Category Archives: social

What is democracy?

There was a big protest this weekend. People jumping up and down again about how we need another referendum because the people who voted for Brexit were obviously mistaken and have all changed their minds (according to the people protesting) and therefore the country deserves to have another shot at voting. Something about ‘the People’s Vote’.

Now whether or not you voted remain or Brexit I have an issue with these protests. A massive one. If they succeed and we have to vote again, you have undermined the whole point of democracy.

You get to have a referendum. You do a bit of research. You vote. You don’t necessarily like the consequences of that vote but THAT is the idea behind the people have spoken. If you didn’t vote then you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you didn’t do your research you don’t get to complain. If you did vote and you did your research but you didn’t campaign your whole neighbourhood to take up arms and follow you BEFORE the vote you don’t get to complain. You move on and try work out how to make the result work.

I come from a country where for years a large portion of the population was denied the vote. When it was finally given, it was a gift worth standing in the sun for hours to use. A lot of people don’t like the party currently in power but the expectation is that this is something that may pass and in the meanwhile, you make your vote count or you get out and emigrate. Our history and the history of our neighbours has taught us that a FAIR democracy is supposed to involve accepting the results of a properly run election (where noone has cheated – okay this can get debatable) even if you don’t like it. If you don’t like the results and you keep redoing the election/referendum/whatever, it is no longer a democracy. It’s just a bunch of people or a person being autocratic and forcing everyone down the path you want them to follow. Just keep trying again til I get the result I want why don’t I?

A few countries succeed like this – like Singapore, where to all intents and purposes, one party has still resulted in a successfully run state. But that is the exception not the rule. Generally speaking when you have one party – or the illusion of other parties but everyone has to vote for that one ruling party who are destined to win anyways, it is NOT a democracy and moreover NOT  a nice place to live. I don’t see all of you moving to North Korea.

I’m not saying I’m pro Brexit at all. I’m not saying I’m against either. What I am against is people taking away a fundamental right I thought I was accessing in living in England. The idea that my vote meant something the first time. And yes, maybe this is bigger than one political party winning for a few years then getting voted out. But that’s just more proof that you should think more carefully before you put your sticky fingers on the ballot page next time. A wake up call because so many people here are complacent about their vote. And whatever the result of that ballot, that you find a positive way to move forward from it once it’s over.

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Filed under dreams, equality, politics, social, Uncategorized

Media junkie

It has occurred to me I may have repeated my thoughts while blogging. I’ve decided this is probably due to two things. One I have a very bad memory and can’t remember what I may or may not have written before.  So for that I can only apologise.

And two, my life probably just isn’t that interesting. I am therefore not on twitter and was never really that into the idea of Facebook updates even before people got paranoid that they were being stalked by various governments, terrorists and marketing agencies on it.

I just don’t have such an interesting life. I don’t think anyone really wants to see a picture of my lunch. Or the fact that I don’t travel around daily which means if I was to instagram my life there are only so many times you want to see the road I walk down or the flowerbed outside my office unless you are really into seeing how the homeless guy is doing or that the flowerbed has been weeded since last week. It would literally be like watching paint dry. While leftovers chucked out a lunchbox, even if strategically organised around a plate are still going to look like leftovers jumbled up.

As much as I’d like to therefore give up my job and just aim at meaningless reviews on the internet in pseudo ironic ways and get paid to do so, that just isn’t going to happen as a result. Then again I suppose if I didn’t have a job and that was my job I might have more time to sit in random hipster coffee shops posting pictures of the fern leaf pattern in my low fat almond milk latte, followed by hashtag great yoga sesh and snippy limited character commentary on the cat next door. (Which also isn’t going to happen as there is no cat next door. Then again, I’m not sure half the people online don’t just make stuff up occasionally as they are so busy visualising their lives through the eyes of others they may not actually be living it.)

 

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Trashy TV

I have a secret which I don’t really like to admit. I love a bit of car crash ‘documentary’ television now and then on the sly. I was fascinated with the pure white trash value of Honey Boo Boo and was actually sad when it was cancelled – as I loved being both horrified by the family (who seemed to have a dim grasp of hygiene and food nutrition, never mind language) and enamoured by them as they managed a certain level of communication that my family is often not capable of. Not to mention they seemed to be fully aware they were complete rednecks, even going to a ‘redneck festival’ at one point.

I followed the Duggars for awhile. Their lives were horribly dull but it fascinated me they were the polar opposites of Honey Boo Boo’s family as they followed a strict Puritan lifestyle and populated the earth like rabbits believing it was ‘God’s will’ . The joys of internet downloading meaning I could fast forward the dull bits and wonder at a family so religious they don’t allow dancing or trousers/pants on their daughters (who all have to also keep long hair and never expose their shoulders) and yet the girls spend literally hours doing hair and make up. The home schooled younger children seem to live a blissful barefoot life with minimal education beyond the Bible and hands on visits to places to learn practically while many of the boys wander around like Davey Crocket Macgyver type characters. In the early episodes kids as young as nine were assigned a drill and allowed to walk in sandals to help put their house together- isn’t that child labour?

The Duggars like Honey Boo Boo have come under huge scandal lately with abuse stories and tales of rebellion rife. They really were better off before anyone hit puberty and it was all really a lot more fun when there was no real drama.

I followed some overly dramatic tattoo show at one point which was confused whether the stars of the show were the tattoos or the tattoo artists who bickered and squabbled like high school premadonnas. The body ink was interesting to see but the show was also clearly built on these highly emotion ‘reality show’ moments created which must surely have been at least partially contrived.

The latest offering I caught on Netflix in this genre this weekend was a girl based in America creating couture Japanese ‘Lolita’ style dresses and her bevvy of models and assistants. She looks young and innocent and claimed to have a boyfriend based abroad who would pop up on skype now and again. This show once again made me wonder at the star(s) of the show. There is a sort of naivety and a I-am-oblivious-to-the-camera attitude. There are hints of the models having other jobs and scraping to get by. But everyone is always immaculately attired, even after ‘all nighters’ or very coolly scruffy. And I suspect incredibly savvy. This girl probably looks younger than she is but was clearly clever enough to put together a successful business even before the show started paying her to be on it.

I wondered if her boyfriend was actually an actor too given she has been in the states for four years, when did she meet him? And his name is not particularly typical from her nation (neither was his accent to be honest). Given at least part of the show is based on her actual life it’s always good to provide a barrier between you and possible stalker types.

I debated if anyone would ever be willing to film me – or is my life just that dull? And even if they were, could I deal with all the PT in looking like I ‘just got out of bed’ but am somehow still teasingly tousled and cutely attired, not just dishevelled in an old t-shirt? I’m not saying reality tv is an easy way of making a living but ALL these shows always seem to land up at some point at a luxury spa/hotel and touring some extravagant place I could never afford. Even Honey Boo Boo. One could do worse.

 

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Washing optional

This has been a horrendous week on public transport. One of those where the fat people always want to sit next to me and then bump me the whole time that I need to give them part of my seat. To be honest I don’t really mind that much.

Possibly because it has been freezing cold a number of people seem to have decided that cleaning is optional. I speak of themselves. Their bodies, their hair, their teeth. It’s a toss up what is worse. The cloying sour-floral smell of B.O. and layers of perfume, the stench of the unbrushed dog breath or the overpowering cutting aroma of a chain smoker’s tobacco mouth.

This is often combined with the concept that drycleaning or airing a coat is unnecessary and mothballs are the scent of success.

But that is probably a really cruel thing for me to say and it therefore serves me right when Plus One comments it’s astounding how easily my hair picks up the odour of food when I open the oven and bend over it. That it is roast chicken scented for hours after!

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Unique codifier

I’m not really a fan of hugely unique names for children. I think naming your child ‘Apple’ or ‘Lourdes’, even if you are a celebrity, something akin to child abuse. I’m never too sure some of the old names that went quaintly and quietly out of fashion bouncing back was a good idea either, even if I like a sense of history. (See the host of Rosies and Emelias and Gerties and Noahs that popped up for awhile)

I am starting to see the merit in giving children not too common names, even if not too unusual, as my parents somehow succeeded in doing. I also really like my surname more than Plus One’s. I tried to explain to him this is because it is far more unique in the world than his.

Lately I’m really valuing the merits of this. I am finding the projects I’m working a through pain in the backside because so many of the names on the projects are repeated. It’s inconceivable how many times a Dave and a Mark and Smit and an Addams or whatever has been repeated. Sometimes the first names. Sometimes almost surprisingly the surnames too, or variations thereof. So Smit and Smith and Smuts. Not really the same but similar enough for someone like me with an auto fill function to my email to hit the wrong person. Likewise for the first names.

Sometimes I get lucky and the wrong first name still has some relevance to the email. Sometimes the person is so out of context in terms of project and job function this results in quizzical emails back with the person on the other end clearly questioning my competence.

I exaggerate slightly quite how often this has gone wrong but if you ask me, once is one time too many.

I fully understand now why my old boss said, after we hired someone with the same first name as him, after three months of misdirected calls and a really delusional misdirection aimed at a twentysomething just starting out life with an active social life instead of a staid director in the prime of managerial hell, ‘We are NEVER employing someone with the same name as me ever again. No,’ (to the other director trying to placate him) ‘If that person really appears to be so AMAZING you want to hire him, he can bloody well change his first name if he wants to work here.’

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The things we surf

Was just debating the stuff I have looked up on the internet over the past year. And what these idiotic search engines that stalk and memorise the sites I go to must profile me out as.

My searches have included:

  • Video footage of a guinea fowl running (they cheer me up no end without fail)
  • Where is Dawid Malan the English cricketer from because with a name like that can he really be English?
  • World War 1 flying aces
  • Properties near my house
  • Places – tourist traps, hotels, transport – where I might one day go holiday if I had a sackload of money
  • Furniture
  • The option of getting an owl as a pet – specifically a burrowing owl
  • Body fat muscle ratios of women
  • How to make a yorkshire pudding
  • Restaurant menus in places I will never go eat at due to location/price/menu choices
  • How to grow various vegetables (which I have promptly never bothered to grow)
  • Random items on Amazon – rarely books – that I might one day want to own from jewellery to toasters
  • The fourth state of matter – I thought there was only gas/water/solid but the Science Museum said plasma counted (I think it was plasma)
  • Currency exchange rates
  • What time the shops open
  • Where is the bank
  • News24
  • Which universities were top in the world
  • Cellphones that could explode on planes
  • When a Brazilean musician is touring again internationally

The thing that I really resent is that these searches ARE being tracked as I’ve been getting adverts appropriate to these random searches.

Just a pity that if these people had any sense, they would realise there is no correlation between what I read on the internet and my own personal reality half the time.

 

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Human/Animal Rights

So I had a call today about an industrial unit which has basically been repossessed. We’ve always had a suspicion the rodent problem in the area may be due in part to this unit which was a ‘flour factory/bakery’ . I’ve seen reports of health and safety issues centred around cleanliness in the days when it was open.

Anyways. It’s been locked up for a few months now and at last inspection I was told there was a cat inside that had refused to leave. Although somewhat concerned about it, they were unable to chase it out and eventually decided it might be getting in and out via some other means although the unit looked sealed up. (Same as the rats)

It emerged today skinny but alive and very keen on rubbing its flea ridden self up against the guys taking stock of the situation. They called the RSPCA who, I believe, referred the case to a cat charity who said they would come past to pick up the animal. Who had clearly somehow survived on drinking water from a tap and rats/birdseed/coffee/flour/kidney beans or who knows what that the place is still fully stocked with. I assumed it was feral but the guys were informed by the neighbour this WAS actually it’s home – unlike the definitely feral furries who roam a few units down and who’ve I’ve seen lolling in the sun and doing unspeakable things in public. It had been brought in as a pest control measure by the owner who had left behind not just a fully stocked unit but his ‘rat trap’.

A few hours later I had a call back. The charity had now back tracked on coming to pick up the cat and were now claiming it had ‘roaming rights’ and should not be interfered with. We suspect the shelter might be full.

Either way. Someone tried to pick it up (fleas and all) and got scratched for his trouble. Probably a lawsuit in that somewhere if the scratches get infected. They then tried to chase it out but it wised up to its possible eviction and scuttled away. They’ve had no choice but to lock it back in for another few days until we work out what to do about all the contents in the unit, which will now include one evasive kitty.

We can only assume if it survived this long it can manage over the weekend. Even if it can’t, we can’t apparently interfere with its ‘roaming rights’ for the time being.

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Diary Reads

I have to admit I’ve often thought if I was to become a bona fide author I’d consider a diary format novel. It has the simplicity of being able to start and stop and rant at random for long or short clips as it suits you. Because that’s what real diaries probably do.

The one possible exception being Anne Frank’s diary. I’ve always found that a tedious and difficult read, not to mention depressing. Almost every entry lasts forever as she had nothing else to do except write. Poignant yes. But I’ve never managed to share the enthusiasm so many others have for the book but saying that out loud is a no-no. Like admitting you are a blatant racist who kicks puppies for a hobby.

I took the latest Bridget Jones’ Diary out the library. I detested the first book and never read the second as consequence. Funny enough, I don’t mind the movies as much. My issue with the books are they really are written like someone who can’t be bothered to put words down for eternity but feels compelled to write something down. In truth, they also read a lot like emails from a certain member of my family who assumes you already know the context of whatever the story is. And who leaves out random words that would help the flow of language because somehow this works out as ‘abbreviation’ and ‘time saving’. Bridget Jones’ Diary is written in exactly the same same style. The style of one who knows better but can’t be asked to spell check or pause long enough between brain and keyboard to ensure that all the words in their heads have actually made it onto the page.

Most of all though I detest how ridiculously sanctimoniously fortunate Bridget is. Oh, yes, of course, especially in the third book she has undergone great personal tragedy. But then many others have too. Most people do not, however, manage to live in the very centre of London (even if it is run down and noisy) by themselves in a one bed flat. They don’t manage to not only stay employed despite blatant incompetence, personal issues and hangovers but get promoted, moving steadily onto a dream job. Despite gross indecision and rash behaviour have the option of landing a few men at the same time and being given enough second and third chances to pick the right one. They don’t naturally land up being able to somehow stay on the borders of Hampstead Heath where property is at a premium playing at being scatty, bohemian and despite everything, ‘lovable’.

I remember rewatching the movie when I was single and convinced I’d be alone forever. I still have those days. The movie was screamingly more funny than I remembered because I WAS now old enough to be that singleton, which hadn’t worried me so much when I first watched it. And tragically more sad when it ended and I realised in frustration Bridge had, despite everything, landed a man, The Man. And I was still, like she was at the start, sitting on my sofa in my PJ’s, in a dead end job, single, with no clear indication how to move on.

 

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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?

 

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Ageing gracefully

There is a lady who catches the same bus as me most mornings now. It sounds cruel but if one were to describe her, you are likely to use the words ‘drab’ or ‘stodgy’. Her hair is regularly coloured and clipped, but lank and limp. She’s picked up a few kilos over time and tries to hide this with dark coloured shapeless long skirts, blouses and jackets. She walks like someone who struggles a bit with her health.

If she was a bit richer or vainer, she’d probably get hair extensions and blow dries, structured designer clothing and maybe a personal trainer who would shape up her figure and add a bit more vim to her walk. If she had more natural flair (like my beloved blogger friend, Footloose) she’d just exude flair irrespective of what she was wearing. She’d give off a sense of vitality and energy. As it is, everything just seems a little bit run down for her.

My mother used to be very vain. Even when there was very little money while I was growing up she somehow found petty cash to perm and colour her hair. As she got older, she got a bit more indifferent to exactly how good her hair looked. (To be fair, she has pointed out once it thins to a certain point, it’s optimism and nothing else that will allow you to do anything with it). She’s also thrown out dressy in favour of comfy. The woman who would wear skirts so short and tight she couldn’t sit now believes stretchy pants are the way forward.

Some people never seem to cross that line between image and comfort. Some slide oh, so easily over it, even in youth.

I’m wondering which way I’d go?

It’s hard to say when elements like health, wealth and time must obviously feature in a massive way on this, unless your ego is so massive it overwhelms all of these external factors.

 

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