Thursday, October 05, 2006



I've spent the last couple of days scrubbing carpets. No, I'm not house proud (and what a strangely old fashioned expression that is). No, our landlord's agent is coming to Inspect tomorrow. This is an extremely stressful experience - a stranger enters your home with the express purpose of looking to see if you're an irresponsible slob. In our case the answer is probably yes, so I spend a frantic week trying to disguise the fact every time (about twice a year).

But this evening Patrick came to alert me about a TV programme he'd inadvertently found himself watching while tidying the playroom. A frightful dyed blonde woman was prowling around some strangers' houses crying 'Yuck!' at frequent intervals. It was one of those fashionable exercises in public humiliation that those desperate for fame, any fame, and unable to distinguish between good and bad attention, sign up for. 15 minutes of prime time and sod the fact that some tarty bitch is going to reduce you to tears on camera. One of these desperate individuals was so lost to common sense and propriety as to allow her cats to sleep on her bed. Bitter tears of mortification oozed from her eyes as the harridan informed her that this habit was vilely unhygienic; her bed would be covered with cat hair, eeeewwwwww! and she was, in effect, putting her cats before her husband. Apparently struck with the justice of this accusation the victim squirmed and sobbed.

It made me come over all bolshy about the forthcoming Inspection. When I mentioned this to my Herring he said, 'Bolshevik? I always had you down as a Menshevik.' So OK: it made me come over all menshy.

There is something profoundly wrong, though, about this compulsion let dragons into our houses to criticise every aspect of our lives for public consumption: not least the fact that there's clearly an audience for it, it has a horrid fascination. The only thing I actively watch on TV is the footy, but this stuff - occasionally and accidentally glimpsed - draws me in. It's depressing stuff.

Big Zü has got to the point of allowing Abou, purring ecstatically, to sleep with his head resting on Zü's broad orange back. We all crowd round excitedly to watch and croon. Aaaah.

Monday, September 18, 2006



So today I sought refuge from incipient depression (have I not been taking my pills properly? my doctor thinks I should reduce them, gah) by making pizza with my two little boys and their friend Sam. Under my eye, they shopped, and weighed the flour and the sugar and yeast, and discussed what the chemical reactions were; they thumped the dough, which I urged them to treat as their worst enemy (Bush and Maurinho, these enemies turned out to be), they grated and sliced toppings, and finally they ate with huge appetites. Then I gave them icecream.

I spent about four hours supervising and educating. They loved every minute. It cost about £3 in ingredients. I have spent small fortunes on child treats which have left them hideously blasé. This is an old lesson, first learned when I had to entertain my older kids on the weekends that their millionniare dad didn't have them. It was good to be reminded of it.

Meanwhile our new kitten Abou, an Oriental Black and six months old, is settling in. We got him to give our existing cat, the vast orange Zülle, company following the death of his ma. Abou is enthusiastic about Zu and calls to him, rushes at him, rubs himself affectionately against Zu's flank and generally goes out of his way to forge bonds of friendship. This has been going on for nearly a week and has reduced Zu to a gibbering wreck. This evening, alarmingly, Abou extended a perfectly oval paw and placed it gently but firmly on Zu's head. I have seen this gesture before. It means 'You're a wimp; I'm the boss around here'. It's perfectly true that Zü is a wimp, but it's a little disconcerting that he has given this secret away to Abou and allowed this ten ounce scrap of felinity to assume alpha male status quite so soon.

The best bit of news recently was our match against ManU yesterday. Not just the fact that we won our first match of the season, but how well we won, how beautifully we played our own kind of football, flowing, passing, stylish football. And without Henry and van Persie too. Cesc was fabulous, Freeddie worked his socks off, it was such a joy to watch. I thought I didn't hate ManU quite as much as I used to until I saw them take the field, when I felt a quite unexpected and curiously satisfying rush of extreme loathing. Anyway, we looked like Arsenal ought to look, and if we carry on playing like that I have hopes that we'll get the season back on track. Ferguson complained that his team were tired. It's mid-September ffs, and we travelled away for a CL match in mid-week. Poor excuse for a poor performance.

I'm slightly confused about the nature of the blog. It's not private, like a diary; I don't feel free to say the things I might say if I thought no one else would ever see it; but it's unlikely to be read - I'm not talking to anyone except myself. This private/public interface is a bit weird. I e4xpect I shall get used to it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm not at all sure why I'm doing this. It seems terribly self-indulgent. My partner has often suggested it , but I suspect that's because he wants me to waste more time to lessen his guilt. But here goes. I'm flailing about a bit with the technology, but no-one will read it anyway so I don't suppose it matters.

I am a journeyman, a day labourer. I get up each morning and go to see if I have any work. If I haven't, I don't get paid. This seems to me exactly like the situation of my great-grandfather, who was a docker and went down to the docks every morning at around five. He had the advantage of me, though, because he took the Telegraph which, in those days, carried the shipping news so he tended to know when a ship was due in. His peers thought this was uncanny, and hung around with him in the hope that some of the luck would rub off, which - naturally - it usually did.

My children mock me when I point to my precarious working-class status. They show no respect. They point to the thousand things about my life that prove I'm middle class. When did patterns of consumption, rather than labour, become the key determinants of class? How useful is consumption as a class indicator? To be defined, and to define ourselves and each other, in terms of our possessions and the way we spend our money?

I hesitated over having a good rant about idle husbands at this point and decided against it. As I don't imagine anyone will ever read this, I don't quite know why.