Curmudgeonly principles

As you all well know, I subscribe strictly to the ‘wogs begin at Calais’ principle.

I have been nursing my xenophobia for a good 50 years and have no intention of changing the habits of a lifetime.

Every now and again one has to stand up and be counted.  Last Wednesday was such a day.  I spin every two weeks with a group in one of these heritage homes, as usual, a mixed bag of people but heavy on the woolly liberal do gooding ex university lecturing variety.

One pops up with an idea that for our Christmas do gooding we should contribute to some wretched group of peasants in Peru that spin and weave for a living. Pictures were passed showing perfectly healthy, fully clothed, non starving bowler hatted ‘ladies’.  Cheque books at the ready, this was greeted with enthusiasm by all and sundry.

Except me.

For some years now, I have refused to either give or receive Christmas presents and choose to send a cheque to an underfunded dog’s home in Carmarthenshire instead. I prefer dogs to humanity, they are easier to spay than third world denizens, do not bleat about ‘canine rights’ and do not arrive as parasitic immigrants.  They, at least, give some satisfactory return for their keep, bouncing around jollily and all that wagging of tails, barking at strangers, chasing of cats and acting as canine hot water bottles in bed.       (I ask you, who wants a bowler hatted Peruvian as a hot water bottle?)

Time to stand up and be counted. So I did, and said why in no uncertain terms which cast a certain pall on the proceedings.

Subsequent to this we found out that a good friend and regular member of this group had her husband drop dead suddenly. I announced the funeral particulars and enquired who would be going. None of them except me!  Utterly bizarre to my way of thinking.

Contemplating all of this it occurs to me that even after 35 years of living in this country on and off one still finds these precipitous gaps in social understanding between differing cultures even with a common language. I find curmudgeonly principles are even more important than ever. One can only march to one’s own drummer even if one is solitary in the van.

(Anyway, I don’t like their tune!  Screw Yankee Doodle, I prefer Dixie!)

Author: christinaosborne

Landed on one side safely.

13 thoughts on “Curmudgeonly principles”

  1. How very odd, CO, that you are the only member of the group to support your fellow-member at her husband’s funeral. The others obviously prefer the “hands off” approach to suffering. But then that’s something they can boast about in other p-c groups.

  2. Hi CO.

    Splendidly splenetic as always! For the avoidance of doubt, this is intended as a compliment.

    ‘You ain’t just whistling Dixie’, in my opinion.

    The bit about your group’s failure to front up for a friend’s funeral is what interests me.

    One of the books which I read in student youth was ‘The American Way of Death’ by Jessica Mitford. Can’t find my copy at the moment (really must get my library organised) but I am fairly sure that she wrote that one of the differences between the UK and the US was that only close friends and family went to Brit funerals whereas the world and its dog turned up for Yank interments, which usually involved an open coffin so that one could gaze one’s last on the dear, dead, cosmeticized and embalmed departed.

    It is true that things have changed in the UK. We tend to go to funerals of mere acquaintances more often these days. Interesting if the Yanks are moving in the opposite direction.

  3. Sheona, bang on!
    JM, I think your last para is probably true.
    However in Wales things are quite different. Funerals there are for the connoisseur, much better than weddings and generally very liquid!
    After all you only get one funeral.

    Can’t actually blame the Yanks, one rarely gets offered a drink which one desperately needs after the 54th rendering of ‘I did it my way’. Personally I think they should dig up Sinatra, drag him round the streets on a hurdle and then set dogs on his corpse for that bloody song. Positively puke making. I never could understand that there was more than one way of getting dead, ie by dying!
    Fortunately these people were deeply religious so it will be strictly by the book which is far more tolerable.
    God how I hate maudlin saccharine reminiscences.

    Reminds me of a dear friend in Llandeilo who had a universally disliked wealthy father. I couldn’t get to the funeral it was snowing, roads blocked and me in Brum at the boy’s flat. I rang her up to ask how it went, she replied thus.

    “The undertaker was mobbed by his enemies coming to view him to make quite sure he was dead and not pulling a fast tax evasion and 600 turned up to his funeral and the hotel afterwards for the drink he bought them in death having never offered one when he was alive”. We both nearly passed out laughing. He was known as one of the meanest sons of a bitches ever born, probably still gnashing his teeth in hell if they haven’t been burnt by now at the thought of paying that bar bill.

  4. A curmudgeon replies:
    At my time of life (the only curmudgeonly way to start any sentence) I could, without much exaggeration, spend every second weekend attending the planting or disposal of various almost acquaintances, including some unloved and long forgotten family members. I have, with regard to my own diminishing time here and my long held desire to enjoy it, applied a simple criterion to my decision to attend. Did they owe me money?

    Xenophobia? I’ll have you know I have detected certain signs of incipient woggery as close as the next county over.

  5. LW, WHAT? In tidewater country?
    Bloody hell
    Are they fishing in junks off your pier?

    Funny your criteria, personally I just love funerals, wonderful for people watching, who and why they came etc. I dodge weddings, you just know they’re going to be divorced and at each others throats in about ten minutes flat these days, Plus I’m fed up with people not acknowledging wedding presents and getting married in white when they have been ‘at it’ for decades, at least I get a nice note from the proprietor of the dog’s home for my contribution.

  6. I find it odd that so many ‘woolly-liberal-do-gooders’ seem to be far more willing to devote their energies in dealing with ‘problems’ far away and then trip over themselves trying to avoid helping those near at hand.

    As Bearsy says – charity begins at home.

  7. I did have to re-read the start of your blog as when you said that you ‘spin’ every two weeks I had a vision of you pounding away on an exercise bike in a gym, but it’s probably just me.

    I do have a problem with the twee folk who whitter on about the starving and huddled masses (including HM Government) who try and play on the emotions in the vain hope that I will part with some cash. When I explain that aid to India helps that rag poor backwards country run a space programme they tend to back off. Perhaps someone can explain why HMG continue to send aid to India and don’t tell me it’s to create jobs, you are right of course but it’s jobs in India not the UK.

  8. Five years ago, the Andean highlands of southern Peru were hit by a disastrous drought. The 1,000,000 Indian peasants, who chronically suffer from malnutrition, faced outright famine.

    At one point, of the 100,000 tons of foodstuffs sent to them, only a fraction apparently reached the hungry people. At one point, 38,000 tons of food piled up in Peruvian ports, much of it rotting for lack of transport.

    Only a few hundred tons daily made its way up to the hills. Vast quantities were bought up by fast operators, who resold it to better-fed lowland folk at bargain prices. This maneuver was facilitated by the Peruvian government’s decision to sell the food.

    The idea of charging a small sum, as one Peruvian explained at the time, was “to keep the Indians from developing a tendency to work less.” The only trouble was that most Indians live outside the money economy on what they themselves produce. The drought had left nothing to sell.

    Read more:,9171,874322,00.html#ixzz1aNu4ISuK

    These bloody wogs!!!! imagine trying to take money away from a dog in order to feed their dying children. the shame of it all…, we should do like certain races did in India and piss on them poor bastard wogs, they don’t deserve a better life, no siree, no chance of that. 😦

    Lowlifes some people … real lowlifes 😦

  9. This was now, not 5 years ago!
    This bunch were certainly not starving.
    Foreign aid never gets anywhere it is supposed to in any of these countries.

    As several of you say, so many want to help at a far enough sanitised distance, never close to home.
    You sure as hell never see any of them in the hospice movement, quite a different bunch of people.

  10. christinaosborne :

    This was now, not 5 years ago!
    This bunch were certainly not starving.
    Foreign aid never gets anywhere it is supposed to in any of these countries.

    As several of you say, so many want to help at a far enough sanitised distance, never close to home.
    You sure as hell never see any of them in the hospice movement, quite a different bunch of people.

    How can I disagree. I never ever give to any foreign or Catholic charity, the money only goes into the rulers/popes pocket.

    I also do not buy flowers for funerals etc as it only goes to make the florists rich, much rather give to a local charity.

  11. Some years back, our South American community here in Wollongong managed to send one MRI machine to El Salvador and another to Honduras plus countless containers full of clothing and toys for children all over the continent, my step-dad used to be great getting people together and making them face the realities of “Giving To Others” .. but I learnt my lesson …. never send a single penny, only send goods and never send it via Western organizations, do it all yourself, just find an orphanage, a hospital or similar in the area that you wish to help and send the stuff directly to them, small quantities always get there, large shipments invariably get stolen 😦

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