Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Christians get their turn - and don't quite get it right.

After a splendid few days when our railway stations were displaying on large-lettered posters the slogan "SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY - GET OVER IT!" (posters were paid for by 'Stonewall', this country's foremost and highest-profile national gay organisation), pretty much those very same spaces are now taken up by posters advertising the Christian 'Alpha' course with the question "IS THERE A GOD?" and then a choice of three boxes to tick as though it was a questionnaire - 'YES', 'NO' and 'PROBABLY'. Hmmmm. That seems rather weighted in one direction. Where's the box I would have preferred to tick ? - 'PROBABLY NOT' (ideally with the addition of " if there is one, S/he or It doesn't give a flying f*ck about us!") Or, alternatively, shouldn't the 'PROBABLY' option have been either 'PERHAPS' or, even better, 'MAYBE, MAYBE NOT'?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

BACK POCKET BLUES - A Little Froth in Verse.

Seeing that my good computer-pal 'Idle Eyes' (aka 'Wonderboy', at least to me) put up a poem of his a couple of days back, I'm similarly inspired to post this little effort of mine which was knocked together a few years ago. It might get a wider audience here, perhaps raising a ghost of a smile in the process. It relates to an actual incident in the early 1990s when I lived in the London suburbs and my finances were really rock-bottom - even worse than they are at present. I only escaped a likely dreadful fate by being able to outrun my tormentors, something I doubt I'd be capable of doing now.


Woke up this morning.
Pulled on my Wranglers.
'Golden Brown' on the radio,
that hit by 'The Stranglers'.

The colours weren't right
for those in MY shoes.
Without any cash
life's colours are BLUES.

That bulge on my right hip
don't mean I got plenty.
My wallet's right there,
but it's practically empty!

Appearances can be
so very deceptive.
My wallet's compartments
are sorely defective.

Not even a fiver.
No sign of a ten.
I do have some coins, though,
for moments like when -

I'm asked "Can you lend me
10 pence for one cup of tea?"
"LEND? Yes. But when
will you return it to me?"

A chain on the wallet
connects to my waist.
It shows only where
my wallet is placed.

So don't bother mugging me.
You won't think it funny
when I tell YOU to
"PISS OFF - or show ME the money!"

Saturday, 12 September 2009

New neighbour gets 'stoned' so often he's driving me to drink.

This morning, repeat morning, at o5.10, there was the clear sound of the non-dulcet tones of Mr Jagger - sorry, SIR Michael Jagger - drawling out 'Honky Tonk Woman' coming from below. Luckily this was around the time I get up anyway so I personally didn't suffer too much - but the neighbours? Actually the volume was probably about what one might expect in the daytime, but at that unearthly hour when everything else is near-silent, well.......
He's been ensconced below me for 3 1/2 weeks now - and it's not been a dull time, to put a spuriously fine complexion on it. Every evening at some point there's high-volume sound of his record-playing (he's a great fan of the 'Stones') or TV/radio. When he's got the telly on it's so loud that if I found his channel I could mute my own set and watch it using his sound. And it's not only that - he's constantly talking to himself (or his dog), sometimes yelling - even late into the night. He clearly has a problem with drink but, as far as I can tell, is getting no help over it. He probably doesn't even realise the commotion he's causing. To be fair there are times, lasting a day at most, when he's so quiet that I think he's turned over a new leaf, but then each time so far my hopes have been confounded. He's clearly oblivious or just couldn't care about the disruption to the lives of others. About a week ago I was awoken around 3 a.m. by his hammering - as though he was assembling furniture or something. This went on for about an hour. Then the night before last heard him going out at 11.30 p.m. slamming doors as loud as if it was deliberate. (I normally retire around 9-9.30) He returned half an hour later in same loud fashion, went out again (likewise) and then couple of hours later came back, with the same 'fanfare' of slamming doors. My sleep had been so inadequate that yesterday I tried no less than 5 times to catch up on it, only finally succeeeding with the help of a large Jack Daniels. Not good for my health - and sanity. At least one particular neighbour is also suffering, with her 12-year old daughter using the room directly neighbouring his living room as her temporary bedroom. Neighbour tells me that this guy's every drunken word can be heard from there. (I normally just hear mumblings unless he's really firing on all cylinders, which, admittedly, isn't every day.) She's trying to approach my landlord who seems to be avoiding her. But he knows the situation from me - and doesn't want to get involved. As long as he's not actually breaking up the place, it seems, it's up to me to ask him gently to "keep the noise down". (Quote: "I'm not a social worker!") I don't know if my landlord has ever asked a guy who's frequently sloshed to 'act reasonably'. Being the lily-livered person that I am who just wants a quiet life, I don't want to say anything to him for fear of retaliation not just against me but to my two pussies who are already scared out of their little wits in seeing his huge dog in the garden below, so close - the very spot where they, until he arrived, could doze in the sun undisturbed. So what to do? I'm just hoping that somehow things will move on by themselves, such as him putting a brick through his own window (not mine, please) so that the landlord tells him to move out. Ain't I the coward? Now I've just heard him coming in downstairs, with an ear-cracking door slam. (Great!) Developments will be chronicled.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

An 'M Butterfly' situation - but with a cat.

Took Noodles, my 'tabby' cat, for 'her' first visit to the vet yesterday for a general check-over, as well as getting her started on the course of the vaccinations necessary in order to be able to put 'her' in a cattery when I'm away from home. Yes, 'she' turned out to be a 'he' - and demonstrated in spectacular fashion by squirting a jet of piss onto the young lady examining him. Actually I'd always suspected it was a tom even though his previous owner with two little girls which it had run away from kept describing it as 'she' - it never possessed teats, unlike my other cat, a neutered tom. They'd both left their previous separate homes (on this same road), preferring to live with me. Efforts to return them were all failures as they insisted on moving in here, so the two previous owners just gave up and I was too much of a softie to shut them out. I could never give them up now. They are truly my best friends.
As for the new neighbour in the flat below me - the nightmare goes on unabated. Don't know where to start in describing the present dreadful situation - so for the moment I won't bother. I'm just too depressed about the whole thing to make it feel even worse by putting it down in writing. But I'll get round to it sometime.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

'Liberal' and 'socialist' as terms of abuse in America.

I was very interested to hear an item on our BBC Radio main morning news programme today which said that in America the word 'liberal', which was formerly used as a political insult, now no longer seems to carry the weight it used to, whereas 'socialist', when voiced by the 'right', does still carry the same disparaging clout. (I ought to say that in the UK neither word is used in particularly condemnatory fashion - indeed, even some Conservatives here are proud to declare themselves as 'liberal' on social and/or economic matters! ) The subject came up relating to the sad, but not entirely unexpected, demise of Senator Kennedy - almost universally liked and admired here, I dare venture to say. But it seems that defining him merely as 'liberal' is not pejorative enough for right-wing American commentators and politicians - the word 'socialist' carries more demeaning weight. Actually, to call Kennedy or Obama as 'socialist' or even Obama as being just 'liberal' is almost outside our comprehension here - though, of course, one sees things through the political prism of one's homeland and its history. But if there actually is this change of mood in American right-wing thought, it is something to be welcomed.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

New neighbour and his dog + my latest food fad

Although there hasn't yet been a repetition of that dreadful experience of my new downstairs neighbour's first night there are occasionally still disturbingly loud thumpings and bangings coming from his flat. However last night was also rather disruptive. I was awoken at 1 a.m. by his TV or radio at loud volume - it seemed to be some programme about The Rolling Stones' (a DVD of 'Shine a Light'?). He turned it off about 45 minutes later though I was left wide awake for at least a further hour. I fear that this might turn out to be regular disruptive behaviour on his part. A couple of days ago as I went out, having to pass his flat, his door was left wide open (hardly any furniture, the floor strewn with bits and pieces) his dog came out to greet me, tail wagging, jaw slack in 'smiley' fashion. It's a big, handsome beauty which allowed me to stroke it. But in the four days it's been here I still haven't heard an audible peep from it - certainly no barking and no whining either. I can't help wondering if the poor thing has been 'de-barked'. There's no discernible sign of it being mistreated, thank heavens. When I see him taking it out it holds its head up, tail erect, with no appearance of cowering in his company. And so far my own pussies have successfully managed to avoid it though I suppose a confrontation sometime is inevitable. Anyway I still haven't exchanged a word with the guy though it's only a matter of time before I'll bump into him when I'm going out or returning. So, my apprehension about what the future holds between us is undiminished.
About a week ago I decided I'd really like to take a further step on my road from vegetarianism to veganism, at least while I've still got the time to do it. So I started buying soya milk instead of cows', though I still have to get the latter for my cats - they won't go anywhere near the other. It's taking me some time to get used to it. That caramel-like taste was initially quite off-putting but slightly less so now. I do appreciate how carnivorous humans can be irritated by the presence of or just hearing from veggies/vegans. The latter can seem to be preachy just by their conspicuously different food intake - with a condescending unvoiced air of superiority. But although I hope I'd never try to talk others into changing their own behaviour to accord with mine, my zoophilic conscience has been nagging me all my life and I feel a bit more at ease now that I'm moving in the right direction for me. The question is "Will this soya-milk phase last?" However, getting weaned off eggs (my favourite food of all, together with potatoes, tomatoes and cauliflower) is going to even more problematic. I have been eating only 'free-range' for decades - but, to be truthful, I'm not quite sure why one should deprive oneself of a natural product, when, as far as I can see, as long as the eggs are unfertilised, there has been no animal suffering involved. But no doubt someone will tell me that hens shouldn't be reared just to produce eggs and then be slaughtered at the end of their egg-producing lives. Meantime my conscience in that respect I oh-so-conveniently put on hold.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

New neighbour moved in - could he turn into the neighbour from hell?

Yesterday a guy moved into the flat under me - by himself. So, sadly, it wasn't the possible gay couple I was told it might have been. I've not properly met him yet, only having seen him through the window. He looks to be in his 30s, but nothing in his mien makes me think he might be gay - but, of course, one can never be sure. He was talking to my next-door neighbours quite cordially. Then yesterday evening I was wondering why my two pussies were being so cagey about going in and out of the kitchen back window. I assumed it was just that they'd noticed a stranger, but then to my surprise and alarm saw a fully-grown Alsatian in the back garden. (Not that I personally mind. All animals are my friends.) But that was totally unexpected. Then I retired last night at 9.30, noticing that downstairs was in complete darkness so I assumed he was maybe out walking the dog. Then at 10 o'clock there was the sound of his coming in. The nights have been so sultry that I've been sleeping with all windows open with my bedroom looking out onto back garden. Then I got the smell of his smoking out there - and soon the 'nostalgic' smell of Amsterdam bars - grass being smoked. Although I've never tried it myself - not even smoked a 'normal' cigarette, actually (Ooh! Get her! 'Virgin Lips!' - at least as far as cigarettes are concerned! ;-) ) I've got nothing against cannabis smokers - loads of my past friends smoked it regularly, and I certainly didn't mind then. But with whatever combinations he was inhaling and probably imbibing, at first there was a mumble which grew and grew until his slurred words were discernible. I couldn't decide if he was talking to himself or to his dog - but the language was certainly 'colourful' - 'effing and blinding' loudly. That lasted for about an hour. He then went inside where I heard him bumping around - sounded like he was either knocking things over or falling down himself. For a brief period he had pop music on - loud! - then he went back to stamping and bumping around the flat. I was still awake at 3 a.m. I had to rise at 5.30 to put out the bins for collection. (I had feared I might be subject to a canine attack, having to enter the back garden to get the bins out. But I haven't seen or heard at all any signs of that dog since yesterday afternoon - so I hope he was only temporarily minding it for someone. Should find out today.) So as at this moment I've just got out of bed once again after trying to catch up on missed sleep. I've already heard him stirring about this morning. So I'm full of trepidation how this may turn out. He doesn't seem like the type of guy whom I could trust to care for my pussies if I'm called away. Meantime I'm hoping madly that last night was just an aberration and that he may turn out to be a nice, reliable guy after all - though the signs don't exactly look encouraging.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Thrills on the telly

I'm really in my element watching the current World Athletics championships from Berlin. This competition is second only to the Olympics. Phew! - watching those big, beefy, often hairy, bodies working up a monsoon of sweat as they pump their taut muscles up, down, this way and that, it really gets me so excited. And watching the men is even better!