Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mother's Day

In the past, Mother's Day was always one of those days which turned out to be more of an inconvenience than a day to look forward to. As a child, I was oblivious to it. As an adult, I always seemed to have better things to do and would only get round to preparing for Mother's Day at the very last moment. Don't get me wrong, I love my Mum and have always thought the world of her. It was more the "Hallmark Holiday" tag that Mother's Day has which rubbed me up the wrong way.

This year, it is different.

My Mum 's health has declined rapidly over the last 9 months. In that time she has fallen and broken her leg badly, but has had to live with it being broken as an operation to fix it would likely kill her due to a very weak heart. As a result, she's been forced to move out of her home and enter a Care Home. All of this is in addition to the deteriorating state of her mind due to Alzheimer's disease. All in all, a very stressful time tinged with more than a hint of sadness.

Like I said, this year is different.

As the old saying never know how much you miss someone until they're gone. Well my Mum hasn't gone yet and I, for one, am determined to enjoy more time with her whilst she is still here so I do not regret later that I didn't do as much as possible to make this time in her life as happy as possible. With that in mind, for this Mother's Day I have put aside any issues I may have with the day itself and transformed Mother's Day into Mother's Weekend!

The weekend will be full of family visits, an outing for lunch on the Sunday itself, a visit to the beauty salon on the Saturday to get pampered and preened and a wheel around the shops for some retail therapy tomorrow (Friday). All transportation is going to be via the best limousine service I can find (as well as the prestige, limos are wheelchair friendly!). For someone who's almost 89 and in failing health, its a mammoth weekend!

Mother's Day may be a fabricated holiday designed to make you spend money, but the idea of honouring the woman who brought you into this world and, as likely as not, brought you up for more years than you can remember, is something not just to grudgingly acknowledge but something to take hold of and celebrate.

Your Mum will not be around forever - a hard fact which crashed into my consciousness this past year. Don't miss the opportunity to say Thank you Mum. I love you.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

More protests ... this time in the UK

More protests to be commenting on, but this time they're in the UK and they're not about a war. Perhaps some would say that they're about a form of repression which could be akin to the repression seen in the Arab world and which has been so bravely confronted over the last few months.

Is this a good comparison? No.

People here in London are marching against tax increases and benefits cuts. They're complaining that they're suffering from a reaction by the Coalition Goverment to the hole the UK finds itself in as a result of the recession; a financial repression.

But there is a way to protest for more effectively than walking down a street shouting and waving banners- they can vote at the ballot box.

What these demonstartors seem to have forgotten is that less than a year ago, they put a cross in a box and voted for this government; and the government clearly stated that they were going to aggressively tackle the deficit. So why complain?

You make you lie in it.

The recession has caused hardship for all of us. There's no way out of this unless we tighten our belts. Whinging on about cuts and tax hikes is not going to solve anything.

The protestors are free to protest, so protest...but things will not change. We are in a recession and we need to take measures to get out of it. If you don't like it, then you know what to do in 2015.

And as for those minority of people who think that a protest is a good vehicle for violence and mayhem - leave the violence and anarchy to the despots of this world like Gaddafi and Bashir. There's no room for your type of destabilising tactics in a democracy. You're on the losing team. Stop being immature and get down to solving your own problems.

All of these protestors will be off for a coffee and a sandwich at Starbucks or Costa Coffee after the march, will take public transport or drive home, and will rest their heads on their own pillow in their own home tonight. They'll not be worried that a sniper will take a pot shot at them. They'll not be worried that a dictator will sweep in and make life in their towns and villages hell.

Be thankful for what you have and work together towards a better future.

Stop complaining.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kids .... who'd have 'em!

OK, this post is likely to not sit well with a lot of people (well most people actually) but here goes....

I don't like children. There, I've said it. It's starts with a mild irritation at older teenagers and ends up as a particular distaste for babies. Now, don't get me wrong, I know kids are necessary and essential and that we're all supposed to have the urge to procreate etc., and I understand this, I really do. But I still dislike children. I don't hate them, I'm just much happier when I'm not around any.

I even more dislike them when I can't escape them. Normally, if there's stroppy kid or a whining baby in the vicinity, I'll move away out of earshot or out of the way of flying food/drink/anything. But when you put babies and aeroplanes together you get a very nasty combination indeed.

That's what happened today - babies and planes.

I was on a 2 hour flight and sat in front of a couple with the BABY FROM HELL. It all started out well enough - said baby was asleep and looked ever so cute. But, of course, that didn't last. As soon as we were strapped into our seats an there was no escape, the cute little baby woke up and became......the BABY FROM HELL!!!!! You guessed it, it yawned, looked around and then started crying. Now I don't mean just your ordinary cry, but a scream so loud it sounded like someone was strangling it. And it continued to scream for the whole two hours of the flight. The parents were helpless. Short of stuffing something in its mouth, there was no stopping the BABY FROM HELL!

What could I do? Nothing of course, absolutely nothing. I sat there and feared for my hearing for two hours.

Why don't planes have "baby friendly sections" (soundproofed) so that us fare paying passengers don't have to suffer an assault on our hearing? Surely there's a way of avoiding one very, very little person ruining two hours out of the lives of many big people?

Babies are lovely, cuddly, cute.....when they belong to someone else and they're asleep. Other than that, they're a bundle of noise and smells which defy human patience (well my patience).


Saturday, March 12, 2011


How quickly the vast behemoth we call the modern media changes focus. The revolution in Libya and the unrest in the Middle East was subject to saturation coverage over the last few weeks, almost to the exclusion of all else.

Now, the tragedy in Japan caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami has knocked the Middle East dilemma off the map completely....not just as the top story....but completely. Even the BBC, that paragon of good broadcasting, has lurched from wall-to-wall coverage of Libyan unrest to wall-to-wall coverage of the aftermath of the natural disaster in Japan, like the Eye of Sauron searching for the Hobbits. There seems to be no middle ground. Lybia barely gets a "and now for the rest of the news" mention.

The disaster in Japan is tragic. Death and destruction on that scale is awesome and terrifying in equal measure. Mother Nature has stirred and reminded us just how much She is in charge, and not us. We are no more than an irritant on her skin, to be swatted or scratched from time to time.

But the disaster in Japan is a point in time and no matter how awful it is right now, it has very little long term impact on humanity, on society and on the future of the human world we all live in. It deserves our attention. It deserves our symathy and help. It deserves extensive, but not exclusive media coverage.

The happenings in the Middle East, on the other hand, are fundamental to the way a large portion of the world will work in the forseeable future. They deserve more than a mention at the end of the news.

Why does the media get this so wrong?

I'm afraid to say that even such respected institutions like the BBC and CNN are out for sensationalist headlines. The Lybian conflict has reached a stalemate. Gaddafi has survived (for now) and is fighting back. For news organisations looking for the next big headline, this is a disaster. It's just a shame that another disaster has to be the vehicle for them to get out of the doldrums they find themselves back in the fast current of sensationalist journalism.

Monday, March 7, 2011

A major reshuffle - good enough?

So Sultan Qaboos has ordered a "major reshuffle" of his cabinet - presumably meaning that some high profile ministers will be axed or moved. No details yet but one questions begs an answer - is it enough to assuage people's anger and give them reassurance that their demands have been met?

Probably not.

If the chess pieces are just moved around a little, it's still the same board.

Even if some of the ministers are axed, it's the system that is rotten, not only the guys at the top. Root and branch changes are needed, not just a cosmetic makeover.

Those holding out at Sohar don't just want to see another sycophant at the Ministry of Labour, or a self server at the Ministry of Oil and Gas. They want to see honest, selfless and professional leaders who will sweep away the "wasta" and corruption which is endemic in the ministries.

So....a message to His Majesty....think hard before you make you decisions. The future of your country as you know it is at stake.