Bitch on the Blog

March 5, 2011


BHB drew mildly irritating pink hanky to my castrated bull’s attention.

Which reminds me: Any of you aspiring writers out there, in need to improve your prose, please read Hemingway, particularly “Death in the afternoon” (yes, on bullfighting). Forget the gore, imbibe the prose.

The curse of the cell phone: Called a mobile in the UK, and a handy in German speaking countries. Which tells you all there is to know about the United Nations. What the French call it I only hazard to guess but I dare say they have enough sense to keep them turned off most the time – by necessity if they want to salvage any of their own and their country’s reputation.

I rarely get steamed up involuntarily but the handy cell phone of the averagely mobile has an edge.

For a while I wondered why people were talking to themselves walking down the road.

What can be so urgent, important as to stem the flow of a conversation with the person sitting next, opposite to you, just because the phone rings? Why does a cell phone take precedence over your self being physically present? Why do we always have to be available (even, see Ramana’s recent contribution, on the loo)? How did we survive in pre cell times? How did we make it to the year 2011 when all we started off with were smoke signals in some Teutonian woodland? Not expecting an answer till the next boomerang hit us between the brows – like months later?  Has self importance, a poor bedfellow to urgency,  become our master? Are we incapable of making a decision down aisle 23 whether to buy fusilli or penne (pasta shapes) without confering with whoever has sent us shopping/does the cooking? Keep the noise down, will you? I have my own decisions to make – without participating in your domestics.

Then there is the vacant look. The vacant look is when – right in the middle of some face to face communication – the other will get a call and lose track of what we were talking about. Sure, no probs. Let’s start again wasting my time (and yours, as it happens). Talk about manners. Atrocious comes to mind. I sometimes wonder what they would have made of it in your average 19th/early twentieth setting of a novel: Can you imagine Mr Darcy emerging from the pond, brooding stare, dark locks dripping, damp shirt clinging to his broad chest and then the tune of I don’t know, say, Adam Ant giving him the jingles: “Sorry, Jane. Just need to take this.” Yes, fuck you too. Doesn’t work.

There is only one person (apart from his friends in need to contact me should the shit ever hit the fan when they are out and about) who has my mobile number, and that is my son. For him I will always be contactable (what a word). Everyone else can wait till I am home in the sweet vicinity of my landline.

I won’t go into texting. I don’t text. Texting is a poor excuse for spelling shite. Apple of my eye texts me – spelling immaculate; but that’s only to humour me.  And because he knows that otherwise I will not know what he is talking about; which in turn will yield zero result. Which is why he prefers to call me rather than waste thumb power.

So yes, as you might have gathered, I am not of this handy cell world, particularly when mobile.




  1. When i see someone walking & talking (on cell/mobile/handy). I think, yes, you are not wasting a minute of your time, but what about the person you are bothering at the other end. You are wasting their time. Did you ever consider that? Probably not.

    Comment by bikehikebabe — March 5, 2011 @ 22:31 | Reply

  2. I have noticed recently that I have fallen into the habit of being expressive with my gestures while talking on the cell phone. Since whoever I am speaking to is farther away, the gestures should be more pronounced.

    My wife likes the fact that I have a cell phone, because she can locate me easier. By the same logic, she has refused to get one for herself.

    Comment by Looney — March 6, 2011 @ 15:43 | Reply

    • LOL 🙂 😀 Hahaha Hehehe Hohoho (Santa)

      Looney, you are a wonderful start for the day!

      Comment by bikehikebabe — March 6, 2011 @ 16:14 | Reply

    • Looney, maybe you were an Italian in a previous life. Limbs, hands and feet, mostly fingers, flying around in between shouting “MAMA” and then shooting or, in lean times, kniving each other (mainly in Naples or Sicily). Remind me to fabricate post on Italian invective.

      Your wife is a woman tailored to my own heart: Let there be no trace. In the best of, was it Al Pacino: Talking to me?



      Comment by Ursula — March 6, 2011 @ 16:18 | Reply

  3. I don’t know why but Mr. Darcy (Jane Austen?) reminds me of Mrs. Dalloway [only because they both start with D ]– of Cunningham’s THE HOURS. I love that book. Won a Pulitzer Prize. A tribute to Virginia Woolf. I can’t forget she walked into the river with rocks in her pockets. Must be because we did so many white water kayak river trips. Rivers are scary.

    How’s this for getting off subject?

    Comment by bikehikebabe — March 7, 2011 @ 03:30 | Reply

    • BHB, yes, Jane Austen. Should you ever watch the film go for the version with Colin Firth as Darcy. Though there have been other Darcies to swoon over. Guess what, and father-of-son only shook his head at my folly: When I first came to England my English was passable; in the sense that I knew the theory (grammar, vast vocabulary) but didn’t have a clue how to speak it. Neither did it help that ‘idioms’ always reminded me of ‘idiots’. So what does yours truly do: She reads all the Jane Austens in the original; followed by the Bronte sisters; add sprinkling of Bertrand Russell and Virginia Woolf; garnish with George Bernard Shaw. Indulge in the Sunday Times for reality check. You get the drift … And hey presto – in zero time you are a fully signed up member of the English chattering classes.

      Both you and I appear rather fond of the woman who claimed a room of her own. I haven’t read the book you mention but saw the film “The Hours” with Streep, Kidman and Moore. “Mrs Dalloway” is one of those books you don’t really understand when very young. I read it, shrugged my shoulders, put it back on my book shelves. Fast forward a few decades. Read again. Oh, yes.

      Rivers: You are right, they are scary. Yet – to me – not as scary as other water, like pond, lake or, worst case scenario, the ocean. Where I grew up when still with my grandparents there was one of those fast running crystal clear mountain streams. I was never scared of it. My grandfather showed me exactly which parts to avoid when crossing. What I like about rivers (not so much the Rhine or the Mosel or the Thames – they are sedate) their silvery quirkyness. Their speed. And the fact that the other side seems reachable. I never feel that they are menacing. Lakes? Different story. I regularly swam across a lake my grandparents and I used to stay at during the summer. I only did it to please my grandfather who was actively into sports well into his eighties. Even age 12 I’d swim across that blasted lake knowing full well that somewhere down there in the murkiness were those huge catfish lurking (you know the ones with facial hair like a cat’s whiskers and teeth to die for). Let’s just say my heart beat rose to a level to strengthen that muscle from then till eternity. I promised myself I would not let my grandfather down by dying on the far end of the lake (woodland, damp, lots of wild mushrooms, primulas in spring). The fear never left me. Which didn’t stop me from doing it again and again and again. Water features, on and off, large in my dreams. Back to rivers. So fascinating to me about Scandinavia; their word for it I have adopted into my use of language: Maelstrom. There is such music in that word. So descriptive to send a shiver down your spine. No doubt, when visiting your daughter you will have encountered a maelstrom. Am I scared of a maelstrom? No, I am not. What am I scared of? Send me on a cruise across the Atlantic or any other ocean and I will expect to end up in the Bermuda Triangle. So thanks, but no thanks.

      Got carried away there. And why not. Which reminds me: Do you remember, and maybe you do this with your grandchildren, throwing thin wooden sticks into a little stream and then running alongside it? There is such sadness when the stick suddenly gets caught in some undergrowth on the edge of the water and can’t move any further.

      Remind me to tell story of how a crab off Bournemouth Pier, Dorset, South of England, ended up with a mobile ca 2006. The coast has never been the same since.


      Comment by Ursula — March 7, 2011 @ 10:18 | Reply

      • A woman i know [taught English in high school] is in love with Jane Austin. She sometimes dresses like her, goes to Jane Austin reunions all over the country.

        Comment by bikehikebabe — March 7, 2011 @ 15:39 | Reply

  4. “Then there is the vacant look.” (HOw did I miss this post?)

    My vacant look apparently arises when my blasted OAD kicks in. (OAD? Obscure Auditory Deficiency). I can be carrying on a conversation when, unbeknown to me, my ear picks out a sound or a voice across the room and my brain locks on to this. No-one knows why this happens but apparently people like Judges, teachers, lecturers and other intelligent beings develop this. My late dear friend Elaine used to say that she avoided trying to talk to me unless we were alone together, because of this disability.

    About rivers: Did you have to listen,at school, to Smetana’s Vltava (Die Moldau) from his suite Ma Vlast? A sound picture of a river that starts with two streams? I still enjoy it from time to time….

    Your reading list puts me to shame… I had to read Northanger Abbey at school and various other pieces of Classic English Literature….. supposedly great works…who decreed that they should be described as great I wonder? No Bertrand Russell either.

    I fully understood Beverley Cleary’s frustration at reading boring middle class children’s literature when a child. She apparently determined to write amusing books for children. She did just that with her books. I had a mean trick of reading the first couple of chapters to the class and then leaving them. The most unlikely children demanded to be allowed to finish them for them selves, some even suddenly understanding why reading is worthwhile. The problem was that the Head of English/Literacy would not buy copies for school…. If she had done I’d be a lot richer now!

    Oops. There I go agan …off at a tangent!

    Comment by Magpie 11 — March 9, 2011 @ 20:21 | Reply

    • Magpie, how very interesting. Never heard of your affliction re selective hearing. Seems peculiarly ‘teacher’. Does explain a lot in hindsight.

      Was I made to listen to the Moldau? No, I wasn’t. Though my father used to sit me down (no doubt, one of the reasons I don’t particularly like Sunday afternoons) to listen to classical music and then ask me questions. Mostly to ascertain whether I could distinguish composers. Why? Who cares? Never did that to my son. Anyway, play me a piece of music and I tell you whether it’s Handel or not. I can still recall the (often fine) difference between a Mozart and a Beethoven. Tragedy (for me) being that I loved all that music but – once having left home – didn’t listen to any of it voluntarily because it caused me such sadness. Decades down I now listen to it again without my heart sinking.

      Books. Good tactic of yours. Wet the appetite. Leave them to it.

      Again, and my father is a great guy, don’t want to make him out as something he is not but by god: Nowadays parents fret how to make their children read (leading by example might help) yet in my time my father would restrict my reading. His argument being that I read too much in too little time – thus not being able to digest the read properly. That way you learn deception; how to smuggle books into house, hide them and power of the middle of the night. And why torches come in handy. Particularly when you DO NOT forget to switch them off once sleep overcomes you. I mentioned this to him recently. He still maintains that reading Camus, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer at an impressionable age is to be avoided at all cost. I don’t agree. But then I read Camus, Nietzsche and Schopenhauer at an impressionable age. Didn’t I?

      Am I to understand that your alias is “Beverly” writing amusing children’s books?


      Comment by Ursula — March 10, 2011 @ 06:20 | Reply

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