If this is wrong I don’t want to be right

Dammit, I fell for it again! I just had to leave a comment under an article that was written especially to infuriate pet owners. Ah well, they probably won’t validate it so here it is:

What a rude article. Alexander McQueen left this money to his dogs to make sure they would be well looked after for the rest of their lives. I would do exactly the same thing; nothing to do with treating animals like people, it’s about acting responsibly towards helpless creatures that depend entirely on you. So it’s a large sum by the average person’s standards, big deal. He was a multi-millionaire, it’s peanuts to him! You even mention he left the bulk of his huge fortune to charity, the BULK, but it’s still not good enough, is it? You just can’t please some people. As for the famine in Somalia, when is there not a famine/drought/civil war/genocide somewhere in Africa? The continent is a bottomless pit that has already absorbed billions in aid, and still they’re dying! It is ridiculous to blame pet owners for this, and beyond insulting to call them inhuman. What about parents who buy their kids tons of overpriced plastic every Christmas? Are they human?

Islands in the stream, that is what we are…

School colour-codes pupils by ability – Guardian worries about segregation

First of all, I am amused at the picture: it just so happens that the boy in the purple tie (which tells us he’s in the ‘gifted and talented’ stream) is black, whereas the other two (average and thicko streams) are white. I don’t believe for one second that this state of affairs was engineered by the Guardian photographer for subliminal propaganda reasons. Nope, I don’t. Nuh-huh.

Second, can I take this opportunity to point out how much I HATE the American-invented label giftedandtalented.


“But Murphy says that without setting, the school wouldn’t have survived. He says that he has heard of other schools using different colour uniforms to mark different “houses”

Duh, everyone has! It’s a well-known fact that Gryffindors wear red, Slytherins…


“Courtney cites famous research conducted by American teacher Jane Elliott in the 60s, in which blue-eyed children did better and began bullying brown-eyed children after being told that they were superior.”

What’s that got to do with streaming in schools? I didn’t realise having blue eyes depended on academic results. Just how stupid are these people? As for the bullying issue, maybe that’s why children in different streams are kept separate from each other, genius.

Anyway, ‘scientists’ in the Sixties and Seventies breastfed chimpanzees and believed introducing children to sex was pedagogic. Who gives a shit about their experiments.

I personally have no problem with streaming in schools (even though this particular example  sounds a bit more extreme than most); quite frankly I would have loved to have experienced it. It doesn’t exist in France (it’s elitist! It’s against equality! Horror of horrors!) so for my entire school career I had every single lesson with my whole class (on average 30 people).

It certainly didn’t make for the best learning environment. I was very good at languages and was therefore bored out of my mind as the teachers repeated the same old information a million times. I was abysmally crap at maths and physics and was therefore bored out of my mind as I rarely understood what was going on – even after having the same old information repeated a million times. Talk about a lose-lose situation.

But what’s more important here? Politics and ideologies or allowing pupils to reach their full potential? Do I really want to know the answer? Hmmm.

And then I read the first sentence of the first comment, and now I want to kill.

“Nice to see apartheid is alive and well in the UK education system.”

Nice to see Guardian readers are easily as stupid and blinkered as the Daily Mail readers they despise so much.

And since I’m on a (maki) roll, here’s another Guardian article for your enjoyment:

Sushi is yummy. Discuss

That’s right, I managed to find something to rant about in a article on sushi. You’ll see.

You might have noticed that China is quite trendy at the moment. Everyone is talking about it, inspired by it and going there on holiday. Well, not so long ago, it was Japan that was the red-hot destination and source of all things cultural, from manga to food. Hence the unstoppable rise of sushi. But poor old Japan has since suffered a few setbacks and been replaced in the hearts of the western world by its ancient enemy. That must have hurt.

It cannot be a coincidence that the remake of The Karate Kid is now set in China, with the kid in question learning kung fu from Mr Han. Mr Miyagi and his boring old karate are so 20 years ago…

We still love sushi of course but it seems to have become acceptable to sneer at all things Japanese, in the Guardian at least:

“Japanese sushi restaurants are sexist to an extent that would appal most westerners.”

Actually, most of us already know that Japan is, generally speaking, an extremely patriarchal society. Don’t go all bandwagon-jumping feminist on us now.

“The traditional ones discourage single women from dining in them altogether.”

Oops, too late. Anyway, single Japanese women are discouraged from getting too independent in all sorts of ways. I think sushi restaurants are the least of their worries. Things are slowly changing however.

“And an idiotic belief persists that women have warmer hands than men and thus might somehow the spoil fish by handling it.”

The Japanese do have many weird beliefs but then so do we. Isn’t the word “idiotic” a bit strong and, let’s say the word, judgmental for the Guardian? Huh?

“But so much [sushi-eating] etiquette, as with codes of wine drinking and matching, is based on an inferiority complex and designed to exclude. It’s best skimmed, selected from and mostly discarded.”

WTF Guardian? Is this how you respect other cultures and traditions? Bet you wouldn’t say that about an African custom you didn’t understand! Bet you wouldn’t say that about the burqa. Go on, I dare you.

“So began the infamous annihilation of this fish [tuna] and the shameful reluctance of the Japanese to stem its destruction.”

Yup, because we in the West don’t overfish at all, ever. I suggest you have a word with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. He writes for the Guardian too, you know.

A smear on my reputation

I really, really dislike being almost bullied into having a smear test every time I come anywhere near an NHS health professional.

For a start, I find everything to do with sexual health sexist and unequal: only today, when I filled the form to register with my new GP, there was a section entitled “If You’re Female” containing all sorts of personal questions I might not necessarily want a receptionist to see, like

Have you ever had a miscarriage?
Have you ever had a termination?
What contraception do you use?
When was your last smear test? (Bingo! Didn’t take long, did it?)

All this stuff is (or should be) confidential medical information which should remain between me and the doctor or nurse, not on a form that could be lying on the reception desk for hours. Funnily enough, the form contained no “If You’re Male” section asking questions such as

Have you ever experienced erectile dysfunction?
Have you ever had trouble urinating due to prostate problems?
When was the last time you examined your testicles?
Etc, etc.

Not long after I registered with the surgery at my old address – a surgery I avoided as much as possible after my first visit, due to the incredibly dopey middle-aged Indian reception staff who’d routinely ask me to spell my (very normal) surname five times in a row and would still get it wrong, not to mention the verbally abusive doctor because I dared to go to a private specialist! – the nurse suddenly asked me (I was there for a totally unrelated matter) “When was your last smear test?”

Now, I’d never been registered with a GP before and didn’t even know these things were supposed to happen on a regular basis. So I said “Er… never…” “Why not?” she replied in a tone that implied she couldn’t believe anyone could be so stupid. I said “I dunno” since no one had ever mentioned smear tests to me before. “Well, you need to have one” she said firmly. I didn’t like the sound of that and said I’d think about it. Cue much eye-rolling, but at least I managed to escape without having to make an appointment.

I then looked up the whole sorry business on the internet, and concluded that I really wasn’t at high risk of contracting cervical cancer (thanks to the kind of almost monastic lifestyle no twenty-first century UK resident ought to be getting away with ) and might as well subject myself to monthly lung cancer or liver cirrhosis screening, for all the good it would do me.

For the next few years I was regularly bombarded with letters from the surgery offering me smear test after smear test. I ignored them all even though they became increasingly frantic and hysterical, until I finally received the Holy Grail: an opt-out form where I agreed to remove myself from the screening programme and promise not to go crying to them if I ever got cancer, sign here.

Free at last! Well, only until I moved and had to register with another surgery. I have the preliminary appointment with the nurse on Thursday and am mentally psyching myself up for another battle of wills.


I realise this may sound like cutting off your nose to spite your face (“it won’t hurt you to have it done”, etc) but I have one remark to make and one question to ask.

Remark: These tests are not very reliable. I read that one test in ten has to be retaken as the results were inconclusive or (much worse) a false positive. One in ten! Thanks but no thanks, I’d rather take my chances.

Since cervical cancer is caused by the HPV virus and said virus is spread by sexual contact, why are all those programmes aimed only at women? Why should I, who have only ever had one sexual partner, go through this unpleasant experience every three years (every five years from the age of fifty) for the rest of my life, when it would be so much easier to test my boyfriend so we know once and for all whether or not he’s carrying the little buggers? Why is the newly-invented HPV vaccine being thrown at all teenage girls, even the ones who aren’t sexually active “just in case”, whereas boys are totally forgotten even though they’ll certainly be doing their bit to spread the virus too!

I don’t know the answer to this but I suspect it is “Because there’s no test or vaccine aimed at men”. Well why not? Aren’t they concerned too? Just because they don’t have a cervix doesn’t mean they should get away with passing on nasties willy-nilly. Imagine not testing the women in families with a history of haemophilia because they don’t personally suffer from it… Unthinkable, isn’t it?

Update: the nurse at my new surgery totally took no for an answer! I was stunned!

Who’s the vermin here?

Fox cub gets his head jammed in glass bottle

After a 2-week camping holiday in pristine Germany it is all the more maddening to come back to the UK AKA the Giant Dustbin. This fox was very lucky but how many animals have to endure a slow and miserable death after an encounter with human-made rubbish? It doesn’t bear thinking about. The lazy, thoughtless bastards who litter should be made to eat whatever it is they discarded. I will gladly volunteer to help with the swallowing (a clothes peg on the nose should do the trick).

The Keep Britain Dirty campaign is in full swing

And I’m not just saying that because I recently found a used condom stuffed into my garden fence or because I regularly have to walk around our house and little car park picking up all the crap left behind after bin day (WTF do they do with our bin bags?) and smoking paraphernalia (butts, empty packets, lighters). No, litter has been a pet peeve of mine since childhood, when I systematically complained every time my mother threw a sweet wrapper out of the car window – and totally ignored me. And they go on about role models…