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Relaxation Is Not The Same For Everyone (Or - My Favourite Way Of Relaxing May Scare You)
3/30/2018 9:06:29 PM
Its funny how one person can be scared of an idea that another person can find to be the most relaxing concept in the world.  For example, any attempt at getting me anywhere within three feet of the back seat (pillion) of a moving motorcycle will result in me leaving the area rather more rapidly than usual – on foot.  However, I will happily watch TV programmes featuring people riding motorcycles (one of my favourite TV programmes is “The Hairy Bikers” after all).
 
If you ask people which sense they would least like to lose they will probably say their sight.  After all, sight and hearing are the two senses we use the most in our daily lives, aren't they???
 
So I bet I can confuse you totally – just by telling you one of the ways in which I relieve stress.  I take my glasses off.
 
I can hear you now - “But Inky you need your glasses to be able to see, don't you?”.  And your brain might be trying to work out how someone who cannot see clearly without their glasses much further than three centimetres from the end of their nose finds not wearing glasses relaxing.  Especially if you have got 20/20 vision.
 
What you have to remember is this – my natural world is blurry and fluffy.  Solid boundaries and edges do not exist in my natural world.  When I put my glasses on I am confronted by two sets of boundaries and solid edges – the ones on the objects I am looking at and the ones placed on my by Society – as in I feel I have to be as much like everybody else around me as I can.  The funny thing for me is that when I haven't got my glasses on I actually look like most of my friends but I am actually the least like them (well they can wander around without glasses on and not crash into anything or fall over – I can't).
 
My other forms of relaxation are mostly run-of-the-mill ones – reading, writing, and being near water, listening to music, etc.
 
There are two others which are kind of connected.
 
If you want to see me so laid back I am almost horizontal take me to Rotterdam (any part of The Netherlands will do but Rotterdam works the best).  That is my personal “safe space” both in my head and physically.  You can almost have the same effect if you give me something to read which is written in Dutch.
 
The other one is – find a Dutch person or a Glaswegian – complete with the accent - for me to speak to.  (Luckily I have got a friend who is Glaswegian and we speak every day on the phone.)  Why a Glaswegian???  If you slow them down enough you will find the speech pattern is the same as the Dutch one.
 
What do you do to help you relax?
 
We all need to take time out for ourselves.  If we don't we could end up with major problems regarding our Mental Health.
A "Mind Apple" A Day Keeps The Dr Away (Or - Why We Should All Take Care Of Our Mental Health)
3/30/2018 8:59:18 PM

On Wednesday evening I went to a rather interesting group which was run by my favourite Mental Health “Explainer” - Julian Harrison.  I say “Explainer” because he genuinely explains Mental Health in such a way that I feel I can ask questions and he will give answers in a language I can understand.

 
Julian's latest venture is a group called “Mind Apples” and it was a group which I felt very comfortable in.
 
The premise of “Mind Apples” comes from the old saying “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”.  Yes – I know – you are probably thinking that you have to physically eat apples.  Apart from that – doesn't that saying only apply to physical health and not Mental Health???
 
Congratulations – you have hit the nail on the head.  We get bombarded with all kinds of tips and tricks to help us keep ourselves in tiptop physical condition but the Mental side of things seems to have been ignored for most people.  Until – of course - they develop really poor Mental Health and then everyone starts panicking.
 
“Mind Apples” wasn't a kind of “Alcoholics Anonymous” for those with poor Mental Health but it was a useful way of finding out how people deal with stress and what they do to calm themselves down when they feel stressed.
 
I am going to write about my ways of dealing with stress in another blog post.  What I will say is that my favourite method of relieving stress is counter-intuitive to most people.  I simply take my glasses off.  (For a fuller explanation and my other techniques see the blog post I am going to type on the subject.)
 
Not enough is said about how to prevent poor Mental Health.  We need people like Julian and Judith Critchley from “Loving Mental Health” to share their experiences and make talking about Mental Health (good or poor) seem normal.
 
I don't want to do Julian a disservice but I really think he makes more sense when he talks about Mental Health than most people because he has poor Mental Health himself.  He is also very open about it and how it affects him,  (In fact, if his book on a year with his Mental Health comes out on Kindle I will buy it and read it.  The book is called “A Year In Melancholia”.)
 

It is quite strange because I think Julian is a very inspirational person because he is the exact opposite of what you would expect someone with poor Mental Health to be like.  What I mean is – I remember being slightly scared of him when I first met him.  The best way I can describe him is – he looks like a very grumpy teddy bear but he is one of the kindest, most gentle, men I have ever had the privilege of calling a friend.

Somewhere Out There Someone Really Tweets Sense (Or - Why I Think Sometimes The Quickfire "Slogans" Are The Best Ones)
3/20/2018 9:02:37 PM
I am lucky enough to have met nearly everybody who I admire in one way or another in person.  I say "nearly" everybody because there are a few people on my wishlist who I am highly unlikely to meet (either due to geographic location or due to the fact they are so famous I would be near the back of a very long queue of people).  Ironically - one person on that list happens to be someone who I am related to (I last saw this person over 20 years ago) and is the only human who could possibly cure me of my severe allergy to Medical Professionals - they are a Doctor.

Seeing as I am highly unlikely to meet Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Ford Kiernan, Greg Hemphill, Billy Connolly, Koen and Kris Wouters, or, Bill Bryson, I will have to be happy with those admirable people who I have met.

There is one person who I have "met" on Twitter - and it turned out that I missed meeting them in person by 24 hours last year - who I really wish I could meet in person (there are actually a few like him but I will explain why he is at the top of the list in a minute).

Some time back I blogged about a book called "Blue" by John Sutherland.  The book was about Policing with a large dose of Mental Health (his) thrown in.  I would highly recommend you read it - even if you are not remotely interested in the Police, it is well-written on the subject of his Mental Health.

Mr Sutherland was a Police Commander for the Metropolitan Police before he was forced to take Medical Retirement due to his Mental Health issues.  Well, actually, that is technically correct.  However, even though he retired he seems to be one of those "Blackpool Rock" professionals.  As in - even though the professional retires the job they were doing prior to retirement appears to be so ingrained into their psyche that if you were to metaphorically slice them up into little pieces you would see their profession written on every slice.  (I know a few people like that.)

I actually nicked the first part of the title of this blog post from him (with his permission).  If I had my way it would be the title of his second book as well.

Everybody has some kind of "hook" which gets me interested in them.  (Trust me - that is more true than you think.)  The best "hooks" are (obviously) connected with words.

I found Mr Sutherland on Twitter after someone had retweeted one of his "Somewhere out there a Police Officer..." tweets.  I cannot remember the rest of the tweet but I am sure it was something regarding some aspect of his job.

What caught me about the "Somewhere out there..." tweets was the fact that they were simple, to the point, but not in anyway "preachy" or "I am better than you because of my job".  In fact, from reading both Mr Sutherland's book and his blog posts, I get the idea that he is the most gentle man I could wish to meet.

I know I have tweeted this to him before but - "Somewhere out there a Member of the Public really admires you for the way you have connected with people and shared your experiences".



I Have Seen The Future And It Is An "Infinity Cube" (Or - The Best Alternative To A Book Of Stamps)
3/20/2018 8:28:05 PM
For those of you who are wondering what a book of stamps has to do with an "Infinity Cube" all I will say is - it is not in your interests to leave me alone with a book of stamps if I am bored,  The squares where the stamps are stuck will probably end up with their rims folded so you may encounter slightly more difficulty than usual when it comes to detaching the aforementioned stamps in preparation for attaching them to your desired envelope, etc.  The resulting "origami" will also probably greatly resemble an "Infinity Cube" when it is stretched out.  You have been warned!!!

Regular readers will probably know that I am a big fan of gadgets.  The more pointless the better.  Although, I couldn't quite see the point of the "Fidget Spinner" craze - I prefer my pointless gadgets to have at least some use rather than just spinning them.

I was looking on Amazon when I saw something which looked very interesting (so I bought three different varieties of it).  It was a cube which advertised itself as an "Infinity Cube".  Luckily it had photos to show what you could do with it.  Just think along the lines of the sliding glasses case which some people (including me) have - the one which you can slide open and shut with different colourschemes on each side???

The photo which really grabbed my attention was something like this one

Obviously that was not the original photo on Amazon - I took it on my bedside table.

That particular "Infinity Cube" looks like this when it comes out of the box


A four square by four square cube (photo taken on my bedside cabinet)

Yes - I know - I am extremely easily amused.  Just leave me folding and unfolding an "Infinity Cube" and you will keep me quiet for hours on end.  I suppose it could be because I have never seen the point in origami or anything which involves patience and dexterity (never mind halfway decent sight for peering at small things) - but I love just being able to open and fold things without feeling as though I have to "create" something as an end product.

If you are interested in "Infinity Cubes" they are available at all sorts of prices - from cheap plastic to unbreakable aluminium.  The one in the photos above was one of the cheapest ones - I also bought an aluminium one (which is just blank cubes inside and out) and one which is a bit of a strange take on a Rubik's cube made out of plastic.
A Twist On Love (Or - Scribbles On A Sentence)
2/14/2018 9:24:16 PM
I didn't realise Valentine's Day was coming up when I wrote this at Scribbles.  We were given the first sentence to write about - so I followed instructions.  The other Scribbles Musketeers told me that they thought it was good.  Even I think it is a departure from my usual "Scribblings".

The funny thing is I hate Valentine's Day with a passion you can only dream of - for one simple reason.  Do we really need one single day in the year where we are practically forced to buy our partners, etc, gifts and spoil them???  What is wrong with showing your love to someone at other times of the year???  Why can't we show our love by doing something kind for them - make the chocolates yourself instead of buying them for example???

Most of my favourite songs about "Love" are on the flip side to it - "Not In Love" by 10CC, "Sorrow" by Kristyna Myles, "Betrayal" by Kristyna Myles, "You Give Love A Bad Name" by Bon Jovi, "The Morning After" by City To City", etc.

This was the entire greeting between them after such a long absence.

She had been surprised - to put it mildly - when he had materialised in front of her seemingly from nowhere.

His voice still had the same powerful effect on her that it had always had - making her wonder whether to kill him or (if she dared) kiss him.

The quietly spoken - somewhat absentminded "Hi" as he walked past her brought back too many memories for her to count.  Or even want to remember.

He was with a lady who seemed to look straight through her - almost as though she was a piece of glass.

They walked past her without a backward glance - leaving her ruing missed opportunities yet feeling grateful that he had shared at least a miniscule portion of his life with her.

Even the memories of their bitterest arguments had sweetened with the passage of time.

She had always known he was out of her league.  Let's face it - on paper they shouldn't even have been friends they had so little in common.

As she saw the couple disappear into the distance she silently thanked him for his friendship, patience, and attempts to warn her about himself.

The final thought she had was how lucky she had been to win the major argument which had very nearly killed their friendship before it really began.

Yes - I know it isn't your usual Valentine's Day soppy love story but please remember "Love" has many sides.

Medication - Ooh Medication - Medication - That's What I Need (Or - A Health Update)
1/15/2018 4:21:49 PM
Sorry about the slight rewording of the "Record Breakers" themesong.

Happy Easter! How are you???

OK, OK, I know it isn't Easter yet but it is a bit too late to say “Happy New Year”.

I know it has been a long time since I last blogged on here and I am very sorry about that.  You could say that Medicines kept getting between me and my laptop.  I have been running around after them, having last minute appointments (and being told to go to the wrong building), feeling not very happy after the first time one of them was administered (the next time I had that injection it went into my tummy instead of my arm – a lot less painful), and attending my regular appointments.

So, how am I feeling???  Really???

I think I am finally used to the many and varied tablets I have to take – as in – I am now used to having to take tablets at all.  I hate taking tablets with a passion you can only dream of.  I think that stems from one time when I was in hospital as a child and I wasn't told what a tablet was – I was just told to swallow it – it tasted awful.  From that moment on the best way to find out if I feel properly poorly is see if I seek out any painkillers, etc.  Chances are I won't.

What I am having great difficulty getting used to is my fridge turning into a Storage and Distribution Depot for my Implant and my Vitamin D Injection every month.  Yes – you read that correctly – my fridge appears to have turned into an offshoot of the Chemist's.  What happens is – two weeks before I am due to have my Implant and Vitamin D Injection I have to go to the Surgery to order the prescription for them both, then collect them both from the Chemist's and store them in my fridge before I take them to the surgery to be administered.  It wouldn't be so annoying if I could administer them myself but – oh no – a Medical Professional has to do it.  (Ah – I almost forgot – the Vitamin D Injection can only be administered if the blood-test I have the week before the implant appointment shows my calcium levels are high enough.)  Don't the surgery have enough facilities for storing medication on site???  If not – may I respectfully suggest they extend their premises???  Or go back to me getting the implant and the Vitamin D injection done in a large establishment where they keep lots of medication on site - as well as storing the professionals to administer said medication???  I think you will find these places are called “Hospitals”???

Please excuse the sarcasm.  You can be thankful that I realise my blog may be read by humans under the age of 18 or the language used in the above paragraph would be unsuitable for family viewing.

Me personally???  Apart from the occasional dose of backache if I have been standing around for too long – I feel perfectly OK (Alright – I have currently got a bit of a cold but I am not at Death's door yet).  In fact, every time I see a Medical professional I end up feeling like a Fraud.  There are lots of people who are much worse off than me – I can walk, talk, eat, drink, etc, independently.

Remember, when I came out of hospital I was convinced I would be dead within a month – and the first time I saw the Oncologist she told me my spine was in imminent danger of collapsing.  Neither of those outcomes have occurred yet  Although I am a bit worried about my next Oncology appointment and my next Cardiology appointment.  (If only because those two are the two most likely culprits for giving me yet more medication – increase the dosage of the existing tablets if you have to – just try not to give me any more boxes of tablets to add to my collection please.)

The funny thing is – the best sorts of medication I am on don't come on prescription (although I am convinced at least two of them should).  In fact – they have nothing to do with Medical Professionals in a – well – professional sense (even though some of the providers are qualified Medical Professionals in their own right – just not in the two specialisms which are most likely to subject me to tests, etc.  For which I am very thankful.).

The best sorts of medication which I am on are as follows (in no particular order);

Hugs, smiles, being fed and watered, and general TLC.
Being sung at by my favourite female singer.
Reading a good book or article.
Writing and blogging.
Social Media and texting (Facebook is great for when you want to let off steam about something or ask for help without feeling totally useless.  Twitter is good for laughs as well.  Texting is my favourite way of communicating – I prefer it to talking on the telephone.)

Anyway – I think I have bored you enough about my health – at this point if we were face-to-face I would ask you how you are.  Actually – I will.  How are you?  I hope you are OK.  I sincerely mean that.

I hope you are still feeling entertained by my blog posts?  I have got some more ideas for future posts bubbling in my brain.  I just have to work out how I want to go about writing them.  Blogging is a type of medicine for me after all.

When Your Love Of Strange Things Goes Slightly Too Far (Or - Exactly How Many Fidget Things Does One Person Need???)
12/6/2017 4:12:47 PM
There are three shops which are dangerous for me to walk into - basically because I never manage to walk out of them empty-handed.

The shops are as follows;-

Waterstones - This Bookworm's favourite shop.  Lots of interesting books (other shops which sell books are available).  They even provide chairs to sit on as you read - all they need to do is provide drinks and snacks.

Primark - Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I love this shop because of the weird and wonderful bargains you can get in it.  It is perfect for me because my idea of torture is going clothes shopping.  Seeing as I don't actually mind what I look like (as anyone who has seen me in real life will tell you) I can get bargains that most people wouldn't touch with a bargepole.  It is my favourite place for getting very cheap shoes.  As someone whose primary mode of transport is a pair of size 6 (or 7 - depending on the style of shoe) feet I don't see the point in paying a lot of money for shoes or boots.  Let's face it - I can walk through a pair of shoes costing £60.00 as quickly as I can walk through a pair of boots costing £3.00.  The minute Primark start selling those trainers with the lightup rim around the soles in adult size 6 I will be very happy.

However, the most dangerous shop for me to go into is Red5 - an updated version of "The Gadget Shop".  This is the ultimate heaven for me.  It is a haven of electronic gadgets - as well as some other strange things which don't need a power supply.  I currently appear to be addicted to those "Fidget" toys - spinners and things with buttons to press, things to slide, etc.  Although I did come out of there with something very useful for getting my revenge on traffic.

Don't worry - this isn't something which can get me into trouble.  it is a light which is currently on my bag.  The light has a motion-sensor in it so it flashes on and off as the bag moves.  This is most useful at night.

I must admit that the strangest thing I ever bought was not a gadget.  It was a pair of earrings I bought several years ago from a Dutch shop called "HEMA" - they could have been used as Christmas tree decorations or cookie cutters (they were large hollow star shapes).

Unfortunately, the shop I really used to like having a nose around in closed down a few years ago.  A Dutch shop called "Hans Textiel" was a great place to buy clothes with an "interesting" twist to them.  I remember buying a shirt which had green and white checks on it (if you remember the "Pacer" chewy sweets - it made me look a bit like the wrapper of one of them).

What is the point of going shopping if you can't have fun whilst you are at it???  Next time you go shopping try to find something unusual.

Writing For 5 Minutes On "Friendship" (Or - A Tribute To John Farnsworth)
12/6/2017 3:39:51 PM
On Sunday I found out that one of my friends from Scribbles had died.  This meant that Scribbles was cancelled for obvious reasons.  However, I know that John Farnsworth's favourite exercise was to pick a word and get the group to write on it for 5 minutes.  (The trick is to write whatever comes into your brain without thinking about it.)  I have decided to do this exercise in his memory.

Friendship is a strange concept because you never actually know you are in one before you are in it.  There are good sides and bad sides to friendship - some can turn very nasty indeed but most leave you feeling cared for and wanted.  That just about sums up the feeling I get from the bunch at Scribbles (as well as my other friends).  You can also share in an activity without worrying what the other people think.  Friendship is another way of being kind to someone in need of something - maybe a hug or a kind word. They say Love makes the world go around - but it starts with Friendship.

The above might not actually make one bit of sense to you but I timed myself for 5 minutes and that is what I came up with.  It is a fun thing to do if you have got some time on your hands - and it giveyour brain a workout.

The Real "Citizens' Eye" (Or - How To Feel At Home Doing Something You Love)
11/13/2017 7:40:48 PM
Today I had the great pleasure of going on a trip back in time,  I went to an event which brought back some really nice memories for me.  The event was a gathering of former members of a group which I really think should be resurrected - “Citizens' Eye” was a Community Media group in Leicester.

It also happened to be the first place (apart from “Scribbles”) where I have felt accepted, included, and comfortable enough to take part without being judged and made to feel like an outsider.

I can still remember the warm fuzzy feeling I got when another member of the group (who was at today's gathering) told me they had read my blog and enjoyed it.  The best thing was – I don't even remember saying anything to them about my blog in the first place (mainly because I don't remember speaking to the person at all before they mentioned having read my blog).

Being an oddball can be fun – but it can be very challenging at times.  Especially when you walk into a group of humans who all seem to be “highbrow” and/or Brainiacs,  You may find yourself having to try to “tone yourself down” a bit so you can fit in.

I had no such problems at “Citizens' Eye”.  I could be myself and teach whilst learning if I wanted to.  In fact, that is part of the reason you are reading some blog posts which may seem a bit unusual sometimes.  I have learned not to be so frightened of what people think (admittedly – if you follow me on Facebook you will have noticed that the “fit for public consumption” filter well and truly got lost since the start of my current escapade).  I have a story to tell and I am going to tell it in my own way using my own words.

Come to think of it – I think that might be the whole idea behind “Citizen's Journalism”.  I am not a qualified Journalist, nor a paid one, but I do try to educate people about some of the challenges I face as well as telling you a bit about other things which interest me.

Yes, I am happiest talking to you from behind a keyboard (I can think better then – and actually type things which, hopefully, make sense).

A few weeks ago I took the guy I am working on my photography project with to my Dad's house so he could take some photographs of the walk from the corner of my Dad's road in the dark (and when I say “in the dark” I mean exactly that).  Whilst we were there I took some photographs of what I could see from Dad's house looking back to the main road – I was going to put them on this blog post but they didn't come out as I thought they would (they actually looked better on the small screen of my camera).

Sometimes people's stories lose something when they are “tidied up” by professional journalists.  I am absolutely convinced that the best people to write about events which happen are the exact people who they are affected by.  It is not about having the right “voice” - it is about having the experience to back up what you are saying.

It is all very well reporting on something in an “if X happens then Y will be the result and we will have to do Z” kind of a way – but what happens if the scenario doesn't play out as expected???  Or even – what happens if you don't realise that “Y” could unexpectedly turn into “Q” for apparently no known reason???  Do you then involve the people who have experience of the situation to help you tell your story better???  I don't mean the people who have been parachuted into the situation to try to sort it out – I mean the people who were there when the situation started and who might be the most useful when it comes to giving you possible outcomes???

Yes – there is a place for “Professional” Journalists but there are some stories which can only be told by the people who are going through the situation (or have been through it) themselves – because the story needs a personal touch which “Professional” Journalists cannot give because they are too worried about “appearances” and neutrality or bias/angle.

Not everybody can tell their own story – nor does everybody want to.  However, surely we should be giving those who want to tell their own story the opportunity to do exactly that without sanitising it beyond recognition?

We need to let go of the idea that there is a “good” way and a “bad” way to tell a story – with the “good” way involving people who are paid to report dispassionately on events.

That is what I love about being able to call myself a “Citizen Journalist” - I can tell my story and it is up to you whether or not you choose to listen.

Language Ia Fun (Or - Why Words Are More Interesting Than You Might Think)
11/13/2017 7:35:04 PM
A couple of weeks ago I had the great pleasure of listening to (and taking part in) a couple of discussions on my favourite subject.

Before you say “Oh no – now she is going to go on one of her rants about sight, disability, inequality, etc,” and go and find something more exciting to read – stick with me and you may be surprised.

My favourite subject is words and how they can be used,  I have GCSE's Grade C and above in (in the order I learned them) English, Dutch, French, and German.  The two languages I use the most – even today – are English and Dutch.  Give me a book in German and I can just about read it.  However, my French is now useless.

The English language is a source of immense fascination for me – I have been known to read books on words, etymology (word origins), and grammar for fun.

Being brought up listening to two languages (sometimes in the same sentence) has given me a slightly odd habit of sometimes taking things literally at first.  (A tip – never tell me you are “separated” without telling me that you are separated from your wife, husband, etc.  My imagination will submit a response like “you appear to be in one piece to me”.)

On the flip side to that – there are certain words which I have to be very careful about the context of when I hear them.  This is because there are certain words which appear in both English and Dutch but have totally different meanings (the spellings can be slightly different but the pronunciation is the same).  The major “Trap” for me is that exact word.  The English use it when they are talking about an object to catch creatures – the Dutch walk up and down it very frequently (“Trap” is Dutch for “Stairs”).

There is one thing about the English language which I find really frustrating though – and it is not the “I before E except after C” rule either.  An excellent example is found in the Oxford English Dictionary.  Don't believe me???  Look up the word “Snoop” and read the bit which tells you where the word comes from.  It will say “From Dutch – Snoep”.  Both pronounced exactly the same but one is nothing like the other when it comes to meaning.  An English person accuses me of being a “snoop” and they are accusing me of going through someone's private papers without them knowing.  A Dutch person would find it extremely difficult to accuse me of being a “Snoep” unless they had dipped me in chocolate or caramel first (and if you think I am staying long enough for anyone to do that to me you have another think coming) - “Snoep” is candy or sweet in Dutch.

The best bit about language is being able to use it in different ways – ranging from things like “that is the kind of grammar up with which I will not put”, used by Winston Churchill to make a point about people who say you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition, to my favourite quotation.  “Hostilities shall commence on the coastal perimeter” doesn't have quite the same effect as its more famous version of “we shall fight them on the beaches”, does it?  The first version was used by Winston Churchill when he was trying to explain why he didn't like something the Americans had written in the Second World War.

The cleverest way of using language is to turn it into sentences which can be read two ways.  I don't mean the risque double-entendres – I mean a sentence which is either like the “Four Candles” sketch by the Two Ronnies, or like the tweet I saw earlier about a sheep being seen on the hard shoulder of a motorway - “If EWE (you) see anything please tell us”.

Thanks to a conversation between my Mum and Dad I now have visions of a lot of vehicle exhaust parts in my brain whenever I hear anybody speak (or sing) about “Manifold witness”,  At least I now know the difference between “Many-fold” and “Manifold”.

I am going to end this post with a Dutch phrase which is used on leaving someone.  “Tot Straks” literally means “until later”.  It also happens to be my favourite “Goodbye” phrase.


Inspirational??? Me??? (Or - Why Being Called "Inspirational" Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable)
10/9/2017 8:45:51 PM
I have been told off by two friends of mine on Facebook.  Well, I suppose they did kind of have a point.  You see – I had put their names (among others) on a list of humans who inspired me and made the world a better place.  Before you say anything – they were not complaining that their names had been put on the list – they were complaining that mine hadn't.

When I pointed out that my name didn't belong on that list (after all – I cannot be inspired by myself) they still didn't like it very much.

This got me thinking – how do we decide who and what inspires us???

Obviously, we can be inspired by a “celebrity”, or a historical “World figure”, or a certain book or song.  We can also be inspired by our friends and family, or even our religious beliefs (if we have any).

Most of the people who have inspired me are known to me personally (some of them have even been mentioned in this blog before now).

Just out of interest – I found something on Facebook which said “you can only have 5 things – what are they?” - I didn't have to think very hard about the first item because I can still remember the first time I saw it (and was allowed to touch it).

If they were asked to name something they find inspirational - most people would (if they actually like reading) would probably name a book by one of the great Classic authors, or a biography of some historical figure???  Some people would even name the Holy manuscripts from their religion???

Not me!  My most inspirational book is a slightly obscure one which is out of print now.  You may be surprised to learn it is written in the English language.  It is a children's Science Fiction book.  You could say that it is partially responsible for the existence of “Inkyworld” - if I had not either met the author or been able to get my paws on the book when I did, the chances are you would not be reading this now.

I can still remember when I first saw a copy of “Spellbinder” by Stephen Bowkett.  It wasn't so much the book itself which was the inspirational thing – it was the fact that (to me at least) it showed you could actually get paid to daydream on paper.  What made it even better was I knew the author.  (The fact that the author was just about the only member of his “real” profession who I didn't fantasise about skewering with a window opening pole and barbecuing over the Bunsen Burners in the Science classrooms at that school was an added bonus.  Did I ever tell you I have a vivid – and sometimes seriously twisted – imagination???)

There is something which I always find intriguing.  People can find other people inspiring for the strangest of reasons.  These can range from rescuing people from certain death in situations like War, and natural disasters, to being able to sing brilliantly, to not giving up in difficult circumstances, to – what I see as – just living their life in the only way they know how to.

I said at the beginning of this post that I don't find myself inspirational.  In fact, if you were to ask me for a list of “Inspirational People” - and forced me to put my name on it – you would be reading a very long list of names before you saw mine, right at the bottom, where it belongs.

You know something?  It feels very strange to be told that I am an “Inspirational Person” myself.  I haven't done anything remotely remarkable – unless you count existing???  I can think of people who are braver than I would ever be, who are better at writing than I will ever by (and one of them has been mentioned in this blog post), who are a lot cleverer than me (and not just because I can list Brainiacs with PhDs in various subjects amongst my friends), who are better at being friends than I will ever be.  Basically, I am just me – muddling my way through life as best I can.

If you asked me to list my “Unique Selling Points” my list might surprise you.

My favourite “skill” is my ability to think sideways.  To me – the only time when “one plus one makes two” is when you are doing maths.  Let's just say that I am the one most likely to come up with an idea that people will think is too crazy for words but which might actually give the results they are looking for.

I have been told that I make a good “Sounding Board”.  One thing I do know is that I refuse to judge other people until I have experienced them for myself.  Don't expect to be judged on what you say to me – you will be judged on how you treat me.

On the flip side of that I love finding out how people and things work.  The way to find out if I am interested in you for any reason is to wait for questions.  The more questions I ask you the more interested I am (the same goes for the more “sideways” questions I ask you).

I can be a fountain of seemingly useless information (my favourite fact that I learned recently is about Iran getting its modern name as a result of the Nazis deciding that it was the base of the “Aryan” race – the original name of Iran was along the same lines as “Aryania”).

I will always stand up for people who are marginalised.  After all, I know what it feels like to be bullied, to be Disabled, and to feel totally alone and misunderstood.

However, my favourite “Unique Selling Point” is that I am nothing special – I know how hard I have had to work to get where I am now and I know I have got a lot further to go before I can join the “Hallelujah Ineke” Club.

The irony is that my school reports almost all said that I “could do better” and I “must try harder”.  The truth is – I have always felt like I had to work at least a hundred times harder than everybody else just to be the same as them.  This means that I feel very uncomfortable when people start praising me for doing what (now) comes naturally to me.  To be perfectly honest – when people start telling me that they think I am inspirational to them I start getting seriously worried because – in my experience – praise usually comes closely followed by a “but if you....”.

Yes – I am tough.  Yes – people tell me I am good at writing (mostly humans who are way better at writing than me).  Yes – I will do anything for my friends.  Yes – I continue to show courage through adversity.

Does any of the above make me “Inspirational”???  Not in my eyes – it makes me human.

If you want to think I am “Inspirational” feel free to do so – just don't tell me.  On second thoughts – if you insist on telling me try showing me instead.


Drugs (Or - WHy Do We Only Concentrate On Physical Drugs?)
8/31/2017 1:55:56 PM


The above poster just appealed to my slightly off-beat sense of humour for a couple of reasons.  The first reason being that I saw it in the one place where people can legally buy and consume excessive quantities of one particular drug in varying formats all day long if they so desire.  (The poster is in the pub I live next door to.)

However, the poster also got me thinking about other sorts of “Drugs” and addictive substances.

I read an article by some Brainiac Doctor or other which stated that there is no such thing as “Food Addiction” - we should really call it “Food Addictive Addiction”.  This actually makes some strange kind of sense to me – if only because of a kind of connection to an old Heineken Advert.  Bear with me - I think I can explain it so you will understand it when I have finished.

The Advert was one where someone asked someone else if they wanted a crisp but offered them a raw potato instead.  (I seem to remember the tagline being something like “Its not ready yet” which referred to the amount of time the lager has to mature before it is ready for consumption.)  Now – call me crazy but if you hand me a raw potato to eat I will probably give you a list of options on how I would like it to be served.  All the options will have one thing in common – they involve the potato being cooked in some way.  If you were to slice said potato very thinly, coat it with copious quantities of paprika powder, fry it, let the excess oil drain off, then serve it to me – well, put it this way, you had better make sure you have a large amount of potatoes handy.  I love Paprika flavoured crisps – yet I have never been tempted to eat a raw potato.

I get the general idea that in order for something to be classified as a drug it needs to fulfil two objectives.  The first one is it needs to improve someone's mood or view on life – and the second one is it needs to be addictive.  (Please note – I am leaving Medical drugs out of the equation.)

This made me wonder about something.  In order for something to be classified as a drug does it actually need a physical format???  Alcohol, cigarettes, tea, coffee, chocolate, Heroin, Cocaine, sugar, etc, are all recognised as drugs and they have a physical format.  What about things like reading, writing, exercising, driving, etc???  They are equally addictive – yet they have no physical format in themselves.  In fact, if you think about it logically, that poster was useless anyway because it contradicted itself in three ways.  The first was by being in a pub selling alcohol, the second by people having to walk inside a certain part of the pub in order to see it (exercising), and the third actually deciphering what the poster said (reading).

Oh – and anybody who says you cannot be addicted to reading has obviously never attempted to get any sense out of me if they found me in Waterstones (other bookshops are available) especially if I had a book in my hands – or tried to interrupt me when I am reading.


Thank You Letter (And It Comes With A BIG HUG Each)
8/7/2017 3:54:52 PM
Dear Reader (Sorry - Dear Friend)

I know this may seem a little unusual – me writing a letter to you instead of my usual ramblings on here.  There is a reason for that though.

If I could I would write to each and every one of you individually but I haven't got any other way of contacting some of you than through this blog – so please consider this as a personal letter from me to you.

I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your support.  As someone who exists for the purpose of writing I am always amazed when people actually like what I write – no matter if it is on here or on Social Media.  I write because I have to in order to be happy and (reasonably) healthy – you don't have to take the time out of your life to read my ramblings.  As the lyrics from “Get The Funk Out” by Extreme say - “We won't try to force feed you.”.  (And you know where the back button is on whatever device you read my ramblings on.)

Seriously though – as I sit at this keyboard I am honoured that you seem interested in my thoughts (scrambled as they are sometimes).

For those of you who don't know the story behind this blog – it started out as a head-emptying exercise after I had been made redundant in 2009 (wow – is it really that long ago???).  I just started it because I had seen some things I wanted to comment on.  Then I learned that humans actually read my ramblings and liked them – because they took the time to tell me they did.

I remember the first time I was told that people were actually reading my blog.  The conversation went something like this;

“You are a good writer.”

“Thank you.” - wondering how the other person could have come to that conclusion.

“I read your review of Kristyna's gig and it was excellent”.

(Me thinking – you what??? How did you find it???)

A few days later the Kristyna in question told me herself that she liked the review as well.

I am not sure how I manage use words to convey feelings, atmosphere, and meanings in what I write.  I just switch on my laptop and type the first thing which comes into my brain.

Come to think of it – that is not exactly true.  I can credit some wonderful people with helping me learn how to write the way I do.  Or – more to the point – helping me to learn how to feel comfortable with the way I write.

If you have spoken to me in person you will know that I write as I speak.  A couple of you have actually scared me slightly by saying you can actually hear me speaking the blog posts as you read them - and I thought I was the one with the vivid imagination???  All I can say is – it is a good job you cannot (as far as I am aware) read my thoughts as I type my ramblings sometimes as you might learn some very “interesting” Dutch.  As in swearwords.

If you have read this blog before you will know about my health issues – sometimes I may not have the mental energy to blog (even though my brain keeps throwing ideas out all the time).  So if you find big time gaps between blog posts that is probably why.  (You never know – one of these days I might work out how to work it so I can blog from my mobile phone.  I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you though – you may find yourself in need of an ambulance or a funeral director if you do.)

Speaking of my health – thank you for your kind wishes, offers of help, etc.  They are very much appreciated.

Trust me – there are occasions when I feel like stopping the blog and the Social Media, crawling into a corner and giving up.  Hearing unexpected humans saying they enjoy my blog and the rest of my ramblings elsewhere is what keeps me going – both writing-wise and living-wise.

I think I have rambled at you for long enough – and I am in danger of getting soppy as well (this is not a good idea) – so I will close with how I always finish my personal emails;

Have a BIG HUG

Ineke (Inky)

.
Language Learning (Or - How To Make Me Feel At Home)
7/16/2017 8:11:40 PM

I have set myself a little challenge. Well, that is not quite true – two of my friends kind of talked me into it without realising it.

Regular readers of this blog (and people who know me personally) will know that I love words and language.

There are different ways of learning languages. You can learn a language as a native speaker, you can learn it because otherwise you won't get any sandwiches (or anything else you might be offered that you don't understand the word for) you might even miss out on useful information, you can learn it via textbooks and recordings, or you can learn it through a mix of the second and third options.

In my case – I learned English as a native speaker, the “sandwiches” method is how I ended up learning Dutch, the textbooks and recordings were how I learned French, and the mix of “Sandwiches” and textbooks and recordings was how I learned German.

The language I found the most difficult to learn was French (it is also the language I have forgotten the most of). This is because I couldn't get used to the way I was taught it. Remember – I learned Dutch through having to associate things directly with words (and the English translation wasn't provided half of the time). So, if you stand me in front of a “Hond” and ask me what it is I will be able to tell you it is a dog, if you ask me to get you something out of the “koelkast” I will automatically head to the kitchen and locate the fridge (the literal translation being “Cool Cupboard”), etc. Try the same thing with French and I can tell you a “Chien” is a dog but if you want something from the fridge you had better get it yourself or we will be here all day.

As my French lessons were served via textbooks and recordings instead of practical experience and real life connections I couldn't really make it stick. What I found the most difficult were the French tenses – and that was before we were told to “take the infinitive and add and remove different bits of it as appropriate”. Please – just give me the Dutch “Ik heb, ik had, ik heb gehad”, or even “Ik ben, jij bent, jullie zijn, hij is, zij is, zij zijn, wij zijn, U bent”, I can cope with that. Given a bit more time I could probably dig up the German versions of those from my memory bank as well.


Anyway – back to my little challenge.

 
This challenge kind of started as a result of me successfully guessing the English translation of a word I had never heard before in my life. (I have to confess that the word was connected with something I had just eaten – which made it that bit easier.)

 

I suppose the best way of learning a new language (apart from having no other option if you want to understand a word of what your Mum and her Dutch family and friends – as well as any other Dutch human you come across – say) is to be interested in both the language and the country in which it is spoken. The best way to do that is to have close friends who come from that country and speak that language. Oh good – I think I should have fun with learning this particular language. I am interested in the language and the country and I have close friends who come from the country (in fact – one of them seems to spend most of their time in the country in question).

So I decided to treat myself to a free audiobook which claims to teach the language I decided to learn in easy bite-sized chunks. From what I have listened to so far it seems relatively idiotproof – it even gives some explanations of contexts, etc. I am looking forward to carrying on with it.

 

I am not going to name the language in question – because I know that my friends read this blog and I want to try to surprise them if I can.
The Effects Of Bullying Are Wider And Longer Lasting Than You Might Think (Or - Dead Or Alive)
6/26/2017 8:50:59 PM
youtu.be/rWVgbTBlH9M "Wanted (Dead Or Alive)" by Bon Jovi

Please listen very carefully to the lyrics of this song before you read this blog post.  They may have started out being about some kind of cowboy fantasy but - to me - they describe the effects of bullying so well.

I am always amazed at people's perceptions of the effects of bullying – especially if they have never been subjected to it.  They seem to think that the effects only last as long as the bullying itself does (maybe fractionally longer).  They also seem to think that the only person who has been affected by it is the person who is bullied.

Here are some other words which I consider to be very closely linked to bullying – Terrorism, Genocide, Murder, Manslaughter, Assault, Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), Actual Bodily Harm (ABH), Mental Abuse, Torture.

I wonder how many of you would tell me that the above only affect the person who they happen to???  Or, how many of you would tell me that the effects don't last for a very long time???

Of course, you might well look at the list of words I consider to be very closely linked to bullying and think I am either exaggerating or I have totally lost the plot.

The answer to that is – neither.  I am what some would call a victim and others would call a survivor of bullying and I wanted to tell you about my experience of the ways in which bullying has affected myself, my family, and my friends.

I am not going to tell you the exact details of the bullying I received (I don't want to be responsible for giving anybody else ideas on how to make someone's life miserable to the point of wanting to end it).  I may give you the odd hint though during the course of this blog post as a means of explaining how it has affected myself and others around me.

Bullying can take many forms – Physical, Mental, Intentional, Implied, etc.  If you are subjected to any form of it for any length of time you will hit the point where you believe every bad thing anybody says about you and you will believe you deserve all the bruises and pain you receive.

Here is a hypothetical question for you – what would you do if I walked up to you in the street and punched you for no apparent reason?  Probably attempt to have me arrested for punching you.  You would probably have a stronger case against me if I had picked on one aspect of your person I didn't like and used that against you – at least then you could probably sue me under the applicable Act (Racial Discrimination, Religious Discrimination, Disability Discrimination, etc).

I am going to start with the one “side effect” of being bullied which I have never been affected by – but I can honestly understand why people do become affected by it – Substance addiction (Drugs, Alcohol, etc).  You could say that the side-effects bullying has had on me are rather more easily hidden and have little or no financial cost unless I choose to subject you to them.
If you meet me you may think I am a pretty tough cookie.  The truth is more in the word “cookie” - they crumble easily if you bend them too far.  Calling me “tough” is like calling a jelly stiff and unmoveable.  Jelly is supposed to be wobbly – if it is stiff you have obviously made a mistake when reading the instructions on how to make it.

You may also think (second thoughts – chances are you will also think) I am the prickliest character you have ever met – and you would love it if I were to shut up and let you get a word in edgeways.  Trust me – you do not want me to shut up on first meeting you.  If I am talking to you you still have a chance to convince me that you are trustworthy.  If I go silent you have a big problem (unless I have asked you a question and I am waiting for your answer) – my next course of action will be to leave your presence by the quickest means possible never to (willingly) return again.  Me going silent on you after first meeting you means that I consider you to be a mortal threat to me.

Here is something else – the less friendly you appear at first the more likely I am to talk to you.  Experience has taught me that the friendliest looking humans are the ones who are the most likely to cause me trouble, pain, and heartache.  However, on the flip side to that – I am one of the people who is least likely to judge you on either appearances or your life story so far.  What I mean by that is – you can look like the most dangerous human in existence and decide to tell me about your past drug addiction, or your Mental Health issues and – unless you do or say anything to damage me  - I will not judge you for it.  The minute you make me feel uncomfortable all bets are off.

Hmm – apparently those of us who have been subjected to bullying will be all too happy to inflict physical violence on other people whether or not they deserve it.  Here is a confession for you – I have only ever wanted to inflict physical violence on one person (by which I mean cause them serious physical injury) – and that was because I felt they were putting me in a situation not unlike I had faced when I was being bullied – more to the point - I didn't think they were listening to me because I felt like they were trying to steamroller me into submission.  Of list of many and varied reasons for me not attempting to inflict serious physical damage on this individual was actually their job (and – no – they weren't a Police Officer).  In the end I merely got more stubborn and vicious in my arguing.  (It is a massive surprise that they are still talking to me.)

I find it extremely difficult to trust people – even now.  I may give the impression I am totally comfortable in your presence but be very careful.  One wrong move and my prickles will come out.

On the other side of that – once I do trust you - you have found a friend who will do anything for you.  I will support you, turn into a Sounding Board for you.  Basically – I will do anything in my power to make your life that little bit better for you.  I am also extremely protective of my friends (unless you do something to break my trust – in which case I strongly suggest you leave me alone otherwise the consequences could be very nasty for you).

I said I was protective of my friends, didn't I?  Well, you can say whatever you want to about me – I have heard every negative comment you could make – but - the minute you start badmouthing my friends or family - watch out.  And don't think you will be protected if you were my friend to start with because you won't.

This may surprise you but I am not very confident – I wish I could be the sort of person who isn't afraid of blowing their own trumpet or “bigging themselves up”.  In fact, I am the exact opposite.  Don't just praise me for something like writing what you think is a brilliant blog post – I won't believe you (unless you have ended up in my “handful of heroes” who I trust with my life).  Prove it by doing something concrete that will show me you like it – you can offer to help me with something you learn I have a difficulty with as a result of reading my ramblings, you can tell me that you have treated someone differently, you can even take me to events so I can review them, etc.  Even better – throw ideas at me for blog posts which you might like reading.

I prefer my own company. Don't get me wrong – I like being with my friends.  However, there are times when I feel like I have to pretend to be exactly like everybody else.  There is nothing more mentally tiring than acting “normal” especially when all you want to do is have a major “meltdown” - crawl into a corner and either hide or die (depending on how stressed you feel).

Depression?  Yes – I have had it.  Suicidal feelings? Same.  Actually seriously considered attempting suicide???  At least three times in my life.  In fact, little do they know it but one friend actually stopped me from acting on it last week.  I am not going to tell you who they are or what they did but I really appreciate it.

So – you see – bullying doesn't just affect the person being bullied.  Nor do the effects only last for fractionally longer than the actual bullying.  After all, it has been nearly 30 years since I left compulsory education and nearly 10 years since I got made redundant from E & F Services Ltd (where I was also bullied by the man who ended up being my only boss) – and I still feel the effects of it every day.

Some days I consider myself to be a victim of bullying - other days I consider myself to be a survivor of bullying.  The one thing I wish we could do is create a society where noone has to suffer bullying of any kind – no matter how old they are.


Why The Most Dangerous Tool We Have Can Be The Alphabet (Or - Words Can Be Open To Misinterpretation In Both Good And Bad Ways)
4/6/2017 5:29:13 PM

Here is a question for you – What have “What If” (by Randall Munroe), “Spellbinder” (by Stephen Bowkett), a book on flags, any of a list of books on words and grammar, the song “Another Brick In The Wall” (by Pink Floyd), any Religious text you care to mention, a YouTube video of clips of “Still Game”, blogs by (among others) Dr Derek Lee, Nathan Constable, John Sutherland, Michael Brown (aka “Mental Health Cop”), James Patrick, all got in common? Apart from the fact that they all contain words, that is.

The answer is they have all – in one way or another – inspired this blog post.

To be completely honest it was “What If”, and “Spellbinder” that initially got the spark flickering to life. The first one because it is a book I find fascinating – and somewhat scary. (Put it this way – if you have ever wondered what would happen if you tried to build a wall using all the Chemical Elements from that table you see in Science textbooks as building blocks – that is the book you really want to read. A clue – you and your surroundings would not last very long at all.) The second book ignited the spark because I always wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to believe that Fiction can be made real. (One of my biggest fantasies is to be able to walk around inside other people's minds at will. That idea has become more and more relevant as I get older and I have found myself having to work out other people's motives for things they said or did.)

OK – so now you are probably wondering whether or not you should carry on reading this blog post??? After all, I may suddenly start writing something which you may find offensive, may give you ideas on how to launch any kind of attack on someone, or may cause you to break any number of Laws in the territory you happen to find yourself in as you read this!

Or – I could just be sitting here innocently typing this blog post only to turn on the news in a few days time to find that you have somehow taken my words as some kind of codeword which triggers you to wreak havoc on the entire universe as we know it.

What I am trying to say is that words are open to misinterpretation which can lead to serious consequences. I have stated elsewhere in another blog post that I do not like the phrase “Religious Extremist” when applied to Terrorists – mainly because I know quite a few people who I would classify as “Religious Extremists” who (to my knowledge at least) haven't used their Religious beliefs as an excuse for killing anyone. In fact, the opposite is the case.

Everything we say or write has an equal and an opposite definition. When speaking we can use our tone of voice to indicate what we mean (in fact, before I could understand a word of Dutch I could tell you exactly what mood a Dutch speaker is in just through listening to how they spoke). However, things can become a little harder to work out when we are writing (or – more to the point – reading).

We need to learn how to separate fact from fiction as we watch the news or read the Mainstream Media's output.

Most of all, we need to learn to be a little bit slower to start blaming other people when we misread or mishear something and act on our interpretation of it.

Two things come to mind as I am typing this (these might go some way to explain what I am trying to say).

The first is my second favourite scene from “Still Game”;

Jack and Victor are sitting at the bar in The Clansman when Boaby (the barman) asks them what they want. They order two beers and two pies. Jack turns to Victor and says, “Can you pay for these? As I am saving my change to tip the Concierge in the lavatory when he offers me a range of expensive colognes from around the world.” The look on Boaby's face is priceless.

The second thing which comes to mind is something which just tickles my sense of humour every time I hear the announcement for it in the Church I attend – so much so that I have a very difficult job trying to stop myself from singing the lyrics immediately before the chorus. To cut a long story short we have a part of the service where part of “Another Brick In The Wall” is played as small change is put into a container and used to raise a brick on the other end of a seesaw type contraption (this is an attempt to raise money for the redevelopment of our Church buildings). I am so tempted to sing (and slightly misquote) the lyrics “We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone”.

My vivid imagination – combined with my weird - and sometimes literal – sense of humour can be both a blessing and a curse at times.

Philosophical Friday (Or - When I Felt Like I Had Gatecrashed Someone Else's Blog In Real Life)
12/16/2016 4:51:01 PM
Maybe I should start this blog post by explaining how I arrived at the title.  The trouble is - I am not exactly sure about that.

Have you ever had a conversation with three people (in a group) which you thought would make a perfect blog post for someone else to write - and you know the exact person who could write it???

The Social Media Cafe had wound down to the point where the four of us were almost the only ones in the building.  I am not going to name the other three humans (they will know who they are) but the subject started at one of the other three talking about the possiblity of doing an article on another one - then it quickly (in a roundabout way) got to the subject of "how to keep yourself going so you can face your challenges".

Part of me wished that one of my favourite "Human Library Books" was present so he could do his Brainiac bit - and break it down for me to translate properly for myself.

Then my brain switched itself to "Inky-mode".  Warning - if it does that anything - and I do mean anything - can happen.

In this instance - my brain whirred and started strange calculations.  Then it decided to give me a private summary of its conclusions.  Namely - "Do you realise you have just taken part in as near as possible to a real life 'Filosfy on Friday' blog post - and you haven't immediately started to run for the hills???"  (To find out about this phemomenon please click here frothyfilosofy.wordpress.com/ and scroll down to a Friday blog post.)

I would like to finish this by wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  However - I would also like to extend one further wish in your direction.  My wish is that you find some way to take some time out to reconnect with yourself - it can be by blogging, writing, exercising, singing, etc - but we all need to take a break from this crazy world we live in every so often and recharge our batteries.

Pantomime Meets "OutNumbered" (Or - The Day My Faith In Democracy Truly Left The Building)
11/28/2016 4:51:56 PM
Last Thursday evening I went to what must be the most surreal event I have ever attended.

I had met up with someone about my "Human Library Zone" project and they invited me to attend a protest and a Council meeting (they were linked - the former was due to be discussed at the latter).

After we had trudged up three flights of stairs we found ourselves in a small "Public Gallery".  When I say "small" I mean there was hardly any room in it.

I suppose I had been a bit naive because I expected the meeting to be run like most other meetings I have ever attended.  How wrong could I have been???

Almost as I had sat down on the bench in the "Public Gallery" we were threatened with the Council having it cleared due to some other Members of the Public shouting (what I thought were) reasonable comments.  That was were the "Pantomime" bit of the title to this blogpost comes in.

I spotted what I thought was a piece of paper next to me on the bench.  When I picked it up I read it and was horrified to find myself reading what looked for all the world like a script for the meeting.  Including how the petitions were to be presented by various people.  With blanks for comments by assorted Council Members. 
I must admit the "script" was really enlightening.  Although what transpired during the "debates" was far from entertaining.

If you have never seen the British TV series "OutNumbered" - here now follows a brief summary of how it worked.

The main characters were played by two adults (who had scripted lines) and three children (who could make it up as they went along - leaving the adults frantically trying to connect what the children said and did to the script in front of them so the programme made sense to the audience).

That - Ladies and Gentlemen - was what passed as the "Democratically Representative" Council Meeting I attended.  Actually - it was more like "Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics".

What made it worse was the fake "debates" the Councillors had on the very important topics under discussion.  It was obvious that the answers had been decided behind closed doors prior to the meeting.

Let's just say that I was very glad that the children who had been brought in to plead the case for one of the petitions (linked to the protest held before the meeting) had left the building before the debate on that particular subject had started - otherwise they would have been really disappointed with the way it was discussed.

I had been under the impression that I was "Democratically Represented" by my local Councillors - that idea has been totally destroyed.

If we cannot rely on even our local Councillors to represent us - instead of looking after their own vested interests (as well as their "jobs" in the Council) - how can we be expected to rely on our national Politicians???

There are three lines from a Pantomime which I wish all Politicians would remember (usually more connected with the Baddie in Pantomimes but also applicable to the people who vote for them).

"He's behind you".

"Oh no he isn't"

"Oh yes he is" (to be paraphrased into "Oh yes - the Electorate are").

I just wish I could be sure that there was a way of restoring my faith in "Democratically Elected" government at all levels - without being so brutal as to break the system completely and start again from scratch.

Cats And Bags, Monkeys And Sleeves, Frogs And Feathers, And Blood From Stones (Or Just Your Average Trip Into My Brain During A "Scribbles" Meeting)
9/6/2016 9:29:47 PM
First of all I would like to apologise for not posting anything on here for the last couple of weeks.  It was a mix of not really knowing what to write about without depressing myself more than usual, my right shoulder and arm causing me too much pain for me to be able to type very much, and a medical issue from over 10 years ago which has decided to make itself known again in a very disconcerting way.  I have decided to ignore the last one because the last time I got it looked into the hospital made me feel like I was wasting their time - if it is what I think it is I don't really want to know anyway.

I realised I haven't posted any of the work I do at my Creative Writing Group for a long time - so I have decided to give you a dose of it now.

A word of explanation;

The exercise below was a bit of a twist on my favourite exercise (the "write about a word for 5 minutes" one).  This time we (or rather I) chose a proverb for us to write about.

You will probably realise that there are a few proverbs which I can more easily remember in Dutch than in English (probably something to do with the fact that I heard the Dutch versions more often than I heard the English versions).

Read on to learn about two of my favourite proverbs (as well as my favourite versions of them);

The English phrase "to let the cat out of the bag" is one of the most difficult for me to remember.  This might have something to do with the fact that the version I have heard the most is almost physically impossible when you literally translate it - although the alternative translation replaces the "Ape" or "Monkey" with a playing card - namely the "Ace".

You may agree that getting an Ace out of a sleeve is a lot easier than getting a primate either into or out of one.

(Just thought - why do we call the Archbishop of Canterbury the "Primate of All England"???  I am pretty positive that the Archbishops are all human???)

Back to the point - I kno of one cat who likes going into plastie bags but - isn't it cruel to deliberately put a cat in a bag and close the top?

Now I have "let the cat out of the bag" about my favourite version of the saying I honestly hop you will not derrange yourself enough to attempt to "pluck feathers from a frog" - even though I think it might be slightly easier than getting blood out of a stone.


If you are interested in the original translations of the one about the sleeve and the one about the frog I will write them below;

Daar komt de aap uit de mouw - is the Dutch version of the one about letting the cat out of the bag.

Je kan geen veren van een kikker plukken - is the Dutch version of the one about getting blood out of a stone.

Education Versus Brainwashing (Or - Be Very Careful Who You Believe)
8/5/2016 8:39:36 AM
Earlier this week I had a rather interesting conversation with someone.  One of the topics was how the other person switched between their day job and the reason for us sharing airspace at that moment.  The fact that the two things - as far as I could see - were not all that different was apparently beside the point.

You see - they both involved a mix of theoretical knowledge and two kinds of practical experience.

Allow me to attempt to explain what I mean by that.

The theoretical knowledge part is easy to explain.  It is what we learn every time we attempt to do something new.  This can either be the stuff you learned in an official "Educational Establishment" or from reading the manual on your latest and newest gadget.

The two different sorts of Practical Experience are a bit more complicated.

The first sort is where you begin to put into practice what you have learned in your "theoretical knowledge" sessions.  It could be a case of finding a native speaker of Chinese and attempting to speak to them in their own language when you have just done a GCSE course in it).  Or driving on a motorway.  Or using your new gadget for the first time.

The other sort of Practical Experience is the one I am most interested in.

This is the one where you either don't have the theoretical knowledge to start with - or you find yourself having to bend the theory to the conditions and circumstances you currently find yourself in.  Then finding out that the theory and your current circumstances do not match - and probably never will.

A good example of this would be when my Dad drives in The Netherlands.  He passed his driving test in England - his automatic reactions tell him to drive on the left, oh and his brain is hardwired for English road rules.

My Dad has considerable experience of driving in The Netherlands.  However, it still takes him some time to adjust and "flick the switch" as it were when he puts his front wheels on Dutch tarmac.  Let's just say that driving on the left in The Netherlands is not exactly the smartest idea in the world.  Although - one of my favourite memories of him driving in The Netherlands was when one Dutch driver had taken one look at the English numberplate of our car at one point and decided that Dad would be the typical English courteous driver (and let the Dutch car off the small ferry we were on first).  I can still picture the look on the Dutch driver's face as we zoomed past them.

What happens when you find yourself in a situation where you do not have the benefit of theoretical knowledge before you gain practical experience???

This can be the most dangerous situation of all.  The gap where the theory should be is either a total vacuum waiting to be filled with inaccurate "knowledge" or it becomes filled with what you find yourself having to learn through practical experience alone.  This means that the "recieved wisdom" theory doesn't get any room.

This also means that it can become extremely difficult to translate your practical experience into theoretical knowledge that other people would be able to understand.

For example - hand me a camera, hand an amateur photographer a camera, and hand a qualified professional photographer a camera.  Then stand all three of us in the same place at the same time and tell us to photograph the same view.  The chances are you will not only get three different photographs but you will also get three different explanations of how and why we took them.

The two photographers who have some theoretical knowledge will probably be able to bore you about the composition they used, the lighting, the choice of film or digital, the shutter speed they used, etc.

Me???  Well - my monologue on the photograph I took will not include any of the above.  My monologue will probably include why I took it in the first place.  I have three main reasons - I liked the view I saw with my own eyes and I wanted to capture it and show other humans, I had a problem with seeing the view with my own eyes and I wished to make it easier to see, or I saw something the other two wouldn't understand and I wished to show them.

In plain English - I sometimes use my camera as an extention of my eyeballs.  If I have difficulty reading things (and I am in a place where I am allowed to operate a camera) the zoom function suddenly has a very practical function indeed.  (The other two photographers would probably tell you that the zoom function on a camera is the spawn of Satan.)

There is also another danger concerning the battle between practical and theoretical.  It is called the Mainstream Media.

These beings all have some kind of agenda to push regarding life and how we should all live it.

We have all read and seen reports about such things as Disability equalling "Benefit Scrounging", Immigration equalling "stealing jobs from the native unemployed" (or even Immigration equalling "Everybody who comes into our country is a Terrorist", or worse "Everybody who comes into our country wants to live by their own rules and not mix"), and an Armed Police Officer going into a supermarket to buy their lunch equalling "Imminent Armageddon via indiscriminate firing leading to genocidal-scale mass murder".

Those of us with practical experience which proves how wrong all three of the above statements are find ourselves being drowned out.  For example, I have only claimed what I was entitled to (and I did that reluctantly), if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting my Mum you will know she fully submersed herself in English life and played by the same rules as everybody else, oh and I have been up close and personal with an Armed Police Officer on my own and survived the experience without injury.  I also follow a few Armed Police Officers on Twitter.  They are almost friendlier than the non-armed Officers in some cases.

I could ramble on about how my practical experiences of the world around me do not match up to the theoretical knowledge presented by the "Mainstream Media" until I am blue in the face.  I could also round up a few of my friendly "Human Library Books" and get them to tell you their side of the story.  However, until there is a major culture shift - resulting in a Society where everybody's practical experiences of the world as we know it are treated as being equally valid to the received wisdom theory of how the world works - I honestly cannot see a way forward to a more just society.

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