Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Alright Darlin?

If you’ve heard the news over the past couple of days, you’ve probably heard about the case of Poppy Smart.

You might not have heard her name, a couple of things I heard on the way into work this morning just referred to her as ‘A Young Woman’ who complained to the Police about being wolf-whistled at by some builders.

A couple of the radio stations I was listening to even went as far as doing a bit of a Vox-pop to see whether their listeners were of the opinion that it was ‘all in fun’ and ‘a bit of a tradition’ rather than misogynistic, hurtful and abusive.  In amongst all the little old ladies saying how much they wished that cheeky chappies were still whistling at them like they used to when they were pottering about town wearing the seamed nylons that they got off that nice American Airman in 1943, and the middle-aged men saying how it was just how people (men) showed their appreciation towards a woman that they found attractive, there was this one chap from Lichfield I think, that said it was completely unacceptable, he was an ex-builder, and when the reporter heard that, he tried to make him into the villain for not actively doing anything about it.

In fact, one particularly well-read sounding listener had the opinion that it must be acceptable because women wolf-whistle and leer at male strippers... Cleverly forgetting the fact that this only happens during the times when they were earning vast sums of money waving their bodies at unfulfilled women, rather than just walking down the road on their way to work.

So, not mad at all then, that's lucky.

The main thing that shocked me was that both Poppy and the Police were vilified for taking it seriously.

Let’s just go back over that again… A young woman has been accused of wasting Police time because she felt that she was the victim of sexual harassment.

And the Police are being accused of wasting time and money because they had the audacity to investigate a potential sex-crime.  One of the people who complained about the Police trying to ensure the continued safety of a young girl was the potential Conservative MP for Shipley, West Yorks, Philip Davies… Nice call there Phil, Big clap from all of us here at ‘The Dandy’ – Seriously, read the guy’s Wikipedia page HERE – He truly is a Prince among men, or do I mean evil, divisive scrote? I always get them mixed up – And for some reason he’s divorced, I honestly can’t imagine why. But it certainly won't be because he's currently living with another female MP.

To an extent though, if I were to really give a crap about seeming to be unbiased, I could say that I kind of understand that being wolf-whistled at isn’t being raped, it isn’t being stabbed or having your kids set fire to by a terrorist… And I can sympathise with the people (both men and women) who’ve said that she should just accept it as a compliment, or part of modern life, or that if she didn’t like it she should walk a different way.

But, I really don’t… I couldn’t care less what the ill-informed, knee-jerk, reactionary masses think.  I didn’t start this blog because I’m shy of sharing my opinion with the world in general.

Firstly, Poppy (I hope she doesn’t mind me calling her Poppy… Perhaps Ms. Smart would be more polite…) wasn’t just wolf-whistled at on a couple of occasions, it was systematic, day in, day out, over an extended period of time.  When she made it clear to the main perpetrator that she wasn’t interested and asked him to stop, he descended the scaffolding and confronted her face to face, stopping her from leaving.

If that’s not harassment, I don’t know what is.

I’ve worked on building sites all over the country for a fairly large proportion of my life and I know that wolf-whistling (and cat-calling, and general abuse towards women, obviously effeminate men, fat people, schoolgirls, Asian people and, in fact, pretty much anyone who’s not a builder) goes on all the time.  It’s all abusive, none of it is good natured – It’s a power thing, these men (because it’s still 99.9% men on most building sites) think that they are more powerful, they’re in a gang, they’re physically higher up on the scaffold, they’re ‘hard’ from doing manual labour all day every day.  They also don’t register the target of their abuse as people… They’re ‘things’, they’re ‘a cracking arse’ or ‘a f*cking queer’ or ‘a filthy p*ki’.

I remember that I once worked for a company that was involved with the government’s ‘Building Schools for the Future’ project… We’d be on secondary schools’ premises pretty much all of the time, either putting in an entirely new building, or upgrading an existing one. In amongst all the standard signage telling you that entering the site required you to have PPE (Hat, boots, hi-viz), and that if you didn’t sign in you wouldn’t get paid, there was a really big one that said that if there were any complaints from the staff about you, if you were found to be ‘looking’ at the children or engaging them in any conversation other than that required for you to do your job (So you could happily ask them to move out of the way if you were carrying some plasterboard) – You would be removed from the site, never to return – And rightly so.

Of course, you also get those people who give it the old ‘You can’t even pay a woman a compliment any more without her thinking that you’re trying to have sex with her.’  Well, I’m sorry, but you can.  If you think someone’s pretty on the street and you just can’t keep it to yourself for some reason, smile at them – Don’t leer at them, make the two-handed groping gesture and shout “Lovely jugs – Give us a go on them!” at the top of your voice.  If you know someone well enough to talk to, and you think that they look nice, tell them... But say “Have you had your hair done, it suits you.” Not, “Is that lipstick new, it makes you look like a filthy strumpet.” And offer them a place on your lap.

It’s not rocket science, you just think about what you’re about to say… You ask yourself “How would I feel if someone said that to my wife/sister/daughter/mother?” – If your first reaction is “Well, obviously I would punch them to death” – Then maybe that’s the clue that tells you that it’s inappropriate.  Maybe you shouldn’t say it.

I’m no angel, by any means… I’ll say that at some time during our acquaintance, I have called 90% of the women that I know, ‘love’ or ‘darlin’ or ‘sweetie’ or ‘girlie’.  I’ll even go as far as the occasional ‘wench’ or ‘Tuppeny Who-er’, but only to those who know me insanely well, to those who I know, for sure, will not be offended by it, (Actually, if I've got it wrong, and you are offended by it, please tell me… I could be sat here thinking how wonderfully deconstructed I am – What all the time I’m coming across as a right git)

So, when it boils down to it, if what you’re doing is making someone feel uncomfortable, it’s wrong, don’t do it.  If they are made to feel uncomfortable by your objectification, if you are treating them as an attractive object (and in the case of another human being, you’d be petulant to think that the attractiveness was anything but sexual, you can’t tell if someone has an attractive personality from halfway up a set of scaffolding) then it’s sexual harassment, which makes you a micro-phallused deviant, and not in a good way.

And if that sexual harassment is directed towards a schoolgirl… That implies that you find a child sexually attractive…

And there’s a special word for people like that you know.

Monday, 27 April 2015

And you thought I was famous before!

Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by.

I know it’s Monday and everything, and the weather guy says that it’s the last bit of decent weather we’re going to get until Judgement Day (That’s the religious one, not the Terminator one – Although saying that…) due to some Arctic ‘Ice Plume’ or something that’s going to cause widespread ice-ages and polar bears wandering around the beaches of Southern Florida wearing Macklemore style overcoats and asking people to turn the A/C off.  But I’m in an OK mood.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t perfect... I mean, I only won £3 on the lottery this weekend and payday’s still almost a week away.  I had a pretty good weekend, it was the MicroDandy’s birthday weekend in fact.  We played mini-golf and ate sushi – We also saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron (Which is a great film, if you’re a nine-year-old, like I am)

But the best thing that happened to me, personally, apart from enjoying the adorable sound of my youngest child enjoying himself (Which I am in no way contractually obliged to say… *cough*) was receiving an IM which said, and I quote:

‘Did you check the blog yet today?’

It was from a Twitter friend of mine – One of those people whom I’ve never met, but talk to/about regularly, called, @tattooed_mummy – You should follow her, in fact, treat this as a #FridayFollow – But… uh… on, like… a Monday.  She’s the sort of person that comes to mind when you hear someone say the word ‘Blogger’ on the news.  She does product testing for real companies and ‘Mum stuff’ and she’s an official live-blogger for Camp Bestival and she wins iPads from popular retailers by saying clever things to their advertising departments.  Also she seems to have gone all ‘afroth’ about Poldark and her Twitter feed is full of pictures of Aiden Turner with no shirt on at the moment – Make of that what you will.

Another thing she does, is run, via her Blog ‘Tattooed Mummy’s Randoms’ (www.tattooedmummy.co.uk) The ‘Alternative Blog Awards’ This year, I was honoured enough to be nominated (by real, live, members of the public, probably) in not one, but two categories: ‘Wordy Blogger’ – An award for bloggers who use fifteen words in any situation where three would normally do, and ‘The Slacker Award’ – for bloggers who have recently lapsed in their previous output volume… Which I guess I can’t really disagree with.

And see if you can guess what happened?

I WON! – And also lost, but more of that later… I won the award for ‘Wordy Blogger’ – I was voted, possibly by one or many of you wonderful people, as the alternative blogger most likely to drown you in sheer volume of words… Which was nice… It made me very happy indeed… And I made my entire family preface every reference to me with ‘The Award Winning…’ for the entire weekend.  So, instead of my wife asking me if I’d like a cup of tea, I would force her to ask “Would the Award Winning Chimping Dandy like a cup of tea?” – Which seemingly got real old, real fast...

You normal people are hard to work out sometimes.

Anywho, I’m sure Tattooed Mummy won’t mind if I shared all the other worthy winners with you scabrous lot…

Under 16 category
The winner is https://spacebunker.wordpress.com A 15 year old with a dream of becoming an astronautical engineer.

Blogger you'd most like to take home 
Well of course there were lots of great bloggers suggested but this one stole your hearts, yes, it’s the friendly MotherScuffer at http://motherhoodjourneys.com/ (We like MotherScuffer, her life could so easily be transformed into a 70's sitcom, or gritty Alan Bennett/Bleasdale style play - She was also mentioned at the end of THIS BLOG POST which was quite popular)

Based on urine output of readers goes to http://www.bigfashionista.co.uk who has mostly been ranting lately but still managing to keep it witty.

Goes to http://claraunravelled.co.uk who needs to up her game by the sound of it, have a read, comment, nag her. (This is a total swiz, I should have won this one easily, I've not blogged for months!)

Wordy Blogger
The well-deserved http://thechimpingdandy.blogspot.com who does indeed waffle a bit <-- This is me, in case you hadn’t noticed, because I am mostly very excellent.

The very worthy winner (again) is the super MotherScuffer at http://motherhoodjourneys.com - a perfectly lovely blog, full of the ups and downs of life.

Blogger who should know better 
This award won by http://fudgecrumpet.com though I doubt he will learn from this.


Yes, I agree that I should have pretty much swept the board (except, perhaps the under sixteen category – There’s only so much Oil of Olay will do for you) – But one’s better than none, as they say.

You should definitely take a look at all of these blogs, they’re funny, strange, informative, maudlin and thought provoking in equal measure.

They say you can gauge your success by the quality of your peers… So, all in all, I must be pretty bloody splendid to be surrounded by that lot – But you all already knew that, right?


What? Sorry? You want to know if I won anything?   Well, to be honest it’s more the general cachet of winning an award, it’s not about the actual statue, or the certificate, or the VIP ticket to the clothing-optional massage emporium, it’s the…

Erm… OK...

I won (I assume a year’s) membership of ‘The Tripe Club’ – The Tripe Marketing Board’s membership organisation. I’ll wear my badge proudly.

(They follow me on Twitter now, you know)

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

You know how the smallest thing can trigger a memory?

I was driving to work this morning, thinking how lucky I was that it only takes an hour and a half and that it’s payday tomorrow. When Status Quo came on Radio 2 (I listen to Radio 2 because I am old, and bald, and fat – and because one day, Chris Evans might make reference to the two books that I sent for him and the team to have a read of – But I shan’t be holding my breath, because: implied advertising / BBC / not in this day and age / Oh blimey no, more than my job’s worth.)

And it certainly wouldn’t happen this week (or next week) as he’s currently off and Sara Cox is filling in for him – And it’s his Birthday today (1/4/15 – April Fool’s day… Figures)– Happy Birthday Chap

So, got hit a bit with the tangent-bat there didn’t we?  Back to The Quo.  Now, I can’t actually remember which track it was that they played.  It wasn’t Caroline, or Rocking all over the World and in fairness it doesn’t matter as my vision did the whole ‘biddle-biddle-biddle’ thing and I was transported back to 1985 and a sticky-floored nightclub in Derby called…

The Rockhouse…

Now, I’ve spoken about The Rockhouse before, if you remember it’s where those nice, friendly ladies, Rockbitch, played and my gibbon-armed colleague managed to investigate their anatomy quite closely a few times. In the late 80’s – early 90’s. It was pretty much my second home.  I had a lot of ‘experiences' there, but the one that came to mind in this particular instance was one that happened most weekends (if a particular instance can happen repeatedly that is)

You know a particular song that has a dance routine?  I’m thinking of things like The Macarena and suchlike.  Or how in any given Hollywood film that features a dance-number there’s a bit where all the ‘normal’ extras clear off and are replaced by ‘super-pretty’ extras who launch into a spectacularly choreographed routine featuring a song that the leading man has only just written?

There’d be a time when the DJ would play Status Quo… Any Status Quo track would do*, and two lines of greasy biker/rocker/grebo types would line up facing each other like the chorus line of Mad-Max the musical and ‘spread’ – Now you’ve probably seen this dance even if you’ve not known what it is, it happens a lot at birthday discos for 40 & 50 somethings and wedding receptions where the just-pre-elderly enjoy embarrassing the youngsters. It consists of a number of people (Well, I suppose one person can spread, but it’s probably the saddest sight in the world) standing, facing each other and then sort of moving the top half of their bodies, forcefully, left and right with the beat whilst leaving their bottom halves immobile.

I’m not describing this hugely well am I?

But you know what I mean right?  Believe it or not, there was a hierarchy of ‘spreaders’…

Right at the bottom were the ‘swayers’ – The people who really didn’t know what was going on and just wanted to be part of something larger than themselves. They would look, nervously, along the spreading line whilst flopping about whilst repeatedly falling out of time with everyone else.  They were often felled by impromptu accidental head-butts.  I guess that you’d call them n00bs nowadays.

Then you had the ‘loopers’ – The ones who put their thumbs in the belt-loops of their jeans as they had seen on Top of the Pops the week before… This was a common misunderstanding by ‘trendies’ and this was a dance more associated with the bands The Bay City Rollers & Mudd in the previous decade.  This is the style you’d mostly see at parties.

Then, above the ‘loopers’ by quite a large amount, were the ‘punchers’. These were the first rank of ‘real’ spreaders.  The dance itself was very simple, you twisted to the right for two beats, looking down, then moved your head/hands to the upper left for a beat, then to the upper right for a beat, then down and left for two beats (Repeat ad nauseum – sometimes quite literally) – A ‘puncher’ is identified by a punching motion during the upper two beats, often with the opposite hand.  Occasionally, people stood next to punchers were rendered unconscious due to standing too close… More often than not, during a guitar solo.

Right at the top of the tree you have the ‘Ninjas’ or ‘Aces’ – These people are the elite.  They’ve been spreading to Status Quo songs since before Frank & Ricky were touring in Frank’s Dad’s Ice-Cream van singing about Matchstick men.  Their bodies move like heated quicksilver, they watch with impunity as the people next to them in line fall to the floor in exhaustion.  Where ‘punchers’ punched the air, the ‘ninjas’ would use an open hand in such graceful movements as ‘clearing away the mystic wind’ and the ever popular ‘if you only touch it gently, it’s not technically masturbation’.  There was no sweating from them, no heavy breathing, and no excuses.  And you could tell who they were even if they weren’t dancing for two easily spotted tell-tale features:

  1. 1)      They wore crowns and ermine capes – A bit like Freddie Mercury’s
  2. 2)      They had ‘trap’ muscles (the ones that join your head to your shoulders) like a steroid-addled cardassian weight-lifter from all of the forcefull bobbing about

I’m proud to say I was eventually one of their number, it took me years to work my way from being a humble ‘swayer’ through the ranks of myriad ‘punchers’ to the heady heights of ‘Ninja’dom. 

What did it earn me, other than the undying respect of my peers? you ask.

Well I'll tell you...

I could legally ask one of the lower ranked customers to give me a piggy-back across the 18” of flooded gents’ toilet.  And they told me who could turn off the security cameras whilst I became ‘better acquainted’ with various young ladies on the fire escape outside, rather than televising it in HD on the stage projector.

(OK, so technically that only happened once, but it was a very long time ago. And it wasn't to me, honest.)

'They' say you should dance like no-one's watching.  I beg to differ, I say you should dance like everyone's watching, but that might be 'cos I'm a massive show-off - Or a bit of a cock.

Rock-on kids

*and possibly ‘Spirit in the Sky’ by Doctor & the Medics but not all the time.