Sunday, November 25, 2012

Asylum Seekers

This week I am absolutely livid. Firstly because it's been hot and I've had to sit on my male staff's lap in the evenings while he's wearing only his underpants, and believe me, that is something that nobody should have to endure. I even read the Geneva convention, but there was no mention of it in that particular document. All I can say is that there bloody well should be. So, I apologise now for my bad mood, but who wouldn't be a little cranky if they keep getting dragged away from their dinner and forced to sit on an almost naked middle aged man's lap?

The other thing that has made my blood boil this week are the things that Australian politicians will do and say if they think it'll win them a couple of extra votes. It was while I was suffering the unpleasantness of my male staff's scantily clad lap that I witnessed an ugly scene on television. It was Australia's two main political parties in a race to the bottom of the sewer. Both the Labor Party government and Liberal/National party coalition are trying to outdo each other in trying to deter potential asylum seekers and to stigmatise asylum seekers who have already arrived on these shores.

What is particularly galling is that Australia was made the great nation that it is today by refugees, mostly white European ones - forced British convicts, people from Ireland seeking a better life, Italians and Greeks after the Second World War and quite a few Vietnamese who arrived by boats in the nineteen seventies and eighties. All hard working men and women willing to make a go of things and not asking anything from their new country but the opportunity for a new start and a safer life. How sad it is then that many Australians are so rabidly against accepting more refugees. They have been conned by politicians into believing that Australia is being swamped with "illegal" boat arrivals as the Liberal opposition leader and utter buffoon Tony Abbott incorrectly calls asylum seekers. He must know that it is not illegal to arrive in Australia by boat without papers and seek asylum, so his only reason for calling these people "illegal arrivals" must be political expediency.

Australia is far from being swamped with refugees. We currently stand 46th on the league table of nations who accept refugees. We have a little over twenty thousand refugees. That is just .2% of the global total, so lets get a little perspective happening here for once. Recently there have been several tragedies at sea involving boatloads of asylum seekers. Their leaky, unseaworthy vessels have sunk with severe loss of life. Many of them paid their life savings to people smugglers for a place on one of these Australia bound rust buckets. So, with much feigned wailing, gnashing of teeth and crocodile tears the Australian government decided to try to stem this loss of life by reintroducing offshore processing in the naive and unrealistic belief that it would stop asylum seekers paying people smugglers for danger fraught sea journeys to Australia because their asylum claims would be processed in hot, humid hell holes like Nauru and Manaus Island and so would not necessarily be granted refugee status in Australia.

It is already perfectly obvious even to a guinea pig that this so called deterrence does not work and since it's introduction boat arrivals have increased. This has to mean that the Australian government is either hopelessly out of touch with the reality of the terrifying, desperate situations that exist in nations like Sri Lanka, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan or they are pandering to the redneck minority in Australia, panicked into doing so by rabid right wingers in the Liberal party. Either way, it's not a good look. Tony Abbott was one of the worst teeth gnashers at the boat tragedies. It's a wonder that he has any teeth left to gnash. He virtually accused the Labor government of murdering the poor sods who drown trying to reach Australia. Now he's say that he'll cut Australia's refugee intake from other countries, meaning that even more people will be tempted to pay people smugglers to get them to Australia by boat because they'll have even less chance to get here by other means.

It's time Aussie humans put themselves in the shoes of someone fleeing war and persecution. Here's a scenario for you to ponder.

It is the year 2032 and climate change is really starting to kick in. Years of drought in southern Australia have had a huge impact on the food crops and cattle and sheep have been dying in their thousands, while in the north rain has been far heavier than it used to be, causing widespread flooding year after year. Cyclones have been more frequent and more severe causing more damage to crops and infrastructure. Governments can no longer afford to repair roads or maintain a reliable power grid. Unemployment has risen to 39% and crime is rampant as desperate people strive to keep their families fed. To deal with the crime wave several state governments have introduced curfews to keep people off the streets after dark. City populations are swollen by people pouring into them from the worst hit regional areas, people desperate for work, but there are too few jobs to go around and many of the great parks in cities around the nation have become squalid squatter camps of toiletless ramshackle corrugated iron dwellings. The Austalian government has appealed for aid but few nations can afford to help and in any case there is little sympathy for a nation who were one of the worst per capita offenders in the cause of climate change. In fact in November 2013 the new Prime Minister Tony Abbott reiterated his opinion that the idea of  climate change was "A load of crap."

Desperate families flock to northern coastal towns. town like Mackay, Gladstone, Townsville, Cairns, Broome and Darwin where unscrupulous people smugglers are selling places on rusty, unseaworthy boats on voyages to India and Indonesia who have been spared the worst ravages of climate change. Their economies have been less affected than most by the global climate induced recession and rumour has it that there are jobs to be had there and a better, safer life. Thousands of Australians sell their now almost worthless homes in order to purchase a place on a boat. Most prefer the more dangerous and longer passage to India because along with China they have become the leading world economy.  However, the Indian government is under pressure from the populace not to accept refugees from such an alien culture as Australia and boatloads of Aussies are towed out of Indian territorial waters by the Indian navy. Many die as boats sink in storms or simply perish from thirst and hunger as they boats run out of provisions and don't have enough fuel to make landfall elsewhere.  This is ironic, because it is exactly the same policy advocated by Tony Abbott when he became Prime Minister of Australia.

There's no way I'd ever get on one of those leaky boats. I might get my feet wet.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pinking Shears

Guinea pig dreams are usually quite staid affairs. Mine mostly feature myself in a large meadow surrounded by lady cavies and a hell of a lot of fresh, juicy grass. I rarely have nightmares, but when I do it's a recurring one where I'm back in the old country - Peru, being eternally chased up and down an Andean mountain by an Inca dude wielding a large stick and a wok. On such occasions I always wake before the Inca dude catches me thank goodness, but I find I've kicked most of my bedding onto the floor of the living room and have to spend the remainder of the night trying to get some sleep on bare newspaper, which is often damp and covered in bush chocolate - well, it is a scary dream after all.

Humans on the other hand have the weirdest dreams. For example the other night my female staff dreamed that my male staff was having a steamy affair with a sexy (but visually impaired) red head. She was very upset when she woke up and so was my male staff when he awoke to find my female staff poised over his dangly bits with a pair of pinking shears. My female staff remained cross with my male staff for a week, despite his protestations that "It was your bloody dream!" Anyway, he hid the pinking shears in the garden and things settled down after a while.

My female staff's weapon of choice.

My male staff's latest dream was even more disturbing than that. The other morning he declared to us all - my female staff, Paolo the budgie, Badger and I that he dreamed he had purchased an ex-navy aircraft carrier and had it fitted out as a luxury cruise ship. He'd bought a few tins of spray paint, painted the whole thing pink and promoted it as a "Gay and Lesbian Friendly Cruise Experience." He hired The Village People for the nightly entertainment and bought an old Chinook helicopter, which he also painted pink to transfer the passengers from shore to ship so that he wouldn't have to pay exorbitant berthing fees. He was so impressed with this dreamed-up business model that when he woke up he immediately started making enquiries about unwanted aircraft carriers and has already started accumulating cans of pink spray paint which he purchases from the local hardware shop at the rate of one a week. He reckons about ten might be enough. Of course he's also on the lookout for a used aircraft carrier, so if your hear of one please let me know. What's the USS Nimitz doing these days? If the United States Navy has finished with it my males staff would like to buy it. He says he can't pay for it immediately, but he can pay it off gradually as the profits start to roll in. He already has a name for it. "The Judy Garland".

Anyway, yesterday afternoon my staff took Badger and I to pick up my female staff's mum at our local airport. She's just spent a few days in a place called Sydney with my female staff's frantic sister. I haven't been to Sydney, but my male staff tells me that it is a remote village surrounded on one side by a cultural desert and on the other by an ocean of poker machines. We all had to go through security at the airport to get into the arrivals hall. Badger and I were put into separate plastic trays and trundled through a tunnel on a conveyor belt which apparently took photos of our innards to make sure we hadn't been stuffed with explosives by our staff. By the time we emerged from the other side of the tunnel our trays contained several items that looked like .22 ammunition. This rather puzzled the security dudes because the ammo hadn't been there when we entered the tunnel, until my male staff bit one of them in half (Not the security dudes - the ammunition. My male staff makes a point never to bite airport security dudes.) in order to prove to them that it was just bush chocolate.

So we all sat there at the airport. My staff bought us a salad to munch on while we waited and waited and waited and waited. A tall, strangely familiar looking man walked past us and made my female staff go all gooey and pink. My male staff raised his eyes towards the heavens and intimated to us that the man was someone called Pat Rafter who a few years ago was rather good at whacking little yellow balls over a net. He may have been good at it, but it obviously didn't pay well enough for him to afford to buy razor blades. Anyway as he went past our cafe table he gave us all an odd look as if he couldn't quite believe his eyes - a middle aged couple hand feeding two large rodents with bits of lettuce and cucumber while quietly slurping on cafe lattes. I think my female staff interpreted his interest as something other than the mild alarm it was and batted her eyelashes at him. Being the former tennis great that he is he batted them firmly back. Hah! Just kidding, actually he just increased his speed to put as much distance between himself and my staff as possible.

Meanwhile outside, the storm that had been threatening all day was finally delivering sheets of rain and cracking thunderbolts. At first there was an announcement that my female staff's mum's plane was in a holding pattern to the south of the airport while the captain waited for the weather to clear. The next announcement was that the captain was going to try to land the aircraft in fifteen minutes. Half an hour later a final announcement said that the captain had given up trying to land and was diverting to Brisbane instead. Brisbane airport is a ninety minute drive away and I think my male staff was about to suggest that my female staff's mum should walk home from there when he had a flashback to his dream and the pair of pinking shears poised over his family jewels.
 "Right then." He said with feigned cheerfulness. "Off to Brisbane we go." Then before he went to bed that night he sneaked into the garden to make sure that the pinking shears were still where he had hidden them. Yes indeed, a good marriage is built on trust.

Actually, my feet have a kind of ethereal, dreamlike quality. They just seem too good to belong to this mundane, tired old world.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Fireworks Night

My female staff has just been diagnosed as having cataracts in both eyes. This has answered one or two things that have been bothering me for a while. For example, it explains why she keeps trying to feed bits of cucumber to my bottom passage. It also explains why she married my male staff - she's as blind as a very blind thing. I was going to say "bat", but bats actually see very well indeed. Clever things - bats, who after all are nothing more than guinea pigs with wings. Anyway, I digress. Now I'm worried that when my female staff has her cataracts removed in a couple of weeks she will take one look at the Quasimodo lookalike that she married, cry "Holy bush chocolate! Why didn't someone tell me?" and run of into the sunset leaving Badger and I to cope with a piteously grieving male staff who will let himself go (even more), turn to drink (even more) and start chasing younger women, not that he has any chance of catching them, but he's ever the optimist.

                                                    My male staff on one of his better days.

He'll lose his job because he'll smell and be drunk the whole time. Not that that's any different, but his incontinence problem will worsen due to the increased alcohol consumption, and eventually his boss will get sick of fielding complaints about my male staff bursting into tears all the time and blowing his substantial nose on client's ties. When this happens it will only be a matter of time before the money runs out, and that would bring about the biggest tragedy of all. He would no longer be able to afford to buy basil for Badger and I. I would therefore have to bite his finger when he tries to substitute some inferior herb, like dill. Then owing to his alcohol induced compromised immune system the bite would fester and become infected. Because he no longer has a job he won't be able to afford to see the doctor. Soon his whole hand turns black and drops off while holding a bottle of methylated spirits which was earmarked for his liver.  This makes him very cross as he now doesn't have enough money to buy another bottle of meths. Next thing you know there's an advert in the local shop.

    2 Guinea pigs
  $500 each
      One tweets and blogs    
                   The other eats and craps                

And all this because my female staff decided to go and have her eyes checked. "Should have gone to Specsavers" my bottom passage!

And so time moves inexorably forward and another Christmas draws nigh. At the shopping centre where my male staff works as a reverse people smuggler it is nigher than it should be. In fact it's been nigh since September when the decorations started going up. In October Christmas music began blaring through the PA system. Now in early November Santa has turned up and sits on a throne in an enclosure cordoned off from the rest of the shopping centre to protect him from the more obnoxious brats which abound at this time of year. It's rather surprising that he doesn't have armed minders looking out for him.

November the fifth has come and gone. "Fireworks Night" in my male staff's native Britain. His knowledge of history is a bit sketchy and can't really be trusted, but he says that Fireworks Night is a celebration of the day in 1605 when dog hater Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the Battersea Stray Dogs' Home in London. He did this because he was driven insane by his neighbour's poodle who kept leaving smelly lumps of bush chocolate on his lawn for him to tread in.  According to my male staff he placed several casks of gunpowder in the cellar under the dogs home, lit the fuse and retired to the nearest pub. Unfortunately a passing King Charles spaniel peed on the fuse and the whole thing failed to explode. Guy Fawkes was later arrested by the RSPCA and was sentenced to one hundred hours of community service, which ironically involved cleaning the kennels at the Battersea Stray Dogs' Home.

Every November the fifth since that day British families have celebrated this event by setting off fireworks in their garden in an attempt to scare seven shades of bush chocolate from their neighbours dogs, often blowing their own fingers off or setting fire to the conservatory. As a small, fat child my male staff enjoyed this time of year. Not because it gave him the chance to scare animals but because he would spend the week leading up to the day gluing Airfix model World War Two planes together, his fat little pink tongue poking out of the corner of his mouth. Then when he had assembled a sizeable squadron he'd glue a "penny banger" to the planes, light the fuses and one by one lob them out of his bedroom window to explode in mid air showering his mother's flowerbeds with melted plastic. Destroyed aircraft could be replaced at Christmas which of course followed six short weeks later.

How the hell am I supposed to link this story to my feet? Honestly! The pressure to come up with something about feet at the end of each of Billy's blog posts is really getting to me.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Road Fairy

I think something strange is going on in the United States of America, apart from people shooting each other and the fact that half of the eastern seaboard has been blown away and the New York Subway system has been transformed into the world's largest Wet & Wild theme park. Apparently there's a thing called a Presidential election happening. To be honest I thought a Presidential election was something reported by a Chinese TV news reader during the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky affair. It seems not though. It appears that every four years Americans get to choose who their next lame-duck will be. This year the contest is between that nice Irishman Mr O'Barmer, who according to Donald Trump was born in Iran and is probably a member of the Taliban and some dude called Romney, who due to his vibrant personality was named after a baseball glove. It's all academic anyway because congress never passes anything useful anyway, no matter who is President.

Here in Australia we have Federal elections every three years which is way too often because the winner of the election immediately focuses on short term political gain and generally ignore long term programmes which would benefit the nation and future generations. In fairness, the current government has tried to do this in a limited and somewhat chaotic and incompetent way and as a consequence look about as likely to be re-elected as Badger is to play for the Brazil soccer team in the next World Cup. This goes to show that if you want to be elected in Australia you have to put the National Interest last on your list of priorities. It is therefore essential to express your disapproval of immigration, particularly the immigration of people who are not Caucasian. You should also expound your belief that taxation of any sort is a bad idea and hope to hell that the electorate are too stupid to link taxation to the provision of good public infrastructure like hospitals and roads. Honestly! Where do some humans think roads come from? The road fairy?

The Road Fairy whistles up yet another six lane highway.
Enough about politicians already anyway, it's irritating my thrush, which until now has been getting better, despite my staff force feeding aniseed tasting mush with a bloody great syringe which was supposed to stimulate my appitite, however the taste of it is enough to put you off food for the rest of your life. Vets really should be made to eat water they give to animals so that know how we feel. They should also have cold things poked up their bottom passage for the same reason. I firmly believe that all medical practitioners need to know what their victims/patients are going through. Anyway, all in all I am feeling a whole lot better and I'd really like to express my gratitude for all the lovely get well wishes I've had from everyone, especially my Twitter friends. It really is very moving to know that so many people care about the wellbeing of a small, furry rodent. So thanks everyone, and you know what the best thing is about being well again? My staff have stopped wetting my fur with their leaky eyes.

There have been so many tears from Billy's staff while he was ill that I had to wear wellington boots to keep my feet dry.