27 November 2012

24 November 2012

The Paedo Piper

~ The Oldie December issue cover ~

Gosh, I hope The Oldie Ed follows thru his idea of giving me an 'Expat' corner in the mag.

Again and again and again, congrats to the mag for its part in breaking the Jimmy Savile scandal way back in the March issue.

'Only The Oldie was prepared to publish Miles Goslett's story about Newsnight dropping the Jimmy Savile report,' said the Editor, 'and this has finally been recognised by a number of papers, including the New York Times.'
To celebrate The Oldie's continued position at the forefront of journalism, herewith the December issue's cover with David Stoten's illustration of Sir Jimmy as The Paedo Piper being sheltered by the BBC.

22 November 2012

Cuffs & Links

Preparing my natty wardrobe for Thanksgiving luncheon in two hours' time.

I keep forgetting why those two shirts in my top shelves stay un-opened: they are real shirts requiring real cufflinks, of which all of mine were filched in the early hours of my mother's packing for Italy in April 2007.

I discovered the theft almost immediatelu thanks to my brother's bungling and leaving the distinctive box out on his bedroom dressing table.

A few months on, maman must have come across a box of cheapos which she left out in Thief Alley without a word.

I spotted them when I went in. I dont know if they were meant to appease me but I took the box out to the garden and shook it in her face where stood at her hobby:

"I don't want to see this sort of crap. Throw it straight away before it catches my eye and reminds me of the theft of my and my girls' own jewels."

The theft that goes on stealing. Every time I see cufflinks advertised in some glossy, every time I inadvertently go to don a shirt needing cuffs, I remember the double theft.

Work in Progress - 'Piece of Work', as someone named the filch. I should have this printed and pinned prominently as a reference source when I give visitors the guided tour of the thievery and recount the nasty tale.

20 November 2012

BAD SEX 2012

~ what we're all good at ~

  • OYEZ OYEZ! ROLL UP ROLL UP!!
  • Full short list of Bad Sex Writers
  • The one skill we all lack in common
  • Vanity Fair
  • Winner to be announced at lavish December ceremony in London – and it is considered a badge of courage for the authors to attend to receive it in person.

  • Extracts from the shortlisted novels

  • The Quiddity of Wilf Self, by Sam Mills: Down, down, on to the eschatological bed. Pages chafed me; my blood wept onto them. My cheek nestled against the scratch of paper. My cock was barely a ghost, but I did not suffer panic.
  • Noughties, by Ben Masters: We got up from the chair and she led me to her elfin grot, getting amongst the pillows and cool sheets.

    We trawled each other's bodies for every inch of history.

  • Back to Blood, by Tom Wolfe: Now his big generative jockey was inside her pelvic saddle, riding, riding, riding, and she was eagerly swallowing it swallowing it swallowing it with the saddle's own lips and maw — all this without a word.
  • Rare Earth by Paul Mason: He began thrusting wildly in the general direction of her chrysanthemum, but missing — his paunchy frame shuddering with the effort of remaining rigid and upside down.
  • The Yips by Nicola Barker: She smells of almonds, like a plump Bakewell pudding; and he is the spoon, the whipped cream, the helpless dollop of warm custard.
  • Infrared by Nancy Huston: This is when I take my picture, from deep inside the loving. The Canon is part of my body. I myself am the ultrasensitive film — capturing invisible reality, capturing heat.
  • The Divine Comedy by Craig Raine: And he came. Like a wubbering springboard. His ejaculate jumped the length of her arm. Eight diminishing gouts. The first too high for her to lick. Right on the shoulder.
  • The Adventuress: The Irresistible Rise of Miss Cath Fox by Nicholas Coleridge: In seconds the duke had lowered his trousers and boxers and positioned himself across a leather steamer trunk, emblazoned with the royal arms of Hohenzollern Castle: "Give me no quarter," he commanded. "Lay it on with all your might."

18 November 2012

ANNIVERSARY

Just because Athens News can't get out on the streets in printed copy, doesn't mean we can't thrill to and admire its wonderful online archives.

Expertly compiled by Damian Mac Con Uladh (whose very name is a joy to type)

17 November 2012

DIN FROM THE KENNELS

Don't know why I find this quite so touching.

Appended by a Corfucia Irregulière. No provenance.

The office door closed, dulling the din from the kennels.

"What do you want this dog for?" I was asked austerely, "house dog, watch dog?"
I looked at him, gaunt and quivering, amber eyes searched mine.

"I want him," I answered, "for a friend."

They were satisfied. They wrote on the paper, "One Black Dog".

15 November 2012

BLUES OF THE PEOPLE

Good attack by the bottler. Actually, everyone seems en forme on this one.

13 November 2012


POLITICALLY KEREKT SOAPS


Hilariously dotty article in the Grauniad by Polly Toynbee, complaining that soap operas do not reflect contemporary reality because they “avoid having characters discuss politics”.
The article is too stupid to recommend reading but some of the reader comments really got me giggling.

I share below.

Coronation Street as written by Polly:

Betty: Pint of your usual Ken?
Ken: How can I drink when child poverty is increasing by 13% a month according to an Institute of Studies and the Tory government are determined to throw the poor onto the bonfire?
Betty: Oh I know luv, I've tried getting a grant to turn the Rovers into a Sure Start Centre but it was impossible thanks to vicious Tory Cuts.
Ken: I don't have time to drink anyway, as I've got to get home to watch Ed Miliband's speech to the TUC now.
Perhaps the Archers could broadcast an episode where they actually find the mystical socialist money growing trees.

Now that would help us all.

Alfie: Kat, what's wrong? You're not your usual self today? Are you ill?
Kat: I'm okay. It's just I'm worried about the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement. It's higher than it should be at this point in the financial year.
Alfie: I know what you mean. A few weeks ago when I saw the Spanish government's borrowing costs I nearly had a heart attack.

CONRAD BLACK

That splendid lion in winter, Conrad Black, has been laying waste to the hyenas of the press, slashing and roaring like a bear at bay, disemboweling all who come too close.

There is a delightful partnership with the Spectator, first a stooge letter to 'Dear Mary' asking the etiquette on inviting the Blacks back into polite salons, second handing him the 3rd November 'Diary' where he comes up with many eminently quotable quotes, among them,

" ... the London media are the lowest mutation of human life I have encountered (except for American prosecutors) ... fetid and narcissistic infestation of self-obsessed, drearily predictable, lazy, recklessly self-exalted wits ...."

11 November 2012


LIVING YEARS


Wish I could have told her in the living years.
BUSTED Well, that'll serve me right. Nabbed bang to rights.
I had thought to show off to une certaine by tweaking her heartstrings with the Rutherford. It being R'm'mbrance Day, all cemeteryan and gravey-tas and all, I thought I'd slip in a mendacious link to maman etc.
Even as I came to type the words I heard the mental chalk on the blackboard: nothing fitted or felt right ~ but what the heck, she wouldnt know.
I even chose a self-timer photo showing me at my outest-raged, having to stay in to 'help' prepare nibbles for some wretched garden group visit.

  • Garden Group visit approacheth. Double time in the stonking jardin.
  • Buy and prepare the food.
  • Arrange patio, table cloths.
  • Dance attendance on the assembled hobbyists.
  • The whole garden would have been tidied. The mob turns up, walk to edge of patio, "Gosh lovely. What a view. I say, is that rosé you're serving - yes please. Are these made by you, Marjorie? Delicious."
Telling it in the living years: But Sinbad knew, crouching in the crows-nest, spyglass to cold eye:

'Don't have to wait til the third rooster crow - Holmesie has mis-tappèd.'
But I like these serendipitous curved balls, backing me into a corner. I remember a match at Hurst', fierce bowler, yorkers, headliners and all the rubbish.
The sort of beefy bully whose dad would turn up in his MCC cap and bawl out "Knock his bawls orf!", which Bawler Fils often did. Certainly scared me.
So up he trundles to the crease, all thunder brows and grinding shoulders. I'd had three balls whizz by my head so I was already groomed and spooked.
Balls leaves his hand, I step back, not to execute a perfect drive but out of instinctive cowardice. I lash out with my bat so that at least I'm doing something - and by the willow of Wodehouse!, the javelin of Jeeves! I'm perfectly balanced on the back foot, my Surridge bat connects whack-on with the ball as it bounces early and it rises to off to be despatched whizz past the diving slips, thru the well-placed fielders - and must have hit a tuft because it took a high bounce into the spectators. A silence, because i was the weed of the Remove, in the team for my leg-breaks not for any ploughman's bat-tery against the bowling. We ran one because i didnt want to face no more lik that. What I didn't know was that it almost came down on Bawler père's pate.
Can't remember why I'm telling this except for the fun of the memory.
Back to being trounced on this song ~ I'm going to use my Mike Mechanics humiliation to remember Thief Alley and my favourite jape.
Mater would rise around 0200hrs to fiddle and rearrange her jewelry. Shuffle shuffle, I'd hear her go, mixing and matching in her counting house.
After the theft I had the perfect excuse to burst in, check my own end and the shelf on which had sat my boîte de bling, and then 'inspect' maman's jewels and what she was placing where.
I had the perfect excuse: Once filched from, twice fly, and it was the exact time and place where the original thievery had taken place.
My daughters loved this story and we would repeat the exercise of me yanking open the door with studied suspicious violence.
It doesnt really come off, there isn't the blazing-eyed alertness I picture having brought to these ambushes.
Then I decided to recreate the scene so I could send them a photo recreation.
I also kept a typed list in Thief Alley of each jewel and its intended beneficiary. When i first arrived in 2006, i photographed the entire collection for security (ha!) and had also kept notes from every meal when maman had airily discussed to whom each bijou was intended - my daughters, my sister-in-law etc. Friendlier days.

I'd be excruciatingly friendly and helpful.


"So let's see what we've got here ... right, these are down for my girls, those for Italy, that one you said for Susie.
Of course theyre yours to do with what you will and change your mind as often as you please, but there's also my security: as people have pointed out, your jewels are easily accessible 24/7 to someone whose own jewels you removed behind his back and have never explained or returned. I am the obvious suspect if anything disappears and your memory is not perfect."




















10 November 2012

09 November 2012


CORFU

~ a tale of two islands ~


Currently wowing the island and sparking lively pleb vs toffs debates on the Corfu Grapevine.
I won't name names because it'll spoil a bit OF writing I want to do on the whole subject.
Much more to come and I will be honing what's already here.

  • While I remember, mega props to Domonic for leaping in from the start and wiring le tout corfu to this show.



  • MEDAL

    I am entitled to wear my father's KCMG insignia at this year's Remembrance Day service at the British Cemetery.

    Indeed, that is where Dad is buried.

    My mother used to dutifully don the Star and Badge and looked very natty in her grey suit.

    The Star would go round my neck and drape just below my Windsor knot - Balliol tie, I think. No point in not being 'safe' on the neck, as my grandpa had it.

    But I had second thoughts - in fact, no thoughts because I knew it felt completely wrong.

    Kind types encouraged me and talked of showing respect and honouring my father's hard work, and so forth. But I never felt sure about it.

    I think this is why: I never really knew Dad and he died here in Corfu when I was still working in London and, in fact, not aware that Dad was even close to death. This happened in reverse with my mother ~ I was right here in the house and knew to the precise last gasp when she'd quit this coil.

    Of course, I would love to step out in the Michael/George bling and swan and swank, but I think I know what holds me back with such definite sureness. I've been thinking through it.

    The honour was conferred on dad for over 35 years' honest hard graft and decency. The medals represent something.

    I came to Corfu six years ago to do a straightforward job of Caregiver to my mother.

    It has been six years in a culture of theft, defined and represented by the stealing behind my back of my entire collection of personal jewelry heirlooms for my daughters - cufflinks, tiepins, knick-knacks collected and treasured over 50 years - and kept safe thru schooldays, university, foreign travel, marriage, fatherhood - only coming a cropper under my own roof and the only other person in the house.

    Not just theft of possessions but theft of time, of dignity, of self-respect ... a time of rotting values and the stench of self-referential obtuseness.

    What could contrast more with the values held firm by my father? What I have seen and heard and the attitudes and treatment ... a complete collapse of everything Dad stood for, and this is brd-in-the-bone vileness.

    It's as if I would be ashamed to take the medals out and expose them to the world that followed him.

    Having been at the losing end of the thieving and the garden slaving and the lies and trickery and thwarting of my best efforts to deliver the best care possible ... all the dishonesty and dissembling that went into effortlessly sidelining me until my automaton role was useful, I feel as if the filth would rub off on the medals.

    Of course there is also shame at having taken such treatment so meekly. I should have walked out of the cesspit and never looked back; I should have raged and rampaged and wreaked proper violence at the time.

    Too late now, my timing was off or some mis-begotten sense of duty or just a desire to help.

    But no medals for caving in to such low behaviour and allowing it to stink and fester.

    07 November 2012

    Κασσιόπη

  • Exasperating thread on the Corfu Grapevine, to which I won't even provide a link because I wash my hands of the whole bunch.

  • Question was, is it Kassiόpi or -opey. FFS, it's on every road-sign.

  • Simon succinctly provides grik, which should have ended further discussion.

  • Mais non, on they drivel.

  • Then people start chipping in with 'Does it matter?'

  • By the Linguaphone of Leonídas! Of course it matters! You're fronking living in the country, you have the chance to learn this most beautiful and subtle of languages.

  • I fear more than despair: I have a glimpse of the grunting Midian hosts that must always have been out there.

  • There is no hope.

    Baddeley link - that link there isn't about 'oaf' or 'off' pronunciations but a page I moaned about not finding of Aleko Dasmaskinos teaching Greek in Sally's bar.

    Actually, it's a pretty damn'd fine page in toto and I was reading it for its beauty and precise writing and then scrolled down to the lesson. SB goes into the lesson in fine detail. I shall stick to vague outlines and only home in on goofs or tittle-tattle of my fellow pupils.



  • GREEK LESSONS

    Started Greek lessons under the genial donnish Aleko Damaskinos, whose family my parents knew well and to whom my mother referred often.
    We meet at Sally's in Ipsos and sit over by the dartboard, far enough for the sound from the TV not to defeat my aural hearing.
    Merry little group, alert and keen.
    I can read the Greek which puts me ahead of the rest and, I think, annoys A who writes greek on the board and then has to translate.
    Pronouncing v as v rather than as 'n' will grate in time.
    Aleko's notes are excellent as is he, taking us patiently along with simple examples. I learn a lot because it is teaching me the groundwork as opposed lazily picking up what i hear.
    Lesson 3 i forget to print out the notes so i do not have a crib sheet and dont look so smart, much to the others' relief and satisfaction.
    After, we retire for a beer: i sip leisurely at my beer (booze with lesson? disgraceful!)
    After the first lesson, A and I had good chat and then up to the Vitamin where he is well known, as where he is not?
    He knows where the bodies are buried.
    When I was asked how the lesson went by a long-time corfiot, I mentioned my enjoyment of the long chat after, solving all the problems of the world and exhuming others, the blood drained from her face and she 'probed'. I was casual and played ignorant but i knew exactly why she blanched. Mum's the word as I tease the good stuff out. More anon.

    First thing Aleko asked eagerly was, had I seen the Democracy Street coverage of his lessons.
    I had not and whatever I punch in I still can't find photos or critiques such as I myself will be coming up with.
    But gosh, doesn't rue Demo look fresh and clean these days. I continue to plummet in grumpy gloom as new-style blogger wastes even more time than it did before.
    Perhaps updating it at 0557hrs has something to do with it.
    Let me at least upload some photos and arrange and edit at a more sensible hour.

    The Baddeley/Damaskinos class - thanks to Sinbad for passing on.

    05 November 2012

    RACIST BETTY

    One of those treats you never think Pointy-capped Fate will actually allow you.

    Let's call her Betty because I only confuse myself when I make up names.

    I knew her name and history from over the 5 years, 9 months and 4 days that I served as my mother's care-giver. Wait! The first time maman mentioned Betty was after her theft of my daughters' heirloom jewels ~ otherwise I couldnt have matched Thievery with Racism. So let's say that when she called me over the weekend, I had been 'aware' of her as a gardenry friend of mum's for 4 years, 8 months, 14 days.

    What made call so bizarre was that Betty kept saying how sorry we'd never met, how she'd met Pete and even stayed at Villa Thefti, how she'd heard so much about me from my mother

    ["Believe half," I told her. "Pure lip service. I monitored the calls so Mum wouldn't have wanted to put too many words wrong. But I know what you mean.")

    On and on she churned, explaining herself and filling in the gaps when I felt I was already bursting with history from every time a letter arrived or my mother brought up her name.

    I was constantly in danger of interrupting and asking after her "racist, spendthrift, wife-beating roué of a ne'er-do-well black son-in-law." When I finally replaced the receiver - ignoring all hints to invite her up to view the neglected paths and bloated corpse of the jungle previously known as 'garden'.

    Actually, mustn't boast untruthfully: i have no idea WTF state the Land Beyond the Patio is in. It started that I didnt go down there, then I *couldn't* go down (for the usurping overgrowth and weeds and disintegrating paths.) Now I can hardly see down there and what I can isn't worth laying out tea and biscuits just to sadden a visitor.

    Anyway, let me get on with the backstory so i can send it to my cherub girls.

  • Kitchen table, trapped over food, Maman droning on about usual gardenry stuff and people. Suddenly a new name pops up and interesting modulation in the maternal voice ...

  • "Betty ... mumble ... poor thing, sad story ... mumble .. daughter ... marriage ... black man ..."

    'Hang on, what's about black ... son-in-law wife-beater? Wastrel? Made off with family jewels? Embezzled fortune?'

    Mumble, sotto voce, head bowed in sadness ... "No, of course not - averted gaze - you know ... marrying a black man ... how would you like it if one of your girls came back with a ..."

    'With a black boyfriend? I'd need to know more before I formed any opinion ... wouldn't mind at all!'

    "Bet you would."

    'What from the colour of his skin? Of course not - my God, what a racist remark! I never expected that from you.'

    "Don't be so rude - how dare you call me a racist?"

    'Colourist, then, but I think you'll find the general view of that attitude is regarded as racist.'

    Oh la la! boot expression, twisted features, here we go ...

    "Why are you always so argumentative these days, always picking a quarrel."

    'Not always ... but i do have a quarrel with racism, as I do with theft.'

    You can imagine the rest: a bit of hurling, stomp from room, slamming of doors.

    Loipon, I finish my meal and think nothing of it. Usual usual for me, except in this case, rather un-usual.

    As is usual with her dementia oubliettia, Betty crops up again and - D.O-style - the exact same words, the same lowered voice as if death in the family ... but this time I am right there: "I know this one, she's the racist with the black son-in-law who beats his wife." Stir stir. More stamping and booting, 'There you go again, what's wrong with you? Always picking holes in everything.'

    "I don't call this 'everything' and yes, I do pick a hole with racism ... and filching. Don't forget, none of my family has received any explanation of why or where my jewels are.

    Honestly, it's more usual for people to be shouted down for racist tendencies - not pushed into them"

    . I say that I have no feelings about the colour of someone's skin, and you insist that I do. Most weird, and a bit troubling."

    Wait a few months, letter from Betty, her name on the back of the envelope.

    "Letter from a 'Betty' - is this 'racist' Betty, the unfortunate with the black in-law who stole his wife's jewels and refuses to return them?"

    Another year and Anna due over, as well as my brother and his wife. Local betting is that my gentle, innocenter, sis-in-law will be chosen to take A to one side and hand back the jewels with no more said. End of ruckus.

    One of our many disputes over my treatment as an automaton slave, this time over my announcement to one and all that, if they mention needing transport anywhere, and if my mother does her usual offhand 'Oh Chris will take you' - Bwarp! Error! Won't happen.

    "This is the way works:
    • You mention that you need a taxi, whatever; that you need to leave because the Lee-Hookers are leaving and can drop you orf.
    • My mother immediately says 'Oh no need to leave right now, Christopher can take you.'
    • You take your cue from the Gullands or Suzie, or Tom over there, who have shown manners and consideration in this situation, and you go, "Hold on. We haven't checked with Chris yet. It might not suit him."
    • Come to me with however sweet a smile and tell me that my mother has appointed me your driver. FUGGEDIT. Comprende?"

    Which is what i proceeded to say, loudly, to the assembled company.

    Rather like those signs in shops asking 'Please do not ask for change/to use our toilet. A refusal might offend'

    Please do not assume I will be your chauffeur on my mother's say-so alone. My refusal will be intended to cause maximum embarrassment and offence.

  • That had been our argument, with maman countering, 'Well, it's my car.' Duhh, so?

    Pumped by this offensive non sequitur, I said

    'You know what? I was about to ask Anna to send me a few photos of her with some of her black pals - just to ram home the racist argument - but you know what? I couldnt think of an explanation for why I was asking. It is so outside my daughters' thinking that it would make no sense.'

    All these memories were going thru my mind as Betty was rabbiting on down the phone, wishing we'd met, how odd it must be getting her call out of the blue, a complete stranger, yak drone gush.

  • Best guests ~ for her 14th birthday at the local youth club, Anna shocked Stephanie and me by warning us beforehand that she had invited some black pals and was this ok? Dude, Steph blew her top - what in any of our behaviour had we ever implied that we'd even notice the colour of her pals? We were shocked.

    After the party, i asked Anna if she'd noticed that it had been her 'black' pals who'd stayed behind to clean up.

    "Didnt see none yo' whitey homies offering to tidy."

    Steph: OK, Chris, that's enough.

    The next time I saw hr with her black pals, I asked Anna "Isnt that one of your birthday pals who had the manners and coolness to help clean up?"

    Yeh, dad, Malcolm, and Winston and Evon ...

    "I'm going to have a word with them - hey Malcolm. I'm Anna's dad, i want to thank you for being so cool about tidying up after that party ... that Winston there? He helped, too. Very grateful. Class act."

    Huge beam, manly black handshake - yo winstone, get your ass over here, listen to this, soo cool.'

    Later at home, Steph: 'Your younger daughter is Miss Congenial Popularity - I gather you thanked her friends who tidied up. Good move.'

    Anna: Dad! That was like soo nice of you. Winston was like 'omg, your dad is soo cool.'

    Me: So, have they invited you to join their gang? The Queen Anne Crips? You now an honorary sistah?

    Stephanie: See? Then you go and spoil it.

    When Anna was over, with P and C also in residence (and no, there was no handover of my girls' jewels), I told her the Racist Betty saga and she was (like) "Dad! I should of brought one of my black friends. Imagine what Ya-ya would have said!"

    "'Have' brought, darling. Have. Nai, there'd have been a few 'expressions.'

    When Betty and I finally meet, I shall tell her this tale - but this blog is read by many more than I realise, it will get back to her via 'family' by the time I've posted.