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Friday, 22 May 2009

My body is a temple

In other words there are bits falling off it, damp patches, strange lumps, and hairs sprouting in dark corners. Today, as the sun was shining for about three minutes I got to grips with my St Tropez and slapped it all over my legs. Then I put on a slutty short skirt and spent about ten minutes checking to see if any extra cellulite had grown during the night. The Girl watched me. 'Mummy I've got a hundred friends' she said. Just like a celebrity. Then realising we were late for school I dashed downstairs to find that The Boy's armpit stench had somehow permeated the living room where it hung like a plague miasma, even though he had left half an hour previously.

The Girl and I nipped off to school. They close the gates at 9am like The Shawshank Redemption, so any late parents suffer the shame of having to go in the Back Entrance, proclaiming their tardiness and ineptitude to the school. Only now they don't call it lateness anymore - it's A Lateness Outcome and we have to think of Punctuality Solutions. (Like not spending half the morning checking our arses for cellulite.) I dropped The Girl off at her class and she announced in a clear, keen voice: 'Mummy was late because she spent a lot of time looking at her bottom.'

I was going to buy her some sweets but she can think again. Happy Half Term!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

My Irish grandfather, (pictured left) was orphaned at the age of four. While his sisters were packed off to varying relatives, he and his elder brother were sent to the Christian Brothers. Granda left the Christian Brothers abruptly when he was in his late teens. Nobody could understand why; he was all set for a career as a teacher and everybody knew a boy was very lucky to get such a rounded education with the Christian Brothers. The ungrateful little heathen! And of course granda never spoke of why he left. Who would he talk to? So we never knew whether he witnessed abuse or suffered it himself.

Well it’s all come out now – the whole rotten story. Decades of systematic abuse carried out by nuns and priests, collusion by the State who stood by and let it happen and right at the top of the festering pile of rank hypocrisy, a Pope who lectures us on morality, while his own past demonstrates his own knowledge and deliberate collusion in this ongoing crime.

Back in 1962 - 47 years before this report was dragged kicking and screaming into the light, the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was writing a document called Crimen Solicitationis written in Latin (deliberately so fewer people could understand it). It was an explicit policy to cover up cases of abuse and gave advice how to control the problem. The rape of children was seen as a sin against chastity. Not a gross abuse of power, nor a crime. A sin against chastity. Most importantly, this document stated that anybody who spoke out about abuse was to be threatened with excommunication. Silence and secrecy - the perfect climate in which to hide abusers. Incidentally, for all his care in protecting abusive clery, Ratzinger had no suggestions on how to help the victims. There was nothing about that. Nothing. Even in 2001 when the abuse enquiry was underway, Ratzinger carried on obstructing progress quite deliberately - sending letters to Bishops ordering them to keep allegations secret.

This is the man who is now Pope and supposedly Christ’s representative on Earth.

I honestly don’t know how anyone can continue to be Catholic. And don’t give me the ‘few rotten apples’ malarkey. This was systematic, deliberate abuse carried out by many many ordinary priests and nuns. I blame the officials who for decades ignored the broken bones and malnourished children, the holy catholic mothers who sent their pregnant daughters to these hellholes, the relatives who hustled away the girls who complained of being molested by the parish priest, the nuns who took the babies of these girls and sent them abroad to good catholic families, the boys who were taken from their homes because they were being brought up by a single mother and were therefore in moral danger, and the little girls who worked as slaves in the Magdalene Laundries. And the apologists on all the catholic forums I’ve been visiting who bleat about how probably a lot of the victims made it up. You're all to blame. Shame on you. And shame on the Pope most of all. He is a wicked wicked man.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

CBeebies Opportunity

Thanks to Kim for the heads up on this. CBeebies are looking for half hour television scripts. You have to get them in by July 1st. The shortlisted scripts get mentored and £300 development fee. Try not to spend it all at once. And there doesn't seem to be anything concrete about an actual television commission. But if you do get one, for goodness sake, check the contract, and hang onto the copyright. Sorry - I've suddenly gone all sarcastic. It's just that the BBC are always saying how brilliant children's telly and radio is, and how it really should be nurtured while slashing their budgets at the same time.

No - ignore me. Write a brilliant script and send it to CBeebies. Just hang onto the copyright.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Burn the Working Mothers!

I am really really fucked off. There's yet another article hot on the heels of a BBC programme on working mothers which has once more sparked off a debate on working mothers. Notably the BBC programme is entitled The Trouble With Working Women. Not The Trouble with a 17%and Growing to 20% Pay Gap or The Trouble With a Culture that Seeks to Punish Working Mothers. As usual it's us selfish bints wanting to Have it All.

What is wanting to Have it All exactly? It's bandied around so much but all it seems to mean is a woman who simply wants some sort of existence outside the domestic sphere. And for most of us that means paid work. Most women work not to buy luxuries but to pay bills. One of the most infuriating nonsense that gets spouted about working mothers is that if only we were prepared to give up 'luxury holidays' and 'designer trainers' (anti working mothers are obsessed with this idea that women's salaries pay for expensive footwear) and if we just stayed at home, our children would be happier and so secretly would our partners. Which reminds me. Where the fuck are our boyfriends and husbands? Because whenever this subject comes up, it's a given that the Husbands don't do much round the house. Why should that be? Is it true? Sigh sigh - I have to do everything at home. Is it true that most working women do the vast majority of the domestic work as what - punishment for working outside the home? If this is true - the problem isn't work - it's having a lazy arsed husband.

The woman cited in this programme is is Rosanna Omitowoju, a Cambridge fellow. She has four children, a happy marriage, (maybe for him) a fulfilling full-time job and no outside help. She wakes her children at 7am, gives them breakfast and delivers them to three different schools by bike. “The problem with having it all,” says Raworth in the voiceover, “is you have to do it all every day.”

So where's her bloody husband? Why is it all her problem? If they both work full time why can't they afford a bit of help? And why is the media image of the working mother presented as so relentlessly negative?

This is the problem with working women.
1. The pay gap between women and men is 17% rising to 20%
2. The pay gap between part time women and men is 28%
3. Being a father is about doing your share - not 'helping out' when you feel like it. Why is it accepted with a martyred shrug that a working mother is somehow expected to shoulder the entire domestic burden too?

The trouble is not with working women. The trouble is with a culture which seeks to punish and shame working mothers and distract them from the gross inequality of not paying them the same as a working man.

And one other thing. I'm a working mother and I don't feel guilty about it. And if The Boy wants designer trainers he can save up and buy them himself.

This is why I work (when I'm not ranting)

1. I like to earn my own money so I don't have to go to my husband like a little girl asking for pocket money.
2. Very few people have a job for life now. Having one person bear the full financial burden is a very heavy one. Especially now.
3. What happens if Husband gets ill? Or leaves me? Or dies? How does financial penury make for better parenting?
4. I like working. It makes me feel like me.

Please can someone do a programme on working mothers where mum comes home at the end of the day, and Husband has just put the kids to bed. Mum says: 'Oh I'm so glad you've got the babies to bed babe.' Dad says: 'Well they're my kids too. Oh and I put the washing on.' Mum says: 'Great. Let's get a takeaway and have hot sex on the sofa.' They both have a takeaway and then fall asleep snoring. Now that's what I call positive parenting. And not a jot of guilt in sight.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Waxing as Work Avoidance

I've just rewritten a sitcom for the seventh time and it's sort of getting there, in the way that you stuff a duvet into a duvet case and after much pulling, tugging, shaking and swearing realise that it's sort of ending up with the corners matching but you're getting in a sweat about it and you won't know until you give it all a good shake and let it settle.

I've let it settle because I'm a believer in letting writing marinate a little and then going back to it when you've gained a little perspective. Sadly the perspective is often likely to be a crushing realisation that what you've written needs to be rewritten. So to avoid this pain, I decided to get a good waxing done. It was my birthday yesterday and Husband was in Hong Kong on business (huh - the things he does to avoid getting me a present) - and the children were at school so I nipped off to the local beauty salon.

"I don't know why people make such a fuss about this," I squeaked at the Australian girl who was slapping boiling wax over my tender parts. "Just one quick rip and I'll have all the hair off" she said cheerfully. Then she yanked and waited till I peeled myself off the ceiling. "Do you know you have a hair sticking out your belly button?" No I didn't. "We'll get that little beauty out then!" And she hauled that maverick bit of hair out too while I tried to catch up on all the orange celebrities explaining how the recently deceased Jade was their best friend and brought so much joy into everyone's life. It was difficult as my eyes kept filling up with tears (of pain). "Men don't have to go through this" I moaned. My waxer disagreed. "Oh they do. Some guys come in and they want it all off." What including the back bits? "No - I don't do arseholes" she said. I decided to leave the conversation there. Then I went home feeling very smooth and groomed if a year older, and had a few hours to myself before the children came home. After that a dear friend cooked me steak and chips with proper Bearnaise sauce, and poured the sort of red wine that has an old, slightly grubby aftertaste but in a good way. Just like me really.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Pets for Tea!

Nobody does fake moral outrage like The Sun. Well maybe The Mail but they're infinitely more spiteful about it. The Sun is like a fat, drunken uncle rambling on in a xenophobic yet vaguely amusing manner while The Mail is a lemon lipped mean spirited auntie who hates everyone and writes poison pen letters on her day off.

ANYWAY - the Sun ran a story spluttering in outrage over Pets for Tea. Apparently a primary school which won an award for healthy eating is breeding animals and letting the children help run an organic farm to show children where their meat comes from. Sounds laudable to me. Then one day, the pet piggies disappeared, only to reappear as (gasp!) sausages at 3.25 a pack. One mother has suggested this might be insensitive. Meanwhile the Headmaster cheerfully admits that he ate the back leg of a pig named Ginger for Sunday lunch. And The Sun has turned it into Piggygate.

Personally I think children are far less squeamish than we give them credit for and it's brilliant that more schools are taking children to farms and trying to reconnect between animals and the shrink wrapped meat we pick up in supermarkets. And without being too hippy dippy about it, I wonder why we're so bothered teaching or even exposing children to the idea of death. I remember clearly being in floods of tears while we had out old cat put down, but The Girl stood by quite calmly. No we didn't eat the cat. The Husband is still complaining about back twinges after digging a hole big enough to bury his enormous furry body. And we left a little memorial reading:

Here lies Sydney, the favorite cat. He was old and very very fat.

(The Girl insisted on the second line) And then a few weeks later I overheard her saying to a neighbour: 'We have a cat called Sydney. But he's dead.' One day she'll say that about me, I thought. Or maybe by then I'll be turned into sausages too.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Those Precious Family Moments

I am so lazy that I can't be bothered to go for a wee. Now that's lazy. Told you I was lazy. I will in a minute but first I have to tell you how we're spending our precious Bank Holiday Monday. Woke up and it was raining. Of course it was raining. It's Bank Holiday. Fretted about some work I have to do. Got up and found Husband cooking sausages. Checked to see that neither of our cats Charlie, nor Lola had brought in any more amphibians, like they did again last night. They've got a thing about offering us dead frogs as gifts. Charlie, the ginger one is a bit clumsy and awkward, scrambling up walls, while his would-be prey are always long gone (I swear I've seen squirrels giving him the finger) but Lola, his sister is an absolute stalking, silent killer. She's the feline version of the girl who has ariel fights, whisking through trees in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I know it's an act of cat love but I've made sure her neck bell is extra loud, to try and give the poor little creatures she stalks, a chance to get away.

Lola was getting all frisky and excited, and after a quick check we discovered another frog playing dead behind The Girl's toy box. Carrying out Frog Rescue was particularly annoying because Husband and I were watching Lust/Caution and we were waaaaay past the caution part and onto some majorly fierce sex scenes. 'He'd have to have a nine inch penis to get into that position' said Husband. I digress. We rescued the frog, put it outside and watched the rest of the film. It's brilliant by the way and makes you realise how oddly vanilla and blandy bland most mainstream Hollywood films are. They don't seem to use grown up people and any sex scenes always look like they've been directed for MTV by someone called Chuck who is 35 and wears a backwards baseball cap.

So today we promised The Girl we'd help her ride her bike. Took off the stabilisers and after some shrieking and comedy wobbling, she set off round the park, yelling and cycling. It was one of those seminal moments. Watching your child learn to ride a bike. Something we can look back on as a little glowing moment amidst the rows and boredom and washing up. Possibly excepting the part she ran over Husband's sandalled feet and he shouted "FUCK!" very loudly.

Back home and now The Girl is downstairs watching Husband play Grand Theft Sweary Auto. Yes, not good, but it's quite funny hearing The Girl piping 'You've just crashed that stolen car again daddy' and 'Why did you shooted that man when he didn't do nothing?' rapidly followed by 'You're dead daddy.' Like having a little Jiminy Cricket type conscience rattling away when all you want to do is play a nihilistic computer game set in a morally dead universe. Husband, fed up with her running commentary and wanting to get on with killing people has sent her upstairs to bother me now. She trotted in announcing that 'Daddy has been shot by a big ass pimp.' Followed by the question, 'What's a pimp?' I sent her back to Husband. He plays the game he can explain it.