Friday, September 29, 2006

The Bag Lady

Many years ago I saw a programme on Channel 4 imaginatively called The Bag Lady.

The documentary centred around a woman, Maggie, who found herself in reduced circumstances living as a tramp on the streets of London, who hauled all her worldly goods around with her in a cluster of carrier bags.

I cannot actually remember the last time I actually saw a bag lady, and when I asked some friends and colleagues, they had no sightings to report either.

Maybe it is a small town thing, as in nearly ten years in Manchester I have not seen one bag lady.

There used to be a female beggar/big issue seller who paraded up and down Canal Street on a regular basis, and despite her obvious status as a street beggar, she didn’t possess the same je ne sais quoi of the bag lady.

My first sighting of a bag lady was during my childhood, where from the kitchen window I spied a stout and rotund woman dressed in a headscarf and a grimy raincoat trudging round a middle class area laden down with a dozen or so Farmfoods carrier bags with the odd bin liner thrown in for good measure.

I had never seen of such a creature before, and she was markedly different from Alkie Jean, who was a street drinker and general vagrant who occupied the city centre, rarely straying beyond “town” where she would beg outside the post office for loose change to spend on cider.

The bag lady never begged, or at least I never saw her begging, all I ever saw her do was to make slow journey from one end of a street to the other.
A snail’s pace is the term best used to describe the speed of her movements, the fact that she was also encumbered by so many bags couldn’t have helped her progress.

I asked my Mother why she lived such as life as opposed to living in a bungalow somewhere.

The bag lady had a story. She also had a name. Angela.

Angela must have been in her fifties at this point (which was in the late eighties) although she looked considerably older. She had lived in the town for many years, and was a solitary figure, living in a bedsit block close to where we lived (although firmly out of view) who’s other residents were equally socially disparate.

I would like to look back on this recollection and say that she was a nice woman, but unfortunately she wasn’t. Angela was a frightening character to say the least, who would shout across the street at anyone whose gaze lingered too long.

The dark side of the bag lady is that she was a lesbian.

Somehow I always felt that was the thin end of the wedge which caused her to live her life the way that she did.

The bag lady’s lesbianism shocked me initially – for a number of reasons, first and foremost being that it was my mother who told me about it.
Also, as an adolescent, I had a set idea about what lesbians looked like, and the bag lady looked nothing like either Annie Lennox or Sinead O’Connor.

Surprisingly, the bag lady wasn’t actually a distant figure; she had worked at the same factory as my mother in the ‘70s, although when my mother saw the bag lady in the street she would not acknowledge her, nor would the bag lady show any sign that she knew who she was.

The bag lady’s lesbianism, although something of a taboo, was once the scandal of the district. At the factory where she worked alongside my mother, there were several incidents of Angela touching womens legs under the tables in the canteen.

This upset a large number of the women there, and I have no ideas what repercussions she faced, but somewhere along the line, Angela must have lost her job and eventually her dignity. Plastic bags taking the place of her self respect.

Watching her trudge down the street one day, hauling her heavy cargo of bags and bin liners, I wondered what exactly had happened to make her live like this.

She must have felt like the only lesbian in the world.
Even though there are no more lesbians now than there was thirty years ago, the world is now a much more inclusive place.

Lesbians are no longer generally described as perverts– the bag lady was considered a pervert, yet she trudged through the town defiant, despite being shouted at, laughed at, but never pitied.

Had she been born 30 years later surely she would have lived her life differently – she would have been able to meet other women in bars, or online as opposed to rubbing her hands on a young machinists American Tan clad tights.

Although she wasn’t a looker. The bag lady was a heavy set woman, who’s legs had a very unusual appearance, something which my mother described as “Elephantitis”, where her legs looked like they had collapsed into thick stumps, her legs having the appearance of elephants legs, and it looked like that she would never be able to remove the tiny shoes which encased her massive swollen feet.

I used to think that it was carrying all those bags that had caused her legs to become like that but she must have had some sort of medical condition, and I think now that she must have had some sort of mental breakdown brought on by her inability to deal with her sexuality. The lack of support available to her would only have made her feel more isolated in an already insular town.

Finding myself back in the same town a while ago I wondered whatever happened to the bag lady. Unfortunately I couldn’t find out much about her, apart from the fact that she died. And she probably died on her own.

I just hope that someone somewhere loved her, baggage or no baggage.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sharon Osbourne Is A Cunt

Am I alone in thinking this?

I googled "Sharon Osbourne Is A Cunt" only to find that there is only one other such reference in existance.

Having watched her excruciatingly embarrasing performance on X Factor on Saturday night, I've had to endure her "chat" show, as well as the emotional outpourings from her dysfunctional children.

Firstly, the woman is famous for spawning an obese brat with more chins than the Greater Shanghai telephone directory, who lumbers though shops, bars and airports snmarling "Do you know how I am?"

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Guerilla Smokers

About to spend two and a half hours on a train down to London today.

Travelling south using Virgin Trains means that although the journey time will propably be closer to two hours and the trains are new and are capable of tilting 1°, there are two things which lave a great deal to be desired.

  • The Smell
  • The Train being Non Smoking

For some reason, the new Virgin Voyagers and Pendolinos have exactly the same smell, which isn't unsimilar to burning plastic, as opposed to the comforting smells of trains of old.

Not being able to smoke also causes me to roll my eyes in despair.

I remember not very long ago I travelled between Scotland and the East Midlands on a fairly regular basis, and remember coach B on GNER was always the smoking carriage.

How convivial it all was - sat down relaxing, maybe with a gin and tonic watching the world go by whilst enjoying the smooth taste of a cigarette.

Again - everyone from the ASH lobby to the Chinese lover of Roy Castle all came out stamping their feet about how terrible smoking on trains is - before going home in their cars, pumping out worse emissions.

Now, the only thing one smells on the trains now is the burnt plastic smell - one cannot even hang out of the window and have a windswept smoke (safety reasons they claim), nor can one even step off the train at York or somewhere for a cheeky cig as the doors are sealed!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Thick Kids and Bad Kids

I have noticed the increase in the use of the terms "children with learning difficulties" or "children with behavioural problems".

When I was at school there was just thick kids and bad kids, and if you were either you risked the Headmistresses ruler across the backside.

It is political correctness gone mad when it's a taboo to say that a child is stupid or bad.

Many children are stupid, and grow into thick adults making no contribution to society at all - bad kids remain bad until they learn the consequence of their actions.

A friend who has children was telling me that children were no longer permitted to say "Eenie Meenie Miney Mo" because it's considered racist.

A hard fucking smack and some bloody common sense is what these people need.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Sing 'Em A Song, Della

You can almost tell the season from which reality TV show is showing.

Big Brother means Summer - this year it meant a heatwave, holidays, and Lily Allen.
Unfortunately it was all eclipsed by an annoying spastic and his hooker in crime.

There just seems something a bit more Northern about X Factor.
Any wannabes are not "Promotions Girls" or "Hostesses" - they're supermarket workers from Stockport and black council estate girls from Barnsley.

Having been a Big Brother affectionado since the beginning, I went off it like Peter Kay off the top diving board - bored again of London based club kids trying to be the next Lee Otway.

Now, as the nights are drawing in, it's X Factor who's the old friend coming into our sitting rooms on a Saturday night.

It's one of those programmes that I do genuinely have a love/hate relationship with, since I find Simon Cowell far too smug for his own good.

Louis Walsh, however isn't much better, favouring any "Oirish" performer as opposed to an English, Welsh or Scots singer.

I sometimes think if "Spoiral" from Big Brother turned up and started beat-boxing and saying "Oim ganno slaaam horr" he would be praised, pandered to, and packed off to the final/

Unfortunately, last but by no means least comes Sharon Osbourne, who is someone I would gladly wallop with a wet fish.

From the moment I hear her cackling pseudo midlantic voice my skin starts to crawl.

"My name's Sharon Osbourne and I do all my shopping in Asda"

Do you fuck, love.

AS IF!

If I had a tenth of her money I would have my shopping delivered from Marks & Spencer's or even Waitrose - somehow I can't see Shazza fighting me over some "Whoops!" sliced meat from the reduced counter.

The thought that I might stumble into her whilst choosing my sausages is an insult.

So with three people running the show, it doesn't bode well, however, what makes the X Factor is the people themselves.

Someone I know vaguely auditioned for X Factor in the belief that they are the next Shayne Ward.
This poor unfortunate looks like Charles Hawtrey from the Carry On films, and has a voice to match, needless to say he was given short shrift, although it does make me wonder about some of the truly borderline down's syndrome people who try their luck thinking they're the next Robbie Williams.

This week saw at least four males dressed by their Mum crucify various legendary pop songs, and the obligatory performances by a selection of cadaverous pensioners.

By far best of this year's show so far has to be Identical who comprise of two identical twin sisters who did a dance routine whilst singing Sweet Dreams are Made of This.

It was classic television, and I'm glad that they made it through to Boot Camp.

Sadly, Della Louise, half of last year's Spirit & Destiny wasn't so lucky.

Destiny, having left Spirit outside in the van failed to impress the judges, despite giving an excellent performance.

They were the stars of last year's show, and I'm sure their chance to shine won't be far away.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Scope Factor

The spastic who won this year's Big Brother has now plumbed to an all time low.

Today's papers reveal that he has parted company with his band, Daddy Fantastic, and is now collaborating with Guy Chambers, the songwriter who penned Robbie Williams seminal chart topper Angels.

Throughout the series we heard much about how much he loved his band, and how he would never leave, and that those guys were like family to him.

No sooner has he picked up his BB winners cheque that he's cast aside his band like a used condom.

The megafans who shown unwavering support for him during the run of BB must surely now feel that they have been duped.

He went into the house with the intention of winning at any cost, his strategy was half acting like a bad Jim Carrey impersonator at a special school, and half playing a wounded cwippled bunny rabbit who could do no wrong.

May his star and single vanish without a trace.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Humberside Police:

Engaged

Being burgled in Hull?, had your car stolen in Scunthorpe, need to report a flasher on the beach at Cleethorpes?

You've picked the wrong day - Humberside Police's 0845 number is ringing solidly out.
Your Personality Is Like Cocaine
You're dynamic, brilliant, and alluring to those who don't know you. Hyper and full of energy, you're usually the last one to leave a party. Sometimes your sharp mind gets the better of you... you're a bit paranoid!
What Drug Is Your Personality Like?