Friday, 15 June 2012

Shades of Shit and superhype

What 50 Shades of Grey has in common with its predecessors, Twilight and the Da Vinci Code is not just that it's unreadable, semiliterate, cackhanded drivel. It's that its fans are either thick or profoundly snobbish. Hyped bullshit like the aforementioned appeals predominantly to people who think they are too good to read genre fiction - or people who don't read much fiction at all. You see, generally people who like to read erotica, or vampire stories, or conspiracy theory fiction are looked down on by those who read Proper Books - or who don't see the point of reading books when the Jeremy Kyle Show won't watch itself, or they've got a shed to build or something. People like this get underwear-stainingly excited over the lamest, most obvious tropes of the relevant genre simply because they've never read anything like it before. If you've never picked up an erotic novel - or ever had sex that wasn't a matter of missionary-position fumbling in the dark on a Saturday night, the mere idea of someone tying someone up is going to get your sockets jumping: bwaaaah! How incredibly daring and shocking! Similarly with films: the Blair Witch Project was badly lit, badly shot, badly acted with plot holes you could drive a bus through, but people who had never seen a horror film before were shitting on cinema seats over a basic set up of something going 'Boo' in the dark, though I do concede that I was probably one of only a few people who spent the whole film looking out for the big van that would have had to have been lurking out of shot carrying the 500 extra batteries those bloody Betamax camcorders would have needed were they actually to keep filming through a week of hopping about in wet bracken. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with books that are not beautifully written: JK Rowling is no great prose stylist. However, the Harry Potter books are that very, very rare thing, a series that deserved the hype. Rowling is a cracking storyteller with a generally brilliant sense of pace (OK, The Half Blood Prince drags a bit) and some genuinely original ideas. Dan Brown got taken to court for having nicked his whole concept from THe Holy Blood And The Holy Grail, and probably only won his case because his opponents were such tinfoil-hat-wearers - mind you, when he started hinting that actually his poxy book was based on The Truth he perhaps should have been made to hand the money back. But still, looking on the bright side, at least good erotic fiction should get a boost from 50 Shades of Shit readers who have had a bit of a, er, awakening as to the power of bedtime reading.

Monday, 4 June 2012


Yes, I went to the street party. Here I am, with my little flag and my big drink. (yeah yeah, received wisdom, not put own pic on blog in case of recognition and/or stalking etc etc. Frankly I look such a rough old biffer in that photo that I don't expect anyone to associate it with my youthful, beauteous self. Yeah right.) And the majority of my actual friends are actually a bit appalled with me. Fuck the Queen, they say, the monarchy are parasites, patriotism is horrid, you'll be reading the Daily Mail next. They do all, sort of, have a point, but so do I. And my main one is, for all the guff in the papers about how We Mean It Ma'am, We Love Our Queen, god Saaaaaave (as Mr Rotten would put it), I honestly think that the majority of people don't really give that much of a toss about the Windsors, one way or another. They just like to have an excuse for a party. Certainly the main reason for attending our one was because the road adjoining ours did one last year and Trainboy spotted the banners and the bouncy castle and wanted to go and join in (but we didn't as last year's was specifically for the adjoining road; this time the lovely, lively, motivated organisers extended the invite to the three roads that make up our little triangular corner). I am, perhaps unusually for me, in line with the majority position: I don't object to the monarchy strongly enough to deprive Trainboy of a good party. And it was a good party, with actually bugger-all reference to Royalty, loyalty, subservience, knowing your place, British heritage or any of that. I read a few comments online from people saying that they wouldn't go to a street party because they didn't want to drink the Queen's health or say prayers for her or sing the National Anthem and I wonder how many parties really included any such thing anyway. We had circus-skills training, fancy dress competition, talent contest, loads to eat, loads to drink and a cracking good opportunity to get to know the neighbours. Despite the pissing rain and the freezing cold - though at least a party in your own street means you can nip back home repeatedly for a wee, further supplies of food and drink and extra wooly jumpers and wellies. I think a fair few of the people watching the boats going up and down the Thames were there not so much out of monarchism as a wish to look at a lot of beautiful boats, especially if they had children. I'm reminded of the fact that a lot of people declare themselves CofE on forms when what they mean is 'I am a Brit, I go to church for weddings and funerals and quite like singing All Things Bright And Beautiful' rather than 'I believe in Jesus and the Christian God'. At the moment, we've got a monarch, and there is something a bit dodgy about the idea that someone is better than all the rest of us just because that person was born to particular parents. And it's only a few hundred years back that the monarch was just the person who had killed the previous one. I wouldn't be that surprised if the whole concept actually dies when the current Queen does: she herself has managed to remain sufficiently harmless and well-intentioned that most people would feel some reluctance to sack a smiling old lady from a job she's done most of her life without fucking it up. But when she does pop off (and it will be within the next 20 years, at least) that would be the time to say, do we really need this much palaver to keep the tourists coming? Or is it a matter of needing a safeguard against elected power-mad nutjobs; someone with authority to step on the heads of Prime Ministers who want to do diabolical stuff? Though you'd have to wonder, if the current one can do that, why hasn't she before now?

Friday, 1 June 2012

On Topic...

Yes, I've been busy with all sorts, and haven't done much on this blog lately. In fact, I've been thinking of starting another one for all the feminism-atheism-sexual-politics stuff, but I probably wouldn't have the time to do that properly either. AAAAAAANNNNYWAY... Lots of new leafleting clients have been occuring, which is of course Good. So Mr Kite's been rearranging the way we work, which has meant the introduction of new leafleteers. There were some I didn't ever meet, and there was Ken, Ken and Ken who were all unsatisfactory, apparently and who have, as it were, disappeared (actually one of the Kens was in fact the partner of the new leafleteer Mr Kite had actually hired, and all of them had their first leafleting job on the most pissing wet day of the year and, not incomprehensibly, decided it wasn't for them.) And there was and is Patience, who is The Other Brilliant One Apart From Me. The latest working module is that Mr Kite drives me and Patience to the top of a road, gives us a bundle of leaflets and tells us whether or not to leapfrog each other up and down, or to take a side of the road each. Then we do the same at the next one, and so on, while he follows us about in the car, supplying us with additional leaflets and drinks of water and snacks. This is less crap than I thought it would be when he originally told me it was going to happen, particularly on appalling roads with millions of steps, because it simply halves the number of steps I have to process. It also leads, from time to time, to opportunities for me and Patience to chat, and today we were chatting about what a basically Good Bloke Mr Kite is. Leafleteering is not a high-paid job and never will be, but working for Mr Kite is good, because he isn't one of those people who thinks that you get rich by ripping off your staff. He will turn away clients who won't pay enough for us to earn the minimum hourly wage. He listens to us when we have suggestions to make. He pays bonuses. He pays our wages on time. OK, all this is the bare minimum you should expect from an employer, but he also does stuff like buy us lunch, cut short a drop when the heat is so punishing that we can barely get up the next flight of steps, be totally cool about flexibility when one of us has to go and pick up kids, etc. It's a pity more entrepreneurs don't get the idea that treating your staff well is actually more profitable than treating them like shit on the grounds that you can always get new ones.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Murdoch: How do YOU like it, you shitbag?

There's something of the classical archetype in watching him slowly crumble into dust, isn't there? The Big Man brought down by his own inescapable flaws: kind of gives us all a bit of hope even though plenty of other wicked people seem to manage a comfortable retirement and even to turn themselves in to cuddly figures of fun if they live long enough - all those revolting murderous, torturing gangsters popping up on chat shows a few decades ago spring to mind. OK, as far as we know, Rupert Murdoch never actually killed anyone. I don't even recall hearing that he administered so much as a slap to another human being, but I still consider him wicked. I wouldn't blush to call him evil for the harm he has done. He set about making the world a more hateful place, and he did it consciously and deliberately. The other Evil Tycoon, Robert Maxwell, he was just your old-fashioned, sticky-fingered crook who died with his hand in the till. Murdoch did worse, and it's what he did that's done for him. I don't actually know whether he believed in the stuff he made his papers peddle, that toxic, manipulative, capricious sentimentality and tribalism; the sexism, the racism, the homophobia, or whether he did it on the grounds that if you keep on chucking hate-figures and secular saints at people and screaming and shouting and slobbering, you can make people forget to think and just react at the most primitive level to what they are told to do. I wonder which is worse: to grab power on the grounds that you want to make the world a more racist, sexist, homophobic, unthinking, paranoid, conformist place, or to make the world a more racist, sexist, homophobic, unthinking, paranoid, conformist place in order to grab power. But there's joy to be had in the fact that this dumb, visceral response he spent so much time cultivating is what's really going to destroy him. People might have got over or not bothered to understand the political corruption and corporate greed; everyone sort of expects large corporations to bend the law in their favour and seize as much power and money as they possibly can. A lot of people were fairly prepared to forgive hacking the phones z-list 'celebrities', at least partly because Murdoch had convinced the world that slebs are not really people and don't really matter and deserve all they get anyway. But when it came out that his organisation had also hacked into the phones of Our Troops and those of a murdered teenager and her family, that was it. He'd conditioned the masses to shriek and howl and 'love' those he'd chosen to label as heroes, or innocent victims, and to demand the instant destruction of anyone who so much as refused to ullulate along with the chorus; so when the masses found out that he'd been harming those heroes and victims and clearly regarded them as unimportant and expendable despite all the guff about their wonderfulness and specialness, well that was it. Game over. You created the monster that will destroy you, Mr Murdoch. Now get it right fucking up you.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Working it

Sport is one of those things I have never really seen the point of. Well, nobody is ever going to convince me there's a point to getting all in a lather over watching someone else do sport and that remains true, but I'm beginning to understand one of the benefits that can be obtained by doing it yourself.
It's that glow. The buzzy, delicious glow that comes from having pushed your own body just hard enough, just that bit harder than you thought you might or would or wanted to, when no part of you particularly hurts but quite a few parts of you are sort of zinging and tight and your brain is gloriously mellowed. There was a day back in the 90s where I climbed up and down a cliff with a mate: it was allegedly a pleasant seaside stroll in high season, but in off-season it was basically a scramble over last year's landslide with an exhilarating risk of breaking your neck and drowning. Once we'd started, we weren't going to stop, and once we got past a certain point, we couldn't stop, or at least there was no option other than going back up again - apart from the drowning one. Or, I suppose, waiting for the coastguard helicopter, a stern talking-to off people in uniform and possibly a fine, but then that's never been my idea of a good time.
Tonight I'm glowing pleasantly after an all-time record of 800 letterboxes hit in a single day. That boiled down to about eight hours of walking in the rain, with a break of 20 minutes for a poached egg and a cup of tea (and yes, an arse that played the Trumpet Voluntary to accompany the last half hour of the shift). I can offer a few other stats, as well, for those of you who might be interested.
Leaflets delivered: 1650 (you can calculate how I achieved that figure yourself).
Useful blocks of flats on round with more than 20 accessible external letterboxes, thus allowing me to complete what would normally be about an hour's work in nine minutes: 2
Incidents of being startled into levitation, screeching and near-incontinence in the crucial mid-delivery moment:
By dog jumping up at door snarling and barking and snapping at fingers: 1
By house occupant opening door: 1 (though perhaps this should be a 1:1 score as house occupant achieved similar adrenal gland workout in the same incident)
Bitey letterbox snapping fingernail off: 1
Bloody awkward letterboxes gouging knuckles: 4
Leaky boots foaming at the sides in alarming manner: 1

So, good result. Good contented glow. Which may now be intensified by large dinner and couple of pints. How was your day?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Well, happy St George's Day!

Sometimes, a big push by commercial interests is a genuinely good thing. This is definitely so of the marketing of St George's Day as an event to celebrate. Yes, of course, it's a combination of breweries, greetings card companies and purveyors of general tat, all of whose bright sparks in marketing took a look at the general festivity-ness of St Patrick's Day in places that are not, actually, Ireland and thought, well let's have ourselves another slice of that, but this is an awful lot better than leaving it to the likes of the BNP or the EDL. To take a day that used to be associated with racist bucketheads and turn it into a party that everyone's invited to - what the fuck is not to like?
I'll put my hand up, I'm an Englishwoman. And a morris dancer as well.

(from the New Esperance Morris website)

I like, from time to time, to enjoy my own culture and heritage. After all, nobody has any control at all over what race, culture or tribe they are born into; you can reject everything about it to the point of emigrating and becoming a naturalised citizen of somewhere else if you want to, but you were still born in the place you were born, to the parents you were conceived by, and whether they brought you up badly or brilliantly is not something you had any control over, either. The other thing that's important about celebrating a festival, any festival, is that celebrating one doesn't automatically mean despising others. Every human culture has its good points and bad points (I don't define racist organisations or antichoice activist organisations or MRA groups as a human culture any more than Twilight fans or UKIP members or cricketers); we should all allow ourself to enjoy the good bits when the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

It was 20 years ago today...

Well, not quite today. Some time around today, maybe. Some time in April: to work out the exact date I would have to go and do a bit of tedious googling about when Easter was in 1992, but it was definitely mid-April. Mid-to-late April, maybe, when the real media storm took off.
What's the old bat on about, you might ask? Right, this is another of those posts that doesn't actually have an awful lot to do with the time I spend sticking leaflets into letterboxes but this is MY blog and therefore I will do what the fuck I like.
Roughly 20 years ago, For Women magazine was launched. This was a seriously defining moment in my life. Moment, my arse, it was a massive couple of months with echoes that still resonate today. I can look back now with a total stewpot of feelings: excitement, exhaustion, stress, more stress, more excitement, raging frustration and gleeful triumph... and the rest. Because I was there. Right there. Part of the launch team, up all night, screaming and shouting in staff meetings, fixing that fucking proof plate when they said it couldn't be done, sneakily checking the stack of copies on the shelf at Manchester station to see if it was the first print run or the second before I could really bring myself to believe the hype...
Something not many people experience happened to me 20 years ago, which was that feeling of walking down the street, any street and knowing that the whole country is talking about you and what you did. That was the best and most exciting bit. The stress bits were mostly before this amazing couple of weeks: getting the thing out there on a tiny little budget with very little spare time amid huge personal meltdowns among the people working on it (marriage-ending affair, projectile-vomiting pregnancy, suicidal housemates, wild fits of crying in the office, all sorts. At least no punches were thrown).
And the frustration? That was a bit life-changing, too. because that's the bit that stayed with me through the years more than anything else, though I relished the excitement and the thrill and all the little happy moments when they happened. Because, basically, the magazine sucked. It did. Sorry. It was nowhere near what it could and should have been. It was cheap, tame and in many ways dishonest, because the overall power of veto lay with the men. The Men - who didn't really like the idea of women making choices, having real sexual autonomy, not needing men to tell them how to do it and all that.
I'm still glad I was there. I'm still glad it happened. And I will probably rant on some more about the whole business of female sexual desire and how it's catered to and all that stuff BECAUSE IT MATTERS. Though the short version of that post would be 'The only mag that came anywhere near what should have been done was Filament.'

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Thoughts on Leaflets

The Paranoid Client, for all his faults, had nice leaflets. Lovely 3rd-of-A4 size on standard-weight card, easy to carry, easy to slip through even those annoying 50s letterboxes that you'd barely get a mouse to fart through. Fatty the Food Issues client has nice postcard-sized ones which are easy to carry, and as his drop runs are the shortest of the lot, I can actually just go and do a run with a handbag rather than the Big Lolloping Leaflet Bag.
I had thought that the worst sort of leaflet to have was the a-5 photocopy on ordinary paper, that luckily I rarely get these days. Those were a plague because they tore so easily and scrumpled up in an unprofessional fashion, even with only mildly bitey letterboxes (have I done an entire post yet about how much I hate brush-filled ones? Filaments always go up my fingernails and stab viciously, the letterbox itself jams for 30 seconds then falls back into place with a thunderous crash just as I'm departing... actually I will do a whole rant about those later). But that was before today, and the new client, who can be known as the Rentals Client. This client's leaflets are just-bigger-than-a5 and printed on super-thick super glossy card, and they are bastards.

They are too big for a lot of letterboxes, so have to be folded in half, which never looks good. Their edges are seriously sharp so my fingers are well and truly sliced and diced. They weigh a TON so I spent the first half of the drop run bent over and moaning like Igor in Young Frankenstein.
However, the thickness and weight of them does mean that the size of one's drop bundle diminishes at pleasing speed, which can be seriously encouraging on a damp dismal chilly day. I suppose.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Internet! Internet! OMG INTERNET!

I've got internet! Wheeeee! No this isn't some kind of alternate reality timey-wimey situation of me having turned into the sort of person who points at the sky when a plane goes overhead (mind you, did a fair bit of that when Trainboy was little and obsessed with helicopters). Basically, due to no money, we have had No Internet for over a week. And it was horrible.

Now I'm quite old. I spent my teens and my twenties in a world where they Hadn't Invented the Internet, and I didn't die or anything. There were books. There was going to one club and picking up a load of flyers at the end of the night inviting you to other clubs of a similar nature. There was the phone to huddle over for hours wittering aimlessly at my friends with only periodic interruptions from one or other parent reminding me that they might want to use the phone as well. There was keeping a diary and pretending to be reluctant to let other people read it.

But these days, having No Internet is miserable, alienating, almost crippling. You don't know what anyone else is doing, even if they mean to tell you, because you can't get at your email, or your Facebook. You haven't got an almost-instant answer to any weird question your offspring hurl at you. You can't work out the way to get from one side of London to the other on buses (because you can't afford to go by train) without roaming round every suburb you ever heard of.

Thank fuck for internet cafes. Particularly the cheap rubbish one up the road, who see me stumble through the doors and whip out the portable disc thingy all ready for me, now that they have had a week of me whining that none of their in-situ disc drivers work.

Mind you, internet cafes are getting... well, does anyone remember when they were really EXCITING? And you could get cappucinos and cupcakes and even a beer or two while you logged onto Usenet or sent a tentative E-Mail to a friend on the other side of the world? These days you have to step over the pitbulls to get to a terminal,and generally sit between someone negotiating the full horror of an online loan company's interest rate or someone trying to word a drug-selling ad that won't get them chucked off Ebay.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Time for a bit of feminism

You have been warned, well you will have been warned if you read the introductory bit, that this blog might sometimes smell of feminism. If the possibility bothers you then feel free to fuck off. And not come back.

I would also like to observe good online manners here and advise that the following might be distressing, so if you are sensitive (and I am going to use the phrase Trigger Warning), you might want to skip this post and maybe read the funny ones instead. Here's a harmless picture if you need to hop off the page quickly.

Anyway, in the light of the Mumsnet We Believe You campaign
(I would link but I am stupid tonight and can't make links work)
Here's some thoughts about rape, and rape myths.

I haven't been raped. Yet. One in four women have, which means it might happen before I die. Not having been raped yet doesn't mean I'm better, smarter, tougher than those women who have. Nor does it mean I'm uglier. I've just been luckier so far. I haven't met a rapist.
I've gone out, worn skimpy clothes and heels, got apocalyptically drunk and walked home alone. I've been lucky, I didn't meet a rapist.
I've crashed out at house parties surrounded by drunk men, but they weren't rapists.
I've snogged men, danced with them, laughed with them, invited them into my home and let them stay over despite only having known them a couple of hours, but they haven't been rapists.
I've started having sex with men, realised I haven't got a condom, or I feel sick, or for whatever reason I just don't want to carry on, so I've asked them to stop, and they've stopped. Because they were not rapists.

If I had, at any point over the years, been raped, it wouldn't have been because of anything I did or didn't do. It would have been because a man who was present at the time was a rapist.

One in four women will be raped at some point. That doesn't mean one in four men are rapists. Most men are not rapists, but rapists don't do it just the once because they 'got carried away' or they 'misread the signals' or because of anything the woman said or did. That minority of men who rape are rapists, and they will do it again and again and again. Because they are rapists, and all the shame attached to rape belongs to THEM and not those they hurt. They are the Epic Fails of humanity and a blight on the world.

So if you were unlucky enough to meet one of them, it was not your fault. I believe you. You did nothing wrong, you were just unlucky enough to find yourself in the presence of a rapist.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Lolloping Hungover

Ohh. Woah. Bah. Urrp! Plod, plod, plod, CLANG dagadydagadydagady goes yet another gate on springs. I've always been quite good at finding jobs that can be done with a hangover. Even when I had the Proper Job, hangovers tended to feature; I remember once the Office Blokes dissing one of their number for having taken a day off sick with his hangover. I joined in the dissing, up until one of them said, 'and if YOU didn't come in with a hangover we'd never see you!' I resented this slight on my character and said so.
'No, I mean I admire you,' said the bloke, rather anxiously. 'You come in and do your work even when you can't get your eyes open.'

I consider that I am in fact, fairly ROCK, though less so as I get older, so the high-consumption nights are a lot fewer (and let's not go into last night, which involved lots of Aspalls, vigorous jumping about and, er, there may have been an indiscretion. But I can't quite remember. Well, I think I remember administering a kiss, but what I can't remember is whether the recipient was pleased or utterly appalled.)

But actually, leafleting is not a bad hangover cure. All that fresh air, and the undemanding rhythm of in the gate, up the path, open the letterbox, shove in the leaflet... slowly but steadily I start to feel more human. Even without having had the time or the money for one of these.

And there's definitely a couple of cans in the fridge for when I get home.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Territory and Time Passing

I've hopped about in the course of my life, so I have never been really, deeply, counter-evolutionarily obsessed with any particular geographic zone. It's nice to be comfortably familiar with where you live, of course - knowing where the bus stop or the station or the open-all-night shop is. That's good. Knowing the best pub/cafe/lovely view is, that's also pretty good.
But it changes. Right now, in what is current home territory, they are ripping our local park to bits.

Even though I know it's part of the Greater Improvement, and I love the idea of the river being brought back to the surface and all that, seeing the climbing frame and the slide smashed to buggery did make me feel a bit sad. (And necessitate quite a lot of bright brisk talking to Trainboy along the lines of Ending Is Better Than Mending and all that...)

But tonight I went to an old patch of mine, Tottenham Court Road. Where I used to roam fearlessly (and pissed) a few years back. And now they've knocked half of it down and redirected the rest, and I bumbled about in the road all buffeted and bemused and *touristy*. And *OLD* person up from the provinces.

Don't like it. The rest of the world should reset to MY default.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Weather and my wardrobe

Obviously, in a job like this, you are a lot more aware of the weather and have to be aware of the weather. I'm not long back home from an evening round (for Fatty the food-hating client) conducted in a swirling white hell, and having found out that the wonderful new rubbery things that are supposed to stop arse/pavement interface in cold weather do not actually fit over my wellies at all.
Still, over the last couple of years of streetwalking jobs, I have acquired various useful items, such as waterproof trousers that remind me I used to be a bit of a pervert (they are black and shiny and smell funny), lots of extra-thick socks, and last winter I purchased a trapper hat because I thought it might make me look vaguely steampunk as well as keeping my head warm.
Yeah, one of these.

Remembering the time I bought what I thought was a wonderfully stylish black PVC vintage raincoat at a festival and leapt about reckoning I was rocking a Cool Girl Secret Agent appearance, only to be told by Chopwimp that I 'look like Wicked Uncle Ernie out of Tommy' (I sold that coat for 10 times what I paid for it on Ebay, by the way, so who's looking wicked now?) I put the hat on and got the comment in myself: so much for steampunk, I am in fact channelling John McRirick.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Living with Doom

When I go to bed at night I sometimes hope I might die. Then the debt collectors won't be able to get me. I wake up some mornings disappointed that I have woken up. At the same time I don't want to be dead. I don't want to miss all the nice things there might be in the future. More importantly, I don't want to do that to Trainboy. I don't want him to wake up in the morning and find his mother dead, I don't want him frightened and bewildered, no breakfast, no Mum telling him to get dressed, the loss of his home... I used to worry almost obsessively when Trainboy was a baby that I might die in the night or fall down the stairs and break my neck and he would be alone in the house, unfed, unchanged... At least I know he is now big enough to seek help if something does happen to me. He is old enough to run next door, to grab the phone and dial 999, I need no longer torment myself with visions of him starving in his cot.
Visions of us starving together in the streets are a bit more frequent, though. And the constant awareness of having no money, having defaulted on all the debts and not paid the rent, having promised to pay rent and debts but having been caught out again by creditors plundering the bank account in the wrong order... I think the dying in the night out of sheer stress is becoming likelier by the day.
What's the good of a blog if you can't just rant on it at random?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

House Envy now very acute.

I used to consider myself someone not interested in houses, really. You have to live somewhere, and as long as where I live is not rat-infested or next door to a crack den, I wouldn't really care. At the same time, I am an architect's daughter and have always had spells of House Envy on spying a beautiful building. When I first started working for Mr Kite, looking at houses and flats was part of the job; I would have to write down descriptions of any dwelling-place that might be of use or interest.

Obviously some did not tempt me that much.

But some houses, some roads, filled me with longings. Sunray glass, curved bays, 1920s flat roofs or Art Deco curves... it's the suburban classics that I love.
At present, delivering leaflets for a variety of concerns rather than specifically estate-agentery, I have to assess a road on the demographics, and the sort of demographics all the clients want tend towards the sort of pseudo-tudo, leaded lights, pointless litte round windows and stuff that makes me wince at the unfairness of a world where I can't live somewhere like that.

I mean, something that incorporates the spirit of this would do...

And at present, the sort of house I dream of has never looked further away. Trainboy and I are about to be booted out of our uninspiring early-Victorian terrace, and due to my horrible credit rating and low income, we are probably going to end up in some ropey mid-60s tower block, or living above a kebab shop rather than the clean-lined, well-proportioned middle class home that I'd love. Maybe I should just learn to deliver leaflets faster...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Those Hitler Rants and general cinema unfortunateness.

One of my Facebook pals put up yet another Hitler Rant Parody this morning, and yes, it was quite funny. (If you haven't seen one, have a google, a lot of the best ones have been taken down though - they are basically clips from Downfall, mostly of the scene where Hitler has a stropathon, with funny subtitles added in. Though some are funnier than others.) Having seen quite a few of them now, I couldn't help thinking that anyone who hasn't seen the original film (apparently a deep, profound, sensitive, moving, etc account of the last days of the Third Reich) might find viewing the whole thing an unfortunate experience. Because if you'd seen even a couple of the parodies, you wouldn't be able to get them out of your head once that particular scene started, and you would be snurking and spluttering and wriggling and appalling all the serious-minded folks taking the serious film seriously. Well I would.
I have not, so far, taken Trainboy to the cinema, ever. I worry that he might misbehave. Perhaps because I have a tendency to misbehave in the cinema; only a very few friends will actually agree to Seeing A Movie with me more than once. I think they are being wusses; part of the fun of watching a proper film (by which I mean one with zombies, car chases and EE-EE-EE soundtrack music at the very least) is leaping into your companion's lap, screaming, or Making Remarks from time to time. And being unable to restrain moans of joy when Johnny Depp or any cute goth boy appears. Though I only watch proper deep, profound, sensitive, etc films when absolutely forced to, I am more likely to find that moments in those trigger off either the smartarse reflex or the giggle one, and the more intensely seriously the audience are taking the film, the more likely I am to at least want to fart.
I haven't been to a cinema in about 8 years. Aren't you glad?

Friday, 13 January 2012

How To Love A Leafleteer

Obviously you should all love me, because I'm fabulous. Etc. Lots of people think I'm fabulous. Mr Kite thinks so. Several of the Clients do (though maybe not Pesky Paranoid Client). Even Stupid New Client with the food issues thinks so, at the moment. I don't know why you wouldn't love me. In these hard times, I am promoting and supporting small, local businesses and that is a good thing.
But even if you are not disposed to love me, perhaps you could refrain from various ways of making my life hell. Here's how.

Don't have a bitey letterbox.

You know, the sort that won't open at first, then suddenly does so with deceptive ease and THEN snaps back viciously on my fingers.

Don't have a bitey barky dog.

Or at least, if you do, have an external mailbox, or a cage behind the door-mounted letterbox or something. I would like to retain the normal number of fingers. And not have to leap back shrieking and put my foot in the fishpond when the bitey barky dog has been lurking behind the front door right up to the very moment I push the leaflet through, at which point it goes utterly hatstand out of nowhere ie WOOF WOOF WOOARGH GGGRRAAGGH WOOF FUCKING WOOF THUMP CRASH.

Don't live halfway up a cliff with eight thousand steps between street level and your front door. And if you must do this, please be considerate. Just a little bit. Not just of me but of your poor postie who has to come to your house every day.
Nice ways to do this include having a mailbox either at street level or at least only halfway up the eight thousand winding, slippery, steep steps, somewhere among the wonky statuary (and please don't have shit that looks like Weeping Angels in the shrubbery, it upsets me and struggling not to blink for the next 20 minutes makes me slobber) and the killer dripping trees.

And if you hate me so much that you have a No Junk Mail Leaflets or Flyers sticker, put it at the BOTTOM of the eight thousand steps. Don't make me climb all the way up there to find that you have labelled your letterbox NJM in really, really tiny writing that I have to obey. Not only does this tempt me very strongly to leaflet your house anyway, but if I had the anatomical capability I would very much want to widdle through the letterbox as well.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Business Clusters - how does this happen?

Time for a post in the category of 'This is sort of what I meant to talk about when I started the blog actually...' Because I have been leafleting business premises which must be Nothing To Do With Food (which is beginning to make me wonder if New Client is either a health nut or a fatty-with-Issues, particularly as the territory contains a lot of food-related businesses) I have been noting what other sorts of business there are in the designated area. And if they are not accountants, they are hairdressers. Interspersed with floor-covering outfits.
I know everyone deplores the cloning of the high streets and all that, but these roads are not 'suitable/unsuitable businesses in a long row of Boots/Subway/Topshop/Vodaphone/Clintons/Tescos' they are a long string of businesses that go, sort of, Takeaway/Hairdresser/Carpet/Restaurant/Accountant/Restaurant/Takeaway/Accountant/Hairdresser. With nothing else. Reminds me a bit of the Great Bromyard Underwear Debacle. Bromyard is a place with 500 antique shops, 400 pubs, one off-licence and nowhere to buy underwear. This proved unfortunate one weekend last year when I and fellow dancers were performing at a festival and I had forgotten to pack a bra (because I hate them but am supposed to wear one when dancing) and Northern H had forgotten to pack any knickers. Let's hit the town centre, we cried, expecting at least a Marks and Sparks, even if a small one.
Bog all. Antiques, antiques, peculiar country sports equipment, general store with booze and fags, toyshop, charity shop and that's your lot. We eventually tracked down a limited range of nasty nylon lingerry in one of those shops that also sells saucepans, roadmaps, plastic flowers and bogroll and made do. The bra I bought didn't fit and made my nipples itch, but Northern H seemed content enough with the knickers. But I can't imagine being so desperate for an accountant that you'd run down our patch and pass out in gratitude.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


No, I'm not sure it's an art form. It certainly isn't when I do it and I would definitely never call myself a photographer; back in the days of Other Job when I used to go and report on stuff I would always whine and cry when asked to bring back some photographs as well as some words, on the grounds that if I don't have a thumb over the lens then that's a really good day.Mind you, I would whine and cry even more if asked to take a Photographer with me given that the sort of things I reported on were generally a bit, well, confidential (but fine if described in words with no real names or identifying details or close-ups of scabby arses), and a general photographer who is not an oaf prone to sticking a lens in somewhere a lens isn't wanted is rare.
Of all the art forms, photography seems to be the one with the most whangers being the most pleased with themselves with the least reason. Most great iconic photographs are a matter of luck more than innate talent.

That's a hugely resonant. well-known photograph, which was one of a whole roll of film shot by someone who just happened to be in the right place at the right time, rather than someone who thought of the picture and put it together. Most great photographs are taken by someone who happened to be in the right place, at the right time, and didn't have her finger over the lens, or sneeze and drop the camera, at the crucial moment.

I've sort of accepted that the likes of Sharkinfestedwaters

is actually Art, not least because I've done my fair share of building stuff, throwing stuff and propping up stuff to Get The Picture for that lot. But generally when people are making a big fuss about a photograph, all I can think is that, well, you turned up. And you didn't drop the camera. Do you want a fucking biscuit?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Getting Old. It's getting closer.

Another new client, who wants leaflets delivered to business premises when they are closed. Presumably he'd rather wait and be ignored than indirectly told to sod off, or something. Still, this meant a stroll through the town centre for Trainboy and me after dinner, when the sort of places the client wants to target were shut, but lots of the other sort of places ie pubs, clubs and restaurants, were just starting to warm up.
Now the place we currently live in is not the area where I either grew up, nor is it where I spent the best of my decadent youth falling out of one venue and into another, so there were no sharp nostalgic pangs at the sight of a familiar beckoning doorway spilling out a certain song. I don't socialise locally, not because I am a raging snob who thinks the local nightlife beneath me, but simply because all my friends live elsewhere and if I do get a night out on the rip it's normally two trains and a bus ride away (and four nightbuses home but that's the price one pays. Etc.) There are three or four venues round here that it has occurred to me I might actually quite like - they appear to play rock music rather than hip hop or urban or whatever the repetitive-beat stuff calls itself these days; some of them offer live bands, and sensors did detect the presence of pretty boys in eyeliner here or there - but I didn't actually feel an urge to give Trainboy the housekeys and send him home while I hurtled inside to Have Fun.
(If any social workers are reading this, please be aware that it was a Joke. I would not really send a 7 year old home alone and go and drink beer like a Bad Chav Mother. And I had no money for a pint anyway.)
What I actually found myself yearning over was restaurants. There were loads. And they all smelled delicious and had great big poncy napkins on the tables and people eating interesting things.

I think this is a sign that middle age has finally arrived. Wanting a posh dinner instead of eight pints, a punch-up and a kebab. I'll be wanting a bloody boyfriend next. Or a sofa. Or a pension plan.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Pesky paranoid client!

I see his point. I really do. I'm more than aware that Other Leafleteers are sometimes less honest than me and actually do chuck all their leaflets over the nearest wall and trot back to the office with their paws out. But I have spent the whole day fretting about how come the new client reckons he did a random check and found no leaflets delivered. I know I was in the right road. I know it was a straight road with clearly marked houses, unlike some patches which can be a demented nightmare of back alleys and unmarked offshoots and all sorts. So I have been asking myself:
How many dogs were there on that road that could have eaten the leaflets?
Could the bizarre freak windstorms in fact have sucked leaflets back out of letterboxes and dissipated them?
Are householders with longstanding objections to leaflets (but not such big objections that they actually sticker their letterboxes) deliberately claiming they didn't get leafleted so I do not get paid and then the bailiffs get me?

I have been known to declare, straight-faced, that workplace problems must have been down to 'poltergeists' but not sure that would wash this time. Still, perhaps the client will get some clients and cheer up. And pay us.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Well Today Was A Good Day...

The sun shone, at least while I was out leafleting, producing one of those lovely crisp cold winter days.
The new client's leaflet is of a pleasing shape, can't remember the correct term but it is about a 3rd of an A4 sheet and printed on 120gsm. So it glides nicely through all but the most determinedly deterrent of letterboxes.
The new territory is flat. FLAT! After a month or so of almost vertical hills, every house on which was up or down an additional 15-20 slippery uneven steps covered in wet leaves, houses with wide flat carports outside on wide paved nicely level suburban roads are a real treat.
There were no NJMs anywhere in sight and only one slightly malevolent bit of domestic decoration; someone had put a real holly wreath over the door-knocker and round the letterbox in such a way that the letterbox looked accessible but turned out only to be so if you did a bit of a battle with the holly. I retreated sucking my wounded fingers but victorious.

And then I got home to find that I'd forgotten to renew the payday loan cheques so they'd all gone through and therefore there was no money for beer.

Monday, 2 January 2012

First Nut Of The Year

Would have to be the person who put their washing out.

A whole line full of washing. On New Year's Day. It was pissing down. Now I don't know if it was some sort of OCD issue, or related to some kind of superstition (I have heard of people who have to clean the entire house on NYE to keep the bad karma out. Tinfoil over all the windows is probably less stressful and more amusing for the neighbours), or just someone doing the washing as a way of taking his/her mind off his/her hangover.
Actually, given that there was quite a lot of bedding on that line, maybe someone got so drunk s/he wet the bed, so maybe it was some kind of penitential laundry project.