Axl Rose and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Axl Rose has declined his induction as a member of Guns N’ Roses to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and, as per usual, people are outraged. He’s being called selfish, disrespectful to his fans, and generally ungrateful. I disagree with those views.

I am a Guns N’ Roses fan. Not that I like the word “fan” much – it’s short for fanatic, which I am not – but it will do. I’ve enjoyed the band’s music since 1987, have bought their records, attended a few gigs, and read the occasional interview. I have never felt disrespected, and I do not feel disrespected now.

I have seen the original lineup in action. They were great. I also loved the 2006 Manchester gig. Yes, the band did arrive on stage later than planned, but if you like Guns N’ Roses, you know that they’ll play when they’re ready. The show lasted for some two and a half hours, which more than made up for the wait.

I have booked tickets to the Manchester gig on the 29th of May. My younger sister is coming along for her very first rock concert. She’ll be flying in from the Netherlands. When I asked her, I warned her about potential starting times and the likely duration of the concert. It didn’t put her off. If they start late, we won’t see it as disrespect. If the band are enjoying themselves, and I hope that they will, then we’ll be enjoying ourselves, and that’s what it’s all about.

Axl Rose doesn’t owe me anything. He doesn’t owe me new material. He doesn’t owe me a reunion with former band members. He doesn’t owe me an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To be fair, I sort of expect him to show up and perform on the 29th of May, considering I paid for my tickets, but I don’t feel entitled to dictate his actions. He is his own person, and that should be respected.

Fans who complain that they feel let down because he doesn’t do something they want remind me of fans who travel from some distant location to stand outside a hotel in the pouring rain, and then complain when the artist of their choice doesn’t give them a hug and a kiss for their efforts. They feel that the artist ought to fuss over them. They are wrong. They chose to travel. They chose to stand there and wait. The artist never asked them to. It’s a misplaced sense of entitlement.

As far as I am concerned, Axl’s public letter to the Hall of Fame was polite and respectful. He didn’t have to make it public, but in doing so, he showed respect to those who wondered about what was going on.

It is his choice whether or not he wants to accept. He shouldn’t feel forced to. I truly hope the organizers don’t go ahead and include him anyway. Now that would be disrespectful!

Axl Rose is old and wise enough to make up his own mind about what is right for him. He is obviously enjoying his gigs with the current lineup, and their lengthy performances show that they’re not simply coming on stage to earn some cash. To play a three hour set you have to have a passion for what you’re doing, and a true willingness to entertain.

I know that it’s the latest craze to gun for Axl. I’ve read articles attacking his looks, his supposed love life, his personality, his choices, and his capability as a singer and performer. I don’t think it’s trendy to be positive, or nice.

I guess I’ll once more go against the mainstream and salute the man for his eloquent letter. And I’ll make up my own mind on the 29th of May about whether or not he still “has it”. I bet he does.

Feline Strategy Games

There is a strategic game going on, and my house is at the center of it. On the defending side are my two cats, Chance and Vixen. Their opponents are a young neighbour cat I’ve nicknamed Cheeky So-and-so, and another feline I call Fluffy Ginger-White. Not very original nicknames, I know, but they’re descriptive.

Cheeky So-and-so first entered our house when there was a dog on the loose. She dashed in to find shelter and discovered a warm, cozy home with cat food ready to be eaten, and lots of cat toys waiting to be played with. As her humans don’t have a cat flap installed in their front door, and she often ends up being locked out, she appears to think our cat flap is a marvelous invention to be used at her own convenience. Vixen and Chance don’t agree.

Fluffy Ginger-White is a new addition to the area. I have no idea where he lives. He is, however, a youngish tomcat eager to establish his territory. That territory includes the hill Chance and Vix consider their own, the street they live on and, indeed, our home. And whilst Cheeky So-and-so is merely cheeky, Fluffy Ginger-White likes a good scrap to show the other cats who’s boss.

When invasions of this kind happen, I yearn for the days when I had indoor cats. Back in Holland, it wasn’t safe for my cats to venture outdoors and anyway, it would have been difficult as I lived in an apartment block, on the third floor. Chance and Vixen are my first outdoor cats. There is no way I could have kept them inside – they were rescued strays. As dismal a condition they were in when we got them, they soon made it clear that they were not to be locked up. And on the whole, it’s safe enough for them to come and go as they please. This is a small village, and they live in a relatively quiet street where they have a side yard to play in and a hill to climb up on. The only times their peace is disturbed is when crazy-neighbour-with-dog is being crazy again, or if one of the other many cats in the village comes over to our end.

There was the battle with The Black Cat, which cost Chance a fang and left a scar on his nose. I still do not know when and how he ripped his ear, and I don’t think I will ever find out. He recently lost the bottom fang on the same side when he was bitten by crazy-neighbour-with-dog’s dog, and gained another scar on his forehead. That was a scary episode I won’t get into now, but Chance has recovered and the vet’s bill has been paid. Now, in a stand-off and brief scrap with Fluffy Ginger-White, he has hurt his lip again, though he’s eating and drinking well, so it doesn’t appear to be too bad.

I keep telling him to be careful. If he loses his other two fangs he’ll have trouble eating his beloved dry cat food and we’ll have to make chicken porridge for him, which doesn’t sound very tasty. Being a typical cat, he doesn’t listen. Nor does his brother. Vixen is small, and he’s soft and cuddly with the few humans he trusts, but he can be terror on paws when it comes to other felines.

I don’t like it when my cats fight. I worry about them getting hurt. I also worry about them hurting other cats. I’ve tried all sorts of measures, but none of them seem to work. I thought a magnetic cat flap would be ideal, for example, but Chance and Vix are experts at getting rid of their collars and after finding another cat stuck in the bushes almost choking on a collar that should have automatically opened in just such a situation, I didn’t insist on trying for too long. Locking the catflap at night resulted into ticked off cats and, on one occasion, another cat being stuck indoors who we hadn’t noticed because he’d been sneaky.

I keep telling myself that they’ll have to resolve it amongst themselves. The Black Cat tried for a while, but eventually gave up. Hopefully Fluffy Ginger-White will soon give up, too. As for Cheeky So-and-so, the cats are reasonably tolerant of her, so long as they don’t notice her stealing their food.

In the meanwhile, I can’t help but keep my ear out for any cat-o-war noises, and I’m left to wonder why this is considered a cat hotel, open 24/7 to any and all cats. Surely there are other cat flap owners out there? I’d charge, but I fear I’d get paid in mice and voles…


Thirty-eight is an odd age. There are times when I look in the mirror and realize with some horror that I truly am getting on a bit. It’s only to be expected. I wasn’t going to look like a twenty-something woman forever.

I recognize my reflection, of course I do, and I don’t think I look like I’m almost forty but then again, I am not certain what almost forty is supposed to look like. I do know that my body is changing, and here’s the thing… I think my mind is lagging behind.

I don’t feel all that grown up. Perhaps it would have been different had I been married, with children, holding down a responsible job and a mortgage. When you live a life like that, it’s bound to have an impact. I almost went down that route, and I do remember everything was different…

I married at a very young age. It was a stupid act of rebellion. I wasn’t in love. Neither was the guy. At least, I don’t think he was. But there we were, wholly unprepared for so much responsibility. I won’t bore you with the details, but it ended up in a great big pile of misery. He’s in the States somewhere, married again, and I wish him all the best. I moved here, to the UK.

The people I met right after my move had done all the things I never got to do due to the being married and trying to build a career thing. These people knew how to party. It was an alien world to me. For the first time in my life I felt like an old, conservative fuddy-duddy. That’s pretty much the impression they had of me, too. The club scene wasn’t for me, but they did make me realize that I was still young. I was in my twenties. I didn’t have to pine away behind the geraniums just yet.

And I haven’t. That old-fashioned streak I never knew I had is still a part of me, yet when I look back I know I have done things, experienced things, had adventures that would shock my family members if only they knew, which they never will! When I advise my younger sister, I sometimes feel like a hypocrite, because while I am pretty decent at the older sister act (or I hope I am), how can I tut-tut at her latest mischief when I have done the same, or worse?

I have calmed down the last few years. My life really is pretty dull in that sense. I don’t feel like I have grown up as such, but with experience comes a certain maturity, if not wisdom.

I am a nearly forty-year-old woman who’s unmarried, has no children, no career, no mortgage, no driver’s license, no idea about what the future holds. I still have plush toys all around my room, I love the Hunger Games novels, and I have restarted my Magic: the Gathering card collection. I’m looking forward to May, because in May I will go to a Guns N’ Roses concert, in my brand-new Guns N’ Roses t-shirt, and even though Axl Rose has aged, too, he still has that smile I adore so much.

Actually, when I analyze my life in that way, it sounds a bit tragic. It doesn’t feel it. There are moments when I worry about the lack of stability and security, and how I would feel if I were to end up all alone, but are there really any guarantees? I don’t think there are. You can have it all, and it can be taken away from you just like that.

I am contented with my life. You won’t find me singing about it from the rooftops, and no great novels will ever be written about it, but it’s my life, filled with the things I like, and with enough space to accomodate my next adventures.Whatever they may be.

When I Grow Up

I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Some people know from an early age. Must be nice. My uncle, for example, was only a young boy when he decided he wanted to be a greengrocer, and that’s what he became when he was old enough to work. To be fair, with supermarkets taking over and small shops going out of business, he did have to change his career eventually, but at least he got to live his dream for a while.

I do know what I’d want to do in an ideal world – I’d like to be able to make a living out of my writing and editing – but how realistic is that? You have to be very lucky to make it in those fields. So I publish articles on sites that don’t pay me, and I do my editing on a voluntary basis. I enjoy both, I’m learning from it, and maybe, someday it will lead to something more. If not, I’ll still do it out of love.

In an even more ideal world, I would do that writing and editing from a little place in the middle of nowhere… where I’d have a bit of land, keep a few animals like chickens and pigs and runner ducks and possibly a slow worm or two, and I’d grow fruit trees and vegetables and herbs… and the place would be surrounded by woods, and there would be a stream nearby. I’d want to be mostly self-sufficient though I’d probably have to go vegetarian, as I would never be able to use my animals for food. I know I’d grow too attached to them.

I know I am not being realistic there. I mean, it’s not impossible that those dreams will one day come true, but it’s unlikely, and in the meanwhile I will have to make other plans.

For most of my working life I have done office work. I never intended for that to happen, but that’s the way it went. And I am good at office work. Except that most companies are increasingly target-driven and customer service tends to suffer because of that. I like to help people and offer them the best possible service. When I do a job, I want to do it well.

I can’t see myself being an office person for the rest of my working life. It’s not that office work is meaningless – it needs doing – but I would like to do something that I, personally, see as more meaningful.

I have loads of respect for my younger sister. She cares for elderly people. It’s hard work, with changing shifts, but she loves it. Like my uncle, she found something she really wanted to do and she does it well.

My mother loved working in a shop. She also worked in care for a while, and she enjoyed it, but eventually she ended up back in a department store and she worked there until she no longer could because of health issues. It broke her heart to have to leave. During her time there she was offered a management position several times, but she turned it down. She wanted to work on the floor, with the customers.

I simply don’t have that kind of passion for anything apart from writing and editing, and my dream of the life I described above. I think that many people end up in roles they are not exactly passionate about. It’s a shame.

Perhaps, one day, I will be fortunate enough to stumble upon a position where everything falls into place.

Scroungers? Not According to the Figures…

I’m on a mission. It’s a bit of a lonely mission right now, but I don’t think I’m completely on my own. At least, I hope not. There must be others who feel the same way, who want to see change, who are uncertain of support of their views and who don’t know how to raise their voice… how they can make a difference.

The government won’t help. If their latest actions didn’t express their views loud and clear, a visit from a Lib Dem representative certainly did. He stopped by when delivering leaflets in the area, and after some local talk I raised the issue of the Welfare Bill. One of the first words out of his mouth was one that’s everywhere these days – scroungers. It was followed by talk about generations of people sitting on their backsides, living off state handouts. The typical Daily Mail picture of life on benefits, straight from the lips of someone who is supposed to represent the constituents of a region crushed by a lack of jobs and opportunities.

Work? According to Mr. Representative, it’s easy enough to find a job. Unemployment figures? He didn’t have those at hand, sorry. I did. The visit soon ended. He expressed the hope that the Lib Dems would have my support…

I shouldn’t have felt surprised to hear the “scrounger” word fall out of the mouth of a politician. Isn’t it part of the message drilled into us by the government? Isn’t it part of the mainstream media witch-hunt?

It’s the scroungers whodunit. It’s the work-shy, the breeders, the underclass, the subhuman poor! They are responsible for the downfall of British society. They must be punished. Any horrible action taken against them is quite justified. And as for the disabled, well, the genuine ones have nothing to fear. If they feel persecuted, they should blame the frauds.

It’s become acceptable to hurl abuse in the direction of these members of society. Politicians do it. The mainstream media fuels the outrage with well-placed stories about layabouts living in mansions, playing the system. In the comment sections there’s always someone who knows a person in their neighbourhood who’s on the sick, but the other day he was painting his windowsill or pottering around in his garden. Good thing you can report people like that now!

The country is broke. Everyone needs to pull their weight to help it back on its feet. If families end up homeless they shouldn’t have lived beyond their means, and if a few disabled people commit suicide, that’s their decision, isn’t it?

Well, isn’t it? What am I whinging about? What is my mission?

My mission is simple. I want people to think for themselves.

Politicians have an agenda. It’s easier to put unpleasant bills through if you use enough spin to get people to support them or, at least, to prevent any meaningful resistance. The mainstream media is not as unbiased as viewers and readers tend to think it is. I have an agenda, too. I’m honest enough to admit it. I want this “us” versus “them” mentality to end. I want the brainless demonisation of other human beings to end.

Are there some people on benefits who are playing the system? Undoubtably. Should something be done about that? Definitely! Should we therefore make life hell for anyone who hasn’t got a job? No. Any action taken to uncover fraudulent activity should be fair and sensible, and that’s not what is happening right now.

Fraud numbers are low. We’re talking 0.3 percent of Incapacity Benefit/ESA fraud, and 0.5 percent for Disability Living Allowance. The cost of errors made by those who run the system is higher than is lost because of fraudsters. Yet chronically – sometimes terminally – ill people are put through three-monthly Atos assessments, often carried out by assessors completely unqualified in, and clueless about, these people’s conditions. Just in case they’re magically cured.

Who’s going to hire a person undergoing chemo? Who wants to be served by someone with severe mental health problems, who’s been declared a danger to himself and others if he were to return to work?

It’s an employer’s market right now, and there are plenty of healthy people who are desperate for a job. Unemployment figures far outweigh vacancies. At the latest count, 2.67 million people are unemployed. In the North East, there are 9.3 Jobseeker claimants per unfilled vacancy. Figures vary throughout the UK – 7.1 JSA claimants per vacancy in Glasgow, 4 in Norwich, 3.8 in Liverpool, 5.2 in Bristol, 6.3 in South Wales and 5.9 in Leeds. The UK average is 5.7. And not every unemployed person claims Jobseeker’s Allowance.

It doesn’t help that a lot of positions offer zero hour contracts , or too few hours to allow a person to keep a roof over their head and food on the table.

My Lib Dem representative spoke enthusiastically about “sales”. Not everyone is suitable for such a career. Not everyone is suitable for a supermarket job, or bar work. It isn’t a case of being lazy, or unwilling to do anything that comes along. I’ll be quite honest – I couldn’t do telephone sales, and especially not cold calling. Apart from the fact that I have an accent, every fibre in my being resists the idea of bothering people uninvited and then getting yelled or cursed at. I wouldn’t last a day.

Some people flourish in such fields. Others wither. We need to acknowledge that not everyone is the same, and work with people’s strengths instead of trying to force everyone into a service industry shaped hole. We need a greater variety of positions. The service-based economy, as has been shown, is vulnerable. We need to invest in industry – and that can include responsible, environmentally friendly industry – instead of spending hundreds of millions of pounds on punishing the weak and vulnerable.

Look at the figures above. Even if we go with the UK average, and only take into consideration those who claim JSA, and even if we assume that the available vacancies are real jobs, there isn’t enough work out there for everyone!

So why is the government demonising the unemployed? Why are they trying to add people whose disabilities prevent them from working to the queue? Why are we being encouraged to look down upon the poor and the helpless?

Those are the questions that need to be asked. Those are the questions we need answers to.

Do some research. Look at the data. And when you do, please, think for yourself.

A Fresh Start

I’ve had this blog for a while, but I haven’t done anything too fancy with it. I probably still won’t, but sometimes it’s good to start with a fresh sheet.

I do have a lot to say. Whether or not what I say actually makes sense, is up to the reader. I’m not claiming to be important, or to have important or valid views on issues.

This blog will simply be another voice on the Internet.