Thursday, 21 August 2014

A traditionally Post-Feminist Dichotomy

Before continuing, I'd just like to let you know that I am wearing a NATO issue kevlar helmet and flak jacket, and throwing rocks at me isn't going to work, so you may as well not bother.

It's a deeply held belief amongst men that no matter how hard you try, you will never understand 'Women'.  I agree, to an extent, in fact I'd go further... I'd say that no matter how hard you try, you will never understand 'Other People'... But forget I said that last bit, because I'm lazy, and we're talking about women, and given the option between a cheap shot and a cogent argument, I'll take the banana skin and the comedy trombone noise every time.

I work in an office, a head office in fact, for a company that describes itself on its internal motivational posters as 'Lifestyle and Image Consultants', but everyone else just calls us hairdressers of course.  And if you've been reading this sorry excuse for a blog for any length of time, you'll know who 'we' are and will have some idea of the high calibre of our rank and file employees.

Hairdressing, traditionally, is the domain of the fairer sex.  In our office and in our salons there are at least ten women for every man (In a statistical sense at least, they don't apportion them out to us at the Christmas Party or anything... Well, they didn't at the last one I went to, although I did leave early.) The only place that this isn't the case is the management team, where it's pretty much a 50/50 split. Our MD is also a woman.

In fact, the only place where women are outnumbered by men is, you've guessed it, the IT department. The woman/man ratio in there currently sits at about 1/5 - I'll let you draw your own conclusions from that.

We also have a fair old selection of people (in fairness, mostly people of the male persuasion) whose sexuality is... erm... How does one put it delicately these days? Ah, not alligned with their more traditional biological gender role.  And they mostly tend to be of the sub-genus Extravagantisimous fabuloso, if one catches my drift.  Which, of course is both perfectly fine by me, and at the same time none of my business.  Some of my closest friends are in relationships where their dangly bits won't fit together without taking a long run-up. (Apart from the occasional accidental vacuum lock between females, obviously)

There's a pretty heavy 'Empowerment' vibe running through the entire business too, people are expected to lead from the front and so forth, manage risk, take responsibility for themselves and follow interminable new pop-management doctrines passed down to us by our colonial overlords on a weekly basis without sighing and having a bit of a scoff under their breath in the kitchen.

What I'm really saying is that 90% of the job roles are filled by people with feminine characteristics. And of that group of people, 90% are fully empowered, they perform their given duties with equal, if not greater efficacy than a more masculine person would, as you would expect in these modern times. Most of them are rightly proud of their achievements.

So, my question is... On the few times a year that we have a delivery of half a ton of new promotional material (leaflets, posters, cut-out boards etc.) which gets dumped on the ground floor and requires manhandling up the stairs to the main office, because there is no lift, where does everyone disappear to?  It's like the skirting board opens up and swallows them all.  Do they hide in the cupboards? Does this magical bodily synchronisation that they all keep banging on about kick in and they all trot to the toilet en masse? How do they all re-appear once they hear the sound of the last heavy box hitting the luxiourious axminster flooring like a flock of self-righteous starlings?

Believe it or not, I didn't get into IT for the myriad box-moving opportunities.  No! It was for the fame and constant glamour!

Men and Women, 100% equal?... Yeah, right up until the point where they encounter something heavy, or sticky, or smelly... Or an earwig.

Pah! If you didn't all smell so nice I'd have nothing to do with any of you.

Yes, I have used the word 'Traditional' rather a lot, that's to subconciously con you into thinking that I'm all modern and forward thinking... But I'm really not.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014


I woke up this morning at about 04:30, about an hour and twenty before the alarm went off.  You know that feeling when you wake up, but you don't know why?  You look around to see what's different, if there's the smell of smoke, or a man with a big knife standing at the bottom of your bed.

The light was on and my wife's side of the bed was empty and cold.

Now, I snore, I've been told that I sound a little bit like someone slowly cutting their way through through a particularly bad-tempered goose using a rubber hacksaw.  So my first thought was that the better half had decamped to the comfy sofa on the lounge.  After donning my least scandalously gusseted pyjama bottoms, I forayed into the bowels of Dandy Towers.  Past the stables I went, listening to the hypnotic droning of the Alicorns as they slept and down through the kitchens where I startled cook as she stirred the morning's kedgeree, humming one of the tuneful yet haunting throat-yodels of her people.

But despite a damn-hard looking, she was no-where to be found.  Until that is, I took my search to the windy battlements.  The top floor of the Towers is the sole domain of the Mini & Micro Dandies and even a seasoned explorer such as myself thinks twice before entering into it. Luckily, as I reached the bottom of their grand staircase and started to ascend, I met the Mehmsahib and the Mini-Dandy coming the other way.

There was an expression of concern on the face of the former, and one of fading panic on the latter. Also, they were carrying sufficient bedclothes for an impromptue bivouac in the Library.

Mrs Dandy indicated that she had everything under control and that I should retire to my bed.  I considered her advice and chose to wholeheartedly ignore it and sally-forth into a line of questioning of positively Sherlockian proportions, 'What's happened then?' I asked her.

'There's been an escalation.' She replied.

Now, all joking aside, regular readers will know that Dandy Towers is haunted by my late Mother.  It's nothing new, our previous stately pile was similarly blessed, you've probably read the story about the time the Mini-Dandy met her Grandmother, despite her having inconveniently died some fifteen years previously.

Still fewer of you will have heard the tale of Piper, our second ghost.  Actually, so few of you might have heard that, that I may as well retell it here.

I think it was last year when it started, odd things happened that made you do a double take.  You would hear doors close, despite the fact that you had already closed them moments previously yourself. There would be noises that you could easily convince yourself were footsteps, that could have just as easily have been the wind, or the house settling. It was unnerving, but nothing more.

Then the whispering and the giggling started.  Those are noises that it's more difficult to explain away. The Mini Dandy started hearing people call her name behind her, almost out of earshot.  Then doorhandles started turning of their own accord (which let me tell you, puts the wind right up you the first few times you experience it.) And she then began to say 'Bye!' to the Mini Dandy whenever she left the top floor and came downstairs.

Then she started shouting 'Mum!' and 'Dad!' (Also pretty perculiar when the entire family's sat in the lounge watching TV and someone calls your name from downstairs) And that's about where we were until last night.

Oh, no, I tell a lie, the Mini Dandy's bedroom door opened recently and she asked who was there.  The little girls's voice saying 'It's me.' was not exactly what she expected.

Anyway, back to the escalation.

For a few days, my daughter had felt like she was being watched.  Not the normal type of being watched that she was used to, by my dead Mother and ghost Piper, this was different.  She said that it felt like a man.  Of course, we all automatically assumed that it would probably be her Grandfather, who passed away earlier this year.  And she didn't feel as if there was any threat or anything like that, it was just somehow 'different'

Last night, she went to bed wearing a new necklace, one that I had bought her.  She awoke just after 4:00 to briefly see it hanging in the air in front of her face, before it was snatched away, to be found laid out perfectly on the floor over the other side of the room.

She was a little shaken.

As you can probably imagine.

I'm still trying to think what I should do next, the Micro Dandy's Godparents know the County Exorcist, maybe we should seek his advice?

Or some kind of roving, freelance Medium, specialising in ectoplasmic hoovering?

I'll keep you in the loop.