My neighbour's Magnolia blooms
A bee buzzes at my window
I turn the electric heater on
Saturday, April 29, 2006
My neighbour's Magnolia blooms
It's a cloudy Spring day, two cats, one black the other black and white, lie on the patio in the garden of a three-bed semi. Nearby another cat, tabby and white, perches herself on the kitchen windowsill.
Black Cat: What was that all about then?
Black and White cat: Dunno.
Black Cat: They were gone for days.
Black and White Cat: Yeah, I know.
Black Cat: Do you think it was something we did?
Black and White Cat: Dunno. Hard to tell with humans.
Tabby and White: Perhaps if you stopped shitting in the flower bed...
Black and White Cat: No one was asking you, bitch.
Black Cat: I think we ought to do something.
Black and White Cat: What like?
Black Cat: Something that will make them never want to go away again.
Black and White Cat: I'm not doing that running after a bit of string thing again.
Black Cat: No, it'll have to be something more than that. Something big. I mean, what are we both really good at?
Black and White Cat: Sleeping.
Black Cat: No, not that.
Black and White Cat: Leaving our fur all over the floor.
Black Cat: Noooo, the other thing we're really good at.
Tabby and White: Making the house smell of piss.
Black and White Cat: Do you want a bitch slapping, because that's what you'll get if you don't shut up.
Tabby and White: You and whose army?
Black Cat: All right you two, let's keep to the matter in hand. Come on, what are we really, really good at?
Black and White Cat: Do you mean catching things from outside and bringing them into the house?
Black Cat: That's it exactly! I think we should go all out for them just to show them how much we love them.
Black and White Cat: Good idea, I'll bring in a mouse and drop it behind the dressing table in the bedroom...
Black Cat: ... and I'll leave a dead mouse on the landing for when they get bored of chasing that around.
Black and White Cat: You do the dead mouse thing first and then around dawn I'll bring in a live mouse and alert them to where I've put it by meowing really loudly and scratching at the table legs - even they'll get that.
Black Cat: God, they'll love us.
Black and White Cat: And they'll never want to go away and leave us again.
Tabby and White: Get over yourselves.
Posted by Helen at 9:52 am
Sunday, April 23, 2006
I'm going away for a few days to deepest darkest Devon. The weather being as it has been I expect there will be little to choose between it and Barbados.
Try not to let anything exciting happen in the next couple of days because I won't have access to internet or e-mail and you know how I hate to miss out on things.
Thanking you kindly.
ps I've been working on a Small Town Scribbles Constitution (manifestos are so last week). This is what I have come up with so far. If over the next few days you find yourself with some spare time on your hands (bored at work) why don't you add your own suggestions in the comments box?
The Constitution of Small Town Scribbles (proposed)
We, the People of Small Town Scribbles, in order to form a more perfect blog, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and the world, do ordain and establish this constitution.
That Scribbles can do no wrong is a necessary and fundamental principle of the Constitution of Small Town Scribbles.
We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable:
That all people are created equal and independent
That from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable
Among which are the preservation of life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fisking of Madeleine Bunting
We seek to secure for ourselves and for the blogosphere five essential human freedoms:
The first is freedom of speech and expression
The second is freedom of every person to worship their God in their way, if they have a God
The third is freedom from want of a sense of humour
The fourth is freedom from fear of infrequent blog posts
The fifth is freedom from anyone who writes like they are writing a text message
No heavy petting,
No splashing, pushing, or dive bombing,
I hope to be finished for publication in May.
Posted by Helen at 5:37 pm
Saturday, April 22, 2006
Newscastle increased our relegation worries? No, I think West Brom's been doing a good job of that all season all by itself.
Repeat after me... it's only football... it's only football.... it's only football... can we get Gary Megson back please... it's only football... it's only football...
Posted by Helen at 5:41 pm
Friday, April 21, 2006
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday dear Small Town Scribbles
Happy Birthday to you, you bastion of calm and reason in a world gone mad
And here's some information about me and this blog just for Fact Fans:
1) I don't actually live in a small town. I live in Edgbaston, a district of Birmingham, Britain's second city.
2) My real name is not Scribbles. I liked the idea of having an alter ego in the manner of Batman or Bono.
3) I really am female. Sometimes you can tell just by looking at me.
4) I really do have an earnest working-class outlook and poncy middle-class sensibilities.
5) I no longer have any contact with reality, big or small.
6) I really do like cats.
7) I write at a desk in the spare room and my laptop shares space with nail varnish, make-up, three dictionaries, a thesaurus, an old camera, a bottle of Sunkissed Skin Body Lotion my mom gave me, boxes of paracetamol and an old packet of prunes.
8) I'm proud to also blog at The Popinjays.
9) Sometimes I worry that the Blogosphere and everyone in it is just a product of my fevered imagination.
10) One day this blog will close and it will be as if I never even existed.
A big thank you to everyone who comes here.
Posted by Helen at 9:53 am
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Talking of pop stars Shayne Ward, winner of the X Factor, has me slightly worried. Apparently his brother was accused of murdering a pregnant prostitute, his dad is in jail for eight years after raping a pensioner, a cousin is serving life for raping another pensioner, two of his uncles and a cousin are in prison for murder, both uncles serving time for their part in gang rapes at the time of conviction for murder, and his mom was arrested on suspicion of assault.
"When things like this happen," says Shayne, "you just need your family around you."
No Shayne, when things like this happen you run as far away from your family as you can possibly get and you never, never look back.
Posted by Helen at 5:22 pm
Will Young, former pupil of the £7665.00 per term Wellington College, says of his pop stardom "I'd like to be recognised for something else." Stating that "the pop star thing" is "frustrating" Will tells us he's creating "a sort of political, satire-ish cabaret" and that "Slowly, I'll phase out music and become a svengali in the documentary world."
Meanwhile Gareth Gates, who was brought-up on a Bradford council estate, has been dropped by his record company and had the album he's been working on scrapped. No announcement yet on his svengali intentions.
I wonder what gives Will Young such confidence in his continued success? Must be that he won Pop Idol over Gareth.
Posted by Helen at 5:17 pm
Hak Mao discovers that The Archbishop of Canterbury comes out in support of the Euston Manifesto:
"They were walking out into an unmapped territory, away from the safe places of political and religious influence . . . it was written by people who were still trying to find a language that would catch up with a reality bigger than they had expected. Whatever this is, it is not about cover-ups, not about the secret agenda of power."
At least that's what I'm assuming he's referring to when he talks about the New Testament.
(complaints to the usual e-mail)
Posted by Helen at 2:11 pm
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The debate over Iraq can sometimes seem like a slanging match between two groups of people, one group accused of being Fundie lovers and fascists, the other side accused of being war-mongering imperialists. This seems to me to be unrepresentative of the majority of feeling over the war, it being totally possible to have been against military action without supporting the Iraq insurgency, and also entirely possible to have supported military intervention and yet still be critical of how it is being carried out. I believe The Euston Manifesto recognises this and will facilitate the coming together of people who have hitherto been seen as being on opposite sides of the argument. This collective could find a strong voice that speaks for international democracy, human rights and equality.
And I believe we do need to find a strong voice that speaks for - amongst other things -democracy, human rights and equality. The lines across this world are not drawn by race, culture, geography, sexuality, religion, or gender, but between those who would like to live free and in peace and those who want us to live segregated in hate. And those who want segregation and hate are unashamably active right now. I could be thinking of the blatant Jew hating rhetoric of the President of Iran, or I might be thinking of the slicker under-the-radar racism of the BNP. Whatever guise they come in, they must be recognised for what they are and they must be countered however uncomfortable or difficult that may be. When it comes to Iraq I support military intervention, not because I have a lust for war and am senseless of what it means, but because I can't help but be on the side of those whose ultimate aim is peace and democracy. And with the Euston Manifesto I get to support a political movement that argues against those who would say that such things are not fitting for anyone but ourselves
In this country, I don't believe our egalitarian nature and values are under immediate threat, but that does not mean we can afford to leave them unattended. One tangled mess of thorns we really need to tend to if we care about preserving our way of life is the knee-jerk anti-Americanism we seem so happy to live with. Some criticism of The Euston Manifesto has tried to make the argument that anti-Americanism is an obsession of the pro-war left and largely irrelevant in real life.
This idea couldn't be more wrong and it is one of the most important things to try and combat in order to fight those who oppose and hate democratic values.
Cast your mind back to the days that followed the September 11th attacks. At first people in the West, I believe, did really feel for America. It was an odd feeling. We are not used to pitying America. But it didn't last. Anti-Americanism was like a virus lying dormant. Very quickly a whole swathe of people came down with it. The press got it first. It started with a certain snideness, a suggestion that America was over-reacting to the attacks, that they were an overly sentimental nation. Sniffy op ed pieces appeared using minimalising terms such as America having got a "bloody nose," callous letters were printed moaning about the amount of coverage the attacks received, or dismissing three thousand deaths because at sometime somewhere else an even greater number were dying of something else.
Before you knew it the virus had mutated and was affecting others you'd have thought were immune to it. Everyday conversations were had about the possibilities of the attacks being a set-up to frame Osama Bin Laden, there was talk of America getting a taste of its own medicine or deserving nothing less than what it got. Whispers of Jewish conspiracies. Eyes rolling at any suggestion that there was a real enemy here. America soon became the bad guy again. Much relief.
And where was all of this coming from, this desperate need to demonise America? Was it coming from all those angry Muslims I keep reading about who apparently carry so much hatred for the country? Nope. Not from my experience. It came from white liberals.
And just to put things in perspective let's play it the other way around. Can you imagine any of the above happening in relation to any other country? Is the Guardian going to print a letter from someone moaning about the media marking the first anniversary of the London attacks in July this year? As it did about the marking of the first anniversary of the American terrorist attacks? Did any columnist call the Madrid attacks a "graze on Spain's knee"? Has anyone said yet the bombings in Bali are insignificant because more people died in the Tsunami?
I'm still waiting for George Michael to make a video lampooning Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. Perhaps when he stops crashing his car all over London he might find the time.
And whilst those who support intervention in Iraq may not be as quick and as willing to criticise things such as Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib - which is a real failing I think should be addressed - have you ever seen any of us either denying these things happened, or downplaying any suffering caused and experienced? For years I felt very alone amidst all the vileness aimed at Bush and Blair, all the time wondering why no one was aiming any hatred at Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden. I thought perhaps it was just me having been in New York when the attacks happened, that perhaps some unknown over-sensitivity skewed my world view and made it all wrong.
And do you know the very first place I saw islamo-fascism talked about in derogatory terms? Harry's Place. Until the blogosphere I nere saw a bad word about them. All that hatred swishing around in the West, but not a drop thrown at the extremists.
Anti-Americanism is not a small little hatred cherished by the Stoppers, it is widespread and it is dangerous. America is so big we don't see it anymore, but I get the idea we'd miss it if it got wiped off the planet one day. But (and you may not like this, but tough) in the West we are all Americans now. We are America because we created the damn thing. America was born of the Enlightenment, the blood that was spilt in European revolutions runs through it veins, it feeds off our traditions and our achievements. Hate America you hate your prodigy, your flesh, your offspring. Yes, like all children it needs discipline and guidance and has the ability to do evil sometimes, but to take against it so consistently, so unfairly, to hate it with such force, that's sick. That's self-hatred.
And it is that self-hatred that could cost us dearly. For goodness sake, if we don't cherish freedom and democracy there are plenty of people on the march who will glady take that away from us. And nothing would help them more than those in democratic countries laying down the tracks for them just to travel right on in to where they can hurt us the most. The Iraqi insurgency must love the Stoppers. Hizb ut Tahrir must love Ken and his fondness for stone-wielding, women-bashing, gay and Jew-hating extremists. Misogynistic Muslims who think women are second-class citizens must just love all those white liberals who argue for their right to make women wear sacks in public.
Sorry, no way, not here. No tolerating the intolerable. No excusing hatred and oppression in the name of religion. No apologising for the violence that others commit. I don't see what the Bush and Blair haters see when they look at the world. I've tried. I've tried to understand. But I simply cannot compare the actions of democratically elected leaders who are making bloody mistakes in a war that aims for democracy, to men like Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden whose bloodletting has never been anything less than deliberate and whose very aims are oppression, violence and death. If that's your thing then fuck off to Iran. You don't deserve what you have. I'm grateful for what my country gives me and I love what my country stands for. I won't apologise anymore for feeling that way.
If we care anything about the common sense of humanity that extends beyond political or religious lines then now is the time to re-align our politics with a new world reality. This need is not new, it's been wanting since the day those planes flew into the buildings. The world is upside down, its wheels still spinning, but we need to figure out which way is up. No one knows what a movement that stands against tyranny and for democracy looks like in the 21st century, and there may be many false starts before one flourishes, but flourish one will. I'm hoping very much it will be the Euston Manifesto.
Posted by Helen at 11:14 am
Sunday, April 16, 2006
I hope to write about why I support this Manifesto in the near future, and also to post an update on my feelings about the Iraq war which is a little overdue. I never did answer those who thought it was time supporters of intervention made our apologies and quietly left the room.
Posted by Helen at 4:52 pm
Saturday, April 15, 2006
Let's knock this one on the head once and for all. Rachel Hunter never has been and never will be a supermodel. To be a supermodel you have to at least be tall, slim, and have extraordinary facial features. Rachel Hunter has none of these assets. Rachel Hunter was an uninspiring catalogue model who struck lucky getting the attentions of wealthy rock star. That's all.
Posted by Helen at 4:26 pm
Thursday, April 13, 2006
Saturday, April 08, 2006
We'll lose, I'm okay with that. I've coped every other time we haven't won the World Cup, I'll cope again.
What I'm worried about was finely illustrated today when I was having a potter around Evesham with Mr Scribbles. There was a brick-a-brack type shop that was full to the brim with England paraphernalia all ready for the World Cup. Outside flew two large flags with the St.George's cross on them, and written across the middle the words..
You see I'm thinking that we can't ignore the whole war thing can we? I mean it was... they were... two pretty big hits on the History-Of-Europe scaleometer. The war still holds us all in family members lost, stories of hardship, the ugliness of post-war building in cities flattened by the Luftwaffe, the cenotaphs in every village every town every city, moth-eaten mud-splattered flags hanging in old churches, two minutes of silence every year. And that's just in this country. I don't know what it must be like in countries where Nazis actually walked the streets.
What is actually needed to navigate this tricky situation is the mature approach that the Germans themselves are taking to hosting the World Cup. From snippets I have read they are not trying to brush two European conflicts under the carpet and invite everyone to come on in as long as you don't mention the lumpy floor. Germany owns its past and is inviting us to come and talk to them reasonably about it.
Anyone think the British/English can handle that? Or do we think it will be a case of "Two World Wars and One World Cup" all the way?
But perhaps having a sense of humour about it may be the best the British can do. If you think about the scale of destruction and how recently it all happened, it is bloody amazing we can be so flippant about it. It's a good thing. Shows we don't hate. I mean the day when Jews and Arabs can get together over a game of football and have a laugh over that old Palestinian conflict, well I think we could safely say that the Palestinian conflict would be well and truly over and done with.
And I think that maybe the British are owed a little with how we deal with this given that they started it. ("You started it" "No we didn't" "Yes you did, you invaded Poland")
But the thing I'd really like to happen is for it to open up a new chapter in relations between the two countries. Rather than Germany being the old enemy forever represented in films saying "Ve have vays of vaking you tok" they could be again the country in Europe we have the most in common with. When the Angles and Saxons came to our little damp island their language and laws spread and formed the basis of the country we have today. We share a common cultural heritage with Germany far deeper than the one we have with France despite the fact that they invaded our country, trampled on everything we held dear, vandalised our way of life, and spent centuries oppressing us attempting to change us into little frenchies (sorry, I obviously have issues there). If we are going to stop thinking of Germany in terms of jackboots, tanks and little black moustaches, then we need to widen our frame of reference with the country and this football tournament might be the thing that starts to shift the boundaries further afield.
So, not so much a case as "don't mention the war" nor "mention the war" but more like let's behave like the reasonable grown-up people that we know we are and remember it's only football. Unless we do happen to win the World Cup in which case it is the most important thing in the whole fooking universe. But even then we must be grown-up about it. No climbing on top of buses, jumping in fountains, or being too drunk to go into work the next day. A hearty round of applause followed by a tipple of Sherry should be all that is required.
Posted by Helen at 2:36 pm
Friday, April 07, 2006
"We are the first people to have been arrested under the new Act which now criminalises trespass." So says Sylvia Boyes one of the biddies arrested yesterday "protesting" at US military base in Yorkshire.
Well bully for you lady. I mean, you have achieved absolutely nothing other than getting your name in the paper and wasting the time of the base's security forces, which was the whole point of the new legislation. But hey! If that's your thing, who am I to judge?
"We have long-held historic rights to protest in Britain, which are a crucial part of our democracy." Says Kate Hudson of the national chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
"Protest outside the sites remains perfectly lawful." Says a MoD spokesperson.
"Grow up you silly old women." Says Scribbles.
Posted by Helen at 4:39 pm
"Under no circumstances do I see any government embarking on a programme of killing cats."
SHUT UP! Don't put bloody ideas into their heads!
Posted by Helen at 4:16 pm
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Actually, I spent all last week hiding in a hole I had dug in my garden to try and escape the endless "news" reports concerning the Honours for Loans "scandal". The media seem to use Alastair Campbell's old saying that fourteen days of media intensity equals downfall as a shooting target - "if we can just keep this story going for fourteen days, no matter how tedious it gets, no matter how silly, no matter how pointless, we'll get our man/woman." I think some of the news pundits seriously thought that after everything Blair had been through this was going to be the thing that pushed him out of office. They gave it a damn good shot anyway.
Coming out of the hole in my garden I am glad to find that this little storm of media obsession had finally blown itself out after a little excursion into Tory territory. But. Worse. Now I find we are back on the Blair-Brown soap opera. And the teeth-clenching thing is, Blair calls it a soap opera, and then the media asks itself "Is this a soap opera?" and then the media answers itself "Well, yes it is, but one day it is going to be really big, really important story, so it's not like we're completely wasting everyone's time."
But, yes, you are wasting my time. I am as intrigued as anyone (alright, anyone in politics or the Blogosphere, I don't assume many others care) about how the hand over from Blair to Brown will go as and when it happens. But. It. Is. Not. Happening. Yet. It's not happening yet. Can we not save this story for when it does actually happen?
I suppose the endless repetition of non-stories about nothing says one thing - there is no news. Country must be running okay then.
Posted by Helen at 10:20 am
Monday, April 03, 2006
I'm sorry I haven't blogged for a week. I could tell you why that is, but far more exciting would be to get you to pick your own favourite excuse from the list provided below:
The dog ate my blog posts.
I dropped my cup of coffee on my blog posts and had to throw them away.
I left my blog posts on the bus.
A friend borrowed my blog posts to copy off and hasn't given them me back.
I thought my blogposts didn't have to be in until next week.
I hurt my hand and couldn't write my blog posts.
I wrote several long blog posts, but the computer crashed and I lost them all.
Something about alien abduction.
She has shown potential in this subject in the past, but Scribbles cannot afford to rest on her laurels and must make more effort. Scribbles has a tendency to be distracted by outside influences, but she must focus and apply herself if she is to achieve anything in this subject.
Posted by Helen at 6:16 am