Friday, 14 December 2007

Hairspray was Divine...

I've been lazy. I've been busy lurking on other people's blogs. I've been away with the fairies and a touch ill. Whatever you call it, I've not touched this blog in over a week and I thought I would just touch base and leave a quick note that Jay and I traveled up to the West End on Tuesday for a bit of a birthday show. We saw 'Hairspray' a la stage musical incarnation. I think Jon Waters would have been mildly pleased that his movie has been turned into a show that seems to rank with the 1990's version of 'Rent' and the current touring phenomenon, 'Mamma Mia', in terms of crowd pleasers and interactivity. I doubt, however, it would have interested Waters. The candy-coated stage adaptation of the movie (which starred the late-great, faeces-scoffing Divine) only had a few bright moments - the duet between Edna and Wilbur Turnblatt (Michael Ball and Mel Smith) and the closing number of the first act were top notch. All the rest was predictable and silly. Perhaps you will think that musical theatre is supposed to be light and easy on the ear, but I think that the storyline, as it was written for the stage, was actually too complicated. Trying to address the issues of integration, fat-phobia, juvenile delinquency, classism and dead-end extistences by reducing it to a few 'fat misguided girl makes good and leads the march for change on a segregated show' numbers, meant it felt old and tired quite quickly. I don't blame the stage actors - renewed general interest in Waters' work may mean that there is room for quirky and odd in the big money business of theatre and movie remakes.
Overall, I have to give the production two and a half stars. I hope that doesn't deter anyone from seeing it, in principle. It's an honourable attempt at recreating the wackiness that is Jon Waters, it just failed to hit its mark consistently and fluently. It was (as my writing has often been described) awkward. Awkward is okay if you don't charge money to see a production, like I did with my early childhood, neighbourhood shows. It's really not okay if you have to pay £60 for two hours of it...

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Happy Birthday, Tendy!

Today you are two. Your day started off a bit shaky and in the last twenty-four hours you have been asserting your will in a way I have never before seen. It is, in equal measures, thrilling and frustrating for you are no longer content to follow me blindly. You have things you want to do and places you want go to and all the menial tasks like brushing your hair and teeth and putting on clothes are completely useless exercises.

I have been fortunate to know you like no other child. We are together for ten hours a day, five days a week and even though I am not your mother, you are like my child. I wish for you a life full of experience. I want you to know what it is like to hurt, to feel joy, to have the confidence to make mistakes and the humility to recognize your failings. I want you to try to be patient with others and with yourself - life is full of repetition and is often mundane. I will try to show you the beauty in boredom and the glory in watching the world go past.

I want for you to be as honest with others and yourself as you can possibly be - you will be able to build a more authentic self when you know what your reality truly is. I hope you always take the opportunity to make someone else's day brighter with your beautiful smile - it's one of the unsung perks of my job to watch your face light up.

Today you are two. Happy Birthday.

Friday, 16 November 2007

When the words don't come so easily...

Unfortunately the 's' sound is a bit difficult for him at the moment.

"Tendy, say box."
"Tendy, say socks."
"Tendy, what is that animal?"

Thursday, 15 November 2007

This is Paris..

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Paris and she did not disappoint. I have come away enchanted and enamoured, once more. I have always thought of Paris as the lover that I was slightly unworthy of touching and so I ignored her beauty, preferring instead to wax lyrical about my current life in London or my previous lives in Massachusetts, or New Mexico, my childhood home. I know that after three visits that suppressing your desire for Paris is like holding your breath indefinitely: it cannot be done.

Paris does not have the finest restaurants in the world, unless you are in the know. I believe that most in the centre of Paris are overpriced and lacking in culinary imagination – I’ve had more value for money from Pizza Express in East Dulwich. However, even in the most average of brasseries along the banks of the Seine, there is a feeling that you are stepping into a timeless culture of civility, intelligentsia and decorum, and I certainly believe that ambience overrules food, in this instance.

People watching opportunities abound and the cafés encourage it – facing the outdoor chairs to the pavement. There is intensity in the Gallic body language, which infected our party of American ex-pats; after two bottles of Pinot Blanc and another bottle of dry white, we discussed even the most trivial issues with fervour. Legs crossed, elbows on tables holding imaginary cigarettes and sipping cups of coffee and snifters of grappa, we only lacked berets (except Chanson who very wisely brought hers) and polo neck sweaters. We joined the leagues of world travellers who, momentarily, believed they were part of the French Revolution, the egalitarian dreams of Socialism, Marxism and the Republic, and the joie de vivre of inhabiting such a vibrant city with its natives, even for a few short days.

With the construction of faster rails in the UK and the opening of St Pancras station as Eurostar's new London home, the train ride from the UK to Paris Gare du Nord has been cut to just over two hours, which, as I heard on the radio the other morning, means that it is quicker to ride to Paris than it is to the north of England. I will not wait as long to visit her next time, and I hope that she will let me love her a bit more.

This is Paris, and she is a lady. She is savvy, well-dressed, discrete, and smart. She was everything beautiful last weekend. Any flaws she has only perfect her. I am in love again.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

What I've been contemplating...

A quote from Czesław Miłosz's book, 'The Captive Mind'.

When someone is honestly 55% right, that's very good and there's no use wrangling. And if someone is 60% right, it's wonderful, it's great luck, and let him thank God. But what's to be said about 75% right? Wise people say this is suspicious. Well, and what about 100% right? Whoever says he's 100% right is a fanatic, a thug, and the worst kind of rascal. -An old Jew of Galicia

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Today's Menu

Finding a simple balance in life is difficult, at best. We live in an age that is complicated by the choices we have before us. Never before, have so many people had so many options. Our time is measured in the hours, minutes and seconds taken reading a label on a tin of kidney beans to find out the sodium content, figuring the gas mileage of the car on a recent road trip, digesting the thoughts behind an opinion page of our local paper or running an all-important errand. From these actions spring other options - no one thing is ever finite or closed and, generally, I find that in performing a primary action, at least two other secondary actions or options snake off the side and I end up performing or contemplate performing those, as well. For instance, I am writing this entry but also warming my feet by sitting cross-legged and tucking my toes in the crooks of my knees. I will, at some point, be inspired to put some socks on simply because it's difficult to warm one's feet from the heat coming off nylon jogging bottoms (or maybe I just don't have my toes tucked in the correct crooks). Anyway, the dog will follow me to the sock drawer and because getting dressed is a signal to her that there is a possible w-a-l-k in store for her, she will whine until she steers my actions to exchange my slobby jogging attire for jeans, boots, a fleece and a hat (today is not a hairwashing day) and take her to the park (why can't she just use the back garden like other dogs?).
Which park? The options are endless in London. Most likely, it will be the local park up the hill, and it will be a good, long walk around the circuitous path that outlines the vast green lawns and clusters of trees. At any point we might cut across the lawn, walk through the Victorian maze, visit the dinosaurs* or stroll along the avenue of oak and chestnut trees near the cafe. I suppose what I'm getting at in the long-winded post is that even in a simple action such as taking a dog for a walk I am presented with a myriad of options, opportunities to make choices and decisions to take along the way. I will often make a move only out of necessity (dog needs a walk, my knees are stiffening up hence I am no longer sitting cross-legged and my need for socks is now greater) and in my life I would much rather make decisions and consider my options because of a choice I've made beforehand than out of necessity. Rarely do the big decisions come down to that, though. We need something drastically and we must therefore make a series of moves that takes us there. Honestly. The kidney bean thing may be the only thing we really can control.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

September, October, whatever...

Because Rageh Omar digs EW&F, and I dig Rageh Omar

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Phobia, phobia

Did I mention a few weeks ago that the wasps were dying and that the autumn makes them lazy and prone to stinging? Have I ever filled in a meme describing my greatest (irrational) fear? Two words, beginning with 'b' and 'w' and rhyming with 'fee' and 'posp'. I hate the bloody things and my irrational fear of them has caused me to perform feats of strength and speed in an attempt to overpower or outrun the little critters. I've never been stung, repeat: never been stung. Nonetheless, I am a complete sissy when it comes to dealing with bees and wasps and those around me have had to put up with my arm waving and screeching for almost four decades. I'm at a loss. Why does it cause me such distress? Well, today I managed to frighten a dog and a boy with my antics whilst walking with them in the woods behind my house. A 'lazy' wasp got lodged in my hair, right behind my ear and then flew into the collar of my shirt and was gzzzing around my neck and head for ages. Thankfully there were no other people (except little boy and dog) in the woods when I decided to start flailing and keening (I don't don't scream for some reason), ripping off my jacket and shirt to dislodge the wasp from my most important body parts. I think the sight of a half-dressed, grown woman standing in the woods with a dog trying to dodge waving arms and a toddler crying in distress is enough to make anyone phone for social services. I need help. Anyone know of a good hypnotherapist? Wry?

Thursday, 27 September 2007

I've got ten minutes.

I've got ten minutes to construct a lucid post before I have to jet out of here with a toddler-in-tow to playgroup. Can I do it? Doubtful. It's been one week since last I've posted on this blog. I've been flitting around and commenting on others' blogs (some nice comments, some silly comments, and some rather bizarre comments) - sorry if you were on the receiving end of one of my silly/bizarre comments. I'm up for blaming something else entirely, namely the water, the acupuncture treatment I've been receiving, the change of the seasons, the lack of inspiration for my own writing, my upcoming exams, the upcoming trip to Poland/France/the Maudsley, etc.

Right, I've now used up two minutes - I've got eight minutes left. Actually, I don't have eight minutes left because I do have to load the dishwasher, tidy up the toys, brush one youngster's teeth and hair. I'll sign off now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

A Healthy Dose of Reality

This week marks the third anniversary of my SO's father's death. He had battled non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, living with it for 15 years (!) and knowing that he would eventually die from it. He had a brilliant oncologist who was able to give him a decent quality of life for as long as possible. Credit to John, he was an active man who enjoyed bellringing, golf, the internet, the Guardian crossword, reading, Elgar and a multitude of other interests. He was honest in his dealings with people and always spoke to me in a manner that suggested he saw me as an equal. We spoke of science and politics and he was curious to know my viewpoint, as an American citizen, and as a woman. I miss John in the same way I miss my maternal grandmother. They were people who allowed me inside and spoke with me on a level, shared a joke with me and asked me questions. It's small things like that that keep them alive in my memory, and I guess I try to occasionally remember them - I think it's all they would have wanted from me.

This leads me to the next thought, which is that I no longer believe in anything beyond this life. It can be a depressing thought for some that this is all there is to life; that it ends when it ends. It was a bit of a corner-turning moment for me when the cogs in my head clicked into a lower gear, and I started thinking about all the ramifications of not having to answer to a higher being from beyond. I stopped lying to myself and stopped lying to others (for the most part). What was the point? I didn't have to answer to anyone except myself and if I looked like a fool for trying to fool others, then it was me who had to live with that. I started valuing life for what it was. For some people life is horrible. Religion tries to give people personal pat answers about what life should mean and convince them of a reality that asks, in my opinion, far too much and changes with the weather. I wasn't going to try and convince others of a reality that no longer existed, for me, nor was I going to try and keep up with another edict, another commandment, another interpretation of holy text.

John's honesty was a mainstay in my life and quite instrumental in a shift in my thinking. He never tried to enforce his reality upon me, but his reality never changed whereas my thinking shifted all over the place. He knew his was a life cut shorter than average. He never cursed nor praised God, that I heard. He just got on with it* and tried to live as long as he could.

Yesterday, I listened to a programmed called 'Word of Mouth', on BBC's Radio 4. A guest speaker, his name escapes me, mentioned that religious phrases have crept into politics, both in the US and the UK, and that the apocalyptic rhetoric is being used more and more to convince people to vote out of fear. Emotional responses to difficult decisions always seem to yield poor results. Our emotions change; I believe that they are the key things that shape our reality. I have an adverse reaction to something and so my whole life is built upon avoidance of that thing. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we based our decisions on practicality and logic, rather than emotions? It may not be practical, after all, but it would be an interesting change from the highly-charged reactions, that may be appropriate in the short term, but devastating for the long term.

That's it for today. It's just a thought. What do you think?

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Congratulations Pub Quiz No. 1

Well, the results for the first ever blog pub quiz are in and I am happy to say that Pub Club Foot has a winner with Mabel and Team Sunset Zamboni. Congratulations Mabel and thank you so much for playing along! For those of you interested in the answers to the pub quiz questions then read below.

Mabel, I will send your prize in the post and you should get it in the next few weeks.

Pub Quiz No. 1 Answers

1. What is the relatively uncommon disease caused by consumption or contact with Fava Beans called? Favism!
2. If you perform 'hana giri' to a radish, what are you doing? Cutting it into the shape of a flower.
3. How many pints of ale are normally imbibed before the Quizmaster must excuse herself and nip to the toilet? Usually 1 and a half. On my way back from the toilet I get another round of drinks for the table. TMI?
4. What happens upon consumption of either a Fly Agaric or a Yellow Stainer? DEATH! They are poisonous mushrooms.
5. What is the Quizmaster's favourite restaurant? Terre a terre, in Brighton.
6. Finish this limerick by filling in the blanks:
"There was an old ______________ of Crediton gourmet
Who ate ___________________ having spread it on pate fois gras
A chocolate biscuit
He boomed 'Hell, I'll risk it!'
His _____________ bears the date that he said it on." tomb
7. What does the 'Scoville Scale' measure? Heat in chillies.
8. The 'zucchini' is also called a ________________ in the UK. Courgette
9 Which food could the Quizmaster eat 3 x daily for the rest of her life? Cold cereal, oddly enough.
10. In the UK, which food is generally eaten on Shrove Tuesday? Pancakes, in a bid to eat up all the prohibited foodstuffs just before Lent.

1. In poetry, who was the famous son of Weno'nah? Hiawatha. Sorry, I misspelled the name the first time.
2. What occupation practices 'maquillage'? Make-up artist.
3. What is the chemical formulation for carbon monoxide? CO
4. What is the Quizmaster's favourite pastime? Slacking!
5. What was Miss Piggy's character name in 'Muppet Treasure Island'? Benjamina Gunn
6. Who has the sauciest avatar of the Quizmaster's readership? SML
7. Which future saint took part in the stoning of St Stephen? St. Paul
8. Which African country is closest to Italy? Tunisia.
9. What is the name of the Quizmaster's dog? Wonder Pup
10. What breed of dog is the Quizmaster's dog? Part dog, part baby.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Why it's impossible to live life without sometimes looking like a tit

The good thing about arriving in Paris a day ahead of meeting up with SML, Wry and Chanson is that I will get a chance to finally visit the Pompidou Centre, which houses a few floors of contemporary art and is situated near the Les Halles area. I cannot automatically assume that anyone else will be remotely interested in modern art when Paris has the granddaddy and grandmammy of all museums, the Louvre and Musee d'Orsay filled to the brim with Renaissance and Impressionist masterpieces, and so I will try to get my fill of abstract impressionism, fauvism and cubism on the Saturday afternoon. I say try. I will try to make it through the door of the Pompidou Centre, this time. The last time J and I went to Paris, I stubbornly got into a queue filled with a few uniformed groups of kids, a bunch of Japanese 20-something tourists and a German or two. J motioned to me to read the sign she had just found but I shot her a smug (and probably rather ugly) look that said, 'See, I can find the fastest moving queue. Now, hop up here beside me.' The two groups of schoolkids were accompanied by two adults who managed to herd them through the ropes, past the security guard and into the treasure trove of spattered, squiggled and globular painted canvasses and sculpture. I was salivating and a wee bit sweaty from the anticipation.
"Ecole?" the guard asked looking from me to J to the Japanese tourists. The Germans had, by that time, left the queue and were wandering around taking pictures of the outside of the building.
My eyebrows shot up. Again, he asked, "Ecole?" I paused. J paused.
Finally, I blurted out, "Je m'appelle Aitch..." F*ck! Why did I tell him my name?
His eyebrows shot up. My face turned hot and a droplet of sweat ran down the side of my face.
The guard, probably very nicely, explained to us that we were standing at the entrance for the schools but in my head it sounded like the French version of, "YOU are a supreme idiot!"
I was too mortified to look for the other entrance and so J and I found a McDonalds and got a coffee (I know, I know but I was traumatized by the experience and I needed the comfort of familiarity found in the face of a capitalist clown...sue me.).

I'm looking forward to a Saturday in Paris. I know where the main entrance for the Pompidou Centre is located. If you see me on Sunday and I've got a red face, just go with my explanation that it's sunburn.

Friday, 14 September 2007

Stone Roses fan?

Just thought you might be interested in a brilliant new song from former Stone Roses' frontman, Ian Brown.

Are we all in need of an extension?


I'm a bit worried that perhaps the pub quiz competition isn't meant to be. I didn't get a single response and maybe I just need to ask whether a blogging pub quiz is a crap idea. So, is a blogging pub quiz a really crap idea? Did I set the questions too hard, too easy, too ridiculous, too personalized? Do I need to give more time for the answers to come back to me? Do I need to clarify that I'm not really going to send out a wheel of cheese as a prize and that's just my idea of a funny joke?

If I give everyone til Monday will there be takers?


Monday, 10 September 2007

Pub Quiz 1

Okay, everyone have a drinky? Two rounds...ten questions each (we're going to start off nice and gently)
1st round - Food and Drink
2nd round - General Knowledge

Good luck!
1. What is the relatively uncommon disease caused by consumption or contact with Fava Beans called?
2. If you perform 'hana giri' to a radish, what are you doing?
3. How many pints of ale are normally imbibed before the Quizmaster must excuse herself and nip to the toilet?
4. What happens upon consumption of either a Fly Agaric or a Yellow Stainer?
5. What is the Quizmaster's favourite restaurant?
6. Finish this limerick by filling in the blanks:
"There was an old ______________ of Crediton
Who ate ___________________ having spread it on
A chocolate biscuit
He boomed 'Hell, I'll risk it!'
His _____________ bears the date that he said it on."
7. What does the 'Scoville Scale' measure?
8. The 'zucchini' is also called a ________________ in the UK.
9 Which food could the Quizmaster eat 3 x daily for the rest of her life?
10. In the UK, which food is generally eaten on Shrove Tuesday?

1. In poetry, who was the famous son of Wenohah?
2. What occupation practices 'maquillage'?
3. What is the chemical formulation for carbon monoxide?
4. What is the Quizmaster's favourite pastime?
5. What was Miss Piggy's character name in 'Muppet Treasure Island'?
6. Who has the sauciest avatar of the Quizmaster's readership?
7. Which future saint took part in the stoning of St Stephen?
8. Which African country is closest to Italy?
9. What is the name of the Quizmaster's dog?
10. What breed of dog is the Quizmaster's dog?

Right then, email your answers to:
The competition ends on Thursday 13 September 2007

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Pub Quiz Rules OK!

1. The Pub shall be forevermore known as: The Club Foot
2. The Quiz shall be forevermore known as: Club Foot Quiz or CFQ
3. There shall be a single wheel of cheese awarded as the prize.

4. Cheating is encouraged, yea, required.

5. Teams can be made up of one or more persons. Teams greater than 21 people must submit their answers in Sanskrit.

6. Team Names must show a degree of creativity - I refuse to award the wheel of cheese to a team called 'The Terminators' or some such nonsense. By the way, you cannot be called, "2 Sheds Jackson", "Spinsters of the Parish", or "Filing for Divorce". These names are already in use at various South London pubs.
7. Slight inebriation is encouraged but not required.
8. Creative points are sometimes awarded for answers showing a certain je ne sais quoi
9. Questions are played in 'rounds' of 10. There is one joker that every team has, which means that if they feel they've done especially well in that round of questions then they can play their joker and points are doubled. The joker can be played only once.
10. Quizmaster has the last say on whether the answers are correct enough to be awarded points. Do not argue, it's unbecoming...bribery, however, is flattering.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Competition Ex-ten-sion!

HUGE APOLOGIES! It has come to my attention that today is Friday and I said last week that I would post the Pub Quiz Rules and questions on my blog. I need an extension, I'm afraid. I have one last paper to hand it for my university course and it's due tonight so I'm doing as much writing and proofreading today to get it into good shape for submitting.

I will, I repeat, I will have rules up by tomorrow and questions up on Sunday. That means that I will extend the deadline for submitting your answers a few more days, too, so the results will be posted on Thursday now.
If you'd like to play in teams then by all means, do! If not, play on your own. There is only one prize so if you manage to answer the most questions correctly (or at least interestingly) then you get THE WHEEL OF CHEESE all to yourself. Best of luck!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Cough, cough mememememememe

1. What time did you get up this morning?

2. How do you like your steak?
Still mooing and attached to a live cow. I haven't eaten beef in YEARS...when I did it was a butterfly cut filet mignon, rare to medium rare.

3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Er, 'Notes on a Scandal', I think.

4. What is your favorite TV show?
'Have I Got News For You', just in case you've not been paying attention!

5. What did you have for breakfast?
Plain oatcakes and coffee. I like to dunk them and suck the coffee out. Gross, huh?

6. What is your middle name?
Delilah, Daisy, Dianne, Dorothea, Dahlia, Drue, Doorknob, Destiny's Adolescent, Diamonte

7. What is your favorite cuisine?
I love Thai food. I really like good pub grub, too.

8. What are your favorite chips?
Chips=french fries here...but my favourite crisps are Walker's Tomato Ketchup

9. What is your favorite CD at the moment?
Maximo Park's newest.

10. What kind of car do you drive?
Peugeot 206, Renault Megane

11. What is your favorite sandwich?
Avocado, Cheddar, Mayo & Apple on thick wholemeal bread

12. What characteristics do you despise?
hypocrisy mostly.

13. What are your favorite clothes?
My jeans, a white shirt, Converse

14. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation where would you go?
The Lake District - I've not been yet.

15. Favorite brand of clothing?
Probably Levis.

16. Where would you want to retire?

17. Favorite time of day?
Too difficult to answer...I have lots of favourite times in a day.

18. Where were you born?

19. What is your favorite sport to watch?
Cricket, believe it or not. I don't understand it at all, but watching the bowling is amazing!

20. Who do you think will not do this meme?

21. Who do you expect to do this first?

22. Pepsi or Coke?
Neither. Ginger beer.

23. Beavers or Ducks?
Definitely ducks...I love mallards.

24. Morning or Nite Owl?
Barn Owl.

25. Pedicure or Manicure?
Umm, Manicure.

26. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share?
I'm going to finally meet with some friends I've made here in Outer cool.

27. What did you want to be when you were little?
A dolphin.

28. What is your best childhood memory?
Swinging on the swings at Gossett Park during an especially HOT summer, whilst singing the 'Titanic' song at the top of my lungs with my cousins, sister and auntie, and then going to get Braum's ice cream or a slushie.

29. Ever been to Africa ?
No, but I just got invited to Morocco today...for a wedding next odd is that?

30. Been in a car accident?
Yes, going up north of Boston the car I was riding in hit some ice and we spun into the side of another car who had hit the same patch and was spinning, too. We were going so slow (20 mph, I'd say) that it was just a matter of a big crunch and then we were sent off onto the verge. It wasn't scary, at all...

31. Favorite day of the week?

32. Favorite restaurant?
Terre a' terre, in Brighton.

33. Favorite flower?
Iris or peony.

34. Favorite ice cream?
A really nice vanilla or a really nice chocolate.

35. Favorite fast food restaurant?

36. How many times did you fail your driver's test?
Zero, both tests I've taken.

37. From whom did you get your last email?
my mom.

38. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
I've got a rather low limit but probably Selfridges.

39. Bedtime?

40. Who are you most curious about their responses to this?

41. Last person you went out to dinner with
Jay, Em and Cameron Diaz -- don't ask how we scored that one!

42. What are you listening to right now?
The whir of my computer's fan

43. What is your favorite color?

44. How many tattoos do you have?

45. How many are you sending this meme to?
All of you who want to play.

46. Favorite magazine(s)?
Guardian Weekend, Elle Decoration,

47. What time did you finish this meme?

48. How old were you when you got married?
Wow, this is really going to date me, here!

49. How old do you want your kids to be when they get married?
I haven't a bairn in sight...though I do have a wonder pup and if she feels ready for the commitment then we'll stand beside her, even if she is only 12.

Quiz Down't Pub

One of the most fantastic things about living in GB is that the television is quality. Its sitcoms aren't big productions, unlike the US, where actors can get paid insaaaaaane amounts of money for their comic genius. What the Brits do the very best, I think, is producing documentaries. The reputation for unbiased and factual reporting that the BBC has enjoyed extends to the British documentary, as well. By default, it then trickles down into the rest of the UK's television productions.

While the opportunity to watch television is rarely there *sigh*, when I get a chance to watch, most likely you'd find me switching on to either a programme that features Michael Palin, Bruce Parry, David Starkey, Simon Schama or Hardeep Singh Kohli. They have all hosted excellent documentaries informing the British (and sometimes American) public on subjects such as travel in the Himalayas (or other remote Asiatic regions), the role of religion, the rise of secularism and the bizarre nature of ALL tribal rituals (our own, included). I had the condensed version of the history of the monarchy in Britain and I am sure that I could be a tour guide at the Tower of London if I had to be.
The British have a way of making their facts far more fascinating than their fiction, so catching a documentary or a quiz show (more about those in a minute) was the way for me to hothouse my assimilation into UK culture, and helped me understand cultural references even better.
When I first arrived in London, I would send the SO off to work and I watched early morning telly until 11am, get out of bed, have coffee, watch afternoon telly, get back out of bed, fix dinner, clean house, watch evening telly. It was my initiation into current pop culture references, British history, American history (!), socio-biology, religion and politics. This, you see, was a prerequisite for understanding any water-cooler banter and since I planned to eventually get a job, it was important for me to familiarise myself with all things Britannia. The only problem with watching daytime telly (I've been here for over five years, I can call it telly) is the sheer number of competitions they run asking you to phone in and win luxury villas in Spain, and such. I blew a good portion of my savings trying to win us one of those - 50 pence for every call! My all-time favourite programming, however, is the news quiz show called 'Have I Got News For You'. I've laughed until I've pee'd (only a little bit) many times when watching. Enjoy.
This brings me to the announcement that I am hosting another competition. It's a pub quiz and I'll announce all of the rules AND the questions this Friday. There is only one prize so if you want to play in teams, then you'll have to argue amongst yourselves as to who will claim the great wheel of cheese. There will be bonus points awarded to highly original team names as well as highly original answers. I like to think we'll have a bit of a laugh with this one. We'll run the quiz until the Tuesday after that and then either with my extra sensory perception powers or my one contact in the US who seems to have everybody's address, I'll find a way to send out the prize. Ready to play? Righty-ho (once again, I've been here for over five years and I can say righty-ho without sounding like a prat - at least in my head) we're off.

Friday, 31 August 2007

Sleep Deprivation Sucks

It's a push to finish two papers due for university. One is an editing job, the other is my own writing. 8,000 and 2,500 words respectively. I've been staring at my laptop screen for the past hour and a half and it's all beginning to resemble a great big stupid whirlwind of text and b.s. and speculation. I'm whining today because I need a nap and I cannot function on three hours of sleep. I am a big old baby. Have a lovely weekend-I'm going to sign off now and go make z's.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Paris, please.

One return ticket, Waterloo to Gare du Nord. November. I'm really hopeful about scrounging an invitation. I think I deserve to hang out with a few of my tres cool bloggernacle-y friends. Yea! Cameron Diaz hasn't been invited but SML has asked if I'm in. I'm in!

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Charlie has left the building...

Six years ago, when I first moved to the UK, I had a lot of time on my hands before I got a proper job. I used to potter about the estate looking for something to do, someone to talk to, some semblance of something interesting - usually to no avail. Living in London without money or purpose is depressing and bleak. There are only so many times a visit to a museum will do, throughout the week.
Next door to me lived a man who was a bit old and crotchety. If I saw him out collecting his post from his entryway I would say 'hello' and he would invariably ask me if I had seen so-and-so lately, or whether I knew when the trash bins were going to be collected, or who I was and why was I living in London. It didn't seem that he was ever interested in my answers and he'd just totter back inside his flat, wave his walking stick good-bye and resume doing whatever it was that he did. Sometimes I would think that maybe he was lonely but he never accepted invitations for cups of tea, neither did he offer one. Eccentric, I thought. Anti-social, perhaps.

We moved to the seacoast a few years after that but kept the house next to Charlie, renting it out to two different couples. Moving back meant reacquainting ourselves with the neighbours. Charlie, it seemed, had suffered a stroke and been moved into a retirement home to recuperate. His brother, a dentist in a red Merc, always stopped by and we'd ask after Charlie (or 'Chaaaarles' as he referred to himself over the phone when he rang Jay for something). Charlie was hanging in there and hoped to be back in the flat soon, but his brother was a bit more realistic, we thought.
Charlie died not long after that, still in the retirement home, still in Twickenham. I found his obituary online. His agent came by to see whether he could put some of Charlie's stuff in the extra bins on the estate. I took out a sack of rubbish later that night and noticed that there were Christmas decorations stuffed to the top of one of them. I came back inside and told Jay and we both had a moment for Charlie.

Postscript: Jay just came in with a small boxing trophy, circa 1940, found in one of the rubbish bins. We're keeping it even though we were only offered his barbeque.

Monday, 27 August 2007

Lemon Yellow, Forest Green, Sky Blue, Red-Violet, Burnt Sienna

I'm sitting in a hard chair, at a keyboard, typing away on subjects that I know too little about-metanarratives, identity, tribalism and visual language. The weather is warm outside but autumn is definitely on its way, there is the smell of cooler wind and the rustle of leathery dried leaves on branches. The sunlight is quickly moving south on the horizon. These are, perhaps, the Northern Hemisphere's sure signs of seasonal change. In England, autumn means the spiders are out spinning webs and windows and doorways and gardens are full of gauzy silk, threaded taut or sprung from their moorings, waiting for lazy flies and dying wasps to stumble in. The sloe berries on the blackthorn bushes up the street have the beginnings of a dusky bloom - I'll pick them in a few weeks when it's a bit colder - there's nothing like a glass of sloe gin on ice, during the winter holiday season. Autumn here means apples and cider from Kent and Somerset. Autumn here means inexplicable rituals like Bonfire Night in Lewes. Autumn means the last Bank Holiday Monday for a long, long time, and rich, brown and smooth conkers. Autumn for me, personally, means an unidentifiable melancholy that lasts until the end of October. Autumn in the UK means wet washing indoors and woolen sweaters and leather jackets. Autumn is an open gate to the new year and a closed gate to feeling young.

Five months ago I wished away the summer. My wish is coming true.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Things I've Seen

1. Three car crashes, each of which happened in front of me.

2. Stonehenge.

3. A box of photographs taken by the grandfather of a friend of mine who happened to be drafted as a soldier, in the Nazi army, during WWII. He was captured in Russia, held in gulag, allowed to keep his photos and camera, and marched back home to Germany after the war with them. Looking at them left me awestruck - I was looking at a piece of his country's, and Russia's, history that (probably) nobody outside his family had ever seen.

4. Four live rattlesnakes in the wild. Two were under rocks and two were coiled at the base of some sagebrush, back in NM.

5. The loveliest Christmas tree in the middle of an outdoor ice rink in Bruges, Belgium. The light was fading, we had stumbled onto a Christmas market with gorgeous handmade toys and crafts. Stalls were selling Gluwein and hot pastries around the square and this tree must have been about 12 meters tall! Gorgeous rosy-cheeked children were skating around the base and afterward we went and sat for hours in a stone, cavernous pub in the basement of a tavern and ordered drinks. It was picturebook perfect!

6. The Voladores, whose performance was breathtaking. They were the last act of the evening at the Gallup Intertribal Indian Ceremonial - and still are, I think. They went on after dark and a huge fire was lit in the middle of the arena. The sandstone cliffs acted as a backdrop and the firelight danced off the rocks. I could see why people believe they were messengers for the gods when they leaped off their platform, flying in lazy circles, like eagles, with their ankles tethered by ropes wound round the pole. The only noise in the arena was the tinny sound of the flutist, perched at the top of the platform, high above the ground.

What are some amazing things you've seen? Have they changed who you are or how you look at life?

Sunday, 19 August 2007

A More Optimistic Al Gore

Hello Everyone,

Just thought you might want to see a great little movie on youtube. Oft times, we are so inundated with doom and gloom scenarios that tell us our planet is going to hell in a handbasket. This little short is a bit different. It's been made for a Friends of the Earth film competition. If it touches you to think that we can make a difference and we do have the power to turn around the mess we've helped create, then maybe you'll leave a general/anonymous comment on youtube saying that you've enjoyed the film. Also, you can see the films that others have made for this same competition and see their input to this important topic.

It's important that as many people from around the world get involved in this project, so if you know of someone who might enjoy seeing the films, direct them to the youtube site. Also, iif you would like to make a general comment on any of the films, you will need to have a 'free' youtube account, however, you are welcome to view the films without requiring an account. I think Al Gore would be suitably impressed.


Friday, 17 August 2007

An Arse Full of Needles

Two days ago I hoisted a 12 kilo bag of squirming-toddler-boy onto my shoulders, picked up his trike and headed to Kennington Park. We crossed the streets and he pointed out all the cars, buses, bicycles and taxis on the way. He's the only one of his playmates that gets this worked up over traffic and it causes the majority of our delays because he insists on showing me this 'car' and that 'bus'. I will have to tell him at some stage that there are other objects in this world that he'd do well to learn the names of, too.

Lifting him down off my shoulders in the park, I felt a burning in my side and cursed in as many other languages as I could remember - I would like to publicly apologise to all the Spanish-speaking people in Kennington Park who thought I might have been indecently proposing their mother. Obviously, I don't want to be the one who teaches him the word 'f*ck', that just might jeopardise my Christmas bonus. Anyway, the pain didn't go away and, in fact, it threw me to the garden decking last night in front of his grandparents when I bent down to pick up some of his toys. At the SO's insistence I phoned up a friend of ours who also happens to be a massage therapist and acupuncturist and she agreed to see me, this morning, before her first appointment.

By the end of our one hour session, my back was putty, I had needles sticking out of various bits of my body (it's amazing how one's inhibitions fall when lying face down on a massage table) and I haven't had a twinge of jarring pain for the past three hours. I've signed up for another session - it's the best £35 I've spent this month.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

A Pasty Full of Memories

Thank you Cornwall for giving us such a delightful week of rest! For the next month I will be trawling the property pages looking for Cornish cottages to buy, once I've won on the premium bonds. The weather was perfect - most days were about 75-80F with a slight breeze and by the end of our week we were acquainted with the woman from next door, who helped us sort out what we could and couldn't recycle, the people from the tiny local shop, who stocked one of 'everything' in the world! I kid you not, if I had gone in and asked for a steel-belted radial tire they would have shuffled about and found one under the guinea pig food. We walked along the footpaths across fields and farms until we hit the coastline and, then, when we lost our way off the footpaths we trudged back up to our 17th century stone cottage inSt. Buryan via a muddy bog that was supposed to be a road. We went to Lands End and I was as close to the US as I could have been without getting on a plane bound for the States. I took one of the SO's nieces (they were staying in another cottage in another town) with me to St Ives - and SML, you're right there is something amazing about the light. St Ives wins its reputation for being an artists' haven for good reason. We visited Tate St Ives and saw the show pulled together to celebrate all things Brian Wilson...

I bought a watercolour painting in Sennen Cove. The woman makes the same mistakes I make in my painting - it was overworked, too tight and lacking in emotion. I loved it! Just to piss the SO off, I'm going to hang it in our bathroom in Brighton. It has an appropriate marine theme and what's a bathroom without fish, dolphins or shells? Don't answer that, it was a rhetorical question...though this painting is some boat rigging and rusting equipment

We ate far too many pasties (not the burlesque accessories) and drank a few pints of Tribute Ale, which was the locally brewed stuff - yum!

All in all it was a brilliant holiday. The very best part of it was that I managed to avoid a nasty visit from Sam & Ella. Last year's holiday in Kefalonia was marred by a bout of Montezuma's Revenge that we suspect was transmitted by one of the feral cats on the island - I'm (mostly) vegetarian and ate the same food as my veggie SO. The temptation to pet a tiny, scruffy feline, which lived poolside at the hotel where we were staying, was too much for me and little did I know that my compassion for skinny strays was going to cost me 10 days (out of a 7 day holiday) of recuperation, plus a visit to the Argostoli hospital, two courses of antibiotics and some very undignified days spent in the hotel toilet. Beware of Greek kitties!

I can't wait for the next holiday and knowing how quickly time is passing these days, October will be upon us and we'll be packing our bags for a week in Krakow, Poland...

The Girl who Flew Away

Yesterday was such a weird day. We got a phone call from a friend who told us that one of our acquaintances had died. I think life had been too much for her lately.

We hadn't seen her in a few years and the last time was just a quick passing in the street when we exchanged a few polite words and a suggestion of getting together sometime for a drink. That was it, really, and I hadn't thought of her much since.

There was a point in time this past week when I was washing my hands, taking a drink of water, eating some food or snuggling up to the SO and watching a movie, and at that same moment V was jumping or falling over a cliff. I feel weird even though I am sure that I factor so insignificantly into this event. As my SO said, the anguish she must have felt is over. I still feel weird...

Saturday, 4 August 2007

One Week Off

The SO and I are going to take wonder pup (see photo at right) to the coast for a week in the Cornish sun...I won't have online access until my return. Here's wishing you all a fabulous week.

Au revoir!


Friday, 3 August 2007

Gotta Getta Meme Results

1. If you could empower one woman in one way, who would it be, and what way would you empower her?

I am going to be quite selfish and say: ME. I would like to have the power to fly. Actually, I'd like to empower a few of my women friends with money - money buys time, options and security...oh, and plane tickets.

2. Which celebrity would you like to see dress in drag?

Can I just rephrase your question and ask which celebrity I'd most like to see half-dressed in a nun's habit? I suppose the serious answer to your question is: Fiddy Cent. I think he'd secretly like it.

3. If you could catapult yourself to any place and time, where would you go, and why?

To the Year 3000, just to see if everybody bought Busted's seventh album. Or, maybe just 1000 years into the future, just to see what we've made of ourselves or whether we're a footnote in history and the chimps have taken over.

4. Paper or plastic?

Paper's pretty but plastic's fantastic! Yeah, I don't know why I said that really...

5. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

Neither. Logan's Run is my choice for sci-fi/fantasy because it's camp and has a quite creepy ending, or at least it seemed that way back in the 1970s.

6. Chocolate or vanilla?

Both, in every way, shape and form.

7. You've had a good life. What are the three moments/accomplishments in your life you're proudest of?

Hmm. I'm proud that I truly try to think for myself these days. I really dig evidence-based knowledge.

I'm proud to have been part of a que*r youth movement, in Boston, in the early 90s - it was an exciting (but still quite tricky) time to be out.

I'm proud that I've seemingly cracked having meaningful relationships in my life - I think there were points where I could have gone down more destructive paths and I've managed to rein it in before folly took over and destroyed my universe.

8. What do you miss most about New Mexico? And why?

I miss Hatch green chile. Nothing is more quintessential to New Mexican cuisine than this ingredient - it's in everything savoury, for good reason!! It brings back all the tastes of childhood for me whenever I managed to lay my hands on some. By the by, green chiles do taste lovely on pepperoni pizza.

9. If you had a motto, what would it be?

Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione

10. What would be your final message to a loved one?

I'm tempted to use Spike Milligan's epitaph as my final message, just for a laugh, but I have to say that it would probably just be, 'Ta, it's been great.'

11. Which way is up?

Every which way...

Up is not down, unless you live in the southern hemisphere. Out is not in unless you're in Brighton. New is not old unless you live in the States. One is not two unless you're a Virgo.

12. How would you like to be remembered?

I'd like for people to remember me as a lucky bastard...

The Winner Is...

Firstly, thanks to everyone who participated. As you can see, I've managed to answer them all. It was great fun and I learned a lot about myself in the process. I hope to be able to use these answers in an upcoming job interview or if I have to chat up a pretty girl, in the future.

The winner is: Sister Mary Lisa! Her meme question about the catapulting through time and place was my boss's favourite question. My boss said that not only would it cause me to think about where I was at this moment in time, but it was an example of my snarkiness to initially respond with the 'Busted' comment.

Thank you SML, I will forward your prize of a LAMY Scribble Pencil to you, as soon as possible. Happy drawing and thanks for playing!

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Dreaming of Who?

Yesterday my SO and I were sitting in our living room discussing an upcoming concert for which we have managed to purchase four tickets. Obviously, we only need two tickets and so we were going through our list of friends and acquaintances we thought might enjoy chumming along to watch the "Great Purple One Who Used To Be A &*%£ But Now Has Reclaimed His Former Name". We managed to phone up one dear friend of ours who happily agreed to join us, however, we were still left with a solitary ticket. It won't be a problem to find another to be a fourth for our posse. The ticket, though, figures nicely into the dream I had last night.

Scene 1

(Scene opens in Aitch's living room. Aitch and Jay are sitting on the couch discussing the fourth ticket)

J: I don't know who we'll get to take this fourth ticket off of our hands.

H: I know. I'll ask Cameron Diaz, (*yes, I know what a brilliant idea!) she'll be at work tomorrow and I'm sure she'd love to go see Prince with us.

J: Okay, that sounds great!

(Both Aitch and Jay are clapping their hands together and bouncing up and down on the sofa gleefully.)

Scene 2

(Scene opens in a jewellery store where Aitch and Cameron Diaz are working. Aitch turns to Cameron Diaz behind the counter pensively)

H: Hey Cameron, would you like to come see Prince with me and Jay and Em on the first of September?

C: (thinks for a moment) Um, I can't really. I could get really good seats and backstage passes, but thanks for reminding me that I need to get out of the house more!

H: Okay.

(Aitch turns to a woman who has come up to the counter to look at some rather delicate tumbled stone earrings (*I know, what an oxymoron!) and the woman decides that she will take an assorted pack filled with malachite, quartz and lapis. Aitch turns to ring up the customer. Dream ends.

*Cameron, if you're out there and you feel like going to a Prince concert on the 1st of September, we've got an extra ticket (for now...).

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

A Story for the Day

Last night I watched the beginning of the news at 10 o'clock. The lead story was Gordon Brown's press statement with his support for the UN to send 19,000 troops to Sudan. The pictures accompanying the story were harrowing and I have no doubt that the situation in and around the Darfur region is horrific. It's painful to watch people reduced to skeletal ghosts, feeling quite helpless to do anything for them...I can only cross my fingers that 19,000 troops will begin to restore the region to some semblance of order and humanity.

I used to work in mental health on the southeast coast of England. One of the psychiatrists in the office was originally from Sudan. I never got his full story but I do know that he said he could never go back, and not because he didn't want to. He kept his story out of my office, so I had to rely upon hearsay. I imagine that most of the world's diaspora would like to visit home, at least occasionally, and that he was kept from doing this must have been painful.

One day this psychiatrist came into my office to ask me to prepare a report. I had had an argument with my SO that morning and I was feeling menstrual moodiness, to top it all off. I started to get a bit teary after he asked me to type up the report - it was nothing in the delivery of his request that set me off, I was just feeling uncharacteristically blue. He noticed that I began to cry and I could see he was clearly uncomfortable. It wasn't that he wasn't used to tears or sadness, after all he was a psychiatrist! It was all he ever dealt with: tears, depression, paranoia, anxiety and trauma. He left my office and I took a few deep breaths, regained my composure and started typing. Moments later, this psychiatrist from Sudan returned with a stress pencil and a smile.

"Aitch," he said, "whistle. You cannot cry if you whistle." He plopped the fuzzy stress pencil down on my desk and I smiled at him. It was a smile that was returned with a sweet and gracious smile of his own. His words got me through the day and, indeed, they keep me going if I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Africa has a lot to teach the world, but the world mainly focuses on its pain. The Sudanese psychiatrist may not ever get back to Sudan. His pain was private and the pictures on my television set inform me of how bad things are in Darfur in an oh-so-public way. I am privy to the spectacle that is created out of someone else's tragedy, all in the journalistic pursuit to draw attention to this crisis. How do I feel about this? I cannot say. It's a toss-up between wanting to cry and wanting to whistle.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Reminder - Competition closes tomorrow

Let me beat you over the head with a lead pipe one more time...tomorrow is the last day to submit meme questions. There have been some brilliant ones so I'm only posting this reminder for those of you who have only just hit upon my blog and would like to join in. Leave your submissions in the comment section of this post by midnight (GMT)/3pm (PST)/10am (the following morning for Oz) on Tuesday to enter. Good luck and thanks for playing along! Oh, and did I mention that there is a prize?

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Six Words...

Pomp has issued a challenge for her readers to try and describe themselves in six words. I've decided to try and rise to the challenge.

Fickle, Skeptic, Open, Determined, Loyal, Gentle

Thanks for the challenge, Pomp. It's a task that's a bit more difficult than I first imagined because equally I am:

Student, Lover, Friend, Dreamer, Fighter, Worker

and I:

Rant, Prune, Argue, Laugh, Drink, Read

That's eighteen, huh? Ah well, eighteen is lucky in Judaism (no, I'm not) so maybe I'll stop here...


Saturday, 28 July 2007

Friday Night at Mimi's

What do you do when a friend asks for 'all hands on deck' to assist in making props for the filming of a short for an environmental NGO? Well, you open up a few bottles of Peroni beer, grab a handful of Quality Street chocolates and chip in for three hours making paper-pinwheel-wind-turbines, tetra-pak buildings and milk carton skyscrapers (glue-guns and Grip-fill are bloody brilliant!). These props will go towards a piece that one of our mates, Rehana Khan, is directing and our good mate, Mimi, has designed. Rehana has also directed a few short films, one of which is called 'Wooden Soul'. It seems to be doing the rounds at UK and US film festivals receiving some positive attention and acclaim.

It was really nice to be involved with this project and it reminded me of the prop-making that I used to do a while back, before I got into other lines of work (Mental Health Admin, Nannying). There's a real camaraderie behind the scenes, amongst the crew, and when you create or find really successful props and see them being used in a stage production or film it's a great feeling.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Adolescent Fun

How do you get your computer to swear for you? Go to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website and type in ANY word you like. The link will automatically take you to my favorite swear word, so if you think you might be offended then just skip this entry. While I don't usually walk around swearing much (tender ears nearby, and such), it really does relieve a lot of stress when used in the right context. Click on the klaxon icon and 'presto', you can hear your computer spit out your favourite curse word, too! It's fun, it's easy, try it!

By the way, as children, my cousin and I used to type in dodgy words like this and this on his Speak-n-Spell - it was great fun and obviously I've never grown out of it. Freud would have had a field day with me...and you too, perhaps?

Unlikely Food Combinations

Today's lunch consisted of remainders from the refrigerator accompanied by condiments with 'use-by' dates, all the way back from the Clinton administration to 2009 (extra vinegar and salt-packed goodness). The ratings for this menu are included. Please feel free to use any recipe you like for upcoming parties or picnics, I'm sure your guests will thank you profusely!


1 cold felafel ball with Patak's mango chutney - *** (odd combination, I know, but strangely pleasing)


Grated cheddar cheese (mold grated in for extra taste) mixed with plain low-fat yogurt (curdlesque'd) and chopped wilted and yellow-y spinach on brown bread - *1/2


soft red seedless grapes with the mushy bits chopped off and speckledy-brown bananas - **

I think I was pretty safe with my appetizer and dessert choice, however, I may have risked a bit too much on the main course - stay tuned, my next entry might be titled "A night on the tiles". I think that tendy's afternoon activity may be joining me for a shopping trip to Kennington Tesco.

By the way, don't forget to submit your meme questions...I've had some brilliant ones so far and I'm looking forward to answering them next Friday. Ask your friends to join in (thanks pomp) and tell them that a fabulous prize is on offer.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Gotta getta Meme C*mpetition

Okay...every blog I've been to in the past three days has had a meme posted. That's fine, it seems that, like monkeys washing fruit, people take inspiration from others/are tagged by others into completing a meme.

Therefore, I'm holding the FIRST EVER (and maybe last) "Youyoutotomeme" c*mpetition. I would like for everyone who reads this blog to submit 3 questions to me. I will randomly pick (dice throw or something like that) one of your 3 questions to answer...honestly. I will answer 10 questions and since I think that my readership only extends to three or four of you, I may end up answering ALL of your questions. However, and this is the good part, I love prizes. I think that c*mpetitions without prizes are rubbish, however, British quiz shows (almost all of them are played sans prizes) are brilliant so I'm willing to amend that thought...but, I digress. This competition will have a prize. It will be a '5-star prize' because rubbish prizes are, well...rubbish. The best question of the c*mpetition will be selected by an independent and non-biased jury, comprised of: my boss and her best mate. How's that for objective?

Wanna play? Go on then and submit your questions in the comments area of this post. I'll run this for a week and next Tuesday will be Q&A session for yours truly. Also, could someone recommend a good way for me to give out the prize without stepping on anyone's privacy (mine included)?

I'm sure that I'm probably breaking all sorts of rules by running some sort of c*mpetition without a license, so shhhhhh! Don't tell.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Weekend O' Fun and Love

Here's a joke I heard the other week...its humour may not survive the oral-to-written exchange, but hopefully it will put a smile on your face.

A man had recently fallen on hard times and was feeling quite bad about his situation. One day he walked into town and saw a sign in the window of a pet shop that read, 'Talking Centipede -- £5000'. He thought that it might be quite a laugh to have a talking centipede who could keep him company and maybe earn him a bit of money on the side. He bought the centipede and took it home waiting for it to say something to him, but the centipede was quiet on the way home. At home he thought it might be nice to take the centipede out for a drink to celebrate and so he said to the centipede, "Fancy going down to the pub for a pint?" The centipede said nothing. The man, who thought that maybe the centipede didn't hear him said in a louder voice, "Fancy Going Down To The Pub For A Pint?" The centipede still said nothing and the man was starting to think he had been had for a fool by buying this centipede and was planning to take it back to the pet shop. Finally, he leaned his head over the side of the box that the centipede had come in and shouted, "I SAID, DO YOU FANCY GOING DOWN TO THE PUB FOR A PINT?!?" The centipede merely looked up at the man and said, "I heard you the first time, I was just putting on my shoes." --Thanks to Mimi for that joke.

Post Script

I found a quote in the Guardian Family section this morning, which reads: "If this most elemental thing is a lie, then why should I believe anything?"

It is one thing to tell children mythological moral tales, but it is another thing altogether to pass these myths off as truth. We'd no more do this for ancient Greek myths, even though they contain many of the same character endorsing or condemning morals as B*blical stories. I hope to finish the tale of leaving M*rmonism some day, however, the final act of sending in my resignation will only be a postscript to the tale. The stuff that happened in-between is much, much more interesting. TBC

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Why Quitters Sometimes Win, Part 1

I've been lurking on several blogs for the past year - most of them are linked sites where the author has been involved in M*rmonism, but is either questioning or disbelieving in most or all of the doctrine. I can identify with most people but I, like everyone else in M*rmonism, has their individual story (if not an individual testimony...that NEVER, ever seems to come) of entry, indoctrination, disillusionment and exit.

It's been eighteen years since I made any concerted and sustained effort to go to a M*rmon church, and I've now officially been inactive/disbelieving for as long as I had been active/believing. It's a strange thing that I should still be so caught up trying to resolve an issue that plays no part in my daily life, especially since my family's history in M*rmonism began with my mother's and my baptism, when I was eight. We had been attending church for four years before our baptisms in the late 1970s- world record for investigators, I'd say! However, there was little pressure placed on us to do the deal until I turned eight, when I was called into the branch president's office and asked whether I'd like to be baptized. I, loving any opportunity to be in the limelight, heartily agreed and began making plans for an acceptance speech. In the weeks up to the event, I prayed in seven and three-quarters year-old earnest and felt certain that I would be blessed with a column of light at the end of my bed and a visitation from an angel, praising me for choosing the right.

For the preceding three and a half years, my mother was branch pianist (how controversial to have a calling without actually having been baptized, though my mother used to play mostly songs she learned in church while growing up as a Methodist, so our congregation sang a lot of 'How Great Thou Art', etc.). I attended Star through CTR classes, all the while having a fairly ad hoc religious education as my family spent our summers visiting my maternal aunts and uncles in a neighbouring state, attending Vacation Bible School (VBS) the Southern Baptist or the Methodist way, with our cousins. I returned to New Mexico after school holidays, tanned and steeped in hellfire, brimstone, and with a great-big-John-Wesley-Amen-at-the-end. I don't think the M*rmons in our branch minded though, it was the freewheeling Seventies - and everyone was church-hopping. I was one of a number of Primary kids whose families attended different churches, at times. I call it 'Interfaithfulness' and it was a good way to find out about other ways of worshipping, and it was also a good way to taste wine well before legal drinking age, and before the dreaded Word of Wisdom was branded into my psyche.

The New Mexican M*rmons were glad to see you step through the door on Sunday and grateful that they had bodies (other than the usual suspects) in the COLD, COLD, metal folding chairs. Most of the families in the branch were related to one line of an old polygamist clan, who had originally settled in Ramah, New Mexico. Their fate was sealed from the breast and it was a slippery slope from bottles of milk to popcorn popping. Of course, having been born in the faith I'm sure the clan never knew the pleasure of sleeping in on a Sunday, or singing a rollicking, happy-clapping version of 'Saved by the Blood of the Lamb', which is a SCARY, SCARY Pentecostal song, for a six year-old, by the way. Our branch was a good one, people were mostly kind to each other, and we had our share of scandalous events - a very human congregation. I liked being with other M*rmon kids and, for the most part, the church was a positive force in my childhood. I have heard horror stories in the community of former M*rmons and I believe their accounts because M*rmonism is a religion that was created to be 'different' by coming complete with its own mythology. This mythology is necessary to establish its difference from other churches, but the problem with mythology is that it is usually created to explain the inexplicable or impose the rather harsh will of another. Once one card in the house falls, the others quickly come down around it. I'm not a PR person, but had I been a man in a position of leadership in the church in the late 80's, I would have dealt with separating the mythology of the church (Book of Abr*ham, Sal*mander Letter, etc.) from the universal religious truths as other Christian-type denominations see them, and tried to move the core values of the church toward a more pragmatic and democratic approach, based on community and acceptance. I would have pushed to set up a church that trained and hired clergy, promoted a fairer system of tithing, promoted smaller families and engaged in community outreach/charity work - not just service projects for ward members or those who might welcome lessons from the missionaries.

Anyway, as time went on I grew in faith in some ways and questioned in others. Some things within the church doctrine, like withholding the priestho*d from black folks did not make any sense while the belief that anyone could receive revelation from g*d made a lot of sense to me. However, I never was content to accept things I could not understand and made a point of questioning them until I was a nuisance. For instance, I remember a time in Primary when I raised my hand to make a point that if you had a King James Bible and G*d inspired that translation to take place for that time (we had just been taught that it was a book inspired by G*d there were errors and so JS received the correct translation for the Bible), then perhaps there would be errors discovered in the JS translation later on, as times changed? I was, of course, met with silence and a little look from Sister 1 and Sister 2. It was the beginning of the end for me, and over the next ten years I gave M*rmonism lip service but I was increasingly convinced my feelings which ran contrary to accepting the complete 'truthfulness' of this version of Christianity, later to religion in general, and finally to the existence of g*d itself...but that's another post. I just thought that because there's now more than one reader on this blog, I might as well tell you why I visit the ex-mo sites.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Dreaming of Pooo, Part Doo

Well, it's quite sad that I've been so unmotivated to blog about anything other than faeces. Maybe it's how I feel...(fill in the blank), maybe it's what I've been doing - jack* (fill in the blank), or maybe I'm just going to finish off this line of thought and concentrate on another topic.

I've promised to write about the other poo dream to loyal readers of this fledgling blog and in the same way that 'Dangerous Liaisons' was the sh*tty Hollywood version of a much better movie, set in French, filmed somewhere in Europe and starring a much better cast of actors. This, too, is a better dream about poo than the last, which is probably why I remember it so vividly. This one starts in a rural village in New Mexico (no, I'm not kidding...), and before you get a bit ruffled, I must tell you that I grew up there which is probably why it figures into so many of my dreams.

Story opens in aforementioned village where I have been asked to make ceremonial poo balls (I don't know why, there's just a random ceremony happening). I mix the poo, which is a bit like horse dung and some rice and chili together. I have to taste it to make sure it's okay and to my recollection it tastes remarkably grassy and spicy. Quelle surprise! It's not a recipe I'm thinking of recreating at home, mind you and a 20 minute search on Google turned over no stones suggesting that anyone deliberately eats horse manure.

However, here is a highly specialised site that purports to be the the "Number 1 Source for your Number 2 business" with their very helpful column on what this dream might mean.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Lasse, Come Home!

It's nice to see the machinations of another's mind...figuring it out, figuring it all out.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Dreaming of Pooooo Part Un

I had a very unsettling dream the other night about faeces. I have to preface this entry by saying that it was not the first vivid dream I've had about sh*t. I've had another one that clings to my psyche. It was just as unsettling as this one, even though I had it more than six years ago. I'm not sure whether my latest unconscious drama was due, in part, to reading the musings of another blogger, whose young son had a bit of an accident with his poo whilst in training to put down the diapers, or whether I should believe the dreams website and its interpretation of what defecating in dreams really means.

Maybe I should get down and dirty and tell you about my dream. If you're even the slightest bit squeamish, you might want to skip this post and get straight to the Latin for the Day. Okay...I was in a bathroom that seemed somewhat familiar, but I couldn't automatically place it. It did, however, have one of those fluffy magenta-coloured bathrug and toilet lid cover ensembles - a harbinger of bad taste, if ever there was one, but worse than that, it was rug on yellow pile carpeting. Double the germs and double the places where poo can land and hide.

I had come into the bathroom to have a shower but I had the sensation that I needed to use the potty for number 2. I tried but failed to crap and so climbed into an incredibly comfortable shower - perfect temp, LOTS of water pressure and slightly darkened from the heavy fabric shower curtain blocking out the light. As I was soaping up I could sense myself having a poo in the shower. I was immediately embarrassed and afraid of being found out. I caught as much of the crap as I could and threw it into the toilet beside the bathtub, but a lot of it got onto the tiles and on my forearms. It was the consistency of slippery fingerpaint and holding it and flipping it into the toilet felt similar to holding one of those sausagey-balloons filled with water that slip out of your hands and onto the floor. I couldn't enjoy the rest of my shower because I was trying desperately to clean the tiles, curtain and tub. Finally, the dream came to an end as others were trying to get into the bathroom to take their showers - I think that we were all headed out for dinner and I was holding up the works by pooping in the shower. What does it mean? Does it portend any events that I might want to tread through carefully? Can I think of any other silly double entendres or puns pertaining to sh*t? No. Okay. Part Deux to follow

Friday, 6 July 2007

51st State

I found this commentary piece in the online Guardian and I thought it was quite funny

See what you think - Boris for prez, anyone? He certainly is a BRILLIANT guest host on 'Have I Got News for You' (episode from 2005 playing on the channel). Neither am I a Republican nor a Tory - in fact, I lean far left of even Democrat or Labour, but there's something a bit charming about Boris...makes you want to take him out for lunch.


I've been getting the urge to wander lately. It happens when I'm particularly stressed out or in need of some new scenery. Fortunately, London allows my wanderlust to be satisfied, to a degree. I was speaking about my urge with a friend who told me that she wished that the UK still had a bohemian set (ala Bloomsbury) - wandering philosophers who weren't tied to a job - that fed society with ideas, practical, wacky and unimaginable. Internet communication does that to some extent, but there's nothing like getting together with great minds to discuss things that scratch below the surface. The physical wandering will have to wait, for me, for now. I've got things to attend to, however, another great thing about the Internet is the chance to see the, yet, unexplored. I've come across an updated version of a BBC idea that runs a camera the length of the London to Brighton train line and then speeds it up. This newer, time-lapse version of the journey is one that I've taken many times. The nice thing about this is that you can be there in two minutes, rather than 50-odd. Happy viewing.

Friday, 29 June 2007

Thoughts on time

I was perusing the internet, as I do, and came across this blog. Now, I'm not saying that all Kerry Mac's thoughts are rational and lucid (hell, whose are?), but she's got an interesting perspective on the whole time/speed of light/parallel universe theory. I'm not sure where or how she's arrived at her thoughts or whether she just put this all down after a few too many pints or on a day when she forgot her meds. Nonetheless, some of humankind's best discoveries have come on the back of a bit of madness/lateral thinking/call it what you will. Enjoy Kerry Mac's own little brand - her blog entry on the 3rd of February is the one to which I'm referring - it must have taken her a good, long time to think through the possibilities of time/parallel universes she's positing.


Tempus Fugit

I hadn't really any intentions of keeping a daily blog and promised myself that if life got too busy that I wouldn't feel badly about not posting. However, I realised last week that each day that went by, I felt a guilty niggling sensation for not even logging on and attempting to write, at all.

That's how life is, though. Despite the seemingly generous amounts of time we'd have IF ONLY we'd budget for commuting, chores, sleeping, eating, socialising and self-generated entertainment (read into that what you will though I only meant reading and responding to emails), it seems that everything always runs over. We don't have bells to guide us from one activity to the next, giving us five minutes to take a pee break and go to our lockers for the next set of paraphernalia. So, I find that the filing I wanted only to take 45 minutes, indeed, takes a whopping 2 hours and 6 minutes, to be precise. That means I don't get a chance to watch 'Ready, Steady, Cook' or even log onto tinseleffect. In fact, filing has actually cut into the time I've allotted to visit the facilities (I do multi-task with that, though, and catch up on reading the Money section of the weekend paper). What I've decided is an attitude adjustment, and to do this I've decided to rework one of my chores into an entertainment or social activity. You know, something like disco-dance dusting or eating dinner with friends whilst pruning the Mahonia japonica, that sort of thing. I figure it's a positive step forward rather than moping about and pining for more time. In fact, tonight when SO and I have our dinner up at the pub with one of our friends, I'm going to take along the beginnings of my next Open U essay and try to get everyone to join in with their contribution to the topic of...'How Children make meaning through language'. Excellent!

Best wishes for a lovely weekend, I hope you enjoy the full 48 hours!

Thursday, 21 June 2007

Welcome to Summer

I've been looking forward to this day all year - the summer solstice and, technically, the longest day of the year. I noticed that the sky was still twilight-blue as I brushed my teeth to get in bed, at 10.15pm. Not bad, not bad at all. The UK, and London, is more northerly than I've ever lived and it took some getting used to having the sun begin to rise at 3.30am, in the summer. I'd love to go up nearer the Arctic Circle, like the Outer Hebrides, one year just to time the sunset and sunrise on the solstice. If you're in the mood for celebrating today, slap on some prog-rock, preferably Jethro Tull, and skip around a tree or two. If not, perhaps some astronomical information will get you in the mood to enjoy the summer.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Not a Minute to spare

I'm so pressed for time tonight that I shan't write more than to say...I'm pressed for time. I haven't had a chance to look up anything fantastical or phenomenal or ethereal today. I've only been playing in the fountains, at Somerset House, with the boy. The jets of water are timed to go off at intervals of fifteen seconds or so. The jet was down, the boy was curious and inspected the spigot (is that the right word?) and got a face full of water much to the delight of the lunchtime crowd. Bless, what a doll! He took it in his stride. If you're interested in our walk today, we went from Kennington to Waterloo Bridge, over to the Strand, buzzed about Covent Garden and then hit Pizza Express and Somerset House, and back to Kennington/Oval.

Quid pro quo - one for another (an exchange).

Monday, 18 June 2007

You're A Fine Man, Mr. Feynman

I am ABSOLUTELY rubbish at Physics. I only managed to pass a 'high-school' level course, here, in the UK, a few years ago. Then, it was only because I sat next to someone who understood Physics and agreed to be my lab partner, out of sympathy and bribe consisting of a daily cappucino and pain au chocolat. However, I have recently been reading through a book of letters written by the late, great Richard P Feynman entitled, Don't You Have Time to Think?, and I thought I would have another go at tackling some of the more elementary principles of Physics. I found a brilliant website, yesterday, which has a few fun experiments and explanations for why the world operates as it does.

Have a go, follow the 'Feynman' link and see what you think. Is Richard P. Feynman a fine man? If you get the opportunity to find the 'Horizon' documentary on You Tube and hear what he has to say on his involvement in developing the atomic bomb, does it change things for you?

Latin for the Day

In case you need to insult somebody today...

'Lustis naturae' - a freak of nature

Taken from 'Latin for the Illiterati'
copyright Jon R. Stone

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside...

Monday afternoon. I'm still thinking about the weekend and my visit to the South East coast. Brighton, in East Sussex, is a lovely little town, and together with its neighbour to the west, Hove, make up the City of Brighton and Hove. I believe it was given city status by the Queen, in 2000, to commemorate the millennium - most 'cities' in the UK are required to have a cathedral, the status is not normally based on population. There's something so fresh and exhausting about the sea. I walked along the shingle beach and found some rubbish that had washed ashore from France (a 3-ring binder with French writing and logo - vive la France!) Across the water, some 40 miles away is Dieppe, which has a lovely museum at the top of a hill with a collection of Georges Braques paintings and prints, as well as some Walter Sickert paintings, which are quite haunting. What you may not know about Sickert is that there is speculation, in some circles, that he was actually Jack the Ripper.

The gardens in Sussex Square were in full bloom and I spent about an hour just sitting on a bench in an ivy-covered suntrap, reading the newspaper. It was glorious. If you'd like to have a look some pictures of the gardens just click here.

The sea air really does wear me out and I took a nap in the middle of the afternoon, which is something I haven't done in AGES! Now, here I am at the beginning of another week wishing that the weekends were longer or Brighton was closer. I will have to wait until next Saturday for another dose of positive ions...

Friday, 15 June 2007

Good Boy, Good Girl

I've been studying gender and its impact on children, recently. A lot of the material I've sifted through I knew and understood, like the concept that gender is taught and that from culture to culture roles of gender and gendered behaviour vary. The idea that took me some time to get my head around is how certain behaviour is supported by one gender but not the other, within same gendered groups, and practicing the acceptable behaviours then reinforces the stereotype of the gendered behaviour. Kind of mind blowing, huh? Basically, it means that if we were in groups of girls (or people who identified with the female gender) as children and adolescents then we were allowed to 'try on' the behaviours that were deemed 'okay' for girls to display or practice - the demure one, the bitchy one, the geeky one, the screechy one, the nagging one, the strong one, the tomboy, you get the picture. The same goes for boys (and people who identified with the male gender). There is a fairly wide range of behaviours that is acceptable within same-gendered groups, depending on what social class you were or what activities or hobbies you pursued. At the end of the day, though, you were subject to the scrutiny of your same-gendered peers deciding whether or not you had the acceptable, or an acceptable level of 'girl' or 'boy' behaviour. See, I love this stuff. The theories of how humans behave in packs have fascinated me; at times I've been the outcast of the pack and other times I've been a ringleader and each position comes with its own politics. Either way, behaviour (and deviant behaviour) determines your place in the pack and the reaction of others to you. TBC.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

Latin for the Day

'Facilis descensus Averno' - the descent to hell is easy

Taken from Latin for the Illiterati
copyright Jon R. Stone


The whole idea of tinsel effect was to find a way to remove some of the unnecessary glitter that we put on things and get down to the bare bones of an issue. Naming things for what they are rather than what we'd like them to be. Finding a way to tease out the reality, separate it from fantasy is, I believe, one of the ways that humans can truly make sense of the world. I'm not sure that Im managing to do that, at all. I do know that nothing galls me more than when I attempt to go in one sure direction and then I meander down another. Here is a tinsel-worthy site that I found whilst perusing some interesting blogs. I'm not sure what the blog etiquette is for using a link within text, so if someone would be kind enough to let me know if I'm stepping on toes I'd appreciate the feedback. Until I get my head around html tags, again, so that I can create a link, you'll just have to cut and paste the address into your browser...sorry. Anyway, the blog is at: and I hope that the 'tinsel' in the images is enough to make your day happy, knowing that things do often appear to be what they are not. Loveliness is often in disguise. The artist has collected images from Flikr and other sites and found a way to link them together. It's quite a clever concept and I spent a good ten minutes on it just getting my dose of loveliness for the day.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Latin for the Day

Okay, here's another little quip for you to use in your daily repartee. Today's Latin phrase is:

'Mea virtute me involvo' - I wrap myself up in my virtue

Taken from Latin for the Illiterati, copyright Jon R. Stone

The Benefits of Aging, Part Un

Hopefully I can offer an antidote to yesterday's miserable post bemoaning my ungraceful and inevitable aging. I present to you the Benefits of Aging, Part I

1. Adults are rarely regarded suspiciously by shopkeepers for being rabblerousers, shoplifters, troublemakers and vandals. This suspicion is even less so if the shoppers mentioned above have gray hair.

2. Aging gives one an excuse for bad dance moves. I was known for being able to shake my groove thing, in my time. I now look much less like 'one of the gang' out on the dancefloor and more like a drunk-uncle-at-a-wedding.

3. Less drama. Fewer breakups and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

4. A savings account. A pension. Equity.

5. Perspective. Usually by the time people hit forty they've had one of each on the a la carte menu of experiences. An equal amount of good and bad events tempers your perspective. I make exceptions on this for some people, most likely those who belong to fringe groups, conservative political parties and royalty.

There are other benefits to aging, I am sure. I will open the floor for you to list what you believe are the benefits to aging and perhaps this will warrant a part deux.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Radio GaGa

IF IT'S TOO LOUD, YOU'RE TOOOOO OLD!! Okay, today it was a bit too loud, I had to turn it down.
Everything on my favourite radio station between the hours of 12:30pm and 1:30pm sounded the same.

Red flags for aging.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Latin for the Day

'Non licet omnibus adire Corinthum' - Not everyone is permitted to go to Corinth (we cannot all be wealthy)

Taken from Latin for the Illiterati
copyright Jon R. Stone

Sunday, 10 June 2007

A Walk In The Park

Yesterday was glorious and sunny in London. The temps were in the high 70's F, mid 20's C. Nice weather made for smiles all around. My S/O and I had been for a walk in the local park, looking at the latest architectural digs around the terraces of the old Crystal Palace, and taking the dog for a run in the open fields. Our conversation turned, as it often does, to the problems associated with living and working in the UK, how difficult it is to reconcile beliefs of a state that provides a basic standard of living for everyone with the occasional feelings of frustration at having to pay high taxes to help support those who might really be taking unfair advantage of a welfare state. In other words, people who are just too damned lazy to get up and go to work. Should the chronically lazy be made to work for their benefits - isn't that just giving them a job? I came up with something that, I think, ties in somewhat with my post from Friday 8th June.

I'm all for work in the same way I'm all for education. I think it brings about a sense of fulfillment and structure that most people need in order to feel good about themselves and the world around them. I would like to see jobs becoming places where people want to go to be productive, socialise, contribute to a common good (even capitalism can have its benevolent heart) and be supported as part of a team. I would like to see people who stay home to work - as mothers, fathers, carers and service providers - given a bit more respect and some financial support to do that important work of raising children, caring for the infirm or elderly or maintaining land. I believe that those who cannot work at traditional jobs, but want to work, find a way to sporadically volunteer for a charity or church, in exchange for some of their benefits. I'm not suggesting that those who do not want to work a traditional job need to do so out of obligation to pay back the citizenry who is supporting them. That, I think, would be similar to forcing someone to attend university who had no interest in higher education, or, to put it more simply, forcing a square peg into a round hole. Indeed, we might all find ourselves in situations when we need to rely upon the safety net that the state or the church provides - guilt shouldn't really enter into the equation, at any time. Additionally, I would have no desire going to a job and working alongside someone who detests the organization or the work that is done inside. In the same way that compulsory education, at times, brings out the worst in students who would rather not be there and ruins the classroom experience for everyone else. I would hate to have a career where the person sitting next to me was only there to keep his or her benefits. No, I'd rather the person who does not wish to work, not have to do so next to me. Nimby-ism at its finest!!

What's the solution? Maybe it's time to create some more fun jobs! Aren't we all sick and tired of the ratrace, tired of the treadmill and ready to pack in our jobs? I mean, let's make up some jobs that are geared to entertain and inform and inspire! Shouldn't that be the point of going to work - that productive work is BETTER than staying home?

A recent Harris poll of American workers, over the age of 18, found that the majority of people who work don't really like their jobs - 55% reported job dissatisfaction - and only one in five are truly inspired with the work they do. Those are paltry results for what is, essentially, one third of our adult lives. Perhaps Harris caught 55% of the sample group on a really bad day and the results don't actually reflect the true nature of satisfaction - that it fluctuates and is dependent on a variety of conditions. Something makes me think that's not really the case. The following day might find the satisfied 45% feeling disenchanted about work - they're still lousy statistics about how America (and possibly the UK) feels about the work they're hired to do, the environment in which they're supposed to work, or the people with which they share their work.

I am lucky that I have a brilliant job at the moment. It pays bills and it's a good way to earn a living. It's not a 'perfect' scenario everyday - I have off days and times when I wonder about the course my life is taking. However, I know people whose jobs are never a walk in the park and I've been there with my fair share of sh*t jobs, too. It seems that, for them, a benefactor or a lottery win is the only way to stop the treadmill. The Constitution of the United States states that intrinsic to peoples' rights is the 'pursuit of happiness'. Do you think the state has an obligation to provide for people until they find their bliss? What do you think would be the state of the state that provided that option for its citizens? I think it would be a highly improbable programme to support, but a nice one to think upon.