Friday, 28 January 2011

Of Traffic Cones and Mannequin Legs

Ah, so we return once more to the "Cenotaph Swinger" Charlie Gilmour. What a delight to discover that he has been charged with violent disorder  and theft of a mannequin leg during the tuition fee riots. This is what students DREAM of. I imagine him at home  in some country pile in years to come, surrounded by grandchildren and a warm Wurther's Original glow, recounting his tales from a misspent youth.
"But grandad, grandad, I have so many questions: was it male or female? Left or right? Haute Couture or H&M?"
My student house was fully stocked with "men at work" signs and traffic cones, from previous tenants' midnight sprees. How dull compared to this.
It only leaves me begging the question: did he commit any violent disorder with the mannequin leg, or were the two incidents unrelated?

Women's football, rant rant.

So, what to do about "sexism row pair" Richard Keys and Andy Gray?  I'm glad their innocent victim Sian Massey has maintained a dignified silence amid the media hubbub. She'll be used to sexism if she has anything to do with high-level women's sport.
It seems unfair for this pair of Neanderthals to be booted from their billion pound a year posts for saying what many footballing-loving men think, but I suppose it was right.
But I'm not so sure about the decision to pull her out of her next game after unprecedented demand for TV access passes. Doesn't the somewhat obscure Blue Square Bet North League deserve this incredible free publicity?  Official types say they want the focus on the game, not the officials, but how can that be a legitimate reason for withdrawing her?
Does this mean no woman can ever officiate again because it "might cause too much of a stir?" She should stride out onto that scrubby provincial pitch under the full glare of the world's media in a clear demonstration that SHE DOESN'T GIVE A HOOT.  Get that girl out there on the line. Let the media do its thing. Everything will die down. Women will prevail.
I don't know why I'm getting so excited about this anyway. Again, the media furore about what two blokes said about a lineslady masks the big issue at stake. Why is there no excitement and furore about the women's World Cup in Germany this year? Because men run all the organisations who decide whether there should be hype about anything.
No doubt if we WIN there will be a nice picture on the front pages of the papers (as long as they let their hair down and sashay a bit in their shorts) but other than that I doubt it will cause much excitement.
The excuse is that women's football is like watching amateurs. That's because most of them are. Bloody amazing ones. Multi-taskers all. And what was so spectacular about recent male England international matches anyway? What is so spectacular about watching blokes play cricket? Nothing. There is nothing intrinsically interesting about it. It's a state of mind.
So, Sian, I hope you don't give up. Get out there and sock it to them. Just don't disallow a goal for offside when they're looking in a bad mood.

La Danse de Chomage

So, we end the first week of single-income status in the Broken Britain household, and it's been a blast. I would like to extend my thanks to all in the Government who engineered a situation where my husband - free at last from the shackles of earning - can leap around the living room on a Friday morning with a huge smile on his face.
No, really, I'm not being sarcastic. Who needs cash when you can be happy instead? I see months of happy peasantry and simple family pleasures ahead. Until the male becomes melancholic and must return to the industrialised world. With any luck we will keep the roof over out heads. Otherwise we can feel free and unshackled in a box in an underpass somewhere. Hooray!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Unions kicking off? What next?

I didn't want to post another pro-union rant, but sometimes David Cameron comes out with such dental floss, I feel someone should say something.
This week he was heard to say of the current union unrest, particularly across the public sector: “This Government is a very strong government. It’s got a strong majority. I believe the public is right behind the approach that we are taking and people need to know we will not change course because one union or another union wants to kick off.” 
Well, I'm not terribly sure "the public" is behind the approach you are taking (and neither am I sure about the word 'majority' either).
The newspapers may be taking it easy on the Government and its "we're all in it together" line, but people who've lost youth clubs, breakfast clubs, benefits, jobs are not all going to fall happily behind Great Uncle George Osborne and his Brave and Majestic Cutting Agenda.
I'm obviously not keen on strikes - they stop me getting to work. But I appreciate what they are there for. People make this country work, without them, everything grinds to a halt. Those in charge needed to be reminded of that. Planes can't fly. Five-star hotels have dirty beds and unwashed towels. Claridge's stops serving breakfast.

The Bitter Taste of the Breast

"Exclusively breastfed": it's an expression that conjures up images of babies in small gold crowns and velour and ermine robes supping at a tender milky white mammary.
Now, says an "informal review" of scientific research into breastfeeding, the current NHS advice to do this for six months may not be right. It might "narrow the window" for introducing new tastes such as spinach. It might cause iron deficiency. It might just kill your baby. Well, ok, they didn't say that, but when a first time mum reads the report, that's how it reads.
The authors have stressed they are "not in any way anti-breastfeeding", but by publishing this, that's what they are effectively being.
The "findings," based on absolutely no new research, have the general effect of reducing women's faith in their ability to provide what their baby needs without so much as picking up a blender.
Most mums with a few years experience under their belt know that some babies start to snatch food from your plate at four months, others show no interest in unlatching their leech-like grasp from the teat until a year is passed. Babies ALWAYS get what they need. They are experts at it. Women need to be told to have faith, not the other way around.
And as for that baloney about children breastfed for half a year not having enough time to "experience bitter tastes" so they eat their broccoli later.... I was told if I ate broccoli myself this would ensure my baby's love of all the greens later in life because my milk would taste of broccoli.
Have you ever tasted breastmilk? I have. It tastes of breastmilk. Not Marmite, spinach or even cake. Just breastmilk. Which isn't half bad, actually.

Boris the train driver

I shouldn't expect Bob Crow is losing any sleep over Boris Johnson's threat that driverless trains could be the answer to the strikes crippling the network. The Victoria line can't run even WITH drivers, let alone technology to eliminate them. The hi-tech new trains on the Victoria continue to be a disaster, with no rush-hour journey complete without at least one defective one blocking your own train's path.Well, at least they have nice white lighting at foot level.
Mr Johnson's speech also suggested that these trains would however need some kind of untrained "attendant" to supervise the computer doing the driving.
"Anyone in this room could in a matter of a few weeks acquire the qualifications necessary to supervise an underground train," he said. This, surely, would defeat the object of driverless trains to break the unions......poorly paid, poorly trained attendants have employment rights and unions too, Boz. I'd like to see the blond Anatolian at the wheel of one of those terrorist-transporting ovens-on-rails for a twelve hour shift ending at 1am. Perhaps he could step in during the next strike? A good publicity stunt for around the royal wedding, I would suggest.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Urine of the Ages

Ever keen to blend the world of current domestic politics with my own trips to the midwife, I cannot today resist quoting the words of the 18th/19th century Somali-Egyptian chronicler 'Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti:

"If this age should urinate in a bottle, time's physician would know its ailment"

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Getting my (scape) goat

There had to be a public beheading, and every MP hoped it wouldn't be them. In the end, it was David Chaytor, former MP for Bury North who took the blow for the whole house. Now, by his own admission, his expenses were certainly as crooked as that funny church spire in Chesterfield, but I can't support the judge's decision to SEND HIM TO PRISON WITH THE RAPISTS. Personally, I find the whole duck house/wisteria trimming revelations far more revolting than Chaytor's fiddling, but then I am not a judge. I am no where near fat or old enough for such high office.
The idea that he is being put away, to eat boiled cabbage and halal curries at taxpayers' expense, is preposterous. You wouldn't get that for assaulting someone in the street. You wouldn't get it for poking a stick at the Duchess of Cornwall through the window of her Rolls.
To say that his jail-term "serves as a warning" is also ridiculous. It doesn't serve as a warning, it is just to satisfy an (apparent) public appetite for blood. I wouldn't be surprised if it hadn't in some way been ordered by David Cameron, or more likely one of his stooges. This idea that someone has to suffer in an out-of-proportion fashion for the misdeeds of a larger group sends my blood pressure soaring. Chaytor must be a relatively well-off man - surely an enormous fine is the most apt way to punish fraud? Take away the man's John Lewis account and confiscate his ride-on lawnmover instead. Aren't our prisons overflowing? Even Ken Clarke has admitted "banging them up" doesn't really work.

A shot in the arm from the NHS (beware humourless post)

So, yesterday I was one of the "lucky ones" to receive the last of the stocks of seasonal flu jabs. As I walked out of the surgery and the largely untested vaccine surged around my body, they were turning away ageing asthmatics and one-legged diabetic dogs. I didn't feel too guilty. The thing had taken three weeks to arrange and I felt I'd waited my turn. Pregnant women probably come rather low down the pecking order, even though the dead, dying, blonde ones take precedence over other flu-sufferers on the Daily Mail newslists.

But I do have a bone to pick about the whole affair: principally with Andrew Lansley, slithery, silver-haired NHS privatiser and all-round "health" minister. Why did they decide to cancel the seasonal flu jab publicity campaign? Because, apparently, GPs would contact at-risk groups individually and invite them in for it. Bah, well, this was certainly not the case in my area. No letter, no posters, no gentle nudge from the GP or midwife. Not a peep. In the end, it was newspaper articles on Dec 20th that alerted me to the official government advice that I should have the jab. I booked immediately (already there was a three week wait) and then another two for the vaccine to take effect. So, the flu season will be largely over by the time I'm immune. And then, no doubt, there will be something else to worry about. Whatever happened to the nanny state? It's been nice to see the Department of Health has finally wheeled out last year's flu hygiene warning posters featuring a woman sneezing greeny germs all over a tube carriage. A last minute effort to prove to the media that the Government cares. I wonder what tube travellers should fear the most? Being sprayed with luminous green cartoon germs or being BLOWN UP by terrorists?

Thursday, 6 January 2011

A sharp turn to the left

I'm not one for ironing. Ever. Believe me it is one of the most tedious tasks ever to face a woman, man or helpful house gnome. I wouldn't wish it on a highly paid Polish maid. However, I woke up this morning with a strong desire to take a hot steam iron to the piggy-pink fresh-from-skiing-in-Meribel faces of the so-called "coalition" Government (well, Osborne, Cameron and that one with all his cash in the Cayman Islands at least). It's not that I don't like millionaires, I would happily have an extra-marital affair with one....but what do they know about the lives of the populace?

Anyway, rather than resorting to steam-iron violence, I've decided that only a blog can satisfy my growing need to vent my fury, on behalf of us all. what would cheer everyone up in January? Free hot chocolate for the over 40s? The universal sun-lamp grant? Nahh, lets sock 'em with a VAT rise.
Not that it is really something to worry about, most of us can't afford to go shopping anyway. Thankfully orthopedic equipment and baby car-seats already have a significant VAT discount, which will help me significantly with my other bills.

So - expect comment and pictures of "Broken Britain" as interpreted under a Tory-mostly Government. Expect rubbish strewn streets, expect grim-faced tramps. Expect fury on a small scale.

Sorry anyone who was expecting me to exhibit felt animals or flower arrangements on this post. I may use them, along with my whimsical poetry, to break up the political tedium in future weeks.