Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Pope on a Rope.

Ain’t the Pope a blast? I know he in often misquoted but even so today’s news reported him as stating that saving people from homosexuality is as important as saving the rainforest. The strident woman spokesperson (why do all these very nutty Catholic ladies sound like they are bit actors in ‘Carry on Matron’?) on the Today programme this morning added to the hilarity by calling gender theory 'bad science'. Bad science?? This…..from the CATHOLICS for crissakes! And gay condemnation from the Pope, a man who wears a frock and can’t have sex. Risible and mean and yet another religious leader feeding people’s intolerance and fear giving licence for more violence and segregation. It makes me reel backwards into the arms of atheism.. I mean where are the messages of comfort and hope, tolerance, brotherly love, joy and solidarity? Bah, humbug!

I am hopeful for 2009 even if I sound a bit grim. For revolution and for change there needs always to be rupture. The global recession may reawaken resourcefulness and cooperation. A new American president may bring an end to torture, rendition and begin to petition for common sense. Ambient moisture machines may lead the way to clean water for all and on and forth.

After all it is Christmas and I hope you are all able to sneak in some rest and recuperation and gird loins for the New Year! I send both my love and the wisdom of my forefathers:

Before you criticise someone walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you’ll be a mile away and still have their shoes.

If at first you don’t succeed then sky diving is not for you.

And lastly and most importantly..

It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.

Merry Xmas and have a very groovy New Year!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Christmas Tag

I've been tagged by the marvellous Family Affairs http://familyaffairsandothermatters.blogspot.com/and the fabulous Fleeing Muses http://www.fleeingmuses.blospot.com/! Its a Christmas themed one...who'd have thought it eh? So here we go!

7 things to do before parents arrive

My dad won’t arrive here. My Dad will be in Lusaka probably seeing sick people over Xmas. (He is a doctor..not a weirdo..) I know he will put on a grotty, extremely old Santa suit and after arriving at the clinic children’s Xmas party in a wailing ambulance and handing out presents to wide eyed, perfectly behaved and well dressed kids, he will jump into his car and shoot out of town to go and ‘Ho Ho Ho!’ at the patients at the Mother of Mercy HIV/AIDS hospice. He will take sweets. Mostly marshmallows as they are easier to swallow for people in terminal stages of illness. Some people will know he is dressed up as Santa..others will just think ‘the good doctor has gone penga (insane)’ and shrug and smile. Because the Santa suit is boiling and it will be 80% in the shade, he will drink a cold beer at lunchtime through his sweaty cotton wool beard before heading to friends for massive Xmas feast.

My Mum won’t arrive here but I will hook up with her in Spain. My Mum intends to be in Tarragona after travelling for eight months in a motor home called ‘Laika ‘with Silent John her partner. They have done 26 countries. They are a bit knackered. They will pick me up from Reus Barcelona and we’ll go to a small holiday bungalow to eat, drink and contemplate life. None of us have been before and I hope it will be fascinating and beautiful and bonkers. I cannot wait!

7 things I’m doing instead of prepping for Xmas

· This blog
· Eating stuff
· Worrying about my eyesight
· Watching TV whilst pretending to work at the computer
· Prevaricating
· Worrying about money
· Wondering if I should finally learn the words to more then one carol..

7 Things I can’t do this Xmas

· Hang with Teelo in a dodgy bar until dawn
· Dress my cats up in tinsel (as presently catless.)
· Sunbath topless
· Give Crisis the homeless shelter, their usual donation
· Buy lots of pressies
· Watch Xmas TV
· Be lonely

7 Xmas wishes

· That all guns stop working and all machetes and other sharp implements go soft when used inappropriately.
· A ban on Christmas music in public places with specific regard to Slade and Shakin’ Stevens.
· A massive book deal for me and all the other writers out there in my blogger world.
· Amrita http://tinkutales.blogspot.com/ gets a huge cash prize as most exciting art entrepreneur of Toronto
· Barack is as good as he looks.
· Free access to clean water for everyone
· A resurgence of orang-utans

7 things I say as Xmas approaches

· Damn..that looks like Christmas approaching
· Get out of my way you sodding Xmas shoppers, you ..please…ow..ow..etc
· Don’t get me anything. I don’t need anything…
· OK, cash would be fine if its easy.
· If I hear Slade one more time I’ll be very, very sick.
· What you doing for New Year?
· Oh, don’t worry. My family always do that…

7 celebs for Xmas dinner
· Russell T Davis – genius screenwriter behind ‘Queer as Folk’ and ‘Dr Who’.
· Richard Armitidge – I thought the actor David Tenant was as sexy as it got. Richard Armitidge playing ‘Lucus’ in the TV show ‘Spooks’ makes David look like Widow Twanky. No idea what he’s like…don’t really care. Will just get him to serve the food naked.
· Shami Chakrabarti – my age and already a CBE, Shami is the voice of Liberty the human rights organisation. She always reminds me of my older sister, brilliant, ferocious and quite small.
· Satish Kumar – I met him in Devon when I was a student and he was so beautiful, gentle and wise. He is the editor of Resurgence Magazine http://www.resurgence.org/ and a spokesperson for all things ecological and sustainable.
· Missy Elliot- one of the most talented producers and musicians of the last 20 years, Missy is inspirational. She unfortunately recently made a song with the Pussycat Dolls but she made them look ridiculous so I forgive her.
· Damon Albern- the front man of Blur and Gorrilaz has been the instigator and co-creator behind the musical opera ‘Monkey’. He seems to have genuine interest n things outside of his own fame and fortune. Unheard of!
· As Armitidge will be serving food (I said NAKED man..get that off..) I thought I’d slip in an extra guest.. Graeme Green- the bespectacled one of The Goodies. His acerbic wit has been cutting the edge of a remarkable amount of comedy ever since. I could have gone with a younger comedian but almost all of them have nicked material from Graeme anyway…

7 festive foods

· bubbly
· proper Bloody Marys in the morning with breakfast
· remarkable horseradish and butter mash made by my Mum
· cheese and salad in the middle of the night with a glass of wine
· olives and nuts all over the bloody shop
· abandoned chocolate Xmas decorations fallen behind the tree
· roast chicken made by my Dad.
And to end I need to pass this on to more bloggers and I better get it done quick afore next week! I say anyone could do it (religeous leanings aside my Jewish, Buddhist buddies) and here are just a few pokes for..

Monday, 15 December 2008


Forgive me, have been SLACKING! Its been a whole week since my last blog.
This is partly due to the vagaries of my phone and internet provider who are cheap for a reason. They are shit. The only reason I stay with them is that when I actually finally speak to a technician they are usually pleasant and efficient ....unlike British Telecom. BT have the worst customer service of almost any organisation in the world. It is easier to get through to a cell in Guantanomo bay then it is to get help from BT. Average on hold times were 1 hour and 30 minutes when I was last with ‘em and when you got through some dippy sarcastic bint called Shona would immediately transfer you to someone in ‘accounts’ which was really Barry on the next desk and you would be back on hold again. Purgatory is a BT holding line.

So I prefer my lot who are useless when it comes to the actual connections (my phone goes dead on average once a month) but when I get through to ‘John’ in Mumbai he is occasionally still gripping onto his sense of humour with his fingernails.

But enough of that… .

I wasn’t having a partially good week. Reya had asked me if I missed being ensconced in my book and I can only say I have been BEREFT! I know I should just start another whilst my friendly editor does the first read through but my brain has gone into a sulk of withdrawal. It freezes up at job applications, won’t turn over when prepping proposals for possible bursaries, doesn’t light up at the prospect of the gym. My brain has been sitting in a corner with its arms crossed sighing and puffing out its cheeks and refusing to participate.

To try and cheer up the rest of me I went to Bristol with the small golden hearted,bundle of energy that is dear friend Pol. She has had her car fitted with green alternative fuel (LPG/ Autogas) the only problem is finding services on route that stock it and not blowing up whilst filling the car. (It has an unsettling habit of hissing a noisy spurt of flammable stuff at you when you disconnect the fuel pipe from the car. For the first time at a service station I turned off my phone.)

Pol and I were off to the Egg Theatre in Bath to see Hattie Naylor. She is a horribly talented, award-winning writer (annoyingly beautiful too) who has transferred her darkly funny gothic radio version of ‘The Nutcracker’ onto the stage and we had been invited for opening night. The original story by Hoffman was not at all the sickly sweet, sugarplum faired, ballet version most of us have come across. It was a dark, grotesque children’s story about revenge and black magik. At half time a small child behind me was heard to say ‘I don’t want to watch anymore. Its too creepy’. Perfect fare for Xmas!

Paul Dodgeson had composed marvellous music; songs and sound effects that made me jump, hiss, grin and sing and all in all, apart from being shot in the eye by a lump of confetti during the end fight sequence it was a great evening and I thoroughly recommend the play!

My brain however is still refusing to participate. I got home hoping it would have got over its sulk but no. It doesn’t want to do anything but write zombie thrillers and refuses to even contemplate helping me get organised for my trip to Tarragona to see Mum at Christmas or to prepare for a potential job interview in the New Year. Apart from cutting its gin ration I am held to ransom until it pulls itself together.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Thin Ice

Today I went for a walk and found myself in a bit of a bind. The sunshine was brilliant. Unfortantely so brilliant my damaged retinas couldn’t cope. This combined with ice on the tarmac and my hangover (pub last night for National Novel Writing people's party) and transformed a simple stroll into an extreme sport. I had however got to a point where I couldn’t turn back…..ice and blindness equidistant either way. It became rather nerve wracking and I had to get out my cane and kind of punt myself along or cling to the railing by the riverside. A couple of times people passing very thoughtfully pointed out that it was ‘slippery as glass’ before skidding away and a dashing jogger (dashing in the Jane Austen sense as opposed to the commuter sense) paused to pant heavily and discuss his bleeding knee. He sweetly presented it to me like a ten year old. I would have got out my scars too for more bonding but was too busy trying to keep upright.

It is a strange feeling to know you have no way around something dangerous but will have to just soldeir on through. It happens to me quite a bit and it is always a weight that I feel, almost a sadness, not exhileration. The weight is a like iron though and ultimately becomes the strength I need to get home.

Blast..I should have got the jogger's number... ho hum.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Green T

Gawd, hasn’t the news been bad these last few months! We seem to stagger from one disaster to another, reeling from bankruptcy to environmental destruction to terrorism and this morning there was more talk about the noise pollution in the seas – so much so that the whales and dolphins can’t hear themselves think and can’t communicate nor navigate. I know they are all going to become extinct shortly anyway but it hardly seems fair considering their fins aren’t long enough to clap over their ears.

Was it ever thus or is it worse? I just cannot remember a time when there was a decent stretch without famine, war or ecological disaster. In the early 90’s to cope with it all I decided with my partner that ‘permaculture’ was the one true way. It meant looking at you feet, the ground you were standing on, your home, the people around you and designing ecological and responsible systems for the area you lived.

The premise was kind of: 'Once you have tidied your own house, nicely mind..with proper attention to the lime scale in the bathroom, then you can teach other people to tidy theirs. ‘ (That’s a biblical quote you know: Book of Chores; chap 10 verse 10.) In other words if we ensured we had our own sustainable system in place perhaps others would cotton on and follow. Perhaps it would spread around the entire world!

My then man and I set up the ‘Exmouth Earth Bank’ in Devon, a local charity shop and information centre dedicated to the promotion of all things sustainable from worm bins to recycled sanitary towels (don’t ask). We took over an old corner shop and painted it with organic milk based paint. It smelt like a dairy. We set up a Local Trading System and I helped my partner begin a vegetable box scheme involving and supporting local organic farmers. All this we did for free working in dead end jobs to pay the rent. And it felt great..for a while.

The only problem was that what had seemed romantic and worthy soon proved to be a bit of a grinding bore. We became friends with wonderful, innovative people but would also constantly attract the odd balls of the community; raw gallic eating fructivores who had vowed to never wash, teenage travellers with dogs on strings and stripped woolly socks who only wanted enough gardening skills to grow skunk and cider apples and who disappeared off whenever there was digging to be done, the local Marxist with his rather large shoulder chip.
I had a fight with the student volunteers in the Earth Bank shop who said I was a fascist for insisting they wear shoes. I tried to explain we were trying to bring environmentalism to a main stream audience (back then in Tory Britain, people thought environmentalism was worse then transvestism..much worse given that most of the Tory government had a penchant for French knickers and whips)

I became disenchanted, especially in the cold, wet, often frozen earth of England with the constant disapproval of much of the local conservative community. I didn’t seem to know anyone who read anything but instruction manuals on compost toilet systems and solar panels made from old radiators. Secretly I wanted to make films, to write, I wanted to travel. I wanted romance, not to spend the rest of my days packing onions, organic or no, into cardboard boxes in a freezing shed with chapped lips and only enough money for a couple of pints at the end of the week. We were saving up to buy land, some mud soaked field we could start our new life on in some freezing caravan.
For me it was never going to work. I chickened out but I have always thought that eventually I'll return to it all.... just not quite yet!

However, long story short and all that and to cheer us all up I found a couple of absolutely daft photos of me in that life and thought they might make you chuckle

Check them Little Rebel braids!