Sunday, 13 December 2009

Miss World - beauty parades are so nice for women :)

Miss World. Where to start? Easy really. 1) This is about objectifying women and 'judging' them in terms of their physical appearance. Naturally, this appearance basically has to fall into line with what men find attractive, or what society (ie men) currently deem to be the acceptable standard. This therefore involves tall, slim, leggy, long haired (obviously from the head - all other areas to be dutifully shaved), slightly - but not too much - curvaceous women. Oh hell! And young. I forgot that one didn't I? Gotta be young to be in there for the win. 2) The bit with Miss World about extra skills, personality and all the rest of it is rubbish. This is still about judging women on their appearance. In case anyone hasn't got the message - pretty face, nice eyes, lovely smile, long sexy hair, firm breasts of a good but not too large size, slim waist, and fit arse. Cattle market? 3) Don't bother arguing about Mr Universe - I'm really not interested. If you come out with that crap, you really have no idea what this post is about. 4) While ever women are valued, judged, and praised on their looks, all that is happening is that we are continuing to perpetuate this patriarchal society where women are no more than a token part of some arsehole's harem. A pretty possession. Don't bother telling me it is their choice to join in, and how much they get out of it. Women do this because they haven't woken up to the fact that they are being ripped off, fucked over, and generally being pissed on. They are buying into the world. A man's world. 5) And as for Peter Caruana - reported by the Gib Chron to have said: He told her that no one had ever made Gibraltar prouder and congratulated on behalf of all the people. Get real Caruana. This is a particularly insignificant event in the world. No discredit to Ms Aldorino but this whole farce demeans women. And you say that no-one has ever made Gibraltar prouder than a woman who has won Miss World?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Just another addiction ......

Computer games. I used to be amazed at the amount of people playing crazy games on the internet. When I joined Facebook it seemed to be full of posts about people moving up in Mafia Wars, or Vampire Wars. Do these people have nothing better to do, I pondered somewhat bemusedly. I never grew up in the computer games era, or even the computer era, so found all this totally bizarre. Aimlessly I clicked on one of my FB friend's requests for 'neighbours' in some game. FarmVille. Oooh, I could build my own little farm, didn't need to get my hands dirty, and could grow the prettiest crops. No problems with pests, or lack of water, or a bad crop. I could have my animals too, and a dear little cottage. I was hooked. I also wanted to gain the points. But why? I even looked at Mafia Wars and Pirates. Café World was a no-no. The first three dishes were onion soup, bacon sandwich and a burger. Once I had made the onion soup I lost interest. I do not want to be told what to cook. I started a Happy Aquarium, even though I don't really agree with keeping fish in tanks... They were very pretty. And there is Fish World, and naturally - FishVille. Oh and Island Paradise. And Robin Hood. And Roller Coaster Something. There may be others too where I still have a dormant presence. (Note, I am still on my idyllic island...) The truth is, that if other people need 'friends' to move up in the games, that's fine by me, but I don't have to play. Happy to be a sleeping non-participant. So what on earth is the attraction with the continual clicking of a mouse/trackpad to see points pointing up? Mindless? Well, in my opinion yes (and don't forget I am doing it). Escapism - without a doubt. Living a fantasy life as Robin Hood, or a Pirate, or a Mega Mafia Mobster. But the one that really seems to be on a winner, is Farmville. And Farmtown. I should say at this point I don't like the graphics on FT and I hate the unnecessary clicks to sell produce. Hence I have relapsed to an orchard where the fruit never goes off. It's the fantasy idea that we all dream of though. That little place in the country that is so easy to maintain, live off the land, and have a modest, but perfectly comfortable house. And for those of us who tend to be somewhat anal, we can lay out our farms perfectly, colour co-ordinate them. We can play the games to get more money, more points, more awards, more mastery signs - whatever we choose. At no risk. Nothing further from real life. I never watched soap operas until I hit on some bizarre production called Sunset Beach. It was too unreal to be true and a total load of rubbish - but the unreality of it was what made it entertaining. I watched soaps in Spain too - mainly because it was an easy way of learning the language. But for the most part, what are soaps? Mindless unreal escapism. Just like some of the adventure films/serials where the hero struggles against all manner of perils and always, just always, wins out. Computer games? No different. Mindless, unreal, escapism. A different screen, a different distraction. Heaven forbid we all go back to speaking to each other again - or even worse, reading books, and thinking. (For the record, Level 32 on FarmVille with 65,000+ points, and the fuck off biggest farm at 22x22).

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Mobile 'phones and APNs

When I ring up my mobile 'phone company and ask if they have changed the APN (which apparently stands for Access Point Name) I expect them to give me the correct information. If, for some reason, they decide to change it, it would be helpful to let me know. In fact it might explain why I am unable to get hold of the internet from my 'phone when it changes from .net to .com. Thank you Gibtelecom. Good one.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


I've watched a couple of films recently that perfectly exemplify the concept - or rather use/abuse - of women as sex objects. No not 'sex symbols', or people, or anything else. Objects. The first one was nauseating. Described as 'a stylish and brutal glimpse into the intense violent underbelly of a ruthless underworld where the mob boss rules with an iron fist'. (slightly adapted.) The blurb went on to say.. 'In an empire of fast cars, upscale drugs, and expensive women, money is god but power and money alone can never buy trust...' Upscale drugs? Is that another word for expensive? Sort of like 'top end'? Anyway, I digress. I should have been tipped off by the term 'expensive women.' What does that signify? Well, it signifies that the women in this film, have expensive tastes, presumably in jewellery, champagne, clothes, etc etc etc. But more to the point, it signifies that these women are bought. Purchased. Possessions. Objects. They sell themselves without even realising it. Not just their bodies, their independence, their freedom, their volition. In some cases their lives. Once the women are involved with these nasty, obnoxious, violent, abusive, immoral, murdering, raping, so-called pieces of humanity - they have sold their souls. They are no longer treated as people, as sentient beings who merit respect. They are literally objectified. They are passed around like a bottle of beer or a communal joint. "Hey want a beer? Hey want to fuck her?' There is no difference between sharing the beers or the women. Who cares what the women think or feel? One of the head thugs abuses his wife for not producing a boy. Naturally it is her fault that she produces girls not boys. It is her fault for having two X chromosomes and not his failure, despite having the determining Y chromosome. It goes without saying there is no fidelity within relationships. The same murderous thug is at some club with his mates and a few of their sex objects and some young woman is suddenly thrust into the scene. Apparently she wants to work at one of the brothels they run, so naturally he takes her into the toilet to fuck her and decide if she is good enough. She wasn't. He brought her back and dismissed her with a few derisory comments about her lack of ability to perform/please/gyrate sufficiently. I watched it in the hopes it might get better. It didn't. It certainly wasn't stylish and it was extremely offensive and disgusting. Onto film number two. Naturally this again featured women in their essential role in life as sex objects aka prostitutes. A couple of American teenagers were kidnapped by an eastern European gang to become part of their prostitution network. Obviously this involved turning the women into drug addicts by imprisoning them and forcibly injecting them with heroin. The backdrop for this was some filthy sleazy hovel where all the women were chained to beds while they were undergoing the addiction process. Top tough American father managed to rescue his daughter, just after she had gone on parade on the internet to be sold as a virgin. Despite looking totally off her head. Some different messages here. Man as abuser. But also man as saviour, hero, protector. We women just can't do without that type of man, can we? Or can we? Ironically both films were set in Europe (with the exception of a few scenes in the second film). Is Europe the hotbed of rape, prostitution, and abuse? Both films also included scenes where women were shot to make a point. In the first, an Eastern European woman was killed as a token gesture to frighten all the others who were being exported for prostitution. (Again, she hadn't made the cut). In the second, the 'hero' shot a former colleague's wife as a negotiating point. 'It's only a flesh wound,' he said, as the woman lay there on the floor terrified out of her mind. Yeah right. 'And the next will be between the eyes if I don't get what I want.' Some hero eh? Looking after women, saving prostitutes, and shooting his former colleague's wife - who had incidentally, welcomed him into the family home, invited him to dinner etc etc. Before I posted this I thought I would check out the reviews. Naturally the second one was described as a good, hard-hitting action film with a strong performance by the leading (male, of course) character. Did the reviews mention the horrific abduction, rape, drug addiction, forced prostitution of the women? Well, they did mention the terrible drilling of the knee enforced on one man. Not for the squeamish apparently. Onto the first film. Seems this one also got some rather good reviews because of its tough action. And that's what matters. Isn't it? Here is a quote from one review: It features gangsters 'trying out' prostitutes, raping people with pool queues and calmly executing east European prostitutes as an example to those that are being loaded onto trucks for export. It also comes very close to being misogynistic. Were it not for Claude's wife Beatrice being the only character with a shred of humanity and empathy, it would be easy to slate this film's depiction of women as violently misogynistic. This is a film that lacks a story, lacks proper characterisation and presents a form of 'realism' that is utterly contrived. But despite this lack of bottom it is an amusing way to spend a couple of hours as it is never dull. Very close to being violently misogynistic? Dear me, what dictionary are you using? Now, for the benefit of the dull ones out there - one redeeming female character does NOT, I repeat NOT, counteract all the total abuse and violence against women from men in this film. Where is this reviewer coming from? Secondly, watching women (and men) being raped and murdered is not an amusing way to spend a couple of hours. Amusing implies funny, entertaining. This film was neither of those. I haven't named either of these two films as I have no desire to publicise them. I daresay anyone interested enough will be able to find them anyway. And while ever crap films like these are justified as amusing, entertaining, action-packed - and the rape/murder/abduction/abuse of women is barely mentioned - women will continue to be seen and treated as sex objects. Because they are just films aren't they? This sort of thing doesn't happen in real life? Does it?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Solitude - a post script

Just to prove I am not occasionally averse to speaking to people... On Sunday we went for a walk up the Rock. It's always handy having a nature reserve with spectacular views five minutes walk away up the back streets. Being a Sunday it was pretty busy with tourists all gazing in fascination at the monkeys. On the way back down we bumped into some Spaniards, who it seemed had got the cable car to the top, and were now walking back down so they asked us if they were going the right way. We said yes, and started chatting with them about their day out and trip up the Rock. They had obviously enjoyed themselves - even though one woman was horrified at the height and the steepness of the Rock, plus the interminable steps on the way down from the top. We were laughing and joking as she said that she hadn't realised she was going on a hiking expedition and that she had lost at least 20 kilos - which she said she wanted to lose anyway. So we wandered down together in a loose group, sometimes talking together in Spanish, and sometimes we chatted on our own in English, while they spoke to each other in Spanish. There was no obligation to keep speaking to each other. And that's the advantage of meeting strangers, and walking in a group. You can talk when you want, and be quiet when you want too. Sort of like living in a city. Surrounded by people but so easy to keep your own sense of privacy.

Sunday, 11 October 2009


The other day I bumped into someone I know who lives nearby. I know them well enough to stand around chatting to. It turned out we were going in the same direction. My heart sank. I did not want to spend 20 minutes trying to think of some banal chitchat to pass the time while we walked together. I didn't say where I was going. I watched them disappear off, and promptly took a different route. Phew. I dragged my feet - but our paths almost coincided somewhat later when they came into view. I skipped off in yet another different direction. Another narrow escape from forced conversation. Some months ago, one of my partner's former workmates spotted me in the high street and started chattering away as though I was his long-lost best friend. FFS. I had only ever said hello to this guy once or twice before! I expected him to go about his business, but no, he accompanied me all the way up the street until he arrived at his destination. As he was such a chatterbox, it wasn't too difficult to mutter the appropriate grunts and monosyllabic responses in the right places. When I mentioned this strange encounter to my partner, he smiled and said; 'Oh, but he would just be trying to bum a tab.' I thought back, and indeed, the first topic of conversation after the initial greetings, was whether or not I smoked. Which I don't. But by then he was committed, and would have lost face to clear off into the crowd. So he tagged along merrily at my side, prattling about this and that. Five or ten minutes up the high street was just about tolerable. Any longer than that is not. When I am walking somewhere, I like to be alone. With my own thoughts, and to walk at my own pace, and to look around, and enjoy my surroundings - architecture, landscape, people-watching, noticing any changes happening in my local environment, whatever. I do not want to have to think of what to say next. I like my own space. And I enjoy walking on my own. Sometimes I think about how to solve problems, sometimes I think about what to cook for the next meal, and sometimes I just look around - appreciating life. A chance encounter is fine, and I'm happy to exchange a few words. And then resume my journey. Because that's life in a way. A journey that you make on your own, with, if you are lucky, a few fortunate encounters on the way.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dogs bite......

Overheard walking up the high street. 'Now you mustn't touch dogs again, because they bite strangers.....' Well that's a great way to instill fear of dogs into a child. Not for a minute do I agree with some nervous noisy child waving its arms around and sticking its fingers into Fido's ears, eyes, nose, mouth, prodding him/her or pulling Fido's ears/tail. I doubt my incredibly placid dog would bite at all that but never mind him, I certainly would. But there is a happy medium. What on earth is wrong with teaching respect - both for the dog and the person with them. How about saying to the child that it would be a good idea to ask: 'May I stroke Fido? Is that ok?' You could follow that up with saying that it is always polite to ask, as the dog lives with someone else and it is important to get their permission blah blah blah..... That way no-one is upset. If Fido doesn't like children or people of any type(and I can often see why), a simple no is easy enough. 'No, Fido doesn't like that.' Or 'Yes, that's fine, give Fido a gentle pat/stroke on the head, shoulders, (wherever Fido is happy). Fido likes children/adults/everything except cats.' Telling children that all dogs bite strangers is plain wrong, and it leads to the sort of behaviour that I have seen. Children go running around the dog screaming and yelling because the dog is a frightening monster. Or worse. Maybe they throw stones and victimise the dog because they want to prove they are not frightened and that the dog won't dare bite them. Stupid over-protective irrational parent. And the child was looking very upset at being told off for doing something wrong. I felt for that child and wondered if she will grow up with all her parents' prejudices as a result of their flawed and thoughtless teachings.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Offensive quotes

Spotted on the internet today...

"vegetarians? your as bad as them pakis and sambos!"

"a neighbour gavw me £15 for chopping some of her bush...i mean apple tree"

"You must be one of them gayers. One of them vegetarian gayers.... "

Gosh. It always amazes me how funny it is to insult
a) vegetarians,
b) people of Pakistani origin,
c) black people whether of Afro-Caribbean ancestry, or African, or American African, or anyone black in the UK, or just anyone who is not white,
d) women and their pubic hair,
e) gays.

Depressing. :(

Edited to add:
1) All spelling errors are attributed to the original posters.
2) These quotes come courtesy of Nigel who used to look at a forum. He has now stopped.
3) Why do people feel the need to write offensive, hateful, obnoxious language that quite frankly could be classed as inciting racial violence? Let alone victimising vegetarians and gays and taking the piss out of women who have pubic hair.

Note to self. Check out whether men have pubic hair too. And whether or not they chop their bushes. Yawn. (Irony for anyone who hasn't worked this out). No, these comments are not funny or witty. They are unacceptable and so are the people who post such comments on forums.

Monday, 17 August 2009


Seems there is nothing more guaranteed to set feminists against each other than the subject of animal rights - in whatever form. For no particular reason, I want to say, for possibly the millionth time, that I do not agree with sticking dogs in crates. Having been brought up with four dogs and to date had four of my own, all totally crate free, I quite frankly do not see the necessity to stick a dog in a small cell for my convenience. Shit, I forgot to say. I don't have a dog because it is a gadget, or a trinket, or a little cutesiepie. I have a dog (s) because I like and respect animals and want to try and save some from being put down. Killed. Because someone has bred them and can't sell them/home them, or has bought a fluffy puppy for Christmas, and then it got big and peed on the floor. Or worse still, it shit. And ate shoes. Scratched furniture. Ate cushions. Ms Perfect Dog Owner here can confess to: One puppy who crapped on the floor and we didn't notice it for some time. :( One dog in a new house who was excited and we didn't take him out soon enough. (a pee) Another dog in the same new house, similar reason who peed against a plant pot. A dog with a bad guts who couldn't get out of the house fast enough. A teddy bear and a couple of flip flops eaten over 20+ years. In no instances were the dogs at fault. Would a crate have helped? Yeah. It would have saved ME moving my shoes and teddy bear which I should have moved anyway. Let's have a look at lineage. Mmm, first dog, black lab puppy. Very sweet. Came from Blue Cross, we could have had the papers if we wanted as apparently he was pedigree. Who cared. He was up for rescue and we took him. A darling, and totally well behaved unless he smelled water five miles away in which case he was gone. Second dog. Cross lab/setter or spaniel. A great dog apparently, no problems with children just the owners felt he didn't 'fit' in the family any more after a grand total of six months. I wonder why. The little shit hated children. I don't blame him, I don't like them either. A dog after my own heart. Came from a rather grotty looking rescue place and barked like hell to get out of there. Around six months old. Third dog. Probably pedigree, but runt of the GSD pack by the look of him. Only in size though. I never missed a single night's sleep when I was on my own when I had him by my bedside. Obedient, intelligent, and very self-opinionated. He had been on the streets in the winters of the north of England before we rehomed him. Three or four years old maybe when we got him. Fourth dog. Looks like a husky/GSD cross. Came off the street. Beautiful temperament (unless there are cats around of course). A year old - more or less - when he found us? Who knows? Thrown out dogs don't wear labels around their necks. We didn't 'buy' any of these dogs. As the first three came from rescue homes we 'paid' a donation. The street dog was homeless, we just cut out the middle part and took him in anyway. The point is that none of these dogs were a) perfect or b) wanted. In fact they were very unwanted and could have ended up dead when their time was up. Make no mistake, going around rescue shelters is not a nice experience to read how many months (years) some dogs have been in without finding a home, and realising that if no-one takes them, at some point, they will be killed. And in case anyone thinks I have had only one dog at once, no. We have had one, two and three. If we had more space we would still have three or more. But I have two main points to make. 1) Is that you don't need a pedigree dog from a 'reputable' breeder to find a superb companion. You may end up with a pedigree dog by default from a rescue shelter. But a pedigree dog is not necessarily better or worse in character than any other dog. And if you want and like designer dogs as part of your lifestyle you shouldn't be reading this blog. Unless you want to learn of course that maybe looks aren't everything. Would someone buy you because of your looks and pedigree? 2) My crappy life's reject dogs didn't need crates. So why does everyone else's? Oh nearly forgot point 3). To justify buying a pedigree dog because it needs a home is not like taking a dog from a rescue shelter. Supporting someone profiteering from breeding animals ie dogs, is just unsound. You are not saving a life, you are lining someone's pocket, don't kid yourself, and you are justifying the perpetuation of the 'pet' industry. And because I know some people reading this have pedigree dogs/pups - this is not a dig at you. ~ Any of you ~ But next time, maybe rescue one?

Friday, 31 July 2009

Where are you going?

So there I was, standing at the bus stop as you do, when you are waiting for a bus. I'd been there about 15 minutes and the bus was due soonish. Suddenly a car pulls into the bus stop, and the driver opens the window. Did he want directions? Or was he going to talk on his mobile? (Unlikely as most Spanish continue to drive while talking on their mobiles). 'Donde va?' he said. (Where are you going) 'Málaga,' I dutifully answered. 'Viene?' he asked. (Are you coming) 'No' and then I added 'Gracias.' Now why I should thank some strange guy who has suddenly pulled up at the bus stop where I am quite clearly waiting for a bus is beyond me, but old habits die hard, and so I politely thanked him for offering something I didn't want. The truth is I was totally taken aback. If I had had my wits about me, when he asked where I was going I would have replied by asking where he was going. Or maybe I should have given my ultimate destination - Algeciras, or La Linea, or Gibraltar, or El Peñon. But I just answered honestly like an idiot. I didn't even have time to panic or freak out which I normally would have done. Bespectacled middle-aged women standing alone at bus stops do not expect young Spanish men who they have never seen before (nor do they want to see them again) to just pull up and offer them a lift to - wherever. I'm sure he hadn't noticed my shoes which were oozing mud after the short cut down the (usually dry) river bed. I don't think he would have liked mud in his nice shiny go-fast-goody. So I only really thought about it later. The bus stop is on the main road, but no houses immediately near. A small farm on the other side of the road, a few houses further up, and further down, and a plastics firm on the other side of the road down a track. In a way it was quite isolated. Perhaps I should just have started walking away from him when he pulled up, but how unnecessarily panicky. At least he didn't get out of his vehicle, and at least there was only one of him. But how strange. I live more or less equidistant between two bus stops. I may start using the other bus stop though. It's outside some houses and more people tend to use it.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Spilled milk

Storytime. Once three people, by chance, met up in a chat room. The only apparent thing they had in common was a forum that they had all visited. I'm feeling unimaginative so let's call them A, B and C. Even more by chance, two of them happened to live not just in the same country, but quite near together but had never met. I too flitted in and out. A and B struck me as being reasonable, interesting and amusing people. C struck me as being slightly strange, so if C was around I rarely stayed. Some time later, C was upset about something and cleared off for a while, so I started chatting with A and B. We seemed to get on well, so B started up a new chat for us so that it didn't look as though we were trying to take over the initial chatroom. A few more people were invited and visited regularly. As with all groups, the dynamics change with more people and different personalities, but it was still an interesting and lively chatroom. Sometimes A, B and I were there together and continued to enjoy the same interesting, witty, fast and stimulating conversation that we had started off with. A few other people were invited but didn't visit as regularly as the now extended core group. They were totally outside my time zone, or rather the hours I keep, so sadly I rarely spoke to them. And as with all groups there were arguments, or disagreements, or whatever you want to call them. Some serious, some apparently less so. If we can't disagree with our friends and move on, then there is an inherent problem. A and B argued. I argued with A too on more than one occasion. It had become increasingly rare for the three of us to enjoy our previously easy-going and carefree chat. Everyone had external stresses too - personal, financial, work, family, the usual. We traded insults, either deliberately or unintentionally, and sometimes there was tension. But A and B reconciled their differences. I on the other hand fell out spectacularly with A, and decided I was better off out of there. When it gets to the point that there are more bad vibes than good, and the good times have faded into the past it is time to leave. Later I heard that A left the chat too. So out of the three who started off in the spin-off chat, there is now only one. When there is more pain than gain in any relationship either for you or for others, whether virtual or real, there is no point prolonging it. That's an example of (small) group dynamics, where for whatever reason, things didn't work out despite a promising and very good beginning. One to one relationships are the same too. Friends, lovers, work colleagues,family - doesn't really matter, but the same rule applies. When all you can concentrate on are the negative points, the disappointment, the disillusionment, the feeling that you have been let down, deceived, or just that you really don't value any more in someone's scheme of things, it is time to take that decision. The good times have faded into the past, and are far outweighed by the bad things. Better to get out while you still have a few good memories to look back on. Time to let go. And not cry.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


For some reason this seems to be a controversial issue. The only reason I consider it to be controversial is that someone else wants to tell ME what to do with MY body. Don't.

Friday, 10 July 2009

On going out

I am not a big fan of social engagements. It's ironic because in my younger days I would love to have led an exciting life full of nights out and partying-on. Every night spent in alone felt like I was the social reject of the world. But these days, I like to spend my evenings at home, with my partner and my dog, a decent meal, a glass of wine, some conversation and maybe a book - or a quick internet browse. And an early night. One of the reasons I am not terribly sociable is that I do not like explaining for the zillionth time why I have made certain choices in life. It is sad but true that the people I know/meet are not feminist, vegetarian, animal rights supporters, left-wing, environmentalist etc etc. It's unlikely that they will be really, as my views are not the most run-of-the-mill conventional ones. And any conversation is guaranteed to raise at least one of those issues. At any event with food, it is fairly clear that my plate is bereft of flesh, fowl and fish. So then the inevitable questions start about 'Are you vegetarian?' invariably followed by, 'Well do you eat fish?' Yawn. I am lucky if I get away with not being questioned about my marital status, lack of children, lack of wedding ring, and separate names. And even in a situation with so-called dog-friendly people, you can see them cringeing with horror when I say my dog came off the street, and they are wondering if the ticks and fleas are jumping across the table to land on them. I don't ask other people why they have made their - to me, unthinking and unethical choices - what gives them the right to stick their nose into my decisions? So I was not, in all truth looking forward to last night. An invitation to the official opening of where Partner has been working. Free drinks and food all night, starting from 6pm. The chefs had even included some vegetarian options on the menu. No, said the owners, get rid of that rubbish. That, and a few other niggles, made Partner wonder why on earth he was even thinking of us going out for the purpose of consuming a couple of free beers with a bunch of wankers. We didn't go, and had a lovely evening in. Ah, old age - it has its advantages. (I should probably have said middle age.)

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Those who don't know history.....

.... are destined to repeat it. (Edmund Burke 1729-1797)

This quote often gets confused with the later one by Santayana: 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'

But as Santayana came a good hundred years after Burke, I shall use the Burke attributed quote. Especially as Santayana seems to get rather more popular coverage than Burke. I wonder why that is?

However this is not a post about philosophy at all, or whether Santayana plagiarised Burke, just that the Burke quote is the most obvious title.

It is about modern day intervention aka invasion/imperialism/21st century colonialism - take your pick of description.

While searching on the tinties, I found this gem of a vid. Excellent visuals, a very neat summary, and some good points succinctly made. You may need to turn the volume up, the recording is rather quiet.

Note at the end, the mention of women's rights when questioning the intervention in Afghanistan. At least it got a mention. And no doubt we are repeating our own history with seven British deaths this week alone and 176 deaths for British armed forces in total since our involvement. Here is a link with details of the ones who have died to date, including serving members in the British forces from Fiji, Nepal, South Africa and Zimbabwe. And that pales into insignificance compared with the number of civilian deaths.

So just why are we all there yet again?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Birthday romance?

Men and birthdays don't go well together in my experience, not that I have much. Experience of the two together I mean. And I've also had more birthdays than men, but that's not really relevant. But as I celebrated my birthday some days ago, I remembered a past encounter. I had a 'boyfriend'. So to speak, as he was married and definitely not a boy, and I was single, and in my twenties. Pause from the anecdote to talk about affairs, I mean sex, with married men... 1) Do not even start with any criticism about my lack of morals. I was not married. He was. Is this clear? 2) Anyone who thinks that if a (single) woman refuses to sleep with a married man, that he will forthwith lead a blamefree and unadulterous life is seriously deluded. Absolutely and utterly certifiable. 3) Because, someone who is married and wants extra-marital sex, will find it wherever. 4) Truism number one. Yes, they really do say, 'My wife doesn't understand me.' 5) Truism number two. Yes, they really do say, 'I don't get enough sex.' 6) Truism number three. Yes, it is always the woman's fault for seducing that poor weak corruptible man. 7) And finally, there is no way that you can deny the fact that you get some sort of kick out of this. In our patriarchal society the fact that you are SO sexy, SO irresistible, SO desirable that you can lead a man astray, just does wonders for your standing. You are sophisticated, worldly, hot beyond belief. Right, back to the story...... The good thing about having sex with a married man, is that there is no commitment. You are the bit on the side, some fun, as and when appropriate or convenient (for both of you). Most of your time together is taken up with sex (obviously), eating and sleeping out (in nice hotels, usually on a company account), and maybe a few idle sort of dates - driving round the countryside or visiting a museum. Nothing heavy. No drudgery. No boredom. A few intense 'phone calls or passionate letters (well, on his part anyway). But remember. The obvious one to remember, is 'DO NOT BELIEVE HIM'. Oops sorry for shouting. It is fairly obvious though that if he is cheating on his wife, then he is a lying git and would do the same to you. So, keeping our wits about us, when they come out with guff about how they absolutely love us to bits, wish they had met us sooner, think about us all the time, blah blah boring blah. Just remember that it is guff. 'Do not believe him.' Stay calm, and in control. When he comes to visit you on your birthday, bearing a radio that you didn't want as a present, start to be suspicious. A radio that isn't even in a box because he dealt in stolen goods. Regardless of the fact that he brings you a rather ugly unboxed radio, drag him into a local city and make him buy you some nice gold and coral earrings. I still have them, although I can't remember the last time I wore them, not really my style any more and they would be hidden by my long hair. But start to think. This guy has bought you a 'present' for your birthday. It is not remotely what you want. It is not remotely 'romantic.' And, as an irrelevancy, it happened to be nicked (I assumed later, maybe I am doing him an injustice but he did end up on trial at Crown Court for fencing stolen goods). And when he walks out of the door, and you say goodbye as he goes back to wifey, you see the look on his face, and you know it's over. I thought it would be the last time I saw him, but it wasn't. Some weeks, or maybe a month or two later, I was going to a camping exhibition and he was staying somewhere near. Can't even remember why he got in touch again. But anyway I visited his hotel. I'd got up earlyish, ie 7am or so, had breakfast, and set off on the road, driving an hour plus. Reached reception and asked for him by name. 'Just go on up to his room,' said the receptionist. Ha ti ha. Should have twigged then, shouldn't I? Needless to state, he was still lying around in bed, and quickly started doing a few supposedly sexy gyrations. We had a brief chat and he asked me to get into bed with him. 'No thanks,' I said (or words to that effect) and walked out of the door without a backward glance, feeling like a clichéed film star. Or at least hoping I looked vaguely like one. And that really was the last time I saw him. A few more details for any of you who want the not remotely lurid trivia. We actually first got in touch over the 'phone and he had a sexy voice. He wasn't particularly sexy when I met him, but by then we had both got too sucked into it. I guess the 'phone was the precursor of internet contacts. His wife at some point obviously got hold of his little black book and rang me. Except I was in Australia at the time and my parents answered. Probably helped contribute towards my father's infamous comment some years later accusing me of 'trashing around'. This is not a bitter post. I have no bad feelings towards him. I have no feelings towards him. It is so long ago, he was fun at the time, and I knew what I was getting into. I thought it would be interesting to share the anecdote and reflect on the way society judges 'scarlet woman who seduces married man'. (Yuk) And, because I have said this to some people via email, if my partner chooses to have sex with another woman, then no, I do not think it is her fault. She is not some immoral whore while he is a poor innocent victimised man. He has the choice to say 'No'. 'No' is not difficult. If I can say it, so can he. 'No' is as easy as 'Yes'. Oh and back to the original point of the post about men and birthdays. I don't think in my youth that I ever managed to sustain a relationship long enough to last until my birthday. All the other girls at school seemed to manage endless relationships with boring boys and proudly showed off their birthday presents. I on the other hand, managed to lose the boring boys before my birthday, or before Valentine's day, or before Christmas. Always lost out on the accompanying status presents. And what happened when I did get one? A nicked radio. So there is a lesson there. A man who treats your birthday like crap is a man not worth bothering with. (Married or not).

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Impact v intent

Browsing on the internet this week I seem to have read a lot about misunderstandings. They happen every day. We rarely see the world from someone else's perspective. If we are lucky we occasionally share random points of view. I thought this: "impact is more important than intent--whether we meant to hurt is not really the point. It's how our actions were felt by the other person" was such a neat way of describing the dichotomy where someone is insulted/offended by words that were never meant to do so. (Credit for the quote to Bird, which in its original context was in relation to sexual harassment training). It's hard to apologise when you never intended to do anything wrong. But when you have been hurt and that's not acknowledged at all, it's even harder. It stays with you and colours your view of people you once thought were friends. I know. I've been in both positions. I wish I didn't get it wrong. But I also wish people didn't get it wrong with me too. Lack of communication and honesty ruins relationships of all sorts. It would be nice if we could trust people enough to be honest with them, to say when we are offended, to say what we really think. But it doesn't happen. And another relationship falls off the end. And for a good read on different perceptions, click here to read WhyI'mbitter's interesting post.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Driving test

Well done on passing your test. Now you need to learn how to drive. How many of us have heard that one? Oh, and who is it usually from? Men, who invariably didn't pass first time, and continue to break the law either by speeding or drink driving or both. But still insist on giving you the benefit of their Fresh! Manly! Driving! Wisdom! So to all those women out there who pass their driving test first time in the face of blatant misogyny – 'women can't drive' etc etc etc, stupid crass jokes blah blah blah – er, ignore the advice from the men. It's worth nothing. If you have passed your test you are as good as they are on the road. And statistically, as just about everyone knows, far less likely to have an accident.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Some thoughts

I was going to title this 'Thoughtful' but I'm not sure it is. I spend some considerable time on the internet/computer, largely because I enjoy writing. And reading. Oh, and I have time too. I have made some good friends on here – for varying reasons. Friends from forums and friends from blogs. Friends I have never met and probably never will. They are the sort of friends that I can email when I am fed-up or annoyed or whatever, and they will reply as soon as they can. Sometimes they offer advice, sometimes they just offer warmth and friendship, and sometimes they are just there. Some have offered to send me things I want that I can't get where I live. One has actually sent me something I wanted very much as a present. Another sent treats for my dog, carefully chosen to fit in with my vegetarian organic lifestyle. I certainly spend more time emailing people I have never met than people I did know, once, in a previous life. By and large, I take most people on the internet for who they say they are, which is a bit of a cheek considering that I have so many persona that even I am in danger of losing track of them. Although there are some strange people out there, I reckon most people are like me, just a normal person, who uses the internet daily for whatever reason. And sometimes I wonder why I walk from an internet environment and can't go back. Can't or won't? I've not been banned from anywhere – yet. Kicked off the admin team from one forum, resigned from another admin post, and walked from a few forums. I have gone back and posted on one occasionally. I don't miss the one I was sacked from nor do I visit it. I look at another one occasionally, there are some really nice genuine people on there. Yet, one argument too many, one insult too many, and - the desire to participate is gone. I've gone from enjoying a supportive internet community to disinterest. Shame, but that's life. If you know a group of people and one or two become unbearable – you just move on. So much in common, so little in common.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

For appearance' sake

As it's summer the streets are now full of scantily clad women, with bare legs, shoulders, backs, midriffs etc etc. All very nicely tanned, smooth and polished. I, on the other hand, am wandering around with – gasp, shock, horror – unshaven hairy legs. To shave or not to shave is one of the archetypal feminist dilemmas. I have a hugely ambivalent attitude to the whole shaving thing though. I suspect it stems from my childhood when my very unfeminist father proclaimed that he didn't like women's legs shaved, and that they looked like plucked chickens. Consequently, my mother didn't shave her legs, and I wasn't brought up to regard it as the norm. I have no idea whether my mother wanted to shave her legs or not, as because my father didn't want it to happen, clearly it didn't. I have no idea why he said he didn't like hair-free legs – maybe he didn't want other men looking at 'his' woman's legs. So I gaily went through school, university and life with hairy legs, suffering endless boring jokes about how awful they looked. Occasionally I dabbled with shaving them, and then thought they looked most odd and denuded. I really couldn't decide which I preferred. Or which looked least worst. I did go through a phase a while ago of shaving them in summer. I went to a beach party and met a German woman with a light covering of hair on her legs, and promptly thought my shaved ones looked odd again. To explain, for the benefit of non-feminists who don't understand the problem, the crux of the issue is the pressure put on women to conform to certain (male-imposed) standards regarding their appearance. Or to put it rather more bluntly, to make themselves look as sexually attractive as possible for the benefit of men. Because after all, as we know, a woman's prime function is that of a sex object. So to shave or not to shave is on a par with all the other so-called beautification issues. Somewhat like wearing make-up, high heels or any of the other things that women do to supposedly make themselves 'look better'. I really can't get worked up about it though, or rather, I think every woman can decide for herself what she wants to do. I also accept that we all have to make compromises in our life in many areas, and the truth is that appearances do matter. For example, some ghastly survey I read ages ago shows that women who wear make-up earn significantly more than their female peers who don't paint their faces. I rarely wear make-up, not really from an ideological perspective, but because I don't like putting a load of clart on my skin. I do not wish to walk round with such a thick veneer of make-up on that I get called cement face - as did one of my former colleagues. She also validates the survey's findings however, as she is on well over a hundred grand now. High heels – yeah I wore them in the past. Prob three inches max. But at five foot nine inches tall, they are hardly something I need to boost my height. Hair – long, glamorous, sexy. Actually, my hair is longish. At the tender age of nine or so, my mother marched me off to her hairdresser and my nice long hair was cut into a vile page boy style. I was perfectly happy with my long dark blond hair and my swinging pony tail, or sometimes plaits, so I don't know why it suddenly got cut. I was told it was fashionable. Not helped either by going to school the next day and one of my classmates telling me I looked like some historical male monarch. But after that, it was never really very long again, sort of shoulder length. It's not straight, so it never looks smart. So when I quit work, I just let it grow. It's long and untidy, and occasionally I cut off the split ends. And pick out the odd grey hair. It's much easier to manage. In summer I can tie it up, or pile it high – ok clip it up at the back. But it's hardly long, glamorous and sexy. And of course, that good old one – glasses. Or in Dorothy Parker's words 'Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.' There are so many things wrong with that loaded witticism that I cringe with embarrassment to think I swallowed it totally as a kid. 1 – The objective is that all 'girls' want in life is for men to 'make passes' at them 2 – Naturally to achieve this, one has to conform to conventional standards of sexual attraction 3 – The unequal use of language, men are men but the women are girls So I decided to wear contact lenses which I happily did for more than 20 years. I still do wear them, but last year I thought it would be interesting to try using glasses again. As readers of one of my other blogs may know, I bought some nice designer frames so that I could develop a snooty aloof intellectual image. (I probably didn't actually need the glasses for that). In summary, here I am, bespectacled, no make-up, with hairy legs, and flat shoes. Do I feel less attractive because of any of that? You see that's not the point. I am not interested in whether or not men see me as attractive, sexy, desirable. My self-esteem comes from within – and not from how others see me. And for an excellent example of what I'm talking about - here is an example of exactly the expectation and objectification that I am talking about. Thanks whyimbitter for sharing your educational dating experiences and sorry you met such a jerk. Note - for anyone querying the grammatical use in the title please check here.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

I don't think I will tax myself with writing thoughtful posts any more. Instead I think I will just repeat insulting derogatory posts against women that I read on the internet. And this is meant to be funny? Why? Stop winjing like a couple of old women

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


Seen this week on the internet. Some really witty incisive humorous jokes. (Irony for the benefit of anyone who isn't sure.) 1) The only problem I get is premenstrual women dog walkers when I'm driving some times. 2) Roll me in chocolate and feed me to the Lesb**ns. 3) Lesb*ans are great,every man should have 2 of them.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Some Fresh! Manly! Wisdom!

"Always respect your lady, all relationships are a compromise, don't put too much importance on the sex side too soon and remember one week a month you need to be gentle and understanding."

Dear me. I don't think I will even start to bother analysing why I find this sort of comment a) annoying and b) sad. OK, I will have a little go.

1) Always respect your lady. How about respecting all people – and animals – regardless of whether or not you are apparently in a relationship with them?

2) She is not YOUR lady. She is her own person and not a fucking possession. One of the good things about learning Spanish is the discovery that they rarely use possessive pronouns, so 'my' or 'her' husband invariably becomes 'the' husband.

3) She is not a Lady. Is she a titled member of the aristocracy? Huh? Doubt it. She is a woman. Stop coming with the false gentility crap. All women are women. There are no 'ladies' who merit more respect than other women.

4) Are all relationships a compromise? I don't know. I'm not settling for something I'm not happy with, and I wouldn't expect someone else to. Compromise implies a sense of missed goals or lack of satisfaction.

5) Don't put too much importance on the sex side...... hahahahahahaha!!!!! Right, for all you silly men out there, there is no way I would be settling for any tosser with a penis who wasn't prepared to put importance on the sex side immediately. So is that clear?

6) Maybe not. To clarify further, I am not interested in any sort of relationship with a man who does not shag first. If they are shaggable and a good time is had by all, then I might consider a relationship. But I would not dream of wasting my time on 'getting to know each other' to end up with a shit sex life. And sex life means any type of sex. It is not always or just about PIV. It is certainly not just about your penis.

7) Oh, and another thing. This comment about sex really, really, reeks of appalling male privilege. Just for the benefit of the author of this statement and anyone else who may think the same way – sex is not something that women do as a favour, or in exchange for rights and benefits (if they are doing they need to take a quick dose of radical feminism). Women have sex because they want it and they like it. Not because it is your prerogative. Ever.

8) So, for one week a month men need to be gentle and understanding. What about the other three or four weeks a month? You can presumably act your normal arsey selves.

9) Oh, I get it now. You mean women have periods? So why didn't you say so?

10) Taken all in all it is the most patronising piece of shit I have read in some time.

And what is bad about it? It is 'well-intentioned' and meant to be good advice to a younger man. Well, it is not. It is unhelpful and does no more than re-inforce the tired old shite that we are all sick of.

So - nice man. Please keep your unasked for Fresh! Manly! Wisdom! to yourself. The only ones to give men advice about what women want from a relationship are women. Hey, but silly me. Men always know better, don't they? About fucking everything.

Especially about what women want.

Computers. Of course, what else?

Computers. Apart from anything else I wrote this post and for some strange reason managed to lose it. Sadly since then, I have calmed down so it is no longer a virulent rant. Our first computer back in the 80s was an Amstrad and didn't even have a hard drive. I figured we didn't need to spend the extra so every time we booted up we had to faff around sticking a floppy in before we even got anywhere. It worked good as gold though, and we eventually flogged it around seven years later for fifty quid. Next up, an IBM. We graduated to a hard drive this time. It served us well. The truth is, it is still working some fifteen or so years later. Admittedly it had a bit of a blip when there was some rather heavy rain in Spain and it died on us. Easily fixed by a computer chap though who stuck a somewhat dangerous looking box on the outside – at this point it was too old to find a compatible drive to put inside – for the princely sum of around thirty or forty euros. For some strange reason I agreed to not bothering to restore the soft drive. That was not clever. I forgot I actually did use it occasionally. Note – all our computers and printers are now surge protected. We didn't know about them back then. But the time came for me to buy that Apple that I had always wanted – it's just that it's hard to buy a new computer when the current one works perfectly well, so I'd waited rather a long time. I bought a very elegant desktop. It is nice. It's an iMac or something and is now some few years old. Next up, buy the laptop. The MacBookPro. Seventeen inch screen. Made-in-China like every other computer but, - drum roll - Designed-in-California. Packs up after less than two years – more than one year of course, so the warranty is out. It's had a lot of use, but I don't think it has had enough to pack up after less than two years. And, what is particularly annoying is that I could have bought three HP laptops for the price of one Apple over less than two years. I do not want to buy a computer every year. I would much prefer them to last for ever and a day. I like Apple. I like the design. I like the simplicity of the operating system. At the end of the day, anyone in design/print/journalism etc is used to using them, and it is the computer of choice. But I have to confess that I am surprised at Windows. It has become very – sort of well, Appley. It is far more Appley than it used to be. What is annoying about using Apple, is the amount of stuff that is incompatible. This is not Apple's fault – rather the fault of the other manufacturers, whether cameras, GPS units, video cameras, modems, routers, whatever. Always having to specify 'I have a Mac' or 'Tengo un Mac' is a pain – apart from anything else, even when you have said that, it doesn't mean the person in the shop/on the other end of the 'phone knows what they are talking about. Having a Windows laptop as a back-up does not seem such a bad idea after all. But what I do not like, is the appalling McAfee security promotion on Windows. Not only does the irritating logo crop up endlessly, but helpfully the pre-set restrictions mean I could not access Safari, Thunderbird, and a couple of other programmes. Now, why would that be I wonder? I do not want to use Internet Explorer, and I don't like having my choices made for me. And another thing, the amount of adverts on the AOL/Internet Explorer browser are just grossly annoying. Stuff does take longer to load. Hal (3?) takes longer to start up than Apple Hals. For someone with little patience this is not good. Although Hal (2) doesn't start at all at the moment. But Hal (3) does go to sleep on his own nicely, so just needs a quick tap in the morning to wake up. He has a rather nice slide show. I like slide shows. He shows me an analogue clock. :) The basic software package is hum, minimal. Apparently I have Vista Premium rather than Basic. I wonder how basic Basic really is. It seems Microsoft has learned a trick out of Apple's book there by supplying very little apart from some nice entertainment packages. But therein lies the difference in the computer market now. It's about entertainment. In olden days you did at least get Word. Now you just get some tacky thing called Wordpad. Guess anyone who wants to use a computer for anything serious will get it paid for by work. I have no intention of buying Office, and one of the first things I did was to download OpenOffice. Can anyone really manage without a word processor???? The default email that comes up is – yes, Office. No, I don't want to trial it, pay for it, or have anything to do with it. There is a Windows Mail application and I downloaded Thunderbird. Not that I have got either of them to work successfully, something to do with having two conflicting outgoing mail servers I suspect. Always worked ok on Apple Hal though. I would like the date to be included with all the info stuff on the bottom. And the weather widget doesn't work for my part of the world apparently. In fact Gibraltar isn't even listed when I try and key in personal info. Maybe that's the difference. Maybe Apple just goes that tiny further. Not enough to warrant the price – or is it? Oh and note to Apple shop in Gib. Please do not make a note to say you have called me to update me with the lack of progress on the repair of Hal (2) when you haven't. I'm usually in, I've not missed a call, and there are no messages. So no, I didn't know until Partner went in the other day, that you had managed to get the install disk out and that you can't get anything up on the screen. Anyway, you've only had it a week, so I can't expect too much progress.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Poet Laureate and Kindred Spirits

Well, congratulations to Carol Ann Duffy who has been appointed the first woman Poet Laureate in the UK. Not before time as the post of Poet Laureate has been going a mere 341 years. Oh, and apparently it seems Ms Duffy was passed over ten years ago (it is a ten year appointment thing) because she was in a lesbian relationship. So what? Ah, seems Tony Blair wasn't too sure how the middle classes would respond to that. Deary me. Anyway good one Carol. Because if I was you, I would be more tempted to tell the British establishment where to stick their exalted Poet Laureateship - but the truth is you are doing more for women and lesbians by accepting the post. I wish you a happy and successful ten years. ...................................... Now, in reading up about Ms Duffy, I happened across the Telegraph web site. While the technical standard of journalism on the Telegraph (as a newspaper) used to have a good reputation - short, concise, and to the point - i have to say that I am not a fan of the politics it espouses. Still, easy enough to cut through that and read the actual news. At the top of the piece about Ms Duffy was a link to Kindred Spirits. This is the Telegraph's dating section. Well, they are unlikely to be my kindred spirits but I couldn't resist a look. I shouldn't have been surprised should I? What did I find? Endless middle-aged men from late 40s to early 60s, who ALL wanted attractive - or very attractive - younger slim women who were intelligent (in which case they would be unlikely to be looking at these tossers), invariably shorter than them, and who just needed to fit into an exact specific mould. If they tolerated an older woman, it was invariably one who was a year older - but the age span they were looking at included women nearly 20 years younger. Vomit. It wasn't any better when I looked at the women's profiles. They invariably wanted older, taller, richer, men. I wonder why. Oh, and all the men seemed to have conservative/right wing politics. Hardly unexpected I suppose. Oddly, very few of them claimed to smoke. Regardless of the political socio-economic issues, what really got up my nose was the idea that fat middle-aged men with a bit of money seemed to consider it their right to advertise for a younger, slimmer, slightly shorter, intelligent woman to do exactly what they were told. Oh, and attractive or very attractive of course - because women are only worth judging on their looks, aren't they? Kindred spirits my arse.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


Subtitled: How not to bring up your daughters. When I was a little girl, two particular trite sayings were dinned into my pretty little head. I say that with some irony, as I was never told I was pretty, or complimented particularly. One doesn't want one's little girl to turn into a vain little thing. Or even worse, confident with her own appearance. Back to the tritisms. 1) I want never gets. Please may I have stands a chance. This was repeated endlessly. Apparently my father suffered it, so felt it appropriate to din it into me. I was rather dismayed at the rude behaviour of my current Partner when I met him. He did not say please very often. If at all, although thank you seemed to feature in his vocabulary. What a terrible upbringing he must have had, I thought to my superior self. For 20 or 30 years I dutifully went round saying please at every grovelling opportunity. One day, the scales fell from my eyes. I want does get. Please may I have stands a chance of being totally ignored due to such wimpy unassertive language. 2) Little girls are seen and not heard. Note. Little girls. Not little girls and boys. Or little boys. Or little children. Just little girls. Now why is that? Ah, good training for when you grow up and your opinion, views, intelligence etc etc are all worthless because you are a woman. So, just keep quiet and don't say anything. Nor is it attractive behaviour to sound off about what you think. Women who do, are most unattractive. What man would want a woman who voices her opinion without being asked for it? Speak when you are spoken to, no less. (Another one I have just remembered). The trouble is, that all this tosh is just that. It is absolute garbage and the worst possible way to bring up your daughters. It is indoctrinating them with an inferiority complex, total lack of confidence and assertiveness, and of course, just passing on all those cool subliminal patriarchal messages. Well, clearly at some point I got out of it. Maybe it was when I noticed women who weren't still stuck in their childhood corner and seemed to have rather a nice place in life. Maybe it was when I noticed women getting exactly what they wanted by saying so - and men too of course. Maybe it was when I just grew up.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Just another depressing post

One of my friends said recently that she was embarked on a course of self-destruction. We didn't discuss it at the time, but I can empathise with that. For me, it's a relationship thing. I really can't handle them. I'm either incredibly immature (almost certainly) and/or just incapable of handling a nice relationship (equally almost certainly). I can never believe that something will last - if it feels nice it must be too good to be true - and I'm always waiting for the bitter and inevitable end. And maybe that's why I feel like rushing it along, hastening the end, to get past the bad bit and move on. Or I'm not sure whether I feel exposed when I share part of myself with people, and want to rush back into my shell, just venturing out on the odd occasional foray. Or whether I am like a stray dog, wanting to take the scraps offered but frightened that the hand that feeds me will hurt - so I bite it instead. Maybe I can't handle all-round perfect nice people. They seem to bring out the worst in me. I like people to have faults. And be real. Or perhaps I don't trust people. They usually let you down in the end.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter eggs

Just in case anyone thinks I have stopped marvelling at the incredulous activities of Pope Ben..... I see he has sent chocolate Easter eggs to victims of the Italian earthquake. That is so kind and thoughtful. If I had lost my home, possessions, possibly members of my family/close friends, a chocolate Easter egg from the Pope would so make it all right.

What rescue dog?

Well done Obama, you fucking hypocrite. You have just done jack shit nada for promoting the attractions of rescuing dogs from shelters. Despite the much-publicised comments from the family during the presidential campaign that they wanted a rescue dog - what have they ended up with? Surprise surprise. A nice little pedigree pup. Wow!! Naturally there are reasons for this. Of course. Plenty of 'em. 1) It's a present from Senator Edward M Kennedy of Massachusetts. 2) Portuguese water dogs apparently rarely end up in shelters. 3) The previous family and the six-month-old pup were not a good mix. 4) Just fix the problem with money - the Obamas are going to make a donation to the DC Humane Society. Now why does this story make me want to vomit? Why do I think maybe a runty little rescue cross-bred mutt doesn't really quite fit the Obama family image? I know it's not too difficult to find labradoodles and the like on the internet at rescue societies because I looked previously when someone claimed she couldn't find any. (A similar allergy problem to the one Malia has). Why is it all right to harp on about wanting a rescue dog during a presidential campaign and then - pfff once elected - the idea just vanishes? And most of all, why on earth do you think making a donation makes it all right? How many dogs are you guaranteeing to keep alive with that donation? Money buys everything right? We know it does so that's a rhetorical question. Do you not think it would be setting a slightly better example to rescue some unwanted pup from a shelter? No. Obviously not. Oh and to anyone who comes out with the really boring old comment that rescue dogs are difficult to home, and may have behavioural issues but pedigree dogs are just so good because of their lineage blah blah blah - pedigree dogs often have worse health problems (slight problem with the in-breeding) and can be more temperamental than a blue blooded racehorse. Why do you think so many pedigree dogs end up in rescue shelters?

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A newspaper round-up

Sitting in the bus station the other day I picked up a Spanish paper, and as usual depressed myself. It seems young people in Spain, ie those under 30, have one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, 30.4% compared with say 16.2% in the UK. How sad that young people, at the very age when they should be starting and building on their careers, can't even get a job at all. Then of course, I found something about that knowledgeable wise old guy who lives in a posh house in the Vatican City. Yes, dear Pope Ben (aka Joseph) was attracting media attention again. As this was a Sunday paper, it was more of an analytical piece and was focusing on his general ability to make the most crass decisions possible. The paper regarded Ben's asinine comments about condoms as yet another of his out-of-touch policies following two other hugely controversial actions this year. The first was his decision to rehabilitate British bishop Richard Williamson, a breakaway bishop who had been ex-communicated by John Paul II. That in itself is of little interest to those of us who are not gripped by every move of the Catholic Church, but the fact that Williamson denies the Holocaust and the murder of Jews in gas chambers puts a somewhat different light on it. However, it seems, in spite of the offensive nature of Bishop Williamson's obnoxious views, that the unity of the Catholic Church is more important. By legitimising Williamson (and three other ex-communicated bishops), the Pope has not only undermined the actions of his predecessor, but shown his total and utter lack of respect for another religion and the families of all those who were killed in that allegedly mythical holocaust. The second controversy the paper highlighted was ironically, the ex-communication of a Brasilian woman and the medical team who performed an emergency abortion on her nine-year-old daughter who was four months pregnant with twins. The girl became pregnant after allegedly being raped by her stepfather, which police believe had been happening for some years. They also accuse the stepfather of similar crimes against the 14-year-old handicapped older sister. But wait, the most important thing here is the lives of the two unborn foetuses. Never mind that the nine-year-old girl - who has been raped - needed an emergency life-saving operation. Nope we should be putting those unborn innocent little twins first. So the naughty doctors and the naughty mother who consented to the operation have been kicked out of the church. One wonders why the nine-year-old wasn't kicked out too, but I suspect she was too young and probably hadn't been confirmed, or no doubt she would have been ejected unceremoniously from the all-important and oh-so-righteous Catholic Church. Apparently even Lula da Silva praised the medics and criticised the Pope. Quite right, Lula. Oh, what about that unpleasant piece of work - the stepfather? Well, it seems that although he may well have committed a rather nasty crime, it isn't bad enough to get him chucked out of the church. Abortion, as we all know, is a far worse crime than raping your nine-year-old stepdaughter. If there is any justice, when Joseph Ratzinger arrives at the pearly gates, I do hope God sends him down to burn in hell for eternity. Moving on, and back to condoms, in Spain now. Arantxa Quiroga, the new president of the Basque Parliament, featured in an in-depth interview in the paper. Senora Quiroga has four sons, and is a member of the Opus Dei. So it's hardly surprising that she was totally in agreement with the Pope's comments about condoms during his Africa trip, and she's proudly gone on record as saying she would never use one. Very helpful Arantxa. Are you aware that some of your compatriots in Spain can not afford the luxury of having four children? Anyway, the article finished off on a particularly stupid note. Regardless of Senora Quiroga's religious views, it would seem she is a successful politician. So what was the final comment of the article? Apparently she is now wearing heels (tacones). And her friends have noticed that she seems more confident. Naturally that is all a woman needs. It doesn't matter that you may be intelligent, successful, motivated, hard-working, ambitious - just pop on a pair of high heels and the world will be your oyster. I despair.

Saturday, 21 March 2009


Whatever next? How can the control of sandwich content and their sales affect someone's overall diet? Uh? Story here There is more to what anyone eats in their daily life than a sad-looking sandwich bought out of desperation from a hospital vending machine. FWIW I do not buy sandwiches that are made in advance from sliced bread (of any colour) and encased in plastic for hours. I am lucky enough to live in a part of the world where fresh sandwiches are made on request with whatever filling is required - when available obviously. And if there isn't anything I like, I don't buy one. Saying what sandwiches can be provided is dictatorial and paternalistic in the extreme. I do hope, that while considering nutritional standards, meeting people's individual dietary choice is also taken into account. (*Wonders to self if people can still choose their own diet in the UK?*). I mean, that by banning the cheese and tomato sandwich, no doubt there are other vegetarian sandwiches to choose from. Yes? That's always assuming the cheese was vegetarian in the first place. And as for vegan sandwiches? Oh, and what is 'reformed' ham? Has it been naughty but suddenly started to behave itself????

Why get married?

I have written enough about names - it's time to write about getting married. And the truth is I have no idea why I got married. So that's easy isn't it?

I was having a casual chat in a pub with someone I had met two or three months before and we were now living together.

He said, lightheartedly, 'How about we stay together for 20 years and then I get the right to trade you in for a newer model?' I replied in the same vein. And then added hastily, 'You aren't asking me to marry you are you?' Good grief, no of course he wasn't.

An hour later we asked the bartender for a copy of the Sydney telephone directory to look up the Register Office address. I went the next day for the forms. I gave myself the luxury of a cooling-off period.

I went to New Zealand for a couple of weeks (ended up being three) to consider my future. Who gets married on the other side of the world to a guy they met a few months ago? I made my list of pros and cons. There were more cons than pros.

Before I had left for NZ I said he needed to find us a decent flat. When I came back, he had done just that. We got married the next month.

When we returned to the UK, my mother asked why we had got married - especially as I refused to be Mrs Husband's Last Name, and neither of us wanted children. We looked at each other blankly and both said, we didn't know. Fifteen years later she was still asking the same question. We both said we didn't know. A few years before she died, she had stopped asking that unanswerable question. For whatever reason.

I never wanted to get married. I never intended to get married. My mother's life of so-called domestic bliss - cleaning the house, looking after A Man, and bringing up a child - did not strike me as being the height of ambition. Or an appropriate personal goal in life for an intelligent person. I guess - being brought up in a patriarchal society - I didn't want to be rejected either. To end up on that infamous shelf of unwanted goods. So, by saying I didn't want to get married, I wasn't available to buy.

I don't know. Both rationales probably applied. I carefully avoided any relationships that involved 'commitment', got my degree, my professional qualification as a journalist, and then gaily set out on my independent world trip. And met someone nice. I still don't think it matters that we are married or not. It is of no importance to me.

But sadly it is of importance to the society that we live in. I gain respect by being a married woman - well, when people finally discover that we are married - rather than as a person in my own right. Hey! I am valued by a man, so I can't be totally worthless.

And, it opens doors. My partner - as my husband - was able to do things for my mother simply by saying 'I am family, I am her son-in-law.' There were nice tax breaks in the UK for married persons. There still are in Gibraltar. I can also get my health card courtesy of my husband, and my residence card too. Interestingly for the first time in our lives, we have had to produce the marriage certificate to prove that we are married. I don't know if we would have had to do that if we had the same names.

So why did we get married? No idea, as I said to start with. But the sad truth is, that it has made life easier for us. And that is discriminatory against people who choose not to do so, or are unable to do so. Would I do it again if I had to go back 20+ years? With the benefit of hindsight, yes. Just because it makes life easier. There is only such much fighting that we can all do against the system. Sometimes it is easier to fight from within.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Mrs? or Ms, Miss? - yet again......

Oh dear. There is a long way to go.

I read a rather better article elsewhere that of course I didn't save, than this elsewhere. This is so depressing. The caption is so depressing. 'Getting married? What do you call yourself now?'

It is - presumably - addressed to the woman getting married, and includes a photo of a (to me) somewhat gaudy ring with a red heart. I may be wrong. I doubt it. Having got married more than 20 years ago and retained the title of Miss because I wasn't sufficiently thinking to use Ms, I do find this all terribly old hat.

I am really struggling to believe that people find it controversial that married women do not wish to be called Mrs. It seems women are having even more problems than I did 20+ years ago. Partly because everything is computerised and it seems the programmes will only accept that married women can be called Mrs. What about those who use the title of Dr? Huh?

And as for Ann Widdecombe, MP. What a fucking hypocrite. "I can't see the point of Ms and I don't see it as an issue." Well sweetie, just because you can't see the point, doesn't mean there isn't one. There is a point and it is an issue. So stop being so disrespectful to other people's points of view.

She will actually call women Ms if she doesn't know their marital status. How contradictory. If she was being that pernickety perhaps she should use Miss/Mrs. But if she knows they are married she will automatically assume, with her glorious righteousness, that they should be called Mrs.

The point is, Ann, that marital status should not be the way that women are judged, addressed, titled etc etc. Still don't get it? If I say, on very rare occasions, that I am married, and you choose to call me Mrs - you will be totally and utterly wrong. See, I have kept my birth name. So to call me, Mrs MyName is just plain incorrect. As the story in the BBC news example goes - you are referring to my mother. I have not taken my husband's name. Get it yet? So therefore, I can't be Mrs AnyName.

We don't all share your values (such as they are). While you may disrespect the right of a woman to choose her name and her title - surely you don't want to make such an arse of yourself by just getting it wrong all the time. Or maybe you do? Stop trying to impose your views and beliefs on women who choose to fight for their independence.

As for Charles Kidd of Debrett's. "I was brought up to address a married woman as Mrs John Smith, for example." So was I. I've changed my point of view. Shame you haven't.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Condoms? Work of the devil.....

Words fail me. They really do. Well, almost. While travelling around Africa, it seems the epitomy of white, male, monied, powerful, European, misogynistic, conservative, academic, religious privilege has loftily reminded his flock that they should not be using condoms. Pope Benedict does not think that the way ahead against AIDS in Africa (or anywhere else) is to use condoms. What is needed is marital fidelity and sexual abstinence. What world does this man live in? Oh, yes, the one I mentioned above in my second paragraph. One where poverty, disease, survival, and living from day to day, has no place. One in which, he has a grand piano in his papal quarters as apparently (according to Wiki), he is an accomplished pianist, and his favourite composer is Mozart. There is something about this surreal comparison that I find deeply offensive. Pope Ben sits at home, relaxing, playing Mozart on his piano. Twenty two million people in Africa have HIV/AIDS. We all have ideals to aim for. But to expect people to always have sex without contraception, not have sex before or outside marriage, and not use something as fundamental as a condom to protect their health is quite simply crass and unrealistic. Worse. It suggests it is better to contract HIV/AIDS than to use one of those devilish devices - a condom. People have the right to make their own decisions, and not be treated as though they are idiots, by some autocratic head of a patriarchal religion. Education and a sense of self-worth are far more valuable than some antiquated ramblings from on high. It is a shame that the only education the Catholic Church seems to be interested in is that of spreading Catholicism. I don't think I will start on the Pope's views about homosexuality, abortion, and the essential differences between men and women. The Pope may well have done/said some good things. But the bad ones far outweigh the good. And if there is a heaven, he doesn't deserve to be there. In my view. BBC link here

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Getting married - changing your name? Why?

The short blog post would read - there is no need to (change names). But, as this is often one of the continual hot debates in feminist circles - along with 'why get married anyway?' and 'why wear a wedding ring?' - I guess I should write a bit more.

For the record, I've been married for quite some years to the same person, and I didn't change my name on getting married. I have a wedding ring which has not received good use, although as a piece of plain and simple jewellery it is quite nice.

I don't know why we decided to get married - but that's for another post. This is about why I decided to keep my name. Or, why I decided not to change my name. There is a big difference between the two. One is the default, the other is not.

When I was a not-so-weeny cub reporter on my first newspaper I was rather impressed that the two married women on there had kept their birth names. I think they were originally single when they joined the paper, and their reasoning was they thought it would look rather confusing to readers to change their names. I am not sure that was such a plausible reason, but it suited me. A professional name. Maybe that was what it was about, a slight sense of elite snobbishness coming through.

Because what did they do about their personal life? Yes. They were Mrs Husband's Last Name. They were only Miss Individual Person when a byline was called for. Everywhere else they were a subservient shadow. This struck me as being stupid. Especially when the bank, or whoever, rang the office for Miss Single Person, and was then told by Miss Single Person that they were also Mrs Husband's Last Name. They were the same person. How utterly confusing. Far easier not to change your name at all, I thought, to my naive self.

Moving on a few years....... and I had, for some unknown reason, agreed to get married. One of the immediate stipulations was, of course, that I was not intending to change my name. Being cantankerous and argumentative, I suspect I was subconsciously using this as a testing ground to see if I had agreed to spend my life with an ok-ish man. "I'm a journalist you know. It's important to retain my professional name," I added convincingly. My soon-to-be Nigel had no interest in any of that. He had no interest in whether I changed my name or not. There was no discussion, no argument, nothing really. It was a non-issue to him. More on the lines of 'Well, why would you? Who cares?'

We opened joint bank accounts. We argued with staff both in Australia and the UK that I was entitled to retain my birth name. At one point I was told it was not legal. What a load of garbage. I loftily referred to the likes of Elizabeth Taylor. If she didn't need to change her name, why did I? Not saying that I was the equivalent of a world famous Hollywood actress but the principle still applies. If she could do it, so could I.

We won our battles.  Everything we did was in separate names. Oddly enough, in those days we didn't even need to provide the marriage certificates to prove we were married. As we changed jobs and moved around the country and met new people and made new friends, people stopped asking if we were married. The odd few discovered we were, most thought we weren't. In my last job - when I finally left - a few of my colleagues said "But I never knew you were married."

And that's the whole point. Why should anyone know my marital status? Why should it even be relevant to be judged by my relationship to a man? That I have managed to catch one? Vomit. At this point I have to say that I did take pleasure in explaining to people that yes I was married and no I didn't have the same name as my partner. Wow!! Did this take a long time to compute or not? I'm not even sure it did compute, but I still enjoyed going through the whole routine. And seeing the looks of surprise on people's faces as they wondered what on earth was going on.

I should add very quickly, that the pleasure was not in announcing that I was married, but that I was married and Shock! Horror! did not have the same name as my husband. Thus disproving an incontrovertible fact - that all women lose their identify on gaining a man. And, even if for some unfathomable reason I did get married, why should I change my name? There. Is. No. Need. I am not a possession to be passed from my father to my husband.

Ironically, one of the reasons I wanted to retain my birth name was because my sexist misogynist father imbued in me such a sense of pride in his name. I was of his lineage and I was so lucky. But in doing so, he unwittingly started off the makings of a radical feminist. How ironic. My mother was mortified. She was incapable of writing letters to Her Daughter With Her Own Name and Her Daughter's Husband With A Different Name. She must have thought the whole postal service was looking at the letters and judging her terrible daughter for living in sin. I joke not.

In the nearly 20 years that we were married before my mother died, she never addressed an envelope to Ms Daughter and Mr Son-in-Law. Every envelope said the same thing. My first name and his first name eg Jill and John.&

And now, I have a confession. At one point in my life, I did decide to change my image and become a mature woman, maybe I wanted to get my dad out of my hair. So I tried to change my name on one of my bank accounts to that of my partner. Well I have only one thing to say. It was a huge mistake and don't even think of going there. It caused more problems that trying to set up bank accounts in separate names in the first place.

So my dears. All I have to say is, I recommend not doing it - even if you are lumped with your father's name. And if you end up thinking about marrying some guy who does want you to take HIS name. DTMF. He'll be an arse ever after. And there ends my post on changing names. Or not, in my case.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Giving to charity

I do not like being TOLD to give money to charity or being manipulated into feeling embarrassed if I choose not to give. Standing at the supermarket check-out I noticed a bucket with not very much change in it. On the outside there was some blurb about raising money for Childline and Help the Aged (I think). When I opened my purse to get some change out to pay, the cashier helpfully pointed out that I could put my unwanted change in the bucket for charity. My change is not unwanted by any stretch of the imagination. I also think it is very intrusive and rude to comment on the fact that I have a lot of change in my purse and I should be putting it in the charity bucket. Nor could anyone fail to miss the large bucket when they are packing their bags. So why point it out unless to try and shame me into giving? All it did of course, was make me even more determined not to give anything. My charities of choice happen to be: 1 Animal related, usually sanctuaries with a no-kill policy. I've paid annual subscriptions to donkey sanctuaries and others in the UK, and given one-off contributions if I've seen a street collection that I want to support. I used to give regularly to Hunt Sabs when they had a weekly stand on Saturdays. My four dogs have all been rescued, three from shelters, and the current one adopted us when he was living on the streets. I cannot abide cruelty and abuse of animals. They are sentient beings, do not wilfully cause anyone any harm and there is no reason to starve, kick, whip, slash, overwork, and/or torture beautiful animals. 2 I also support charities aimed at helping homeless people - and give to (some) people who are living on the streets in Spain. You get to know the ones who are genuinely homeless, rather than the ones who just blow in for the summer holidays. I can't imagine not having the security and privacy of your own space, however small. At the end of the day, you can close the door and leave the world outside. The guy who ended up dead in the rubbish bin died without dignity. (Story here if you haven't read it before.) 3 I have given - sporadically - to charities aimed at helping older people. There is something about the vulnerability of older people, discarded by society as being of no or little use as they age and who become increasingly unattractive and physically/mentally unwell. Older people are not cute like children, they are not glamorous, they are not even interesting with their boring tales of the past and their superior attitude because they have seen more of life than young ones. Many are lonely - their partner has died, any siblings may have died, or live too far away and have their own lives. Children also have lives elsewhere and rarely visit. That's for those who even have/had children or siblings or partners. There are those on their own who have little contact with the world - a trip to the shops, and then back into their own microcosm as they live from day to day. I think older people can have a very raw deal. In the past I have also given to the RNLI, the British Legion (poppy day), and a number of environmental charities, and historic ones too. Despite not being religious I will give to churches for the maintenance of the buildings. For me, life would be less bearable without the art and beauty that we take for granted as part of daily life. On the rare occasions I buy Christmas cards, I will buy charity ones. If I can't find charity ones I won't buy any. In Spain there was little choice, but I managed to find some cards that supported Medicos del Mundo. What do I consciously avoid? Charities for children. Plenty of people give to those and it is just not a priority for me. Medical research charities. The endless search for mythical supercures strikes me as being a poor use of money. I would rather see money spent on improving quality of life for people living in substandard conditions or with chronic medical problems, rather than providing a so-called cure that may add a couple more years of life. Political parties, religious organisations, gypsies and beggars (ie the ones who actively stick their hands in your face demanding money), any grand-scale organised event whether it is Red Nose Day or PopAThon Event for Africa. None of those have ever had a penny/centimo from me. So there we have it. My choice of charities - those I give to, and those I don't. It is still my choice to make though. And not the choice of the cashier in the supermarket.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Oh no!! Not another 'phone post!!

Except, my life seems to be dominated by telephones and telephone service providers at the moment. So after wondering what had happened to my last Nokia request, I suddenly received yet another mail from them. Good day to you. Kindly follow the steps below: Menu > Settings > Date and Time > Auto -update of date and time > Off I hope the above helps. Do let me know the outcome. Please don't hesitate to contact us again if you have any further questions. Yours sincerely, Evelyn Nokia Service Professional UK & Ireland Team Nokia Care This arrived a mere three weeks after I sent my last, slightly acidic reply. I have decided there are no people in the Nokia Service Centre. There is merely a computer that searchs the emails received, somewhat like a search engine, and then generates the (in) appropriate response. How else can such incompetence be explained?? .................... Oh, and on a totally different theme - the playlist is back at the bottom of the page - but you need to click on it if you want to hear it. This is in deference to those who, like me, don't necessarily like someone else's choice of music.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Yet another telephone rant........

Our latest mobile phones are Nokia. They are not the latest most fashionable state-of-the-art mobile phones by Nokia. They just happen to be the latest, ie most recent ones we have bought.

Just thought I would clear that up before anyone thought I had spent hundreds on a phone that purports to be a camera, a television, a radio, a computer etc etc. And I chose them because Nokia was the least unethical phone I could find available to us here.

So, there I was faffing around with the controls and decided to go for automatic updating of date and time. But when I'd done it, it turned out to be a couple of minutes behind the automatic time on my computer - which has to be correct of course, because it is my beloved Hal Apple laptop. Then I tried to undo it. No, I couldn't change the date and time because it was now automatic. I went through exactly the same steps, and just got a snotty message on screen telling me to stop interfering.

Looked at the nokie online stuff. Nothing of use there, the manual was the same as the one I have. I sighed for the Good Old Days when manuals truly were manuals and actually had some useful information in them. I emailed Nokia support. Naturally I got an automatically-generated unhelpful acknowledgement.

Then I received this: Thank you for contacting Nokia Care. Greetings to you. I hope all is well with you. In response to your email, kindly refer to the steps given below to deactivate the auto update of your Nokia 2680 Slide date and time: Menu > Settings > Date and time > Date (Deactivate the Auto Update) Menu > Settings > Date and time > Time (Deactivate the Auto update) I hope the above helps....

So I emailed back pointing out that I had already tried to do that, but I had not found any option to disable the auto-update and that it didn't come up like that. Then I received a reply (not from the same person): Thank you for contacting Nokia Care. If are unable to activate the auto update of time and date, please ensure 2 things. Firstly, please check if you have followed the steps below: Select Menu > Settings > Date and time. To set the date and time, select Date and time settings. To set the formats for date and time, select Date and time format settings. To set the phone to update the time and date automatically according to the current time zone, select Auto-update of date & time (network service). Secondly, if you are unable to auto-update the time and date automatically, then this feature is not activated by your network operator. Please contact your operator to activate this feature. Have a pleasant day ahead, .... To ensure proper handling, please continue to use the current subject line. Please don't hesitate to contact us again if you have any further questions.

Naturally I emailed back yet again - as invited: I don't think you have understood the problem. I HAVE selected the auto-update option. I now wish to DISABLE it, and can not find how to do it. I can no longer set it manually. It will not let me disable the autoupdate. I want to know how to do that. Thank you. Still waiting for a reply to that one, which was sent more than two weeks ago.

A few points to make: It is not actually my phone, it is my Partner's. But as I am the techy one in the house, I tend to sort computers, televisions, video recorders (in the old days), mobile phones, any programming for thermostats etc etc etc.

Sadly the world does not believe that women are capable of absorbing this amazingly complicated clever stuff into their fluffy little cotton wool head that passes for a brain. So I wrote to Nokia in Nigel's name. I figured if I wrote in my name I would get something on the following lines: 'Do you have the phone switched on?' 'Do you even know how to switch the phone on?' I found it irritating at the time that I chose to use my partner's name but I knew I would lose it if I got a patronising response and I thought it was based on the fact that I was a woman.

As events turned out, I got two useless responses anyway. Sadly I am suspicious about these responses. The English is not what I would use. It sounds on a par with my mediocre Spanish, in that it is not incorrect but it is not normal usage. It just doesn't sound right. Of course I had gone to the same setting to try and reverse it. Dear me. I had looked through every single option on the menu. And as for the second reply....words fail me. Why tell me how to do something when my question is about how to undo it??? Uh??? Why answer a question I hadn't asked?

It seems James and Daniel are Service Professionals from the UK and Ireland team. That doesn't mean they are based there at all though does it? Despite the apparent 'British' or even 'Celtic' names. I really don't give a toss where the online support team is based or what they are called. It would be helpful if a) they could actually provide a solution to the problem and b) read the question and not send a totally ridiculous answer. Maybe the two authors really are called James and Daniel. Whatever they are called, or wherever they are from, they are clearly the on-line equivalent of a telephone call centre and equally as useless.

And why aren't they called Jemima and Daniela for example? Ah, yes, that's right. No credibility because women aren't regarded as sufficiently techy. Now, I find it very hard to believe that in this on-line support centre, there isn't a single woman Service Professional employed, despite the fact that this sort of work is exactly the low-income slave labour job that is carried out by women. But I bet they aren't allowed to send emails in their own name as a woman, and heaven forbid, if it isn't a nice 'British' name. I find it very hard to believe that your online service centre is truly staffed by Jameses and Daniels and other such trendy names.

I should say that in the end I restored it to factory settings, saving all the personal info, and used the usual tweaks to set it back to how I like it. So it's all hunky dory now. Anyway, Nokia, I think you should give ME a job working from home to answer banal questions from technologically incompetent customers, because quite clearly your staff and the crib sheet they follow are just a waste of time.

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