Wednesday, March 08, 2017

International Women's Day

A few wee lines to celebrate being a woman in a modern world. At least, here....not every woman is quite so lucky.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Dream Jobs...

Oh, just missed the boat on this one. They've now stopped taking applications.
But I guess it would have been too far from home anyway.
But yes, my dream job.

Chocolate and Cocoa Beverage Taster
for Mondelēz International (the company which owns Cadburys)
Key Responsibilities
  • Be able to taste chocolate and cocoa beverage products and give objective and honest feedback. (Definitely)
  • Work within a team of panelists to share opinions and collaborate to reach an agreement on taste. (As long as it's only opinions...I won't share the chocolate!)
  • Use a clearly defined vocabulary to describe products and aid in the discrimination between products. (Mmmmm....will that do?)
  • Be consistent in the results given. (Mmmmm and Mmmmm each time)
  • Know the ethical and legal compliance responsibilities of the position; raise questions and concerns when faced with an ethical or compliance issue; apply integrity in all aspects of professional conduct. (Yes)
  • Chocolate tasters are key in helping Mondelēz perfect and launch an entirely new product all over the world. (So I taste chocolate. For lunch. And I'm perfect? Sounds fair enough.)
  • A passion for confectionary and taste buds for detection (My taste buds are the best part of me)
  • Honesty when it comes to giving an opinion (I honestly love chocolate)
  • Eager to try new inventive products (If they're chocolaty, I'm eager)
  • A firm grasp of the English Language (There's only one letter needed when tasting chocolate. Mmmm...)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Every good voice is needed

I'll keep it simple.

1. I don't understand how Donald Trump became President of the USA.
2. I find some of what he is doing and suggesting disgusting and vile.
3. I worry about my friends and relatives in USA.
4. I worry about the world.

I know there are millions of articles and blogs which are well worth reading, so another from someone like myself probably isn't needed.

Except it is needed.

People around the world need to speak out. And my blog is my voice.

I know people may say, but it doesn't affect you, you don't live in America, so you should just keep quiet. But why should I? If the leader of my country was suggesting some of the things he is suggesting, I would hope other people in other countries would notice and speak up. Besides, what happens in America, affects the rest of the world.

I know people may say, but it doesn't affect you, you're not a Muslim, so why be offended? I am offended because Muslims are people.

I know people may say, but it doesn't affect you, you're not a refugee. Thankfully!! Just thankfully!!

I could go on. I'm white. I live in a country where, at the moment, I have free health care. Where sick, disabled, young and elderly are all looked after. Where the children are entitled to a free and good education.

So why should I bother? Why should I care?

Why not just keep my head down and stay quiet. My life's good. So just forget those whose are not. Forget those people, because it doesn't affect me.

Because they are people. That's why.

That's why my voice needs to be heard.

Because I care about other people.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Well, what a year...

All those famous stars who passed away, Trump and of course Brexit. Yep, quite a year!

It was quite a year for us too.

In November we had to say goodby to Red, our lovely fox-red labrador. Our best friend for over 11 years...a very special part human dog.

I still walk into the kitchen and expect him to be wagging his tail, happy to see me. It hits me with a big thud every time, but I know that's part of loving a dog. Part of loving any animal. We know that at some point, we will probably lose them. But, oh, it is so hard.

Throughout his life, I was disabled, limited in what I could do and he played a big part in helping keep a smile on my face on the bad days. He used to give that understanding look that only dogs can do when I wasn't feeling good. He trailed through right at my heel when I was going for a snooze and came and stuck his cold, wet nose under the duvet when he decided I'd had enough time feeling sorry for myself.

He made both Ian and me laugh every single day. He even laughed himself. He bowed down to the Queen (he believed I was the Queen...I didn't tell him there was another one),  and in his younger days he did the Hokey Cokey. We could hide treats for him in the hardest to find places, and he found them so easily. I even hid myself in hard to find places and he searched the house looking for me, then did a crazy, happy dance when he found me.

Red had been a very poorly pup when he was just months old. He had giardia and the vet wasn't sure he'd survive. But we got him through it. He got lots of TLC and I suppose he just gave back what we gave to him. It's all he knew. Love and happiness. If only all animals (and humans!) could know that.

So we have a quieter house here. Now we need to make each other laugh. Now Ian is at my heel when I go for a snooze. But he's not yet put his cold, wet nose under the duvet. I draw the line...

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Awareness Day

Today is Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day....and many TNers on Facebook have been trying to turn the world teal in order to get the condition noticed. Buildings lighting up teal, bridges turning teal, teal clothes, teal jewellery, teal nails even teal hair. They've done really well. Or even teally well.

I have to confess that I haven't gone teal. Actually, I've just looked down and realised that's a lie. I am wearing a teal t-shirt under my fleece. That's just by coincidence though and it's the same one I was wearing yesterday! No teal nails. No teal hair...

But for the last few weeks I've worked hard with the girls on End TN to make posters, information files and a video for today to try to bring understanding as well as awareness. So, to anyone like me, who hasn't gone teal, don't what you can, when you can. And if you can't, that's fine too.

Awareness is important. Not just for trigeminal neuralgia. There are so many illnesses and conditions which people don't know about. And so many which are well known, but still need understanding and funding.

Within my own family, there have been conditions we'd rather not have had to learn about. Kidney cancer, bowel cancer, liver cancer, Sydenham's Chorea, S.I.D.S. Each one as horrible as the other. Each one as frightening as the other. And each one leaves scars of some kind.

Every condition needs so much more understanding and awareness. Hopefully one day, we'll all get that.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life on Benefits isn't a Life Choice

I listened to a radio phone in this morning and was on the verge of picking up the phone to call in.

The discussion was about David Cameron. The programme wanted to know how people rated him out of ten. It was on Radio Scotland and he's not rated very highly up here. I didn't feel compelled to phone in to talk about him though. Talking on the phone is painful at the best of times, so I wouldn't waste my energy phoning a radio show to give my former Prime Minister a big fat zero.

Then along came Edwina Currie with her views. (Yes, the Edwina Currie famous for eggs, salmonella and John Major). She sang David Cameron's praises. Then said, "he HAD to do something about benefits in the country. People were becoming too dependent on them. It's not right to give people benefits like that. Money should be spent on roads and things like that."

So that was when I was frantically looking for a phone number to call in to that radio show. That was when everything in my vision turned red. By the time I found a phone number, they had changed the discussion topic. Maybe just as well.

Most people who are dependent on benefits, are dependent on them because they have no other option.

The Welfare State was put in place as a safety net for the poor, the out of work, the sick and disabled (people like me) to live as normal a life as possible. A lifeline to enable us to eat. To live in a house like other people. To pay for essentials like clothing, heating and lighting. To enable us to still feel like valid members of society. But many politicians nowadays believe most of us are just dependent on those benefits because we want to be....a life choice. Because it's the easier option.

It is certainly not a life choice.

Believe me, if I could choose, I wouldn't choose a life on benefits. I would choose to wake up in the morning pain free, jump in the shower, get the kids ready for school while getting the laundry sorted, living room hoovered, kitchen floor mopped, then grab some breakfast while getting tonight's dinner into the slow cooker before heading to work.

I can't and never could choose to do those things because of my pain. I couldn't choose to have kids because of my pain. I couldn't continue working because of my pain. I can't put a foot out of bed without thinking how to do it best without making pain worse. "Grab some breakfast"......that is the only thing on that list that happens most days. On the other days, my husband has to grab breakfast for me.

Being on benefits is not a life choice for the majority of people, but time and time again, it is portrayed that way. What does the government want? Bring back workhouses? Send the sick and disabled into workhouses so they can spend welfare money on roads instead of on us, the unworthy lowlife of society? That is how we are made to feel.

As you'll have gathered, Edwina Currie's comments this morning hit a nerve.

I know many people like myself who depend on benefits and have no other option. We feel like the government wants to whip that safety net from under us. And it's not a nice feeling. Actually, it's a very frightening feeling.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Nuclear Weapons

Last week there was a vote in the House of Commons in Westminster on the future of Trident, UK's nuclear weapon.

A majority of 355 voted in favour of renewing this weapon of mass destruction. There are 59 MPs in Scotland. 58 of them voted against renewing it. Yet again, Scotland has a different opinion from most of the rest of the UK.

For people who normally read my blog, you will probably already be able to work out my view on Trident. For others, I'll explain....

I detest it.

I possibly feel exceptionally strongly about Trident, because it is housed on the Clyde, just outside Glasgow, not too far from where I was born and brought up. Being so close to home, probably means I think about it more. Not so easy to just switch off from it when it is on your own doorstep. People might say that is a typical NIMBY attitude. I don't think so. You see, yes, it bothers me about where it is, but I want it gone completely, not just moved down south somewhere.  And it's not just Trident I want rid of. I also wish the world could be rid of all nuclear weapons.

There are only nine countries in the world with nuclear weapons and the majority (93%) are owned by either USA or Russia. It is a huge power game. Does UK need to be involved in that game? Other countries get by perfectly well without needing to have nuclear weapons. So why does the UK or the other eight countries on this planet of ours want to have them so badly?

Nuclear powered weapons have been used in warfare twice. Hiroshima and Nagasaki which resulted in the death of over 120,000 people. Why would anybody ever want to witness those events happening again?

As long as Trident is sitting in our waters, we actually have a threat of radiation leakage or something even worse. There have actually been cases of accidental launching, firing and detonating nuclear weapons throughout the world. 32 accidents have been recorded worldwide. So, statistically, an accident (with serious consequences) is probably more likely to happen than a nuclear attack by another country.

But we are told that we need Trident in the UK. That if we didn't have it, one of those eight countries above would attack us with their nuclear weapon. Really? I actually wonder if we are more at risk because we do have those weapons on our shores. In the event of possible war, does a country decide to press their button to attack us, just in case we do it to them first? In which case, the deterrent did nothing, and it's much too late for us. The damage will have been done. It would be the beginning of the end.

If the UK didn't have Trident, would we really suddenly become a prime target? If it is true that we are, or would become a prime target, perhaps we ought to ask ourselves why.

Our main threat in this country, and others, is terrorism. Nuclear weapons certainly don't deter that. They didn't deter terrorism in USA, in France, here or anywhere else. Shouldn't we be focusing on trying to get the right intelligence to get this dangerous, and very real threat sorted, rather than spending a shameful amount of money on a deterrent which is deterring nothing.

The cost of renewing Trident will be billions. That money undoubtedly could be used elsewhere in areas which badly need it. Health, education, poverty...imagine what those billions could do. There are people using food banks in the UK because they have no other way to feed their families. Yet we are prepared to spend billions on a weapon which could eradicate another country (or eradicate our own by accident). Why can't we eradicate poverty instead?

But it's not just about money. It's a moral issue. Money can't buy the lives which could be ruined by Trident. Thousands of innocent people would be killed after the go ahead to enter a code to attack a country. Actually more than thousands. And not just at that time. For years to come. Probably decades. Vegetation and water ways affected. Livestock, wildlife, birds and fish would be affected. People in surrounding areas would be affected too. Birth defects. Serious illnesses. Cancers. All affecting innocent people. There might be a few evil monsters at the target destination, but the majority affected would be innocent people. What did they ever do to deserve that?

A few days ago, while discussing Trident, a friend sent me the following passage by a renowned Harvard Law professor, Roger Fisher.

There is a young man, probably a Navy officer, who accompanies the President. This young man has a black attaché case which contains the codes that are needed to fire nuclear weapons. I could see the President at a staff meeting considering nuclear war as an abstract question. He might conclude: “On SIOP Plan One, the decision is affirmative, Communicate the Alpha line XYZ.” Such jargon holds what is involved at a distance.
My suggestion was quite simple: Put that needed code number in a little capsule, and then implant that capsule right next to the heart of a volunteer. The volunteer would carry with him a big, heavy butcher knife as he accompanied the President. If ever the President wanted to fire nuclear weapons, the only way he could do so would be for him first, with his own hands, to kill one human being. The President says, “George, I’m sorry but tens of millions must die.” He has to look at someone and realize what death is—what an innocent death is. Blood on the White House carpet. It’s reality brought home.
When I suggested this to friends in the Pentagon they said, “My God, that’s terrible. Having to kill someone would distort the President’s judgment. He might never push the button.
Perhaps if every person in the world who agreed with nuclear weapons of mass destruction read these words and put themselves into the President's shoes, they too would think twice. How many could actually carry out the physical killing of an innocent life themselves. Or perhaps worse still, imagine if that innocent life was their own child.

I detest war. I detest nuclear weapons of mass destruction. I want this world to be a safer, more peaceful place and nuclear weapons will never bring that to us. I want nuclear weapons to be a thing of the past. I want them to be eradicated.

Can that world without nuclear weapons ever exist? Perhaps it can. But only if everyone who thinks they shouldn't exist, speaks up and says so, then that world could become a reality. Some people would say that I'm just a dreamer. But I know a lot of dreamers. And hopefully one day, our dreams could become reality.