Sunday, 28 August 2011


I spend the weekend chopping back the ivy that is engulfing Dad's ugly old shed.

"Your mum used to like that ivy," he says reproachfully, "because it hid the shed."

"Have you ever considered it wasn't so much that she liked the ivy, but that she just didn't like the shed?" I say. "Have you ever considered she might've just wanted a new shed?"

He is silent.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Simply Because It Always Cheers Me Up

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the ever-wonderful De La Soul.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Letters And Numbers

School. It was someplace I was legally compelled to go, where I could hang out with my friends and learn lots of new swear words.

Education? Well, I learned about Greek gods, and Romeo and Juliet, and logarithms and stuff, and promptly forgot it all the moment I walked out of the exam room.

There were science lessons, where we learned the teacher could not control a group of adolescent girls, and maths lessons where I learned I could not do maths. PE was for finding out I was entirely average at sport. History was something about the Treaty of Versailles, but I never could remember what. Geography was mind-crushingly dull, thanks to the tortoise-paced, antediluvian teacher who failed to summon up any enthusiasm whatsoever about any topic she covered, and who kept calling me by my sister's name.

(My sister had left the school six years earlier, and we don't even look that much alike.)

The lack of context for the things they were trying to stuff inside my head rendered it all utterly meaningless, and me ignorant and unwilling. The only things I liked - English, drama, art - weren't 'useful' subjects. I was terrified by the thought of university, and refused to consider it. This meant, with my grammar school credentials, I was destined for a career in a bank or the civil service.

My sole meeting with the school Careers Advisor went like this:

Me - 'You're going to tell me to work in a bank or in the civil service. I don't want to work in a bank or the civil service. I don't want to work in an office. I want to work in a theatre. I hate routine.'

Careers Advisor - 'All jobs have routine. Have you thought about working in a building society?'

Manual labour, apprenticeships, even the local polytechnic, were for lesser folk apparently: the thickies from the wrong part of town with poor - or no (the horror) - qualifications. Then somebody told me I wasn't good enough for art college*. I was crushed. What meagre interest I'd had in education was lost. And anyway there were, shockingly, 3 million unemployed. As a rudderless 18-year-old so shy I couldn't speak to adults without blushing, not good at anything in particular, hopelessly unprepared for life, what was the point in trying?

I did a lot of bunking off. I read, I drew, I went for bike rides and found orchards to sun myself in. Sometimes I'd persuade a willing mate to hop on the train to Margate with me and spend the day at the funfair. I listened to music and dreamed. The net result of seven years at grammar school? Not very much. Subjects and grades, if you're interested:

O Level:
English Language - A
Greek Literature in Translation - A
English Literature - B
Art - B
French - B
Maths - C
Physics/Chemistry - C
History - D
Geography - D

A Level:
English - C
Classical Civilisations - C
Art - E

I never even finished Tess of the D'Urbervilles. Or Emma. Like my man Charlton, I relied on Brodie's Notes. And the art exam - paint a view of a cornfield out of a window? For fuck's sake. Shove it up your arse.

July 1985 came around eventually; it took a long time coming. My testimonial said "Weasel has the potential to do well" and it took me years to work out it wasn't a compliment. I left school without a backwards glance, vowed never to step through the gates again, got my A Level results through the post the following month, shrugged, went on a riotous holiday to The Cotswolds with five schoolfriends, came home and signed on the dole.

I lucked my first job (Christmas retail assistant, H Samuels) a few months later, and quickly discovered life was more about what you did and how you got on with people than the qualifications you had.

So, school was bollocks, and the only useful things I learned (like how to cook, how to type, how to drive, how to book a plane ticket, how to worm your way to the front at a concert, how to try, how to roll with the punches) I learned under my own steam when I finally grew up.

And of course, when I grew up, I started to understand the value of education.

* Fuck you, fuckers - I finally went in 2004 and I was plenty good enough

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

To The Woman In The Pink T-Shirt

...down at the river this afternoon, who witnessed a woman (me) trying to block her ears with her fingers while pushing an old man in a wheelchair, then, when that proved impossible, silently screaming the words "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP" at the back of his head, while he chattered on happily oblivious to what was happening behind him - I apologise.

You looked absolutely disgusted.

But please don't judge me. It was the 'how Roland Garros invented deflector plates' story AGAIN, and you were actually watching me disintegrate.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Things My Dad Says

When taking his morning medicines:

[before swallowing pills] "One, two, three O'Leary."

[before using inhaler] "Two, six, nine, twenty seven, forty five."

When asked what he wants for lunch:

"Oh, I'm really not hungry. I hadn't even thought about lunch."

When asked if he'd like this (eg, a sandwich), or that (eg, scrambled eggs on toast) for lunch:

"I'm a civil servant; I can't make decisions."

When presented with lunch:

"Oh, luvv-er-leee."


"Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy."


"Cor, would you look at that? Scrumm-eeeee."




"I feel sorry for all the crowned heads of Europe. They only have caviar and quails eggs to dine on. But I have this."

When asked if he'd like anything else to eat:

"Oh no thank you. Enough is as good as a feast."

When asked what he'd like for dinner:

"Oh, I'm really not hungry. I hadn't even thought about dinner."

When presented with dinner:

"Oh, luvv-er-leee."


"Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy."


"Cor, would you look at that? Scrumm-eeeee."




"I feel sorry for all the crowned heads of Europe. They only have caviar and quails eggs to dine on. But I have this."

When asked if he'd like anything else to eat:

"Oh no thank you. Enough is as good as a feast."

When taking his evening medicines:

[before swallowing pills] "One, two, three O'Leary."

[before using inhaler] "Two, six, nine, twenty seven, forty five."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Then there are the trips to the RSPB reserve.

On seeing a swan, he says:

"The silver swan who, living, had no note,
When death approached, unlocked her silent throat,
Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
Thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:
'Farewell, all joys! O death, come close mine eyes;
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

On seeing a rabbit, we get a song:

"Run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run,
Don't give the farmer his fun fun fun.
He'll get by without his rabbit pie,
So run rabbit, run rabbit, run run run."

When it's time to go home, it's The Walrus and The Carpenter:

"'O oysters,' said the Carpenter,
'You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none -
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

(This can sometimes prompt the entire poem.)

There are particular monologues about a hare, avocets, larks and pheasants too, if they're seen.

If we drive down a certain road to get to the RSPB reserve, this will always prompt the bee eater story.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I could go on.

I hear the same things, said the same way, day in day out.

My father consists of nothing more than an empty collection of parroted phrases.

But here's the thing. Unless he's had it forever, it's not dementia. He has been reciting the same facts, the same poems, the same bits of books and plays, the same selection of dreary sayings and anecdotes, to anyone who will listen, in lieu of conversation, for as long as I can remember.

Is this Aspergers?

It has to be something.

Friday, 19 August 2011


"How did these gouges get in the frying pan?" I ask Dad.

"What gouges?" he says.

"These very deep, very numerous gouges, which have gone right through the non-stick bit and into the metal," I say.

I tilt the frying pan so he can get a better view. It looks like it's been savaged by lions.

He shrugs.

"It was one of those women who come here to clean, I suppose," he says.

"One of...?"

I stop. His comprehensive idiocy has been getting to me lately and this utterance could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Deep breath now. Control, Weez, control.

"One of WHAT women? There is me, and there is Vera the cleaning lady, and Vera wouldn't be cleaning the pan anyway, and if she did she wouldn't scratch it like this - "

I brandish the pan.

" - and if she did scratch it, even slightly, she would say because that's what kind of person she is and I know for a fact it wasn't me who did it so one of WHAT 'women who come here to clean' exactly? One of what mythical army?"

I realise I am shouting.

He looks nonplussed.

"Oh, yes, well, now I think about it I am just wondering that myself," he says.

Wonder on, Dad. Perhaps one of those non-existent women cleaned it with Occam's Razor.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The HM Government E-Petition Website Is Strangely Fascinating

Oh yes it is.

There are nearly 5,000 active petitions on it; go take a look.

One can't help but notice that more than 1,300 e-petitions have only one signature. Get some friends, people.

There is also a frightening number of folk demanding the obliteration of their fellow earthlings.

The 'rejected' section is absorbing. Gems include a worried soul concerned about the Mercedes senstronic braking system, someone wanting a tractor (and possibly caravan?) ban on the A17, and several heartfelt pleas to remove Gary Neville from Sky Sports.

But my favourite one has to be this, not just for the concept and the carefree spelling, but also for the reason for rejection:

isle of wigth to be maked a prison iland

Responsible department: Ministry of Justice

please join to help stop over crowding in our prisons and make the isle of wigth a big prison

This e-petition has been rejected with the following reason given:

There is already an e-petition about this issue.

Monday, 15 August 2011

My Million Pound Experiment

Over at Steve's place a few years back they ran a positive thinking experiment, trying to manifest $1,000,000.

'No harm in that,' I thought.

And so on Wednesday 27 July 2011, I started my own experiment.

So far I have manifested a whopping £6.35, mostly off the floor in Tesco but this morning by finding a surprise £2 coin down the back of my own sofa.

It wasn't mine - my income's £55 a week, I would've missed it - ergo, it was almost certainly planted by angels.


Only £999,993.65 left to go!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


Ah, see that queue.

It makes one proud to be British, what?

(Pic courtesy of

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Saturday Night

My Lovely Sister emailed me earlier, saying she hoped I wasn't feeling too sad about being home on my own.

I had to tell her the truth.

(Websites I've got open at present, not including -
“send a postcard and receive a postcard back from a random person somewhere in the world!” - open at chapter one of Joseph Conrad's
Heart of Darkness

Google - search on "patricia highsmith interview"

Google - search on "perverse abuser"

YouTube - Eddie Izzard 'Dressed To Kill' clips - now I know what I want to be when I grow up - on Jerusalem syndrome, Paris syndrome, and hikikomori - all about the rather amusing (if you haven't got it) affliction of koro - an article called Expressions of Haan in the Voice of Korea

The Wiki entries on evil eye, taijin kyofusho, Hutterites, and Les Dawson

I'm absolutely loving it.

(I read a whole book today too.)

Thursday, 4 August 2011

When The Going Gets Tough...

...the tough blitz the half price stationery sale at Tesco (not THAT Tesco).

Ha! Who needs boyfriends when you have a brightly coloured filing system; when there is a kitten wearing a crown?