Sad Music, Dark Literature and Positive Thoughts 2

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Tag Archives: yule

I stayed home and done something

Yesterday was the end of the Amnesty International Write for Rights campaign, which I mentioned in one of my previous posts Stay Home and Do Nothing.  I thought that you might all like to know how I got on with this campaign.

I had planned to write one letter a day throughout the campaign until I reached my pledged target of ten letters with a few days to spare.  However, life did not transpire as I originally planned it.

I spent the first half of December in a state of grief.  No-one died, but I was feeling the loss of someone very dear to me from my life.  I was feeling especially depressed with it being near to Christmas which is a time that should be spent with those dearest to you.

DSC_0002

My letters are ready for posting

Anyway, that is a separate story.  The Write for Rights campaign was the trigger for me to get a little motivation back into my life.  I woke up on Wednesday knowing that I was going to hit my target and nothing would stop me.  I read through all of the campaign material and decided in what order I would approach each of the twelve different cases.

There are twelve cases that you can write letters on.  Amnesty International provide you with a basic letter on each case for you to plagiarise and then write out by hand.  These letters are addressed to the relevant official who has it in their power to help the subject of each case.  And so I found myself writing a number of letters where I was addressing a powerful stranger as ‘Excellency’, ‘President’ or ‘Majesty’.

You should then compose a letter of support to either the victim or their family to show support and solidarity.  There is no sample letter for this but just a few pointers as to what tone the letter should have.

The cases this year range from prisoners of conscience to child brides to victims of torture and rape by a country’s own security forces.

You all probably realise where my particular passions lie and so there will be little surprise that the case that I tackled first was one of illegal child marriages.  In Burkino Faso, child marriage is illegal but nevertheless tolerated by the authorities.  The example that Amnesty International quoted was of one school aged girl who had managed to run away and into their care after being threatened with death by her father if she did not marry a man who is not only aged in his 70s but who already has five wives.

My letter of solidarity was to all of the child bride victims in Burkino Faso.  Writing a short letter to the girls helped to get me into the swing of things, so to speak, for the rest of the campaign.  And so, although it originally seemed that I would not get time to write letters for no more than three cases because of the pressures of work and other obligations, I managed to hand-write letters to officials plus complete the accompanying solidarity letters for the ten cases that I originally pledged.

So, I went to the post office today armed with 19 letters – not 20 as one letter of solidarity was requested to be made via a specially created tumblr account rather than by mail.  There was one young lady serving at the Post Office counter with a sign saying she was in training.  She was very proficient, however, so this sign was a little deceptive.

A lady started queuing behind me and I noticed that she only wanted just one first class stamp.  I gave her one of mine from my wallet and I told her that I still had a dozen letters to get through so not to worry about paying me.

The total postage was less than I thought it would be and so I treated Gloria and myself to a burger at the top of Portsdown Hill.  We’ve now got a Christmas cake in the oven that we’re making for my Mum.

So, will I host a letter writing party next year rather than just do this on my own?  Hmm…I don’t know.  Looking on the map of letter writers, there were only two of us located in a forty mile stretch along the south coast of England.  If every household in Britain contributed just one letter, that would treble the number of letters written worldwide.  More letter writing parties could make this a reality.  Yes, that is a thought – maybe I should host a party next year.

We’ll see what happens.  I can’t promise anything if work is too hectic to assign a specific evening – but I definitely will write letters myself and tell other people about this whole campaign.

In readiness for Christmas…

In readiness for Christmas, I’m testing out a new cocktail called Ginger Storm.  It’s a whisky cocktail and will make a change from the usual Black Russian.

As you can all see, the drinks cabinet is full.  This year is the first time that this has ever happened.  When I was a kid there was never a full drinks cabinet and since I’ve been married there has never been a full drinks cabinet.  Not until this year, anyway.  Go back about eight years ago and Christmas saw a cabinet with just a few fizzy drinks in it.  This year Gloria and I have been blessed with some money to spend on ourselves and I am thankful to God for that.GingerStorm

You may notice a few things in my cabinet.  On the shelf above the drinks there are five photos.  The two at either end feature Gloria’s father who passed away from a heart attack when she was ten years old.  To Jesus’s right is a photo of my father’s grave and to the left of Jesus is Gloria and Yasmin when Yasmin was only four years of age – nineteen years ago!

Gloria’s parents were both from Saint Helena while my mother is Jamaican.  Because of this differing heritage, you can notice that Gloria and I have different textures of brown skin when we stand next to each other.

Yasmin, meanwhile, has that enviable skin that tans nicely in the summer thanks to the brown blood on her mother’s side.  In spite of this, she still resorts to using fake tan from time to time.  A total waste of money in her case.

To the right of the picture (for those using tablets or mobiles, you may have to open the photo in a new window to see this), hanging on the door handle are two tabards that Gloria wears to her work in a local infant school; the same school that both she and Yasmin went to.  Gloria really enjoys her work there and it’s the most relaxed that she’s been in years.  She gets on amazingly well with her bosses and we’ve been to a few of their private parties.

Generally, we have been blessed when you look at where we have been in years past.  But, there’s always someone that you wish that you were sharing the good things with.  I know who I’m missing, who are you all missing this year?

It finally happened…but nothing changed

It’s easy to become too gullible and believe everything that people or the media tells you.  I remember growing up filled with the belief about how Britain yearned for a men’s Wimbledon tennis champion.  However, nothing much changed when Andy Murray finally won this title a couple of years back.

This week, the media built up the vote in Parliament on whether to authorise British air strikes in Syria.  I was eating my supper and watching the headlines after the vote was announced.  They then cut to a correspondent in Syria and asked the reaction.  I wondered why as surely no-one in Syria was sitting by the radio listening for updates.  The correspondent confirmed that no-one in Syria even knew about the vote.

But that’s Britain for you – and possibly it’s the same everywhere.  A number of British people (I suspect the vast majority is a good estimate) think that the World revolves around the life experience as they see it.  We live in the same street as each other and have no idea of the life experience that each of us experiences.

stress-squirrel-drunk

No one is safe from stress

I had a text message at 12 noon today from an old school friend who doesn’t work.  She was offering me an appointment for when she would visit us with her husband.  It was four and a half hours later that I answered her when I started my lunch break.  I told her that I was starting my lunch break and that I am working on the date that she offered, right up until the evening so it depended on the time.

Yes, she was offering a weekend date, but things are hectic where I work right now and I also have several things to organise in my spare time.  There’s Monday’s visit of a workman to fix the after effects of the water leak for example, which will involve me moving all of the lounge furniture about.

I haven’t heard back from her.  Maybe she’s sulking that I didn’t answer straight back.

Oh well, she might have no idea of my life experience.

John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty

As in the words of the poet Robert Burns –

There was three kings into the east,
   Three kings both great and high,
 And they hae sworn a solemn oath
   John Barleycorn should die.

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

John Barleycorn smiles as you drink his blood, the result of fermented barley

I do have a passing interest in ancient beliefs and folk lore.  One of my favourite books on my bookcase (yes, I do have a bookcase in my lounge) is a collection of old folk tales of the British Isles.  One tale within this book is called The Wee Bunnock, the original version of The Gingerbread Man which was a nursery rhyme read to me when I was a toddler.

For those unfamiliar with John Barleycorn, you may want to read this wikipedia page.  I will tell you in summary that it is a story and song dating back centuries with John Barleycorn a metaphor for barley, and the whisky and beer that is made from the barley.  It examines his life, indignities and death and subsequent new life as an invigorating drink.  Man, I offer thanks for his passing every time I have a glass of whisky.

One of the facts that Jehovah’s Witnesses have said to my wife Gloria is that Jesus Christ was not born on 25th December.  She later asked me about this.  I explained that that’s true but this does not disprove anything in the Bible as the Bible never actually tells us Jesus Christ’s birth date.

The date of 25th December as the celebration of Jesus’ birthday should bring a wry smile to every Christian’s face.  This date was previously Dies Natalis Invicti which was probably first celebrated in Rome by order of the Emperor Aurelian who was an ardent worshipper of the Syrian sun-god Baal.  The worship of Baal features repeatedly in The Old Testament as an idolatrous religion.

And as for the twelve days of Christmas, look no further than the twelve day Yule festival.

Well, this is the pity with Britain.  We have a rich history of pre-Christian beliefs, festivals and architecture but it seems to me that not enough Britons care about them.  Our pre-Christian history is as exciting and frightening as that of South America or Africa but do we care enough about this in Britain today?

Okay, you are right.  I am a little biased.  I got a grade A in my History GCSE exam and I enjoy a glass of whisky when it is etiquette to do so.  So, I will continue to shout that John Barleycorn should die…I’m thirsty.

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