What the human race is capable of.

If you can take a box of eggs, some butter, a few rashers of bacon, some vinegar, and create perfect eggs benedict, you can do anything.The fact that we figured out how to make this amazing and perfect dish, out of such mundane ingredients-literally means there is hope for us all.Also that I may have cholesterol of Bernard Manning. And that of all my vices, it is possibly food which will see me off.

Back to the domestic.

As a light change from ranting. Today, we will mainly be moaning. Today we will be mainly moaning about my fire. And my house. And other stuff.Now first, let me say, from March to October, I love my house. I do. It has beautiful high ceilings, its got a beautiful ornate fire place, the rooms are big, I have the most amazing views over the valley. A 19th century railway cottage. In summer, the stone walls mean that the house is always nice and cool, the sense of proportion in the rooms gives a very chilled out feel. The walls are big enough to hold huge canvases without them looking completely out of place. My landlady is my friend, and is very lovely, which is a big bonus. As is the affordable rent.Then October comes. And its cold. And the lovely, slightly battered, airy house, becomes a cold, draughty, dust covered nightmare.My plumbing has personality. Battered, not working, badly fitted, personality.  A personality which means that my hot water is ALWAYS scalding. Unless the washing machine kicks in while you are in the shower.  In which case it is freezing. It has a personality which means it is so inefficient, that even at full pelt it kicks out no heat, while running me up a gas bill of £600 last winter THe two huge beautiful full lenght windows in each room, which let in the light so beautifully- also let in the cold.The huge, useful cellar under the whole of the house, where I do my laundry, mean that the tiled and wooden floors of the first floor, instead of under floor heating, have underfloor COLD. Which stays – cold.The side door which lets you sit on the step smoking in the summer, allows gales through, in teh winter. And my main source of heat for the downstairs, even with radiators the size of football pitches, is the fire, and to supplement, the cooker.We are barely into autumn- but we are already in a routine where I have to go to my beautifully ornate, real fire, every teatime, and don my attractive soot covered rubber gloves. Rachel and I wrap up the newspapers which I have been collecting all summer, into knots. I then stick my hand between two ridiculously narrow bars, which allow my delicate wrists through(clearly designed for a pre-pubescent scullery maid), so I can scoop out yesterdays ashes and cinders. By January, I will be doing this first thing every morning.THe lillipution grate, mean that this has to be done EVERY time I rebuild the fire-because any build up of ash, means no future fire will take. Once I have scooped out the cinders, and the ashes, we start by placing newspaper knots down. THen kindling. Then firelighters. THen, because the stupidly ornate grate will not allow coal through it, we open a trap in the top of fire, through which I can delicately pour coal. Dirty black coal.THen we hope the fire lights.THe fire is a heavy cast iron stove, with three narrow doors which run across it. On gives access to the ashes tray. One to the fire itself. One is a trap through which we pour coal.We keep the top two doors closed, while we pray to god. I bet man didnt realise there would be so much praying involved, when Prometheus turned up. If we open the doors too soon- The room is filled with black smoke. The dilemma between clearing the black smoke, and allowing in the freezingness, is one that is mulled over, throughout the winter months.If the fire catches, we then wait for oh…40 minutes, and when the heavy cast iron has absorbed enough heat, that it may decide to share it with the rest of us. The fire soars, mainly heating the chimney and the sky above-but offering a little warmth to the mere mortals who pay for the coal. Considering how difficult it is to get heat out of the fucker, it is remarkable how much black dust it leaves, like a wicked snowfall over every single thing downstairs. Including the solid floors, so unless slippers are worn, you not only have black lungs, but black feet. By February, my daughter will delight in showing me her black bogies.In addition to this, in winter, when it becomes necessary that the fire stay lit- so that we dont er…die of cold. One has to plan ones life, around keeping the fucker lit. One cannot be distracted in town for long, if one needs to keep the fire lit, because one has to go home and stoke it. Knowing that if one forgets, the embers will only be cool enough to restart the fire after about three hours, so the luxury of warmth on the ground floor is one that will have to be postponed till later,while one decamps upstairs.And by the time we are in the wilds of January/February, one also needs the supplementary power of the cooker- meaning that lots of stews are cooked, which require long periods of the oven being on.Now dont get me wrong. Sitting in a cozy downstairs, with a roaring fire, and a casserole in the oven, in this beautiful house, is great. But sometimes, I would like a bit of ‘onandoffability’. At this moment in time, I would quite like a Barrats new build. WIth polystyrene walls, and a gas fire with attractive nobbles of glass that glow red and yellow. I do hope that in March I am still keeping this blog, and haven’t died of hypothermia, or a respiratory disease.

Provoked?

Tell you something about me, that you probably hadn’t guessed. I bet you wouldn’t have thought for one second, that a left wing rabid feminist ranter like me, would be all ‘pro’-the ‘law and order’ agenda. Seriously, one of my biggest rant topics, is the way that we are so soft on crime.Take murder for instance. What could drive you to commit murder? To take another persons life. How serious would it have to be, that you would actually take another human beings life?Legislation provides human beings, in extraordinary situations, with a defence if they are ever unfortunate enough to find themselves in a situation, where they are faced with that question. I can argue that another persons conduct was so provocative, that it caused a temporary loss of control, and argue that the provocation was so severe, that I should be acquitted.Seems sensible to me. But like I say. I am a bit of ranter about being tough on crime. So the question for me, to prevent us being soft on murderers, is what could reasonably constitute enough of a provocation?As a social worker, and someone who grew up in care, am all to familiar with domestic abuse and its effects. I know the figures, which show Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is more likely to occur  if someone has been living in an environment where they are continually abused, rather than from one traumatic incident. I know that in children, we view ongoing abuse, as more damaging, than one single occurence.I have seen the research which shows how closely the pattern of domestic abuse, mirrors techniques used to break prisoners of war, and how closely the trauma which results mirrors that experienced by pow’s. I figure anyone who has been subject to a cycle of abuse so damaging, can plead provocation. I am willing to accept that that is a mitigation, to accept that a killing should be treated as manslaughter in those circumstances.I am not such a hard nut law and order ranter, not when there is so much clear evidence.But lets put that reasonable use of the provocation term to the side for a moment. Lets look at some of the others for a second.What about infidelity? If you came home to find your one and only, banging the milkman? I can see how you might be pissed off if that happened.  You know, relationships are hard, and finding out someone has betrayed you…I can see why that would fuck you off. Even heartbroken. Are those circumstances such, that you would lose control, temporarily, and commit murder? Is the act of being unfaithful, one that should cost you your life? Is infidelity punishable by death? I mean really, what is the actual effect of finding out your partner is banging someone else? You either live with it, and stay with that person, or you dont live with it, and  you start over. I never heard of someone dying because someone was unfaithful. A bruised ego. A broken heart. But the heart never stops actually beating.The thing is, the domestic violence thing. THere is a clear body of evidence, that this could actually lead to a loss of control sufficient that you would take someones life. It took a long time, and a lot of fighting, before that evidence was accepted. What evidence is there, that for a reasonable person, finding out that their partner had sex with someone else, is likely to lead to them being completely unable to prevent themselves from killing that person. So much so, that they can be protected under law.Well apparently, the judges that made this ruling, didnt need actual evidence. They watch telly, and go to the Opera-and you cant have a good story without a bit of sexual jealousy…Now, I will leave my views on monogamy out of this for now(although again, I wonder what it is, that leads us to value this thing above all others, to the point where it is not just a grounds for divorce, but so serious that its absence would lead to justification for losing your life). As someone who is sick of this country being ‘SOFT ON CRIME’-I want to know what kind of message it sends, that so little self control is needed, that your partner being unfaithful is enough to justify you causing their death. Especially given how long it took for people to accept a clear body of evidence, that domestic abuse could be a provocation.What I dont understand is, if I am ranting about Law and Order here. If I am ranting about being tough on crime. Tough on murderers. Why am I at odds with the traditional ‘law and order’ brigade. Couldn’t be because most victims of domestic violence are women could it? Or most people arguing that taking a persons life because they were unfaithful, was justified, are men would it? Nah. Then this wouldn’t be a ‘law and order’ rant, it would be a feminist rant… While we are on ‘law and order’-we could start talking about rape…but thats another blog post.

Dear man who runs the Hebden Bridge Co-Op.

Dear Man who runs the Hebden Bridge Co-Op,If I wanted half the fat from my feta cheese, I would just eat half the fucking amount. If you insist on stocking such a vile product, please could you stick it miles away from the real feta, in different packaging. Also, could you please start stocking Yeo Valley Apricot Yoghurt, and fresh chives, I would be very grateful, as I have asked you several MILLION times.Kind Regards,Deeplyflawedbuttrying.

Whilst I enjoyed watching Nick Griffin being torn a new arsehole……

Question Time last night, was a bit like Jerry Springer for the middle classes. We got to watch, as reason and intellect kicked the arse of bigotry and ignorance. We watched as the sheer eloquence of Bonnie Greer, and Sarweeda Warsi, brought into sharp relief the flawed and bigoted premises which underpin the BNP’s ‘politics’. It was brilliant telly. By the end, I was praying taht Nick Griffin be allowed to speak, because every time he opened his mouth for any length of time, he dug himself deeper and showed up another of his prejudices. My heart was in my mouth… my friends all thought the same.And for a brief moment, I truly thought that the BBC had done the right thing, by giving him the air of publicity. BUt then I remembered something. I have never been in danger of voting BNP, neither have the friends of mine who were cheering.We kid ourselves that the reason people vote BNP is some kind of apathy with a political process, that has resulted in people feeling disenfranchised. A vote to say you are sick of the tories/labour/libdems. I am fairly sure that in the run up to the programme, my view was that the best way to tackle people like Nick Griffin, was to show their views for what they are.I forgot the evidence of my own eyes, I forgot to apply logic. I was kidding myself that if people could see Nick Griffin for what he is, then somehow his threat would be diminished.In the town where I live, you wont find a BNP supporter. In the midst of organochavs and social workers, I will only find people who agree with me. In the towns that surround where I live, Keighley, Burnley, Rochdale, Halifax- there were many people, who saw the show very differently.I know that there were pubs last night, where they saw someone they believe to be a valid politician, humiliated solely by having his views subjected to debate. They didnt need to see through Nick Griffins lies, and misrepresentations. They already know what he stands for. They agree with him.Voting BNP is not an act of apathy. Getting up off your arse, to vote BNP is an act of racism. The people who are most at threat by NIck Griffin didnt see the views they thought he had, stripped away, to reveal racism and ignorance. They already agreed with the views he was trying to hide.People might like to discuss the BNP as a whipping stick for the mainstream political parties but the people who actually vote BNP are racist(there are many less of them, than they would lead you to believe). And the ideas they espouse are poison. They should never have been up for debate. The idea that they are debatable, is as ludicrous and dangerous as the idea that they should be allowed to be represented in the political process.You cant refuse to hire someone on the grounds of race= yet you can go out and vote for a party, whose entire manifesto is based on racism? BNP should not be a legitimate political party. There should never have been a question of whether they were to appear on Question Time, because we should have legislated against a party who exist for this reason long ago.BNP are not a political party. They have no ‘politics’. They have hatred, and bigotry, the rest- window dressing. ‘Debating’ the views of the BNP implies there is something to actually debate. Just as allowing the racism that is outlawed in all other areas of our life, to be reflected in a political party, and allowing the BNP to exist,  legitimises those views. Allowing them to be debated on the most important political show in the UK, gives them  legitimacy.And the fire lit by that legitimicy,  given the oxygen of publicity, will respond as if doused with petrol, when added to by the perceived ‘persecution’ of this man. Last night was the Nick Griffin show. It was a show where the opinions that people had already were validated, and a show which allowed Nick Griffin to say that he was persecuted and attacked for valid political views. And it was a show that said loud and clear, these views are worthy of debate.I still think the BBC had no choice but to allow him to appear- I just do not understand why the BNP is allowed to exist in the first place.And while teh disgust of the politicians who debated with him last night was admirable, remember these are people who helped create this fire. Because underneath their disgust, was the fact that they are the ones who coined the terms ‘bogus asylum seeker’, have been willing to whip up islamaphobia, and homophobia, and play on the politics of fear- when it has been expedient for them.That said, while I am fairly sure last nights programme did more harm than good – I will still be trying to organise a big gay kissathon, outside Nick Griffins house. #gogayforgriffin