Sunday, December 10, 2006

Happy December everyone! I hope you will pardon some sibling pride - my 15yo brother wrote this and I'm just so damn proud I have to post it here! Enjoy:

An IDEAL Christmas day
When I think of winter, I think of a lifeless season that everyone must endure. If it wasn’t for the most joyous of all occasions known as ‘Christmas’, then that is all it would be.
My ideal Christmas happened five years ago. I was so excited, as any 10 year old would be. I knew that all the family that I had that lived away from home, in cities far away from my little town had come to stay in my cosy house, with wonderful neighbours. This house was number 9 but it will always be ‘number 1’ in my heart. Deerleap Way was a fresh, green paradise where everyone was welcomed, where kindness was in every household but especially at Christmas.
4:30 am and not a sound in my house. Nothing was stirring, not even a mouse! I knew somehow that this was very strange. You could always hear my family sleep. They twitch, they turn, they snore, they purr. I couldn’t be the last one up, could I? I left my bed in my blue pyjamas, to investigate this puzzling event. I didn’t like the electrical lights to be on, instead I estimated my every move in the dark, hoping that I would not walk into my already senile cat. I crept downstairs, but there was no point and the staircase was creaky from years of trampling feet.
As I entered the living room I saw the reflection of an open fire with red stockings labelled with all of my family’s names. I suddenly was greeted by the welcoming voice of my two favourite siblings, hanging up the stockings and feeding the fire, with ’White Christmas’ playing softly in the background. They say something to me that I will never forget. The younger one said “You’re up this early? I can see, you’re really excited about today!” and I thought, even though they do so much for me, it took me until today to realise. I have THE most loving family, THE cosiest house, THE nicest neighbourhood, THE greatest blessing on earth. I wish everyday could be like this day!”
It was only ten o’clock, but I had seemingly been waiting for ages. Finally, one by one, the rest of my family woke up and cheerfully went into the living room. I had seen everyone come in and wish their ‘Merry Christmas’es to everyone else. Everyone, except my dad. I asked about him, but the only answer I could get was “It’s a surprise!”
After thinking it through, I worked out the most likely place for him to be, the kitchen. I ran to the kitchen door, ignoring my mother’s rule. Then, I saw my father’s masterpiece of food. On the menu was roast chicken with herbs and seasonings (traditional in France), lovely roast potatoes, assorted vegetables, mint sauce, gravy and seven hungry mouths to feed. It looked like a lot, and from past experience I knew that it was going to be a meal to remember.
However, all of that food was left for the evening. First we had breakfast. Not that the meal wasn’t spectacular, truly it was a gourmet spread, but I had my eye on something else. My stomach is no match for my need to have presents, especially since the Christmas tree was covered in twinkly, glittery bits with an angel doll on the top. It just made it irresistible. I had to get my presents. Now. After nagging my mum continuously, we all sat around the tree and took turns at opening our gifts. In the many hours of gift opening, I couldn’t help but notice very sentimental and touching moments. That is when I realised why people give each other gifts at Christmas. I had always thought that Christmas was just like a second birthday for the whole family, to receive presents at the expense of others. But then I realised that it is to show people that you care about them, it is to show that you HAVE been listening to them say what they want. The happiness and love that comes at Christmas time is just thinking about your loved ones. The gifts under the tree are simply evidence of that. Nothing more, nothing less.
It is dinner time, I can laugh and enjoy the jokes and anecdotes given by my relatives who have ‘popped round’ to see the family. I am at that impressionable age where I think anything that my cool uncles say is worth repeating. However, to this day it still hasn’t landed me in any serious trouble! The luxurious Christmas dinner cooked every year is the final big present from my dad to the whole family. The candles are lit, the mood is at an all time high, with good cheer, and the last gift goes out with a bank, the cork shoots up in the sky and we all celebrate with a glass of fine wine.
That is the miracle of Christmas, when a lesson is learned. When a young child grows up, with understandable concerns. The glimmer in the eye of a young child speaks, true love is something given, not something that is earned.
The End. Merry Christmas.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Counting My Blessings

A single-ish friend of mine visited last night. We’re sort of occasional friends – we saw a lot of each other at one point but only seem to manage meeting up every 4-6 months at the moment. So I packed DM off to the pub, and we had a girly re-bonding session.

Now this girl has had incredibly bad luck with men in her life. She’s been a victim of domestic violence and rape, she’s been cheated on, lied to, and generally had quite a bad time of it. Due to this, she finds it very hard to trust men and IMO relies far too much on Rules. Rules like never phone first, never suggest the next date, never say I love you first etc. Anyway, she has been seeing a new guy for about 6 weeks, and was fretting over the usual things:

‘Do I like him more than he likes me’;
‘Why hasn’t he called me for 3 days’;
‘Should I call him’;
‘Where is this going’….and so on

As it turned out, he called in the middle of our visit and she went from worried woman to blissful babe.

‘I don’t know why I worry so much’, she said.

The whole conversation made me want to sacrifice a goat to Venus in gratitude for what I have. Some partnered people (I’m big on the alliteration today!) miss the single life, long to be back in the dating game and regret that no more notches are going on that belt. I can’t think of anything worse. After being with someone who knows me so intimately and loves me anyway…!!! That closeness, that tenderness, that being with someone who really KNOWS you is probably the most precious thing I have yet experienced.

This is probably rather odd, but I keep a list of the men I have slept with. I got to about 7 and realised I had to think hard to remember a couple of the names, so I wrote them down. It seemed an important thing to do. Anyway, DM’s name is at the end of the list. I wrote him down after about two weeks, followed by the words “The End?”

I really hope it is.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Murder and Infidelity

After yesterday’s post, it seemed a horrendous synchronicity when I saw this story on the news last night:

This horrific crime is in NO WAY the mother’s fault. The fact that this ‘father’ is trying to blame her infidelity for his murder of his own child illustrates that he is a pathetic and low individual, one I am hesitant to call a human being.
I was watching TV with DM when this story came on. As a cuckolded man with a child, he was utterly shocked and disgusted that anyone would harm their own child as a means of punishing their errant spouse. Which is no surprise, because he is a good man and a wonderful father. I’m sure most men would react similarly to DM, although sadly not all.
My heart goes out to this bereaved woman. I cannot imagine what it would feel like, not only to lose your child, but to know that your chosen life partner was so far from who you thought he was that he was capable of taking his own 4-year-old daughter’s life. Loss is very hard. Loss through betrayal must be even worse.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


*note – the terms ‘marriage’ and ‘serious relationship’ are completely interchangeable in this post*

I think I may have weird ideas about infidelity. Firstly, it’s something I would NEVER EVER do under any circumstances, and that seems unusual. In my fairly small office, two people who are both married/seriously involved with others had an affair last year, and there is another affair hatching between a second pair of similarly involved colleagues. DM’s ex-wife had no concept of fidelity and embarked upon three affairs that he knows of during their 12-year relationship, the last of which sounded its deathknell. Another colleague I very much like and respect advised me that kissing (as in deep kissing) didn’t count as cheating. What’s with everybody? Even apparently nice, happily married men have made passes at me at office Christmas parties. This was when I was single – now DM comes to office parties with me.

My theory has always been if you are unhappy in any situation, change it or leave. Don’t cheat. If you are trapped in an unhappy marriage, the question is not ‘who should you shag to take your mind off it’, but why are you allowing yourself to be trapped?? Lady Chatterley had an excuse. The vast majority of Western people today don’t. There are a few circumstances where it’s understandable, but it’s very rare that the circumstance justifies the action and the totally unnecessary pain inflicted on the other partner.

Here’s another weird thought of mine – I think open marriages are perfectly ok and in no way the same as infidelity. To me, if you and your partner have an Agreement, it’s no longer unfaithfulness, because the two of you have agreed on your rules, and therefore you aren’t breaking them. I could never be in an open marriage (far too much scope for problems), but I don’t consider those in open marriages to be cheaters.

For me, infidelity is a deal breaker. He and I both know that ‘letting it out of your pants’ is not an option, and will never be an option, on pain of instant dissolution of the relationship.

Going back to my colleagues – it’s been a good test of nonjudgmental behaviour for me. Now, you may be surprised to see me saying that given the above, but I have never condemned the individuals involved or told them they are bad people for doing what they do. I think it’s totally wrong, but it’s their choice to make, not mine. I have been as supportive as possible while gently encouraging them to let it alone.

The oddest thing is that if the tables were turned, and their spouse cheated on them, they would be devastated. I think that sometimes people don’t think about the effects of their actions. They just think about how it feels at the time.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Going back to school…hopefully

Oooh this is exciting! My company offers funding for work-related training and I am looking into doing my NVQ 4 in my field (did NVQs 1-3 about 10 years ago). For any non-UK readers, NVQs are nationally recognised vocational qualifications. Here’s the blurb:

“National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) are work-related, competence-based qualifications. They reflect the skills and knowledge needed to do a job effectively, and show that a candidate is competent in the area of work the NVQ represents.
NVQs are based on national occupational standards. These standards are statements of performance that describe what competent people in a particular occupation are expected to be able to do. They cover all the main aspects of an occupation, including current best practice, the ability to adapt to future requirements and the knowledge and understanding that underpin competent performance.”

So that’s what I’m looking into. The nearest college offering a part-time course is 50 miles from home, which is a fair old distance for me but the company will hopefully give me a day-release and will pay my travel expenses. There don’t seem to be any self-study options for this subject.

The college in question is sending me course details. I’m to present them to my boss at my appraisal next month, and we’ll see what happens. He’s already agreed in principle so all we need to do is hash out the details.

I’m really excited about this – I’ve wanted to study something for ages, and since my employers are unlikely to fund a degree in philosophy (snort), this will do nicely.

Will keep you updated :o)

On another subject, an acquaintance of mine has a film review website ( and he posted my Superman Returns review that made it’s first appearance on this blog a couple of months ago – and I’ve been asked to do some more, tee hee :oD

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Muslim Issues

Well it's an odd title but encapsulates the subject pretty well. Over the last fortnight, two Islam-related news items have caught my eye. Here is the first:,,1887967,00.html
"Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan police commissioner, last night ordered an urgent review of a policy that allows officers to refuse certain duties on moral grounds after a decision to excuse a Muslim policeman from guarding the Israeli embassy.
PC Alexander Omar Basha, who is attached to the force's Diplomatic Protection Group, objected to being posted to protect Israel's embassy in central London from possible terrorist attack because he disagreed with the country's bombing of Lebanon." (article continues)

If you are a police officer, firefighter, medical professional or other 'public servant', you MUST be a police officer etc first, and anything else second. To allow a public servant to discriminate who he will protect or aid based on his political, religious or racial affiliations is so incredibly wrong I can't even do the subject justice.

Imagine where we would be if doctors decided who to treat based on the patient's nationality. 'Sorry, you're Zimbabwean and your country has a terrible record on human rights - no antibiotics for you!'

I wonder how it will all pan out.

And the second Islamic story du jour is here:

"Jack Straw, the ex-foreign secretary, has angered Muslim groups by suggesting women who wear veils over their face can make community relations harder.
The Blackburn MP says the veil is a "visible statement of separation and of difference" and he asks women visiting his surgery to consider removing it. "

Apparently this came to the media's attention because a particular woman who had come into the minister's surgery wearing a veil which showed only her eyes reported being asked to open her veil so her whole face was visible.

I had a very energetic debate with virtually my entire family about this one. I think Mr Straw was out of order to ask that the veil be removed. My family argued that if a person is in this country they should follow our rules, which I completely agree with. But here's the thing - there is no explicit rule in the UK that covering one's face is impolite. It's not like refusing to shake hands or ignoring a greeting. There is no rule, implicit or expressed, that says covering your face is rude. Therefore the lady was not contravening a rule, therefore Mr Straw had no right to insist that she drop her veil.

One argument made is that it's more difficult to communicate when you can't see someone's face. I suppose that the people making that argument have great difficulty speaking on the telephone then? No. Thought not.

Mr Straw may have felt uncomfortable speaking to a veiled woman, but in the context of his surgery he is in the position of being the host and the Muslim lady was his guest. As such, it is his responsibility to ensure that SHE is comfortable, even if that results in some discomfort for him.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

MMMMMM, DANCING (Homer Simpson-esque drool).....

Last night I performed with some fellow bellydance students and our teacher at an Arabic Dance festival thingy. It was held in a school theatre in Salisbury (about 1hr's drive from me) and we were the 3rd of 18 acts. We were doing an Oriental Veil dance, which I personally LOVE - veil work is my favourite 'discipline' within bellydance so far. We were all in full cabaret costume, which means outfits like this:
(mainly the Cabaret style section, but it's a great little page for a general overview of the different types of dance costume within Arabic dance)

AND we were going to dance on a stage with full lighting being filmed. Which I didn't know before I got there, lol! The result of that was that my makeup was grossly inadequate to the task at hand. I don't wear makeup on a daily basis, and I thought I'd been quite bold - but no! My teacher arrived and immediately pulled me down to sit by her so she could draw on me ;o) After 5mins, my makeup could have shamed a streetwalker, LOLOL! But I'm told that it would only just have shown up on film as even BEING makeup. My teacher has a great deal of experience, having been performing on stage in one way or another since she was about 5. So far, so groovy.

The real nerves didn't hit until we were in the wings. Which is a huge improvement from the first time I performed last December, when it was just for a dozen old people and I still felt I was going to be sick beforehand, lol! But anyway, there we are in the wings, and then - we're on. It all went very well for the first few bars, during which we stand in one place and wave our veils about delicately. But as soon as I took a step, I knew I was in trouble.

Generally one would dance barefoot indoors, but I have these cute little sequinned slippers that go very nicely with my blue outfit (which I was wearing that day) and I had them on. BIG mistake. I took one step and realised that I had no traction with the floor! It was a smooth dance-floor and the soles of my slippers were smooth to counteract rough surfaces eg dancing on grass. IDIOT! I think being constantly worried about slipping affected my performance - I spun the wrong direction at one point, and I'm sure that's going to show up clearly on the DVD *cringe*. But I didn't slip (hurray!) and apart from the spin didn't make any important errors in the dance. My mum was in the audience, so I had someone to make me smile at least, lol!

Anyway, dance ends, off we go. We were not allowed to watch acts in the same half we were in (IOW first-half dancers watch second-half acts & vice versa), so we went to have a look at the souk (pronounced sook), or bazaar. This probably all sounds very big and grand, but it wasn't really. There were about 50 people in the audience, and the souk was four or five rails of costumes and a couple of tables of jewellery etc. All the same, it was the most official event I have yet attended. I was very grateful to see that they had laid on tea and mini muffins for us - I was starved! As I stood there, tea in hand, rifling through the costumes, the first half ended and the audience started to trickle out to the souk. I was still in costume, but I'd wrapped my veil around me in such a way as to cover my previously exposed areas ;o)

Pushed to the side by the crowd, I was leaning against a wall sipping away when a girl in her early 20s accosted me. She complimented me on my top (an unusual butterfly design) and asked me how long I'd been dancing. When I said nearly two years she was amazed. She'd expected me to say 6 or 7! I said 'I love you - you can stay!' Bless. We chatted through most of the intermission. She was a beginner, had only been dancing 3 months so I gave her a couple of tips and we talked about what the dance means to us. I've said it before on this blog, but possibly the best thing about bellydancing is the confidence it seems to give in one's own body. Gone are the pressures to be skinny, nobody cares if you have a belly the size of a house. It's all about how you move it. And as such, a dancer is beautiful no matter her size.

I love it.