Wednesday, 15 August 2012


I just realized now, for the first time in my life, as I observed two minutes of silence for the fallen in the World Wars and indeed all of the conflicts that have marked the twentieth and now the twenty-first century, that if it hadn't been for World War II, I wouldn't be here today. Seriously.

My maternal grandparents met in London, before my grandfather was called up. He worked in the garment industry; my grandmother modelled the clothes for buyers. Here is how they met: she was changing in an office and he walked in on her while the dress was up over her head. Cor blimey! They became friends - wouldn't you? - and corresponded while he was in training at Lark Hill, on Salisbury Plain. She sent him some khaki socks and came up to visit him when he had some leave. They toured Stonehenge and he proposed. Romantic, in't it? In 1947 they came to Canada, settling in Montreal, and in 1951 my mother came along.

My other grandparents, I know less about - I'm piecing this together from fragments of stories I heard over the years. My grandfather was born in Montreal, in Februrary 1918. I'm pretty sure he grew up in "The Point" - Point St Charles, a working-class area near the Lachine Canal, the railroad, factories and abbattoirs. During World War II, he was training in Newfoundland, which is where he met my grandmother. Here is a photograph of their wedding:

They are gone now, my grandparents. I never knew my paternal grandmother - she died young, of cancer, in the 1960s. My maternal grandmother died in 1997, my paternal grandfather died in 2000, my maternal grandfather died in 2003. They are the dead. But it is because of them and their sacrifices that I live.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012


Just deleted four ads out of Comments. Note to advertisers posing as commentors (commentators?) at 606: if you want to advertise your website or your business or whatever on my blog, you have to pay me. Got that?

Not much to blog about these days. Cats still cute. Still busy. Sorry I'm not more interesting or entertaining.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


OK, so I'm done my assignment - well, half of it was due yesterday at 5PM and the other half is due Wednesday at noon, and then I only have ONE MORE, please God. And now I'm procrastinating on the laundry. Specifically, the folding and the ironing and the putting away of the laundry. I've done the schlepping, the washing, the drip-drying and the machine-drying of the laundry. Ladies and gentlemen, I present The Passion of the Laundry.

I haven't ironed in months, and I only fold under duress, like when I need to empty the laundry basket of clean clothes so I can fill it up with dirty ones. All my clean tee shirts and sheets and towels are so creased, I think only Botox can help them at this point, but I shouldn't care because it's not like anybody is going to see them, except the cats, and they don't care.

Anyway, tonight, I must iron. I shall iron. Or will iron - I can never remember which one is stronger in the first person singular. I think it's will. Whatever. I'll iron. Two pairs of trousers and a blouse - I'm a wild and crazy gal. Ugh. But I hate ironing. I've considered outsourcing it - it's $1.25 per item at the cleaners down the street. But it seems a waste of money. So I'll do it myself.

Speaking of outsourcing ironing and other housekeeping tasks, is anybody reading Jan Wong's "Maid for a Month" in the Globe? Is it just me or does it read like she's cribbed most of it from Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickle and Dimed? Apparently we're supposed to read this and be shocked! and horrified! at how hard it is to get by in Toronto on minimum wage, especially if you're an adult with children and rent to pay, and that people from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder are exploited for the benefit of those on the higher rungs.

Well, duh.

Here's what I've taken away from the series so far:
Wong thinks that giving up her well-heeled lifestyle to join a maid service for a month makes her an automatic, lifetime member of the Working Poor. Commenting on the rules she has to abide by for a month - no using client's toilets, no swearing in a client's house, no watching TV while working, no eating in a client's house - she writes, "So on grey, frozen winter days, we dine on your driveway. We chew a sandwich on the sidewalk. We picnic in parking garages."
Wong thinks that the aspiring-upper-middle-class nouveau riche who hire maids from these services are disgusting pigs, because none of them - not one! - seems capable of flushing a toilet, cleaning a toilet, or using a toilet. Wong lovingly details every spatter of urine, every unflushed pooh, and even throws in a reference to a pair of blood-stained panties.
These nouveau riche are not at all like the good "old money" folks in Bridle Path or Rosedale, where the housekeepers (never "maids"!) are treated more like family than servants. Old money has class. New money couldn't even buy it if they tried, which they won't, because they're so ill-bred. So there!
By the way, Wong lives in the same riding as the Bridle Path, and has a housekeeper (not a maid!).
Wong's private-school-going, triple-cream-Brie-eating sons think that "poor people" sleep on "urine- soaked mattresses", but now we all know that it's the idle, classless nouveau-riche whose Tempur Pedics are drenched in pee.

Like Ehrenreich's book, this expose would be compelling reading if it was actually about the plight of the working poor. But it's all about Jan, just like Ehrenreich's book is all about Barbara. It's about her aching back, her allergies to dust and dog hair, her dishpan hands, her fatigue, her offended liberal upper-middle class sensibilities.

I remember reading a series in the Toronto Star seven years ago about single mothers in Toronto. One family was kicked out of their west-end apartment and ended up living in a windowless basement in the east end. The eldest girl - I think she was about 9 and I think her name was Chantelle - commuted by herself across town on the subway and the bus to get to St Cecilia's, her old school, because she loved it so much. Because it was familiar. It would take her about two hours each way. It broke my heart. I still think about that little girl - she must be well into her teens now. I couldn't tell you the name of the journalist who wrote that series, because it wasn't about the journalist. It was about the actual families and what they were going through. I haven't forgotten it. That was putting a face on poverty, on hardship, on social injustice, on what happens to human being who fall through the holes in the social safety net. I guess that's the difference between documentary journalism and getting paid to pen a sensationalistic account of how you slummed with the less fortunate for a month.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Gory stuff

Tired, tired and sore.

Long weekend, long hours at the flat doing DIY, this weekend’s achievements:

Tiling and grouting of kitchen floor (15m2)
Putting up the bathroom mirror
Sealing the bath to the wall
Replacing the old light switches (without electrocution this time!)
Tidying up of paint work (including repainting window sills)
Sorting front garden with neighbour
Sanding down the front door of the building to prevent it sticking
Sanding down the bedroom and bathroom doors to prevent sticking
Slicing bits of my finger off…….

Yep, my first proper DIY injury. In short, I was scraping dry excess tile adhesive from my kitchen floor when I “over-scraped” and cut myself a nice little flap in my left hand middle finger. It’s nice, deep, big and gory and yes, I have been showing it off at work. It’s so nasty, that even the people who would have said, “Does this hurt?” whilst jabbing it with a sharp pencil, have been reduced to going, “oooooowww”. Apparently, rather than wrapping it up in kitchen towel with some masking tape and then tiling the kitchen floor, I should have gone to A&E – but there was no way I was going to waste my whole Saturday there.

Ho Hum.

Saw Gomez on Sunday night with Mav, Doug and Claire (who organised it)….. Both Mav and myself rocked up not quite knowing who Gomez were but I was of the opinion that it didn’t matter, it’s all noise to me nowadays….. old man! Gig was pretty good, Claire projectile vomiting whilst squatting over the toilet after two pints was comical if not a little grim.

Saw Troy last night…… not very impressed, Brad Pitt who is usually a very good actor, really sucked. The story was far too Americanised/simplified/changed from the legends for my liking. Also, Helen wasn’t pretty enough ;-)

Magic carpets

And now, a break from our usual service and onto some more exciting DIY news…..

I now have carpets, laid, stretched, present and correct.

See, told you it was exciting. Now all I have left to floor is the bathroom, which should be a piece of piss after doing the massive kitchen. I’m pretty chuffed tho, the carpet man said that I’d done a good job on the kitchen floor and he’d pay me to tile his kitchen. *impressed*

One minor problem with having big thick carpets with underlay (underlay, underlay, ariba, ariba) – the sodding doors need to be trimmed down and re-hung. No major drama but I have to go out and buy a plane (the boring kind) because there is no way I’m scraping off half an inch from 3 doors including the front door by hand (well, the bits of hand I have remaining).

I can move in soon…..

At the gay bar, gay bar, GAY BAR!

So, a completely non-DIY themed post……

Electric 6 were awesome. I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting much despite the fact that D&C rated them the best live act they have ever seen. They were great, so much energy, so much passion, so much fun.

Usually gigs at Southampton are run-of-the-mill. The bands know they’re not playing to a full-house, this is a mid-week gig, a nothing, some spare change, something getting in the way of them getting high, a build up to the weekend’s gigs. Electric 6 did it because they enjoyed it and it showed.

The last time I went into a mosh pit, stage diving was still encouraged, I was a light 16 year old and used to get pushed all over the shop. Now I’m a heavy 24 year old who can quite happily stand rooted in the middle of the mosh pit until I finish my beer. It was electric 6, not metalica I hasten to add.

Once I finished the beer I joined in, it was great. Immediately after they played radio ga-ga in the encore and a particularly valiant performance in shielding a girl who really should not have been in the mosh pit, I got her phone number. I don’t think I’ll call it tho, I might interrupt her GCSE revision……Ever the gent me.


This weekend’s activities……

Well, after 3 solid weeks of DIY, working nights, days, weekends, during my sleep, persuading my identical twin to go to work whilst I fix “stuff” and losing a girlfriend - I’m having part of a weekend off. I feel I deserve it.

Saturday morning is the DIY part, but Saturday afternoon is the Bergh annual summer braai. I must not get too drunk, I must not get too drunk, I must not get too drunk. The problem is that when South Africans get together, we drink, we really drink, but the idea isn’t to get shit-faced, the idea is to be able to handle your booze.

Sunday, oh Sunday. Sunday is one of the annual events that I most look forward to….. For the third year in a row, the IRB Sevens at Twickenham - an excuse to drink, watch rugby, enjoy the Fijian’s singing and stare at top posh totty and colonial ladies. I’m convinced that they get the whole population of New Zealand to fly out to England for this event, when they go back home they have a Planet of the Apes style situation where the sheep have taken over. Baaaaaaaaa. The South Africans will be there in force and as Mav well described, the reason we both like the South African ladies is because when ever you say anything, they always join in with, “yaaaaah”, we're bad bad boys.

So yeah, will be seeing Mav/TC et al and will pass on your best wishes. After the rugby we’re all going out in Putney, you have been warned.

It’s going to get messy. I’ve booked Monday off work.