Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I Did, I Taw, A Puddy Tat.

On Saturday, Lily, Sybil and I went along to the local Cats Protection League to pick up her new charges. It is a dangerous place to visit as a cat lover is the CPL. You see all these wee cats who nobody seems to want and you want to take them all home with you. I resisted, just.

We loaded the girls Mushroom (on the left), Pumpkin (above middle) and their brother Potato (above right) into the Marmitemobile and set off to Chez Lily. The girls were quiet on the journey; especially Mushroom. Potato however voiced his displeasure quite audibly. As the male in the family he seems to be the biggest of girls blouses.

On arriving home they were let out of the carrying cases and set off too investigate their surroundings. Mushroom it seems, is the bravest and set off upstairs after only fifteen minutes or so and immediately squeezed herself in through the door of Sybil’s dolls house to have a look round. When she exited unscathed her sister thought she’d have a butchers too. (For my overseas readers, butchers (butchers hook) is Cockney rhyming slang for look, clever eh?)

Potato is rather more tentative and preferred to stay downstairs and pretend to cover his food with earth. He has a delicate palate it seems and Asda’s Meat and Gravy pouches aren’t to his taste. It was funny seeing him go to all three dishes and show his displeasure at what had been dished up to him.

It wasn’t long before they had all had enough of wandering about and settled down to their new home. Potato is very demanding and has to be stroked and made a fuss of. If you are giving attention to the girls he cries and pushes in. A typical insecure male, my Twiglet is exactly the same. Little Pumpkin is shy and demure and likes to be cuddled. She likes to sit on the windowsill and watch the world go by. Mushroom on the other hand is a nutter. Within an hour she was chasing round playing rough and tumble games with her toys and her siblings. I had her and her sister playing duvet monsters on Saturday night and she is very good at it. She leaps in the air like a salmon before catching the evil foot monster beneath the quilt cover. When she was six months old she had a litter and although now spay retains her mothering qualities. She pounces on her siblings’ holds them down and then washes them. Bless.

They have all settled in really nicely and are already starting to create havoc. Mushroom’s favourite game Lily says is to pull the modem lead out of the back of the laptop thus making internet surfing impossible when she is awake. Just goes to prove that cats are an excellent way to waste time.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Bit Of A Do.

This time last week I was attending a ‘bit of a do’ at the very swish London restaurant The Babylon Roof Gardens in Kensington. I don’t usually go to restaurants where you are required to use a knife and fork, or where the use of crockery is mandatory, but I made an exception last Friday because Lady Bracknell’s Editor was receiving her MBE.

It was a motley gathering, mainly because The Editor has such an array of waifs and strays. Obviously I was in attendance, along with the Editors baby brother The Accountant. Also Pop Larkin turned up with an associate known as JC who insisted on wearing The Editors hat. Scarily the hat suited him very well. Young Anthony also insisted on trying the hat on as well and it went very well with his silver topped cane, which he admitted is an affectation. I have heard there are several creams on the market that can clear that up Ant!

Old Blind Git, as the Editor somewhat rudely calls him, came with his esteemed canine friend Sutton. Sutton decided that the whole event was an absolute bore and had a good kip throughout proceedings. Auntie Jan was there and was allegedly the only other lady present. Uncle also attended and was on fine form although he had to keep popping out to ‘feed the meter’ whatever that means!!! Finally was the keeper of the finest establishment west of London (according to reports) young Algernon graced himself with his presence. Apparently he is no relation to the Editor’s employer.

It was a fine afternoon of wine and fine food. I had to return to Darkest Essex after the meal but I hear the festivities resumed at Algernon’s establishment until late into the day. Hearty congratulations go out to the Editor on receiving her badge from HRH Prince Chuck.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

What's Up Pussycat?

There is much excitement in Lily’s house at the moment because she is about to have some new additions to her family. On Saturday morning we are going to pick up three ten month old cats from the Cats Protection League.

About ten days ago Lily went along to the Cats Protection League place up the road from her house to have a look round. She wants to volunteer there so she can maintain her cat fixation. She said that she wanted to get a cat after Christmas and was going to get out on the waiting list. When I rang her that night she said she’d had a lovely time and then just slipped in ‘I’ve got three kittens’ under her breath and went on to something else. ‘”Hang on a minute” I thought, and said ”Did you just say you’ve got three kittens?” Apparently she was worried that I’d tell her off and said it quickly. I am, of course, nearly as excited as she is, (I could never be as excited, nobody could) and can’t wait to see the little mites.

The story is that they are siblings, two girls and a boy who were owned by a woman with five children, the youngest of which was eleven days old and the oldest fourteen that has an ASBO and an electronic tag. Not the kind of environment to bring up impressionable kit-tans I’ll think you’ll agree. There are two black fluffy ones with white bibs and a shorthaired grey and black stripy one. They have already been named. Sybil has decided that stripy is to be called Mushroom and the other two are Pumpkin and Sybil’s preferred moniker of Potato (although I think her Mum helped persuade her). These are fine names for little pussycats in my opinion.

So Lily has two days of relative peace before the kitten hoards descend upon her. I will, of course, update you on events.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night.

I’ve had this dream right and I haven’t a clue what it is about. I’m sure dream analysts will have a field day and point out to me that I have a mother fixation and want to blow up the Houses of Parliament or something. Maybe, but it doesn’t explain the weirdness of it at all.

Picture the scene. It is summer and the weather is warm and sunny. In Southend there is a carnival that is taking place but there is also some kind of music festival as well. I am walking along the seafront, not by the amusements and the pier but up a bit from there, in the better end of town, when I bump into someone I know. He is an old man dressed in a white hospital gown, grey tracksuit bottoms, sandals and a straw Stetson. He has snow white hair and is carrying a guitar. He is obviously homeless and has mental health issues or Alzheimer’s. This man is also a reggae singer and is in fact Clint Eastwood!!! Some readers might be aware that there was a reggae singer called Clint Eastwood, but it is not him, it is the Clint ‘Good, Bad and the Ugly’ Eastwood we have here.

From the reaction I receive it is obvious that Clint is a mate of mine and trusts me. On my part I am very concerned about Clint’s well being, especially as he has just wet himself and is in a bit of a confused state. I decide to try and get him into a residential care home so he can be looked after and be kept off of the streets. However I know I have to be careful with this as he is not going to be happy with this situation. I know I am going to have to make out that we are just visiting somewhere and then get him settled and do a runner.

Go to a couple of places and they all are unacceptable for some reason, although it is not clear why. I then find a place in Thorpe Bay (which is a posh bit of the Borough of Southend) that looks okay (although in the dream it is run down with peeling walls and scuffed lino on the floor). We are met by a lady who looks like a cleaner and who guides us up to a room with brown carpet, yellowing walls and a lovely Formica bar. She distracts Clint while I leave and go back to the carnival. I am obviously visibly upset because a number of people ask me what is wrong. I tell them that I have just put my mate Clint Eastwood in a care home.

I wake up.

What was that all about then? I don’t even like Clint Eastwood.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ten Years Of Tears.

Arab Strap – Live at The Scala London 8th November 2006.

This is an end of an era. Falkirk’s finest sons Malcolm Middleton and Aidan Moffat have decided to call an end to Arab Strap after 10 years of rambling, miserable, drunken beautiful music.

In 1996 they recorded their first single ‘The First Big Weekend’ to acclaim from the press and music fans alike. It was the story of Scotland’s exit from Euro 96 and told tales of broken love affairs and an excess drink and drugs. Moffat’s spoken word, virtually incoherent at times, vocals was, counterpointed by Middleton’s beautiful guitar playing. It was one of the singles of the year and helped to put The Strap on the map. That, and their shambolic gigs. Moffat was at times so pissed that he just mumbled into the microphone. On one famous occasion whilst supporting Mogwai they were so bad the audience invaded the stage. Now that doesn’t happen everyday.

They have moved on since those days and are now a very good live act. They don’t indulge as much as they used to and it seems that their lyrical content is not quite as vitriolic as it used to. As this point I’d like advise that if you are thinking of going out with Aidan Moffat I’d advise you think again as he writes in minute detail about failed relationships. I’m not sure that he changes the names to protect the innocent either.

And so Arab Strap are on their final tour before calling it a day and Jock Pop and I made our way to Kings Cross to see our final Arab Strap gig. In short, they were magnificent and is probably my best gig of the year. When I go to gigs I always have a wish list of what I’d like to hear and most of the time you get to hear some of your favourite tracks. Inevitably though you don’t get to hear everything you want, especially if a band has had a ten-year career. Last night was different. During the 115 minute set Arab Strap played everything on my list. I won’t bore you with details of the track listings but suffice it to say they covered all their six studio albums, played early singles and B-sides as well as later material. Aidan was really up for chatting to the crowd and Malcolm played wonderfully, especially during the 5-song encore when he switched to acoustic guitar. They are not a demonstrative pair but they did look like they enjoyed themselves. I wish the lads well in what ever they choose to do next. They are going to be missed. As Aidan said at the end of the gig last night:

“We have been Arab Strap, thank you for listening. Goodnight.”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The American Dr Mengele.

Lady Bracknell’s editor e-mailed me a very disturbing article that has appeared in the Science and Health pages of Reuters. It seems that two Doctors in Seattle, Washington State, in the good ole United States of America have given a 6-year-old disabled child treatment to stop her growth so that her parents can continue to care for her at home. According to the doctors the young girl has a ‘profound, irreversible developmental disability’ and has been given high doses of estrogen to permanently halt her growth. The treatment, which also included a hysterectomy, was requested by the child’s parents and initiated after (the report says) ‘careful consultation and review by an ethics committee’.

I cannot see any justification for this brutal treatment of a child. Now the parents may be finding it hard to cope with a disabled child, I have no argument with that, and they may wish to keep their child like she is (however misguided that may seem). My argument is with the medical ‘profession’ for agreeing to do this.

The two doctors in question are Dr Daniel F Gunther and Dr Douglas S. Diekema who work at the University of Washington. In their report they note that ‘caring for children with profound developmental disabilities can be difficult and demanding’ they go on ‘For children with severe combined neurological and cognitive impairment (at least they’ve got the terminology right – Ed) who are unable to move without assistance, all the necessities of life – dressing, bathing, transporting – must be provided by caregivers, usually parents, and these tasks become increasingly difficult, if not impossible, as he child increases in size’. (Maybe this is the medical term for growing up!!! – Ed).

This dangerous nonsense continues. “Achieving permanent growth attenuation while a child is still young and of manageable size would remove one of the major obstacles to family care and might extend the time that parents with the ability, resources, and inclination to care for the child at home might be able to do so”.

Apparently “despite having the neurological development no greater than an infant, the 6-year-old responds to her parents and two healthy siblings –vocalizing and smiling in response to care and affection – and clearly is an integral, and much loved, member of the family” the doctors said in their report. Shame she hasn't been treated like one then isn't it?

The child is a year into this treatment and is reaching the end of her growth. The doctors have said, “as yet, there have been no treatment complications”. Well that’s all right then!! I wonder if they have considered the prospect of osteoporosis because of such an early hysterectomy

I cannot begin to express how appalled I am over this ‘treatment’. How dare someone experiment on a child? I suppose they think it is okay to do it on a disabled child as she won’t have the capacity to raise a concern, or so they say. How do the doctors know that the restriction on this child’s growth won’t have an adverse effect on her cognitive growth?

After the Second World War the Nuremberg trials sentenced doctors to death for carrying out experiments like this. In the land of the free it seems that, as long as the parents say it is okay, they can fuck up a young life by stopping them growing. Authors of a commentary on the treatment have called it ‘ill advised’ but have welcomed the debate that helps to “advance our ethical dialogue as we struggle to define our core values in words, laws and deeds. Only with further research and public discussion will we learn whether attempts to attenuate growth run with or against our fundamental values in caring for children with profound developmental disabilities”.

So it seems that it is okay to continue to experiment on disabled children because it raises a debate. There is only one thing to say about this. It is totally unacceptable and wrong to treat a child (disabled or not) like a laboratory rat. The Reuters report doesn’t once mention the welfare of the child. It concentrates on the parents only. Although caring for a disabled child with severe impairments must be a task we must always take into account their welfare before anybody else’s wishes. For once I hope the religious right in the US kick off about this and use all their influence with Bush to end this appalling state of affairs. If they don’t what will the next step be. Compulsory euthanasia for disabled children whose parents can’t cope?