Friday, July 24, 2009

Drunken Ramblings

Well I should be doing some proper writing for The View from Here this evening while the gentlemen of the house are watching Barcelona v Tottenham (which of course means absolute joy for a man and absolute boredom for a woman.)

Why oh why does the football season have to last soooo000000 long? It is bad enough having to endure 22 grown men kicking a ball around a field all year but us ladies also have to put up with Gary Linekar masquerading as a TV presenter and making insightful comments like "That was a good pass" or " He saved that well." Excellent. Truly excellent.

Hmm... I seem to remember Gary saying years ago that he didn't do a lot of headers because of the potential damage to the brain. Now I know why.... when you've only got a few brain cells it's a good idea to preserve them. Oh well at least he's pleasant to look at.

Hmm... well anyway I think Gary said that. On the other hand maybe he didn't.

Perhaps I should point out that I've consumed some rather nice alcohol and some chocolate this evening. This means I am not responsible for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or indeed anything that maybe considered vaguely slanderous.

Hmm... maybe I should say that the lovely Gary is actually extremely knowledgeable about balls, even though he no longer plays with them. Indeed, he also talks balls very well. Like most men. (Except, of course, the discerning male readers of this site who are obviously extremely clever, witty, good looking and super cool dudes)

Right, where was I on this drunken ramble?

Um.... well what do you think of my new page design? Do you like my legs? Do you know, it took me absolutely ages to find those shoes and photograph my legs at that angle.

The things I suffer for my art. Ho hum. In fact, I once also suffered a boyfriend who modelled himself on Bryan Ferry... but God is that a loooong story. All I can say is that I hope he's graduated to Head "n" Shoulders now. Of course, I wasn't really suffering for art then - I was just suffering. That's what happens when your fella grows a moustache, buys a dirty raincoat and mimes Slave to Love in the mirror.

Of course then I married the Good Mr T. Little did I know that he would turn out to model himself on Mrs Beeton.

Still, you can't win 'em all. Although once would be good. Just one big win on the lottery. That's all I'm asking! I'm not greedy; just one teensy weensy win of about 10 million bucks would do. I mean that's not asking much is it? And I promise to give loads away to charity. In fact I'd probably set up my own charity for deprived housewives. Maybe I could sell condiments like Paul Newman? Mrs T's Mayo has a nice ring to it. Although, come to think of it, Mrs T's Tantalizing Truffles has an even better ring to it. Maybe I could become a charitable chocolatier and go around dispensing chocolate to the poor and needy?

Gez, that wine's taking effect. Still, when I say I've got a headache at least it'll be genuine; I'm just absolutely no good at lying. In fact when Mr T noticed the green paint on the back of my car do you think I lied? Do you think I told him someone reversed into me or that my car had been attacked by a horde of marauding 3 year olds wielding green wax crayons? No, no, no! I did what any sensible woman does.

I feigned deafness.

And when the question was repeated I put on that look that says " I have no idea what you are talking about" and diverted the subject onto a male topic. Football.

Excellent subversive tactics; as you can see I neither confirmed or denied that my car was in an altercation with an abysmally parked green gate. Anyway, some people are so selfish leaving their gates hanging around just where they like. There ought to be a law against it.

Right, time to crash out.

And no one split on me about the boyfriend thing. Ta. I don't want to get in trouble.

Ps No one mention the gate thing either.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Music Monday; Seasons in the Sun

So far on Music Mondays, I've always played songs that have brought back happy memories or ones which generally make me feel upbeat. But if you remember from my first Music Monday post I thought my participation in MM would also be an interesting opportunity for me to look back over my life whilst remembering some of the music which has accompanied me along the way. That's why today I thought I'd play a song that I dislike - well perhaps "dislike" is too strong a word - but one which has always made me feel uncomfortable, if not sad. The song is question is Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks.

Seasons in the Sun was a world wide hit in 1974. In the UK it was no 1 in the pop charts for 4 weeks in April of that same year. It's a melancholic song in which a dying man says goodbye to his family and friends; an usual theme for a successful "pop" record. The original music and lyrics were actually written by Jacques Brel (1929 - 1978) a Belgian singer-songwriter, actor and director whose own recordings have sold over 25 million but whose songs have also been covered by artists as diverse as Marc Almond, Westlife, Nirvana and Shirley Bassey. However, in many of these recordings the translators/artists have put their own spin upon the songs. This is very much the case with Seasons in the Sun where Terry Jacks substituted a verse about infidelity for, perhaps, one with even more poignancy.

The original verse by Jacques Brel;

Good-bye, my wife, I loved you well
Good-bye, my wife, I loved you well, you know,
But I'm taking the train for the Good Lord,
I'm taking the train before yours
But you take whatever train you can;
Goodbye, my wife, I'm going to die,
It's hard to die in springtime, you know,
But I'm leaving for the flowers with my eyes closed, my wife,
Because I closed them so often,
I know you will take care of my soul.

The Terry Jacks version;

Goodbye, Michelle, my little one,
You gave me love and helped me find the sun,
And every time that I was down
You would always come around
And get my feet back on the ground;
Goodbye, Michelle, it's hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky,
Now that the spring is in the air,
Whiff of flowers ev'rywhere,
I wish that we could both be there!

As you can see, the lyrics have some strong emotional elements. I was a still a young child when the song was released so perhaps it's surprising that I remember it so well. However, the combination of the soulful lyrics and simplistic music seemed very vivid at the time. They struck a chord with me; one which I found particularly hard to deal with.

The reason for this was my first real exposure to death. My grandmother, who I'd adored, had died in the September of the previous year. It had come as a huge, profound shock to me. Earlier, in the spring of 1973, we'd gone on a wonderful vacation together. It had been incredibly exciting and even though I knew my grandmother had been ill in following months, I thought there would be many more wonderful family holidays. I had no idea she was going to die. Like the innocent child I was, I thought she was going to get better.

So when my father gathered us around the kitchen table, cream buns at the ready, and told us she had died I was absolutely floored. It took me weeks, months, maybe even years, to get over her death. Sometimes I would weep into my pillow at night without anyone knowing. My sadness at her loss was compounded by the fact that I never had the opportunity to say goodbye to her and tell her I loved her. So, as you can imagine, when Seasons in the Sun came out in the spring of 1974 it was almost unbearable for me to listen to and even now, 35 years on, the song still has the power to stir those early, painful, childhood memories.

It is difficult enough dealing with death as an adult but my own childhood experiences have led me to believe that it is essential to prepare children for what awaits them by helping them to understand death and the process of dying. Not only how it might affect them individually, but as part of a family and as part of the wider world. How we are all part of that huge Circle of Life.

With my own children I have talked openly about death, not the unpleasant intimate details which would be too much for little minds, but about illness, ageing and, inevitably, the concept of life after death. I believe it helped to put the loss of 3 of their grandparents last year into perspective and has enabled them to remember them with joy and not with sadness. I hope too that when my time comes, they'll be able to do the same for me.

Well here's Seasons in the Sun. And if you've recently been bereaved you have my sincerest condolences but instead of listening to Terry Jacks I suggest you listen to Kool and the Gang and remember to Celebrate The Good Times.



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Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm at it again!

Yep, I'm in the one of those crazy "let's fiddle about with my blog" phases. I just can't help it, I get bored easily. I know what I want but I can't find it on the net and the thought of having to read all that jargon in order to do it myself makes me feel like dusting the house is actually an easier option.

Anyway, I've temporarily put this piccy up. Who knows how long it will last!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

You Don't Always Need A Name

Yesterday, I as was driving back from one of my many daily outings I was, as usual, listening to the local radio when the DJ played an excerpt from a new Michael Jackson song. As it happens the song is a cover of one of my all time favorite songs A Horse With No Name by the folk rock group America. I can't remember when I first heard this song but as it was recorded back in 1971 I think it must have been a long, long time ago! Nevertheless, despite the years having passed it remains a tune I am always pleased to hear. It's nothing brash or bold but it has a rather addictive, seductive quality.

The excerpt of Michael Jackson's version on the radio sounded very interesting and distinctly "Michael" whilst still retaining the underlying appeal of the original song. I later found a longer excerpt on You Tube in which I could hear the reworking of the song, which has been retitled A Place With No Name, a little better. Unfortunately, I think the excerpt is one short piece just played back-to-back, so I shall look forward to hearing the rest of it in the near future. However, I concluded that what I did hear, I liked. Generally I prefer to listen to songs in their original format but somehow I think I'm also really going to enjoy listening to Michael's version. Anyway, have a listen and see what you think!

And to break with tradition I'm going to dedicate these songs to one of my favourite bloggers The Man With No Name.





"

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Last Day of Freedom!

Yep, today is my last day of freedom as it is the day every mother who still has her marbles hates - the day school breaks up! Is there sunshine? Am I sunbathing in the garden? No, cos there's a thunderstorm and torrential rain. Yep, that's British weather for you - almost as reliable as our transport system.

So, wanting to make the most of my day, I decided to go to the swimming pool this morning and indulge myself in some quality quiet time where I could slip into my fantasy world. Yeah, you know the one folks - the one about men in skimpy undies rescuing me from a shoal of marauding piranhas. But it was not to be because when I got to the pool half of it had been roped of for one of those stomach churning, vomit in throat and heart attack inducing events....

No, not the over 70's swimwear competition but....

The Mother and Toddler session.

Oh my God, all that noise and screeching, and singing. It's unbearable!

" The tails on the fish go swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish..."

NO THEY DON'T! DON'T, DON'T

Look, even the most stupid child knows there are no fish in the pool and anyway most of them have that look of endurance on their faces that says;

"What's this water stuff? I just want to my suck my dummy and pull daddy's beard."

And it ain't gurgles of delight they're making - that noise in the throat is called "partial drowning."

Anyway, I endured 50 minutes of earache and then I could stand no more of that singing. I was ready to throttle all the adults (obviously all first time parents) who haven't yet learnt that they can do the same thing by sticking their kid in the bath at home at no expense and therefore not annoy poor innocent folks like me who have done their duty and now require some quality down time.

And I just want to ask a question. Am I the only one who believes that those water proof swim wear nappies don't work?? Look, it's not that I don't like babies but I've had 3 boys; I've seen what can escape even from a deluxe, bomb proof, shock proof, titanium lined nappy when faced with an explosive bottom.

And it ain't pretty.

And I don't fancy it coming my way when I'm hurtling down the pool trying to outpace Mark Spitz. A mouthful of that stuff or snorting it up my nostrils would be worse than attending another school fete. And that's saying something.

Anyway, there's nothing worse than adults pretending to be children. Or children pretending to be adults ( Remember George Bush? Point proven.) Yep, I can see it now.... all sweetness and light in the swimming pool ...

"La, la, la, splashy splashy. Mummy wummy swimmy wimmy with baby waby, la la la"

But then the true personality emerges later in the car......

"Right go to sleep now you little ****** you've had your swim! I want a kip when we get home because you've selfishly been keeping me up in the night. Anybody would think I was your slave!"

Anyway, just to top it all, I got out the pool and guess what? The jacuzzi isn't working.

I ask you what's a girl gotta do to have some fun?

Write?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane!

Gosh, can you believe it but this year I will be travelling abroad for the first time since 1973!

Of course back then I was barely out of my nappies (ho hum) but I still remember the signifcant points - the rooftop swimming pool, the attractive waiter who kept tickling my feet when he delivered the morning croissants, my little red suitcase (which I've still got), eating soul (the fish) almost every evening, pulling the emergency cord in the bathroom cos I thought it was the light switch and when the air hostess asked my nan if she wanted any toilette water piping up "Pooh, that must stink!"

Yep, the sense of humour hasn't got any better.

Anyway, before I carry on something completely random has just popped into my mind -Apparently Brad Pitt has been dispensing his wisdom on internet dating. Now I don't want to be rude - but I'm a little sceptical that Brad has had a lot of experience in internet dating. Cos his advice is bonkers;

"Everyone lies online. In fact, readers expect you to lie. If you don't, they'll think you make less than you actually do. So the only way to tell the truth is to lie."

( By the way Brad's talking about income - just in case you thought he was talking about flatulence.)

Now, I don't know about you but I smell something funny in the air! Is that some sort of double bluff ? Boy, I'm so confused! Anyway it leaves me with a problem - cos I earn nothing which means I must be hideously unattractive to the opposite sex and I'm just no good at lying even on the net. I mean when have I ever lied to you folks? You know I always tell the truth. ( Okay that's a double bluff which means I'm actually telling a lie but you know it's a lie -so therefore it must be the truth!)

Hmm.... maybe this Brad thing actually works. I think I'm getting the hang of it! Well I think so... So in order for men to find me attractive I have to tell them I look like Demi Moore, have an arse like Jennifer Lopez, legs like Steffi Graf and a sense of humour like Joan Rivers and then they'll believe me right? Right??

Hmm, maybe not the legs then? Perhaps the face?

Maybe on the humor bit then? But funnier?? Oh come on...say "Yes!" I ain't got much else going for me, make an old girl feel happy will you?

Right, where was I? Ah yes, just filling in this internet dating form...

Name; A n g e l i n a J o l i e

Oh alright, I'll finish it later...

By the way before I continue, ( sorry, I've got distracted again) I just want to dispense some advice;

It is not a good idea to paint the gates on your property the colour green. This is because some people will think the gates are actually grass and will reverse into them.

Now make of that what you will. Genuine advice or not?? Leave me a comment - the correct and/ or most funniest answer gets access to my private blog. ( How I caught Brad (by His Balls) by A. Jolie Housewife.)

Right, back to the holiday stuff. Anyway, I'm so excited to be going abroad this year! Especially as yesterday my passport arrived and I was sort of expecting it to be declined. How so? Isn't Mrs T the genuine article? Is she a fake? Is she really Angelina Jolie masquerading as a dowdy downtrodden housewife? Maybe she is neither! Maybe she is actually a completely fabricated ruse by the secret service in order to create mayhem and disorder in the home counties by hatching a plot to raise an army of housewives, march on Westminster, overthrow Gordon Brown and restore order and stability to the country!

Or maybe Mrs T just had a memory problem when she went for her interview?

Maybe Mrs T couldn't remember her mobile telephone number.

Maybe Mrs T couldn't remember her mother's place of birth.

Maybe Mrs T couldn't remember the age of her witness.

Maybe Mrs T confidently replied she had NOT received her documents back but on her return home discovered they had in fact arrived and that her beloved had filed them away without notifying his wife.

And

Maybe Mrs T's teenage son, who was in the next compartment, was confidently forgetting just about everything he ever knew - including how to write his signature.

Hmm. I'm thinking that the folks at the passport office thought it was a double bluff and therefore I must be the genuine Mrs T ! It's the only reason that explains why, as yet, I haven't been carted away by MI5 to one of those dark lonely rooms where hooded men with stockings over their heads torture you with images of iced buns and chocolate eclairs until you surrender all your intimate details.

Damn, foiled again.

Anyway I'm off on my hols but not just yet. You've got to suffer me a few weeks longer! In the meantine I've got some packing to do.

Oh yes, and a bit of form fillling and then I'm off......

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mania and Madness; Living and Dying in the Public Eye

I love Michael Jackson!

Well, no actually I don't.

But I have admired Michael Jackson as an entertainer for many years. He was an extrordinarily gifted performer and few would doubt that he deserved his title as King of Pop. I always turn the radio up when I hear Jacko because the addictive beat of his music is guaranteed to get my feet tapping and put me in a good mood. I'm saddened though at his death which is a huge loss, not only to the music world, but to his family, to those who knew the real Michael Jackson and above all to his three small children. Nevertheless, despite all of his redeeming qualities, I still don't love him.

However, his death has set me thinking about the mania that often accompanies celebrity deaths and indeed, celebrity lives. In a sense, one can understand the out pouring of grief that occurs when someone who has had enormous influence dies, particularly in tragic circumstances. The remarkable phenomenon of the huge numbers of people who turned up at Princess Diana's funeral and who covered the roads with flowers was a spontaneous and moving gesture for a beautiful and warm hearted woman who died long before she had finished making her mark upon the world. Indeed, some might argue it was only fitting for someone who had, like Jacko, lived and died in the public eye.

But I guess while I can put floral tributes and eloquent eulogies down to empathy and respect, I can't help feeling a little uncomfortable when I read that as many as twelve people have committed suicide in the aftermath of Michael Jackson's death. Of course, there may have been other mitigating factors but nevertheless it's a worrying situation when people who are essentially complete strangers to Michael take the loss so personally they feel compelled to take their own lives.

But let me digress for a moment with a little story.

Many years ago I went on a trip organized by our parish church to witness a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II on his first visit to the British Isles. I was still a teenager then and having been raised as a Catholic I often spent time thinking about religion. I suppose in amongst the more obvious dramas of youth I was seeking to understand and assert my own view upon the world. Undoubtedly, I was also curious to see the man who was leader of the Catholic Church and so when the chance came to attend such a momentus occasion, I welcomed it with open arms.

My memories of that day are still quite distinct. As you can imagine, hordes of people (over 350,000) were expected to attend the mass which was to be held in the grounds of Coventry Airport. We travelled through the night and reached our destination in the early hours of the morning. A section of a major highway had been closed to provide the required parking facilities and eventually we were allocated a space amongst hundreds of other coaches. Eager to stretch our legs and join the other pilgrims we disembarked and made our up the side of road towards the airfield.

The road followed the path of several small inclines and as I walked amongst the crowd I could see thousands and thousands of people climbing the hills before me. The dawn was breaking and slithers of red and gold were creeping across the sky. It was how one might sentimentally imagine the parting of the Red Sea or the Exodus of the Israelites. It was beautiful, inspirational and completely unforgettable.

When my companions and I reached the airfield we were allocated a roped off area in which we were to organize ourselves. There was a real sense of expectation and comradeship. All around me people were chatting politely to strangers, dozing in makeshift chairs, lying on blankets or sharing picnics. The time passed slowly but pleasantly but it was not until the sun was high in the sky that the atmosphere began to change and the crowd began to stir as the hour of the pope's arrival approached. The air of excitement grew stronger when he finally appeared and he began to move through the crowds towards the altar.

I think it was at this point that I began to lose that comfortable feeling of being "one of the crowd." Instead, I began to feel like an observer.

Because over the background noise and the excited murmuring I could hear voices crying;

"We love you John Paul! We love you!"

This ebullient behaviour made me feel rather uneasy.

And I felt very much the same way when I was listening to the radio recently. Because what I heard went something like this;

"I love you Michael Jackson! I thought you were immortal, I thought you would live forever!"

Now perhaps these individuals did love the pope and Michael Jackson - because despite my cynicism I believe there are many degrees of love. But I guess there's also a sceptic in me which rises to the surface when I hear such loud vocal declarations. Yes, I know on most occasions "love" is used as an euphemism for "I like it a lot" but when it comes to it as expression of intimacy between two people I guess I'm essentially quite reserved when I think such words are not to be spoken lightly or brandished about. Even back in 1982 when I was still a girl hearing people shout "I love you John Paul!" seemed wholly inappropriate. And as I stood there listening I began to imagine what it might have been like if the pope wasn't the pope but Hitler or Mussolini. I began to wonder too about the causes and effects of mass hysteria.

So with the current furore over Michael Jackson's death uppermost in my mind I can't help but wonder about the suicidal behaviour of some fans. Are their actions done in a moment of temporary madness caused by mass hysteria or has the Cult of Celebrity replaced religion as some kind of belief that some people need to make sense of their lives? Is Tom Cruise now more important than Jesus Christ and Sarah Jessica Parker more important than the Virgin Mary? It seems to me that as people have turned away from traditional religions we have replaced them with new idols; money, materialism and celebrity.

Religion is a sensitive issue and I don't really want to be drawn into a battle of the pros and cons. I will only say that I believe that when religion is adopted by healthy, questioning minds it is force for good. When it is accepted without question, dictated and followed blindly I believe it can be a force for concern. But maybe it is not religion itself which causes harm but the individuals who wish to use it to further their own ends.

But as the western world steers away from the old religions, I grow increasingly concerned at the devotion to the new religions and how they dominate our lives to such an extent that people will now commit suicide when a pop star dies.

Now I'm sure I can't be the only one who is tired of seeing pages of discussion dedicated to what handbag Victoria Beckham is carrying or which fashion designer Paris Hilton favours. Indeed, I have no interest whatsoever, although I'm sure many fashion conscious ladies do. Now that's fine because what Victoria wears or Paris promotes is merely tittle tattle that fills pages of glossy magazines. What concerns me more is the ceaseless prying into celebrities' private lives, the poking around in their rubbish, the cameras in their faces, the outright lies in newspapers. It's unpleasant, undignified and indicative of a society that has no shame.

Now while I'm sure there are celebrities who court attention, I'm sure there are just as many, if not more, that don't. Let's not forget that for many their fame is actually a consequence of their job, perhaps as an actor, musician or indeed politician. But whoever they are when they close their door at night, or go on holiday with their family or dine out with friends it is their basic human right to retain their privacy.

Imagine what it would be like if you were the victim of the unwanted harassment some celebrities endure? Maybe you'd end up pursued by manic press photographers and dead at 37 like Princess Diana or not knowing who the hell you are and dead at 50 like Michael Jackson.

The question is how much are we all guilty of letting these obsessions spiral out of control. Is the media more responsible than the masses or is it ultimately the people who buy tabloid newspapers and magazines like Hello and Okay? There's probably a degree of both but I do feel the press should have more regulation, either by law or self regulation. In the UK the press have shown a little more self control since Diana's death, especially when it comes to reporting of the younger Royals, but when they want to hound someone they still go about it an unpleasant and vitriolic manner. It's no wonder then that some celebrities lash out at photographers when the papers are full of unflattering photos, fictitious stories and just downright rubbish.

But what about the even more excessive attention paid by the press to the bigger celebrities like Michael Jackson? These poor people are built up to be someone almost god like, so important, so influential that at concerts people will stampede over each other to get a better glimpse of their latest idol, stalk them in their homes and pay ridiculous amounts of money to see them in concert. Maybe it's no wonder Michael Jackson was always trying to change his identity. Maybe his facial changes were less to do with issues of race but a bizarre attempt to to hide the man inside from prying eyes. Or perhaps he just went mad with it all. Who knows.


I suppose ultimately I believe it is that unhealthy to put celebrity lives and riches under the microscope to the extent that we currently allow. It's not pleasant for the victim and it also encourages foolish young people to think celebrity is what they should aspire to. You only have to watch reality TV shows to see that many young people are caught up in the Cult of Celebrity. I think it's rather sad when young girls no longer aspire to get a pony or become a nurse but aspire to get silicon implants and become a footballer's wife.

So where will all this madness end? I just don't know and I really don't have any answers. But I suspect that before long they maybe a few more deaths.

In the meantime, I guess it would help if we all remembered that man is mortal, god is immortal and Michael Jackson was probably just a pretty nice guy with a talent for making music.



Sunset photograph courtesy of psoup on Flickr