I feel I should write something about what happened in Qana, because you know I'm following the news in the Middle East. But truly, I'm struggling. I'm not going to write political commentary and I don't want to be mawkish. But hell, when it happens to children, isn't it just unbearable?
Monday, July 31, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
Friday, July 28, 2006
'With every other disease you get kindness and sympathy, but though Lynn was very frightened and we were desperate for help, all we got was accusations that she was pretending.'
Cruel, if well-meaning, experiments were conducted on her in hospital to 'force' her to admit she was making it up. Nurses left her unattended for hours in the theory that she would get up to use the bathroom. This had humiliating results.
'One consultant was convinced Lynn was orchestrating her spasms at certain times of day so they took away her clock, the radio and TV and the nurses lied to her about the time. She still had the attacks at the same times.'
'They abused her verbally, calling her a "silly little girl", saying "Of course you can do it" and telling her to fetch things herself. Sometimes she was in such pain and felt so terribly ill she would ask us: "What is going to happen to me?"
'For two or three years afterwards she would wake up screaming from nightmares of things that happened to her in hospital. She is still scared of doctors and nurses and I won't have anything to do with anyone who doesn't believe in ME.'
This is how we treat sick little girls in 21st Century Britain. Read Lynn Gilderdale's story here. I challenge you not to feel angry at this story.
Posted by Helen at 7:58 pm
Because I've been light on posts here this week, I link you to my latest post over at the Trots. The willy wavers are out in force to try and stop the filming of the book "Brick Lane" by Monica Ali because they say it is "disrespectful" to the "community". I wish these self-appointed community leaders would just get over themselves. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that they plan a rally of book burning to "show their anger".
I hope to find the time to do a post later today, but I might not because I know few of you come to Small Town on Friday afternoons. All down the pub I suspect.
Posted by Helen at 6:58 am
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Monday, July 24, 2006
Sunday, July 23, 2006
My e-mail has been down all day.
Something is the matter with my server or whatever.
How the hell am I supposed to function like a normal human being? Don't these people realise the serious consequences that occur when these things don't work? It is not a natural state, not to have e-mail. It's just all wrong. What am I supposed to do? Hm? What am I supposed to do when something like this happens to me? Just carry on like it doesn't matter? Like it isn't important? Well, I'm sorry, but it does matter and it is important and I don't see why I should just keep quiet about it.
Posted by Helen at 7:18 pm
Saturday, July 22, 2006
I was driving along in my car the other day, as you do, when what should come on the radio but that anthem of the summer "In The Summertime" by Mungo Jerry. Here's a suitably cheesy song fit for a summer's day, thought I, and turned the volume up (it's OK, I have air con - the windows were wound up and so no one could hear what I was listening to).
Anyway, singing along...
Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh, uh Chh chh-chh
In the summertime when the weather is hot You can stretch right up and touch the sky When the weather's fine You got women, you got women on your mind Have a drink, have a drive Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy's rich take her out for a meal If her daddy's poor just do what you feel
Speed along the lane Do a Ton or a Ton an'-Twenty five When the un goes down You can make it, make it good in a lay-by
What pure evil is this? Drinking and driving? Speeding down lanes? Girls with rich farther's get shown some respect, but do what you like with girls from poor families!
I don't think so Mr Jerry!
I mean I'm all for swimmin' in the sea and wearing bright clothes, but I don't think hot weather is any excuse for espousing the sexual exploitation of the working class female, and certainly not whilst drunk and breaking the speed limits!
I mean. Really.
Next time this song comes on my radio, I shall turn it off forthwith.
Posted by Helen at 7:32 pm
Another joint venture between the Stop The War Coalition and the Muslim Association of Britain to misinform the disinterested about the right and wrongs of the current situation in the Middle East.
I was breathless with relief to learn that during the demonstrations only a "handful" called out "Hizbollah" and "down with Israel". I mean, if any more than a handful had shouted those things I'd have my suspicions that these rallies were using a call for peace as a smokescreen to wield a fascist supporting agenda.
But I'm sure that's not the case. I mean just look at their website. Here we see balanced, intelligent reporting of the complicated and sad events we see happening in the Middle East. They tell us how Israel is intent upon "razing the region to the ground" and "the systematic destruction of two countries, Lebanon and Palestinian Gaza." Fair and even-handed assessment of things as they stand, I'm sure you'll agree. And there's no exaggeration when they say "Virtually every government in the world is calling for an immediate ceasefire" apart from "George Bush and his slavishly obedient servant, Tony Blair." I mean, that just sums up the international response to this war exactly, does it not?
Well, I'm sure that the people of Lebanon can take some comfort from the fact that the STWC and the like have been pounding the streets of Britain in their name. Because when you're in trouble, these are exactly the type of friends you need.
Posted by Helen at 5:39 pm
Friday, July 21, 2006
"Omar Bakri Mohammed, the controversial Islamic preacher banned from returning to Britain, has begged the Royal Navy to rescue him from Beirut."
(with thanks to Hak on the Popinjays)
I've just seen the snivelling little shit on the ITN news asking for a one month stay in Britain, and even offering to pay his own costs, which was terribly good of him. He said that he condems the killing of innocent people in such atrocities as September 11th and the London Bombings, but we know, don't we boys and girls, what he means by "innocent people", and he ain't talking infidel.
After interviewing him, Alastair Stewart seemed pretty pleased as he announced that the Home Office would not rescind his ban from Britain.
Suck on it, Omar.
Posted by Helen at 9:22 am
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Apologies for the lack of posts and interaction with other blogs. Not much usually disrupts the smooth running of Small Town, but my roads are melting and my train tracks have warped. It's too damn hot.
A cooling breeze makes me think that tomorrow will be more bearable, so expect activity in the near future.
I wish I was a cat. It looks cool on that damp soil behind the plant pots, next to the herb garden.
Posted by Helen at 7:25 pm
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Well, the men with guns, tanks and rockets are making all the headlines again. Whenever I turn on this computer to be greeted by Yahoo! news, I'm mentally flinching at what I might read. As crisis of the international kind go, this is grown up stuff.
I've not read a paper for a few days, getting all my news from Yahoo! and the TV, which is thinner on detail than I would like, leaving certain important questions stubbornly unanswered.
Like why did Hizbollah capture those soldiers? In aid of what? Why now? Did they look at what happened after the Palestinian kidnapping and think, yeah, I'll have a bit of that. Was it just that they were a bit bored after the World Cup? Did they think, I know, we'll do this and Israel will just roll over and give us everything we want, hee hee hee!
I mean, it seems a willfully blind and utterly stupid thing to have done. Last time I looked I was no expert on affairs in the Middle East, but even I could have told you that if you do this to Israel, Israel is going to come thundering after you. And I'm pretty much guessing that Hezbollah knew that too. In fact, one might be forgiven for thinking that was the idea.
In short, it has all the feel of a put up job.
And scouting around blogs this morning for more info, I find on the Popinjays a post by Eric "An Iranian Diversion" which draws my attention to this article in the Telegraph from Con Coughlin, who does seem a bit of an expert on affairs in the Middle East.
"However much the Hizbollah leadership might claim to be a legitimate, democratically elected political party, the reality is that it is, and always has been, a proxy of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, who finance, train and equip the militia as a means of maintaining a permanent security challenge to Israel's northern border...
For the ayatollahs in Teheran trying to find a way out of their nuclear difficulties, what better way to divert the world's attention from their nuclear-enrichment programme than to provoke a fresh Middle East crisis between Israel and its neighbours?"
They're such great guys those ayatollahs, aren't they? You just know when Iran gets up to something , it's always for the general benefit of mankind. I mean, the ordinary citizens of the Lebanon just have not suffered enough in recent years, let's stick 'em in a battle between Israel and Hizbollah and see how they get on.
I suppose however we should be relieved by Mr Coughlin's assessment that this need not mean all-out war. Israel's navel blockade, and bombing of the airports and highways are an attempt to stop the kidnapped soldiers being transported to Iran, not aggressive acts of revenge. But there is no argument from me if Israel also wants to permanently 'disrupt' Hizbollah activity on its northern borders while it's at it.
As always though, it is the ordinary people who will suffer. The fact that we are all watching what Israel does next is only testament to the fact that, as ever, whether or not this thing spirals out of control will depend greatly on Israel acting with proportion and some restraint. There's no point in relying on Hizbollah or Iran for that.
Posted by Helen at 7:32 pm
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Quick, apologists for terrorists. And you know who you are. Before you start to see the people effected in this act as individual human beings deserving of your compassion, or God forbid the terrorists as murdering bastards, switch off your emotions are start muttering your stuff. Come on. You know what's required. Understanding. Root causes. Foreign policy. Get Bush and Blair in there if you can. And never, not for one minute, see this for what it plainly is. Inexcusable. Unforgivable. Unbearable.
Posted by Helen at 11:32 am
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Monday, July 10, 2006
Global warming's rubbish.
I don't mean it's not happening, I mean the effects of it are crap. And I can't help feeling we've been duped. All those boffins going on about climate change and rising temperatures, making it sound like a bad thing. Everyone going "yeah, blimey, Britain will get warmer, eh? Yeah, that sounds really bad" but secretly thinking wahooooo! Outdoor swimming pool and al fresco living. Sure, we'd lose a few glaciers and some sea-side towns, but really, how bad would a warmer Britain be?
But it's not bloody like that and I think we should have been told. If we'd been told that what was meant by the cozy term "global warming" was not longer hotter summers and milder winters, but extreme weather patterns leading to the earth's climate becoming hostile and dangerous, we might have all taken it a tad more seriously.
I for one am now sick of flash-flooding, electrical storms, sudden spats of coldness, tornadoes, hail, oven-style temperatures and sudden and dramatic downpours. Is it too much to ask to want to know what shoes to put on in the morning?
Everyone, stop driving your bloody cars and spraying deodorant everywhere.
Posted by Helen at 9:58 am
Goodbye Doctor Who's, Rose. It took me a while to warm to Billy Piper. She didn't seem to be acting at first, just presenting a side of herself that she hoped everyone would like. And despite an incredible face, she was somehow very ordinary to look at. But perhaps that was the point. Rose was ordinary. She worked in a shop and lived with her mom on a very ordinary estate. Girls who do that are supposed to dream of white weddings and having kids. They are not supposed to run off with Time Lords and become intergalactic heroines. She met aliens and saved worlds. An ordinary person, given the chance to be extraordinary.
For this last series with Tennant as the Doctor, I would have to say that as far as Billy Piper's acting went she never missed a beat. She was right on cue for every expression, every emotion. And at the end, it paid dividends. When the time came, watching Rose and The Doctor being separated forever unexpectedly capsized all my emotions. I found the idea that they would never be able to see one and other again unbearable. She waited for him on Bad Wolf Bay. He burned up a star to say goodbye to her, and then he was alone again.
Until Katherine Tate turned up in the Tardis in a wedding dress. But that's another story.
And the other thing that came crashing to an end, the World Cup. Zidane's role was the sort of opposite of Katherine Tate's. Where as she was an unexpected blot of joy on a desolate landscape, Zidane was the fart at a party. A world class player at the end of his career, a game giving his best football in years, a goal in the World Cup final, and then a random head-butt that leads to a red card, disgrace, and the denial of leading his team out for their medals. He could have been lifting the Cup, instead he was skulking underground in the dressing rooms probably wishing a gap would open up in the time-space-continuum and swallow him up.
Somewhere out there, beyond our stars and deep in space, there is a parallel universe where he didn't head-butt Marco Materazzi and France won the cup. There might even be one where England won the Cup. But not if Sven continued across the galaxies to play Rooney alone up front.
Posted by Helen at 2:16 am
Friday, July 07, 2006
I can't find a picture, poem or sentence that encapsulates what I would like to say on an anniversary like this. I have, like many others I'm sure, spared a thought for those for whom today will be difficult and paid my tributes in the two minute silence. But in truth, today words fail me.
Posted by Helen at 2:42 pm
Thursday, July 06, 2006
We English know that the Scots wish the England football team ill will during any tournament. It's never really bothered me, nor any one else I know. After all it's not like the English don't play games with an edge (shall we call it) against certain other national teams. I would guess that every national team, in every sport, almost certainly has the same thing.
But Scribbles asks, what is it with some Scots and the English? We have Scottish school boys throwing bombs in a call-to-arms to get Scotland out of the UK, a disabled man and a young boy physically attacked in Scotland for wearing England shirts (thanks to HakMao for both stories), and Andy Murray doing that almost incomprehensibly stupid thing of putting up on his own blog that he wants anyone to win but England. For a sportsman to post something so idiotic about an English sporting team, when he receives a hell of a lot of English support beggars belief.
And then from aGeneralTheoryofRubbish we have brought to our attention The Scottish Patient with:
"I would just like to thank the mighty world-beaters of Eng-er-lund for being such good sports and making so many Scots happy tonight. Walking along Princes Street tonight - listening to so many people pissed out of their happy skulls singing "England's going home... they're going home... " made me realise how great the game of soccer can be."
Apart from the fact that it's football, not soccer, fair enough. I was happy when Argentina and Portugal got knocked out. I mean I didn't walk along my local High Street singing about it, and it was to do with football and not a dislike of the countries themselves, but you know, each to their own.
But in the comments to the post we have this from, Dan:
"At least now as an Englishman living in Scotland I won't have to be subjected to any more of the endless stream of vitriol and thinly veiled threats I've enjoyed over the past few weeks... You can't hide from the fact that a lot of the anti-England football stuff Kev is now spilling over into something more sinister. I've been here 20 years and I've never experienced it as bad as this... My lad who is as Scottish as you has been on the receiving end of shit because of my origins over the last few weeks.
The London media are annoying sure enough but surely you can't justify the violence because of the hyperbole of a few anglocentric hacks and commentators ? I always thought as we moved towards independence it would get easier and more relaxed for the likes of me."
To which we have the reply from the blogs owner Kevin:
"The unwelcome truth is that many Scots have had it up to their eyes with being a subordinate non-existent nation whose assets have been stolen and whose mental environment has been colonised. This is the underlying reason why some of the less politically conscious Scots are unfairly and angrily lashing out randomly at English people."
I don't actually think that describing your own country as subordinate with a lack of assets and a colonised mental environment helps matters. It's a bit of a William Wallace mentality and Falkirk was a long time ago. I mean the Normans invaded and conquered England in 1066, trod on our laws and language and killed off a lot of anglo-saxon traditions, but I don't have a mind-set that England has somehow been bastardised by this and that I should give up eating croissants.
Scotland will never gain true independence whilst a part of its identity is wrapped up in the hatred of the English - such a sense of victimhood will forever annex and subordinate Scotland to England. Defining yourself by who you are not, is not defining yourself.
And accusations that the "jingoistic racist British media have a political axe to grind against the Scottish independence movement" seem way off the mark to me. I doubt very much that any of the British media outside of Scotland could care less about the Scottish independence movement and I'm wondering if that is not really what hurts. Better to be hated than ignored. Though there may well be something in the idea that "Scotland's supposed widespread anti-Englishness has been played up recently by the British media for a very specific reason", that reason is probably that the media seem incapable of just giving us news and always need to come up with an angle - no matter how unfair that angle or how much damage it may do.
English indifference, as shown through the Londoncentric media, is a much more genuine and understandable source of Scottish anger than some romantic and sentimental idea of a Scotland lost.
But you have to be strong and self-assured to be indifferent to others.
If in some future football tournament Scotland hardly cares when England loses again at penalties, that will be when they have truly reached independence and not a moment before.
Posted by Helen at 8:43 am
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
Saturday, July 01, 2006
There are as yet undiscovered pygmy tribes in the deepest reaches of the Amazon rain forest tonight whose main topic of conversation will be why 4-5-1. Why? Why when it put Rooney out of position? Why when it allowed the players to create nothing? Why when game after game it didn't work?
Not letting Rooney off the hook for his act of violent conduct, or whatever it will be tagged as, but everyone from our postman to the TV pundits, and no doubt the undiscovered Amazon tribe too, were worrying about Rooney losing it. And we were all worried about him losing it, not just because of his temperament, but because of the clear frustration playing up front alone was giving him. He needed to be able to chase the ball. He's at his best when he's running from midfield and taking on the gauntlet of players to take a shot at goal, burning up all of that almost supernatural energy he has. He's not at his best hanging about for random passes that even if they happened to be on target, which most weren't, he could do little about because he was always surrounded by defenders.
And if Rooney was gonna blow, it was going to be against the bunch of wind-up merchants that are the Portuguese. We could all see it, why not Sven?
It has been as if for the whole tournament the England players have been restricted by some invisible force. Everyone was blaming the players. Everyone was saying that the next match they had to break out and play to full potential and what the hell was the matter with them. But look how they played when the Red Card forced a change of formation. That invisible force restricting the England players was Sven's tactics. Something must be wrong if whenever the ball is by the opposition's goal England players all seem to have their backs to it. We never saw fast breaking runs for shots on goal because everyone was having to think too much about passing, their positions not allowing them to do what comes naturally.
And now what do we have? It's a shame for this to be Sven's last game with England because he has been our most competent manager for a long time. But the bigger shame is that undoubtedly Beckham's last World Cup. Twice this tournament he has had to leave the game early, and he didn't look well for the last three games. It hasn't been his finest hour. At least he has that fabulous goal from a free-kick as a good memory keepsake.
Most players though won't be so lucky. Lampard has only failure after failure to keep his thoughts churning on lonely winter nights - his misses cost us again and again in every single game. They cost us today. I salute him for having the guts to offer himself up for the penalties, but Sven probably put him up first because he had doubts about his chances of scoring. You wouldn't have wanted him further down the list with perhaps the full weight of a win on his shoulders. Not after the tournament he's had.
The only consolation is that this isn't like 1990 or Euro 96. Going out on penalties today was just another thing to go wrong in a line of things going wrong. We might have guessed when we lost Michael Owen and looked at our paltry number of strikers that things weren't going to turn out well. In fact I think we all did guess. But they said we could win, so we believed we could win.
With France having knocked out Brazil, it was all there for the taking. No one to blame but ourselves.
Absolutely gutted. My hope, harboured for ten years of a win against host team Germany comes to nothing. Don't much care what happens from now on. No plans for final day. Stay in bed, drift away.
Posted by Helen at 7:21 pm
I dreamed kind Jesus fouled the big-gun gears;
And caused a permanent stoppage in all bolts;
And buckled with a smile Mausers and Colts;
And rusted every bayonet with His Tears.
And there were no more bombs, of ours or Theirs,
Not even an old flint-lock, nor even a pikel.
But God was vexed, and gave all power to Michael;
And when I woke he'd seen to our repairs.
Posted by Helen at 6:49 pm