Wednesday, January 30, 2008


My body is full of broken glass.
Big shards clink dully,
press against my skin.
I know if I look down,
I'll see their sharp outlines,
pushing out as though I were made of rubber.

I don't dare look down.

I sit afraid to move:
the noise of the glass grates on my ears
and it will pierce me through.
No-one can touch me;
I cannot press my fingers to my sides,
it'll slice through my skin and cut my fingertips.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chimp champ

I watched some interesting tv today: Ayumu the chimpanzee demonstrating eidetic memory feats that put a British memory man to shame. It's no great surprise when other species are stronger, faster or have better senses, but mental abilities are supposedly our preserve. Of course that's a natural bias if you're a human!

Monday, January 28, 2008


That tv advert for a movie channel that shows a run-down cityscape while playing a song from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? It shows cleared hoardings & skeletons of frames with buzzing bare lightbulbs. The claim is that's better than with the adverts, (which is the same way they show their films. Taa-daa).

Riiiight... It would work if the city looked nicer without, but frankly I think they should slap up some posters and get the neons on quick-smart.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

"Making it worse? How could it be worse?! Jehovah!"

As a teen, I lived somewhere that was visited regularly by Jehovah's Witnesses. I suppose a lot of places are: you get out of the habit of having unsolicited callers when you live-in. I remember pairs of over-scrubbed and earnest, suited young men from those days.

It seems new to me, the visiting with children. But as a teenaged girl, I would probably remember earnest young men more...

Anyway, I see the logic in it. Nothing says family like a family standing there. Two earnest young men says cult. Sorry, pairs of earnest young men. The couple with the baby in the pushchair who went round the old village I thought was quite charming really. I like babies... I'm not so comfortable about the man and little girl that came to my door this morning. She was about my daughter's age and it gives me pause. Maybe people are less likely to slam the door and be horrendously rude when there is a child there? I hope so. My very very brief stint doing door-to-door sales still makes me shudder. It's not something I'd want my child doing.

I suppose children love to do what their parents do and she may really want to go evangelising with her dad. I presume he was her dad.

JWs always seem to start off with "Are you worried about the way the world is going?" To which I usually reply "No", which throws them a bit. I wouldn't want to have lived at any other time in history, I don't think. I rather doubt there's ever been a golden age. Hunter-gatherer times might have been interesting, but then I'm not that keen on getting rained on or outdoor toileting.
The biggest fear factor for me is religious fundamentalism and fanaticism currently, which I doubt is something that religion can help me with! At least JWs are apolitical, I suppose.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Womiting bad sorr"

We have been experiencing norovirus this week. Which conjures up images of wrinkly stockings and Compo*.

Thus the computer sat silent for a few days while the bathroom has seen as much action as it can stand. Buckets and bowls have done their duty too. That's one good thing about being a child, you get to lie in bed and your parent gets to hold the bucket for you. Beats having to leg it to the toilet. Although they seemed to think it was pretty ghastly all the same. Don't know they're born!

You get used to having whole nights of sleep. With babies, you become accustomed to living, well, subsisting on minimal sleep and 'though you're the waking dead most of the time, it gradually gets better. Next thing you know, you're sleeping all night and taking it for granted like it's normal. It's a real shocker when something disturbs that blissful sleeping-through routine again.

When Jon Bon Jovi sings that he'll sleep when he's dead, it gets me quite riled. I can scarcely believe it might once have been a view I'd have subscribed to. Ha! What foolishness to denigrate the glories of a good night's kip. Alas, I've been reliving the baby nights but with added poo and vomit. Yes, there was poo and vomit in the baby days, but despite babies' reputations, it was blander stuff and not as much as you might think. You don't really want me to elaborate.

* And actually that ties in quite neatly with the womiting of the title, since that was from James Herriot and that was set in the Yorkshire Dales like Last of the Summer Wine. So it's all intermeshing marvellously.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Guinea pigs, episode 7

A couple of days ago, I found a taker for two guinea pigs of the female persuasion. She has identified and baggsied the pair she wants. Excellent.

And yesterday I was reliably informed of another woman who is willing to take all the remaining females.

I floated the idea to the children of rehoming both Nibbles and Bubbles with the latter woman, since she is greedy for guinea pigs (but not so greedy she wants an ever-multiplying supply), in order to keep the two boars ourselves. S loves Tulla, you see. But it went down like a lead balloon, as you can imagine.

I may have been a little evil to even suggest it.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Human beings

The way that the Ipswich murders and the current trial of Steven Wright is reported makes me furious and sick at heart. The first word about the victims is always prostitute.

All apparently that we need to know about the murdered women is that they ended up working as prostitutes. Their youth, their families, their children, all completely uninteresting.

I had the misfortune to follow some links to a recent article by Richard Littlejohn #hawk, spit#, fool that I am. If ever there was a man who deserved to be stuffed into a barrel, padded with burning copies of his own excremental writing and fired into a cesspool, it is he. Him drowning in a pit of shit would be a truer realisation of the words: "No great loss"*. To dismiss the victims and depict them as worthless is to dehumanise them and downplay the gravity of the crime, of murder, of serial murder. If being killed is an "occupational hazard" of prostitution then it behoves us to protect women in this situation, to get rid of the culture that they are disposable, shouldn't be believed, should expect violence and deserve all they get. Not promulgate and condone this attitude.

Human beings.

* And yes, I do see the minor hypocrisy there! Even such as Littlejohn can probably claim human as his species. Although he does it no credit.

Friday, January 18, 2008

"The strangers you would bring would not understand us, our customs, our local ways."

I was walking young master T to his preschool this morning, when a local man passed us. We smiled a hello and T waved. The man greeted us in return and added shirtily, "Aha, young man, at least you wave ... unlike your mother."


If I see him out and about, I always say hello and smile. His house is along the road we walk, and I could leer in his windows everytime we go by, but I don't. I think it's rude to look in people's windows. Maybe it isn't, according to local ways: maybe he's glued to the glass, waving desperately each time we pass and I appear to be studiously ignoring him.

I don't want to start staring in his windows: what if he's picking his nose or watching Jeremy Kyle or something equally shameful?

For the record, if I don't see you, I'm not going to bloody wave. What am I, a bleeding ocean?

"I've worn dresses with higher IQs"

No doubt my talk of guinea pigs is rather dull, but it's probably the most exciting thing that's happened to me in ages.

Or not. And bear with me, it's not all I intend to talk about in this entry...

Anyway, today was the great sexing day of the babies, and we have five girls and two boys. Tulla turns out to be a boy, as does Conti. I had suspected as much. They seemed more testosterone-driven.

As I was driving to the vet for the veterinary nurse to investigate guinea pig posteriors, a complete arse of a driver made me furious and shaky. He was driving within inches of my back bumper, swerving out to look at the road ahead and zooming back in. And what the fuck good it would have done him to pass me on that stretch of road I do not know - there were two huge lorries in front of me and I could go no faster. Had he got past me, he would have been going the same speed. There was no way he'd get past them two big buggers because that road is pure corner and sudden narrowings. Arsehole!

I gave him the finger when he eventually got past me. Which was probably unwise, but he was in too much of a hurry to stop and smash my windows. When he got to the dual carriageway he undertook someone and was still tailgating like a pair of electric blue loon-pants.

Amusingly, he was still only two cars ahead when I turned off 5 miles later. Mwhahahaha.

Some Otto seems á propos:

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Just desserts

I was rewarded for good behaviour today with a sticker. T acquired it from the fruit we'd bought.

Thus I spent the day with "ripe and ready melons" stuck to my chest.

Monday, January 14, 2008

More regarding guinea pigs

Listening to Bill Bailey on the subject of guinea pigs on QI the other day cheered me up a bit. His guinea pigs apparently live their lives in a state of terror too.

Well, it's no wonder what with monstrous giants picking them up, which are obviously predators with the gnashy pointy teeth and the forward-facing eyes. The creatures might never have actually hurt them, but the potential is there through a guinea pig's paranoid eyes.

Perhaps they know about fattening up. Or research labs.

It was muck-out day, so I decanted them into a cardboard box, and took the opportunity of photographing the babies and weighing them. The older set are coming up to weaning age, and I wanted to check their body-weight was within recommended parameters. Which it is, and they may yet have to fear being cavy á l'orange, being so chubby and us on our uppers.

Cows and being mad

I was driving home after the school run, thinking rather fierce and pissed-off things about things that are making me rather fierce and pissed-off... I glanced into the field alongside the road and saw a cow just strolling along minding its own business and muttered to myself "bloody cow" with real vindictiveness in my mind.

A second later, I realised that being angry with a cow is a bit odd. For what? Having the audacity to stroll along in its own field in my eyeline? The cheek! My anger evaporated and I chortled insanely to myself as we drove along.

Daft as a brush.

Now I have the student-days James song, Sit Down, "when you find yourself ridiculous..." as the soundtrack running through my brain.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My heart goes boom-diddy-boom-diddy...

Something I approve of from Gordon Brown? Never say so! Well, being on the left politically it probably ought to go without saying I'd agree with some Labour government policy, I suppose, but it ain't necessarily so ... but this is one of those times: I read an article about the government and come away feeling quite positive about it. Huzzah, put the flags out.

He is supporting a change to opt-out from opt-in for organ donation. This should mean that in the normal course of events, unless the recently deceased has specified they do not want their organs used for transplants, it'll be all systems go snippety snip, choppety chop, splurt. According to the figures in that article only 20% of people are on the donation register, while 90% claim to be in favour of doing it.

So a hell of a lot of people are either all mouth and no organs, or they haven't got round to signing up yet*. With presumed consent, this gap between what folks say and what they bother to do would be closed up somewhat. I like it. I hope the change is made.

* Not signed up to donate your organs in case of untimely demise? Do it now!

Internet evangelist

Now before I start I'd like to make it plain that I accept that all internet evangelists are not the same and some behave with grace and wit. And that some atheist debaters are rude and obnoxious.

The thing that evangelists have to deal with that an atheist does not is that there are a set of rules/expectations that go with being a believer. A Christian, for example, is expected to demonstrate the old offering the other cheek and so forth. An atheist has no such expectations on them because atheism is simply a lack of belief in god(s) and while some atheists might have a lot in common with each other, they may not also. This of course gives the atheist an advantage in debate, at least should it become personal which it often seems to online, because it is loopy to describe one's opponent as a bad atheist whereas the charge of being a bad Christian or bad example of a Christian is more easily levelled.

At the same time, however, Christians can argue that persons displaying poor Christian values* yet claiming Christianity, such as I don't know, evergreen haters, the Phelpses, can be dismissed as not "real" Christians or not understanding their own religion.

Still, I found such an alleged Christian commenter on P-Momma (Atheist in a Minivan)'s blog extraordinary a few days ago, and it keeps bothering me, so I'm doing what I do, which is to empty out the thoughts here. The commenter, H, claimed to be some sort of Christian and had been discussing points made in P's blog on and off for a while. One day P made a post in which she explained how her illness, lupus, affects her: just venting, really. H immediately started in on comments about how her religion would help P and how her church could help if she, H, asked them to. She also suggested that atheists would not help and atheism doesn't "pay".

Unbeknowst to H, Berlzebub had taken up a collection in order to make some practical alterations to P's house to try to improve her quality of life. I get the feeling that when H realised this, it quite ticked her off.

She dismissed this effort with "That is nothing compared to what I had lined up for you." Which was what? Something vague, allegedly from her church but only on the basis that H asked on P's behalf and she would withhold asking because she didn't like P's pov. To say to someone you could help them but won't, is very ugly. I'm not saying H had any obligation to help P, even had she the power which I doubt, but to sneer and claim to withhold help is just nasty.

Anyhow, as of the 13th, readers of P's blog had raised a little under a thousand dollars and they're not done yet, which I think is pretty amazing from the blogging community. And all comes no strings attached.

Yah boo sucks to H.

* Although which particular values can only be ascribed to Christians or which only come from Christianity is debatable. Since, for example, the Golden Rule has been around in various forms in various religions and philosophy for a very long time. Plato had it in his Laws in 360 BCE and here's a site showing its appearance in different religions, back to Ancient Egypt.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Not my idea of fun

I just started a book by Will Self called My Idea of Fun, but I think in retrospect I shall not bother with it after all. I'm not in the mood for dark and harrowing and I'm not in the mood for long words where short ones will suffice: "My father was a tenebrous, as well as a taciturn man". This last coming from me may possibly be somewhat hypocritical, as there's nothing I like more than to use stupidly long words and pompous expressions. But it amuses me when it's from myself - it's not something I necessarily want to endure from anyone else.

I have definitely got to the happy point with my reading habits that if it doesn't catch me in the first few pages, it isn't going to get read. And descriptions of decapitating tramps and sexually molesting the corpse are not the way to keep my attention.

Back to the charity shop for that one, I think.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An entry demonstrating annoying vagueness

I have had two bits of news today. One bit makes me very happy for a friend. The other is a bit of a pisser, and that's an understatement.

And that's all I have to say about that.


I find it extraordinary to read on-line today that (in this day and age!) a woman worries that she is emasculating her partner by being capable of chopping wood and fixing bits & bobs around the house.

That's ridiculous, surely? How could someone's sense of self be so fragile as to be threatened by another human being capable of tackling the same task?

I positively enjoy things like chopping wood and heavier types of gardening. I loathe fiddly bits and don't have the patience for them usually. Should I pretend to be incapable of things I'm perfectly capable of and faff about doing the things I detest to preserve some idiotic social convention?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Tenant of Wildfell Hall

I started reading the Tenant of Wildfell Hall last night: just for an hour, I thought, before I go to sleep. At 3am I had to force myself to turn off the light. I finished it this morning as soon as I got the opportunity. I'd been expecting to have to make myself read the novel as it could happily be labelled "classic" literature, and therefore = worthy, possibly even high-brow, and all that.

Novels of this era/type often irritate me madly with over-blown emotional hullabulloo, romantic over-thinking and misunderstandings, which would be sorted out if the characters involved actually talked to each other sensibly. This sort of misunderstanding did happen in the Tenant, but Helen, the main female character didn't annoy me in the same way as other romance novel (if that's a fair description) heroines often do, (although I found her endless virtue and piety somewhat hard to stomach at times, too dutiful by half). But she was no fainting flower, and had strength of character and mind of her own. Unlike Jane Eyre's chaotic and impetuous flight from Rochester (although I suppose her case was very sudden), Helen's initial escape plan from her husband was organised and relied on her own abilities, a thinking as well as feeling female character.

The novel can be viewed as a proto-feminist text, and it certainly is an indictment of inequality in marriage, of woman as chattel, of the sexual double standards of the times.

Feminism is sometimes seen like a dirty word amongst women of my generation and younger, not something they want to be associated with. What has feminism, all this social change, ever done for me?* It's given us the vote, a voice, the ability to divorce crap/violent/abhorrent husbands or ones we just don't love any more, and not automatically lose any children from the marriage, we can own property and not be property, we can earn and keep our own money, we can slam the door in the faces of husbands in a row (apparently very shocking in those days - and hey, it's not a good night now in any household, but it's not shocking - and it's very much the done thing if you happen to live in a soap opera) and not have sex with them if we don't want to, although this last (rape within marriage) has only relatively recently been recognised as a criminal offence. And more besides.

* To paraphrase the Life Of Brian... Oh, that reminds me, I watched that again recently and it struck me that although it is often considered a blasphemous film, Jesus is a background figure, busy working miracles and giving sermons, in no way portrayed as a fake. I don't suppose it makes some of the ideas contained therein any less "blasphemous", but it's surely organised religion, ritual and gullibility that are the targets. Praise the gourd.

It's the seeing the bright side of crucifixion that's the problem, I imagine...

Reading Record 2008

Yes, this entry shall be a list of books I've read this year, in the style of previous reading record posts that I have known and loved, such as the mighty 2006 one and the sturdy, sterling 2007 one. Wholly uninteresting to anyone but me.

So let me begin:

Mort / Terry Pratchett - re-read
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
/ Mark Twain
Night Watch
/ Sarah Waters
Blue Shoes & Happiness
/ Alexander McCall Smith
Oryx & Crake
/ Margaret Atwood
The Stainless Steel Rat Omnibus / Harry Harrison
Moll Flanders / Daniel DeFoe

Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone / JK Rowling (to children)
Flat Earth News
/ Nick Davies
A Life Stripped Bare: my year trying to live ethically
/ Leo Hickman
War & Peace / Leo Tolstoy

Bad Science /Ben Goldacre
Kissing Christmas Goodbye (Agatha Raisin) /MC Beaton
Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid / Bill Bryson
The Rottweiler / Ruth Rendell (abandoned)
Six Feet Over / Mary Roach

The Parasites / Daphne Du Maurier
/ Brian Jacques - abandoned
Nation / Terry Pratchett
Trace / Patricia Cornwell
Maskerade / Terry Pratchett - re-read
The Scapegoat / Daphne Du Maurier

Stig of the Dump / Clive King (to children)
Sex Drugs and DNA
/ Michael Stebbins
Labyrinth / Kate Mosse - abandoned
Affluenza / Oliver James - first half
The Secret Life of Bees
/ Sue Monk Kidd
Boy A / Jonathan Trigell
The Minotaur / Barbara Vine

Wide Sargasso Sea / Jean Rhys
Lord of the Flies / William Golding
Missing Pieces / Joy Fielding
Eagle Strike / Anthony Horowitz
Witches Druids and King Arthur / Ronald Hutton
City of Darkness, City of Light / Marge Piercy

A Treasury of Mark Twain / Mark Twain
First Meetings: In the Enderverse / Orson Scott Card
Rebecca / Daphne Du Maurier (re-read)

Pride and Prejudice / Jane Austen (re-read)
Around the World in 80 Days / Jules Verne
Mansfield Park / Jane Austen
Letter to A Christian Nation / Sam Harris
Why People Believe Weird Things / Michael Shermer
A Bad Beginning / Lemony Snickett (to children)

Skeleton Key / Anthony Horowitz
Stormbreaker / Anthony Horowitz
A Year of Living Biblically / AJ Jacobs
Small Gods / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Life of Pi / Yann Martel
Matilda / Roald Dahl (to children)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell / Susanna Clarke
Lolita / Vladimir Nabokov

The Penelopiad / Margaret Atwood
Stranger in a Strange Land / Robert A Heinlein
Tersias / GP Taylor
The Good Husband of Zebra Drive / Alexander McCall Smith
In the Company of Cheerful Ladies / Alexander McCall Smith
Carpe Jugulum / Terry Pratchett re-read

Meridian / Alice Walker
Charlie & the Chocolate Factory / Roald Dahl (to children)
Dark Room / Minette Walters
Blood and Honour / Simon Green
Wise Woman / Philippa Gregory
Just So Stories / Rudyard Kipling (to children, somewhat amended by me) re-read
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall / Anne Bronte

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Easily pleased

More items of mild amusement to me.

Item 1:
S was given a bath set for Xmas. The soaps are inscribed with the legend, "clean me".

A soap that needs cleaning?

Item 2:
In the supermarket they were selling "floating" shelf sets. There was a picture showing the finished shelf with some ornaments on it. On the packaging was the caveat, warning, rejoinder, statement of fact that the ornaments shown are not included with the very flatly, flat-packed shelf.

I need to move in with Wonko the Sane.

Item 3:
I have just spent quite some time staring at pictures and diagrams of guinea pig genitalia. In the next week or so I am going to have to stare at actual guinea pig genitalia in order to sex the beasts for separating and rehoming purposes (they can reproduce from four weeks). Some information I have garnered suggests that one should attempt to extrude guinea pig penises with one's fingers. These are not words I ever expected to put into a sentence.

I may need a new set of eyes ... and fingers. What fresh horrors can guinea pig ownership bring?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Another year

I got to go out this New Year's Eve, as my mum babysat for me. So I went round to M's pub. It feels weird being not-quite-landlady. The benefits of having a house independent of the job are huge, but on the downside it means we don't see all that much of each other and I'm not as involved with the pub as I have been. I don't even know the till properly.

The regulars are curious about me and were very friendly. I don't get there much in the evenings, you see, so while day-time clientele have viewed me extensively, I am an enigma wrapped in a ... well, I can't be arsed to continue with that one, but you get my point. I felt on show, like a goldfish, glop glop glop, and having been out of it in the last couple of years, it was quite difficult to remember how to be mine host. I'm always happier behind the bar anyway, but M had it well-staffed and wanted me to have a "good time". A good time would be working it. Still the staff would've been pissed off if any of them had lost double-time hours had I worked, I suppose.

I was also fielding a rather over-familiar fellow's advances. Unfortunately he's one of the "crowd" and it was "all in good fun", "just messing" and "him being him".

This meant kneeing him in the bollocks wasn't an option. Sadly.

I have a knack for balls-cutting remarks, but I held that in check because I don't know them all well enough to know whether it would go in my favour and they'd laugh at him, or be all aghast at me. After all, it's in good fun that he's pressing up against me, has a bit of a case of octopus-hands and is offering to snort cocaine from my bosom. Lucky me.

I like a bit of male interest on occasion but too much of anything is too much, (that's what too much means!) I'm really out of practice with managing drunken bums, which makes me quite cross with myself. And M was expecting me to handle myself as usual, so he wasn't much help. Oh well.