29 June, 2008

Suffer the little children

It's happened again. Another father has killed himself and taken his children with him. This excuse for a man killed his three children by drugging and gassing them. He had a history of violence. Here's another one. And another one. And another one. The last two killed their children on Fathers Day. This one rang the childrens mother and told her what he was doing, 'allowing' her to listen to her children as they died.

Before we go any further let me make something clear. I do not approve of women - or men - who use their children to hurt their partners. I do not approve of women who refuse to allow children to see their fathers for no reason other than their own hurt feelings. Children are not soldiers in a war. They are to be protected as much as possible during the breakdown of a relationship. I'm sure it hurts if your husband cheated on you/gambled away your home/just didn't measure up but unless he has harmed you or the children then they still get to see Daddy.

It's not just men who kill their children, women do it too. In 2001 Andrea Yates drowned her five children. This is a woman who had been diagnosed with postnatal depression after the birth of her fourth child and has also attempted suicide twice. Her psychiatrist testified at the trial that she had urged both Mr and Mrs Yates not to have any further children due to the extreme likelihood of further psychotic depression. The Yates' went on to have another child within a year of Andrea's discharge from psychiatric care and her mental illnes resurfaced within three months of the birth of the 5th child. Despite this, the prosecution asked - unsuccessfully - for the death penalty. Alison Davies killed both herself her 12 year old son Ryan. Ms Davies had a long history of mental health problems. In all the research - okay, Googling - I did for this post I couldn't find much in the way of high profile cases where a mother had killed a child to hurt an ex husband or partner. I'm sure it exists, but I doubt it's in any way comparable with men who kill their children to hurt the mother.

Some might argue that fathers must be mentally ill to kill their own children. I disagree. I think in these cases the men were complete and utter evil bastards. Maybe their ex wives knew this. Maybe if the ex wives were trying to limit the fathers access visits to the children they were right to do so in these cases. Maybe these women saw what no one else did. That these weren't vulnerable men who were being denied visitation rights to their children because their ex partners were vindictive bitches but instead that these women realised the men were evil fuckers who would stop at nothing to get 'even'. I don't care how pissed off you are at your ex missus. You don't take the lives of your own flesh and blood. No real man would do that.

28 June, 2008

Now you don't

Oh dear. It's done. I have to confess that I cried in the hairdressers. I wasn't upset, I think I was just in shock. It's gone. Well, sort of. There's still lots of it left and I know some of you are thinking, 'what's wrong with the silly cow, she's still got more hair than Paul Daniels/Bert Newton. All the same, I shed a few tears.

So, here it is, my idea of short hair. The hairdresser was keen to chop more off and feels I'd suit a bob. We decided, however, that 5 or 6 inches was a good start. You can't see from the picture but she's cut loads of the sides and I now have a long fringe. Before today my 'fringe' was about 6 inches longer. I was given a lock of hair in an envelope to take with me as a souvenir of my visit. I may need to look at it later.
I went shopping afterwards and bought a new Oroton handbag, a black felt hat (oh, the bitter irony), a pack of blank DVDs (Doctor Who starts again tomorrow), the new Paul Weller CD, two Peter Kay DVDs and a Bill Bailey DVD. All in all it was the most expensive trip to the hairdressers I've ever had.
Still, it's done now and if truth be told, I quite like it. It's going to take some getting used to but I like it.
NB - if anyone posts a Doctor Who spoiler in the comment box I will hunt you down and kill you. Thanks ever so.

Now you see it.......

My hairdresser is eight months pregnant. She's a woman on the edge. Worse than that, she's a woman on the edge with a pair of scissors. She's been wanting to cut inches off my hair for years and I have a feeling that today is the day. It's true, I have too much hair and I know it needs to be shorter but I'm scared! The cut needs to happen today before she starts her maternity leave. I've posted a picture of the back of my head so that you will all be able to see if I chickened out. I'll be leaving the house in under an hour. If I never post again you'll know I'm in some sort of hair related traumatic shock.

Wish me luck.

24 June, 2008

Fancy a cuppa?

There's no real point to todays post. I just wanted to lighten the 'doom and gloom'.

Tea. I love it. I have very fond childhood memories of my grandmother making tea. She used real leaves, you understand, a nice silver (not real) teapot which was covered with an ancient tea cosy and left until the tea was brewed. She then poured it through a strainer into my special, personal mug (we all had one) and there was always several biscuits to go with it. Two sugars, lots of milk and lots of biscuits.

These days there's no sugar, less milk and no biscuits. I don't buy biscuits because I eat them and if you don't understand that logic I can only guess that you're male.

I became estranged from tea for some years. My love affair with instant coffee lasted for about 15 years. I started out with Maxwell House - UK readers will remember the ad with Gareth 'Gambit' Hunt and his handful of beans - before realising that drinking water with a handful of dirt stirred in would have more taste. Nescafe was next on the list but soon fell off the drinking list when a student midwife friend informed me of the evils of its parent company, Nabisco. From there it was onto Kenco. I had a happy relationship with Kenco, going through all the different coloured lids before falling upon Carte Noir. An exotic instant blend, the adverts always led me to believe that drinking it would lead to lots of hot, steamy sex. It didn't, of course, but I liked the taste so decided to stick with it.

When I came to Australia I scoured the supermarkets looking for my favourite brand. No Carte Noir, no Kenco. Nescafe, of course but nothing I recognised. I went through all the jars but found nothing I liked. ( I did the same thing with mayonnaise as well but that's another story). Gradually I fell into more 'grown up' coffee from cafes and left the world of instant behind. It was at this time that I came back to tea.

Again, I went to the supermarkets. No PG Tips but plenty of Twinings, which was good. Expensive, but good. Tetleys was a good find. I tried Australian brands but found they just weren't strong enough. At work I became a two bag girl and was mocked for dark colour of my brew. A fellow ex pat put me on to the UK speciality shops, where for the price of a kidney I could procure PG Tips Pyramid bags. Trips to the UK saw me coming back laden with Twinings Everday teabags. My latest tipple is Twinings Everyday Tea, a blend specifically designed for the Australian palate. It's not as strong as Twinings English Breakfast, not as strong as PG Tips but stronger than the other local brands. 3 minutes in boiling water, a dash of milk and Bob's your uncle.

Now I consider myself to be an addict. I open my eyes in the morning, stumble into the kitchen and put the kettle on. I come home from work, throw my bag on the floor and put the kettle on. I finish my blog, get up and put the kettle on. I have about 8-10 cups a day. I'd rather drink tea than have the finest champagne. Well, maybe that's pushing it. But I do love my tea.

23 June, 2008

A life less ordinary

Okay, readers. I know this might seem like a depressing post but I promise you it'll be the last one like it for a while.
Non Australians won't know who this woman is. Her name is Jane McGrath. Born Jane Steele, she was an air stewardess from England. During a stopover in Hong Kong she met an Australian man called Glenn. They fell in love, Jane moved to Australia and married Glenn. They had two children, James and Holly.
Glenn was rather good at cricket. Jane didn't know who he was when they met but she soon found out that Glenn McGrath is considered by some to be one of Australia's greatest cricketers.
Why am I telling you all of this? Jane McGrath died yesterday at the age of 42. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer over a decade ago at the age of just 31. Following initial treatment she went on to have two healthy children. Bone secondaries appeared a few years ago and Jane carried on living her life as wife and mother until passing away.
But this is more than just another story about a woman dying before her time. After her initial diagnosis Jane didn't just sit back and get on with her life. She and Glenn created The McGrath Foundation. Its aim is to raise money to pay for breast care nurses throughout regional and rural Australia. Each nurse position cost $100,000. There are four McGrath nurses in Australia.
At around 2pm yesterday the donation total for the latest nurse stood at about $65,000. By 8pm a further $20,000 had been raised. Reports on the website today show that a further $100,000 has been donated over the last 24 hours. An English girl falls in love, moves half way across the world, faces the fight of her life and makes an entire country fall in love with her in the process.
Jane McGrath was a wife, mum, sister, daughter and friend. She was an inspiration to other women suffering from breast cancer. She lived her life with determination and a positive attitude.
I'm going to end with a quote from a television interview that Jane and Glenn gave to Andrew Denton in 2004. I think it tells you all you need to know about what kind of woman she was. The interviewer had asked Jane if the diagnosis had weakened her relationship with Glenn or made it stronger. Jane said it had made it stronger and then went on to say this-
JANE McGRATH: But it can also...on the other hand, it can also break people too. So I guess it's a true test of...I don't know if 'character' is the right word, but of who you are, because, I mean, women can leave their husbands after having breast cancer or a life-threatening illness and decide that all of a sudden they realise there's more to life than the life they're living, so it's not...it's not just men that decide they can't live with a woman that has a scar, for example. It goes a lot...runs a lot deeper than that. And, I think having something like cancer, although it's been frightening and, one of the worst things ever, it's also been one of the best things ever, because, I don't know. It all goes into making you the person you are, and for me now, just to wake up in the morning - it doesn't matter if it's raining or the sun's shining. It really doesn't matter, 'cause every day's a great day, you know? And it's...it really is the simple things in life that count, and a lot of those things, people don't even think about. They're too busy rushing to get into the city or rushing to work or rushing to get the children ready for something. And they don't stop to smell the roses, I suppose. And we do.

17 June, 2008

Mothers Day

Tomorrow marks an anniversary for me but I wish it didn't. My mother passed away on the 18th of June, more years ago than I care to remember.

Every year I wait for the day. Every year I shed a few tears, some years more than others. Every year I think about what might have been, what kind of person I would have become growing up with her around. Every year I get angry about being cheated out of a proper relationship with the most important person in my life.

I don't want to feel that way any more. It doesn't help. Instead this year I want to try and look at things differently. My mother loved my father. She loved me. She was loved in return. Every year the memories fade but I'm hanging on to the good ones. I can still hear her laugh. I can still remember her beautiful eyes. I don't look anything like her (more's the pity) but I have her sense of humour and her quick mind. I don't have the terrible disease which eventually took her from me and according to the medical specialist I'm unlikely to develop it now. I get to live the life she couldn't. I get to live longer than she did. I'm healthy and independent.

I had the good fortune to have had the love of a mother. I didn't have it for that long but I had it. That's not something that everyone gets.

So, tomorrow, I'll try and see it differently. I'm not sure I won't cry - in fact I'm pretty sure I will - but I'm going to try to move on. Give thanks for the life she gave me and let go at the anger at the life taken away.

15 June, 2008

The lure of hiberation

Here's a poem by one of my favourite poets.

Best Society - Philip Larkin

When I was a child, I thought,
Casually, that solitude
Never needed to be sought.
Something everybody had,
Like nakedness, it lay at hand,
Not specially right or specially wrong,
A plentiful and obvious thing
Not at all hard to understand.

Then, after twenty, it became
At once more difficult to get
And more desired - though all the same
More undesirable; for what
You are alone has, to achieve
The rank of fact, to be expressed
In terms of others, or it's just
A compensating make-believe.

Much better stay in company!
To love you must have someone else,
Giving requires a legatee,
Good neighbours need whole parishfuls
Of folk to do it on - in short,
Our virtues are all social; if,
Deprived of solitude, you chafe,
It's clear you're not the virtuous sort.

Viciously, then, I lock my door.
The gas-fire breathes.The wind outside
Ushers in evening rain. Once more
Uncontradicting solitude
Supports me on its giant palm;And like a sea-anemone
Or simple snail, there cautiously
Unfolds, emerges, what I am.

This poem pretty much sums up my state of mind today. I'm feeling a bit anti social, can you tell?


Strangely enough I don't have much to say. Work was pretty horrendous this week, the workload was a bit much and I felt that other people were too lazy to use their own brains, choosing mine in preference. I saw far more blood than I wanted to on Wednesday evening due to a 'yucky' dental list and sought sanctuary in the pub with another knackered colleague. The working week ended with the day from hell - what else could one expect from Friday the 13th? - and tensions were high everywhere in the department. Two nurses had a row within an hour and a half of starting (tears in the toilet) and the younger nurses were fighting by lunchtime. I wanted to slap them all but apparently I'm not allowed to. It was left to one of the other senior nurses to read the riot act to a couple of the younger ones and I think there is going to be a repeat performance next week.

It was all a bit too much, quite frankly. The problem seems to boil down to conflicting work ethics. Some people work very hard and pre-empt situations before they occur. They see that other people have a lot to do and help out without being asked. These people are a pleasure to work with. Some people do their own work, they do it well but they don't look for extra tasks. Some people breeze about doing the minimum, manage their time poorly then have a real strop when their slackness is pointed out. They don't help people until they're asked, despite having done cock all for the duration. They do this despite knowing that their colleagues are working so hard they haven't had time to fart. Some people then act like a 5 year old when their lack of teamwork is pointed out. They make snide comments. They complain loudly about how busy they've been, even though it's obvious to everyone in the department that they haven't been. They have no insight. Some people don't realise that everyone else is on to them and knows that they spend all their time talking and not doing. There's a fine line between boyish charm and downright rudeness and some people have crossed that line, nay, leapt across it and done a dance on the other side of it.

Some people are about to get an exceptionally rude awakening. I can't wait.

10 June, 2008

Breathe in..........

Isn't it funny how memories can sneak up on you and belt you round the head when you're least expecting it?

This evening I was having dinner with a good friend in a cheap and cheerful restaurant on Oxford St when I decided I needed to visit the ladies. The toilet, that is, I wasn't overcome by an overwhelming desire to sit with some random females. Anyway, I tottered down the stairs and pushed open the door to the loo when I was hit by a wave of nostalgia. The source? The toilet freshener. I was immediately transported to my grandparents outside loo in East London, a place I hadn't been for over 25 years. It was strange to be standing in a restaurant toilet and yet feel as if I was 10 years of age and on the other side of the world.

Scents trigger memories in most of us, sometimes in an unpleasant way but at other times very welcome. A few years ago I was smelling perfumes at the Jo Malone counter in David Jones and picked up the Honeysuckle and Jasmine scent bottle. I started to well up with tears and couldn't work out why. I finally realised that the scent had taken me back to my grandfathers garden and I was smelling the honeysuckle he used to grow. The poor sales assistant was quite concerned by the sad looking woman with tears streaming down her cheeks but I'm sure she was pleased that I bought the biggest bottle they had.

Strangely enough, the honeysuckle and the toilet were inches away from each other. The outside loo was actually at the end of the 'lean to', a covered in area which my grandfather had cobbled together from items he had 'liberated' from various places. There was a long bench which housed his tools as well as boxes filled with odds & sods, all tantalisingly out of my reach. I used to like to run my fingers through the different sized nails (the only thing I could reach) and play with the vice, taking care not to crush my fingers. The toilet was always cold, no matter what season it was. I would rush out in my slippers and rush back in again. It was a simple, two bedroomed flat but for me it was possibly my favourite place in the world.

I like that I get these blasts from the past. It makes me feel connected to two people who have long since passed on. I'm not quite sure how my grandmother would feel about me telling complete strangers (and some friends) that a toilet freshener made me think of her but there you go. All I know is that for a brief moment I had my own 'Life on Mars' moment, back to the 70s where life was fun and easy, when jam jar lids had footballers faces on them, toast was made at the end of a fork in front of the fire and eaten wearing pyjamas and slippers. Saturday nights was Bruce Forsyth and Anthea Redfern (I did say undisclosed age, didn't I?) and Wagon Wheels were the size of your head. Okay, maybe not head. But you needed two hands to eat them.

All this from an air freshener. Who'd have thought?

08 June, 2008

Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth

It's been an uneventful week here in Toytown. Work, work, work, a Michael Buble concert (now that was a lot of fun) and more work. It's nearly 7pm on Sunday night and I've only been dressed for 5 hours. Still, that's what Sundays are for.

Tomorrow is a public holiday here in NSW, in fact I think it's all states with the exception of WA. This one is in honour of the Queens Birthday. Yes, here in the country that's just gagging to cut its ties with Mother England and become a republic, tomorrow we get the day off work to sing Happy Birthday to Her Maj. It's not her real birthday, we all know that's in April (you all knew that, right?) but in fact commemorates the birth of her father, George V. The holiday dates back to 1788 when George III was on the throne. The date changed with each monarch until it was decided to stop making everyone dizzy. British readers might be surprised to find that non Brits have a day off to raise a glass of something alcoholic and toast the Queen but it's quite common in Commonwealth countries.

The UK doesn't have a holiday to mark the birthday of its own monarch, nor does it have a 'national' public holiday. Scotland and Northern Ireland take the day off in honour of St Andrew and St Patrick but the English and Welsh have nothing in comparison. There's been much debate on the subject of late, most of the stuff I've read seems to indicate a certain level of animosity towards the idea. The Scottish National Party took great umbrage to a recent idea mooted by UK government minister Stephen Byrne for a British day in August. The nature of this crime was his failure to realise that the Scottish August holiday is on a different day to the English and Welsh. Scotland and Wales have their own separate parliaments, or assemblies. Scotlands education system is separate from England and Wales. Welsh 'Britons' get free NHS prescriptions and the Scots are keen to follow suit. Hapless English residents still pay. With such disparity between the countries within the UK it looks unlikely that the British population will be celebrating any time soon.

At a time where the United Kingdom seems to be anything but, would a UK wide holiday be something to bring us together? Or is it better that we reinstate the borders and cut all ties? I don't know. What I do know is that I get a sleep in tomorrow. Happy Birthday, dear Elizabeth.

01 June, 2008

Accident of birth

I know I complain, whinge, whine, swear and generally kick off about a lot of things but there is one thing for which I am eternally grateful. I thank my lucky stars that I was born in the UK to atheist parents. Why?

This is why. And this.

Rand Abdel-Qader was a 17 year old Iraqi girl. She was murdered by her father for talking to a British soldier. This vile excuse for a human being admitted to the crime. To this day he walks the streets and has never been punished.

Her mother, Leila Hussein, left her husband after the horror of his crime came to light. He subjected her to a severe beating when she told him she was leaving, during the course of which one of her arms was broken. Leila has also been murdered.

Please take a moment today to remember these women. Say their names out loud. Tell another woman about them. They deserve to be remembered. Women are being murdered for talking to men and their murderers think they have the right to do this. There is no justice for Rand and Leila.

Joke of the week

Just a short post today. This made me laugh so much I wanted to spread the joy.

Caroline Marcus

ALMOST one in three Australian men want the reality of their bride wearing a white dress down the aisle to reflect the symbolism it's supposed to represent.
Of 57,000 men polled by men's magazine FHM, 28 per cent hoped to marry a virgin, while 41percent wanted a bride who had five partners or fewer, and just 5 per cent wanted a bride who had slept with more than 15 men.
The survey, which ran on the magazine's website for two weeks last month, attracted mostly men in their late 20s, who had jobs and were university educated.
But the ideal may be far from reality, with 2005 research from the Australian Longitudinal Study of Health and Relationships showing that only 11percent of women and 5percent of men aged 16 to 35 had only slept with their current partner.
The same study showed Australian men aged 30 to 39 had on average 9.5 sexual partners and women in that age group, 4.7.
University of New England sexuality expert Dr Gail Hawkes said the response was "astounding". "You would not be surprised if we saw that in 1960, not 2008," Dr Hawkes said.
"We've got a suggestion in popular representations of sexuality that there aren't these restrictions and double standards in sexuality any more, and yet men are telling us there are."Source: The Sun-Herald'

I can't even begin to say how much both entertains me and makes me want to get that 28% and put them all in chastity belts. You silly fuckers. So you want to shag girls but marry a virgin? Hello, boys, welcome to the 21st century. Good luck with your aim of marrying a woman who has kept her knickers on until her wedding day. Actually, make that good luck with life. Has anyone told you yet that Father Christmas isn't real?