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Greetings from the Olympic borough of Newham, as we will no doubt have to call it for the next four bloody years, just like we have to call the British Olympic team Team GB, even though it makes our fillings squeak with irritation.

Only 1,431 days to go until the next Olympics. You can walk to the Olympics from my house. If any of youse wants to camp in my garden come 2012, I shall be charging very reasonable rates. I also have a very lovely and well-appointed shed. It is draught-proofed and has carpet. Carpet! It is a veritable palace and reasonably spider-free. The rent will be reduced by 50% for anyone who chucks a rock and hits the bastard cat who sings outside my window at 3am like a demented feline Courtney Love.

Those of you who have been here before, you get dibs on the spare bed, sofa bed and sleeping bags. For free. Well, if I still like you, you do.

It's only been a couple of days since the Olympics ended and I miss it. Despite working in a black-hearted hellpit of cynicism and chicanery, almost everyone here has found it impossible to be cynical about the Olympics, and winning 47 medals has made everyone pointlessly cheerful in this summer of grey skies. If you can't watch Rebecca Adlington or Chris Hoy having a well-mannered squee about their gold medals (or in Adlington's case, being at the Olympics when Phelps won eight) without feeling joy for them, I suggest you examine your chest cavity where your heart would usually reside. A stone lurks therein.

And yes, BoJo the Clown did make us look a bit stupid at the handover ceremony, and WTF was the thing with the bus and the random cyclists and Jimmy Page and Leona Lewis, but all handover things are totally shite. It's tradition, like the dodgy, dodgy mascots. There's no way that London is going to compete with Beijing for spectacle -- you can't even get 30 people moving in concert together in Britain, let alone a thousand, unless there's a bloody queue -- so I think the best thing to do is make London 2012 the friendly sort-of-shambolic games. It'll be pissing it down, the transport won't work properly, but the beer will be good and you'll have a laugh. The Mustn't Grumble games.

The only bad thing about it has been the traditional outpouring of nationalistic bollocks about the nature of Britain. It's just the Olympics, it doesn't mean we're heading for a second Elizabethan golden age, people. And additionally, doing the equivalent of shouting "come on, feel the schadenfreude!" at the Australians and French is just *tacky*. They'll whump England at rugby/cricket and that'll be the end of the gloating and quite right too.

I did like these alternative medal tables, which put things in a bit of perspective.



So, I went to a wedding on Sunday. It was weirdly like stepping into Four Weddings and a Funeral, actually.

It was a small ceremony and held in the most gorgeous little church in an Oxfordshire village that looked like the setting for Midsomer Murders. My friends only had two hymns, which everyone knows from school, and filled up the rest of the time with readings, like a spot of Corinthians, the traditional Irish blessing and a poem which didn't do much for me, being a blackhearted cynic, but I can see how you'd love it if you were getting married.

When they did the recessional, emerging from signing the register, they played the main theme from Star Wars. And it *totally* works for that sort of thing. They only had five tables at the reception, which was held at the home of the Baring family (as in oops, once had a bank), and each table was named after one of the Hitchhiker's Guide books.

I love my geeky friends.

My friend has married into a big Dublin clan -- the groom has two sisters but is part of a close-knit group of friends -- so there was plenty of laughter and taking the mickey. When the meal was done, they actually had a guitar-led singing duo, exactly like the couple from the first wedding in 4WAAF. And exactly that execrable. Win!

A was in attendance and was actually very pleasant, along with one other person I was at school with -- the one person I really wanted to see didn't make it. I hope it was for the reason she said. I always thought I was fairly foul-mouthed and crude of thought, which mostly I am all right with, but I have *nothing* on A and F, who are the most scatalogically and sexually explicit conversationalists I have ever come across. I was gobsmacked and I am not easily gobsmacked. I felt like some kind of prim maiden aunt.

Best of all, S. looked absolutely *beautiful* and the devotion of the couple made the best man cry during his speech. I had to leave earlyish because I was working on Bank Holiday Monday, but it was still magic.
* * *

If I might give some advice to those of you thinking of having children or whatever. Do not have just one child. It is not fair on said child, as she will have to put up with all your batshittery, rather than being able to spread it out with her siblings. And at some point, she is going to text her best mate in order to inquire whether it is illegal to HIT YOU ABOUT THE HEAD WITH A PAN.

To whit: My mother is coming to visit for two days tomorrow with my elderly aunt. They are not leaving on Thursday until 5pm, so I have to think of something for them to do for five bloody hours, when my aunt only likes English food, doesn't really want to go to galleries or museums and has been to every market which is open on a Thursday. And I love them dearly, really I do, but the whole thing is driving me spare.

I was a little abrupt with mum on the phone tonight -- she was already weepy because my dad was being an arse -- probably because I just done nine hours at work, and it was really, really BORING and I don't really want to talk to anyone after that.

It provoked a crying fit, as usual, about how she doesn't feel we're close any more (because I won't take her shit as often as I used to). She says that I really don't want her to come and she might cancel her visit in November as well -- to which I thought "oh please, please, please" and then felt like the worst kind of arsehole -- and "no one likes me, why does no one like me" and how my father is awful and she never gets to go anywhere and no one calls her and oh, Jesus, it's like me at my very worst. I could feel myself clinging on to the very last vestige of patience I possess not to yell.

Then I get my dad on the phone: "have you been upsetting your mother?"

"No, you bloody clown, you upset her and then I have to spend forty minutes on the phone calming her down," is one of the things I don't say, because I have some sense of self-preservation.

He knew I was knackered and wanted to get off the phone so he talked for half an hour. Then he goes off on a massive digression about how he's been banned from eBay for arguing with them over something totally fucking pointless -- arguing with people in authority over totally fucking pointless things is his retirement hobby -- and will I run his eBay account for him? It shouldn't take me more than three or four hours a week or so.

Oh, I so, so wanted to say no. I really don't have time for this shit. But I can't. It would be mean.

I'll have the simmering cocktail of resentment and barely suppressed violence, if you please, barman.

For those of you playing at home, our narrator is *in her thirties* and still dealing with this bollocks. I just have no idea how to make it stop.
* * *


From Meeejah Gaaahjuhn: Graham Linehan's rules for writing comedy, though most of them apply to other stuff as well. When I become a God or vengeance and mighty wrath and start smitin', Mr Linehan will forever be exempt because he co-wrote Father Ted. That's an automatic smiting exemption right there.

Cry MOAR Jeremy Paxman: TV is biased against middle-class white males. Oh ya think so, do you? It's like that research that showed that if slightly under half of the characters in a film were female, men perceived it as a chick flick. Here, because suddenly there are some powerful women at the top of the telly tree, Paxo thinks that middle-class white men are under threat. Well maybe they're not *ubiquitous* any more Jezza, you prawn, but they're certainly not an endangered species. Words don't fail me at this piece of arrant nonsense but non-swearwords do and I've already been way too sweary in this post.

Read this and laugh. I love it so much.

Comments

( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
sophia_helix
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
I was commenting on an advice column recently where the woman wondered if she should have a second child based on environmental concerns -- I said that both of my only-child friends desperately wished they had a sibling to share in the crazy (and, in their cases, the burdens of guilt and expectations from high-achieving parents). I'm also glad I have my sister because there is a witness to said crazy, even though she's pretty much skipped out and left me to deal with my mother these days.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:51 am (UTC)
I think it socialises children better to have siblings and it puts less pressure on the child if they have a sibling. There are material advantages to being an only child but I don't think they're as much of an advantage as being an only child is a disadvantage.
comice
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:15 pm (UTC)
For those of you playing at home, our narrator is *in her thirties* and still dealing with this bollocks. I just have no idea how to make it stop.

Well, dearest one, this reader is in her forties, has multiple siblings and also still wants to bat someone about the head on occasion. Sometimes, other siblings. Sometimes, self. It's all horrible and really, I wish I had some solution, because I've had most of those conversations, although thank Christ, not the eBay one. However, I have had to tell my 90+ uncle why exactly he'd been banned for trolling and what Godwin's Law is. So. I do, most sincerely, sympathize.

:: pats you ::

Also, so glad the wedding was better than you expected!

infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:54 am (UTC)
However, I have had to tell my 90+ uncle why exactly he'd been banned for trolling and what Godwin's Law is.

Oh dear. That can't have been the easiest of conversations. It's also nice to know that having siblings does not always make things easier. I have a rather Waltons-like view of large families which I can't quite dispel.

I am just glad that my dad doesn't dive in on message boards and the like. He would be the textbook definition of a troll because he wind people up for the laugh and because he thinks they're stupid.
lilydale
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on not injuring your parents. Yet, anyway.

I'm putting down my 0 dollar/quid room reservation fee now. ;) (Only sort of - I imagine YOU might be asking ME for a place to stay around Olympics time. Might be a wee bit crazy. Also, hopefully I'll get a number of London fixes in before the Olympics. Oops, I mean, GB fixes.)

Glad the wedding was good. Geekery always wins.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
I am looking forward to the crazy. I can always go home away from it.
hobbituk
Aug. 26th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Awww. I kinda love ole BoJo - he amuses me immensely. Hobbitmum and I were in hysterics watching him try to remember to keep his hands out of his pockets...
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)
Don't you think he's the teensiest bit embarrassing though? I can't watch him abroad without thinking of an Ealing comedy and not in the happy fun way
ropo
Aug. 27th, 2008 12:13 am (UTC)
Yay for the wedding not sucking! I'm sorry your parents aren't following its example. And I'll be snoring next to Lilydale at your place in 2012, thanks. With the world ending shortly afterward, I want to have spent some of my last moments with you.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:56 am (UTC)
That would be lovely. Your bed/sofabed is booked for you.
kirbyfest
Aug. 27th, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
Oh, honey.

Only childhood is ass. What you wrote? Is my life, with the exception of the Ebay thing.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
I am sure you could easily substitute the Ebay thing with something equally nuts. Because the dynamic doesn't change, only the details.
loligo
Aug. 27th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Oh, we'll take your shed! One of Andy's cousins is nationally ranked in junior gymnastics, and she'll be 16 or 17 when 2012 comes around. Andy has already decreed that if she makes the Olympic team, we're going, even if we have to mortgage something to do it.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:57 am (UTC)
That's really exciting. I shall hope she makes it, then
timesink
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
Got room for four? {g}
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:58 am (UTC)
I reckon so *g*
jonquil
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:22 am (UTC)
"Oh, I so, so wanted to say no. I really don't have time for this shit. But I can't. It would be mean. "

Uh, no. It would not be mean. Setting borders is not mean.

And you know what? It won't be 3-4 hours a week. And he will expect *you* to pass through his belligerence. And it will suck up time and energy.

Protect yourself if you possibly can. And that isn't being mean.
dine
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:41 am (UTC)
*agrees 1000%*

please tell him no, you really can't do his eBaying for him.

because you know, with eBay there are response time constraints, and he'll be expecting you to stay on top of everything and taking out his frustrations on you anytime something goes wrong in the process. you really don't have time in your schedule to accommodate that sort of thing.

just. don't.

also, you probably shouldn't hit your parents with a pan - it might be extremely satisfying short-term, but I'm guessing life behind bars might not be so enjoyable.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:12 am (UTC)
This is why I don't want to do it. He sits on the damned internet all day, playing with shares and auctions and research. He has time to keep up with auctions. I don't, I don't want to do it, and I particularly don't want to do it in my spare time after work -- or get bollocked because I missed some deadline on something I couldn't give a damn about , and all because he chucked a hissyfit at eBay. Gah.
laurashapiro
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
What jonquil said. Boundaries are healthy, for you and ultimately for the others involved. Saying no is good for the soul and the sanity. It's not mean. It's right and proper.

I recommend calling your father back and telling him you just can't make the time commitment.
jonquil
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:08 am (UTC)
The bottom line on how to do this?

DO NOT GIVE REASONS. If you give reasons, he gets to argue.

"I'm so sorry, I don't have the time."
"What else are you doing?
"I'm so sorry, I don't have the time."
"The time for WHAT?"
"I'm so sorry, I don't have the time."

Otherwise, you wind up with
"Oh, I'm really sorry but I'm studying and I can't --"
"It won't take long, only three or four hours a week --"
"But I'm --"
"Don't you want to help out? "

No. Don't let it derail. You don't have the time. Which you don't. 3-4 hours a week my ASS.
cofax7
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
YES THIS.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:05 am (UTC)
I did that but he's rowing back on it, saying it'll only be a couple of things now, a couple of times a month. This is all because he doesn't want to get the now obligatory paypal account for eBay because it makes him traceable, and infringes on his privacy and he thinks someone might be able to see how much money he has.

Yes, he's one of *those* people *g*
laurashapiro
Aug. 27th, 2008 04:24 pm (UTC)
Do NOT let him win. DON'T DO EEET. Just keep saying no, no matter how many times it takes.
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:00 am (UTC)
Your advice is excellent. I've already thought of one way I might be able to stave it off (there's another auction site he hasn't been kicked off yet) but that's just putting off the inevitable confrontation.
violetisblue
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:13 am (UTC)
Who the fuck is Jeremy "Won't Someone PLEASE Think of the White Men!" Paxman? *too lazy to go to IMDB*
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:03 am (UTC)
Jeremy Paxman is a notoriously rude, funny and condescending TV journalist who works on Newsnight, which is the poshest of the BBC's news programmes.

He often uses his awesome powers of rudeness for good, by puncturing politicians (he once asked a Tory politician the same question 19 times because he kept evading it) but he is also possessed of an ego in excellent health and a huge sense of entitlement.
violetisblue
Aug. 27th, 2008 01:07 pm (UTC)
I was confusing him with a similarly-named American actor, my mistake. *wanders off in haze of befuddlement*
vivwiley
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:28 am (UTC)
One of my mother's dear friends once remarked that parenthood is terminal. I believe the same might be said for offspring-hood. I am sorry for the parental issues, and have no good advice to offer. I am generally fortunate in my relations with my folks, but even at that, there are moments I would cheerfully log something sharp and pointy in one of their directions. Just have a drink, and know you are not alone.

Glad the wedding was both better than expected and quite memorable.

Good luck surviving the run-up to 2012. Might I offer you sanctuary that summer somewhere very far, far away?
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
Thank you, I might need sanctuary.

I read your post about your retreat with interest (I had a comment half-written then the computer went *gronk* and quit). So I will just say Putney debates FTW! I loved reading those when I was at university
cofax7
Aug. 27th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
I'll trade you "run my eBay website for me" for the "why don't we get together with [cofax] and buy a house together" suggestion made last week. (Subtext being: she's the only one of our children still single and makes less than everyone else--she won't mind

BTW, I'm very glad the wedding was fun: I think I like your geeky college friends.

I also thought BoJo looked absurd: he didn't even button his suitcoat!

And Jonquil is right: you simply don't have time to help him.

Edited at 2008-08-27 02:59 am (UTC)
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:10 am (UTC)
I'll trade you "run my eBay website for me" for the "why don't we get together with [cofax] and buy a house together" suggestion made last week. (Subtext being: she's the only one of our children still single and makes less than everyone else--she won't mind

Oh, there is not enough headdesk in the world is there, really. How did you not get all fryingpannish?

And yes, BoJo was embarrassing. He's like the cliched Englishman from a 1950s film, all bumbling, stuttering sarcasm, secret bastardliness and an inability to keep his danglies in his pants in the presence of the nanny. And he offended the Chinese. Which I quite liked, but otherwise, big old NO. Bring back Red Ken.
cofax7
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC)
How did you not get all fryingpannish?

Happily, I'd been warned by my brother it was coming, but the scary bit was, I don't think my father had cleared it with my mother. Not that she would mind, I suspect.

Under current circumstances, I think I would go mad in short order, because I wouldn't be just housemates, I'm sure I would be obligated to cook. (The statement was made last week: "I cooked for twenty years when I had kids. Now when I visit I don't have to cook." This despite visiting children who are working, in some cases, rather more than 40-hour weeks and who could certainly use the help.) And my mother is diabetic, gluten-intolerant, lactose-intolerant, and yet refuses to adhere to a diet that allows for those concerns. She cheats, covers with medication, and thinks nobody notices.

I don't like this whole thing about parents becoming children, but if we try to tell them what to do they make us feel GUILTY and UNGRATEFUL.
se_parsons
Aug. 27th, 2008 05:27 am (UTC)
Whee, I made my mother cry on the phone today, too!

Mostly because I told her straight up that "saying anybody who disagrees with your opinion is stupid and wrong, is not legitimate argument." When she and my brother were disagreeing and she was being totally fucking unreasonable.

So, having siblings doesn't help. It just gets the female one blamed for everything the male one does.

Seriously, if I hear "I don't know why you kids do (something I never do)" one more time...

I wanted to punch her through the phone. And she is undergoing chemotherapy.

I am the best daughter EVER!

infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Bad daughters' club FTW!

I told her straight up that "saying anybody who disagrees with your opinion is stupid and wrong, is not legitimate argument."

Has she been on the phone to my mum? Because my mum does the *exact* same thing. It's nice to see that you get dragged into your mum and brother's argument there. Where I am using "nice" in its less familiar sense of baffling-and-annoying.
se_parsons
Aug. 27th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I totally think it's a mom's hit a certain age thing.

She didn't used to be like that.

She is getting more like that as she hangs out with a bunch of old intolerant Republicans in her neighborhood.
curiouswombat
Aug. 27th, 2008 10:29 am (UTC)
I think the eBay thing might be one of the times to actually quote the cast of Byker Grove (or was it Eastenders...?) and Just Say No.

The wedding sounds good - weddings that are better than expected are always a bonus, and throwing in Star Wars and The Hitchhikers Guide definitely make it a wedding of excellent quality!
infinitemonkeys
Aug. 27th, 2008 11:15 am (UTC)
I think you're right. It's just formulating the No that I am having trouble with. *g*
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )

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