Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It was pretty poor timing for the season of good cheer

but the book I was reading and finished yesterday of a Christmas evening was a little short on belly laughs, seeing as how it was 'Schindler's Ark.' So whilst the rest of the nation was glued to which ever James Bond film was on yesterday, having finished the book I was looking up various Nazi war criminals to see what eventually became of them.

The sheer scale of what went on in my parents life time in Europe is too far beyond understanding (two million of the Holocaust victims were children), but where this book was really powerful for me was where it considers the actions of certain like an SS guard at Plaszow who ensured a couple he had grown to know were on Schindler's list of workers destined for the safety of his factory at Brinnlitz, yet didn't apparently ask himself why if this couple were worth saving, the other Jews were not.

The book never produces a definitive answer as to why Oskar Schindler (and others like him who risked their own lives to save others)did what he did, although I did like the suggestion that he was by temperament an anarchist who loved to ridicule the system. A great example of this was his munitions factory which never produced a solitary shell, nor one single rocket casing. This in spite of being continually monitored by the Armaments Ministry, but thanks to the relentless trickery of his workers who would for example rig the temperature gauge of the furnace to read what should have been the correct temperature, whilst in fact the interior of the furnace was hundreds of degrees cooler, the factory always passed its inspections, and the inspectors would go away feeling sorry for all the terrible and inexplicable teething problems this poor man - Schindler - was experiencing in his factory.

So Schindler was later recognised as a Righteous Person - any non-Jew who saved Jewish lives in the second world war - and in 1962 had a tree planted in his name in the Avenue of the Righteous in Jerusalem. Righteous Person awards and medals have been given to the Norwegian and Danish resisters who helped Jews escape to Sweden, and to villages and families who hid, fed and helped Jews either to escape or to survive. By 1999 16,540 'righteous persons' had been honoured with this title. Over 5,000 are Polish, over 4,000 are Dutch, over 1,700 are French, over 1,200 are Ukrainian and over 1,000 are Belgian. 327 are German. 11 are British. People truly worthy of respect.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas

to all 37 of you!

One thing about having a restricted log is that I know precisely how many readers I have, as it turns out the vast majority of my readers previously had indeed only popped in via google to read about sun blushed tomatoes.

Reidksi and I had a lovely Christmas Saturday together, and I am now the proud owner of the world's most beautiful watch...thank you darling!

Then I came back home yesterday afternoon and went to a family do at my cousin's house...where there had been a little bit of unpleasantness recently in the attic.

There is a ladder in my cousin's attic which is loose on its railings. A couple of weeks ago it was necessary for my aunt - house sitting for my cousin Penny who was at work - to take the TV ariel man up into attic. He realised on climbing into the attic that it would be helpful to have his tool box so he went back to the ladder, which as he climbed down came off its railings, and my aunt watching from on high saw the poor man hanging on to the ladder looking directly up at her through the rungs of the ladder from his fast moving downward and backwards position below her. He landed flat on his back and screaming in agony. No one else was in and my aunt was calling down to him "Mr Johnson, Mr Johnson - are you alright? I can't help you! I am stuck in the attic!" Some time passed before Mr Johnson decided he was in fact able to move and rescued my aunt from the attic. When he got downstairs he discovered Penny's dog had weed in his tool box. The satellite dish did not get fixed that day.

My aunt suggested to Penny it would be a good idea to get the ladder railing fixed as soon as possible, but naturally this was good advice that was soon forgotten. Although it did come back into Penny's mind when a couple of weeks later on a Friday evening she went up into her attic to bring some Christmas decorations down - and the ladder slipped off its railings again as she was just beginning her ascent clattering to the floor, leaving Penny to pull herself back up into the attic to prevent falling where she swiftly realised she was a)stuck, and b) quite quite alone save for her dog who was leaping around on the landing below - but frankly not being too helpful. Her two sons had gone to their dad for the weekend - it occurred to her she could be there all weekend without being missed.

She kept thinking about jumping - but kept losing her nerve. Then REJOICE! Carol singers came to the door.

Carol singers - "Hark the herald angels sing"

Penny - "HELP!"

Carol singers - "Glory to the new born king."

Penny - "HELP!"

Penny's dog - "BARK, BARK, BARK, BARK" thereby drowning out any chance the carol singers would hear Penny.

She eventually escaped by throwing things down onto the landing in a pile so that she did not have so far to jump.

She rang up her mum as she was in need of sympathy as well as a stiff drink.

"Mum!" she wailed "I've been stuck in my attic for THREE HOURS!!!!"

"When" asked her mother "are you ever going to ring me with good news?"

Oh - and the satellite dish still isn't fixed because when poor Mr Johnson came back again he disturbed a bees nest in the roof and got horribly stung. Rumour has it he is now undergoing intensive therapy as result of the trauma caused by having contact with my family.

Have a good holiday y'all!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Glengarry Glen Ross

Last night Reidski and I went to see this
superb David Mamet play
which is on in the West End and stars Jonathan Pryce. It had had nothing but excellent reviews and I had really wanted to see it, but guessed I wouldn’t get the chance as it finishes its run on 12th January, and Reidski already had tickets to see it with some others. Luckily for me however, he saw a really good offer for which we not only got the theatre tickets but also a meal at a Spanish restaurant in Covent Garden for £20.00 each.

The meal – tapas – was very good, but en route to the theatre we assumed we would have pretty average seats. On the contrary though when we arrived we were told we had been ‘up-graded’ – and in fact we sat at the front of the stalls. A real bargain.

But why was it such a bargain, and why were we up graded to better seats? Well although I would love to say we were up graded because of our wonderful charm and personalities, I have to say it was more likely to have been because the theatre was half empty, and would have been emptier still if last had not successfully sold so many of their dinner and theatre tickets. I recognised at least half the audience from the restaurant we had just been to.

It seems such a shame that a play of such high quality is not selling out every night of its run. It seems to be the case that all West End theatre goers really want is a musical – though not this one apparently which proves I guess that we do have a modicum of discernment when it comes to theatre going. (And I speak as a Madonna lover myself!)

Anyway, see Glengarry Glen Ross whilst you still can – this time next month it will be so gone man.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Vegetarians Gone Wild!! Armstorng and Miller

It's kicking off Pru!

I had

three tickets for The Kaiser Chiefs at Earls Court on Friday night. so what did I do with them? I gave them to my two sons and one of their mates. The question I am asking myself having spent most of the afternoon being shown truly brilliant clips of the exact same gig on You Tube is what in god's name made me give those tickets away????

I drove them down as a) it was so much cheaper than them all getting the train and b) it meant I could meet up with Reidski,his best mate from up North, T.N.R, and Mrs T.N.R. who are staying at Reidski's for a few days. The four of us went to what is our fave Italian restaurant in London. and had a great meal as always, but it was rather livelier than usual due I think to a new and inept waiter who somehow offended some regulars who left without eating, at which point it "All kicked off" * outside with lots of elderly Italians scrapping in the street including the manager (70 if he is a day) and his wife (kung fu leaps and everything! I exaggerate in the interests of keeping it unreal), and continued inside with the aforementioned new waiter being bawled out by the owner in front of a packed and frankly hugely entertained audience of diners.

Then I met the lads to get them home and they were just buzzing with the excitement of what had been their first 'major' gig, and I tried so hard to be more pleased that they had had such an ace time, than I was jealous sick although obviously I failed miserably.) I can't really remember my first 'major' gig as I don't believe Showaddywaddy(who I have just learnt are from Leicester - explains a lot, or Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon really count. They used to play the Sands Showbar which was my haunt for lack of choice in the mid 70's. I just tried to find a link to this, but instead got side tracked by this which is Elvis at The East Coast Pensioners Hall, Christmas Party 2007. I had to register with the site to see that, but I am sure if you do likewise you will have to agree it is worth 3 minutes 2 seconds of anyone's lifetime to watch that craziness. ( A vision of the hell that could be retirement!)

* Our current favourite saying is "It's All Kicking Off" thanks to the genius that is Armstrong and Miller (see clip posted above - just for a change it is not my spelling mistake in the title but blogger won't let me change it. There must be copyright on the typo or some such thing.).

Friday, December 14, 2007

Not Stuart Gray* then!

But this guy instead.

Last night Five Live Drive asked people to ring in with their suggestions as to what English phrases Capello needed to learn first. My personal favourite was "We can take a lot of positives from that defeat." ("Possiamo prendere i positives molto da quella sconfitta" being the Italian for this useful phrase.)

Any more offers?

* Spelling checked and double checked Martin!!!!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Advice that would have fallen on deaf ears.

Yorkshire Pudding put me up to this one, and it has been on my mind for a few days.

What advice would I give to myself aged 13, given what I know now?

My own daughter was 14 in October and I look at her and think how much more sensible she is than I ever was at her age. She seems really comfortable with who she is in a way that I, awkward and shy as I was, could only have dreamt of being. I think she has benefited from having older brothers and being in a mixed sex school, and therefore having a fundamental understanding that boys are just – well – people, rather than being the alien species I suspected them to be when I was just 14 and at the time in an all girls school.

She has not done many of the stupid things I had already done by the time I was her age - snog boys when I didn’t really want to but was more afraid of being called a lesbian if I refused, drink alcohol I didn’t actually like (rum and black – YUK!!!) , skip school because I would be called a wimp if I didn’t, hang out with ‘friends’ no parent would ever approve of because I was too scared of them NOT to try and be ‘mates’. And the reason I am confident enough to state she hasn’t done these things is that she also has the ability to talk to me about these things, which stupidly I never did, but sincerely wish I had done when I was younger, to my mum.

I genuinely wish I could have been more like my own daughter is now than I was at her age. I look back and wish I had had more confidence in myself and in my abilities. I would tell myself being clever was something to be proud of and cherished rather than hidden as something to be embarrassed about. I would certainly tell myself that mum was right when she said one day I would be pleased I was tall because I spent much of my early teens desperately unhappy that I was horrible and gawky against all my 5 foot nothing petite friends. Oh – and keep my hair short – long never did suit me as my mother always tried to impress upon me, and as photographic evidence proves.

I could obviously provide a list of men to be avoided at all costs, and suggest that volunteering for the Nelson Mandela March in June 1987 from Glasgow to London might have a fringe benefit of meeting someone really special – but if I did that I wouldn’t have the kids I have and I can’t imagine anything more terrible than that. Plus I could tell my 13 year old self that there is still much to look forward to when you reach your late 40’s – not that she would believe me – that’s fucking ancient!

I could also suggest some jobs never to apply for in the first place starting with Jackson’s Supermarket Trainee Manager in Hull – Worst Job in The World Ever!

What else to Young Gawky Jane?

Well…Strong advice to always hold on to your skirt when travelling on escalators could save future embarrassment of the ‘losing one’s dress in public’ variety.

Definitely travel more than I did before I had kids (but with care when on escalators – see above).

Life might be more pleasant if you could wean yourself off that stupid football team and pick another one who might actually win something from time to time (Not Tottenham!)

More seriously, put the effort in to keep friendships in tact, and show people who matter to you how much you love and value them. Two of my very best friends now are back in my life after a gap of far too many wasted years. And never ever for example say that you no longer care for someone in particular, as when two days later they have a terrible car crash and nearly die you will blame yourself thinking that had you never made the stupid remark as recorded in your diary at the time the accident would not have happened (illogical I know but …). Thankfully that person is both alive and kicking, and Reidski and I met up with him again recently.

But all in all – ‘Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again’ etc etc. I’ve obviously made mistakes along the way, but hopefully I have learnt from them and I think that mostly, you do need to find these things out for yourself - except for smoking where you will just have to take my word for how vile that is!

So Young Jane remember that it’s not all Cobblers – it is worth living – and to borrow another song title which you won’t hear for many years yet, ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.

And now for God’s sake 13 year old Jane – Stand up straight and get your hair cut !!!!

It would be interesting to read what others would say to their 13 year old selves if anyone fancies having a go.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


the author of this article is single.

And likely to remain so I would say.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Our Service Sector

Reidski and I have had our fair share of crap service from miserable gits in the past few weeks as mentioned in his post Can't Shape Up which I can't do an exact link to for some reason. We are not alone if Katy Newton's experiences of trying to buy a cup of tea or trying to get a taxi
to London Bridge are anything to go by.

Very funny in the retelling, but both incidents coming one on top of the other, must have been SO annoying at the time.

Toff Pops Clogs

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

For those of you who inexplicably do not make a habit of reading the Telegraph obits this one is a classic.

A short life, but hardly dull.

Friday, December 07, 2007

When hassle comes

like troubles they don't come as single spies do they?

This morning I get a call whilst getting ready to leave the house from my son who announces he has run out of petrol. Naturally this means mum must drop everything and dash to the rescue. I get to him and provide the necessary juice for him to get to school, but then I noticed one of his tyres is practically flat. I impressed upon him the importance of getting his tyre changed as soon as he got to school.

I am by now a little pushed for time, so was not a happy bunny to find my back roads route of choice closed due to fallen trees (it was a wild and windy night round our parts.)So I go the way of all the other traffic - by which I mean I go extremely slowly - we crawled along but I still had half an hour to get where I needed to be at 10.00, and as it was ordinarily only a 10 minute drive I was quite relaxed.

Until the man in the inside traffic lane to me tells me I have a puncture. "What?" I asked myself "is it with my family and tyres this morning?"

I pull off on to what may once have been a grass verge, but is now a mud pit. I get out and sink ankle deep into the mud. I determine to be a capable woman and change the tyre myself. I fail miserably at the first hurdle when I can't even work out how the jack is supposed to work. Male assistance is summoned.

I arrived for my 10.00 appointment at 11.

On leaving my appointment I then got stuck in the traffic jams once again and a journey which should have taken 5 minutes managed to take nearly an hour. This can't happen soon enough. No wonder no one shops in our town centre anymore.

Anyway, what I need tonight is a drink.

And as tonight is Reidski's work Christmas party

I suspect getting one won't be a problem (or a drink ;-) )

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Things that go bump in the night

Haven't mentioned my crazy sister for a while so here goes.

Twas midnight, and all through the house not a creature was stirring ....but outside it was a different story.

My niece aged 10 was woken up by very loud banging coming from the back garden. She was terrified and shouted for her mum, who upon hearing what she described as incredibly loud banging was terrified too.

My niece was in tears and my sister did not dare go outside on her own to confront whoever was obviously trying at the very least to break into her house. She rang her next door neighbours and when they did not answer left a voice mail along the lines of "HELP!!!" She then tried the people who live across the road from her and they woke up and answered. She told them about the banging, but they said they could hear it anyway. They said they would be across to help. My sister on seeing their approach opened the door and at the same time her next door neighbours who had been disturbed by the phone and then listened to the message also emerged in their dressing gowns. (Did I mention it was cold and raining?)

There was no sign of any stranger around, and the noise had stopped. They all looked around but to no avail - until a cat suddenly jumped over the fence from the garden of the elderly lady who lives the other side to my sister. At this point the incredibly loud banging commenced again.

It was my niece's pet rabbit scaring the cat off.

Very effectively.

Obviously my sister's neighbours were not at all put out at being woken up and dragged out of bed to tackle a pet rabbit?????

They are terrifying though don't you think?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Arcade Fire

Remiss of me not to have mentioned that Arcade Fire were also totally stunning.

Interpol - Evil (live)

Beg, steal or sell your body to get a ticket to see Interpol live.

They were fucking tremendous, and it was when they did this track that I am reliably informed I went 'Mental'.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Grey for England Manager's Job

I can confirm today that Northampton Town manager Stuart Grey has not ruled himself out of contention for the vacant position as the next England Manager.

Stuart Grey would find it hard to resist a serious offer to become England's new coach. However, the Football Association will lose this popular supporters' choice for the job if they continue to procrastinate over talking with the Northampton Town manager.

In contrast to Fabio Capello, who on Friday spoke about his desire to take on the job, according to associates of Grey's, Grey has himself resolved to say nothing publicly until he knows the FA's intentions.

The FA are yet to contact Grey directly about the England position in the aftermath of Steve McClaren's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 and subsequent sacking. Though a number of individuals claiming to represent the governing body have called Grey's agent, to poll his interest in the position, all inquiries have been deflected as they are widely assumed to be a wind up.

Grey has indicated to family and friends that he is waiting for a senior member of the FA hierarchy to make direct contact and that he is also not prepared to wait indefinitely for the FA.

Noting that England's next international is not until at least February, Brian Barwick of the FA has said that there is no need to rush the selection process. Asked if there was a danger of missing out on a candidate of Grey's calibre by waiting too long, he said: 'The most important thing is that we get the right person. The length of time it will take will be the length of time to get the right person.'

Any resemblance to
this article apart from the grain of truth to be found either there or here is purely coincidental.