|I have been reading the NOS website (and looking at the Dutch news broadcasts on the internet) and I suddenly realised something.|
There are two words which are shared by English and Dutch but have totally different meanings in each language.
In English a "trap" is to be avoided at all costs (unless it comes with a pony - in which case it is going to be used to transport something).
However, the Dutch word "Trap" means something I will happily go up but I would rather not go down it unless either I know it or I have no other way of going to a lower level. Ladies and Gentlemen - ask a Dutch person where the nearest "trap" is and you will find yourself being directed to the nearest staircase.
On the other hand - approaching the English definition of a "ramp" (an artificial slope as seen in stunts by Evel Kinevel, among others) at too high a speed can lead to the Dutch definition of a "ramp" and that would be a "disaster".
|A few weeks ago one of my friends said something to me which slightly puzzled me at first. Apparently someone has asked her for something and she immediately thought of me - not because I had anything to do with the request itself, nor were my services required (apart from my money - as a result of my friend telling me about this request - because I put in a request for the exact same thing). I am now the proud owner of a tshirt which says exactly what I think about labels, people, and jars.|
I am still trying to get over one label which was stuck on me by a well-meaning person (or people) unknown. Of course, nobody can see the label as it is a metaphorical one but it still has the power to hurt me (even 19 years after I escaped the clutches of the people who had most use for it) because it marks me out as different.
Now, anybody who knows me in real life will probably have no hesitation in telling you I am different (without the italics) - and I will have no complaints. Yes - I am an oddball with a quirky sense of humour, and a strange way of usung the English (and - in some cases - Dutch) language to get my point across. However, I am a friendly, caring, oddball. I may look and act like I have got a tough casing but I am a bit like one of those cookies with the gooey centre. My casing might be pretty thick and difficult to get through but - once you have managed to get a drillhole through - I promise you I will ooze friendliness (until you upset me - but that is another story).
Tell me I am different though and you will find yourself potentially dealing with someone as safe as an unexploded bomb - blue touchpaper has been lit and I suggest you stand well back.
The italics make all the difference in this scenario. When the word is written in italics it means something completely opposite to the word written in normal type.
Different to me means "abnormal", "Special (as in Educational Needs)", "Should not be let loose in public without a minder", etc.
You will say I am disabled because I am seriously shortsighted (to the point of being Registered Partially Sighted). I would strongly disagree with that one. I am seriously shortsighted (to the point of being Registered Partially Sighted). However, there are only four instances when I would consider myself to be disabled as a result of it (brightly lit spaces, dark spaces, and going down strange staircases - oh and when the "helpful clueless" attempt to assist me without asking me first).
Why the distinction between those occassions and the rest of the time when I am seriously shortsighted???
The words "helpful clueless" may give you a hint. I have been seriously shortsighted my entire life. This means I have ways of getting around and doing things which may not make any sense to you but they work for me. In other words, I have adapted to my sight (and - in some cases - somehow managed to adapt it to allow me to do what I want to - you would have to spend time with me to see what I mean by that one).
Seeing as the word "Disabled" means unable to do something - or cope with something - you will have to excuse my attitude when I say that, whilst I am the one with the sight problem, you are the one with the disability until you have spent sufficent time with me to learn about my sight and how it affects both of us.
What is written on the tshirt??? Labels belong on jars not people.
|Recently we have had news reports of two crashes which could have had the same physical end result (the loss of at least one person's life as a result of it). Unfortunately, the way the crashes were reported were startlingly similar.|
I suppose you could say that we are lucky that Mr Alonso is in a fit state to put his version of events to the media (even if it was a couple of weeks after his crash).
We will obviously never know why the German co-pilot crashed the plane into the Alps - killing himself and everybody on board - however, I cannot have been the only person alarmed by the mess that the airline, as well as the media, made of reporting the first hours after the crash.
(I mentioned the airline because I saw the Twitter report denying it had crashed in the first place - the Twitter report said that there was "speculation" that the plane had crashed. Now, I haven't got much experience of an app called "Flight Radar" but - apparently - if that says a plane has stopped flying for some reason the chances are that it has.)
What I found truly astonishing was the parallels between the "reports" that first came out after Mr Alonso's crash and the Alps plane tragedy. Apart from the physical wreckage of both - which was reported on ad nauseum - there was not much else to go on so the reporters started speculating as to the causes of both crashes.
In the case of Mr Alonso, it was initially attributed to him having some kind of medical incident in the car - ranging from a minor blackout to a fullblown stroke. This was even after Jenson Button had complained about the handling of his car.
In the case of the Alps plane tragedy - after terrorism had been ruled out (as in a bomber or some other human), and mechanical failures were being discounted one by one, the black box voice recorder was found - this led to the worst kind of speculation because it risked tarring everybody who suffered depression with the same brush.
I read a rather funny comment piece on the "he crashed the plane deliberately because he suffered with depression" idea. I found it funny not because I have a twisted sense of humour but because it actually made perfect sense.
The exact words of the comment piece escape me but they made it clear that - not only are people with depression (and other Mental Health issues) capable of holding down a job, etc, but people in his age group were not dangerous, nor were Germans, nor were men (and nobody in the latter three groups were prevented from being anywhere near the cockpit of an aircraft merely because they belonged in those groups).
We need to be very careful about how we discuss and even (in some cases) demonise people's conditions - especially when it comes to tragedies like the Alps plane crash. There is more than enough stigma attached to Mental Health issues and physical (dis)abilities without them being blamed for any tragedies before we know the full story.
All I am asking for is sensitive reporting which doesn't immediately decide the full story before it is actually allowed to emerge. I am aware that we live in a world of 24 hour news - but the emphasis should be on news and not wild speculation.
I actually have some idea of what it is like to wait for news of a relative who was in danger of being caught up in a disaster - admittedly it was an earthquake and not a plane crash - but the same rules apply.
My Dad was in India on business a number of years ago when there were reports of an earthquake with the usual initial reports of major death tolls. I had not wanted him to go on the trip because I had been convinced he wouldn't return. The relief I felt when I heard his voice a few days after the event was indescribable. He told my Mum that he was nowhere near the earthquake (apart from being in the same country). He did come back safely.
We need to respect all the victims of tragedies - whether or not their actions caused them in the first place. (After all they are all human - even if their actions would lead us to believe otherwise - with friends and relatives who may be as puzzled as we are about why they did what they did.)
|They say that a picture can paint a thousand words, don't they??? Well, I decided I could do with a little help in trying to describe the extraordinary show which Kristyna Myles put on tonight - so I took my camera along to take some photos of her in action. (It is up to you if the photographer gets her P45 though.)|
Tonight was an interesting gig in more ways than one.
What do you get when you cross Russell Brand, Ringo Starr, George Harrison, and Axl Rose??? The answer is a rather interesting singer called Matt Henshaw.
When Matt walked on stage he reminded me of Russell Brand - he looked so much like him. When Matt spoke he was quiet - the Ringo Starr connection came about because he kept muttering "Peace and Love". One of the songs he sang reminded me of "Got My Mind Set On You" by George Harrison. If there was one slight niggle I had with what could have been an amazing set, it was the fact that I thought he was short of a keyboard player, a drummer, and a bassist (Matt played the guitar himself).
For those of you who have never been in The Musician in Leicester, I had better inform you that it is an intimate venue, tucked away in a side street in Leicester City Centre. Put it this way, you cannot mistake it for the DeMontfort Hall, King Power Stadium, or the Tigers Rugby Stadium on Welford Road (all of which can fit in a lot more people).
Why am I telling you all this??? When Matt sang he seemed to sing at one volume for most of his short set - LOUD! As in - imagine Guns & Roses playing the King Power Stadium and people needing to hear from Row Z (now you know where the similarity to Axl Rose comes in).
I found it a real shame because - if Matt had sung his whole set as quietly as he sang the last song I am sure I would have liked him and his songs more. As it is the only song which my ears liked was the last one "You Have Eyes Of Gold" due to the fact it was sung quietly compared to the others - which made it easier to hear the story he was trying to tell with the song through his voice.
Then we had the star of the show. Kristyna had a band with her (including Ben Williams of course). I was surprised near the end of the show when Kristyna said that the gig was the first time the lineup on stage had performed together (they sounded like they had been doing it for years).
(Kristyna Myles and band)
I half- expected Kristyna to open with the amuse bouche from the album ("New Page (Interlude)"). However, she went straight into "I'm Getting Rid Of This".
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to take a good photo of one of the Barbershop Quartet in his hat and bowtie as he was almost hidden in a dark corner. Apparently some of the other extras from the video were scattered in the audience in costume too. I would have liked to see some of them at the front dancing along.
I must admit to being so used to Ben Williams doing the backing vocals whenever he and Kristyna play together that I was actually worried that he had lost his voice. This time the backing vocals were done by the keyboard player - who added a different dimension to some of the songs through the way his voice blended with Kristyna's.
(Kristyna and Keyboard player blending harmonies)
Every single time I hear Kristyna sing one of her own songs she somehow manages to show me something new in it. This is especially true when she sings live. "Garment Of Shame" is one of the songs which Kristyna really brought to life just by the way she sang it - you could actually hear the pain in her voice as she sang it.
(Kristyna showing the audience the emotion in her song)
"A Change Is Gonna Come" was the 'audience participation' song of the evening. We were encouraged to clap along.
(Kristyna leading the audience in clapping to "A Change Is Gonna Come")
That last photo really sums up the gig for me. Kristyna is happy because she is doing the one thing she exists to do - singing - as well as taking her audience on a magical journey of discovery.
Between Matt Henshaw's set and Kristyna's show I met up with someone I had been in contact with on Twitter. Keith Bache had seen Kristyna's gig in Manchester on Monday, came to the Leicester gig, and was planning to go to her London gig too. He recognised me both by my Twitter profile photo and a photo I had put up earlier in the evening of me wearing my "Team Smyles" tshirt (which the founder of Team Smyles, Julie Kirkpartick, had sent me the logo for). The smile on Kristyna's face when she saw my tshirt was the icing on an extremely delicious cake.
(Team Smyles member reporting)
My absolute favourite photo of the night was one I took of Kristyna speaking to a fan. I love it because it shows how much she likes her fans, pledgers, and friends. She is so warm and down-to-Earth, she makes you feel like you are the only person in her world when she speaks to you.
(Kristyna speaking to a fan)
I know I keep saying this but if you get the chance to see Kristyna perform live do it - preferably before she starts selling out places which cost the Earth to get into. I promise you will be taken on an adventure you will remember because she will guide you through your emotions and leave you smiling at the end of it.
|I want to take this opportunity to thank the Czech Painters for allowing the UK to "borrow" one of their number. This one uses words and music to paint such vibrant pictures that they could almost be painted on canvas and sold for millions of pounds at Christies or Sotherby's auction house.|
Actually - I am not entirely sure that the album which is the subject of this review is by Kristyna Myles at all - the name matches, same as the photograph on the cover, the voice sounds familiar in places too. However, the artistry and the emotional rollercoaster ride I have just been on are something I would more expect from someone like Celine Dion, Dolly Parton (I am thinking of the original of "I Will Always Love You" in this instance), Patsy Cline, Diana Ross, or one of the earlier "Diva-type" singers from yesteryear.
The opening song "New Page (Interlude)" is a little amuse-bouche for your ears - and it really left me wanting more of that song. By the power vested in Kristyna she is now going to take you on an emotional journey which will leave you feeling like you can take on the world and win.
Next we have "I'm Getting Rid Of This". This is an upbeat song about finally realising you are in a toxic relationship and getting up the courage to leave. My favourite line of the song has to be one of my favourite lines of the entire album - "Would you treat your Mother like that??? I don't think so".
Next we have "Heaven Knows" - This is a slightly jazzy song. It is about not giving up because you never know what is round the corner.
"Drop Me A Line" is one of the more clever songs lyrically. It has a twist in the tail. She starts off sounding like it is a follow up to "Setback" from "Pinch Me Quick". It is only in the last few lines that you realise that it is one of the songs where she is talking about God and how prayer can help.
"Autumn" could almost be a slow dance ballad. She is singing about the season of Autumn and how much she loves it. It is so convincing that I think even those who start off (for some strange reason) not liking autumn very much will end up liking the season.
Next we have "It's Not About You" - this song contains the title of the album as part of it's lyrics. A slower soul-type song which matches the lyrics. If you ask me I can think of several people in the Public eye who should really listen very carefully to and pay very close attention to the lyrics of this song.
Next we speed up slightly for "I Guess I'll Never Know" - I think this could be a contender for a theme to a "James Bond" film. I could honestly imagine this being played with the band being replaced by an orchestra (just think "Goldfinger" but with a much gentler singing style and you will get the picture).
"A Change Is Gonna Come" heralds it's own arrival with a switch to a country-style tune. I am not really a very big fan of out and out country music so it may surprise you to learn that this is my favourite song on the entire album - just because it is so chirpy and upbeat.
Next we have some pure - unadulterated Kristyna in ballad mode. "Garment of Shame" could even melt the hardest of hearts - just through the heart-wrenching emotion she uses her voice to show.
"Halfway" is actually the last but one track on the album. Here we have a Kristyna who wants to compromise with you in an argument. This one is a kind of mix between Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" and "Chain Reaction" by Diana Ross when it comes to the mix of emotion in the lyrics.
We finish the emotional rollercoaster ride with "Heavy On My Soul". This song is more upbeat and danceable to than the title may suggest. In fact, it is about the joy Kristyna finds in her faith.
All in all I think this album is a complete work of art. I also feel honoured to have been able to be part of the journey of making it through pledging through her Pledgemusic campaign to raise funds to record the album.
One thing I want to finish off with is that if anybody tells me I am even a quarter as talented at writing on my small - insignificant - blog as Kristyna Myles is at writing and performing such amazing songs I will be a very happy blogger indeed. (If, on the other hand, they try to tell me that I am equally as talented as Ms Myles I will politely but firmly ask them to reconsider their opinion because I honestly do not think I an anywhere near as talented as her.)
|It is official - Lutterworth has finally got it's own Disneyland. Instead of fairground rides and Disney characters it has got eclectic things to buy and helpful, entertaining, staff.|
You may remember my review of the first time I went into "Nyo" in Lutterworth? (The photo of the sign saying "We are 39 steps away - just round the bend?)
Anyway - I returned.
This time I bought a trolley! And loaded it up! I must admit it was a bit of a struggle to get it on the bus home! I couldn't even squeeze the three umbrellas I bought into it! Or the fan!
Only joking - see below for full-size photo of trolley and contents.
(I must admit I was so tempted to buy the bigger version of the trolley. The wheels and the seat, etc, do work as well.)
In the trolley are Lip Gloss, Phone Sleeve, Tweezers, Nail Clippers, Foldable Scissors, and Padlock. Leaning on the trolley is the Fan.
Above you have the photo of the three umbrellas in their tubes still.
The black one has got a cat's face painted on the handle. It has it's own furry holder complete with tail.
The turquoise one has one of those Russian doll faces painted on the handle.
The red/pink one has a dancing girl in a shoulderless top painted in the handle (I suspect the umbrella unfolds so it looks like a ballgown or something like that).
If you are in Lutterworth please visit the shop! You might even beat me to buying a large LED light shaped like a Lightbulb if you do!
|I have seen video versions on YouTube of what I am about to attempt. The two I like the most are by "My Simple Little Pleasures" (in English - about nail varnish) and "Beautygloss" (In Dutch - about fashion and beauty). I think the proper version is what is known as a "Haul video" where the human goes shopping and informs the world on video about what they have bought. I would not have attempted it in blog form (let alone video form which I refuse to do) if I hadn't seen the "Interchangeable Hairbrush".|
I was standing in "Wilkinson's" in Leicester - looking for something to use to keep my hair out of my face - when some seriously strange (and - in a couple of cases - worrying) objects caught my eye.
I examined (and discarded) something which advertised itself as a "Fringe Cutting Comb"(looked too complicated) and something else which advertised itself as a "Hair-Straightening Brush" (two brushes on a hinge).
Then I saw what looked like heads for brushes without handles. There were an "Interchangeable Radial Brush Head", an "Interchangeable Thermal Brush Head", an "Interchangeable Paddle Brush Head", and an "Interchangeable Brush Head" (all for less than £2.00 each). When I looked further along the display I found four handles - all advertising themselves as interchangeable handles (all for roughly the same price).
I was so intrigued I bought all eight components and brought them home for further examination.
They are easy for me to put together and use. (Just make sure you don't rest your thumb or finger on the release button when you come to use the assembled brush - otherwise it may come apart.)
I think these may come in useful when you are packing to go travelling but you don't want to pack big brushes.
Below is a photo of an assembled brush (the large black mark is the release button).
|I seem to remember a song about the world being "one big onion". Personally I think the globe is just a big Docking Station for everybody to download and upload information in order to make their own lives that bit easier. (Apart from providing the resources for humanity and other creatures to stay alive that is.)|
What led me to that crazy conclusion???
One of my friends said something which really made me think about how she (and - I would say - the rest of you) uses my blog to find out about me and my "world". This particular lady has known me from school but she - obviously - has no knowledge of what it is like to have my level of sight.
Her utterance about " your world" was quite comforting in a way. After all, how many times have we been told "the world doesn't revolve around you"???
The world in it's entirety does not revolve around us but we all have our own separate "world" which we inhabit - and people will not know everything about our own world unless we choose to tell them about it.
I am probably going to veer off into "Red Dwarf" territory in a minute but I hope you will bear with me.
As you know - I inhabit this strange place called "Inkyworld". (I have recently had a tshirt made with "Welcome To www.inkyworld.co.uk" on the front and "Thank You For Visiting" on the back.)
Inkyworld is full of information about sight, my likes and dislikes, my ethics, morals, and beliefs, as well as certain information I have picked up from meeting other "worlds" which my family and friends inhabit - which I may or may not choose to share with you - etc.
Your own world is personal to you of course. If you have ever let me into your world please accept a grateful virtual hug.
We can all use our worlds to educate and encourage each other. All it takes is a cup of coffee and a chat with someone, a text message, or a dose of Social Media.
How many people can you let into your world to create your own personal "solar system"??? Try it and find out.
|Here is a crazy question for you - have you ever donated (or offered to donate) money to a charity just because the person asking you reminds you of one of your friends???|
(And when I say "reminds you of one of your friends" I mean could pass for the identical twin of the friend in question - if they actually had one.)
That is exactly what happened to me yesterday afternoon. I must admit that when I walked into St Margarets Bus Station I was extremely angry with myself because I was supposed to be in Lutterworth at that point - however, there is a very long story attached to that involving buses not stopping where I thought they were going to. (Let's just say that I thought I could get a bus from Fosse Park to Lutterworth - completely forgetting the bus doesn't actually stop in Fosse Park any more - and I missed it. Then when I was waiting for a bus into Leicester to get me to a bus to Lutterworth I saw a quicker bus back to where I had come from sail past me across the road.)
Anyway - I was wishing I could have a go at one of my friends (just to calm me down, you understand) when I walked into St Margarets Bus Station and almost collided with the person I mentioned above.
This got me wondering what makes people memorable. Forget appearance, etc, for a minute. What about certain humans makes them stick in our brains as easily as they do???
As in - when you are in a certain situation - your thoughts might automatically turn to one particular person before anything else happens. The person could be dead or alive but maybe you just want them to experience it with you - or even worse - they are the only person you know who you would trust to get you out of that situation.
It usually happens that the people you have had the most arguments with are the people you trust the most - after all they are the ones who have seen you at your worst.
I am really intrigued by this idea. Any ideas out there???
|I wasn't originally going to post this article on my blog - as I was worried it may come across as too much of a lecture. Someone asked me to write it as part of a photography project which will hopefully give you a view (excuse the pun) of how I see the world without my glasses on. It was only as a result of a conversation with one of my friends that I decided to post it on here.|
I suppose this is going to sound strange to you but – in the same way that someone with “normal” (that is 20/20) vision takes their sight for granted – I take my shortsightedness (or - if you want to be scientific about it – myopia) for granted. You see, I have never known anything different.
I have worn glasses for the majority of my life (I didn't wear any for the first couple of years of my life and I have also had two stints at wearing contact lenses).
Life without my glasses is literally a blur – and it has been for as long as I can remember.
Ah yes – glasses. Children today don't realise how lucky they are to have such a wide range of “mini adult” frames to choose from. In the 1970's and early 1980's children only had a choice of pink and blue in one style of NHS frames.
The lenses have also changed dramatically in my lifetime. When I started school I was wearing heavy “lenticular” lenses made of glass (the bridge of my nose has got a dent in it where several pairs of glasses have dug in to make themselves at home). The quickest description of a Lenticular lens is the bottom of a coke bottle or beer glass. These are very useful for looking straight ahead but you have zero-vision around the side of the lenses.
As technology got better my lenses became thinner and lighter. The ones I am wearing now are the thinnest and lightest I have worn. They come in two parts – a carrier lens and something called a “Fresnell” lens (think of the reversing window on coaches and you get the idea).
I was brought up and educated in the “Mainstream” world. This was quite scary at times. Children run around and damage themselves in a variety of ways even if they are “normal”. The seriously shortsighted among the population have lots of other ways to damage themselves (there was one occasion when I tripped over and the glass of the lens of my glasses went into my eyebrow necessitating a trip to hospital to get my eyebrow stitched up).
One of my first memories from school involved a climbing frame. This was the first time when it became apparent that I was different to everybody else.
The climbing frame was a vaguely “A” shaped structure – made of metal. I think the front bit of the inside was empty but the back of it had a “H” shaped set of bars in the top going from left to right as you looked at it. All I can remember was – having watched one of the older boys swing through the middle of it – I was determined to do the same. I missed my hand hold on the middle bar and I fell off.
Shortly after leaving the infants I ended up with a patch over one lens of my glasses (I had a lazy left eye) which landed me with the nickname of “Pirate” for the duration.
I went to a small Primary school – which was all on one level.
I have never been what you would call “sporty” - mainly due to a great discomfort with the idea of propelling myself faster than my eyes can compute my surroundings. I did ride a bicycle when I was younger, however.
When I was between 9 and 12 years old I experienced my first stint at wearing contact lenses. This is how I found out I also suffer from (and I do mean “suffer”) Photophobia. This means my eyes are sensitive to bright lights. To the point where contact lenses were brilliant at night but useless during the day. (It was only under severe duress that I had another stint of wearing them when I was approximately 18 years old).
When I say my eyes are sensitive to bright lights I mean that sunlight has a habit of making things disappear from view or lose all distinguishing features. My usual reference points have a habit of disappearing in sunlight. It is not just sunlight – it is any bright light.
On the flip side – when it gets dark all I need is music – then I can have my own private disco. My eyes get multi-coloured spots in front of them.
The next school I went to was “fun” in more ways than one. Not only it have shallow staircases (please read – flat floor until you fall down them due to missing your footing). It also had two varieties of bullies – the other students and the teachers.
Most people I have met in my life have been under the mistaken impression that wearing a pair of glasses miraculously gives you 20/20 vision (same with contact lenses). That depends on how close to 20/20 vision your sight is to start with. If – like me – you can only see clearly within approximately 2 centimetres from the end of your nose without glasses you are never going to achieve that miracle (unless you go in for Laser eye surgery – and that is a risk).
My outstanding memories of the first secondary school are one particular maths lesson and the French lessons.
The maths lesson was an attempt to teach me how to calculate volume using a cube with squares marked out by shallow grooves in the sides of the cube. Had the grooves been painted black or been made deeper I might not have spent the best part of the lesson trying to count one side of one cube. The rest of the class whizzed through the work.
The French lessons were memorable mainly due to the fact that they were “blinding” lessons for me. Me and Overhead Projectors (OHP's) do not mix. The best way for me to read anything which is written on an OHP is to look directly at the bit the acetate is on – which is lit up – which hurts my eyes only slightly more than peering at whatever surface the OHP is projecting on to.
The second (and last) secondary school I went to were the ones who woke up to the fact that I was seriously shortsighted and decided to try to do something about it – three months before my GCSEs.
I had somehow managed to teach myself to act as “normal sighted” as possible – ie, read small print in books which is at least two fonts sizes smaller than I am actually comfortable with, putting up with OHP's, etc.
So you can probably imagine my great annoyance at being snowed under with paper with thick black lines on it, lights, and magnifiers. All the sort of things which would have been of great help to me when I started school.
The other thing the school did was to send me back to the Consultant I had been under when I started school who, after putting me through a book reading test turned to my Mum (in my earshot) and said “get her out of here. She is wasting my time”.
Just out of interest – my handwriting may not be the neatest you have ever seen but it is smaller than you might expect for someone with my level of sight.
|I have a bit of a favour to ask you.|
To be perfectly honest I feel like I am skating near the edge of a very steep cliff and I am in danger of falling over it into a very deep ravine - or - more precisely - I feel that someone else is in great danger of pulling me into it (which I have been in before).
Most of you will know I have 15 years' experience of working in an office. Some of you will know that I ended up taking a bit of time off during that as a result of depression (this was directly caused by certain circumstances which I am not going to go into on such a public forum). With hindsight the biggest mistake I made was going back to work at the same place - at the time I felt I had no choice. (They do say that hindsight is perfect 20/20 vision, don't they???)
I got in contact with someone who has decided to set up a business and is attempting to rope me into doing their office work for them. (The initial contact came about as a result of my offer to give them a bit of publicity on my blog.) Apart from the fact that my skillset and the type of business they want to set up are almost in different solar systems - I am not sure I want to be held responsible if it doesn't work out how they want it to.
Whilst I don't mind using my experience and my ideas to help an existing business I would rather be free to concentrate on what I enjoy doing (and what some of you tell me I am good at) - writing, raising awareness of issues, giving people publicity, and - most of all - putting my "Sideways" spin on things.
Now - I admit I haven't got any "proper" experience in Marketing, etc. Nor have I got any degrees (the highest qualifications I have got are GCSE's, along with a Level 1 NVQ in Business Administration).
What I have got is enthusiasm for reading and writing - as well as bending the English language to fit what I am trying to do at the time. Coupled with my experience of dealing with people at all levels in a business, as well as people from other countries (and I don't just mean my family and friends either) - I feel this has given me the skills needed to communicate with a wide variety of people.
I know this is going to sound a bit cheeky but I am wondering if those of you who like reading my ramblings would be prepared to help me get my name "out there". This could be by sharing any posts you like with your friends, relatives, colleagues, etc - or by recommending me and my writing skills to people you know who would need promotion or writing doing for them.
I am not going to go down the "Give Us Your Money" route because the only "product" I really have so far is this blog (and it is not for sale) - you cannot put a price on thoughts, ideas, experiences, etc, unless you know there is a market for them - your friendly Psychologist, singer, etc - or they can be turned into something tangible - photographs, sculptures, etc.
So - basically - I am asking you to keep me in mind if you know someone who wants any writing doing. My email is email@example.com.
|I know - I know! You are probably scratching your head and wondering what on Earth I have got against flowers - let alone the connection between the two parts of the title to this blogpost. I love most types of flower - except the one with a connection to a Mental Health issue (Narcissus) - I am not too keen on daffodils either.|
"Love" is a word which is in danger of losing it's meaning in modern society. From a starting point where there were four separate types of "Love" - of which I can only remember "Agape", or brotherly love, and "Eros", or sexual love - we appear to have somehow arrived at a point where we can say we "love" almost anything and not have the "Grammar Police" chasing us down the street.
In fact, I was stunned when I heard a song with the lyrics - "I love myself too much for that". Taken out of context that line can be read to mean that the person has almost narcissitic tendencies. (Knowing who wrote the song I can say that nothing could be further from the truth - Have a listen to "I'm Getting Rid Of This" by Kristyna Myles www.youtube.com/watch.)
I must admit I am not usually such a big fan of saccharine or slushy love songs. My taste in lyrics about love stretch more towards "When Love Turns To Hate, We Just Can't Relate" (from "The Downside Of Love" by Richie Sambora), "Ambition and Love wearing boxing gloves and singing hearts and flowers" (from "Somewhere In My Heart" by Aztec Camera), and "Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't Fall In Love With)?" (by Buzzcocks). As in the exact opposite of the slushy meaning of love usually sold in pop songs.
If you think about it - there is a strange connection between the modern "psychobabble" definition of the word "Love" and the one mentioned in the Bible (I am thinking about "the Ten Commandments" here and not that most over-used verse in the Bible about "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son" - John 3:16).
The First Commandment is straightforward enough for most Christians to get their heads around "Love The Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul".
The Second Commandment is where I start getting brainache. "Love your neighbour as you love yourself" assumes you love yourself to start with (with or without a tendency towards Narcissim).
(And before you tell me I need to "validate" my feelings and "own" my thoughts - I would like to point out they are the most ridiculous phrases I have ever heard. "Validation" to me is something you do to a passport - or an old Dutch bus ticket using a "Stempelautomaat". And another thing - how are you supposed to "own" something as flexible as thoughts???)
As someone who usually finds it very difficult to like myself let alone "love" myself I find that very difficult to get my head around.
I suppose you could quote the lyrics of "Love Is All Around" (by Wet Wet Wet) at me but it won't help. My suggestion would be "Friends will be friends, when your in need of love they give you care and attention" (from "Friends Will Be Friends" by Queen). At least that song tells me that when I am in need of some flimsy etheral emotion people will start showing me they like me.
Real "Love" is difficult (and possibly hazardous to your health - one of my favourite quotes on this subject comes from the Glaswegian comedian Kevin Bridges. He is talking about a song by Olly Murrs containing the lyric "I'll catch a grenade for you" when he says - "If someone is chucking grenades at your girlfriend you might need to reconsider your relationship").
Truly liking someone - and showing them you like them - is more of a realistic idea for me. Give them a hug (virtual or real), listen to them, buy them a well-thought-out present, or just do something to make their life that little bit easier - without expecting them to return the favour.
The Dutch have got a great idea which I wish the UK (and the rest of the world) could borrow - "National Compliments Day" where you pay people compliments.
Now you have read my ramblings - go and show someone how much yu like them!
|(The BBC's alleged motto of "Speak Peace From Nation Unto Nation" is starting to sound rather hollow to me. When they are not being accussed of starting the war in Rwanda - or at least making it worse - they are busily putting out as much biased news coverage as they can. And that is before you take into account all the "talent" they have fallen out with for one reason or another. I used to like watching the BBC - now I avoid it if at all possible.)|
The BBC has got itself into a rather large mess. Apparently the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (or some such individual) has been "advised" to resign her position by a committee of MP's who have taken a rather dim view of her antics as a Non-Executive Director of HSBC.
They have also been threatened with legal action from Rwanda over their reporting of the Genocide which happened in that country. And - no I don't remember Jeremy Clarkson reporting from there.
However, the thing I find most frustrating is the wording of the TV Licence - which has apparently been stretched to include any device capable of receiving live broadcasts from any broadcaster in any country.
This means that if I wish to watch my preferred news broadcaster over the internet (or even listen to some obscure radio station in a far away country so I can enjoy an interview with my favourite singer) I still have to pay the BBC for that privilege if it is a live broadcast.
I read in a newspaper article that Noel Edmonds was considering putting in an offer to buy the BBC and run it as a private company. I really hope he does that.
Why? Because - unlike the Public Transport "network" in the UK which I honestly think should be brought back into Public ownership with immediate effect - I do not feel the UK Government should have any say in the BBC's output. Nor - for that matter - do I feel that the complainers should have any influence over the output.
Forget the BBC's bias over the news for a minute (as well as their shameful handling of the Jeremy Clarkson suspension scandal - was it really necessary to plaster it all over the news), and the apparent lack of appetite for taking risks with new programmes - unless they are squirrelled away on BBC3 or BBC4, or even worse, BBC iPlayer) leaving viewers with repeats and reworkings of old programmes or wall-to-wall sport. (The biggest con they pulled to date was trying to advertise "Poldark" as a new programme on their trailers - that was first broadcast back in the Dark Ages, as in 1970's or 1980's. Admittedly with different actors.)
I know I have said this before but I would like to see the BBC completely abolished and start again. I don't even think their news coverage is any good any more - which is why I prefer NOS (Dutch State News broadcaster) or even Al Jazeera (English version).
(Oh and - if recent "Comic Relief" and "Sports Relief" broadcasts are anything to go by - I will probably switch off after 10 minutes because of some of the so-called "comedians" they find to offend people. I am sorry but how on earth do you expect me to donate money towards a cause including people you have shown "comedians" publicly mocking for laughs??? Especially when I know people in the situation you mocked or even I am one of those people myself???
I am sorry to say this but the first thing the BBC should do is change it's motto to "Spreading Gratuitous Offence Around The World And Forcing The UK To Pay For It" - either that or start by scrapping the Licence fee - and allowing the real creative types to submit ideas for programmes with a promise to use the new material to replace most of the rubbish and repeats on BBC1 and BBC2.
They could put a programme on showcasing up-and-coming musicians, authors, directors, etc, as well as discussion programmes where the topics are randomly chosen by the audience at time of broadcast.
One thing is for sure - the BBC should not be allowed to survive much longer in its current state.
|I have found a favourite word - "Regent".|
Before you think I am going to turn this post into something not unlike one of the scenes from "Miranda" I suppose I had better explain myself.
The English dictionary will tell you that "Regent" (pronounced Re-gent with a soft "g") is connected with a Monarch or a Prince reigning in place of the King or Queen.
If you have a strong Yorkshire or Lancashire accent you might say "Het (or 't) Regent" if you are talking about such a Prince.
However, if you change the pronunciation of "Regent" slightly to "Ray-Gent" with a hard "g" - and put the "Het" in front of it - a Dutch person will immediately search for an umbrella as you have just informed them that it is raining.
Strange how words can mix meanings, isn't it?
|I was talking to one of my friends yesterday and they said I appeared to be obsessed with someone. What my friend didn't realise is one of the other subjects of our discussion was a lot closer to an almost 30 year true obssession of mine. However, it wasn't a person - it was the search for an object which you might be thankful for the existence of as it has a big connection with this blog.|
If I were to ask you to name the most influential book you have ever read I am sure you would come up with various titles - maybe ranging from "War And Peace" to "Pride And Prejudice" to "A Long Walk To Freedom" to Religious Texts and Holy Scriptures, etc.
The books we like and have the most influence on our lives is a very personal choice.
My most influential book is actually a children's fiction book which is now out of print (but I finally managed to order a first edition copy from Amazon last night - nearly 30 years after I originally read it).
How can a children's fiction book be so influential that I searched for it for so long??? More to the point - what is the connection between it and this blog???
(You mean apart from me having been told by various people who have read my ramblings on here that my blog could almost be called a "Spellbinder" - which also happens to be the title of the book???)
Well, that children's fiction book actually did its Author's day job for him in a way - as well as convincing me that daydreaming was OK.
"Spellbinder" taught me how the English language can be used in different ways to excite, inspire, educate, and relax people.
Apart from that - the biggest influence it has had can be seen in this blog. If you can almost hear the author of a book reading it out to you as though it is part of a conversation with them I would say you are reading a very good book. The best thing is when you wish you could have a cup of coffee or a glass of something alcoholic with the author and just listen to them as they speak for a few hours.
I try to write as I would speak to you if we were face to face. Yes, I can get very passionate about things and people who are close to my heart. I can also get on my soapbox about subjects I feel angry about. What I never try to do is influence your thinking one way or the other - you have your own mind and I have mine. I will occassionally attempt to make you think about things you wouldn't otherwise have contact with. I will introduce you to some of the people I like and admire for whatever reason.
Er - Ineke - rewind for a minute please. What do you mean the book did its Author's day job in a way"??? How do you know what the Author's dayjob was???
Ah - I knew I had forgotten to mention something important. I was standing in a classroom the first time I laid eyes on the book - and the expression on the Author's face in the photograph on the dust jacket of the book is one I ended up knowing extremely well over the course of the year I was in his English class.
In fact, Stephen (or Steve) Bowkett was my favourite teacher of all the teachers I have ever had - and he still inspires me today (just under 25 years after I left school).
I know how lucky I am to have been in his presence during some of the worst times in my life - and his methods of teaching (both intentional and unintentional) have stayed with me.
|(I was originally going to write this blogpost as two separate ones because it was inspired by two separate newspaper columns - one by Victoria Coren Mitchell and the other by David Mitchell. As I was thinking about how to write them I suddenly realised that the two columns had more in common than the mere fact their authors are married to each other. They were both about hate and intolerance but from different angles.|
For Victoria's column www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/08/makeup-fad-makes-me-cross and for David's column www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/mar/08/tories-hate-preachers-david-mitchell)
I've been walking in the footsteps of Society's lies. I don't like what I see no more - sometimes I wish I was blind. Sometimes I wait forever just to stand out in the rain - so no one sees me crying - trying to wash away these pains.
("Keep The Faith" by Bon Jovi)
The first column I read this morning was by Ms Coren Mitchell. This was not such a good idea if I wanted to continue enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning - due to the fact it sent my blood pressure on a steep upward trajectory in direct proportion to the downward trajectory it forced my mood to take.
The article mentioned the one thing which makes me feel like a complete alien when it is discussed - usually because the discussions are on the side of "normal women wear this" and "if you want to get a job you should wear at least some of this" - and that is before we get to the bit about "I feel more confident when I wear this and I am sure you would too if you tried it". The fact that the last time I saw a man appear in public wearing a full face of makeup (apart from Eddie Izzard, Julian Clary, and Christopher Biggins) it was the early 1980's and the "New Romantic" era in pop music is beside the point. Sorry - I almost forgot about the "Goth" scene - which, ironically, is just about the only scene I would fit into if I wore makeup which I had applied myself (yes I have actually tried it - no there isn't any photographic evidence - just think either "panda" or "walking corpse" and I am sure you will get the picture).
I have friends who look like they have paid a professional to do their makeup it looks so flawless. I am just waiting for something like an iron-on transfer or a "Lettraset" stencil (the ones where you turned it over and rubbed the backing paper to transfer the letter to the page) but with a full face of makeup so I can apply it to my own face without worrying how it is going to turn out when I have finished with it.
I suppose it is another one of those things where you have to have practical experience of being different before you understand how hurtful those "well-meaning" remarks can actually be.
Let's just say that my sight is not designed for those flip-out glasses which supposedly help you see what you are doing when applying eyeshadow, etc. Apart from that, I would have to find an eyeshadow applicator the size of a pin so I knew I was using the correct amount.
So - for all you ladies out there who feel that a face full of makeup gives you the confidence to go about your daily life - I respect your right to dress as you please. Please respect my right to feel that a smile and happy thoughts and words are what I need to give me confidence.
The next column I read was by Mr Mitchell. This one improved my mood somewhat.
We are surrounded by "Hate Preachers". It is just that half of them are not officially recognised as "Hate Preachers" - mainly because they do not attempt to link themselves with any kind of "organised" religion.
Apparently the UK Government's current Big Idea is to make preaching of Hate messages a crime. Yes - the same Government who are so busy trying to irradicate the disabled, unemployed, Homeless, and those in poverty, by means of not providing the basic funding, etc, for them to survive (or, come to think of it, the motivation to survive).
Hate Preaching, Discrimination, Inequality, and Bullying are all either illegal or socially and/or morally unacceptable already. The Emergency Services are being cut to below the safe minimum to be able to deal with existing Hate Crimes.
We really need to relearn respect for each other and ourselves. We also need to find a way of agreeing to disagree and debate things in a calm and sensitive manner.
However, it is not about turning to everybody else and telling them they need to change their attitude - we need to change our attitude before we can change anybody else's.
|What can I say about Ben Williams??? I think of him as the Richie Sambora to Kristyna Myles playing the role of Jon Bon Jovi. He is usually found playing a guitar and tambourine/stompbox combination as acoustic backing for Kristyna Myles at her gigs (he plays guitars when she is with her full band). This is his debut solo album.|
Ben previously released an EP called "Balloon String" which contains different versions of some of the songs on this album.
This album is called "Who Do You Think You Are?"
The first track is a slight reworking of "To My Delight" from the EP. This version sounds like a slightly more upbeat version of the original with added drums. The lyrics sound like they have been written by a man who doesn't quite know how he go into a relationship but he knows he wants to stay in it.
Next up we have "Bide Your Time". A vaguely exasperated-sounding Ben trying to convince someone to stop their argument. This track has got a 1970's/early 1980's vibe to it - both with the music and the way he mixes speaking with singing.
The best way of describing "The Fall Out" is it sounds like Madness decided to cover "Ghost Town" by The Specials. As in - it shouldn't work but somehow the combination of the music and the lyrics combine to make a really nice song.
"I Can Do That" has a soulful jazz-like sound to it which complements both the way Ben sings it and the lyrics themselves.
Take your partners for the Hoedown that is "Who Do You Think You Are?". I have to admit that I prefer the version of this I heard on the "Balloon String" EP - the slower tune of the original matched the lyrics a little more. The Country and Western style tune and singing of this version sounds a little rushed (poor Ben almost sounds like he is going to run out of breath at the end of the song).
Next Ben slows the pace right down and decides to find a white towel which he can wave as a flag of surrender before he throws the towel in and walks away. The appropriately named "Hold Your Fire" is a proper, lighter-waving ballad.
Back to the Country and Western vibe - this time with more of a Line Dancing feel - for "Did I? Didn't I?". The slower tune compared to "Who Do You Think You Are?" is easy listening at it's best.
We are now in the region of the 1960's with "Change It". The simplicity of the lyrics are complemented by the danceable tune. (This song has made me move as I type this review. It is also a possible earworm song.)
Now we have my favourite song! "Balloon String" is a mish mash of lyrics which should not make sense in the order that he sings them in. (The ones about "Selling my body parts on Ebay" are the best ones on the entire EP - or maybe that is just my weird sense of humour.)
I am "Trying So Hard" to work out which song and group this next track reminds me of. Ben sings most of this in a lower key and voice than the rest of the songs on this album. This has the effect of turning it into the most relaxing song on the album - almost to the point where it could be used as a meditation exercise or a hypnosis backing track. I like it.
If I had my way I would do two things with "Jukebox Secret" - First thing is make it the opening track of the album (it is pure Ben) and second thing is release it as a single. It is singable and very listenable.
All in all this is a very good album with a nice mix of musical styles. It is available on Amazon and iTunes.
|There is something wrong with the English language these days. Well, that is not strictly true. The problem is not with the language itself - just the way some people choose to express themselves in it around children.|
I have no problem with people swearing when in the company of those over the age of 18. (Before I found my Glaswegian friend I wasn't very keen on the liberal use of "industrial language" at all - my conversations with him opened my eyes and ears to how creative the "alternative vocabulary" used by Glaswegians in normal conversation can be.)
We have a Watershed on TV which is supposed to protect children from scenes and language of a disturbing or "adult" nature. Most newspapers and magazines for universal reading have the swearwords asterixed out so that children can read them.
You can probably imagine how I feel when I hear the parent or carer of a child swearing at them in order to get the child to comply with their wishes. Or - even worse - swearing at someone else in the child's presence.
Last week I went into a shop called "Set" in the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester. When I was in there I saw a plaque for sale which made me cringe - both for the sentiment expressed and the language it was expressed in. The "polite" version would have been "Go away - Seriously, away you go". Put it this way - the actual words included the F-word - twice. Without any *, #, @, or ! to disguise the words.
Don't the people who come up with the idea of swearing around children realise that they may use that sort of language in inappropriate situations???
We need to teach children that there is a time and a place for different types of language and that swearing is not appropriate for everyday conversation, or when speaking to people in authority.
First we need to teach those who spend the most time with them the same lesson.
|After hearing the debate about the colour of a simple dress I started to think about how eyes can play tricks on people. In fact, one of my favourite songs ("Into The Now" by City To City) contains the lyrics "Seeing through these eyes is like a good movie - you've gotta watch so you don't miss a thing". Read on for my take on the debate from a slightly different angle.|
There are times when I really wish I could rent my eyes out to people. Even better would be if I could insert a camera into each of my eyeballs and connect them - via WIFI - to a computer screen near you. You could witness the walking trees morphing into humans as we approach them at dusk - or the body-less clothes floating towards us in bright sunlight. Or even (and this particular favourite of mine happened last week) the mouthless and noseless papier mache mask which was on top of a nice looking outfit. As the rather spooky apparition came closer to me it turned into a Muslim lady who was wearing a flesh coloured (or "nude") scarf over her mouth and nose.
All the above happened when I was wearing my glasses. Without my glasses on the world becomes an altogether fluffier place. Humans and objects lose their definite shapes - small things become invisible but large things grow (let's just say that whilst I am not usually scared of someone who is just over 6ft tall when I have got my glasses on - without my glasses they gain at least 4" in height, and that is when they are standing reasonably close to me).
I have tried before on here to explain bits and pieces about my "Human Recognition Software" and how I file people in my head according to a completely different system to most people - which affects how I describe them.
As I was thinking about typing this blogpost I remembered some tricks I use to identify people as well as some other things you may find interesting;
For example - what have a navy blue tank top, a brown leather jacket, a stripe of black paint over eyes (could even be a blindfold, but closer inspection reveals it to be a pair of sunglasses), a helmet like the ones worn by actors playing Roman Centurians (colour can change from steel, through gunmetal grey, to black), and a Teacosy Hat (a hat which looks like a teacosy complete with bobble or pompom), got in common???
They have all been markers to identify people who are known to me - usually because they are the most obvious thing about them.
The navy blue tank top and the brown leather jacket have been used to identify the same person 20 years apart. The person in question was wearing the tank top when I first met him (and he wore it more often than not in the first year I knew him).
The very strange looking sunglasses were worn by a bus driver I used to know - to the point where I thought they were either welded to his face or they were just a thick line of black paint.
The teacosy hat is very handy when it comes to identifying a very good friend of mine.
Now - all the above can be removed from the human in question without causing too much pain and/or distress. They are also best viewed with my glasses on.
The Centurian's helmet is a totally different story. (You would have to remove the nose guard to get the proper idea.) As far as I can tell - this would cause a large amount of distress to the person concerned if someone were to attempt to remove it without their permission. Apart from that - it is the only identifying feature which looks the same with or without my glasses on my nose. Did I say attempts at removing it would cause distress to the person wearing it??? This might have something to do with the fact it is someone's hairstyle (which they have had all through the 10 years or more that I have known them).
I have to admit that my biggest bugbear is not having to work around angles (my brain just goes on strike when faced with those) - it is working out distance. This can literally be painful.
Here is something for you to try;
Stand just over arm's length away from a door and close your eyes. Now attempt to find the door handle without moving your feet and only using one hand. Not easy - is it?
Now imagine that your view of the door is a large fluffy looking vaguely oblong shape which is not really disguishable from the surrounding wall (doorframes do not exist according to your eyes). There may or may not be a small grey blob where you would expect to find a doorhandle. Your mission is to use that small grey blob to help you get on the other side of the oblong without screaming in pain (this means you have hit the door hard with your hand). What makes it even more tricky is the fact that - the further your hand is away from your body the more it looks like it is merging with the fluffy oblong shape which not only appears bigger than it really is but simultaneously appears closer to you and further away from you depending on how you move your hand and arm.
The above exactly describes opening my bedroom door when I cannot be bothered to put my glasses on first.
I also use my feet to guide me when I am walking around - finding edges, etc, which are not always immediately visible.
So - maybe those of you who have been engrossed in the debate about the colour of a dress should count yourselves lucky that you can make a joke of it and get on with your day? Some of us have got decisions to make regarding what our eyes "see" which can be very dangerous for us.
I will close with my favourite scene from an episode of QI where Phil Jupitus is exasperated because he has been told the sunset in the picture he was looking at was a mirage;