Remembering, Not Celebrating, Is What Matters Today

7 07 2015

7:7 2

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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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 »

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 »

And now, the end is near…

5 11 2012
Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

In 1605, a plot to assassinate King James the First was hatched by a motley crew of conspirators, who planned to replace the ruling monarch with a Catholic leader.

History shows that it was not successful. The authorities, getting wind that something was not quite right under the Houses of Parliament, descended on the seat of government on November 5th and arrested a man called Guido, or Guy, Fawkes. He was found in possession of a large number of barrels of gunpowder and, tellingly, a match.

He was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered – an unpleasant means of death at the best of times. Happily for Fawkes, he decided suicide was a less painful option and he hung himself while in prison for his botched attempt at seventeenth century terrorism. Read the rest of this entry »

Mitt-watch: Day 4,752

26 08 2012

I’m back…did I miss anything important?

Snooki had a baby, Tom Cruise went for a curry in England, people in some parts of the country were able to watch the new Batman movie without fear of death and the Apple vs Samsung patent infringement trial in California was decided in favor of the American company.

Which was a huge shock.

Lots of news, lots of things going on and lots of things to be concerned about.

Apart, of course, from Mittens choosing Paul Ryan as his “running mate” for the forthcoming (and seemingly never-ending) push for the White House. The problem I have is that I want to write about this but every day that I wake up and think “political commentary needed”, Mitt (or one of the knuckle-scrapping neanderthals that represent the GOP) does something that makes me want to drop him off the top of a very large mountain.

Which is probably banned in some states.

The other thing that has got in the way of my Mitt-watch is life itself. You work, you eat, you use the lavatory and you go to sleep. That’s a fair reflection of my days. And sad to say, Mitt and the Republican party are like buses…you can wait for a while for something dumb to be said and then they all arrive at once.

Next week, Mitt gets anointed as the chosen one at the annual party conference in Florida. This will go on for a week, Hurricane Issac permitting. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t blame the gun, blame the person firing it…and other NRA-sponsored myths

21 07 2012


This is the full text of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It was ratified and adopted as law on December 15, 1791.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

That’s it. Short and sweet.

The words that catch my eye are “well regulated militia”, “necessary”, “security”, “free state” and “shall not be infringed”.

It doesn’t define what “arms” can be, but I think it is safe to assume that AK47s, tear gas and full body armor were not considered to be essential for a “well regulated militia”.

Infringed is also a grey area. My dictionary defines it as “transgress, disobey, break”. It also uses the words “violation” and “transgression”.

People who believe that guns are not the problem will be working themselves into a frenzy defending their “right” to arm themselves and to own a variety of weapons – presumably these are the “arms” that the Founding Fathers were thinking about.

So my questions are… a) don’t people who go to a movie theater to watch a film have the right to do so without the fear of dying and b) didn’t the company who sold James Holmes, who was obviously not part of a “well regulated militia”, the weapons and the 6,000 rounds of ammunition think that perhaps he might not be intending to use them for hunting deer.

Just a thought.