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Sour Times

11 Sep

On the Body

9 Jul

During the three and a half hours I spent in A&E last night, I had plenty of time to consider the human body (including the body of an elderly gentleman who wore his hospital gown both untied and the wrong way round). It wasn’t how I had intended to spend my evening, but I suppose it had some value as it kept from me smacking the face of the bubblegum-chewing child who sat next to me for the majority of my stay.

9A6_cuerpoFrom a medical perspective, bodies pretty much serve one basic purpose: they are bags of skins in which we carry our bones, muscles and guts. Some bodies are big, some are small. Some have hair all over them, others don’t. Women’s bodies have lovely, soft curves, and men’s bodies have dangly bits which apparently, I have recently learned, go teeny tiny as they age. Whatever — it doesn’t really matter what the body looks like: its job is simply to keep our insides inside.

(Note: I do not mean to imply that the processes that go on within the body aren’t complicated. Indeed they are. However, as I am not a scientist, how all that stuff works really isn’t any of my business.)

So on a very practical level, as long as our bones, muscles, and guts stay out of sight, our bodies shouldn’t be a worry. However, if the magazines I skimmed through last evening are anything to go by (and I think they are, despite their having been published in 1982), we are bloody obsessed with the human body. And the main obsession appears to be changing the way ours looks.

Now I’m not saying I don’t understand the desire to look good. A cursory glance over my person proves that an appealing appearance is of importance to me. I like to keep fit, my hair is nicely styled, and there’s no reason cleavage like mine shouldn’t be out on show. However, when a desire to improve our looks involves going against nature and/or doing our health harm, well, there’s a problem there.

Not all bodies have trim waistlines, puffed out lips or wrinkle-free skin. That’s not a bad thing; it’s a fact of life. We don’t need to invest so much time, worry and money trying to make our bodies all look the same. Instead, we need to just be comfortable with ourselves. I know for many that’s easier said than done, but trust me, it’s a sound strategy, because self-hate is never a good look for anyone.

Today, I’ve been taking it a bit easy after the trauma of last night. Please don’t worry yourselves over my health, though — in the end, I only needed a few quick stitches on my ring finger and then I was right as rain. That’s the last time I use someone else’s knife when playing Five Finger Fillet. You live and learn, I guess.

A Lovely Pre-Match Story

14 Jun

Once upon a time in a green and pleasant land, men, women and children woke with a great sense of anticipation. A little boy in Exeter refused to eat his breakfast until his father joined him in singing a variety of football chants across the kitchen table. A mother in Dewsbury quickly started her ironing, did the washing up, hoovered the front room, and nipped out to the shops to buy her lottery tickets so she’d have all her work done in plenty of time. Thousands of hungover lasses in Newcastle woke up in strangers’ beds with a desire to get home as soon as possible.

The sense of excitement grew throughout the day. A bin man in Croydon braved the PC Brigade, pinned a flag of St George to the back of his fluorescent tabard and walked into a local pub. As a group of Scousers pushed her and her shopping cart over, a granny gave a cry that sounded like “England til I die” (though it might have actually been, “Help! Police!”). A benefit cheat in Derby spent two hours making sure his telly was precisely angled to allow for maximum viewing pleasure. An intelligent and sexy woman in my very own village asked her houseboy Christopher to hurry through her usual pedicure.

A flock of doves flew over a playing field in Basingstoke.

Today was the day. An entire bunting-covered nation put their mobiles on vibrate, opened their tabs at the bar and waited for the moment of truth.

Make A Little Effort Please, People, It’s A Holiday For Christ’s Sake

28 Nov

Dorothy Parker said gratitude is the meanest and most snivelling attribute in the world, and she makes a good point.  In fact, that’s probably the simplest explanation for why I’ve never married: there’s little less appealing than a person who can’t stop telling everyone how thankful he is to have me in his life. Restating the obvious does get tiresome rather quickly.

That said, I think more obnoxious are the people who can’t find a single thing in the world to be grateful for. Right now in America, I don’t doubt there are millions who, having wept over their TV turkey dinners, are watching King Kong and wondering why they are alone and miserable on Thanksgiving Day. The smiling faces of families at the Macy’s Parade, the constant commercials for Black Friday sales they cannot afford to take advantage of and the piles of empties lined up on the kitchen counter only serve as evidence that there is nothing for which they can give thanks.  You know who you are (my guess is if you’re online reading this instead of spending time with loved ones, you are probably one of the saddos of which I speak). Pull yourself together and try a bit harder.

Everyone can find something to be grateful for this holiday, if you really put your mind to it.  Out of the goodness of my heart, let me offer some suggestions to get the ball rolling:

  • Be grateful that fluffy little puppies exist
  • Be grateful that modern dentistry uses anesthesia
  • Be grateful that your hair is still full of bounce (disregard if you are bald)
  • Be grateful that shards of glass aren’t a dietary staple
  • Be grateful that you do not have to have a boil on your eyeball lanced
  • Be grateful that Dina and Michael Lohan are not your parents (disregard if they are)
  • Be grateful that your suicide attempt did not leave you alive but essentially a vegetable

See? With a little effort and imagination, you will be able to find something that makes you can appreciate. If all fails, be thankful I took the time out of my busy schedule to write this thoughtful message. I don’t do this for my health, you know.

Do Good And Don’t Worry To Whom

12 Aug

This proverb is one of the many reasons I love the Mexican people (their overindulgence in cilantro is perhaps the only reason I do not). Too many people today only “do good” if it benefits their friends or family or even themselves personally—by helping them get promoted at work, go to the head of the class once they get to heaven or satisfy their God complex.

When was the last time you did good without worrying to whom? You just did something good, something nice, something kind. You didn’t tell anyone, maybe not even the person who benefited (making anonymous erotic phonecalls, I’m afraid, does not count). What would happen if you did something like this today? What could it hurt? Whom could it help?

I’d like to say I do good like this all the time. But, of course, I can’t say that because it would be taking credit for my good acts, which nullifies the very point I’m trying to make (pay attention, please). So I won’t say that I do good all the time, but instead I shall say that I will try to be more like the Mexicans and spread a little sunshine around—to anyone, to everyone—just because doing good is good. You should do some good, too. If you do, resist the temptation to email me to detail what you’ve done, because one, keeping quiet about it is part of the challenge and two, I’m not really that interested in you as a person and you are quickly becoming tiresome to me.

The Call of Nature

22 Jul

While I have had harsh words in the past for science and the brain boxes who dedicate their lives to needlessly showing me photos of the insides of frogs, I would hate for anyone to think that I was anti-nature. I am not. The natural world is great in my book. In fact, I choose nature over non-nature every time.

Today, for example, it’s been all nature, all morning over here at the Whitt-Wellington homestead. Christopher and I woke early in the hopes of getting to work before the mercury got too high. There’s a tree in the garden which has been growing dangerously close to the back wall. While I acknowledge and admire the balls it takes for a tree to do that, I wanted it nipped in the bud (quite literally) before it caused any trouble.  I was happy to hold the ladder as Christopher climbed up; it was such a beautiful sight seeing a strong, young man amidst the green branches with the morning sun’s rays catching the blonde highlights in his hair. I wish I had had my camera at hand to take a photo, but I felt satisfied that the image was burned into my memory (and besides I don’t like to leave Christopher on his own with the shears).  The job took a little longer than we had anticipated, but that’s another wonderful characteristic of nature: it’s a worthy foe.

However, not all of our morning experiences in nature were adversarial. I plucked the ready vegetables our greenhouse garden had to offer us, while Christopher tidied the flowerbeds. After rinsing our harvest, I popped on the kettle, just as Christopher washed the last bit of dirt from his sturdy hands. We went back out to the garden to enjoy our tea, and I saw that Christopher had topped the table with a bouquet of lovely blooms.

A wonderful morning, for sure, all courtesy of nature.

One area where I can come together with the scientists (note: get your mind out of the gutter) is the realisation that humans have a responsibility to look after nature. Actually, since many religions see the Earth as God’s creation and believe the big guy expects us to be its stewards, we’re all really in agreement. Our world would be greatly improved if we gave nature a little more props, doing all we can to treat it right and show it respect — in all its forms, whether it’s hot or cold, dry or wet, creepy or crawly, gorgeous as a gardenia or gross as a frog’s gizzards.

Except for cicadas. They can go to hell.

Pornography, Crystal Meth, and/or Me

9 Jul

As you probably already know, my recent collection, Everyone Needs An Algonquin: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss), has taken the publishing world by storm. Like pornography and methamphetamine, the public just cannot get enough.

Yet you have not purchased your copy.

I’m okay with this, I guess. I’m not going to bully you. It’s cool. Besides, I know times are tight for everyone financially; it’s hard to find the extra pennies.

So here’s the diddly-dealio: I’m giving away autographed copies via the website GoodReads. You have until the end of July to enter. To get into the running, you don’t even have to include a 100 word essay about why you want a copy[1], just enter and five winners will be randomly chosen[2]. Easy-peasy.

 

Giveaway

Click here to enter and for giveaway details


 

And best of all? You don’t have to enjoy my book alone in a darkened room, weeping ashamedly, as you do with porn, nor will it, like meth, leave you toothless.


 


 


 


[1] Though if you really feel like singing my praises, feel free to do so in comment section below.

[2] If you are a winner, though, let me know you read this website, and I’ll send you a little extra something-something.

Buying This Book Will Change Your Life

31 May

e-book coverI mean it.

You’ll be wiser, happier and eight pounds lighter (geddit?).

No seriously now, everyday I get stopped by people on the street saying, “Agatha, we love your work, but we refuse to accept the future and will not regularly use the Internet for the following reasons:

  • we haven’t found our computer’s on button yet
  • we are afraid of trolls
  • we find easy access to porn too tempting
  • we’re just like that

so please publish a normal book the normal way so we have something to read in bed after we refuse to have sex with our partners.”

Okay, I finally said.

Everyone Needs An Algonquin: The Collected Wit and Wisdom of Agatha Whitt-Wellington is now available for purchase. It includes a few oldies-but-goodies from this website (where you could have read them for free, but whatever) and lots and lots of new work that will make you think, laugh and look more clever than ever before.

As an international mover-and-shaker, of course, I had to figure out how to simultaneously release the book to my fans all over the world, because I don’t want to be seen to be giving preferential treatment to any one certain country (not after the Fijians caused that ruckus about the debut of my first book of memoirs a few years back). So the book is now available in paperback and Kindle form at a buttload of Amazon websites.

Yanks:

Brits:

Canadian, eh?

Les Français:

Das Deutsche Volk:

Gente di Italia:

Pueblo de España:

I’m not a doctor, even though I’ve slept with one from TV, but I worry that without this book, you’re putting your health in danger. Now you shouldn’t put your health in danger. Not even if the cool kids tell you to. So go ahead, buy yourself a copy. I can assure with great confidence (though notice I didn’t use the word guarantee, which is a legal term) that you will enjoy it.

In fact, why not buy a couple copies and give them away to your friends, family, ex-lovers or postman? Now is the time for generosity because if you wait until Christmas, they’ll be expecting a gift anyway and won’t truly appreciate your thoughtfulness. Besides, the guy said my back garden wall might not make it through another winter so I need cash to get that fixed pronto.

Lastly, I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it’s likely you’re mentioned in the book. I mean, you’ve always known I admire you, right? Wouldn’t it be nice to see it in print? (Note: if your particular name is not included in the book, please accept my apologies for the oversight; I’ll give my editor a right thrashing, but rest assured I was thinking of you at the time.)

Lots of kisses, little ones!

This Week

19 Apr

This hasn’t been a very nice week.

After Monday’s tragedy in Boston, American comedian Patton Oswalt posted his thoughts on Facebook. These thoughts were instantly “liked” and “shared” and “commented on” because that’s what we do now. Oswalt’s message of “the good will always outnumber the evil” made people feel better. It made me feel better.

See, I’ve got some people I love in Boston, and when I first saw the news, I was drenched in that panic sweat of wondering if my girls were all right. Luckily, I quickly learned they were. Despite that, though, I was still stained and couldn’t sleep and I made a mistake: I got onto the Internet. Eventually I found Oswalt’s note and felt better enough to finally close my eyes for the night.

However, before I got to his uplifting message, I read a lot of other things. I read lots of sadness. Sadness is not nice to read. It is much more not nice to feel.

I read fear. I could understand fear. I read anger, and yes, I could understand anger.

I read hate.

I read speculation. I read speculation undoubtedly inspired by sadness and fear. And hate. Some from experts and some from people who were, how can I say this politely, clearly not experts. I read threats. I read bigotry. I read complete and utter ignorance.

But I also read facts. About the bombs and dead and injured in Boston. And the bombs and dead and injured in Iraq. And the bombs and dead and injured in Syria. And Somalia. And Pakistan. All those bombs and dead and injured in a period of two days.

All those people drenched in that panic sweat, wondering if their girls were all right.

 


 

The not-niceness continued throughout the week. News outlets reported speculation as fact, the hate and bigotry and ignorance thrived on even momentary bursts of fuel for their fire.  And more bombs. And more dead and injured. In Pakistan. In Bangalore. In Iraq. And now again in Boston. And in places I have not read about.

 


 

Do the good outnumber the evil? I do not know. It seems hard to see sometimes.

I suppose it’s about faith, a faith in ourselves as people, as human beings. But bombs are made by human beings. Animals didn’t invent hate and bigotry. Plants do not threaten and speculate and revel in their own ignorance.

I don’t know if I have the faith that there’s more good than evil.

But this is the world we live in.

We must be the good. Even when we’re sad and afraid and angry. And surrounded by hate and bigotry and speculation and ignorance.

Even if we are outnumbered.

Good-Evil

An Open Letter to Taylor Swift (Which Is Really About Self-Esteem And Only Uses Said Songstress As A Means of Attracting Her Young Female Fans Who Are In Reality Its Intended Target Audience)

2 Mar

Dear Miss Swift,

When we bumped into each other at last spring’s Village Jumble Sale, we didn’t really get a chance to talk so I do hope you don’t think I’m speaking out of turn here. However, as a fellow attractive and talented international mover-and-shaker, I feel I might be able to share some advice.

From what I understand through my preliminary research, you are a young country and western and/or pop singer. I myself don’t particularly care for that type of music—I tend to like songs that are pleasant to the ear—but that’s neither here nor there.  I’m writing about the fact that, in recent times, you seem to be more in the news over the boys you are chasing, dating or hating.

Now I’ve been your age and I know the excitement of ‘putting it about a bit.’  If you want to fool around with a different man everyday, there’s nowt wrong with that as long as you make sure to wash and hydrate in between encounters. But I think what’s raising the red flag for a number of people, including myself, is that perhaps you’re not just looking for a means of sexual release in between gigs, but are actually hoping to find true love. Is this what you’re doing, Taylor? If so, I am begging you to cease and desist.

There’s a number of reasons why ‘serial dating’ is problematic. First of all, no one can find true love; if it’s going to happen, it will find you which it won’t because it doesn’t exist. So any attempt to actually seek it out is essentially an act of desperation, and desperation rarely looks good on anyone, especially those who are as thin and pale-skinned as your good self.

Secondly, I understand that many of your romances end up as references in your music. I suggest you don’t do this. Now if you are a frequent reader of Everyone Needs An Algonquin and I’ve no reason to assume you’re not, you’ll know that I have, on occasion, mentioned previous beaux in both positive and negative lights. However, there are a few differences to my style of kiss-and-tell: my motivations are purely to help others learn from my experiences, I offer plenty of entertainment through other means, and I generally wait years to discuss these matters to ensure that both my feelings and theirs have cooled and/or the men are dead.

Writing about a boy you are in love with is daft because when the relationship inevitably blows up in your pretty, little face, you won’t ever want to hear those reminders again. Yet as a professional recording artist, you’ll be forced to sing about how you knew this man was your one Taylor Swift on US Magand only despite the fact that two days before you declared that your new man was actually your one and only and this time you really mean it. Songs like that only lead to your artistic integrity being questioned, and god knows that the twelve-year-old girls who make up your fan base hold artistic integrity in the highest of regards.

Writing about a boy you are no longer in love with is also not recommended, primarily because it closes all doors. Even if a guy’s been a shitty partner, you never know when you might get a craving for that special little thing he does with his tongue and you may be tempted to make a little booty call. No shame in that, unless of course you’ve already publicly claimed that you’re never, ever, getting back together. In that case,  it won’t just be chafed thighs making that walk of shame uncomfortable.

The truth is, though, you can turn this around, and it’s easier than you might think. You need to stop dating. Simple as. Make 2013 the year of Taylor Swift’s music or her charitable acts or her CoverGirl/Keds/Diet Coke ad campaigns. Give them something else to talk about besides at whom you are making puppy dog eyes.

You don’t need a man to complete you, Taylor. No woman does.  I know that our world doesn’t often teach that lesson, but please believe me. You make music that those with less refined tastes than my own genuinely seem to enjoy, and that’s got be some kind of gift. Cherish that and cherish yourself. I don’t, of course, but I don’t need to because I’ve got plenty of my own wonderfulness to keep me busy in the cherishing department. Stop looking for that perfect love from that perfect boy. You don’t need a man to tell you you’re wonderful, Taylor, and even if he does, it won’t matter until you believe it yourself. Trust me, you’re the best young American songstress I’ve ever pushed over when she tried to grab a used tea set I was interested in buying. I know that, but what really matters is that you know it.

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