More of life’s little irritations…

You know when sometimes you have a day when you should ignore the alarm, pull the covers over your head and refuse to emerge? Well today is one of those days.

Firstly I woke up with a cold. It's like someone has cheesegrated my throat and my nose is doing a passable impression of a waterfall. But like the good little wage slave I am I drag my plague-ridden carcass out of bed and head downstairs. Where I find that in the middle the night that bastard cat who comes into our garden specifically to shit in the gravel has walked across the wet concrete of the conservatory base, leaving a set of deep paw prints across the whole thing. I hope the sodding creature gets contact dermititus, or at the very least gets stuck to the spot as the concrete dries. Hopefully in its owner's garden because that's the only way it's ever likely to shit there. I had thought about training my dog to dump on their front garden to see how they like it but figured I might have been being childish.

Anyway, I got ready, got in my car and headed off to work. Slap into a traffic jam on the M60 as it happened, because some tosspiece spilled a shitload of fuel on the sliproad to the M62 at jct 12, meaning the M60 blocked up all the way to jct 18. By the time I got on the sliproad at jct 17, it was too late to turn back and so I sat in the stupid queue for the better part of an hour. When I arrived at work I discovered that I was meant to be in a meeting at 8.30am and so had to go straight in without pausing for breakfast or coffee. My presence wasn't even useful since my attention was diverted away from what people were saying by the pressing need to stop my nose from dribbling on the boardroom table and trying to stifle the sneezes that kept trying to erupt. Many thanks to the government for putting out the advertisements for swine flu that classify people who sneeze as weapons of mass destruction.

When I come out of the meeting I notice I have 2 missed calls from Mr Vicola, so I call him back, hoping for good news. Which was clearly over-optimistic, since what he was actually calling me to tell me was that last night when I took the mince out of the freezer, I had left the door open and so the whole thing had defrosted. Marvellous. So tonight will not be spent sat on the sofa nursing a Lemsip and feeling sorry for myself, it will be spent making 56 meals for the freezer with the kilo of mince, 3 packs of bacon, rainbow trout and umpteen chicken breasts that are now sitting in the fridge. Any suggestions gratefully received.

And that is today in a nutshell. And it's only 12.20pm. I hate to think what could go wrong with the rest of the day but am now too snot-filled and tired to care. Should the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse land in the garden to herald the end of days then they can bloody well make themselves useful by slicing the onions and skimming the paw prints in the concrete.

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The MIL strikes again

Once again the ship of Mother in Law has sailed into turbulent waters and this time it is threatening to sink altogether. What's the problem? I shall tell you.

Back in August I went with Mr Vicola to the far flung North to do the obligatory annual visit to the inlaws, after striking a deal that if I went up each summer for a week with him, I would not then be required to do the annual trip up there either for or just after Christmas which has been the routine previously but which had never worked well as Mr Vicola's family have difficulty behaving themselves at times of excitement. So anyway, off we trundle to the far flung north.

Mr Vicola's parents have been divorced for 30 years and on the first night we stay with his dad, which is a marvellously relaxed affair as his dad is a beardy eccentric with odd mannerisms, like my dad, so I'm familiar with this sort of place. Then the next day, having promised to return in a couple of days for another night and a full day out with FIL, we set off for the lair of the MIL and her husband, Asshat. She is insisting we spend most of the holiday with her, despite the fact that Asshat has flu and she is just recovering fron it. Resisting the urge to announce that I am not staying in a house of plague just to please someone else I keep quiet. 

The day and a half there passes relatively quietly, no major incidents to report. We go back to FIL's spend the night, go out with him the next day and return to the Lair of the MIL the following evening, at about half eight. Then the trouble starts. As we walk in the door are we greeted with 'hello, how was your day?" or "Evening, would you like some dinner?" No, we are not. We are greeted with "Oh, look it's Mr Vicola and Vicola, so it must be 6 o'clock. (looking pointedly at watch) Oh, no, look it isn't, it's half past eight because they couldn't possibly be 2 and half hours late for that man I had to beg to speak to his children for years but they could happily be that late for me" in the most sarcastic voice you can imagine. With a battle of wills you can't even begin to imagine I croak out "I'm going to put the coats away" rather than "Why don't you fuck off and stop giving us grief you selfish cow? We never said we'd be back at 6 and I don't dance to your tune" and flee upstairs to text my best friend before I explode.

By the time I go back downstairs she seems to have decided all is forgiven and is behaving normally again.

The next day we go on a day out with MIL, BIL, BIL's wife, me and Mr Vicola to a very nice beauty spot where I manage to get on fairly well with MIL, possibly because I'm now trying to ignore the barrage of insults aimed at FIL. On the way home we get to a cafe and stop for a coffee where MIL once again starts on about FIL and how his marriage is not in the greatest of health, in a very unpleasant smug tone. Eventually BIL objects and says it's making him uncomfortable, at which point she chucks a wobbly and throws her toys out of the pram. I excuse myself to go and look at the range of jars and cakes on a shelf because once again, my blood is rising. By the time I return to the table, peace has resumed (ie BIL has given in and apologised for daring to question what she's said) and it's time to go. We're in 2 cars so MIL, Mr Vicola and me get into his car and off we go. For half an hour she bangs on about FIL, how awful he was, how he destroyed her life, blah blah blah, a story so at odds with what I've been told by other family members and FIL's character that it's hard to believe she's on about the same person. I attempt to block it out by trying to remember all the words to 'Adeste Fideles' in Latin that we learned in school but as she gets louder it's getting more difficult. Eventually she comes out with "And he's just the evillest, wickedest, cruellest man in the world and I am so upset that you all treat him like some sort of god'. I can see Mr Vicola cringing out of the corner of my eye, he's not comfortable with what she's saying and with that, my patience ran out. Very calmly, very rationally (a surefire sign that I am really, genuinely pissed off) I say to her "I really don't think that it's fair of you to be saying all this. That's Mr Vicola's dad you're talking about and while you and him may not get on, Mr Vicola and him do. Your divorce was between the two of you, and not the children so dragging them into it and forcing them to choose sides is bang out of order. We don't treat FIL like a god, we treat him like a human, which is what he is and I don't believe any of us should have to apologise for that, least of all Mr Vicola".

For brief moment she is utterly stunned. She looks at Mr Vicola, clearly expecting him to slap me down for daring to question her behaviour. He doesn't. In fact by the look of things, Mr Vicola is trying desperately to pretend he's somewhere, anywhere else. She takes a deep breath….and then goes utterly ballistic. "DON'T YOU DARE TELL ME HOW TO SPEAK TO MY SON!!". I remain very calm and measured, "I'm not telling you how to speak to your son, I'm telling you that this constant barrage of insults to his father needs to stop because it isn't fair on him. He has a relationship with his father and making him feel guilty about that is completely wrong of you". Clearly she is losing control of the situation and she knows it so she reverts to the tried and tested system she has for controlling her children, she bursts into noisy tears and starts sobbing and babbling incoherently about how we have no idea how wicked FIL is and how Mr Vicola and BIL are breaking her heart by worshipping him when she gave up everything to bring them up as a single mother (something that isn't actually true but is a whole other post about training children to do your bidding in the manner of Pavlov's dogs) and how she's too emotional and broken hearted to go to BIL's for dinner now so when we get there she's just going to have to get in her car and go straight home. Mr Vicola, as he has been conditioned to do, replies in the required manner, that he knows she gave up everything for them, that of course they love her most and of course FIL is wicked and no, she simply must come to BILs for dinner. I listen to him being forced to dance to her tune to stop the tantrum and it's all I can do not to exit the car on the motorway hard shoulder to escape this bullshit. Eventually we get to the entrance to BIL's street and she's decided that he hasn't grovelled enough yet, and I haven't grovelled at all, so she's not giving in yet. "I'm just going to go home, I can't go in there, I'm too upset", "Oh we'll go for a drive round and talk about it, don't go home" says Mr Vicola. I know that if we go for a drive round and I have to listen to any more of her emotional blackmail and lies I'm going to say something utterly appalling so I request to be let out to go to BIL's house. Mr Vicola tries to persuade me to come with them but there's no chance so eventually he agrees to let me out. As I open the door, MIL says in icy tones, "And I would prefer it if YOU didn't speak of this to BIL's wife the minute you get into that house". Clamping my teeth together so hard that there's a chance I'll lose a molar I manage not to say "I just bet you would, you malicious bitch" I exit the car and walk down to the house.

45 minutes later Mr Vicola and the MIL return, where she proceeds to be civil but frosty to me for the rest of the night. Later on Mr Vicola tells me that his mother is very embarrassed that she got so emotional and would like to give me hug and say sorry. Surprisingly enough she doesn't actually get round to it. Then we go back to the FIL's house and in the morning return home.  

And it would seem she's still in a snit with me. I did speak to her very briefly on my birthday when BIL rang because she'd have had to explain why to BIL if she'd refused to but she was still frosty, she has stopped enquiring how I am when she rings Mr Vicola and she hasn't sent me a birthday card this year, for the first year ever. If she thinks this is going to shatter my world and make me beg her forgiveness then she's mscalculated badly. What I said has needed saying since I met Mr Vicola 7 years ago, no one should have to apologise for liking their father and their divorce was between them, the kids shouldn't be forced to take sides, it's not right at all. If she cared as much as she claims to then surely to god she'd put her children's feelings first and swallow her bitterness towards the man who she hasn't been married to for 30 whole years, longer than I've been alive, in order to allow them to make their own choices. If he was really as evil as she claimed then they'd have seen it and drawn their own conclusions. But he isn't, it's her selfishness and determination to have them round her the whole time, fawning over her and telling her how amazing she is to have given up everything for them that makes her say these things. And the fear that the more time they spend with FIL, the more they'll realise that everything she's conditioned them to believe over the years is crap. The whole family dynamic is a house of cards built on bullshit and the minute someone questions it, the house falls down and the kids get covered in shit. It really drives me nuts. And just to make my joy complete, she's launched a campaign to try and regain control, the first skirmish of which is to be a 4 night visit to stay with us in the middle of October. Give me strength. My tactic is going to be 'be the bigger person', in order to not put Mr Vicola in a awkward position I will be very nice and polite and pretend I haven't noticed she hates me. Plus it has the added bonus of really pissing off the person whose sulk you're ignoring, something which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

If I could offer one piece of advice to any girl looking for a husband it would be this – Only ever marry a man brought up in a children's home or an orphanage. You will save yourself a whole world of trouble.

  

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I’m getting old.

 

The day after tomorrow I will be thirty. 30 whole years old. How horrific is that? It truly is the end of days. I will no longer be young, I will no longer be able to truthfully tick the '20-29 years' box on surveys, I will have to start considering a blue rinse, mid calf length pleated skirts and polyester cardigans in beige and lavender. Oh my god. I will officially be too old to wear mini skirts or an uplift bra despite the fact that I'm quite sure I'll wake up on Thursday to find my boobs are now somewhere down round my knees. I'll have to take up drinking sherry and gin in the middle of the afternoon. So I guess it's not all bad and at least I'll be one year closer to retirement.

I suppose it's not like I didn't see it coming, as soon as I started looking at teenage boys and thinking 'It's called a waistband for a reason and the crotch of your jeans isn't supposed to be round your knees. Pull your trousers up and put your undercrackers away' I realised that I was no longer 'down with the kids' and my youth was finally over. There are a few advantages to this, it means that no matter how fashionable 'jeggings' are, I won't feel obliged to wear them and so will avoid looking like a denim clad flamingo.  I won't end up with the 'boobs on a shelf' effect created by the hideous creation that is the high waisted pencil skirt and I won't have to pretend to like music that I think is shit just because it's very 'now'.

But there are definite downsides. I saw on the news that Patrick Swayze died this morning, dear god I've reached the age where people I fancied in my teens are starting to die. That is horrific! Before I know it I'm going to end up like my grandma, forgetting things from 20 minutes earlier, having the same conversation 7 times and getting updates on the lives of my friends via the local obituaries rather than the telephone.

30. Appalling.

As you can see, I'm taking it well…

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100%, completely and utterly mental.

Sometimes someone really remarkable crosses your radar and today is one of those days. Courtesy of The Sun, which for some reason Vox won't let me link to today, I found the story below, about a man who gets the horn from cowshit. on the weird scale that rates as 'absolutely outstanding'.

 

 

A PERVERT who gets sexual thrills from manure was jailed after being caught pleasuring himself in a muck-spreader.

Weird David Truscott, 40, broke into a farm and covered himself in animal waste.

He then climbed into the spreader vehicle – and was found wearing rubber gloves and playing in the slurry for "sexual reasons". Truscott, of Camborne, Cornwall, was jailed for 16 weeks after admitting harassment.

Truro Magistrates' Court heard he was convicted of a previous offence at the same farm in Camborne in 2004.

At that time, the farmer came across a trough filled with dung and tissues scattered around. He then saw two hand prints and a "bottom print" where manure had been. Police who searched Truscott's home found 360 pairs of women's knickers and containers of liquid sludge and hard mud.

He was jailed for three years for burglary and arson after causing a blaze at the farm which killed a cow when he couldn't find manure to pleasure himself in.

He would walk into the farm to roll in manure and perform sex acts on himself before washing in a cattle trough. Once he entered a milking parlour to use a roll of industrial toilet tissue. He had stripped to his pants and climbed into a manure vat.

Police caught him carrying a bag full of underwear, women's trousers and firelighters. The farmer's wife and two children said they were "terrified".

The 2004 blaze caused damage costing £3,300. His lawyers said he was a "sad, isolated, peculiar man with peculiar habits" who "needed help".

 

"Sad, isolated, peculiar man with peculiar habits"? No shit. Smirk.

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In defence of the British.

Today, the New York Daily News ran an editorial about the release of the Lockerbie bomber. Which to be honest wouldn't usually rock my world because this story has been rumbling on for a while now and I've not got the longest attention span but the difference is that this particular editorial is not just taking a swipe at the weasels in charge, no, this one points the grenade squarely at the entire populace of Britain. And that's not on. So, why do I have a problem with this article? Let's take a look shall we?

It was Winston Churchill who asked in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, "What kind of people do they think we are?" And it is Gordon Brown who has given grounds to believe that today's British are a cowardly, unprincipled, amoral and duplicitous lot. Because he is all those.

Well that's a ridiculous statement for a start. The US President is black and was born in Hawaii. Does that mean all US citizens are black and were born in Hawaii? No, it doesn't. The US president believes that healthcare reform is needed. Do all Americans believe this? No, they do not. The British are like every other nation on earth, a populace made up of individuals, not a homogenous mass with a single set of characteristics and beliefs. To call the British cowardly, and unprincipled is not only inaccurate, it is also a shameless way to get a badly written and poorly researched editorial into the public eye.

Can he remain in power having been revealed as at least complicit in an atrocious miscarriage of justice and breach of faith. That will be up to the Brits, but on this side of the Atlantic Ocean it is inconceivable that an elected official would have a snowball's chance after sanctioning an oil-for-terrorist deal.

Brown has remained in power despite presiding over a massive recession and the running up of the biggest government debt since the second world war. I'm pretty sure that the release of a dying man under controversial circumstances, a decision that on the face of it wasn't his anyway, isn't going to have him out before the next election. While we're here, let's make something clear shall we? The Scottish Judiciary is not a UK wide entity, it deals solely with Scottish legal issues and it's decisions come from Holyrood not Gordon Brown. The decision was made by the Scottish Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill and until any conclusive evidence comes out that proves otherwise perhaps we should accept Mr MacAskill's assertion that this was his decision. Ironically, this kind of blustering attack on the UK is the greatest favour that the author of the editorial could have done Gordon Brown. He's really very unpopular here but if there's one thing we don't like in the UK it's being told what to do by someone else. What makes a journalist think he has the right to tell the UK Prime Minister how to act? It's the very height of arrogance. As for the assertion that no official who has done anything dodgy in the name of oil would stand a chance of re-election in the US, I have one word for him – Bush.

Surely Brown can hardly survive the revalation that his government assured Libya that the Prime Minister did not want the Lockerbie bomber to die in prison, a message duly passed on to the Scottish official who released Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on "compassionate grounds".   

As I explained above, Brown has no power in this case, the Scottish Judiciary could have taken his opinion, that he didn't want Megrahi to die in a foreign prison and stuck two fingers up at him, deciding to keep him incarcerated and send him back in a box when it was all over. But they didn't. And since when was showing compassion to a dying man a sackable offence? Surely it shows a level of humanity that the bomber himself was lacking and places the compassionate individual on a higher moral plane than the man he is judging?

As for the 'special relationship' between the US and Britain, the storied alliance built on the resolve of World War II and carried on through Thatcher and Blair, through Iraq and Afghanistan: It is, in a word, gone. 

Yes, the special relationship survived the Thatcher years, when the IRA was mainly funded from the US, when millions of US dollars went into allowing terrorists to commit atrocities on British soil against British military personnel, political figures and innocent citizens. We in the UK knew that although the money was coming from donors in America, the average US citizen wouldn't support the blowing up of men, women and children in the UK and so the special relationship continued. It survived UK soldiers being dragged by our government into Iraq and Afghanistan because we were allies of the US and would fight alongside them. Yes, it survived all that but now we've gone and done something utterly reprehensible, something so unforgivable that the 70 year old relationship is in tatters – we didn't do what we were told. So, according to the journalist who wrote this article, the 'special relationship' is entirely based on the UK doing what the US wants rather than making it's own decisions. I don't believe for a moment that is what it's all about but if the guy is right and that's all it takes to end it then it wasn't a very strong or healthy relationship in the first place, was it?

Brown's maneuverings to get into the good graces of Libyan mass murderer Moammar Khadafy broke the bond between America and the Blessed Plot beyond his ability to repair it. That work will fall to someone else, someone who values human life more than commercial expediency, someone who is stalwart rather than a sneak, someone true to his pronouncements.

I can't begin to offer comment on any of this because quite what the 'blessed plot' is is a mystery to me. The only plot related issue I can seem to see here is that the author has quite clearly relinquished his grip on whichever one he once had and has entered the realms of bile-filled rambling by this point.

The US and the UK committed to imprisoning Megrahi in Scotland after the Libyan spy was convicted of blowing Pan Am Flight 103 out of the air over that country in 1998. The atrocity was a direct precursor of 9/11 and no one could have imagine that Brown – leader of a nation that too has been terror's target – would trash the pledge.

Leaving aside the fact that the article is so poorly copy edited that no one has picked up the fact Pan Am flight 103 actually got blown out of the air in 1988 not 1998, the author is right, they couldn't have predicted that Brown would trash the pledge at the time. This is because in 1988 he was some political junior whose party wasn't even in power and also because he didn't trash the pledge (assuming that by pledge he means the sentence Megrahi was given), the Scottish Justice Secretary did. The atrocity was 13 years before 9/11, which hardly makes it a direct precursor of 9/11 merely because the terrorists in both cases shared the same religion. Something that he might have picked up on if he'd bothered to check what year the Lockerbie bombing actually happened.

But Brown did trash the pledge and in the most revolting terms, letting it be know, it bears repeating, that he did not want Megrahi, author of of 270 murders, to die in prison. 

One more time for the procedurally challenged – BROWN DIDN'T TRASH ANYTHING. He just expressed his opinion and the Scottish Judiciary did the rest. It has been reported here that Brown did not say he didn't want Megrahi to die in prison, the opinion he actually expressed is that he didn't want him to die in a strange prison, i.e. a foreign prison. Which shows a compassion that to be honest, I didn't think he had in him. Megrahi's conviction was about to be appealed, it was shaky to say the least and under those circumstances I would have shared his opinion, not out of any disrespect for our American friends, some of whom I have chatted to through this blog and have found to be a diverse and intelligent bunch with a host of opinions and beliefs, but because I believe that we should be more compassionate than the terrorists we condemn. Otherwise we're no better. 

So Megrahi has returned to Libya a hero, perhaps dying of prostate cancer, perhaps not. Brown got his way and he will never outlive the stain.

Brown has power over a lot of things but not the reception that Megrahi received when he returned to Libya. Unlike certain journalists he does not appear to presume to tell the Libyans how they should behave. To claim that Megrahi doens't have prostate cancer is not only potentially libellous, it's also childish and utterly without basis. Megrahi has been examined by a number of doctors, some of whom have gone on the record to say that his cancer is terminal. What sort of mainstream newspaper allows it's journalists to go around spouting whatever they like without any proof just to try and score a pathetic point off a politician? Their editor ought to be ashamed. Brown did not 'get his way', he merely expressed an opinion and frankly, in this country the stain on his reputation caused by this comment is minor league compared to those caused by the economy, ill advised cabinet appointments, the expenses scandal and the rise of the nanny state.

Now I understand that opinions in the US are running high about Megrahi, some agree with it the decision, many don't but I would like to point out two very important issues to the author of this editorial, issues which may help him in his future career:

1) British legal and political decisions are taken by British politicians NOT foreign journalists. These politicians will consult experts in the field, their colleagues and very occasionally the British public. They will not consult a junior who writes poor editorials for a paper.

2) Research is key. If you are going to be outraged at the release of a terrorist then firstly check what year the atrocity occured in and secondly the process by which he was released, making a careful note of who was responsible. Otherwise you run the risk of merely making yourself look like a rabid fool who is writing tabloid trash insulting other nations in a bid to make get your own name into the spotlight. And for the record I think you're wrong, I believe that the relationship between the US and the UK will continue, perhaps slightly differently, perhaps on altered terms but as for it being broken? I don't think so.

If anyone wants to see the article it and related comments it can be found at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinions/2009/09/02/2009-09-02_brown_the_betrayer_britains_sellout_prime_minister_has_broken_faith_and_ties_wit.html  and in case someone realises that they've cocked up what year the bombing happened and alters it, I'd like to state that on 3rd Sep at 1.30pm it very definately said 1998, not 1988. 

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