Tag Archives: news

Wine o’ clock

I love long lines of traffic, moody children complaining in the back and the scowling sky threatening to cry out to the world below. Love the stress of trying to balance a workday with after school clubs and meetings for four different children preparing for their new year in a new class (two at new schools!). Love the plucky looks of parents eyeing out my dog hanging out the back window as I park because he’s decided to make himself sick and nearly die, and me spending sleepless nights watching over him then going to work.

Yup. It has been fun. 

Suffice it to say, I am declaring it wine o’ clock and all my worries be damned! As I pour my glass of Shiraz and slip into my oversized pjs that don’t match but are the most comfortable clothes I possess, I feel bubbles of excitement fill my body. The thought of a night of relaxation with XXX on Sky (yes, of course I love Vin Diesel but not in the way you would think – I want to be him, not be with him!!) and my secret stash of Turkish Delights just waiting for me, I plan on forgetting the pending appointments for the week ahead, the deadlines on books I still haven’t finished writing and my start with the Open University where I will be studying a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. 

Yes folks, the future may be bright and filled with opportunities, but just for tonight, I’m taking a break. 

Please, be kind and leave reviews for my books. I will try to keep posts flowing on my blog but they will be intermittent (as they have been for the past few weeks). Apologies if I miss your posts. I will try to keep up but a few will fall through the cracks. 

If you need me, send me an email or contact me through my social media sites. I’m still around, just focusing on not drowning under children, work, studies and pets! 

Hugs to you all. 

Thinking Aloud

Hi!

Thanks for joining me on this lovely Tuesday afternoon. The sprogs are happy playing their Minecraft game together and I thought I’d take this opportunity to have a chat with you.

I’m worried.

Maybe that’s a bit of an understatement.

I am scared shitless!

Image result for thoughtsYup! That sounds closer to the truth. You see, there have been events around the world that have been drawing us closer to our own Armageddon and we are dancing around like blind mice up the yellow brick road towards our own damnation. Don’t worry. This is not going to get religious, nor is it going to get solicitous in my attempt to convince you of your own beliefs. This is just me…thinking.

Remember years ago when the world gasped in horror at the atrocities of the world wars, focusing on the nightmares that captured the headlines but silently ignoring those who escaped punishment for their crimes? Let’s move forward, closer to the end of the twentieth century when more atrocities were committed in Africa and Russia. Tribes died, religions were massacred. Only a few faced the consequences of these actions, but most escaped.

Here we sit, at the beginning of the twenty-first century and, as humans, our gills are still exposed. We haven’t evolved yet. Vile, money-hungry monsters rule the world, voted in by us, the so-called sensible voters. Spurned by those who didn’t bother lifting their voices against or for opponents, we live with the consequences and the divides now building momentum. A sad opportunity for morals to silently slip through the cracks, falling into the abyss, idly waiting beyond our narrow focal point. When are we going to grow as people? Not grow in ideals and constipated beliefs in our inflated self-worth and what we should be described as or not associated to – I mean actually grow in wisdom?

I sit here watching an eighteen year old and nine year old playing amicably. I listen to their banter and their observations of each other’s work as they build towns, cities, surviving and creating on a simple game. Simple life lesson: respect those around you and their views. It doesn’t mean you’re free from the effects of these beliefs or the consequences of fighting them. But it’s your reaction that dictates the next five minutes. Blowing up someone else’s home with TNT brings angry repercussions. So does killing your neighbour’s dogs because they constantly bark (all on Minecraft) or building your house on top of theirs because you like the space. What will I do when it becomes my real home, my real dog and…oh wait. This is already happening to people around the world. I’m just one of many in a privileged position where I can turn it off and ignore it. Pretend it’s not happening – the same way my forefathers ignored the atrocities of times past.

Like others, I sit here telling myself that one day it will all come to pass but, for now, I will just keep quiet. Why add my voice to the screaming masses when those cries fall on deaf ears? Then the what ifs haunt me. What if I stood up and said it is wrong to block people from a country when they are being persecuted in their own? What if I helped at food banks instead of complaining that we don’t have enough for another take out this week? What if I support others when they lose their houses, their jobs, their families because of the government’s need to feed their excuse factory and blame the parties in power before them whilst patting themselves on the back for doing the same thing? What if?

As I said at the beginning of this post, this is me just thinking. Thinking about how long we have before we destroy ourselves with our greed, arrogance and intolerance for each other. Maybe we should all skin each other and realise that underneath, we have have the same structure, disease and delinquencies. Black, white, brown, green, yellow, purple, blue; who cares? Male, female, both, none; who gives a shit? We’re all going to die anyway at the hands of those we put in power. What if, instead of focusing our anger on each other, we focus it on those in charge and make them accountable for the hatred they are generating with their generals of doom? A lot of what ifs. I wonder, if you were sitting here with me, what would you think?

 

Monday Coffee

I’m searching everywhere for a free seat, but I dare not try to take the sofa in the corner in case the owner decides to flex his bouncer’s muscles on me. Yup, seating is tight in every quarter and they have already flagged that sofa for employees.

I can see some customers taking a firm stance against bullying and they are rallying up, ready to take on the other coffee lovers stating that plain old straight coffee should be served without fuss or colour to the masses. Of course, being a coffee house, it’s a bit hard to please everyone and the establishment is arguing back that variety is the spice of life: try the new non-fruity frappuccino for instance, for those who feel it unnecessary to segregate fruit.

The barista has no words.

Luckily, we are not fussy customers and with little to no interaction with the sparring quarters, we order our herbal teas and sit outside where we can watch the altercations happen within. Always nice to watch the action without getting involved. Pity about the smell out here though. With the heat wave over the past weekend, we find our olfactory senses bombarded by the stench of dead fish. Too polite to complain to the manager (and fearing his bouncer) we continue to sip our herbals and stare pointlessly at the decomposing bodies of fish floating in the nearby river. Damnably inconvenient really; it spoils the lovely ambience of the dying sun warming our backs whilst we reminisce about better days.

Thankfully, the fighting inside seems to have quietened down and a peaceful serenity washes over the coffee house and surrounding establishments. We watch the painstaking efforts of management to please all whilst making sure they collect enough remuneration to warrant the hassle.

I shrug my shoulders when they glance our way, hoping we might want to weigh in on the negotiations. Why should we risk getting involved. I mean, after all, how does it affect us if they decide to stop segregating fruit or not; serve only one type of coffee and ban all others; or if they leave the fish to die in the heat? We will just move on to another coffee house with better service and less opinionated customers. Isn’t that the thing to do?

 

Monday Coffee

Duck! The media are coming and they’re after another story of horror from around the world.  Notice how the media seems to go through fads the same way children go crazy for the latest thing?  Whilst they chase the latest Dratini, dreaming of it evolving into a Dradinair, the media are chasing their distressing stories with gusto.  Given the increase in coverage over the shootings in America, bombings and attacks in Europe and now Asia, I do believe the media has a major role to play in all of this.

Grab your coffee and come join me on the sofa and I’ll tell you why…

I don’t like talking about politics or my great dislike of the media, but every which way I turn someone has an opinion.  Since you’re sitting with me munching on some home made fudge, I only think it fair for you to listen to my crazy ranting too! 

It comes down to this: the media feeds the violence.  Yes, yes…we all allow this to happen because we succumb to the temptation of knowing the dirt on the celebrities featured in putrid magazines with so little literate value, they most probably kill brain cells!  Pooh, I can hear you scoff.  Well, think about it.  This generation has been fed the general behaviour of lower forms of society and it has become such a norm that we don’t even blink when we see kids and young men and women using colloquial words/terms  or mannerisms that derive from rappers, gangsters and, dare I say it, the ghettos of America.  From Asia to Europe, Africa to the sunny UK, people are adopting such ridiculous standards of behaviour, it’s embarrassing! Now that’s just a low level problem.  Pick it up a notch and notice how the media feeds off the awful attacks around the world.  The more gore, the better. 

Terrorists must be celebrating: they are getting their 15 minutes of fame which is enough to incite others to do the same.  I agree it is preposterous to blame the media for the increase in violence; this is something that was going to happen anyway.  It’s the 24 hour coverage with little-to-no facts about the actual situation that annoys me. Feeding the panic, feeding the anger, the hatred and pain of the victims and their attackers makes we want to scream at the ambulance-chasing journalist.  Just yesterday, we had a story fed through the media about some swimmers who were stung by jellyfish on the South coast of England.  In reality, they were caught in a riptide and one person lost his life.  I’m not even sure if they found the last swimmer as I got fed up with the conflicting stories. Today, a post mortem report was given with the true facts, which dismissed the initial story that a wash of jellyfish had attacked these swimmers, causing them to go into cardiac arrest and die (that was the original story posted to the world!); instead it gave a brief statement from the coastguard with true facts and the somber report of the loss of one life. It took hours for this story to be printed but it was worthwhile reading. Why? Because it wasn’t a bullshit story bled out to feed the morbid curiosity bred by the media.

I don’t completely disagree with 24 hour news.  If there is something big happening, of course it should be told.  9/11 comes to mind. But media agencies should have a stronger accountability for the information they put out there and the angle they report from.  True, accurate facts with a supporting witness who isn’t in a state of shock guessing at the cause, actual objectivity and not heavily sensationalised bull to feed the madness that has already descended on this planet.  

People are dying everyday. Attacks are happening everyday.  Can someone guarantee they are no more than the attacks that have been happening over the past few years in different areas of the world? I suppose the hunt is now on to post attacks whenever they happen.  They are no longer background noise; just like the Pokemon that have existed for nearly twenty years. Now that the media shines a spotlight on them, we gotta catch them all…until the next fad roles in.  

Let’s hope it will be the publicising of peace talks and humanitarian work.  Now if I could just find a game that will make it cool enough for the media to pick up on it and hype it up – we might just start the next big craze: pretending that we are really the evolved creatures on this planet and not the poor cousins of ecosystems that have existed long before we knew how to kill each other so efficiently, through arrogant stupidity of beliefs!

Have another piece of fudge and I’ll go top up our cups.  I promise, no more talk of media or Pokemon! 

News

In light of the devastating attacks in France, I have found a post from A Mighty Girl on Facebook that gives us a different perspective from the news and media.

Please read this and remember, there might be evil in this world that we could highlight and acknowledge, or we could give light to those who help others in the time of conflict – the Angels risking their lives whilst we watch on from the safety of our homes.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of France in the wake of several devastating attacks in Paris. 
As with many tragedies that are covered extensively in the media, children who hear about them may be confused or scared. Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood once shared a thoughtful approach for comforting children and instilling a sense of hope in them in the face of such incomprehensible events:

  
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” — Fred Rogers 

Hand in Hand Parenting also provides many great tips for parents on how to talk to kids about shocking events — be they natural disasters or senseless violence — in their article at http://www.handinhandparenting.org/article/helping-children-exposed-to-shocking-events
You can find more resources, including tips for parents related to media coverage, on the website of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at http://www.nctsn.org/trauma-types/terrorism.
Thank you for reading.

If We Were Having Coffee

Hi!

I usually have my coffee date with you on a Monday, but I missed you so much I thought it would be okay to meet a day earlier. My hot chocolate is pretty weak today and something stronger is required. It’s Easter and I haven’t even wished you yet,so Happy Easter!! How was your weekend so far? Did you get a break? Continue reading

Sicky Sicky Sicky All Night Long!

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening wherever you are in the world. This is the news from a small town in Berkshire, England.

Numerous families have been hit by the flu virus that is spreading like wildfire across the region. Sources confirm that most schools have reported low attendance over the past few weeks due to the viral outbreak. Not to be compared to Ebola of course, but nonetheless a serious matter for consideration for local doctors and hospitals. It has been said that if the number of infected keep growing, no-one will be well enough to cook the Christmas turkey, let alone keep it down long enough once consumed!

Closer to home, local mother Eloise, has given up on sleeping as she is now entering her third or fourth week of illness in her house. Thanks to the numerous children she decided to produce, each week brings new viral surprises for the family to share and enjoy at home. Her elder daughter felt that last week was particularly slow and therefore succumbed to a football injury to her wrist. She jokingly reported that if she hadn’t stopped the leather missile, she might not have had a nose on the front of her face today. Thanks to the aggressive footballers, she instead had torn tendons in her wrist. As an added bonus for being so careful, Eloise’s daughter caught the flu and stayed home with her mother for two days this week.

The ballet school known for winning most awards at festivals and trying to rival Abby Lee in the USA had to be shut down yesterday due to their teachers and students falling ill. Suffice it to say the studio was open the next day due to valiant efforts from sickly attendees. We await updates on how many more students will contract the flu thank to their generosity!

As this news bulletin is being broadcast at a time when the producer usually enjoys late movies, blogging and tweeting, we would like to point out that the producer herself is still ill but is on standby for the rest of the evening. This is due to the fact that another child had fallen ill with a fever and cold requiring frequent temperature checks to adjust clothing and covers accordingly. Paracetamol and water have been provided for this task. Flashbacks of having small babies again have been the running through the producer’s mind as she walks in the shadows and watches her sleeping family…and the pure amusement of listening to the Hubble’s snores as background noise.

Thank you for joining us on the Sickly News Round-up.

Keep well and enjoy the rest of your morning, afternoon or evening!

Ebola … What Will You Do?

From the first reported outbreak of the virus in Zaire back in 1976, we have had information roughly every decade showing the migration of Ebola from Zaire to Sudan, pop ups here and there across Europe and the United States, but mainly countries on Africa’s west coast. The western world has watched with trepidation as the disease spread with fury through villages and towns, wiping out tribes, laying to waste families and health officials.

This year, I have paid particular attention to the speed with which Ebola has spread. From March 2014, the first detected case was reported in the South Eastern forested area of Guinea (the deaths had occurred in December 2013 but were only flagged in March 2014) . It spread with deadly purpose to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. As of the 18th of August 2014, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has reported a total of 2473 suspected cases and 1350 deaths. The organisation has declared a public health emergency of international concern, only used twice previously – in 2009 with the swine flu pandemic and 2014 with polio. The number of deaths now outnumber those from previous outbreaks combined; this is from 1976 to the present day!

What steps are we taking to fight the disease?

They have now granted permission for the administration of the drug Zmapp for Ebola patients in Liberia. This is the same drug that was given to the two Americans, Dr Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol, who succumbed to the disease whilst in service with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia.

Our borders are locking down on travellers coming from West Africa and a few cases have hit the headlines, showing us how close Ebola has come to touching down in our own countries.

Could Zmapp be the cure we are looking for?

Being an untested drug (no human drug trials apart from the two doctors have taken place for this drug) we are not sure of long term consequences and side effects. Our focus is on curing as many people as possible. But what if one of the other drugs filtering through to Africa changes the disease, morphing it into something worse?

The pharma companies have been given the go-ahead to rush test cures for Ebola. What if something else much worse than this deadly disease is created in the process? Monitoring the drug in a controlled environment is hard enough, but out where supplies to hospitals are scarce and facilities do not have sufficient equipment to monitor results could lead to misrepresented results. Could the zombie movies we enjoy as entertainment become a living reality? Maybe too far fetched, but the consequences of using untested drugs in a panicked environment makes me nervous.

What would you do if you were given the order to immunise your children or yourselves against this new terror?

After the reaction of MMR, what happens to those who decide not to get immunised? Ebola is transferred through body fluids of the infected (alive or deceased). We have experienced the Norovirus in our schools and hospitals and have seen the devastating consequences of sickness spreading through a closed environment. But immunisation from drugs not given enough time to see the side effects makes me think twice. The doctors mentioned above might have recovered on their own; they are still not 100% sure if the Zmapp cured them. Maybe it would be better to wait? I don’t know. 40% of those infected at this moment are recovering according to certain media sites but that is no guarantee my child/children might be the lucky one/s. It’s a game of Russian roulette.

What if there isn’t enough to cure everyone?

Only a few doses of Zmapp have reached Liberia and Canada has delivered 800 – 1000 does of VSV-EBOV, their untested vaccine. If this succubus of death spreads across the world, won’t the commodity suddenly become a prized possession? At this moment, it’s not financially viable for the Pharma companies to produce a vaccine as the returns are not matched with the demand. The disease is concentrated in poor countries where charity organisations or western governments have to fund production and administration of the drug. Once this changes I can hear the coffers filling quickly for these companies to churn out anything resembling a cure. We will all be panic buying, raising the costs and reducing the availability. It’s human nature. Chaos and death caused by a deadly disease or careful administration and recording of who has received the drug. This is if they manage to create a drug that works before the disease spreads further.

The more I read about the decisions being made, the more I worry. We sit and wait for the inevitable bad news within our borders, concentrating on the horrors of war across the Middle East. But are we paying enough attention to the silent killer that is reaching its infectious fingers across oceans, countries, factions, religions and cultures? How do we stop something so aggressive and deadly in its tracks once it catches fire within our borders?

What will you do when it comes?

MAPfrom UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Published on 19 Aug 2014
Information obtained from CNN, Reliefweb, WHO, Wikipedia, CDC