Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'Don't Wait for Me' and the Christmakah round-up

It's been a long week and I've basically been without wifi for most of the time. It's almost like missing a limb. How we all get so used to it and when it's not around, it's sorely missed! Yes, the internet... Apparently there are now people who are as addicted to 'going online' as others are to messin' around with drugs. Well, there you go...

Another year almost over and it's been interesting from this end. A lot's happened and one thing that I didn't think that I would ever do is to write a blog. Hope that some of it has been interesting and thought provoking. I'll try to replicate it in 2009. Guess that there will be much to write about...

I'll find out at the end of the month as to how many copies of my book I have sold. It's difficult to know. Really hope that it's been semi-successful. Another thing that I also didn't think that I would ever do is to get up in front of people and talk to them about a book and about my experiences with mental illness and drugs. It's been an intense learning curve and I'm surprised just how much I have learned from this particular experience. It's on-going and I've a number of other dates coming up where I shall be talking again.

What is extraordinary if one compares the end of 2008 to 2007 is the tragic state of the economy now. We all knew that we were in some kind of bubble, where house prices were astronomical and bore no relevance to the bricks and mortar encapsulated and we knew that something was happening in the 'States vis a vis 'sub-prime', but what on earth did it mean? We certainly know now. What a shambles and it's one that our 'sub-prime-minister' appears unable to extricate himself - and the country - from. The fact that it was his government that lead us into this mess - during the very time that he was Chancellor of the Exchequeor, no less - does not cover him with glory. We can all but hope that he takes some good advice from someone - if someone does exist - to put us back on a road for recovery.

So - it's my last blog for the time being and I'll begin again in 2009. We've almost finished a decade of this century. Doesn't time just whizz by?

The good news is that 'Zach' is still well and looking good. His band is going to be recording their first demo in the New Year and they have a number of shows lined up. All good... Let's hope for the best for them.

To everyone who has bothered to read the blog so far: Have a happy and healthy Christmas/Channuka and a peaceful New Year.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

'Little Dorrit', Mr. Madoff and other peoples' greed

What extraordinary times we are living in! Every day something new appears to make our hair stand on end. Now it's the story of Mr. Madoff - Mr. Madeoff-with-lots-of money Madoff. I was talking to my sister in New York this afternoon. We were both astounded at the apparent lack of fiduciary 'nous' all these investors have had all these years. They've invested all their money with one man for seemingly unrealistic returns.

Unrealistic is the right word. It's all surreal. Extraordinary. What were they all thinking of? Where did they think that the money was coming from? I would have thought that Steven Spielberg and Elie Wiesel and HSBC and Santander could have employed independent FSA's in order to investigate that the fund that they were investing in was bona fide. Apparently they did not.

So my New York sister now relates how once were millionaires are now paupers. "There's going to be so many suicides..." she told me. "How can people sleep at night? We're now wealthier than them!" I suppose that there's some kind of irony in that. One of the most bizarre things is that Mr. Madoff belonged to so many golf clubs. Not so many years ago he wouldn't have been able to belong to one! Anyone ever seen 'Gentleman's Agreement'? Of course the nasty, vituperative, insidious comments are showing their faces on various websites. The Daily Mail especially. "Don't deal with the Chosen People" was how one correspondent sneeringly wrote. Charming.

And then there's Nicola Horlick spewing venom. She only invested 10% of her clients' money with Mr. Madoff-with-lots-of-other-peoples'-money. That's a lot of money. £21 million, at the last count. I thought that she was supposed to be clever too. At least that's what she tells everyone she is! So she was taken in?

It's interesting that when a little man makes a mistake with his taxes or there's perceived to be something fishy about the way that he conducts his business, that law and financial enforcers are on his doorstep at dawn but here, where there's $50 billion at stake, no questions were ever asked. The auditor was a seventy-eight year old retiree in Florida and the auditors' office was run by one man and a secretary. S e c r e t a r y... take that apart: doesn't 'secrecy' reside there somewhere?

Even more bizarre is the fact that I watched the last three episodes of the wonderful BBC production of Little Dorrit on the telly on Sunday afternoon. Cold, wet and positively frigid it was outside. I curled myself up in the corner of the settee, while it got darker and darker the closer we got to 3pm. What a surprise! Mr. Merdle was the Victorian embodyment of Mr. Madoff! Everyone was desperate to invest in his bank. Why? Because his interest rates were far higher than anyone else's. Of course the whole thing was a sham and when he knew he was going to be rumbled, he took himself off to the bath house, gobbled a good slug of Laudenam and slit his jugular with a pretty penknife. Maybe Mr. Madoff read only three-quarters of the book and got bored before the end.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Amy, Sharon, Woolies and the great technophobe

Isn't technology grand when it works? When it doesn't, as it hasn't done here for the past week, then all you want to do is throw the greatest strop and chuck the bloody thing out of the window!

I've had trouble since last Saturday with Broadband, or whatever it is. So far as I'm concerned, I want to get online when I want to. My laptop has developed a mind of its own and decides when and if it wants to connect, therefore creating within me the maniacal monster who just wants to scream and hissy fit around when I can't do what I want. I therefore realise that I'm addicted. Like so many others. I've not been able to post my blog or read my mail or keep up to date with Amy (nothing happening there. She's been in hospital for the past almost two weeks. I wonder why. No one seems to know but Sharon's still been blaming Blake and pretending that it's all his fault that Amy's a junkie. Yeah...)

Surprisingly people are still checking here, notwithstanding that nothing new's been put up. Sorry about that folks. Not that there's nothing happening outside these walls. Continual war in the Sudan, cholera in Zimbabwe - what an unblessed country; Chinese dissidents incarcerated into mental asylums, reflecting those long lost days of the Stalin era; recession, depressions and freezing fog. And finally the lovely Sharon, the head of Haringey social services, given her marching orders. She'll have to wait until she's of retirement age to claim her £1.5 million pension. Shame, poor love...

And it's back to the Christmas adverts but Woolworths have gone under and 25,000 are about to be made redundant and this government is still intent on throwing more money at the banks for them to sit on it like penguins and the markets remain stagnant. It just doesn't make sense to this technophobe, who had to spend three hours on the phone to various bods at the BT call centre in Chennai, waiting to receive instructions on how to get the connections working again. Thank goodness to the last guy, whose name I wasn't presented with at the beginning of the conversation that lasted over an hour, while he oh so patiently led me through each and every prompt and installation technique available to the common man. How do they know all this stuff? It all baffles me although, to my great merriment, he did in fact tell me that I'll be able to teach this stuff now myself! That's a laugh.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

The 'True Movies' of our times and Karen Matthews

What bizarre times we are living in. Some statistics state that, in this country alone, one child a day is being murdered by its carers. I don't know if I can really believe that. It seems to be too awful to be true. It certainly makes a mockery of the word 'carer'. In any event, I feel that that word is over-used in every context used by any organisations that have anything to do with people. Somewhat of an oxymoron, I believe. However, it's the end of 2008 and there's an influx of these tragic cases involving children. Last week it was 'Baby P'. This week another child in the same borough of Haringay who has suffered equally as badly as Baby P and today it's the verdict in the Shannon Matthews trial.

You have to ask yourself what kind of woman would use her own daughter as bait for the reward of something in the region of £50,000. Was that all that her daughter was worth to her? Does she have some kind of personality disorder? Or is it too easy to paint everyone who has the taint of evil with a psychological rationale for their unspeakable behaviour?

What kind of thoughts go through the head of an obviously not very bright woman, whereby she thinks that by having her daughter 'kidnapped' by an equally intellectually diminished boyfriend, she feels that she will be able to 'pull it off' without anyone seeing through her act? You have to hand it to her though, she certainly managed to appear the poor victim in this caper. How many 'True Life' movies has she watched, one wonders. Did she feel that she was the poor-man's yummy-mummy of the Maddy crowd?

The judge made the point that her repellent behaviour merits a long custodial sentence. I hope so but what will happen in the case of the mother of Baby P? The mother whose name is not blazened over the headlines and who, we are led to believe, will be given complete anonymity. Will she be given a long custodial sentence? After all, she actively murdered her child, along with the complicity of her boyfriend and her lodger. We are led to believe that no, she's not going to have very long behind bars because there's no proof that she actually carried out the deed herself and all by herself! So she'll get let out sooner rather than later and be spirited away so that no one knows who she is and where she is and she'll no doubt meet up with another loser, have more unwanted kids and repeat the offences yet again, while we the tax payer supply her with food, booze, unwanted contraception and accommodation.

And Karen Matthews? What will become of her? Looking at her already, she looks like a long term lag, far older than her thirty odd years. What will her sentence be? Ten years maybe? No doubt she'll have good access to any number of True Movies while she's in clink and will be able to spend a good deal of her waking hours day-dreaming about the not so far off day, when she's released on good behaviour, and another little oscar-winning performance.