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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.

The Good are Good—The Bad, Frightfully Ugly

26 Feb

As I was born with a charitable nature, all my life I have sought to help those in need. I unselfishly give away the many unwanted gifts I receive each year to local charity shops to help increase their revenue.  I have donated my time to teach underprivileged children to read, offering up copies of my own books to them at an extremely generously reduced cost. I have traveled to faraway countries to help literally build new communities, and I can tell you there is nothing more rewarding than being present while someone christens a new sewer system. I buy a new poppy every single year, and I have no qualms about telling other shoppers in the queue at Sainsbury’s to shut the hell up if we happen to be waiting together  at eleven on Remembrance Day. I do these things not so I can then brag about them during lectures to the WI or on this very website. I do them because frankly that is just my nature: there’s no two ways about it, I am a good person.

Alas, we good people are becoming few and far between these days.  I don’t want to seem overly moralistic here, because I am aware that good people sometimes do bad things and that being bad once doesn’t necessarily make one a bad person. I do not believe in unfairly judging people.

At the same time, though, people seem to be up to some real evil-doing these days.  I’m dismayed by the crimes of all natures which I read about in the papers and the stupid choices politicians around the world seem to be making. Even in my own village, I witness my neighbour leaving his dog in his back garden all night, despite the cold and horrendous noises the creature makes and let’s not forget about the dressmaker who not only delayed the delivery of a dress by six days but when said dress was delivered, it clearly fell three inches below the owner’s knee as opposed to the two inches that had been requested.

bad peopleCan we really say that these are simply “bad acts” and not “bad people”? No. I think it’s high time we stand up and call a spade a shovel.

It used to be that those of us who were good were the norm; the bad people were a minority group easily identified by that evil little glint in their eye (and their tendency to drink publicly from bottles in paper bags). Those simple times are no more. Therefore, I have devised a quick test to determine where each of us stands.

Firstly, readers, I ask that you yourselves complete this straight forward assessment; you never know, you might actually be a bad person who is just so good at being bad that you have in fact fooled even yourself. You may then want to pass this out to those you come into contact with (especially those with whom you do financial or sexual trade). It is a simple way to separate the wheat from the chaff.

1. If you were angry with the woman who lived next door to you, would you:

a. Beat her with a shovel and bury her behind the shed before you went through her home, snatching anything that looked like it might be of value on the black market.

b. Complain about her loudly to both the postman and the woman who lives across the lane.

c. Paint a rude symbol on the pavement in front of her house.

d. Think to yourself, seeing as how she is an internationally famous writer and the highlight of your life is watching Countdown each day, perhaps she was right about it being your responsibility to maintain the creosote on the fence.

2. If you worked at a bank and a woman came in wanting to exchange her collection of two pound coins for newer, shinier two pound coins, would you:

a. Throw the bag of coins in her face, bruising her delicately rouged cheeks.

b. Point out to her that it is midday and the bank is very full of customers whose needs are apparently more important than hers.

c. Close your window.

d. Meet her request because it is nice to see someone who appreciates the aesthetic as well as monetary value of Her Royal Majesty’s mint.

3. If you lived in a small village and had a son or daughter under the age of sixteen, would you:

a. Feel comfortable allowing your child to enter the local shop without your own personal supervision.

b. Grant your child the privilege of riding a scooter, skateboard or public transport through the village.

c. Permit your child to call any adult by their Christian name.

d. Teach the kid to mind their manners and keep the hell away from my hydrangea.

Clearly, if you answered anything other than d, you are a bad person. The facts speak for themselves. Do some soul-searching and if you can’t manage to be rehabilitated and come over to the good side, please book into a prison immediately and get yourself the help you need.

When You Wanna Know If It’s Wild and/or If It’s Real

16 Feb

I had an interesting incident with Christopher this afternoon.

I found him in the garage underneath the car. He had his portable hi-fi on with the volume up to 11.  I almost had to raise my voice to get his attention (I needed another drink making), and I don’t need to remind you that I do not like raising my voice (it’s just not ladylike, is it?). When I finally managed to pull him away from whatever was so damn interesting under that car, he emerged with his shirt untucked and opened to the waist and his face and chest smeared with oil; he was dirtier than I’d ever seen him before.

This was quite a sight to behold.

While not unmoved by his rather rough appearance, I was also a bit cross due to my extreme thirst. He quickly cleaned himself up and satisfied my need. I tried to get him to talk about what had brought on this unusual behaviour, but he was reluctant to “share.” However, one thing he did confess is that he was feeling trapped and thought that working on the car might help remind him of all the places he wanted to go in his life. (Isn’t it cute when young people use metonymy?) In all honesty, I think the root of this reaction is not unrelated to a falling out he had with his mate, Georgio, who last week moved to Mykonos. Nonetheless, I gave him my time, a couple Bacardi Breezers and a bath, and he seemed right as rain again.

Like Christopher, I’ve had my moments of wanting to get away from it all. I’m sure we all have. It reminds me of a little song a good friend of mine penned many years back. When I was quite young, I spent a summer working with a group of carnies near Long Branch Beach in my home state of New Jersey; I worked primarily as a magician’s assistant, though I did manage to earn a few bob telling fortunes on my nights off. The Boss of the gang was called B Fred J, a lovely though short man. (Yes, he was in love with me.) After work, we would all sit around on the sand, and B Fred J would sometimes get his guitar out and sing to us.  He had written a beautiful ditty for me called “Born to Run.” I’d like to share it with you now, along with an explanation of its meaning (and my mother said that that minor in Song Lyric Interpretation would never come in handy).

____________________________________________________

In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream

(We did do it a lot in the day but never actually  in the street.)

At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines

(Our most popular attraction was called the Suicide Machine—B Fred J  later sold this to a crazy eyed doctor called Kevorkian who, I believe, went on to make big money from it.)

Sprung from cages out on Highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected, and stepping out over the line.
Baby, this town rips the bones from your back

(I believe a childhood spinal injury may have been to blame for stunting his growth.)

It’s a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.
We’ve got to get out while we’re young.
‘Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run.

(“Tramps,” in this context, means neither sluts nor hoboes, but rather “sexy people.”)

Wendy, let me in, I want to be your friend,

(Scansion, I’m afraid dictated the change from Agatha to Wendy.)

I want to guard your dreams and visions.

(LSD doesn’t always have to be dangerous.)

Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims
And strap your hands across my engines.

(Vehicular imagery for sexual activities.)

Together we could break this trap.
We’ll run till we drop, baby we’ll never go back.
Will you walk with me out on the wire?

(The Wire was the “Lovers Lane” of Long Branch, so called after an unfortunate accident involving a very lonely lad and a loose electrical wire.)

‘Cause baby I’m just a scared and lonely rider

(Vehicular imagery for masturbation.)

But I’ve got to find out how it feels.
I want to know if love is wild, girl, I want to know if love is real.

(Alas, it wasn’t. I left that September, never to return.)

Beyond the palace hemi-powered drones scream down the boulevard.

(A clever double meaning here: hemi-powered engines do exist, but, of  course, this also rhymes with semi-powered, and trust me, most of the screaming that took place that summer started off with a semi.)

The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so hard.

(As a result of their semis, obviously.)

The amusement park rises bold and stark.
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist.
I want to die with you, Wendy, on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss.

(Again, I’m afraid B Fred J saw our “relationship” a little differently than I did.)

The highways jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive.
Everybody’s out on the run tonight but there’s no place left to hide.
Together, Wendy, we’ll live with the sadness.

(Do you see now why this didn’t work out? Who wants to live with sadness?)

I’ll love you with all the madness in my soul.

(I don’t think so.)

Someday girl, I don’t know when, we’re going to get to that place
Where we really want to go, and we’ll walk in the sun,
But until then tramps like us, baby, we were born to run.Bruce-Springsteen-Columbia-Records

(Sadly, I don’t believe he ever got to the place he wanted to go. I, however, have been every place I wanted to go. If you really are born to run, you run. You don’t quit the carny business to become a real estate agent in Asbury Park.)

____________________________________________________

If you ever find yourself feeling trapped and lonely, don’t dismantle your employer’s car and get oil on her tea towels. Pour yourself a drink, turn down the lights, and sing “Born to Run” to your heart’s content.

Then turn on the lights, look in the mirror and grow the hell up.

Sweet Memories of Balls Dropping

1 Jan

ball-dropI must be quiet as it’s rather late and poor Christopher has, I’m afraid, dropped off to sleep (whereas I was taught to sip rather than “down” champagne and have therefore not felt a single affect). Thanks to the generous young Portuguese man who stopped by last week and offered to work some magic on my box (for a small one-time fee), I was able to watch the festivities in Times Square on the television. Although I normally find it vulgar to be awake at this hour, I suppose I just wanted to relive some fond memories of old times. I imagine it must be similar to the feelings the older generation of Britons must have when they recall watching doodlebugs drop: a nostalgia for a time when we were younger and hope and pulse jet engines filled the air. Excuse my wistfulness: there’s a fine line between melancholy and maudlin, and I am aware of on which side of the line I must stay.

I’ve spent many a New Year’s Eve in Times Square, with some of the most charming friends I’ve ever known. Such shenanigans we got up to! We’d often start celebrating early in the evening at someone’s home (I will never forget the time Digby Whistler and I got locked in the attic of Mickey Rooney’s brownstone for nearly an hour!) and then head out to hop between the watering holes of the City. It seemed that wherever we went, we were greeted by the bars’ patrons as if we were all the oldest of friends. There’s something about New Yorkers that leads to such camaraderie (I think it might have been the bourbon).  We’d then rush out at almost the last minute to grab a taxi to take us to the flagpole and watch the ball drop. One year, we went in our own car (this was at a time when drinking and driving was still safe) and, although we didn’t make it in time, I can remember Stefan tooting the horn at the strike of midnight to all the revelers and smut peddlers in the street. Even though that particular night ended in tears when I misplaced my great aunt’s beaded hair clip, I’ll never forget those frolics.

Oh, why do things have to change? Where has our youth gone? Why do we keep sending soldiers off to war? Whatever happened to Big Paul the Sailor? I can remember everything just like it was yesterday, including the things that happened yesterday, so I just ask why? Can’t we all just love each other? Sometimes it brings tears to my eyes. I think of little puppies, they’re so soft and innocent. I never want to see one looking sad.

I’ve suddenly gone dreadfully sleepy. I think I might just rest my head for a moment before I write anymore.

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