Let sleeping dogs lie ……. or not?

Let sleeping dogs lie?

So, here’s the thing.

Perhaps I was wrong. I have posted about this before but it’s kinda niggling now. It’s niggling and time is running out. Of course, it’s not essential that I know. I mean, nothing will really change either way. But, you know ……..

Worse still, what if this niggling gets worse and then I find it’s too late to find out?

I’ve checked for obituaries and death notices and I can only assume she’s still alive. TBH, I expect her to still be alive. After all, her parents lived into their 80s, so she should too.

But, she is at least 79 now, possibly 80 this year (maybe older but I have a fuzzy memory of being at school and writing about her age – I was around 5 and, when she found out, I was admonished for giving away her age, ‘cos you don’t do that for ladies) – I was 5 and she was 26 which means (and I’m fairly certain about this) that she was 21 when I was born. People had babies much younger then, of course. And got married much younger too.

So, there you have it. She is the only person left alive who can verify (or not) this particular “truth”. If she should choose to. And if she doesn’t lie about it.

But, to get this “truth”, I must make contact. And, I have several problems with that.

Let’s take the simple things first. How do I start the letter? Dear who? Of course, I could just go straight into it – but that might be too cold or, for her, too odd. And then there’s her husband. I have to mention him. “Your husband” or “John” or something else? Certainly not Dad or Father.

If the thing is true, maybe she wouldn’t show it to the others. But, then again, maybe she would. And I don’t really want that. Not that it really matters but, still, I would prefer not.

Then, there is the thing that it somehow encourages some hope (in her) and I don’t want that either. Also she might be ill or at the end of her life and, although I have no specific feeling for her, I don’t want to cause unnecessary pain or suffering nor any false hopes.

Of course, if what I had believed for all these years (until recently) remains true, then the contact wouldn’t bring that. But then she most likely wouldn’t reply. And then that would be an admission on her part?

Or, if the new belief is true instead, maybe she would be heart-broken that he really was such a bastard and that he set out to permanently and irrevocably stop any contact. And, for her, that would be too much to bear and so she wouldn’t reply. So either way I would never know.

I could phone instead of a letter. But then, if it’s true/not true, hearing it would be too much …. for both of us??

On the one hand, I want to know. On the other hand, as the saying goes, for a very good reason, let sleeping dogs lie

** p.s. As I had written this post I thought I had better look up obituary or death notices, just in case. I found that she is probably around 82 so I was a few years out.

What’s happening to this world?

Tomorrow, Trump takes over one of the most powerful countries in the world and the world might end shortly afterwards. Or not.

Soon, the United Kingdom will leave the EU and the EU might start ending or the UK might crash and burn.

Turkey might be on its way to becoming a dictatorship. Syria is still in the middle of its civil war (which should really be called the first “Water War”) resulting in many refugees trying to escape.

There is the continuing war between the hard-line Islamic groups and the Western World.

It’s starting to look like a disaster and you’d think that the Western World would band together to fight the hard-line Islamic groups more effectively.

Except, of course, that’s not actually the war, even if it seems like it.

There are significant changes happening to our world (and economies and cultures) and, it seems, nobody really knows how to deal with it or (in some cases) what the real problem is.

So, let’s look at the real problems.

Water: Some areas of the world, maybe because of climate change, exacerbated by population explosions and, therefore, lack of water resource, are suffering from unexpected droughts. This means the people who live there have to move, creating internal (to the country) migration which, if too large causes the same problems as immigration – too many people and too few jobs and other resources. This causes friction between the indigenous population and the incomers and foments anger, discrimination and the rise of fanatical groups. That’s Syria but is also starting to happen (has happened?) elsewhere.

Globalisation: The rise of the truly international corporations and their wealth and power is transforming the whole world. Some companies now have the wealth of nations and can demand governments treat them as “special cases”. Global international companies want a) free and easy trade agreements between countries, b) freedom of movement (for both themselves and their employees and their money) and c) reductions in taxes and other payments. If they don’t get these things they move out. If they get these things because of a promise to “stay where they are” or “invest more”, they can, quite easily break these promises …. and they do. They really have no “national pride” as their only motive is to increase profit and shareholder value. With the increasing beneficial (to them) trade agreements, they can move parts of their business, manufacturing or services elsewhere quite easily. (As an aside, I’ve just broken off from this and seen that Theresa May has been saying something about this at Davos – and asking multinational companies for “help” in making it right. This should be interesting.)

Money: Of course, money is actually (originally) debt, created by the banks. The problem is not money itself but the fact that, like a river, it flows and sometimes gets caught up in certain places (forming lakes of water) and sometimes disappears from elsewhere (the debt part of it). If you have it, it’s all right; if you don’t, it’s a bit of a problem. Countries used to have it (sort of) but now they have massive debt and multinationals and the super-rich have it all. This puts countries and most ordinary people at a huge disadvantage (see also globalisation above.)

Technology: Just like in the Industrial Revolution at the end of the 18th and into the 19th centuries, is changing everything we are used to, from a social and cultural sense to work – what it is, who does it and, more importantly, who doesn’t. Just like the change from everything being done by hand to automation and mass production, it is having an enormous effect in terms of employment and is growing globalisation faster than ever.

So there are the problems. The question is, what do we do about them. And no one really knows what to do. Countries, for a couple of centuries, our (more or less) stable units of groups of people, certainly aren’t sure and certain countries are trying different things. The EU has been (and currently still is) trying to “keep control” using laws and benefits. Recently some countries have put forward the idea of a universal income – where everyone gets a basic amount whether they’re working or not. Therefore these people can still buy the food they need, live in a house or flat and have some basic necessities. Those at work would have more money and can spend that money creating more employment. However, in my opinion, this will only work if those in employment either pay much more in tax or take lower pay, allowing their company to make more profit and pay more tax. At the end of it, the countries doing this kind of thing need more money to make it work.

An alternative, and the one that Trump seems to be banking on, is to ensure that companies create more jobs. The problem with this course would seem, at the moment, to do away with trade agreements and free trade – something that the multinationals desire and need.

Another alternative is to “encourage” companies to come to your country to create employment. This is what the EU (and America too) have been doing up to now. The unfortunate bit (as I mentioned in the globalisation paragraph) is that multinationals don’t feel so patriotic and will happily break any promises they make or move when they get a better offer. So, I think it’s possible to conclude that this method just isn’t really working, although it will take a bit of time for countries to get this.

Of course, in the meantime, the blame for all these world problems is being put on a) immigration and/or b) fanatics (which for Western countries is synonymous with hard-line Islamic groups.)

In the meantime, we are approaching World War III as countries and blocks around the world try to ensure (as it was for Communism v Capitalism) their brand of solution is the right one. Of course, as we’re seeing, it won’t necessarily be physical war. It will also include Digital War and an Ideals War (as for Communism v Capitalism). It’s impossible to tell who will win right now but, in the meantime, the fun game for the last few (20?) years has to be to pin the blame on someone else. And this has, largely, been successful, unlike in the war between Capitalism and Communism when, obviously, the enemy was the other side. Either the politicians and/or the media have a) not known who to blame (which is terrible) or they b) knew they were blaming the wrong people/groups but either didn’t care as it was a quick way to gain power or it was deliberate (which is also terrible).

The blame has been put on a) immigrants, b) those people not working, c) those people not paying their “fair share of tax” and, occasionally, d) banks and e) corporations.

But, in the main, it’s been a) and b). Those are the people that will HAVE to be looked after under the new EU-type model of the economy or completely abandoned under the new USA-type economic model although, under that model, the people in group b) may have some chance of working (but, possibly, in a gig economy – meaning that, although they will no longer in that group, they will have no future.)

Whichever way the world goes and whichever economic model the countries take, expect a lot of fall out and, I would say, most people in the world will suffer until the economic winner becomes clear.

So, basically, whether you live in the Syria, Turkey, Russia, the EU, post-Brexit Britain or the USA (or anywhere else?) you can expect, over the next 10 years or more, to be completely fucked.

Oh, yes. And happy new year!

Car break-ins, Cancer or Not to Cancer, iPhone software bugs.

It is about 7.15 a.m.

I am, as usual, hardly what I could term as “awake”. However, as usual, expecting something bad, as I do often, surprised to see the car where I left it.

As I walk towards it, I press the button on the fob and the indicator lights blink, as they usually do, to inform me that the car is now unlocked. Now, unlike yesterday at about 6.30 p.m., there are no “youths” hanging around in front of the car. Last night, as always, after locking the car (using the fob and not the key), I had checked that I had locked it properly by trying to open the back door as I passed. Only last night, I had made sure I had done it (it’s such an automatic thing that sometimes I cannot, within a few seconds, remember if I have checked my locking by this method) because of the group of four of five youths in front of the car. They were innocuous enough but, you know, I’m an old man now and you can’t ever be too careful, can you? And, anyway, I’m British and youths hanging around with little to do are always a bad sign.

I get to the car and open the door, taking my bag off my shoulder as I do so to slip it into the passenger footwell.

And I noticed something slightly strange. On the front passenger seat is the emergency first aid box that is permanently in the car. The reason it was strange is that I had not moved it from under the front seats and so it was completely out of place. I looked behind my seat where I put various thing, most of them in some cheap yellow shopping-style bag. And sure enough it was a little in disarray, and the umbrella could have been moved and my “summer driving shoes” had almost certainly been moved.

I checked each of the windows of the car. No, none had been smashed.

So, someone had got into to a car that I absolutely, certainly KNOW was locked without having to break any windows. They had rummaged around a bit and, from what I can tell, took two or three lighters (that I get for free anyway) but nothing else.

Not that there was anything to take. The yellow bag holding things like a bottle of water for the dogs, some additive for the windscreen wiper water and some other fairly crap items that are only useful when making car trips.

However, it did give me a slightly weird feeling. It’s not as if I can really report anything? I mean, what could I possibly say? But now I doubt the security of the car, of course.

And the reason I was parking in that particular place was that I had been to the doctor. And I don’t have cancer, of the lungs, at least, although I’m not entirely convinced I haven’t got it. However, because the heart doctor had panicked, I’m now on pills for blood pressure, which doesn’t really please me, and I have some further tests to do next year (the first booking I could get). So bugger a bit but relief as well.

The doctor suggested that I try and cut down my smoking. She also added that I was a “lucky man” – but, then, I’ve always said that, haven’t I?

In other news, Apple phones are just as crap and unreliable as other phones. iMessage doesn’t work with phones that aren’t other Apple phones. A long conversation with Apple Help, which included resetting my telephone, didn’t help and they told me it must be my provider. It didn’t really make sense as it HAD been working and, then, sometime around April/May it stopped working – which, for a while I thought was because the phones I was trying to text were in the UK and I thought it was a UK problem – until a colleague had a problem sending a message to me.

I’ve now found that this is a known problem (well, known to the world except for Apple, it seems) and, although I’ve tried every trick given to sort the problem – so far, no good. Which doesn’t please me much. It’s something to do with an update to the operating system that they did a while ago, it seems. Let’s hope the next update fixes this. I thought the guy from Apple who was helping me was quite OK – until afterwards when I realised that he, like nearly all helplines, actually knew nothing and was just doing the equivalent of “switch it off and then back on again”

So bugger.

I will add a photo later or tomorrow.

Getting closer every day

Getting closer every day

Death happens to us all, sooner or later.

Before the Internet, it was more difficult. Information wasn’t easy to come by.

But, when I was around 15 or 16 (or even 17), I knew how to kill myself. Sleeping tablets. I knew you had to take a lot of them.

I must have been living at home, which is why I put the ages above. I went to the doctor, without telling anyone, and explained that I couldn’t sleep and could he give me something to help me sleep. I thought it was so simple. I was naive. I was a kid who knew nothing.

However, instead of giving me something, he wrote referring me to a psychiatrist. I honestly don’t know if he wrote to me or to my parents. In fact, this story of my life has been so deeply buried that it was only today that I remember it at all – and then only the pertinent things.

In any event, my parents opened the letter. They were some kind of (fundamentalist?) christians. They didn’t believe in doctors or illnesses or anything like that. And so, the idea of me going to see a psychiatrist horrified them. My father “suggested” that I didn’t need to see a psychiatrist at all and, after being very embarrassed by the fact that they found out (not thinking instead about how they came to know), I didn’t attend the appointment booked for me.

And, of course, my idea of suicide was equally scuppered.

So, maybe it was a good thing? Or maybe I should have gone to the appointment and got rid of some of the dreadful baggage that I carried around (both then and now).

But on a different but same note, this summer some things happened and I have cancer.

Well, as I’m not actually a doctor, I don’t actually know it is but suspect it is. I’ve talked about my tendency to hypochondria before now, so, you know, things happen and I think the worst but you “ignore them” and they “go away”. In this case, some things happened together at the start of the holiday (so I could hardly ruin my holiday, could I, by going to a doctor?) and some of those things are still happening.

Of course, I do understand that these things may still be happening because I believe my diagnosis. But, you know……

So, today, I’ve made an appointment to see the doctor and this will mean tests and stuff to determine if my diagnosis is correct. I’ve already been playing out all the possible consequences of these tests in my head and in my imagination – from it’s nothing, to a simple infection to a full-blown, nothing-you-can-do, terminal cancer.

And I’m both scared and not scared. “Not scared” being more “resigned” to it.

And then today I learn that a friend (or, rather, a friend’s wife) has some sort of mass on her brain. And now, at this time of my life, of course, these types of things will happen more often.

When I was a kid, death was so far away as to be something you had to actually force.

Now, death is a reality.

And it gets closer every day.

Like a ghost

So, she got me thinking.

Was it true? Did we have such a relationship that HAS affected everything else?

And then came the most disturbing thing.

I realised that, in all the memories, although she was obviously there, she had no physical presence. I mean to say, she was there – she was making or had made food; she put that blue stuff on my wasp stings; she cried in the car as they took me to university. And yet …..

When I tried to picture her or feel her touch, she was like a ghost – not real, ethereal. I couldn’t see a face. Or hands. She was always just out of vision. Just out of reach. She could have been touching me but I couldn’t feel it.

And that was strange. I could see him. He existed in both sight and feel.

But she’s not there, exactly.

So, I keep thinking, is this all part of it? Have I locked it down so well that she is being erased/has been erased by my own mind?

I was teaching something about women in business. There was a thing called “imposter syndrome”. It was said to cause the person to attribute their “success” to other factors such as luck, good timing, etc. rather than to themselves. They felt that they were always on the verge of “being found out”.

So, we were chatting about it and I explained that this was how I felt about the business I had. When people would say I was successful, I would respond with things like, “It’s not me, it’s the people that work here” or “It’s only because I happened to be in the right place at the right time”, etc.

I had forgotten that she has trained as a psychologist.

She said that this was caused by the relationship between me and my mother, up to 5 years of age. She suggested that it was because I had felt disturbed in some way when she wasn’t with me. So, that led me to thinking about the situations with and without her.

And that led me to the realisation that, in my thoughts and memories, she didn’t exist. Not really.

So, come our next lesson, I have to ask about this. To me, of course, this is normal but I’m not sure if it’s really normal or not.

Five Years (or, maybe, about ten?)

I’ve been meaning to write and, in fact, have written – but never finished.

Since I moved the blog, for some inexplicable reason, it seems harder to write anything.

And lots of things have happened. Most recently, lots of people have died – people that were 10 or so years older than me. Does that mean I’ve got about 10 years left?

Dale (Buffin) Griffin died (from Mott the Hoople – the first group I followed); Glenn Fry (from the Eagles – and I remember, particularly, Hotel California) died too.

But the one that really affected me, in spite of the fact that, during the 80s and 90s I never bought any of his albums and I never, ever saw him live, was David Bowie.

The day he died I was in a state of shock. For the whole day, I barely functioned. And I tried to work out why his death would affect me so badly. I puzzled over it – I mean, I don’t think I could have called myself a real fan – not compared to others – and yet, there I was, struggling to concentrate on anything, felling somewhat bereft and very sad.

But I couldn’t really work out why. There was the thing that I admired him. I styled my hair like his (or tried to) a number of times in my life. I wanted to “be” him. I remember seeing the first performance of Starman on Top of the Pops – that special performance that changed everything. I remember listening so many times to the Ziggy Stardust LP. But I listened to many things and yet no one dying has quite affected me the same way.

He did make all things possible. He made being “not normal”, acceptable and, kind of, normal – and, therefore, he made me feel better about myself at a time when I wasn’t sure what I felt about myself.

He was intelligent but ordinary; weird but not at all strange. He did what he wanted but never really strayed into an “impossible to live in” world. And, of course, he “spoke” to me (and many others), through his lyrics which often didn’t talk about anything real at all.

Of course, he will be missed because of his extraordinary talent. One of the things I thought on that day was how sad it was that he wouldn’t be releasing any more albums. Not for me but for everyone else.

OK, and for me.

Even now, days later, there seems some sort of hole in my life now that he’s gone.

Strange, isn’t it?

p.s. My favourite album was Aladdin Sane – just so you know.

Days yet to come

It is possible, of course, that this is the earliest ever …. for me.

Yesterday, I ordered the first Christmas present for F. And, today another! So that’s two presents down.

But that’s not why I’m writing today.

I’m writing because I’m quite concerned. I am concerned that, in our desire to be correctly politically correct, we are forgetting some basic truths.

One that IS important is about rape, for example.

Let’s get one thing straight, in a perfect world, anyone should be able to walk down the street wearing what they want; to get drunk without fear of being raped, etc. The message (generally to men) shouldn’t have to be “Don’t Rape”” because, to be frank, it shouldn’t be necessary.

Unfortunately, this is NOT an ideal world. The message that should go out more should be “Don’t Rape” and with that message should be the education about what is rape and what is consent. But, in the same way that we tell people not to steal and not to drink & drive, there are some people who don’t seem to understand and, therefore, still do it.

Of course, we should try to educate them and get them to understand that what they are doing is wrong. But, sometimes, it is too late for they have already committed rape. And there are people out there who will, in the next few day, week, months, years, commit rape.

So, how is it possible to stop this without resorting to Minority Report-style policing? If we are unable to stop some men from thinking it’s OK to rape some women, what can we do to help? If you cannot stop the perpetrator, what else can we do? The only thing left is to address the victims. What can they do to help stop this? Well, for example, wearing a skirt which barely covers your arse, doesn’t help, surely. Drunkenly weaving about the street may also not help. Neither of these things will, necessarily, save you but it might just help a bit.

And, yet, were I to say those things out of context, they would certainly be taken the wrong way.

And so, I feel a little bit sorry for Matt Damon. Unfortunately, there IS discrimination against gay people, in spite of any legislation you may care to pass. In the same way, there is discrimination against women. But he was correct in saying that the best thing to do in his business, is to keep silent (about being gay – it’s a bit more difficult to be silent about being a woman, if you ARE one.) Again, don’t get me wrong. It shouldn’t be necessary. In an ideal world, who you go to bed with shouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to the work you attract as an actor. But it is. Certain people can “get away with it” but certain people cannot and, if you’re at the start of your career, don’t go coming out, was his message.

And now, some people are saying he’s wrong and homophobic. See, I don’t see it that way. He was stating a fact about the world as it is, not the perfect world that it should be.

On the other hand, if no one came out, ever, than things would never change. So we should applaud those who do it for they are the trailblazers for young people coming up. They are brave and they have, almost certainly, sacrificed their career and possibly millions of dollars by simply saying that they are gay.

It IS a changing world but I don’t think it’s right to jump down the throats of those people who are saying something that applies to the real, here-and-now world that we inhabit.

One day, I hope within my lifetime, a girl/woman will be safe to walk down the street and not get raped – even if she is wearing nothing at all, should she wish. And, one day, no one will be secretly penalised for not being “normal”.

But that day is yet to come.

p.s. The song, from one of my favourite artists, 2Pac, called Better Dayz came up when I was looking for a picture to post at the top of the post. So, instead, you got the song :-)

Inevitable.

Inevitable

Have I ever mentioned that I’ve been smoking for over 46 years?

And that I smoke around 30 cigarettes a day? (Although, obviously, I didn’t start by smoking 30 a day – but I’ve probably been smoking 30 a day for about 35 years.)

And, yes, of course I should have given up by now. in fact, I rue the day I started and wish I never had.

But, such is the way of things.

So, at some point, probably, I’m going to suffer some disease as a result of all this smoking. And, at some point, I shall tell you that I have said disease, like, for example, lung cancer. Being the nice person that you are, you would, no doubt say how sorry you were and how dreadful it was, wouldn’t you? And, assuming I had treatment, you would hope that I would recover and, as they say (although I don’t feel it is the right word), “beat” it.

But, if you’re being honest with yourself, you would also think, “I’m not really surprised.” In fact, you might say this to anyone you talk to about it, although, probably, not say this to me. You might even think/say, “Well, it had to happen sooner or later.”

And you would, of course, be right.

And I would “only have myself to blame” so, really, I should not look for nor expect much real sympathy.

So, this thing that is “only a matter of time” has actually happened to a friend who is about 10 years older than me.

And, of course, it’s an awful thing and I hope it can be treated and that he comes out of it OK.

And, yet, of course, I am not surprised and it was only a matter of time and living long enough and was bound to happen sooner or later – none of which I could actually say to his wife and nor would I say to him.

But, it is/was inevitable, wasn’t it?

But in order that this isn’t too maudlin, there’s a nice picture of Brad Pitt at the top :-D

Brief thoughts on the [Greek] crisis

A number of years ago, when the whole banking crisis happened (at the same time as I split from V), the politicians had a great chance to rewrite the way that economies were run and put a stop to the debt economy. They chose, however, to believe the banks (who were making a loss but were bailed out with our money) who had been making huge profits over the years at the expense of us ordinary folks.

But, having sided with the banks, I was always against this austerity drive (supported strongly by the IMF who, later realised that they had got it wrong), since cutting people’s ability to spend would always mean a shrinking economy.

The current Greek government were elected on the promise that they would stop the austerity program. Whatever needs fixing with Greece the poorest should not be the ones to pay which is, generally, what happens when the banks/governments impose austerity measures (since they don’t want to hurt either themselves nor their “mates” profits).

If Greece gives into that evilness that is the IMF now, then, yet again, they have proved that all politicians are is hot air and worth nothing.

I really hope they tough it out. It will be crap for everyone if Greece defaults – but maybe then there would be some sort of wave of dissent against the banks and then, just maybe, something will be fixed?