Open letter to Boris Johnson

Boris, Boris, Boris

It is time this whole thing came to its inevitable end. Your cocks-on-the-table let’s-see-who-can-be-Prime-Minister thing with the equally unlovely Cameron – although at least he is prettier – has done the job. You got it. You fooled and bribed and bullied enough people to get through that door. You history of lying, cheating, blustering, bullying and gaslighting your way into jobs which depended largely on the money your family threw at getting you into the various places that would help you to do that has been cruelly exposed by the attention you craved and which has let us all in on the poorly kept secret of your inability to do much at all. If you had stuck to writing uninteresting fluffy pieces and books that by and large regurgitated things found elsewhere you could have made your pots of money for little effort and got by. But the ego has it.

When I think of you – mercifully rarely – I see a Giles Coren without the charm. Oh, hang on, that job is taken by Giles Coren. But you get the idea. Able to chuck a few words together, usually in a meaningless sort of way that just covers the required word count in order to get paid, a few chums in the right places to enable entry to some sort of workplace that needs very little effort to find a job, although keeping those job seems to have been a challenge. Understandably. Let’s face it, you are quite simply not very good at much at all apart from keeping yourself in the spotlight and earning money doing things that mean nothing. Oh, that and being unpleasant and venal. Other opinions are available, but you will have to search hard to find them.

So. Let it go. You got the job and proved, if only to yourself, that you could equal Cameron. It has always seemed bizarre to me that anyone would want to do that but hey, it’s your life. Aspiring to mediocrity and failure would not be everyones choice but it is, still, barely, a free country.

What I am trying to say if you haven’t grasped it yet is: resign. Go and play somewhere else on someone elses dime. Go and begat more sprogs (I think that’s your language?), write some more piffle, spaff some more of someones money up the wall. Just do it somewhere else where you won’t allow people to die of your ignorance and bigotry. Don’t let’s hear any more of your offensive, racist, misogynist waffle. It’s so last year.

PS – take Gove with you.

The sense of it all

Most days I think we skitter along the surface of life like the smooth hard pebbles that skim across cold deep lakes and oceans, pitched from the hands of young boys and men in competition with themselves. We dip without sinking, lift without flying, never taking enough water to be wet or enough air to be dry.

Some days, though. Oh some days. On those some days every sense pulses and quivers. Every memory lunges to the front of the head and bursts out singing. A car door clicking shut is Dad coming home late after the pub bringing chocolates, bread and cheese as a sorry, with hugs and the smell of tobacco clinging to his clothes; a mist on the windows is the fog of cigarette smoke in the pub when Dad took us to watch him play darts, the sweaty sweary shouts of the men, the whispers and hisses of the women gathered in the corner gossiping and sipping tomato juice and the odd shandy so they can steer the men home when their man-bellies have been filled with beer and whisky, chicken sandwiches and scotch eggs; an antiseptic smell is the first day of motherhood, lying exhausted, scared, thirsty and overwhelmed with love for the scrap of humanity that just fell out of you, brings with it the violent sting of stitches you can still feel, the savoury smell of blood, the sound of a woman weeping. It’s you, crying with an impotent love that understands that from now on this is it, you will always be that mother whatever happens. the breeze from the window is the sea breeze from those interminable seaside holidays with Mum and Dad who could never understand why you didn’t want to change on the beach and never emerged from the beach hut, why you hated the sand, why the best thing about those days was the sea, the smell of it, the feel of it’s cool rhythmic throbbing on your legs and the way the water changed the shape of everything inside it. The smell of grass is those wonderful days when Dad took you golfing, the walk between holes, the way he played so well and you were always rubbish and it didn’t matter because on those walks between holes it was possible to talk without looking at each other but reaching down into things that would never be mentioned off the golf course. That time you were so tired you wandered back to the car and he found you asleep on the front seat and he just drove you home. Rain, oh that cool, mind clearing rain that is the first day you walked in the rain with the man you would love for more than forty years but did not yet know it, the smell of him as he put his arm around you, the tremble in your belly as he looked at you, the walk back into the dry and out of the clothes and into the next forty years.

The smell of old cats, young dogs, bird seed and hamster hay. Shitty nappies, clean bathed children, baby talc and sweaty feet. Rain on the window, the hiss of a frying egg, the dread weight of the phone ringing, the crackle of the phone line from far away. Turps and oils, the rustle of paper, old books, new canvases, blunt pencils and sharp images, rounded tapestry needles and pointed dressmaking pins, a piano in another room and the sweeping lines of the sheet music on the table.

Oh those days, those glorious days, when there is a memory in every corner, every shadow, every sound, taste, shape and scent, these are days to cling to and put in your pocket and to remember when that smooth hard pebble is skimming the surface again, neither wet nor dry, neither in nor out. Curl your fist over those days and push them deep into that pocket and never let them go, because they are life.

2020. What a year. It has been said before but hey, I need to say it again.

Some who know me will know that the cherry tree in our garden is my personal life affirmer. Each year, every Spring, I have watched it blossom and thought “I made it to another Spring”. It is uplifting and joyful and it was my Thing. This year in the Spring I was not sure if I would make it and in reality it was possible I might not. The tree blossomed as it has always done and as it will continue to do long after I am gone and I saw it and loved it and this time I wondered “will I ever see that again”.   

I still don’t know if I will see next years blossom and truthfully none of us ever really know that although it is much more likely now than it was in Spring, but if I am honest I am happy just to be seeing the beauty of its Autumn journey and it will be a bonus to see next Spring. 2020 saw us lose my beloved Father in Law who died alone in a Coronavirus-ridden hospital and the funeral was socially distanced and sad in way more ways than it should have been.My eldest daughter has just lost an irreplaceable friend and because of her friends existing health conditions she was unable to visit her with her children, who she loved. 2020 is a year of chances and happinesses missed, passed and now gone, they won’t come again. It has also been a time of reflection and regeneration – I know that despite Springtimes close shave I have risen and found things that I love to do that I had not thought possible or lacked the confidence to do properly, the idea that “Life’s Too Short” was brought vividly into focus and I have been reinventing myself again but this time with added vigour, for happiness, not for career or for other people.

I do not know anyone who has not suffered in 2020. Not one person. Not only with health but with loneliness, sadness, grief, isolation, financial worries, job worries, family worries. Whole communities are creaking under the burden of communal loss and anxiety. And in the middle of it all are some fabulous people doing what they can to support and cheer their friends and their communities. Ordinary extraordinary people holding up each other and their families, feeding people, reaching out to people, loving people. Those are the people I look to: my neighbours, my communities. And they do not disappoint. My sons good friend married and that joy was clear to see on peoples faces and we felt it with them; friends have had babies, written books, revamped their and others gardens and allotments, fallen in – and out – of love, joined online communities, opened foodbanks and joined charities. Friends continue to run, cycle, paint, write, call people, write to and email each other, and spread wellbeing;  organisations continue to plan to serve and support people, stuff happens. Stuff happens. And that is what makes us great.

Every morning, each and every morning that I wake up I am filled with gratitude not only to wake but for the people I wake to. Let’s get 2020 out of our hair. It is shit, we are fewer than we were, we will never really get over that but we will remember and will give thanks for having known those people no longer here and will celebrate the people who are.

Never more sincere: Onward and Upward.

Bing….

I have some gorgeous grandchildren and occasionally do some extreme nanning so we sometimes end up watching CBeebies – I refuse to watch any other childrens tellybox, the American stuff is appalling. Most of CBeebies is brilliant and we adore Mr Tumble, but I will be candid – I dislike Bing, whiny little long eared chap who does stupid stuff and then whines about it when it all goes tits up, gets on your nerves. Maybe I am getting too involved….step back, Bernie, it’s all make believe. Breathe.

But I am confessing now….I have always had a thing for the voice of Flop. Flop is Bings grown up and quite frankly I have fallen a bit in love with his voice, which makes Bing bearable. Until now I have kept that to myself, perving over the voice of a kids show character, knitted at that, is possibly not something to share in public. But I have just found out it is the voice of Mark Rylance and I am not sure if that makes it better or worse. Rylance is simply terrific – always watchable, always good. His work as Flop…? Adorable. I need to have a jolly good think….This was not on my predicted Nanning options back in the day. 🤣🤣🙃

PS don’t get me started about Duggie…..

A little bit older and deeper in…

So over the weekend I was cat-sitting. I don’t watch tellybox as a rule but took the opportunity to do a little selective viewing – my son has Netflix and why not take advantage..? I reached out to telly-viewing chums for suggestions and they did not disappoint.

Grace and Frankie, never heard of it before but binge watched the entire first series. Neil Simon-esque dialogue and settings, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, Martin sheen and Sam Waterston among other shining stars. Briefly: two active professional but strikingly different women in their seventies, friends mostly because of their husbands, discover that their husbands are leaving them for each other and have been lovers for twenty years. Cue some lovely verbal nuances and exchanges and relationship observations that are so sharp they slide between your ribs before you notice they are there.

Sad, eh? But no, rather it was sparking, touching, laugh out loud funny, moving, and achingly relevant. For the older actors it was a brave decision to join the cast – more especially the women – and not because of the gay plotline although that too was welcome. In many ways the misogyny of aging, especially in the USA, means that women actors can be old but not be seen to be old and this series depended on being seen to be older and what that means. That made me happy. Jane Fonda is beautiful and always has been and seeing her allowing her old bones to be noticed gave me my own permission – should it be needed (spoiler: it isn’t) – to show my old bones as well. Lily Tomlin has always had the ability to reach out and speak to us, with mobile eyes and face and wry wit, and she too allowed her older bones to creak into view. And all these old people had sex! For crying out loud.

It was welcome to see older women, upper middle class professionals, addictions and mental health, articulate people and gay men as well as family challenges all in the mix and amusing without ever seeking to be shocking in order to make a point. The words did that more than effectively and that itself was more effective than the glut of sweary, obvious, attention seeking comics we have had in recent years. The danger of stereotyping was ever present but the series managed to acknowledge that while actually playing up to it in a very real sense – stereotypes are what they are for a reason, in the same way that cliches are cliches because they recur often enough to be true..and that allowed some stereotype myth-busting at the same time. And even the music was chosen so well, with a nod towards Harold and Maud in places which was appreciated. I am looking forward to the rest of the series.

And then I watched the Bourne Identity which set my pulse racing for a variety of reasons. I may be old but….

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