My name is Sarah Howard, and I am a fictional character.

The Contract - Jacob Duck (1600-1667)

This is really a Facebook post, but Facebook expects me to express myself in 420 characters which, frankly, is not enough for me to get anywhere near to making an actual point.

Hello Facebook people.

You know how sometimes you have those nights where you are hepped up on a Fluoxetine G and Tonic or seven, and you come to a brilliant realization, which then makes you do something really dumb, like having a Mega-Large pepperoni and extra cheese pizza sent every lunchtime to Chris Christie’s office for a month.

Don’t try that, by the way. Defending restraining order applications can become expensive.

I have slept with enough lawyers over the years that some if it has rubbed off, and in my pink drug blur I realized that as a Proud Fictional American, in joining Facebook I should have proudly professed my Fictionality by opening a Page, not a profile (c/f Facebook Statement of Rights and Responsibilities). I immediately rectified my error, and hereby send my apologies to the busy beavers at Facebook Legal.

I am a Proud Fictional Republican Catholic American Woman.

I understand that all of my Friends have come across as people who “like this”, in the inimitable words of the Facebook.

Welcome to you all.

I mentioned that I did something dumb. This was that, in coming out to you as fictional for Facebook purposes, I of course forgot to back up my other information, so will have to work out, for example, what my address is. Bugger.

Anyway, thankyou for “liking” me, and for all the lovely comments and compliments that many of you posted on “real” Sarah’s profile, by the way. Now lost in the etheric layers, I suspect. Oh well.

If you’d like to chat with me on Facebook, assuming Facebook allows us to chat, then please feel free to do so. You can also read my posts variously, and sometimes simultaneously, at Sarah, Proud and Tall and Balloon Juice and Daily Kos . I do try to respond to people, but being imaginary is hard work, so please forgive me if I don’t.

To return to my new Facebook identity, I must note that I do object to being called a “this”.

I am not a “this” to be “liked” or “disliked” at the will of some wingnut with a keyboard and the typing skills and scent of a drunken baboon.

It also raises the question of whether I get to “like” or “dislike” you lot, or indeed my disgruntled, vaguely dumb and entirely fictional family when they manage to track me down again and insist on sending me pictures of my grand-niece Bridge managing to breathe two sticks of gum up her nose or young Tangent’s thriving rat-tail and frontal Fawcett Flip hairdo.

[Personal Note to Tangent: I did warn you. Grammy is calling her lawyer and there will be lots of fat, happy dogs wandering around Shady Pines when Grammy dies. The rat-tail goes. You can keep the Flip. If you want to spend your life being mistaken for a girl from behind by truckers, that’s your business.]

My name is Sarah Howard and I demand the same rights as every other American, real or not.

If you would like to like me, you can click here, apparently:

Sarah Howard

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Catching the moment

Photo from the New York Times. H/t to Xantar on Balloon Juice.

Live dispatches from the Royal Wedding

Note: What with Donald Trump behaving like David Duke and the many terrible tornado deaths, I feel a little guilty joking about anything.

However, as some fine young women once sang “Some Days You Gotta Dance”. On with the badinage.

9.52am BST – Well, my little carbuncles, I’m finally seated in the Abbey after being patted down for twenty minutes by a most obliging young Pakistani policeman. I haven’t had that much fun in months.

I was a little sad that he took my little Beretta away, even though I explained that I was a trained marksman and might need it if any revolutionary outrages were to be perpetrated during the ceremony. He was lovely though, and said he would put it somewhere safe and I could pick it up before I went to the lunchtime reception at the Palace, just in case Camilla got out of hand. Which was nice.

On my way in I was screamed at hysterically by several young women who apparently thought I was Tara Palmer-Tomkinson. It must be because the monkey-gland facial I had on the plane coming over made my nose go all wonky. The poor dear has had so many years of chronic cocaine abuse she can barely breathe without a short length of Louis Vuitton-branded hosepipe up each nostril, and with me in this new wig we look like twins.

The atmosphere in London is quite extraordinary, what with the street parties and the bunting and the crowds of nylon-clad chavs waving flags to celebrate the fact that a bunch of elitist wankers with no chins can spend more on a wedding cake than any of them will earn in their entire life. As a result, I admit that I’m quite excited to be here, even though I would normally be in sympathy with the 75% of London residents who are apparently cowering in their homes with the music turned up loud pretending the whole thing isn’t happening.

You may have read that the police are using special signal-blocking technology to stop the punters tweeting or calling from inside the Abbey. Never fear, I didn’t work in the CIA for 42 years and not learn a few things about sneaking information past the officialdom of third world countries. I’m carefully concealing my iPad under the most gorgeous stole made of dead badgers. It looks a bit like Robin Williams’ wedding night, but I think it’s fooled the police so far.

I’m sitting next to that nice Gareth Thomas, the rugby player – real football, dears, not that padded-up excuse for a game Americans play. I must say that William and Skinny Kate do appear to like their gays, what with Gareth and Elton and Edward and that young Australian swimmer in the pearls. There’s even a whole group of queens in dresses up at the front of the South Nave.

Just minute, dears.

Oh. Really? Gareth is telling me that the men in dresses are actually Archbishops and Cardinals and suchlike. Who’d have thought that Cardinal Brady would look better in a beaded Givenchy gown and Jimmy Choo pumps than I do?

10am – Bear with me for a minute, dears. I’ve just spotted an empty seat next to that lovely David Beckham and I’m going to nip over for a minute to chat him up.

10.05am – How embarrassing. I’d been sitting chatting to David about his balls for a few minutes before I noticed the muffled squeaking coming from somewhere underneath me and realised the seat wasn’t empty and that I’d been sitting on little Vicky Beckham. I offered her a breath mint to make amends. She accepted, even if she did put half of it away for later. A girl has to watch what she eats.

10.09am – Heavens. There was a woman there wearing a hat that looked like a stork had swallowed a serving dish.

10.11am – Gareth is cruising a rather dishy Guardsman. I had to steal the Queen Mother’s line to Noel Coward. “I wouldn’t if I were you, Noel – they count them before they put them out.”

The flowers are quite lovely, by the way. I think green is so flattering to young skin.

I’ve only just recovered from the horror of Vicky Beckham’s hat. It looked like a pencil holder designed by Tim Burton.

10.20am – The bridegroom and the best man have arrived, wearing their nice hats. So useful for the less hirsute gentleman. I wonder if William is going to keep his on all day?

10.21am – Apparently not.

10.22am – Dear Harry does look so like his daddy.

10.38am – I spotted one gentleman coming in just now who appeared to be hepped up on crystal. I hope no one scares the poor thing.

– There is a woman in blue (apparently one of Fergie’s children) who is wearing an exploded bantam on her head.

10.50am – The Duchess of Cornwall came up briefly to say hello to me on her way in. Betty Windsor has obviously told Camilla that I know where the brake-line-snipping bodies are buried. She kept laughing nervously at me and giving odd little shakes of her head. It was like being befriended by a mule eating a toffee.

10.51am – The Queen has apparently come dressed as a yellow marshmallow peep. She may be the yellowest thing I have ever seen this side of George W. Bush.

11.03am – Jesus. I haven’t seen that much gratuitous train since “Atlas Shrugged”.

– Heaven’s she’s thin. Vicky Beckham was glaring daggers at her. At least we can tell this isn’t a shotgun wedding. Well, not unless Kate has had the baby moved to her summer uterus for the week.

11.14am – Poor William looks skeerder than Donald Trump when his limo broke down in the Bronx.

11.19am – Awwww.

11.30am – Good grief. I’m going to ask Gareth to wake me up when the endless singing is over.


Joseph Nobles – Sarah, since you avoided the signal interference, you might have caught the understatement of the wedding. Dad was helping Kate get her dress arranged, lifting it up and around, and a TV perp evidently said: “Michael Middleton just making sure everything is unsoiled and undamaged”.

I don’t often admit that words fail me.

11.46am – When does the drinking start?

11.46am – Given the use of the term “sobriety” in the sermon, apparently the answer is never.

11.48am – Does David Cameron always look like a worried spaniel?

11.57am – It’s almost done. Cambridge has a new Duchess, Princess Anne can take off her ugly hat that looks like a licorice allsort, Prince Andrew can stop holding in his tummy, and Grammy can get a damn drink.

12.36pm – I’m off dears. Gareth’s Guardsman tells me he has a friend.

All in all, it was a lovely wedding. Kate looked stunning. William and his brother both looked dashing, and William and Kate are clearly in love, which makes for a nice change. There were wacky hats everywhere. No one comes close to the British on pomp and circumstance. After all, all they need to do is play “Jerusalem” and old ladies like me tear up. What more could a girl ask for?

I will check in later to tell you all the dish about the lunch reception.

All my love – Sarah xx

The truth is out there

Goddammit. I post a righteous rant about the world thinking Americans are all insane and then half an hour later the entire United States goes stark raving birther-mad just to prove me correct.

Anyway, it was the 5th of August 1961.

Keith and I had been in Nairobi undermining the more moderate sections of the Kenyan independence movement because Jack Kennedy wanted to piss off the British. It didn’t take much work in those days – either to undermine the more moderate sections of African politics or to piss off the British. Death of Empire and all that.

We’d had a very successful couple of weeks, but it finally came time for us to leave. This pleased me no end, not least because Nairobi was a pustular, pestilent shit-hole that even the Brits didn’t want. Dust, dirt, disease and not a decent bar in the entire place.

We arrived at Nairobi Embakasi Airport mid morning. Well, it was called an international airport but frankly it was just a room with one desk with two angry black men behind it which served for both ticket sales and check in. There was a goat tied near the door which they used to hitch to a cart for moving the luggage to the plane.

We lined up next to the goat to check in. I immediately noticed the young couple at the desk in front of us because they were a mixed race couple – he was black and she was white – which was still quite unusual at that time. He was trying to book airline tickets all the way through to Hawaii, which was causing untold confusion, while she was fussing over the most adorable tiny brown baby. It had huge ears, but a lovely smile. She kept calling the baby Barack, which I remember because I thought it an odd name.

They finally sorted out their tickets and we checked in, and about an hour later we were all on our way to Heathrow via Cairo on the most terrifying plane in which I have ever traveled. I suspect they’d borrowed the airport goat to power the engines, and it was tired that day and was barely keeping the plane in the sky.

We were seated across from the couple. Keith had already fallen asleep, so I slipped on my sunglasses and pretended to be asleep myself and then listened in to their conversation to keep from being bored. She was called Ann and he seemed to be called Barack, just like the baby. She was holding the sleeping baby in her arms facing towards me. The young couple were whispering to each other about the “plan”. She seemed quite nervous, while he was acting bluff and unconcerned.

It all seemed very suspicious.

After about half an hour, Barack Sr looked around and appeared to satisfy himself that no-one was looking. He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a blank form which I could see was headed “Certificate of Live Birth”, along with a miniature typewriter, and proceeded to fill in the form. When he was finished he had Ann sign the form, and then he signed it twice at the bottom, clearly using different handwriting each time, then put everything away in his briefcase.

A stewardess came up the aisle and spoke to Barack Sr. At that moment, the baby woke up and opened his eyes and both the stewardess and I could see that they were yellow and had thin pupils just like a lizard. The baby stuck out its tongue, which was long and thin and pinkish-purple and which flicked up and licked across both of the baby’s eyes and then was slurped back into its mouth.

Of course, the stewardess screamed like Tippi Hedren at a poultry farm, which woke up the entire plane. Keith leapt to his feet but I carefully remained “asleep”. Ann shrieked and clutched at the baby. Barack Sr fumbled in his bag and jumped up brandishing a weapon. It was long and silver and had flashing lights all over it. He aimed it at Keith and pressed the trigger. A long beam of red light flashed out and into Keith’s eyes. Keith froze immediately. Barack Sr then used the weapon on everyone else in the plane who was awake (except Ann and the baby, of course) and they were all immobilized as well.

I threw in a few fake snores for good measure and kept watching.

Barack Sr reached up and peeled off his face to reveal a lizard head – bright green scaly skin with vibrant yellow eyes. He took a deep breath like he’d just surfaced from the water, then began to rant like Glenn Beck with an amyl headache. He went on and on for at least twenty minutes about how nothing would interfere with their plan, how the lizard people would rise up from their oppression and conquer the greatest nation in the world and then the entire planet, how little Barry was the true hope of lizard-kind. All the while Ann and the baby chuckled evilly. After a while, he wound down, and sat back in his seat. Ann patted his hand and he put his human face mask back on.

About five minutes later Keith started to move. He shook his head as if to clear it, then looked around as if wondering what he was doing. He sat down and grabbed me by the shoulder to wake me up. Soon everyone else was waking up too. Keith had no idea what had happened. I played dumb, and all the while Barack and Ann sat there grinning like Newt Gingrich at a bridal fair, making faces at the baby and cooing.

When we got back to the US I reported everything but, of course, no one believed me.

It wasn’t until 1997 I saw little Barry the lizard baby again. It was a news report on the Illinois senate election, and I recognized those ears immediately.

Of course, now it’s far too late to do anything. The day will come and I, for one, will welcome our new lizard overlords.

At least then we will be able to stop talking about fucking birth certificates.

[Cross posted at Balloon Juice. ]
[Confidential to A Friend: Thanks – I changed it.]


This morning my little blog had only ever had fifteen visitors, at least eight of which were me looking at my own website in public libraries to pump up the numbers. I suspect the others were my shiftless family checking in to see if I had said anything horrible about them.

[Private note to my grandson Peter: That tattoo is the second stupidest thing Grammy has ever seen. The stupidest involves your mother, but I’m not going to go into that now. Buy some long sleeve shirts, get a haircut and find a fucking job, or Grammy’s going to call her lawyer, Mr Finkelstein, and leave all her money to the Democrats.]

My relentless blog-whoring on Balloon Juice hadn’t made those little blue visitor bars move in weeks. I even let Sadie Hepplewhite stare at the screen to see if that would work. Sadie is in room 17 across the hall, and has been convinced she has telekinetic powers over the internet ever since she wished really hard that Keyboard Cat would be popular two days before it went viral. She sat in my room all last week, glaring at the computer with her all face scrunched up, but it didn’t work. Sadie says it’s because she wore herself out making Rebecca Black a hit.

However, when I woke up this morning, there were hundreds of you all over the place.

I’m not quite sure where you’re all going to sleep. We might have to get out the blow-up beds. Make yourselves at home anyway, but don’t eat the chocolate bundt cake in the refrigerator – I’ve laced it with LSD for when Ann Coulter comes to visit on Sunday. Oh, and watch out for Marge Albrechtson – she’s in a bitey mood.

Thankyou to so many of you for the kind comments and the Facebook friend requests. I will try to reply to all of you. Forgive me if I don’t – I’ve probably forgotten or my internet privileges may have been taken away or I might be away on a little bus excursion. Life is very complex when you’re 92.

Thankyou, in particular, to a young person called ThomJeff who said lovely things about me on something called Daily Kos – although what exactly a “kos” might be I really don’t know – and to Mr Cole for putting up with me so far.

By the way, girls, John is single, kind to pets, good at naked cleaning and on a first name basis with Paul Krugman. Get him while you can.

Anyhow, it’s time for me to go and make myself pretty. Rachel Maddow is coming round for afternoon tea with Sandra and Gloria and me. I want to look my best, and I need time to work out which perfume is most likely to make her sleep with me.

I’ll speak to you soon.

In which the vengeance of God is justly meted out on earth

I can barely credit that they have made a movie from that turgid nonsense by Ayn Rand.

I have about eighteen copies of “Atlas Shrugged” – all signed in that self-consciously spiky handwriting of hers.

Every Christmas from 1957 onwards, a present would arrive from Ayn by ordinary post. It would be wrapped in festive newspaper, usually with a gift-tag recycled from last year, and every fucking time it would be a fucking copy of fucking Atlas fucking Shrugged.

They’re good for weighting down decoupage projects, although when it comes to slugging a nurse over the head when I want to sneak out to buy booze, nothing beats my signed first edition of “The Fountainhead”. Mind you, it might be easier just to read it to them. Whoo, what a stinker it is. Temazepam in libric form.

I do remember one year, however, when Ayn delivered the obligatory copy in person. It was 1959, or perhaps 1960. Frankly, I don’t care – I have found it’s better to leave the 50s and early 60s as an undifferentiated blur in my memory anyway.

My husband Keith and I were on a trip to New York for Christmas. We were staying with dear Bitsy and Freddy Trump, of course. Bitsy had organized her usual pre-Christmas dinner at the Four Seasons.

She was never content with just the Pool Room or just the Grill Room, so she always booked the whole place. Whenever she did, she’d pay the staff extra to leave the doors open, and then when people came in to ask for a table they had to say, “Yes, we are open, but there is no table for you. Off you fuck.” It did wonders for that place’s reputation. Two weeks after Bitsy’s first Christmas party, the Four Seasons was shooing the punters off with sticks, and there was a two week waiting list just to be sneered at by the maître d’.

Anyhow, there were just 20 of us for dinner sitting at a big table in the middle of the Pool Room. Bitsy had seated me next to her, which was fine, but bloody Ayn Rand was on the other side of me, with the usual pinched expression she always had in the company of the genuinely rich or the genuinely talented, dressed as usual like a marxist lesbian librarian, and clutching this year’s copies of that fucking book.

I had rolled my eyes at Bitsy when she told me about the seating plan. However, Bitsy explained that she couldn’t sit Ayn anywhere near Norman Mailer or he might go off with his penknife and that Jackie Kennedy had sworn to punch Ayn in the face next time she saw her after Ayn made that unfortunate quip about Gore Vidal and a torpedo boat captain. As a result it fell to me to sit next to her, if only because Bitsy knew I could distract Jackie with an oxycodone bottle if she got too close to our end of the table.

It was a lovely night.

Mailer was in good form and didn’t stab anyone, although I noticed him giving Gore the stink eye after the soup course. Capote got really annoyed and walked out after Gore managed to pick up a particularly cute, blond waiter and have him in the cloakroom, and Jack Kennedy smacked Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in the eye during dessert, but then made it up to Bitsy by doing his famous elephant imitation. He used to… well, let’s just say that Jack was never shy of waving his prehensile trunk around.

Ayn was pretty quiet all night. She was too busy stuffing everything she could reach into that enormous handbag of hers. That night, by my count, she managed to snaffle five or six spoons, two bread plates, a salt shaker and a gold lighter that Jackie took her eyes off for a moment too long.

After coffee, Gloria Vanderbilt brought out the really good blow and the party took off. Robert Frost read a frightfully dirty version of “The Road Not Taken”, then Gore persuaded his waiter friend to take off his underwear and give it to Keith, and then the rest of the dinner is eclipsed by a discreet and attractive transition effect, probably accompanied by some quiet tinkling music or a nice swooshing sound.

At the end of each Christmas party, Bitsy always used to leave her tips in a pile of little envelopes on the table, one for every staff member and with their name handwritten on the front. Waiters liked working Bitsy’s parties – she was a good tipper, and sometimes you got to sleep with Gore Vidal.

Anyway, Gloria and I had said our goodbyes and had wandered off to the restroom to re-powder our noses before setting off into the night. After about three lines each, we bounced out of the stall, bounced over Gore who was huddled in a corner with what was either waiter number three or Jack Kennedy in half a busboy’s outfit, and strolled back into the restaurant.

Everyone had gone home except Ayn. She didn’t see us come back in and, right in the view of all the staff who were cleaning up, she sidled over to the table, grabbed the little bundle of tips and stuffed them into her pocket.

Ayn looked around, and then gasped when she saw us right behind her. She started to say something but got cut off when Gloria punched her right in the stomach. She fell straight down like Teddy Kennedy on a vodka bender, and I managed to get her in the head with my knee as she fell.

We left her lying there for the waiters to pick over as they pleased.

I hope they all wore gloves.

Like shooting fish in a bowl

My friend Opal Townsend went to a psychiatrist once, a long long time ago.

The young doctor was a local boy who’d come straight back home to Boise after university to set up the first psychiatrist office in the area. This was in the fifties, so medical practices not involving leeches had only just started to percolate into Idaho.

The doctor was running late, and in fact didn’t get to see Opal until forty minutes after her appointment time, which is really not good enough.

She said that he had a fish tank in his waiting room, and there was a single fish in it, a little orange and white one, which swam around and around in a tiny circle through the windows of a little pottery castle. Every now and then it would look surprised and nibble at a plant, but then it just started up again, around and around and around.

Opal started off reading an old National Geographic to pass the time, but had to put it down when she decided that some of the tribal rituals it showed were a little too graphic for a good Christian woman to see.

After that, she watched the fish swim around in circles for half an hour while she waited.

Finally the doctor came out and she had her appointment. She said he was quite lovely, but she felt awkward and a little shy, so she didn’t say very much.

Of course, she went home that afternoon and shot her husband with a model 12 Winchester, but he had been asking for it for years, so no one really blamed Doctor Kennedy.

Image: Phiseksit /

The curse of the angry hairpiece

My prior mention of Donald Trump reminded me of Father McKinney. That man had the worst toupee I have ever seen. It was like a muskrat had decided to winter on his head – tail, teeth and all.

When we were at camp – this is of course back during the Harding administration – we used to sneak up and peer in his window when he masturbated.

Little Janice Thomson used to be able to throw her voice, because her father used to be in a traveling carnival, and he taught her one winter when he was out of work.

He used to take off the toupee and set it on top of the wardrobe before he got down to business. Then just when he got started, Janice would make that toupee rant and rave about his iniquity. It used to shout at him for “wrestling with his tummy todger”, and every time he would get up, put the toupee carefully inside the wardrobe under some shirts and then finish himself off.

Even then, she was able to make it sound like there was a muffled and outraged squeaking coming from the wardrobe.

The police took the toupee away from Father McKinney after he did what he did to Sarah Powell and he got sent to jail.

It’s a pity, because I rather like the idea of the toupee sitting on the top bunk in his prison cell and looking down disapprovingly at him while he got rogered silly by his cellmate.

Happy days.