Saturday, 19 December 2015

The Fail

You asked me why I hate that “newspaper”. The one whose “reputation is so bad it can’t be libelled”. Let’s have a look at its headlines and articles today.

Mother who beat her son to death is given en-suite luxury cell with own key” – in other words, she is now in solitary, unable to use the bathrooms with other inmates, and is in such danger that she is able to lock herself in her cell when normally, in the day time, cells are open for inmates to walk around.

Look how she’s bloomed”  - always with the paedophilic articles about young teenagers who are offspring of the famous or work in Disney or other children’s entertainment, accompanied by numerous photographs with gushing articles about long limbs, flawless skin or other masturbatory commentary.

Dutch learner drivers can now pay for their lessons with SEX” – Their emphasis. So, without reading the article I know that the Netherlands has ratified bartering, putting official guidelines in place to cover a practice that has been is use for thousands of years. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, so can be used to swap services with another business. Reading the article, yes, it makes clear that this law was actually put in place to protect everyone involved, that there are now legal age limits in place for example.

Skipping over the medical articles that cancer is now caused/cured by coffee, wine, exercise, or whatever, there are always articles on whatever other medical outrage has been manufactured. “Wild West Industry Puts Patients AT RISK despite calls for clampdown” – in this case, “rogue” clinics are offering a completely legal cosmetic procedure, botox injections. How dreadful. There may have been calls – by whom? The newspaper? -  to regulate the industry, but until then the procedure is completely legal, and calling the clinics “rogue” or “wild west” insinuates otherwise.

The articles that have been hoovered up from Reddit, Facebook, Buzzfeed et al, generally without attribution are generally rather boring. I read them on the original sites several days ago and they are old news put in place as filler. It is not news-worthy that a little girl has a cute dance during dance class. If my friend puts it on her FB feed, it’s cute and funny and I like it. In my newspaper it is out of place. It’s very interesting that someone on Reddit did the maths and worked out how much Joey owed Chandler, but it certainly isn’t worthy of being placed in a prominent location in my paper above politics and warfare.

Mockery of Justice” – no matter what this article is, if you investigate it will always be about a case that has been dropped by CPS for lack of evidence, or found innocent during trial on a point of law. Whatever the actual case, the point is that our legal system is in place for a reason and therefore it isn’t a “mockery” when that happens.

Flesh-eating disease killing our dogs!” While this is an awful and horrifying disease, please get the statistics in place here. We have 10 million dogs in the UK. Twenty died last year from this awful disease and 4 more have died so far this winter. That’s one in 45,000 or a 0.0002% chance. In other, not so obviously found, news there were 160,000 RSPCA investigations into cruelty last year, at least 10% of those went to trial. Your dog is at more risk of being attacked by a samurai wielding pensioner wearing Hawaiian lei than of catching Alabama Rot.

Refugees taken on £100,000 jollies, and guess who is paying for it?” – Well, it isn’t you, unless you donated to the charity that organises this. Gosh what a bad charity it is too! It looks at these children who have had their homes bombed and families murdered and sisters raped and have been dragged through seas and forests in the dark and cold and it thinks, hey, we should give these kids a bit of fun at a theme park to help counter all the shit they have been through. How terrible. And the charity, as all charities are entitled to, has applied for help once from the lotteries fund; something set up to help all charities, funded by people buying lottery tickets voluntarily. This isn’t your tax money going to help these kids. And let’s be fair, if someone set up a lottery with the same pay-out chances yet who kept all the profits you would STILL buy those tickets to give you that tiny chance of being a millionaire. You don’t give a stuff what happens to the lotteries fund, you are not buying those tickets with the welfare of others in the forefront of your mind.
Tucked way down - way, way down - down where that article about the dancing toddler should be, is an article about a full boat of migrants that drowned. Priorities, eh?

Senseless! Refugees foisted on remote area with high unemployment and poverty”. Dear God. You don’t want to live there, so why do you care that we dump refugees there? The residents have left, looking for employment and education elsewhere. The article itself admits “the blocks of flats where they now live have been associated with ‘problem’ tenants — those with alcohol, drug or social problems”. The article is littered with words like “threatened” “tensions” “forced”. “Eyebrows are raised” over the children using a church hall to play with donated toys, while their parents are outside, smoking - the horror of a parent nipping out for a five minute break with their peers when they know their children are safe, while the evilness of smoking goes without saying.  Naturally, it is pointed out that these spongers have mobile phones, often iPhones, while the poor, downtrodden residents make do with old flip phones. Regardless of the fact that 12 months ago these people lived in nice houses with nice things with possessions paid for by their nice jobs, in areas made safe by their nice taxes. They are dentists and teachers and shop workers, just like you. Believe me, if my country went to hell and I had to run, I would have my phone with me and I’m not going to feel guilty that it’s a smartphone and it manages to keep me up to date with the news, entertain my children and keep me in touch with my family all while sliding safely into a pocket when not in use. Oh, and that “55 year old church-going pensioner” in another article will be called a “layabout sponger”. He isn’t a pensioner when he’s too young to claim a pension, he’s just unemployed, and when it suits them they will absolutely change their direction of bile. Also, my mother has an old android phone that she calls an iPhone, while my grandmother had an old flip-phone that was pressed on her by her younger family with pleas to keep it in case of emergencies. The older generation, with apologies for the stereotype, tend not to be that au fait with technology, so perhaps their flip-phones are more apathy than preference? Oh, and as should never need to be said: the words, “I’m not a racist but” are always indicative of racism and have no place in real journalism.

There are no less than five articles about the same b-list celebrity who had a minor slip when drunk. Five. Who cares? Following that is an article that confuses me as to its point. There are many photos of beautiful women in bikinis. Something, something, instagram? I’m not sure. It’s lite-porn used to distract so no doubt a few articles down is something important. Oh yes. A tiny article about rape victims testifying at the UN, including a sobbing woman given as a teen to a war thug who let his soldiers beat her and use her until she was unconscious. Following that is a huge tree about “naff” Christmas trees, because readers of this paper are so non-U they need etiquette experts with fairly regular columns reminding them not to use the words “serviette” or “pardon” and will blindly follow articles proclaiming that “posh” people only buy from x-store although this isn’t an advert, of course.

I’m not even halfway through the page and I have had enough. I can’t read anymore, it’s too infuriating, so I’m closing the site. Please note that I have not given links, sources or citations for any of this. The newspaper doesn’t and everyone believes them without thought so I expect exactly the same respect. Why, why do people read this and take it as gospel? Information is so easily found these days. Google is literally at your fingertips, yet a newspaper that literally makes articles out of whole cloth (see:  false viral story of drunk Santa crashing sleigh ride), is adept at insinuation and unpleasant innuendo, and has taken over Page 3’s role as a paedophile’s wet dream is one of the most popular in the country? Oh wait. It’s that last one, isn’t it?

Monday, 2 December 2013


There’s a workman in my house, fitting a gas boiler, who just mentioned to me that he knows my daughter, he was the year ahead of her at school. I am now old enough that my kids’ peers are Corgi registered tradesmen.

Babe’s newest rheumatologist (arthritis doc) is twelve. This is a registrar, so the child must have taken A-levels when she was five. It’s okay, I can have the female Doogie Howser treating my child. I’m just having issues thinking that my child’s friends and peers are out there being adults and doing adult jobs.


Thursday, 18 April 2013

Found this on my desktop, no idea when I wrote it.

If you figure once a week, every week for twenty years, it’s over a thousand. Add in a top-up every week, and I have been around that supermarket over two thousand times.
They tell you to write about what you know. This is what I know. I have been to that bloody school five days a week, thirty nine weeks a year for eleven years. Twice a day. That is four and half thousand school runs. I don’t even want to calculate how many runny noses wiped, floors mopped, dog shit picked up, nappies washed, meals prepared, shirts ironed or loos scrubbed. I probably could give it an estimate but I don’t want to.
This is what I know. We still need bloody bread!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Night Of Too Many Stars

This made me cry a little. I am a fan of Katy Perry’s music anyway, but this was so sweet. I have a child with autism and the more awareness that children may not look “wrong”, they aren’t all Rain Man, and they don’t rock in corners but autistic kids still need support and understanding… well the more awareness the better.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Rebelling against the teenager?

I was a nightmare teenager. I drank to excess. I smoked. I took drugs. I went missing. I shoplifted. I dated men who would nowadays be tarred with nasty names for associating with underage girls. I was less of a nightmare than my sisters though, who were both worse than me. Our peers were the same, we all rebelled against society, against the norms, against authority. We saw and went through a lot of bigotry, including arrests based on the colour of skin, on the clothes worn, on mere age. There were few jobs, no minimum wage and no future. There were wars, protests, fear of the Bomb. It was a difficult time but we almost revelled in the difficulty and angst, our excuse to rave, destroy property and upset “them”.

I wasn’t looking forward to my own kids’ teenage years, let me tell you.

I just read an article that has given me pause for thought. It appears that teens nowadays have the lowest rate of smoking, drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs for many years. They are, it seems, rebelling against the very stereotype of teenagers.

I look at my kids and their friends. My daughter tells me that many of them smoke, drink, take drugs. But also, many more of them don’t. Many of them hang out online, have in jokes, references to things that purposefully go over their parents’ heads, who have a whole culture completely unknown to The Olds. They have friends from all over the world thanks to the Internet, who open their eyes to all cultures and make everything the norm. They are almost unshockable over the harsh realities of life and sexuality. They are, on the whole, incredibly liberal with their affections and outlook. They have no inbuilt bigotry based on sexuality and colour. They do have the usual disdain for the parental generation but theirs is based on disapproval of our unhealthy habits and “isms” – sexism, racism, ageism.

Yeah. My teenager disapproves of ME.

It’s disconcerting, let me tell you. They make me second guess myself and the choices I made. Did I think things through, back then, did I make those choices or did I just do what was expected of me and rebel and party and make life so much more difficult than it needed to be? Were we, as teenagers, truly rebelling, or was it any excuse to live life the easy way?

The teenagers of today seem capable of teaching the older generations as much, if not more, than we can teach them. That’s a peculiar position to be in, let me tell you.

Saturday, 4 August 2012


When my children were very little, I told them some little white lies. Silly things, like calling chimneys “cloud-makers”. Today, Babe asked me, where do clouds really come from?

Well… sez I…. the sun heats the water and it evaporates into the air. You can’t see it because it is invisible. Then the air goes up into the sky, all by itself because warm things rise. Then when it gets high enough, it cools down and the water in the air makes clouds. When the clouds get full, they let the water out and it comes down as rain, and the rain goes into the rivers to get sucked up by the sun again…

My daughter looked at me. She looked at a chimney, with it’s very obvious “cloud” of smoke coming out and drifting up into the sky. She consider my story of invisible, levitating, magical water.

“Uh-huh…” she sez, and makes the “are you fecking kidding me?” face:


I don’t think she believes me at all.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

What shape is your kid?

Bear with me on this one. Sandy and I were discussing this the other day. “What shape is Thing Two?” she asked. Eh? People shaped. “No, not physical shape… if you had to describe her as a shape, what shape is she?”

Sandy’s son is apparently a spike shape. He’s very calm and even to outsiders but spends all his time poking and prodding, irritating and digging – for information, for attention, for anything. Her daughter, Flower, is a heart shape. She is pure emotion, wears her heart on her sleeve and sentiment rules her life.

What a concept. People as shapes. Hmmm….

I think Thing One is an isosceles triangle. She has very specific rules, and tries to fit in but there’s occasionally a jarring space where she doesn’t quite gel with society. Once you accept the way she is, then she’s really easy to get along with.

Thing Two is a square. She is incredibly easy to get along with and fits in literally everywhere. Imagine a square turning over… it slowly lifts and rotates on its corner then flomps over all at once… this is how she works. She will hang back and assess things, and once she has got the measure of it she embraces it wholeheartedly.

The Babe is a star. She is everywhere, madly whirring from one thing to another, a finger in every pie, and she’s a bit blind to the pokes and prickles that she may accidentally deal out to those in her way. She meeans well, and she lights up a room, but those sharp edges need blunting and she needs to slow down.

So, what shape would you use to describe your child?