Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Will there ever be a true version of events?

Sitting on my sunbed and wading through the UK papers today, I am struck by the contradictions surrounding the life and death of Michael Jackson.

One paper quotes a "writer" who was "close" to the singer for the past five months, saying that Jackson was an anorectic homosexual pill popper who had a lung condition and could no longer sing and was preparing to mime his way through the O2 concerts.

Another paper quotes the respectable married osteopath and former child actor Mark Lester who was godparent to Blanket and apparently a good enough friend to Jackson to speak to him every week. He claimed when he saw Jackson in March he was fit, lively and looking forward to the O2 gigs. He ate fish and chips and didn´t seem troubled or neurotic.

We also read that around 50 people saw a rehearsal of the show a few days ago and Jackson was apparently at his best, singing with his own voice and dancing like a good ´un.

So who do we believe? It´s going to be increasingly difficult as the weeks go on and the louses/lice start crawling out of the woodwork. Former nannies, former doctors, former chauffeurs. Maybe if we´re lucky, former wives and Elizabeth Taylor.

I can´t say that Michael Jackson ever made much of an impression on me. I was too much a David Bowie fan and I thought he was a bit naff, the white gloves and moonwalking and shrieking. But I did try to get tickets for the O2 gigs and I couldn´t because the Ticketmaster site was down on the first day and after that I lose interest.

What I feel about him now is immense sympathy. A hugely talented boy, he said he was was brutalised by his father and teased by his brothers about his nose, and being so sensitive, it wasn´t water off a duck´s back like it usually is with family teasing. Convinced his childhood had been stolen and never at ease with adults he regressed to a world of children and chimps, and plastic surgery to change the way he looked. His interactions with children probably were quite innocent, although I expect any number of his former "friends" will be emerging to say the opposite, motivated by cash as Jordan Chandler and the others were. He seemed to be a naive and childlike character who hated swearing or raised voices.

It seems this frail, gentle character was mightily conned and abused in a different way by his advisors: lawyers, doctors, quacks, managers. Nobody seemed to give him straight advice and tell him to pull himself together and come off the meds. And now they´re all circling and I fear we will never know the real story.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Greetings from Majorca

Finally figured out how to get "@" on the Spanish keyboard of the hotel PC, which means I can log onto Blogger. Well to be honest J figured it out in 2 secs so I should have asked him sooner (smart ass.)

So here we are in the old people´s home, as we call it: the Hotel Miramar in Port de Pollenca. It´s quite novel to be viewed as a youngster. Being witn an ageing demographic has its advantages: not too many raves or noise at night. But there is an undignified rush to the sunbeds every morning. I tell you, this lot could take on Linford Christie when it comes to getting the towels down at ungodly times of the morning. And they´re all British so no excuses about Germans.

The day is spent sitting in the hotel´s patio area. Sadly, no pool. The brochure painted a picture of a sandy beach, which is true except that it´s more like a marina and the sea is so shallow, with awful weed on the bottom, that swimming is virtually impossible.

In the evening we take it in turns to find a different restaurant. Unfortunately we peaked too soon by selecting the best 2 places early on (our hotel plus Iru). We like to try the Majorcan specialities. There was a real bonus on Tuesday night when we saw Elvis performing at the Hotel Danai. He wasn´t a great Elvis to be honest, he only briefly mimed to some of the songs. He was a comedian and mercilessly teased the audience and drank their drinks, prompting three stumpets with seven euro cocktails to stalk out in high dudgeon and two Germans to escape, the woman snivelling.

As you will see from J´s comment in my last post, we were considering going on the Orange Blossom Trail but I decided against it because of my unsuitable footwear. I´m now mulling over a trip to the Caves of Drac which includes (more interestingly) a trip to the Majorica pearl factory. Talk about "give and take" is so far hitting a stone wall with J who keeps saying I should go on my own. He is not a great one for coach trips and says one cave looks the same as any other, although when pressed couldn´t reveal when he last went to a cave.

Bit of a cloudy start today so will be sitting with the antiques on the verandah with a cappuchino and the papers until the clouds clear.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Y Viva Espagna

We're off to sunny Spain.

Except that the forecast was an alarming "chance of rain" for Saturday and Sunday.

We always holiday in June and have always been lucky with the weather. Fingers crossed.

I find the process of going on holiday so stressful I really need the holiday once I get there. There's a constant cry of "what have you done with the.....?" "Have you seen the....?" in the morning as J starts charging endless numbers of gadgets. There's the cat to capture and transport to the cattery (and this morning she escaped from my clutches and it took me a while to recapture her). Then there's the bins to empty and any perishables to destroy. Long life milk to buy, as I have to have a cup of tea the minute I get home. Roses to dead head, plants to water.

We won't arrive until the early hours and then I will have to get up early because according to Trip Advisor, the hotel's sun bed spot on the beach only has four umbrellas so you have to get up early to bag them (yes I know it's bad but I couldn't tolerate the sun all day. And I did score as "partly German" on a Facebook quiz.)

You may find that a post appears as if by magic while I'm away, but that will be because I've scheduled one. I've been persuaded not to take a laptop with us and J keeps telling me I can use his new HTC smartphone thing (it's like an iPhone) but really, who would use one of those tiny keypads for fun?

Have fun dudes, see you soon!
Y Viva Espagna!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Is there anyone else who doesn't get "Withnail"?

The texts have been flying between Plymouth and London as various members of my family express increduality about the Sunday Times giving away a DVD of "Withnail & I", (along the lines "would anyone want it?") and, I notice today, devoting the front page of the Culture section to "A Messy Masterpiece".

You see, we have all tried to watch - and like - Withnail but we couldn't last beyond 30 minutes. Pretentious old tosh was the general conclusion.

It's not that we don't have a sense of humour. Your middle class lip may now curl when I share with you that we love Monty Python, "Clockwise," "Carry on Camping," "Mrs Doubtfire" and "The Great St Trinians Bank Robbery". The intellectuals among you are probably now sneering about obvious humour and low brow taste. That's as maybe (to quote Python). I take a more robust view which is that Withnail has somehow reached cult status, not because it is bad, (which is irony, and a good thing) but because it's one of those "emperor's new clothes" situations ("ENC").

Thanks to ENC, many movements, genres, artists and writers with only slight talent and frankly boring films have been elevated beyond their feeble status because it makes people feel good to think they "get" something that someone else doesn't.

I have a whole list of what I define as ENC:
1) Goat's cheese
2) Banksy
3) Malcolm Gladwell
4) Martin Amis
5) David Starkey
6) U2
7) Withnail & I
8) Green & Blacks
9) "The Bloomsbury set"
10) Myleene Klass
11) Ralph Lauren
12) Beth Ditto
13) Peaches Geldof
14) Cirque du Soleil

What do you think? Can I expect to see some stout rebuttals and defending of Withnail?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A sip of holy water

I'm skating on thin ice, as J has already said he doesn't want to be a figure of fun in my blog, but I have to recount the story of what happened to the holy water today.

Now his mum Marie, who sadly died a few months ago, gave us a bottle of holy water in January after we were burgled and told me I should sprinkle it in the corners of the house. Being brought up a Methodist, I am not au fait with the doings of holy water, hail Marys or trips to Lourdes, but willing to learn.

Anyway, conscious that the pad was about to be redecorated, I left the HW (in an unprepossessing plastic water bottle) on the window sill, intending to sprinkle it when the smell of new paint was in the air.

I noticed this morning it was missing from the window sill.
There it was, empty, next to J's bottle of vitamin pills.

He had glugged it down with his glucosamine.

He tried to brazen it out at first saying the water had evaporated, but then came clean and was fairly distraught - "who knows what's in that water?".

I was more distraught about Marie's legacy but J then pointed out a couple of drops in the bottle "and there would be no harm in topping it up from the tap, it won't alter the net result". I can see Marie rolling her eyes.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Yasmina to win

I haven't blogged about the Apprentice at all this season because it's become so old hat and formulaic. But allow me to speculate on the winning duel between Yasmina and Kate.

Firstly, imagine trying to manage either of them. Good luck to whoever on Sir Alan's team ends up with that unenviable task.

I don't find either of them particularly endearing and neither of them would be much fun in the office, but at least Yasmina seems to have some fire in her belly. She's already an entrepreneur, having set up a restaurant with her brother.

What I particularly dislike about Kate is the way she chose to highlight how different she is from other women in her CV. She played to the stereotypes that a lot of people have about women in the workplace and tried to put herself on a pedestal as a woman unusual for being unemotional, not whingeing and moaning, etc. She was so unemotional she was quite happy to stitch up the gormless Philip in the boardroom, with whom she is apparently cavorting.

Well I've got news for you Kate but having managed people for over 20 years, women tend to work harder and get on with the job, whereas some men - not all - have a mission to advance by grovelling to senior managers, and lack empathy and intuition.

I've only had two women managers and one of them was the best manager I ever had in terms of mentoring and coaching (Carol Hindes at BT).

Men can be just as emotional as women. They might not cry in the office but they sulk and become petulant. The upshot of all this is that no-one is perfect, although Kate Walsh likes to think she is. So I'm backing Yasmina. It will be a real battle of two iron ladies, and whoever loses will probably lose because she's got the numpties in her team (James, Ben etc). I fear however that Sir Alan will still go for Kate because there will always be doubt in his mind that Yasmina needs his job.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Apathy rules today, ok?

The year I was 18, there were two elections (General and council), and I was so proud and thrilled to put my X on the ballot papers. I even did some canvassing for one of the parties, so newly minted and optimistic was my political confidence.

I have never not voted, a legacy of Mrs Pankhurst (we owe it to her) and a view that if we're lucky enough to live in a democracy, we must exercise our democratic rights.

But I won't be voting today in the European elections. I believe apathy and an appallingly low turn out will send a better signal to Mr Brown and the rest of the crooks (sorry: MPs) than voting for the opportunists who have sprung up calling themselves UK Independents, Monster Raving Loonies or whatever else. Vote for them if you like but they will be toothless and useless.

It's not just MPs' expenses I'm angry about because that's nothing to do with Europe. But the MEPs are getting a somewhat generous 47% pay rise which hasn't had much attention, That seems overly generous, even if they do get paid in euros, when most of us in the private sector have had pay rises of zero.

As for the MPs and their expenses. Words have occasionally failed me. It's the brass neck of the bufton tuftons who say haughtily they haven't done anything wrong, the system allowed these claims. That says nothing about their moral responsibilities. Duck houses, wisteria trimming, non-existent mortgages, bath plugs and charity donations. It would be a comedy if it wasn't so tragic.

I imagine the turnout today will either be derisory (it's usually poor for the European elections anyway) or the Independents will score massive wins. Whatever the country's verdict, it won't come a minute too soon. The Labour MPs who resigned yesterday and today fell on their swords too late. They should have done the decent thing the minute the Telegraph started its revelations. We're all heartily sick of the lot of them, whichever denomination they are. It's time for a fresh start.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Assorted Ramblings and a Horse Feeds Sighting

My regular reader will know that I used to recount my twice or thrice weekly journeys to Swindon and how I amuse myself by a) looking for certain lorries and b) casting the biggest film of all time in alphabetical order, getting extra points for "forgotten" stars (Debra Winger - pictured - Theresa Russell, Sharon Maiden,) and old stars (Olympia Dukasis, Joan Collins etc) and of course aiming to get a good demographic across the age groups.

Set off on Monday, 5.50am, sunny start, felt quite cheerful. Then: a phone call near Slough. "You realise you've forgotten your laptop?" I'd actually sorted out everything I needed for work the night before and laid all the bags near the front door, but somehow I had forgotten that crucial bag.

So I had to turn round at Slough and come home, which meant going through the new M25roadworks again but on the wrong side ("delays until summer 2010." Thanks guys). And by now, at 8.45am, it was too late to set off again because it would take ages.

Yesterday, laptop went in car first, ahead of the all the other stuff - the coffee mug, blueberries, a card for a baby, magazines for the team, sports bag (it goes with me but doesn't necessarily get used).

And as I toodled through those accursed roadworks between junctions 18 and 19, I saw a rare sighting: a Baileys Equine Horse Feeds lorry. Horse nutrition in the bag. It's the same one each time and it traverses the same route as me - M25, M4. But lately I haven't seen it so assumed the driver had a new schedule. Oh joy, the old nags are getting their oats. All is well with the world!

My mind was pleasantly flitting around from one subject to the next:
1) Strawberries getting less popular? (News item). Not surprised if they measured it up to April. Those ghastly out-of-season apologies for strawberries. I don't know what all the fuss is about with strawberries. My berry of choice is the raspberry. Always delicious, even out-of-season. I'm obsessed with raspberries this year having discovered a particular type at Sainsbury's - Tulameen - which is to die for, with a dollop of Greek yoghurt.
2) Need to remember how to do that delegate thing with SAP before my holiday.
3) What will I have for dinner tonight?
4) Will I get to see Mary Queen of Charity Shops tonight or will J inflict Sharpe on me yet again? (The 2nd TV is out of action.)

All heavyweight intellectual stuff as you can see.

Journey passed uneventfully, 2 hours owing to earlier start time, 2.5 hours on the way home. No further sightings of Bailey's, Dentressangle or Wilkinson's. Didn't to see Mary, but Sean Bean wasn't the culprit. It was a dreadful film called "Fool's Gold" with Matthew McConnaughey who is the same in every picture. Avoid that one folks.
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