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How Placenames Can Mean So Many Things To So Many People (Or - "Come With Me"!)
9/24/2015 3:47:46 PM
The names of places can mean so many things to so many people - some of use even answer to the name of a place (and I don't mean "Brooklyn" either).  My surname of "Poultney" is now the name of a farm but it was also the name of either a village or a hamlet as well.

There are other place names which are known as belonging to one thing by the locals and as belonging to something completely different by everybody else - Ibrox being one such name.

It was only when I narrowly missed being run over by a bus to Ibrox that I learned it is actually the name of an area of Glasgow (after I had consulted a friendly Glaswegian).

"QE" can either mean "Quantative Easing" or "Queen Elizabeth Hospital".  If the second name is found on a signpost anywhere near Kings Lynn - I was born in that hospital.

You have heard of "Gouda"???  Famous for cheese??? There are two other products that the Dutch will tell you Gouda is famous for - candles and Stroopwafels.

"Lutterworth" can only mean one thing to me - Hell on Earth.  I would love the place if I hadn't had the misfortune of going to Secondary School there.

"Schiebroek" - ah - I am starting to feel relaxed already just by typing that place name.  When people say "Home is where the heart is" that is what Schiebroek is to me.  It was where my Oma lived until I was approx 10 years old.  It hasn't changed that much from when she lived there.

"Linwood" - this is confusing to me.  My Dad and my Granddad both went to Linwood School, my Grandma went to Mary Linwood School.  I am pretty sure that none of them trekked to near Glasgow from Leicester and back each day!!!

There are a few more place names which confuse me.

However, the one name which confuses me the most is not the name of a place but the name of a road.  This is because - everytime I hear it or read it - I think of water.

The most confusing name I have ever come across for a road is "Coolsingel".  A "Singel" to me suggests some area of water which could be used to sail boats on - not a road the width of an English motorway with a tramline running along its middle.

On the subject of the "Coolsingel" this video has got some lovely photos of Rotterdam www.youtube.com/watch!  The title of "Kom Mee Met Mij" translates into "Come With Me"!

When Language Hides History (Or - Maybe English Leaves Us Uneducated?)
9/24/2015 2:23:14 PM
If you know me personally you will know that I object to being called "English".  This is because - even though I was born and raised in England - I was given a very strong connection to my Mum's native Rotterdam,  This was both through regular visits to my Oma (until she died when I was 22 years old) and through my Mum keeping some of the Dutch traditions alive (as well as introducing me to some of my all-time favourite foods).  I even have a GCSE in both of my "mother" tongues.

I have written before about the difference between the English view of the Second World War and the Dutch view of the same thing - along with how angry I am about how the English portray the Dutch experience of it.

A couple of days ago one of the Twittercops I follow tweeted saying he was going to be on a programme on Rijnmond TV (a TV channel for the Rotterdam area).  He didn't put a link to either the programme or the channel - "Inspector Inky" googled the channel, found the website, found the programme, watched it, and ended up wishing the programme had been broadcast in English because it was so interesting.

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen - this is a problem I often have.  English people don't generally speak Dutch (as witnessed by some of the absolutely horrific pronunciations of Dutch names in the English Media) making it impossible for Dutch TV programmes to be shown over here.

(I remember a TV programme from some years ago where one of the contributors said "If this programme had been in English it would have gone worldwide.  Seeing as it is in Dutch the only people who would understand it are in The Netherlands, Belgium, South Africa, Suriname....that's it".)

Back to the programme the Twittercop was in.

It was a good mix of old and new - the main segment of the programme was given over to a project started by a German artist called Gunter Demnig who had the bright idea of bringing the Second World War a bit closer to the present day.

"Stolpersteine" (or "Struikelstenen" in Dutch - "Stumbling Stones" in English) is a project aimed at not forgetting those people who were deported to the Concentration Camps during the war by placing a small metal square plaque in the pavement in front of the houses where the victims lived - with their name and dates of birth and deportation.

Some of these have been placed in various cities which were occupied by the Nazis.  As you can imagine - my beloved Rotterdam got a few of them.

The programme traced the nephew of the people who lived in one of the houses in Rotterdam before they got deported - and introduced him to the lady who lives in that house now.

The nephew was a pretty well-known retired member of a Dutch orchestra.  He took some information with him so he could show the lady.  (It all seemed to be a bit like an education version of "Where Do You Think You Are?")

I must admit to having seen some of these plaques during my last visit (I was very close to the area where it was filmed) but I didn't take much notice.

The second half of the programme was a nice contrast - merging the past (with its exodus) with the present (and the new arrivals).

The area where the programme was filmed was near the "Marroccan Quarter" - a bit like Highfields or Beaumont Leys in Leicester - and the Twittercop was shown playing football with some young people before being interviewed by the presenter (the young people were also interviewed).

I don't understand why England seems to have such a blinkered view towards other countries who were the victims of the Second World War.  I am so tired of the hype about how the English rescued everybody without letting the people themselves tell their stories.

Yes - I know - it is personal for me.  I am proud to be from both England and Holland.  But I am left feeling that I have to deny my Dutch heritage to keep the English happy - Heaven help me if I dare to even bother considering dreaming about attempting to contradict the "recieved wisdom" about the Second World War and its impact on some of my relatives.

It is not just the language barrier that can sometimes make communication between different countries difficult to overcome - it is also the "attitude barrier"!

The Hypocrisy Of Politics Versus The Politics Of Hypocrisy (Or - When Standing Up For Your True Beliefs Makes A Difficult Life Easy)
9/24/2015 1:03:58 PM
I have tried to avoid jumping on the "Political Bandwagon".  After all, it seems to be too easy to sling accusations at our "Representatives" in Westminster.  However, I feel the Mainstream Media are missing the bigger story.

When the news broke about Jeremy Corbyn not singing the National Anthem my first thought was "good for him".  My second thought was "at last - a Politician who stands by his principles".

Then the story started to get bigger and bigger.  Ex-Service personnel - World War 2 Veterans - implied that (to paraphrase Mark Twain) they would "send orders for him to be shot without time to pray" for disrespecting the Queen by not singing a song which goes against his views as a Republican.

I could understand the furore if Mr Corbyn had decided to perform a striptease during the "Battle of Britain" Comemoration Service with the National Anthem used as a backing track.  However, he stood in respectful silence.

Mr Corbyn's next trick was one that I am not in total agreement with (only because I don't feel it went far enough).  He decided to ask for questions from the public for "Prime Ministers Questions" - and fired a selection of said questions at the Prime Minister.  I think he should have invited the people who sent the questions to fire them at the Prime Minister themselves.  Now that would have been "inclusive Politics".

On the other hand you have David Cameron, who is starting to look more and more like a characature of himself with every "revelation" which the Mainstream Media chooses to emit about him.

I have always thought Mr Cameron was a kind of mutant chameleon - trying to pretend he is something he clearly is not.  My impression of him every time I see him or hear him in the media is that he holds everybody else in contempt - unless he is breathing air with them at that present moment.  Oh - and if he had his way - I think he would ressurect the Workhouses and Poor Law Hospitals from years ago - just to tidy those who do not match his expectations out of his sight.

You may think I am a fan of Mr Corbyn but you would be wrong - I respect the fact that he has stood up for his principles on one occassion but I do not think he will be able to do it again.  If only for one major reason.

The next furore surrounding him will probably involve red and white.  If he wears a red poppy at the Cenotaph in London on Remembrance Sunday he will blend in with the rest of the crowds - if he follows his heart and wears a white one he will probably be condemned as a traitor.

But how many of the people who will be wearing a poppy of any description on Remembrance Sunday will be wearing it because "it is the done thing" or it is what is expected of us???  How many of us see the Two Minute Silence as a once a year "duty"???

Yesterday evening my Dad and I were watching the news when the item about Princes Harry and William helping "DIY SOS" refurbish some homes for ex-Service personnel came on. Dad wondered aloud about what had happened to the ex-Military bases which had been decommissioned - and whether or not the ex-Service personnel could be housed in them.  He does have a point.

However, I digress.

Politics just seems to be a way of making hypocrisy socially acceptable - in this country anyway.

I have been watching news about the EU debate on the "Migrant" "Crisis" with something approaching amazement at how differently the separate countries have approached it.  (The live "NOS" broadcasts about whether or not they were going to back the recent Greek Bailout was tame compared to this.)

Don't get me wrong - I don't agree with what Hungary has done with its borders.  However, their Prime Minister specifically stated his views on the subject of the EU's attempts to resolve the "Crisis".  His words were along the lines of "Don't blame us - we cannot cope.  If other countries played by the rules we would not be in this mess. One last thing - Would it not be better to tackle the problem at it source???".  Funnily enough, only three other countries have dared to stick their necks out in the same way.  (I wish Slovakia every success with their legal challenge against the EU "Migrant" quota,

I just wish we had MPs over here with the real courage to tell the (sometimes unpalatable) truth. As well as stick to their principles.

After all, I did hear someone say that when you start to tell lies you have to keep your story straight - when you tell the truth your story is already straight!

What Happens When You Cannot Read The "Small Print" (Or - It Is Not Only "Terms And Conditions" Which Can Be Difficult To Read!)
9/16/2015 8:51:28 PM
I would like to try a bit of an experiment on you.  Below you will see two photos of timetables.  I would like you to concentrate on the numbers relating to the times and decide which format you think I would find easier to read. (Please ignore the destinations, etc.)

If you say the yellow timetable you would be correct.

The yellow timetable is a Dutch Train Timetable showing trains from Rotterdam Central Station to various destinations.

The other one is the excuse for a Bus Timetable on the stop around the corner from my house (provided by Arriva).  (No wonder I rely on my Mobile phone which has two Apps which tell me when to expect a bus - one by Arriva and one called "Moovit" which tells me the times of all the different bus services from any given stop.)

Oh - and if you are thinking that I would obviously pick the yellow one because the photo was taken from a closer view point - below you will find a full version of that timetable.

I know I might have cheated a bit by comparing a Dutch Train Timetable with an English Bus Timetable - but the Dutch Bus Timetables are only slightly different in format to the Dutch Train Timetables in the way the times are presented.

You still get the times in the 24 hour clock but - instead of the minutes being below each other (as on the train timetable) - they are next to each other in the same row.

Another pleasant difference between the Dutch Bus Timetables and the English ones (in Leicester anyway) is the Dutch keep the routes on separate timetables (even when they are run by the same bus company).

I will now attempt to explain why I prefer the Dutch Timetables.

The Dutch Timetables are really easy for me to see "at a glance".  Unlike on the English example above I can clearly see the important information - as in the hour (the large number in bold on the lefthand side of the timetable).  Once I have found the hour I can easily find the minutes (smaller numbers in the next column).  We will ignore the rest of the information on the Dutch Timetable for now.

The headache caused by the Arriva bus timetable on the stop around the corner from my house is nothing in comparison with the headache caused by most of the bus timetables you find on bus shelters in Leicester City Centre.

Some bright spark appears to have decided to try to copy the Dutch idea with the hours in larger numbers and the minutes in smaller numbers.  This is where the good bit ends.  The bright spark then appears to have decided to put every bus route known to Mankind which calls at that stop on the same Timetable.  So I am left looking at what ressembles a sheet of wallpaper with tiny writing on it.  What makes it worse is when two separate bus numbers head for the same destination using vastly differing routes (with no indication of the actual routes taken
on the timetable itself - you have to crane your head to see the route maps on another sheet of wallpaper next to the timetable).

Why did I tell you all the above???

Well - on Friday I finally met up with someone so we could make a proper start on a photographic project which - I hope - will give people more of an idea about what life is like when you have a severe sight problem.

As part of our discussions I took him to the bus stop described above so I could tell him about my problems with seeing the bus time table (the font is too small for me to see comfortably.

Then I managed to shock him by taking him into the Co-op near the bus stop and showing him this;

What you are looking at is one of those shelf labels which announces "Special Offers" (I would say that there are other versions available in other supermarkets - however, I find them all as difficult as each other to read - Tesco and ASDA are actually slightly worse than the photo above).

I will now tell you what I told him;

I can tell you that the brand is "Carte Noir" (that is in a font big enough for me to read - no problem).  I can tell you that the coffee is Half Price (but if the colours were switched to red writing on a white background I would have a major headache just from looking at it - more about that in a minute).

The price is written in a font which is a little on the small side for me to read comfortably but it is still manageable in small doses.

Now we get to the reason why the man I am doing the project with was shocked.

Apparently the row of microscopic (to me) print actually contains important information if I want to do a price comparison between similarly priced brands.  It can even tell someone with better sight than me when the offer should end.  Me???  I have got absolutely no chance of seeing it without the use of a microscope (even a magnifying glass wouldn't be much use).

The next thing I showed him was better in one way but worse in another;

Brand and quantity of goods in packet is easy to see - same with the price.  They have even managed to make the "small print" slightly bigger too - then they spoiled their efforts with the "small print" by putting it in bold font (rendering it too small for me to see)!!!

(If you insist on writing something in bold and you wish me to see it - let alone read it comfortably - make sure it is 12 point or above.  In fact, if you want me to read anything comfortably I would suggest typing it in at least 14 point - depending on the font.)

Remember I said I would have a problem reading the "Half Price" on the small sign if the colour was switched from White on Red to Red on White???

I have an example for you to see what I mean;

The red writing says "No Parking".

There are four things you need to know about me and the colour red;

1)  I will happily eat a bowl of tomato soup (or any other red foodstuff - apart from red chillies - they are too spicy for me).

2)  If you want me to follow you anywhere please wear a red jacket - my eyes have no problem picking it out in almost every lighting situation (either from a distance or in a group of people).

3) If I see a sign with any red on it I will automatically assume it is telling me not to do something (unless it is immediately obvious that it is advertising something).

4)  If you would like to make something impossible for me to read without resorting to headache medication please write it in red ink, paint, etc.  You can write it as big as you like or as small as you like and in whatever font you choose - the outcome will be the same.  You will get complained at and politely requested to change the colour of the writing.  The colour red is the only colour which has such a bad effect on my eyes when I am attempting to read in it (it is similar to bright light - as in my eyes will focus on it above everything else on a page).

I realise I am one of a very small minority of people with my level of vision.

However, by using font sizes and colours which I find difficult to read - in order to advertise offers, or give other useful information - shops and other businesses, are discriminating not only against me but other people who may have slightly different sight problems.

I would love it if people who were in charge of advertising, design, etc, would remember that less (information on a page) is more, the bigger (the writing) the better, and just because rainbows exist you aren't forced to use every colour in one when you write things down.

The Most Dangerous Weapons We Have Are Our Ears And Our Mouths (Or - Why Sometimes It Is "One For The Price Of Two"!)
9/7/2015 8:00:14 PM
I have wanted to write a blog post on this subject for a very long time.  However, it is very difficult to write about something you live in the middle of (as well as in fear of) every single day of your life in a dispassionate way.

It was thanks to one of my friends from Twitter posting the following Tweet yesterday that you are about to get the deepest trip into my brain that you have ever been on;

"Saying you are listening then telling the other person they are wrong isn't listening - it's condescending.  Together people can make good changes." (Cate Moore)

Personal experience tells me that the above quote is only half of the truth.

I must admit there have been three occassions when I have been shocked by a comment made by three separate friends from "real life" who have known me for more than a decade (I actually went to Secondary school with one of them).  I say a comment made by three separate friends because it was very close variations of the same comment - the friends have never met each other.

The comment???

"I have learned more about you through reading your blog than I have ever done through talking to you!"

Hmm - they are correct in a way.  (All they have to do now is read on to find out why that is.)

If you have ever spoken to me you will find that I prefer to deal with people one on one or a small group.  If we are in a large group I am usually the one watching what is going on - what the "pecking order" of the group is - and taking my time working out who the dangerous people are.  (That is if I don't already feel defensive and nervous.  In that case - I am usually the one who won't shut up.)

One of my pet hates is being told I am wrong - end of story.  Before you say that most people would say that - I can pretty much guarantee that most people haven't had their lives put at risk as a result of being told they are wrong without being allowed to argue their case.  (I am not talking about people who have fought the Medical Profession and survived a misdiagnosis against the odds because they followed their instincts and argued for a second opinion or different treatments. I am talking about something which - when it happens to you - is much worse.)

I am talking about people in "Authority" who pretend to listen and jump to their own conclusions anyway.  The ones who expect to find me on page 447 of some invisible textbook - along with the exact "cure" for whatever situation I have presented them with - but refuse to listen when I try to tell them that their idea is good in theory but (guess what) I have already tried it and it hasn't worked - and do they really think that I would be in that situation if their idea had worked???

I have got two friends who have been subjected to my "mental chainsaw" for exactly that reason.

I have had to separate them from their job titles because otherwise I just would not be able to deal with them.

Just because one of them happened to be my all-time favourite teacher the fact he was one of my teachers during my time at Secondary school made the transition from "potential threat/enemy" to friend extremely difficult some years later when I started at the Creative Writing group he ran.

I still have the occassional run-in with the other one.  Usually when I think he is behaving in exactly the same way as the "Medical" version of his title.  (I am still amazed that "Medical" Doctors start as "Mr", rise through "Dr", and fall back down to "Mr" - even though some of the Consultant "Mr"s appear to have the same sense of "Thou Art Not Worthy To Be In My Presence" as the "Medical" "Dr"s.) Do you get a feeling that I have a very low opinion of "Medical" Drs???  You would be correct.

We were all born with two ears and one mouth.  This means we should listen twice as hard as we speak.  If we concentrate on listening to the other person we should be able to really "hear" and connect with what they are saying - so we can respond accordingly.

If we enter the discussion with pre-concieved ideas and opinions - and a cast iron conviction that we are correct no matter what - we are at our most dangerous.

If, on the other hand, we enter the discussion with pre-concieved ideas - and a willingness to listen (and ask seemingly really stupid questions in order to clarify things in our own minds) - we are at our most helpful.

A few months ago I got into a Twitter argument with a group of people who had preconcieved ideas about a subject.  When I tried to explain my opinions I was basically told to get lost (in fact, I was practically ordered to stop following the person who had made the original comment if I didn't like what they had said - so much for a healthy debate!!! You may not be surprised to learn that I am still following the person concerned  - and they are a pretty reasonable human).

Remember I said that Cate's tweet was half-correct and that people have had their lives put at risk because of people only pretending to listen???

I have the misfortune of being one of those exact people.  You can descend very quickly from not trusting the first person who does that to you, to not trusting anybody you speak to (never mind whether or not they have done the same thing), to not trusting yourself and your own ideas, to questioning the entire purpose of your own existence - and considering terminating said existence.

The battle to both trust my own mind and trust other people to really listen to me is one I fight daily.

I suppose, if I am totally honest, my experiences with trying to convince people about my life through actually speaking to them is the reason why I am more comfortable communicating with the world in black and white (or whatever combination of ink and paper you choose to print this out with).

Hand me a pen and paper or sit me in front of a keyboard and let me type - then you can read the "printout" of what really goes on in my mind.  At least, that way I know that I can leave you in peace to read my thoughts - as well as not having to wonder what you are likely to say or do to me as a result of my words.

Ask me to tell you verbally how I am really feeling and you had better hope that I trust you with my life, if you really want me to be honest with you that is.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I feel like I am putting my life in your hands whenever I tell you honestly what I am feeling at any given moment.  Yes, yes - I know I left school decades ago but I have been in situations more recently where the same thing happened - the worst one was when I was employed (I ended up having to take time off work through Depression as a result of my treatment by one of my employers).

As I was calming myself down and clearing my head enough to be able to type this blog post I had one of my "musical memories" (as in - a lyric came into my mind from a song).  The "musical memory" thinking about this blog post brought up was a from a song I had almost forgotten about - in fact, I had to check it with someone to make sure the song had actually existed.

The lyric is "you say I don't talk enough - but when I do I'm a fool" from "Unbelievable" by EMF.

The next song - which I ended up searching for on my phone - which came into my mind as I was thinking about this blog post was one of my favourite songs by Ben Williams.  The song is called "The Fall Out" - and there are two separate lyrics which I feel accurately sum up the thread of this blog post;

"Get down from the table - you're too high to pick that fight."

(The original lyrics refer to "high" as in drunk or on drugs - but in this instance I think it would be more useful to put the words "and mighty" after the word "high".)


"Are you going all out tonight... Watch out for the fallout."

(Pretty self-explanatory I think???)

So - maybe next time you decide you know what is best for someone else before they even get a chance to open their mouth - please engage ears, engage brain, and disengage mouth until they have finished speaking (or typing if you are on Social Media).  That way - you might actually learn something you can use in future!!! 

Why The Mental Should Be As Visible As The Physical (Or - We Need To Stop The Stigma NOW!!!)
9/4/2015 10:17:01 PM
Have you ever had one of those surreal conversations where - when you have finished it you still don't understand the beginning bit???

I had one of those last night with one of my friends.  (I know - I know - I am usually the culprit for starting a conversation like that, but, in this case, I was not responsible.)

It all started when a very close friend of mine expressed astonishment about what a mutual close friend of ours said to them.

I was left with the impression that a tshirt was expected to be worn stating the exact Mental Health issues that someone has to deal with each day.  How else are we supposed to know about the exact state of someone else's Mental Health???  Maybe we should begin to introduce ourselves to each other by stating our name and any Mental Health issues we may have??? (Someone actually did that to me once and - once I had got over the shock - I actually felt comfortable with them because I knew I could ask them questions about it and educate myself on the subject.)

Obviously, in most cases, if the Mental Health issue starts to become visible (as in people start to display signs of it) there is something drastically wrong.

However, that is not what I meant by wanting Mental Health issues to be more visible.

What I actually meant was that I feel we should be more open in talking about them.  I know it is not easy because of the stigma and misinformation associated with things like Schizophrenia, etc, and the bad press faced by people with Bipolar and Depression.  If we could talk about it in the same way as people have started to announce things I would consider to be private information - ie, sexual orientation (honestly, it is none of my business who you choose to have sex with as long as they are over the age of consent and a willing partner - or - if - in the unlikely event - it is me) - we would be a lot better off.

Leaflets and websites can only go so far in telling you about how different Mental Health Issues affect different people - we are not all the same.

I have the honour (and humbling privilege) of being allowed to support someone with a Mental Health issue - it is still ongoing - and I am reminded every day that I cannot take that person for granted or the fact they have let me into their private world.

We just need to be more open and accepting about such a difficult topic - I honestly hope that we reach a stage where Mental Health issues are treated in the same way as physical illness.

There's A Line That We'll Cross When We Find Out What We Are About To Lose (Or - The Streets May Become Alive With Screams Of "We Should Have Listened"!!!)
9/4/2015 9:45:35 PM
I make no apology for either typing a Blog Post on a subject which is very close to my heart or paraphrasing lyrics to two songs for the title to this blog post (I will explain them as we go on).

Over the past couple of days I have had some lyrics to "I've Been Losing You" by Aha, going around in my head as I kept reading about the coming Police Cuts.

The lyrics were "I put the gun down on the table....Oh - come on - please now - talk to me.  Tell me things I could find helpful.  I have lost my way - I've been losing you".

I think the story of the song is about someone who had either seriously injured or murdered another person but wants them to talk afterwards.

(Yes - I know that Theresa May and the rest of the Government seem to be singing another Aha song - "Cry Wolf" - but that is beside the point.)

The two songs I paraphrased the lyrics of for the title of this blog are (I feel at least) extremely relevant - both for the content of the original lyrics and the context of the film one of them was used in.

I will start with the opening lyrics to "Fallen From Graceland" by Richie Sambora.  The original lyrics are "There's a line that you cross - when you find out that you've lost".

As one Police Blogger put it today - maybe the Public should be asked if they would be happy to lose half of their Police Force???

Now - I don't claim to represent the Police - but - in this case I agree with the Blogger.

But I am honestly getting a little fed up of the higher ranks being the ones who swoop down from on high not seeming sure if they want to do an impression of either Corporal Jones from "Dad's Army" (catchphrase - "Don't panic! Don't panic!") or Private Frazer (catchphrase - "We're Doomed I tell ye - Doomed!").

Either way - I think the higher ranks should stand back and let the Officers with personal "boots on ground" experience of what is happening speak to the Mainstream Media.  As I type this blog post there has been a hashtag on Twitter #PCTM (or "Police Cuts Too Much") this evening in an attempt to warn the Public.

However, I have seen some comments from serving Police Officers which have even upset a pro-Police person like me.  I don't want to be given a pair of rose-tinted glasses and be told that everything is going to be OK when it obviously isn't.  However, to be made to feel like there is nothing worth fighting for even before we start is not a good idea either.

Yes - the cuts are going to be much worse than they are already.  But scaremongering headlines with a slightly different story from the truth is not going to help anyone.

If I had my way - I would stand the Police Bloggers in front of the Mainstream Media and get them to explain the situation.

However, there is also a very under-used tool in their armour.  Me and people like me.  As in - people who are not Police but who would be willing to tell their story on our Blogs, etc.  People who are passionate about the Police and what they mean to Society as a whole.

Oh yes - I nearly forgot - the paraphrased lyrics to "The Hills Are Alive (With The Sound Of Music)"???

I seem to remember in the beginning of that film (or somewhere very close to it) one of the characters tries to tell people that Germany is about to invade Austria but nobody listens???

I am afraid we have almost reached that point on the subject of the Police Cuts.  There has been so much mis-information on the subject that it is almost difficult to know who to believe - but now is the time when those of us who know the real story should start screaming loud enough for everybody else to take note.

When The Screen Speaks To Me (Or - Maybe My Words Are More Appreciated Than I Thought)
9/4/2015 9:05:37 PM
Sometimes, as I sit here typing, I honestly wonder who on Earth would want to read my ramblings.

After all, I am just me.  I do not have any qualifications in half of the subjects I ramble on about.  I may consult the odd "Book" in my "Human Library Of Friends And Acquaintances" if I want to check something - but for the most part you are reading my thoughts.

I had to pinch myself when two people who I know from Twitter told me I was good at writing.  OK, so one of them said that directly and the other one put it in slightly different words (which I will quote in a minute).

I couldn't believe my eyes because one of the people is a professional PR Consultant - and the other one is one of my favourite Bloggers (who I appear to have a bit of a "Mutual Appreciation Society" going on with).

I must admit there are a couple of other people who have been really kind to me about my blogging activities as well - one of these people has done more than they realise to give me the confidence to open myself up on here without being prompted by another human or anything else I have seen.

The Blogger I seem to have a "Mutual Appreciation Society" with has started awarding websites and articles their "Award For Complete Bobbins" if they think that whatever they read is a load of rubbish.  As you can probably imagine - this scared me somewhat - as I do not wish to receive this "Award".  The Blogger assures me - however - that "the chances of you getting that Award - ever - are slim to non-existent".  Phew - that's a relief.

There was one occassion this week where I had a near miss with someone though.  By "a near miss" I mean that I nearly went for them with all guns blazing (not a very good idea when the human in question happens to be a Police And Crime Commissioner).  I had made a comment on Twitter in response to a thread I was reading when someone waved a red rag at me.

I want to make something extremely clear here - I don't expect you to agree with a word I say or type (after all I live in a free country) - however, I do expect to be treated with courtesy even when you disagree with me.

For example - opening your reply to my comment with the words "Silly comment" is not exactly going to be conducive to a pleasant relationship with me (whether or not you have the head of a few hundred humans with the legal power to arrest me at the end of a telephone line).  When the lines became untangled (and the other person realised that I did not find the rest of their reply disrespectful - just the opening two words) I found myself tweeting with an intelligent human with a bit of a short fuse when it comes to certain words.

In fact - I could write another Blog Post about the disappearance of manners, respect and courtesy in modern life.

However, I digress.

A few other (rather unexpected) people seemed to think my blog is good.  These actually included my Optician - after I showed him my post about my glasses.

What I would love to be able to do (apart from making money directly from writing) is find a way to help people tell their own stories in ther own words.

Last night someone said something which really hit a nerve with me (in a good way) - too many people bottle their feelings up and make themselves ill as a result.

We all have our own experiences which we should be able to share with each other if we so choose.  You may be sitting there after reading something I have typed about my experiences at school with bullying, etc, and think that I have totally lost the plot - only to find yourself face-to-face with someone who is going through the same thing at school.  I hope your glimpses into my world help you to understand what it is like for the other person???

On the other hand - I was reading a conversation this morning on Twitter which got me more and more angry.  I cannot remember exactly what it was about but there were people involved who were all more qualified than me (when it came to Paper Qualifications at least).  Nearly every person in that group was too busy trying to play "Top Trumps" with the subject - and talking about how they were more qualified than the others to solve the topic under discussion - to notice that they had forgotten one vital point.  Two of us (myself and one other lady) could probably be more useful than the people who had paper qualifications coming out of their ears for one simple reason - we both had personal practical experience of at least part of the problem.  (OK so we had it from slightly different angles but we still had practical experience.)  At no point - prior to me commenting on the missing piece of the jigsaw - did any of the others make any reference to practical experience possibly being of any remote use whatsoever.

To close this blog post - I hope my blog makes you think in a new way, entertains you, makes you feel stuff you have never felt before, educates you, and - most of all - makes you think that if an idiot like me can let the world into my brain - there is nothing to stop you doing the same!!!

"The Gourmets" Prove That Italian Takeaway Food Can Be More Than Fast Food!!! (Or - How To Convert Me In One Very Easy Move!!!)
9/4/2015 8:05:55 PM
Before today's experience I have to admit that I wasn't all that keen on what usually passes for Italian Takeaway Food - Pizza Hut, Pizza Express, etc (are you starting to notice a theme here???).

In fact, I was starting to get a bit disheartened when it came to finding anywhere which sold authentic Italian food without me having to sit down for a three course meal (especially as I have been watching Rick Stein and his series about his travels from Italy to Turkey - where he shows all this lovely "street food").

If I am perfectly honest, I was in two minds about visiting "I Buongustai" for that very reason.

I should have realised that if the Italian guys from "Gelato Village" were tweeting about how good it is it must be OK.

(This review indirectly came from my review of "Gelato Village" - the "Gourmet" (Sorry - English Translation of "I Buongustai") staff tweeted me to invite me to sample their food after reading my review of "Gelato Village".)

One question - have you ever walked into a takeaway and felt like you were walking in to someone's kitchen at home???

That is exactly how I felt when I walked in to "I Buongustai".  They had some stools and one small table.  The thing I loved the most - apart from the food and the friendliness of the staff - was that I could actually see the dough being worked on for tomorrow's food.  No locking the cooks away in this establishment.

The food is prepared on site and cooked from fresh when you order it.  Yes - they do have pizza, however, they also have other dishes.  Allow me to recommend the "Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni".  I think the Italians have the perfect word for it - "Bellissimo"!!!

Situated at 82 Granby Street, Leicester, it is a bit of a march from "Gelato Village" but you will need the exercise to make room for dessert.  (Leicester really needs either an "Italian Quarter" or a "Proper Home-cooked Food Quarter!)

If you really want to know what I loved most about "I Buongustai" - it wasn't the food so much as the people cooking and serving it.  This is because they are obviously passionate about providing authentic Italian food to re-educate people like me.  (Of course, it helps that they are Italian themselves.)

Yes - "I Buongustai" might be a little on the expensive side for a normal "takeaway" establishment but - trust me - it is worth paying that little bit extra for food which has been cooked and served with love, using ingredients you can taste all the way through.

I would thoroughly recommend giving "I Buongustai" a try if you are in the area and you want takeaway Italian food with a difference.

Gelato or Sorbetto - "Gelato Village" is Magnifico!
9/2/2015 8:14:14 PM
OK - I admit I have a slightly strange taste in some foodstuffs.  Put it this way - my favourite foods include such diverse items as Gouda cheese with cumin seeds in it, Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice dish), Smoked Sausage in a small paper bag from a shop called "Hema", chips with mayo, Stroopwafels (I have been known to eat them by the packet), Pistachio ice cream, chocolate coated coffee beans, etc.

I have found something else to go on my list - Chocolate Sorbetto.  If I could find somewhere that would sell me this in one litre tubs I would be very happy.

There is a story attached to me discovering this exotic foodstuff.

I was in my favourite cafe (which is not a million miles away from where I discovered the Sorbetto) having lunch when I read a tweet from "Gelato Village" which intrigued me.

I had been in "Gelato Village" before for a small tub of Gelato on a hot day.  The previous visit had left me thinking it was like an ice cream parlour I had visited during a heatwave in Zeist (in Holland) several years ago - walk in, purchase ice cream, walk out again prior to consuming it.

They had obviously had a bit of a rethink - it had seats and tables this time - as well as the coolest fibreoptic sculptures I have ever seen.

Back to the Sorbetto though.

I had it as part of something called a "Grande Belezimma" (I think that is how you spell it).  This comprised of two scoops of your choice of Gelato or Sorbetto,  scoop of vanilla Gelato (or cream), and chocolate sauce, all on top of a Belgian Waffle.

I had Pistachio Gelato and Chocolate Sorbetto.

I must admit I was expecting the Sorbetto to be something closer to a cross between the English chocolate ice cream and a "Calipo" frozen ice drink.  As in - almost like frozen chocolate milk.

When I got my food I was amazed at how delicious the Sorbetto looked.  It looked like someone had taken a very large quantity of chocolate and performed some kind of magic on it.  Chocolate ice cream actually looking like chocolate is unusual enough (actually a bit too unusual for my liking) but this Chocolate Sorbetto tasted as good as it looked - there was not a bit of it which tasted metalic or synthetic.

I am very choosy when it comes to frozen chocolate of any description.  I am slightly less choosy when it comes to other forms of chocolate (but - if you really want to keep me happy may I put in a request for one of the following - the biggest bar of "Verkade" milk chocolate you can find, a box of Fererro Roche (any variety), or a large box of milk chocolate "Hagelslag" (or "hundreds and thousands") - the last one should preferably come with a supply of "Beschuitjes" (or "Dutch Crispbreads"), and a tub of "Becel Dieet Margarine" (the Dutch equivalent to "Flora Light" but without the salty taste)???).

If you want to try Chocolate Sorbetto for yourself - enter St Martins Square from Hotel Street in Leicester.  "Gelato Village" is immediately on your lefthand side.

Maybe All Is Not What It Seems To Be For A Very Good Reason (Or - Mindgames And Melodies)
9/2/2015 7:30:16 PM
I have had a song playing in my head for most of this week.  It is my favourite sort of song - as in - it has many layers to it.  In the case of this particular song - if you take the lyrics literally and you are of a certain religious or faith persuasion - you will probably hate the song (and decide I should be the subject of your next Prayer Meeting) - but - if you allow me to give you my take on it - you may be open to a new way of thinking about things.

The song is "If God Was A Woman" by Richie Sambora.  It actually reminds me of one of my friends for two reasons (I am not saying who or why).

If you want to hear the song www.youtube.com/watch.

Sometimes we are too quick to go for the obvious reasons behind someone looking a certain way, acting a certain way, etc, and pass judgement on what we think we know.

For example, I know of several people who will say that the song is Blasphemous and I should not even be listening to it due to me attending a Christian place of Worship (whether or not I make any claims regarding being a Christian).

I would say the exact opposite.  One layer below the "obvious" is the question I regularly ask myself when I am sitting in a Church Service - what is the point of being here??? - I always feel that I should be out trying to put my beliefs into action - instead of being told that I don't fit in.

Let's face it - if you get within 30 feet of a Church (or even what I would call an "extremist Christian") you are going to have one of two things happening to you - you are going to be preached at and you are going to be judged.  Unfortunately, some of the most synthetic and fake people I have ever met claimed to attend Church on a regular basis.  They seem to attend physically but not spiritually or emotionally - based on the way they have treated myself and people I have known.

If God was a woman maybe there would be less violence in the name of Christianity?  Less judgement of people? More compassion and empathy with people worse off than ourselves???

Maybe the major problem is that He has always been seen as a man???  After all, men are more associated with violence and hatred - as well as dominance and heirarchy - whereas women are more associated with meekness, help, nurturing, etc???

But you really need to dig deeper to find the layer which the song speaks to me on.

The layer which the song speaks to me on is one which tells me it is OK to be different because we all have our different ways of being, we all have our different beliefs and experiences.  We can only truly meet each other in our exact place on Life's Journey and the game of "What If?" will just bring us heartache.

I can think of a thousand and one "What If?"s that I can (and sometimes do) torture myself with - some as simple as "What if my Mum was still alive?", and "What if I was approximately 5 inches shorter and 6 clothes sizes smaller?", and some as difficult as "What if I had been born a boy?", "What if I had been born 20 years earlier or later?", etc.

Nobody can judge me harder than I judge myself.  I know I don't fit in to the "Mainstream world" - and half the time I just wish I could stop trying.  Please note - I didn't say anything about "stop having to try" because I will never stop having to try to fit in unless I die.

For all the "tough-cookie" act - the "hiding" - and the "gameplaying" I have to do in an attempt to fit in - I just wish sometimes that someone would sit me down .  and ask me what I would like most in the world and give them to me.  Not promise me them, or make me want something to happen, and then change their mind so I feel like I have to get into another fight in order to get it.  Just grant me three wishes, if you like.  The Genie (or Fairy Godmother) may be surprised about exactly what I do want...

But we can never have everything we want - in some cases we cannot even have what we need.  We just have to struggle through life as best we can.
Secrets And Deceptions As I Walk Among You (Or - Trying To Cheat At The Biggest Game I Have Ever Played And Still Losing!!!)
9/2/2015 6:19:36 PM
What have the following got in common;-

The purchase of an LED Torch
An article about a planned piece of "Artwork" in Leicester
Reading a blog post by one of my friends
A discussion about communicating with people
And - A compliment about "openness"???

I mean - apart from the fact they all involved me in some way.

They all involved "light" and "dark" either literally or metaphorically.

My original idea for this blog post involved taking photos in a crazy attempt to explain how I relate to "light" and "dark".  Then I realised that there is no way on planet Earth that I could get a camera to behave in exactly the same way as my eyes in the dark.  This was due to the lack of "Silent Disco" mode on a camera when it comes to me trying to see (or photograph) anything in pitch black.  What am I saying??? I cannot even see pitch black at night!!!  I get multi-coloured spots in front of my eyes when I am outside in the absence of any kind of illuminations.

My next idea was to attempt to rope in a certain Professional Mind-reader I know.  However, that idea was soon discounted due to me not really wanting to have a five year argument with them.

So - This blog post is going to be purely my thoughts on "Light" and "Dark" and the ways in which they affect me.  (You may disagree with some or all of my conclusions - that is your right - but at least let me speak my mind.)

You may think I have a reasonably short fuse to my temper when it comes to me feeling like I am being discriminated against for whatever reason.  What you don't know is that - if I start complaining about something I have had as much as I can take of the situation - and I haven't got the energy to "play nicely" or cooperate any more.

There have been several things this week which have made me wonder if I should just give up trying to be like everybody else - find a corner - and curl up and die.

The major one was reading a newspaper article (on their website) which told me exactly how much my custom is desired by the Highcross Shopping Centre - particularly at night.  The short answer being - it isn't.  (The newspaper even deleted my comment - probably because I pointed out my objections to the plans of the Shopping Centre.)

If you have read this blog before you will know that I suffer from something called "Photophobia" where my eyes are sensitive to bright lights.  You will also know that my eyesight is extremely bad - I am seriously shortsighted.  What you may not realise is - as a result of my shortsightedness I cannot see in the dark.  Hence the "Silent Disco" comment earlier.

I will now attempt to give you an idea of what it can be like for me at night.

If I am on my own in total darkness I will not be very happy at all.  When I know where I am going I will be slightly happier (as in - when I have walked that route several times - both during the day and at night - and got both sets of landmarks sorted in my head).

I will give you an example;

Walking from the corner of my Dad's road to his front door in the day time is easy.  Head for Silver Birch tree and turn left - then proceed to front door.

Navigating the same journey on foot at night is one of the two journeys I hate the most (walking back to the corner of the road is not much better).

Here now follows a quick summary of what I do.  (First things first - hope that there isn't a power cut.);

Trying not to trip over anything, gingerly make my way towards the first street light on the road.  Do not worry about not being able to see it because it is the only bright thing on the street (unless someone sets a security light off but this is more disorienting when I am heading away from Dad's house).

When the tarmac is lit up near the streetlight turn left.

Depending on whether or not his car is on the drive I then have two choices.  Either - head for the white square-ish blob, then go diagonally right - or - centre myself using the smallish yellow rectangle (also known as the rear registration plate of his car), and stay reasonably close to the dark blob it is attached to until I can make out the front door, then proceed as though it is daytime.

(Let's just say that I accidentally got involved in an argument with someone when Councils threatened to turn the streetlights off in rural areas - and the other person's sarcastic comment of "ever heard of a torch" was like a red rag to a bull.)

OK - I am now going to give you a bit of a crash course in "Light" versus "Dark".

This is going to sound completely crazy but - at night I prefer to be surrounded by as much light as possible and as bright as possible - especially when I am out on my own.

Yes, Yes - I know what you are probably thinking!  Didn't I tell you my eyes don't like bright lights???  That is correct - but didn't you notice the emphasis I put on the word "surrounded"???  This will explain why I worship at the altar of Streetlights.  If you tell me to use a torch against a modern day headlight (never mind the two that most motor vehicles are equipped with) my response will be short and to the point.  It won't work.

Not only are normal torches next to useless for me at the best of times - if I am holding a torch - what little light it is emitting is pointing away from me.

A streetlight, on the other hand, is bright and above me - meaning any car headlights are diluted as they approach me.

If there is one thing which is guaranteed to make me feel ill it is being on foot near a road with very few streetlights with a line of cars approaching me at speed (especially if the gap between the cars is big enough to make my eyes think it is dark again before the next set of headlights).

In plain English - that means - if you want to completely disorient me - tell me to head from point A to point B on my own if the area I am in is dimly lit.  For added "fun" liberally sprinkle bright illuminations (like - for example - 7 metre high TV-type screens - seven of those should be my idea of torture!!!).

I have written a bit about things like indicators (those flashing orange lights at the corners of motor vehicles which should ensure I don't need to have telepathinc links with drivers of said vehicles) but there is a trick which I use that you may be interested in when it comes to buses.

As you might have guessed - I rely on buses to get me around (especially at night).  Apparently, there is one bus company (I think it used to be "United Counties" but don't ask me who took it over) in the UK who has brilliant destination boards - white lettering on black background.

Seeing as whichever bus company it is does not operate in Leicestershire I have developed a few strategies for deciphering things like destination boards.

We have a choice of destination boards to play with.

I am going to ignore what I know as the "roller blind" destination boards because they just annoy me totally.

So - what we are looking for is one of two things;

Either - two layers of white lights with an orange line between them - or - a single line layer of white lights with an orange line above it.  (Please note - the line can be orange, yellow, or have a slight greenish tint to it.)

This tells you that the vehicle which is approaching you is a bus - or at least the chances of it being a bus are reasonably high (I have attempted to flag down a Tesco delivery van at one point using this method at one point).

Next we have to work out if it is the bus we want.

For this we need to know how many illuminated squares and lines we should see.

For example, if I am waiting for a 48A to South Wigston - I would be looking for three blobs where the number of the bus will appear and two lines, with a gap between them, where the destination would be.

If I am waiting for a bus home I will be looking for an unbroken line where the destination is (Leicester is one word).   (Of course, I am discounting the stupid tickertape line below the destination showing the intermediate stops.  I wish these were banned.)

Just before I leave you - I suppose I had better explain where the purchase of an LED torch comes into all of this???

I have yet to "road test" the LED torch I bought last week but I tried it in my kitchen and I think it might actually solve some of the problems I have described in this blog - particularly with car headlights.

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