Saturday, 29 September 2007

Dropping like flies

Turning the corner makes no difference if there is always another corner to turn up ahead.

It is a weird thing to be checking your emails to see if someone has dropped dead yet. I guess it's the current version of hovering over the phone (and I don't do phones!)

An, occasionally, wise person once told me that you never get over it, you get used to it: how could any one be expected to "get over" watching someone that you would give one, both arms, to save slowly waste away before you.

The false alarms: you are told to expect the end to come in the next few days only to find her up and about the following morning polishing!

The inability to climb the stairs and eventual confinement to bed: serene initially and then the hell of trying to drag a dead weight onto the portable toilet as the nurses aren't due for another few hours.

The call out for the Locum in the early hours:just quell the cries for it all to end with morphine please!

The ridiculous things you find yourself doing: err...painting the whole house, removing and buying four new bedroom doors and trying to get them fixed in place "before it's too late" (what on earth was that about?!)

The irritation caused by citric acid: the discovery that it is in everything. You've never read that many labels or spent so long in the soft drink aisle before!

The weird things non-family members do that you feel powerless to stop: painting the nails of someone who has never painted their nails and only has long nails as she is confined to bed! Turning up and asking to pray with the sick as "I had a dream about her last night and God asked me to visit." And I asked Jesus for strength!

The constant and strange requests: where the hell am I going to find that flavour ice-cream at this time of day? The frantic search for the ice-cream: anything, if only you'll start eating again and I can kid myself that you can somehow get well.

You wishing that it'll all end then feeling guilty as hell as you know that you want your own suffering to stop as much as hers.

The non-comedy comedy moments: your father talking to the cat as her breathing finally ended; her getting stuck on a tight corner on the way out on the stretcher; the outrageous death pose impression done by your younger brother:one that you almost did yourself, but thought that would make you a very sick person!

The silence after the event: how you now miss that once irritating stream of visitors and nurses.

The friends who never called: you figure out they were never really friends.

Some people's weird idea of sympathy: "I had a dog that died once."

The family squabbles: everyone deals with it in their own way but is incapable of looking outside of their own grief.

Being told how wonderful the dead person was: is that supposed to make the loss more bearable?

The weird things those in the trade say: "How pretty she is?" How can a corpse be pretty, exactly? (Necrophilia notwithstanding!)

You can't turn the corner as there has been a stream of them and it's almost one more down, two more to go.

People say how it seems like a long time ago now. Not to me. It will always be closer than yesterday.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Don't blame the tourists

With the military in Myanmar having already killed (at least?) 200 peaceful demonstrators, the "to go, or not to go" question has been raised again.

I find it odd that travel to Myanmar provokes the most standing on soapboxes, emotive responses, accusations of naivety, and middle-class finger pointing than, say, a journey to Cuba, Zimbabwe, China, Israel or any other nation, whose population is subject to tyrannical control, human rights abuses or responsible for atrocities against other countries.

Have people been boycotting the US as a natural follow up to the millions on the streets of London pre the Iraq war? Last time I looked half of the UK seemed to be planning a 2 for 1 spending spree in NY!

Inflation at 6600% in Zimbabwe, opposition members routinely arrested and elections rigged:yet questions abound on the Stupid Planet website about the availability of drivers due to the fuel shortage!

China executes far more death row inmates a year than the rest of the world combined (albeit following a strict "Where to fire bullet" procedure so as not to damage organs for transplant and collagen to fill those Westerners' wrinkles). It won't even criticise the junta as it competes to tap Myanmar's energy resources with India - yet it is rewarded with the 2008 Olympics!

Thai officials are complacent in (and customers of)the 20,000 or so Burmese girls trafficked into brothels and sent home (if they are lucky) with HIV, yet it is the most targeted tourist destination in Asia.

Oil, gas, timber, jade....until companies such as Mitsui, Petronas, Texaco, Daewoo, Chevron and Siemens develop a conscience (err, that would be never) the tourists traipsing in can't make it worse.

The other irony of the Western idea of boycotting the country as a destination is that over 50% of the tourists are from Asia. Wealthy Asian tourists like their hotels to be 3*** or more, their transport to be air-conditioned, their day to be scripted and assisted with guides: just the type of tourist who is accused of contributing to the wealth of the junta.

The sort of Westerner who does boycott the country still refers to it as "Burma" (the coloniser's name) and, sucking on a spliff rolled from the herb tended by a youngster trafficked into their own country, pulling on their 33p/hour TopShop/H&M/Primark top,
feels all warm and fuzzy about their ethical stance.

Friday, 21 September 2007

I don't understand this at all. What on earth is the connection between being a vegetarian and taking all your clothes off? Is that what it means? Vegetarian: a person who removes all outer layers, prostrates provocatively and then gets heavily photo shopped.

I've been doing it wrong all these years.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Emails you don't want to receive #2

You meet Japan's most boring female for a trial lesson: is in her fifties; still lives at home; works in a museum; can't move to another part of Japan as her father doesn't approve (?!) keeps eight birds in her bedroom.

After 40 minutes you are about to slit your wrists and can't think how to keep the (non-existent) conversation going for another 20 minutes:
"So, have you been abroad?"
""Where have you been?"
"What did you do there?"
"I went sight-seeing?"
"What did you see?"
"Opera House and so on."
"What cultural differences did you notice?"
"I've been to Australia"
"Oh, really."
"Yes, it was 10 years ago."
"Er, I enjoyed it."
"Er...usually, to make a conversation in English (conversation in ANY language involves speaking you duller than dreary than tedious than mindless than lackluster Dumpfbacke) you usually reply to someone to show that you are interested in what they are saying. Maybe you could ask me a question about my Australia trip or anything else you want to know about me."
"I see. Do you like Australia?"
"Well, that is a big question, what part of 'Australia' do you mean? For example, the people, the culture, the weather, the food...."
"The food."
"Well, there are lots of immigrant in Australia, so the Thai curry was good."
"I see."

Assuming it was as painful for her as it was for me (the worst trial lesson in 7 years!) I give her the opt out Japan stylee and said that I'd email her after my Summer holiday as we both need to be comfortable with each other. Needless to say, I didn't mail. I'd assumed she got the hint, but alas:

"I expected you would give me a email when you returned. So, since I thought you were not in Osaka on that day, I didn't come for the lesson.
I'm sorry if it's my misunderstanding. I might have caused you trouble.

I still would like to have your lesson if you don't mind. Is it ok for you on this Friday 10am?"


Sunday, 16 September 2007

The Arctic is Cracking up...scramble for sovreignty

This is a pretty scary scenario. I'm thinking, "Christ, it's real, it's happening! Bangladesh is going to get those terrible floods, Europeans are going to be ill-equipped for summers in the 40 degree range, we are going to lose so many species and malaria will spread to the UK!" Canada and Russia are thinking "Oil, oil, oil, oil, oil, oil, oil, oil and shipping lane rights" So the use of fossil fuels that caused this hole has made the extraction of more fossil fuels from the Arctic area a realistic possibility. Irony hurts sometimes.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Minger plus Minger

It's nice to be able to say that you went to school with someone famous.....I guess? One girl from my year is a reporter for BBC breakfast and one guy is nearing the top of the pile in fashion retail. They did very well: you knew they would. UK schools don't quite have the cheesy "people most likely to succeed" section in their year books, but if they did, those two would have pulled a load of votes: ready to go the extra mile, intelligent, charismatic, friendly and attractive (well, one of them!)

It's foul, however, when your Google "I wonder whatever happened to (that self obsessed, bullying privileged) X" moment turns out with her photo in tabloids and the fact that she seems to be dating a pop star!

Quite who has the worst taste, I can't quite decide: the warbling, lyrically-challenged gimpoid or the up her own arse failed "actress" who used to torment and persecute the fashion retail guy (amongst scores of others)?

She has managed a feat though. Even though we were in the same year she has managed to rejuvenate herself into being 30 to my 34!

And look at that stupid hat!

Britney's fat snore snore snore

So everybody has had a good old laugh at the Britney Spears MTV Video performance awards: she seemed either drunk or cained or both; she forgot the lyrics and seemed not to be too concerned with dancing. She's been the manifestation of white trash for a few years now, but fat? Seriously, fat? Sure she is not the lean teenager she once was, but for someone who is always pictured gorging on junk and who has had two kids she was looking surprisingly good (naff hair and bikini notwithstanding.) She did herself no favours by picking something so revealing to loll around in, but I can't understand the spite with which her weight has been attacked.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The wonders of wanking and watermelons

You'd have thought that asking some 16 year old Japanese girls to see how many words you can make from the word "watermelon" as a 10 minute lesson filler would result in the old standbys of water/melon/me/meat/some/lets before the lethargy set in and cries of "iya iya" gave way to heads prolapsing onto desks.

You feel quite astounded by the originality of tear/art/lent/wet/loan/rant/wank.....WANK! "Er....where did you get this word?" You let slip as you kick yourself for drawing attention to the word as the student replies " dictionary" as fingers key in the word before howls and faces in hands spread around the class. "Never say this word" you say whilst pissing yourself laughing and suppressing a million jokes.

You think all will be forgotten, but get passed a note the following week saying "Do you know wank? I like wank. How about you? I play everyday."

You also realise that there is no "k" in watermelon!

Dr Death

Quote of the day:

"My car came back this week and a patient was dead on Saturday. A baby was dead and then three weeks later another baby was dead. In my mind I died the babies."

Dr Toshiaki, baby killer.