Saturday, 26 March 2016

Resurrection Morning

At a time when nation seems to be at war with nation, governments are in conflict with their citizens, creed condemns creed, anger and antagonism are the common languages in the media, in Parliaments and among families, Easter Sunday seems to be a good day to remember that it doesn't have to be like this.

No matter what  you do or don't believe, at the root of all our main religions is the human heart's cry for reconciliation and forgiveness.   it's man who over the centuries has taken what begins as a force for good and peace and twisted it into a dogmatic, didactic, doctrine and it's man who in response has turned his ignorance and anger against those who believe differently.

We can be better than that, you can be better than that, i can be better than that.   peace begins with each one of us putting forgiveness into practise, recognising that difference enhances humanity, understanding that how we live is as important as what we believe or whether we believe.

We are all in need of redemption because our humanity is flawed.  we have inherited the weaknesses and insecurities of our parents and passed them on to our children and they in turn to theirs, "the sins of the fathers" as it used to be phrased. We can't remedy the past, either that of our predecessors or our own, but we can in humility take responsibility for our attitudes, harsh words, misdeeds and attempt to make amends, ask forgiveness, work towards changing our less than noble traits, aspire to be more humane.

That's the core message of Easter, there is always hope,  we can start again, we can  be the change we need in our world, it begins with you, it begins with me.   change happens one person at a time.... a positive pyramid scheme.
Resurrection Morning a good time to be human.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Chinese Whispers

WOW.... what a  roller coaster week for the disabled.   we went to bed to the dulcet tones of  George Osborne's budget cutting the disability funding P.I.P. and woke to a resignation and, FINALLY, the fine residents of Britain realising that persecution is alive and well in their supposedly enlightened land.   OK it's taken a LONG time to sink in that the demonisation  of the disabled is an ongoing project instigated by government, fuelled by the  media, and fed by an unthinking population in a manner that makes the  Salem Witch Trials a spring picnic, but maybe.... just maybe the populace have experienced a falling of scales from eyes and have recognised the injustice of removing mobility cars, rationing incontinence care, restricting bathing and loading indignity upon indignity until tragedy is the inevitable outcome.

What i've found fascinating during this debate is the number of people who have heard of somebody, who was related to someone, who was known to be "working the system", "a dodgy dealer", "ripping off the benefits", but NONE knew the supposed felon's name, where he/she lived,  the details of their illness, or who to ask for the full story.

Did you know that over 5 years, 85% of allegations phoned in to the Benefits Fraud Hot Line were false....? EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT !!! don't believe me? click the link above and read it for yourself.   that's a whole lot of suspicious people acting on what they feel rather than what they know.  

Let me tell you a funny story.   not second hand, not hearsay but something i experienced personally some months ago. a lady i know well informed me that her daughter's wealthy friend had rewritten her will and was leaving all her estate to the local cat and dog shelter instead of to her long suffering husband after a disagreement. apparently  she preferred canine company over the human and was carrying this preference to the extreme.   there followed a vociferous denunciation of the wife for her thoughtless, outrageous, selfish, misanthropic behaviour from my scandalised friend.   when asked if this information came first hand from the wife herself i was angrily informed that the daughter knew all about it and wouldn't have got it wrong and my suggestion, that the tale could have been mangled in the telling therefore perhaps it would be wise before spreading misinformation  to verify the facts, wasn't well received.  last  week the wealthy friend died and guess what ??? yep... the puss cats will have to manage without their inheritance.  no upcoming upgrade to Gourmet, Tesco cat food remains on the menu as the husband has been named recipient of her largess and is taking his entire family, parents, grandparents, children, cousins, second cousins three times removed to Disneyland USA.  honestly... i kid ye not... this is a true telling of the sorry story... it's too good to fabricate isn't it?

It takes me back to when we moved onto a  middle class estate when i was a young mum still dressed in full hippie garb, driving a beat up fourth hand estate, and living on poverty wages.   a throw away comment making a joke about our lack of gardening skills led to a petition being passed around the street by perturbed neighbours worried about the goats we were getting to keep the grass cropped !!! southern irony didn't play well in 1980's Newcastle.

Chinese whispers make entertaining stories and might be of no consequence to the parties involved, who may never hear how their privacy has been invaded and their character assassinated by careless chatter. but there is a darker side to this propensity to judge on appearance without a full understanding, or knowledge, of the other. think of the stress and fear inflicted on the 85% who woke to a knock on the front door from the Fraud Squad falsely accused by a neighbour who only sees the strong persona presented to a watching world.   they will have lost their only source of income until proven innocent and be interviewed under police caution.   imagine how that could impact on a person's mental and physical health.  so... check your information before speaking, take pains to learn the story behind the outward show, don't encourage unfounded gossip by listening to the gossiper... and ask yourself how you would feel if you had to exhibit all your weaknesses for the world to see before getting a fair hearing !!!


Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Gratitude Jar

OH YAY the grey wagtails have returned from their winter wonderlands. a flash of greeny, yellowy, grey caught a ray of sunlight over the beck at the back of our flats and there they were, a handsome couple, bob bob bobbing along.  a feathery augur of spring.   add to that sightings of a hover fly sucking up to the heather, bickering blackbirds, bonking pigeons a buzzing bumble bee and all i need is the bats to believe the Big Cold is over.

Can you believe we are almost a quarter of the way through the year already?  it feels as though my life is dribbling away like a magical charge crackling  from the finger tips of a cosmic magician prior to being hurled into the void.   With winter on the wane it seems a propitious time to review January's New Year's Resolutions.   Did you make any?   did you keep any?   

Confession time.... every year i cheat !!   working on probability theory i make several on the basis that the more i have to work with the higher the chance of sticking with at least one of them.   hey.... i'm honest about my duplicity

Did i keep them ???  nope... not one !!!   B U T in my 30th December blog post, where those rash promises were made in the heat of good intentions, i reminisced about a Happiness Jar my sons had kept years ago.   at the end of each day we decided on one good thing to be thankful for, wrote it on a slip of paper and popped it in the jar.   throughout the year if things got tough, or we needed booted backsides, the jar would be tipped onto the dining table and all those positive memories read and smiled over helping to chase the darkness into the shadows.   since writing about it i've heard of several people who do the same.... see my friend Juliet's classy jar in the photo above.... and it inspired me to start one for 2016

"Why go to the bother of putting pen to paper"? some ask, assuming you can FIND a pen.  "all you have to do is remember the good things".   but we don't, do we? It seems to be intrinsic to human nature that for every cheerful event stored in the memory vault we allow a dozen gloom and doom scenarios take precedence.   for each kindness shown a mountain of slights and oversights throw their malignant shadows across  the vista to poison our attitude.   every successful action is subsumed in the inevitable failures life throws our way. we in the west have so much to be grateful for, yet we tend to see the storm rather than the breaking of the dawn.

Gratitude is like a muscle, if you don't use it atrophy will set in, then weakness and a disinclination to exercise at all.  like all good keep fit regimes if it's to be effective, it takes hard work, dedication and single mindedness.

Taking time at the end of the day to look for a patch of brightness means that no matter how difficult life may be we have an imperative to find something infused with hope, no matter how small or insignificant.  some of my offerings since December include pancakes, central heating, cats, family, chocolate, Ebay, friends, sunshine, postmen, movies, grey wagtails. 

After one particular day of great pain in which even getting out of bed seemed a task only achievable to a world class super hero, my soul rebelled and cried to the closed heavens "it's been a crap day, and i hurt like hell, what have i got to be thankful for"? a still, small voice, conscience? subconscious?  common sense?  karma?  God? spoke into my soul....

"are you going to bed hungry?  cold?  naked?   in danger? imprisoned?  persecuted? exiled?  homeless?   No.... and you ask why you should be thankful" ?

Friday, 11 March 2016

Sofa Searching

Home, they say, is where the heart is, or where you hang your hat.  in my case it's where the cat and random decorative clutter gathers to collect dust bunnies by candle light.   apparently seeing a person's home can give insight into their upbringing and personality but if that's so how come my sister is a committed monochrome minimalist and i live in the equivalent of a westernised Aladdin's cave?   can deep mysteries of the psyche be teased out from our choice of decor or are we more influenced by culture, peer acceptance and society than by a subconscious need to expose our innermost secrets through home improvement?   

That most of my teens and early twenties were lived in hippie squats and flats could be deduced by the preponderance of glitter and sparkle on the walls if it weren't for the fact that at 13, long before i'd laid eyes on a summer of love child, i had utilised a sheet of wrapping paper depicting a psychedelic Wurlitzer as a poster on a bedroom wall and hung lace and velvet shawls around a mirror. and this was years before experiencing hallucinogens first hand.  so did that embryonic style act as an attraction to hippiedom or did hippiedom entrench the style that has followed me for the past 4 decades? 

There's no template for making a house a home.... or there shouldn't be.   yet the full page, glossy adverts in magazines or on TV would have you believing otherwise.   DFS,  Furniture Village et al. have products scarily alike, row upon row of cloned soft furnishings, freakishly familiar to the massed armies of Star Wars storm troopers all blending into a homogeneous mass.  world domination by three piece suite !!   mass produced furniture for mass produced homes, lived in by mass produced humans seems to be their aim. 

This thread of rumination has been triggered by a futile search to find a replacement for a £30 threadbare, lumpy, charity shop sofa.   the beautiful wave backed wicker that was digested by the removal van when moving here was regurgitated later the same day onto the grass at the front of new home  and left in glorious abandonment.... doorway too small.   even son's heroic efforts were in vain.   off came the door, still stuck was the sofa, gutted was i.   

Various internet searches for "funky furniture" have thrown up some amazing velvet patchwork confections that look stunning but how to know if they are as sweet on the bum and back as they are on the eye? this is where the big box furniture outlets have us at their mercy, we need to try before we buy.

So here's the predicament when one is out of step with the mainstream. do i buy something that fits my nature and is unusual but maybe uncomfortable or do i follow faithfully in the steps of the crowd to be certain of a soft seat?