Remembering, Not Celebrating, Is What Matters Today

7 07 2015

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It is hard to believe that it is ten years ago today since my home town was attacked just as the morning rush hour began. Less than 12 hours before, the city had been buzzing with the news that London had been chosen as the venue for the 2012 Olympics and we had greeted this announcement in a local pub with a mixture of joy – because the French didn’t get it – and pessimism…because that’s what Londoners do.

As my Facebook timeline continues to remind me, today is my birthday.

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Halloween…the least scary day of the year

31 10 2014


Halloween is here. Again.

Having spent most of my formative years in England, I was lucky enough to miss out on the joy of dressing up in a costume and being forced to harass strangers for chocolate on a designated day.

This also meant that I wasn’t able to fully appreciate just how important it is to keep your door closed in the week leading up to the big night on October 31, and while the practice of parent-approved begging/extortion has now become popular in the UK, it has a long way to go before it reaches the insanity levels of the USA.

With that in mind, I don’t want to be a killjoy on a day when dressing up and terrifying people is widely accepted, so here are some scary thoughts. Read the rest of this entry »

Cleaning Up After Mother Nature…With A Chainsaw

26 10 2014


Unless you are a lumberjack, waking up to the sound of a chainsaw can be a vaguely unsettling experience. Even more so if you are located on an island that is known primarily for its pink sandy beaches, reinsurance market and rum-based libations of varying strengths.

But for many Bermudians, the depressing sound of nature being chopped into small pieces has become very familiar in the last few days. As most people on this side of the pond are more than aware, this 21-square-mile patch of land was hit by two major weather events in the space of a week – “Tropical Storm” Fay and Hurricane Gonzalo – and while Fay reportedly caught the country with its shorts down, residents were more prepared for the extreme winds that picked up where the storm had left off.

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Time Heals…Just Very Slowly

8 08 2014


The problem with time is that you don’t realize how little of it there is of it until it’s gone. We are all guilty of thinking that we have enough of it to do everything that we hope – or want – to do, without really appreciating that the clock starts ticking from the moment that we arrive screaming into the world.

Henry Rollins, ex-lead singer of Black Flag and one of my favorite spoken-word performers, has often talked about how important even individual minutes are, citing the fact that people who are unable to negotiate quickly through airports are – in many ways – robbing him of precious moments. Granted, the man spends the majority of his existence flying from one location to another and, presumably, he has got his travelling etiquette down to a fine art, but the fact is that we rarely know how much time we have.

In February of this year, my father passed away. Ten months after being diagnosed with cancer, he lost his battle and departed this mortal coil. Everybody dies, it’s an unquestionable fact. But it doesn’t make things any easier, knowing that you will never see somebody again or that you will never have the chance to talk or even laugh with them in the future.

People often have a standard response to the news that a loved one is no longer with us, most of which are intended to provide comfort. They have gone “to a better place,” or they are now looking down on us from above. Of course, these are words that have little real meaning during the grieving process, most of which is spent thinking about the hole that a person has left behind. And, once again, time becomes the issue.

“It was his/her time,” “when it’s your time,” “it’s time to let go.” In the last six months, I have heard all of these seemingly stock phrases, most of them in the days and weeks following Dad’s death. The friends and relatives that have said them mean well, but they disguise a fear of their own mortality, an acceptance that one day somebody will be applying the same sentiment to the end of their lives.

Those who take solace in religion will tell you that that person is no longer suffering, is now able to enjoy their reward in heaven and that they will be waiting for us in a venue that seems to have no overcrowding issues – despite the fact that the dead have been relocating there for hundreds of years.

Today is Dad’s birthday. He would have been 72. Every year I tried to get him something that he didn’t have – a near-impossible task that inevitably required the input of my mother and was almost always related to a book that he wanted…one of the few things that we had in common was a love of print and physical rather than virtual reading.

It goes without saying that the last few months have been tough, just one of the reasons why I haven’t been active in the blogosphere…but without him wanting to read some of my latest musings, I have found it difficult to get motivated.

However I wanted to get something up today, just to let people know that he is never out of my thoughts.

At his over-crowded memorial service in February, I read aloud my final letter to him, and it just seems appropriate that I reproduce it here, on a blog that he read and (occasionally) agreed with. If you want to know what I said on February 14, then feel free to click the button – but only if you have the time.

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Charging our phones to cope with the end of days…

17 02 2013


Over the years, I have contemplated Armageddon hundreds of times. Not in a how do I achieve it sort of way, but more along the lines of what happens when civilization breaks down and the ants – or worse, the programming department at MTV – take over.

Pop culture has prepared me for a worst-case scenario, normally to the sound of a power ballad and the sight of some last heroic act of defiance. With the destruction of most of the planet  now assured,  the natural consequence of this anticipated disaster is always a plucky band of survivors who set out to rebuild society, while fighting off zombies or Republicans.

This is, of course, utter bobbins. Read the rest of this entry »

Giving Thanks for Thursday

22 11 2012

Having been an overseas observer of the US festival of thanks for the majority of my 44 years, I admit that I have always found it be slightly odd.

Without wishing to take anything away from the day itself, there are just a number of anomalies that stand out and make me smile.

For millions of Americans and transplanted ex-pats, it is a day to spend with family or friends and stuff yourself full of turkey/vegetarian alternative while watching TV. Or Christmas as it is known in the UK.

America basically shuts down for Thanksgiving. Even the most corporate of evil commercial chains seem to have shuttered their doors for a few hours, while across the country, people are getting together and giving thanks for something (spoiler alert: that’s where the name came from). It’s a good day to hang out, drink beer and eat food. Perfect preparation for the shopping bonanza on Black Friday that follows the Thursday of Thanks.

That’s the first thing.

Unlike most other holidays, TG doesn’t have a set date. It exists in a nebulous “fourth-thursday-of-november” sort of way, the date changing every year – which must be really confusing if you want to claim being born on Thanksgiving… Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. electorate embraces Sanity…for 24 hours at least

7 11 2012

So that is it…it’s all over.

Forty-seven years of campaigning, $47 trillion billion spent and the creation of a carbon footprint that may take some shifting for future generations.

Mitt lost, Obama won. Donald Trump got annoyed and Fox News had to break the news to Karl Rove that  the projections in battleground states were probably right.

Sanity seemed to prevail in the end as millions of voters decided that Mitt wasn’t the right option and that they would stick with the bloke with the nice smile instead.

Well done. Read the rest of this entry »