Wednesday, November 19, 2014

People like Bob

Bob Geldof.....good old Sir Bob.....coming out of the woodwork to solve the Ebola problem this time. Gathers the troops, brings out another version of the Band Aid single, 'Do they know it's Christmas'. they know it's Christmas? Do they? Did the people in Africa ever find out it was Christmas? Of course they did. He ridded Africa of its poverty single-handedly, didn't he. Didn't he???

Remember the, "Give us your f***ing money!" back in the eighties.

He became the world's hero. But that was a while ago.

Perhaps Sir Bob needs his ego polished a little bit once again?

A multi millionaire, (thought to be worth 32 million) giving his time, asking for our money for a good cause. I'm not arguing with that....of course it is a good cause. What I am against is people and organisations which use emotional blackmail to make people donate to actually benefit themselves financially and boost their egos along the way. I'm also against people criticising others for not donating. It is a personal choice as to whether someone donates to a charity. It is their business. Their money. Their time. Their effort. Bob Geldof publicly criticised the singer Adele because she didn't jump on the bandwagon and join Band Aid to sing 'Do they know it's Christmas?' this time around. He had no right whatsoever to do that. If Adele donates to causes she feels deserve it, perhaps she does so privately, without the need for people to tell her how wonderful she is for doing so.

Bob Geldof also offers his services as a speaker at functions and charges a fortune. A lovely little money earner. His chosen subject.....poverty. The multi millionaire talks about poverty.

In one instance, he travelled to Melbourne, Australia and charged a whopping $100,000 to speak about poverty. If you are interested in hiring him, I suggest you find someone who knows about poverty, whether that be poverty in Africa or poverty in the UK or poverty anywhere else in the world. Most people who live in poverty would do the talk free of charge, then you could donate that $100,000 to their chosen charity.

Bob Geldof is one of the many celebrities (and many other high earners) in the UK who find ways to avoid paying tax. (Yes, that's right, the man who asks us, not even politely, to donate to his cause, has so much money himself and pays no tax. He has said in the past that his time is tax.)

So while our countries go into financial meltdown, with working people relying on food banks to ensure their families are fed, people like Bob ask us to help him save the world....and polish his ego at the same time.

There are many organisations and individuals giving their time and money quietly, no publicity....they just want to help. But people like Bob want the limelight. They want to be seen to be the one who saved the world, freed the people in Africa from their poverty and even put a stop to Ebola. “We really can stop this foul little plague,” as he so eloquently put it, when he was interviewed on BBC Breakfast earlier this week.

I am hoping Ebola can be stopped, but I think it will be down to a lot of other people. Although, I am sure Bob will try to claim some of the glory.

Perhaps if all those high earning celebrities (and companies like Amazon, Starbucks etc.) actually paid the tax they should, the world wouldn't be in the state it is in now. Perhaps if all the banks didn't give themselves such high (undeserved) bonuses, we would be in a better state. Perhaps if all the MPs and those who sit in the House of Lords didn't claim millions in expenses (tax-free) to supplement their salaries, we would all be living in better world. 

Sadly, there are just too many families world wide, not just in third world countries, who also won't know it's Christmas this year. People without a roof over their heads. People who are relying on soup kitchens and food banks. And the people who are fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads are trying to decide whether to heat or eat.

And people like Bob Geldof could help. Quite simply by paying their taxes.

When a reporter once asked Bob about his non-payment of tax, he got angry and asked her how many irrigation ditches she had built. She may have built none, but she had paid the taxes she was due to pay. So she has helped fund the NHS, pay pensions to the elderly, look after sick and disabled, pay towards education etc....oh and her tax has also gone towards providing aid to other countries when needed. 

Incidentally, Bob Geldof visited Scotland a couple of months ago, in a bid to persuade us not to become an independent country. S
ent up by Westminster with a group of other very well off celebrities who probably also enjoy tax dodging....they probably also got paid expenses for their trip. 

In his speech he used that expression, "we are better together".

As long as they're are people like Bob not paying what they should, I don't think we are.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Remembrance Day

After a peace treaty was signed, the First World War came to an end in the early hours of the 11th of November, 1918.

Poppies were growing in the battlefields of Flanders and due to their colour, they became a symbol of the blood spilled during the war. And there was a lot of spilled blood. The war saw millions of lives lost and even more millions injured throughout all the countries involved, amongst both military and civilians. 

World War One was thought at the time to be the war to end all wars. Sadly, we know that wasn't the case.

We remember those who fought for our countries. What they gave was precious and we must never forget them.

But can we learn from the past?

We are still living in a world with so much hate, greed and terror. Sectarianism and discrimination is still very much alive throughout the world. We see wars over power. Wars over religion. Wars over oil. Wars to avoid wars.

Can we somehow get to a time of peace? Is it too unrealistic a dream?

Our Warring World

We say goodbye as they leave for war
Hardly knowing what they are fighting for
Some come home. Many are lost
War always comes with such a high cost

Husbands, wives, fathers and mothers
Sons and daughters, sisters and brothers
War heroes, they're called, with medals too
Returned back home, draped in red, white and blue

At home we wait for those to arrive
The fortunate ones who did survive
A sense of relief is in the air
Despite some being wounded beyond repair

Physical wounds. In time they heal
But some wounds we can neither see nor feel
The shell shock. The memories. Bloody and dark
The war has left an invisible mark

We’ll never forget, but will we ever learn?
Wars give us lessons which are harsh and stern
Lessons of fighting, bloodshed and tears
Lessons of anger, bitterness and fears

Power hungry men want to lead the fight
Marching soldiers into the darkness of night
They’re fighting. They’re struggling. So many are dying
Wars bring no winners. Just misery. And crying

Will our world be at war until the end of time
With innocent lives being lost to a hideous crime?
Will the hunger for power ever cease?
To make way for a better world; a world of peace

© E. Sirrell

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Remember, Remember, the 5th of November............. Gunpowder, treason and plot

Back in 1605, some guys decided they would like to blow up the Houses of Parliament. One guy was caught red-handed.

Guy Fawkes was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the crime, however, he jumped to his death before that could happen.

Over 400 years later, we still 'celebrate' Guy Fawkes. Bonfires and firework displays are held throughout the UK on the 5th of November every year. A 'guy' (an effigy of Guy Fawkes) is normally placed on top of the bonfire to be burnt.

Despite the country having no money, making cuts here there and everywhere (apart from MPs expenses....would be unfair to make cuts there), some councils organise bonfire and firework displays.

Tonight, the sky above the UK will probably be glowing red from the heat of all those bonfires.

One particular council run bonfire in a town in England is using a different effigy this year.

Lewes, in East Sussex, will be burning an effigy of Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, along with our lovely Nessie. Some tartan, Scottish saltires....I'm sure I saw a haggis in there somewhere too. Basically, all things Scottish.

There is also a sign saying 45%. The 45% obviously represents the 45% of the Scottish people who voted for Independence. In case nobody realises, I am one of those 45%.

Why does this Tory run council think this is OK?

The referendum is over. We weren't being anti-English. So why is it ok to be anti-Scottish?

Scottish people were accused of being anti-English for wanting Independence. But we weren't. We were not voting against England (which is how the press reported it). The referendum had nothing to do with the Scots disliking the English. It was about getting a parliament which had Scottish interests at heart, instead of a parliament which looks after its own and forgets about other areas of the UK.

Scotland is not Anti-English. Scotland is Anti-Westminster.

But Westminster got their No vote. By hook or by crook, they got their No vote. (If I sound a bit sceptical about that result, that's because I am) But none the less, they got their No vote. We are still part of the UK. David Cameron was extremely relieved that the country with the liquid black gold was to stay within the UK. So relieved that he let the world know that the Queen purred to him....

Since the referendum, politics in UK have gone crazy. There are MPs jumping ship. The Labour party, especially in Scotland, is crumbling. It is in tatters. Blaming the referendum.....but they won (apparently), so why are they leaving? Why aren't they slapping each other's backs and congratulating each other on their victory. Perhaps their victory wasn't as sweet as they would have liked.

UK has been trying to call the shots in Europe, much to the disdain of other countries in Europe. We might actually be put out of Europe, since Westminster got its sums wrong and owes a lot of money to Europe, which Mr Cameron doesn't want to pay. If we're not put out, we might leave Europe anyway, since Mr Cameron has said there will be a referendum so the people can decide. (Hate to let you all know this, but somehow referendums give the result that Westminster want....yep Sceptic Liz really doesn't believe that was the true result in Scotland, but I will keep my reasons for another time) The irony about Europe, is that the Better Together campaign, used Europe as one of their biggest arguments against Independence. If we were to leave UK, we were warned, we'd not be part of Europe.....looks like we possibly won't be part of Europe anyway the way things are going now.

But anyway, back to Lewes council's effigy of Alex Salmond and all things Scottish (including 45% of its voters) it ok for a council to support something like this? Would it be ok to have an effigy of any other politician? Royalty? Someone black? A gay couple? Or what about an effigy representing another country and its people? What about something representing China? Russia? USA? Germany?

Surely not. Doesn't UK condemn bigotry and discrimination?

During the referendum campaign, David Cameron asked people to "love bomb" Scotland. Don't let Scotland split the UK. We are all "Better Together".

Whatever happened to the love bombing Mr Cameron?

End Trigeminal Neuralgia: Invisible Conditions

Trgeminal Neuralgia is one of many Invisible Conditions. People very often find it difficult to understand or empathise when there are no visible signs of illness.

End Trigeminal Neuralgia: Invisible Conditions: Trigeminal Neuralgia is an invisible condition. One of the most difficult aspects of living with Trigeminal Neuralgia is that it cannot...

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day

Today, the 7th of October, is International Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day. If you use Facebook, you may have noticed a plethora of teal coloured profile pictures representing the condition.

I changed my own profile pic to this.

This represents my face pain. The Trigeminal Nerve comes from the brain and enters the face via the Gasserian Ganglion (shown in yellow on my picture). The nerve then branches into three : Ophthalmic (red), Maxillary (orange) and Mandibular (blue). I get pain on each branch of the nerve, fortunately mostly on one side of my face, but I do sometimes have pain on the other side too.

There is no known cause for my pain, as is the case for many other people. Obviously, there has to be a cause, but that cause is unknown to doctors. That can be a huge problem. If a cause cannot be found, it is extremely difficult to treat it. Another problem, possibly an even larger problem, is that when a cause cannot be found, some people, including some doctors, may actually question the realness of the pain. It casts doubt on the patient. It can make patients feel as if nobody believes them.

This is not unique to Trigeminal Neuralgia though. Many, many conditions are the same. Especially when there are no visible signs of an illness. An Invisible Disease. People can look healthy, but can feel far from it. They can be living every day in agonising pain, but nothing shows. Absolutely nothing.

So how can that be fixed? Walk about with a post-it on my forehead with a list of ailments? Paint my face teal and draw on the lines of the nerve, like the photo above? Would a stranger walking down the street see my teal face and realise I have Trigeminal Neuralgia? They might...if they had trigeminal neuralgia themselves and if they are part of online support groups. But if they have never heard of it, they would be none the wiser and would simply wonder why I had painted my face this lovely shade of blue.....or is it a lovely shade of green?

Having a colour to represent a condition is good as long as people are also given information about the condition. The information is the important part.

The truth is that a colour doesn't define a condition. Likewise, a condition doesn't define a person.

That photo above might represent my pain. But it certainly doesn't represent me.

I have chronic face and head pain (and back pain, but I'll ignore that for now), but that's not who I am. It's part of me. But it's not all of me. I don't want to have a post-it attached to my forehead to tell people about my pain.

I guess I've lived with pain for so long, that I don't know anything else anyway, but I sometimes wonder if my pain has actually helped turn me into the person I am. And, I will admit that I am quite happy to be that person.

I think it is so important for people to not allow their illness to define them. Obviously, because I help with awareness and support for Trigeminal Neuralgia, it does take up a lot of my time and energy. But I also have to switch off from it. I cannot let TN define me. There are some things I cannot do due to my pain. But there are other things I can do despite my pain. I prefer to focus on those things, otherwise, my pain would define me.

The Teal Appeal

I've always loved the colour teal. In fact, I liked the colour so much that when I got married, my Mum wore teal. She went shopping for an outfit and came home and showed me. I was so happy when I saw it and I said it was my favourite colour. She said, "I know, that's why I chose it."

So my Mum wore teal for me before it ever became fashionable to ask people to wear a certain colour to represent a certain condition.

People have been working really hard to try to get some awareness about Trigeminal Neuralgia. Making their social media profiles teal, trying to light buildings in teal, attaching teal ribbons to trees, asking people to wear something teal.

Hopefully people will ask why a building is being lit in teal, why someone has tied lovely teal coloured bows on trees, why so many people are sporting teal nail varnish during October. Hopefully their efforts will lead to more people learning about Trigeminal Neuralgia.

I haven't actually asked anyone to wear teal on my behalf. My family and friends know what my life is like, give me support and they share my posts on Facebook about TN. I don't need them to wear something teal on one day of the year to tell me they support me. I also know that it can be difficult for some of my family to see my TN related posts or pictures like the one above. They hurt because they know about my pain. They hurt because they care.

On Wednesday, I will remove my teal TN profile picture and replace it with my normal photo. However, I will still carry on raising awareness about Trigeminal Neuralgia.....awareness doesn't stop after awareness day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Result Of Our Vote For Independence

To quote my own words from my last blog post :

We need change. We need a positive way forward, and the way to get that positive way forward, is to vote yes to Scottish Independence.

Sadly, only 45% of Scotland voted for Independence. The other 55% voted to remain as part of the UK, so Independence was rejected again.

We belong to a democratic country thankfully, and as such, we were allowed to have this vote. No blood spilling, just a X in a box. And I accept that the majority of the country did not want Scotland to run its own affairs. However, I do still have the same views about Independence for our country. And should we ever get the opportunity to vote again, I would certainly vote in the same way.

Several things changed throughout this campaign. And a few other things need to change.

My own opinion on Independence changed. I had, until a few months ago, been certain that I would vote against it. Then I read and learned as much as possible, and I became a somewhat vocal yes voter. I wasn't alone in that. I have read and heard about so many other previous no voters, who, once they looked into it, changed their minds. I admire anyone who took the time to try to learn about the subject before voting. I hope that continues.

We had an amazing turn out at all the polling stations. People, both for and against, were determined to be heard and make their vote count. Some areas had over 90% turn out which is unheard of. Voter apathy is the term most often used during most political campaigns. So, for whatever reason, people became involved in this decision. This was a good change, and I hope it continues. The only way politicians will ever listen to us is if they know we are watching and voting accordingly.

Media......where do I start? People depend on the news programmes and newspapers to get information. They presume that most of the stories reported are true. I have always realised that they decide which slant to give a story, but I have discovered it is far more than giving it a slant. The truth is that they can often create the story. They make it completely different from the truth and in doing so, they can sway people's opinions. People believe what they write. It is actually quite shocking how they can manipulate stories to suit themselves. Will this ever change? Probably not.

In our quest for Independence, the government at Westminster really were not taking notice that this quest was real. About two weeks before voting day, a poll emerged saying the Yes campaign was in the lead, and panic ensued. At that point Westminster made offers of more devolution powers. Those seemed to be very hastily put together, and I doubted at the time whether they would actually happen. The offers increased as the days went on. All three leaders of the main parties at Westminster signed a vow for change. After Scotland rejected Independence, David Cameron, our Prime Minister, stated that we would get those extra powers, as would other areas within the UK. That has to be for the good.......if  they actually come to fruition. We can only wait and see (but there are already cracks showing, and many people voted No on their promises).

During the campaign for Independence, the Orange Lodge marched through Edinburgh and some other towns throughout the country. They were campaigning for Scotland to stay as part of the United Kingdom. They carried their Union Jacks and their Better Together banners, while playing music. Doesn't sound bad, does it? But it is bad. The Orange Lodge is a sectarian institution comprising of Protestants who hate Catholics. They have existed for centuries and it is disgusting that in 2014, an institution like this can still exist, never mind being allowed to march carrying official Better Together banners. Is this really something which should be allowed in any country nowadays?

People have complained that the Independence campaign split the country. But the Orange Lodge is openly putting a divide between Catholics and Protestants. Why should religion come into politics? Would authorities allow marches from groups which are openly homophobic, sexist or racist?

I doubt it.

So why is the Orange Order allowed to march through the streets of Scotland carrying Union Jacks. The Union Jack represents United Kingdom, it does not represent sectarianism of any kind.

Better Together say that they had nothing to do with the Orange Lodge marches. However, they seemed to be happy enough to have the support from them.


The aftermath....on Friday after 55% of Scotland voted against Independence, Yes campaigners got together once again in Glasgow. Despite having lost this vote, those people were still in good spirits. They were with like minded people and the atmosphere was still electric. Then several hundred Union supporters appeared. This seemed to have been very organised. They came with their Union flags, giving Nazi salutes, threatening to stab those yes voters. They rioted. They burnt Scottish flags. They assaulted anyone carrying a Scottish flag or wearing a Yes badge. They terrified people. Thugs. That's what they were...thugs.

Shocking, disgraceful and disgusting. Those people waving their Union flags do not deserve to say they are either British or Scottish. They probably didn't even vote. They probably didn't even know what the vote was about. They were simply there to cause trouble. It was not a confrontation between Yes and No voters (as some media would have you believe). Who on earth were they? It may have been an organized attack by a minority amongst Rangers fans. Rangers fans have always had a close alliance with the Orange Order. There are also some suggestions that they may be part of the British National Party and the English Defence League. That may or may not be true, but whoever they were, I hope they are arrested and charged.

Thankfully by Saturday, things had calmed down. Yes campaigners had another rally in Glasgow, this time not just with their Scottish flags, but flags asking for peace. And not only did they come armed with their flags, they also brought along supermarket bags full of groceries to set up an impromptu food bank for the people of Glasgow. Those people are the type of people who make me feel proud to be Scottish.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yes is a very positive word...

So, the vote for an Independent Scotland takes place the day after tomorrow. And what a campaign it has been.

We've had celebrities like Bob Geldof and David Beckham tell us we should stay with the UK. A fairer Scotland doesn't need millionaire celebrities to tell us how to vote.

We've had warnings that some of the banks and shops may move headquarters to London. In actual fact, some of them already have their headquarters in London. Scare stories. That's what they were. I am not worried about a bank moving it's headquarters to London if we become Independent. However, there are some banks which I would like to see out of banks. I would hope that a fairer Scotland will no longer be needing food banks.

We've had bias from the media, especially the BBC, who have tried to knock every pro-independence argument. A constant barrage of questions about which currency an Independent Scotland would use became like a broken record, despite getting answers. If Westminster does not agree to a currency union, the rest of the UK will suffer more than Scotland. Therefore a currency union is in their interest too. But, if they don't agree to that, then we will use the pound....a Scottish pound. We will have to start afresh, and it will be hard work, but we will cope with that. Scottish people are used to having all sorts of issues thrown at them. We're a pretty hardy nation.

The Better Together camp and the Westminster government have given us an endless amount of empty promises if we remain in the Union and prophecies of doom and gloom if we put a cross in the Yes box on Thursday. They even changed the goalposts just last week after postal voting had started, putting offers on the table of more devolution powers if we stay with the United Kingdom. And practically every day since, they have offered even more powers.

Makes it sound pretty good if we stay within the UK. But, in the words of David Cameron himself, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is.

More devolution powers they told us. But there have been no straight answers as to what those powers are. They also told us that we could have those powers by January the 25th next year.

They seem to have forgotten something important here. More devolution plans have to be passed by the House of Commons, the House of Lords and, if it is Devo Max which has been suggested, it must also get the go ahead from the voters in UK by way of a referendum. September to January isn't a long time to deal with all that.

Another little issue with this.....those are major powers they are giving to Scotland. MPs at Westminster are not happy because those devolution powers have not been discussed with them, and quite rightly so, they are not happy. Many have said that they will not support and pass this bill. Therefore, those promises are empty promises.

People in other parts of the UK must be watching this unfold and ask why Scotland should have more powers. Why is Westminster trying to bribe us to stay within the UK? Why should Scotland get more powers, but no other areas in the rest of UK getting those same powers. I am sure, if I was not Scottish, I would be watching, wondering and asking many questions. And no doubt, I wouldn't be too happy.

Policies like devolution powers would normally be part of a manifesto of a political party prior to an election. Then people would have the chance to vote for that. But they are not getting the chance to do this.

David Cameron, Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling and many more from Westminster have tried to use their powers of persuasion on us to vote no to an Independent Scotland. David Cameron said they should love bomb us. According to the media, they made heartfelt pleas.....heartfelt??

Yes, their pleas were heartfelt...but not out of concern for Scotland.

They are fighting to keep their jobs. That is why their pleas were heartfelt.

The media has proved themselves to be extremely biased about this referendum and have gone out of their way to discredit the Pro Independence camp. The BBC especially has been extremely underhand. They edit interviews, they lie and they tell us what they want us to know. They have tried to knock everything to do with the yes campaigners and the yes voters. The yes camp has been referred to as an aggressive bunch of trouble makers. Not true. There has been nothing but good vibes from the yes camp who only want to go ahead on this journey with positivity.

Yes, there may have been a few troublemakers on both sides.....that is inevitable on any campaign. Adam Boulton from Sky News was interviewing Alex Salmond earlier tonight and they were discussing those troublemakers. Alex Salmond said that there are always a few idiots on both sides. Adam Boulton replied, "but there are more idiots on the yes side." Sorry, Adam Boulton, I don't like what you implied with that comment. Idiots do not take the time to learn about an issue as important as Independence, and the majority of yes voters have done that. As I have said previously, I was convinced that we should not vote for independence, but since reading and learning, I am thoroughly convinced that independence is right for Scotland.

Yes, there is uncertainty. There are questions which can't be answered yet.

But we will cross all those hurdles and Scotland's people can stand up and be proud that they made a choice to vote for a better, fairer nation.

I honestly feel that no matter what the outcome of the vote, Westminster is going to jump from one campaign straight into another, because they will have to try to win favour  from the rest of the UK electorate. There will be a knock on effect in my opinion. The rest of the UK will demand the same powers which have been offered to the Scottish people in the last few days.

Let's not think for a minute that Scotland is the only country within the UK that has poverty and problems. The UK is on a downward spiral. The rich get richer the poor get poorer.

In 1979 the country had referendum for independence. The same arguments were heard then and similar promises were made if people voted no. People believed what they were told. There was no internet at that time so that people could find the real answers. So people were afraid of change and voted no. And the promises made?? The government reneged  on those promises. They didn't come to fruition. And Scotland suffered in the years following that referendum, losing industry after industry and the country became poorer and poorer.

Will history repeat itself?

I really hope not.

We need change. We need a positive way forward, and the way to get that positive way forward, is to vote yes to Scottish Independence.