Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Tête à claques XI

Told you the mellowness wouldn’t last long.

Before you go on reading, please answer this question: did you enjoy Truly Madly Deeply? If you’ve answered, “Oh my god, it’s my favourite movie; I’ve seen it 25 times and cried soooo much each time,” you can stop reading now because this post will upset you.

If, on the other hand, you’ve answered, “Ugh! That movie made me want to throw up: it was so syrupy and fake and the acting was disgusting,” then please carry on.

Juliet Stevenson was the main culprit and I wanted to slap her very hard for it when the film came out, all those years ago, and I can’t wait one minute longer.

I used to adore her. I saw her in her very first part at the RSC in 1978. She was 20 years old, I think, and fresh from drama school. She’d got the part of a servant in a marvellous production of The Taming of the Shrew because the actress who should have been playing that part had broken her leg or something, and she made a great impact in that small part. I got to know her and the following year she even stayed in my flat in Paris, while I spent the summer in Stratford. I saw everything she was in and was never disappointed. She had a superb, distinctive, grown-up voice and she was always good. She was also very serious and dedicated and had unbelievable self-discipline.

And then Truly Madly Deeply happened and that was it. She became the most mannered actress ever – a kind of caricature. My partner’s theory is that she was praised so much for her performance in that film that she must have thought that was what the public wanted from her so she gave it more of the same. And she started playing fluffy (she doesn’t have the physique for fluffiness) and scatty women because she was offered other parts like that after that landmark film. Her voice got shriller too.

I stopped being able to watch her, but I don’t give up easily on people and I’ve seen her in other things since then – just because I keep hoping that one day she will be the powerful performer she was when she was young. Tonight my partner and I saw her in a terrible production of The Seagull, directed by the perverse Katie Mitchell. Perverse because she decided to go against the text all through, without any reason whatsoever. Perhaps tomorrow’s reviews will reveal that the nonsense we saw on the stage had some profound meaning, but I doubt it. Juliet wasn’t bad, but she couldn’t be good in such a preposterous production. I’m afraid I hid from her, when she walked by in the foyer after the show. “Darling, you were wonderful!” I couldn’t possibly have said that to her – no way.

I’m slapping Dame Juliet (it’s only a question of time…) for being such a disappointment.

Friday, 23 June 2006

Stay tuned...

I’ve just finished my work (four days before the deadline, hooray!) and I’m feeling all mellow and incredibly well-disposed towards everyone (hmm, almost everyone).

I don’t think it’s going to last, though... so don’t go away.

Saturday, 17 June 2006

Let me explain...

Every so often I tell myself I must cut down on the time I spend on the Net. I never do, of course: it’s too much fun and I would miss it. However, British Telecom must have heard me and decided to help because four days ago it cancelled the number my ISP uses to allow me unlimited access to the Net for a reasonable sum of money every month.

Just like that. Without any warning.

You put on your computer in the morning (or rather, in my case, in the middle of the afternoon), you click on the cute icon and then, instead of that infuriating series of beeps and funny sounds, you get a different infuriating noise, a voice saying, “This number has not been recognized.” Qué? You try again and again and then you get on to your ISP and then to BT and you spend the entire day trying to find out what the f*** is happening, or, in my case, your partner does it because they have a little more free time to devote to such nonsense than you do at this particular point. The ISP and BT give you differing versions of what they think is happening and every time you have to tell your entire life story to the new person with an impenetrable accent that answers the phone. Finally, it does appear that BT has cancelled that number.

Ok, ok, I should have broadband. I could have broadband for a little bit more money, but I have a geriatric computer (i.e. a 3-year-old one) and broadband might make it give up the ghost completely and I can’t afford to buy a new one and anyway why should I be forced to have broadband when that other system worked very well for me?

My ISP says they are doing their best to obtain a new number from BT, but I reckon it’s not really in their interest since they know that everyone who’s lost that connection will now get broadband with them and not stick with pay-as-you-go, which costs an arm and a leg (that expression reminds me of a very funny incident, but I haven’t got the time to tell it to you, sorry). They say we should have more info by Tuesday.

So, if you have a blog and if, in the past few days, I haven’t commented on it as often as I used to, it’s not that I'm on a deadline (which I am) or that I've gone off you, but it’s because every second I spend on line is costing me masses of dosh.

If I still get that stupid message on Tuesday I’m applying for broadband. I bet my ISP and BT are in it together. I’m not very fond of conspiracy theories – you know, Diana died because of a drunk driver; Serge Lutens has nothing against the Americans; J F Kennedy was killed by… etc. etc. – but, in this case, I could very well believe those two big corporations are in league against us. I think I can hear them laughing...

Slaps all around!

Friday, 16 June 2006

Football or Big Brother

That’s the choice on TV at the moment.

Blech! Blech!

Slap! Slap!

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Now what?

In my first post on this blog Oh, to be a freelancer! (the previous ones came from my weekly thread on MUA) I wrote about my relationship with the agency that supplied me with work for 18 years and what used to happen with the one piece of work I was still doing for them. This year it’s been different. No early phone call. No threat. No warning that it might be more difficult than usual or that the deadline might be shorter and do I really want to do it, anyway? Nothing.

So I emailed the woman the other day. Today there are two messages on my answerphone and an email saying she’d like to tell me about ‘what’s happening’ over the phone. I’ve emailed back to say I’d rather read about it. (She’s always wrong-footed me that way: forcing me to react to bad news there and then, and I don’t react well to bad news).

I know what’s coming. I know there will be no British Tourist Authority brochure this year, or any other year. That’s one third of my very small income gone. The surprise will be the reason why. Did she decide it wasn’t worth her while giving me work this year – after 18 years of bons et loyaux services? Did the British Tourist Authority refuse to pay for the proofreading again and did she tell them – on my behalf – to go jump in the lake? Whatever the reason, since the work should have started in three weeks’ time, I would have expected to be told long before now. I think after 18 years of etc. etc. I deserved that courtesy. I never missed a deadline in all those years. Because I never went on holiday in the summer, like all the other French translators, I was always there to answer questions – at any time of the day. (It very often seemed to me I wasn’t a freelancer, but a tele-worker.) Before the advent of email, I used to deliver the work personally (the agency is at the other end of London) whenever a deadline was especially short. Oh, I don’t know what else I used to do to make her work easier. Now this.

But I'm a freelancer so who cares.

Updates (14 June): I now know ‘what’s happening’ with the brochure: it’s not good but it’s not as bad as I feared. The BTA has decided to just update last year’s copy, which involves spending an awful lot of time fiddling about with PDFs and stuff. At least I won’t be totally idle in July, but how do you cost adding 23 words here, seven there? The woman knew about it a little while ago, but she was about to go on holiday so she decided to tell me on her return.

I decided to leave this Slap up because, although I may have been a bit unfair to my employer, I know she wouldn’t think twice about doing what I thought she had already done and if not this time then maybe next year.

‘Paying it forward’, isn’t that what it’s called? LOL!

(26 July): Just heard from the agency that the brochure has been cancelled. The English copy to translate should have landed on my desk over two weeks ago. As it happens, because I don't work full-time any longer, I didn't turn down any other translating jobs in order to stay available during that time and for the next four weeks, but someone else might have. All they said was “Sorry!” ‘Sorry’ doesn’t do it when you’ve lost a third of your income with no hope of making up the loss.

Thursday, 8 June 2006

With women like these…

I couldn’t believe my ears the other day: I was happily listening to a short story on BBC Radio 4, when I heard something that made me jump: something I’m used to reading from time to time on the message board I belong to. That moronic comment about old ladies’ smell. The latest one read, “X on me smells like an old lady. You know those elderly women who don't bathe for days?”

Well, I don’t, actually. When I think of a bad body odour, I think mostly of men who are too macho to use antiperspirant, for instance, not of women – old or young.

A woman wrote that otherwise good short story; a woman posted that idiotic, offensive comment. There are lots of things that annoy me, but one thing that annoys – and distresses – me more than any other is when women are being misogynistic. Some women internalise men’s clichéd opinions of them and spout them out without stopping to think about what they’re actually saying. They're the ones who usually proclaim loudly that they're not feminists. I believe such women are trying – subconsciously maybe – to suck up to men. Silly, short-sighted and misguided!


Thursday, 1 June 2006

Guest Slapper of the Month V

Still Life of dancing in place is one of the most exciting people I’ve had the privilege of ‘meeting’ in cyberspace. She may be stiller than she used to be physically (I gather she led a very active life before her accident) but mentally… wow! She writes beautifully about her new life. Here she is – in slapping mode:


Last week I received a parcel surprise. A t-shirt sent from my friend Alice, catering to my slightly bent sense of humor. Its color was an ice cream swirl of pinks and cranberry, and in the center was the universal symbol of accessibility flanked by the message...

However we all know that within every bite of sarcasm, there is sure to be a smidgen of truth -- and apparently Dateline felt the same.

The other evening I took much vengeful pleasure in watching a segment which exposed able-bodied drivers taking advantage in the use of handicapped parking spaces at a local Walmart. As each driver exited their vehicle and began WALKING to their locations, the field reporter approached and asked (ever so nicely), excuse me, but what type of disability do you have which allows you to park in that reserved space? I wooped. Responses ran the gamut: from jacket shielding of the face and running from camera view to adamant claims of entitlement (chronic leg pain, night blindness (it was midday), partial hearing, etc.). Some even went as far as to produce counterfeit or expired temporary placards (disabled parking identifications cards) -- Shameful.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses are required to provide at least one handicapped parking spot per every 25 spaces. This particular establishment had seven accessible spots, so I can safely assume that the lot's entirety was that of at least 168 other available options. One offender, with identity protected, summed it up by admitting to the pros (proximity and availability) outweighing the cons ($110 penalties and social tsk-tsks). And to me, for once, the words spoke louder than the actions.

I understood clearly this person's attitude of disregard to my or any other physically challenged person's human needs and rights. It is also the unspoken evidence each time a person causes me to wait outside of five empty bathroom stalls because they prefer the spaciousness and private mirror afforded in "mine". Or when I am not able to maneuver my chair up an accessible ramp because someone on foot is blocking my path, self-righteous and unapologetic, they silently tell me --"I don't really care". So, to all of those making less of my greater needs: those who use my parking space, my bathroom stall, my water fountains, my ATMs, my public phones...if you don't want to sit in the chair, then stay off the ramp!