Monday, August 25, 2008

'Being a step grandfather is a cinch'

This is one of my Dad's comments in the car on the way to Auntie E's.

'Oral History' is part of my MA - it's my option course. Part of the MA dissertation will be based on evidence gleaned from interviews with key movers and shakers in the history of dementia. That's the plan at least. Anyway one of my friends on my course for her option essay did a piece on her interviewing her granny. I thought this would be easier and so used Auntie E as a guinea pig in this regard today - husband has finally shown me how to use voice recorder properly.

Auntie E is normally a bundle of laughs but this interview, which was highly structured by me, actually got quite harrowing at times. There were of course many comic stories, but the ones which hit home were the more sad tales. Great great granny died of Typhoid at 32 - as did two of her children, leaving my great granny , the eldest, (born 1882) to bring up a family of ten. A little later a younger sister died in a fire on her street - a man was burning advertising hoardings and her Victoriana outfit just caught fire. Great granny later of course met my great grandfather who died at 29 of Type 1 diabetes - no insulin of course in those days. Fortunately she met my great-step grandfather and they later had two girls in Shropshire - one of which is Auntie E born 1921.

Anyway, the point is it wasn't as fun as I was expecting. Precisely because Auntie E wanted to present a more true picture for my sake than the normal glossy, idyllic representations we normally receive of our family's past, there were unexpected times when I felt Auntie E was being quite reticent. None of us knew that at the age of ten following rheumatic fever, Auntie E was taught at home by an 'irritable' woman for four years - effectively leaving school at ten. That her father was unemployed at the time of the depression. She doesn't particularly remember this time. That the war was the worst part of her life. And we didn't even get past 1948. Must write up the methodology.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Getting excited about Ewbank

Not Chris, but my rechargeable motorised sweeper - the perfect thing for the stairs. Why hardly anyone else has cottoned on to this machine is beyond me. For those of us with weak arms - _ have now resigned myself to this - they are brilliant. You can still hoover - but not as much!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why the Thatcherite monetarist experiment must end

Despite the fantastic efforts of the Glasgow Media Group and nice people like Paul Foot - who gave me my only ever paid piece of journalistic work - the way the world is portrayed is still as an unkind, inflexible, harsh, capitalist greedy way. And most importantly of all - the world is presented inaccurately and in a totally misleading fashion. Gordon Brown's constant harping on about how he made the Bank of England independent now seems very much like urinating in strong central bank air vents. This was a policy he nicked from the Liberal Democrats anyway - I remember I voted for them in 1992 because my Economics A Level teacher was a fan. The point is the Bank of England is strictly required to keep inflation down. In fact, it's the only thing it has to do. But how stupid is that? Even if the Bank of England was in a vacuum with some Sterling and a vault there is no way that this one method would stop prices going up. Anyone with the slightest appreciation of science will know that the most infinitesimally small factors can influence the smallest of other, totally unrelated things. Yes, a huge high interest rate will undoubtedly stop people with large mortgages from dining out every second day, but the multiplier - the price elasticity of interest rates is not linear. Furthermore there are inflationary pressures which are absolutely nothing to do with wages or interest rates. Like the price of food for example. Apparently nobody could have predicted that having bizarre 'bio-fuel' targets would have increased the price of food across the world - making it a scarce commodity. Inflation occurs where there is a scarce resource - when productivity cannot be matched by demand. It is the greatest resource of all - human resource - that will bring new resources available to stop this human suffering. I have faith.

Anyway I have to stop writing now and go and fill in my timesheet.
If anything is deflationary it's filling in time sheets. Perhaps if Mervyn King was monitored to the same extent I am we wouldn't be in this situation.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Inspiration from above

Not God in this particular example, but my new boss. I have been truly throroughly unlucky with bosses in the past. Bullies from actual Hell, the devil incarnate, nightmare freaks, power crazed maniacs, sexual harrassers extraordinaire, sack-happy capitalist gimps. The whole caboodle. So I was expecting the same again. A sort of dickhead, poorly educated, thinks they know best when they don't and talk to you like you're a crack-whore to their white rock pimp. I've always hated 'The Office' as I felt it was too realistic. That's what I was expecting. Couldn't be farther from the truth. My new boss is funny, openly gay which is very refreshing, VERY well educated and inspirational in his approach. For example, the place where I work (in my job which is the longer of the two I hold) has the highest childhood obesity rates in Europe. And some government big wigs critcised us a few months ago for not doing enough about it. Anyway, we are holding this event, and just about inviting anyone to it. There is a tendency in my line of work to just think about 'us'. And invite 'us' to something we need to work on. That's out of the window. We're inviting definite thems. We're inviting the police, architects and hippies. And getting them in a big circle. Police because of course if people are scared of playing in the park then they're going to get fat. Architects - because if you haven't incorporated bike sheds into a new build noone's going to cycle. And hippies - because a lot of them are thin. We need them to spread the thin vibe man. It might sound tame, but all this palaver is backed up by my new boss's academic credentials. Even the consultants he knows are impressive.

Anyway the problem is thus: Now I have finally, after approximately ten years, found a job I enjoy with people I like etc ad infinitum. But I live 250 miles away from it. Where I actually live, your luck's in if you've got a job that pays the minimum wage. To cut a long story short I have a job interview on Friday for a job that is HALF my current salary - for full time hours. And with worse terms and conditions - ie no sick pay, rubbish pension. Is the grass always that delicate shade of sage when you're so far away from it? And when you finally move to that lovely bit of chamomile grass you grew from seed, and you sit on it do you start to sink into the mud?

Friday, August 08, 2008

A complicated life

C, who I live with in Stoke Newington you would think would have a more simple life than me. (Me - who commutes weekly to Leeds, just about managing to hold down two jobs, not particularly making a good hash of governor role, landladying and trying to do an MA. ) When in London I live with C, a brilliant vegetarian cook who quite frankly pampers me. Anyway the latest news from C is more interesting than anything I can offer. We live on a low rise Council Estate in Stoke Newington, built in the eighties I would guess. C's lived there for at least twenty years and knows even more people than I do in Stoke Newington. The latest scandal is that one of the women next door accused Dylan (C's cat) of poohing on her patio. Of course anyone who knows cats would know they would never pooh on a hard surface. And the woman on the other side saw squirrels in the patio, which confirmed C's suspicions as the pooh was also very small. But C dutifully cleaned it all up. The reason we are being very generous with this particular woman is that her partner of 18 years has just deserted her - for a Chinese woman he goes ballroom dancing with. The poor woman has been hounding other neighbours 'downstairs' where this guy used to hang out and chat about his car. The other lady on the other side is apparently seeing someone who is emotionally abusive towards her. C tackled her about this and said 'Don't you love yourself?' and the woman burst into tears. 'He's ugly' said C, telling it as it is. The woman agreed and said that that's what everyone else says. I asked C if she offers advice to her neighbours like she talks to me - recommending strap on accessories from Ann Summers - apparently men are not required. No, she says after about ten minutes when we have stopped laughing.