Friday, 29 February 2008

Write Mischief!

I think I'll wright a poem in the form of a rhombus
No, better still, a dodecahedron.
Take an afternoon to muse on whether Old Goudy is
More passionate than Garamond
And which I’m more font of.
Dig out my old word association tests from the shrink
Sprinkle ‘mesmeric rocks’, ‘jagged wolf’, ‘muscular aeroplane’
With a liberal dash of what it means to be a woman -
You know the kind of thing.
Avoid all internal and half-rhyme
And obvious poet-y words like ‘shard’ or 'rivulet'.
People will marvel at my resonance.
It will sound exactly as if it means something
Brought to you direct from the metaphysical mind.
(But really it's just me, the cat
A fridge magnet alphabet
And nothing decent on the box.
tee hee)

© LS King 2006

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Flagging Pride

About a year ago outgoing Lord Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, publicly apologised for the Slave Trade. Which was big of him. I mean I had no idea it was his fault, but…

This gesture led to many thoughts about Britishness circling round in my head, wondering why for example, the Spanish were allowed to be proud of being Spanish, the Italians were allowed to be proud of being Italian and the French allowed to be proud of being French - while we Brits seemed to have been reduced to becoming apologists for ourselves, ashamed even to celebrate St George's Day, except via the medium of football, which seems to have hi-jacked the ‘Engerland’ flag, just like the worst examples of our nationhood seem to have hi-jacked the ‘beautiful game' in turn from the respectable working man it once belonged to.

Worse than this, the expression of any kind of nationalism or patriotism seems to mark one out as a paid-up member of the racist British Nationalist Party, notwithstanding the last four successive governments have left us with precious little to be nationally proud of, decimating our manufacturing industry, facilitating the national 'brain drain' and promoting the general degeneration of our society and its fabric in every which way it can for whatever unfathomable reason.

Which isn't to say Britain hasn't done some bloody awful things to other countries in the past. Of course we have. What nation hasn't? Some continue doing bloody awful things to this day. But how can we intellectually revisit what we have visited upon other cultures centuries ago, using today's retrospective PC morality to judge or apologise out of context, and what purpose could it possibly serve, except to detract from what we should have learned from past empirical dominance and mistakes - lessons we should be employing in today's leadership?

The train of thought added further carriages with John Taylor's new book 'Flying the Flag' in which he explores 'Britishness' through the lens of historic British battle victories over European neighbours, illustrating rather alarmingly that there were often higher standards and morality employed in deciding what battles were fought in Britain's interests centuries ago than there are today!

In addition he asks the telling question - how many of today's schoolchildren are taught the difference between patriotism and nationalism? To my shame, I had to Google it too! For the benefit of my fellow ignorami, a patriot is one who loves (his) country sentimentally and faithfully without great question, whereas a nationalist is an altogether more political creature who demonstrates (his) national loyalty by taking a pro-active stance and doing what he believes, rightly or wrongly, is in his country's interests. Nationalism can also indicate loyalty to state rather than crown, although as Mr Taylor points out, until recently, British State, Crown and indeed, Church were inextricably bound together in their own redoubtable trinity, and their forcible separation in the last few decades is having profound and unravelling effects on every aspect of British life.

He doesn't touch greatly on multi-culturalism, but my own thoughts are that any individual who chooses to adopt any country as their own (and I count British ex-pats moving abroad in this too) should be prepared to integrate, speak their chosen country's language, respect its culture, live by its laws and actually become a patriot to that adopted country. It's a bit like a relationship - it'll never work if you're not compatible or prepared to be compatible, and it's got to be a two-way street with giving as well as taking involved.

It's just now that Britain doesn't even respect its own culture, live by its own laws, stand up for itself as a primarily Christian country, or even know who/what the hell it is anymore that this becomes ever more impossible and hypocritical for Britain to demand these standards of immigrants. But this is not to be confused with multi-culturalism working. This is just one big embarrassing mess.

And I speak as a Patriot and a Nationalist, only in the spirit that I welcome all citizens who genuinely love this country to live here, become British/born-again British, and contribute to making Britain a better place to live (if not quite Great with an over-inflated G again!) I do think there is a happy medium between this little island having an Empire-sized ego or no self-esteem/pride at all. As for national identity, one of the joys of that is that we never used to need a card to tell us that we lived in a free and democratic country.

**Uncharitable rumour has it that our gene pool has never recovered from the slaughter of over 70% of our Officer class in World War I, and that is the reason the quality of Britain's modern political leadership is so poor... Discuss**

Monday, 25 February 2008

The Poet's Pyjamas!

It's finally arrived, my first blogging prize
Awarded by the elegant Lady Language
A gorgeous repose suit in which to languish
Racy, lacy, pink Valentine's Pyjamas
They sure knock the spots off the Dalai Lama's!
Silver earrings and nice choccies too,
What can I say Lady L, but a big Thank You?
I wasn't expecting this enhancement to bedroom bliss
But before I seduce, I might Compere
A poetry event in these PJ's beyond compare
The only pair of their kind in Oxford
Others will despair in this fair city of Oxford.
Alas I fear this poem is going from bad to verse
And fellow Bloggers are already fit to burst
With spit feathers and envy at this pyjama honour first!

The Cat's Pyjamas - definition of

Friday, 22 February 2008

Help! I'm A Binge Makeover Show Addict!

Hah, I thought smugly in my other capacity as a comedy addict when viewing the new Mitchell & Webb TV series last night featuring the hilarious excerpt from their new Sensitive Freakshow Season - 'The Boy With An Arse For A Face' – at least I don’t watch the worst human freak shows.
But is a diet of Diet Doctors, Ten Years Younger, Spendaholics, Property Ladder, Location Location Location, The House Doctor, FreakyEaters, How Clean is Your House? How to Pay Off Your Mortgage in Two Years, Grand Designs, A New Life In The Country, It’s Me Or The Dog & Colin and Justin any more edifying? Any better a use of all the hours of my life I’ll never get back?
Well all the house stuff I can justify as ‘research’ for my job in property (albeit not usually private houses), but all the personal makeover shows are a little harder.
Since the dictionary definition of 'voyeurism' is someone who gets a sexual kick out of watching others, a response I am hitherto unaware of while watching makeover shows, I think it unlikely.
Nosiness? Well of course. The human condition is unfailingly fascinating and it’s amazing how not being able to clean their house, living with a nose the size of the Himalayas, being hopelessly financially incontinent, or unable to stop gambling ends up being the key to revealing the whole person through that very weakness.
However it’s easy to watch these shows and be lulled into a false sense of security about oneself, ie; however much of a failure I am at least I have a clean house and no gambling addiction.
So while they can work on the one hand to cheer oneself after a bad day, one has to be very careful not to let the fact that one would make dull television by comparison, be confused with succeeding in life!
Notwithstanding there is something inspiring, even moving about watching a programme featuring someone who has scarcely left their house for ten years owing to some personal tragedy, finally being given the courage to overcome their agoraphobia via the expert help they wouldn’t possibly have been able to afford otherwise, and knowing that their life really has improved for the better, even if they invariably continue to experience the odd wobbly day now and then, or how a house de-cluttered and fully steamcleaned for the first time in twenty years inspires the inhabitant who was ‘stuck’ in that mindset for whatever reason, to then want to revamp and brighten every aspect of their lives.
The ‘big reveal’ or transformation of the house or individual at the end of the show is as irresistible and magical a moment as redemption. Perhaps it is a kind of redemption.
Of course television will exaggerate, bend the truth and even exploit, and not all such shows do more good than harm. Supernanny in particular has been singled out for criticism recently for deliberately making parents look worse and more inept than they really are, and even deliberately winding the kids up to exacerbate their bad behaviour for the cameras! Cosmetic makeovers don’t always last long, though of course the participants need to do their bit to maintain their new looks.
As for the sad endictment all these programmes are on a society which has seemingly forgotten how to clean their houses, manage their money, raise their kids, rule their dogs, enjoy functional relationships, well yes that is rather alarming, though thinking about my own areas of ineptitude, I am bound to believe that we must all fall short on at least one major area of basic lifeskills, and this has merely been untalked about/unrevealed until the last ten or fifteen years.
So to sum up, makeover programmes for me are:

a. a yardstick by which I measure my own progress in life against other peoples’
b. learn how other people deal with and get through life/how they think.
c. Absorb all decent tips & advice dished out in addition to seeing how participants fare on their programme ‘journey’.
d. Enjoy the transformation at the end. I believe in personal renaissance and second chances!

Is that enough junkie justification for the fact I wasted one whole hour on a young green-fingered gay man with transformer toy addiction spending more than twice his monthly income on Gucci products, followed by another whole hour on a DJ who was terrified of fruit and vegetables last night? In my defence, I no longer tape a single one of these programmes (digital ensures they are all repeated about five minutes later!)

Photo from Channel 4's Ten Years Younger

Thursday, 21 February 2008

A'mour & Armour

Self Preservation

You have to be cold and hard
To live on your own
So cold and hard, it gets so
That it's difficult to be warm and soft
Remember how it is to be warm and soft,
Feel safe without armour
When the time comes.

Indeed some people find
They can't get their armour off again
And it's become a part of them.
But how else to protect
One's tender bits?

Personally I favour the alarm option...

© LS King

Photo by

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Will Dr Harold Shipman Receive a Posthumous Pardon?

As a nineteen year old I recall making a point of trying to visit my octogenarian Great Aunt Alice in hospital at teatimes to help her eat and drink a little.
I suppose I always assumed that the nurses didn't do it if relatives were around on the grounds patients would prefer the personal touch and it gave visitors something to do.

Certainly it never crossed my naïve mind that my Great Aunts' tray may have intentionally been left just out of her reach (and presumably taken away untouched when I wasn't there) in order to hasten her death.
Though five years later when her sister Lilian was admitted, turning from amply-upholstered woman to bag of bones within weeks, subsequently to die of 'complications' arising from an initial broken hip, I suppose some disconcerting niggles began to form.

Thirteen years later I'm appalled but not surprised to see the deliberate starving and dehydration of elderly patients to death is now being revealed as unofficial widespread practice in many British hospitals, some even daring to pass it off as 'treatment' and threatening any relative who dares to challenge it. Others more unashamedly justify the practice by saying it is not their policy to offer 'life saving' treatment in chronic and terminal cases.

But hang on a minute. Isn't 'life-saving' treatment defibrillators, crash equipment, emergency surgery and the like?
Since when did mere sustenance become classified as 'life-saving' treatment? (albeit hard to survive without, granted!)

This smacks of euthanasia without the voluntary element. This is wholly contrary to the Hippocratic oath that all newbie medics used to have to swear - 'First do no harm' - and presumably the greater ambition that many must surely start out with - ie to actually do some good!

And if nurses are now too busy to nurse, what are they for? What is their role? Or is each ward really so grossly under-staffed as to be forced to dispatch its bedblockers and nuisances by whatever means necessary? Has this all happened since, or even because, Matron has departed?

I don't dispute society faces huge challenges with an ever increasing elderly population living ever longer with ever-more-elongated final illnesses, and I don't claim to have the answers, but surely we have not come to this in a civilised society. Surely we do not resort to measures to wrap up lives that we are quite rightly prohibited from visiting on a family pet without prosecution. And anyone who has seen a relative dehydrate or starve by the day (even if they have only realised what they were witnessing too late) will testify that it is not a process without attendant suffering, and even fright in your relatives' eyes. They know something is wrong, even if they are rendered beyond articulating what.

Conversely we are appalled at the thought of those of sound mind choosing to end their lives humanely with Dignitas, rather than face the slow and painful course of whatever chronic illness. Perhaps these individuals know something the rest of us are only just realising. That the end can be so much worse than that if left to take its course in this country. Though personally I would wish to see a proper nationwide palliative care programme rolled out as a first resort, as well as proper nursing care restored, rather than what should be a very last resort advocated first!

Meantime newsagent shelves heave under the weight of health magazines telling us 'How to make it to 100!'. That'll please the NHS and the Government Pensions Department no end! (might do it just to spite 'em!)

Monday, 18 February 2008

Template, Template

I feel a growing yen to beautify my blog with a more unusual template, namely one of the following;



However, although they are both designed for Blogger, previews show either would lose me most of my sidebar content!

Does anyone else have this problem? You'd think all blogger templates would be standardized wouldn't you? I am trying to teach myself HTML but I notice even the template codes and terminology are not the same from one template to another! One template I printed out to ponder the problem on paper was 12 pages long and the other 29!

Yet one more example of the lie 'One Size Fits All'!

Of course what would really be helpful is if Blogger allowed us to log in and drag 'n' drop our sidebars/main content to our hearts' content to modify templates ourselves, whilst keeping us within the confines of a 'fit to screen' protocol for the benefit of readers possessed of varying screen size.

You know those techie people who come up behind you and make you feel a complete idiot by pressing a single button to solve what you've been wrestling with for hours. Well where are they when you need them, huh?

I should probably post on Blogger Help, but sadly my previous experiences lead me to suspect it a place designed for people as clueless as myself to whinge to each other and leave the Blogger staff alone!

Backfire Branding

Following my recent rant bemoaning female fashion's increasing alienation from the female form; A Cry From The Wardrobe, I was amused to note at the weekend that even signage manufacturers are struggling to produce signs to fit us any longer!

I showed this photo of a new public washroom Ladies sign to my partner who guffawed for a moment before realising to his horror that he'd just visited that selfsame Ladies' in error!

This brought to mind the recent unfortunate typography I observed in Nat West bank where re-branding consultants had made all the a's look like o's, with the consequence that posters and leaflets sprang out to tempt me with 'Business Bonking' and 'Unbeatable Loons'!

What a top job that would be I've often thought. To set up as a professional re-brander who gets paid millions and thanked for making your clients look like complete idiots! On an par indeed with the television consultant who periodically gets paid obscene sums to make the theme tune of Eastenders/any television programme even rubbisher and more banal than it was before. As for our plumbers' Corgi gas safety certification, that has gone from intimidating coat of arms to cartoon that a five year old could forge! By the by 'abstraction' is the new buzzword for 'dumbing down'. Hey, I sound like a branding consultant already!

Friday, 15 February 2008

Trip to China

She treasures it, I see car boot stalls
When I look at the unremarkable china plate set
Mounted on her living room wall.
Inherited from her grandmother, so not her own taste,
Can she really like it, or is family sentiment more the case?
But that fussy pattern of insipid muddy flowers
Or is there something amiss with me? I muse,
missing it, and half the story,
As she relates the worst day of her life -
When her late husband accidentally dropped the matching jug.

The teapot holds court, worshipped in the alcove.
Well they used to cost a months' wages, you know
So you'd only buy them for very special occasions
(never to use them ever afterwards though).
A funny indulgence for a poor family
Scraping by on a few shillings a week.
You'd have thought new clothes might have been more important,
Or food, or doctor's bills, or furniture, or sheets.
But she comes from an age where tea sets mattered
While she slept with three sisters on lumpy horsehair
Coats for bedclothes, ice on the water jug.
Dreaming of certainty in a constant teapot world…

© LS King 2006

Monday, 11 February 2008

Inter-colleague dating - the new white collar crime...

In the early naughties, US legal eagles were predicting that inter-colleague dating would soon become subject to company 'pre-date agreements', to avert the possibility of litigation when things went wrong and prevent abuse of boss/subordinate power, or even banned altogether! Although things have gone somewhat quiet since, the debate, plus the fact of our society becoming ever more litigious generally, inspired this piece.

Dating 2012

Nicholas Luton Rainbird, you have been arrested and brought to this station on suspicion of subjecting Rebecca Catherine Morris to a ‘bad’ date.
You are hereby charged that on the 14th July 2012 you did fail to book tickets in advance for the Welsh National Opera’s La Traviata, with the result that you had to buy standby tickets for Anne Diamond sings Mike Reid at the Hippodrome.
This was not the date she assented to.
In addition, Ms Morris alleges that you were late picking her up, had not valetted the car for months, played Morrisey on the CD player against her will, and had to try three car parks before you found a parking space.
She furthermore cites that you failed to pre-book a table. Consequently the Aberdeen Steak House was the only restaurant that would accommodate you both, and Ms Morris was unable to hold anything down past the starter.
You caused Ms Morris great sartorial embarrassment owing to your dodgy haircut and choice of formal wear ie: grubby Nike trainers and an I Love Price Waterhouse Coopers t-shirt, and went on to exceed your legal quota of football talk by 40% and work talk by 63.5%, culminating in a 20-minute monologue about the late arrival of a plumber.
Moreover, you did fail to compliment Ms Morris on her outfit, notice her expensive new haircut or make a single romantic overture towards her all evening, thereby undermining her femininity and self-esteem as an attractive and desirable woman.
It is my duty to inform you that Ms Morris intends to press charges for the emotional distress caused to her on the aforesaid evening, and recover costs from you for the wasted outfit, haircut and her valuable time, not to mention the ten sessions of therapy she has needed for post traumatic stress disorder.

Have you anything to say for yourself?

Take him down Officer.

©LS King 2003

Friday, 8 February 2008

Impressionistic in Oxford


Ok, so I possess a crap camera!

A few night shots taken recently that you might enjoy (click on View All Images button for captions). I'd have taken photos of the rest, only sodium lamps haven't yet taken off everywhere and the fluorescent illuminations are horrid! Some folk are vehemently opposed to architectural lighting, claiming it causes 'light pollution' and blots out the stars! However the Randolph Hotel is more or less Oxford's only example of proper architectural lighting so far.

And hey, if you have buildings to rival the stars, you should definitely flaunt them! I think we have few enough left in England to negate any environmental detriment, personally. It is also a sad fact of life that the better illuminated our cities and towns, the safer it is to walk the streets at night.

Monday, 4 February 2008

A Cry From The Wardrobe

It's a commonly held belief that women should suffer for fashion and be happy to. But why? How is fashion worth it when so much is badly designed, poorly sewn, in cheap, nastily printed fabrics, overpriced for what it is, and worse still, does us no favours in terms of enhancing us to our best advantage, let alone making us feel a million dollars?

Oh for knickers that bore some semblance to the shape of the female bottom (spare me boy pants, mummy pants, control pants (sinister or what?), saggy French cami-knickers, cheese wires, bizarre shaped bits of net, skimpy tangas, or frankly pointless, crotchless).

How I yearn for the invention of bras that fit the female bosom, look drop-dead gorgeous and give 100% all-round support to those with a natural bust, without recourse to pantomime padding, silicone saucers, bones, wires or weird plunge shapes that make me look deformed. Or narrow straps that dig into my shoulders but don't do much else. Oh and preferably in my size please without assuming I have a whale-width back (it's 32" wide, not 34-54", and I speak as a well-built girl, so goodness knows what the more petite female is wearing!)

The absolute heaven it would be to find graceful shoes shaped to fit the female foot (my feet being neither hammer-toed nor excessively pointy last time I looked!) with hard-wearing non-slip kitten heels to add just the right amount of sexiness without sentence of the joy of bunions, varicose veins and endless chiropodist visits in later life. Shoes are surely meant to fit the foot, not the foot jammed in and modified to fit its tyrannical shoe!

And what about permission for girls to possess shoulders, legs longer than 31" and slightly longer than three-quarter length arms? Currently I have to buy Size 16 jackets, rather than my actual Size 12 to get the arm length, so jacket torsos always hang like a sack of potatoes on me. Though why manufacturers should assume size 16-ers have longer arms just because they are wider is a mystery! As for longer trousers, I have only just stopped wearing mens', but am very tempted to revert, so awful are most womens'.

Universal standard sizing among shops would also be a major plus. We all know there is no such thing as a size zero in reality, so why pretend we take up less space than we really do (and whose perverse idea is it that we females are supposed to take up as little space in this world as possible?). It is crazy that you can walk into one shop and be a size 10 and another and find you are suddenly a 14!

Men would never put up with this fashion fascism dressed up as limitless 'choice', or pretend to be sizes they are not and expect manufacturers to play along. Why do we? Perhaps I am unusual among my contemporaries in that I would rather own half a dozen classy outfits with lots of funky accessories to mix & match than a wardrobe full of unsatisfactory rubbish made by child slaves in the third world. Notwithstanding, and despite my best efforts, unsatisfactory rubbish - probably child slave sewn - seems to be exactly what I've ended up with! As soon as I can afford it, I’ll definitely start having my clothes made. In Britain.

As for 'One Size Fits All ' - surely one of the biggest lies of all.

Thus ends my pants rant. A well-worn theme I know. Which is more than can be said for the subject!

12/02/08 Update: Just found this article in today's Daily Mail by Olinka Koster. Perhaps someone is listening after all.

Fashion industry admits what shoppers already knew: They don't make clothes to fit REAL women

Friday, 1 February 2008

My Bedside Cabinets Bare All!

While usually a reluctant meme artist, blogmate Rol Hirst has inspired me to follow his lead by photographing my bedroom cabinets and talking about them.

As you will see they are mismatched owing to buying them at different times from my local old furniture emporium, which specialises in buying up secondhand furniture and fixing it up for re-sale with a lick of paint and the occasional new knob. I think the black one was about £35 and the pink one £25. I keep meaning to paint the pink one black to match better, but I never get round to it and idiosyncracy (apathy?) has now set firmly in. Moreover, being limited to the narrowest cabinets I could find owing to the compact nature of my bedroom, I never could find a matching pair and was getting tired of spilling glasses of water over the carpet when getting in and out of bed while I waited.

The black cabinet is graced by one of B&Q's classier early 90s lamps, inherited from my former fiancé, and one of my first adult possessions worth over £5, a notebook to scribble in lest I wake inspired in the night (blank, as you observe!) and most of my current reading material at various stages of digestion (self-discipline has never been a strong point!) including the delightful Edwardian comic novel 'Eliza' featuring a pompous middle-class clerk and his long-suffering wife who is only ever seen through his misconstrued impressions of her and which has been causing me to laugh out loud on buses securing a seat to myself lately, plus a blue box of tissues - the room was originally intended to have a 'seaside chalet' feel and I still automatically feel drawn to blue objects, despite having veered off the original theme somewhat, except for my pebble coasters.

Which brings me to the gloriously garish blue LCD clock/radio on the pink bedside table - so bright I usually have to put it under the bed to sleep, but wonderfully cheering on dark stormy nights when the wind howls. Hideous alarm siren and crackly radio, but in lieu of the multi-coloured numeral radio/alarm I really wanted at three times the price, I've learned to love it!

A glass of water is a must as I unfailingly wake up thirsty in the night. A cheap wood lamp (Wilkinsons' best!) originally for the guest room in my last abode but was damned if I was going to leave it behind for the benefit of my not-very-nice-former-housemate also graces the table, along with multi-vitamins for my wild self-constructive tendencies and some photos I took recently of Oxford by night, which am still debating whether to post, complete the ensemble of what my well-dressed cabinets are wearing this Winter.

Finally you can't have failed to notice the black and white 'mink' blanket which I throw over the duvet in Winter. Their designs are never subtle, but I adore these heavenly supersoft blankets, unconscionably cruel as it is that six Acrylics must die in the manufacture of each one.

For sheer writerly decadence it's hard to beat typing in bed, laptop on knee, underblanket on and propped up in the middle on all four pillows. Well the next best thing to a full-time relationship that is, when obviously you are both to be found typing blog postings at your laptops next to each other…

I won't be swine enough to tag anyone else to a parallel posting, but please don't be shy to share your intimate bedroom cabinet secrets, my brethren blogoholics!