Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Grass Is Greener (Part 1)

Have you heard the often used human expression "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"? Well, it's true, but only because there's been a lot more bullshit deposited on it. As a guinea pig I know this because grass makes up a substantial percentage of my diet and next door's grass tastes like crap. My male staff is familiar with this term too. Not in the literal sense you understand. He doesn't eat grass, never even smoked it. In fact I think he must be the only human in the great state of Queensland who isn't permanently off his face. However, that's beside the point. What I'm getting at is that my male staff is only too prone to believe that things are better elsewhere.

For example, in the mid nineteen seventies my male staff gave up his first ever job - trainee supermarket manger - in the London suburb of Rayners Lane to join his parents in Gibraltar - one of the last overseas outposts of the British Empire (If you don't count Hayling Island.), where his Father had just been posted with the Royal Air Force. On the face of it it wasn't such an odd decision. After all Gibraltar has sunshine, a nice warm sea, afternoon siestas and barbary apes, (which are in fact tailless monkeys, not apes at all, but that's what happens when you allow humans to name stuff. As evidence of this I present my previous post.) While at the time London had miserable drizzling rain, a polluted river, a six day working week and mangy stray cats.

So off he went, landing on Gibraltar's short runway for the first time and stepping out of the Boeing 727 onto the tarmac on a beautiful early December day, a balmy breeze blowing off the Bay of Algeciras and a benevolent Mediterranean sun warming his shoulders as he strode with his family toward the terminal. He should have made the most of that short stroll because it pissed with rain for the next three months. Storms blew in with monotonous reliability from the grey Atlantic Ocean on a weekly basis and the wind seemed to be permanently set at hurricane level. You couldn't even walk on the beach because the storms blew in great globules of oil that stuck to your feet like bush chocolate to a freshly laundered and ironed pair of trousers. Of course a little bit of research would have told my male staff that the western end of the Mediterranean is often like that in winter and spring, but seventeen year old male humans have never been keen on research, unless of course you count ogling mammary glands in "adult magazines" research.

As May approached the weather improved, but my male staff's dress sense deteriorated markedly. It was that fateful summer of 1976 that he adopted his green Frankenstein look. A lime green suit, cream and brown four inch platform shoes, a pink shirt and a newspaper print tie, beneath which lurked a big metal "Hand of Fatima" medallion which turned large parts of his narrow chest green.
He wangled a civilian job with the Royal Air Force and things started to look up, and yet an air of claustrophobia  persisted. My male staff and his family lived in the Air Force married quarters which were squashed between the towering twelve hundred foot sheer north face of the rock of Gibraltar and a busy military runway that was operational twenty four hours a day. Gibraltar is tiny, about three miles long and a mile wide and although it has a land border with Spain the border was closed by General Franco and remained closed even after the nasty old fascist kicked the bucket a month before my male staff arrived. This was particularly hard on the locals. The border was closed so abruptly that family members were separated on opposite sides of the fence, fifty yards away across a stretch of no mans land. Every Sunday afternoon the separated families would gather on their respective sides of the fence and yell their news to each other.

Gibraltar. The Spanish border is roughly the bottom of the photo. My male staff lived in one of those buildings close to the left hand end of the runway, close to the beach.

To get to the other side of the border one had to take a ferry across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier, then another back to Algeciras across the bay in Spain, then finally a train or a dodgy Spanish bus driven by an escaped psychopathic criminal to La Linea fifty yards away from Gibraltar. That fifty yards trip took all day if you were lucky and the ferries were running on time. Alternatively one could fly from Gibraltar to London Heathrow - almost three hours and then catch another flight to Madrid, jump on a train or another dodgy bus driven by another escaped psychopathic criminal to La Linea, and hey presto in just two days you had travelled exactly fifty yards. Under these circumstances my male staff began to go a little stir crazy. It didn't help that the local girls were mostly locked away by their parents who had no intention of allowing a lime green British Frankenstein anywhere near their daughters. Some of the barbary apes were beginning to look very alluring to my male staff. Britain started to look good again, and so when he was offered the chance to take part in trials for four professional British football clubs he was off like a shot.

Angela. My male staff's first Gibraltarian girlfriend.


Billy's male staff is such a fool. Fancy risking the health of your feet just because you might have the chance to earn millions of pounds playing football.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Phone Sex

Take a look at Twitter. It's full of late teens and twenty something women  (If you are to believe their profile photographs) offering the rest of the world advice on how to live their lives. Most often this is done through the medium of other people's quotes, as though they don't have an original word to say themselves. Indeed many of them look like they haven't been on the planet long enough to have thought of something original to say. I make a point of not following such people. I also wonder if these girls with the attractive photos are the same ones who advertise phone sex in the newspapers. I can't help thinking that these phone sex women are sixty years old, called Ivy or Hilda, sitting in a dreary lounge somewhere in suburbia, chain smoking, swilling gin and wearing loose fitting tracksuit pants, making a bit extra on the side while giving desperate men a not-so-cheap thrill.

One advert I saw ringed in red ink in the newspaper that lines the bottom of my cage (My male staff asks me to deposit my bush chocolate and bush lemonade on such ringed ads so that my female staff doesn't see it.) read "My name's Candice. I'm lonely and hot. Call me."  What the ad doesn't say is that she's lonely because she has the looks, the smell and the personality of a garbage truck, and she's hot because she can't afford air-conditioning.

It's funny, but in Australia at least it always seems to be female humans offering the phone sex service, never males, which is rather a shame really because I'm sure phone sex with a typical Aussie male would be a real treat for a lonely lady. I can just picture it.

The lady dials the appropriate number.

  "G'day. I'm Shoyne. Ahyagahn?" The man greets her.
  "Betchyiz can't guess what oi'm wearin'. Oi've got me best blue singlet on, an' real tight shorts and a pair of thongs on me fark'n feet. Jeez, they could do wiv a wash but. Me feet, not me fark'n thongs I mean. Oi wish yiz could see me donger. It's so big that if I sucks in me beer gut oi can almost see it. So, yizwannaroot or what? "

I think you ladies would find the experience subtly seductive and surprisingly erotic.

However, having said all that, there is one quote that I am particularly fond of, and as an animal I like to remind humans of it's significance to us helpless creatures.

It came from Mohandas Gandhi and goes like this.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress 
can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.
I hold that the more helpless a creature, 
the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.

Take a look at your own nation. How does it stack up? Does it allow hunting for "pleasure"? Does it allow clearance of endangered animals' habitat?  Does it permit live cattle or sheep exports to nations who don't give a piece of rat's bush chocolate about animal welfare? Are it's abattoirs as humane as they can be. Do anti-animal cruelty laws exist? And if they do, how rigorously are they upheld?

Here in Australia our dopey humans have cleared acres and acres of trees and built endless dull suburbs. Then when our native flying foxes no longer have anywhere to roost except the local park, the dumb humans start whinging about the smell and the noise and want the city council to move them on. Move them on to where, you daft buggers? You've already destroyed their natural habitat. Do you expect them to fly endlessly over the ocean? I have to admit feeling a sort of solidarity with the flying foxes. After all, they are just guinea pigs with wings.

Some people do care. Five rescued baby flying foxes.

I'm seriously thinking about starting a phone sex business for people with a foot fetish. And by the way I resent being compared to a flying fox. Do I look like a flying fox to you?


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

My male staff, Badger, Paolo the budgie and I are looking forward to the first weekend in May. My female staff is flying to Sydney (No, not on a broomstick.) to attend a belly dance workshop, whatever that is. The word workshop conjures up images of big sheds full of noisy machinery such as drills and saws and stuff, with clouds of sawdust hanging in the air and slicks of oil on the floor. Somehow it just doesn't gel with reality, which is a bunch of female humans being taught how to wiggle their bellies in new and interesting ways. My male staff doesn't have to be taught. His belly has a natural talent for wiggling and it displays this talent at every opportunity; when he walks, when he sits down, when he eats, when he sleeps. It's constantly wiggling, so much so that it gives poor Badger motion sickness just to watch it, and when he sits on my male staff's belly he has to have an airline sick bag handy at all times.

Anyway, the point is that with my female staff's absence us boys will be "batching" that weekend. We will be short term bachelors with all that that entails. There will be footy on the telly every night, accompanied by beer and pizza and possibly even a spot of peeing in the sink - you never know. Then half an hour before my female is due home there will be a mad scramble to tidy the place up. Mountains of dirty plates will be washed, floors will be vacuumed, guinea pigs will be brushed and given strict instructions not to mention the sink peeing contest. The bed will be made for the first time in four days and enough empty beer cans to build a soviet era Tupolev airliner will be crammed into the recycling bin and hidden with a pile of newspapers piled on top of them. My male staff will have his first shower since my female staff's departure and deodorant will be squirted copiously under his arms. Teeth will be brushed and gallons of mouthwash will be swilled in order to mask his beer breath. Then as she steps through the door, Badger, Paolo the budgie and I will be winked at and he will tap the side of his substantial nose indicating to us that what happens on a "batching weekend" stays in the "batching weekend" and is never mentioned again.

It is unkind to celebrate someones death, although my male staff would probably make an exception for Robert Mugabe, who has single handedly wrecked Zimbabwe which only a few years ago was one of Africa's most prosperous and seemingly stable nations. Now Margaret Thatcher has shuffled off and half of Britain is in mourning while the other half has bought, downloaded, or whatever you do these days, a copy of the song from The Wizard of Oz - "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead". And that just about sums Maggie up doesn't it? You either loved her or you loathed her. She was one of the most divisive Prime Ministers ever and did one hell of a lot of damage to British society during the "Greed is Good" era of the nineteen eighties. In fact one of her most famous quotes was "There is no such thing as society." In other words, if you are poor and down trodden tough titties mate. It's every man and woman for themselves.

Maggie was unbending, bloody minded and pig headed and people mistook these qualities for leadership. She took on the unions, especially the mining unions and won - all but destroying them. There's no doubt that the unions had far too much power back then. Their leaders were used to having beer and sandwiches at 10 Downing Street with Labour Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and the avuncular Jim Callaghan. So when they turned up on the doorstep when Maggie had moved in it came as quite a shock to be invited into the parlour and then soundly thwacked over the head with a powder blue handbag and poked firmly in the gonads with a rolled up copy of the Conservative Party manifesto.

Many mines were closed, many needed to be closed. They were unprofitable, but Maggie made absolutely no attempt to assist the poor sods who had worked all their lives in those mines to find other jobs. In fact she made it harder for them but privatising anything thing that moved, and as we all know, if you privatise something jobs will be lost, and that is exactly what happened.  Maggies rode to power on the back of the election slogan - LABOUR ISN'T WORKING - There were posters everywhere decrying the Labour government's record on unemployment. The unemployment figure was 1.4 million. After five years of Margaret Thatcher's disastrous policies that figure had climbed to in excess of 3 million - or one in eight of the workforce. Whole communities were destroyed, especially in Northern England and Scotland. It was a horrible time to live in Britain and never was the gap between rich and poor greater since the Great Depression years.

Maggie's campaign poster. Five years later under her tender care unemployment more than doubled.
Then of course she tried trickle-down economics along with her friend Ronald Reagan across the pond. That didn't work, never has, never will. Give big business and the super rich tax breaks in the hope that they'll employ more people and they'll disappoint you every time. They just take the tax breaks as extra profit and distribute it to their (mostly already well off) shareholders, and who can blame them. I would do the same. Meanwhile the Labour Party opposition was tearing itself apart with internal ructions and infighting, leaving Maggie to ride roughshod over parliament at will.

Then just as it looked as though Maggie had made herself so unpopular that she was going to lead a one term government, Argentina - under the not terribly bright leadership of General Galtieri invaded first South Georgia and then the Falkland Islands proving once again that military intelligence is a contradiction in terms. It was a monumental miscalculation by the junta. All they had to do was wait a year or two and they could have negotiated a peaceful handover of the Falkland Island with a Labour government who would have been much more amenable to that sort of thing. But no, the silly buggers had to go in with all guns blazing. They never really stood a chance - a bunch of poorly conscripts against what was and probably still is the world's most professional and efficient fighting force.

Poor old American envoy General Haig was clocking up the air miles with his shuttle diplomacy, trying to negotiate a peaceful settlement, but Maggie of course sensed a political windfall and had no intention of settling anything peacefully. BANG! Down went the aging warship the General Belgrano - sunk by a British submarine inside the British imposed exclusion zone around the Falklands and that was it. It was on for young and old. Maggie's obnoxious mouthpiece - the Sun newspaper shouted "Gotcha!" on it's front page as well over three hundred of the almost twelve hundred crew were killed.  To this day we still don't know whether or not the sinking of the Belgrano was a deliberate attempt by the British government to scupper General Haig's efforts.

 Possibly the worst, most tasteless and obnoxious headline in history. 
Bad even by the Sun's appalling standards.

In any case the outcome of the war was that Maggie won the next election in a landslide, riding on the crest of a wave of patriotism and jingoism that left my male staff and millions of other Britons feeling rather uncomfortable. Anyway, at a time when Great Britain should have been rolling in money from the newly opened up North Sea oil fields it was squandering it all on needless wars and unemployment benefits. In short, there are few people less deserving of the honour of a state funeral than Margaret Thatcher. Well, Robert Mugabe maybe.

I think I would have liked Margaret Thatcher. She seems like the kind of woman who would have looked after her feet properly.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Poomaster General

The Australian Federal Government has made the mistake of sending my male staff a bowel cancer screening test kit. Apparently they will be doing this more frequently in the future and in theory it's a great idea that may well save thousands of lives.  As soon as someone turns fifty the government sends them a birthday present of a screening kit, and then when they are fifty five they get another one. My staff are particularly grateful for these gifts on their birthday because it's the only one they get, having long ago decided not to buy each other presents, but to have a nice meal out instead.  So these days they just wrap the bowel cancer screening kit in nice paper tied with a ribbon and give it to each other, feigning delight and surprise as they unwrap it.

The process of completing the test is quite delightful. The kit contains two little floating mats, two screw topped plastic canisters with a sort of sugar frosting in the bottom, a couple of things that look like posh toothpicks, one red one and one blue one, two sticky labels and a padded envelope addressed to The Poomaster General, (or some such title), POO Box 5018 in Heidelburg, Victoria.
The human pooper lays one of the little floating mats in the toilet bowl, takes careful aim and then poops on it, but not too much because that would sink the mat and then you'd really be in trouble. Then one grabs one of the posh toothpicks and pokes it into the bush chocolate, digging around in it for a while to ensure that you have a good sample. Next you take the toothpick and shove it (hurriedly) into one of the test tubes, screwing the lid on as quickly as possible. The sample is then placed in the fridge (hopefully a long way from my vegetables), until the pooper repeats the whole thing with the other little floating mat and toothpick the next day. 

My male staff says that the Poomaster General really should include a gasmask in the kit he sends out. I have found that male humans are not good with things that come out of their bodies. Bush chocolate, bush lemonade, and bush pizzas (vomit to the uninitiated) leave the toughest, butchest, hairiest males quivering wrecks. Female humans are much better with that sort of thing. In fact they seem to revel in it, especially if it's coming out of a baby human. The brat will be praised for pooping or piddling, or sometimes even puking. "Whoops-a-daisy, up she comes. There's a good boy." As it throws up four litres of half digested milk down her new black trouser suit.

Anyway, the last time my male staff sent in his sample he was so paranoid about posting it in the letter box and having it "go off" in the Australian summer heat that He asked the nice lady behind the post office counter if she would mind keeping it in the staff room fridge next to her sandwiches until the postman came to collect the mail. Unfortunately she was in a rather contrary mood that day and refused to cooperate, so my male staff had to dash home for an insulated cool bag and some of those frozen bricks that normal people put perishables in when they do their shopping. He packed his poo samples up in the cool bag, went back to town and sat next to the post box until an our later the postie turned up to collect the mail, whereupon my male staff unpacked his sample, leapt to his feet waving it (thankfully inside it's padded envelope) under the postman's nose, saying "This is my bowel screening sample please keep it cool. Maybe you could put it on the front seat next to you and turn the air-con nozzle onto it." Having decided (wrongly in my opinion) that my male staff was not dangerously insane, the postman snatched the envelope from him, stuffed it into his sack with the rest of his mail, flung it carelessly into the back of his van and drove off, leaving my male staff fuming on the pavement, contemplating writing a severe letter of complaint to the Customer Relations Department of the Post Office about the treatment of his poo.

So traumatised by all this was my male staff that this year when he received another test kit he refused to go through the whole unpleasant procedure, instead substituting two of my perfectly formed pellets of bush chocolate, each one impaled at the end of one of the posh toothpicks like a tiny cocktail sausage. They were duly posted off to the Poomaster General and within two weeks he'd received the results. The letter said "We are pleased to inform you that the result of your bowel cancer scan was negative. However we were surprised to find such a high percentage of hay in your fecal sample and you might want to cut down a bit on the basil too.

April Fools' Day was fun this year. Badger and I spent a couple of hours gathering up the discarded coloured foil wrappers of those little Cadbury Easter eggs, the contents of which had been guzzled by my staff. We then carefully wrapped some of our top quality bush chocolate and left them laying in strategic spots around the house. It wasn't long before my female staff discovered one with a delighted cry of "Oh look Darling. we missed an Easter egg. And look, here's another." She handed one to my male staff and in a companionable silence they unwrapped them and popped them happily into their mouths. How satisfying it was to watch their expression change. "Blech! Said my male staff. "Tastes like carob." Mind you it didn't stop them eating them.

Why are humans so obsessed with their own poo? Why can't they take an interest is something nicer? Feet for example.