The guinea pig eater turned out to be a stoat - 16 inches long in a furry tan colour with a urine-yellow belly and a dark tip to the tail. It didn't look happy, but then I couldn't blame it - it was dead. I wouldn't be happy if I was dead. I like animals. I just don't like animals that eat my animals. I felt a little bit guilty gazing at its still and skinny body bearing in mind the stoat was only acting according to it's feral nature, but mostly I felt pleased it couldn't eat anything I have a naming ceremony for in future. The gamekeeper came back yesterday to check the traps in case the stoat had a stoat friend but I'm hoping that's it. He has promised to build me a super-secure run and turn the hutch into the guineapig equivalent of a maximum security holding facility in the Arizona desert. Nothing's getting out and nothing's getting in. Unless the next stoat's got wire-cutters, and a helicopter, and a friend on the inside of course.
Meanwhile, talking of weasels and pest control, I am beginning to feel sorry for Julie Kirkbride. Alright, she pushed the expenses a bit. A lot of bit. Well, her and virtually every other MP out there. And alright, she's patently got terrible what-does-she-see-in-him taste in men. She's done that classic female politician thing of ending up with a very embarrassing husband. But why out of all these blaggards and rogues is there a "Julie Must Go" head of steam building? There's national outrage over the expenses debacle as revealed by the Daily Telegraph - we should have a general election, and start again. But there's always that extra frisson of pleasure when a woman is punished for her misdemeanours isn't there, and she's pretty - even better. When I was reporting on politics, I once arranged lunch with her and there was a mix-up in the bookings. She turned up at the National Portrait Gallery restaurant and I waited at the National Gallery restaurant. Forty minutes and several phone calls later, we managed to meet up. She took it with good grace - many of her self-important colleagues wouldn't. Or, maybe she was hoping for two lunches, one in each restaurant - who knows? But I don't think so. She cocked up on the expenses - along with many others. I imagine she's going to end up having to announce that she's standing down at the next election. If she doesn't, she seems certain to lose the seat anyway. I wonder what would happen if she took a deep breath and gave a proper apology. Not an explanation. A real heartfelt apology - and not one of these Hazel Blears "I understand why everybody feels so angry" apologies for an apology either. One of the things that is making people most angry is the idea that our politicians "just don't get it". People can hear the difference between "I understand why you're upset" and "I'm really, really sorry - I've done something entirely wrong. I admit it. I don't know what I was thinking. Please. Forgive me." Some of our politicians think they are the same thing. They are not. Julie might say sorry, she might think about filling up with tears and even spending one or two on camera. She might mean it - it might work.
So you'd describe her as a guinea pig married to a stoat?
I think Julie deserves less sympathy than the stoat which, as you say, was only doing what comes naturally. Whilst I agree women are judged more critically than men for the same misdemeanors (work as hard for less pay, have to be twice as good to get half the recognition etc) I think if she did fill up with tears on camera Jo Public would see it as a cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion, and would then damn her as a woman for resorting to tears in a man's world.
Couldn't agree more with the last part of your post, it seems to be growing daily as more and more dirt comes out. I agree too she shouldn't be singled out, least of all just because she is a woman. The apology would have to be VERY sincere.
As for the poor ole stoat, natures way of the scheme of things, though I can understand your NIMBY feeling about your guinea pig.
I have WAY more sympathy for you stoat. Lx
ps the word verif is "keyin" so watch out it's a warning about how the next one is going to get in
I understand the connection: both were animals gorging on what wasn't theirs. But the stoat is a stoat for heaven's sake, which as well as eating guinea pigs was filling a useful function for the community by keeping vermin down. Its hardly fair to eliminate it and yet support Julie Kirkbride.
I wonder why we would refer to corrupt politicians as "weasels" (well, we might) or having "weasely ways"? Are they very different from stoats in cunning behaviour? Why don't we talk about politicians' "stoaty ways"?
Bleh. I feel sorry for anyone singled out over the rest. She's a fall 'guy'. The culture was to spend all of the allowance, the accountants were okay-ing the expenses lists, the MPs seemed to be on a spectrum of everything from 'I'm going to get as much out of this as I can' down to 'well, that's what everyone does, it's part of the package.' Not quite survival instincts, but taking advantage of a situation. The system was the problem.
The stoat? Also taking advantage of a situation!
The wifey? Like the public and the government regulators, learning from experience. ;)
Hmmm... Julie K wrote in The Times:
'What effect will stories like mine have on mothers who aspire to be MPs? We want Parliament to be more representative and that includes women with school-age children,'
Yes, it is difficult being a working mother, having to arrange and pay for child care, so I can see the temptation to claim tax free allowances to cover babysitting BUT she, of all people, is in a position to help ALL working women - not just herself: instead of misusing MP's allowances she should have pressed for child care to be allowable against tax. She can expect little pity for looking after number 1, and at our expense to boot..... not only do we not have the same perk, but she took our money to pay for hers. How can she ask for sympathy? Lovely as her photos are, she indeed "doesn't get it."
Methinks you could be stirring up a hornets nest with your comments on Julie Kirkbride. Reading the responses to your blog (8 of them as I write) there seems to be a very strong anti feeling.
Let's face it. Regrdless of the MP's sex many of them have done wrong, know they have done wrong, and are now trying to dig themselves out of their own man / woman made holes.
It may be unfair to highlight the case of Julie Kirkbride but as regards her misdemeanours she is only reaping what she has sewn.
Now to the more important part of your blog - you seem to have solved the problem of loosing further guinea pigs.
I think Julie, like your stoat, was doing what comes naturally. Pressing whatever advantages there are in the interests of survival is the natural thing to do - alas, I think the result for Julie will be the same as for the stoat.
Last I heard she bitterly regrets not challenging her more experienced husband more about the arrangement. Men eh?
Our MP went on holiday this week. I could not help but wonder if he went off to his second home.
Bought your book last night. Had difficulty finding it, which is a shame, really. But looks good! look forward to reading it and catching up properly with everything I had missed until now.
It does sound like Julie borrowed a husband-type apology; as in "I am really sorry you are so upset". Like waving a huge red flag at an irritated bull(ess).
We have at least one groundhog (wood chuck) living under our storage barn, and munching on our neighborhood flowers and veggies. I have a marvelous marksman of a hubbie, but we live in the outer city --- not even a slingshot is allowed. We also have deer, and said hubbie actually salivates when he thinks of one for dinner. Then there are dozens of grackles who are terribly noisy and ugly, and we have to helplessly watch them devour the sunflower seeds intended for the PRETTY birds! I don't condone physical violence, but maybe just a little pellet gun???
Well at least Parliament is having a good clear out.
Julie Kirkbride is just clutching at straws, trying to find something to hide behind. We'd all respect her and her fellow stoats far more if they just put their hands up and said "it's a fair cop, we tried it on and got caught and now we've realised how bad it looks and how upset you all are, we're very very sorry."
And then I think we should sack the lot of them and ring the police.
Hmm, I have very little sympathy for these MPs, no matter how nice or personable they may be. However, given access to such generous allowances I'm not sure that I wouldn't have had my nose in the trough too!! However, duck houses, house extensions and seeming to keep one'e entire family in gainful employment is pushing it a bit... A few nice bits from Marks fod hall and maybe help with the cleaning would've been my lot, prole that I so obviously am!!
Didn't Julie play the girlie card of blaming it on her husband, saying he dealt with the money side? I don't think she was treated differently because she was a woman. If she'd got away with it when he didn't, she'd have been treated differently because she was a woman. Equality cuts both ways.
Other than revenge, what was the point of killing the stoat if you are going to make a fail-safe pen next time round? Revenge may feel nice, but it's not pretty.
And you do live in the country after all. What else was the stoat expected to do when you slap a big free easy meal down in front of him? Four in fact. His behaviour may be remarkably like those MP's - something for nothing - but he didn't have the brains to think about the consequences.
Glad you agree on all-important distinction between the fake and the real apology. We can all spot it, can't we? Somehow the fake apology is only washing powder in the sore of the original injury.
And yes, there was something sartorially ill-judged about those double-breasted suits her husband wore.
Please let me know if you find a way to stop the stoats. I had a similar problem with an evil fox that got my beloved (and very useful) chickens and am loathe to get them again until I can stop them being terrorised. Is an electric fence the only solution?
Anne (aka mum-e, www.mum-e.co.uk)
I have lost a good customer in Julie who 'used up' an awful lot of rubberwear - one way or another. Thank goodness Jacquie Smith is staying on.... wait a minute...
Ah Wifey. This latest post is just how imagine you -i feel your discomfort at another woman having a difficult time, the buzz of being close to a good part of your past and then the ruthless side when it comes to those who have harmed yours -cheeky stoat -twice!!
Loved your book and all the reminders it gave me. We lived on the canal in Angel until 2006 and loved our little home, the local park with paddling pool and sandpit, columbia rd market, sitting upstairs on the bus and the awesome blend of folk we crossed everyday whilst doing 'ordinary' stuff. Now overseas with the 'idyllic' family life -mostly. Thank God for the BBC -nowhere else does news like it.
Good luck with new GP additions.
Couldn't agree more about apology. They don't get it, they really don't. They don't understand that we can, simply and without even trying, tell the difference between what is polit-speak and what is spoken from the heart.
That's because most of them don't get that it's about personal moral values and that they have put themselves up to be shot down if they don't work incredibly hard to display their finest.
The stoat's work may be bloody but it is honest. I am so tired of lies.
Oo, I've never met a stoat.
the post from 'sexy' has to be deleted oh writerly one....
Yup I'm with the stoat, I'm afraid. Far more principled than our Julie. Gah, and I need to borrow your gamekeeper. Wascally wabbits are destroying my veg garden and no amount of chicken wire is keeping them out.
Alas, poor stoaty...
Judith, I finally come back to work, only to find that you are off to somewhere, yourself? x
I find it odd that Wifey seems to be jumping to the defence of JK on the basis that a) she is a woman b) I (Wifey) met her once and c) she (JK) is "pretty". JK may well be "pretty" but she is also a crook. Let's not forget the facts (facts that are missing from this post):
1. JK used taxpayers money to fund a £50,000 extension to her flat.
2. She claimed £540 for photos of herself in front of hay bales. Huh??
3. She let her brother live in her constituency flat (paid for by the taxpayer) rent free. In the world outside of Westminster these acts of theft are called gross misconduct and you get fired, immediately.
And really, only another woman could make silly statements like:
"there's always that extra frisson of pleasure when a woman is punished for her misdemeanours isn't there". No, Wifey, there isn't. A crook is a crook is a crook - trousers or skirt, Conservative or Labour. JK is just one of the many rogues who, thankfully, will be leaving their gravy train jobs forever some time soon whilst ordinary people struggle to keep their jobs and pay their mortgages.
You know, this "women have to work twice as hard as men to get the same reward" philosophy is wearing thin. In fact, it reached its sell-by date about 15 years ago. The overriding implication in this post seems to be even scarier: "women shouldn't be punished like men just because they are women"? I mean, honestly?
Sorry to hear about your guinea pigs by the way.
This may be a bit late, but there is a very good online seller called "Bits for Pets" which sell great hutches with extremely strong metal grids (NOT chickenwire!) My guineas have been safe and sound for a while now despite prowling foxes and other predators. Don't give up on guineas--they're gorgeous little critters.
Just to let you know... started reading your book and it is fantastic. You are indeed, very good and you made me laugh, smile and almost cry a few times. I wrote a very honest blog post about you and your book, in case you have a minute and want to see it.
do check it out.
Hope you are going to write more!
It has been quiet here for a while.
OK, this has gone on long enough. I've not said anything before, but where the hell are you Wifey?
This was indeed a lovely post but I've read it 236 times now.
Long time no blog. We're getting worried Wifey.
What's happened to you?
Hi Julie, have just read your book, a mum at school gave it to as she thought I could relate. My husband moved us North as well but hemisheres. Bottom of one to almost the top of another. Unlike you I can't pop to my old home for a few days, so jealous.
Did enjoy your book, and know how you felt.We are coming to two years and are staying as well. Not sure how I feel about that. Chin up and all that
weasely ways - How accurate....
Glad to see that you are still slogging away in your wellies. x
award over at my blog
Hi Wife in the North, we're missing you down South. Do come and visit at www.angelsandurchins.co.uk. No weasels - unless you count London's deadly SMOGs - but lots of chat, online stylists, and other urban essentials.
Been missing your posts! Hope all is well in the North!
Now, wife, where have you gone? It is concerning when bloggers just up and vanish. Post us a valediction, do.
If it is a temporary hiatus, I hope it is for a good reason, not an unpleasant one.
As a northerner gone south, so to speak, I don't always approve of your country ways, but I did keep reading.
Ok so the blog is over - you have had many faithful readers, wifey - at least say farewell.
I finished your book Wife in the North today. It was the English version which I picked up in Munich train station on Monday night. I was sad to have finished reading it.
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