Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A QUESTION OF FAITH and a tribute to Hitch

 I am one of those sad people who never had 'faith', I'd like to say I gave it my best shot, but my enthusiasm was half assed at most.  I never had an epiphany, I never felt 'holy', I couldn't hear voices, and even when I prayed and prayed, I never got what I wanted. 

Some of you may know that I spent my formative years in a convent, and in the eyes of those dear Sisters of Mercy, my lack of faith was a sign of arrogance and pride that could only be resolved by punishment, prayer and penance.  Strangely, being battered round the head didn't bring on an epiphany, although I often saw stars, I still didn't hear any voices.

I didn't want to spend my life praising and worshipping an unknown entity who had absolute power over my thoughts and actions. The brutal regime of punishment and chores did not teach me to respect authority, it taught me to despise it.  I learned that violence and inhumanity cannot stamp out the human spirit, on the contrary, it leads to a desire for vengeance, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. 

I spent the first 20 years of my adulthood avoiding church and trying out new sins, though I would devote 10 seconds of my falling asleep time to ask the Good Lord for forgiveness, just in case. 

For me enlightenment, came late in life.  As I neared the big 40, I began to question 'is this it? is there nothing more?'.  I became a full time student, I entered a whole new world.  I discovered that everything I had been told, everything I had believed was based on a big fat lie.  There was no turning back. 

God wasn't there to help me.  God was there to help those who ruled me.  He was the ultimate weapon, the final threat, hell and damnation was waiting for those who did not conform.  Work hard and suffer and you will get your reward in heaven.  Don't question authority, don't answer back, if you don't succeed, work harder.  God is watching you always, he knows how you suffer in this life, and he feels for you, but you must be patient.  Steer clear of paths to temptation, and pray for the boss who hasn't given you a raise for 4 years, he knows not what he does.  If someone assaults you, turn the other cheek so they can assault that one too.  It all helps in the hereafter.    

I can't say I really believed in the afterlife.  If there was a hell, I had already been there.  It was in Orpington and it was run by God's vicar on earth and the minions who served him.  Dante's Inferno would be a cakewalk. 

I read Nietzsche, and he made sense.  Why must I, a poor person, wait for my rewards in heaven, when quite obviously all the rich people around me were getting their rewards, here on this earth.  Religion was about controlling the masses.  People like me could earn just enough to live on and any shortfall, would be made up in the next life.   For quite a few centuries now, that obscure little promise of paradise after death has kept the masses working hard and the wages low.  This knowledge combined with a stint selling double glazing, taught me that the answer to every question in life is money.  Even when its a question of faith.

Thank you Christopher Hitchens, today I studied your life and work.  You died too young, but you made a difference. 


Saturday, 26 May 2012


Uniforms definitely spook me.  I have good reason, I was raised a catholic, and spent my most impressionable years in a convent - a stark institution, where the rustle of a nun's habit could turn you into a catatonic life statue with fear.  Priests came above them, but were rarely seen in daylight, and you weren't allowed to look at them directly in the eye.  I think they had a direct line to God Almighty, or did they have to go through the one above them?  I can't remember, it might only be the Pope, and he's probably got a batphone like the President of the USA, where he only has to press a button and thats it.

I really would love to be a fly on the wall when he has these little conflabs with the Good Lord.  How do they start the conversation - maybe, 'ah, wasn't that a terrible thing that happened in Syria, bless them', and then spend a bit of time praising each other and discussing worshippers. 

But, I digress, I just find the idea of everyone dressing up the same, a wee bit sinister.  Ok, in some professions it is helpful, for example, traffic police who stand in the middle of the junctions.  I doubt many of us would stop at the command of a hoody saying 'hey man, let the other dudes through and your turn next'.  Maybe nurses, ok, all hospital staff.  Shit, thats what drinking does to you.  I have got myself into one of those 'what did the romans ever do for us' dilemmas.  Anyway, I still find the idea of a uniform dating site creepy, which is what I was trying to say.    

Friday, 25 May 2012


I am totally pissed as I write this.  I'm not bragging, it was only the one bottle, and I had to mix it with water.  In the old days I could knock back at least three, party til the wee small hours, and still make it to work at approximately 9.00ish.  Albeit, when I rushed out for a fag break, I had to throw up, get as many drags of nicotine as I was able, and grab a greasy bacon sandwich and a tea, two sugars, on the way back.  I now feel the words 'thank heaven for Greggs hot sausage rolls' should be included in the famous song, for we who make it to the office.

I literally cannot drink anymore.  You could say, the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.  Very weak.  I vaguely remember from GCSE biology that the liver rids the body of toxins, and to be honest, my own one has probably had more than its fair share to deal with.  It gives me hell the next day, I do not know whether to blame my lethargy on the booze, the drugs or the weed, or the sheer exhaustion of howling into the wind.  

I shouldn't have to be fighting women of my own age, my own generation, my own class.  I was a kid in the 60's, I lived in Virginia Water, there was a stark contrast between those who owned their properties and those who rented them.  I think that was when the divisions of class hurt me the most.  I hung out with the rich kids, because they were the more articulate, more like me, and I loved the sheer joy in their faces when I taught them how to swear and make mud pies.  I loved the kids like me too, the poor kids, the fun ones, the ones who knew how to enjoy life.  

It wasn't the rich kids or their parents, per se, who turned me into a class warrior.  It was society's perceptions of those friendships.  Our teachers (catholic school) always knew how to segregate the financial donars and those who fitted into the designated catchment areas.  In the 1960's there was no necessity to disguise class prejudice.  

  I learned to accept my 'station' in life at a very early age, but I didn't blame those on the other side of that great big class barrier.  From what I knew, they were one the whole, good eggs, who meant well. 

Albeit, I believe most of my readers come from classes way above mine.  I felt as though I missed out, because my parents were nuts and totally irresponsible.  I was placed into a convent/prison where I encountered living/walking/talking psychopaths on a daily basis.  Those freaky nazis in those old black and white films that mesmerized me as a kid, actually existed.    What a nightmare to find out that they do. 


Thursday, 17 May 2012


I suppose arguments online turn ugly because posters can hide behind an anonymous image that they have created, that may or may not, be based on their real life. 

The chances are that they post as their 'new selves' their avatars, their alternate personality, their cartoon character, the person they want to be. They can abuse those they hate behind the anonymity of their poison pen and the (fake) moral fibre and respectibility of their online personas.  

I don't take the insults personally, I have studied enough psychology to know that they are projecting their own failures, inner fears, etc, onto moi, I almost pity them.  I can't imagine anything worse than that 'fear of being found out'.  I experienced quite a bit of it, during my convent years, and made a vow never to have that horrible feeling again.  Its kind of a mixure between guilt and shame brought on by catholicism. 

It can cause fat old newspaper magnates to throw themselves off yachts and desperate unmarried mothers to stick their heads into the gas oven.  It sort of brings to mind the ethics of Moll Flanders (great gal) on being thrown into Newgate, who wept, not for her crimes, but for being caught.  

I don't think I could write anything anonymously, I can see good reason why some people do, they don't take possession of their words, usually for the 'guilt and shame' reasons aforesaid.  Their screen character is detached from their real world, and heaven forbid their colleagues, or friends should become aware of their anti-social posting and views.

However, rest assured.  I stand by the word 'honour' - it was a particular favourite of a very dear friend of mine.  I respect the unwritten code of anonymity in this cyber world.  I have no interest, nor desire to unmask anyone or restrict their posting.  In some ways I even approve of anonymity, it often allows people to say more than they would, to be more natural.   

As for tearing apart my looks, I have no problem in growing older, I had a ball getting here.  My days of dressing as Catwoman and seducing young lotharios are long gone (well, thats the way I tell it).  I was fortunate to be drop dead gorgeous when I was younger, so happy to step aside for the younger, cleverer and prettier to shine, that is as it should be. I had my days in the sun, and happy to drink wine and sing 'Memory' with old mates and discuss glam rock and Harold Wilson.  



I wonder if those who voted tory are now feeling even a teeny, weeny, bit ashamed and embarrassed that even amputees and cancer sufferers are being forced to work.  Did you really think that tax cuts would apply to all those in work and not just the top 5%?  Do you feel that you have been had? 

Do you feel in pleasure in seeing the poor suffer whilst the super rich are transferring their haul to offshore islands?  Does your need to punish the feckless override your compassion for the genuine?  Do you believe that those in the Jeremy Kyle queues will become God fearing, law abiding citizens if you give them just enough to live on, but not enough to buy fags and white cider.  Note to lawmakers and angry mobs, life doesn't work that way, they will still buy fags and cider, they will go without food, and so will their kids. 

To those who scream, it should be like the old days, no it fecking shouldn't!  Here's the thing, as we grow older, our memories mellow, we begin to reminisce with an inbuilt safety device that colours our past.  Creationists would say its God's way of easing our old age, scientists might say it is the release of a hormone or pheremone (something like that) - nature's way of softening our exit from this world.  Think of every old person you know, and their short term memory will be shot, but they will smile when they think and talk about the past.  If you are over 50, try going 24 hours without saying 'in my day'. 

But I digress, I feel that for most, they do want to stand up and 'no, that wasn't what I mean't at all' (the divine Prufrock), but I have to stand by my beliefs or I will look stupid. 

RELIGION AND ALL THAT JAZZ or Stilll I look to find a reason to believe

I am currently a Buddhist (and anarchist) though not sure if that is an oxymoron.  I am not entirely sure I count as an anarchist as I have not yet defaced any public monuments nor thrown any bricks through Starbucks windows.  The chances now are pretty low to zero, what with my arthritis, though I would love to go to Thetford and write Tom Paine Rocks in bright red ink on his monument.  I think he would like that.   

I use the word current with regard to Buddhism, as I frequently change.  I alternately describe myself as an athiest, an anti-theist, and an agnostic.  I lean towards Buddhism just now, because it has a kindness and humanity that other religions lack.  I have never heard of a war fought in the name of Budhism. 

I once worked in an office where I met a lovely Buddhist lady.  I hardly knew her, she worked in accounts, I, in a difference office, but we would bump into one another making coffee. 

One day she came into my office and handed me a present wrapped in tissue paper.  It was a beautiful butterfly brooch.  I was quite taken aback, as you can imagine, and asked why would she give me, a virtual stranger such a lovely gift.  She answered that she sensed a sadness in me, and wanted to make me smile. 

I chop and change beliefs because I simply do not accept that anything is 'carved in stone' - I am always looking for answers, alternate opinions, different points of view.  Education has shown me how little I do in fact know, and I have no problem whatsoever, in admitting when I am wrong.  On the contrary, I am usually quite grateful to learn something I did not know.  Once the doors to enlightenment are opened, there is no turning back. 

I live my life on emperical evidence, that which I have experienced and seen with my own eyes.  If I encountered someone who could turn water into sparkling pink wine, I would drop to my knees and chant Hail Marys and 'thanks be to God's, til the cows came home, but I struggle to take the word of unstable single men in purple cassocks.  (for reasons that will be clear from my book, lol).

I would never rule out anything - not least the idea of other planets with other life forms.  I believe in science, but of course, that too is challenged daily by new ideas. 

In some ways, I regret having dabbled in Neitzche (sp), in that I am not sure I like taking responsibility for myself.  I no longer have a God (a rock) on which to lay my weary head.  At times I thought my heart would truly break (Dunblane) I had the comfort of going into a church and lighting candles, and it felt as though 'God' or something like that, gave me a metaphorical hug and shouldered some of the weight of my grief. 

I totally get the reasons why people believe, drugs and alcohol give similar relief at times of stress, and tend to be more fun, but I often wonder if they are fooling themselves or if maybe, they can see something that I can't?  There is a fine line between thinking rationally, and joining the loony brigade.  I had a friend who found religion and Alcoholics Anonymous, whose personality changed to 'serial killer in the making' who kept adding the word 'yet' to the end of my every sentence.  It became very vexing.   Had she been alive I would have pointed her out as a possible suspect in the 'old lady who put cat in bin' outrage. 

In many ways, religion is probably the road well travelled, it is the easier road.  The inate need of humanity to turn over all their troubles to a 'higher power'.  An all knowing, all seeing, all forgiving, confessional to an intangible super being, who can bear the weight of their inner turmoil.  Its an instant 'there there' pat on the shoulder, the kiss goodnight, the 'love you lots' at the end of a phonecall.  By the way, not a good idea to say that to your drugdealer. 

Friday, 11 May 2012


I used spend my days arguing online with cantankerous, menopausal old biddies who haven’t got better things to do.  I am of course myself a cantankerous menopausal old biddy wasting time, but I have decided to forgive myself for it.  The days of a priest dropping by unexpectedly and noticing a fag burn on the sofa or the tea stain on the kitchen floor have long gone.  Unfortunately, we catholics still torment ourselves over things like that.  As kids cleanliness is drummed into our heads and even a lobotomy wouldn’t be able to extract it.  Dusty skirting boards or an unmade bed equal a ticket straight to hell.  That terrible shame of  being caught with a layer of dust you could write your name in, or cobwebs hanging from the ceiling, haunts you forever.  Of course, the guilt is easy got rid of.  You simply have to say a couple of Hail Marys and then run round the house with a box of cleaning materials.   I find the boxes that hold bottles are the most convenient as you can carry your wine with you to each room.  By the time you reach the loo, and have to get down on your hands and knees to reach the lower cistern (where does all that dust come from?) you are on your second verse of Honky Tonk Angels and you don’t give a fuck.

Of course this method is not fool proof.  There are some days when you never get beyond the second room, before a) chatting on the phone to your equally sloshed best friend for the next 3 hours, until you get to the point where you confess that you did in fact sleep with her ex, trip over the hoover and inadvertently have a slug of CIF, before having a nap on the landing.   Of course, when this  little memory hits you the next day, you have to begin steps one and two again, this time with the aim of cleaning the bathroom, whilst suppressing the urge to scream ‘what have I done?’ at the top of your voice.  

I know some would say there are good reasons to rotate the cleaning of the rooms, and I see that argument, but I actually find the acoustics for Honky Tonk Angels work best in a bathroom and as the final room, it’s handy if you want to chuck up or cry which of course you will want to do when you remember what you said.  If your house is Semi spotless and you are a catholic, the chances are you are a total alcoholic. 

Sunday, 6 May 2012


All the plans were pretty much in place for the Olympics when Boris first took office.  The bid to stage the Olympics in London was won under a Labour Government and a Mayor devoted to the City's future.  The whinging from the right began on the same day, 'think of the costs', 'we can't afford it', was their begrudged response.  To be fair, Labour did the same to them when they inherited Heseltine's brainchild, the Greenwich Millenium project. 

I was actually thrilled that the Olympics would be held here.  For most of  us, it will be a once in a lifetime experience, a treasured family memory.  Most of all, I thought it would boost industry and offer employment to thousands of local people.  However, I haven't seen much spreading of this sweetness and light, let alone the prosperity.  I don't know anyone who has been able to get a ticket,and the only jobs I see advertised are voluntary ones.  

The first request I saw was a call  for volunteers to manually clean up the streets and river banks. They were trying to appeal to that old 'London, spirit of the Blitz', patriotism and all that.  That may sound fair enough, but why not offer a fair day's work for a fair day's pay?  The Olympics are costing millions, why isn't some of it finding its way down to the local community?  

The latest I hear is Theresa May looking for 400 volunteers to man the ticket/ID stations to prevent terrorists.  Am I the only one who sees the funny side of this?  For a start you can imagine the type likely to turn up for a job that pays them nothing, but might (fingers crossed) offer them a uniform.  Once you have weeded out the obviously psychotic, you are left with stoners who will let anyone in for a bag of 20, and a motley crew of Dads Army Captain Mainwarings and their wives.  

The plan is doomed, not least because the practicality of sifting through thousands of applications, will leave only a few weeks in which to give complete security clearance to 400 unknowns. 

I am dissapointed for Ken Livingstone, I feel he would have included everyone, and the true spirit of the Olympics could have caught on, for him it would have been the culmination of a life's dream, and London at least would have had a cushion against the harsh austerity measures of this government. 

However, I wish Boris well, lets hope he puts on a great show.   

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Nick Clegg had a face that said 'I was beaten by a penguin', and Dave took his ball home, and said he wasn't going to let anyone else play with it, so there. 

It wasn't a good night for the Coalition, as the public got revenge for the unholy pact that handed the reins of power to the tory boy, and the deputy premiership to the leader of a party which hasn't achieved a majority in its own right since the turn of the last century.  

Of course the title of Deputy Prime Minister for Nick Clegg came at a price and thousands of students will remember the betrayal on tuition fees for evermore.  Those who believed he would protect vital services and the beloved NHS also feel betrayed.   Unfortunately for the lib dems payback took place at ground level and the grass root members who have worked so diligently within the community have lost their seats. 

The tories won't accept their own massive losses as the clear signal it is, and austerity will continue, it has to, another term in office is unlikely.  The Prime
Minister and his deputy are vulnerable, Nick knows his party hates him, and Dave knows that the boisterous, popular Boris, will always be waiting in the wings.

Ken Livingstone retired defeated, beaten by spin and apathy.  He knows that under the exhuberant, tousled blonde mop of the jolly good chap that is Boris, lies the steely head and heart of a blue-blooded tory. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

TAKE UP THY BED AND WALK - On a Lighter Noter Part II

I wonder if it is indeed possible to cure diseases with 'mind over matter'.  I have been curious about this for many years.  Approximately 10 years ago, I got psoriasis on the front of my shins.  It was itchy and unsightly during the summer, and I made my mind up, I was not having it!  I had major financial and emotional problems going on at the time, so I growled at it and told it to feck off and get in line.

It seemed to work, the rash would flare up occasionally, but I stood my ground.  Nope, I was not having it and that was that.  I was reading a lot about witchcraft and psychology at the time, and thought, yeh, that will work.  Its like when you watch one of those crazy evangalist church ceremonies, when people all sing and clap, when the  stricken are made to get up out of their wheelchairs and walk again.  I sometimes wonder if the lazy bastards might just have been pulling the wool over everyone's eyes for past 20 years and the greater attention of being a walking miracle was just too tempting? 

However, I am not sure if I should be writing to the Pope just yet, because my googling reveals, that it seems long periods without symptoms are common, and the word 'common' put me right off. 

I never ever used to mention my aches and pains when my mother was alive, mostly because I couldn't get a word in edgeways.   If I phoned to tell her I had a cold, she would tell me she had an ambulance on its way, with a helicopter on standby. 

I am not sure if my recent hypochondria is related to real pain or the fact that I think I am now possessed by the naughty spirit of my mother and I think her 'feck 'em' ideology should be right up there with Descartes' 'I think, therefore I am'.  I am not quite sure what that has to do with the price of chips, but I think 'feck' was the key word, as in 'feck off disease'.  Excema tried creeping up on my fingers once, years ago, and I was having none of that either. 

However, there are indeed many proactive things you can do to prevent arthritis from becoming worse.  Have just had a very interesting conversation with a young vetenary student who has just done a thesis on arthritis in horses.  She was giving me some very useful advice, gentle exercise, vitamins, keep the joints warm, until smartass son asked if the advice came with a shotgun and a tent? 

I have decided to follow her advice nonetheless, but would add, that I had no intention of jumping fences, nor standing in the middle of a field in the rain. 


My shoulder pain has now spread to the other one.  I have already informed my doctor, that she has got it all wrong, I doubt very much I have plain old osteoarthritis, its bound be rheumatoid, lupus, or psoriasis arthritis, and I am going to end up hideously deformed.  Stop chuckling my hidden admirers, lol.

I daren't look up 'will I get a hunchback' and an elongated nose on google, because I don't really want to know the answer.  I already have the cackle.  I can already see a future of shopping online and frightening small children.  I am sort of making a list in my head of the pluses and minuses.   

Far from being ashamed, I am telling everyone, complete strangers, and I am becoming very much acquainted with a lovely pair of old Irish sisters, who love nothing better than having a natter and a fag, and go on about the terrible pain that comes with it.  We always end up giggling. 

Arthritis, has its pluses.  It is great for getting out of making a cup of tea and it is a card you can pull at any opportune moment.  Telling people, you are too  damm drunk, or off your head, never illicits much sympthy.  Whereas, arthritis can be googled by anyone and the accompanying pain is proven.  I should have asked for a copy of the x-ray, to be produced when I want to suggest a take-a-way.  Being a drama queen has its downside.

I am definitely becoming more and more like my mother (still think I am possessed),and loving the excuse to boss people around, can't reach, don't feel like it, etc, can all be directly attributed to it.  I strongly suspected she had me pushing her around in a wheelchair for the hell of it.  It was a whole power trip, and she was loving it, she even called me Jeeves, and would keep her walking stick handy, in case any mere mortals in Morrisons, didn't make way for her.  Have you ever tried to manoevre a wheelchair with a trolley attached through a crowded supermarket while said invalid is sitting comfortably, chuckling her head off, and shouting 'I want that one, I want that one' whilst waiving a walking aid as a dangerous weapon.  I always expected to be pounced upon by a swat team of swarthy he-men dressed in black, whenever we went shopping.  Or the swat team may have been part of another daydream, but lets not go there...........   its 1.15am

Alas, it is only a dream, what with my arthritis!  I would be OK with a guy who was good company, but couldn't be doing with all that 'how's your father' and definitely no more ironing shirts for anyone who is not a blood relative.  I also have a proviso, that says, 'former revolutionaries preferred, and if they look and sound a bit like Antonio Banderas, can play the banjo and enjoys discussing politics.  In the event of none of the above applying, no objection to smoking will do.  I may have a future where I will have to be filmed from behind a screen, and past the watershed.  I can't afford to be too choosy.  On the plus side, I could let Disney know I will shortly be available for 'witch' parts, with minimum make up required.  I really must stop googling diseases.    

I actually had a friend fall asleep on me the other night, but I carried on talking regardless.  My son was giggling away, and said I was like one of those strange people at parties who carry on talking to the comatose.  Cheeky Sod!  He said I bet you won't put that in your blog!  Best say, nite, nite,  


I was always a rebellious child.  I think I was miffed that my brother was only 11 months older than me.  We used to fight a lot.  I was also peeved that boys got to do all the exciting stuff, and girls had to make aprons in needlework, and learn how to cook food for invalids.  I didn't particularly want to play football, I much preferred pretty dresses, but I could fight as well as any boy, and I was a much better reader.  My mother even persuaded the local boy-scout leader to allow me to dress up as a cub and join for a couple of weeks on the grounds that 'no-one would ever hear the end of it'.  It worked.  To be fair, I never did get the hang of tying a reef knot, but I got me own scarf and toggle! 

I feel that a point was made, and I always pointed out the one month where my brother and I were the exact same age, and I was immoveable on that one.  My Irish relatives used to say 'she's got the divil in her, that one' or 'she's always been bold'.  I always needed a cause, an injustice to highlight, but there were so many and there was so little I could do.  The thoughts of it all, drove me demented, I tormented myself for not taking my secretarial skills out to some desperate corner of the world, for never having the money to support any good causes, nor time to donate.  The thought of it all, drove me demented, I wanted to do so much, but to be honest, I am not very good anything.  And believe me, I've tried pretty much everything from selling double glazing to teaching in an inner city college. 

There is no way of writing this tonight, without sounding cheesey, for which apologies.  Tomorrow is an important day.  It is a day to remember everything all of our predecessors, fought so hard for.  Some have family memories of the time before the NHS, and some can smile at the thought of their lost loved ones, and the generations before, are looking down are beaming down as we their are sat comfortably with laptops and dental care.