Bad Words

Tuesday, 2nd December 2008

This morning, I had an argument with someone I don’t even know. So, what’s new? It happened on the bus. The two young ladies (and I use the term loosely) kept repeating the same three-letter abbreviation for a phrase that their grannies probably use as a prayer, in almost every sentence.
I counted to ten. I even counted to twenty. When they had said these three letters for the fiftieth time between them, I turned round and asked them politely to stop blaspheming. They looked aghast, and insisted that they were “just talking”.
I was adamant that they had been taking the Lord’s name in vain. Alas, they had not even realised it.
The expression is one that has become so common (even ‘beauty queens’ say it as they are crowned… you know, when they cry and cover their faces with their Hands and simper…) that it is now regarded as “just an expression that everybody uses a lot” – which is how the girls explained their excessive use of it. There was a time when these things were not taken as lightly. People who swore, and those who blasphemed, were considered to be the pits.
Nobody dared do it in the presence of a woman, a child – or members of the clergy. Somehow, then, the idea got around that swearing was a “man thing” – and therefore, a woman or a child who swore was destined to be roasted in the fiery pit, but the men could maybe, perhaps, possibly get away with it because of the fact that they were men. A sort of warped sexist outlook, of course, but there it was.
Then someone came out with the idea of minced oaths. We have them in Maltese to, especially since the Name of God, being a palindrome of two syllables made up of the same letters, lends it to many variations. Basically, a minced oath is a “religious euphemism” that is supposed to allow people to give vent to their feelings without actually swearing or blaspheming.
Rather as a white lie is not a lie at all to some – although it is… and white magic is not magic top others… but it is. The idea behind euphemisms is to say something without being indelicate or uncouth…. so we say passed away instead of died (and the Maltese say “the aunt” instead of “the broom” – thereby insinuating that ‘broom’ is a word that ought not to be said in polite society). However, if you have a great command of the language, you definitely do not need to resort to swearing, even of the euphemistic type, top get your point across. In any case, what does God have to do with the fact that you hit your thumb when hammering in a nail? Where on earth does Jesus come in when you find that the cat has urinated all over your new quilt?
I often come across words like gosh, by gum, drat, cor blimey, and so on… in children’s books. This means that not even the authors, the proofreaders, and the publishing houses know what these words really mean. I did, in fact, ask the afore-mentioned passengers whether they knew, and their blank stares gave me the answer. Frankly, I did not elaborate. However, it is a sad sign of the times that people use this type of language in an effort to appear smart, and fluent in the English language and slang, when all they are doing, in fact, is making fools of them with people who know what the expressions really mean
Euphemisms, Christian cussing – call this type of language what you will… but it is not right, it is only swearing and blaspheming by any other name. It is ironic that in today’s politically correct society profanity is acceptable, and yet words that can be taken as ethnic slurs, or references to sexual orientation or mental capabilities, are frowned upon. Moreover, it is acceptable for the good guys in the media to utter a word or two on the very, very, long list of minced oaths (or even their “real counterparts”) because it shows that “he means business”.
But just let him refer to a section of his electorate as people having questionable paternity, or a skin colour that is not Caucasian… and the press will have a field day. It’s time to clean up our act.


Broken connections

Sunday, 10th April 2011

The story is told of a television hack who wanted – needed – a story for his “investigative” programme. So he slunk up to an internet cafe and cut off the electricity supply.
Inevitably, there was a furore, and the teenagers inside ran out of the place, furious. The cameras were rolling. Later on, when the clips of the teens appeared on television, they were interspersed with shots from violent games… some of which were not even available at that particular place.
The gist of the programme was that when deprived of their internet fix, teens become violent.
Unfortunately, this type of manipulation is all too common with journalists who are less than righteous – but it set me thinking.
Is it only teenagers who feel “lost” without their internet connection? Would we ‘suffer’ if we had to spend the day incommunicado, without i-this and i-that, mobile telephones, and an internet connection?
Most of us have friends – not ourselves, of course – who spend all day and most of the night in chartrooms and/or on social sites, and replying to e-mails. They break the monotony of this by making phone-calls or sending SMSs, or playing all manner of games, some of which are didactic and ostensibly ward off brain degenerative diseases.
I decided to ask ten friends to collaborate with me in a very unscientific experiment – whether we could spend a day without communicating with others through technological means, excepting landline telephones, and whether we could get entertainment through printed matter, television, and radio.
Since we are all – one assumes – reasonable adults, it ought to have been a piece of cake. But it wasn’t.
We did not throw tantrums. We are made of sterner stuff. We did not cheat (perhaps because the kids would have snitched). But we did reach out towards the ‘on’ buttons of the forbidden appliances, several times.
It is said that going cold turkey hurts the mind, the heart, and the brain. We tend to mock people who cannot live without alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine. As a corollary, going without technology ought to be easy-peasy. You can play Scrabble offline after all, and purchasing printed newspapers helps the country’s economy, doesn’t it?
But most of us reported feeling ‘isolated’ and ‘disorientated’ and ‘distressed’ for the duration of the experiment – and this when we had “real” people around us, and could communicate with others by good old push-button telephones, and were able to slot CDs of choice into stereos, or listen to or watch favourite programmes on television.
Apparently, we are not alone. For several studies say that whenever technological toys are deliberately withheld from people, they are likely to get symptoms akin to substance abusers who cannot get a fix.
Two of us actually spent some time looking at a blank computer screen, and one of us put her mobile telephone in her back jeans pocket just so that she could know it was there. Three of my friends who are always up-to-date on the news couldn’t bear the idea of having to ‘wait’ for news bulletins from different radio and television stations. Unfortunately, one of us substituted the proscribed media with food, and the mother-in-law of one of us turned up at her doorstep because she thought “someone had died since they were not on facebook and she was not answering the mobile…”
On the whole, however, it made us realise that probably, we need not send twenty one-sentence e-mails to the same person… and we do not need to make it a point to use the free messages out mobile telephone service provider gives us in each twenty-four hour period, just because they are free.
It does not mean, however, that not being online translates into more chores done, and a cleaner house. It’s nice to be able to read a brick-thick book without being constantly interrupted by the ping! of an instant messager.
Inevitably, some of us made pastry for pies, and cleaned up spring onions and shelled broad beans for the freezer… but this was to alleviate the boredom, and not out of a sense of guilt that we “usually” waste time and now we might as well do it.
Piles of papers to sort; snail mail letters to write; delicate items of clothing to hand-wash; elderly relatives to visit; research for new articles to conduct… all these would have been done in between checking e-mails and tweeting and face-booking and proving the truth of the new proverb “a journey of a thousand sites starts with the first click”.
So now you know why this blog came out late this week.

Beware of the Message!

Posted on January 15, 2013



Teens tend to call anyone they meet on-line a “friend”.
More than enough has been said about the perils of this – how the lovely young lady who is so keen to help your daughter with her Italian homework is really an aging, balding, Macintosh-clad Lothario who would be grooming her for online exploitation.
Today, however, we will be focusing on another facet of “friendships” – the ones where contacts have their accounts hi-jacked by third parties, who then go on to ask your children for money, while pretending they have found themselves in dire circumstances.
The other day, a friend of mine had barely left my house, when I received an e-mail purportedly from her.
My Dear Tanja (and she had never addressed me like this before!)
I really hope you get this fast. Am in a really bad and terrible state right now, I traveled with my family to Manila Philippines for Holiday and Tour but unfortunately we misplaced our wallet and cell phones on our way back to the hotel we lodge in after we went for sight seeing. The wallet contained all the valuables we had. Now, our passport is in custody of the hotel management pending when we make payment.
I am sorry if i am inconveniencing you, but i have only very few people to run to now. i will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of $2,000 from you. this will enable me sort our hotel bills and take a cab to the Airport. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest.
This particular friend and I have been buddies since we were in single number ages; I know that her English is perfect. Besides, since we live in Europe, we use British English – and this e-mail was in American English.
It was clear that whoever had hijacked her e-mail address book was sending long-shots haphazardly. They could not have known that we are “real life” friends and not merely “virtual” ones.
It got weirder from there.
On spec, I shot back an e-mail saying “I am worried. Call Me”, using a shortened form of her name that she absolutely hates. I waited.
Quick as a flash, the reply came back. Sure enough, it was signed as though by her, with the moniker she detested.
Am so glad you replied back,I can’t call or receive calls here because the hotel management would not allow me have access to any of their phone facility which is the reason why i need you to help me,You can have it wired to my name via any Western Union Outlet around you….. I’ll have to show my passport as ID to pick it up here and i promise to pay you back as soon as I get back home hopefully today.
Again, I noted that the syntax and spelling left much to be desired; and besides, there was also a different return e-mail address from the one in the previous e-mail. This, of course, would ensure that any monies would get directly to the perpetrator of the scam, even if the real owner of the original address would meanwhile have twigged about the potential swindle.
There followed the person’s name and address (which I was supposed to know anyway) and an address, with the ‘order’:
Here is my info where you will wire the money to:
The address, for what it’s worth, was:
Block 26 st Joseph Village Trece Materez
Manila Philippines
Out of curiosity, I put this in a search engine, and it came up, with a slightly different spelling as a House for Sale, as is often the case. Nobody would be living in this vacant property, so it would be relatively easy to crack open the letter box and steal the mail… hopefully, a handful of cheques-in-the-post if enough people decided to cough up without verifying whether the original mail was genuine!
There was even more. Of course.
As soon as it has been done, kindly get back to me with the western union confirmation number… Let me know if you are heading to the Western Union outlet now…
Oh, yes. These people did not even know that I live in a different time zone, and that it was around midnight when they asked me to inform them whether I was headed out the door.
Meanwhile, I called my friend and told her to change all her e-mail addresses and social sites passwords, which she immediately did.
I found it amusing that after she had told me they needed money to get home, she was apparently suddenly in the black again, with enough cash to return home and pay me back as soon as she got there. So, I ask myself, why was it that she was not allowed to access her own bank accounts if she had the money to pay off whatever debts she had incurred in her place of lodging?
The plot behind this dodge was a sieve.
I have been told that such letters, when formulated to be addressed to teens, will contain slang words and expressions such as “Mom’ll kill me”, to make them sound more authentic.
Please warn your teens that sob stories like these are barefaced lies, meant to skim money off them with no chance of redress.

The play’s the thing

Thursday, 27th March 2008

It was one of the very few occasions when I diligently and meticulously applied myself to my books. We were putting up The Merchant of Venice for Prize Day at school – and I craved the part of Shylock.
I still remember what I wore; my Manx friend Therese Harris lent me a black smock – which I wore inside out to hide the spangles- and a long, black skirt that had been my project for Mary Inglott’s sewing lessons.
Memories of this came flooding back when a just-for-fun comment in a newsletter to which I subscribe asked “Now I wonder what a proposition letter from William Shakespeare to an Agent would have looked like?”
This is the result:
William Shakespeare to the Noblest Agent, Jonathan John Jason Justin Smythe-Smith.
Dear Mister Smythe-Smith,
I saw your bill posted on the tree just outside the pub, in which you state you are seeking new works which to produce at the Globe, the Sphere, and the Orb Associated Theatre Circle Limited, Incorporated.Believe you me, there will come a day when political correctness and vegetarianism will be a way of life, and so I propose that you select my play before all others, while the going is good.
Actually, I have to admit that at present I do not have an agent because he accused me of plagiarism and I dismissed him.As I was saying, I hereby propose a play called The Merchant of Venice – no, it is not the Jew you probably thought he was, but the Merchant Antonio, whom we see as suffering from inexplicable clinical depression at curtain up.
Before I continue, I would like to indicate that this play will offer several employment opportunities to actors currently without a job, because the cast may easily be plumped up to hundred, and the audience will turn up if you offer a couple of cameo appearances to actors of renown. It would also be revolutionary to introduce the concept of women disguised as men disguised as women – but let’s not get into this right now, there will be time enough later, when you recognise my genius.
Bassiano is one of Antonio’s clique – let’s just say that his was cupboard love. He wants the wealthy Portia to be his wife – but he lacks threw wherewithal. Suffice it to say that Antonio, muggins that he is, falls for this one too, and offers his all as collateral to the loan from Shylock. Shylock hates Antonio’s guts, but hopes he can take Antonio to the cleaner’s later, if he defaults. Antonio is cocky enough to “know” his ships will return well in time before the three-month deadline.
Exit Bassiano stage left, rubbing his palms at the thought of having obtained 3,000 ducats without a stroke of work. The others are ones whom I have named the alliterative Solanio and Salerio – and Lorenzo and Graziano to give an Italian shift to my dramatis personae list.
After all the play takes place in Venice, and it would not do to call them Tom, Dick, and Harry. Zoom to Belmont, where Portia is telling her handmaiden Nerissa that her goose is cooked if one of the half-dozen suitors cooling their heels in the hall outside suitors manages to pick the casket with her portrait inside for she will have to marry him, according to the conditions set out in the will of her father.I plan to have some exotic costumes for this play – the Moroccan Prince and the prince of Aragon, who of course choose the wrong chests, must be dressed in frippery and finery, inn their best bib and tucker, so to speak.
I will not bore you with the details – but suffice to say that the rest of the plot, and the countless sub-plots, involve court jesters or their equivalents, a disaster at sea, sundry love stories, men dressed as women dressed as men, a couple of unique betrothal rings, and revenge, as well as a couple of visual puns which will be played to the gallery.
Ah! I was nearly forgetting the salient part. Shylock tries to extract payment in “a pound of flesh” – and mark my words on this, too, my expression will become a quote which means “a debt repayment harshly insisted upon”, if in the future a preposition at the end of the sentence will be allowed.Portia to the rescue – she finds what the Maltese call “the raisin at the end of the black sausage” in the contract – the opposite of a loophole, perhaps, the irony of it all, in other words, and I hope you do not mind this circumlocution because I have found that convoluted language helps one understand tortuous plots better… now where was I…. oh, yes… Portia, in disguise as a lawyer, indeed a Daniel come to judgment, discovers that there was no mention of blood in the original contract.
So Shylock would have to cut the flesh “nearest to his heart” without shedding one drop of blood, which is an impossible feat, and thereby hangs a tale.Ah! But this is not all. When Shylock decides to take 9,000 ducats as forfeit, he is promptly accused of being guilty of conspiracy to kill a fellow human being.
All’s well that ends well (hey, that’s a good title, I think I will use it for my next opus) and I will be able to explain the intricacies – for there are many more – when we meet.Regards and May the Almighty bestow Fortune on you and Fame on your productions as He surely will if you will take this Play in hand.
William a.k.a. Bill Shakespeare

Twenty Ways To Make Your Life Better



1. Admit it when you’re wrong; it will actually impress people.
2. Delegate when you can; when you can’t, don’t even try.
3. Do as you would be done by.
4. Don’t worry what others are thinking about you; they are too busy worrying what you are thinking about them.
5. Even sentences have punctuation; take time out for a breather.
6. It always helps to get feedback from a sincere friend.
7. Learn how to prioritise. Is it really necessary to hang an item of clothing with the same colour of pegs?
8. Never nag; it will rebound and create bad blood.
9. Never wallow in negative feelings; gen up on the art of compromise.
10. Perfection is an illusion; is a house that’s spotless for just five minutes worth the hassle?
11. Remember that you don’t necessarily need to talk; everyone loves a listener.
12. Remind yourself often not to associate happiness with specific times, people, or places.
13. Scrap the guilt complex. If you didn’t have time to sew on a button, just wear a different shirt.
14. Serendipity is a butterfly; chase it and it flies off, stay still and it comes of its own accord.
15. Settle differences before they fester into feuds.
16. Something’s got to give; make sure it’s not your sanity.
17. Stop trying to be Wonder Woman; her costume’s both ridiculous and uncomfortable!
18. Surroundings have a bearing on attitude; a tidy place makes for a calmer atmosphere.
19. Touching base is good, but there are no prizes for returning e-mails, faxes and phone calls immediately.
20. Treat yourself as you would like to be treated by others; this sends out the correct message.

Off at a Tangent

Friday, 7th March 2008

I have the kind of nondescript face that makes perfect strangers ask me directions – or open their hearts to me when I would have only just met them. But then I have to admit that I like listening and people-watching, anyway.
The lady with the pink parasol, for instance, caught my eye as soon as I turned the last corner on my way home. She was one of those age-less Asian ladies, and, with her Irish-looking husband, they were staring at one of the many cats which live in our general area.
She smiled at me, and asked me what the name of the street was; and for a moment, I was stumped. Then I remembered – and of course she wanted to know what the word “Kukkanja” means.
I explained the bit about the local version of the Neapolitan Cockaigne tradition and the colloquial “hell of a time” and “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” meanings, and her face lit up. She told me that her sister lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where they have a similar activity, which takes place after the Seine Boat races. This takes place 200 feet off Pavilion Beach, on the weekend nearest Feast Day of St. Peter (June 29)… of course.
The world was a village long before the internet made it an oyster.
These days, no one could cook up a tale such as the one in which Penelope would – and could have the patience to – wait twenty years for her Odysseus to return to Ithaca from the Trojan War.
She would have simply sent him an SMS and told him dinner was getting cold. Besides, she would have been able to worm her way out of the silly excuse of weaving the shroud of Laertes. How many modern women, for that matter, know how to weave – or even knit, crochet, or sew? And even if they did, would they not purchase a motorised loom? Hanging on to a project for three years, in today’s world of instant coffee, and txt msg, is just not on.
But communications are not all they are made out to be. Apart from being the mother of all alleged Bermuda Triangle vortices, today’s means of communication are likely to create as many problems as they purport to solve.
And sometimes, the backward somersaults that producers do in order to garner an audience would be risible if they were not pathetic. Was it the nadir of political incorrectness if feather boa-wearing Eva Gabor’s Hungarian accent, when she played Lisa in Green Acres, was milked for laughs? Her husband, Oliver Wendell Douglass (Eddie Albert), it must be remembered, had been a successful lawyer in New York – but his American Dream had always been to become a farmer. yet he always understood what she said, or at least, what she meant.
Which is more than can be said for the coherence of today’s media.

Sock it to me!

Wednesday, 16th July 2008

When my eyesight was still sharp enough to thread needles galore, I spent precious minutes sewing blue, green and yellow threads inside the back elastic of hundreds of knee socks, to colour-code those of each child. Then, of course, I had to separate them into pairs, fold them, and put them away.

Since my kids go through socks like a hot knife through butter, all but the first part of this operation had to be repeated very, very frequently.

Then it struck me. Ouch. I could buy each child ten pairs of the same kind of sock, that is, in different colours of the same design, and sorting them would be a piece of cake. Socks for school would be even easier to master – ten more pairs of the same type, same colour sock per child – and so whichever two they picked would be guaranteed to be a pair.

If one sock got a hole in it (not all socks may be darned these days), I did not have to throw its partner away too. And if a sock got lost – well, the same reasoning applied.

Then, I did not yet know about the site that offers sets of three socks, in matching colours but different designs, that are to be worn at random, leaving one acting as gooseberry-in-a-drawer each time. This gimmick also applies to other items of clothing – pyjamas, shirt and skirt combinations, and so on.

And suddenly I was reminded of one of my favourite dresses from when I was a child –pink polka dots on a purple background for the bodice, a stripe of pink and another of purple at the waist, and purple polka dots on a pink background for the skirt.

And when my daughter was tiny, she quite enjoyed running about the house in mismatching stripper socks (three pairs for Lm1) that could be bought from the Valletta Monti. Then, I drew the line at her going out with them, though – I would not do so now.

And that brings me to the solemn declaration by my friend Karina that July 14-21 will henceforth be Orphan Sock Blog Week. That the start coincides with the Fall of the Bastille is neither here, not there. Neither has the expression “put a sock on it”, apparently.

Most families, at one time or another, know what it is to have a bunch of orphan socks waiting listlessly for their partner, after a wash. Some people throw the orphan socks away immediately. Others place them again in the laundry basket, hoping that some cosmic magnetism will produce a matching sock out of thin air. Because, really, that’s where the missing socks would have ended up. The Sock Gremlins do not exist, although the Tooth Fairy does (at least in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books).

Others scour the washroom, the dog’s kennel, the cat’s basket, and even have a peek on the neighbours’ roofs, just in case the errant sock is there. And then there are smug people who never, ever lose socks, because they peg them out in pairs…

Others have never lost a sock simply because their socks are still in their original state, complete with a folded cardboard strip to indicate make and size, and plastic tags to keep them united.

Having worked for some time as a Kindergarten Assistant and Facilitator, I know full well that there are several uses for odd socks (and odd gloves).

Chew toys for pets; draught excluders; puppets; hair ties; instant ice-packs for bruises; Venetian blind cleaners or chalkboard erasers; cushion stuffing; furniture, silver and brass polishers; instant gift packaging for soft toys; slipping it over chilblained fingers, or those of children who bite their nails, or those who have hives, to stop them scratching themselves raw; as protection for necklaces… the list is practically endless.
You can also pot the ends of soap bars in them and then seal the top with a rubber band. You have the ideal “thingy” with which to soap the heels and toes of other socks before chucking them in the wash.

But this list comes with a dire pre-emptive warning. The minute you make irreversible alterations to your odd sock, the partner promptly turns up. In the sock drawer. Neatly folded. With another orphan sock.

Advertisements: A Happiness Machine?

Saturday, 17th October 2009

Even bad publicity is publicity. No news is bad news. Always judge a book by its cover.
Sometimes, I think that advertising agencies actually live by the previously mentioned type of mangled adages in order to draw attention to the products they represent.
Most of us remember the advertisement for Dolce and Gabbana, which to all intents and purposes intimated a stylised gang rape scene. The woman is prone and fully clothed, wearing stilettos; her long hair is artistically splayed out on the ground behind her head, and that all the toned males are oiled within an inch of their lives. This makes no difference; the connotation is there.
Sex sells. Ask Abercrombie and Fitch, or Calvin Klein. Ask Heinz of mayonnaise fame, too, for that matter.
Have we not had enough of women fighting tooth and nail over the last pair of shoes in a shop? Aren’t we sick and tired of gorgeous people drinking alcohol is exotic or palatial surroundings? What about the advertisements that imply a woman is not worth her salt if the members of her household cannot eat off the floor (never mind that she has thrown out her cooker and invested in a tin opener and a microwave instead)?
I remember the fuss that had been made when Martina Navratilova had worn a Kim t-shirt during a tennis match. Back then, product placement was almost unheard of – since then, it had become a megabucks industry.
However, it is not only sex that has become a toy in the hands of advertisers. Subjects previously regarded as taboo – including death, suicide, homophobia, gender discrimination, disabilities, religion, and poverty – are also being recycled for schlock value.
Take the silly Snickers advertisement in which two men “accidentally kiss”. The gay pressure groups were not too pleased about it… and in fact, the bumph was pulled because of the total number of complaints it engendered.
Next in line – literally and figuratively – came the robot in the GM assembly line. Endowed with the human foible of perfectionism, he actually contemplates ‘suicide’ after dropping a bolt.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, inevitably, sent the company a letter that said humans might be encouraged to see suicide as a “solution” to problems. This might happen especially if the person already feels depressed. Apparently, the company does not feel it has to stop the advertisement, because it only received “a handful” of complaints.
Suicide was also the theme of a Pepsi Max advertisement, which shows a bean-shaped “very lonely single calorie” ending it all… and, ironically, even Dior got on the death bandwagon by advertising a lipstick with the words “New! Dior Addict Lipstick to Die For…in 30 killer shades… Get hooked. Now.” which had the added nod to substance abuse addiction.
Technology brings with it new ways of insulting women – whether or not they are included in the following list: artist; aspiring actress; athlete; bookworm; businesswoman; celebrity; cougar; dancer; foreign exchange student; Goth; Indie Rocker; married; Military girl; nerd; out-of-your-league girl; political girl; princess(?); Punk Rocker ;Rebound girl; Sorority girl; Tree-hugger; Trouble (presumably with an upper case T); twins; or Women’s Studies Major.
Sci-fi buffs who used to watch Quantum Leap would remember that the series is mainly about the adventures of Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a scientist who becomes lost in time following a botched experiment. Al (Dean Stockwell), appeared to him as a hologram, and therefore only Sam and a select group could see or hear him.
Sam spent each episode in the body of a different persona – into which he would have leapt at the end of the previous episode, usually with his trademark expression “Oh, boy!”
What is of particular interest is the apparatus Al holds in his hand; through it he connects with an artificial intelligence called Ziggy, and other entities, and a few clicks of colourful, noisy, keys, usually produce information relevant to the situation.
Now it seems that this contraption was nothing but the precursor of an iPhone. Indeed, an Application for this gadget consists in keying in the “category” into which a female “falls”, and the ‘system’ will give you chatting-up lines and whatever else is needed to hit on her… going as far as to describe itself as “…a roadmap to success with your favourite kinds of women..”
Does this mean that “un-favourite kinds of women” are easier to impress because they would be thankful that someone – anyone? – would be paying them attention? On the other hand, does it mean that women who cannot be pigeonholed into any of the above categories do not deserve any attention at all, even if they do happen to desire it at any given time?
Oh, yes, I am fully aware that there are advertisements equally insulting to men who are portrayed as dweebs who are unable to mop a floor or change a nappy without making a mess. Nonetheless, these adverts are usually played for laughs – they do not sexualise or objectify the men.
The other day I read a spoof advertisement that went “… nine out of ten lawyers prefer this filing system – and we’re negotiating with the tenth one.” This is the reasoning behind all those slogans which tell us that we cannot be without something, or that we deserve it, or that most people prefer it to any other, or that failing to obtain it is tantamount to ruining our lives and those of the members of our household… including the pets…
The latest in a string of quasi-obscene adverts that use and abuse women comes from The Foundry, responsible for the Jamieson’s Raspberry Ale campaign. Snow White – renamed “Ho White”, lies in bed with her seven friends, now called the likes of Randy, Filthy, and Smarmy, blowing smoke rings. Disney, of course, was not too pleased about this. The advertising campaign site, which I tried to access as I write this, informs me of “English and French domain names for sale / noms de domaines en Français et en Anglais à vendre.”
Should we, as women, be boycotting products and services that debase women, or use subject matter that is aesthetically or morally offensive to use? To take this further, should we support companies that try to pull wool over our eyes by making exaggerated, unproven claims for their products?

That’s What She Said


I hated having to be the one to break the news. But heaven knows, they’d got used to seeing my mug plastered all over the plasma VDTs in the mall. I wondered if they’d notice how much of my speech was plagiarised.
Earthmen, earthlings, earthlies, earthers, lend me your ears;
I come to bury the past, not to resurrect it.
So let it be with our collective past.
You thought the Emperor was enlightened:
It was not so; it was a lie.
Now we live under our Reptilian Masters.
Come I to speak in The Emperor’s funeral.
He was my mentor once, constant and evenhanded:
But the Tzar says he was ruthless;
And the Tzar does not lie.
The Emperor hath brought many captives home to Earth
Whose ransoms did the federal reserves fill:
Yet the Emperor had a hidden agenda.
When the poor cried, the Emperor gloated and preened.
You all did see that on the night of the Oscars
The Lord Reptilian thrice presented him a crown,
Albeit in jest.
This he did thrice refuse, through spite, and mendacity?
The Tzar says the Emperor was ambitious and devious;
I speak to corroborate what the Tzar spoke,
Here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, because he fooled you all.
Yet now you must not mourn for him.
Oh, judgment! Thou art final, immutable, irrevocable.
Men must find their reason yet again. Bear with me;
My heart is happy, thinking of the future without the Emperor.
Good riddance.
And I bow to our Reptilian Masters.
Thus are the mighty fallen.


It went down a treat. They must have thought it was part of the hoop-la. No one realised – or wanted to appear to have realised – that I was in earnest. As the spokeswoman for the Reptilian Masters, I had to keep deadpan. I knew that they were considered invasive alien species – but that, in reality they were Masters of the Universe.

Earth was nothing to them but a stop-gap – a place where to recruit (recruit did I stay?) wombs for propagating their species, and dilute the genepool that had become stale through interbreeding.

It was business as usual for the Bodies that were hosting the Reptilian Masters. No one dared question what they did, and to whom, and how, and when. People disappeared without trace… only to turn up intermittently in different continents – older, or younger, with no explanation being offered. This wrought havoc with family bloodlines, of course – but families were now an alien (ha!) concept. Earth was under the rule of the Reptilian Masters. We were but pawns in their herpetofaunal invasiveness games.

The ecological, evolutionary, and economic future Mankind had striven for were now so much dust in the cosmic wind. I remember it as if it were yesterday, the statement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to the effect that No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found.

With hindsight, I can tell that the flippant reference to amphibious humanoid extraterrestrials – well, actually they were called mermaids and mermen so the hoi polloi could understand what was being said – had been made to divert attention from the landings of the Reptilian Masters and the first landings and colonisations in Malta where Atlantis used to be, and suppress the truth until the operation was going full steam ahead. Those who colluded – including the Emperor, have blood on their hands, and a special place in hell. Me? I was just the star turn of the plasma VDTs. I knew on which side my bread is buttered.

However, somewhere deep in my what-used-to-be-called soul, I had a nagging feeling that Mankind had not evolved to where it had arrived before the arrival of the Reptilian Masters, just so that they could find uteruses to exploit.

I had always been a film buff – and that is why my solution was straight out of Village of the Damned (if you want to know I think the re-make was silly).

My status as a star meant that I could go where I wanted – no questions asked. And since I was so much a part of the picture, no one paid attention to my comings or going. So I surreptitiously laced the Vitamin Smoothies of pregnant women with lavender, and when they gave birth all the Baby Reptilian bastards were stillborn.

To cut a long story short – that is why the Reptilian Masters moved on to the next habitable planet on the next galaxy.




One Other Misdirection

Horns of a goat and hooves of ram;
Hellion since time began.
Canines of pig, nose of hog
Dybbuk’s trap in quicksand hog.
Canine fur and ogre ears;
Dastard embodiment of fears…

“Oh, do shut up! You’ve been at it all morning. There will be hell to pay if ma comes and that devil-may-care attitude of yours means the chores aren’t done.”

“An idle brain is the devil’s workshop, so I exercise it by composing rhymes; idle hands are the devil’s playthings, so I scribble down said rhymes before I forget them – and it gives my fingers something to do.”

“You’re full of the devil, and both of us know that the devil can cite Scripture for his own purpose. Put that pen down and remember that God sends meat and the devil sends cooks.”

“Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know; rhyming and writing come easy to me… I hate having to play the devil’s advocate. I’m caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, and the devil is in the detail.”

“Needs must when the devil drives – and the devil is not as black as he is painted. He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon, so prepare yourself , and let’s go meet them. We need all the help we can get.”

“It’s a waste of time, I tell you; the interviews will wreak hell with my agenda.”

“I say let’s go. We have the devil’s own job taking off all that hideous wallpaper; we need all the help we can get, and devil take the hindmost.”

Phone rings…

Hello? We are not coming for the interviews. We woke up with oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing. The doctor says we must have come in contact with the devil’s Ivy… not that I remember…




“Speak of the devil, and he is sure to appear; that’s mama’s car in the drive.”
“Don’t shout! You scared the hell out of me.”