Archive for September, 2011

The Power of a Three Letter Word.

I remember when my children were small. As they started to understand there might be interesting things beyond the end of their noses the inquisition started. The questions were incessant, off-the-wall and sometimes plain embarrassing. I remember walking home one day with my son, he was three and a great talker (wonder where he got that from). We were happily dawdling and chatting about nursery school when he noticed a lady I knew. She had been ill and had problems with fluid in her legs. To aid her recovery she walked every day but this was slow and painful for her. My son watched her from behind, he asked in that loud and crystal clear voice of his, ‘Mummy, why are that lady’s legs so fat’. To say I hoped for the ground to open up and swallow me was an understatement. I quickly muttered that we had to go back to the shop to get bread so could let my face cool down. He and I chatted ‘later’ on that one.

He was also quite obsessed by death at the age of three. I have no idea how this came about but every night he would look at me with a little solemn face and say ‘Mummy, will you die while I am sleeping?’. I hated that question. Also, I didn’t want to lie to him just on the off-chance so I promised him I would do my very best to stay alive until he woke up. We would then read about Thomas the Tank and sing Postman Pat, Ride a Cock Horse and old King Cole so he would be smiling when he went to sleep.

Not all of the questions were so scary but they did illustrate the working of an exploring mind. My personal favourite will always be my son and my mother. They used to sneak off and lie on her bed reading Ogden Nash, his poetry made them both giggle. One day, they read a poem about God. This prompted ‘Nana, does God wear clothes? And, if he does wear clothes, does he have a washing machine?’. He has always had a practical bent.

However, there is one question that ends up making any parent want to tear their hair out. It is one word and the word is WHY? Let’s go to the shops. WHY? We will go for a walk. WHY? You are too little to play in the street. WHY? Because the cars are dangerous. WHY? Because cars are hard and can be fast and you may forget to watch for them. WHY? This can go on and on and on. My kids did learn that when I just said ‘Because’ the conversation was over….

It does make me wonder though. Do we not use that word enough? Should we not ask WHY more? What would you ask WHY about? I will give you some of mine….

  • WHY don’t we think more about the distribution of water. We are told about think-tanks and quangos and brilliant minds coming together; can’t they think of something that will benefit millions?
  • WHY do we go in to assist those countries that have conflict and oil but not those with conflict but no natural resources? Is this me being simple? I don’t think so.
  • WHY do those who claim to believe in peaceful deities preach hate and intolerance?
  • WHY can’t we solve starvation?
  • WHY is there war?
  • WHY don’t more people talk?
  • WHY do I have to write this list?
I don’t have the answers, we all know I don’t have the answers. I am happy for you to add your questions to this post; I am interested to see what your burning question is. We may not have the answers but at least we are asking the questions. I just hope that one of us or all of us together will figure this all out.

I close with this:-

  • Donate to a valid children’s charity of your choice.
  • Visit this blog and comment about your donation. Please also tell me what you wanted to be when you were 8. I still want to collect those tales and hope that some child will read about your words and deeds and want to do the same when they are old enough.

I will:-

  • Add your donation to the Totals page on this blog, totals are updated weekly.
  • I will also write some words about the current donations and the charity
  • Store all comments so that everyone can read them.

Thank you for reading.


September 15, 2011 at 9:40 pm 2 comments

Where Were You?

This is my 100th post. I thought long and hard before doing this post, I don’t want you to think I am jumping on a bandwagon. However, this post remembers a moment in time for most in this world so I will write…..

Where were you on 9/11? The tenth anniversary is here for that most awful day and for my generation it equates to the ‘Where were you when JFK was shot’ moment. I remember the day so clearly and I always will.

I was at work, at that time I worked for a Canadian communications company in their Northern Ireland factory IT unit. I loved working there and we were having a normal day. I was involved in a large project and wasn’t joining any conference calls that day so was focused on the tasks in hand. It was a quiet day, everyone getting on and chatting quietly. Then one person took a call from home. Her mum was watching the news, when the call was over she said the strangest thing – ‘It looks as if a plane has crashed into the World Trade Centre in New York’. The initial reaction from our office was puzzlement, we assumed it was an accident. Then another call came through. ‘They are wondering if it wasn’t an accident’. Those words were spoken by my friend so slowly. She looked as if she was speaking a foreign language, trying out the words for the first time.

We all stopped. It was too weird, too big, too wrong. One of my colleagues lifted a television out of the cupboard, the IT support folks who worked the late shifts had it for the quiet evenings. We turned it on, crowded round, watched the BBC. No-one spoke, we just watched. And then the unthinkable happened, the second plane hit and we all knew this was no accident. Again, no-one spoke. I don’t remember how long we stood there, time slowed until the first tower fell. And then there were tears; we knew there was very little chance for those still in the building. Then of course we watched for the fall of the second tower. It was horribly inevitable, we were numb by the time the North Tower started to crumble.

When I think back to that day it is the quiet I remember. There were tears without sound, everyone was lost within themselves watching the horror. We all went back to our desks and tried to access news websites. I think we all wanted to be lost in our own small bubbles, speaking was just too hard.

I know I watched news compulsively for the next month. It wasn’t purient interest, it was sadness, I couldn’t not watch, I felt it would be disloyal not to find out about those who died as a result of this madness.

I have written before about growing up in a country that had violence reported nightly. It creates a ‘bipolar’ aspect to your life. You live your life, doing the ‘normal’ things and then come home, switch on the news to see who has been murdered or kneecapped or beaten. You say the words ‘How awful’, ‘Why does this have to happen’, ‘What must people think of us’ but over time it becomes some macabre routine, the words lose meaning. At this point you worry that you will lose the ability to care, a horrible thought. But then we suddenly gained peace and the world was a sunnier place. That is why I will always find 9/11 so shocking, so hard.

I think often of those who died. They were just like me, they had homes and families and went to work living their lives the best way they could. On this tenth anniversary I will think of them but I will think of their loved ones more. I hope they are living their lives. I hope they smile and laugh, that is what those who are gone would have wanted.

Those who read this blog know why I write it. I do not add my closing words to this post. My closing words today are to those who would plan and carry out attacks like this again. Don’t. Please don’t. Nothing can be gained from actions like this, nothing will ever be gained by actions like this. Words will always hold more sway than violence……..

September 11, 2011 at 12:10 am 10 comments


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