Today’s free offer: a female slave and cashback too

My short-lived addiction to browsing religious blogs has been cured. I hope.

On the other hand, I’m rather drawn to some of the atheist ones.

Visiting (briefly) the religious ones, I was very impressed with the way all the atheists seemed to be able to quote Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Joshua, Noah, or whatever all these books are called. Chapter and individual verse without a doubt.

Then, to my horror, yes more shock horror, as it seems to accompany anything to do with religion, I realised the reason a lot of these people write so strongly about religion, or rather atheism, is because they were in fact brainwashed educated in their early youth to believe in fairyland. Sad. Very sad.

So, this is an acknowledgement to those former religious people who have had the courage to chuck it, it can’t have been easy. Hence they have all worried about burning in hell.

Me, and most of my readers, don’t write about it because it doesn’t impact on our lives. I can’t imagine that sort of fear. And total control.

I can’t argue the interpretation of Genesis 1.20 or whatever. (My bibles are not with me so I can’t quote accurately but nor would I be interested in doing so).

To me, I can’t see the value of using something I don’t believe in, to argue a point with someone who won’t change their opinion or belief.

It’s a question of logic, not in a philosophical sense, perhaps common sense would be a better description.

So my feeble comments on any of these religious sites, is merely to say, this doesn’t hold water, or it is unreasonable or disrespectful to other people. Why is life not as simple as that?

Which brings me to what I really want to write about.

violetwisp wrote an interesting post about christian women submitting to their husbands and doing what they are told.

Because, you know, your husband knows best. Well, no he doesn’t, so that is silly in the extreme. (I should add violet’s post was not endorsing that crazy ideology).

Let me give you an example.

We have a Land Rover. Well, we have three of them actually, but I’m just talking about one for now.

The hand brake, which is actually a transmission brake, needs to be sorted. I sit on the pavement with the manual while he does the mechanics under the vehicle. When repairing Land Rovers the theory is to put it back the same way you took something out.

I was not happy with this. The manual differed from the way the transmission brake had been cobbled together.

‘No,’ I said, very clearly. ‘This is what you do. This is what the manual says (RTFM), this is what I am saying, so this is how you do it.’

This is what is called an equal relationship where we both use our skills, experience and knowledge appropriately. He did what I said.

The transmission brake worked much better after that.

Would an idiotic submissive woman have said: ‘Oh yes darling, that’s the right way to do it.’ ?? When the manual clearly said differently??

Or would she have been inside on domestic slave duty? Rather than sitting on the pavement reading the Series III manual?

What about domestic slaves?

Well, as we all know, women are objects to purchase and sell.

Purchase in the case of prostitution (as are men too, but I’m guessing without doing any statistical research here, that there are far more female prostitutes than male ones). And after all, sex trafficking is the new slavery is it not? Women, forever destined to be slaves of some type or other.

Selling, as in giving your daughter away in marriage. In fact, women are so worthless, that you not only have to give them away, you have to pay to give them away by providing a dowry.

They are an object to pass around from one man to another. Hence, they change their name on change of ownership. That’s why they wear rings, to denote that they are owned by someone.

Is this too difficult to understand?

Even today, we perpetuate the past. How many of you out there have a wife, or are a wife and have taken your husband’s name, and wear a wedding ring? Without even thinking of the symbolism.

A woman left on the shelf is a woman who is undesirable. Not worthy of a man so therefore not worthy in society. It still applies today.

But if you don’t believe me, let’s have a look at an excellent example of blatant misogyny:

Here is a great post from Vishal Baroo:

A real shocker is Shri Abu Azmi-ji who tells us that girls having sexual relationship outside marriage should be hanged and let us quote seignor Azmi, “Under Islam, rape is punishable… any woman if, whether married or unmarried, goes along with a man, with or without her consent, should be hanged. Both should be hanged. It shouldn’t be allowed even if a woman goes by consent.” 

Ooof. What does that say about the status of objects women?

Mmmm, kill a woman for having consensual sex. Er, why?

And for those of us who think the Christian right wing evangelicals don’t impact on our life? Wrong. Here’s a link from neuronotes that she sent me via comments, please read the link, but here are a few tasters:

The conservative preacher, a taciturn figure with a crown of white hair on his balding dome, and a stern, lined face, delivered a searing message. “Sexually twisted people will rape animals,” Green thundered. “Sexual abnormalities,” including homosexuality, he said, citing Leviticus, are “a deep cancerous tumor in the entire society.”

After years of isolation from the world, America’s Christian right began, roughly a decade ago, to engage internationally. It started with the United Nations, which Christian conservatives feared would establish progressive international norms on reproductive rights, gay rights, cloning, and other issues.

Very, very worrying.

My reproductive rights are of no issue. However I do wish for other women to have control over their own bodies. Rather than the religious right to control them and subject women to yet more control and treat them as no more than a consumable to buy off the shelf. Or to take as part of a property deal. Or however else macho society and the big three patriarchal religions choose to deal with women. We’re still just pawns in a very large game that we aren’t even playing.

Please people, do not say there is equality between men and women. There will never be equality while these attitudes persist and while people unwittingly support them.

Posted in feminism, WPlongform, writing | Tagged , | 87 Comments

Lies, damned lies, and ‘The Bible’

Sadly I have wasted far too much time reading some religious blogs of late.

Given that I am not religious, I have no exposure to crusading missionaries and religious zealots in my day-to-day life.

And while I am not easily shocked, I have been quite horrified to read how obsessive and deluded some of these people are. If they had their own way, they would impose religious law in any Christian country (and the rest of the world if they could beat Islam, for example) and civil rights would go out of the window.

Christian religious thought police would be monitoring our every movement, and in 1984 style, that would include inside our homes.

There would be no sex before marriage, no living together, homosexual relationships would be banned, eg the rulings in India and Nigeria have already led the way on that one. (It’s also illegal in other countries but I wanted to focus on the recent regressive rulings).

There would be no contraception because the only sex allowed is within marriage, and it is for the sole purpose of having children. Heaven forbid anyone would want to enjoy sex for its own sake. Obviously abortions go out of the window.

Instead of saying: ‘Do you fancy a shag/fuck?’ one would say, ‘Darling, shall we do our duty to try and procreate?’

Either, one would have a house full of screaming kids or, an extremely meagre sex life. Which, is probably the idea, because sins of the flesh are wicked anyway as I understand it. Women of course, would not be allowed to go to work or receive higher education (if any education at all, apart from the teachings of God). They’d be spending all their time at home with their brood and taking on the role for which they were designed by the Omnipotent, as a breeder and home-maker.

Men would go to work. Goodness knows how families would live, because no doubt a percentage of that income would go to the church anyway. Nearly 20 years ago, friends of ours in Newcastle occasionally went to a Methodist Church, probably on Christmas Eve. But despite their infrequent attendance at the church or chapel or whatever it was, they still had to fork out £50 a month to contribute to church funds.

Children would be educated according to the correct Christian education. As part of my enlightenment during these past few weeks, I have also discovered some people who have chucked religion, after being brought up with it from an early age. Even after rejecting their indoctrination/brainwashing religious education, they still worried for ages about burning in hell.

I mean really, who can believe that when you die, you go to hell? A big fiery core at the centre of the earth full of little imps and devils with tridents taunting the sinning Christians. And then there will be the rest of us: the atheists, the agnostics, and all the other religions under the sun. As it’s eternal damnation, there will every single sinner who has been down there from day one. It’s going to be bloody overcrowded.

Here is an interesting blog about Christian fundamentalism in the UK, from someone who has chucked it.

If you haven’t heard about ACE – Accelerated Christian Education – it is alive and well in the UK. And scary.

I read on another website that it is vital to indoctrinate kids as early as possible with the True Word. Apparently if you don’t get kids when they are young ie before 18, you’ve missed your chance to brainwash them. More scariness.

Let’s look at some of the garbage these people spout. I’ll simplify it and certainly can’t be arsed to provide the scriptural references that abound all over the place. If there are lies, damned lies and statistics, there are lies, damned lies and ‘The Bible’. You can interpret statistics and the bible as you choose. There is no difference.

Most of the debates I have been reading centre around gay marriage and homosexuality. This is unnatural because God created men and women to have children. So because a pair of men together can’t have children, they shouldn’t marry. Now that would be fine if all the loving Christians in the world stuck to that within their own community, but when they want to impose their skewed view of the world on the rest of us, that is not fine. At all.

Homosexuality varies from being described as unnatural, a malady, sick, sinful and goodness knows what else, but it seems it wasn’t in God’s blueprint when he created the world in seven days. Anyway, as they can’t procreate they shouldn’t get married.

Well, I had no intention of procreating either, but I got married. Even worse, it was in a register office. Does that mean my marriage has no legal standing? What about people who are infertile? Are they a flaw that slipped through the Creator’s supreme plan? Are they unnatural, sick and sinful? Have they done something in a previous life that ensures they end up being unable to reproduce? Should all our marriages be annulled if we don’t have children?

Much is made of the fact that sodomy is condemned by God. My computer dictionary defines it as anal or oral intercourse. My hard copy dictionary defines it as anal intercourse or sex with animals. Wiki supports all of those definitions and then goes on to add any non-procreative sexual activity. So for our happy little perfect heterosexual couple, who were virgins before they married, that means no masturbation, no oral sex and no anal sex. Vanilla sex rules OK? Why is what two consenting adults do, that causes no harm to anyone else, of interest to me? It isn’t. Nor should it be of interest to anyone else either.

Discrimination leaks out of every pore of these hypocrites who want to impose their so-called ‘values’ on me. Preaching tolerance and love does not equate to confusing church and state, denying people equality and civil rights, and sticking your nose into someone else’s life to inflict your unbelievably misguided opinion on them.

However, I confess to being totally incapable of arguing with these people. I have an inherent problem in that I think they are stupid. The only ones who aren’t stupid are the ones who use religion for power and profit, in which case they are evil rather than stupid.

I do though, admire the ones who have the stamina to keep challenging these narrow-minded, intolerant and frightening people: Ark, Clare, John Zande, Pink and Violetwisp (links to some of their posts at the end). I also admire the witty and incisive comments made by Ark and Pink on the religious discussion blogs, probably because if I had the energy they are the sort that I would make. Clare, John and Violet are incredibly polite – although I’m not sure the fundies think that – in their discussion. Either way, they have the courage and take the time to challenge these would-be oppressive dictators. Me, I’m just a by-stander bemused at it all.

Summary

To me, it is all very simple. I am not interested in any type of Christian religion (or any other). I think it is a crutch for people who are incapable of taking responsibility for their own lives. I also think it is a load of fictitious twaddle.

More insidiously, it is all about power, control and fear. And discrimination. And discipline. And most definitely brainwashing. It is grossly intolerant and does not respect the rights of an individual.

The idea that an individual can make up his or her mind about what is right or wrong and choose their own code of ethics is anathema to these control freaks. It is insulting to my intelligence that I can’t choose what to believe, or determine my own life and make my own choices and my own mistakes.

I also dislike the suggestion that people are being influenced by gay activists, or that everyone who supports gay marriage is a gay activist. Why shouldn’t another person have the same rights as me? Gay marriage isn’t about giving people ‘special’ rights, it’s about bringing a minority group that continues to be discriminated against, to the same level as other people. I don’t need to be a gay activist to support that principle.

Whether people want to have sex before marriage, live together without marrying, marry someone of the same sex, choose to have children or not, is the business of the people in question. And if people wish to have polygamous consensual sexual relationships (ie open ones) that is also up to them.

I do not want to Walk in Love with these religious nuts on the path to Jesus. Most of all, I particularly do not want them to waste their time praying for my soul and for me to find Jesus and repent. Go and do something useful with your time. Pray for me to find the pot of gold under the rainbow. I’d appreciate that far more.

Here is Ark on the changing role of religion in society:

http://attaleuntold.wordpress.com/2013/08/27/religion-where-is-it-headed-what-is-the-goal/

Clare, looking at gay marriage and homonormativity

http://clareflourish.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/homonormativity/

I didn’t know where to start with John, so here’s his blog :D

http://thesuperstitiousnakedape.wordpress.com/

Pink, on anti-gay campaigning methods:

http://pinkagendist.wordpress.com/2014/04/03/internet-shills-beware-of-the-fake-debate-what-to-keep-in-mind-before-engaging-with-anti-gay-rhetoric/

Violet, talking about parenting and whether or not gay couples make good parents:

http://violetwisp.wordpress.com/2014/01/30/how-safe-are-our-children/

I’ve not given the links to any of the religious blogs, you can find them from browsing around the above links. I don’t recommend it though unless you have a desire to put off the washing-up.

Edited to add a couple of links I forgot

Here is a sadly not unusual case about alleged child abuse and rape in a religious home for ‘wayward’ youth.

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/04/to_new_bethany_and_back_one_wo.html

And here, is the delicious Burt Lancaster as Elmer Gantry, the salesman who sold religion. This film says so much, so eloquently.

Posted in blogging, feminism, thoughts, WPlongform | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 71 Comments

How to fall out

What better to do with a million things on the ‘to do’ list than write a blog post to avoid doing what I should be doing?

Writing about comments over on Kev’s stuff, I was minded to think about issues that have provoked fall-outs with internet friends.

So here are the top three.

1) Pedigree dogs

People who buy pedigree dogs do not like to be told that buying a pedigree dog means that one more rescue dog will either remain unhomed or killed.

They salve their conscience by saying:

I do my bit for rescue shelters, I volunteer, give them money, and am generally a nice person. I can’t possibly take on a rescue dog, because they have ‘issues’ and I’m not experienced enough to cope with that.

Meaning:

I can’t be bothered/I want a fancy dog with a breed name and all the rest of the trappings.

I can understand why people don’t like to hear that message, which suggests they are slightly snooty, snobbish and elitist, but I am still waiting for the answer that tells me how buying a pedigree dog from a breeder helps abandoned dogs on the streets or in rescue shelters. (Similarly insert cats here). Especially when you can get pure breeds as rescues anyway (oh, but they come with issues don’t they? Unlike people).

I have news for you. A dog is a dog, people. A cat is a cat. You want it to look pretty and have papers too? Do you have them? (Pink, shut up we know you are pretty and have a good pedigree).

One of the local pounds up the coast at Estepona is full of Podencos and GSDs (both breeds that I’ve been lucky enough to have been adopted by).

A workmate of Partner’s casually told him he’d like to take little Snowy (pix on Pippa’s or roughseas for anyone who hasn’t seen him).

‘Largate!’ said Partner. ‘If you think my woman spent three months in Spain, house-training him and bringing him up, just to give him away, you can think again. And clear off to Estepona if you want a Podenco.’

There are probably loads in the La Linea pound. In fact in every Spanish pound at a guess. Mildly better than being hung from trees which is their usual fate.

I’ve fallen out with two people who come to mind, about pedigrees, one of them was a very good friend.

I’d fall out with my university friend about it, but I really can’t even be bothered to go there with her.

2) Politics ~ Or more specifically, American politics

Which needless to state, encompasses religion, abortion, and invading everywhere under the sun for more oil. Ooops, I made a mistake there, it’s not about oil at all is it? It’s about getting rid of non-existent WoMD and removing oppressive dictators and liberating people to live that good old American life in the Middle East or Asia or wherever else.

These were FaceBook spats. FB asked you for your favourite TV prog, music, books, lipstick colour, day of the week and all the rest of it. I wrote up, no tv, don’t read books, don’t listen to music. To anyone with even a tiny brain it’s fairly obvious that I do read books and listen to music. I’ll watch films on Hal if that counts as sort-of TV.

So on one American political spat, I was told: ‘I’m not surprised you don’t know anything because you are so ignorant, looking at your profile.’ Sometimes British humour doesn’t go down well in America. She could have checked out my blog before she wrote me off as trailer trash.

The best one was the shutdown thread I started though. I genuinely had no understanding about why the rulers of the world would shut down their government over a dispute about Planned Parenthood. But apparently the land of the brave and the free does this sort of thing. Or threatens to do it. I got some really intelligent, thoughtful and helpful answers back regarding procedure. Because for once, I wasn’t out for scoring political points, I wanted to understand how a government could come to a standstill and how it would affect the poorer people in society (but like, who cares about them?).

The next day, I noticed my followers had decreased. I looked up the missing ones. I was stunned. Not by the numbers but who they were. We’d been dogblog mates for years, emailed and sent Christmas cards to one of the women’s husbands in Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere.

They were both army women. They may have been religious. I suspect abortion rights for women wasn’t high on their list of priorities. But America invading the world was. And their men really shouldn’t have their paycheques stopped as part of the shutdown. No, that’s true, I don’t disagree. But why have a shutdown in the first place? One had an extremely flash home and more Apples than you could poke a Hal at. The other one didn’t have such a high-flying partner, oops husband, because I’m sure they wouldn’t like those sort of words, so she moaned about her crap accommodation. Hell, they had a roof, an income and could feed themselves.

Some women choose abortion because they don’t have any of those. They have enough problems living, let alone bringing another waif into the world.

I could never work out whether that ditching was based on religion, politics, or militarism, but whatever way, they chucked me.

I was annoyed enough to tell our mutual circle that if they wished to remain friends with the closer one, let’s call her Friend A, I’d be ditching them too.

Big FB saga. You can imagine it. Playground hit big-time.

It was a real ‘You are known/judged by the company you keep,’ situation. I figured if they wanted to hang out with her, fine, I didn’t want any more to do with them. Some friends tried to talk sense into me, telling me I would dislike ultimatums (true) and dislike someone telling me what to think/do (true).

I later learned that Friend A had ditched other people. One of them was dying of lung cancer and was such a generous soul. Who would do that? She didn’t have long to live anyway. Do people have no compassion or are they so self-centred?

If you want to know, I ditched the ‘friends’ and left FaceBook anyway. After I’d made a statement about it all, and oooh, how much back-biting was there? I’ve still got the emails which another person sent me, where everyone said how horrible I was :D

Enough of FaceBook. When my father was a freemason (yes, I know, cringe), the forbidden topics were sex, politics and religion. These days, I think sex is irrelevant, but is encompassed under the insidious rule of religion – attacks on gay rights, on women’s rights to choose what to do with their own bodies – and when, men, can have children and women can demand the right for them to give birth, possibly they may have a say, otherwise – just leave women alone. Please.

Politics and religion seem to be a blur. The right wing is religious and oppressive. The left is laissez-faire.

3) The last fall-outs are about feminism

That’s not just on my blogs. It’s on feminist forums, because why would opinionated women agree with each other?

But please men, you are not feminists. You are at best, feminist allies. And if you don’t know the theory – ‘but some woman I spoke to says this, so therefore that is right’ – don’t argue.

Just do not even start about language. I have given you all a health warning before and it remains in place.

Despite the belief of the white working-class British male who is unemployed, women are not on the up. And men should stop being jealous of the few who are.

Women are not intellectually inferior to men, they do not need to be told what to do, and tbh, given the amount of male wankers around, we could quite possibly be far better off without most of you. Not all, I say quickly.

You could probably add birth control and abortion into this section of course under feminism. Odd how politics, religion, and feminism are all entwined. Or is it?

There we go, if you want an argument those are the easy pickings. You’ll be getting a pure-bred Podenco at your throat though. Let alone me.

Posted in animal rights, animals, blogging, dogs, feminism, gender-specific language, pedigree dogs, rescue dogs, WPlongform | 40 Comments

The theory of relativity

Or rather, relative wealth and relative luck.

Although perhaps space and time have something to do with it.

Example 1

Writing about books over on roughseas, I mentioned Helen Fielding. She wrote Bridget Jones’ Diary. She also went to my school and was in the year above me.

We both became journalists. No idea if she passed or even took her journalism exams or not, but I did.

She worked in London for nationals and then worked abroad. I worked in London for the civil service as a government information officer and then moved back up north. Somewhat of a difference.

Similar start in life, same school, lived within a few miles of each other and a couple of years difference in age.

Example 2

Standing at the ruins of our local castle in Spain with my university friend, I pointed out the used condoms and syringes.

‘So sad,’ I said.

‘Oh I would have been up here doing all of that. Anything to get out of my home town,’ said the woman who now lives in what looks like a grade II listed Georgian mansion and whose husband is an OBE with a well-known international firm.

I guess I never really knew her at all for the previous 30 years.

At one point, I envied her life. Living in the best parts of London, going out all the time, doing the culture thing. When I realised she had to produce offspring for the family I suddenly changed my mind. Or maybe she wanted to do that too.

I read in the FT (Financial Times) that there were three major estates in London, the Crown Estate, Eton and Harrow, and the family estate of my friends (that she married into). I suspect the research was flawed to some extent, but their estate still comes up as one of the major London landowners.

Perhaps I should write a novel about her? Mediocre apparel to riches story?

The point is the same as with Helen, similar paths in life and very different end points. The two are now rich and I am not. Simple.

But contrast this with my partner at nearly sixty years of age still working on a building site. Because he not only owns one, but two/three properties and I don’t work, he is deemed as rich by his workmates.

We also have three Land Rovers, but that’s not really relevant. Our properties are owned outright. A tiny one-bed flat in central Gib, and a couple of tiny houses at a finca in Spain without land. Both properties are in a good location (I can manage to buy location, location, location, very well). Flats in my block sell quickly because it is in a good area. Houses in my street in Spain don’t come up for sale, and I’m damned if I would sell it for peanuts. The size of the plot and the location are worth shedloads on their own.

So, reading my blogs, I appear to be well-off, living an affluent life on the Med. To some extent I am, to another extent I’m not. The reason Partner is still working is that we do not have enough money to last out. Simple as that.

Perhaps I am a Lotus Eater. I did my calculations (all Net Present Value included) when I chucked work, and knew I could last for at least ten years without working. I didn’t figure on not being able to get a job though in my late forties/early fifties. Nor did I figure on the nasty horrid UK govt fiddling with my pension age. Lack of foresight there on my part.

I read blogs about people who also have two or more homes. About people who travel around the world endlessly. Or eat out all the time. I do none of those, certainly don’t want to eat out, although maybe a bit of rough travelling would be good.

Our lifestyle is the extreme opposite of affluent. I don’t lack for anything. I don’t need the dreaded flat screen TV (mentioned on roughseas) nor do I want to have an expensive and not very well prepared/cooked meal out. I don’t want to stay in five star hotels, I would rather camp with my dogs.

I see people of a similar age to me writing blogs who have pensions/some sort of regular income. That would be nice.

I see people with a lot of money being concerned about their finances. I have to confess, I laugh. But other people would laugh at me being concerned about mine. That’s why it’s all relative.

‘You have more money than me, what do you know? You’re rich.’

‘You should have looked after your money better when you were younger/not had a load of kids/twenty wives etc etc’

I wonder, when I see some people we know, how they will survive in their older age. If you can’t work, how do you pay the rent? Especially when you aren’t in the system and have been working on the black. Where do you end up?

So, I try not to give advice (except about writing of course), judge, or make assumptions. I realise how smug it sounds coming from someone who *appears* to be financially well-off.

Because by the time someone is in their mid 30s or 40s and still renting, with kids, and one or more broken expensive relationship/s behind them, they have made at least one big mistake in their life and it’s too late to get it back.

There, but for the flip of the dice, or the deal of the cards, could be me. Or you.

Posted in life, musings, thoughts, WPlongform | Tagged , | 34 Comments

Demarcation

Or, that’s my job, not yours.

Those days have gone. For the most part.

Oldies like me, who grew up before Thatcher destroyed the trade unions for good, may remember it though.

There was no multi-tasking or crossing the boundary into someone else’s skill, trade or profession. That’s one of the reasons why the print union, the NGA (National Graphical Association) had such a hold on the newspaper industry. If they had a dispute about terms and conditions, newspapers didn’t get published. No-one else could do their work. Us clever journalists have never had half as much clout. Not so clever eh?

Australia in the 80s had fine demarcation. Partner worked on the dockyard in Sydney painting ships where he was in the pro-painters union. The other painting union was the painters and dockers. They did totally different work and never the twain should meet apart from when they wanted to collude about working practices.

For example:

Partner: ‘Hiya mate, can you bring your boys out on strike for a few days while we sort out a problem with ventilation in the ship?’

Head of P&D: ‘No worries mate, we’ll back you up. Just before the weekend eh, and then we can all get double pay for some overtime?’

You get the idea.

Life was easy. You all had your own little box to work within and nobody touched yours.

Now life is very different. Working in shopfitting in Gib, Partner would do whatever was required, plastering, tiling, putting up plasterboard, taping and filling etc etc as well as his original skill of painting, decorating, and glazing. (When he learned his trade, glazing was included within his remit). Working for himself he does even more. Add on plumbing, joinery, rendering, minor electrics, and changing locks. He won’t, and never has done, labouring.

Demarcation has become a relic of the nicely organised trade union days of the past.

Yesterday while I was dozing away on the sofa after lunch, and Partner was enjoying his weekend with a can of beer, there was a knock on the door.

Some new tenants had locked themselves out. What they had actually done was leave one key in the door and, they couldn’t use the other key to get in. We had a go at knocking out the key. Wouldn’t budge. We could have drilled out the lock for them. Cost of drilling out, cost of new lock, cost of fitting new lock …..

We know a good locksmith who would make a fantastic burglar as he is superb at picking locks, and, cutting new keys where necessary, by using the existing lock. Good bloke.

I offered to call him. Bear in mind this is Sunday afternoon when most people don’t want to do anything apart from enjoy themselves.

When I rang, his wife answered. He was at a party. I said I’d ring his mobile. ‘I’ve got that too,’ she replied.

‘Any idea how much?’ I asked.

‘A hundred pounds.’

I went upstairs to ask the tenants if they were willing to pay that. They were a bit short of options, and she had enough money in her wallet. I went back to ring the locksmith’s wife to ask him to come out. He rang back and we gave him the directions. He lives in Spain, so obviously has to travel and cross the frontier.

Meanwhile, another neighbour is interfering. Still in jim-jams at 4pm!!!! Having got up before 7am to take out Snowy I couldn’t believe it. I should have done, she is a vampire after all.

‘What you need to do is get a ladder and get in through the window.’

No. This is a second floor flat and would need a triple extension ladder. Where do you get that from on a Sunday afternoon? And how do you get it into a small patio down a narrow corridor? You can’t. The angles are too tight.

‘My neighbour above got me in when I locked myself out,’ she said. (This was when she tried to kick the door in and ruined the plasterwork of the block next to the frame when she failed). ‘Someone could just crawl across and get in.’

Who? You? In your jim jams? Hanging onto dodgy pipework? Like spiderman/woman?

The window wasn’t even open!!

Next bright idea she came up with was to get the fire brigade to get the tenants in.

Really clever idea. They would just break the door down. And the tenants would then have no door at all and be liable for the cost of the new door.

Some people have shit for brains. I said I had called out the locksmith and I wasn’t going back on that commitment.

‘I’m just trying to save her money,’ added Interfering Neighbour. Sure. And get somebody killed crawling around the walls. Or wreck the door, frame, and plasterwork to the building. To save £100? And incur more?

‘Nobody told us not to leave a key in the lock,’ whined the locked-out tenant. Nobody told us that either when we bought our flat but we managed to work it out ourselves.

I went downstairs to repeat this riveting convo to Partner. He then went up and told Interfering Neighbour – ‘You. Shut up.’

So then the locksmith turned up. Locked-out tenant had been invited in to Interfering Neighbour’s flat. She came out with a bottle of Heineken. We all stood there, me, Partner, locked-out tenant plus Heineken and her daughter, and IN and her flatmate.

Steve picked out a piece of plastic from his burglar’s bag, swiped it up and down the gap between the door and frame and it swung open.

Just amazing. I was stunned. Locked-out tenant was pleased to be in and handed over her cash. We walked downstairs with him, and said in a low voice, ‘Good one mate’.

What are the issues here?

Firstly, this guy has a skill and got someone into her home. The alternatives suggested by the interfering neighbour were ridiculous and would have cost more, let alone risking someone’s life crawling across walls and hanging onto rusty pipework. They could have gone to a hotel for the night, but the following day they would still have had to pay the locksmith. Less money on a Monday yes, but add hotel cost onto that and it’s far more expensive.

Partner had heard their conversation going up the stairs earlier.

‘Where are we going to get a locksmith from on a fucking Sunday afternoon?’

After hearing that, he was waiting for the knock on the door.

Secondly, is it a fair price for the job given that it took a minute or two? That’s not exactly accurate though is it? He had to travel from Spain on a Sunday afternoon, travel home and also made a couple of ‘phone calls to us on roaming. It all adds up. Say two hours or so? Most call-out charges over weekends are around £50. For the first hour.

He did a job for us, when Partner lost the keys for one of our vehicles while I was in Spanish exile. Key sorted easily – and then the barrel for the ignition fell apart. Another two hours to repair that. No extra charge, just the initial price he had quoted.

To give a price over the ‘phone without seeing a job on a Sunday is pretty reasonable in my opinion.

Thirdly, why do people want to interfere when they know stuff all about the issue at hand? The window to their kitchen was not open. We could see it quite clearly from our kitchen window. It was closed and the handle was down. We have a double extension ladder in the patio. It wouldn’t reach. A triple would be needed and you couldn’t get it into the patio anyway. We’re looking at the height of the top of a very tall gable roof here.

What is the problem with paying £100 to someone who knows what they are doing and does it quickly and easily with no damage? Or risk to property or life? (I put property first there because we all know money is more important than life).

Coming back from a dog walk shortly after we bumped into another Interfering Neighbour.

‘The new people upstairs are locked out.’

‘No they’re not. They are in now.’

‘No, I’ve just been speaking to him in the pub,’ (says it all) ‘they can’t get in.’

‘Fine. If you don’t believe me, let’s go upstairs and see.’

‘I think I’ll just go home and not get involved in this.’

Why do people want to interfere so much when they can’t add any value?

Finally, back to demarcation. Having seen what he did, we could easily do that as well. We can’t pick locks. Yet.

But would people want to pay us £100 for getting them into their flat with a bit of plastic in two seconds? Of course not, we live downstairs and it would take a few minutes max. We could do it for less money but they would want it to be done for free.

We have no intention of stealing someone else’s work and devaluing what they do.

A couple of posts back I wrote about people thinking they could pick up a paintbrush and become a painter, or pick up a pen and become a writer. Or these days, pick up a laptop.

But the other aspect to professional skill and expertise is about speed. When you have been trained in a job and have done it for years, you can do it faster. Simple as that. I type/write very quickly. I have in my head what I want to write and the fingers fly over the keyboards. Partner can paint, plaster, and hang paper quickly.

Why should we be disadvantaged because we do jobs quickly? Whether it is us or the locksmith who sorted the problem in minutes? Why are we so selfish that we don’t want to reward people who have worked for many years at their job and are fast and proficient at it?

As a society we have developed a very nasty mentality that says:

‘We must save money at all costs. We must earn more than other people. We need to know exactly what they are earning per minute, and then we can barter with them and find someone cheaper. We need to keep people down because that way we will feel better about ourselves.’

We priced a job (labour only) the other day at slightly over two grand (pounds sterling). They live in a large old house in Gib, worth well over a mill, maybe two.

Their through sitting rooms are bigger than our one-bed flat. The cost of the wallpaper is nearly a grand. Whenever you are pricing a job you have to take into account the cost of the paper. It wasn’t just papering and lining and sizing the walls, it was also stripping the paper, possible repair work to walls and damp/stain proof treatment, painting of walls below dado, all woodwork including fiddly Georgian windows, ceilings, cornices, dado rails and whatever else. They probably wanted it done for a few hundred quid when there is a month’s worth of work there. Would you work for a month for a few hundred quid?

Another workmate was asked, some years ago, to paint a flat in an up-market block in Gib. He charged two grand. He took a long time over it. They paid him three, because the logic goes, if it takes a long time, it must be worth more.

Why do we no longer wish to pay for quality work? Or did we ever?

We want to see people earn less than us, be socially and intellectually inferior, and not rise above themselves so that we can boost our own insecurities, lack of confidence and, most importantly, power and wealth.

With which I shall leave you with a link to Robert Noonan Tressell’s classic – published in 1914 – The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

In a hundred years, nothing has changed regarding our attitude to employing skilled tradespeople.

Posted in communal living - flat life, journalism, life, work, WPlongform | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Real men eat quiche ?

There is something intrinsically annoying about people’s assumptions about why people choose a vegetarian diet.

Back in the UK, whenever Partner said he was vegetarian, the guaranteed question was, ‘Is that because your wife is?’ as though he didn’t have a mind of his own.

For anyone who doesn’t know, we stopped eating meat together. And then chicken. And then fish. We made joint decisions that we were both happy with.

Or people ie men, would ask him if he wanted a bacon sandwich. Yawn.

On the other hand, he would have breakfast with other construction workers, and they would cheerfully eat a vegetarian breakfast with him, even though they ate meat. Customers often asked him if he wanted a sandwich, and would quite happily put together a vegetarian one for him without commenting on how weird he was.

I’ve heard the assumption of ‘you must be vegetarian because your wife is’ before. The implication being a) that you are only vegetarian because your wife is and b) that being vegetarian is a sort of soppy woman’s thing.

This is a particularly stupid assumption, the concept being that women can’t handle the concept of dead animals. As someone who regularly went to the bacon factory full of dead pigs, and then sliced them up and served them to customers, I think I’ve handle my fair share of dead pigs. And believe me, if you walk into any pig smokehouse they do not look like bits of nicely packaged meat sitting tidily on the supermarket shelf. They look like pieces of dead pig which is exactly what they are.

But there is an underlying concept to all this, which is, that it is tough and macho to kill animals. Some women take up hunting, shooting and fishing. They become ‘one of the boys’.

So men who don’t want to eat meat must be strange. They can’t possibly choose that themselves.

Look at the paleo craze. Lots and lots of lovely meat just like our cavemen ancestors used to hunt and eat. Same idea. They didn’t do that before they invented fire, they gathered nuts and berries, which is very wimpish is it not? Real men eat steak. Remember the ‘real men eat quiche too’ phase? Originally men were derided for eating quiche. How silly is that? If you ate quiche you weren’t a ‘real’ man.

Dear me.

At a Christmas lunch on a former firm, Partner left the appalling venue which catered to his vegetarian request by serving three types of potatoes (roast, mashed and boiled) to find his workmates had stuffed his pockets full of sausages. Tee hee. So funny.

On top of that, he was called gay. Because he didn’t eat meat. So let’s have a go at women for being soppy about not eating meat, and also drag in the gays. If anyone hasn’t worked this out yet, calling him gay because he didn’t eat meat was meant to be an insult.

Why do people feel the need to insult not just someone who has made a choice not to eat meat, but assume that he is therefore either gay or doing it because his woman doesn’t like eating meat? thereby insulting everyone all round.

Killing animals is macho. Dealing with dead animals is tough and macho. Gutting them, plucking feathers, slicing them up. Eating big pieces of bloody steak is macho. If you don’t like any of that you are a softy wuss. Or similar words.

Why on earth do we impart our prejudices onto diet? Online, you can read about fat gay vegan bloggers. In real life I have yet to meet one. I know a fat non-meat eating dope smoker. No idea about his sexual orientation nor do I care.

But we associate a non-meat diet with women and gays. Why? Well, I know the answer, but we shouldn’t be doing it.

How about another example of our patriarchal society, before I clear off to make bread?

Dogs. We define ourselves by our dogs. Real men have BIG dogs. Macho dogs. My father had boxers and a ridgeback. REAL dogs for REAL men. I like big dogs too but not for the same reason. Now we have a small Podenco in the pack. And my partner is perfectly happy to take him out for a walk without feeling his masculinity is affected.

And the point of this post is that prejudice and cultural conditioning is everywhere. The need to be tough and macho permeates our society.

He doesn’t like quiche very much in case anyone wanted to know.

Posted in animal rights, dogs, feminism, food, life, thoughts, vegetarian, writing | Tagged , | 31 Comments

Hey! I can do that!

Writing, writing, writing

I’m sure there is a song out there, that goes ‘riding, riding, riding’ but could I find it?

However to move away from the previous posts about language, I thought I would write about, um, writing.

Over on a writing blog, I read a guest interview where the author told people to learn grammar if they wanted to be a writer.

This probably jarred with me because over on ruftytuftyseas, I had a request from someone who wanted info about Gib so they could write an article. He is setting up as a freelance writer, although describes himself as a history and politics teacher.

And that sums it up in a nutshell. Everyone thinks they are the world’s next best-selling writer/journalist/author.

So can I spend some time telling him what I know about Gib in order for him to make money as a freelance. Sure. How much? Because I was caught once, spending five hours or so on a Sunday for absolutely nothing.

No, the rule now is, if you want something from me, that involves my knowledge, you pay. Animal charities are negotiable.

Seriously, I couldn’t believe the cheek. I want to pick your brains so I can write an article and get paid for it? OK, I did believe it, but asked how much.

No more free lunches here. [For anyone who hasn't read the post about how I ended up being sick, and the promised free lunch was cancelled anyway is here].

Meanwhile back to the blog post I read, about how people should learn about grammar. There was a comparison between surgeons, mechanics and construction workers, and how they all knew their skill. Writers should be the same.

So would-be writers should browse around the internet a few times a week to learn grammar. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be too keen on either a surgeon, a builder or a mechanic relying on the odd internet browse to carry out their work. Without training.

‘I’ve looked up appendectomy on the internet, I think it goes like this.’

Two weeks later…

‘Gangrene. Need to open that one up again. Sorry and all that.’

Trust me, that happens. It happened to me 40 something years ago. Before the internet.

So not really a valid comparison.

Writing is not going to lead to bodged operations, housing disasters (eg Aberfan in Wales) or vehicle problems.

It may well lead to lawsuits, which in these days is potentially worse, because that costs money.

Doctors, mechanics and tradespeople in the construction industry do actually spend some time learning their skills.

My partner had a five-year apprenticeship, went to college, learned on the job. At college they learned practice and theory. He passed exams.

I had a much shorter apprenticeship. I also went to college, learned practice and theory, and passed exams.

Years ago, all this was run very sensibly and thoroughly by the Joint Industry Training Boards. His was construction, mine was print and publishing.

Another good blog post I read talked about paint falling off. Paint falls off for a number of reasons.

1) You have bought the wrong paint for the job
2) You have bought cheap crappy paint
3) You haven’t prepared and sealed the surface properly
4) You don’t know what you are doing
5) You are too tight to pay a professional painter who knows what s/he is doing

because after all, anyone can slop on a coat of paint, yes?

It’s ironic that my partner and I ended up in similar jobs. For those of you into star signs we are both the same, given that our birthdays are on consecutive days.

But, we both carried out our apprenticeships, in craft trades. Ones that everyone else thinks are easy to do and don’t need to pay for. Everyone can write and everyone can paint.

That’s why our block is currently better decorated than it has ever been since we moved in, why there is a noticeboard informing people about on-going work, and why our board papers let everyone know how and where the money is being spent.

Sure, everyone can do that as well as writing fiction, journalism, travel articles and cookery books (don’t even start me on the cookery one).

To me the issue of advice, is not to encourage amateur writers, rather to say, that unless you have something original to say (unlikely) or can say it very well, don’t bother. Because otherwise you are wasting your money employing people to edit and publish your books. Or your articles. Or whatever.

I read a lot of different blogs. They include fiction, poetry, travel, political and personal. How many of those do I think write well enough to even consider paying any of them to write? It’s in single figures.

Blogging has spawned a whole new world of would-be writers, of which most are, um, crap at the best.

The best bloggers are the ones who are not looking for fame and glory, who write interesting posts.

I haven’t published as a fiction writer or a cookery writer (thank goodness). I have achieved travel articles, news journalism, corporate publishing, publicity material and much more etc etc.

I wouldn’t encourage people to write when they can’t tell their it’s from their its. Even I get it wrong on screen.

I think to encourage people that they can really get their work published and earn money is deluding them at best, more likely trying to get money out of them for tidying up those really tacky drafts. I’ll do that :) But I can’t in all conscience look at something and say, this is good, just needs a few tweaks. I’d end up re-writing it, and believe me, I have done that loads of times.

So people, life is not so simple as to give up the office job and earn a living from the computer, and dabble around to find out what a dangling participle is and a misplaced modifier is. [Terms used on how to write good grammar blog post]

Quite frankly, I have no idea about either, and I think getting hung up on such terms is ridiculous. Learn spelling, basic punctuation, and simple active sentences is far better advice. Well, it’s my advice, so it must be better.

If you can’t write or spell, then maybe you don’t have a promising career ahead of you as a writer.

And if you don’t know your alkali-resisting primer from your undercoat, you may have problems with your paintwork.

Posted in blogging, journalism, life, musings, public relations, thoughts, wordpress, work, WPlongform, writing | 36 Comments