Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Keep the Managers satisfied

Click here to sing along

Gee but its great to be back at work
Work is where I want to beeeee, yeah
I ain’t been on hols for so long my friend
And if you came to work
I know you couldn’t disagree
It’s the same old story
Everywhere I go
They need projects, reports
I write words that’ll make up a Bible
And I’m one step ahead of a breakdown
Two steps away from a big whine
Just trying to keep the bank manager satisfied

Managing Director said to me
Tell me what you come here for, boy
You better get your arse into gear
Or you’re in trouble boy
And all I want to do is snore
It’s the same old story
Everywhere I go
They need projects, reports
I write words that’ll make up a Bible
And I’m one step ahead of a breakdown
Two steps away from a big whine
Just trying to keep the bank manager satisfied

And It’s the same old story
Everywhere I go
They need projects, reports
I write words that’ll make up a Bible
And I’m one step ahead of a breakdown
Two steps away from a big whine
Just trying to keep the bank manager satisfied

apologies to Paul Simon.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hooray! Hooray! it's a holi-holiday

Hooray Hooray It’s a holi holiday was the refrain from a mildly successful hit by Bony M in May 1979 so its an apt song to be rattling around my brain this morning 26 years after I first heard it!

Yes I am looking forward to the Bank Holiday Monday. What I really want to do with this day is have what I believe is called a ‘duvet day’. This means staying in bed all day reading and eating cornflakes. I have, on occasional, sampled the delights of the ‘duvet day’ and I can tell you it is delightful. In fact I believe it is beneficial to ones whole well being. One website tells us that duvet days are ‘part of the psychological contract between workers and their employers’. That’s great I never realised that apart from the paper contract we all have and which we all know is as worthless as the paper its written on, we also have a psychological contract!

Here’s what it means: ‘The term 'psychological contract' was first used in the early 1960s, but became more popular following the economic downturn in the early 1990s. It has been defined as '…the perceptions of the two parties, employee and employer, of what their mutual obligations are towards each other'

It’s a bit like being in a psychological thriller then, being at work? Both of us stalking the other with that eek eek music from ‘Psycho’ playing in the background. I take a duvet day; the Boss tries to catch me out with clever psychological questions, a bit like Columbo,

Boss: ‘so where were you yesterday’?
Me ‘er ill, yes I was ever so ill’
Boss ‘ O yes what was wrong with you, you look fine now’
Me ‘ er I had a dodgy stomach, must’ve been that curry’
Boss ‘ O, I heard you tell the secretary you had one of your headaches’
Me ‘yes I had a dodgy stomach and one of my headaches bought on by all that heaving and straining’
Boss: ‘Well the computer tells us that you seem to have regular headaches every Monday' (they have a bit of software that analyses employee’s sick days – really they do – and it picks up regular patterns)
Me: ‘er yes well it must be a reaction to sitting in front of the screen all day and all the driving I do’
Boss: 'Well I hope you’ve seen the doctor'
Me: 'yes I have an appointment next week' (No I haven’t)
Boss ‘OK I hope you feel better then’ he gives me the ‘glad eye’ and turns to leave, he reaches the door to the office and turns –
‘Oh by the Way what book were you reading in bed yesterday’
Me ‘ The Da Vinci Code’ I blurt out giving the game away
He smirks…..’Book him Danno’ he mutters out of the side of his mouth

So it’s a holi holiday on Monday and I can do what I want. Stay in bed all day. The problem is I now have a wife and the psychological contract we have is even more terrible than the one I have with my boss. My wife (and I believe this to be a common trait amongst all wives) is an expert in psychological warfare. Her silences are more damaging and disorientating than the CIA playing Jimi Hendrix out of speakers the size of the Empire State Building for Three Days None Stop (Oh yes that was Woodstock wasn’t it, people enjoyed that) Well playing that irritating frog ring tone that Mike Da Hat is on about in his blog.

So I know as it’s a bank holiday THINGS will have been planned. I have heard mutterings about the Eden project, shopping, gardening and beach. None of these come close to a day in bed, reading and eating cornflakes.

In a much much earlier blog I think I wrote about the temptations of hoiking a brick through Debenams windows or knocking the helmet off a policeman (are we allowed to say that now a days?) just to get banged up for 30 days at the local nick. Luxury eh? A month off doing nothing except reading and being buggered senseless by the large psychotic criminal one would have to share a cell with (by the way the buggering bit does not equate with the ‘luxury’ bit, perhaps I should have made that clearer in the beginning, I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong idea!) (But being buggered senseless by a psychotic criminal is probably better than having to share a cell with Jeffery Archer! – just a thought)


Hooray! hooray! it’s a holi-holiday
What a world of fun for everyone, holi-holiday
Hooray! hooray! it’s a holi-holiday
Sing a summer song, skip along, holi-holiday
It’s a holi-holiday

Have a nice one!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Life just goes on getting better doesn’t it?

Life just goes on getting better doesn’t it? I say this ironically because I seem to have the monkey of unhappiness and misfortune hanging off my shoulder. I think it’s because I pissed off God with my incessant questions as he’s now sulking and taken the comments feature and links to other blogs off his blog. Or its just cos I’m unlucky, perhaps one of those gypsy women put a curse on me because I didn’t buy a sprig of lucky heather off them once, about 12 years ago! Maybe I’ve walked under a ladder recently, but I can’t remember or that black cat didn’t cross my path but veered off at the last minute – anyway I’m not suspicious at all and those things wouldn’t affect me – touch wood!

No it’s just my life has been one misfortune after another. I told you it was my wedding anniversary on Sunday (no that’s not the misfortune, it is in fact the one shining beacon in the darkness that is my life) And that we were going to spend the weekend in Newquay, I know that’s also a bit of a misfortune as those of you who have been there will testify but the hotel was OK and we had a great view out of the window of our room of Towan Beach. We spent the afternoon lazily taking coffee in the cafĂ© overlooking Fistral Beach. Fistral is a world renowned surfing beach and the sea shone turquoise in the late May sun. Later that evening we watched the Eurovision Song Contest, this could be described as a misfortune, but we watched it because it came from Kiev and my wife being Ukrainian wanted to watch it. The night progressed.

Until at 2:30a.m. people came home from the clubs, the guys in the room next to ours were very noisy, standing in the corridors screeching and shouting, running up and down and etc etc such was the level of noise obviously we couldn’t sleep, this lasted until 6:30 in the morning when they seemed to go quite for an hour and then started up again at 7:30, you can appreciate how unhappy my wife and I were.

Anyway to cut a long story short, we complained as did other guests to the arrogant hotelier, who did, after being berated, agree to refund our money – I await the cheque – I won’t hold my breath

But even more of a misfortune is the fact that I have had to take my trousers back to Marks and Spencers, yet again. Yes once again my arse has fallen out of my trousers. Oscar Wilde would have had a field day he would have said ‘To rip one pair of trousers, Mr Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to rip both looks like you have a big fat arse.’ It has to be a fault with the garment, it must. Like I have remonstrated before, I have worn trousers all my grown up life and never once, not once, have I ripped the arse out of my trousers. So I took them back, got a refund and chose a completely different style of trousers. I will keep you posted.

I know that compared to people living in places like, say, Australia, my misfortunes might seem minuscule and irrelevant, but to a sensitive person like me they are quite big, for instance, I’m still tired after the weekend and its Wednesday now, what happened to the days when I could go out clubbing till 6:30 in the morning and still go to work the same day! And without the aid of performance enhancing drugs!

And even worse am I doomed to spend the rest of my life in those trousers with elasticated waists and voluminous bottoms, made out of crimplene, and in a fetching beige colour, the sort which you see in the Sunday supplements, in the News of the World or The People for example, not that I’ve been looking - Honest.

Monday, May 23, 2005


I was sent this 'Baton' by Gemmak, I believe that the protocol is to do it and pass it on so here goes.

The total volume of music files on my computer. 0 gigs nil, none, nada! Ask me how many gigs on my Archos mp3 player then you'll have an answer...

The last CD I bought was. Witney Houstons Greatest Hits double CD. Not that I am a great witney fan but as you will guess from the post below, it was our wedding anniversary and my wife needed presents.

Five songs I listen to a lot or mean a lot to me, in no particular order.
Hmmm 5 is quite a small number when you're in your 50's and have heard such a lot of music...

1. Suzanne by Leonard Cohen, a number of reasons, apart from being a very beautiful song, it reminds me of a 'lost love' named Sue, we met shortly after she was married and I was newly single, wrong place, wrong time...maybe in another life.

2. Sail Away With Me by David Grey which sort of reflects how I felt for a number of years

3. Christy Moore, The Voyage another beautiful song about how I feel about my family

4. The First Time Ever I saw your Face by Ewan McColl, a song written by Ewan McColl for his wife Peggy Seeger, another beautiful song.

5. Queen Bitch by David Bowie, because of his music always being in my ears.

and 6. Nanci Griffiths simply because she plays wonderful music i recommend the album The Dust Bowl Symphony (listen here) as I play it all the time and for home grown talent (to stretch the link) Juliet Turner Burn the Black Coat (Listen here).

Which 5 people are you passing this baton to and why?

Mike Da Hat cos as a musio he should have some good tunes
Ian to check out his probably esoteric choices
Gordon DiOxide - Why Not?
Watski - and again why not, it'll pass a minute...
a beer sort of girl to get an american point of view

Friday, May 20, 2005

My 1st Wedding Anniversary

Sunday is my wedding anniversary. A whole year ago I got married to my Ukrainian wife here in sunny Devon. As a treat we are spending a weekend (away from the hulking teenagers) in Sunny Newquay, the one in Cornwall. I will not be taking my surfboard as I assume that would be deemed insensitive and unromantic.

I have of course been considering what present I should buy for my dear wife. I have checked on the internet and it seems that the correct gift for a first anniversary should be of Paper. Which given the state of my bank balance after one years marriage seems to be a suitable and cheap gift. So here goes with some ideas.

Of course on first hearing that the gift should be of paper, Airplane tickets home first came to mind, but of course that is churlish and uncaring.

An anniversary website suggested ‘A lovely origami booklet or box folded in a shape that's special to the recipient. There could even be a second gift tucked into the paper’. Good idea, but as my anniversary is on Sunday, I don’t really have the time to do the ten week course in origami to be able to fold a square of paper into any shape other than a wrinkled ball that is hooped into the waste paper bin.

The next suggestion was ‘A first edition of a favourite book’ another bright idea from who ever it was put this website together. My wife is into literature, so I would hazard a guess that a first edition Tolstoy is out of my league, and as for their other suggestion of paper tickets to the theatre or cinema, give me a break, what about the paper tickets to watch England play rugby, that’s a much better use of the concept, isn’t it?

Another wedding website suggests that the modern replacement for a paper gift is a clock. Why a clock, aren’t we submerged with time telling devices? Nearly every thing electrical in our house is screaming the time at us. We have watches on our wrists, clocks on our mobiles, microwaves, TV’s, washing machines, videos. DVDs, Computers, we seem to be obsessed with watching the time fly by, maybe that’s because we never seem to have any. So a clocks out anyway I don’t have the time to buy one!

Another website suggests the ‘gift of poetry’, that could work, it’s on paper and I could write it, how romantic.

Here Goes:

On our first Anniversary
I want to say how much you mean to me
We belong together like a dog and flea
I’m glad you said you’d marry me

Now on the great and lovely day
I’ll shout as loud as a Donkey’s bray
I’ll kiss your hand if I may
I’ll promise never to run away (again)

This the day that we were wed
And remembering what went on in bed
I don’t even mind that you said
It hurts and then you bled

So this is our day my darling
I’ll probably drink a few Carling (s)
Let our love fly like starlings
Because you will be my darling

Hmmm maybe not a good gift. But hey it’s the thought that counts right?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Feminism - Its not my fault!

Do you know that there is one thing worse than a feminist and that’s a feminist academic! They walk around places like this as if they know it all and the world not only owes them a living, but all we males have to fit into this perverted world view of theirs or else they are going to walk around for the rest of their lives with their lips pursed like dogs bottoms!

Now, as you know, from many of my earlier posts, I am a caring sharing sort of guy, in the eighties I would have been called a ‘new man’. None of this laddish sexism for me, I’m a sociologist for Christ’s sake, I know all there is to know about sexism and feminism and all that boll…er malarkey.

I can cook and clean and always put the seat down after I go to the loo, I don’t know why, because if that is the protocol why don’t women put it up, after they have been? But I do, it seems to maintain some sort of balance in the universe as we know it.

When we get a DVD to watch of an evening, although my eyes always stray to the covers with Arnie, or Vin or Bruce on the front, probably running away from some tremendous explosion that they have caused, I always concur to my wife and sit and try to stay awake through some ‘romantic comedy’ or stuff like it that claims to be entertainment, and I never complain, even this is not a complaint, really, honest!

I understand feminism, probably more than the average girl on the street, I know of its theoretical importance and depth, it’s just that often the theory does not seem to work in practice. Tell me if I’m wrong. Basically feminist theories basic premise is that patriarchy has fucked the world up for women. Patriarchy being (if you are the average girl on the street) the organisation of the world by men for the benefit of men.

But let’s get this straight patriarchy as a way of organising the world was around before the Bible was written, so it’s pretty old, and get this, feminist academics, I WAS NOT BORN THEN SO ITS NOT MY FAULT. Yes I know using capitals is tantamount to shouting (another patriarchal trait no doubt designed to subjugate women). But really come on, just because you can’t be arsed to do something, it’s not my fault.

Ok this is the nub of this blog. I have been asked to do something by some one, a female, who is a feminist academic, she feels that despite the fact that I am busy, I still have to run around doing all the menial work needed for this task. When I don’t because I am busy n(and a Doc by the way) and the task in hand is her project and she should set it up so I can do my job, I get shitty emails from her.

Now really, I honestly don’t care whether a woman is a feminist or not, I can cope with their gypsy clothing, their hairy legs and the smell but I will not be put on by someone with a huge chip on their shoulder because, through no fault of their own they happened to be born a girl.

Here is a message from our sponser – LIFE IS TOUGH whether you be a man or a woman, I can’t think of one break I have been given just because I am a man, really I can’t. No doubt the feminist whisper would be ‘Har see you just take it for granted, the world is set up for men, so the benefits are invisible, woven into the comfy weft of the fabric of life, you just sit pretty while us women…’
While you women what? I never saw any the women I’ve been involved with complaining that I HAD to go to work in a factory six days a week, to keep them. I never saw many women queuing up for those jobs. I think I would like to spend some time at home not working, looking after the children. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to stay at home looking after my daughter, I have suggested it lots of times, when her mum spends hours moaning at me about how dull her life is. Life is only dull dear because you never get out and do something.

Lets just look at some statistics about the lives of men and women ( I know they are American statistics but American feminists are even worse that the British variety:

American women live, on average, seven years longer than men.
They control 86 % of all personal wealth [PARADE Magazine, May 27, 1990],
They make up 55% of current college graduates.
Women cast 54% of the votes in Presidential elections, so they can hardly claim to be left out of the political decision-making process!
They win almost automatically in child custody disputes.
Women suffer only 6% of the work-related fatalities (the other 94% are suffered by men).
Women are the victim of only about 35% of violent crimes, and only about 25% of all murders, yet because of our society's exaggerated concern and respect for them, special legislation has been passed to punish "violence against women" as if it were a more heinous crime than "violence against men".
Two out of every three dollars spent on health care is spent on women, and even if you don't count pregnancy-related care, women still receive more medical care than men
Of the 25 worst jobs, as ranked by the Jobs Related Almanac based on a combination of salary, stress, security, and physical demands, 24 of them are predominantly, if not almost entirely, male, which might explain why men commit over 80% of all suicides.

Yes so get real, I am fed up by being pursued by the thought police where every little nuance of one’s speech and actions are checked out, if we did that we’d be charged with being overbearing and dominating. All I want to check out ARE THE TITS AND ARSES (ooops sorry a touch of tourette’s there)

Anyway all we need is a great big melting pot big enough big enough for the world and all we got…

Yes why are these women so angry, I don’t believe that its anything to do with patriarchy, or the way the world is organised, I think its pure laziness and the need to pass the buck, to find an easy target, someone to blame for these peoples own shortcomings…

Live and let live is my motto, I really am not anti women, anti feminism, as I say the theoretical approach is important but get real girls….

Friday, May 13, 2005

French Hygiene Update

DAMN the French Boys showered when they got home, my thesis crashes to the ground in flames once again...

I am feeling a little pasty

I thought that I had better write this second blog today, for two reasons, the first is that it’s a slow day in the office, the second is I think I might die. So I ought to leave some last thoughts for people to remember me by.

The reason I might well pass over this afternoon, is that whilst out on my lunch time amble around the centre of town I was aware that I was a might peckish, and as it was Friday I thought that I might indulge myself in something a little more substantial than my usual ‘healthy’ lunch. I thought I would have a pasty.

It’s a common and usual sight to see people trudging around the fair and sunny City of Plymouth shoving that popular Cornish snack down their throats. It’s an age old custom is having a Pasty. Once of course they were both lunch and pudding, for traditionally they would have your meat and potatoes etc at one end and apple and fruit at the other. The Tin Miners, for that is who ate them would hold onto the pasty by the crust and then throw the crust away. Why, because the ground in Cornwall has a high percentage of Arsenic in it so if you were a dirty miner, picking up them French habits, and not washing your hands, whilst you were 200 fathoms down you might poison yourself.

Why am I telling you this, simply because I think the pasty I just had has poisoned me. One would have thought that your basic, wholemeal, vegetable pasty would have some minor health benefits. What with the wholemeal flower and the vegetables this would come close to, I would guess, providing at least one or two portions of the 5 bits of fruit and veg one should eat a day. So why am I sitting here feeling like I have just eaten the ten packets of Lard I saw a Chinese guy buy in Tesco’s the other day! (I was going to follow him to see which Chinese restaurant used cheap Tesco’s Lard to deep fry their pineapple fritters and then tell you they were vegetarian, but I couldn’t be arsed!)

It always surprises me how it is possible to take basic ingredients, mix them together to create something that has been well designed and used for centuries, and then still turn out shit? Is there a special college where these cooks go to? These crap cooks/chefs are the bane of the vegetarian’s life, they have no flair, no idea of how to cook anything unless it’s got meat in it, and they can’t seem to think further than pasta with cheese sauce, Lasagne, Mushroom risotto, or watery curry for the vegetarian.

So I am sitting here on my way out due to a badly made pasty.

The other thing that gets on my goat, is why o why do people have to tell you that you look like someone famous? And in my case why does it have to be Ozzy bloody Osbourne. I don’t look like him at all. I can walk in a straight line, my hands don’t shake like I’ve got Parkinson’s, I can speak with out slurring, I don’t have a brummy accent. The only minor resemblance is I have relatively long hair, only touching my shoulders and wear glasses, but not even round granny types, just normal trendy specsavers. But in the last few weeks a couple of people have said to me ‘O bye the way has anyone ever told you…YES NOW FUCK OFF!’

I don’t know if the Ozzy insult is as bad as a few years ago when people told me that I looked like Danny Baker! Now he’s a Fat Cockney C*&+ ! That was a true insult. I mean someone, not a girl unfortunately, even came up and asked me in the middle of a club, while I was dancing. How Rude. Why can't they mistake me for Jude Law, or Brad Pitt or even Bryan Ferry especially as I spent many a teenage evening practising to be him in front of a mirror - how sad is that?

My stomach still feels like the landfill at Windscale and is emitting strange noise and I am sure the pressure is building up in there. In deference to my new trousers, which I have worn again this week, and not ripped once, I will not attempt to fart once the pressure has reached a head in fear of having to stagger, bowlegged, back down to M&S for some new ones.

I await my fate, with dignity and poise. And in the meantime, now this blog is finished, spend the rest of the afternoon phoning people and surfing t’internet until I am, alas, no more…..I might be some time…...

Have a nice one!

Newport Gwent and other Miscellanea

As per usual I have been out and about around this pleasant country of ours. This time I have been to Wales, land of song, an up and coming Rugby team or so I’m told and Tom Jones. There is an Old Welsh joke which goes something like:

What’s the best thing to come out of Wales?

I don’t know, what is the best thing to come out of Wales?

The M4!

Funny eh!

Anyway, I went to Wales, Newport to be exact. I have never been to Newport and drove into town, after dumping my stuff at the hotel, with a rising sense of expectation. Well I guess New port was once New but it now seems to be a little down at heel and not yet seen much of the redevelopment that’s going on in other towns. It also seems to be Chav Central. Newport must have some of the highest levels of truancy in the UK if the number of kids roaming the streets was anything to go on. They were being shadowed by large numbers of police too. Here in Plymouth one hardly sees a policeman in the city centre, they’re all off somewhere harassing asylum seekers or something, but in Newport they were roaming around in groups of two. I didn’t stay long and spent the evening reading in my hotel in case I was Happy Slapped!

But yesterday we had a team day, I’ve written about team days before, this one was great.

What we had to do was various exercises all to do with our jobs, it was meant to be a ‘fun’ day in the same way as dentists try to brighten up their rooms to make your visit to the dentist ‘fun’! Yes the Boss was there in his ‘casual’ clothes, making sure he had a word or two with everyone, making jovial quips that we all tittered to and then wished that either you or he were somewhere else.

Now the exercises, all carried out by someone from personnel, a South African women, can somebody tell me why all the trainers we use are from the Southern Hemisphere? Is it because they are lazy bastards and running a group is about one of the easiest things they can manage apart from running a bar?

Anyway the sorts of things we had to do were to ‘brainstorm’ good ideas about various aspects of the departments work, these were all stuck on the wall and we had faux prize giving for the best ideas and so on. All done in a ‘safe’ environment, where we could ‘think outside of the box’, run ‘flags up the pole’ and other bollocks.

Now this might be fun, but you know that the ideas under ‘cost cutting’ and ‘work environment’ will immediately be plagiarised by the bosses who will take the best ideas and present them as their own to their bosses, who will take the ‘fun’ ideas for cost cutting given in the ‘safe’ environment and implement them. So basically our team day out is an exercise in cutting our own throats.

A French hygiene update:
We have two French Boys staying with us, they came last night. They are about 13/14 I would guess. The left the house this morning WITHOUT washing or going to the toilet. My thesis is at last proved. The French don’t wash! I suppose however, as I am a scientist that it could just be, at the outside, maybe it’s because they are boys of 13/14 who only wash when they are told too, the world over.

Hmmm, my investigations continue…..

Monday, May 09, 2005

I Love Car Booting

I like Car Booting. In fact I’ll go further than that I Love Car Booting. Well not really LOVE it but I enjoy it. I go as often as I can which is probably about three times a week. (for you Americans I’ll add that a Car Boot sale is a bit like a garage sale but in a field, with lots of people selling their accumulated junk to people like me for not much money!) Yes three times a week, that’s Saturday morning, Sunday Morning (two car boots) and sometimes Thursday morning. I get there early because as a serious car booter, I want the best bargains.

And there are bargains to be had and you can be sure that within an hour of the purchase said bargain will be up for sale again on ebay. Because, I am an even more serious ebayer than I am a carbooter, although the former would not exist without the latter.

Now the main problem with car booting, and I am sure you will agree with me, is the people. Why do they let so many people in, all of whom have one thing in common, they are there to GET IN MY WAY! This is frustrating for the serious car booter, when the aisle between the stalls get so packed I have to dance and weave my way through the crowds like Muhammad Ali did with Sonny Liston. I only wish I packed his punch.

Serious Carbooting means one has to scoot around all the stalls as quick as possible to catch that bargain before someone else does, so it means speed shopping. Women, who we know hold all the World Records for shopping, would be outclassed on the car boot field. That’s how fast we are. Then once the first circuit is done, then the serious delving into boxes begins.

My speciality is books, which does slow one down a bit, as you do have to rummage through boxes to find those elusive first editions. But I also look for other plunder, like the Faberge Silver Vodka glass I saw someone had bought (via a TV programme) for 20p at a car boot sale. Yesterday I bought a Picasso! For £1! You can see it here: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6530975065&rd=1&sspagename=STRK%3AMESE%3AIT&rd=1

But what gets my goat above and beyond the people who get in your way, even more so than the people who think it’s a good idea to push a double buggy through the crowds (I know I know Mum’s with kids deserve a life too, but should be banned from carboot sales or have special car boot sales with extra wide aisles like in Mothercare!). Yes what gets my goat more than mums with buggies, o yes and those old people in their electric trikes, and people who know more about antiques than me, is those people who, when one is rummaging through a box, looking for that elusive signed, first edition William Shakespeare, dare to start rummaging too! How dare they, this is my box, stay out until I have finished! How rude!

O how I enjoy pawing through other peoples junk. But even better is finding that bargain for 10p and seeing it realise a tidy profit on ebay. I think ebay will soon become the only way to buy and sell stuff. Indeed ebay itself is like a global carboot sale, with buyers and sellers from all over the world. Yes the global economy and postal services are flourishing through the amount of junk that’s winging its way across the Oceans.

Recently I sent 12 plates, nothing special, to some guy in Japan. He paid the postage of £60 to get them and I don’t think they ever arrived. Somewhere, either an untrustworthy Japanese Postman is eating his sushi of some, frankly horrible plates, with a four-leaf clover pattern on them, or there is a box full of china shards still endlessly circling the globe moving from one destination to another.

The downside of this of course is that my house is slowly filling with unsold books and other people junk. Strange as it may seem some of the stuff I buy doesn’t even sell on ebay. I mean am I the only mug who would buy this stuff? I thought it was worth a punt but obviously my good taste is not shared by others. Nevertheless the pile of books gets bigger every day.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel for there is always that day when I will cross the line and move from becoming a buyer, a dealer, to becoming a seller. Yes that great day when I can stand there, in the drizzle, at 7:00 in the morning, haggling over a rare and important book, that is initially priced (in my mind only, price chosen on spec at the muttered request of the prospective buyer – ‘how much for the book guv?’) ‘er two fifty,’ I say with an expectant note in my voice, he’ll paw through the book, checking the publication date, the condition of the boards, - the game is on, ‘How about a quid’ he’ll respond holding the book out to me, I’ll consider, this frankly, insulting offer, for about a good 2 seconds, ‘Ok I’ll say do you need a plastic bag’? I add helpfully.

Yes what other hobby can get you out of bed early, give you some exercise and makes money at the same time, that is apart from prostitution, which I have never considered - yet!

Friday, May 06, 2005

Labour Wins! The City Hoots!

THE City breathed a sigh of relief this morning after Labour was returned to office’ was the headline on the BBC website this morning. It went on to add ‘Labour's economic policies and the certainty will be welcomed in the financial markets’. How the World and Labour politics have changed, once the City and the financial markets would have quaked with fear at the mere prospect of a Labour Victory. Shares would drop, pop stars would be seen packing their tawdry belongings into Lear jets and jetting off to some marble mansion in the Costa Del Sol to await the return of the Tories and people would start buying gold to hide under their beds.

I think it was Lenin or it could have been Marx, I’m not quite sure this time in the morning, who once told us of the futility of democracy and of the utter futility of elections. Elections change nothing for the proletariat. All elections do is change the managers of Capitalism. Whatever political party is in power the proletariat is still the dominated class, still exploited for their labour, making fat profits for the bourgeoisie, the managers and owners of Capitalism. Elections are simply a smoke screen, a mirage that tricks us into thinking that we really do have a say in the running of our country, that we are involved – Marx has a word for this, False Consciousness.

Oh I agree that we will probably still be marginally better off under Tony Blair, than Michael Howard, yes he will make some minor concessions to keep the masses happy, buts that what they always have been and always will be, minor concessions. Most of us will never see the riches accrued by the Capitalist Bourgeois, most of us will toil in our 8hr a day, five day a week wage slave condition until its time to retire and then what? What are we promised in this rich and economically viable country, sod all? What’s the message to all of us in our 40’s and 50’s, ‘don’t expect a pension when you lot retire’ . No lets just keep on working ourselves into the ground with nothing to look forward too except penury.

And if we have been paying into a pension fund, who gets rich? Yes the pension fund owners, not us, because by the time we need a pension they’ll tell us that the market failed, stocks and shares go up and down you know, or the firm just stopped trading. This is of course, the same firms that are able to pay their directors millions of quid a year, give them huge bonuses and a pension that is larger than the Gross National Product of some smaller African States!

Don’t get me wrong I would have voted, although I didn’t simply because we moved and my vote was about 40 miles away, I would have voted purely because if we have to have somebody in power then let’s keep the idiots and Tories out, I’ve had enough of them in my life thanks very much!

Well at least the yobs in the City are happy with the outcome of the election, and it’s the result I would have wanted, although I am still awaiting the fulfilment of the predictions of Karl Marx, he does predict the collapse of Capitalism and the move to Socialism and then to Communism. (Remembering of course that what happened in the Soviet Union, China etc was not Communism as Marx envisaged or predicted). Unfortunately, it may be a long time coming as we are too wrapped up in our consumer culture, in our mobile phones, broadband downloads, and plasma TVs, the toys created to keep our minds off the real issues of the day - our domination and exploitation, and that other Lenin says, that’s John Lennon to you:

Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV,
And you think you're so clever and classless and free,
But you're still fucking peasents as far as I can see,
‘Revolution – you know it makes sense’.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Up The Revolution!

As its election day here and everybody’s thoughts and blogs have turned to politics I thought I would follow up Watski’s blog and our syncronisitous mentioning of Robert Tressells book ‘The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.’ (Go on read it). We also made reference to The Socialist Worker which is, for our foreign readers, a political newspaper that follows (for the purist) a strictly Trotskyist line, you know the one, the revolutions not over till the fat bourgeois sing!

Yes the Socialist Sun, as it is well known as, preaches revolution and I for one would recommend it (as I do to my OU students) if only to balance out the right wing rubbish that one can read in the Daily Mail, Express and other so called ‘news’ papers. It’s a refreshing sort of read and is a sight more interesting than Radio Moscow was when I used to listen to it in the 1970’s with its endless lists of which tractor factory had doubled its output and how the capitalist running dogs of imperialism (hello America!) were creating mayhem in the glorious Soviet republic of North Vietnam. I think I used to fall asleep I mean it can’t all have been lists of successful factories and attacks on the Americans, can it?

Anyway the crux of this blog and the story I am going to tell is about the Poll Tax Riot of March 31st 1990 which turned into one of the biggest riots ever seen in central London. Now at the time I was not only a member of the Labour party but I was also an elected member of Plymouth City Council. Being an elected member meant that you could not be in arrears with your Poll Tax according to Section 106 of the Local Government Act which was passed by the Thatcher Govt to put a stop to our ‘Loony Left activities. So obviously being a regular reader of the Socialist Sun and a fully paid up member of the ‘loony left’ I was in arrears and was summarily charged by the Police, along with 11 other of my colleagues and one Tory councillor for being in breach of section 106 . Yes the Tory who had grassed us to the Police never thought they would get one of their own. Anyway to cut a long story short 10 of us were acquitted including the Tory and the case went on to the High Court.

This then outlines my commitment and opposition to the Poll Tax and as a councillor, I also supported people in Plymouth who were having their doors burst open by the bailiffs seizing goods from these poor people’s homes to pay their Tax (Thatcher was a wicked witch).

Now my cousin, who I believe is also soon to become a Dr. Rob, was at that time very active in the Socialist Workers Party in one of the peoples republics of London, he had an official position in the local party and I believe his girlfriend of the time was the treasurer of the party. He was always encouraging me to leave the labour party and go with the SWP. Anyway come the big day of the rally in London to protest against the injustice of the Poll Tax.

We drove up, picking up some friends on the way who were members of the Communist Party of GB and we were all looking forward to a nice stroll around the City of London. We were all veteran protestors, and had been in London on many many marches, CND, Anti Aparthied and so on. We joined the march on the embankment as usual and the tens of thousands of people started to wend their way towards Trafalgar Square.

It was a nice day as I remember it; the march was full of ordinary people making their protest heard, mums and dads with kids, pushchairs, not just the usual politically motivated protesters.

Then we got to Whitehall and soon were in the vicinity of 10 Downing St. By this time Downing St had been blocked off by the high security fence you see now.. When I was a child on holiday in London, we had walked down Downing St and done what many people had done before, had their picture taken outside of No 10. No so in the late Seventies, Thatcher had put up the barricades. As we got near to Downing St the march stalled and some people attempted to sit down and stop the march outside the barricades. Soon the Police started to turn up with loud hailers to get people moving, I started to see figures with black balaclavas on run through the crowds and as I turned to look down the road I could see mounted police starting their way towards us.

I suggested to our friends that we should start moving on up towards Trafalgar Sq, as we did we had two stop two elderly American Tourists from proceeding down towards Downing St and turned them back towards Trafalgar Sq. As we moved up Whitehall, we could see the Mounted Police and behind them the Territorials, the Riot Police, with their long truncheons, helmets and shields starting to force people up the road towards Trafalgar Sq.

Seeing this My wife, myself and friends dived down a lane off Whitehall but it was a dead end. But there were loads of families down there with prams and such, by this time things had started to turn ugly in the streets, so we all dived under two large telecom lorries that had been parked there.

Soon the territorials came down the lane and made us get out from under the lorries and to move back into Whitehall, they forced us to move, women children, mothers with pushchairs by beating us with their shields, we didn’t want to go out. When we got to the lane end looking out into Whitehall with Trafalgar sq to our right it was like World War Three. Police and demonstrators were fighting, bottles, trash, metal barriers, all sorts we’re flying through the air. There were bodies on the ground, some guy was being beaten by two or three coppers in front of us, it was terrifying.

The territorials told us to go and move into Trafalgar Sq to the right, but to do that was death, so we ran across the street, to be stopped by more Police, who asked us where we were going, we told them we were told to come this way, in this way we were able to escape the mayhem of Trafalgar Sq and walk back the way we came down Whitehall. We passed one woman who looked to me like she was dead. We were the only four people walking away from the Sq, down Whitehall.

Later I spoke to my cousin, the Socialist Worker and asked him if he was at the riot, as I expected that the SWP would be in the thick of it. He said No, he and his mates spent the afternoon in the pub! His girlfriend the SWP treasurer, an afternoon at the pictures.

I tell you, come the glorious day of the revolution; the SWP will not be in the Vanguard of the Proletariat, why not? Because they will be in the bloody pub just talking about the revolution!

No comrades, Revolution is made on the streets by the people for the people!

Viva la Revolution! As some bearded guy on a tee shirt once said.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Workers Flag is Deepest Red - but not on Mayday when the shops are open thanks!

may day banners Posted by Hello

So that was May Day was it? International Workers Day, May 1st, the day that commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world (ironically, except, of course, in the USA where the concept of MayDay, as a Workers Day was invented in 1886, from an original idea by the Australians, of course -who would have thought it! So its not a commie/russkie plot after all!) I must say that here in Sunny Plymouth I never noticed the difference. It seems, according to the press that rallies have been held in Havana, Moscow, Zimbabwe, China, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia, all around the world it seems, so why can’t I find any reports about a rally in London? Was there a rally or were people too busy shopping?

There was, it seems, a May Day event on Plymouth Hoe, so I wandered up there on Monday to have a look, perhaps browse through the stalls, perhaps to buy a ‘Socialist Worker’ newspaper from some scruffy git who looks like they never did an hours work in their life. All there was up there was a stage where local bands were pumping out loud and distorted rock, a beer tent, a small table with leaflets about vivisection, some environmentalists, a table full of republicans and about 50 or so assorted skateboarders, aging hippy/alternative types (probably the sk8tbrds parents), various Goths or those types that have morphed into Avril Lavene type gothboarders, not a trade unionist in sight. Not one banner or slogan, no red flags, no signs of unity or comradeship.

There used to be a rally or march in most towns a while ago but now it seems that people use the May Day holiday as an extending shopping day, so rather than commemorating the historic struggle of the workers, they prefer the heroic struggle of walking around dfs looking at cut price sofas or B&Q looking at stuff for that garden project they saw on TV or just meandering around town looking to buy something. O pernicious Capitalism, O how successful was Margaret Thatcher when she claimed ‘There is no such thing as society, only individuals and families’. O how we have turned our backs on such things as solidarity and comradeship.

People have forgotten, or have never been told, about the successful struggles of the Trades Unions and the Labour movement. They seem to think that we have always had a health service, and an educational system, and decent working hours and more than 6 pence a day for the sum of ones labours and decent working conditions, and decent living standards. These things had to be fought for by the working classes of this country and of course the World. Read Robert Tressells 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' for a very readable account of how capitalism operates in the workplace.

May Day should be the day to celebrate the successes of labour, a day to come together with ones fellow workers, to show the World, that we might not be rich but we are proud of what we do and who we are. But no, we shop, we stay at home and watch bad TV, we remain secluded, individualised and alienated from our fellow man/woman. No wonder most of us are on Prozac and suicide rates are rising, Karl Marx is probably spinning in his grave.

Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right.
No one will for bread be crying
We'll have freedom, love and health,
When the grand red flag is flying
In the Workers' Commonwealth.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The art of small talk at funerals

On Friday I went to the funeral of a favourite aunty. As with any funeral it was a sad occasion as Aunty Elsie had been very popular and had been very close to my mum and dad (she was my mums sister), they had spent many holidays together throughout the years and she will be missed.

Fortunately I haven’t been to many funerals in my life, but I am aware that as one gets older one becomes more and more acquainted with them, until, at last one becomes the ‘unwitting’ centre of attention!

What distracted me the most yesterday, despite the sadness of the occasion, was the type of small talk that was going on. I think there is scope here to publish a small but important book, entitled something like ‘Small Talk at Funerals – A Guide’ - this is a ‘working title’ of course. But I think it could be a best seller for those of us who can’t think of the right thing to say at funerals.

One of the things about going to family funerals is that you tend to meet other members of your family; aunts, uncles, and cousins, some of whom you might not have seen for about 20 years, so this offers plenty of opportunity for small talk of the nature of, ‘doesn’t time fly’, ‘my you don’t look any different do you’ ‘you’re looking well’, ‘so when was the last time we met? Oh yes at that wedding when we caught you snogging your cousin!

For the casual acquaintance or friend of the deceased, there are the old standby’s, like ‘It’s a beautiful day for it’, or ‘what a lovely spot’ for the graveside of course, ‘wasn’t it a lovely service’ and ‘wasn’t the vicar a lovely man’.

I guess we small talk because we don’t want to state the obvious such as ‘Aunty Elsie is dead and I’ll really miss her and I wished I had gone and seen her more often, even more so as she had been ill and in a Hospice and despite that she still found time to send the children £5 each for Easter!’ and then fall wailing and gnashing on the coffin.

I would much prefer to make small talk that remembers the deceased, but the funeral seems to be the wrong time, as we are all red eyed with tears and snotty nosed with grief. So we make generalised small talk to mask our grief and the fact that we do in fact want to collapse on the floor wailing, like we see people doing the third world. I think a good wail would be more honest than muttering, ‘nice day for it’!

Nice day for it! There’s never going to be a nice day for a funeral, maybe a day with thunder crashing and lightening bolts splitting the heavens, highlighting the fullest range of Gods wrath, would be a good day for a funeral, or maybe Friday was a nice day for it, the sun was shining and the Rape fields in the distance looked like pools of golden light.

God, if you’re reading this (and I know you do), please let your light shine down on Aunty Elsie, lead her into golden pastures, feed her the fatted calf, let her drink ambrosia for eternity and generally show her a good time, if you know what I mean.


Today’s blog is dedicated to Aunty Elsie; please remember her in your prayers.