Category Archives: family

The difference between

The headline on the Metro paper today is the fact that an OAP defended himself against an attack by a burglar who was a known career criminal and that he stabbed the burglar. The burglar died and now his family have blanketed the fence near the pensioner’s house with floral tributes and scared the crap out of this 70+ year old man and his wife that they will retaliate against the violent death of their lovely loving family member. (To the point where the old man has moved out and gone into hiding elsewhere.)

Shocking story yes. It is bad someone died but the fact that you are condoning the fact that he was a criminal is, I personally think, unacceptable. He got killed in the line of duty so to speak – and as it was a crime, it is hardly fair you criminalise the guy who is probably suffering post traumatic stress syndrome for his pains to the point you are threatening him and pushing it in everyone’s faces this career criminal was somehow an upstanding citizen who needs to be valued via a series of floral tributes. (This is also because I don’t really ‘get’ floral tributes at scenes of death. After a week or so on a fence or lamppost you have a tatty mess of cellophane and brown yellow rotting flowers. I don’t really want to be remembered for a cluster of mess and litter personally. The flowers were, like the person you are messaging across the grave, already dead before you plonked them down because you cut them down in their prime – oh – is that the symbolism people are aiming at?)

But I digress. I got distracted by the initials OAP. I had to think for a moment what they meant. ‘Old age pensioner’. That, I thought to myself, is completely redundant. Obviously if you are a pensioner you are old. Although sometimes you are old and not a pensioner because you have to still work. Then I realised that was my third world self speaking.

In countries with less social help you generally do not consider yourself a pensioner until you reach a certain age. And at that age you hope for a state pension but you can’t really guarantee it will sustain you – you need savings/family/friends to help you get by within comfortable means.

I realised in Britain they have to put that ‘old age’ bit on because actually, they do sometimes have people who are not old but pensioned. Whether because of a disability or because they served their country or some very clever loophole allowing them to capitalise early. There are actually people who might be on pensions who are not technically ‘old’.

Despite so many years here I am still occasionally surprised by the differences in the first world and the ummmh not first world.




Filed under anecdote, family, news, Uncategorized

Doggy style

I was talking to one of my siblings who has a friend with three dogs of varying sizes and shapes who are all an integral part of his lifestyle. The dogs often go travelling around with him as part of a rambunctious furry family. This has, however, lead to aspirations of human grandeur among at least one of them.

One of the dogs apparently flat out refuses to sit on the floor. He will always gravitate to the nearest chair and failing that, if kicked out by an ignoble human, will contemplate perhaps the dog basket. But never the floor.

‘But what,’ we asked, ‘does he do if he is out and about, surely there must come a time when he’s (dog) tired and needs to sit down?’

Apparently he flat out refuses to do this and will wander around forlorn for ages looking for a vacant chair.

Sometime though even this proves impossible as there just isn’t anywhere to sit, whether dog or human.

But apparently ┬áhe has come up with a solution to this – the floor STILL not being an option.

He simply sits on top of one of the other dogs. I’ve been told that they have become accustomed to this situation occurring and have learned to live with it.

Whatever means must in order to be kept in the manner accustomed…

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Filed under anecdote, animals, family

Dying Young

Plus one and I were chatting and he mentioned how old he was before he attended a funeral. It was pretty old. Like university or beyond. This seems the English way. Either they don’t know anyone important to them who has died (first world problem, people live forever!) or they aren’t ‘allowed’ to go to the funeral when they are young.

I can’t really relate to this because, culturally, I was taught memorials and funerals were the last chance to say goodbye. (And potentially my parents were just bad at finding babysitters).

One of my cousins died when I was pretty young. He was a good few years older than me but on that side of the family, the closest in age to me. He was, however, eternally adult in my eyes, two heads taller than me. I did not particularly like him. He spent his time either ignoring me or teasing and tormenting me and I remember him throwing my dog into the pool while I cried hysterically in order to prove that ‘all dogs can naturally swim’.

My mother always thought it was quite tough on him, as he was so different looking from the rest of the family, he knew he was adopted. My aunt did dote on him but her brother was always one to rub in that blood is blood and he was clearly not blood so I’m sure my cousin must sometimes have felt the slight of this. That, and growing up in a small town in South Africa in the dregs of the apartheid era where being ‘different’ probably wasn’t the best thing.

His life and his hobbies are captured in his room like something out of ‘Boys Own’ of the 70s. There are vintage cars on the curtains, a crochet blanket on the bed. A weavers nest with pride of place above it. A loud ticking clock and framed butterflies which he used to catch in the veld beyond and then mount, neatly labelled.

That was the innocent side of him. The side that teased me got caught kissing a girl in the house when he thought his parents would be out and perpetrated mischief in the neighbourhood.

Still only 17 he and his friend went driving on his friend’s farm, both underage but not a big deal in farming society. I imagine they were still inexperienced and reckless and wound the windows down and went really fast, yelling and shouting with teenage joy. The car hit some stones, rolled and the friend was killed instantly. The coroner said my cousin lived on for a bit after the crash but it is unlikely he suffered, that he was probably not conscious due to the head trauma. I’m not sure that wasn’t said to make the family feel better. Either way, both died at the scene.

It was a closed casket funeral. The body was not in any state to be viewed. The men of the family who did in order to identify it said it was not a pleasant experience. I know the funeral was not shared with the friend who died. Strangely I have no real memories, which one would expect, of my cousin’s classmates rallying at the funeral or of them standing up and speaking for the dead. I mostly just remember my family taking over the whole day, the little that I do recall.

I remember not feeling particularly sad. If anything, a little bored. And maybe a little thrilled at wearing nice clothing for the day. It’s only when I got older I wondered how it would have been if my cousin had been with us longer, would our relationship have evolved as the age gap ‘narrowed’ in the way it tends to once you reach adulthood. Or would he still have remained the elusive tease I dreaded seeing?



Filed under family, Relationships, social

I’m just not a nice person

The news headlines a few days ago were filled with images of a three year old Syrian boy who had drowned trying to reach ‘safety’. I read a follow up article on the family a few days ago. The aunt in Canada had sent this poor boy’s father around 4000 euros in order to pay for passage for him, his mother, his sibling and dad into Europe. The only survivor was the father.

They had chosen to flee because a brother in law had been beheaded and an older brother had been refused refugee status to Canada due to paperwork he could not complete because of a collapsed government system so they felt absconding into Europe was the only solution.

This has become hugely controversial lately. Media is divided completely in the middle, there is no middle ground.

You are either xenophobic and say these people are infringing upon my home, my safety, my resources. They are not stopping to register at the first safe port for refugee status but in many instances are flocking en masse to countries they feel will be more likely to hand out substantial state aid and benefits, way beyond countries where their lives could be considered endangered and where they should have first applied.

Or you are of the second camp who say, these people, they have lost so much, noone would suffer so much risk to life if they were not more fearful of where they were before and they are people and should be treated as such. We owe it to ourselves and them to assist as far as possible in rehousing them where they want to be.

I’m neither.

I sympathise with their stories. I remember almost crying on a nightclub floor as a Zimbabwean I met told me he could never return ‘home’ in current circumstances. He was legally in England but he had nothing to go home to in Africa.

I do not understand some of the news stories however, I cannot help but question the parts of the stories people are not telling. How they were presumably shipwrecked but managed to keep their cellphones bone dry. How they think threats of violence are acceptable means to ensure welcome into the country of their choice. Even as I wonder at what terrible hardships they may also be hiding deep in their psyche.

The drowned boy’s family was a prime example of this. That was a LOT of money to send via electronic transfer to pay for passage. I find it hard to believe with that amount of money they couldn’t get counterfeit papers to appease the Canadian government to come to Canada as sponsored refugees. Corruption in places of war and fallen governments are fairly typical tales in most of history.

I couldn’t understand why failing that they had not managed a tourist visa for Canada which would have been easier to get and then flown over and ‘disappeared’ into the country after. Goodness knows South Africa is full of people who have done this. England is full of South Africans, Indians, East Europeans who have done this. It is no way to live and you are always on the breadline but you are alive compared to the horrors you may be trying to flee.

I feel like many of these refugee stories are only half told. I want the full story before I can really say I believe or I don’t in their plight. But noone likes a fence sitter in these circumstances.


Filed under family, modern living


There is apparently a news report about some parents in France who forgot their 3 year old on the side of the highway. Shock horror.

Actually, I don’t see the big deal. One of my ex’s claimed his mom once forgot him at the grocery store when she took his cousins with her and lost count of the kids. Obviously, his brother thought this was a windfall and didn’t bother point out there was one less child in the car.

My uncle would regularly have his kids sound off to make sure he hadn’t misplaced one. Even so, we cousins briefly managed to lose the younger group who were all under the age of ten at the time at the Rand Easter Show after deciding riding a roller coaster they were too small for was a good idea. Unfortunately, our independent minded younger siblings wandered off in the interim. We had a panicked half hour before they turned up again. I suppose an argument could be made why on earth the adults in charge thought it was smart to leave about thirteen children all under any legal working age in most countries with child protection laws unattended in a place like the Rand Show. My only excuse is it was a different era perhaps and that side of the family were quite big on survival of the fittest and natural selection so left us to our own devices quite a lot.

This never did explain my mother however. I remember calling her before the days of mobile phones being the norm. She answered and went ‘Who is this?’ and then ‘How are you calling me?’ At which point I almost lost it and pointed out OBVIOUSLY I wasn’t in the house and would not be home for lunch because she had forgotten to pick me up at the shopping centre and this was a public telephone. This was only a few months after she’d done exactly the same thing at the school (which was an occurrence that I was to undergo about three times vs my siblings none – I don’t know if she was trying to tell me something). The school had actually been worse as it had involved being completely alone in falling darkness, even the maintenance staff having left and having to knock on doors to try please ask if I could call my home as the ticky box was now locked up too and I didn’t have any money anyways as I didn’t expect to be there then.

On these occasions the reaction was similar. It was somehow my fault that they had neglected to pick me up after telling me I should wait for a later lifting time because my siblings needed to be dropped off all over town first and I could ‘work in the library’ were the exact words rather than sit in a hot car. Of course, once everyone arrived home, noone actually said someone is missing. It was the same accusatory attitude I was inconveniencing supper by not being present.

My parents were not bad parents. But scatty. So scatty. A lesson in survival if nothing else. And an era when these things were possible. I have no doubt if this had happened today I would probably be in foster care.


Filed under family