Tuesday, 30 September 2014

How to be a celebrity...

...or Very Rich Person (VRP):

1. You must be in some kind of entertainment business. Singing, acting, sport etc. Your job is never essential to the wellbeing of mankind. For  example, doctors, teachers etc need not apply.

2. (Women) you must get pregnant, not necessarily within wedlock, and  your bump must be photographed, preferably uncovered, on a beach, with your nether regions just about covered by a tiny bikini bottom.

3. You must be photographed within days of the release of said bump, displaying a washboard flat stomach. Full makeup should be worn, and the new infant draped appealingly over a shoulder. It is essential to give this child a silly name. John, Susan, Jeremy etc need not apply. Friday or Arsenic would be good choices.

4. You must marry at some stage, so that the world can see how much you are able to spend on an obscenely extravagant wedding, preferably lasting about a week. All children of previous relationships welcome.

5. Divorce or separation are not obligatory, but they help. The more acrimonious the better.

6. You are encouraged to marry again (repeat stage 4).

7. Please feel free to share the interiors of your several amazing mansions. These need to be distributed about the globe (ideally, one should be situated in Hollywood). Gold bathtubs optional, but they do help.

8. Other desirable items include several Porsches, private jets, yachts etc, all with appropriate staff to operate them.

You get the idea. BUT to anyone televised sitting in a jungle eating kangaroo testicles and miscellaneous grubs: you've probably missed the boat. Time to get a day job.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Magpie 239

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun." 
Yet Keats ne'er knew the joys of cars and bootfulness;
Just horse and cart, to take him for a run.
When winter came, no cosy down-filled quilts,
No television, Kindle, mobile phone.
No holidays in trembling huts on stilts,
No social networks, when he felt alone.
Only the mists and fruitfulness remain,
And very soon - who knows? - they may be gone.
For global warming means nothing's the same;
Yet still, we humans seem to struggle on.
And yet I know that at this moment, I
Could do with Keats, to help with this Magpie...

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture.)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Can there be a more useless existence...

...than that of the crane fly? Alias daddy long legs (or as a small boy I once looked after called it, a "long legs daddy". I much prefer the long legs daddy, somehow).

Anyway, whatever you call them, they seem singularly pointless (I'm sure Adrian will disagree with me, but then he's an expert). This is going to be a bumper year for them apparently, and I've already evicted my first (although they don't usually arrive/emerge until October). Their young ("leather jackets". No. I don't  know why, either) are unattractive in the extreme, and the adults just...well, they just dance about, distributing their limbs all over the place until they are pretty well legless. They don't appear to eat or sleep, but they do breed.

 And they're doing it right now. Somewhere near you.

That's all.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Letter from Death Row (again)

We have been writing to each other for about two-and-a-half years now, and inevitably, have become close. He says I am is best friend (probablyy his only friend). We share views and books, and ideas about life and death, and I think we know each other (as much as you can know someone you've never met). I admire his intellect, his writing, his mind; a mind that is condemned, like the rest of him, to be of no further use to anyone, and to be denied the smallest chance of redemption. I have no idea whether or not he's guilty of the crime for which he was committed; he says he's never killed anyone. We can't disccuss his case as all our correspondence is read by the authorities.

As I've said before, he has no access to  a library any more (I send him books, which he reads and re-reads), and has nothing to do. Nothing. He exercises to keep fit (fit for what?), writes poems when he feels he can, and waits. And waits. He has been on hunger strike, but something went wrong. What? I've no idea. He plans to start another one. What do I say? Don't do it? Far better to wait to be put down like a sick dog, in two, five, ten, twenty years' time? Again, I don't know.

In his last letter, he describes what it was to be young (although his childhood was awful, and he tried to hang himself when he was just eleven):

"There were bonfires and skinny dipping in the ocean. It was sumer, and all the kisses tasted of lip gloss and suntan lotion, and all the girls were ours, and none of us were even old enough to buy cigarettes.....it was the best afternoon ever. Until the next best afternoon ever.

And how he feels now:

"31 and never  been in love. Never knew what that felt like. I'll never write my best poem or song. I've never painted my best picture....Alone enough to be alone but not enough to matter...No family. Just a pauper's grave in a potter's field. They don't even put our names on the grave markers. They put your prison number. My suffering is a number. My existence boils down to that.

When I read it (and it was a long letter), I cried.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Proving that some apples fall a long, long way away from the tree

Top dog (ha) my best attempt. Bottom dog, work of 13-year old granddaughter (her mother, my daughter, is pretty good, too).

Sad, isn't it?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Warning - extremely bad language

Please can someone tell me why anyone - anyone at all - would ever, ever, want to do this?

(With thanks to the grandson who gave me nighmares by showing me this in the first place.)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Of double standards and vacuum cleaners

"EU ban on powerful vacuum cleaners prompts anger and legal challenge"

While Justin* takes his private jet
To search for his absconding pet,
And city Range Rovers abound
To cart the feckless rich around,
I've no incentive to be greener.
Long live the powerful vacuum cleaner!

*Bieber. No, I don't know who he is, either. But he's rich, and has (or had) a pet monkey.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

How do you kill a human being?

Well, if it's America's death rows you're talking about, the answer is, with difficulty.

There have been endless articles/discussions about whether or not the inmates suffer when subjected to the lethal injection; one man recently took two hours to die. Two whole hours. It takes a rare kind of genius to extend final suffering for that length of time. Burning at the stake might have been quicker.

And yet anyone who has ever had an anaesthetic knows that long before the patient has counted up to ten, he's out for the count. After that, a prisoner could be executed by any means the executing state chose. Moreover, anaesthetic drugs are widely available, used in all hospitals. Vets use them, too.  I saw my horse being humanely put down within seconds, and a horse is a lot bigger than a human being.

Is the object to further punish someone who may already have been in solitary confinement half a lifetime (in Texas, anyway)? I'm beginning to think it might be. Whatever the reason, with this kind of barbaric treatment  (putting aside the years and years of solitary misery already endured by some prisoners), a country that allows it cannot ever credibly condemn human rights abuse in other countries.

I'm thinking today of "my" prisoner, whose birthday it is next week. I cannot wish him a happy birthday; just the ability to endure. Until, of course, it's his turn.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Magpie 236 - a Nursery Magpie

Mary had three little moths,
They flew too near the light.
They fried their wings and feelers
(For those moths just weren't that bright).

Mary had a little goat,
She kept it by her bed.
It chewed up Mary's bedside lamp,
And now, the goat is dead.

Mary had a little lamb,
You think you know this rhyme?
You don't. For Mary's parents
Served it up, with mint and thyme.

Mary now has three more moths,
She keeps them in a jar.
She feeds them honey sandwiches.
They're still alive. So far.

(With thanks to Tess at Magpie Tales for the picture.)

Friday, 5 September 2014

Silly questions

I've posted about this before, but here are a few more which I find bewildering:

Q: Are you going somewhere nice for your holidays?
A: No. We're going somewhere really horrible.

Q: Is there anything in the (news) paper today?
A: No. Just thirty-six blank pages, as usual.

Q : (from a shop assistant) Were you looking for anything in particular?
A: Well, I was, but not any more.

Q: (similar to the above) And what was your name?
A: Well, it was Winterbottom when I came in, but I've just changed it to Middleton (why not?).

Q: (following on from a rant from my daughter yesterday, who had just been asked this in Waitrose):
Do you want a carrier bag at all?
A: Well, a bit of carrier bag would be fine. Just one handle, I think.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

An anniversary

Today is an anniversary; the second aniverary of the death of my much-loved horse, Titch. There will never be another Titch. He was beautiful, gentle, and kind. When I fell off, he came  back and waited for me. When he was confined to his box with an injury, he was patient and uncomplaining.He was that rare thing: an animal whom it was a real privilege to know. His death was agonising. I've never seen anyone or anything in  such pain. He didn't deserve it. But today, he deserves to be remembered.

This is what I posted on the day he died. Sentimental, maybe. But I meant every word. And I shall always be grateful for the wonderful times we shared.

Monday, 1 September 2014

My brush with death

Or why it's an exceptionally bad idea for a woman of a certain age to be driven in a bumper car by a six-year-old

It seemed  like a good idea at the time. Two grandsons, each wanting to drive his own dodgem. Smaller boy too short to be allowed on his own, so of course Granny steps in. Into the car, that is. So far, so good.

Well, not exactly.  For off we set, hurtling round the track, usually in the opposite direction to everyone else. I'd forgotten that the word "bumper" was the vital clue to what would happen next, but happen it did. We careened into other cars at phenomenal speed, richocheting off the sides, swerving, banging...Whiplash City. If I tried to take the wheel, the small driver said no. He was driving (well, that was the deal), so I tried shutting my eyes, which was even worse. I prayed for all this to stop, but our turn seemed to go on for ever. At times, I thought I was going to die. Really.

Afterwards, as he bounced off towards the next  attraction, I stumbled out into waiting arms of husband.

"But you looked as though you were enjoying it!" said he.

"That," I said, "was a rictus of fear." Deep breath. "Now. What shall we do next?"