Posts Tagged ‘children’

No, Michael, sometimes it’s not a beautiful day

I’ve got this thing about Michael Buble. I can’t cope with him. I can’t cope with his endlessly cheery face and his insistence that he’s totally in love with me, even if he hasn’t met me yet. I’m glad he knows that some day it will all work out and that he’s having a beautiful day and that he’s feeling good and that he has a Christmas album full of love and cheery things and smiles and….. bleeeeurh. 

 

Sorry, I just vomited. 

 

“I can’t stop myself from smiling…. Let me tell you all the reasons why I think you’re one of a kind… And I’m feeling good…” and on and on and on, he goes. About his fabulous happiness and about how much he loves everyone.

 

You know what I want? Every time I hear one of his songs, I listen out for a line that says something like, “I’m a filthy crackwhore and I hate everyone….” Not because I think he’d be much improved, but because he’d seem a bit more human. Maybe he doesn’t need to go that far. Maybe he could just say, “I felt like rubbish the other day so I ate 23 chocolate bars and got drunk by myself at home.” I mean, even that would just round of his edges a little. 

 

He’s too plastic cheerful, like bubblegum or a colourful child’s toy that they learn to hate when they grow up because of it’s stupid cheery tunes and bright colours and you can never find the off switch so you’re forced to listen to an endless stream of squeaky-tuned silly-voiced madness…. 

 

I don’t hate him or anything. I just want him to do something naughty, give someone a wedgie live on television or release an angst ridden song, full of self-doubt and edginess. Maybe he should cover Smells Like Teen Spirit? O, but you know what would happen? He’d get a big band in there, 15 trumpets minimum, he’d have a big smile on his face, he’d do a few Elvis-esque leg-shake moves and he’d bop around having made it, somehow, into a cheery song to make you smile on a winter’s day. 

 

Winter doesn’t bother him in fact. He just dons a fluffy coat, gets some ice skates on and bops around an ice rink, smiling, endlessly smiling, and talking about how great snow is and Christmas and how he loves Santa and wants to be Santa and spread cheer and happiness and he never falls over on the ice. O no! He skates perfectly. And you know what? Even if he were to fall over on the ice, you know what he’d do? Give us a winning smile, say something like, “It’s a beautiful day to fall over on the ice,” sing a little ditty then bounce straight up, inviting the small children to hold his hand and skate in a line, laughing and being jolly.

 

Now, it’s ok to be a generally positive person. That’s ok, I get that. But he’s been saying it for quite a while now and sometimes I just want to shake him and say, “Michael, shhhhh for once, sometimes it’s NOT a beautiful day, alright?!”

 

A final word on his surname, what’s going on there? It’s Bubble, right? Bubble, like bubblegum, like bright colours and bubbles being popped and happiness and children having fun and gaiety. Just like Micheal Buble himself. Ridiculous.

The life I almost had; the reblog

It’s time for Remember The Time with Emily and Kelly again. This week, it’s wildcard time so I’ve dug through previous posts and found one about the time I became a TV presenter. That’s right. Became a TV presenter.

image

“Another career I pursued quite seriously when I was younger was as a presenter. I had my own TV programme. This one’s quite embarrassing so be supportive, please….

The show was called ‘Parents, Get Out’ and I presented it from my bed, the ceiling being the camera. I would start by saying, ‘ok kids, it’s time for the parents to get out!’ and the TV would have a sensor so it could detect any adults in the room. I wouldn’t start the show until I could see that all the parents had gone.

I’d then spend the next hour (actually I don’t know how long it really was but it felt like ages) talking about kid’s stuff. I don’t know what exactly I chatted about. The best part is that I did it all in a faux American accent, which I thought I was pretty good at.

I had ‘co-presenters’ too. Two guys called John and Nathan, I think. In the middle of an item I was presenting I’d stop and hold my hand to my ear and go “Ok John, that’s fascinating, great, yeh, I’ll hand over to you now. Kids, here’s John, he’s got a great story for us.” And then I’d lie there looking at the camera (ceiling) for a few minutes, in silence, while I imagined the other news story going on.

I don’t know how long the programme ran for but I remember doing it for a long time, enough to perfect my pretend accent. Maybe the TV company took us off air because we were too successful, we were stealing all the viewers. It was probably jealousy and a feeling of inferiority from others which got us shut down.

Well, maybe if I hit 40 and I’ve not achieved worldwide domination of the music charts or become a bestselling author, I know I’ve got that to fall back on. It’s always good to have a back up plan.”

Meritocracy, privilege or equality?

Good morning all. Wednesday brings my guest blogger, Rambler5319, and his post prompting by a certain new arrival on the UK scene…

 

Last week LLM mentioned the birth of a certain baby: George Alexander Louis – one who is now 3rd in line to the throne here in the UK. (According to the statistics he is just one of 14,000 babies born in the UK last week.) The birth has stirred up interest in a particular area over the past week or so – privilege and the benefits it confers on later generations. Some people are not happy about those who simply inherit a pot of money or land or a title, and don’t have to work for it; others are quite content to live in a society where there will always be inequalities. My reason for writing about the subject is that the BBC dedicated a whole programme on the radio to a discussion on the subject. They have a discussion series called The Moral Maze and it tries to tackle controversial issues; it uses the format of a panel who question “witnesses” (3 or 4 on each prog) who come to state their case on the subject for the week.

Many folks consider life (in general) is unfair: those with money and privilege seem to get access to jobs, education and many other opportunities, those without don’t. The difficulty comes when we or the state take the view that the “playing field” should be levelled so that all have an equal opportunity to get the position under consideration be it a place at university, a job or membership of a club or team. How can it be done? Some would say we already have that in that anyone can apply but that it’s an equality of outcome that would be the best solution. For that to happen though certain things would have to be put in place which might seem unfair to those who do not get what they believed they deserved.

First principle to think about is – do we believe in the idea that if you work hard and get the results you need in exams for instance you should get the place that was offered? However if we then have a situation, as has happened in the UK in recent years, that for example the government wants more people from, as they put it, poorer sections of society to go to university how can that be achieved? Their answer is that you help them with maybe some extra teaching or finance or bursary payment. This though puts the university admission system under great strain because how do they decide between two candidates applying for say one place? Do they admit a person from a poor background who needs financial aid or say a middle class person who can afford to go because their parents simply have more money than the poorer person? Do you see the problem? Yes, they can admit say 10 people from poorer backgrounds to various courses but in order to do that 10 people from what is considered a higher social group have to be excluded. Is that fair or is it simply what we would call social engineering – making a university population a cross section of the wider society in terms of its social & financial groupings? Is that more morally right? Shouldn’t the emphasis be on the academic achievements of the candidates for the places and other factors come in afterwards? If the grade required in a particular subject is for example a “C” and there are two applicants – one has an “A” and one a “B”. Suppose the B grade applicant is from the poorer background – can you see the problem? Why should one way be more right than another? How many students from poor backgrounds would we expect to find in say some of the top universities like Oxford or Cambridge? It is not simply a case of grades it is also one of expense once you’re there. A further problem arises if, as history tends to confirm, that the people from the poorer social grouping, for one reason or another, don’t do as well academically as those from the more affluent neighbourhoods. Again this is not necessarily down to the child. It may be that the school itself has a poor record and one of the reasons for that might be due to poorer quality teachers ending up in say schools in poorer areas. The child may have come from a family in which education was not valued & books were not read. It could even be that the parents were just not interested in the child; perhaps it was not even wanted. There are a number of possible reasons and we can’t just blame or highlight one.

Second principle to think about is that of inheritance. Is it morally right that you or I as a parent should seek to do our best for our children? Do we believe that if we work hard and accumulate wealth during our lives that we have the right to pass it on to our children? In other words should you get what are called your “just deserts”? I think most people would say that this system seems fair – if you work hard, you get the rewards. Again we can do this in a number of ways but in the final analysis a big question is about what we leave behind for them. Suppose the parents “work their socks off” so they can pay off their mortgage so that their children can inherit their house and not be in debt. Should those parents be penalised for having worked really hard to be able to leave their children money or property or whatever? One speaker in the programme suggested that those who leave “excessive wealth” should have it taken off them. When challenged by the panel as to what he would define as excessive of course he couldn’t and also couldn’t say who should do the defining. The panel’s conclusion was quite simply that his idea amounted to straightforward theft!

Another speaker used the phrase when speaking of the opportunities that it was “unacceptably unfair” to those at the bottom of the social scale. As with the previous point, he was unable to properly define “unacceptably”. In the end he went down the route of saying that some things were unacceptably unfair but not all. He then went on to discuss the idea of rewarding those who “fulfil their potential”. In other words if you are not so clever academically and are expected to attain a grade C and you then do or perhaps achieve even higher, say a B you should be rewarded. This is a nice idea but think about this – suppose a student who was expected to achieve an A just misses it and gets a B. If both are applying to the same university, who is more deserving of the place? – Both have got B grades but to whom would you give the place if you had to make the decision? And why?

The last speaker came up with another generalisation: it’s unfair that bright kids from poor working class backgrounds are losing out to middle class kids who are less bright. I’m not sure how you could prove that. Surely I’d be just as “right” to say that bright middle class kids are losing out to bright working class kids because the latter are being favoured by the social engineering going on in higher education entrance procedures.

Now there isn’t time to go into all the arguments for & against but it seems clear to me that it will be incredibly difficult to move from our present position. Consider this – those who say the present system is unfair because a certain person only “got in” or “got the job” because they were born into a higher income family, than those who did not, haven’t got a practical alternative. If the current system is deemed unfair then how can you replace it with one which bestows favour on lower income groups in order to level things up a little? That just means there will be similar cries of unfairness by those who qualified but were discriminated against in the interests of some social policy either by the state or the institution concerned. You will simply be replacing one unfair system with another unfair one. So can anything help? Do we just have to accept that, as has been the case throughout history, in a society where money buys things those with the most can buy the most of whatever it is – material possessions or access to jobs & education? Is it unfair that one is born into a rich family and one into a poor?

Summer in England

Ah. Summer in England. What a glorious thing to behold. It took a while getting here but now it is fabulous.

The skies are blue. The grass is green. The flowers are emerging.
image

Trees are a shock of loud greens instead of the twigs they have been during the seven month winter.
image

Colourful clothing is being worn again. Pale sun-starved flesh is getting an airing with mass shorts and t-shirt wearing.
image

Iced coffee is fashionable. The new ice cream shop in town finally has customers!
image

Groups of trendy city-workers let their hair down and drink pink champagne from plastic cups on the green.
image

My neighbours are feeling happy and generous and I get home to freshly baked biscuits on the doorstep.
image

We greet each other cheerily across the street, welcome each other in for cups of tea or homemade lemonade. The children who annoyed us yesterday suddenly seem sweet and funny.
image

We even go so far as to say it feels ‘too hot’! Older men play golf again, younger men get out their bikes again. The outdoor pools are open again and rammed with kids splashing about on sponge floats, almost hitting everyone else.
image

We drink more tea as, according the age old adage, it actually cools you down….?!
image

We eat dinner in the garden. We have barbecues.
image

We unearth the lawn from the general leafy debris that has gathered for months while we looked sadly out from the back window, not daring to step out. We get excited.

We love England. It’s the most wonderful place in the world. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be (except when the winter kicks in and we all run away to take holidays elsewhere).

image

Armchair activism…

Yesterday, I was back on the useful thing with a vengeance, so much so that I did about four useful things in one day! I know, I know, I’m so selfless. Four useful things in one day. Yes, that’s right. Four. I’ll be round to do autographs later. Let me tell you what they were.

Wear your heart on your wrist – order a bracelet from Doctors Without Borders
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Let your mouse save a child – visit a website which creates sponsorship through advertiser donations
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Meditate – to improve your mental wellbeing and your dedication to the other tasks in the book
(Going Greener by Simon Gear)

The thing with both of these books, and I knew I was going to have to confront this at some point, is that they are quite country-specific. Karen M. Jones is US-based and Simon Gear is in South Africa. Maybe, to give me a little more to do, I should look for a UK based one. Anyway, my first task was to look up Doctors Without Borders. Having the books on Kindle is great as the website addresses come up as links and I can just click on them – the laziest form of activism, yes I know. So when I clicked on the DWB link, it was an American website. I looked for the bracelet but needed a US address. I decided maybe a donation would be best. It was all in dollars and needed a zip code from me.

Then I saw a little button asking if I wanted to donate from outside America. Yes, please. Click! And I went to the UK site of Medicins Sans Frontieres. I hadn’t realised DWB was the US branch of MSF. I’ve always had good feelings about most of these ‘without borders’ organisations so got stuck into the website and found an easy way to donate by texting 70070 with the letters DOCS01 and an amount.

Easy! I’d like to think that I will train as a doctor and go out and save small children from terrible diseases but the truth is I probably won’t. There are people who have done it and are good at it. So for now, until I complete my degree in medicine with flying colours (any minute now), the best way I can help is by funding their work.

One quick text later and I was all done. First box ticked!

Second one. I was told to visit thechildhealthsite.com and click on things a bit. The sponsors who have adverts on the site will give money to different projects and charities that support healthcare for children. In the tabs at the top there are all different causes you can help simply by clicking. So I got a little click-crazy. I clicked to help the rainforests, improve literacy and stop hunger.

I’m steadily starting to understand the phrase ‘armchair activist.’

Lastly, I was advised by Simon Gear to take twenty minutes each day to meditate, without which, my dedication to my world-saving cause might suffer. So, thought I, I will do this. I will meditate my way to heroicism.

I made sure I was sitting comfortably. I set an alarm for twenty minutes away as checking the clock might disturb my deep and meaningful meditation session.

I closed my eyes… And cleared my thoughts out…. Sort of. A few crept in. I made a mental shopping list to ensure I wouldn’t forget anything. I worked out how many hours there were until I needed to be in work. I wondered if the rain would stop so I could go for a walk. Then I cleared my mind and tried again.

This time was more successful. I enjoyed this second attempt at meditation, although some people (not me), might say that that’s because it strongly resembled what most consider ‘sleeping.’ I was startled awake by the alarm… I mean, I was already awake.

I think meditation is something I’ll need to work on.

And the fourth thing, what about the fourth thing, you’re all wondering.

Well, I went shopping and bought environmentally friendly softener for washing my clothes. I also didn’t wrap my vegetables in plastic bags. I just weighed them and stuck the sticker straight on. Check me out, I’m such a rebel.

image

Here endeth the world saving for another day.

You clap. I bow.

The wisdom of children

Molly on rabbits:
“I like wibbits. I want a wibbit. And I tarry it. And tuddle it. And tiss it.”

Molly on hippos:
“I don’t like hippos.”

Molly on frogs:
“I don’t like froggies. I like wibbits.”

Molly on midday cuddles:
“It’s not tuddles time. It’s playing time.”

Molly on planes:
“A lane, a lane! I’ve got a lane at home”

Molly on swimming:
“I got doddles!” (goggles)
image

Ella on blackbirds:
“O, a blackbird! I’ve always wanted to see a blackbird!”

Ella on the lovely new book she was given as a present:
“O no. I don’t think there’s room on my bookshelf for this.”

Ella on her punishment after being naughty one day:
“Daddy, I think I should only have one book before bed, not two. Cause I’ve been very naughty today.”

Ella on the stars:
“O, look! A constellation. Look, the archer!” (She’s five, by the way.)

Ella on her best attributes:
“I’m the funniest girl in the class.”

Ella’s first joke:
“What sheep eats a flower? A strawberry!” (Don’t ask.)

Ella on history:
“Before the dinosaurs, there were cavemen and caveladies.”

Ella on her romantic prospects:
“When I grow up, I’m going to marry Adam. When I’m 13.”
image

My favourite Namibia memories

Making pizzas on Friday nights with one of our student’s mums.

Stuffing our faces at the Nest Hotel because we were pretty poor and ate mostly rice at home.

The time Fiona and I took a road trip round the whole country and had no radio so had to sing to each other all day.

Our comedy dog, Diaz, barking at the kids at school or following us around or weeing on the floor.

The time we were stranded in the desert with no water, no money or bank card, no ID, no suncream and no keys to get back into our car.

The time Lucy and I were painting murals on the wall in the creche where we taught and the kids started singing Atomic Kitten to us.

When I used to jump in the freezing cold swimming pool every morning at the guest house where I lived and worked in Namibia.

The time we walked out to Diaz Point, which took hours and hours, and we had three apples between us.

The time I lost control of the car and went on a little spin off the road with Fiona yelling “Steer into the spin!” and clinging onto the dashboard.

Singing the Amarula song with the kitchen staff at Grootberg Lodge.

One of my students, Zara, saying “Thank you for teaching us,” after a class.

Bungee jumping, like a loony, over the Zambezi River during a stay in Livingston.

Sleeping through the most important day in the Namibian calendar, their independence day, then making a story up for the newspaper afterwards (we ran the local town newspaper and we had to make up the main story of the whole year. Shoddy).

Climbing into the big wardrobe in Lucy’s room with our friend, Andre, to look for Narnia. We were sober, by the way.

Packing a tent, some sleeping bags, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a knife and walking to the campsite just out of town, Shark Island, and camping for the weekend to get away from it all.

Flinging ourselves in the pool to cool down after a hot sweaty bus journey back from Victoria Falls to Windhoek.

Taking a load of disadvantaged kids away for an activity week in the desert and, among other things, teaching them how to swim.

Drinking cups of rooibos tea and watching the sun set over the Atlantic ocean and the clouds and sky turning pink and purple and orange.

Fiona and I going to the coolest bar in town, Rumours, and graffitiing our names behind the bar.

Cutting my own hair because I had no money for hairdressers.

Going out to an old abandoned town in the desert with our friend, George, and him giving us Namibian names. Mine was Naufiku, which means ‘born in the evening.’

Fiona chucking a glass of triple shot Jaegermeister and coke on a car.

Going to badminton club on Tuesdays and being rubbish at it.