Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mid Week Rant - again!

I see to be doing a lot of this - must be age! Am I turning into a Grumpy Old biddy?? Nah! I think my gripes are quite reasonable. In fact I think some facets of life are becoming ridiculous.

I am grumbling about reality TV again (see my post for November 2010 Curious and Curiouser). The latest that we are to be subjected to on our wonderful DSTV is a series starting this month called 'Dating in the Dark'. Apparently they have got couples to do exactly that - meet in a light-tight, darkened room in which they can see nothing and then they are going to get to know one another - not sure whether it will be chatting, groping or kissing - the trailer shows all three. After the session they are going to find out how it was for them, and then turn on the lights and see what they results are! We are going to be able to witness all this through the technology that the SAS use to film terrorists operating in the dark. It sounds like an awful social experiment being used as entertainment and on par with Shower Hour in the Big Brother House!

Well how ridiculous is that and what is entertaining about watching an adult version of Blind Mans Bluff?
I am cringing at the thought that this is allowed to happen. Surely single people have not become that desperate for a date? I know that internet dating and chat rooms are quite similar when you think about it - you have no idea who you are talking to really - but they come without the embarrassment of a public groping session.  What sort of person would volunteer for this humiliating experience? Nobody you and I know and would want to! Sadly they have families and I hope people who care about them - imagine their trauma!
No thank you BBC Prime! I refuse to come down to your level and the level of those who live amongst us and are prepared to do anything for money and publicity!
BRING BACK CREATIVE AND INTELLIGENT ENTERTAINMENT and stop taking the lazy, cost effective way out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I've been meaning to write this post since Sunday when we celebrated Father's Day, but I have had a busy week. However its given me time to think about my Dad and about what I would write about him and although I have always found it easy to recollect memories of my Mum, my memories of my dad are a little more complex. I had my father for 30 years and I can divide these memories into different thirds of my life - trimesters - if you like - just like in pregnancy. For the first 12 or 13 years of my life, my memories of my dad are happy.
My first memory of him was of us three daughters being chased with a shaving brush and of us laughing and giggling and being silly as he tickled our noses with soap suds. We must have been about three years old as we were in our Queen Street home before we moved out of town. He was in the RAF at the time and must have been home on leave.
 I also remember being taken to our new home in the country suburbs and being taken around and shown what would be the home he lived in for the rest of his life. That move meant long walks through fields and country lanes picking wild flowers or blackberrying on Sundays. I also remember meeting him off the bus after work in summer and walking home with him with the sole purpose of dragging him into the corner shop for sweets.  We children were left to our own devices and ran free - he once had to rescued me from the top of a tree that I had managed to climb up and couldn't climb down from.
These are happy memories - I thought that he was very handsome (he was good looking), very brave (he had fought in the war) and very clever (he flew aeroplanes and knew maths) and even his name was special (we grew up with the name Van Schaick - very unique in St Helens). All of the Van Schaick family spoke proper BBC English - no northern accents  - All the men were fliers - My grandad was one of those magnificent men in their flying machines. All very proud!
Then when I reached my teens our relationship changed. He became detached, angry, restrictive and to be avoided. I thought that he had changed but the reality is that I had. I was leaving my childhood behind and in retrospect that scared him. In my teens I learned how to creep out of the house to avoid interrogation and disapproval. I learned how to sneak back in aided and abetted by a mum who left the door off the latch! I learned to get out of the way quickly if I was caught and yes, I learned how to protect myself when I was caught and walloped.The fact that I was seventeen or eighteen did not matter - I was living under his roof and his rules must be obeyed no matter how ridiculous it was to have an early curfew when I was a working woman!
It was only at my Grandmothers funeral, when I was married with children of my own, that I understood why he was so afraid of us girls "getting into trouble'. I discovered that his youngest sister had fallen pregnant at a young age - unmarried - and that one of my uncles was in fact a cousin. That must have been a huge source of shame for such a proud, upright and important family and my dad must have felt that shame in his youth and was determined it wasn't going to happen to us. He was very disapproving of any boyfriends that we girls had and it was only the bravest that dared to walk us home. We all married very courageous men!
Married and in my twenties, my dad complained that we came to visit too often and brought our children with us - especially on a Saturday when he wanted to watch the sport on his rather large TV. I am sure he was the man who first said, "Its better on the big screen!" He sat watching it in his large, sturdy arm chair - a precursor of the Lazy Boy - it was moulded to his contours and positioned so he could put his feet up on the fireplace. Secretly I think he loved us all being there and on a Saturday you had to get there early if you wanted a seat. Our house already bursting at the seams with the six of us children grew elastic walls as six adult children and their husbands and wives all vied for an empty chair and a clean cup in the sitting room while assorted grandchildren ran riot in the front lounge. The volume of the TV escalated especially when the horse racing was on, and at times he would doze in his chair while bedlam went on around him!
He would complain that he got no peace, that our kids broke everything and that his alarm clock went off at irregular hours in the middle of the night after our visits - but we knew it was all a lot of hot air and that he loved being in the midst of ever growing family!
When my mum died suddenly, the men in the family took him out while we girls sorted all my mums things out. Never demonstrative, he came back in floods of tears and said he wandered how people without a family managed when death robbed them. That evening he introduced me to his special whisky. It must have been a fine Scottish malt - I don't remember the name, only that it was in a black ornamental jug inside a red silk lined box. I didn't like the taste of whisky but that was the finest liquid that had ever passed my lips - he touched my hand gently while I drank it ..... an apology!
He followed my mum just two years later - he was a little lost in those two years without her. The girls looked after him, the boys were his company and the grandchildren his tormentors - he loved them for it!
Twenty five years later, I can say that my dad was a handsome man, he was a clever man, he was a brave man and I am so very proud of him.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Mid week rant -- We all have a seat on the plane!

In my opinion there is nothing that brings out our competitive streak than air travel and airports are very amusing places to watch people at their very worst. It never ceases to amaze me that once the checking procedure is completed and you have made your way over the cattle grid, along the barriers that make you feel that you are in a sheep pen, through the assorted XRay machines  and the indignity of taking various items of clothing off  (thank you Bin Laden) and into the departure lounge where there are NEVER enough seats and the toilets are always in the furthest corner and the coffee is twice the price of the other side of the wall ....then its important to remember that we ALL have a boarding pass, our luggage IS on board and EVERYONE has a seat on the plane and it wont take off any sooner!
So why on earth do you start forming THAT queue as soon as there is an iota of activity by the gate and why do you all stand so close to each other and push and shove and sprint the last 50metres. Next time you are in the departure lounge  - breathe deeply, relax and repeat after me "We all have a seat on the plane!"

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fantasy Island

In the middle of winter where do we all want to be - Yes! on a tropical island enjoying a Pina Colada while gentle breezes waft the warm air through our sarongs. In a week full of incessant rain  (I really do try to be grateful for this dry continent but it's hard), flooded roads, muddy gardens and damp washing - I would gladly maroon myself on an island.
My niece's blog Project Forty contributed to this fantasy with her mention of Desert Island Discs - For my South African friends this is a BBC Radio Programme that interviews different celebrities and plays their choice of music that would accompany them should they have the option to spend time in seclusion on an island. Desert Island Discs is one of those wonderful BBC Radio Programmes that has been on air for half a century and has become a bit of an institution. I had forgotten all about it, but having been reminded, I had to visit the website and I spent most of the afternoon and a considerable amount of my bandwidth, reconnecting with the familiar format of the show. What a pleasure to listen to those plummy British accents and to the variety of music that people choose - sadly without the Pina Colada!

Several years ago in the run up to the film Castaway with Tom Hanks, my book club challenged us to bring to book club one item that we would take with us to an island should we be shipwrecked. As you can expect a variety of items emerged from our bags, that we confessed to being unable to live without - shampoo, a can of Coke, The Bible, sunscreen, chocolate, a fishing rod  - it was noted that no one had brought their husband! My initial thought was that I would take a piano as I have always wanted to learn to play and have never had the opportunity, or the time to learn. I reasoned that if I was a complete failure as a musician, then at least I would be able to saw the legs off it and sail away into the sunset on it. Doesn't that conjure up a romantic picture! That was until I saw the film - once I saw Tom Hanks sucking uncooked crab meat into his salty lips and eating raw fish -  I realised that I would have to be practical and took a box of matches (this was before the days of trendy sushi).
However if I was given the luxury of choosing 8 Desert Island Discs I think that these would be my choices:

Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds - The Beatles
Nellie the Elephant  - Mandy Miller
Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Nimrod Variations - Sir Edward Elgar
Never Never Never - Shirley Bassey
Good Vibrations - The Beach Boys
My Baby Just Cares for Me - Nina Simone

Having struggled to narrow my options down to eight I can guess that if I was asked this question tomorrow or any other day, it may look very different. However I do believe that there would be one song that would always appear - Nellie the Elephant! It just cracks me up every time I hear it and puts me back in my five year old body giggling and swaying along! Trump! Trump! Trump!
What would your choices be?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Its raining Inspiration!

The universe has blessed me with a week in which I have encountered some wonderful people. I have been surrounded by inspirational women in a variety of situations.

Last Friday I was invited to join a group of ladies from NMMU Business School to attend a function to celebrate 'Women Climbing up Stilettos'. I didn't expect much from the event and went with the only purpose of having a sit down and catching up with some of my colleagues from the Business School. I was wonderfully surprised by the calibre of those who attended and also by the MC of the event Tembis Gebeda. The speakers told inspiring tales of their journey to success and the sacrifices they had made along the way.
Tuesday was my bookclub night which is always inspiring! We always seem to have a lot to share and a lot to laugh about and our friendship goes way beyond our love of reading. the eats were particularly inspiring too as our hostess had made them ALL!

Thursday was the Business Woman's Regional Business Achiever Awards and is always a glittering occasion. This year was no exception and I was fortunate to share a table with one Beulah Lumkwana who is the CEO of Community Chest - not just a successful lady but such fun as well. Four of her siblings shared our table - they run a funeral business and really proved to be the 'fun' in 'fun'eral! You tend to think of people who work in that industry as a bit odd and certainly not the happiest souls - but these three ladies and their brother were a hoot!
Speaker for the evening was Pfina Fenster, Editor of Glamour magazine. What an accomplished lady and a talented speaker ! She walked us through some of her journey and some of the events that conspired to lead her to the position she is in today. Part of which was to beg, steal and borrow the money for a ticket to New York when all she had was the opportunity of a 15 minute interview with the publisher of Marie Claire magazine. Needless to say that the gamble paid off and she is where she is today because she took that chance. Pfina encouraged us to listen to our inner voice and communicate our desires to the universe and be responsive to the answers that are whispered back to us.
Something she said has really resonated with me this week, "If you want to please everyone, then you must say nothing, do nothing and BE nothing and we were not put on the earth to be nothing." Very wise words.
The finalists were all really, really excellent and the winners truly deserving. It made me very proud to be a part of the BWA and to be associated with their success. It was also lovely to be surrounded by PE folk who just rose to the occasion with style - everyone of them looked stylish and The Summerstrand Inn hosted us with panache.
On Saturday morning I managed to fit in a Scrap Booking Class with Helen (daughter-in-law) which was well worth sacrificing an extra hour of sleep for. I came away buzzing with ideas for 'my next project' - so much to do - so little time!

I am a great believer in feeding my mind body and soul and this week I have really accomplished this. After all if you want to be able to give to people you have to have the inner resources to be able to do that. My cup runneth over! I wonder what inspiration will come my way this week?