Saturday, June 19, 2010

Even sitting in the garden one can still get stung

My attitude to gardening is similar to my attitude to rap music - I don't like it at all, but that's OK because I'm pretty sure it's not really aimed at people like me.

I'm rich enough to have a fairly significant garden but unfortunately I'm way too poor to just pay someone with talent to do something with it. The result is that after four years of relative neglect, the garden is ugly. I had a look out the other day and couldn't find one thing I liked about it. After a short discussion with Mrs Stan we came to the conclusion that everything should go.

And for the last week or so I've been demolishing anything woody with saw, crowbar and fork. Actually quite satisfying - tackling a large tree root is like solving a cryptic crossword - it takes you an age to work out how the root connects to the trunk, which other roots are supporting it and whether to use the saw or to bash it to pulp with the business-end of the crowbar. Nice feeling when you finally rip it out with your hands. Terrible feeling when you've spent hours cutting every visible side root and the thing still won't move.

Now we've got a big empty garden. Next-door are freaked out that we can see across the fence now and are building a trellis similar to the one Israel are building round the West Bank. I'm putting grass seed down everywhere until we can work out what we actual want.

And that's the last you'll hear from me about gardening for a while.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nothing Like a Dame - No, really, nothing at all like one

In my interview to become a Magistrate, I was asked whether an assault by a man on a woman should be sentenced differently to an assault by a woman on a man. Instead of coming out with the answer I suspected they wanted, I actually said what I believed at the time.

Suspected Model Answer

"Heaven forbid ! An assault is an assault and all should be treated alike"

Actual Answer

"An attack by a strong person on a weak person is an abuse of power and the weaker person deserves some extra protection from the law".

I didn't say this was always the case with man-on-woman violence (could be big woman - little guy) and I pointed out that some relationships are same-sex and that I would have the same opinion if a big guy was knocking lumps out of his smaller male partner.

I did end up passing the interview, but knowing what I know now - what an idiotic argument. Just because someone is physically bigger, does the law give them an extra responsibility ?

I blame my upbringing - it really didn't prepare me for some of the women I've seen from the bench recently :-

Ms A - is longterm unemployed in her 30s, but looks more like 55. Alcohol and Class A drug history, with some thieving and prostitution to pay the bills. New boyfriend is a perfect match for her, except that sometimes she thinks he's stealing her drugs and she beats him, sometimes with the crutch he got the last time he "fell down the stairs".

Ms B - is a scientist in her 50s. She had an almost cartoonishly bad divorce last year from her ex, who is a respected doctor. She hates him. To the point where she closed the front door on his head and kicked him in the babymakers when he came round to talk about custody arrangements.

Ms C - is 20 and pregnant by a man twice her age and half her IQ. He's a big bloke, but with not a bit of violence in him. She likes to drink and when she does she falls out with him and attacks. I've seen the pictures of bruises and the marks made by her nails. He took this for years and stayed quiet until eventually his mother made a complaint to the police.

I'm not sure what the moral of this tale is. Mostly that anyone who makes simplistic statements about domestic violence is an idiot. Or a Daily Mail journalist. Most likely both.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Radio 4 - Sometimes Really Quite Good

Radio 4 gets it so terribly wrong a lot of the time. Atrocious sit-coms; history of the world in ten million bits of fluff; The Garlic, Olive Oil and Aga show. And as for that Agricultural Soap Opera - Grrr!

However it does excel often enough that I keep on coming back.

Take tonight's edition of "Front Row", their regular Arts programme. It would have been an interesting enough companion to chopping carrots for Sweet and Sour Chicken even with just the articles about Highgate Cemetery and the new Doctor Who online game. But it was the musical items that made it really special.

First off was a report on Derry's attempt to become Britain's next city of culture. Cue music from The Undertones, the most joyous and ballsy music there ever was. Guaranteed to make you smile, except it reminds me that the world has been without John Peel for nearly six years now, and that's a crying shame.

Second was a piece on how Rhianna's "Umbu-reller-reller-hay-hay" has become a modern classic that is being covered by an insane variety of bands from punk to indie to light jazz and onto (my favourite) Rockabilly. Listen to The Baseballs' version and I challenge you to have no emotion about it. Made me smile, made Stanetta stomp off in disgust. That's no mean trick.