It’s a strike – the public services are revolting.

Yes, you read it right, the public service over here is in revolt.

In a move that has completely missed the irony of parents having less leave now because they’ve had to use a day of it to mind their kids, teachers, lecturers and some other public service monkeys that no one who didn’t intend to catch a flight or appear in court today will notice are missing, went on strike over plans to make then work more hours and contribute more towards their pensions, which will be worth less.

They’ll be holding a rally and march in central London, no doubt between the hours of 9 and 5 because those are contract hours and the public service doesn’t do unpaid overtime unless you’re in the armed forces. It explains why there were no pickets at the 3 schools I passed on the way to work this morning at 7.15am. The issue they have is this – the gold plated pensions used to be available to public sector workers with minimal contributions because the wages you got in the public service were crap. The problem I have is this – they aren’t any more, in many types of work they are among the best. So therefore they no longer require the unaffordable pension because they can afford to save it like the rest of us.

We’ve had various representatives of public sector workers on the tv blathering about how they can’t afford to make bigger contributions to their pension because the cost of living has gone up and their pay rises haven’t matched inflation. Boo fucking hoo people, I haven’t had a pay rise since 2008 and I pay for mine. How do you think I get on? I buy less stuff. That’s what you do. It’s how the world works. Their pensions are currently unaffordable because a) the public service has swelled to ridiculous numbers and b) people are living longer. If something isn’t done then there’ll be no pension at all by the time I get old but as far as I can see, the teachers, who are very decently paid ( a mid range teacher receives approx £32 a year which is hardly minimum wage)  especially when you consider that they get 3 months plus ‘out of the office’ per year, don’t give a flying rat’s backside if the rest of us are fucked into a cocked hat and have to spend our twilight years foraging for food in bins inbetween 18 hour shifts at the coal face, as long as they get their nice cushy pension and are able to retire at 60. And we get to pay for it too. Lucky us. Nurses I could understand, they do a grim job, in grim places, they get vomited on regularly, they aren’t very well paid for what they do, their hours are often lousy and they only get the standard amount of holiday. But teachers? And assorted other public service goons who are so inconsequential that no one has noticed who they are and that they didn’t turn up for work today? No. What the teachers are also clearly telling us is that they wouldn’t want to lose any of their own leave by demonstrating and marching in half term but they don’t give a toss if parents have to lose a day of their leave or the leave of all police has been cancelled as the various forces need their offices to prevent violence at the demos. They want the support of the private sector but tell me this: how many public sector workers downed tools to protest when Brown launched his smash and grab on private pensions? Bugger all, that’s how many. What they want is no longer affordable for the country and if I hear one more whine about ‘Why should the public sector pay the price for the bank’s excesses?’ I will not be reponsible for my actions. I work in civil engineering, why the hell should I? It was nothing to do with me but I am paying, and on less than a mid range teacher as well. It’s just yet another example of the ridiculous culture of entitlement that has bred in this country in recent times, “we don’t care about the cost to others, we’re entitled to it”. Well guess what? You’re not.

And this is why I do not support today’s strike.

Dear Ambulance Chasers…

Dear Ambulance Chasers,

Let me thank each of you who has, since some insidious fuck-turtle at Churchill sold you my details, persisted in phoning me, texting me, emailing me and posting crap to me for your sterling efforts to secure my case. Truly, I have rarely felt so wanted, imagine my delight when I actually make the effort to get out of the bath and locate the phone, in case it is someone important, then answer it only to find that once again, David would like to know how my day is going and whether I was aware that I could get up to £4k for my accident. Lovely David, my day was going just fine but now there’s soapy footprints all over upstairs, I’m cold and there’s shampoo in my eye. So please, get off my phone line before I go blind. I have three major problems with the barrage of pestering I’m currently receiving:

1) I hate ambulance chasers. They’re driving up the cost of insurance, they’re weaselly little scrotes who spend their days trying to persuade pikeys that their utter inadequecy and inability to get through life without mishap is someone else’s fault when in fact it’s just because the said pikey is borderline retarded. If you’re too stupid to put one foot in front of the other without falling over then natural selection is bound to weed you out sooner or later and if you can’t see the object that you walked into then that’s your lookout.

2) I object to the insurance company selling my details. I didn’t give them permission to do this, I didn’t want them to do this and perhaps if I sold their chief executive’s details to some bunch of sharply suited cowboys who then took to badgering him at every available opportunity then he’d understand how annoying it is.

3) My accident consisted of a lorry smacking the wing mirror off my car. That’s it. A lost wing mirror. No whiplash, no injury, no problem. They admitted fault and it was all cleared up nice and quick. So no, David, I am not going to get up to £4k for my ‘accident’ and no, there wasn’t a passanger with me but had there been, I have absolutely no doubt at all that they’d have been as utterly uninjured as myself.

Now please, fuck off all of you.

Eulogy

In case anyone out there was wondering what my dad was like, so that I don’t lose it and for anyone who I know in Real World who might want to re-read it, this is the eulogy I gave at my dad’s funeral. In case anyone was wondering, my brother and I both called him ‘Ade’ rather than Dad but he was our real father (and ‘M’ referred to is my brother). I managed not to cry which was fortunate because my backup reader, Best Friend, was not at all convinced that she could get through it either.

Eulogy

Everyone is here because they knew Ade, also known as Beardyman, Baldyman and the Old Goat, in some way, so you’ll all know he had many character traits that made him him. I thought I’d have a look at some of them.

Ade was fun, as anyone who’s seen him doing his drunken Bay City Rollers or Professor Gumby impressions will tell you. If you wanted someone to sit in the garden with and demolish two bottles of wine and the business end of a litre of port on a random sunny Friday night then he was your man. Mum was less than impressed when she came home to find us completely cross eyed and trying to launch the posh crockery into the dishwasher. Even through the port-flavoured haze we recognised that she meant it when she told us to ‘step away from the Wedgewood’. That was the worst hangover I’ve ever had, he was fine, which seemed to me to be completely unfair.

Ade was practical. Before he started the nursing home he used to spend Saturdays building things in the garage and I’d help, while listening to the football scores on a ancient brown radio that was a funny shape due to some sort of unfortunate heat-related accident many years earlier. Despite my help he managed to build my cabin bed, complete with ladder, it was very impressive. It was from him that I learned the vitals of gardening such as never pick the rosemary from the sides of the bush because it’s covered in dog wee and the art of pest-control – slugs are best loaded onto a trowel and fired as far as possible whereas due to the hard shell you can get a decent distance clearance on a snail with a drop kick. Ade could often be found after a couple of sweet sherries, in the garden hunting for slimy creatures to fire into neighbouring gardens. I’d like to point out, since we have some neighbours here, that we only fired to the back, not to the sides.

Ade could be embarrassing, especially once I hit teenage. He had particular fun with boys that would ring up to speak to me, developing the habit of ‘putting them on hold’. This involved informing the unfortunate lad on the phone that he was being put on hold then singing Greensleeves at them tunelessly until either they hung up or I spotted what he was doing and wrestled the phone off him. His other telephone favourite was to inform them, regardless of where in the house I was, that I was in the toilet, I’d gone in with a book and a brew and if he was them, he’d give it half an hour. Then there was his ‘dad dancing’ which he liked to perform in public places as a cunning device to embarrass M and me. “What’s this? It’s got a good beat” – thumbs in front, arse put backwards, arms and legs swinging in a set of movements that at no point was allowed to correspond with the beat of the music. A man not afraid to make a pillock of himself in the name of humour.

Ade was educational. He took us on family trips to Beamish and the various historic ships at Portsmouth. More than once he proved that perhaps sailors in olden days were shorter than him by forgetting to duck and smacking the top of his head on the doorframe. For someone who’d carried that height for 40 odd years he never did get the hang of it, he spent half his time with a scab in the middle of his bald patch. From him I learned such important things as all the words the ‘The German Officers’, a song you’re never likely to hear at a Royal Garden Party and ‘Never trust a man with shiny shoes, he could be using them to look up your skirt’. Wise words indeed. He could also be patient, in all the long drives to France on holiday, a thousand miles of ‘Mum, he’s on my half of the armrest’ and ‘She’s stolen my tape, make her give it back’ I only remember two incidences of ‘If you two don’t shut it right now I’m going to put you both out on the hard shoulder and bloody well leave you there’. Not bad going because we were a nightmare in an enclosed space, I’d have dropped us off the boat as we were leaving the coast if I’d have been him.

Ade was our medical man, he took my stitches out in our kitchen, the neighbours probably still remember the screeching. When I smacked M in  the eye with half a brick up at the caravan, he was the one who came up with the bright idea of dangling him in the river to take the swelling down. Enterprising. Ade was the one who took us to grim medical appointments like dental extractions and vile tests and he was the first one to find the humour in these situations, usually by pointing out that the whole world can see your arse in that medical gown and taking the mick. He did however drop the ball on a couple of occasions, such as missing the fact that the reason I was whinging was that my arm was broken or telling me to stop moaning and go back to playing in the sea, those fingers are just bruised, only starting to look interested when the ends began to turn a funny colour. We all have off days.

Ade could be parental. He was the one who wrote to Miss Davenport, the form tutor of the green fog breath, to inform her that since I was 18 and old enough to vote, get shot for my country and buy house, what he would be doing about the fact that I had been caught smoking behind the garages next to school would be precisely chuff all as I was now old enough to do stupid things without intervention. He gave me the lecture on why it was wrong of me and Nic S to send the condom through the post to some lad we’d met on a school ski trip for a laugh, causing his mother to complain to the school about the conduct of its pupils and miraculously he managed to do it with a straight face. He was also the one who informed me that on Clare R it might be a beige suede miniskirt but I was a good half a foot taller so on me it was a beige suede belt, I looked like a two bit trollop and I was not in any way, shape or form going out dressed like that. Imagine how well that went down.

Lastly Ade could be caring. He and mum spent years ferrying M and me to various places at various unearthly hours and subbing me when I was skint. When I started primary school he used to make up little exercises in a notebook for me to practice my maths and English, on my wedding night he arranged a surprise night in the Midland Hotel for Mr V and me. Even a fortnight before he died he was in the garden potting up lettuces for me. There isn’t enough time in the day to list all the little things he did for us over the years so I’m not even going to try.

In short, Ade had many character traits but the one that stands out for M and me is that he was a great dad, from start to finish, we thought the world of him and he’ll be missed by us both, as well as all of you. We’re all painfully aware that his life was too short, we should have had more time but I know I speak for M as well as myself when I say that we would rather have had 30 years with Ade as a father than 60 with a lesser man. Laters Chief, I’ll see you around.

Getting by one day at a time. And not pushing old people off pavements.

You’ll have to all excuse the fact that this post is utterly disjointed, it’s more an attempt to work out what’s going on in my head by writing it down than any sort of cohesive point.

And so now the funeral is over, he’s interred in the churchyard and the headstone has been ordered. I’m back at work, as is my brother and my mum. It’s funny how quickly life gets back into the old routine and to be honest, this is the problem. It feels like the world is going on exactly as it did before, as if nothing has happened at all but it has. Once people have asked you the inevitable ‘how are you?’, with the pitying head tilt and sympathetic voice and have established that you’re not about to burst into tears every 3 minutes, they carry on exactly as they did before. This is not unnatural I suppose, their worlds haven’t been rocked in the slightest but mine has and it jars that they can be so contented and complacent when there’s a big hole in my world.

I think numb is wearing off. This is a shame because as it happens I was right, numb IS better than what comes after numb. What comes after numb is nasty and catches you at any moment when you’re not concentrating on something or keeping busy, when you’re driving somewhere and a song comes on the radio, when you see another stupid marketing email trying to sell you Father’s Day tat, when you’re trying to get to sleep. On the plus side, now the grief has started to kick in, the weird dreams (and believe me, some have been disturbing) about my dad dying have started to subside. This is a relief because I was becoming a little concerned I might be mildly insane. The really nasty ones are the ones where you dream that you thought he was dead but then he actually wasn’t. The disappointment being that you then wake up and for a moment think everything is fine, then the realisation dawns that it was just a dream, he IS dead and everything is still shit.

I feel like my brother and me were cheated. Mum told my brother that it’s not the same for us because losing a parent isn’t the same as losing a partner and she’s probably right, it most likely isn’t but her experience of losing her father isn’t the same as ours at all. Her father was 88 when he died, ours was 58. That’s 30 extra years she had, twice my lifetime and more than twice my brother’s. Think of all the things you can learn from your father in 30 years, all the advice you’d get, the support, the family dinners, Christmases, laughs. 30 years worth of father stuff that thanks to cancer, we won’t get, 30 years of watching my baby niece grow up that he won’t enjoy. Does that seem fair to you? Because it sure as shit doesn’t to me. I find myself looking at people like my stepfather-in-law, an odious 72 year old man that no one likes, who drinks like a fish and brings nothing useful to the world and wondering why he gets to live on but my dad, a man who everyone liked and respected and who did a job helping the people in society that no one wanted to see, gets taken. That fair? Nope. I find myself with an unreasonable dislike of anyone my age who has 4 grandparents and 2 parents left because I’ve got no grandparents and only one parent. And let’s not get onto my not terribly honourable urge to push old couples off kerbs simply because they managed to make it to ‘old’. I should point out now that I haven’t actually pushed any old people off kerbs, I just want to. Which granted, is not a great deal better.

Then we get to the stupid things that people say to you.

“Your father wouldn’t want you to be sad” – well firstly, I think he’d probably be at least a little bit hacked off if he kicked the bucket and none of us gave a shit. Secondly, if what he wanted was that easy to bring to pass then he wouldn’t have died in agony of metastatic lung cancer 8 weeks after diagnosis would he? Now fuck off.

“Your mother is still young, she’ll be able to find someone else” – he’s been in the ground less than a week so I have to award you full marks for utter insensitivity. Well done. Now fuck off.

“He’s with god now” – well that’s lovely but I don’t want him with god, I want him with us. And given that a good man who was loved has just been felled like a sodding tree in a matter of weeks, culminating in a death to rival anything I’ve seen in films for unpleasantness, what exactly makes you think that I am currently receptive to ideas about god’s greatness? Now fuck off.

“It’s a blessing that he didn’t suffer” – wrong, he did. We just told you he didn’t because it was easier than ploughing through the same crap time after time and then spending an hour trying to assuage your sadness when we were tired. It’s lung cancer, a quick trip onto google would have enlightened you that it’s no walk in the park. Or walk anywhere in fact, given that the tumour in his spine compressed the spinal column and another one ate half his pelvis. Now fuck off. Before I grace you with the rest of the stuff we didn’t tell you.

I think I might have reached the stage of the grieving process that they refer to as ‘anger’…

I suspect we’ll get more trite and insensitive comments over time. If I get any particularly good ones I’ll put them on here.

In the meantime, we’re trying to get by one day at a time and it isn’t easy but keeping busy seems to be the key. And to that end, I shall now go and do some work before I get fired and am then left with all day to ponder death and unemployment.

Funeral tomorrow

And so it’s my dad’s funeral tomorrow. If I get through it without turning into a teary mess it’ll be a bloody miracle. How is it that I can write articles in minutes with no problems but writing a eulogy took me hours and I’m still not happy with it?
Funeral.
Somehow none of it feels real, which I guess is the easy bit because I’m certain that when it becomes real it becomes much more painful and I’m quite sure that’s not going to be fun.