A happy Christmas to one and all

On Saturday I leave for two weeks in France, before returning to start my new job in mid-January. So this will be the last blog post for a while. I thought I’d post a couple of shots of the town where our house is, so you’ll know the delights that we’ll be enjoying! Not that we’ll be seeing them much: I’ve been given my decorating orders, and rigorous doesn’t begin to describe them. The church is where we got married, so it’s a special place for us.

So, I hope you all have a wonderful festive season, and I can tell you that despite the decorating (God, how much I hate it!) I’m going to have the best Christmas for a long time!

See you all in the New Year!



Judge not that ye be not judged

In the dark recesses of some Dead Sea cave, a unique manuscript version of the ten commandments has recently been discovered. It was found to have added an eleventh, thus: “Thou shalt not fulminate pedantically against grammatical error: for if thou shouldest I shalt smite thee with an unnoticed gross error of thine own – yea, even if thou hast proof read it a thousand times – and thus thou wilt look a right plonker, innit, saith the Lord”.

I’ve never really felt all that oppressed by the existing ten commandments. I’ve rarely taken a sneaky covetous look at next door’s ass, pronounce it how you will. The times that my style has been cramped by not being allowed to kill are few in number. And I’ve always managed without difficulty to refrain from bowing down to the numerous graven images which litter my house. But this new eleventh one is going to test me, I fear.

There’s nothing I like better than to sneer at the grammatical lapses of others. All those innumerable case’s where its been proven without doubt that it’s tenuous grasp of apostrophical (if that word does not exist, it does now) positioning is condemned by the evidence of the very sentence itself. Or to snigger on less occasions about fewer weight of evidence than that. And of course I have my own penchant for starting sentences with a bold conjunction. But that’s allowed, I’m sure you’ll agree, in the interests of a punchy and lively style.

I want to finally and irrevocably make it clear that split infinitives do not generally make for pleasing clauses, nor do prepositions often help if they’re reserved for ending sentences with. I have no shame or regret in my grammatical and stylistic authoritarianism, but I am constantly terrified that if I let it emerge too freely I’ll inevitably fall justifiably foul of that eleventh commandment. I’ve scoured this post for any lapses of tense, or punctuation, or verb agreement, or stylistic ineptitude other than those that I’ve deliberately introduced. And if you hadn’t realised that I had introduced any, then you’ve clearly wasted the last five minutes of your life. For everyone else, if an unintentional error has crept in, please don’t bother to point it out in a comment.

So the unemployed don’t piss?

I’m having another, and final, go at Jobcentre Plus-Fuck-All this week. It felt about time, it being a good 4 or 5 weeks since I last had a pop, other than the sheer incredulity of last week’s bonus post. (As an update on that, they have continued to insist that I visit them for one final and nostalgic instalment of their job-seeking wisdom which I’m due to receive tomorrow morning, and frankly the excitement is killing me.) Let me be clear. I realise that I’m pursuing a symptom and not a cause. That Jobcentres do not create the mess or the despair that they are charged with trying to mop up and deal with. I recognise that for Jobcentre staff it must be a thankless and depressing task, and probably the last thing they need is to read the bitter outpourings of an unemployed blogger.

Well, I’m sorry about that, but outpour bitterly is just what I’m going to do. There is a real problem in my view about disentangling cause and effect. Jobcentre managers will doubtless be saying that the things I’m about to rant on about are the effects emanating from causes which have their roots in the bad and angry behaviour of their “customers”. Thus the fact that there are, quite literally, several hundred CCTV cameras across the four floors of my Jobcentre is doubtless to protect Jobcentre staff from physical attack, and equally doubtless there was a history of physical attack before the cameras were installed. I wonder.

What I do know is that being so comprehensively spied upon is enough to make even me want to do something worth watching like, I don’t know, perhaps pissing in the stairwell. I alight on that possibility less randomly than you might think, because on every floor there is a toilet marked clearly, “For staff use only”, and firmly locked. I have no idea what an incontinent benefit claimant is supposed to do, and I daresay that on application someone will allow you into the pissoir of your choice. That’s not the point. The sheer aggressive unwelcomeness of the Jobcentre is as much stimulus to anger as it might be protection from the anger thus provoked.

This “architectural” aggression seems to legitimate the bureaucratic aggression which as often as not spills out from Jobcentre staff, and even more so, from the army of security guards that glower at all and sundry. I’m a peaceable fellow at heart, and unlikely to administer more than a withering look or a sarcastic riposte. But the Jobcentre can stir wild and violent urges even in me.