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Hello? 1992 calling…

phone

This is the most interesting thing I’ve found in the attic so far. Which is to say, there’s nothing interesting in the attic so far. Some new and empty wine bottles. A bunch of empty boxes. Picture frames.

Well, there’s the poop. Tiny mouse poops near the opening. Then some rat poops further in. And then some larger rat poops. Like, larger than rat poops.

Back home, I’d say possum or even coon. But th’ain’t no possums ner coons hyere. Nor anything of equivalent size. So that just leaves very fucking large rat, I guess.

Oh, joy.

Anyhow, Gromulin asked what was up there, and that guilted me into checking it out. I’m alllll about the minions. Have a good weekend, everyone!

May 29, 2009 — 6:41 pm
Comments: 15

I sold the Weaselmobile!

miata

Just got an email from the kid I left my car with. He finally got my price (which was so low, a dealer snapped it up now that the weather’s improved. Feh). There goes my last tie to the old me.

Welp, it’s like I always say: whenever God closes a door, he opens a window. And chucks me head-first out of it.

Now I really am like somebody’s nana from the Old Country. No job, can’t drive, talk funny, don’t get anybody’s jokes. I think I’ll just hang out in the kitchen, grow a mustache and cook ethnic food from now on.

Everybody up for a mess of hominy grits and chicken-fried ‘possum?

May 28, 2009 — 7:24 pm
Comments: 34

Your daily dose of artardation…

miniatureRainy day at last! See, this is the English climate I signed on for. I’ve got a fire and a booze and I’m kicked back browsing Her Maj’s art collection.

It’s pretty cool, actually. The royals have a thing for portrait miniatures, and the website has a cool dingus that lets you view the whole collection, zoom in and pan around each individual painting.

I have a thing about portrait miniatures, too. I painted a few back in the day and I’m thinking of taking it up again. It’s always been on Ye Bigge List of Things I Might Like To Do For Money When I Grow Up. It is a long and silly list.

The classic miniature portrait for hundreds of years was a watercolor, painstakingly built up of tiny flecks of paint on a piece of thin vellum glued to the back of a playing card (cards are about the right weight, is all). Later examples are occasionally watercolor on ivory or vitreous enamel or oil on copper.

Her Maj’s collection is mostly fine portraits of royalty (natch), but it was a much more ubiquitous art form, especially toward the end when all manner of spinsters, widows and maiden aunts got in on the act. Accessible to the commoner, in various levels of quality and portrait goofiness.

Photography finally killed off the art form in the 19th C, though it never died away completely. In fact, the Royal Society of Miniature Painters, Sculptors and Gravers wasn’t founded until 1896.

And tomorrow? Sunny and fine. AGAIN. Weasel will have to go out and play :(

May 27, 2009 — 7:08 pm
Comments: 15

You’ll never guess what I found in the attic!

attic

Give up? I found WE HAVE AN ATTIC!! I had no idea. I assumed that little hatch led to the usual useless crawlspace.

And it’s thoughtfully pre-filled with shit! I assume those are empty boxes. That, or the previous owner was a receiver of stolen goods — it’s all quite modern stuff, like scanners and video cameras.

I didn’t actually heave myself up to explore it. Uncle B wasn’t around, and I like to have witnesses when I put my foot through the ceiling plaster. Just in case I nick an artery on the way.

I’m not sure I want to know what’s in that cooler…

May 26, 2009 — 8:06 pm
Comments: 17

We blessed the crops, but we didn’t get to whip any damn children…

strawberries

The ancient church is the heart of our little settlement, though services there are few. So far, Uncle B and I have neatly sidestepped most of them because the hours we keep. When an afternoon service cropped up this Sunday, we were kind of stuck for good excuses (“we’re aggressively obnoxious atheists” didn’t seem a very sociable excuse).

This was the annual Rogation Service. The Rogation Service is a church adoption of the pagan custom of blessing the crops and livestock in Spring. It originally lasted three days, which coincided with the Gange Days — a procession known as “beating the bounds.”

Yea, verily, in ye days before ye Google Earth, remembering and maintaining the boundaries of each individual parish wasn’t easy. So once a year, substantial men of the village — along with many boys — would walk the entire perimeter of the parish. “Entire perimeter” to include wading canals, walking through the middle of houses and trampling any new fences or outbuildings. Literally every inch of it was retraced on foot, along with much partying and whooping it up.

Along the way, the boys were thrown into the brambles, tossed into ponds and slammed into hard objects, all the better to cement in their tender heads the landmarks and outlines of the boundary. Works for me.

We had a feeling this Rogation wouldn’t be quite that sort of wild medieval par-tay. And so it wasn’t. When we reached the open field, our entire merry band consisted of six bluehaired old ladies, the vicar, Uncle B and self. We were handed programs and given speaking parts, and off we went.

We shuffled twenty feet into the field and said prayers for the livestock (astonishing several lambs). Fifty feet the other way and said prayers for the crops. Up the road a piece and prayers for the church. Then we had mugs of hot tea and little sticky cakes and walked home. Hymns and all, about an hour.

Huh.

The strawberries? First of the year. Uncle B growed them in his greenhouse, a little bowl for each of us. They were awesome and flavorful, and so sweet they didn’t need sugar.

I reckon it was the Jesus blessing that done it.

May 25, 2009 — 6:24 pm
Comments: 16

Run, leetle peeg!

peegs

Okey dokey. Let’s see if I can take a crack at translating this expenses thing into Yankee.

Members of the British Parliament are expected to keep a home in their constituency district and also have accomodation in London for when Parliament is in session. Two homes. London is the second most expensive city in the world. The average MP makes £64K per annum (around $100,000).

You could swing it, but it would be pretty tight. So, rather than pissing the voters off by giving themselves a fat raise, the government set up an easygoing allowance scheme that would reimburse them up to £24K ($38K) in expenses a year. Few questions asked.

It’s like your boss saying, “I can’t give you a pay increase this year, but I’ll turn a blind eye if you swipe office supplies and pad your meal allowances.” No big? Ah…but X factors have whipped this into the perfect political shitstorm.

THE TIMING IS LOUSY. Right in the teeth of a global financial meltdown. One that is widely blamed (rightly or not) on bankers. The public has a great big hair across its ass, and the name of that hair is “greedy rich guys.”

THE RECEIPTS ARE STUPID. It’s a slush fund, really. And MP’s never dreamed the paperwork would go public. So the things they tried to claim for and their correspondence with the fees office are sloppy and wrong to the point of smartass. Five pence for a shopping bag. Tampax for a male MP. Pissing and moaning whenever they didn’t get their way.

THEY DID THEIR BESTESES TO COVER IT UP. The Freedom of Information Act is new here, and ex-Speaker Martin spent over £100,000 in court trying to exempt Parliament from it. In the end, the receipts did a mysterious end-around and flat-out leaked. Oh, but the Blair-era receipts were shredded, despite being subject of an official FOI request. Hrm.

THE CONTRAST IS HIGHLY OFF-PISSING. See: timing. The economy is tough. Record layoffs and bankruptcies. There’s a rage for growing your own vegetable gardens. A waiting list for wood-burning stoves. The public mood is austere. It’s a really, really bad time to try charging a £8,865 Bang & Olufsen widescreen TV to the taxpayer.

MP’S ARE SO VERY FUCKING TONE DEAF. I cannot believe how badly these bozos are playing it — all whiny and butthurt. They compare themselves aloud to “other professionals” like doctors — yeah? What exactly are the qualifications for MP again? — and I guess their fantasy doctors live like rock stars and premier league footballers. Alternating snot-monsters and victims; the worst possible reaction. The only major figure who seems to understand how scary-mad the public is is David Cameron (mixed feelings on this; I can’t stand him).

But I think the biggest aggravating factor is, MP’s are asking the public to cut ‘em a little slack at a time when NOBODY CUTS THE BRITISH PUBLIC SLACK, EVER. Civil liberties are in the crapper. There are cameras everywhere. Three traffic no-nos and you lose your license. Councils are paying neighbors to snitch on each other. They collect your garbage half as often but ream your ass if there are recyclables in with your kitchen waste. “Health and Safety” legislation daily shears off great chunks of familiar freedoms.

The worst is at the local level, but government flows from the source. The great dam of public rage has up and busted, and MP’s are standing right in its path. Clutching receipts.

May 22, 2009 — 7:24 pm
Comments: 48

Say, is that a pie funnel under your crust, or are you happy to see me?

organmeatpie

A little something Uncle B whipped up. It involves kidneys. And pie crust. Hells no I didn’t taste it.

Please savor his culinary triumph in place of my usual thoughtful and engaging blog post. I got jammed up tonight trying to do the layouts for the church guidebook.

Yes, really.

Shut up.

May 21, 2009 — 7:44 pm
Comments: 24

Take one down, pass it around, 645 snouts in the trough…

michaelmartinSo! Michael Martin has stepped down — the first Speaker of the British House of Commons to be forced out in 300 years. Yes, chillun, that is a very big deal.

Corruption, money; the usual. But there’s a whole nother undercurrent here that you and I, Yanks that we be, are apt to miss.

Did you realize Tony Blair is a Scot? Yup. So is Gordon Brown. So are many of the ‘New’ Labour stooges, butt-munches and ass-wipes they brought to power with them in the last twelve years. There’s a huge sense in which the NuLab triumph has been the political ascendancy of Scots over English.

There’s awfully bad blood there, still. There are huge differences in history, in attitude, in economics. The closest thing in the States would be the urban/rural divide, with the Scots playing the role of resource-sucking inner-city welfare queens. Labour stuck a giant funnel in the South and has spent a decade siphoning resources to the North.

Now the Speaker of the House of Commons is a special role in British politics. Much more so than our Speaker, he is supposed to be apolitical. Even-handed. Fair. A peacemaker and judge. He keeps order, decides who speaks. Knows his historical shit. Wears silly britches and gets a special fru-fru apartment. He is known as the First Commoner of the Land.

The Speaker is elected by the whole House, but there’s a tradition that the office should shift back and forth between parties, regardless of which is in power. The last Speaker — who, by all accounts, did an excellent job — was Labour. So this one should really have been Conservative.

But the Blairites, carried away by the throbbing size of their majority in 2000, laughingly dropped a turd on Parliament. Michael Martin is a Glaswegian son of a sailor and a cleaning lady. He left school at fifteen to work sheet metal, but he aspired to higher things — union thug. From union thuggery, it was a short hop to government.

Electing this man Speaker was like making a Teamster roustabout your Miss Manners. He was a gift to the South, and the label said fuck you, snooty English beeyotches. He performed exactly as you’d expect.

This expenses scandal is big and important and touches all the parties. Martin’s resignation is neither the solution nor the end. But the sight of this porker in the trough, up to his hamhocks and squealing for more, was just too much for anyone to bear.

Even some Labour MP’s got on the bandwagon, but the leadership is madder than hell. The question is, will Labour — still very much in the majority for a little while longer — have the brass balls to shatter tradition and force a third Labour Speaker on the House?

May 20, 2009 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 10

International incident, narrowly averted

knife

Keys in the right pocket, knife in the left. I’ve done it that was since I were a wee slip of a lass of a weasel. It’s the things you don’t even know to worry about that get you when you’re a ferriner.

There was an airport-style security screening going into the building. The look on dude’s face when my NRA Commemorative Charlton Heston Three-Bladed Case Knife tumbled out told me “I’m going to have to talk to my supervisor” wasn’t a good thing. They huddled over my knife and hooted, like those monkeys in 2001.

It’s a perfectly ordinary American-street-legal pocket knife, but Supervisor told me if I were stopped for some reason by the police, I would automatically be arrested. It’s a knife. And it’s sharp — something a knife in London is not allowed to be. (I bit my tongue before I blurted, “my daddy always told me it’s the dull knife that’s dangerous”).

As it was under three inches and it wasn’t a locking blade (“my daddy always told me that a locking blade is a safety feature”), he wasn’t obliged to call the cops on me himself. But he did give me a talking-to and confiscated my deadly weapon while I was in the building.

It’s no joke. Under new rules, an arrest — even a small and stupid one — could get me kicked out of the country and barred from coming back.

Yes, today’s the day we had to drive up to sunny Croydon (think Queens) to the UK Border Agency in the aptly named Lunar House, so’s I could be biometrificated for my next round of alien papers. I left Uncle B outside. His tolerance for bullshit is extremely low. After I was disarmed, I went to the third floor to a great long room full of hundreds of green plastic chairs bolted to the floor and took a number. My number was 523.

The interview and biometrics were pretty prompt, but I waited for an hour and half while my fingerprints were checked against the ones I gave in November for my fiancée visa. They checked. I’m not approved for visa #2 yet, but it’s one more step in that direction.

I found Uncle B outside, looking splotchy and apoplectic after two hours of standing on a street corner in Croydon. Poor bastard. I didn’t have the heart to tell him beforehand he’d be the only white man in all of South London.

And my fingerprints? “In the permanent database” the helpful brochure informs me. Isn’t that swell?

May 19, 2009 — 6:56 pm
Comments: 25

My bank runs on *what*?

cashmachine

Oh, well. At least it’s Professional.

I’m sulking. I just wrote a ginormous check. After four months, I nurtured a sneaking hope the moving company had forgotten all about me and my Trans-Atlantic U-Haul Adventure. But no…they caught up with me at last. My cash, it melteth away.

And tomorrow, we drive up to London so’s I can get fingerprinted and biometrified for my ferriner’s license and national ID card. Another wodge of dough to The Man.

Sulking.

Sulking.

Drinking…

May 18, 2009 — 6:59 pm
Comments: 16