Monday, June 22, 2009


The PM and the showgirl

What’s the connection between Gordon Brown and a bunny girl? No, sorry, I haven’t discovered another of Gordon’s weaknesses, but they do have something in common. When he told The Guardian how much we’ve hurt his feelings and how it’s not his fault that he’s not very good at communication or political manoeuvring, it reminded me of a story years ago, when the Playboy Club dispensed with the services of bunny girl Greta because her neck had become crepey. She too was hurt and wanted to make a fight of it.

Whilst there may not be an exact job description for either a bunny girl or a prime minister, it’s not unreasonable to suppose that a bunny girl’s main purpose was to persuade rich men that her youth and beauty was worth parting with an indecent amount of cash for; and a prime minister's to persuade rich and poor that his communication skills and ability to pick the right people for the right jobs was worth parting with their vote for.

Now don’t think me lacking in compassion, but both Gordon and Greta seem somewhat deluded if they think it's mean to criticise them just because they don't have those particular qualities, when they’re still talented, lovable people. What, just like the ones who didn’t get the job.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Back with a snapshot but no photo

Bad idea back in March to say I’d write something every day, however small, or rubbishy. After the first flush of enthusiastic posts, my inspiration died under the pressure. Nothing I saw, heard or did seemed blog-worthy. But, as is the way sometimes, once you accept that you’ve failed and nobody cares anyway, you wake up one morning and there’s a tiny bud on that dead branch. Hallelujah.

“What a great photo that would make” I say stopping to watch a group of French workman dig up the road. While one man operates the vehicle breaking up the concrete, six fellow workers stand in a motionless, silent semi-circle, transfixed by the road disintegrating before them and unconcerned that, even taking into account the French custom of having as many men observing the work as actually doing it, they might have a rather disproportionate ratio of observers to workers. Sadly, I can’t post that photo because there was a problem with the camera and by the time we sorted it out, the traffic lights changed and the moment was gone.

I consider myself an un-competitive sort of person - someone who regularly lost at tennis without ever throwing a racquet, who never feels the need to outdo anyone’s anecdote, cooking or even wii-ing prowess - but the other day I completely lost my cool when I was losing at Scrabble and am feeling rather ashamed. In my defence, my loved one, though I accept it wasn’t his intention, managed to push all my buttons by daring to think himself hard done by when he was winning. I was feeling fine about my three Us, two As, and two Os as he went ahead with his Q, X, C, K and two Ss until he complained that I’d put my one-pointer tiles where he'd intended to make a brilliant word. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but ungentlemanly behaviour may have been mentioned somewhere in my tirade, which led to the game being finished in a somewhat frosty atmosphere. If I don't get a grip or some counselling, I'm in danger of being red-carded and branded the Joey Barton of Scrabble.

Friday, April 03, 2009


A tall story?

I’d like to do some creative writing, but the problem is that I’m rubbish at continuity. I have my heroine tripping across town in an elegant silk blouse, having forgotten that the story opened with her complaining that this was the harshest winter she could remember, so everything must stop while I go back to change her wardrobe. Or I realise that my stalker is waiting for a bus half a page after he’s parked his car.

But even trickier than continuity is a credible story-line. We forgive the ludicrous plots our favourite well-known authors sometimes come up with because they’re entertainingly written, but you can’t start out in fiction with a story-line that has a nun trying to infiltrate a gun-running gang to raise a few bob for her convent. (Please don’t tell me you know one, who did just that).

Suitable names for your heroes and heroines are important too. Whilst I’m sure a Gerald or an Enid is perfectly fanciable and kissable in the real world, in fiction, they play the dependable or expendable roles only.

I’ve been mulling over a story recently about obsession, something I’m more familiar with than I’d like to be. Its most worrying characteristic is its ability, no matter what you’re doing, to find the ‘override’ button and replace anything sensible presently occupying your brain, with the rubbish this monster loves. After my son Rob died, I was obsessively preoccupied with the idea that it was all the fault of the surgeon. If we’d had more time, we’d have found a better surgeon, if the surgeon had paid more attention to Rob than to his ego, he’d have done a better job, if he hadn’t needlessly ripped out the root of the tongue, Rob would have been able to swallow again and if he’d had better aftercare he would have survived. Obviously, when I got ‘better’ I could see that nothing and no one could have saved Rob.

So, a story about obsession leading to madness and murder – haven’t I seen that somewhere before?

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


What's in a name

There’s a slot on the English speaking radio station on the Riviera taken up with a round-up of the lighter news stories in the English newspapers and I really enjoyed one from yesterday about an English guy, recently graduated from a Welsh university, who applied by e-mail for some horticultural jobs in Wales. Unfortunately he forgot to change his current e-mail address: atleastI’mnotwelsh. Unsurprisingly, instead of the anticipated offer of an interview, one reply contained some advice for improving his chances of getting one. He was reportedly feeling rather foolish.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Crime and Stupidity

It’s always disappointing when the perpetrator of a crime is caught by their own stupidity rather than the meticulous police work that TV crime shows suggest. Are they stupid beforehand do you suppose, or does crime addle their brain? I always wonder why killers bury the body of their victim under the floorboards for instance. They may be in a panic, but doesn’t it cross their mind that when the neighbours notice a funny smell, they’ll probably report it to the police?

And this week, the staggering corruption of an American judge has been revealed, equalled only by the stupidity that exposed him. He’d been handing down hundreds of custodial sentences for children as young as 14 for the heinous offences of stealing a $4 jar of nutmeg and creating a satirical MySpace page of their headteacher. But, as he said in an interview with the Guardian last month, he was only doing it because he wanted to help the kids straighten out their lives. It obviously didn’t occur to him that his somewhat unusual sentencing policy might raise a few eyebrows as well as questions. And when it did, the resulting investigation found that he and another senior juvenile judge, had earned themselves a neat little $2.6m (£1.78m) in kickbacks from the co-owner and builder of a private detention centre in return for a steady flow of children.

Isn't this supposed to happen only in third world countries?

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