Archive for March, 2012

Riots update

A follow-up to my post about the riots last summer.

The reports I predicted have indeed been written and are now being duly published – with the conclusions I wearily forecast.

As was crystal clear, already, in August:

  • Nobody was really to blame
  • Everyone involved was tragically deprived and pitiable
  • We need to spend more money on educating and assimilating these tragic, deprived persons. And giving them a ‘stake in society’

Just to remind you of the next steps in this very British charade:

1. The sums required to genuinely educate, assimilate and incentivise the pitiable ones to become less, er, pitiable will be found to be so vast that the electorate will refuse to pay

2. The pitiable ones don’t want education and opportunities anyway. They just want the stuff… ergo, we’ll spend a few million quid on youth centres and ‘opportunity’ programmes in our conurbations and a couple of thousand non-jobs to oversee them and the recipients of our (cheap and inadequate) largesse

3. Within 15 years, even that will have dwindled away and the riots will start afresh

Maybe you have to reach your 40s to see and understand these things – it takes a generation and a half for history to start repeating itself before your eyes. How much more depressing must this be for folks in their 70s and 80s, who are seeing the same bullshit lies coming round for the third or fourth time in their lives?

Posted on 28th March 2012
Under: Rants | 2 Comments »

Snitch on your neighbour… not

Three related facts:

1. I have just paid my water bill for 2012: It was £343

2. Brits are being encouraged to snitch on their neighbours for using the hosepipe

3. UK water companies lose 3,300,000,000 litres of water to pipe leaks every single day

Now, as readers of this blog know (because I’m tediously reminding you all the time), I am a big believer in conservation and ecological principles. Not because of any hairy-arsed ideological obsession, but because shepherding scarce resources makes sense. More human beings, getting richer = vanishing resources. Only morons can’t see the obvious implications.

But on this particular topic, today, I’m feeling about as ecologically friendly as Jeremy Clarkson.

Should I witness anyone using their hosepipe after April 1st, I will not be shopping them via the telephone snitch line. I will be applauding them. I may even confer upon them a bunch of flowers and/or a spontaneous kiss.

Why? Because asking me to grass up a stranger for this ‘offence’ is:

  • not British
  • an insult to my intelligence: when water companies are private, and making VAST profits, it is a fucking cheek to limit our water use when they are responsible for the overwhelming majority of water leakage and waste

Just in case you’re reading, Veolia Water (or watching with your infra-red night vision goggles paid for by me): that doesn’t mean I’ll be using the hosepipe myself. As I’ve remarked before, I’m not a revolutionary.

But it does mean this: Fuck You.

Posted on 26th March 2012
Under: Rants | 7 Comments »

Men: Click away now

It’s tough being a man.

Like my female readers (who are no doubt scoffing and/or laughing their arses off at this point), I don’t hear this from men very often.

I hear women, on the other hand, complaining about their lot all the time. All the time. You can’t get through a daily newspaper, a night in front of the TV or a day in the office without hearing the full litany of disadvantages and unfairnesses women endure.

As a result, women have my heartfelt sympathy. Genuinely. Women are the bedrock and sine qua non of civilised society, and without their superhuman efforts we’d all fall apart in minutes. I believe them – wholeheartedly – when they tell me how tough their lives are. I see the evidence every day. And even if I didn’t see it, I’d be reminded of it: women’s voluble conversations on the matter see to that.

Of men’s view of the world, I hear little or nothing. Men fill the airwaves with their views on sex, sport and politics (of the non-gender variety). They dominate the humorous discourse of popular culture.

But of their ‘real’, private thoughts on their lives – their priorities, their place in the world,  their loves, wants, needs, desires, hopes, fears – they are almost entirely silent.

I find this frankly weird, and disconcerting.  I’m a man with plenty of views on the matter. I can’t believe I’m alone. Yet I have never had a meaningful, sincere conversation with another man on this topic. I wouldn’t dare. None of us would. The ‘omerta’ of silence between men is strictly enforced. In conversation with men, anything goes – except anything important and meaningful.

Suicide: a men-only participation sport

If men have little to say, though, they have plenty to act out. You see it all around you in the darker side of male behaviour: anger, bitterness, withdrawal from family and friends, confrontational aggression, destructively competitive behaviour, violent criminality, heavy drinking and drug use, infidelity, despair.

All of which I find troubling, intellectually. If men’s lives are so much easier and better than women’s, how come men are so over-represented in prisons, addiction programmes and  institutions for the homeless? How come suicide is an almost exclusively male sport?

I’m not sure men feel as fortunate as they clearly should.

Take work/life balance, for example. This is a phrase that holds no meaning for most men, whose ‘balance’ is work/work. ‘Life’ isn’t an option, never has been. Earning money is the only meaningful contribution men can make. Hence their work – the only thing they’ve got and can ever have – becomes so hideously important and emblematic for them. I don’t think most men want it that way. But that’s how it is, and always will be.

More money = less happiness

Women counter that men make more money, which is true. But here’s the thing (and it’s a thing anyone sane over 30, of either gender, eventually figures out): Money means nothing. It brings comfort, not happiness. None of the things that matter a damn in life can be bought – or sold. If money is the answer, you’re asking the wrong question.

Perhaps most depressing for men is the tragic mirage of sexual satisfaction. To steal from Oscar Wilde, sex is ‘the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied’. Testosterone, in man-level doses, is the most dangerous and damaging drug of all. It puts sex, for men, at stage centre from the age of 13 until at least age 50. That’s almost 40 years of obsessional sex-seeking that delivers endless disappointment, disillusion, shame and misunderstanding. Not until late in life do most men escape the death-wish pain of their own sex drives… by which time, for many, it has damaged them and their nearest and dearest beyond repair.

I could go on, but I’d hate to infuriate my female readers more than I already have. And I know the men have already clicked the ‘back’ button. That’s what we do when things threaten to get too ‘real’.

Relax, guys: I’ll get back to gardening next post.

Posted on 23rd March 2012
Under: Uncategorized | 8 Comments »

St Patrick’s Day = potato planting

Orla potatoesI am a non-conformist. Not a rebel, note – rebellion’s for idealists and fools – but more a square peg in a round hole. Wherever I am in life, I never seem to fit.

I used to hate this. As a young man, I despaired about it. Young people live in terror of being ‘different’. When you know beyond all doubt that you are a total weirdo, being a 16-year-old is purest shit.

I’ve embraced my outsider status over the years. For good or ill, it’s me. I’m simply not mainstream, and there it is.

On the other hand, I enjoy flirting with convention – and I’m religious about planting my first early potatoes on St Patrick’s Day.

In common with folks up and down the UK, I was digging shit and planting potatoes this weekend – and loving it.

It’s a weekend of promise and optimism, and a job to be savoured. Hurry up, Summer!

Posted on 18th March 2012
Under: Potatoes | 6 Comments »

Slug-eaten strawberries and insanity

I ordered some strawberries today.

This is a big deal. One of my growing mantras has always been: “No soft fruit.” Why? Because it’s a pain in the arse. All that bird protection and slug warfare is depressing.

But here’s the thing: I planted raspberries the year before last, in defiance of my own dictum. And they’ve not been TOO onerous to care for (although it’s true that the bloody birds eat more than I do).

So now I’m thinking: In for a penny, in for a pound. Fuck it. Let’s have four slug-eaten strawberries to show for months of massive effort and arse-ache. Yeah, baby.

Oddly – as you can tell – I feel very jolly about this decision. I shouldn’t, of course. I should be concerned for my mental health.

Perhaps I am, in fact, losing it completely? Is this how madness creeps over you? One slug-eaten strawberry at a time?

Posted on 10th March 2012
Under: Fruit | 9 Comments »