Saturday, 30 July 2005
For goodness’ sake, I thought this “intimate deodorant” nonsense had been eradicated 30 years ago. We fought against it and won. It's all part of the anti-feminist backlash. I had already noticed the reappearance on the shelves of Boots and Superdrug of sprays, powders and “towelettes” (MS Word is telling me that’s not a word and is suggesting “omelettes”, “novelettes” and “tweezers” as replacements – thought I should let you know) to be used down there and had bemoaned the fact to myself, but scented tampons! That takes the biscuit! What about toxic shock? Who’s going to sniff those tampons? I don’t want to be crude, but once inserted that’s it, isn’t it? There are already scented panty liners – they’re not as soft as the unscented kind because, just like dye stops towels being soft and absorbent, perfume takes up space in the fibres and makes the material more cardboard-y.
Anyway, apart from underarm deodorant, which is really an essential item if you’re over 13 (I hope the male sales assistants at my local TK Maxx are reading this), there is no need for anything else, and telling women they would feel better (or be more lovable, as I expect the implied message is) if they used scented products of that kind is undermining their confidence and shouldn’t be countenanced.
A slap to whomever (and I’m not even sure it’s a man) decided to tell women again that they “smell”.
Thursday, 28 July 2005
There is nothing truer.
My computer started playing up today, of all days! This is my busiest period of the year and I have a deadline on Monday and then another few thousand words to translate for later. I'd been hibernating for the past three days in order to meet that deadline and today I was going to work as much as I could.
So, of course, I couldn't, because my computer suddenly refused to work properly and threatened to just die, and I had to go to the store and buy a laptop, in a hurry (I will need to buy a new PC a bit later, when mine stops working altogether, which shouldn't be long now, but I will then have the laptop and won't panic so much, well, that's the idea anyway).
I brought the new machine (another b***** machine!) home and had to spend hours setting it up; installing the software I need, creating an Internet connection and what not, and now I'm too mentally drained to do one jot of work.
I've lost an entire day. If I'm lucky I might be able to resume working tomorrow, several hundred pounds sterling lighter. The things one has to do to just stand still! I remember a time- not so long ago really - when I used to write my first drafts in longhand; now when that machine collapses my entire life does too.
A slap to my PC, which couldn't wait another few weeks before scaring me like that. I thought it was my "fwiend".
Wednesday, 27 July 2005
I haven’t been on holiday for three years and I’m not even in charge of my country’s security. I once worked for 40 hours running – the people employing me needed the work to be done, I did it. Charles Clarke put off his trip to the States for one day. I’m sure he feels the weight of responsibility; I’m sure he’s very stressed, but, come on, we're going through a very difficult time and we need our leaders here, with us.
It reminds me of what happened in May 1968, when General de Gaulle disappeared for several days in the middle of the crisis. It turned out he’d gone to Germany to visit the French troops based there. Did he go and ask for military support against the striking students and workers? No one really knows. Anyway, he wasn't there on holiday.
I doubt Charles Clarke has gone to ask for military support against the terrorists. He’s just relaxing somewhere.
I’m slapping him for leaving us in our hour of need.
Monday, 25 July 2005
At other times, I get a very remote voice, usually with an accent you could slice with a knife (translation of un accent à couper au couteau; you might as well learn a bit of French while you’re here), asking me whether I’m me. Yes, I am. And whether I want a new kitchen (mine is the size of a shoe box in a flat as big as a cupboard) or change my gas suppliers (I don’t have gas).
I’m on a list somewhere: it says at the top “The following are people you can disturb at any time of the day and offer them stuff”. Probably the electoral roll is such a list, but you can’t not be on it because if you’re not you can’t get a credit card or get a loan or anything. If you’re not on the electoral roll, you’re not a good citizen and no one would want to be that. I don’t see why I should get so much aggravation from it, though.
A slap to those cold callers. There must be other ways to earn a living. I wouldn’t want to have people hang up on me like that all the time. I’d feel crushed after a while. Oh, drat, I’m starting to feel sorry for them now. Quick ... slap!
Sunday, 24 July 2005
So, since it’s practically impossible to persuade an African man to have safe sex and use a condom (it’s beneath them, isn’t it?), and it can't be done by force, other strategies have to be employed. In Uganda, for instance, they’re currently giving money to young girls not to have sex. They’re promoting abstinence for women. It might work. One question, though, who are the men going to have sex with, then? And how are they going to be cured of AIDS, since the most favoured remedy is sleeping with a virgin?
Should I slap the ignorant, arrogant, stubborn men? The leaders? What about all of them?
Friday, 22 July 2005
A lovely fountain in the piazza facing the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith. Until now that area has been left to its own devices: in the past few years, it was a venue for a French cheese maker and his wonderfully smelly products for a while, until he realized he’d get a better class of customers in Whiteleys, in Bayswater; there was also a German Christmas market two years running, but it poofed off for some reason. So most of the time, it was a vacant space with no soul, and you couldn’t even rollerskate around it. And then, a couple of months ago, a fountain suddenly sprouted out of the ground and the whole place came to life.
It’s a clever design: nothing indicates it's a fountain; water comes out directly through several neatly arranged rows of holes in the ground. What makes it particularly fun is that it’s unpredictable: water shoots out here, there, everywhere or nowhere at all for a few long seconds, and then whoosh!, and you can’t tell where it’s going to be next. During those very hot days we had recently, it’s been a joy to sit at the theatre café terrace and watch little kids and dogs play in and with the fountain. Kids stand there and get drenched and squeal with delight. Dogs frolic all over the place in an attempt to catch the water and bite it. It’s relaxing and fun for onlookers, and you get a feeling of well-being thanks to those negative ions floating about the place.
So why is it going to be turned off? Someone complained that it was dangerous; that kids could get injured if they slipped on the wet ground. Duh! It’s the Diana memorial fountain fiasco all over again. Couldn’t someone foresee this earlier? Children, water, slippery wet ground... what does it conjure up to you? Yes, falls, children crying, angry parents, mayhem!
And yet, why shouldn’t we, adults, oh, and dogs, have the right to enjoy the spectacle of that mini Versailles? The nanny state, they call it. Can’t parents take responsibility for their children and what they do? Why should we all be penalized?
A slap to the Council (I assume it’s the Council that didn’t do its homework properly) and to those parents who need to be told not to let their children play where they might get hurt.
Thursday, 21 July 2005
Tuesday, 19 July 2005
“Because I’m worth it!” – who on earth came up with that slogan? Some kid who was born the day Thatcher came to power and who’s grown up to become one of those selfish, inconsiderate people who wouldn’t dream of giving up their seats to an older person or a pregnant woman on the underground? It's the thin end of the wedge. Start thinking like that and nothing is too good for you and everyone else can go to hell.
“Because I’m worth it!” is also something one shouldn’t say about oneself, like “intelligent”, “beautiful”, “kind”, “sensitive”, “elegant”, etc. etc. One of those things that only other people can apply to us. Let someone else say whether I’m worth it.
Who knows what we’re worth or what we deserve? Shakespeare says, in Hamlet, “Use every man after his desert and who shall scape whipping?” Maybe we deserve to be slapped.
In the meantime, let me slap the creators of that mindless, dangerous slogan. They're definitely worth it.
Monday, 18 July 2005
Today it's MI5's turn to be slapped.
This was revealed in The Sunday Times earlier:
One of the four suicide terrorists behind the London bomb attacks was scrutinised by MI5 last year, but was judged not to be a threat to national security, a senior government official said yesterday. As a result, MI5 failed to put him under surveillance and his plans to become a suicide bomber remained undetected.It speaks for itself, doesn't it? And it's sickening.
Now, a humorous email exchange about the bombings. It's allowed: I live here and we're all in danger, and the other person is a cousin of mine who lives in a country where they've lost count how many suicide bombers have blown themselves up on buses. It goes like this:
Him: Take care, London is a dangerous place.
Me: Yes, London is becoming a dangerous place again. I was here when the IRA were putting bombs everywhere. It wasn't fun.
Him: Bombs… ohh no!!! The streets of London are dangerous because when you cross the street you should look first to the right. Bombs… we're used to them. LOL!
Saturday, 16 July 2005
Oh, hang on: I am still upset about something: perfume reformulations! A few weeks ago, the whole of the fragrance board I belong to was up in arms because Luca Turin had announced Guerlain were reformulating all their scents, even though they weren’t being forced to by some regulation. We’re right to be angry about it: perfume may not be essential to our lives (although it is to a lot of us), but it’s like art, and, just like works of art, fragrances can acquire the status of “classics” and shouldn’t be tampered with.
I never mind it when some modern theatre director decides to set a Shakespeare play, say, in another period or another location; it doesn’t matter; it does no harm to Shakespeare – he’s “bigger” than that. The original play is still there to be made a hash of by the next avant-garde director.
But those Guerlain classics will soon disappear for ever: perfume has a limited lifespan. It is a scandal and an outrage. And the same goes for all the other perfumes that have already been tweaked beyond recognition. There are too many to mention. Nearly every perfume house has one or more on its conscience. So I’ll just slapped Guerlain for now.
What about “reformulating” some of those works of classical music that are not so popular these days with the younger generation? I’m sure some of Mozart's pieces could do with a bit of a revamp. There are still “too many notes”, aren’t there?
Thursday, 14 July 2005
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
You’ve been looking forward to this for an entire week. You’ve zoomed through the supermarket and done all your shopping in a record time. You’ve rushed home, afraid you might be late for this amazing treat. You’ve bought yourself a cute lollipop to suck on when the suspense gets too intense. Your SO is sitting next to you and neither of you can wait one minute longer.
The “treat” is the finale of the current season’s CSI, filmed by Quentin Tarantino. It promises to be amazing. CSI is one of your favourite TV shows anyway. Are there more interesting characters than gruesome Grissom, aka Teddy Bear, with his “moue”; Catherine, who, you suspect, has had collagen injected into her lips between the first and second season; Sara, whose make-up has become more and more sophisticated and unbelievable; Nick, who used to look like he was carved out of stone and then blew up for a while (cortisone treatment?), and pretty green-eyed Warrick. Oh, and Greg, who’s always in danger of being upstaged by his spiky hair.
(Well, there’s Detective Goren in Law and Order: Criminal Intent, with the weird and fascinating body language, and Horatio (CSI: Miami) with his stranger than strange inflexions, but one thing at a time. )
You couldn’t be more ready for it. And then… “We apologize… blah… blah… shown next week.”
WTF! Apparently, something that was said yesterday by the police about last week’s bombings made it impossible for Channel Five to show the last two episodes of CSI last night. Like what? The police have done a marvellous job and now know who the perpetrators are. What has that got to do with anything?
Today I’m slapping Channel Five. Last night I wanted to strangle them. The disappointment is very slowly wearing off.
Update (20/07/05): Those episodes have now been shown. There was no great excitement; I didn't have a lollipop; the feeling was more, “Get on with it, then!” And now I have to apologize to Channel Five. They were right to pull the programme out of the schedule that night: it contained a shocking scene that would have distressed us, so soon after those bombings. They couldn't explain why they'd decided to do it because it would have been a spoiler. I'm sorry, Channel Five. (The finale was very good, by the way. )
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
Those are the people I want to slap tonight. We all know some. May they rot in hell!
Sunday, 10 July 2005
I’ve got the TV on. There’s this film called Firelight, with the wonderful Stephen Dillane and Lia Williams. Why, oh, why, is the heroine played by that dummy Sophie Marceau?
She’s a tête à claques (that’s French for someone you’d love to slap again and again and again until your hand burns) and she's my target today because there are numerous actresses who could have played that part so beautifully.
She looks sulky (I hate that) and she can’t act. She was dreadful in Braveheart; she’s dreadful in this too. Since I’ve never seen her in a French film I can’t tell whether her lack of acting talent in the films I mentioned stems from her speaking English: having to play a part in a foreign language (even if you’ve rehearsed it thoroughly) means that a big chunk of your brain is busy trying to control your tongue and you’ve got none left for the emoting, etc. I’m prepared to bet that she’s just as ghastly when she's using her mother tongue. At the time of Braveheart, she also spouted pretentious inanities in the UK newspapers – some real gems.
Oooh, just read on the Net that she was born Sophie Maupu. Maupu! Horrible sound. Blech!
Slap slap slap slap slap…..!
Saturday, 9 July 2005
Oh, yes! Once upon a time, back in the early 80s, if you were a member of the mailing list of the National Theatre (thank goodness it’s dropped Royal from its name: what’s the RNT when it’s at home?) you paid your £4 for the year and you were entitled to priority booking, i.e. you got the booklet listing all the forthcoming productions earlier than the hoi polloi, and could book for plays in advance of them. Yes, it was elitist, but if you were a theatre freak like me you couldn’t do without it, and anyway it worked very well. In those days, £4 was quite a lot of money for the service, but not beyond the means of you or me. Over the years the price went up steadily but moderately: it was £10 in 2000, for instance, until we (my partner and I) realized that fifty percent of the time we weren’t getting the seats we wanted any longer, or even getting any seats for our chosen dates. Somehow, the priority system wasn’t working any more. The National Theatre must have realized that as well because, lo and behold!, they soon started a 3-tier system: a priority-priority-priority thing, which entitles you to priority-priority-priority booking – in advance of everybody else and which costs £350 per annum; a priority-priority thing, which entitles you to priority-priority booking – after the moneyed people have made their choices; that costs £60 per annum; and finally a priority booking thing, which costs £10 and which entitles you to, as I said above, not much at all.
We pay £60 (because we’re made of money, LOL!) and these days we do get what we want most of the time, although forget about getting tickets for every press night, as one used to: entire auditoria are now block-booked for those performances, you know, for “personalities”. However, I expect we will have to join the upper tier in the future because no doubt we will start not to get what we want at some point.
Also, there are different prices for different performances. That’s always been the case: previews have cost less than later shows. But, in the past, press nights, which come at the end of a run of previews, used to count as previews. Then they decided that one should pay more for the privilege of sitting next to a critic scribbling all through the play or fiddling with his programme when he can’t remember who plays what. Fine, ok, I don’t mind paying a bit more to be able to spot the odd celebrity. But the latest booking form (which, btw, arrived one day after the opening of the priority-priority booking period!) revealed that previews are now split into early and later ones. The first two, when the actors can’t remember their lines and the director hasn’t quite made up his mind about lots of stuff and the lighting is less than perfect, are cheap-ish; and the rest are even more expensive. Outrageous!
Then there’s chicken. Once upon a time, if you bought a chicken, you could be more or less assured you were getting nice, lean meat (perhaps not as much as turkey, but less chewy and a bit more tasty). Now we’re told that ordinary chicken is just as fat as fast food, so to get the same good-for-you food you need to buy “organic” chicken, i.e. fork out a lot more money!
See a pattern here? There’s a constant erosion of goods and services and it’s happening everywhere. How do we stop it? No idea.
A slap to all those sly providers of said goods and services who are playing with us and think we’re not aware of it!
Thursday, 7 July 2005
I remember watching the events of 9/11 unfold live on the television and I remember what I felt then. Today I was asleep when the explosions happened, but I am again watching the television and hearing about fatalities and ordinary, innocent people caught up in the horror. Today it was our turn.
We'd been expecting it for a long while. And we are used to it. In the past it was the IRA; today the terrorists are... who knows?
The response will be the same - we will never give in. We will make sure those who are trying to scare us into submission never ever win.
My only weapon against the perpetrators is a mere slap, but there are millions of us...
Wednesday, 6 July 2005
What on earth were those people thinking about? Not us, that’s for sure. Us – who live here and who are going to have to pay for this prestige fest. One hundred and twenty pounds over the next ten years. That’s £1 a month for the next ten years. And that’s the current estimate. Stadiums and such like have a way of costing more – always. So we will end up paying through the nose. For what? Nothing that’s of any benefit to us. Don’t tell me about the influx of tourists and extra revenue, etc.; we're already overrun with them. And, in 2013, after the big event and after we've collected all that money, will we be getting a refund of that £120? I shouldn't think so.
London public transport is appalling and it cannot get that much better by 2012. I love the Brits, but they have a long history of making a botch of grands projets. Think Dome! ‘nuff said. Paris would have done it with such style! They wanted it so much too. They won't be left with more stupid white elephants, will they? Lucky them!
A vigorous slap to each member of the Olympic Committee!
By the way, can the Dome be used for something during the Olympics? No, thought not.
Monday, 4 July 2005
A slap to stores that don’t stock refills for the products they normally sell!
PS. Any ideas what I can do with that handle?
Sunday, 3 July 2005
Back in the 80s, before computers and even electric typewriters, I worked at the BBC French Service for a few months as a part-time translator and reader of news bulletins. When that man and I worked together (we usually worked in pairs), he would take one look at my translation and instantly crumple the piece of paper up and chuck it in the bin. All the while, puffing on cigarette after cigarette and making me cough. He’d been there for years so was supposed to supervise me. There was nothing wrong with my translations, by the way; he was just an arrogant misogynist and a bully. What we call a goujat, in French.
But, then, the whole culture of the French Service encouraged that type of behaviour: the newsroom was a noisy, smoky, stuffy place, which tried very hard to be reminiscent of old-fashioned newspaper offices, except that it was peopled with bitter losers – French would-be journalists who couldn’t make it in France. Some of them had been there since the war. Most of the time, the ones who had talent left after a few months, after they had acquired enough experience, and ended up working for prestigious radio or TV stations. Some of the others, well, they’re still there and I’d rather not be reminded of them.
So, I’d like to slap XK for making my life a misery and for setting a bad example to others who might have behaved a little better without him. Or maybe not.
Saturday, 2 July 2005
Last night, I switched on my PC, logged on to the Net and prepared to read the millions of emails that invariably drop into my Inbox. One of those emails attracted my attention. It read, “Dear user, your account has been used to send a large amount of unsolicited e-mail messages during the recent week. We suspect that your computer was compromised and now runs a trojan proxy server. We recommend you to follow instruction in order to keep your computer safe. Best regards, your ISP technical support team.”
There had been an attachment, but it had been removed, presumably by my antivirus software. I panicked a little because I’ve had viruses and Trojan horses before and they’re pests to eradicate, then logged on to the Symantec site to see if they mentioned some new Trojan. Yep, there was one that sent emails all over the place. Drat! Still, it had to be dealt with. I updated my antivirus definitions and started a full scan. And waited. And waited. And, lo and behold!, there was a file infected by a Trojan, but Norton didn’t tell me whether it was that particular one. Assuming that it was, I deleted the file, then got ready to edit the registry (I am totally fearless when it comes to computers, LOL!). But I couldn’t find any of the files Norton said the Trojan would have put in it.
So, what happened was this: the email was a vicious spoof. A double bluff. If I’d opened the attachment that came with this solicitous email warning me I had a Trojan , I would then have got it. The attachment was the trigger.
The infected file, by the way, was whatever got through when I received the email itself, and not very dangerous on its own. There was a note on my ISP’s site mentioning these spoof emails and saying they never send emails with attachments (which is how it should be, since everyone is warned against opening them). On the one hand, I wish I’d seen the note before wasting all that time and effort; on the other hand, had I chucked out the email and done nothing I wouldn’t have found the one file that needed to be removed.
Make sure your antivirus and firewall are up-to-date.
Friday, 1 July 2005
I went back there earlier and shouted at them both. They had just closed the doors and we were standing in the middle of the lobby. I know how to shout and be heard. I told them that I wouldn't budge until they opened the account there and then. They tried to say they needed to see proofs of domicile and identity again. Are you kidding me? I won't show you any more bits of paper, nor will I fill in any more forms. I will, however, take out all my savings if you don't do what I want now, this instant.
And... they did open that account for me. It took a whole hour. The clerk who had interviewed me originally proved even more incompetent than I thought: she couldn't use the computer and had to ask for help from someone, who, thank goodness, knew what she was doing.
When I asked for the account to be backdated I was told it could be done, but wasn't really necessary, was it? My money is already in a savings account so I haven't lost any interest. Er, yes, I have: the new account pays more than the other one and the interest is tax-free. Does this kind of answer work on some people?
What qualifications do you need to work in a bank?