|If I have to be completely honest - every single time I have heard the media and Music Stars rehash the same old arguments about the Band Aid single the lyrics to another song start playing in my head. "I have heard this conversation, it is getting tiresome. Many times I've heard your questions. Not gonna keep biting my tongue" (from "Move On" by Kristyna Myles).|
Here is my take on the whole Band Aid single argument.
They are all arguing about the wrong thing. In fact, the only argument I have heard which actually makes sense to me is that the single is actually insulting to Africa. Not because both Band Aid singles have managed to paint the whole of the African Continent with the same shade of "Deadly Nightshade", nor because neither single contained one single African person on it (as in person from Africa) - OK so there weren't that many African people in the British Music Scene in 1984/1985 but there are quite a few now (Ladysmith Black Mambaso anyone?).
They are an insult to Africa because at no point do I remember anybody (including Bob Geldof and Midge Ure) actually asking Ethiopia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea, if they actually wanted money throwing at them from a far away country.
In fact, Bob Geldof's original idea would have been much better if he had stuck with it. He tried to lobby Margaret Thatcher to see if something could be done about the large stockpiles of food which were sitting in Europe doing nothing. Mr Geldof wanted the stockpiles to be used to feed the Ethiopians who were starving.
This time he has also failed to see the (to me anyway) blazing obvious. There is a saying which talks about giving someone a fish feeding them for a day, but teaching them to fish will allow them to feed themselves for a life time.
What I am trying to say is that we shouldn't be arguing about who isn't paying their fair share of taxes, or how the lyrics do not represent the "True Africa" whatever that is, or the lack of Africans on the single. We should be arguing about the motives behind the single.
I would be more prepared to donate money to see Bob Geldof and the rest of them actually fly out to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, in economy class on commercial flights, and actually help train the people on the front line. Ie, put themselves at personal risk of death, instead of just singing a stupid song.
I don't know how many of you would remember but when the original Band Aid single came out it was called "Feed The World". Two weeks later the pop singers from the United States released a single called "We Are The World". I wonder what answer the Americans will come up with to "Heal The World"???
|I have to admit that my heart sank when I found out that the Church of England had finally allowed Women to be Bishops. Why??? I am a female so therefore I should be jumping up and down with joy that yet another avenue is open to Womankind when it comes to jobs and vocations they can inject themselves into.|
Sorry - if only I could believe that it was going to be left as a choice for Women to take or leave. However, I fear we are now on the same slippery slope as with every other profession which has allowed Women to enter - the dreaded Quotas.
The current practice would appear to be "shoehorn as many Women as you can get into your profession, company, etc, never mind how good or bad they are". After all, we need more visible Women (preferably fully clothed) in our society, just to show the following generations of budding Women that they can do anything they want to - "Dedication, Dedication, Dedication, that's what you need". (Please excuse the lapse into the theme song for "Record Breakers".)
According to me that is the last thing we need to be teaching them. Surely we should be teaching the next generations of budding Women that it is OK to want to stay at home and look after your family as well as it being OK to aim for running a FTSE500 company - after all, surely Women still have a choice???
I seem to remember a song by "The Christians" called "Ideal World" - with the following lyric - "In an ideal world - we'd be free to choose. But in my real world you can bet we're gonna lose".
It is all very well feminists demanding to be treated as equal to men but if they do that they have to remember that men also need the same choices as Women.
|This may or may not surprise you but I am absolutely fascinated by gadgets (especially how people come up with all the weird and wonderful ideas). Find me a phone, a computer, a lamp, an unusual pen, a bottle opener, etc, and leave me to play with it for a few hours.|
By now you are probably staring at your screen thinking "she has finally flipped her lid, lost the plot, etc. How can anybody be fascinated by a bottle opener???".
Yes, yes, bottle openers open bottles. But this one lets you use the same lid to close the bottle as well.
I got it from Red5 in the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester (with some other items which I may or may not review at a later date).
This bottle opener is not one of those things which turns the lid to your lager bottle into a piece of metalic origami (the top stays the same shape as it was when it was on the bottle).
The bottle opener is approximately the same size as one of those metal salt cellars you find in cruet sets (salt, pepper, and sometimes vinegar) - with a difference. If you turn it upside down it almost ressembles a metallic shot glass - the inside of which is black.
You place the bottle opener over the neck of the bottle and press firmly on the top until you hear a click or a pop. Then remove the bottle opener, turn upside down and remove the lid of the bottle. When you have drunk as much as you want to from your bottle simply replace the lid until you next want to drink from it. Then repeat process.
I know I don't usually review gadgets but I was so impressed by this one I had to tell you about it.
|This blog post may contain one or more of the following; extreme sarcasm, scenes of a criminal nature, references to violence, and, references to activities which can only be carried out by someone over the age of 16 (except with parental consent). You have been warned. If you find any of the above-mentioned things offensive please read one of my other blog posts.|
I have a habit of attempting to deal with live humans whereever possible. Even though I can just about remember how to create a simple computer program using the BASIC language I have never managed to find a way to properly interrogate an Automated Telling Machine (ATM or "Hole In The Wall" or "Cash Machine") and get useful answers out of it. The similarities between a Talking ATM and the Talking Toaster from "Red Dwarf" are enough to drive me mad every time I attempt to imagine one!
I have another name for ATM's - "Automatic Temper-Inducing Machines". If you want to know how I came up with that name for them feel free to read on.
There are at least two major problems with most ATM's (as well as the stupid computer type machines where you can theoretically check your balance and cancel standing orders in branches of one particular High Street Bank) - at least as far as I am concerned.
The first major problem is the place where you usually find an ATM - ie, outside where it is usually positioned in a wall which is guaranteed to be in direct sunlight. The exact position of the aforementioned ATM usually means I have to scrunch myself up in order to be able to see the screen in the event of it being sunny - can't someone position another one a little higher up the wall (preferably with some kind of hood over it to keep the sun out)?
The other thing is the font and size of the writing on the screens. I admit that ATM's have to be a uniform size to fit into walls but expecting me to see and decipher eight small boxes, then make a quick decision (especially when there is a queue or a group of people near me) is not conducive to my happiness. There should be fewer boxes and fewer buttons which are more spaced out.
There is one particular High Street Bank which is on the verge of completely losing my business for two reasons. I have found most of the staff to be seriously unhelpful. Last Wednesday was the final straw as far as I was concerned.
Not only do I absolutely hate using their computer-type machines for checking when money is coming into or going out of my account, but I am not too keen on dealing with Androids posing as humans.
I have complained several times to one particular branch of this particular Hight Street Bank (its full name mentions a former British Colony as well as a major Asian city) as I feel their computers contravene the "Disability Discrimination Act" but with no satisfactory result.
Let's just say that they give you a choice between two font sizes for their screens - one of which I need a microscope to be able to read comfortably (they call this one "Small") and one of which I would really need a magnifying glass to read comfortably (they call this one "Normal"). I have asked several times for the addition of a font I would actually be able to read comfortably (they would pobably call this one "Large") without success.
However, this was not the final straw that drove me to open a Bank Account elsewhere. That resulted in me - for the first time in my life - wishing some criminals had taken their activities one step further.
Allow me to explain;
There have recently been some rather interesting criminal activities going on in Leicestershire involving the theft of JCB diggers (at least I assume they were stolen) which were subsequently used to remove ATM's from the walls of Cooperative Shops - Also known as the "COOP" (pronounced "Co-op").
On Wednesday I had decided to open a Bank Account with another Bank (this one staffed by very friendly humans - as well as a very nice man called Jeremy and a nice Manager called Theresa). As a result of opening the account with TSB I had to transfer some money into it.
What I thought was going to be a five minute walk to the nearest branch of the old Bank, get the cheque, and walk back to the new Bank to pay it in, ended up with a very irate Ineke having to get a bus to a different branch of the old Bank to get the cheque because of a "Security Alert" at the nearest branch. The only indication of the Security Alert was a rope blocking the lift to the floor where the desk was until a rather snooty female Android in a grey uniform asked me if I had an appointment - and grilled me on what I wanted to do - before telling me to find another Branch.
On the other hand, the staff at TSB couldn't have been more helpful if they had tried.
I will deal with machines if I absolutely have to when it comes to making financial transactions or getting financial information. However, the only Androids I have ever felt comfortable dealing with are mobile phones - not corporate humans.
|I don't usually end up feeling personally insulted by an article in a newspaper which is connected with someone who I have never met who happens to be a "celebrity" - in the case of the article spelling out the difference between a friend and a fan (inspired by the backlash about Bill Cosby) it came at completely the wrong time for me to take it with my usual "That's what sells newspapers" attitude. Allow me to explain why I hit the roof.|
There are three people in my personal circle of friends and family who have achieved some level of fame in their respected fields of expertise. Two of them have publicly acknowledged me as their friend - one of them would acknowledge me as being related to him and that is all (I last saw him in real life nearly 18 years ago but I know he is still alive).
I would also admit to being a fan of the two who have publicly acknowledged me as their friend. My relative works in my least favourite profession on the planet so - unless I find myself in need of his expertise (and in the right country) - I am not likely to be one of his fans, admirers, etc.
Over the past 60 days I have had a real experience of what it means to be a friend as well as a fan of someone I really admire. You might have noticed I have blogged, tweeted, and, posted on Facebook, about a PledgeMusic campaign for Kristyna Myles' second album which hit its target during the latter part of last week.
What you will not know (unless you have spoken to me about it) is how emotionally involved I was with the campaign. I didn't just want it to be a success so I could get my paws on Kristyna's new album - I wanted it to be a sucess because I consider her to be one of my dearest friends and I was heartbroken when I didn't think she would reach the target.
Those of you who are my friends (either in real life or on Social Media) will know I will support you as much as I can - from sending you a hug to being a Sounding Board, to actively trying to help you.
When I read the (frankly extremely patronising) article on how "fans are not friends amd how you can tell which one you are", I was trying to get Pledgers for Kristyna's campaign.
Now - I may be completely wrong here but I think I have some simpler ideas about how to tell if you are a friend as well as a fan of someone. (Feel free to disagree with anything on the list below);
1) Have you actually met them and spoken to them for more time than it takes to say "Hi"?
2) Have they introduced you to other people as their friend?
3) Have you exchanged private contact details with them (ie, telephone number, private email addresses)?
4) Have they (willingly) introduced you to any member of their family?
5) Have they displayed true concern for your wellbeing (eg, remembered small details about you and asked you about whatever you told them last time you saw them)?
6) Are you emotionally involved in their success as well as their failures? (As in - do you support their efforts to be successful in practical ways because of what you can get out of it or because of what they can get out of it???)
If you can honestly say yes to at least three of the above I would classify you as a fan as well as a friend of the object of your Hero Worship.
I got paid a great (and extremely undeserved) compliment today. I was given the title of "Super Fan" by a very dear and close friend of mine who knows what I have done to support Kristyna.
I happen to know someone who deserves that title a lot more than me who happens to be a mutual friend of mine and Kristyna's - Julie Kirkpatrick advertises Kristyna's music in almost every way possible (she is not on Facebook though) and she has almost more reason to do that than I ever will. All I will say is that Julie has changed "I'm Not Going Back" for me forever.
I know I will probably never meet Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi, Koen Wauters, Julien Neel, Billy Connolly, Bill Bryson, or any other famous "celebrity" who I happen to admire (and that little lot are the people who I really would have trouble stringing two words together if I ever found myself standing in front of them). But I also know how priviledged I am to be able to consider Kristyna Myles to be a very dear friend of mine, in the same way I feel very priviledged to class Steve Bowkett as a friend of mine (both of these have had a great impact on my life and allowed me to be part of their lives in some way).
The big name celebrities who wouldn't know you if they had to identify you in a Police lineup are fine for admiring but, chances are, you will never get to know them properly and be part of their lives in any meaningful way. The real stars are the people who have made a difference to your life in even the smallest way - maybe just by saying a friendly "hi" when they see you, or by inviting you for a drink if they see you are lonely, or standing up for you when someone is nasty, or going out of their way to help you if you are in trouble. You certainly don't need to be famous to do any of those for anybody.
|If there is one thing which I find sad about the way Britain is going it is the fact that accents seem to be disappearing. I wrote on one blog post about how happy I was to be spoken to in my native Norfolk accent when I went back to Kings Lynn and Downham Market for my birthday.|
I always think accents are a way of tying you to your roots. If my Dad ever chose to speak in his native accent there would have been three accents in my family when I started school - one for each of us. Dad would have been Leicester, I was definitely Norfolk, and Mum was - of course - Dutch.
Not only do accents tie you to your roots (especially if you are lucky enough to keep your original accent) but they can make conversations more interesting. I honestly find my brain having to work harder if someone is talking in a "cut glass" posh voice, probably because I grew up hearing a strong accent.
Seriously - my Mum and Dad could have said exactly the same thing to me in the exact same tone of voice, and they would have got two completely different reactions.
Readers of the original "Inkyworld" blog will remember I have got a Glaswegian friend (yes, he is still around). Glaswegians have a habit of speaking very fast (as well as using strange words). Even when he remembers he is not talking to a Glaswegian and slows his speaking speed down there are ties when he will still confuse me. Or he will say something that makes me laugh when he is being serious.
Some Glaswegian words have been said to me so often that I immediately understand what he is talking about.
If he mentions "chap" I know there is a door involved in the sentence. "He chapped my door" means "He knocked on my door".
If he mentions "knock" I know he is talking about stealing. "He knocked my pen" means "He stole my pen".
In fact the only one which actually made any remote sense to me when he first said it actually has a loose connection with its English translation;
"I am going to tap James for a tenner."
(A clue, if you think of putting taps in plants to get the sap out you may be able to translate it for yourself.)
In English that would read "I am going to ask James to lend me ten pounds".
The really strange thing is that you would have thought my brain was used to hearing words with completely different meanings to the ones native English-speakers would understand. After all, I spent my formative years being talked to in - and listening to conversations in - Dutch.
Van, Tot, Met, Door, Op, Trap, are all words which have completely different meanings in Dutch;
Van = From
Tot = To (or - when combined with the next one - Until)
Met = With ("Tot en Met" literally means to and with - eg, 0900 tot en met 1700 means 9am until 5pm. This is usually shortened to t/m.)
Door = Through
Op = Up
Trap = Stairs or Staircase.
(They are only the straight spelling swaps. We could be here for a very long time if I went through the ones which are spelled differently but the same phonetically.)
Languages are strange things but we really need to preserve them and accents. I honestly wish that English was not such a dominant language in the world. I miss hearing sentences in Dutch without any English words in them and having to translate them word for word. At least it gave my brain something to do.
|You know the feeling you get when you are part of something you know is going to be amazing but you have to wait for the outcome??? Well, that is how I am feeling right now.|
Unless you have just found my website and blog by accident (in which case, welcome - take a seat, buckle up, and enjoy the ride) you will know that I have the great honour of being friends with my favourite female singer. It is honestly difficult for me to put into words how much I like her music and how she can honestly cheer me up with a simple "Hi, how are you?".
Kristyna Myles has a Pledge Music Campaign at www.pledgemusic.com/projects/KristynaMyles which will end on Sunday 23 November 2013. As I type this blog post she is at 86% of the target. I really want her to get to 100% of the target so I can get my paws on her new album. (The Pledge campaign is to raise funds for the recording of the aforementioned album.)
I want to give a shoutout, namecheck, whatever you want to call it, to someone who I met on Twitter through Kristyna. I have mentioned Julie Kirkpatrick on this blog once before (as one of my "Trusted Advisors") but I want to publicly thank her for the support she continues to give both Kristyna and myself.
Julie has been absolutely amazing with her tweeting in support of Kristyna, not only with the Pledge campaign but also with Kristyna's #paintabrighterdaychallenge (where Kristyna puts up motivational photos and quotes on both Twitter and Facebook).
So - I suppose you are wondering how Julie supports me (after all, I am only a small time blogger)??? Well, she offers me friendship and advice. She has also inspired a couple of blog posts. Oh, and she has apparently joined those of you who seem to have decided my blog posts are worth reading. And I can talk to her about Kristyna for as long as I want to.
I think I said this in my last blog post where I mentioned Julie and Kristyna in the same sentence, but, I actually think of those two together - connected by music.
Music can bring you many good things, including two friends who really paint my days that bit brighter!
|I must admit it has turned out to be a very strange week for me - if scarily exciting.|
There have been some amazing things happening to and for me which have got me bouncing off the ceiling. The major result is that I am now free from the clutches of the Jobcentre. Me not having a job yet is a minor inconvenience - however, I am feeling more positive about that too.
In fact, that is how the title to this blog post came up.
For those of you who have never had the "pleasure" of dealing with the Jobcentre and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) on the subject of looking for a job - allow me to educate you.
Not only do the DWP want you to look for a job (I have no problem with this idea) but they actually put limitations on the jobs you can apply for.
In most cases this is a Full Time job. This is all well and good but what happens if there is a shortage of full time jobs? Plus you have to factor in travel time, etc, to get to your place of work.
My major problem with the DWP is that they do not take into account any disabilities or health issues you may have. If you are offered an interview, and consequently offered the job, you have to take it, whether or not you are a suitable fit for it. Never mind if it is downright dangerous for you to get to (or the building itself is a nightmare).
There is also another hidden trap. If you live in Britain you will have heard of Zero-hour Contracts. What you may not have heard of is "Battery Sales Companies" - and I am not talking about establishments where you can purchase AA batteries or car batteries, etc. I use the term "Battery Sales Companies" in the same way as "Battery Chicken Farms".
These companies usually advertise for "Trainee Sales Executives", or, "Sales And Advertising" but say very little on the Job advert - apart from offering some crazy salary with unearthly commission.
Please do not misunderstand me - I am all for sales people getting trained and qualified whilst they work. However, I have been interviewed by a few of these "Battery Sales Companies" and the speed of training which they outlined to me was extremely worrying. Put it this way - they nearly all suggested the candidate could be a Manager within six months. (I even got interviewed by one man for two different companies within three months.)
At the risk of sounding like someone who wants to go back to the future - I think the amount of "Battery Sales Companies" is a damning indictment of the current state of the British Economy. Since I was made redundant there has been a decline in "skilled" jobs - be they in Engineering, Administration (yes - that is a skilled job), Manufacturing, etc - with the chasm being filled by these "Battery Sales Companies".
However, what really disappoints me is there seems to be a complete disregard for the Creative World or those of us who really want to make a difference as well as using our personal experiences.
Here now follows an example;
I wanted to use my sight to help schools adapt to the needs of people with vision problems. My intention was to go into schools and assess them for visual needs. Let's face it, if you use my sight as a template, the only people who are going to have a problem are the totally blind.
When I suggested this to the Jobcentre (as well as my Work Programme provider - A4E) they did not ask me if I had actually done a test run. Instead they suggested I went on an Engineering course. I would only have made recommendations, not done the alterations myself. This left me feeling worthless.
The other thing is that there doesn't seem to be that much scope for people who want to either do something creative (writing, photography, etc) unless they happen to be a Millionaire to start with. We need to support people with a creative idea or a creative streak instead of attempting to squeeze them into a "normal" job.
As for people who want to start up soial enterprises to help other people (the homeless, etc) the funding streams for those would appear to be very well hidden away. So much for David Cameron's "Big Society" idea where we all help each other. I thought the Government wassupposed to make it easier to set such schemes up??? Apparently not.
Anyway - I seem to have gone off the point a bit.
Today I went for the first job interview where I didn't feel like I had to "perform" and fight to get the job. Knowing I didn't have to fulfil a quota of applications and interviews was psychologically freeing - this meant I could really be myself. I understand that I need to get a job but the pressure is off me slightly.
Not being in the Jobcentre's clutches also means that I can honestly look into setting myself up as some kind of writer or consultant on Blogging. As in looking into doing something which not only do people say I am good at but I happen to enjoy doing as well.
Watch this space.
|Freedom is a strange concept. Apparently I live in a "free" country where I can be myself and speak my mind??? I theoretically have power in the form of a vote because I live in a "democracy"???|
Therein lies the problem.
Apparently my MP represents me in Parliament. This is strange because as far as I know there are two major differences between me and my MP - he is male and (to my knowledge) he is not in any way, shape, or form, disabled. In fact, as far as I can make out the only two things which we definitely have in common are as follows; we are both human and we both live somewhere near Leicester.
To me "Freedom" and "Democracy" are very strongly linked. Democracy should be understood as meaning everybody having a representative in Parliament who they can relate to and who can relate to them.
Have you noticed that the current round of "Disability-bashing" only goes on due to the sheer lack of disabled MP's on either side of the House of Commons - never mind the fact that the last "Disabled" Minister for any portfolio was David Blunkett (who happens to be blind).
I find it rather frustrating when people say that there are too few women or Black and Ethnic Minority people in Parliament, on TV, etc. I can count a lot more of those two groups on my screens than people with disabilities (unless they are either disabled through some heroic deed or just there for the humour element of their existence. Or worse, just there to make people tip their pockets out for charities).
I was brought up to hide the exact extent of my sight problem. So much so that people can have a shock when they see me in real life and I tell them (or someone else does). A clue - don't subject me to bright lights, dark spaces, or strange staircases - those three will definitely leave you in no doubt about my sight.
As a result of the current Government I am left feeling I have to lie about my sight in order to get anywhere useful. Yes, I can operate reasonably "normally" under most conditions - the fact that sometimes it can be very tiring (both mentally and physically) for me to do so is, apparently, beside the point.
However, there is one thing that the Government have not yet picked up on. The Government want all the Disabled people who can work to be in a job, right? Wrong! If they honestly wanted all Disabled people who can work to be in a job they would remove one barrier completely. That barrier involves a Driving Licence - or rather - public transport.
I have lost count of the amount of times I have been asked if I have got a Driving Licence and my negative response has been used against me. This has even happened in interviews for office jobs. (I really wish I could buy myself one of those desks you can apparently drive on a Public Highway. They sound like great fun.)
In fact, I went to a job interview today where I kind of got my wrist slapped for not mentioning my sight problem on the application form (one of my references mentioned it to them). These individuals obviously didn't read the application form fully as I am sure that I mentioned something to do with sight or not having a Driving Licence on it. I know it was flagged up on the "Un-Equal Opportunities" Questionnaire.
I realise I could be completely honest about my sight (and render myself totally unemployable), or ask for a Crystal Ball (very useful for answering questions like "what adaptions would you need for the interview?" - especially without knowing what format the interview is going to take), or even just ask people who insist on wearing bright white shirts to put a jumper on so my eyes don't hurt so much, but that would mean me highlighting the differences between myself and the rest of the population. People have a habit of employing humans they think are like them - not humans who might require expensive alterations to their work environment.
The more people we see in the media and in Public Life who are not white, male, able-bodied, wealthy, snobs, the better it will be. However, please forget about having targets and quotas for these people. Just treat us like the rest of you. Don't worry - we will shout if we need help.
I just wish we had a proper coalition in Government. I don't mean more Political Parties (although that would be a good idea) - I mean a proper coalition featuring a more representative selection of society - wheelchair-bound, vision problems, deaf, those with Mental Health issues, etc. I don't think it is going to happen any time soon though - the current Government are too busy pretending we don't exist to listen to our concerns.
|If you read the original Inkyworld blog you may remember two posts I put on there with a "Rememberance Day" theme. One of which was about my trip to the pre-Second World War Capital of the Dutch Jews - Groningen - on the day of the Dutch EU Referendum. The other one was about my Mum's habit of thanking every British and American Second World War Veteran she met. This post was partially sparked off by something I saw on YouTube (which I will explain in a minute) but also by one of my friends who went on a trip to Cyprus and visited some Military schools. These were given a bitter-sweet flavour by some other news reports I read and saw on television. (I just hope it all makes sense at the end.)|
You could say I grew up with a slightly different view of the Second World War to most English people - after all England only has "Rememberance Sunday" when they remember their war dead. They have never heard of "Bevrijdingsdag" (or "Liberation Day") unless they happened to be part of it.
Yes, Yes, I know - the English were so proud of "Operation Market Garden" that they made a film about it - "Dambusters" I think it was called. Unfortunately, that would appear to be where modern day English knowledge of the Dutch experience of the Second World War ends. Sorry - I forgot about the Diary of Anne Frank for a minute. After that there appears to be a gap.
I have two relatives who experienced the Second World War in slightly different ways - One of my Dad's uncles was posted in India and one of my Mum's uncles somehow ended up in a Prisoner of War camp.
Just to go off the topic for a minute - at my Oma's funeral an elderly lady (who obviously knew who I was even though I had no memory of ever meeting her - and I haven't seen her since) informed me that she had been with Oma on Liberation Day. I would have loved to have heard more about it.
A few weeks ago I was looking on YouTube and I found a video which struck a chord with me. It also flipped "Rememberance Day" on its head. www.youtube.com/watch
For those of you who cannot speak Dutch (which I assume would be most of you) here now follows a quick explanation;
Yasmin and Abby (the two girls in the video) are the children of a man serving in the Dutch Military in Sudan. The dance they do starts off with one of them waving their Dad off whilst the other one comforts her.
The video struck a chord with me because we are always taught about the sacrifice (voluntary or conscripted) of the soldiers who died serving their countries and how we should be grateful to them - but their children are never mentioned.
Let's face it - in most cases (apart from conscription as in during the Second World War) adults voluntarily sign up to go into Military service. Children who are born to serving Military personnel do not have a choice as to whether or not their parents are posted to their friendly neighbourhood warzone.
Children always seem to be the ones who pay the greatest price in war but they are also the least recognised for it. Whether or not their parents serve in the Military - or if they are merely civilians who are killed in the crossfire - the children still lose part of their innocence as a result. That is before you start to think about the "child soldiers" in various parts of the world.
We are asked to remember the sacrifices of the fallen on "Rememberance Day" - maybe we should also remember the children they left behind and support them.
Have you heard about the country which is about to celebrate a case of attempted mass murder (the fact that the culprits were caught before it happened - or at least one of them, Guy Fawkes, was - is beside the point).
Yes - Ladies and Gentlemen, Dames en Heren, Meinen Damen und Herren, Mesdames et Messieurs - the UK is going to celebrate the attempted blowing up of the English Parliament on the 5th of November. This is an historical event which actually happened a few centuries ago. However, I thought the British Government had recently passed a law making the "glorification of terrorism" a criminal offence??? If attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament is not an Act of Terrorism I don't know what is!!! Not only that but an effigy of Guy Fawkes (a Catholic - That is "promoting Religious Hatred") is sometimes burnt as part of the festivities - yet nobody bats an eyelid!
Over the North Sea - in Holland - they are having a rather interesting argument which has actually made headline news over there (baffling me in the process). On 5 December the Dutch celebrate a festival called "Sinterklaas". The argument is over Sint Nickolaas's helper - a guy called "Zwarte Piet" (or "Black Pete"). Now - you have to remember that both "Sinterkaas" and "Zwarte Piet" are fictional characters as in they don't exist.
I admit that white people "blacking up" to play "Zwarte Piet" can be seen as racist. However, the people who dress up as "Sinterklaas" could also be risking arrest for impersonating a bishop or priest (that is what the Dutch "Sinterklaas" looks like). And the English "Santa Claus" or "Father Christmas" could be arrested for promoting obesity, cruelty to Elves, and feeding Rudolph and his mates on Class A Drugs (how else do you expect a group of reindeer to fly???).
I am sorry but I could understand it if the British were trying to get Bonfire Night banned and the Dutch decided to treat the "Zwarte Piet" saga as a bit of fun. Not this way round though.
We really need to get some perspective on historical fact and fiction!
|Yesterday one of my friends posted a photo on his blog of a graveyard (a bit of a strange answer to the question of "Photograph somewhere where you feel at home" but there you go). Then he wrote about the places he has called home at one time or another.|
This morning I was kind of drawn into two discussions on the same subject from a different angle - namely "immigration".
The first discussion was live on Radio Leicester where I talked about my Mum being from Rotterdam and my Dad being from Leicester as well as how Leicester has changed since.
The second discussion was a bit more difficult for me especially as it included one of my least favourite questions (where do you feel most at home?). I was recorded talking about where I came from and where my parents came from.
Asking me where I feel most at home is an easy question for me to answer - until it comes to my reasons (or - more to the point - other people understanding my reasons).
I am technically English. I have paperwork which will tell you that I am British. The only thing which will give away the fact I have a direct connection with any country other than the UK is my first name. Maybe I will tell you that my Mum was Dutch and my Dad is English. When you ask me if I can speak Dutch I will say yes. The next question may give you some idea of my thoughts about Holland - especially if it is "Do you go back very often?". My answer would be something along the lines of "not as often as I would like to". The true answer would be - "I would move there like a shot if I thought I could get a job".
The honest truth is I have never really felt at home in England. Certainly not since I started Secondary School. England has always been a frightening place for me whereas if you sit me on a car ferry to Holland I start to feel more relaxed the further I get away from the English coast. For a totally relaxed Ineke may I suggest you stand me in Rotterdam City Centre for a few hours? Or find a Dutch person for me to speak to (next best thing is a Glaswegian - their accent has the same effect on me due to the similarities in speech pattern when the Glaswegian slows down to a speaking speed I can understand)!
I may never have actually lived in Holland but it is the one place where I have always felt safe and protected (and found the rules easier to live by).
If I can't get to Holland itself I always think I was born in the next best place. Norfolk is flat, slightly watery, and the part I originate from is (or rather - was - if you are a human that is) an exit to another world. Kings Lynn was one of the Hanseatic Ports at one point in historical times. It still has a port run by Associated British Ports.
Then you come to the furthest west I have ever lived. Landlocked Leicestershire. The only reason I ended up taking a German GCSE at school (and slightly upsetting my Oma in the process - which was quite ironic as it was because of her that I had actually wanted to take a Dutch GCSE - which I did a couple of years after I left school).
Leicestershire is mostly associated with my Dad's family (good point) and school (bad point). Oh and terrible Public Transport.
Back to the GCSE saga. I have never been formally taught Dutch (as in "textbook Dutch"). When I picked my options for my GCSE's I really wanted to do Dutch as I thought I would find it useful. Of course - being in landlocked Leicestershire - there wasn't that much call for Dutch so I was forced to do German instead. I think I blogged on here at some point about Oma telling my parents that I was speaking Dutch with a German accent (and her not batting an eyelid when Dad peppered his Dutch sentences with German words).
I have a very strong sense of identity with the Dutch. Not least because my Dutch personality traits are the ones which I have found most useful at keeping me alive and out of trouble (stubbornness comes to mind).
If I were a jar of jam or a can of soup I would have a label which said "Product of more than one country". Pity I always have to choose which country I belong to.
|If I had been born in Yorkshire I would have advised you to play the "Hovis" theme tune as you read this. As I was born in East Anglia I don't think it would work but the sentiment is still there.|
As it was my birthday last Friday my Dad decided to take me out for a treat. In fact, he took me home to where I was born (yes we did drive past some signs for the hospital I was born in as well).
Before I continue with the reviews I would like to say a couple of things about myself. I am technically English (born, raised, and educated in England) but the part of England I was born in has more in common with Holland than Leicester and the rest of England - it is flat as a pancake for one thing. My Mum and I were both born in Port towns (OK so Rotterdam is slightly bigger than Kings Lynn but at least we were born facing the same stretch of sea). Oh - and when I started Primary School my Mum and I both had a strong accent which other people couldn't understand. (I really wish I could get my original accent back.)
I am reasonably easy to keep quiet and happy - just show me water and lots of it. This can take the form of rain or - more usually - rivers or sea.
Last year for my birthday my Dad decided to surprise me by taking me to a part of Kings Lynn I didn't really remember for a meal. This year we went to the same place.
The Riverside Restaurant, in Kings Lynn (27 King Street), really lives up to its name by being right on the riverside (you can even watch the little ferry go from West Lynn to the town centre). It is in an old building (probably a warehouse or Customs Bond House) with the original beams and features.
Dad and I both had the same meal. I found a starter of Lynn Shrimp and Leek Tart irresistable (and delicious) although I wasn't too keen on the leaf salad it was served with (I would have preferred it on its own - either provide me with other salad items to go with the salad leaves, ie, tomato and cucumber or just give me the tart on its own - and don't drown the leaf salad with a dressing which clashes with the tart).
The main course was a Sea Bass with Tomato and Pesto Sauce, served with New Potatoes. I had never tried Sea Bass before but it was delicious.
I even had a glass of white wine with it. It was advertised as a dry white wine. I am sorry but someone is really going to have to explain to me how a liquid can be both wet and dry at exactly the same time. It was a Sauvignon (even I know that is white grapes). We skipped dessert as we had more adventures to go on that day.
After my Dad had taken me for a drive past the one building I have ever lived in which I would move back into like a shot as well as the nearest local Railway station to it (if you are ever in Norfolk I would suggest you visit Runcton Holme and Watlington - especially if you are into quaint places) we went to Downham Market.
I was amazed to learn on one of my trips back to Norfolk with my Mum that she and a couple of family friends had protested against plans for "Woodlakes Caravan Park" (as it was then). The reason for my amazement is that we were staying in that exact place when I found out. Woodlakes has now turned into a Fishing Lodge park www.woodlakes.com/. Situated between Downham Market and Kings Lynn (and a 20 minute walk from Watlington station) it is in peaceful surroundings.
Downham Market is almost a chocolate box Market Town with a very well-kept secret. The secret is a Railway Station which I would move into if I could. It has got a library (with second hand books for sale too) and a bar selling alcoholic drinks. The front of the Railway Station looks for all the world like it could have been transplanted from somewhere like Groningen or Delft.
The only disappointing thing about Norfolk is that the original accent is being drowned out by the London/Essex/Home Counties accent. I stopped a lady on a Mobility Scooter to ask if I was heading in the right direction to get to the Railway Station and I was really pleasantly surprised to hear my original accent being spoken at me. (You wouldn't believe me now if you heard me speak but - when I started Primary School - I had such a broad Norfolk accent that apparently my Mum was advised to send me to a Speech Therapist because nobody could understand a word I said. Her reply (in a thick Dutch accent) "Don't worry - they all sound like that where she comes from". When they enquired where on Earth that was she silenced them with "Norfolk". End of Speech Therapy idea.
Back to the subject. Next time you are in Norfolk give Kings Lynn and Downham Market a visit. A bit of Holland in England.
|How many times have you met someone and they have introduced themself to you with the following words - "Hello! My name is Exterminate - pleased to meet you"? (The Darleks from "Dr Who" would have a field day trying to get their attention. Just imagine - "Exterminate. Exterminate! EXTERMINATE!")|
Or have you ever been introduced to someone and had the theme tune from a certain TV Programme going through your brain? (Thank goodness I have not yet had a job interview when the words "No income tax, no VAT. No money back, no guarantee", etc. have played in my head.)
Although I have seriously wished I could use a small knife usually kept in a sock which is worn with a kilt and a sporran on someone with the name which I am referring to who managed to upset both myself and my Mum at the same time (and was rather two-faced about her to me when they found out she had died).
You have probably worked out by now that the first two of the above paragraphs refer to a shortened version of the name "Derek" (and - yes - my Glaswegian friend did get used to me referring to the ex-partner of one of his other friends as "Delete"). Let's face it - with me around you are asking for trouble if you call yourself "Del". My brain will either flash up the Delete key of a computer keyboard or start playing the theme of "Only Fools and Horses".
You want to know the connection between the name "Derek" and "Dirk" (the small knife worn in a sock when wearing full Highland dress)??? Put it this way - I have two friends and one "Associate" called Derek who all appear to be native-English Speakers. My Mum's biological (makes him sound like a washing powder) father was also a "Derek" - except his name was apparently spelled "Dirk".
I must admit that the quickest way for your name to stick in my brain is for you to have some strange identifying feature that I can use. Whether or not you are aware of the identifying feature I end up using would depend on how well I know you.
Not for me the use of surnames, qualifications, etc, when it comes to identifying you for filing in my brain. That is too confusing. No - I go for something I only identify with you.
For example - someone made my life really easy a few weeks ago (and landed a very longstanding friend of mine with a very unique nickname). I know two ladies who have the same first name (spelled slightly differently). Before the incident in question one of them was filed in my head as "Brown Owl" (I had been in her Brownie pack) and the other one was filed under her full Christian name (it happens to be my favourite English girl's name). After someone had referred to my friend by mentioning the fact she is a Grandma as well as her surname that was it - she is now filed under "Jenny Apple" for the remainder of eternity (the combination of the "Grandma" and her surname makes the name of a delicious variety of apple).
Names are strange, aren't they?
|Seven days ago my computer decided it needed a holiday. So it went on strike. Actually - it was very ill and had to go to a computer Dr to be healed (thanks Andy). Today I got it back. This is not unlike getting my voice back.|
Yes - yes - I know that if you have ever met me in real life you would probably tell me that I talk a lot. (Be very careful because the more I talk the more nervous or scared I am. The more relaxed I am the quieter I get. Unless I get to the point where you need a tin-opener to get anything out of me at all - in which case I am liable to explode.)
My favourite form of communication is writing - it has got to the stage where if I do not have access to any means of writing for more than a few days I feel poorly. Texts, Tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, old fashioned pen and paper, anything will do.
Oh dear, this makes me sound like a writing addict, doesn't it??? I suppose it goes with my well-known (to my friends anyway) Bookoholism - as in addiction to reading (mainly books but will read just about anything I can find).
I read something an author said about his trips into schools to speak to school children about writing which upset me greatly. Apparently the curriculum in England is taking the pleasure out of reading and stopping children from using their imaginations when they read.
Reading should be seen as the opposite of writing - if you ask me.
Writing is where the hard work happens. You have to use the correct language for a start (there is no point me writing this in Dutch when I know that most of the people who read my blog don't understand a word of that language). The you have to choose your words carefully so you are understood. Then you have to worry about grammar and syntax (how the sentences are constructed). Are you writing to your friends or is it a letter to go with a job application? Finally - have you checked it for spelling errors - if not, I strongly suggest you do it now.
Instructions for reading the written word - direct eyes to words and read.
I will let you into a secret about me. I much prefer reading a book to watching a film adaptation of it. Why? Because when I read I can use my own imagination to play the story out in my head as I do. Film adaptations are a bit like those old "Flash" adverts - "The screenplay writer does the hard work so you don't have to"! Or as I prefer to think about them - they are more like those "Cillit Bang" adverts "Bang and the fun is gone"! (For non-British readers the "Flash" advert was "Flash does the hardwork so you don't have to" and the "Cillit Bang" advert was "Bang and the dirt is gone". They were both adverts for cleaning products.)
Words can be used to fire up someone's imagination, to give them information, to abuse, to show caring. So why are we sometimes forced to stay silent?