Friday, October 31, 2008

The real scandal of Ross and Brand

Headlines in all the papers for days at a time ...
Across the board, tabloids and heavyweights are united in condemnation.
Gordon Brown pitches in (how delighted he must be for the distraction from the economy) and David Cameron is in full agreement.

All are in accord - it's a scandal of the highest order.
Who's to blame? they all ask with righteous indignation.
Is it the over-sexed, over paid likely lads themselves?
Or is the real issue about governance and responsibility at the Beeb?

I've read article after think piece after editorial and I've come to one screaming conclusion:

They're all missing the point!

Let's look back at what was actually said in the beginning to unleash this storm of controversy.
R 'n' B left messages on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs claiming B had slept with his granddaughter and that Sachs might kill himself as a result.

Tasteless? Of course it is.
Puerile? Without a shadow of doubt.
Offensive? Well, yes.

Does it make any difference that the granddaughter is 23 year old Georgina Baillie, a dancer known as Voluptua with a band called the Satanic Sluts and that she's admitted to having had a relationship with Brand? In theory, it shouldn't but ...

Excuse me, but while I agree with the tasteless/puerile/offensive definitions of the so-called prank, as far as I can see R 'n' B have done nothing more than act within the current cultural limits of acceptable behaviour on tv and radio.
In fact, compared to many other examples I could cite, this particular offense seems relatively mild.

Check out these shows (which I confess are among my favourites): Have I Got News for You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, Mock the Week, Graham Norton and many more.
What do they all in common with the R 'n' B approach?
True, Graham Norton does camp bitchy as opposed to macho laddish, but many of the jokes are the same. The targets certainly are.
  • They're all genuinely funny much of the time.
  • All these shows are male-dominated.
  • They all have people considered fair game for a cheap laugh.
Ah! Now we're getting to the point at last ...
So who's in this particular hit list of acceptable laughing stocks?
Amy Winehouse, Kerry Katona, Britney Spears, Jade Goody, Jodie Marsh ...
And what is it that these regular victims have in common that makes it acceptable to belittle, insult and bully them and still be considered funny?

For crying out loud, it's obvious, isn't it?
They're all women.
And they're all working class.
They're all also, to a greater or lesser extent, damaged and on the edge.

And if Amy or Kerry or any of the others die a miserable and tortured early death, will they still be considered appropriate targets?
Will any of these bright but arrogant men, convinced of their own superiority, feel a twinge of shame for the part they have played in the character assassination that will have contributed to the misery of these young women?

If you need convincing that misogyny and classism are firmly on the cultural media agenda, have you heard any of these men spitting incoherent hatred at Loose Women?
Their fury takes a very different form to the smirking superiority Amy and co are subjected to.
The only conclusion I can come to is that Loose Women are witty, warm and articulate (and middle class incidentally).
Oh and they're on air together, making it far harder to isolate and bully them as individuals. How threatening is that???

Ironically, I can think of only one working class woman who's subverted the genre and taken ownership of her trashy image. Her response to any insult is to laugh, yell 'Bring it on' and add to her burgeoning empire.
And so it is that I find myself in the unlikely position of admitting to a sneaking respect for a pneumatic Barbie Doll - Jordan aka Katie Price.

To return to the Ross/Brand debacle.
Bearing in mind all of the above, it's clear they were acting well within the dictates of their genre. Their main crime was chortling their empty-headed jibe at an aged male national treasure instead of directly at a vulnerable young woman.

So Brand may resign, Ross may be suspended and directorial heads at the BBC may roll, but unless someone looks at the wider culture within which these men operate, nothing will change.
Male comedians, many of whom are capable of being genuinely funny and clever, will continue to demean themselves, their victims - and all those of us in their audiences who accept bullying and insulting vulnerable women as entertainment.

Now that's what I call a real scandal.

Camber Phoctober

I've managed to sneak these pix in just in time for Maht's Phoctober project over at Moon Topples.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Virtual crime, real time

The line between Virtuality and Reality is becoming ever more blurred.
(You will note the number of '.....' used in this post.)

In Japan, a woman has been arrested this week for virtually 'murdering' her virtual 'ex-husband'.
Are you following this?

The woman had 'married' a man (who lives 600 real miles away) in an online game, MapleStory.
The game originated in South Korea and now has approx 50 million subscribers worldwide.

When the 'husband' announced to his 'wife' that he wanted a 'divorce', she was enraged.
Using his password and ID (which he'd shared with her while they'd been happily 'married') she hacked into his computer and erased his digital character, making him virtually 'dead' - or worse - as if he'd 'never existed' (virtually speaking, since the character had never 'really' existed in the first place).

Confusing, isn't it?
Was this a computer crime?
Or a virtual 'murder'?
What's not so confusing is the Real Life sentence she faces if found guilty ...
Up to 5 years in prison or £3,200 fine.

Meanwhile, recently in Holland, 2 teenagers were sentenced to 360 hours community service for virtually beating up another boy and stealing his digital goods.
The court described the crime as theft, which I find weird.
I can understand if the offense was cyberbullying, a very real and destructive phenomenon, but theft???
It's bad enough when material possessions are valued above people in the Real World ...

So what do you think?
Where should the line be drawn?
Should it be a case of, 'If you can't do the Real Time, don't do the Cyber Crime'?
Dunno about you, but I think the real crime here is that some people's real lives are so empty and sad that they spend them buried deep in a facile fantasy world.

I'll leave you to ponder that one for the next few days, while I'm playing on the sand dunes here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The hostess with the mostest?

We've had some wild blog parties in the past, haven't we?
Time was when an abandoned blog would be quickly spotted and squatted, with wild raves taking place in the comments box.
The blog owner would come back from holiday to sprawled bodies, empty bottles, overflowing ashtrays and dried up chocolate fountains.
Not for a while though.

This is a new idea and it's just as exciting (though hopefully a bit more tasteful than some of those Bacchanalian comments box romps where anything goes).
An official virtual event.

Tania Hershman, who blogs at Titania Writes, is embarking on a virtual book tour to talk about her recently published book of short stories, The White Road and Other Stories.

The tour kicks off on 28th October and this 'ere blog is going to be a stopping post next January.

You can follow the tour here.
I've bought a copy of the book and I'm really looking forward to reading it.

A message to you

Last year, Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees ran daily prompts on the Messages website to publicise the second edition of their joint book of 300 pieces of 300 words, Messages.
(I blogged about it here.)

It was an unexpected internet success with over 100 writers from all over the world taking part regularly, and the launch of the anthology of Your Messages was a great party, with one participant flying over from Texas specially to attend. In addition, nearly £500 was raised for the charity, The Kids Co.

Now, they’re getting ready to do it all over again.

Every day during November they will post a writing prompt of exactly 30 words and you’re invited to respond, via the comments box, with your own original piece of writing which may be either exactly 30 words or 300 words long.

At the end of the month they’ll choose one overall prize-winner (although they say they may well comment on one or two others as well) and the writer of that piece will receive signed copies of their books: Leading the Dance, Learning How to Fall, Something Beginning With and The Oven House.

And how will they make their decision from so much fine writing?

1.There should be some kind of link to the prompt, e.g. theme, image, word or phrase

2.It should be a stand-alone piece of writing.

3.It has to be brilliant!

(The original version of this post appeared on Bookarazzi.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book look

Remember this?

I'm delighted to announce that Joanna Czechowska's book, The Black Madonna of Derby, is going to be launched at my fave indie bookshop at an event on Thursday 30th October.

And just to show to what extent this all represents different strands of my life weaving together, there will be another launch event on 28th November as part of the Reading Connects strategy in FB's school.
Joanna's book is perfect for this purpose as it's available in both English and Polish versions and deals with the ramifications of balancing two cultures.

So to sum up: that's a woman in my writers' group, holding one event at a shop I love and where my own book launches were held, and another at the school my son attends, as part of a strategy I'm active in supporting, for a book I helped edit.

Doncha just love it when a plan comes together?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hyper post

Do you know this feeling?

You know ...

The one where you're utterly knackered and what you really want is a long lie in snuggled under the duvet or at least a quick kip on the settee but you've got far too much on so you can't afford 30 winks let alone 40 and that's nothing to do with credit munch and you've tried putting matchsticks in your eyes but that really hurts and anyway your lids are so heavy that the sticks snapped and that could have given you a very nasty eye injury so it was a stupid idea in the first place and who thinks of these things cos it's very irresponsible and they shouldn't be allowed to get away with it so instead you tank up on turbo-charged caffeine which does at least keep you awake so you can be acutely aware of your heart pounding but only when it's not fluttering like butterfly wings behind the cage of your ribs and your eyes feel gritty and it's funny cos you have really sharp focus but only on what's directly in front of you but the periphery of your vision is blurred and that means you trip over a lot and wonder if you're nearing the age when people will call it having a fall rather than just falling over and you also feel a teensy bit sick but not like you're actually going to throw up but more like background nausea as though the butterflies in your heart have reproduced and got into your digestive system and maybe they're to blame for your laptop being so sluggish too so you're tempted to dribble coffee onto the keyboard so that you and your machine might operate at the same speed cos it's so frustrating waiting ten minutes or more for a bloody email to download so you attempt to multi task and do other things at the same time but those other things can't be dependent on using the damn laptop cos it's old though nowhere near as old as you and it needs a thorough clean out which is the same as you but you can't do it cos you haven't got the hours to spare that you know it'll take and meanwhile your hands are also a bit trembly cos the caffeine has reached your extremities now and you're awake all right but it's not that easy to function effectively now that the butterflies have failed to flutter by but have taken up residence in your appropriately named nervous system and did you know that it's being argued that Seasonal Affective Disorder would be more appropriately labeled Seasonal Depressive Disorder but you reckon it makes sod all difference what you call it cos it'll still feel like you're being oppressed and you're floundering under the weight of the need to hibernate or hernibertate as FB used to call it and blimey if it's like this now what'll it be like after the clocks go back this weekend?

Do you?

Do you know this feeling?

Good job it's half term hols next week and we'll be THERE again.
Except I can't give you the link cos the butterflies have persuaded Blogger to join forces to grind me down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Poverty Post

This post is one of many thousands published as part of Blog Action Day, which this year is focusing on poverty.


Capitalism isn’t working!

Aw naw – this cannot be …

You mean this wonderful system based on greed and exploitation might not be ideal?

It might even *gasp* have to be replaced by one based instead on altruism and co-operation ...?

Surely shome mishtake …

It would mean an end to global markets …

A shift to small communities working together for the good of all …

There would be less air travel, less shipping of products available round the corner, less squandering of precious resources, less damage to the environment …

And less money available to finance wars, which are just terrorism on a bigger budget after all.

We would have to completely re-evaluate the way we live and adapt our expectations accordingly.

No longer would obscene amounts of money be paid to men in suits who produce nothing.

Those with lavish lifestyles justified by vast incomes will be shaken to the very core as the foundations they have built their lives on are fatally undermined by the crisis.

They will become the nouveau pauvre.

In the affluent West, those of us who don’t own property, who have no debts and little or no savings, who are accustomed to living frugally and within our limited means, will find ourselves better equipped to weather the storm.

And those in the developing world, the poorest of the poor, will no longer be forced into using their precious resources to further enrich the already rich by growing mono-crops for export and paying off so-called ‘loans’.

Instead they will use their land and their energy to grow suitable crops that can feed their own communities.

Unthinkable, eh?

Not for me. Bring it on.

It might just save the world from greater disaster …

It’s going to be painful - more so for some than others …

But since the ‘some’ are those more accustomed to inflicting pain on those who have less, it could be argued that they’ve got it coming.

Call me a naïve, utopian, starry-eyed, idealistic fantasist and a hopeless optimist ...

I know it could all go horribly wrong and that the poorer have always been the ones to suffer most ...

I know the reality is that it’s incredibly rare for those at the very top of the pile to end up with nothing ...

but I’m a glass-half-full kinda gal and it’s good to see them sweat.

I suspect that I’ll lose some erstwhile supporters as a result of this post, but hey … it’s Blog Action Day and that’s all about stimulating the debate.

I thought there would be plenty of posts articulating how dire the situation is in so many parts of the world and talking about the hideous injustices that exist in that yawning gap between rich and poor, so I’ve come up with one that feels (to me, anyway!) more positive.

Friday, October 10, 2008


How do you feel about dumpster divers?

Do you:
a) think rifling through other people's rubbish is disgusting?
b) have a grudging respect, but still think they're just opportunistic scroungers?
c) feel the real crime is the amount of perfectly good stuff people chuck out to end up in landfill and see this as commendable recycling/reusing?
d) Oi! Hands off! I saw that first!

I confess here, without a twinge of shame, I'm a well-seasoned collector of other people's 'junk'. It seems to me that people often throw away superior items and substitute new poor quality tat that won't last 5 minutes.

Let me take you on a tour of our home.

In the kitchen we have a lovely solid wood shelf unit dumped on the street - perfect for clearing bits and pieces from the work surface.

Moving through to the living room, in the corner there is the beautiful fully-functioning floor lamp I picked up from next to the bins (with plug still attached).
See that stainless steel unit with the videos on?
That was an old display rack abandoned outside a refitted shop.
And that wrought iron circular table with the matching candelabra - both of those were left by the side of the road.
Different roads, different days.

Out in the hall, you'll no doubt admire the 4' long wavy mirror left out by the bins, still in its original wrapping.
You probably won't even notice that the end has snapped off as it's a clean break and looks as though it's meant to be like that.

Ah, the boys' room.
Regular treasure trove here.
I pushed that large office spinny-chair through the streets late at night after a writers' group.
Someone had left it out next to their bin. Not a mark on it.
Over there are the 2 badminton racquets abandoned, complete with protective covers, by our bin shed.
And that fabulous chest of drawers - solid wood, none of your flatpack shite - was left in our basement with a sign saying it was up for grabs.

In our bedroom, I know that huge mirror is cracked, but just look at the gorgeous Gothic frame it's in.
And what shall I put in that heavy wooden frame I found earlier this week?

Once in Brighton, J told me there had been a short power cut and the local supermarket had dumped the entire contents of their chiller cabinets.
We filled every bag we could find and distributed enough cheese to all our friends to last a month.
And, no, none of us got sick.

I don't go looking for this stuff.
I just walk a lot and have my eyes open.
And in case you're worried, the boys aren't in the slightest embarrassed.
In fact they're proud.
'Hey! Look what mum's found today!'

So ... what do you think? Am I disgusting ...?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Countdown to Blogday

Don't forget - 1 week to go to Blog Action Day on poverty.
So what are you doing next Wednesday?
And is it so important and time-consuming that you won't be able to find a few minutes to take part?

At this point, 5,897 sites have registered, with an audience in excess of 10,257,686 readers.
Go here to register your blog and become part of the debate.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Even Mary Poppins grows old

The plan is working!

My WIP is spilling out faster than my stiff little fingers can keep up.

Meanwhile, I thought you might enjoy this:

To commemorate her 69th birthday , Julie Andrews made a special appearance at Manhattan 's Radio City Music Hall where she performed an updated version of 'My Favorite Things' from The Sound Of Music. (Original here.)

Botox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,

I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heating pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.

Back pain, confused brains and no need for sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Debi:1 Graham: 0

On Graham Norton's show last night, he checked out a website - Cats that look like Hitler.
And very funny it was too.

I should know - I posted about it back in June 2006. Except the link in my post is no longer operative - and I'm sure it was much better than the new one!

I've changed

Not my underwear.
I mean, that's hardly news.
(More recently than they have. Remember this?)

And not my personality.
Getting a bit late for that now.

No, I'm referring to the way I write.
Y'see, I'd noticed that I was doing more on my WIP while sitting on the tube going to see dad or in the park when the kids were playing footie than when I supposedly had a whole day to concentrate on it.

It's all your fault.
Don't deny it.
You're distracting me with your bleedin' bloggin'.
You're writing posts that make me think. Or laugh. You force me to comment.

I know you're not going to stop, so if you won't change, I will.
New year ... new plan.
I'll check my emails and post on my own blog and do anything else urgent that requires me to stare at a screen and then I'm going to close the laptop down and write in longhand as I did when I first started writing Nirvana Bites.
The adrenalin is really flowing with this latest book and it's coming faster than I can get the words on the page.
I'm loving that energy and the insistence that I make this a priority.

It's not just my WIP urging me to make this shift.
My body is telling me too.
My back's knackered from too many hours hunched over a steaming keyboard (from which most of the letters have been rubbed off resulting in some interesting typos).
It's taken a while but at last my brain has caught up with my spine.

I know I can't expect people to keep coming here if I don't return the favour and I'll really miss being involved with what's going on with all of you.
I'll try to visit as often as I can, but meantime ... hush ... can you hear that? My WIP is calling.

(Not so) little bitty lit bits

Bookarazzi has started a monthly round up of events, launches, news etc.

Click here to see Lit Bits October, which will be updated regularly as new items come in.

If you know of any news, innovations, articles etc that you think would fit and would be of interest, please email me at info at debialper dot co dot uk