|One of the fans of my ramblings on here almost managed to shock me speechless a few days ago. They had somehow managed to tell me the whole purpose of my blog in its current state - whilst the person who had actually started the thing off (me) was still trying to work it out.|
Yes - this blog is still primarily a space where I can empty my head (at least as far as I am concerned anyway) but it is also a space where I hope you can learn a bit about my world and about me (whether or not you know me from the "Real World", Social Media, or any other planet I may inhabit at any given time).
My favourite websites are ones where I can learn things at my leisure. My favourite books (non-fiction) are about situations I have never been in in real life but the book draws me into each scenario and leaves me feeling educated about them without being patronised or bored by the explanations.
The most recent book I have enjoyed reading was about the Alphabet and it was written by Michael Rosen. His use of humour had me laughing at such silly things as "If I said I had had a breakdown and wanted to contact The AA you would not think I had had a panic attack on a motorway and wanted a drink".
The book before that was "It's All About Treo" by David Heyhoe which was about the bond between a dog trained to detect explosives and his handler during their time in Afghanistan. I had to read that from cover to cover in one go it was so gripping.
I just hope that reading my ramblings makes you feel like you are powerful (after all - some of you have inspired a few of my ramblings) and able to fight your own demons like I am still trying to fight mine.
|Recently I have been trying to write something which involves a trip back into my memory banks. In order to help me do this I have been listening to a particular song which helped me feel the same emotions which I connect with what I have been trying to write.|
There is only one problem with this. My brain has now decided the appropriate lyrics of the song should be spoken with a Dutch accent (which I can do) in a voice which sounds like the speaker has just swallowed a lorry load of gravel (impossible for me). What makes it worse is the tune of the lyrics matches the words exactly;-
"Loneliness is what I feel, but I'll tell you the morning after. There is still a wound to heal, but I'll tell you the morning after. I don't know if I will stay, but I will tell you the morning after. If its real or just a play, I will tell you the morning after". "Morning After" by City To City.
There are some other rather odd lyrics from different songs which you would not necessarily hear in normal conversation - the only one I can think of right now is "I'm backing out of the situation with my back against the wall" from "Please Sister" also by City to City.
My favourite lyrics are the ones you can fit to two completely separate tunes (with minimum tweaking) - There is a line in "Angel Eyes" by WetWetWet which could have come from "Greased Lightening" - and not just because they both mention "Automatic" and "Systematic" either.
Speaking of songs with different tunes - I recently heard a cover of "500 Miles" by The Proclaimers which actually made me like it because it sounded so different with a completely different tune and "ear feel".
|Have you ever had the experience of buying something to eat or drink simply because it made you think of someone even though they were nowhere near you at the time??? Or maybe it is just me???|
This has happened to me on a few occassions now. Some of them were because the other person actively told me they liked it (Belgian Chocolate Tiffin from "Costa Coffee" is one such foodstuff which springs to mind). Others were because the foodstuff made me think of that person for some reason. One of my favourite alcoholic beverages comes from the same country as two very good friends of mine - "Staropramen" is available from Tesco in the UK (I just wonder if the original tastes as good). I saw where it came from and decided to buy it.
Eating food which reminds you of friends is a good way of ensuring you don't feel lonely even if you are on your own.
|(I discovered Blackberry Vodka at a Farmers' Market last December. It is so easy to drink because it tastes of blackberries and only reminds you of its potency after you have finished drinking it - just as the last sip burns down your throat.)|
If you have been paying attention to my ramblings on here you will know a couple of things about me - I love reading and I like listening to music.
(Here now follows a tip - if you see me reading a book and you wish to talk to me - forget it. Just save your voice. I can get so deeply engrossed in a book that the world falls away until I have finished it. When that happens it is no use shouting at me because I won't hear you. To paraphrase an old song "There's nothing that a hundred men or more will ever make me hear"!)
But what makes a good book or a good song or piece of music??? For me the answer to that question is - layers. As in - every time you read it or listen to it you discover something new in it, something unexpected. It may trigger a forgotten memory or you may find yourself paying closer attention to the singer or the lyrics. You may even start wondering how it would sound if it was arranged slightly differently. Or those violins - which you previously hated because you didn't think they fitted in - have finally made their purpose and home known to you.
Recently on Twitter random musicians have started following me. Some have captured my interest (and a couple might get reviewed on here once I have had a good listen to their music). There is one Irish singer who I am intrigued by going by the name of J.P.Kallio. Mr Kallio sounded American on the first track I heard a taster of (a bit too harsh for my ears if I am honest) - the second track I heard a taster of really appealed to my love of accents as it was sung with a soft Irish burr.
Another singer I am thinking about listening to more is a man called Nate Maingard. He is an intelligent singer with a good philosophy about songs.
However, one of my favourite bands doesn't have any singers in whatsoever. It does have two of my favourite instruments in it though - Bagpipes and Drums. Put it this way - the Red Hot Chili Pipers version of "We Will Rock You" by Queen has to be heard to be believed - truly Bagrock for the masses.
If you can read with all your senses or listen to music with your heart as well as your ears you may be lucky enough to discover your own "Blackberry Vodka" as well.
|I am sure there are objects in your house which you wonder how they ever ended up there. I am also sure there are objects which were handed down through the generations with stories attached to them. I wonder if there are any objects in your house which have a direct link to you that has previously been hiding in plain sight??? (And I do mean "in plain sight"!)|
Below is a photo of two of my favourite objects in this house.
I first remember seeing them when I was a little girl. I loved playing with them because if you look through the hole at the back and press the button at the bottom they show photos of nice places. They still live in the same display cabinet (to be perfectly honest I felt guilty getting them out to photograph them - even though their original owner died when I was around 10 years old). However, I only registered the fact they had placenames on them a few days ago.
The placename on the red one (on the right hand side of the photo) is the one which is the most interesting to us for the purposes of this blogpost.
However, first I feel I have to tell you a little bit about my family connection to the owner of the objects. (You may also learn the connections to another word I have used in this blog as well.)
The original owner of the "TV's" was my "Grandma Great". She was my English Grandma's Mum (My Granddad's Mum was known as "Grandma Phylis"). In other words Grandma Great was my Dad's maternal Grandma. My Mum's Mum was (and still is - even though she died in 1996) my "Oma" - Dutch for Grandma.
Still with me???
OK - back to the "TV's".
So now we know who their original owner was and how I am related to her. What I don't know is who actually bought them for her. You see, the red "TV" has got a rather interesting placename on it - at least as far as I am concerned - which suggests Grandma Great could have bought it herself or her Granddaughter-in-law (my Mum) could have bought it for her.
Marken is a place in Holland. Admittedly it is a lot closer to Amsterdam than it is to Rotterdam (where my Mum and Oma came from).
However, I just like to think that it is one way of keeping both sides of my family alive in my head.
There are a couple more objects with a slightly more morbid connection between three generations of my family. "Morbid" because they were bought by my Mum around the time when Oma died.
One is a die from the Euro 96 Football Championship (it originally had a cactus and a flag in it. only the flag remains). The other is something which I have almost worn to rags - and it describes me to a T.
It is one of my favourite tshirts. Orange with a Union Flag on it. In front of the flag you can see the Dutch football mascot with an English police helmet on its head.
Isn't it funny how unexpected objects can connect people without them realising it???
|(This blog post was inspired by quite a few friends of mine - the rollcall of namechecks would fill a blog post in itself so - if you think you know who you are give yourself a hug.)|
How many times have you heard someone say that they are successful because they have a big car, own their own home, have a gorgeous partner (wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend), and the family they have always wanted???
How many times have you heard someone say they are successful because they enjoy the job they do (whether or not they actually make any money from it), they have been there for their friends, they have helped a stranger in need, they know they are surrounded (either physically or via a communication device) by people who are prepared to get them out of a jam or just act as a Sounding Board when they are feeling down???
How many times have you heard someone say they are successful because they have acted as a "Human Library Book"and used their experiences to help, entertain, or educate others without asking for anything in return???
The first group of people are what the World would see as successful.
The second group of people are what good friends look like.
The third group of people are my favourite people in the world. This group have helped me (some of them more than they will ever know), entertained me (either by singing at me or telling me funny stories, or even just by allowing me to sit in their presence for a while and enjoy their company). and educated me (some of them have educated me by getting me interested in subjects I had previously thought I was not clever enough to learn).
If you think you belong in the second group or the third group give yourself a hug, make yourself a drink and put your feet up - you deserve it!!!
|There seems to be something drastically wrong with the British Media (and I am honestly puzzled as to why certain sections of it have not been requested to answer charges of "Glorifying Terrorism" or "Fomenting Terrorism" as a result of how they have reported certain events).|
Since the dreadful events in Paris this week have been plastered all over the BBC News channel (to the point where I honestly thought nothing else was happening in the world) I have been thinking about "terrorism" and what it means to certain sections of society.
In its most basic form "Terrorism" is another word for something I have had way too much experience of for my liking - Bullying.
Bullying can mean using another person's differences (be they race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religious beliefs) to make their own life a living Hell.
You don't even need to pick one single person if you happen to be a British Tabloid "newspaper". You can demonise entire sections of the population just by using some negative headlines about them. Your scattergun tactics can demonise the unemployed one week, immigrants the next week, the Disabled the week after, etc, for eternity. After all, it is not your responsibility when your readers decide to follow your example and someone ends up dead or seriously injured as a result.
I suppose the next step up is groups like the IRA who have been known to attack the British military with bombs.
However, I am not going to say that the next level is groups like Al Quieda, or Boko Haram. No - that would be too easy and (in my opinion) dishonest.
The next level is the world's media. Every newspaper and broadcast channel who has shown graphic pictures and graphic accounts of the killings by the murderers in Paris, London, Madrid, America, etc are all guilty of terrorism.
When you are getting bullied at school you are advised to ignore the bullies and tell the teachers.
So why are the world's media giving the people who indiscriminately kidnap, torture, and kill civilians, airtime by showing the results of their deeds. I could be wrong here but surely that just gives them the oxygen of publicity and encourages more terrorist plots.
Also, I am very worried about the Media's nasty habit of using the word "Islamist" or "Muslim" when attempting to identify the suspects in the immediate aftermath of such atrocities. We need to differentiate between the Terrorists and murderers who carried out the Paris attacks and the normal peaceful Muslims.
One headline I read today was quite interesting (and extremely poignant) - "There is no war between Muslims and the West".
That is correct - there is a war between the world's media and everybody else. The media should be called to account for the way they report on terrorist attacks and be forced to answer the question of "why do they report attacks in a way which divides people further?".
If they cannot give a satisfactory explanation of why they are behind so many divisions in the world they should be arrested for "Glorifying and Fomenting Terrorism".
|There are times when I honestly wish Mr Lenworth Henry hadn't quite acheived his level of popularity. He would appear to have turned from a pretty good comedian to a "one-issue spokesman" - subject: Getting as many people from the Black and Ethnic Minorities on TV as possible. (Has Lenny Henry not watched "Eastenders" recently???)|
I admit he kind of has a point - but his aim is a bit too limited for my liking. I would prefer it if he had specifically stated a wish for disabled people from the Black and Ethnic Minorities to be included in his aim.
In case you are thinking that racially offensive terms are illegal (and you are wondering what I mean by "the most offensive terms" - and who is Alex Thompson anyway???) please allow me to attempt to enlighten you.
Alex Thompson is a reporter on "Channel 4 News" who I found out has got an Autistic son (I follow Mr Thompson on Twitter). Mr Thompson wrote a blog post about how offensive he found some of the remarks and comments which we hear everyday misappropriating disabilities and connecting them to inappropriate situations - ie, "The ref must have been blind not to see that penalty", or, "She is very OCD about her music collection", etc.
The worst example I have ever come across involves Stuart Pearce who now manages Nottingham Forest FC. Apparently his nickname is "Psycho". One of the UK tabloids announced his arrival at Nottingham Forest as "Psycho goes to Forest" on their back page.
Now we have made the P-word, the N-word, and a certain word which got David Wheeler into a great deal of trouble when he used it to refer to people from China, socially unacceptable (if not illegal) maybe we can make a start on terms which I find offensive when applied to people whom they do not belong to or describe in the "normal" world. Let's just say I have never seen a referee who needed a white stick or a Guide Dog in charge of a football match.
Please don't misunderstand me - I find racist terms as offensive as anybody else does. However, they are usually applied to certain groups of people. "Disability Hate" terms can be applied to everybody, regardless of whether or not they actually have that disability. They also make life more difficult for those of us with the disabilities the terms refer to as - through their mis-use - their actual meaning can be lost. The opportunity for educational dialogue can also be missed.
|(I have a confession to make about this blog post! I was going to write it a few days ago but I am glad I didn't. If I had I wouldn't have been able to share something which happened yesterday with you.)|
I don't know what it is about music and songs which make me want to know the background to certain peices of music or songs.
A case in point was when I was roaming YouTube (I was bored) and found a video of Richie Sambora talking about a John Lennon song "Merry Chirstmas (War Is Over)" and how he had prepared some children to sing it by teaching them the story behind the lyrics.
Another case in point is learning from "QI" last night that - if I see any Military personnel marching towards me playing "Watzing Matilda" my Retired ex-member of the Australian Airforce friend would not be among them. Unless - that is - he had got into a crowd of American Army personnel by accident "Waltzing Matilda" is based on an American March.
We all have songs which remind us of people we have met or situations we have been in. We all know songs which are important remnants from our childhoods.
Some of us are even lucky enough to have met some of the people who have written our favourite songs. (Put it this way - every time a certain friend of mine tells me I am good at writing I want to tell her I don't feel like I am anywhere near at good at writing as she is. In fact, there are times when I feel that even her pet canine quadruped would be better at writing than I am.)
Yesterday I spent time with my favourite female singer and I was surprised at one point because she came out with the last statement I would expect her to make. We were talking about a subject close to both our hearts when she said "I don't know what I can do to raise awareness about it". My comeback was "you have missed something - what do you enjoy doing and what do you get paid to do?".
Sometimes writing - be it a song or a blog - about an issue that is important to you is the only way to raise awareness. I really admire people who can write songs which educate people about subjects without them realising it. A bit different to what I can do with this blog - I can only write - you have to supply your own background noise as you read this. (My singing isn't that good either!)
|Delboy Trotter to David Beckham In the 'Only Fools & Horses' Sketch for Sports Relief 2014 - "If I were to ask ypu to walk along Peckham High Street wearing a sarong - would you???"|
I have to admit to not actually seeing Rita Ora's appearance on the "One Show" when it was broadcast - I read about it the next morning (and evening - but I will get to that in a minute).
Apparently Ms Ora sparked off complaints to the BBC and to OFCOM for the outfit she was "wearing". More to the point the jacket she was wearing along with what she wasn't wearing underneath it. If you missed it she was wearing a cream jacket which was done up with one button but she wasn't wearing anything underneath it - not even a bra.
The "One Show" and the BBC had two very differing reactions to it. The BBC said that she was merely wearing what a Celebrity would wear whilst the "One Show said, "If we had known what she was planning on wearing we would have advised her to wear something more appropriate for prime time television".
I can kind of see both sides of the argument.
If Ms Ora genuinely feels comfortable wearing that style of clothing she is free to do so - either in her private life or when she is on stage. I have no argument with that.
My argument is as follows;
Females are caught in the middle of a vicious argument. On one hand there is a campaign to get rid of the "Page 3" topless pictures of women from the British tabloid commonly known as "The Sun". This is because the pictures cause men to see and treat women as sex-objects. On the other hand women are supposed to be able to wear what they want to in public without being seen as "sexually available" or "asking for rape" if they wear revealing outfits.
Nowhere in these arguments have I seen any comments on what "society" would view as Respectable Dress or Appropriate Dress for different situations.
For example - Rita Ora is a role model to her fans. I wonder what she would choose to wear for a job interview??? I also wonder what she would encourage her fans to wear to a job interview???
I am not for one minute suggesting we go back to the days when Celebrities appeared on TV in formal Evening wear (or even suit and tie) to be interviewed. I just think that a little more consideration would go a long way. Especially as there seems to be a Government drive to stop the premature sexualisation of children.
Just because you have the sort of body and physique which would look good just wearing a black bin liner (with holes cut in it for your head and arms) - the chances are you would think twice about wearing it in public (unless maybe you were Lady GaGa).
It is all very well saying that "there is no such thing as bad publicity". However, there is such a thing as public responsibility.
What really made me cross about the whole furore over Ms Ora's outfit was the comment piece I read about it on the Guardian website later that evening.
One lady (whose name I have managed to erase from my brain) wrote a piece saying that she didn't think people should have been offended enough by Ms Ora's outfit to complain about it.
The people who complained about the outfit may have had children watching with them or they might not like her outfit for reasons of personal taste and decency.
We have to go one of two ways with this debate - either treat women and men as exactly the same and let men go topless on Prime Time TV chatshows - or go back to when really classy women knew that you could look more sexy by staying covered up with hints of flesh showing here and there. Me??? I would prefer the second option. After all, how many times have you seen the big stars from yesteryear wearing next to nothing on TV???
The best kind of gorgeousness or glamour comes from the inside. Confidence in who you are, treating people with friendship and respect, being true to yourself, and loyalty, are more gorgeous and glamourous than threatening to expose your breasts live on national Prime Time TV if a button comes undone at the wrong moment - in my opinion at least.
|Last night I read a post on someone else's blog (shared via the "Special Educational Needs" Group on Facebook) which nearly made me faint with joyful disbelief. The post was typed by a teacher who said that putting children with obvious and profound Learning Disabilities as well as physical disabilities through "Mainstream Education" was - at best - useless - and at worst - dangerous to the children themselves.|
This got me thinking. What would happen if we turned the Education System upside down, turned the clock back to before every single school child in the UK was expected to achieve 5 GCSEs above "C", and actually allowed the school children to be themselves without having to jump through unachieveable (for some) hoops to get there??? Also, what would happen if school children were actually screened for potential difficulties before they started school - and the Education System acted on those findings (even if it meant removing the child from "Mainstream Education" all together)??? We would also need a system which would automatically pick up those children who develop difficulties as they progress through their school life.
You may find some of the points I am about to raise in the following post disturbing. You may think I am making certain things I am about to say up. You may even decide that this is a complete rant about nothing useful. All I can say is that you are perfectly entitled to your own opinion - just have the courtesy to respect my right to speak (or should that read "type") my mind on a subject I feel I am at least qualified by experience to discuss.
It is a very sad state of affairs when your only true enjoyment of Secondary school (apart from English lessons in the first year) falls in three categories;-
1) When you are stuck in what most people consider to be the punishment tactic of "Solitary" (sitting in a room on your own all day) and you consider it to be sheer bliss because you can stop pretending to be something you are not.
2) When you are off school - either actually ill or (and I admit I did this in my first year of Secondary school) skiving because you just couldn't cope with the bullying and having to pretend to be like everybody else in order to avoid further bullying as a result of asking for help. Teaching yourself how to learn like everybody else is extremely hard work in itself - and that is before the teachers start attempting to cram information into you.
3) When there is at least one Passport control between you and your school. You may not be able to have a fluent conversation with the locals of the country you are in (in fact - you might not even be able to understand a word some of them are saying) - but at least you don't feel like you are a performing chimpanzee either. You feel protected and safe - even when you are not among your family (and there are quite a few of them in your "safe" city).
If you are really unlucky you may end up feeling jealous of a girl who had the same heart condition you were born with - because she didn't have the operations you had had when you were a baby and she died when you were in the fourth year of Secondary School.
Of course - if you had had the power to make anybody in authority listen to you - you would have been transferred to another school a long time before it got to that situation. You actually told your Year Head straight out that you wanted to leave when you were in the first year of Secondary School - only to come unstuck when you didn't trust him enough to admit you couldn't cope, either with most of the lessons or the bullying. You might have had a better chance if it had been your English teacher who had shouted at you after you had turned up to the office for the umpteenth time because you had had yet another lunchtime detention. At least you trusted your English Teacher. The school you wanted to go to would have been closer to your home so the problems wouldn't have seemed so bad. As it is - your Monday starts at 8.00am on Monday morning, when you leave home to get the bus, and finishes at what the rest of the world recognises as 4pm on a Friday afternoon, when you finally get home from school - and you are not even at Boarding school.
When you have taken your GCSE's (after the last Secondary School you attend belatedly - as in extremely belatedly - decide to go for the "too much, too little, too late, option. They snow you under with "help" which you would have found very useful at the start of your school life but you find it a burden at the end because you have somehow taught yourself how to cope with everything as best you can on your own) your Mum drops the bombshell that - if your parents had made a different choice - you could have escaped all the aggravation completely through being sent to a "Special School". You cannot help but wonder how much of a waste of energy and effort your whole school life turned out to be. The reason for you being eligible to attend a "Special School"??? You are statemented as severely shortsighted - much good that "Statement" does you in the intervening years.
If what I have typed above sounds like some kind of unbelievable plot for a Drama series on TV I can only say I wish it was. I promise you that it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, of my time at Secondary school.
In fact, it got so bad that, even though I seriously considered suicide more than once, I ended up finding it easier to pretend I didn't exist in order to survive. I sometimes use that trick even now. It came in extremely useful when there was a minor potential altercation between my neck, the crook of an old-fashioned walking stick, and a coach window! I do apologise - the crook of the walking stick did end up around my neck - the potential altercation was between the back of my head and the side window of a (luckily stationary) coach - and the potential of that encounter was all too nearly fulfilled.
But - I hear you ask - how can you teach yourself how to learn like everybody else??? With great difficulty and a lot of mental pain. You start by training yourself to read print at least two font sizes smaller than you are comfortable with in textbooks. Then you progress to reading terrible handwriting on blackboards (Mr Perkins, my first year Science Teacher, had the worst handwriting of almost anyone I have ever met - along with the lightest touch imaginable when it came to writing on the black, or rather, green board). Finally, you teach yourself how to read an OHP (Overhead Projector) screen without blinding yourself - dratted Photophobia makes that the worst headache of all. Oh yes, and whilst you are doing all that you have to navigate around corridors and up and down steps, etc. On top of all that you have to actually learn what the teachers are trying to teach you. As Penny would say in that sit-com 'Miranda' - "Such fun"!
I am surprised I scraped through with some GCSE passes above Grade C.
It is only through surviving the torture known as Secondary School that I am able to - mostly - walk among you undetected. In most instances, I manage to hide my difficulties. My worst nightmare is having to ask for help.
Now I have given you nightmares with the above I want to share another side of the same coin. Whilst this has nowhere near the problems attached as my experiences do (as far as I know the child in this scenario has nowhere near the amount of problems that I had) - in some ways I find it more heart-wrenching because they very nearly slipped through the net - it was only thanks to a friend of mine that they are now in the process of getting the help they need in order to be able to catch up. (I am not going to divulge the name of the child or my friend's name as I do not feel they are relevant. However, I did get permission from my friend to share this with you.)
The child in this instance is still in Primary school. His Mum died during his first couple of years at school. His biological father is not exactly the most reliable person on the planet so the child lives with my friend. Within the next few years his Granddad had a stroke and his Grandma died. The associated trauma of those events have left him behind with his schoolwork. Thanks to my friend's persistence, he is now getting the help he needs to catch up (apparently, at one point the school didn't think he would make it to Secondary School and he may need to go to a Special School). In the same way that my sight problem and the associated bullying made it difficult for me to "learn how to learn", he is facing the same challenges but for a different reason. The amount of trauma he has faced in his short life so far appears to have delayed his ability to learn. With the help of the school (and an outside agency) he is now catching up with his peers.
Why should some children be faced with either being pushed over their limits in order to be able to achieve the impossible in a school setting which is possibly detrimental to their mental and/or physical health, whilst some other children are thrown on the scrapheap instead of being nurtured through their difficulties when they fall behind (unless their families protest and complain to the school concerned)???
I have at least three people in my personal circle of friends with PhD's in a variety of subjects. One of my dearest and closest friends has a Batchelor's degree in her favourite subject. As long as I don't try to talk to them about the subjects their qualifications are in I can quite happily hold a reasonably intelligent conversation with them. Qualifications are not the be all and end all of life.
After leaving school thinking I was worse than useless - as well as too defective to be neither use nor ornament to anyone - I have slowly come to realise that I can put my experiences to good use. This is through trying to help people who really need it by using my experiences.
However, the best thing about my life right now is being able to type this blog as a result of the support of my friends - both in my personal circle of humans I see and in the circle of friend I have made on Facebook and Twitter. Not forgetting you - dear reader. I only hope that - through reading my ramblings on "Life, Love, The Truth, and what you mean to me" ("Bed of Roses" by Bon Jovi) - you realise that there is a party at the end of the particular road your life has to travel along!