Thursday 1 December 2011

Not a hint of irony

A very old and dear friend sent me an e-mail yesterday. She signed it off LoL. I think she meant 'lots of love', but maybe she was laughing out loud at her own note, or maybe me. I don't know. I just don't know.

My blood boiled when I read Alastair Campbell's 'evidence' at the Leveson Inquiry into press standards. Here we have the arch manipulator. A man that 'sexed up' a report to clear the way for Britain to go to war in Iraq leading to the deaths of hundreds of young British men and tens of thousands of Iraqis. This man does not speak with forked tongue. He is the devil incarnate, and no amount of charity work will make up for that. Ever.

Of course, one of the things that has come out already is that not even The Grauniad is immune to making up stories if it helps them sell a few more copies. That in itself is shocking and disappointing. Perhaps, if ever there was one needed, that is the strongest argument for an organisation such as the BBC which doesn't have to concern itself with the commercial imperative. I still trust it implicitly and I'm sure many others do too. It does create its own problems - and tales of extravagance are too common. But on balance I think that's not a bad trade off.

It was fortunate that after writing that paragraph I have become quite curmudgeonly, so tried much harder for the rest of the day to put a smile on my face. And that was fortunate as it enabled me to laugh when I might otherwise have grumbled. Last night I had to go to an annual industry event. It must have been important because I blew out Muffin Dad who had a spare ticket for a gig. Sorry. It's always a good evening, giving me the chance to 'network' and indeed just catch up with people I haven't seen for a while. Anyway, if you want to know how the marketing services sector is performing financially, I'm your man. Well at least I can relay second hand news. Pisspoor is the answer. But no more pisspoor than the rest of business. And not as pisspoor as it could be. As well as learning about the financial health of some of our most creative businesses, there were also speakers from various people linked to the Olympics. Including, government-owned Olympic sponsor and bank Lloyds. As you know my pretties, that's not a business I have much time for, although I cannot tell a lie, the presentation was interesting. The best bit was when the man said that they worked with various agencies, but their procurement department had not wanted to work with one that had had a very bad debt the year before. Now I'm sure I wasn't the only one who nearly fell off their seat, because the statement was made without a hint of irony. Not one ounce. Anyway, it made me laugh when I could have come over all grumpy.

I've come across a couple of terms recently that I absolutely love. One is the word popinjay (from SP's blog. It's not that I hadn't heard the word before, but I hadn't heard it for decades. It means various things including a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter, or a dandy or foppish person. But I shall henceforth use it to refer to the woodpecker that we can occasionally hear beating its brains out at the bottom of the garden.

The other is 'sea dust' which was referred to in Nursemyra's fascinating blog (I think...but I can't now find it, so apologies if I read it elsewhere - please just correct me). What is sea dust? It's plain old salt. But sea dust gives it a whimsical, even magical future I shall be asking The Cat's Mother to pass the sea dust and pepper - unless someone has another name for pepper?

Tonight I'm off to the school play. In the 'modern way' the audience will participate and have to move around the auditorium. I'm looking forward to it - The Cat has a part, although The Boy has sadly given up his acting career because he doesn't get on with the drama master. Sad. The Cat's Mother will not be there. She's off with the girls to The Stylistics who are playing at the O2. In case you've forgotten who this group are:

I used to love them but that was a long time ago.

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Lancing the Boyle

It seems that we are inexorably sliding to a place where nobody wants to be.

I have heard that Comet, JD Sports and Furnitureland have withdrawn all their representatives following the summer riots. Evidently, the riots were a conspiracy by foreign agents and part of a continuing pattern designed to provoke and inflame a crisis. In Iran, the 'storming' of the British embassy by a rabble has given the diplomats the opportunity of a return home just in time for Christmas. How convenient. And probably useful if you are the Ambassadors wife who doesn't want an Israeli bomb landing in your Christmas pudding. Whilst I don't expect our motley crew of Oxbridge-educated civil servants to solve the Middle East problem, not having them there can only make the situation worse.

After my encounter with Frankie at the weekend, it appears that that I must face another Boyle. This time it's Danny who will be conducting the proceedings at the next round of Olympic auditions. That makes me nervous as hell, especially as someone I know who recently swam the English Channel said it was all a bit much, and doesn't think she'll get through. I somehow can't see it going my way. But, cold, an' all I'll be there dancing, prancing, performing and gyrating until I drop. As I seem to be attracting Boyles like dead meat attracts flies, I expect next week I'll be singing with Susan.

As the kids trooped off to school this morning I couldn't help but wonder about how everyone whose offspring are at state school are coping today. 90% are closed I believe. On the one hand I have every sympathy with the strikers...after all if you've previously agreed the sort of pension that will keep you in the life style to which you've become accustomed, then why wouldn't you feel aggrieved. I know I would. But there's a reality which goes beyond Government policy. As the population ages, and there are fewer people to pay the pensions of the retired, less generous pensions are inevitable. The truth is that one of the reasons there has been so much immigration is that immigrants tend to be younger and more fertile (sweeping shoot me down), and that will help re-balance the ageing issue. But it's not enough and the public sector has expanded enormously in the last couple of decades (I believe that effectively the ONLY growth in jobs has been in the public sector), and the only way to pay theses people will be increasing taxes, and growing public sector debt. And we all know where that gets us don't we? Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Italy all come to mind. So if you work in the public sector today...I really sympathise, but you really are just going to have to face up to reality. It probably should have happened many years ago - the Conservatives are an easy target of hate, but unfortunately Tony and Gordon lived in cloud cuckoo land.

Talking of boiling, here's a picture of The Cat's Mother. Strangely she's smiling. Strangely because she doesn't really cook much when given the chance. In fact Christmas is the one time she cooks rather than heats. That's no criticism, she heats up lovely. Her philosophy is that too many cooks spoil the broth. And one is too many. This picture was taken amazingly two years ago. MY kitchen as it was then was brand spanking new. This was the first time The Cat and The Cat's Mother had come down to Brighton for the weekend. It was lovely. And it gets better and better. So now its OUR kitchen, and strangely we regularly cook together. Sunday breakfast. Eggs, bacon, sausages, tomato and toast. The kitchen is really the heart of the home.

This picture is for Tara's Gallery

Monday 28 November 2011

Both sublime and indeed ridiculous/gangbang in a minefield

We were due to be meeting some old friends of mine on Saturday night, but as The Cat's Mother wasn't up to it I went alone. This was dangerous, particularly as history has a habit of repeating itself: when we were younger we used to go out as a group regularly and then spend the next few days recovering from severe hangovers. At our age we should know better. But it seems we didn't - this was just the start of the evening:

The good old days were much discussed: a visit to KFC to get a schlongburger (which was very funny at the time, after a day on the beach pouring beer down our throats); the time CD (he's on the left in the picture) fell off the kerb, smashed his shoulder on the ground and even now has a very large lump where it should be smooth, and so on. We headed to Pizza of London's trendiest eateries, and after a long wait (nearly and hour and a half) I had to explain to them them that one of our number is genuinely a VIP (not me - I wish!). The result was seats within moments, a free plate of charcuterie and some fawning that would impress even Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I managed to stay quite sober as one of our number just spiralled downhill, quaffing enough to out do Ollie Reid at his best. This was fortunate because when I got back to Loughton (as my friends returned to their Camden abode) there was an argument with the taxi driver. I had agreed to share the cab because it was so late, but then objected to having to pay full price when the couple I'd shared with had also paid full price, getting out just a hundred yards from our house. For one journey the driver thought he should get paid fact triple as there was yet another person who had jumped in as well. Nice work if you can get it.

Saturday morning I was dropping The Cat's Mother off at the hairdressers. The same hairdressers that she has been going to since the dawn of time. As she's been under the weather all week, this was a good sign that all was beginning to get better. As we arrived, across the road was a 'luxury coach' with 'TOWIE tours' signs on it. I'm sure you know my views on The Only Way Is Essex. My heart sank as I could see there was a posse of elaborately made-up blondes and brunettes gathered by it, together with a camera crew.

I parked and whilst The Cat's Mother's hair was restored to its best walked down to Cost Coffee to grab a flat white and a lump of lard with raspberry jam (advertised as a raspberry and almond bake). I suddenly thought that the man standing behind me in the queue was the somewhat extreme comedian Frankie Boyle, and as that thought crossed my mind I got a text from The Cat's Mother to say that Frankie Boyle was indeed following me into the coffee shop. I thought I might say hello, but unusually my courage deserted me. I somehow felt I was beginning to skip into a parallel universe. He bought his juice and left as I sat wondering what was going on.

The rumour at the hairdressers is that this is a Frankie Boyle programme and the citizens of Essex are in for a cruel and vicious mauling. I wait to see and be amused.