Monday, 24 October 2011

It's a Funny Old World

What is a Trustafarian I hear you ask? Well the wonderful resource which is the Urban Dictionary describes them thus:

"priviliged white kids who subscribe to the hippie lifestyle (because they can) since they have no worries about money, a job etc. They can then devote their lives to eating organic, following Phish and growing dreadlocks (no need for job interviews)"

Charlie Gilmour - son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour - defacing the Cenotaph during the Tuition Fee Protests. A typical Trustafarian.

I abhor them. They make up a substantial chunk of the 'rent a crowd' protesters who seem to think that their presence is necessary at any kind of stand off between authority and 'the people' and strangely they seem to have no manager asking where the hell they are on a Monday morning. Funny that.

Not all of them are Trustafarians though, some are just good old fashioned busybodies of the most arseholish kind. WGNBTDs ('We've Got Nothing Better To Do's).

Together, the Trustafarians and the WGNBTDs can turn a protest with a good point into a cause that nobody in their right mind will support. They do this in the name of 'solidarity' despite the fact that they actually alienate tons of people who would usually support the original cause but find the patronising, often money wasting and sometimes violent scenes which they intrinsically bring, irritating and unsupportable. 

Last week I tweeted the following:

"Watching the news - who are these busybodies who feel the need to protest on behalf of other people's causes?! "

Some people retweeted it, some people commented on it and one person replied with this:

"@aliogilvie: that's called #solidarity. look it up."
I did enter into a mild exchange of views with this wonderful person who is not at all patronizing or self righteous, but due to the rigours of my working week I had neither the energy or the wherewithall to embark on a full scale verbal demolition campaign. This is a notion (the working week) which I have a sneaking suspicion this person would be unable to empathise with.

So then, Dale Farm. This is not actually a cause with a good point in the first place (in my humble opinion).

Now, the irony is that I have some friends with a big beautiful garden which they legally own who wish to build an extension to the house on said plot which they also legally own. These people work full time, pay their taxes and lurch from payday to payday like the rest of us, wondering how they will afford the next ever-increasing utility bill or tank of petrol. Honest, hard-working folk who cannot buy a bigger house for their expanding family because the house they bought 4 years ago is now worth a lot less and they simply can't afford it. This is NOT THEIR FAULT.

How come no Trustafarians and WGNBTDs have turned up to protest on their behalf? Where are the placards and chanting mobs? Why has nobody handcuffed themselves to the shed yet? Why is nobody from ITV covering it? Where is the SkyNews helicopter?

These people have gone down the legal routes, not built anything (on the land which they own), followed every procedure possible and quietly and calmly battled ridiculous bureaucracy and red tape in order to achieve their end goal. I am sure they will get there eventually, with a genorous amount of tolerance, patience and respect for the 'rules'. Despite them owning the ground and the property on it.

In contrast to this, the Dale Farm travellers who were being evicted last week had already built illegally on greenbelt land. Land they did not even own (this timeline is useful if you do not know the full story). They did this on the basis that they owned another bit of land adjoining the site and had built on that (legally). The moment the Council tried to stop the building and informed them that structures would have to be removed, the race card was played. But this was never about race, this was about a group of people building where they were not allowed to, without permission, and then throwing the mother of all tantrums (at dramatic cost to the taxpayer - ironically) when told they cannot proceed with this.

Meanwhile, a whole load of 'protesters' showing 'solidarity' with their cause turn up and make the whole thing into a bit of a circus. They have set up a website to track their side of events and to organise 'monitoring' of bailiffs and police so that should any of these poor buggers doing their job need to use some reasonable force against someone refusing to move it can be documented, blown out of all proportion and then subsequently used as evidence in a tax-payer funded enquiry into police brutality. Does that seem right to you?

It irks me enormously that because these people built illegally and do not want to abide by rules which the rest of society simply has to, the UK taxpayer will fork out between £18-22m. I have to ask the question, how many Dale Farm residents actually pay tax? Does anyone know? I don't but I would hazard a guess it is not one of their normal monthly outgoings.

I think programmes like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and the success of Paddy Doherty on Celebrity Big Brother this year have helped to positively increase public opinion on traveller communities a fair bit - personally having watched MBFGW with something akin to morbid fascination I still find elements of their society sexist and homophobic and abhorrant - but I also saw the prejudice they face and felt pity for them.

This stand off with Basildon Council has done nothing more than damage the image of travellers even further and this has been further exacerbated by the WGNBTDs and their trustafarian friends. Well done for highlighting the difference between people who follow the rules of society and yet are penalised financially and those who do not and are not.

As it happens the evicted travellers have now set up home in a park in Luton and will probably face further issues there. Ironically, however, Basildon council had previously offerered them alternative places to live but they refused because, despite being 'travellers' (and having battled for years for recognition of this ethicity) they did not wish to relocate.

I imagine the rent a crowd protesters have pitched up and moved on to the next cause which 'needs' their interference. Interestingly the halfwit who tweeted me was apparently heading to a demonstration regarding salary rights of Air Canada staff this weekend just gone. They certainly do not let the grass grow in between saving the world from, er.....whatever it is they think they are saving it from.

And it is indeed a funny, funny old world.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Women Are From Venus

Something has been bothering me of late.

Actually it has been bothering me for years but I never had a vehicle with which to explore it or the impetus to do so....and now I have both. I am beginning to wonder why as I get older I care less and less what people think about what I think and that just me? It probably explains why old people can be so hilariously rude.

Certainly since I turned 30 I am more pragmatic about life in general but this is coupled by a desire to say what I actually think about things rather than just sitting on them.

Anyway....this is all about men and women and how they can/can't be just friends. Well they can, until one of three things happen, either 1) they have sex and then it changes completely 2) the male gets into a relationship and his girlfriend turns psycho, effectively putting an end to any 'friendships' with other women or 3) somehow (and this is the least likely of the 3 to happen) they both end up in relationships with other people but manage to remain platonic friends.

I have had considerable experience of all three of these. My husband was a friend first so that one, I guess, could be considered to have worked out. I am lucky to still be friends with most of my exes - but it has not been easy to keep those friendships going over the years, my reason for sharing this blog is that number 2 of my three reasons (and the most frequent outcome in my experience) has led to some bewildering experiences over the years and for reasons that some readers will be aware of, these have been on my mind of late.

I am sure I am not the only woman to have mourned the loss of completely normal and platonic friendships due to the craziness of other women, also as a woman with a standard amount of craziness ingrained myself, I completely understand that sometimes it causes hormonal imbalances which result in violence if you suspect that your other half is close to a member of the opposite sex. I propose no solution to this, it just intrigues me. 

I used to live with this guy who was, for a period of my life, probably my closest friend and certainly the person I spent most of my downtime with, this of course only increased when we moved in together while I was a student and to be honest, despite all the nonsensical stuff to have happened since, we had a hell of a lot of fun during that time. Let's call him Y.

Anyway, it turned out that this relationship was not as balanced as I thought it was and he wanted a lot more from it than I did, we had a slight, drunken dalliance but that was it and then I started seeing a mutual friend. Bad move. This seemed to tip a normal, fairly rational bloke into behaving like a bit of a goon to be honest and what followed was some slightly mental, stalker-esque activity. At one point he emailed my mother to tell her what a mistake I was making by not being with him. Yes, really. I will remind you of this behaviour in context later.

It was all later resolved and he found happiness with someone else, I was by now engaged to my husband and all was well. Or so I thought.

Years down the line (about 10) I went to stay with this couple while in London for a gig, I went with a mutual 'friend', another guy who I had known forever from the same social scene and always been pretty close (in a platonic way) to, we will call him R. He happened to be the partner of the best friend of Y's girlfriend so they were a pretty cosy foursome but she was not there this weekend.  

Anyway, much beer was drunk and for some god knows reason R and I had a drunken snog. This was during me and my husband's Ross and Rachel-esque 'break' so for me the only guilt attached was knowing his gf. It was stupid and meaningless and idiotic and all of the above x 10. I am still, some years later, quite baffled that it even happened. I certainly never saw it coming although we were close, I absolutely DO NOT go for attached men and never have. I completely understand why she would want to rip my eyes out for it.

It was literally a moment of madness fuelled by too much alcohol. And the next day we both registered it as such and (I thought) moved on. It was so utterly throwaway an incident that he told me he did not see the point even mentioning it to anyone and asked that I keep it under my hat, as far as I was concerned nobody except us was aware of it as it had happened away even from Y and his gf on the night in question and not a word had been said by either of them the next morning. All was well, or so I believed, until about a month later.

At this point somebody completely unrelated to the incident contacted me to say that they had heard a rather worrying rumour about me and they thought I should know. Fuming does not even come close to how angry I was when they relayed what they had heard....

Apparently, I had pounced on R while he was wrecked and I was entirely sober and had effectively forced myself on him. I had then had the audacity to neglect to apologise to our horrified hosts for the evening who knew all about it. It turned out that he had decided to come clean (with a rather twisted version of events) to his gf the minute he got home and for whatever reason (now, let me think, scapegoat?) had also contacted Y and his partner to apologise profusely to them, he had not, however, told me this. I had stuck to my word and not said a thing to anyone about it in the belief that neither had he but inadvertantly I now looked like an absolute scumbag. In retrospect I think it was a genius move for him as it totally framed me while I did nada. Nice work.

The minute I learned this I contacted Y and apologised profusely, I genuinely did not know they were even aware of what had happened but I know it looked bloody awful of me to wait until a month after the event to apologise. It had taken this long for me to learn that they considering my history with Y which was long and complicated and had quite frequently involved my accepting his apologies for, quite frankly, tittish behaviour on a number of occassions, what I was not expecting was quite possibly the world's most patronising response by email ever. I would attach it here but that would be a step too far in identifying the person....

The crux of his argument for deciding that he never wanted to speak to me again (yes, really) in light of this overwhelmingly appalling behaviour (an ill judged drunken snog) was that his partner had never really liked me anyway and this had just reaffirmed what she thought. Oh, ok then, that's that.

Ironically of course, R was forgiven as he had mea culpa'd like a canary straight away and anyway he was the partner of Y's gf's best friend (do keep up)....and that was indeed the end of that. How to end two entirely normal, platonic friendships in one fell swoop, as Shakespeare would say.

Initially I was pretty angry about being so framed but then I realised that holding a grudge is like letting someone live, rent free, in your head and I do not like the idea of that. The upshot is that I realise men are ultimately likely to be spineless, insipid and devious when they get themselves in trouble and are also entirely capable of forgetting their own previous tittish behaviour when it comes to forgiving someone elses.

Not all men are like this - but I think they all have the capability to be. Of course the other interesting point is that the girl who had been all sweetness and light to my face had apparently disliked me for years - on what basis I wonder? Probably (I can only deduce) because of my history with her partner, irrational? I think so, but ultimately understandable.

More tales from this fold to follow....maybe. And by the way, I did not draw the bear in the image but it was on one of many apology letters received from Y over the years.