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.