It’s just another turn on the rollercoaster ride of fun.

You know when you have one of those days that is just abysmally shit from the very beginning to the very end? Well today sits firmly in the category of 'proof that someone up there hates me'.

I got up at 6am, a half hour earlier than normal because I've got to go to a water treatment works in the backwaters of fuck knows where to find it's fricking snowed again. Great. So I defrost the car and put the postcode into the sat nav, which promptly informs me that it can't find any satellites. Naturally, because there are absolutely no satellites operating over the Manchester area. I drive down the road thinking that it'll pick up some signal as I go but it doesn't. What it does inform me is that there has been an error in programming my route. I press the off button but it's not working. At which point I lose my temper and drop the sat nav, something that might not have been so bad had it not had the car charger plugged in to it.When I pick it up I find that the jack point that the charger plugs into has somehow bent into the gadget. I instantly make this better by trying to prod the end of the charger into the jack, something which doesn't achieve charging but does achieve forcing the entire jack into the body of the sat nav. Fabulous. Now not only have I fucked up the Tom Tom but I'm lost in the foothills of christ knows where, with no idea where I am, how to get where I should be or how to get home. And I'm going to be late for the meeting.

Eventually I arrive at the meeting, late, and am treated to 2 hours of utter tedium and professional faffing from the meeting holders. Could anything be more fun?

After the meeting I get back to the office to find that not are the jobsworths in a complete tizz about something stupid and pointless but I also have a raft of emails asking me to do things that people higher up can't be bothered with.

I'm meant to go to the gym on the way home but can't be arsed so go straight to my house.

Where I discover that the dog has got the shits again. Perfect.

I'm now sat here waiting for the meteor to hit my house and the avalanche to destroy the garden, just to finish off what has been a truly momentous day. Lovely.

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My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a review…

So, I watched the programme about gypsy/ traveller weddings (which if you missed it and you want to watch, you can see HERE ) and was quite surprised by some of what I saw.

Most of the girls and their weddings were just as I expected them to be, young girls acting like pretty, excited little spaniels because they'd been given free range to get a huge, sparkly dress with costumes for their friends and a big party all about them.

And who can deny that nothing says 'I'm taking this lifetime commitment seriously' like 40 metres of flammable netting and 4 friends dressed as Wild West hookers? There was enough fake tan at these weddings to creosote every fence in middle England and sublety of colour was not the prime objective.

But they were happy cheerful weddings with people chatting and drinking, just like any non-traveller wedding. I may not personally agree with marrying sheltered young girls off at 16 and expecting them to just cope but that's because it's not my world and there's no doubting that 3 of the 4 girls followed were absolutely delighted to be getting married and seemed thrilled with everything. And while a couple fo the boys looked utterly shell-shocked, in a couple of cases possibly because they weren't even old enough to vote, let alone understand the big, bad world and what they were doing, you couldn't help but smile as the new husband of Sammy-Jo (no pic available I'm afraid but think fitted, a lot of little crystals, white, 25ft train,no exaggeration) who had been asked about his thoughts on his wife's dress replied that it was beautiful but then he'd known it would be because she was always beautiful. Bless him. As they've never lived together, whether he'll think that when she wakes up with a hangover, wearing last night's makeup and a grimace, only time will tell but it was a lovely thing to say and he really did look proud. Sammy-Jo's mother just looked bloody relieved, since the wedding reception venue they'd booked had cancelled at the last minute after getting a tip off that it was a traveller wedding they were about to host. It seems this happens a lot because traveller weddings have a reputation, whether earned or not I don't know, for trouble. She looked so fraught when it happened and all through the preparations on the day, in case the new hotel did the same and left them all with nowhere to go. The relief on her face when they were all sat down having the meal was overwhelming. I have to say though, Sammy-Jo's removal of her chewing gum at the altar wasn't the classiest thing I've ever seen, lord knows where she put it. All the receptions were loud, fun looking affairs with crowds of kids dancing and elders stood about chatting over a drink or two, just like your average wedding only slightly more outlandishly attired.

All except one.


Joan was 22, which by traveller standards is apparently really old to be getting married, you're pretty much on the shelf since the average age of marriage is 17 and engagement, 14. She was possibly the most sheltered girl I've ever heard of, as her hatchet faced shrew of a mother informed us, "she doesn't go clubbing, she doesn't go out with boys, she's never been on holiday". Joan herself told the interviewer that at 22 she still has to ask her parents permission to go out. Joan was also unusual in that she'd stayed in school until she was 16 and then got a part time job in a call centre, which since she never went out, allowed her to save up and buy the massive meringue she got married in. She'd met her fiance, Pa, twice when they got engaged and I can honestly say that I've never seen a sadder bride in my life. Look at her eyes in the picture above. She was late to the church because she didnt' want to leave her parents house, on the dance floor after the wedding she was dancing with her father, clinging on to him and crying. It was a small reception in a big room, apparently travellers don't issue invites, people in your community just come along through word of mouth but it didn't seem like many people had been talking about Joan's wedding because as far as I could see there were only about 20 people there.


 

The lady who designs most of the colossal traveller wedding dresses went to Joan's wedding and even she and her assistant were nearly in tears as she said "She looks scared, I hope she has a nice life". As she was interviewed at the reception with the monosyllabic Pa, who looks like Wayne Rooney's even less attractive brother and who would never have scored a girl as pretty as Joan in regular life, Joan's comment on her marriage was "Well we argue all the time but we've got to make it work, don't we?". I nearly cried for her. Resigned is not how you should feel on your wedding day. It's certainly not how I felt on mine, once I'd got over my annoyance at his choice of person to sign the register anyway. And the hatchet faced mother didn't give a shit either. She had less warmth and natural charm than Hitler and seemed to be of the opinion that Joan should just get on with it, regardless of whether she was happy. Joan's comment pre-wedding when asked what she would do if she didn't get on with her new husband sadly showed that she's had this instilled into her as well, "You've made your bed and you have to lie in it". I sincerely hope that Joan's married life turns out to be happier than she seemed to expect it to be, it certainly seemed to me a high price to pay for freedom from her parental restrictions and the stigma of being a spinster in the traveller community.


What did surprise me was the level of prejudice within the traveller community about 'country girls' as one lad called the rest of us. Paddy, owner of a permanent traveller site in Manchester expressed utter horror at the idea of his youngest boy bringing home a girl who wasn't a traveller and the lad himself said he'd never be able to take one home to meet his family. The inspiringly named 'Fanta' said that travellers won't let their kids mix with local kids, only other traveller kids because local kids drink and have loose morals. Fair enough but it occured to me that the travelling community can't really complain about prejudice against them when they're equally as prejudiced against the rest of the world. They complain about being judged but they are judging the other youngsters in the area and finding them wanting without actually knowing anything about them. If they want to be accepted and understood, to break down the prejudices around them then they're going to have to open up a bit and show the world what they're really about because if they operate in such a closed manner then the only thing people have to judge them on is what they read in the paper. And that's invariably Daily Mail crap about pikeys trashing villages, stealing, destroying fields they've arrived in overnight and demanding more land. The only way to acceptance is to put their side across and if they aren't willing to do that then things will never change.

Still though, you can't beat an hour of watching massive dresses and dubiously dressed women can you??

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Oooh, a programme about gypsy weddings….

Oooh, I've been alerted that tonight at 9pm on channel 4 is something called 'My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding' about traveller weddings, complete with 60ft trains, gum-chewing brides and wedding guests wearing ill advised lycra. I shall be tuning in, with a glass of wine in hand, to see what really happens when you splice the 16 year old offspring of two tax-avoiding families at the cost of umpteen thousand pounds….

 

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Wanker of the Week

Thanks to BBC News this week's wanker comes courtesy of the assassination of one catchily named Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a Hamas Commander who reports suggest was in Dubai to buy weapons for the Palastinian Islamist movement. Mahmoud was bumped off by a group of people, 6 of whom were carrying forged British passports in the name of real British-Israelis. Imagine how surprised they must have been to find that the authorities thought they were prowling round a Dubai hotel in the dark carrying a semi-automatic instead of in Surrey watching the late night re-run of Glee on the new plasma screen.
 
There is, understandably, a belief by many that this attack was carried out by Mossad, not only because Mossad have in the past used false passports from friendly countries (provoking a number of diplomatic rows), not only because this hit apparently bears the hallmarks of a Mossad assassination, but also because they happen to be engaged in a war with Hamas at the moment. Which does make them the prime suspects, whichever angle you look at things from.

All of which makes the pronouncements of Israel's foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, absolutely priceless.

Mr Lieberman said there was 'no reason to blame Israel and Mossad. I don't know why we are assuming that Israel or the Mossad used these passports'. No, of course not.I can't imagine why anyone would jump to that entirely unreasonable conclusion. Honestly, the whole world is always picking on poor little Mossad….

Apparently, "there is no reason to think that it was the Israeli Mossad, and not some other intelligence service or country up to mischief". Well quite, it was probably those pesky Finns, you know what they're like, last week it was hiding an old herring behind the boardroom curtains, this week it's forging a number of european passports and using them to murder the commander of a group that the Israelis happen to be at war with. What next from these impish Scandanavians? Whoopee cushions in the senate? Swapping the sugar for salt in Helsinki's US embassy building? Global thermo-nuclear war?

He did not however deny Israeli involvement, possibly because he was afraid of being struck by a thunderbolt from above on the way out of the building, saying merely "Israel never responds, never confirms and never denies. There is no reason for Israel to change this policy". I realise that Israel seems to have a somewhat slap-dash attitude to diplomatic relations but I'd beg to differ Mr Lieberman, for the simple reason that European passports were used in this killing so it would be polite to at least let the countries whose security pass documents have been forged know whether your agents did it or not. It's called manners. It's especially important when even your own former agents are claiming it looks like an Israeli operation.

So there we have it, Avigdor Lieberman, a man who doesn't give a fuck about diplomatic relations with Europe and who would deny it was him who stole the cookies even if he was found with his hand in the jar, crumbs down his front and a CCTV tape of him committing the crime. Sometimes Mr Lieberman, the nobler way is to just 'fess up.

But when looking at this crime we mustn't forget the other victims, the real owners of the names and numbers on the forged passports, such as Daniel Hodes, who said "I don't know how they got my details, who took them. I haven't left the country, I think, for two years and I've never been to Dubai ever. I don't know who's behind this, I'm just scared, these are major forces". Indeed they are Mr Hodes, you're not wrong. So as you drift off in your comfy bed tonight, spare a thought for 6 British-Israelis who will be spending the foreseeable future sleeping with the lights on, their eyes open and a secret services guard outside. And for Mr Lieberman, who I suspect doesn't lose sleep over anything very much.

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Mobilise the troops, we’ve got visitors coming….

 

On Saturday night we've got some friends coming for dinner. This doesn't sound like a big deal does it? Well, for normal households it possibly isn't but you see we Mr Vicola and me aren't really very tidy. And one of the people coming round is an OCD cleaning fanatic with a passion for bleach. Mr Vicola and me are only really on nodding terms with the bleach and we both work full time which means that operation "Make the house not look shit, hide the junk that usually lies around the place and make every surface sparkle" has to start a week before the actual event just so we can get everything done. I both envy and despise these people whose houses you can drop in to without warning and find sparklingly clean and immaculate and minimal looking. Mr Vicola and I will never live in minimal because we have far too much stuff. Don't get me wrong, most of it isn't very useful and I'd say a good 80% of it won't be utilised from one year's end to the next but it's kept because 'you never know when you might need it' or because it has sentimental value. Every so often we have a blitz and throw loads of it away but somehow, within a year we've ended up with exactly the same amount of house-crap as we had before. How does that happen? Is there some sort of evil leprechaun that sneaks into the loft in the middle of the night and fills it with crap like the big, stinky barbour coat that we all know Mr Vicola will never wear but will not throw away? Or the video recorder which was so complicated that after 2 years I hadn't figured out how to use it and could still only record a channel if I was watching it? Or the first set of golf clubs that Mr Vicola bought and doesn't ever use because now he's got some better ones that he doesn't have to bend over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame to use? Or the many cardboard boxes? Or the size 8 clothes that I stand bog all chance of ever fitting in again but have kept in case someone invents a miracle cure for the squidgy bits that grow round your midriff once you pass 25? All useless crap but all taking up house space.

Anyway, operation "Sparkly Showhome" is now underway. Mr Vicola has vacuumed the whole house, which will of course need doing again on Saturday afternoon because the dog has abandoned seasonal moulting in favour of shedding acres of fur all year round. He has also tidied the conservatory,cleaned it and scrubbed all the downstairs window. I suppose it would be fair to say that so far he has done the lion's share of work, since my contribution has been to hide the basket of ironing in the cupboard under the stairs, but in my defence I am doing all the cooking on Saturday and am taking tomorrow afternoon off to tackle the mountain of my clothes that has grown at the end of the bed and to clean the bathroom, the ensuite and the downstairs loo. Buying a house with three toilets seemed like a great idea until I realised you had to bloody well clean them all. A liberal splash of bleach will be added to each before our guests arrive, in an attempt to make our clean friend feel at home. As someone who is definately not a domestic goddess of any variety, the idea of spending the next few days cleaning like a demon is making me itch. My great aunt had a very valid point when after a few large tumblers of almost neat gin she informed me that "Any woman who works should always have a cleaner". Damn right they should and I think it's about time that the people who set my salary realised this.

In other news, my father in law has deposited £11k in my bank account. Sadly it isn't a gift, it's to buy a campervan for cash off some bloke in Trafford. Don't ask me how this has come about because I've no idea but the urge to take his money and bugger off to the Seychelles for a month then claim I know nothing about where it could possibly have gone is almost overwhelming…..

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Explanation?

Can anyone think of a sensible, rational and more importantly LEGAL reason why every time the window of number 9 across the road is opened the entire estate reeks of marijuana and their spare bedroom window is covered over with silver foil?

Me neither.

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It’s like banging your head against a wall…

What I wrote in the email:

Hi,

Could I remind you to fill in the attached display screen equipment assessment and send it back to me? It is not just an internal survey, it is a requirement brought up at the latest external 18001/ 14001 audit and has to be completed prior to this year's visit from the auditor so if you could return the completed forms to me as soon as possible I can then close out this action.

 

Regards

Vicola.

 

What I wanted to write in the email:

Listen up you pair of pig ignorant asshats,

I sent the original email asking for these assessments to be completed and returned to me 3 weeks ago. Then the following week I sent a reminder. Every other person in the company has managed to do this and although I knew bloody well that you two would ignore me, I feel compelled to waste some more of my time asking you once again to do something that I know you aren't going to bother with. This is going to come as something of a revelation, I know, but you two are not above company procedures. If we don't retain the 18001/ 14001 accreditation then we'll be kicked off the water company framework. This will mean that there will be no more cash and therefore you, Chief Beancounter and you, Chief Beancounter's bitch, will be umemployed along with the rest of us. People of far higher status in this company, such as the deputy managing director, have filled in my questionnaire and sent it back so quite why you think you don't have to is a mystery. I realise that you are obsessed with the bottom line so let me tell you a little secret: Manners cost nothing. It's fucking rude to ignore someone's repeated requests for information. I'm not asking for it because that's how I get my kicks, believe me reading lord knows how many people's whinges about their office chairs and the fact that it's too warm in here in summer is not my idea of a riveting morning, I'm asking because the auditor said we have to do it and believe me when I tell you that if he questions why two people haven't got DSE assessments in the file I won't be taking the rap, I'll tell him exactly why and I'll have print outs of the emails I've sent repeatedly asking you to do it. Don't think I'll be making any effort to cover your arses. And when we end up with a non-conformance that has to be put before the board for explanation, I will hand over the file to the MD and we'll see exactly how happy he is with his little grovelling lapdog when it's threatening his company's accreditation.

Now sit your arse down at your computer and get it fucking done you pair of pricks.

Vicola.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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