More from the world of complete lunacy…

I have posted before on the comedy value that can be found in studying the public proclamations of everyone's favourite hardline Muslim fundamentalist, (with emphasis on the 'mental') Anjem Choudary but like piles, gonorrhea and the inland revenue, Choudary is the gift that just keeps on giving and today, the Express has both amazed and delighted me with details of his latest foray into the world of utter nonsense. Yes indeed, today the bearded barmpot has announced that his group of Jihad-happy fruitbats have discovered evidence which challenges the right of the Queen to live at Buckingham palace.  What this evidence is, he declines to say but doubtless when it was knocked up on someone's PC inbetween Loose Women and today's episode of Jeremy Kyle it was very authentic looking indeed, Choudary says that since the Queen shouldn't be living there, it should be renamed 'Buckingham Masjid', the Islamic word for mosque. If only I'd known that if someone is turfed out of their residence it suddenly becomes fair game for anyone who can think of a funny name, I'd have moved straight into the 6 bedroom detached house in the posh end of town the minute the bailiffs got off the driveway and renamed it 'Flowery Twats' (in honour of Fawlty Towers for anyone who hasn't seen that episode). Still, we'll ignore the boring and inconsequential detail that Choudary has less right to the ownership of Buckingham Palace than my dog, because it spoils all the fun, let's just roll with it shall we?

Inbetween busy periods organising Saturday's rally through London to demand a complete overhaul of the British legal system and the immediate introduction of Sharia courts (might as well start small eh?) he has even found the time to consider the logistics of his brilliant plan. The Mall would be renamed 'Masjid Road', a catchy title as I'm sure you'll agree and Buckingham Palace will be fitted with a dome and a tannoy system to call people to prayers. Good luck with that son, we couldn't even get opening windows on the fence side of our conservatory passed by the council's planning department, you've got bugger all chance of getting a dome fitted to a listed building. Still, if the council start getting awkward I suppose Mr Choudary could just have them all stoned to death or beheaded to save a bit of time and the rejigging of the architect's drawings. In case anyone was wondering what Buckingham Palace would look like with dome, Choudary has helpfully superimposed one onto a photo:

Lovely. Very..erm…dome-like. And full marks to the member of the team that knows how to use Photoshop for proving that fundamentalists don't just spend their time plotting international jihad and reading leaflets about what benefits they're entitled to, no, they also take 1 day IT courses too.

The Palace would have a whole new function under Mr Choudary's leadership (he seems to have skipped ahead here to the bit where he in fact supreme ruler of the universe and gets to make all the decisions and wear the flashy costume) as a centre for handing down Sharia punishments and detaining prisoners of war. Lovely, I'm sure the decor of the main ballroom would be enhanced beyond measure by the addition of some sets of manacles and a table for cutting the hands off those who defy Islam. In addition it would become the headquarters of 'The Islamic States Supreme Leadership' (how very 'Star Wars') and the Department of Information and Culture. Choudary clearly does not see the irony in housing the culture department in a defaced listed building. Never mind, I suppose he can't be good at everything. The Crown jewels would be melted down into 'more appealing jewellery, free from idolatrous engravings or symbols'. What a mervellous idea – imagine how many Elizabeth Duke style sovereign rings and 'World's best Mam' necklaces you could make with the crown jewels. What a vote winner that would be. Unless of course, as I suspect, Mr Choudary just plans to melt them down and make a 12 foot jewel encrusted statue of himself, to stand in the courtyard and be worhipped by the masses. If you made it with the arms outstretched you could even hang the unbelievers off it! A multipurpose statue demonstrating both the power of fundamentalist ideals and an awareness of value for money. Genius. 

Choudary announces on his website that 'there is a spark that has ignited and its flame has become unstoppable'. Well, let's hope that the smoke detectors are working eh? We wouldn't want Britain's foremost benefit-claiming, batshit-mad fundamentalist to get his arse burned would we? He goes on to say that 'We find ourselves in the year 2009 waiting for Rome to fall, waiting for the Whitehouse to fall and indeed waiting for Buckingham Palace to fall". Should give him plenty of time for a coffee, a garibaldi and another shufty at what Buckingham Palace would look like with his face painted on the side then…

Not everyone is quite so convinced by the proclamations of our esteemed Britain-basher. Grumpy old Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chairman of the Lancashire council of Mosques, who is clearly not getting into the swing of things, announced that 'what they are saying is completely wrong…there is no sense in it – it is not Islam'. Pah. He'll clearly not get to be one of the Supreme Council and wear long robes and take over all the other planets in the Federation. Or whatever it was that was going on in Star Wars (clearly the inspiration for Choudary and his followers). Tory MP Philip Davies put it even more succinctly – "This man's a complete idiot". D'you know, there's nothing I can argue with in that, I couldn't have put it better myself. Anjem Choudary – complete idiot.

 

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DIY – Don’t do it people….

It seemed like a brilliant, money saving idea. I mean really, how hard could it be? "Nah", I say, "We don't need to get the tiler in, I can grout the floor tiles in the kitchen, dining room and conservatory myself". "Are you sure?" says Mr Vicola, wearing that expression that suggests this might possibly be the worst idea to surface since the dawn of time. "Course I'm sure" I assure him, determined now to prove that I am up to the job for the simple reason that it's obvious he thinks I'm not. Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.

So off I head to B&Q to buy in supplies. I get a bit overenthusiastic in the tools department and come home with 3 bags of grey grout and a bag full of little gadgety things, whose purpose defeats me but who were in the 'tiling accessories' aisle and so must surely be vital to the job in hand. After much grunting, swearing and yanking I finally manage to detach the drill bit from the electric drill and attach the mixing thingy I've bought. Bingo – I have conquored the world of power tools, I am truly a woman of the 21st century. Then I read the back of the grout bag. Well actually there's quite a lot of writing on the back of the grout bag and it all looks really dull so I just look at the quantity diagram to see how much water I need. 0.65l, ok, I can do that. I put my water into the bucket and…fuckity fuck, it all comes out of the bottom because Mr Vicola had been mixing the adhesive with a wide drill bit and had drilled a hole in the bottom. Good effort. Ever resourceful I drag the mop bucket out of the cupboard under the stairs and measure out another 0.65l then wang in the bag of grout powder. A mushroom cloud of grey dust rises majestically into the air, coating me, the floor, the work surface and the dishwasher. Once I've washed the worst of the dust out of my eyes and I can once again breathe and see I re-read the back of the grout bag – "Add grout powder gradually, mixing gently". Oopski. Ah well, done now. I whizz the lumpy mixture for a bit with my mixey thing attached to the drill and I'm ready to go.

Now I have to work out how to get the grout into the hole between the tiles. I could do with an icing bag really but since baking is the only thing I'm worse at than DIY I don't own one so decide to improvise by cutting a small corner off a sandwich bag. This works well for a couple of minutes until a rather too vigorous squeeze sends grout flying at high speed in several directions as the bag explodes. While picking grout out of my hair and the toaster I contemplate other ways of getting the bastard stuff into the holes. Eventually I settle for squashing it in with a sponge then scraping over it with my credit card to take off the excess, since in my large bag of gadegty things I do not have anything as useful as a grout scraper. This is more successful but then I come to clean the excess grout off the tiles I've gone round the edge of which is without a doubt the biggest ball-ache of a task I have ever encountered. First the sponge just smears the excess grout around the bloody tile in a big cheerful swirl, then I take half the damned stuff out of the joint while pursuing a particularly tricky bit of splat. Eventually I get the tiles clean (and bear in mind that 'clean' is a relative term, the bloody things are still a complete mess, it's just that they don't have any actual lumps that will later require chiselling off) and I sit back to admire my handiwork. Brilliant. 2 hours works and I appear to have grouted the toaster, myself, 3 kitchen cupboards and the princely sum of 14 tiles. Which by my reckoning leaves me only approximately 260 tiles left to do. So at 7 tiles an hour that's  a mere 37 more hours of work. 

Oh crap.

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Wanker of the Week

 

Very occasionally, once in a blue moon in fact, you come across an article of such breathtaking pig ignorance that you have to read it twice in order to check that you didn't imagine what was written, that someone had in fact committed their indescribably appalling opinions to paper for all the world to see and laugh at. And it is for precisely such an article that I nominate Jan Moir of the Daily Mail for the award of Wanker of the Week. The article is truly outstanding, in a car crash sort of way, it's like swimming in a sea of bigotry with little sharks of Victorian foolishness biting at your toes while the Seagull of Prudery flaps along overhead.

This week Stephen Gately, a member of the boyband 'Boyzone' was found dead on the sofa of his holiday apartment in Mallorca and Jan Moir has rather unwisely decided to add her twopenneth worth of opinion on his demise in an article here: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1220756/A-strange-lonely-troubling-death–.html . So, what does Ms Moir have to say?

"Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney: We all know who they are. And we are not being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, their bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, an odd set of circumstances that herald a sudden death"  – No Jan, indeed I'm sure everyone would agree that it is not ghoulish at all to spend your time working out which celebrities you think are going to meet an untimely end and it's perfectly normal, once you've worked out your prime suspects, to then spend further minutes pondering what the actual causes of death may be. In fact why don't you add to the fun by popping into Ladbrokes and having a little punt on your guesses. Imagine the excitement you could have on the announcement of the death of Britney Spears, waiting for the coroner to announce whether she did indeed choke on her own vomit after a night on the sauce. Sicko.

"All the official reports point to a natural death with no suspicious circumstances. The Gately family are – perhaps understandably – keen to register their boy's demise on the national consciousness as nothing more than a tragic accident" – Or perhaps, Ms Moir, they have taken the word of the coroner who has seen the autopsy reports. I suspect that their reluctance to start shouting about foul play has less connection to their desire to manipulate the press and more to do with the fact that there is not one tiny shred of evidence to suggest it was anything other than a natural death. And is it not just the tiniest bit disrespectful to a grieving family to suggest that they are more concerned with the attitude of the press than finding the truth about the death of their relative? And are you an expert on forensic analysis? Because if not I am struggling to work out why you think you know better than the coroner.

"But, hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend, like a broken teacup in a rented cottage…..Healthy and fit 33 year old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep  on the sofa, never to wake up again" Mishap? MISHAP? Woman, are you completely batshit mad? The one and only person in the press to have referred to this tragic death as a 'mishap' is you. you're on your own on this one. No one else has trivialised it to the level of a 'broken teacup'. you insensitive bitch. He might have been a celebrity but everyone else on the planet seems to have realised that he was also a person, a nice person at that, and that his death was a tragedy, not just for him but for his family and friends, who all seem genuinely grief stricken. And you're wrong, very wrong, over a hundred 'fit and healthy young men' a year go to sleep and don't wake up, thanks to undiagnosed heart conditions. 5 minutes research taught me that, had you bothered to look, it could have taught you the same.

"Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered".  – Jan, at the time this article went to press, what had actually been established and released to the media was that the autopsy results revealed Stephen Gately died of pulmonary oedema, the death was entirely natural and had not been caused by either alcohol or drugs. Still, nice try eh?

"and I think if we're going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy. After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of Canasta with 25 year old Georgi Dochev was not on the cards" – Well actually Jan, once again you've been slapped soundly round the chops by the Haddock of Incorrectness, it is breathtakingly disrespectful to assume that. You have no idea at all why he was going back there and you never will have. Perhaps Dochev's apartment was over the other side of the town and they offered him a place to kip to save him a taxi fare. Perhaps the party continued at their flat. Maybe he was going to paint a life size mural of the two men. Perhaps he's a plumber and the shower was leaking. Who knows? If we are going to be honest, as you seem to be requesting, then try this for size: the truth is that you're a revolting bigot who has assumed that because this is a young gay couple, they took a guy back to the apartment to bugger him senseless until the sun came up, which says a whole lot more about you than it does about them. And if they did go back for sex (which there is no evidence of) so what? Are you saying that his death is somehow his own fault or unnatural because he might have been engaging in a sexual act that you don't approve of? What consenting adults get up to in their own rooms is their own affair and your Victorian prudery is your problem, not something that should be projected onto Gately or anyone else. Let me put this very, very simply – a threesome does not cause pulmonary oedema. If it did then porn studios would be knee deep in corpses and Ayia Napa would have to increase the size of its forensic pathology department tenfold.   

"His mother is still insisting that her son died from a previously undetected heart condition that has plagued the family" – Not unreasonably, as this assertion is backed up by the medical evidence. What do you suggest the cause of death is then Jan? And do you not think it's just the teensiest bit tactless to be calling Gately's grieving mother a liar in the national press? Probably not, since you appear to have a hide thicker than a baked rhino.

"Another real sadness about Gately's death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships" – Eh? Now you've stumped me. Are you suggesting that civil partnerships can't be happy? That they are destined to end with one half dying in his sleep as fluid slowly fills his lungs? Because if so, may I politely suggest that the Daily Mail get their occupational health specialist in to assess you, as I think you may be entirely insane. If that's not what you mean then that means you are using the sad death of a young man to try and score cheap points against gay partnerships and that would make you a pathetic bigot. So which is it, lunatic or narrow minded village idiot?

"Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Of course in many cases this may be true yet….the dubious events of Gately's last night raise troubling questions about what happened". – Ah, glad we cleared that one up, you're a narrow minded bigot. For a moment there I was concerned for the safety and welfare of those around you but now I know you're just a pig ignorant fool who has escaped from the 19th century I think we can assume that you're not going to go and bite the ears off the post boy or anything.

"For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see" – Full marks there for managing to draw a conclusion that actually has no relevance at all to the event mentioned. If going on holiday and then falling asleep on your sofa while 2 other people are in your apartment, one of whom is your long term partner, is showing 'the ooze of a different and dangerous lifestyle' then I'm clearly far more rock and roll than I suspected.

Mark Twain once asked the question "Is it better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt?" and I think in the case of uber-prat Jan Moir, the answer is a resounding yes. In one article she has managed to prove herself to be a gossiping bigot, grossly insult the grieving family of Stephen Gately, insinuate he somehow died of unnatural causes despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, cast despicable aspertions on the relationship between Mr Gately and his civil partner and to draw a conclusion that doesn't have anything to do with the Boyzone singer's death. For this, I award Jan Moir the prestigious title of 'Wanker of the Week'. We'll be requesting that she doesn't make an acceptance speech…. 

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Of course I’m not taking it personally…

And so, once again, I manage to plough an interview for a public sector job. The letter was waiting for me when I arrived home today and this month's public sector rejection was from Greater Manchester Police, who I had an interview with for a support role with last week. Well, clearly my dark sense of humour and general air of cynicism was once again too much for the yoghurt-knitting hoodie huggers whose main aim in life is to find that elusive one legged, mixed race, immigrant lesbian with 7 kids from different fathers, the one who ticks all of the magical public service diversity boxes. As a woman I had the one box ticked but it's clearly not enough. So bollocks to them, they can shove their politically correct, procedure driven, ethnically diverse job right up their multi-culturally integrated, politically correct bottoms.

It's probably for the best anyway – they would never have accepted my 'Queen of fucking everything' coffee mug. And it's not like I'm taking it personally…

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A letter to Royal Mail

Fuelled by coffee and anger at the time I'd spent trying to track down the letter I sent on Monday, I decided it was time to email Royal Mail's customer services department…

 

To whom it may concern:

(note: I suggest you get a coffee before you start, this might take a while).

 

I would like to make a complain, in fact I'd like to make several. So we'll start at the beginning shall we?

1st complaint – I sent a memory card to my brother at the **********'s headquarters by Special Delivery on Monday. I sent it Special Delivery and paid the extra cost because Special Delivery is guaranteed the next day. Allegedly. But it never arrived on the Tuesday. My brother checked in with the post room time and time again but hey ho, no memory card. When I finally managed to get hold of an operator on the phone (something we're going to tackle in further detail below) they tell me that an attempt was made to deliver it yesterday so I rang the *************'s post room to check. Seems that the person on the end of your phoneline didn't tell me a little white fib, they didn't bend the truth a wee bit to make it sound nicer, nope, that was a sodding great lie because unless someone attempted to deliver the letter before the post room staff arrived at 7am and didn't bother to leave a card, or after 6pm when the post room staff left (and the midday that special delivery guaranteed had sailed away into the horizon never to be seen again) no delivery attempt was made. I do not appreciate being lied to. I accept that you are probably receiving a lot of complaints at the moment but since I was gifted with more brain cells than your average coffee table, I can spot bull-shit when it's headed towards me and I'd rather Royal Mail just 'fessed up and said the card spent yesterday on the floor of a warehouse while management struggled to find a postie who was going to spend the day at work rather than in front of the Playstation. However the girl did inform me that another attempt would be made today. This is all very nice but it isn't what I forked out for and the recipient is now somewhere over the ocean enroute to New Zealand, minus the memory card for his camera that I paid Royal Mail to deliver to him in time for his holiday. In other words, a delivery today is bugger all use unless he's planning on going on the trip of a lifetime next year as well. 

 

Let's move on to complaint number 2 shall we? This one is about the track and trace automated phone system. My brother and myself were educated privately and my mother used to nag all trace of a local accent out of the pair of us, the result being that I have an entirely neutral voice. I don't sound like the Queen but nor do I sound like an extra from Brookside. Given this fact, I fail to see why the track and trace automated system is incapable of distinguishing the difference between 'L' and 'M' when 'L' is clearly ennunciated. If the system is incapable of telling the difference and is therefore giving me an update on someone else's post, may I politely suggest that it may be unfit for purpose and should perhaps be replaced with something that works and that doesn't make you want to claw out your eyeballs after 5 attempts to find out where in the wide world your letter has ended up? 

 

And now onto our third and final (I'm sure you're thrilled to know that we're reaching the finish line of this roller coaster ride of dissatisfaction) complaint – the phone system. When you ring up, you're greeted by a minutes long  lecture from an admittedly pleasant sounding pre-recorded lady named Sarah, telling you that the easiest way to deal with your issue is to use the website. Answer me this – if I could find the answer quickly and easily on the website, would I be wasting precious minutes of my life that I can never get back listening to recorded messages and going through umpteen layers of the automated moron line, designed no doubt to deter all but the most determined and mentally agile from achieving the holy grail of reaching an actual operator. I just want to speak to a person and having the nice sounding recorded lady introduce herself before sending you into the maze of multiple options that will never lead you to the answer you want is not going to stop you from feeling the overwhelming urge to put two pencils up your nose and bang your head on the desk, as you once again realise you've reached the dead-end of the recorded apology/ instruction to use the website and you're going to have to start from the beginning again. Allow me to let you into a little secret, completely free of charge – customers just want to talk to an operator who can either sort out their problem or tell them a whopping great lie about where their post is. Preferably the first option but we'll not try to run before we can walk eh?

 

Well, thank you for taking the time to read my complaint, hope you enjoyed your coffee and I'm now off to try and find out why the girl I spoke to hasn't emailed me the compensation form that she said she was going to send out straight away. Wish me luck!!

 

Best Regards

Vicola

 

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Postal Wankery

I had got the impression from the news headlines about the umpteen million items of post lost in the postal workers strike that was never going to arrive at its destination, that Royal Mail might, just might, be utterly fucking useless. Now all doubt has been removed by my attempt to send a memory card via 'special delivery'.

My little brother is off to New Zealand with his wife tomorrow so my folks, who are also in the fabled land of 'abroad', yesterday asked me to send him their spare memory card out of their camera. No problem, thinks I, I shall send it via the famous 'Royal Mail Special Delivery', the service that guarantees next day delivery by midday. It will cost me about 4 of my English pounds but at least it will get there by midday on Tuesday so he can take with him on his hols.

Clearly by expecting Royal Mail to deliver my letter in the time it said it would, I was being a little over-optimistic.

By 2pm today it still hadn't arrived and my brother was wondering where it might have got to. So I put the reference number into the 'track and trace' system. Which promptly gave me the cyberspace version of the middle finger, "Sorry, there appears to be a problem with your reference number, please try again". So I did, 6 times, only to receive the same message 6 times. Never mind, I think, I'll ring the customer service line. Mistake.

First you get greeted by an automated message 'Hello, my name is Sarah.." I don't give a rat's arse what your name is deary, I just want to speak to someone about where the hell my letter went…"the easiest and fastest way to get information on Royal Mail services and products is to use our website at…" Of course it is, and if I could find what I wanted on your damned website would I be wasting minutes of my life that I can never get back listening to this recorded message from some bloody woman called Sarah? Of course I wouldn't. "Please choose from the following options…"oh for the love of god. Eventually I get through the 73 layers of options to the track and trace system and am hoping to get to speak to an operator. Once again, I'm destined for disappointment because I'm through to the automated voice recognition system. Happy days. Having finally, after 3 attempts managed to get the system to accept my reference number it informs me that they are currently awaiting the status of my item and I should be aware that special delivery is not a guaranteed delivery service. WTF? Of course it fucking well is, that's why you pay £4 for a delivery instead of 37p or whatever a stamp costs. If it's not a fucking guaranteed delivery service then why in the name of all that is good and decent do you people market it as such? Special Delivery? It's special alright, it costs you ten times as much as ordinary delivery and it just as likely to end up on the floor of a warehouse somewhere, never to see the light of day again. Then I get the message 'confirmation of your delivery should be available in 5 days". 'Should', not quite the same thing as 'will' is it? And 5 days? In 5 fucking days he'll be in New Zealand so that's not a lot of use to me is it? Which is why I paid for your not-so-special Special Delivery.

Royal Mail – officially shit. And they wonder why people are turning to couriers. The postal workers are about to go on strike again and to them I say this – no one is going to bloody notice because it's not like the post turns up when you are in work.  

 

UPDATE:

Having just managed to find Royal Mail's section on 'Special Delivery', I would like to know how they have the brass balls to say that it isn't a guaranteed delivery service when they market it like this:

http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/jump2?catId=400028&mediaId=400026

(for some reason Vox wouldn't let me put the link in in the normal way. Perhaps they're working in partnership with Royal Mail).   

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The fridge-witch strikes again

The fridge-witch, as mentioned before for her constant whinging, nosy behaviour and insistence on sharing every cold she ever has with the entire office by coughing and spluttering while noisily informing us how very ill she is, has this morning gone too far. I'd headed down to the toilets for a pee, and I'm just sat there when she pokes her stupid head round the door and shouts 'Vicola, will you ring Linda on her mobile?'. What, WHAT?? For the love of god is nothing sacred? Firstly, how the hell did she know I was in the bog, I work at the other end of the building to her, is she bloody spying on me (quite possible since without fail EVERY single time I venture into the loo, she arrives 30 seconds later) and secondly, FUCK OFF I'M ON THE CAN! A message to ring someone on their mobile can wait 5 minutes until I get back to my office, there is no need to assert your knowledge of where I am by poking your head into the toilet to tell me to ring someone. I was so surprised that I didn't say anything, just sat there but next time the cheeky bitch is going to get told good and proper. There are some activities that should not be disturbed with pointless and non-urgent messages and taking a whizz is one of them. The woman is clearly socially inept.

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