Category Archives: Culture & society

One for the sexist, racist cnuts

Possibly the finest song ever written for internet haters. Indeed, possibly the ONLY song ever written for internet haters.

To subscribe to this blog, without divulging your email address, scroll down the page and you will find a button marked “Entries RSS” under Meta in the left hand sidebar. You can also sign up to follow comments here. Or you can simply post the following text into your RSS browser:

// <![CDATA[
// ]]>


I’m not crazy, it’s my neighbours… (honestly!)

While looking for photographs of Charles Saatchi, of all things, I came across this. (For those who worry about such things, it was in an article about CS complaining about his neighbous – hey, he has the same initials as me…)

As I am one of those sad/exciting souls who likes to move house a lot, and who is finally going to try moving country this year, I have had a LOT of neighbours. Those neighbours have done some very strange things, to which I have done strange things right back: posting a dog shit through someone’s door, throwing chocolate biscuits onto someone’s balcony, posting beer cans through someone’s letter-box, having knockdown fights about a vaccum cleaner, an outdoor toilet, a huge truck being parked in front of my window – I mean right in front, as in six inches, completely obliterating all light – to name but a few. Hey, I was provoked.

However, the list of my neighbours’ madness is even worse: seal woman’s outdoor orgasms (don’t ask), the lesbians who had sex in the bath while playing guitar, and the downstairs neighbour who used to beat her husband with his proshtetic leg while he was drunk (I actually liked those nutcases; good times).

As yes, a gypsy life is a wondrous thing.

Anyway, I found these gems at the bottom of said article and they make my collection of nutty neighbours look very tame indeed. I never thought I would laugh about annoying neighbours ever again, but I did.


Neighbour complaints from Twitter: is this as bad as it gets?

@Cornettofairy My neighbours dug up my garden in the night, flattened it, and have put up a marquee which they use as a church.

@NadiaKamil I used to live beneath backpackers who at night threw themselves down the stairs & photographed it for fun.

@SoooooZee An ex-neighbour once stood outside & yelled “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY LOUNGE?” Then stood there looking embarrassed until I closed the blinds.

@dodgrile An old neighbour used to superglue cigarette butts to my house and car in the middle of the night. That was fun.

@clarehr A neighbour appeared at the window opposite with a sign: “HELP I’m hostage at gunpoint.” We called the police; when they arrived she denied all knowledge.

@jamescator I have a crazy preacher neighbour who rings a handbell at 4am for an hour whilst chanting religiously.

@karlhodge My neighbour bangs on my door at 6.30 in the morning shouting for “Andy”. No one in my house is called Andy.

@moonjam One neighbour tried to drunkenly open our front door with their key. And put an entire washing machine in the communal bin.

@stuartdredge I had a neighbour who took a boat-load of strange drugs and ended up being led away after shooting our milkman with a BB gun.

To subscribe to this blog, without divulging your email address, scroll down the page and you will find a button marked “Entries RSS” under Meta in the left hand sidebar. You can also sign up to follow comments here. Or you can simply post the following text into your RSS browser:

It’s NOT nice to be nice

My typist and I recently fell out after a profitable and amicable 7 year relationship. Was this because of irreconcilable differences? No. It was because of niceness.

My typist had a grandson coming to stay over the summer, just as I asked her to proofread DANNY 3/1. She didn’t want to do this because her grandson is 17 years old and she knew she would never be able to hide a book like DANNY from him. She was afraid he would see it on her computer and, assumably, discover his granny was a pervert. Or a hypocrite.

Instead of telling me she couldn’t do the proofreading, or finding a way to hide the book from her grandson, she wrote to me and told me categorically “yes, to the work”. Unfortunately, she then followed this up by telling me she was going password lock it because “I don’t want him to see reading material like that on MY computer”. Block capitals hers.

I wrote back to her and said I found this kind of comment hurtful and offensive, and that if she wanted to censor her grandson’s reading material she should just do it and not share her attitudes with me.

She wrote back to me and blamed me for not liking password locked documents (true; they cause problems in formatting during printing). She then said she was sick and stressed – something that had not been mentioned before – and now she couldn’t do the work.

In the course of three e-mails we had gone from “Yes, to the work” to “I no longer want to do this work”. Huffing was being huffed and sulking was being sulked. And it was all my fault.

I wrote back and told her I assumed she no longer wanted to work for me, now or in the future, and thanked her for all her hard work over the years. I even, foolishly, signed it “Love, Chancery”. Never sign an e-mail to an employee “Love” anything.

Very surprisingly, she sent me another e-mail, a terse one-liner telling me she “wouldn’t say never, just not at present”. With no love. And notably no apology. She had never made an apology, because, of course, it was all my fault for putting her in a bind like this, offering her work when it was inconvenient.

The e-mail she got back was long enough to constitute a work of non-fiction. It finished with the words “You are contemptible”

But really the whole ‘fight’ – if it can be graced with such a word, since no-one raised their voice till the bitter end – was due to niceness.

She was far too nice to tell me that she didn’t want to type my filthy book in her grandson’s presence. Just as she was too nice to tell her grandson that she had been typing my filthy books for seven years. Lying to both of us was easier.

When I was not nice and told her she hurt my feelings, she blamed me for being far too controlling in not wanting my books password locked. And in a backhand way she was right. For, in actual fact, when she first sent the e-mail telling me she was going to password lock the document, I should have reminded her, forcefully, she was going to do nothing of the kind – if she wanted to continue working for me. Instead, I was nice and said only that she’d hurt me, expecting her to be apologetic and placatory.

When, instead, she blamed me for her position, and suddenly announced she was too stressed and sick, she was lying once again, when she should havebitten the bullet and told me it was password locking or nothing. And when I answered her, I didn’t just say “Fine, gotta let you go” I tried to end our relationship nicely and thanked her for all her work.

This may seem a good thing, but in actuality I showered her with praise every single time she worked for me. I told her she was great, reassured her; in short, convinced her she was invaluable and irreplaceable, which she wasn’t. When we went ‘bankrupt’, I paid her less to do work on two books, and apologised to her profusely and repeatedly, even although I was paying her money we couldn’t spare; and even although she had earned thousands of pounds from me during the years before. I believe this led to her feeling it was okay to tell me what she was going to do, and led to her thinking she could dictate terms. Hence her final e-mail, trying to have her cake and eat it too.

That last e-mail looks (is?) profoundly stupid, in retrospect, but why shouldn’t she think she can tell me she’ll maybe work for me some time in the future, if she feels like it? I had thanked her for being a bad employee. I had convinced her over many years that she could do no wrong. Niceness came back and bit me in the ass. Like it bit her, for that matter.

Niceness is a female affliction and it does us no good whatsoever. For any reason, at any time. Nice girls lose their typists, and their typists lose their first rate employers. Learn from this. Because one of us should, and I certainly didn’t.

Buy DANNY by Chancery Stone. She is poor and has no typist. But feels curiously free……..

Bronson’s Bedlam

I watched Bronson a couple of days ago, a film I’ve wanted to see for quite a while.

My feelings afterwards were mixed. Indeed, my feelings during it were mixed. Even while I was loving the imagery and inventiveness of it, not to mention the stunning performance by Tom Hardy, a little silent voice inside me was already aware of the con that was going on in front of me.

The con is the middle classes feeding off the degradation of the poor and calling it Art. But it isn’t really the poverty that gets them off, it’s the stupidity that goes with it. Just as we all love watching those horror movies where the dumb bitch goes into the haunted house without a torch, while cheerfully saying to her friend, “You go that way, I’ll go this way”, when every single person in the audience knows no-one, no-one, would ever do that, then so are we entertained by the ignorance of the poor.

And how much more enthralling it is if they are poor, ignorant and smart. Or talented. Talented will do nicely. There is nothing more wank-worthy than watching someone who is possibly more gifted or smarter than you are completely messing up their lives.

This is not a new phenomenon. Go back far enough (and not so very far) and you will find the rich traipsing off in their droves for day outings to lunatic asylums and prisons to watch the poor, the mad and the criminally insane in their habitats of squalor. It’s always been fun for us all.

While modern political correctness prevents us all going down to the local loony bin and guffawing at the people who eat their own excrement or masturbate in trees, we can still go to the cinema and see films about that very same thing, all safe in the dark, getting our jollies.

Mike Leigh has made an entire (insulting) career out of this cheap masturbation. I won’t watch his movies for this reason, but a few months ago I was seduced – and a seduction it was, I should know better – into watching his latest effort, Happy-Go-Lucky, because ‘everybody’ was screaming, “Leigh’s latest is so funny and light-hearted!”, “Leigh breaks new ground with a dazzling light comedy!”. And they were all absolutely right – if you found the spectacle of a ‘girl’ who had Pollyanna disorder to a level that was almost a mental illness, being pursued by an emotionally stunted, deluded, paranoid man, whose mental health was equally precarious and who, in the delightfully frothy climax, becomes extremely violent and abusive in an episode of psychotic breakdown, which, of course, our Pollyanna only looks on at bemusedly because she lacks the correct emotional intelligence to recognise a threat when she sees one. Funny? I nearly died laughing.

This dislike of Oxbridge slumming it at the movies, as anyone who knows my work will hopefully realise, is not because I can’t handle harsh subjects, it’s because Leigh stands back in all his moral middle class rectitude and subtly passes judgement on all his lower class heroes and heroines, secretly sneering at their stupidity, their lack of insight, their caricature lives.

I’m never sure, because I don’t read about the man’s work, whether he doesn’t realise he’s doing this or whether it’s because he thinks we’re so fucking stupid we won’t notice that he’s really Outraged of Brighton getting his jollies out of correcting the universe by parading the poor and the mad as he wants us to see them.

His trademarks and ‘style’ are not unique. Anywhere you find such ‘intellectual’ lolling in the quagmires of the ignorant – like reality TV shows; their poor cousins –you will find the same shit going on: the ‘characters’ are always caricatures, screaming hysterics, the over-the-top lunatic fringe. Just as the shopping-addicted chavs who can’t control their children in Supernanny, or the OCD filthy who can’t keep the excrement off their shower curtains in How Clean is Your House? are always bizarrely ‘stupid’ and/or completely lacking in self-awareness so are the dramatis personae characterised in the work of Mike Leigh or in films such as Bronson.

Bronson, of course, is that more dangerous species of animal. It’s alluringly seductive with that delicious veneer of ‘Theatre’, that gloss of MTV rock video that makes it so edgy, so now. It appears even to “glorify” (where have I heard that before?) its subject. In Bronson, he is lovingly photographed, repeatedly naked, so we can see the raw majesty of the man (look at what a lumpen brute, ape-thing he is – yum). His violence is orchestrated to opera so we can see the tragic quality of his rage, the sheer grandeur of his aggression (look, it’s just like ballet and we get to see that thuggery in slow, slow motion. Let’s rewind.). His explanations of the reasons for his biblical ‘fall’ are limited to two throw-away sentences because he has too much dignity, he is a warrior (oh, who cares how he got that way? We just wanna see him fight, because we daren’t.) How kind the director was to involve him, his family, in the making of the film. How respectful. (We got to rub shoulders with a famous criminal. And his family’s so dumb and greedy they won’t notice we’ve done nothing but show him as a fame-hungry moron without a thought in his pea-sized brain.)

It’s so beautiful as a movie, so poetic, so artistic. Oh, how many sins we can cover with ‘artistic’. What a lovely word it is. God bless the man who first invented it. Even the director, Nicolas Winding Refn, in the ‘Making Of’ said the film is really about how a man discovers his Art. Yes, we’ve just watched 90 minutes of a beefed-up Tom Hardy, naked in blackface (yes, honestly), beating the shit out of everybody and anybody, while saying nothing very much, but all of it cryptic, to discover a man’s inner artist. We know that because there were pencils involved. Oh, and a pan round an art room with a handful of ‘tortured’ drawings. And a fag art teacher from Liverpool, of course, that Bronson just had to hold hostage. But he painted him like something out of Magritte, so that was okay.

Oh, these zany outsider artists – don’t you just love their naïve charm? Who cares why he didn’t just go to art school, or maybe an evening class, or just pick up a fucking pen, or what made him waste his whole life in solitary confinement for trivial almost non-crimes. Not me, I’m watching his penis sway in slow motion as he beats up pigs in full riot gear. Awesome.

After all, Bronson himself (he’s a real-life criminal; really should have pointed that one out sooner) wrote in his autobiography (assumably) that his parents had been ordinary ‘middle class respectable folk’, so why waste time considering that they might not have been? He’s happy with it, why not us? Except when you see his mother and cousin in the ‘Making Of’, even in their thirty brief seconds of air time you can see they look far from respectable, or middle class. They look like what they are, scrubbers that would appear on Jerry Springer, if they only came from Texas.

In short, there’s a story in this man’s life somewhere, it just isn’t in this film. What is in this film is a disturbing and disquieting portrait of the man who made it. And while that’s probably true of a lot of art, it’s more transparently so here.

And this is where it all becomes really offensive to me. When you go to see Terminator, or Die Hard, or a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie you know what you’re getting: the same stripped-off males kicking ass, in the same stylised slo-mo way, only minus the arty shots and the slowwwwwwwwwwww dialogue, such as it is. What you’re not getting with these action movies is some hypocritical ‘portrait’ of a real man. For all their alleged ‘popcorn entertainment’ and ‘cartoon violence’ they do not offer up a real human life as cheap entertainment for middle-class boys who are too chicken-shit to take a pair of pants back to M&S, never mind star in a bare-knuckle fight, so that they can get their strangely homosexual rocks off at some chunk of male stupidity doing the equivalent of hitting his head off the prison bars because he’s some poor thwarted soul who’s so afraid of who he really is he’s created a screaming, raging monster to represent himself in the hope that other men will admire him, or at least be thrown off the scent of what he really is inside – be that gay, artistic, ‘sensitive’ or just plain different.

I fail to see how this exploitation of others’ misfortune, their squalid little lives, differs from parading around the viewing gallery at Bedlam, watching the man who thinks he is a cat catching mice and eating them live, or following the woman who thinks she is giving birth to Jesus squatting and taking a turnip top out her vagina. Just because we’ve scored the raging beast to music, with his desperate, needy permission, does not alter the fact that we are essentially watching a man destroy himself, and instead of either showing that for what it is, a tragic and futile waste, or giving us some insight into it, we parade it as a form of peep-show: we strip him naked, oil him up, paint his body; we lock him in bars, tiny cells, ugly places, so that we can watch his suffering more minutely; we set him against an endless stream of caricature effeminate males so that his gladiatorial magnificence will be even more pointed; we bloody him up and beat him up and lock him up; we give him music, lights, theatre; we put him firmly centre-stage with the expensive lions we brought from Abyssinia and for which we can charge all the plebs an extra ten Sestertii because, after all, how often do they get see a dangerous beast like Bronsonus Maximus stripped-off, growling and roaring like one of said big cats? Oh the nobility, the grandeur.

And when he dies, when one of the expensive felines mauls him to death, we can go home in comfort and ease, knowing it was what he wanted. He wanted to be a famous gladiator, a warrior. It was nothing to do with us being greedy for gore and aggression, for rebellion and insurgence, and him being poor and ignorant, a slave in a system he can’t beat or rise above. It was nothing to do with him having no other way out of his squalor, his captivity, his gaol. No, he is a naked wonderful man-beast and we love him for it.

Bronson. Certificate 18. At a cage cinema near you……… Widgets

In Praise of Paedophilia

Paedophilia. What’s not to like? It should be glorified. Why defend yourself against it? Let your appreciation for child-love out, that’s what I say. Think about it for two minutes. If we didn’t love children what would happen to the planet? It would die out. You can’t expect adult women, with their limited fertility, to keep popping children – other than as a supply for paedophiles, of course. No, young blood, that’s what we need.

Children are sexual creatures. They just are. I remember being sexual from a very early age. At least six, if not younger. Never did me any harm. And look at all the friendly uncles you get to meet. If we didn’t have friendly uncles as children how would we learn to suck up as adults? Sucking lessons are about the only useful thing we learn in life. Getting down on your knees and doing it for the man will get you through many job interviews later – and lead to those vital promotions to help you through life.

Or how about taking it up the arse? Don’t tell me that’s not useful. It teaches you humility for one. Without being regularly ass-fucked how would you learn how to give sexual pleasure to others without having any yourself? Plus, for women, it encourages you to support the general consensus that your body is a sort of penis-sheath: primarily intended to give pleasure rather than to receive it. Isn’t that the ultimate goal for womanhood: sacrifice? It’s empowering, enriching and fulfilling. And so fashionable in the current return of women to their womanly values.

And as for romance. Who says paedophilia is not romantic? It’s the classic older man/younger woman scenario. It teaches women yet again that older men always know best what you want and when you want it. It teaches us to depend on them, to defer to them, to be meek and mild – surely useful characteristics for any woman?

But what of boys who get their mentoring from paedophiles? Let’s not overlook them; let’s not be blinded by gender.

Like women, men can learn a lot on their knees – they too need to learn to take it from the man. They too will be shafted by life; might as well learn it sooner rather than later. Additionally, it gives men a useful insight into homosexuality (assuming our paedophile is a man) that can only help to round them out as people. Then when they meet homosexuals later in life, or become one themselves, they can make sense of their history in a way that men who have not been ‘molested’ (what a judgemental word!) cannot.

But the most important thing about paedophilia is that it helps the family stay together. And so many modern day critics bemoan the loss of the family values that used to make Britain great. Paedophilia, like incest, is predominantly carried out within the family. Indeed, so commonly do these two things go together that they are almost the same thing. Paedophilia = incest. Think how families benefit from this. Think of Josef Friztl who kept his daughter locked in the basement then fucked the progeny of his daughter. (Did he? I don’t think so. But who cares? He should have.)

He was anti-social, a little strange. Who else would have loved him? He was Teutonic, fierce, a disciplinarian, a man who had morals, standards. He was out of synch with modern life, which has no real appreciation of the nuclear family. Josef knew how to hold it together – paedophilia and incest. Fuck your daughter, lock her in the basement then fuck your grandchildren. It keeps the father firmly as head of the household and the women where they should be, in the basement practicing childcare. Everybody knows their role, and discipline is maintained. I cannot for the life of me see why people would object to that. Isn’t it what we all want; more discipline? A return to family values?

And where does this modern taste for ‘honesty’ get us, this ‘outing’ of child sex offenders? Disaffected children with a chip on their shoulders complaining about their priests, shopping their uncles, betraying the old family friend. How does that help the fabric of society? Families are broken up by these ‘truth’-spouting little madams with their accusations and their attention-seeking cries of ‘Abuse!’ Careers are ruined. Mothers put years and years of energy into maintaining the status quo in these families. Look at the most recent case of strangled little Stacey Lawrence and her suicidal ‘dad’ Darren Walker. There may have been ‘sexual touching’, the police say. So what? What harm would that have done? In fact, had we not all had this politically correct nonsense about paedophilia in our heads, poor Darren might not have hung himself. Stacey’s mother meanwhile has candidly confessed that she did not believe he posed “any threat” to her daughter: “Stacey’s mum Roxanne said she had no reason to believe Walker would harm her.”

He had lived with her for some years. He was a long-term partner. Yes, “Walker had been cautioned over domestic violence against his estranged wife back in 2006 and may have a history of violence”, but why would that lead Stacey’s mum to wonder about him or whether he had any paedophile tendencies? Would it worry you if your partner had been a wife beater? Not at all. It’s manly, and he was probably provoked. After all, Josef Fritzl’s wife had no idea her kidnapped adult daughter was living with a brood of children in a basement complex extensive enough to support the life of four people for 24 years. Even when Josef kept turning up with abandoned children that had been “left on his doorstep” she still didn’t twig. You might be tempted to think this is naivety taken to ‘profoundly stupid’ or even ‘deliberately stupid when it suits her’ levels, but it isn’t. It’s loyalty. Good old-fashioned loyalty that more women would do well to emulate.

Women like Stacey’s mum. She realises that a history of violence is not an indicator of violence now, and that any paedophile tendencies are nothing to concern yourself over. As long as your child makes the right noises at the right times, seems normal, relax. Men, in particular, have been practicing paedophilia for a very long time and, in spite of modern distaste for it, they will go on practicing it for a long time to come.

Stacey’s mum is not to blame, and neither is Darren. Stacey’s mum knows the value of family. She knows having a man, a father-figure, is the most important thing in a child’s life (and it makes her feel good about herself as a woman) and a little paedophilia just strengthens the bond. After all, a family that sleeps together stays together. It is us, the prudish and censorious public, that creates disasters like this.

If we hadn’t been so ready to stand in judgement of poor Darren and his all-too-natural impulses, both he and little Stacey might be alive now. We should be ashamed, and poor Roxanne should be supported in her hour of need; she was only trying to keep her family together at all costs. You would have done the same. And probably do.

Paedophilia is biologically driven, an imperative men can’t resist. As girls mature earlier and earlier and wear more and more sexual clothing at younger ages how can we expect men to do differently? Girls want to be loved and they want to be taught about loving by knowledgeable men. Why do we punish men for doing what they do best? They have a wealth of sexual knowledge to share, love to give, and yet we deny them the youth and beauty of small children, lovely teenagers, pubescent nymphets who will never be that beautiful and unspoilt again. What woman does not want to look back on her childhood and say “I gave my virginity up to my Dad”, the man who loves her most, who wants the best for her?

I know I do.

Yes, I glorify paedophilia – and incest. It’s what the world needs. There should be more of us. More Darrens and more Roxannes. An end to this political correctness. An end to harsh judgements. Paedophilia is here to stay, and I, for one, welcome it. Especially if it helps me sell more books.

Me Andy, You Jane…

Pity the poor for all the good we do them. There they are, trying to live their lives with whatever half-starved emotional poverty they have, while all the while, over their shoulders, there lurks goodness.

Can you imagine what it must be like to have so much goodness coming at you?

I’ve had a lot of goodness recently. From the other end, of course. I’ve been learning to be good. Or trying to. And it’s been hard.

I lasted around three weeks, that’s how not good at being good I was, but hey, I tried. What good have you done recently?

The reason I gave up trying to be good was Andy.

Andy had not quite a goatee beard, more a tuft of gingery blonde under his lower lip. Andy had a kind of rumpled trendiness that indicated ‘bed-head gel’. Andy frowned a lot. Andy had a particularly nice heavyweight chain on one wrist – big thin rounded links; unusual, kind of expensive-looking. It had more than a hint of a folk-rock thing going on, along with the rumpled, casual charm, that was about as deep as a mosquito pond. That’s a puddle to you and I.

I just couldn’t warm to Andy. There, the truth is out. It was nothing specific, it was an attitude. One of those growing ones that kept leaping into the conversation with a lot of tics and posturings.

Andy was one of those people who kind of rides a conversation to see where it will take him. Who rides you, rather like you were a dolphin in a Good Earth theme park and he was going to commune with you, read your spirit.

Andy didn’t like me.

It wasn’t immediate – oh, no – it was one of those growing sneaky things where you just know it’s taken a wrong turn but you can’t exactly pinpoint why.

Andy had pounced on me in the reception. He’d wandered out there with no intention of interviewing me – although my appointment had actually been booked with him – spotted me and suddenly he was all smiles. He “might as well” see me, “don’t disturb Jane.” Oh, it was “no bother”. In I went.

You would think with this promising start – surely, sexual attraction from a man ten years my junior – that I was in but good. Not so.

I always see these moments, frozen in time, and wonder what happens to that alchemy. What happened in the bright little synapses of Andy’s brain? From the moment he wandered out into reception, did a double-take and decided that the appointment he’d just brushed off was now ‘okay’ – in the most nonchalant way possible, of course – what leapt into his head?

How did he see me? What did he see? How did he think this would play out?

Who knows? He thought what he thought, but what we do know is somewhere between the cup and the lip there was a slip.

Was it something I said?

Hell, yes. Isn’t it always? And isn’t it my job, as a woman, to find out what that is? If something went wrong, I must have done something to cause it. God forbid he should be at fault. That wouldn’t help his ego any.

What could it have been? Let me see………

Well, there was my assertion that he only thought Orkney was a great place to live because he’d never lived there. Turned out his wife had taken him there for his last birthday and he’d loved it. When he said he loved Celtic history so Orkney was nirvana I think I looked unconvinced, maybe even dryly amused. Funny little man. Certainly there was banter. At one point he said something about enjoying the island’s grey landscape and bad weather and I quipped, “Do you suffer much with this depressive thing?”

Hey, I was joking, but there was a little silent voice in there that was whispering, “Not good, Chancery. Not good.”

Oddly, although that first interview went well enough, it didn’t feel well enough. There was the fact that I couldn’t remember my phone number. I don’t think he found that very funny or endearing. The fact that I told him I never phone myself, or that my partner went everywhere with me so I never bothered to remember it, did not seem to make me any cuter either. You’d think it would be no big deal – so I don’t remember my phone number, I promised to deliver it – but I could feel that ticking, just under the surface, out of sight. She’s a kook. Who doesn’t remember their own phone number?

But it wasn’t because I was a kook, not really. All was revealed – eventually.

Over the weekend I had to fill in a rush application form, we had to take passport size photos and make them look plausible – thus saving £4, for which I am truly thankful in light of future events. I had to walk into town and post my application – with my phone number written on the outside, like a good girl – through their office letter box on the Bank Holiday Monday.

I was set. I had an interview time and date. I had no idea why since I thought I’d already done an interview, but if I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s that people need their procedures.

And Tuesday, Real Interview Day rolls round. I walk into town on the wettest day of the year. By the time I get there I am soaked to the skin. The rain has gone through my cagoule and I’m sure I’ve got panda eyes. I get to wait in the vestibule since they’ve still got another interviewee with them. Good, I mop up as best I can with paper hankies. I dry my jewellery, the back of my neck. I wipe under my eyes hoping like hell I don’t have runny mascara.

Eventually I go in. Notably, the person who comes out and gets me is the other co-ordinator, Jane, the one I’ve never met, who Andy had fobbed my appointment off onto that first day, then reclaimed it when he saw me. Maybe if Jane had interviewed me that first day I’d be in a whole different place right now. But then again, the way Andy’s ego is running his brain I seriously doubt it.

I go through to the same board room I met Andy in the first time, and there he is, still tufty, tousled and bedecked with silver. Andy looks at me and he’s very serious. My fine female brain, highly-tuned to pick up unhappy male signals, immediately spots Andy is not happy.

This makes my slight anxiety worse. Much worse. I sit down and make some nervous quip about said panda eyes, seeking reassurance that my face is in fact intact. This is met with blankness at first then a distinct lack of hilarity from Andy who obviously considers me frivolously obsessed with my looks. Already my sixth sense is telling me this is a disaster. I feel as if I’m about to fight an unfightable corner. And God, my instincts are good.

Andy displays such stereotypical body language you could be forgiven for thinking he read a book on it before he left the house. Andy doesn’t meet my eyes. When he does he either looks away or fixes me with an angry penetrating gaze as if to say, Say that again. His tone and attitude is challenging – and I’m being nice to him here. He repeatedly sits back in his chair with one arm hung over the back. It’s tantamount to picking excrement off the bottom of his cage and chucking it at me. If he could have jumped on the table and screeched at me he’d have done it.

It takes very little time till Andy dives right into what’s bothering him. “How long do you think it would take you to decide if the job was right for you?” he asks cunningly.

I, naïve to the nth and desperate to convince him of my sincerity, say, “Oh, I’d know straight away. Not more than two or three visits, tops. I wouldn’t keep a kid hanging on if it was wrong.”

OH GOD, NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If there was a planet for saying the wrong thing I’d be queen of it. So not the right answer. And the irony is, I was only saying it to convince him that I wouldn’t mess about with a vulnerable child’s life. In actuality, if my pairing had been wrong I’d have done one visit, tops, and if I thought it might work I’d have kept going until it did work, or die trying. But it’s too late now, I’m done for. Of course, as this is in the heat of competition, I’m floundering. I know I’ve committed an enormous blunder but I HAVE NO IDEA WHY.

He’s shaking his head before the sentence is even out my mouth. His lips are pursed. He’s looking down at my application form and leaning back in his chair with his arm over the back – all at once. What the fuck have I said?

I find out soon enough. Andy gives me a very serious dressing down. All that was missing was a finisher of how I had let the academy down and they were going to strip me of my rank.

After that it was all downhill. Nothing I could say could fix it. I found myself wading into blind alleys, trying to explain my feelings, while Andy’s mouth got tighter than Calista Flockhart’s anus. Tighter, tighter, tighter it went. Now he never looked at me at all. He stared at the table and listened to all my answers as if he could hear encoded messages of evil.

I, of course, talked almost entirely to Jane, so that we had: Andy fires accusation question at Chancery, Chancery delivers answer to Jane, Jane smiles, scribbles on her notes, Angry Andy scowls harder and fires off next accusation question. Now he not only has a dilettante weirdo who doesn’t even know her own phone number, but she patently doesn’t respect his authority. Remember, it wasn’t him who came out to get me in the foyer. There’s a pecking order here, and instead of me being crushed by his condemnation of dubious uncommitted carers like me, I’m trying to win over the next-best bet – Jane.

It wasn’t deliberate. I was just desperately trying to convince the only person at that table – and I’m including myself in this – that I have good intentions here, even if I’m not expressing them very well.

But if I’d been Chaucer, Shakespeare and Gandhi in one delicious package I couldn’t have saved myself. It turns out that right before me they have had two carers walk out on them, both after less than two visits. Gosh, exactly the figure I’d named. I have, in effect, made myself one of those women. I am irredeemable.

What’s worse, inside, a tiny, tiny part of me is fuming. How dare this cocky tufted little asswipe sit here, with his holier-than-thou attitude, throwing blame around like the Queen of fucking Sheba? What the hell is his problem? How in the name of al that’s holy can it be my fault he’s had two carers walk out on him? Maybe that’s an indicator there’s something wrong with his selection process. Maybe – here’s a thought – he picks them by wandering out into reception and seeing which one he fancies. Maybe he’s such an arrogant little cocksucker, with a such an overweening God complex, he thinks we’re all his fucking disciples and I ought to wash his feet.

Needless to say (sigh) I do not say any of this. Being a woman, and worst of all, me, I am unable to do anything but flounder, digging deeper and deeper, feeling the disapproval come across the table at me in waves.

Eventually it’s over. I am almost in tears when I leave. Part of me wants to grovel apologies for my failure to please and I am, literally, inches away from it at the door when Jane (surprise!) shows me out. She’s nice, chatting away, trying to make me feel better. I have no proof of this, and it may simply be that he was so obnoxious she seemed shiny in comparison, but my gut says she was feeling sorry for how hard I had tried to win Dad over. Because, let’s face it, that’s what I was doing. That’s what every woman who went in there does. That’s what Andy likes, and why he does the job. Rub my saintly ego. Ohhhh, rub it harder.

Although he has speeches about caring for children so off-rote you’d think they were tenets of a new religion, the real religion in there is the cult of Andy. And behold, it is good.

I run off into the night and am so upset that I finally do start crying, so badly I scare Max, who misses an art class to comfort me. I feel beyond stupid. Crying is not my natural state of being – although you wouldn’t know it to see me this year. Quitting will do that to you – I warn you now.

I cry all the way home (that’s forty-five minutes, folks). I cry at home. I cry and cry and cry.

I’m getting a hurt vibe, here. Something in me is wounded. No shit, Sherlock, and it would take way too long to explain all the nasty family dynamics I think were at play here, but slowly, surely, when my contempt for myself and how low and horrible and stupid I am passes, I begin to see Andy. Yes, there he is, the real Andy. The Andy that somehow changed halfway through my first interview. The Andy that never found a single one of my quips funny, despite being a hip kind of guy. The Andy who never took anyone to or from the foyer, despite being the same rank as Jane. The Andy who went completely off the deep-end, blaming me for two of his carers leaving that week as if I had personally recruited them and defiled his temple. The Andy who needed to pet and sulk and pout to show his displeasure and who hated being ‘ignored’. The Andy who shouted the odds about the children’s care while all along I got this feeling that really this ‘betrayal’ was about him. It was all about him. I’d just been so busy beating myself up for not being a good enough prospective parent I didn’t see it.

And this, my friend, is what the poor get. Andy is what we think they deserve. Andy runs a voluntary organisation called Befriend a Child. Andy was interviewing me to be a volunteer. Andy is what happens to you when your parents don’t love you or beat you up or fuck you. Andy finds someone to befriend you so that you won’t be utterly alone. Andy does this by running a tight ship, with him as Captain Bligh. This means that Andy gets antsy if people don’t know their phone numbers; Andy makes all the jokes, which are never at his expense; Andy takes and drops appointments as a show of casual power, and, best of all, Andy gets to kick the dog when someone lets him down. I was that dog and, like a dog, I well and truly took my kicking.

Except, of course, after I stopped joining in I wrote him – and his boss – an email wherein I told them what I thought Andy’s histrionics were really about. And then I wrote this blog, putting in all the special stuff I missed out the e-mail.

Andy hasn’t yet learned there’s more than one way to give to the poor – and this is mine. It’s good to share.

Mary Bell, Monster

I’ve been reading about child murderers. Not because I’m warped – which I am – but because I read about Mary Bell recently (in How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World by Francis Wheen), and I couldn’t remember the case.

But I do now.

After an evening spent reading about Jon Venables & Robert Thompson and Mary and Norma Bell I felt like topping myself. So although I had intended to write a blog that same night it took me two days to do it. And here it, finally, is.

But first, before we get into the whys and wherefores of murderous children – how many of you have seen this? AMAZON BANS CHANCERY STONE (and others) YET AGAIN! I knew they’d finally do a news story about me in The Guardian (and on Yahoo).

Oh bless them, Amazon, what a dull life I’d have without them. Yes, Amazon decided to purge lots of ‘dirty’ books from its site/s. Allegedly this was an ‘accident’, but somehow it was all gay, lesbian and erotica books. Perversely, it was How to Write the Perfect Novel that disappeared from mine (why?) but all my rankings disappeared. Slowly but surely they’ve come back, except for DANNY V1. That seems to still be being treated as “erotica” and therefore not worthy of a ranking.

I’m not quite sure what Amazon thinks denying erotica rankings achieves. Perhaps it helps dirty middle-aged American religious fundamentalists to buy porn without anyone knowing it. Or it helps them to think that porn doesn’t sell. Or, God forbid, it stops the world of publishing from being shown up by erotica sales figures that shame all the Booker winners. We nay never know.

No doubt we’ll have a six month running battle of endless e-mails trying to get it reinstated. But just think, if it hadn’t been for Gore Vidal and his like finding their books chopped off at the knees no-one would have batted an eye. Such is the might of being part of the ‘literary establishment’.

So, child murderers. Oh, a nasty, nasty subject. Does sordid murder get any more sordid?

Child murderers hold a special horror for the public. It’s that moral quandary: when the murderer is ten how do you hound him (or her) to death without looking like a monster yourself? Tricky.

One of the documentaries I watched on the subject had a snippet taken of a radio phone-in. There, someone was advocating – perfectly seriously – that the boys (it was the Bulger case) should be allowed to grow up and then be hung. No torture or inhumanity there then. Eight years in a juvenile remand home waiting to be hung. Lovely. It’s the kind of well-thought out approach to social problems that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside – and glad to be human.

But one of the most noticeable things about my – entirely accidental –comparison study between the cases of Mary Bell and that of Venables & Thompson (V&T from now on) is the absence of hysteria. That this is a change in media reporting is very apparent when you consider that Mary Bell was really a serial killer (she killed two boys), compared to V&T who only had one victim. Additionally, it’s open to debate whether V&T set out to kill Bulger, but Bell definitely set out to kill hers. In fact, she’d throttled children before. It was just a matter of time before she crossed that line to killing one.

So why was the outrage so much more for V&T? Easy, the papers. After all, it was a gift-horse. Two young thugs purposefully kidnap a toddler to bludgeon him to death. You couldn’t wish for a better headline for a wet Monday.

In Bell’s case the public were struggling to get their head around a child murderer in the first place (it was 1968). In V&T’s case we were all already well-inured to the fact that eight year-olds rob, mug, rape and kill.

Of course, they actually don’t. The reason why outlandish tales of nightmarish youth make it to your papers is not because of moral rot in Britain but because they’re unusual. Kids still don’t normally kill each other. Except in America, where the availability of guns – and the hysterical climate of fear – makes it too easy.

But none of this is really what interests me. What interests me about child murderers is what’s missing. It’s always what’s missing for me. Something I share in common with John Waters, although probably not to the same psychopathic degree, is an unhealthy fascination with murderers.

Of course, I consider them my soul mates – a ‘there by the grace of God go I’. But like anyone else, I often find them mystifying. To me they are the ultimate story told backwards. Really we meet murderers at the end of their lives. I’m not talking Death Row here – although that’s literal in many places – but in terms of their development. They have reached the logical trajectory of their life’s path, the point of no return. I’m not talking destiny, but the inevitability of action/reaction. Karma, if you want to call it that. I personally think it’s much more scientific than that, but I’m in a minority of one – the rest of the world is running along shouting, “Born evil! It’s in their genes. They’re just bad” etc, etc.

But whenever I read about murderers, especially serial killers and the dysfunctional ones (not death in fights and other crimes of passion), I am always struck by what is missing in their stories.

I often read accounts where huge chunks of the person’s life is skipped over as if it is not relevant, or even as if it didn’t happen. It’s not uncommon to read “X’s family broke up and he never knew his father”, or “Y grew up in a series of foster homes” and then they go on to catalogue their vile crimes in breathtaking detail.

Who cares why they did it, just bring us the horror. But you do get accounts that detail family history, give reasons, occasionally even quote the criminal on his crime: “God told me to do it. He sent me a hammer to avenge my dog.”

But there’s always a mass missing, like the iceberg under the water. And it’s this missing story, the interesting stuff, that jumps out at you with child murderers. It’s much harder, as I’ve said, for the public to condemn ten year olds as born evil – although they do – and it forces us to look into their lives to find motives, reasons. Additionally, unlike adult killers, they generally have parents right there, in situ, no getting away from them and their influence.

I think it’s this aspect of child murderers that really upsets the public. It’s not the incomprehension of a murdering child, it’s having your guilt shoved in your face.

In the Bulger case there was a lot of it to go round. There was the Liverpool 38 for starters. That was how many people met James Bulger being dragged around Liverpool for two and a half hours, bruised, bleeding and crying on that long trek to the railway line where he was finally battered to death. 38 adults met all three doomed children and did and said nothing. Why should they? Not their business. Never was, never is.

In a way, of course, the Liverpool 38 helped. It gave the public something to focus on – it was their fault. How could they be so inhuman? But Jon Venables used to demolish class-rooms, choke other children, roll on the school-room floor, hide under his desk, batter his head off walls. Nothing amiss there then. Probably just too much sugar.

Robert Thompson was even worse. He was quiet and well-behaved in class. Cowed even, giving nothing away. No wonder no-one saw anything there. The hell with the fact that his mother was an alcoholic and his absent father had, when he’d lived there, beaten his wife and his children and sexually abused them. His six brothers also did the same, forming a chain of bullying that ran down to him. His home was described by a social worker as “appalling”, and this was before he’d killed anyone. One of his siblings had actually gone and asked to be fostered. Do you grasp how desperate that child must have been, to approach the enemy and ask for help? When they put him back in his house he attempted suicide. I wonder why? Thompson’s mother and two of his siblings had failed suicide attempts. Cheering stuff.

But although this ‘background’ detail turns up in accounts it’s never placed centre stage. That’s reserved for the victim’s torture, their wounds, their innocence, their lost life, their terrible, terrible pain. No-one seems to see the pain that has brought their pain home to roost. That pain we were all ignoring. Not our problem. Did Mary Bell, Thompson, Venables get up one morning in their tenth and eleventh years and decide, “Yep, today’s the day I become a serial killer. Toddlers look out, exported stress coming your way.”

There’s a tone of anything from downright disregard – “Who gives a fuck what their homes were like? Other people have bad homes but they know right from wrong.” (Yes, an actual quote from Youtube) – to politically correct apologies, “Their home lives were atrocious, but it doesn’t excuse their terrible calculated acts of violence.”

So what does? That’s what I’d like to see. That’s what’s missing from all these accounts, getting thinner and thinner on the ground as the criminals get older, harder, more fucked-up. What does excuse their behaviour? Nothing? That seems to be the implication – or sometimes the outright statement. Nothing excuses their behaviour.

Mary Bell’s mother was a prostitute. Her father was a petty thief. He was often away or in jail. Her mother would go to Glasgow (from Newcastle where they lived) for long stretches at a time doing her work as a dominatrix. When she was home she saw clients and shared her daughter with them, hiring her out for oral and anal sex from the age of five. Her mother was also a drunk and a drama queen who liked to star herself in the middle of traumas. Possibly as part of this, or possibly as a genuine murderous attempt, she gave deliberate overdoses to Mary three times nearly killing her. It’s conjectured that she may have had Munchausen’s Syndrome and may just have wanted the attention. But maybe not. Is it a leap to imagine that Mary learned how to throttle children from her mother? How may times did Mary’s mother ‘play’ at strangling her? Once a week? Nightly? Was it Mary’s bedtime ritual to either get fucked up the arse and/or throttled? Was that better than her mother leaving her alone in the house to fend for herself? Yes or no? Simple question. I’m sure you all have a simple answer.

These are the things we know about Mary Bell’s life. What don’t we know? But it still doesn’t justify her calculated slaughter of two tiny defenceless boys. No, and I imagine Betty Bell’s alcoholism and chosen career path doesn’t justify what she did to Mary either, but somehow that doesn’t count. It’s okay for Betty to have overdosed, tortured and fucked her kid as long as she didn’t actually kill her. Good to know.

After these children have had childhoods none of us could comprehend they then – dare I be inflammatory and say unsurprisingly? – become unhinged, abnormal, dysfunctional, trying to be sane in an insane world, and so they kill someone. For that they get more punishment and shame and are then incarcerated with other damaged souls – who can only be a good influence, of course. If they’re lucky they get to see a psychiatrist once a month/year. We do this to them for ten, twenty years then we let them out. But first they have to fight in the courts to stop themselves being hounded and killed by lynch mobs or their lives plastered all over the papers. Of course, as part of rejoining the fun ‘real’ world they have to read continually about their own ‘evil’ while their parents’ behaviour is entirely forgotten – indeed discounted: “She was a drunk, you’re a monster”. Just as we forget how society – us – completely and utterly failed to do even the most basic things for them. Nothing. Nada. That’s why they were driven to kill someone. The calculating evil little monsters.

So when do they get compassion? Who finally loves them? How do they earn it? When does the pain stop for them? Never?

Abso-fucking-loutely. Because they don’t deserve it. After all, they elected to be born into a family of paedophile murderous drunks, to spend every day violated, neglected, tortured, beaten, ignored, abandoned. What kid wouldn’t?

E.T.A. 15th April – Amazon have this morning restored my last sales ranking on DANNY V1. We sent them exactly one e-mail. That is the fastest Amazon has ever fixed anything in thier entire history. Notably, their e-mail to us merely said “resolved”. Oh dear, sounds like someone is scared they might put their foot in it again…