things considered) gushingly supportive.

    I said:
    Very funny and clever!

    Sorry to dock a star but the meter was out in places, some of the lines were a beat too short or long, so it stumbles in places. Forgive me if you disagree and assign our difference to accent :-)

    Very witty
    I mean, come on, how less offensive could I be?

    This is what the unstable little psycho wrote back:

    Please, Madbaggage, don't leave us all in the dark!! Your comments reek with vagueness!

    One would think that someone as Grammatically and Scripturally Pristine as you, who demands excellence in everything you mark,would not NEVER leave such an incomplete review!

    Unless, of course, you just PREACH impeccability and are not in the habit of PRACTICING it, too!

    It would be remiss of someone as clever as you, not to clearly define what you've outlined with your Red Ink!

    Do not leave us to think that you're cleverness is just a facade,without substance and that you just spew.......random thought!

    Please give a clearer indication,that you are truely smart and know what you're doing when you attempt a review, by adding the necessary detail !

    " out in places..... ?????" and " some of the lines....???" - just won't do!
    Quite sloppy for someone as demanding as you !

    In view of what I've outlined, I expect you, to oblige!

    Kindest regards!
    So. Obviously she's about 21 and a bit of a princess - at least I hope she is, given the mistakes and the excessive punctuation. I'd hate to think she was older than that and completely without room to mature.

    Maybe I should read people's profiles before touching their work...

    Do you want to know what makes me really feel like dirt? All her other (eight or nine) reviews gave her five stars, she has obviously never had a two or three star review (I think she'd have died of an embollism, by the looks of it) and this little madam has been generally assisted to believe she has the right to bully anyone who doesnt bow down and call her work sheer perfection.

    Why do I always get the bloody loonies? And why do I bother?

    I need a hug. Please.

    Serves me right?

    I've been bewailing the fate of good ordinary Americans at the hands of the system, quite loudly. This started with the Terri Schiavo fiasco, when her husband miraculously remembered her right to die only after winning a huge pay out for her long term care and shacking up with a new woman.

    Its all come back to bite me on the butt, and if you want to send up three cheers, be my guest.
    But then read this, a case in the UK, courtesy of the BBC:

    Appeal over right-to-life ruling

    A Court of Appeal hearing over whether doctors have the right to withdraw life-prolonging treatment is to start.

    Leslie Burke, who has a degenerative brain condition, won a landmark ruling last year to stop doctors withdrawing food and drink when he cannot speak.

    The 45-year-old feared General Medical Council rules on artificial nutrition may allow his wishes to be over-ruled.

    In the original case, the judge said the rules should be redrafted, but the GMC said it wants clearer guidance.

    Mr Burke, from Lancaster, who has cerebellar ataxia, took his case to court because he believed the GMC rules were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right to life.

    The original ruling said doctors could not withdraw artificial nutrition when a patient is unable to communicate and had earlier instructed them not to even if the doctors believe it is in their best interests
    The GMC has appealed the verdict as artificial nutrition is classed as a treatment and it raises questions about medical intervention
    The GMC also wants clearer guidance on what doctors should do if a patient has not left instructions

    The GMC guidance covered situations where death is not imminent, but doctors believe a patient's condition is so severe, and their prognosis so poor, that artificial nutrition or hydration - giving water - causes more suffering than benefit.

    It said that if patients are no longer able to communicate their views, doctors must judge what the patient would want, taking earlier instructions into account, but not relying on them altogether.

    But Mr Justice Munby ruled last July that Mr Burke had the right to have artificial nutrition continued even when it comes to the point where he cannot communicate as that is his wish at the moment.


    Since the ruling, the GMC has told doctors to adhere to the judge's verdict.

    But it is appealing the decision as officials believe it is unclear how the judgement applies to other forms of treatment - artificial nutrition is classified as treatment under the council's guidance - that may be keeping a patient alive, such as antibiotics, or respiratory intervention.

    They also want to clarify on what basis a doctor can withdraw treatment if a patient has not given any instruction.

    Ruth Evans, chairman of the GMC's standards and ethics committee, said: "Some patients will want everything possible to be done, while others will want to avoid too much medical intervention, when they are nearing the end of life.

    "Doctors want clear guidance to help ensure individual patients receive the care that's right for them."

    But Roger Goss, co-director of Patient Concern, which will also be represented at the hearing, said it was wrong to class artificial nutrition as treatment.

    "Feeding someone through a tube because they cannot swallow is not treatment, and should not be treated as such. Doctors should not have the right to take this away against a patient's wishes."

    Story from BBC NEWS:

    Published: 2005/05/16 00:03:35 GMT

    © BBC MMV

    Empty Serenade

    Languid, honeyed lyrics swim the lazy afternoon
    As the tinny, tiny stereo so dominates the room
    That the lilting little melodies it pumps into the air
    Seem to dance the dusty sunshine with a sultry lack of care.
    And the fluff beneath the sofa breathes a comfy sigh of peace
    As the echoes of the broken clock implore that time should cease,
    Yet summer seems eternal, as it swelters o'er the bed,
    But Gloria's indifferent now, Gloria is dead.

    It seemed so very crucial, to swallow all those pills,
    And life seemed so unbearable with all her woes and ills,
    And all her wasted chances, and all her guilt and shame,
    But the radio keeps playing and cajoling just the same.

    15 May 2005


    1. I'm a ten year old trapped in an eight year old's body.
    2. (Being asked whether a lipstick suits me): Yes, it would, without the wrinkles.

    I wonder what she'll come out with tomorrow.

    About Last Night

    Or more specifically that last post. Americans are lovely, well no thats a blanket statement and as bad as saying you are all awful. We are all human. I just think that the checks and balances to save you, as individuals, from being misused, mistreated and generally conned or abused are sadly lacking and where loopholes exist they seem to be whacking great huge ones. Arseholes somehow make it into power at State level, with too much autonomy.

    I feel sorry for you - the system is terribly lacking; hence the quip about sending in the UN to rescue you.

    Are we friends?

    14 May 2005

    Sheriff Arpaio

    Found out the power of a title the hard way - edited to avoid misunderstanding

    Its hard on the eyes (the typeface is too small), but here is yet another example of how people get into a position of authority in America and get carried away, presumably with the support and praise of their cronies. You thought Judge Greer was a warped crook? Pah! Please, just read the front page, its only one paragraph. The 'About Us' page is good, too.

    Nothing surprises me any more - I did once think that evil shites destroying lives were the stuff of movies and books, not really there, not in a supposedly civilised and modern nation.

    Still - you can't trust the hospitals, you can't trust the prisons - what next, the schools? Oh gee I forgot, a five year old has already been arrested and handcuffed for throwing a tantrum in playshool. I wish I could find the link.

    Only in the good old US of A.

    I am beginning to wonder whether the UN should send in an army to overthrow the regime - sounds a bit despotic to me.

    Thanks to Shaun for pointing this out.

    How To Ensure Zero Comments

    Let a couple of comments trigger off a serious bit of introspection, and zoom off on a cathartic voyage of self discovery, all morning, in print. Hit the 'post' button then return in the afternoon and realise that, shit, absolutely no-one on this earth could be expected to read the whole lot, or to fail to fall asleep for trying.

    Still, bygones, that was yesterday.

    Today Gary is back and so is my 'cold', which means the antibiotics didnt work. No I'm not allergic to Gary, although I considered it and he still suspects it, because, as forecast, I am just as out of sorts due to his return as I was due to his departure. He has claimed control of the TV button, and took up two thirds of the sofa all evening, channel hopping and declaring there was nothing on before settling on an old Star Trek movie and allowing the ten year old to stay up to watch.

    I ended up going to bed before my kids, alone and in a huff.

    Fed up with being ill. I look like a lopsided muppet this morning, or like I've had fat injections and botox on one side only. My teeth all itch and I stand up, go to the kitchen, and forget why I went. Its been like this on and off since January. First everybody had those colds that seemed to go on and on for five weeks or so and we were all in the same boat, so it was a case of shut up and put up. I had a week or so off, better but still sluggish, and caught another one. At the end of that it went to my chest, like bronchitis, and I spent a week unable to lie down because it triggered the cough. Where are we so far, 5+2+5+1 = 13 weeks, aka three months. A week on antibiotics, half a week feeling almost human for the first time since 2004 and bam, its back with a vengeance.

    Sick and tired of feeling like a sodding petrie dish.

    Everybody say 'Ahhhh' - but do it from a distance or I'll bite you........ ask Gary, he knows, poor git.

    13 May 2005

    On Speakin' Proppa

    Written in response to a couple of recent comments.

    My mother decided that, irrespective of the local accent, I was to grow up 'speaking properly'.

    We moved from one end of Southall to the other when I was six and I instantly made friends with a little girl four or five doors up, who came to our house, planted her pink toy donkey on my mother's arm and squealed "Look aht, it's on ya!".

    My mother's reaction was considered; she took the donkey, stroked it, and said "Hello Sonya", leaving the little girl to explain herself. It took me a decade or more to understand that mum had known exactly what she was doing.

    Everytime I dropped a T, mum would quote that girl at me again, "lookaht, S'onya", or "bu-a-cups and die-sies in da back gardin".

    Yes I was called posh, snob, mummy's girl. I was told that I thought I was 'it', even spat at once by an honour guard lined up in an alleyway, so there was no choice but to keep marching through, with my head down. My little brother had it worse.

    I went to ballet. I actually had to go to ballet, because when I was two and a half the doctors had told my mother that without a lot of exercise I would likely grow up with one leg shorter than the other - it was dance or wear the clumpy boot. My brother (who later took the poise and balance he learned to rise very rapidly through the local Jiu Jitsu team and end up representing the County) wanted to do ballet, and begged and begged for a long time before mum caved in.

    Can you blame him? He was sat there, an hour at a time every Saturday morning, watching me go through my class, which was a bus ride away from home. It was join in, or sit on a chair and shut up, whilst the rest of the world played football or went to the Saturday matinee at the local cinema. The thing is, it turned out he was good at it, good enough to try out for RADA (not good enough to get in, mind you, but some of us never even got to the audition). Even now, he looks very similar to (the elegant, toned down and bespectacled incarnation of) Sylvester Stallone, or the pre-podge version of John Travolta. A good solid Celtic build, but all legs and six pack.

    Well over 6' tall now, he was late shooting up, and at nine years old and very short for his age, he was egged on by some 'friends' to show them what he did at dance class. He trustingly demonstrated the solo he was learning, a character piece about a tin toy soldier. He was then gang beaten for being 'gay' and his nickname on our estate was 'chocolate soldier' (actually 'chocolate soldier, ptew', with a token spit at the end) for months and moths.

    But 'posh' is a catch-all name which makes the attackers feel safer and was a blanket term for all demeanor, including doing homework on time, getting the answers right at school, not having the nerve to steal from the sweet shop, etc etc etc. I got called gay too, or more specifically lesbian, when I hit teenage but went to an all girls school. The kids back home just assumed I was gay because none of the local boys had snogged me, let alone seen inside my knickers. Actually, Grammar school did me that favour as in those days uniform extended to your undergarments, and these really were 'knickers' - large, of substantial cloth, high waisted and low legged. Think support pants, or Bridget Jones, but in school uniform brown. It was impossible even to recognise your own first stirrings in those, let alone want to share them with others. As to sharing them with the snot-nosed wanna-be car mechanics on our block who were doing the rounds door by door and keeping score - well it never even crossed my mind, so no wonder they thought I was queer.

    I think my mother was my saving grace. She had never gone through this herself - oh she had been bullied, mercilessly, thanks to being an unexpected 'accident' of a child in the depression hit 30s, to a sick man who drank his wages and a bedraggled mother who held the family together by taking in sewing and laundry and resented losing the light at the end of the financial tunnel courtesy of her unplanned fourth child. Mum was the tatty, dirty kid, the one always in hand-me-downs and late for school, always in trouble for tearing pages out of her school books (no such thing as paper to draw on in her house), always in scrapes for jumping through other people's gardens to try and approach school via the yard instead of the front gates, to avoid some of the late punishment. She got a name as a bully, too, because her big sister, brought up with a tad more care before times were so hard, could never fight her own battles. Mum used to come to the rescue by attacking her sister's protagonists, three or four years her senior.

    That she had managed to bring her child up to be set firmly at the opposite end of the spectrum was, to her mind, a job well done and a real success, so every time I said I was bullied, her response was "Rubbish. Why, when I was a child....."

    She probably did feel for me, in fact I am sure of that now, but made a conscious decision to appear to be cheerfully and completely unfussed and I have tried to adopt her reasoning. Whatever you do in defence of your children, do it out of their sight. Never show a child your fear or anger, particularly on their behalf, because it validates theirs. I honestly believe that the biggest favour you can do a child is to focus them on the positive, even if that means making light of things that make your eyes pop or your arms go cold.

    Save your venom for other people's doorsteps and allow your kid to go to bed believing that really the whole episode was no big deal, so they wont be so scared next time. I used to go to sleep still angry and shaking, but wrapped up in how I could have stung them back, what evil and smart snipe I might have used to put the bullies down and shut them up, which, I guess, is better than believing I was right to be upset and that the world was evil and unfair and that I couldn't and shouldn't cope with it. I wasn't hard enough to be convinced I was always in the right, so there was a lot of analysis in the mix, imagining what might make a person be that evil in the first place, what reasons they might have for thinking they had any right to be that awful.

    Things go in circles. I managed to completely avoid becoming streetwise and had to learn about liars, con artists and all the rest the hard way, at a later stage (or more specifically at close quarters, courtesy of my first husband). Later life toughened me up, same as it softened those hard nosed girls who made my life hell. Compared to them I am Shirley the Brave, with no fear of learning, no insecurities about my abilities, no trouble talking to anyone from any walk of life.

    No, actually that last bit isn't strictly true. There is one particularly plummy accent that still triggers panicky little quakes of inferiority in me. Faced with someone who speaks that beautifully I cannot just be myself, cannot completely relax, but have to fight the urge to behave all bright eyed and bushy tailed, like a pet or maidservant, "yes miss, no miss, three bags full miss". Grief thats another of my wonderful mother's retorts. This glitch has it's up-side, because if I can feel like that, then I imagine that's what my own elocution did to my childhood attackers - their resentment was likely borne of a sense of inferiority and discomfort.

    I do still have issues - the most lasting side effect of all this is that I find it difficult to distinguish between sadness and anger, as I was brought up believing that fight or flight were the only two options, that collapsing into a puddle of tears was a totally wasteful and embarrassing use of adrenaline. I would die sooner than cry and the only way I know to help people in a muddle of tears is to help them find something to take it out on, some small element of the situation to change and control, to laugh at, so that they can feel like they have achieved something or won back some ground.

    I do honestly belive that if you offer a person a clear path to alleviating their woes and they choose to stay down and dreary, then they are attached to the depression, attached to the idea of 'being looked after' rather than of making things better. That's victim mentality, if not out and out manipulation and I steer well clear, nobody's riding me as an enabler, I refuse to be run ragged by someone who just wants to act out incapacity. "Ooh poor me" syndrome makes me sick.

    Still, the thing about adrenaline is true; an overdose of the stuff can genuinely make you almost comatose; saggy and leaden and hopeless - it happens all the time with ADHD kids who switch between full speed and dead stop, beacuse the adrenaline just keeps pumping. If I feel the tears coming, I still automatically stand up and roar instead and give myself a good telling off for considering the sappy option, although having an evil temper to expel is really great for getting housework done in record time. I'm not very good with housework, having a tendency to deal with it aggressively means that I never get to a state of peaceful pottering, but save it all up for a blitz.

    "Don't get mad, get even" - thats another of my mother's mantras. Its good, its proactive and there's no time to sink into the mire of self doubt and hopelessness if you are expending energy (preferably on inanimate objects).

    So anyhow, to cut a long story longer, I pulled a bit of a Miss Havisham on my eldest daughter. When she was called Fucking Bitch in junior school, I taught her to answer with Copulating Canine. It made her smug, it gave her the upper hand, it made her feel like a winner, because the teachers all knew exactly what she was saying (and so did she), except that it wasnt swearing. The biggest boost for her was knowing that the teachers knew, and knowing that her opponent didnt have a clue what she was on about - it made her feel sharper and craftier, that she could, if she had to, make a total fool of this person who wanted to belittle her. "Have you got a cough-a-cough-a-cough?" was another favourite.

    When the 'your mother....' taunts started, that really upset both Alex and Andrew as I was sacrosanct in their minds and it seemed like the ultimate insult to pick on their mother. Faced with direct statements that I was a street corner prostitute (!), I sent them back to school with the answer that if I was, I would be earning loads more than 'your ugly mum' and we'd have a swimming pool by now. Or 'Yours would be too, but she'd have to pay them, not the other way round'. I taught them to act like they couldnt give a toss what this other person thought, and put the instigator back in their place at the same time.

    Yes, ok, so maybe I had spent over twenty years imagining how to be that creative towards the taunts of mere pre-teens. That doesn't matter. What matters is that I taught that kind of creativity to my children at an earlier age, and they ran with it, so that my daughter has a tongue like a razor now and there are times that we roll about laughing. She also has the self confidence to refrain from using it viciously, because she just never feels cornered any more. She is happy to say sorry, smooth things over and generally behave like an adult and that kind of self confidence is very magnetic. As soon as she had that aura of live and let live, of 'water off a duck's back' (thats my mum again!) she became attractive. All bullies are victims, they all tread on others to make themselves feel safer, and once Alex seemed impermeable she was the must-have friend and defender. The fact that all my 'if only's were eventually acted out and worked like a charm did plenty for my own self image, too.

    We are twins, her and I, peas in a pod as far as attitude, morals, wicked sense of humour, empathy, desire to protect the underdog and the ability to spot one from a hundred paces; pretty much all of it, yet I am so proud of her, because I bred out most of the angst.

    'Fake it til you make it' was the propoganda of a company called Amway - meaning 'pretend to be successful with this business until it comes true, think and act like you've won, already'. I am not sure thats very moral, but the concept sure as hell works when dealing with your kids.

    I love the Serenity Prayer and there are self help sites built around it - here's a good one. However I would take issue with the author that the things we can change are not always just our own attitudes. If (to take an example from my own past) your (first) husband puts his motorbike battery on your antique family heirloom table and burns a battery shaped white square into the polish, then dropping the battery unceremoniously but deliberately out of an upstairs window can be extremely therapeutic. It achieves several things - yes the greatest (but least obvious at the time) is a personal change in attitude - from 'how could you' to 'that's you sorted, you bugger'. More immediately it also changes your husband's expectations of how far he can push you, and gets the bloody battery off the table and out of the house. So you might get a black eye - big deal, thats the last resort of a thick bully who has no more words to throw, but you still win. I guess what I mean is that sometimes we can change the world around us at the same time as changing ourselves, in fact the two are so closely intertwined that one happens whenever you attempt the other. Its all good!


    Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

    the courage to change the things I can,

    and the wisdom to know the difference.

    12 May 2005

    A Tax on Horseshit

    Yes folks, its happened. The new UK Government is in place and whats the first thing they do? Put a tax man to stand there with his hand out for a cut, directly between your horse's arse and the bucket. Honestly.

    The tax on selling horse manure will not, apparently, make the Government any spare cash, but simply pay for new horse poo inspectors to visit farms and make sure its all stored nicely in a purpose built shed like thingy.

    You are not even allowed to store horse muck in an al fresco pile anymore - presumably thats in case it gets dirty?

    This is job creation gone bonkers and weirder than anything the EEC has tried to force us in to - or maybe thats it - maybe we are being softened up so that the European Union begins to look comparatively fair and reasonable.

    A couple of posts back, I asked whether we were being asked to kiss the anus of the EEC or George Bush. I obviously had the wrong rectum in mind. Perhaps I should have gone straight to the horse's mouth?

    Culture Shock

    Moving from London (well, no suburbia - the border between Northolt and Ruislip) to the depths of Dad's Army Land back in 1996 was an incredible culture shock, for my two older children in particular.

    I did find it annoying to have to slow down so much - all the shops shut on Sunday with half day closing mid week as well, the police station clearly advertising opening hours and the days that it is shut (yes it shuts), the buses all (still) stop at 6.30 pm and only turn up once an hour in between times and living in a street of tidy bungalows, if you can hear anything more than songthrushes or seagulls, well that constitutes news.

    My husband loves it, but he would, as he only has to come home to it after a day at work, but for me it is a delicately scented and preened slice of purgatory. I have learned to be spiritual and meditate a lot, and I am addicted to the computer. Dont get me wrong, I love it here, I could cheerfully spend ooh, what, a whole month a year here, just for the greenery, the lack of apartment buildings or dog fouling, the bunny rabbits, and the fresh air (the freshest in the whole of the UK, or at least it will be until they stick the bloody incinerator up in Newhaven, because we are directly down-wind of that.)

    The original Pooh-sticks bridge is just up the road, there are still wooden and concrete sign posts, wooden hut-like bus shelters and tiny letter boxes built into brick pillars. The next village up the road has a byelaw forbidding security lights and street lights (and another one barring outdoor washing lines) and nestles in the hills like Brigadoon. Bloody torture.

    Back to the kids. So we came from what was once Middlesex before the Greater London Council claimed London Boroughs that far out (forgive me if my history is a bit squiffy there.) The children would have adjusted far better than I, were it not for the preconceived notions of the inbred children at the single local senior school. Yup, it really is a one-horse town, and only two things have saved it:
    1. It is rumoured that the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were brought to visit Seaford beach (the ultimate accolade if you want to be known as 'undiscovered' or 'unspoiled') and it has a genteel air that inspires other Sussex residents to want to retire here.
    2. Croydon arranged for a council house build at the back of this place for their overspill during the 70s and 80s.
    I suspect that but for those two factors there would be pre-marital blood tests here by now.

    Andrew, aged eleven, was greeted as a threat. The children here all aspire to being Londoners or knowing a Londoner, or having once been to London. He was therefore too big for his boots before he even opened his mouth, and was set upon until he had been 'put in his place', ie once those who had previously claimed supremacy due to London connections had reasserted their authority to the gawping hormonal masses by other means. Andrew became the exception to the rule - 'yes, he's from London but it doesn't count because he's a prat'.

    Alex's reception was far more damaging. She was a twelve year old girl from London, the ultimate in teenage desirability, having 'heritage' as well as breasts - she was a catch. The boys all wanted her and the girls all wanted to be her friend. I watched in dismay as she became overly confident, brusque and mouthy, as all teenagers must, but at the time there seemed to be a direct correlation with the strength of her fan club.

    When we first moved in, the sum total of visible graffitti was the rain faded scrawling of 'Nirvana' on the pavement near a local bus stop. Everybody knew exactly which kid had done it. Shortly after that, however, little marks started quietly popping up - on the wooden bench next to the memorial rose garden, on the tiny, ivy covered supporting wall near the village duck pond, down the back alley by the bowling green; all over the place, actually. They always said, in black marker pen,
    I (heart) Alex W

    So, my daughter had a secret admirer, or maybe two, as the incidences seemed to increase as time went on. In fact they matched the speed with which she became the most sought after female in lower school.

    I was torn - inside I was a very proud mum, but was also concerned that we were still on locally-enforced probation. Little things had happened, such as the neighbours discovering we would be a family from London, and promptly having security halogens fitted to their bungalows in welcome. When we were out, boys would come knocking for Alex and then wait sitting on the grass verge outside our house, to see if we would be back soon. The neighbours took to advising me of this as if they were giant houseflies and it was my responsibility they had been attracted to an otherwise geriatric and silent haven. I think I was supposed to get a guard dog and pepper spray the lawn and door bell.

    Someone might have tried to force a window on a neighbouring house, once when they had gone on holiday (even though they hadn't told us they were going.) I say might, because they had the old, original wooden window frames at the back, when the salt air here rusts everything but volvos and galvanised steel and will eat wood in no time. A small piece of the rotten frame had fallen off and was lying on the back path. Still, it was generally agreed that it was my fault, as if I didn't have a pretty daughter then the kind of undesirables she so wantonly attracted wouldn't have been in our street. The fact that these were all local boys, sons of accountants and Rotary members mostly, (but then thats 90% of the juvenile male population in a nutshell) never entered into the equation.

    I am still learning about my children. The whole (final) point of this post is this: my daughter, though she knows it not, is a business genius. She should be in politics. It turns out that her immediate reception at the local school was as frosty as the one her brother was treated to, the 'I'm hard' top girls started targetting her the second she got there.

    Her solution? All those little graffittied vows of undying love, which upped her kudos and made her acceptable, were her doing. She simply learned to scrawl in marker pen with her left hand, so nobody could tell.

    Part of me could kill her, but to be honest, most of me is bloody impressed.