Some of my thoughts the day before voting

On top of my mantelpiece my polling card sits where I can see it waiting to be used, I’m glad I’ve got the freedom to vote, but I also feel generally disillusioned with politics. Over the last few weeks I’ve observed and heard trends that are concerning to me.

A few weeks ago I saw one of the main leaders being approached by someone who made their voice heard but the response was atypical of many politicians, the response was the usual script that many leaders adhere to on their campaign trails, I wish the response was more personal and direct, I wish the leader concerned bore in mind the person they were dealing with that they were not just a potential voter but a human being.   It struck me as distant and showed a lack of empathy.  We’ve all heard the same thing trotted out of politicians mouths we just want that politicians to be real not sounding like robots. Yes I completely understand they have to sell their various manifestos, that’s fine when dealing with the media, but when dealing with potential voters, that same tactic shouldn’t be used.  I like politicians to talk to people like they are one of us not above us but as us.  just maybe that’s too much to ask.

My other concern is more troubling its something that erodes are democracy, that’s extremism, sometimes it’s obvious sometimes it’s very subtle and sneaky.  It manifests itself through playing on people’s emotions, such as fear anger or desperation and pain, gives them false hope, they are often sold a vision without any substance, then swept along by emotion and encourage those with strong emotion to take action. Now I don’t see anything wrong with activism  as such but one thing I’ve noticed is they become so narrow in their thinking that anyone who is outside of their bubble is a threat to them and they resort to tactics such as intimidation to deal with that threat, ultimately they will try and shut down any real debate or anyone with a different opinion, which I believe is undemocratic.  I believe everyone has a right to a voice but not at the expense of everyone else’s voice. Minority groups are often targeted by these extreme groups, seemingly giving people the power to get their voices heard over everyone else’s, because they haven’t been heard, yes those who are minority’s should be heard but not be encouraged to go to extreme lengths to make that happen.  Ultimately they will probably lose because whoever shouts the loudest will not necessarily be heard, because they don’t want to listen to anyone else, so completely defeating the purpose.  Nothing wrong with being passionate about what you believe in but not when you become intimidating.

Thank God for secret voting,  I can shut the door on both these concerns as well as the noise of the confusing and muddling media. for as I walk into the peace and quiet of the polling booth tomorrow with my ballot paper, knowing that I can vote with a clear conscience knowing who I’m voting for and why.  I hope others entering the polling station will be able to do the same. I can then walk out with a smile on my face because I’ve used and allowed my democratic freedom to choose for myself without any fear or intimidation or frustration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The role of sin in our lives, but there is good news!

I bet the headline of this  blog post has you anxious that I’m going to write a post about all the sins you’ve committed in your life and harp on about it and makes you want to either scroll on by or click the x at the top of the screen or close the app on your phone, please don’t as that’s not what I’m going to write about.

I’m sure many of you today have been chomping away on chocolate Easter eggs or something like that,  the closest thing I got was a mini egg on one of Easter nest cakes at church  and yes many of you may feel guilty for over eating and berating yourselves for eating too much and some may even think I’ve just sinned.  Many times the message of the cross is that Jesus died for our sins.  Many of those reading this already know what your sin is and the consequences but WHY is sin such a big deal it’s because of it’s role in our lives.

The role of sin

There are 3 roles to sin that are worth knowing about and even many Christians don’t see this either.

1 Sin causes us to think we are separated from God

Most people have heard sin separates you from God but the truth is that sin and the resulting guilt, shame and condemnation causes you to think you are separated from God.  God was has and is always with his creation, he is not separate from it at all, when Adam sinned in the garden Adam hid himself FROM God, God was still present, when God called where are you Adam,  it wasn’t because God couldn’t see him he knew where he was but he wanted Adam to know he was there and very present indeed.  It was sin that convinced Adam to run from God and that there was a veil there between them.  When Jesus died he cried out “my god, my God, why have you forsaken me” he cried that out when he became sin, sin caused him to think that, he was God in the flesh after all there was no separation, at that point on the cross he knew what sin causes us to believe in our separation from God.

 

2 Sin causes us to believe the worst about God

There seems alot of folk who have real misconceptions about God. That he is distant, angry and one favorite expression of mine the unmoved mover.  He’s ready to whip,  beat and catch us doing wrong at any time and ready to throw judgement at us, nothing could be further from the truth, first of all Jesus told his disciples to call God Our Father.  A real good father is not remote or ready to lash out at you whenever you do wrong.  God is the best Father and wants everyone on this planet to relate to him in that manner, sin and will tell you otherwise. the Father that does not want you to be anxious for anything to provide for and love you though thick and thin and allows you to make your own choices and trusts you like any Good father does  and wants you to come to him freely. Sin will rob you of that notion believing the very opposite.

3  Sin causes you to think that there is absolutely nothing good about you as well as God.

Yep when God created  man (man and woman) he declared it was very good and not  just that he created man in his image and likeness, we are like God, we are not God but like him, just like when you look at a family member and see your eyes, or you hear them say something a certain way you think I’d say it like that.  They aren’t you but look and sound like you.  We are like God in that we look and sound like God and portray his nature in different ways.  The serpent in the Garden like sin convinces us we are not like God and we are dark humans walking the planet and there is nothing good about us.

The good news

The good news is Jesus when he died on the cross he wanted us to know three things

1 We are not separated from God,

2 Our Father  is love personified and is not mad at us at all rather he is mad at sin and it’s destructive nature in our lives and it’s purpose, putting distance between us and his love.

3  You are good, very good, he created you and is much good in you, your sin is masking that reality of your true nature.

For any reading this your wandering I get this but now what must I do,

Talk to Father God, he loves you he knows you intimately, you don’t have to do it in a religious fashion just be yourself, he loves you like that.  Ask him to remove the veil between you in your thinking and in your heart towards him.  Tell him what you think of him and that you need help in having a revelation of who he is, ask him to come alive to you on the inside and simply be open to receive the revelation of love because Father God is love.

A very happy Easter to you all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts as 2016 disappears

I haven’t blogged on here for a while, but I thought I would talk about the year and my thoughts on next year. So as I listen to the last few hours of the new year with the BBC Trunk of Funk, I’ll share my year with you.

I think 2016 has been rather a turbulent year in many respects. But lets start with January

January 2016 was rather cold from my notes from my facebook posts and I was still recovering from my stay in hospital a year before, thankfully no repeat hospital visit apart from an outpatients appointment in June, and back to my voluntary work.  I baked Oatmeal peanut butter squares that went down well, they were ok not my favourite bit of baking.  More politics re disabled people surfaced.

In February they changed the local bus service which I still find rather annoying, planning meeting anybody at my city centre, by car it takes 10 mins by bus more like 30 mins, it’s a nuisance, but you carry on and adjust the best you can, our local city council doesn’t want to invest in our public transport services so not much improvement planned.  I also did a morning’s dementia training which I really enjoyed.

March heralded in the spring and I met up with an old acquaintance from school, its certainly been a year of new found friendships and catching up with the old.

April heralded a visit to my friends up north and a prayer breakfast which I enjoyed thoroughly .

May I had a good bank holiday what I did I dnon’t know.

June was a great month for sunbathing, also a hot month for debating politics , the whole experience was depressing with a loss of friends needlessly and much people dramas which continued for a while and wore me out.  The UK got wore out with Europe and ande chose to leave the European union, I met up with some friends in a nearby city at the end of June a promptu meet up which I thoroughly enjoyed.

July had an xray on my arm which showed up nothing but eventually a physio suggested I had damaged my rotary cuff the part of the arm that connects the shoulder to the arm, which rotates it hence the name rotary cuff.  I also got to know a couple form my local church better which was lovely.

August heralded a time of spring cleaning and meeting a new friend who I’d met through facebook, great to meet new people a good time was had by all.

September is my birthday month, some relatives of mine came to see us from Europe and a meal out at a local indian restaurant. Also had a memorable appointment where the people treated me witht he greatest respect.  Spent a day out with a friend at a local weatherspoons where I had a curry which I enjoyed.

In October I got my first new fiver that has been released in the UK.

Movember heralded Trump being elected as the next US president, as far as politics is concerned all I can say on here it’s never been a more exciting time in politics.

December had some very intresting gatherings with people introduced to someone I wanted to meet, also met some new people, always look forward to meeting new people as you never know what comes of them.  Christmas week I ended up with an unpleasant chest infection, so these last two weeks have been rather quiet

As I write this its now 20 minutes till midnight. After a year where relationships have been tough and and a lot of introspection it’s easy to fall into a deep depression, I heard something on a podcast which I found helpful, live in the moment do what needs to be done today as what is done today impacts on the future, I’ve paraphrased that.  For those with a spiritual mindset it means take not thought for tomorrow as today has enough to deal with.  There are things i’m going to work on which God has spoke to me about, but also, endeavor  to make the most of each day I have as far as possible.  So I want to wish you all a happy, healthy and wonderful 2017 from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A satirical look at the last few years of UK politics

As things have been heating up in politics in the land of the British Isles for a while now, there’s never been a more exciting time to be alive and everything happening in Westminster and beyond proving to be of great stimulation not just to my intellectual side of my brain but my satirical one too.  I don’t think the British people have had so much opportunity to visit the polling booths and cast their influence on our government in years.  I wonder how many people have even thought of setting up  a polling station in their own homes particularly in Scotland where the voting addiction began and is set to continue for a few years to come.

Scotland was first to get their people to mark the spot on their ballot papers in 2014 for Independence , the decision to create an ocean between Scotland and Carlisle or maintain their travel links to any English destination.  It’s a wonder whether if they had decided to create an ocean there if they would have the capacity to swim in it, or try and look for lifejackets made by English manufacturers to rescue them.  Now they are trying to find access to the channel tunnel independently without travelling through Kent first to use the channel tunnel but their mentality is probably fly a plane as  it’s a great shortcut even if it places huge strain on the oil reserve.

Next came the general election but there was  some dispute over tv debates, I was starting to feel rather green when Cameron started to find every little excuse to not participate, and it left me feeling a little jaded after a while too.

The general election result surprised everyone including the pollsters who must have been taking hallucinogenic drugs because they obviously seeing some strange colours depicting their results.  Paddy Ashdown must have sold all his hats because I’ve never seen him wear one, I wonder if he ate anything at all after the results came through, maybe he went to live in a stable for a while as theirs plenty of straw to eat there enough for many hats.  Mind you I wouldn’t have wanted him ending up with a messiah complex that would not go down too well with many in the Lib Dems, even if their new leader claims to have some links with the messiah.

I can’t leave the topic of the Messiah out without talking about the next unforeseen event by the psychics.  In September of 2015 came the Labour leadership elections which resulted with out with the seemingly old new into the seemingly new old,  the reincarnation of Michael Foot came to win the leadership context from completely out of the blue or rather the 70’s, with many of his followers who had suddenly found yes you’ve guessed it their new messiah who they had been seeking for, some of the disenfranchised in society who had  never had champagne or never liked the taste of it, were instead swept along or rather rode along on their bikes to see their leader speak of change or rather history repeating itself.  I wonder if that record will break or will it continuously be on repeat who knows. I’m not sure if it will be God save the Queen as Jeremy Corbyn would be left standing in silence for a very long time.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review, Reflections and Resolutions

Well 2016 has begun, already we are on day 4 and I already have a few plans, but first a summary and  reflection on 2015.

A year of firsts

In April  and May I had 3 firsts, my first visit to Scotland not cold weather at the time either, I attended my first political hustlings which apparently was the most lively one in my area and I started my work at the hospital. June I baked banana bread for the first time and August baked Chocolate Caramel shortbread with two of the Bubble family whilst they visited me

A year of outings and events

Three visits to Middlesbrough, one to Manchester and a trip to Blackpool, and visits from my friends in Middlesbrough, a friend form Yorkshire, and a  visit from my friend in Scotland.  A trip to the theatre with my friends Mr and Mrs Bubble, several trips to cafe’s, restaurants and pubs with friends.  I didn’t have 4 weddings and a funeral rather it was one of each, both were impacting for different reasons.

Old and new

Bumping into friends I hadn’t seen for years and meeting new people, also creating a couple of groups one that had been in the planning for a long time, another almost done on the fly.

That was my review of 2015 now my reflections, in particular what I’ve learnt.

1  A year of firsts

A realisation that I still enjoy learning new things and experiencing new places and meeting new people. Scotland wasn’t as cold as I thought it would be and letting the Scots know I’m not anti Scottish.  I can still try new things when baking even if it doesn’t taste quite as nice as you think.  Some of the people I have met have been lovely.

2 It’s still ok to be vulnerable

When I was ill I lay thinking that I felt vulnerable but I also knew that it’s ok to feel that way.  I will write a post on vulnerability in the future. The fact is vulnerability isn’t something to be feared rather it is something to be embraced.

3 Surprised by reacquainting with others

Surprised because Two people I hadn’t seen for a while had been through some bad times which was saddening to see and hear about, one other person I hadn’t seen for years I hardly new and was pleased to find that although when I first knew them I didn’t think I  had much in common with I found they had more in common with me than I originally thought at the time, they also were informative and fascinating.

4 I can enjoy weddings or rather the receptions

I learnt at weddings or wedding receptions Joy has a way of spreading, people meeting in happy circumstances can create a great atmosphere and openness with others, it’s a bit like those who get drunk their inhibitions come down and they become more extrovert or feel relaxed and happy, that’s what an atmosphere at a wedding can do.

5 Getting more comfortable being myself

Embracing more and more of who I am, still more work there but I’m making progress. Celebrating my overall introverted nature but at the same time knowing that at times I do have an outgoing streak which I’m comfortable with too.  Knowing I’m a  peacemaker and the one that keeps going when things are tough.

6 Losing and finding your way and letting go

It’s ok to lose your way and you can find your way back whatever situation you maybe in from losing my way in Manchester to losing a sense of direction in my work situation. Letting go of not knowing, and to some degree of control again of outcomes.

Now to the resolutions.  Well I’m no fan of those, instead I have a few aims.

1 Walk more

I started walking yesterday so I aim to walk everyday, weather and whereabouts permitting.

2 Hone in on my communication skills and seek to widen their sphere of influence.

I want to write more expand on what I’m doing, my dream is to expand in the oral side of communication too not just the written, but it’s finding the vehicle to hone those skills  is the difficult one.

3 My relationships

I hope to see more of my friends this year and allow those relationships to grow or diminish just let go of what’s not important to be able to hold on to what is.  I hope some reading this will stay in touch.  I saw a good quote stop thinking more about personal ends rather than personal friends. I hope to see more of my family too.

4 Still visit more places

I want to visit more places both old and new, I hope if I get work to go on a proper holiday.

5 Try and get work.

I got something rolling towards the end of last year but with my health hiccup it has got put back lets hope that isn’t stalled for long.

6 Continue to be grateful for what I do have in life.

The gratitude project was a good plan but I didn’t keep it up as I’d wanted to much more important is to have a grateful heart and when the chips are down  to focus on what is good.

Well we’ll see how that goes in the meantime Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not just an ordinary day

Last Wednesday, I had made plans, voluntary work in the morning, an interview with an employment advisor in the afternoon and a relaxing evening as it had been a busy week after the funeral I went to on the Monday and a friend coming round with a new TV on the Tuesday.  However my relaxing evening didn’t transpire.

As usual I went to the hospital to carry out my voluntary work, had a mixed morning, then had to navigate travelling from the hospital to our city centre by 2:30 in the afternoon I left a little earlier to compensate for the time as I finish by one normally, if I remember rightly I didn’t have to wait long.  I arrived at my appointment early got served my coffee and got on with the conversation, took my bus home about 3:45ish but it was late, and I think  I was in a traffic jam.

By the time I got home I was ready for a relaxing evening but it wasn’t meant to be, something wasn’t right. It all started on the Sunday, unusual aches in the far right of my body, I thought it was a bit of trapped wind to be honest or constipation, it would come and go, sometimes I get constipation before my cycle, everyday I was getting some discomfort then it would wear off until Wednesday.

By 5pm I was experiencing unusual pain ordinary pain, followed by fiery tearing shafts of pain, long and short of it I ended up in our local A&E (Accident and Emergency) for non UK people.  I was there from 7pm until about 2am before I got seen too, the first set of nurses weren’t that great.  Also in the meantime I’d been physically sick, and there had been one rather aggressive drunk woman, shouting her head off.  At the same time a woman next to me who worked in a care home passed me some tissues.

At 2am another waiting room greeted me and eventually a lovely nurse dealt with me, I had trouble understanding her, but she really went to the ends of the earth to help me. I found it difficult to talk the pain I was in.  She gave me morphine that did nothing, but eventually gave me liquid paraceatamol that did the trick.  I think before she did that I had a CT scan as they thought it might be a kidney stone, I then got seen by a lovely doctor who asked me a lot of questions its horrendous business being asked a lot of questions when your dealing with a lot of pain at the same time.  It turned out I had something on my ovary which is what the CT scan had picked up, so I would need an ultrasound to show more details.  Still in A&E I was put in a side room overnight, with a drip hanging out my arm, because the drip stand wasn’t great I had to have my arm at an awkward angle on a narrow bed, so I barely slept.

Thursday morning I hadn’t been given enough water for my scan so I had to drink more to get a proper one, much better.  oh yes, blood tests too. The day staff weren’t as nice and helpful, I had to drag my drip stand into the bathroom with me for the loo, the night staff made sure I had the stand right next to me before they shut the door on me, but the day staff just got me inside and slammed the door behind me.  I was concerned I would pull the drip out.

I then got moved to the surgical assessment unit, where again mixed experience, one ward assistant training to take bloods was great at getting the needle in without really hurting me, someone else staff trained was very rough the night before.  I was finally allowed to eat, earlier in the day, another examination and questions from a female doctor who was lovely.  I had difficulty getting comfortable to go to sleep although my main pain had decreased considerably I was left with bad constipation and stomach spasms, my best position was on my back with my head turned slightly to the right, well on the Thursday night at 1:30am I had just got into a comfortable position to be told I was going to be moved again.  This time I was moved to a plastics ward, which at least was more modern.

The consultant came to see me to say I was going home that day, and they would operate, that I would have another appointment and once I moved my bowels I could go home, and then disappeared, which hardly gave me any time to ask questions.  I didn’t go home till the following day, I saw  a much kinder consultant, who answered questions, who didn’t think what I had was ominous, but they do have to do further tests to make sure.

Now I’m at home recuperating from my ordeal, the strange thing is at no time was I frightened, in fact I was very peaceful, even though my BP at one point had been at a staggering 157, I don’t know what the bottom line had been.  I’ve always been used to what my former GP described as a disgustingly normal BP.  I still have to take meds and more tests to follow.

Upon reflection I’m glad I came through it, I have a deeper appreciation of what being in hospital is like as the last time I had been in I was only 10.  I can take what I’ve learnt and hopefully make patients that I see in hospital have a better and more comfortable experience than I did. For now I’m putting my feet up before I face that particular world again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A life to be thankful for

Today I attended a funeral of a couple who are friends of mine who’s 43 old son died last week, leaving a wife and four children.

I was more than happy to go as the mother of the son who had died had unexpectedly attended my mother’s funeral just a few years ago, and It had meant a lot to me that she had been, and she and her husband had been such a support to me since that time.  I generally prefer funerals to weddings, not because I like people dying but because your presence alone means a great deal to those suffering around you, whereas at a wedding I’ve often felt just a casual observer.

I was rather surprised to be affected by this funeral, as I’ve attended quite a few this has been one that affected me the most apart from family members of course.  I didn’t know this couple’s son very well, but I couldn’t help being moved by first looking at the order of service and seeing the man who I will call John looking radiantly happy with his wife, that happiness cut short, and then the picture at the back of the four children left behind, also seeing John’s father walk in with his arm protectively around his wife following his sons coffin beautifully decorated with photographs, which must have been an ordeal for them followed by the large family impacted by John’s death. I couldn’t help the large amount of tears in my eyes.

At the same time there were some moments which were funny, with my kind of humour I couldn’t help noticing someone nearly trip over part of the pew that’s used to kneel on, later on navigating a song that either didn’t have the correct words printed  or the organist got the wrong music, whichever thankfully  there were quite a number of voices got round that particular mistake well.  It’s usually me who gives people laughs at funerals, at my nan’s funeral I was sharing a car with my cousin and it was thundering and lightening, I said to my cousins, well at least she went off with a bang, which made them both laugh. my eldest cousin said “only you could get away with saying that”.  At my mums internment it had been snowing heavily getting round the tombstones was rather difficult I climbed over a large mound of snow only to discover I was clambering over a tombstone which made my nieces laugh.

Towards the end of the funeral the father gave an overview of his son’s life.  I sat there thinking about the fact John was only a year younger than me he had a wife and children I hadn’t and he was more worthy of living than I was, but after hearing his euology, about his love of sport, that he travelled extensively, studied at university, travelled again, and settled down with is wife and became provider of his four children, I got the impression he loved life and lived it to the full.  I came to the conclusion that although his life was short he had achieved a great deal most importantly loving his family. Although this is a deep loss to his family and friends no one can say he hadn’t lived his life to the full, and after all isn’t that the purpose of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My intrest in politics

I’ve posted in the about me section of my blog of my interest in politics but only completed one post on the subject.  So I thought it would be a good idea to elaborate on the subject of my interest in politics and that of my approach to it, where it came from.

As a child my Dad and I would watch news and current affairs programmes on the tv and talk about what was being shown,  he wouldn’t sit there and start  educating as such it would go something like this some news item would come up and then he would just respond to something that was being reported and get irate with what he saw and I think I would then ask why, he would then inform me about his opinion related to the topic.  I also remember journeys out when I was older in the car going somewhere or other or when he took me on the seemingly long journey back to school conversations around current affairs, politics, history or religion would come up, as a teenager and adult these would become heated.  But I don’t want to go marching ahead here.

At both my primary and the first secondary school I attended we listened to a programme called in the news which explained news items in a way which children would understand and promote discussion.  I thought this was a great way to introduce children to politics, I used to watch Newsround as well with the other children but it wasn’t as good as in the news or watching programmes with my Dad.

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s both extremes of the loss Labour 70’s and the super rich 80’s depending on your view of the situation.  I remember particularly the power cuts in the 70’s and  early 80’s of the Thatcher years, the strikes, the Falklands war, newsreaders who were rather serious and the interest in nuclear disarmament.  I didn’t have a particular view on these things at the time,  but knew of them.  The one thing I do remember during that particular period is my dad saying that under the torys the rich get richer and the poorer get poorer.  For some odd reason I always thought he was a tory, strange I would think that as that would not be the kind of comment a tory voter would make.  Maybe it was because we were the sort of family they would want to get their vote my Dad was the sort who believed in aspiration, he worked hard and climbed the career ladder, plus things  he said that led me think he was a tory.  However my mum and nan would talk about the politicians rather than the policies.

As I got into my teens I would still watch the news with the Berlin wall and communism apparently falling, during that time I started hearing people talking about the more left wing side of politics and that continued into my college years.  This was my favourite period.  When I was at college at the beginning of the 90’s I found myself with a group of friends who like my Dad were interested in the kind of things I was, we would sit at lunch times discussing American and European politics and some sharp disagreements would follow, however we were still great friends underneath the debates we were all feeling our way not just in our lives but in our concept of the world and the complex political arenas we were trying to navigate.  I found these conversations stimulating and at times memorable and they were happy memories.

I had various small stints in the public sector completing work experience or short term temporary contracts which gave me a small window of the work of local councils.  As a teenager I took GCSE Economics and both my BTECS were in Business and Finance, in these I came to understand  the government’s influence over the economy.  Interestingly having a faith impacted my political feelings, I would hear discussions that the torys would be the government Christians should want to have in power I suppose because of the security aspect and probably upholding Christian values at the time, equally I heard from the labour Christian left of upholding social justice and the poor etc.  Over the years I would meet spatterings of Lib Dem supporters or equivalent, which I learnt to understand more many years later.

During the mid  to late 90’s It was new labour and I was unemployed. I got involved with a local access group for disabled people which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In 2000, I got a job working for a media business during the years I worked at that company with people having strong political views,  my job involved research I got to find out what kind of things our Government at that time was spending its money on, I was always having to read politically related documents, publications and media, we were supposed to be apolitical which I believe we were, but we did have some trouble getting hold of various government departments to write for us some of it I believe was politically motivated unfortunately.  For instance we often had trouble getting hold of edit from Scotland, so the company had to open an office there, to raise our profile and credibility amongst certain Scottish Ministers.

Just before the torys came back into office the recession hit, which once the conservatives got in, started to have impact on the company I worked for.  Due to public sector cuts, private companies were concerned work would dry up for the them as a result.  The strange thing is much as both sides of the Government argue over spending both sides of the Government HAVE to spend money on public services, so there is always work for private companies.  Now you may think that I’m blaming the Conservatives for the eventual collapse of the company I worked for, but I found the joint impact of a decision by the government and the media to report it had a negative impact on the business I worked for, I think there had been some cuts just before the conservatives came into office, but more pronounced when the torys got back in again if I remember correctly .

So I ended up out of work again my own frustration of having a dual disability and being unemployed and listening to the radio got me interested in politics again, hence I set up a group for visually impaired people to have a voice politically, but it’s not a political organisation rather it’s just a network for information and support for that particular endeavour.

Throughout my life I’ve seen the way politics has weaved in and out of my life in various ways and means.  Although my Dad was the first to get me interested in politics the way he influenced me was more on my approach to politics rather than what he believed.  One thing he said that was helpful and I’ve always took it on board is look at both sides and you will get the truth somewhere in the middle, the more I’ve looked at politics and the things I hear the more that seems true, the extremes concern me, when I look at the extremes of politics its  either full of emotionalism or people who have irrational views that don’t have much grounding and don’t want to hear anything that’s not their point of view.  As one friend said recently the funny thing about extremes is that they change over time.  At one time one view was acceptable now would be considered extreme or vice versa.  My other approach is just to listen and seek to understand where someone comes from, even if their view is vastly different to mine .  To me different political parties have their strengths and weaknesses, this is where for example my contrary nature comes in, who do I really want in power, a government that wants to promote a strong economy where jobs are a plenty and a better standard of living or another that promises to take care of you when you are ill, or another which seeks a more consensual form of democracy.  Ultimately I’ve struggled to vote before because what I may want locally may not be what I want nationally or vice versa.

Ultimately I get tired of politics when words are often the measure of a politicians worth, not their actions, unfortunately that’s what they have to do to get the vote talk their way into a job, I suppose that’s a cynical view but there’s truth there, how can we really judge a politicians worth really, by their words or by their actions, as words can be deceptive but so can actions be misconstrued.  All I know is that I still enjoy listening to the debates on how to deal with difficult issues and vote on who will represent the things I care about the most locally, to watch how politicians respond to unexpected crisis.   To me a leader is only as good as their backbenchers as they have the word on the ground and have the best influence to make change.

To end my rather long post a quote that is valuable about any leader is this by John Maxwell

“People don’t want to know how much you know until they know how much you care”

I think that about sums up my politics.

My new hobby

Around about last November when it was getting cold, I decided to try my hand at baking.  It had nothing to do with the craze for British Bake Off, not at all.  I have barely watched an episode, I don’t watch much tv these days anyway.  So I decided to get some items together and start baking.  Why start baking now, I suppose I thought it would be nice to bake something for a group that I attend on a Monday, and I was in the kind of mood to try and something new.

There is a bit of history of baking in my family, my great grandmother on my dad’s side was an impressive cook apparently she could take any ingredients in her cupboard and make something out of it, and as a child my mum used to cook recipes that she had taught her, including a delicious version of spaghetti bolognaise that no one else does in the same way at all.  My mum was a brilliant cook mind you most people think their mums are great cooks. I loved her roast dinners, shortbread, stir frys which she did in later life.  My nan on my mum’s side had been a caterer in a restaurant, she was great with pastry such as jam tarts and Yorkshire puddings.  She taught me about the importance of having cold hands for pastry and how to pour drinks, there is a method to pour a drink without spilling it.

My other nan did some Viennese biscuits, not the whirls you see in the shop, they were shaped in a crescent moon shape and contained almonds, I remember her making a grape tart for my grandfather who was diabetic.  She wasn’t as a good a cook as the rest of the family.

As far as me in my mum’s  kitchen is concerned. my mum didn’t particularly help me to learn to cook with my sight problems, although she would let me chop the parsley and stir white sauce and obviously get me to help wash up!!

At school we did have cookery lessons, I remember making peanut butter cookies, chocolate brownies, and marzipan fruits and peppermint creams, well they were the things we cooked or baked in my early school years.  In the seniors we had regular cookery lessons, from boiling an egg  (which was the only A I got at school which members of my family still think is hilarious) to Christmas cake.  But I never really attempted to bake/cook from scratch on my own.

You may be wondering what equipment sight impaired people use when cooking or baking, so much of cooking is about not just what you see it’s the use of your other senses, the smell or the feel of what your doing, so you can feel with your spoon if something is melting, sight does help, hearing for bubbles in a pan and tasting the level of salt in a sauce.   I use talking scales to measure out ingredients, I use videos to check my methods sometimes.  you can also get talking measuring jugs, talking microwaves and braille timers.  Although I do think sight helps that I have to admit.  I find that I’m much slower as I’m forever trying to locate the spatula or the cornflour.  I have to re read recipes too in case I miss anything out.

Since starting my new hobby I have baked shortbread, both ordinary and millionaires shortbread, although that was with a friend and her daughter.  Banana bread a wholemeal variety, and flapjacks made with Demerara sugar.   My first attempt at flapjacks was a disaster owing to leaving in the oven which although I turned off forgot that when you leave something in the oven even though it’s turned off it’s still cooking so hence burnt flapjack, I was pretty upset about it as I thought it should be really simple.  Still the second attempt today has worked out much better, and only one burnt corner.  I’ve baked flapjacks and shortbread for an outing tomorrow.

In future I want to try my hand at chocolate brownies, peanut butter cookies, cheesecake, a different version of banana bread, and after that I don’t know yet, perhaps some pie or other.

I’m surprised how much I’ve enjoyed baking, it’s something I can do on my own and I’ve found that baking is quite therapeutic, I had a week where I was rather bored or sad I can’t remember which so I baked which seemed to make a difference, the sheer concentration involved means you can’t think about anything else.

I feel rather tired now after baking for other people, so I think now it’s time to get something to eat for myself, and that I think will probably be a chippy!!

Birthdays

Recently I had my birthday, at the age of 44 I I’ve had rather a few, some memorable some not so memorable and a few I can’t remember (all for good reasons).

My first memory of a birthday was when I reached the tender age of 5, I remember waking up to the radio and knowing I was 5, I also remember my mum giving me a cuddly toy called Miss Mouse,  that much loved gift is still in my possession  all be it a little worn but still cherished.

One of the problems with having a birthday in September is the fact for me as a child was not exactly brilliant, I started boarding school at the age of six and subsequent birthdays had the dark cloud of school hovering over the proceedings which left me with a kind of birthday blues feeling which has never really gone away.

I know that I’m not the only human who doesn’t have much affection for birthdays.  I have had some good birthdays but most of them have generally been pretty ordinary, I didn’t have a ton of birthday parties like lots of children seem to have, actually when I attended school, other children were having their birthdays round the same time when I was asked for one I was told that if I wanted one my parents would have to pay, which was very hurtful.  It felt to me at the time although I couldn’t have put it in to words unjust, and as an adult I see it as making that child feel that they were undeserving some how.  One of the reasons I didn’t have a ton of birthday parties was down to the fact because I was away at school all the times I didn’t really get the chance to make friends, So it would be the small family that we had with a small celebration of sorts and at the most maybe a visit from my nan and yes the dark cloud of school hovering over.

When thinking about birthdays apart from the boarding school thing as a child why don’t I like birthdays?  The thing is I’m usually quite relieved when my birthday is over. Leading up to it I can feel blue at times but afterwards I feel a genuine sense of relief .

I’ve had the odd good birthdays in the past, one of which was my 19th birthday, I was away at college and we had to start early so I was there for my birthday.  I went to the student union bar to chat to people, it somehow got slipped out that it was my birthday and a group of people spontaneously sang me happy birthday, it wasn’t just a lovely birthday it was the best start of one of the happiest years of my life.  I think the other one was seeing some of my relatives in Europe and I’d had a cake made I think and had some lovely gifts from my relatives including a couple of knitted cardigans.

I think one of the reasons I don’t like birthdays is that I’m not overly keen on the limelight, when someone rather overtly at work made a big deal about my birthday I didn’t like it that much, I suppose I’m so used to quiet birthdays.  I think also sometimes I’ve been disappointed sometimes that things I’ve wanted to happen haven’t happened, or things have gone wrong.  I remember inviting a group of people for a little party at my home  in the event only one person turned up, I’ve had birthdays when things may have started off well then things go wrong, other times where something bad has happened to start off the day which overshadowed the rest of the proceedings.  Either way it’s not great.

So how do I deal with the birthday blues, I remind myself that it’s only one day a year, it will pass.  How I feel about birthdays is not much different to how I feel about Christmas, but like so many people I’m not alone, there are others like me.  The thing is I don’t want people to worry about making my birthday “special” or feeling they haven’t done enough or whatever, even I can’t even identify what could change my point of view, I’m always grateful for well wishes, gifts and visits.  It’s always tricky when people wish me a happy birthday when I’ve had a pretty lousy one too lol.  As much as I don’t have much love for birthdays, I like to as far as possible to make other people feel valued on their birthday, or send good wishes to people, if I remember 🙂

Maybe I have expectations of my birthday that never materialise, it’s like a fantasy that when it comes true is never lives up to what  you thought it would be, I think I have that same concept with my birthday, I’ve tried at varying times to improve my dislike of birthdays to no avail, I’ve tried organising something I might enjoy, or had a quiet day on my own, all kinds of things, but it rarely comes good.

Ultimately the best thing I can do is appreciate that there are people who do wish me to have a great birthday whatever the outcome, to know its just one day a year, I’m not the only one who feels that way, but I will feel great the following day 🙂

Apologies if my blog is more of a waffle and a little repetitive its just my thoughts pouring out today, thanks for reading, and if its your birthday reading this a very happy birthday too you!