|I realise what I am about to say is very controversial (and some of you may find it offensive). Please note - these are my personal views as well as decisions I have made about my own life. I respect your right to your own opinions, religious beliefs, decisions regarding any medical treatment you may be prescribed, etc. This blog post will also touch on some subjects which you may find disturbing or triggering.|
One of my favourite songs from my time in Secondary School is "The Living Daylights" by Aha. My favourite lyric from it may surprise you - it is very different from the uplifting lyrics I usually quote - "I've been waiting long for one of us to say - save the darkness - let it never fade away". I am sure that those lyrics have some connection with the "James Bond" film the song was the title track to but I can actually see another use for them.
We all know that the NHS is in financial difficulty. Patients are expecting ever more expensive drugs to be prescribed in their apparent search for that Holy Grail known as "Immortality". We are all being encouraged to race to our GP at the first symptoms of serious illness (whilst being told to avoid GPs and A & E Departments when we have symptoms which could - or - according to the Medical Practitioners - should) be treatable at home on our own. The fact that a cough (which according to a Medical Practitioner is treatable at home) which doesn't clear up after three weeks should send you racing to your nearest GP surgery is where the lines start to get blurred. (I know that it takes me over three weeks to get over a cough anyway.) That is before you take into consideration the fact that some of us (myself included) live with what some people may classify as symptoms of diseases serious enough to call an ambulance every day (blurred vision, spots in front of your eyes, eyes sensitive to bright lights, etc).
There is only one minor problem with Society's current way of thinking about Life and Death. It puts too much emphasis on postponing the inevitable - and as a result it has almost bankrupted the NHS as well as making it extremely difficult to publicly discuss what should happen at the inevitable end of your life - never mind how you would like your life to end.
(Another of my favourite songs from my time at Secondary school is "I Quit" by Bros www.youtube.com/watch.)
I find death fascinating. In particular I find the way that Life and Death seem to have undergone a strange separation extremely fascinating. Instead of death being seen as a natural continuation of the life process (in the same way that birth is seen as the natural beginning of the life process) we seem to have turned it into a Taboo subject which should not be discussed in Polite conversation. What is worse (particularly to me) is the double standards which are applied to the subject by the Media. Murders and killings by Terrorists are almost glorified - yet Suicides are only discussed in terms which do not encourage people. In fact, people who speak of thoughts about Suicide (never mind intentions of actually committing what some might call "Self-Murder") are told to discuss such thoughts with friends, Medical Practitioners, organisations like The Samaritans, etc.
As for the discussions about Euthanasia??? I have heard the arguments for and against. However, there is too much "white noise" coming from both sides for us to be able to have a sensible debate about it.
I believe that death is a natural progression from life which cannot and should not be avoided. I also believe that if I find myself seriously ill I should have the right to refuse treatment (transplants, expensive drugs, etc) without being told that I am being selfish or I need Psychiatric evaluation as a result of my decision. This is because I believe - in my case anyway - that further expensive treatment would be a waste of money which could be better spent on someone who actually wants to attempt to achieve Immortality at the possible expense of their actual Quality of Life.
You may be surprised to learn that I have actively considered (as in come extremely close to actually) committing suicide on two occassions. The first is a matter of relatively common knowledge - it was during my first term at Secondary School. The second occasion was as a result of my time at E & F Services Ltd (due to the treatment I recieved from one of my bosses - who ended up owning the Company before it went into Liquidation). In fact, I only stayed there as long as I did partly out of respect for the Founder of the Company and partly because the treatment I recieved from the problematic boss left me feeling too useless to work for anybody else.
The second time I felt actively Suicidal I made the mistake of telling my GP who prescribed me Anti-Depressants and put me on a waiting list for Counselling (which never actually happened). (That - combined with other factors in the Medical history of both myself and certain deceased close relatives of mine - finished off my trust in the Medical Profession completely. I haven't visited a Dr in over five years and I have absolutely no intention of ever doing so again.)
There is a saying "Life is a sexually transmitted condition with a 100% Mortality rate". I would rephrase that slightly to - "Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% Mortality rate as well as both an unknown built in time limit and no known cure".
I remember attending Oma's funeral - ironically approximately 6 months after I had learned that she had had Cancer 3 times before it finally killed her. It was the first (and only) Dutch funeral I attended. I was intrigued by the way the Funeral Director and the coffin bearers all seemed to treat the coffin as though it was a living object - they kept bowing to it and thanking it (I am not sure why they thanked it). As for the contraption over the grave that the coffin was placed on - with the handily placed lever next to the Vicar in charge of the burial. Let's just say that had the circumstances been different I would have giggled at the thought of the lever being pulled and the coffin going down rather more rapidly than the respectful speed at which it was lowered.
It was as a result of arranging my English Grandma's funeral service that I decided that when it is time for me to shuffle off this Mortal Coil I don't want any kind of Funeral. In fact - even though I don't think it will be legally possible - I would like my remains to be placed in an incinerator for Clinical Waste which has been connected to the National Electricity supply so the burning of my remains can be used to create electricity.
I want to leave you with the song which always sends me back to my time at Lutterworth High School every time I hear the haunting introduction. "Wanted (Dead or Alive)" by Bon Jovi might well have been written as a result of a discussion about some kind of cowboy fantasy which Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora had - but the lyrics describe the after-effects of bullying more eloquently than I ever could. In fact - disregarding the lyrics about a "steel horse I ride" and the alcohol-problem signalling "Sometimes you tell the day by the bottle that you drink" - you have got my battles with the school bullies and some of the teachers summed up in one easy to learn song if you care to learn it. www.youtube.com/watch
|So we have again reached the stage where the general population (egged on by the Mainstream Media) appear to have decided that the Great Britain Olympic Team should all be knighted or turned into Dames merely for doing what is effectively their day job.|
I am beginning to wonder what has happened to the idea of being rewarded for actually giving something back to society.
I have blogged before about how I feel that the last Sports Personality who deserved any kind of Honour was Sir Jackie Stewart. After all, he actually did something to improve the safety in not only F1 but also in road cars.
There are very few people who have the ability to turn me into a gibbering wreck when I see them. I happen to know five of them personally (one I have known for almost my entire life). I suppose if you were to stand me in front of someone like Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Bill Bryson, Billy Connolly, or Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill (the writers of my favourite comedy programme "Still Game"), things might be different. However, I can behave reasonably normally around most humans I meet.
There are lots of sayings which tell us how alike everybody really is. There is a saying "No Man Is An Island" - on the flip side to that there is also one which says "Hell Is Other People".
There are videos on Facebook which show how easily racism can be put back in its box - merely by showing that everybody is related to everybody else in some way. (You could say I am a good case in point - My family has got links with England, Holland, Scotland, Germany, France, and possibly both Canada and New Zealand. My friends are from England, Holland, Scotland, South Africa, the Czech Republic.)
Of course - there is a hidden danger in the adulation or idolisation of famous people. We start to compare ourselves to them - even when we don't have a chance of being like them. Some people take this to extremes - plastic surgery to make them look more "socially acceptable", extreme dieting (to the point of anorexia and other eating disorders), entering "Reality" TV shows or even programmes like "X Factor".
Even organisations like the UK Government and the Mainstream Media are getting in on the act. The UK Government have decided they want us all to be physically healthier and the BBC have decided that every single sporting event they feature (even though there are not that many unless the Olympics are on) should inspire people to take up sport and get fit.
I have to say that I can see a couple of problems with this approach. The main one being the way the athletes are presented in the media. They (particularly the females) are presented in such a way that their physical bodies are more important than how they achieve their goals in their particular sports. Apparently you cannot even start to take up exercise unless you already have a toned abdomen and muscles all over your body.
The other problem is that there is very little focus on Mental Health - either in the portrayal of the athletes's stories or in the wider world.
Yes - I understand that exercise releases endorphins and improves Mental Health to a certain extent. However, what about those people who take it to extremes. Or even those who do it for the wrong reasons.
There is too much pressure on everybody to have the perfect life and to dress, behave, think, and look, a certain way as it is.
We need to teach people to accept everybody as we find them. This means more realistic portrayals of a wider range of people on TV. We need to be exposed to a wider range of views - however distasteful we may find them.
I have been pretty open about my views on things like Plastic Surgery, Disability, Mental Health, Inequality, Bullying, even (to some extent) religion, on here. And - before you say it - I don't just hide behind a keyboard and computer screen. I am prepared to get on my soapbox in person as well.
I believe we have all got a duty to speak out against intolerance, racism, Hate speech, etc.
However, I also believe the Government and the Mainstream Media could do a lot more to put out a positive image of the most despised in society - as well as tackling things like the way rape is still usually seen as a "women's problem" instead of being the fault of the rapists themselves.
Another issue which could do with more work is the decline in respect in this country. As in respect for the people who put their lives on the line very time they go to work in order to keep us safe. This is not just from society at large- it stems from the ideas of successive Governments, as well as other organisations and bodies who should really have their best interests at heart.
Until we get back to something approaching a society where everybody is respected and valued for themselves - as well as being given proper opportunities to help themselves and others - we will keep seeing the divide between different sections of society getting wider and wider. The rich will become richer at the expense of the poor - the able-bodied will feel even more superior than the Disabled. As for the divides between the employed and the unemployed, and the different religious and cultural minorities - just don't get me started.
We need a total rethink about how to get people to feel comfortable with themselves before we even begin to sort out the differences between all the various factions in Society.
I could end with a variety of quotes from Facebook on the subject of how similar we actually are - however, I have decided to give you an Inky-style quote;
Even the best looking person on the planet is reduced to a mass of blurs when I take my glasses off.
|As I was thinking about typng this blog post I had three songs playing in my brain. They were all by Richie Sambora and they covered roughly the same theme in varying ways. I will insert them at different points in this blog post.|
However, then one of my friends from Facebook reminded me of the song which is actually the most appropriate for this blog post. (I honestly never thought I would type any lyrics to the theme song of a soap in my blog posts - oh well - there is a first time for everything I suppose!)
www.youtube.com/watch The first song on the playlist for this blog post is not actually the first song which came into my head as I was thinking of typing this blog post. "Fallen From Graceland" was actually the second song which came into my head. The first lyrics of "There's a line that you cross when you find out that you've lost. When your world is closing in and it crawls under your skin" are almost exactly what came into my brain when I read the heartbreaking account of what has been happening to James Patrick recently.
You may remember James as being the whistleblower about the Police's manipulation of Crime figures in the UK. He lost his job as a result (I think he resigned before they got the chance to sack him for Gross Misconduct).
Now he is in an awful situation where he is literally destitute.
James is an "Inspirational Person" to me because he has always stood up for what he believes in, he won't take "No" for an answer, and he is a stubborn fighter. He is also using his Twitter account to educate people about the circumstances he finds himself in - as well as - more importantly - how people can help others in a similar situation.
I told James that I was not going to nick his blog post - but I was honestly so impressed by his dignity and courage in speaking out that I wanted to do something to help him in my own way.
If you have read Inkyworld you will know that I am passionate about vulnerable and Disabled people - as well as fighting the injustices we face.
The problem seems to be that too many people are too willing to either look the other way or throw out uncalled for abuse at the victims without bothering to learn the full story first.
This can be applied to Poverty, Unemployment, Disability, Homelessness, etc.
Have we really become a world where there are two answers to every problem society faces - either signing an online petition (which takes you approximately 6 seconds to do and 1 second to forget about it) or the adverts where you are informed that "£5 a month will irradicate the current crisis in a part of the globe you had never heard of before it made the news???
Of course - the other option is to ignore the situation completely and continue with your life.
www.youtube.com/watch This song is "Harlem Rain" by Richie Sambora. This comes into my mind every time I hear or read about people who have fallen on hard times for whatever reason. "Another shattered soul in the Lost and Found. One more night on the streets of pain - getting washed away by the Harlem Rain".
There is another way to make the situation easier for those of us who find ourselves as "Outcasts in Society". Obviously - the best way to make the situation easier for us is to create a society which doesn't actually have "Outcasts" in it.
The best way to help us is to educate yourself about our own situations. We all have a different story - mine is very different from James' - but our stories all have the same theme running through them. The theme being "if you don't fit in you will be ignored".
The scond best thing is to actually go out of your way to help people who are on the outskirts of society. I don't just mean by signing a flipping petition, or putting money in a charity tin (or even giving you bank details to some chugger) - I mean by doing something practical and using your talents and time. Throwing a tin in a box marked "Food for the Poor" is something you can do if you want to remain at arms length from the situation and walk around in a state of emotional blindness. Actually giving your time to helping at a place where the vulnerable are found - and spending time talking to them and learning about their lives - is a lot more useful both for you and for them.
As a Society we seem to have become more self-serving as the years have progressed. I very much doubt you would get an event like "Live Aid" with as big an attendance as there was in 1986. Charity singles these days have to either be almost vomit-inducing in their saccharine-sweetness or by a very famous group or artist in order to get anywhere. (The best charity single I have ever come across was neither vomit-inducing nor by a very famous artist - however, the lyrics were the most heartfelt I have ever heard. The song was the "If" song by Kristyna Myles in support of a Christian charity called "Tearfund". www.youtube.com/watch.)
The final song of the trio by Richie Sambora actually was the first song which came into my mind as I was thinking about this blog post. "Hard Times Come Easy" is actually one of my favourite songs by him (in fact I think it has made an appearance in a previous blog post). To save me quoting the entire song at you just watch the video www.youtube.com/watch.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record - it takes all of us to make a difference in our world. As in - it takes our time and our resources, as well as our reserves of patience and strength (both mental and physical).
You know the charities I am proud to support - you also know some of the challenges I face on a daily basis.
This may sound crazy but this blog appears to have turned into my way of using my talents to educate people about the issues I care about - as well as telling you a bit about the work I and other people do to help in other ways.
I started this blog post by telling you I had three songs by Richie Sambora in my mind as I was thinking about this blog post - as well as the theme song to a soap. What I didn't say was the soap is not "Neighbours" or "Home and Away" (the only English-speaking soaps to have lyrics to their theme tunes). The soap is one I have very rarely seen snippets of when I was flicking through the TV channels in Holland. "Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden" (Or "Good Times Bad Times" in English) could be considered to be the Dutch version of "EastEnders" or "Neighbours".
The theme song is the most uplifting song I have heard as a theme tune.
Unfortunately I cannot translate all the lyrics properly. However, I can give you the gist of them.
The time for uncaredforness has passed.
The long road to tomorrow starts today.
Dreams come free like a butterfly.
No longer hidden in security.
Good Times Bad Times
A day that appears as night.
Good Times Bad Times.
Love leads you to the end.
Good Times Bad Times.
No - it doesn't save your life.
Good Times Bad Times.
Sometimes happiness and sometimes disappointment.
The ideal is gradually approaching.
But it explodes when you want to catch it.
Create new opportunities to make you happy again.
Never will there ever be an end to that desire.
Adversity brings shade to happiness.
But you know the best is still to come.
Your courage and your confidence will not fail.
Life can really ressemble your dreams.
(If you really want to hear the original theme song sung in Dutch try this www.youtube.com/watch.)
|First of all I would like to apologise for not posting anything on here for the last couple of weeks. It was a mix of not really knowing what to write about without depressing myself more than usual, my right shoulder and arm causing me too much pain for me to be able to type very much, and a medical issue from over 10 years ago which has decided to make itself known again in a very disconcerting way. I have decided to ignore the last one because the last time I got it looked into the hospital made me feel like I was wasting their time - if it is what I think it is I don't really want to know anyway.|
I realised I haven't posted any of the work I do at my Creative Writing Group for a long time - so I have decided to give you a dose of it now.
A word of explanation;
The exercise below was a bit of a twist on my favourite exercise (the "write about a word for 5 minutes" one). This time we (or rather I) chose a proverb for us to write about.
You will probably realise that there are a few proverbs which I can more easily remember in Dutch than in English (probably something to do with the fact that I heard the Dutch versions more often than I heard the English versions).
Read on to learn about two of my favourite proverbs (as well as my favourite versions of them);
The English phrase "to let the cat out of the bag" is one of the most difficult for me to remember. This might have something to do with the fact that the version I have heard the most is almost physically impossible when you literally translate it - although the alternative translation replaces the "Ape" or "Monkey" with a playing card - namely the "Ace".
You may agree that getting an Ace out of a sleeve is a lot easier than getting a primate either into or out of one.
(Just thought - why do we call the Archbishop of Canterbury the "Primate of All England"??? I am pretty positive that the Archbishops are all human???)
Back to the point - I kno of one cat who likes going into plastie bags but - isn't it cruel to deliberately put a cat in a bag and close the top?
Now I have "let the cat out of the bag" about my favourite version of the saying I honestly hop you will not derrange yourself enough to attempt to "pluck feathers from a frog" - even though I think it might be slightly easier than getting blood out of a stone.
If you are interested in the original translations of the one about the sleeve and the one about the frog I will write them below;
Daar komt de aap uit de mouw - is the Dutch version of the one about letting the cat out of the bag.
Je kan geen veren van een kikker plukken - is the Dutch version of the one about getting blood out of a stone.