Wednesday, 30 June 2010

I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Ticket

Being an unreasonable sort of person, I'm genuinely pissed off that many of the comments from people who went to the Cambridge recording of I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue last night weren't even from Cambridge. It's just like, totally not fair. Don't they realise that we don't usually have anything interesting to do around here?

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Comment of the week

I love online commenters, don't you? So much knowledge and they're never ungenerous in sharing it. Sadly, the world wide web has lost a great one on Charlie Brooker's article Jack Bauer is no more because Yonkers had the following removed:

Christ Almighty. We've got children in Gaza dying for lack of basic amenities and people being murdered trying to help them.

We've got a lost population in ZImbabwe slowly being starved to death by a barbaric regime. We've got the whole population of Burma held hostage by murdering tyrants. We've got African children dying by the hundred every day owing to the West's imperialist policies.

And all you can think of is some piece of fictionalised American pap that no-one really gives a shit about. What's important to you Brooker?

Still, it's easy money I suppose.

Yonkers sadly doesn't mention what his or her contribution to resolving the above tragedies might be, preferring to focus instead on Charlie's selfish, lily-livered decision to meet his contractual agreement with the Guardian newspaper and write a humourous column on a completely unrelated subject. Imbecile. Now NOTHING will get done about the world's problems. 

I mean, why did we even give Charlie so called Brooker the Magic Pen of World Peace anyway? He's done literally nothing with it. Give it to Yonkers I say. With that sense of perspective, what could go wrong?  

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Waste, cuts and being poked in two different ends

I am overdue for my smear test. I also needed a blood test and so due to the general pokey feel of both these procedures, decided to make a day of it and book both with a surgery nurse. This wasn't possible however, due to all the nurses who could carry out pokey procedure number 1 being on holiday at the moment. 

Naturally, after being informed of this on the phone, my mind turned to the government's latest mantra of cuts in the public services. The buzz phrase here is 'cutting waste'. But what constitutes waste and what is reasonable leeway? And can whoever is managing these cuts be trusted to know the difference? 

Nobody wants to see their money being pissed away obviously. Having worked in social care, I'm afraid I can think of hundreds of instances of this happening - amounting to thousands of pounds of never to be seen again cash. It won't surprise you to know that most of this foolish squandering was protected by another buzz phrase - company policy. But staff rarely seem to escape unnoticed on account of wages being one of the biggest budgets. 

They tried volunteers, they tried shaving £2.50 of our weekly activities with tenants fund, they tried over-working us to the point of exhaustion in the hope that we would leave. But we stubbornly continued to turn up for work on a daily basis, expecting to get paid. 

But they did have a point in some respects. Occasionally, there was little to do. There were times when I was sat at a bus stop on my way to collect one of my charges and during that time *whispers* I didn't do any work. Sure, I was on-call. I was ready to start barking instructions at agency workers in the case of an emergency. I was willing enough to work. But just couldn't. It was time wasted. But, I would argue, what other options are there? 

What's an empty milk carton if it's not waste? An important question being asked the world over. Alternatives are needed - 'alternatives' being the operative word. Because before it was an empty milk carton, it was an essential vessel for transporting milk from the shop to your home. A obvious point maybe, but have you ever tried carrying milk home by cupping it in your hands? Some things are just necessary. You can spend all day bemoaning a carton's existence but at least you're not crying over spilt milk (haha! No? Oh.)

Slashing staff and their resources may seem like the obvious solution but all too many times you are jeopardising efficiency, undervaluing the positives in what you have and leaving no room to manoeuvre should anything go wrong - and it always will at some point. 

And I lose out on the only chance to be poked in two different ends that I currently have.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Cook To Be Thin

Flicking through the TV channels whilst waiting for my new phone not to arrive, I happened upon 'Cook to be Thin' with Gizzi Erskine. Essentially it's a low-fat 'The Delicious Miss Dahl'. 

I don't for one second believe that they are advocating a dangerously unhealthy diet in their programme but isn't the title a bit much? Aren't they really saying Cook to be Underweight? Cook to Be Skin and Bones? Cook Yourself Into a State of Being Medically At Risk of a Number of Unpleasant Conditions? Because that's what thin really means isn't it? 

I'm sure Cook to be Nice and Slim would have sufficed. 

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Why are you carrying a bag of water?

Today I met my brother and his family for a day's shopping and a bite to eat. Simple enough plan isn't it? What could possible go wrong? The answer being that the plan involved me and therefore, anything. 

In one shop, my sister in law had a lot to achieve. My brother and I whiled away the time loitering. And dripping water onto the floor. This is because a bottle of water had spilt over in my bag - at first unbeknownst to me and then progressively more embarrassingly known to me as it turned into a pool. Eventually a shop assistant came over with a cloth to wipe it up and gave me an unmistakable look of 'why the fuck are you carrying a bag of water'. To which I had no appropriate response, life and experience not having provided me with one to date. 

The English static start

Many people, particularly the English, are down on the English. They believe their day has come and gone and they are no longer the best at anything. These people (including the English) are fools. Because there is one thing that we continue to excel in. The static start. 

What might this be? Imagine a social gathering and someone, for arguments sake let's say they're American, says something disgustingly sentimental, emotionally expressive or just plain wrong. Do we react? Do we address the situation? Do we cause a scene? No! We stand stock still. Our insides knot and lurch with the excruciating pain and discomfort of it all, our minds bolt for the door. But externally we don't move a muscle. 

If you think the genius ends there you're wrong. Because when this happens, miraculously everyone else in the room who's English spots it. Hard to say how as there are no outward signs of it at all. So ladies and gentlemen, all hail the English - the kings and queens of the static start. 

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Russell Kane doing shifts for the NHS

I know next to nothing about Russell Kane, so am not qualified to publicly call him a tool. It is also very possible that he said something off the top of his head without thinking about it. 

There. Having displayed my capacity for clemency, I'm going to ask the same of you because I now have to admit to seeing him on The Wright Stuff this morning (I'm not an avid viewer, honest) and he made a throwaway comment that essentially said that if public sector workers wanted the same wages as private sector workers - go work for the private sector. It was said with a small shrug and a 'get me, I've just cleared that matter up in a heartbeat' smile. Maybe I'm being harsh. Maybe it was wind. 

And maybe he didn't mean that we should have no sympathy for them. Or that public services weren't vital. Or that he had never made good use of them. Maybe in fact he meant that he is the perfect example of the new government's shared responsibility ideals and that he was prepared to man the hospitals, prisons, police stations and sweep the streets on a Sunday morning when he's done. Maybe he was only on the Wright Stuff because it's half-term and our nation's young do not need his usual Tuesday morning maths lesson. 

I'm now cheekily burying another mitigating factor underneath all my sniping and must tell you that he said this in response to the top managers' wages in the public sector rather than the bulk of the workers. But there is still something admirable about eschewing a lot of money for something one considers to be more worthwhile, whatever the level. 

The vast majority of public sector workers that I've ever met automatically assume they will, and always will, get less money as a result of their choice of job. But they still want what everyone else wants - a fair and livable wage and one that reflects their contribution to society. If, and only if, you don't believe that you need their services and won't have need to turn to them for the sake of your comfort, safety or life, then do feel free to shrug at the implications of the enormous pay gap between them and you.