Archive for March, 2012

Rambling, Ranting and a bit of Sport Relief.

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Pre-read warning, this post has a few tangents. Please stick with it, I will have a point, promise…..

I watched most of the BBC’s Sport Relief programme on Friday night. I smiled, laughed and cried in the same measure. I donated, of course I did, I can’t really blog about giving without taking action myself. It was always my intention to donate but I do leave it until near the end every time, perhaps to focus on the watching first, I am not altogether sure.

One  thing that struck me as painful was a new slant I see on programmes of this type. In years gone by there were segments where we we would see a child near death through starvation, pneumonia or malaria. Through the ‘power of television’ we would then see the same child a couple of days/weeks later; they would be on the mend and a smiling presenter would tell us how our donations had made a direct impact on this child’s life.

The same thing happened when we were presented with the children living on streets, working from the age of two to help support their families with no hope of education or a change in circumstances. The next ‘cut to camera’ shot would be those children smiling in classrooms learning their way out of poverty with their families benefiting from some small sum to enable this. Cue happy smiles all around. Our guilt assuaged, we were able to smile too and move on.

Now? The ‘fluffy’ picture has gone. We see the sad and ill children but we do not cut to them getting an education or getting better.  We see other children benefiting from the classroom and other children starting to heal. The children working on rubbish dumps or making bricks were left there to work themselves quite literally to the bone. As for the children who were ill, we were shown shots of resustitation. Frantic efforts made by staff who saw too much death, they brought some children back from the brink but only temporarily. It was a powerful picture, the face of a devastated and exhausted health worker with a glimpse of the body of a small dead child. It was harsh to watch, we moved from the laboured breathing to no breath at all. I cried. I am sure many people cried. However, my tears do no good in this situation, I just hope my money does make a difference to some other mother’s child, I couldn’t help the mothers of those children we saw.

I know why they have moved away from the ‘cute’ shots. Society is ever-changing, the power of the internet means that we can see almost anything we want. Depends what we want to see. I have no desire to see an execution, no desire to see a child die. Are we now so jaded by multi-media that this needs to be the case? The celebrities are still there, they still cry too. Many people feel this is a poor use of celebrity (notoriety even?), that these are crocdile tears furthering a career and not a cause. I disagree to a large extent but have one comment. I don’t need to see a celebrity doing this to make me want to give, a reporter can have the same impact for me. But then we get to my next point –  are there some who enjoy seeing the celebs sadness watching the harsh lives or deaths of others? I would really hate to believe that, if that is how people think then we are in a sorry state as a race, the human race. For myself, it can be reporters, it can be celebrities, they all bring attention to the cause and that is what must be important.

So now, a not so smooth segue to words, specifically the words in the media. There is a link to the rest of this post, I will get to it. A young Welshman was jailed today for posting racist tweets about the footballer Patrice Muamba after he collapsed on the field of play last week. When challenged by other Twitter users he compounded his previous utterances.

I disagree with what he said, this doesn’t go without saying because it needs to be said again and again. I will add though that in my opinion he was drunk and stupid. And here is my point – my warning about social media. In the days before Facebook, Twitter and all those other sites you would be with friends. When you are drunk and stupid with friends they tell you to ‘wind your neck in’ (that is what they would tell you in Northern Ireland anyway) and you would stop. If you carried on, your mates would take you home and leave you there until you sobered up and apologised to them. You do not get the chance to be sorted out so quickly on social media. Your words are out there and all it takes is a couple of retweets or shares and millions will see your crass stupidity. Those millions will screen-scrape and save that stupidity and it will get reposted out there, you can never forget it.

The court case has made some cheer and some frown. There is much debate about the difference between free speech and incitement. I would like to think this young man was not trying to incite hatred but his words were racist and that is against the law. If his words have allowed someone else to justify their bigoted ways then damage has been done.  He will have to live with his actions for a long long time.The horrible truth is that there are many people who post this kind of drivel every day but they do not catch the attention of enough people. I make no excuses for this young man or anyone else, I only know I would never want to cause offense to others with my tweets. Even live phone-ins have a slight delay so that we can filter what goes out on the airwaves. I know the point of social media is not to censor but wouldn’t it be helpful if they had an ‘Are you Sure You Want to Make a Complete Eejit of Yourself’ button that stupidity wouldn’t get out there so easily?

Please do not think I make light of either topic here but I will close with one last point. Would all social media users like to focus their words on changing this world to be a more caring and careful place? Can we have one day where you post only about how you can help one person? Why don’t we have a #changethisworld hashtag, is it too much fun to challenge?

I leave you with the BBC Sport relief website in case you want to check it for yourself – http://www.bbc.co.uk/sportrelief/

Thank You BBC and Sport Relief!

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

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March 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm 2 comments

Lovely George….

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

A random post this morning.

I love Friday evenings. I relax without guilt, I know the housework waits for me on the Saturday morning but I can blank it for a few sweet hours. I rented a couple of dvds last night and sat down with my son and daughter to watch the first one, ‘The Ides of March’ with George Clooney, Ryan Gosling and loads of other great actors. I had heard great reviews of the movie and was really looking forward to some political intrigue.

The plot focused on the Democratic Primaries and the battle for Ohio. The two candidates were reasonably close in the polls and Ohio is a key win for both. Most of the story focuses on the ‘the men behind the throne’; the staffers. It is all spin and bluster between the two opposing sides, journalists and the politicians from whom they need backing. The movie is beautifully shot, the atmosphere draws you in and sets an appropriately bleak background to the scheming.

I will not give away the plot but suffice to say George is the honourable candidate wanting to do good for good’s sake, he does not give off that hunger for power that so many political films focus on. Ryan is the smart staffer who has been drawn into this world of good, he does not see a man, he sees hope. However, and however there must be, George is human and all humans have flaws. Add the disillusionment to the ducks and dives and poor Ryan transforms from idealist to hardened cynic before our eyes.

It was a good movie, I enjoyed it but I could see the whole thing coming! Where were the surprises? The denouement was stretched out before me like a straight road. This does not take away from my enjoyment but the predictability of the plotline was disappointing. I did love the movie poster though, one of the best I have seen in a long time:-

Courtesy of The Ides of March

George Clooney was a co-writer and also directed the movie. He is known as a decent and honest individual who wants those who govern us to be the same. You can see his ideals in this movie and I admire him for this. His recent arrest while protesting outside the Sundanese embassy in Washington may be seen by some as an actor doing ‘good works’ but I see it as a man protesting against a government working against their people, causing suffering instead of support. If Mr. Clooney chooses to actively use his fame and influence to highlight issues and put pressure on governments then good on him. These issues needs to come to the fore and pressure needs to be put on politicians to address them.

If by some miniscule chance M. Clooney ever reads this post I hope he isn’t too disappointed by my words and that he likes the reason for my blogging, I can live in hope:)

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

PS – Did you notice? I didn’t mention George’s awesome good looks and charm once, it took self-control not to….

PPS – Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you all, please don’t begrudge me my wish that Ireland give England a jolly good thrashing at the rugby today!

Green All the Way Today

March 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

The Saddest News of All.

I often search the news websites for stories about children. Unfortunately this week there are many sad stories to choose from. Chief among them is the coach crash in Switzerland earlier this week where six adults and twenty-two children were killed. Eight of the passengers returned home to Belgium today but many remain in hospital.

When we see a news report like this most of us will say how our hearts go out to the parents. We try to put ourselves in that position but I know for most it is too difficult a step. I feel only those who have lost a much-loved child can ever truly understand that kind of pain. For the rest of us we cannot truly empathise as this would take us to a place that is too dark, too bleak.

I wish I could issue some words of comfort to the grieving parents but I am sure any words I have would be hollow and of no real comfort. Family and close friends, perhaps counselling from those who have experienced such loss, I think that would be the only way to try and cope? I can only say that I am deeply sorry for their loss.

I will say no more on this nor add my normal request. Sometimes it doesn’t feel right……

Thank you for reading.

Lesley

March 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm Leave a comment

Angry, Angry, Angry…

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I was very angry yesterday evening. The reason isn’t important but I was, as they say here, fit to be tied. It was 9pm and I wanted a relaxed Saturday evening but what did I do? I lifted my keys and drove off. I add quickly that I was stone cold sober in case anyone thinks I would be so foolish as to drive after drinking. What did I do on my drive? I allowed my mind to cool down, nothing more, nothing less. I didn’t want to talk, didn’t want to listen, I just wanted to be in my own head.

I don’t get angry very often. I think I spend so much time looking at/for the reasons in others’ opinions that I reason myself out of it. I get very frustrated with myself for this; why do I always look at other people’s views when I don’t think they necessarily do the same for me? Perhaps I should just lose the plot every now and then? I did once see red, literally. It was many years ago, my son was only seven and someone shouted at him aggressively. It was a strange sensation, a band of heat travelled from my feet to the top of my head; when it reached my eyes I saw red. I did give the shouter a taste of his own medicine and felt much better for it though I wonder what my blood pressure must have been. I don’t know if anyone else has had a taste of the red mist? I would not have believed it unless it happened to me but be aware, red mist is real.

It has started me thinking about anger. I heard this week about a ‘road rage’ incident on a friend when a driver was trying to get into her car when she was on her own. He then followed her in his car trying to give more abuse. This behaviour was appalling, she was driving properly and safely, his bad driving nearly caused an accident, he lost his temper and tried to blame her. I see too many examples of people being disproportionately angry over small or perceived slights.

This prompted me to read a little about anger. A little anger would appear to be healthy on occasion. It stirs up the mind and body, generating increased heart rate and adrenalin. In times of danger anger is a good, setting you up for the fight or flight response. This is appropriate but most of us do not face true danger in everyday life. What triggers anger in normal life? Is it our own thoughts, the actions of others or are some of us simply angry all the time? What are we supposed to do with all this overheated emotion? Are we all angrier now? When I read the newspapers many of then talk of shock and horror. They want to stir up outrage, using small snippets of news to promote their underlying political agenda. Since when is it right for the media to control our emotions? What is the point of creating Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells? Has reason flown out the window? I wonder if the modern thing is that anger replace reason, if that is the case them I am worried.

I also wonder what triggers the anger of those who read this blog. More importantly, I wonder how this anger is dealt with. Do people rant and scream? I can only think that is effective only a couple of times; if this is consistent behaviour then do you just become Mr or Miss Angry? If that is your persona are you listened to or does your rant become background noise to be ignored. Perhaps some of you suppress it all. That is not healthy either. Long-time suppression surely leads to inner stress and ‘getting back’ in other ways. I would be interested to know the best way to deal with anger. I know what I did – after my drive last night I was calmer and conversation today means the situation is resolved. I know this time I was right to be angry and perhaps in future I will not let my ‘see all sides’ persona take the lead.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

March 11, 2012 at 10:23 pm Leave a comment

Care in the Recession?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

I watched the Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning and one of the guests was Gareth Malone. You will know him as the Choirmaster whose television shows with schoolchildren and of course the Military Wives have been extremely successful. He was reviewing the papers and the discussion on the programme turned to the preponderance of costume dramas in the television schedules. Mr. Malone made one extremely interesting point thus – at this time people want to see heart-warming programmes such as The Choir, Call the Midwife, Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey and that if we looked at schedules from a decade ago it was very different. The participants discussed reality television and how programmes like the Choir were popular as they covered real people striving and succeeding more than those that focused on aggression and humiliation.

It started me thinking aout the feelgood factor. We are in a recession, cutting back on expenses and looking inwards rather than outwards. Many people have curtailed their social life as one of the easiest ways to save money. They will invite friends round rather than going to restaurants and will watch television instead of visiting the cinema. An impact of this is that more time will be spent watching the television, reading books, listening to music. So, is it true that we want comfort from these activities? I know I would rather watch, read, listen to something that will make me smile. Perhaps I am not alone; do people want distraction from more bad news and their worries about job losses getting very close to home? Take for instance the costume drama. Even though programmes like Call the Midwife look at poverty, poor housing and deprivation the core message is of support, doing good and warmth for your fellow man. Personally I loved it, the storylines were of their time and the acting was excellent (especially Miranda Hart, a woman with so many talents one could almost be jealous?). Oh yes, I do follow her on twitter:)

When I think back to previous economic booms what strikes me? Simple, the advertisements for credit coming at us through every commerical break plus the comedy shows with characters such as the Yuppie and, unforgettably, Loadsamoney by Harry Enfield. I wonder how many UK readers look back on Loadsamoney with fondness. I always admired Harry Enfield’s accurate capture of the boom zeitgeist; he was the essence of the 1980s with his ‘wonga’, those wads of cash he used to wave at audiences who lapped it all up. Personally, it made me squirm, the same way I want to cringe at The Office now. I can see the brains in the concept and the product but still want to hide behind a cushion if I watch it.

I see nothing wrong in wanting a feelgood factor in our lives. There are so many things to worry about; why not have some gentle escapism. But this makes me worry. If we are only look inwards we may miss what is happening to others in the wider world. One BBC news story on Sunday also caught my attention; stating that the charity sector is facing substantial cuts in funding from local and national Government. The report is being disputed, the Cabinet Office states it is a misrepresetation of the facts. I am not that bothered about one story that might be spin but am concerned that our inward focus could mean massively decreased public donations. I have said before and say again, people should take care of their families first. However, if there is a small amount available can we see a way where we let someone in need have a little too?

I want to think I could have a little less of this:-

If a child out there could have a little more of this:-

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

March 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm Leave a comment

How Do We Deal With This?

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

A serious post today….

I have been reading about the guilty verdict from the London ‘Witchcraft Torture’ trial. I could add links to the media reports but what I read was so horrifying that I won’t. If you want to read the reports you will easily find it from Google. I will say only this, a young man was tortured for days by his sister and her boyfriend and finally drowned in a bath. His only ‘crime’? They suspected him of being a witch.

The newspapers report that this is a potentially growing problem and is massively under-reported. A quote in the Guardian stated ‘”We were concerned about this before this trial of Kristy Bamu,” said Debbie Ariyo, executive director of Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (Afruca), who added that a boom in pentecostal churches was leading to more children being accused of witchcraft.’

It is easy for me to sit here and be puzzled. It is easy for me to sit here and type these words. What is difficult is how this is tackled. What steps can we take to protect children from such strong superstitions? I say superstitions but these are beliefs held by certain religions, or at least that is what they call themselves. Religion should be kind but history and the daily news show it can be very cruel. When you read the holy books their basis is in love, caring and kindness to others. I cannot call something that uses fear and superstition to brainwash and control people a religion. It is a power-play with that power used for abuse. Shame on those who do this; they are not good, they are the antithesis of what religion is meant to be.

My plea to anyone who holds these beliefs is to question themselves and their beliefs. Children are not witches because they have epilepsy or autism. Children are not witches because they are mischievous. Children are not witches because they can take some time to learn. Think about it people, hurting a child is wrong, always and utterly wrong.

I hope some good comes out of the sadness of Kristy Bamu’s death. I read that the Victoria Climbie Foundation will work with the Bamu family and friends to educate schools and communities. I hope it gives the Climbie family some comfort that their foundation may be able to make a difference here. I also hope this horrendous case will ensure that the communities and police can come together to put a halt to this heinous abuse of innocents. With reports stating that there have been 83 reports of this abuse in the last ten years but that this only touches the surface, efforts must be made to put an end to this obscenity.

My thoughts go to the Bamu family; my hopes to those who will think and turn away from this path.

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

March 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

Good Days, Bad Days……

I do this for a reason. I want you to donate to a children’s charity and write to me. Please see the About Lesley page or read the instructions at the end of this post…..

Not a grumpy post but a grumpy day. I have recently blogged about lots going on and that is still true. I have had some long days and am tired. Changes are planned which I hope will give me more time to help some people in my life and I look forward to having that time. In the meantime I will charge about doing what I can to keep all the balls in the air. I don’t want sympathy, I just want to get everything organised so I will feel more in control. Anal eh? 🙂

I try not to get stressed on a day-to-day basis, I am more of a deep breath and move on kind of person. It isn’t so much stoicism as knowing what needs done, putting your head down and getting on with it. When faced with a mountain of things to do I like to ignore the mountain and just take one boulder chip and deal with it. There are times, however, when the mountain looms over you and you sit it its shadow wondering if it would be easier to simply walk away and ignore all of it. You wonder about it but instead you knuckle down and get on with it. I will have less of that self pity!

How do I get out of a funk like this? This may sound slightly weird but I am weird. Here goes……

How I move on is easy. This is not counting my blessings, this is taking a long, hard look at me and telling myself what I know to be true:-

  • I have a comfortable home
  • I am fortunate to have a good job
  • I have three healthy children (who drive me nuts but you cannot expect perfection)
  • I have enough food on my table
  • I have heat when I need it
  • I have water on tap
  • I have friends to call on in difficult times. They will listen to my babble and comfort me when I need it
  • I know who I am
  • I do not live in fear
  • I am loved

So many people do not have this. So many children will not have a future like this. This I consider every day and it makes my heart break. When I look at me this way how can one virtual mountain scare me?

I close, as always, with this:-

  • Please 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 older.

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.

Lesley

March 1, 2012 at 12:14 am 2 comments


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