Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Royal wedding frenzy, or 'I took her up somewhere nice'

The voice of the TV presenter is almost hysterical.

What is going on? What is happening?!!!
 We can see some people from the helicopter...they are entering the building! Yes...they have entered the building! What does that mean???!!! We don’t know?! 

You might think this might be related to something serious. For example, 500 people killed in Syria. But no, of course not! The main focus today is on the Royal wedding event tomorrow.

Oh, look they are leaving the building! Prince Harry is sitting on the right. Kate is sitting on the left! 

Wow.  That is some major news.  Wait a minute, what is this crazy excitement in the crowd? Oh, yes. Prince Harry waved from the back seat of the car!!!

The whole royal wedding hysteria is starting to really annoy me now. It is not even the wedding itself that is my problem. It is everything that surrounds the event. The other morning, on the Breakfast programme, some woman was talking for ages about the fake photographs they were working on, staging pretend wedding scenes. Why?

'Did it take you a long time to find someone who looked like Kate Middleton?' she was asked and oh took hours to set up, it took amazing efforts from the make-up create fake dancing scenes with the Queen and David Beckham. I mean, seriously?

As my father summarized the other day over the phone, when I tried to explain that we had a day off, and there will be street parties all around our little village.... ‘But why do you care?’

I have no idea.

Okay, there are a lot of pro-Royal family people in the UK. I personally am not. Neither am I against them, really. I just don’t care enough to feel strongly either way. I can understand when Husband gets annoyed at them. Because, you have to remember that the private jet Prince Andrew took to visit his mate in Azerbaijan was paid by the taxpayers (£60,000), as well as the security provided to escort the Royals from their regular drunken debauchery at night clubs. As far as I can tell, there isn't any obvious use out of the inbred bunch. They are not even that good looking. They are not even English. Tourism? I bet London will have enough tourists looking at the Buckingham Palace, even if it stood empty. So no, I am definitely not seeing what their value is. But really, I understand they are here already. As I point out to Husband, this is just life. Life is not fair or reasonable. If it were not them, there would be some other useless bunch we’d have to subsidize. They are like expensive pets you can’t really afford, but can't get rid of, as it would be cruel.

Syria does get mentioned on the news. But the main problem seems to be the sulking Labour MP’s. They were pissed off that neither Tony Blair nor Gordon Brown got invited to the wedding, whereas “some quite dubious people” and “representatives of repressive regimes” have been. Lots of toys got thrown out of the pram. 

Speaking of which, I don’t think the Azeri president, despite his alleged friendship with the groom’s uncle, got invited. Hello? Why is that? Is he not dubious or repressive enough?! That is just not on, if you ask me. 

But the most shocking news came from my New York girlfriend last night. Naively, perhaps, I thought that the whole craze about this wedding was mainly inside the country. But, no. My friend took a day off work and is having a proper English breakfast party at her place, with her parents, sausages and bacon, and Pimm’s and Lemonade.

'Are you serious?' I asked and she said but of course, it was a major, major, major event! 

What the hell is the matter with you all, I wanted to ask. What the hell is the matter with this huge crowd on telly, camping out on the streets already?

PRINCE WILLIAM (in an interview in November 2010): ‘We've been talking about marriage for a while, so it wasn't a massively big surprise. But I took her up somewhere nice in Kenya and proposed.’

Oh, dear.  Things girls have to do to become a princess these days....

PS. Just saw this and could not resist to add....

Monday, 25 April 2011

Living on the edge...of a field.

Time flies when you are having fun.  We were incredibly lucky with the weather for a whole week in North Wales. Normally,  whenever we went there, it would be raining non-stop; and we stayed in pretty much every day, only to be told  ‘Oh, it was glorious last week!’ or ‘Oh, it is sunny now!’ after we left. We never really believed my in-laws.

However, this holiday was perfect. The whole week we basked in the sunshine and spent hours on the beautiful beaches nearby.

I also enjoyed some countryside experience. I often refer to our commuter village as a village. But it isn’t, really. My in-laws live in a proper countryside, i.e. in the middle of nowhere. It is beautiful and peaceful. But instead of neighbours next door, they have fields full of cows and sheep. 

One evening a stranger stopped by. (That was quite unusual by itself, as people don’t normally appear at my in-laws doorstep). He was cycling along the path when he saw a cow struggling to give birth. ‘I think she needs help,’ he told us. ‘The calf’s head is out but the rest is stuck inside’. 

Father in law walked up the lane to warn Farmer Will. Of course, in my current condition, watching a cow giving birth might not have been the best idea in the world, but I wanted to see. I have never seen animals giving birth before.  Unfortunately- or fortunately?- by the time we got down to the end of the field  to have a look, the baby calf was out and lying next to the cow, still attached, still wet. I have not seen such a new calf before, it was kind of endearing. The calf was very large though, which gave me some disturbing thoughts.

But my most exciting experience was on the last morning. Waiting for my porridge, I stood outside soaking in the sunshine and admiring the views, when I noticed that the cows had a rather large and brooding looking bull with them. They came very close. Only a thin mesh fence separated them from the in-laws garden. The bull suddenly noticed me, too.  He stopped chewing and stared. 

I stared back. He stared a bit more. I waved with both hands. He did not seem too impressed.

Moo!!!!! I said loudly. The bull stared. I glanced at the fencing, it looked pretty thin. I was, however, standing very close to the French doors. Having quickly calculated the route of escape, should the bull decide to charge, I mooed in a more insulting way.

I wanted to know if he could eventually be challenged to break through the fencing. But he just stood there, staring, not chewing any longer. 

There is something funny about cows when they are curiously watching you.  But with the bull, it was not funny. To me, his expression did not look at all friendly. But then again, maybe I was stereotyping a little. Perhaps, it is like with Mike Tyson: when you look so scary, it is hard to appear friendly even if you tried.

Some time passed, the bull and I just kept studying each other. 

Husband appeared in the conservatory doors. 'What are you doing? Are you trying to stare that bull down?’

Yes, I said proudly. Why should I back down?

But then, the porridge was ready and, reluctantly, I had to retreat from the battlefield. Some things in life are okay to miss out on, but my father in law’s porridge isn’t one of them.

‘He is still looking this way!’ I heard husband shout and thought that I, at least, made some impression.

'Would he actually try to break through the fencing?' I asked my in-laws. They did not think so. But, they pointed out, a farmer was killed recently by his bull, because he tried to attend to a new-born calf.

I never really considered a country life as dangerous before. Sleepy and slow, maybe. A bit quiet. Hard work, if you are a farmer. But dangerousHmm... I still wonder if he would have charged.

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Happy Easter from a very humanistic rabbit.

Having glanced through his blog, I found out that there is a Society for Humanistic Judaism, as well as the Association of Humanistic Rabbis. I thought it was pretty cool, and posted the news on Facebook. 
And, of course, someone misread it as the Association of Humanistic Rabbits

I thought it was a great idea. I personally think that if the Association of Humanistic Rabbits does not yet exist,  it should be set up. Just in time for Easter, a humanistic rabbit could become a non-religious symbol to welcome the spring and celebrate the cultural aspect, without being religious.

There were a few jokes flying between some of my friends on Facebook. Someone wondered if humanistic rabbits would dislike Humanistic Hamasters. We all had to agree that they would most probably not get along.

We also discussed what rabbits could join the club. For example, the giant rabbit from Donnie Darko and of course, the Rampant Rabbit. 

But, joking apart, I thought this was a fascinating development in what is traditionally a very religious set up. And, somewhere deep inside, a faint glimmer of hope appeared....what if

What if there is something like an Association of Humanistic Mullahs? What if it exists and I just have no idea, just like I never knew that there were Jewish people out there openly trying to retain their cultural identity without having to accept the dogmatic religion attached to it? If it is possible for one of the oldest religions in the world, such as Judaism, why can’t it be possible for Islam?  

 I, of course, Googled it, and came across some studies and books on the subject. Not quite societies or  associations formed just yet. But....who knows? Islam, after all, is still relatively young. 

But for now, I am excited about having Easter holidays up in North Wales, where my parents in law prepared some cute bunny decorations and chocolate eggs to turn my child’s holiday into an Easter heaven. I was helping to put together this yellow paper bunny today, so I asked him if he wanted to secretly become a humanistic rabbit instead. And he laughed and said ‘Why not? As long as there is a lot of chocolate involved, and children are happy and laughing, I am content to be anything at all.’

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

A very pregnant sort of posting.

I have a bit of a problem with my midwife. 

The woman is driving me insane. I appreciate she sees a few people like me. Perhaps, she even sees a few foreign looking pregnant women, even though around here, that would be unusual. 
Okay, I don’t expect her to memorize everything about me. But please, please, please, just do me a favour and glance through the notes before you see me! Surely, that must be part of your job?

Every time I visit her, which is normally once in four weeks, she is polite and pleasant. In a very British way. She smiles and asks how I am, and then pulls my maternity notes out. 

'Now...', she says . ' I need to ask you- How are you planning to feed your baby?'

When it happened the first time, I told her the whole story. How hard it was to breastfeed the first day, and how the postnatal ward staff forced me to give my baby the stressful we found the transition back after a few days...How after that we had no problems and I was hoping to breastfeed this time, too.

-Oh, lovely! (Midwives are very pro breastfeeding in the UK so the story made her very happy) 
How long did you breastfeed your first child for?

-15months, I say and she writes it down.

Four weeks later, we are back in the same room.

How am I feeling, thanks, do I have any questions, no....

'Now. I need to ask you. How are you planning to feed your baby?'

I started telling her again, thinking that, as it sometimes happens, she might recall the story once I mentioned some of it.  Maybe the part about the trauma in the hospital, where a big fat nurse squeezed my nipple so hard I felt I was being abused... Maybe the part about working hard to move the baby from the bottle back to the breast...But, no. She looked at me, her blue eyes wide in shock; and there was nothing that indicated she might have heard any of it before. Nothing at all.

Last time, I decided not to bother. 

'So...' she smiled as I sat down and after she had checked my blood pressure. 'Today, perhaps, we could talk about benefits of breastfeeding?'

Sure, why not? After all, we only talked about it three times in the last two months.

Yes, I said, I breastfed the first one, no problems whatsoever, for 15 months, and will plan to breastfeed this one, too. 

But never mind the breastfeeding part. 

I asked her whether the hospital had private postnatal rooms. It is not my idea of fun to be sharing the room with 3 other women and their newborn babies. Oh, she said, they do but those are too expensive. But, the good news is,  the ABC centre is quiet and you get your own room afterwards. 

That is good to know, I said, but why would I want to know about the ABC centre?  

You see, the ABC centre is a midwives-led section of the hospital. Natural birth. No pain relief. No epidural. No doctors. Dimmed lights, big beanbags and birthing pools.  Somewhere you would be very happy if you are one of those mothers who want to enjoy and treasure the experience of pain. Perhaps even do some yoga stretching while in labour.

'Oh!' she smiled her lovely smile. 'I have put you down as an ABC birth.'

Why? Why, why, why would you put me down as the ABC birth, I wanted to know.  Why?

-Well, did you not say you wanted a natural, drugs free birth?

No, I replied calmly. I never said I wanted no drugs. In fact, I told you I loved drugs. I told you I had an epidural the first time and it was great. Just like I'd told you about my breastfeeding about four times by now, too. But I did not say any of that, of course. I just laughed nervously and asked her to change that, please. 

So really, I don’t know what to expect. I just hope the midwives at the hospital are a little more interested, and pay a bit more attention, otherwise I might as well deliver the baby at home. Or go to Baku...hmm...Okay, that would be taking it a bit too far.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

God Hates Fags (homosexuals that is, not cigarettes)

I watched “God Hates Fags”: America’s Most Hated Family In Crisis last night. 

I have to say it was very entertaining and educational. Until now, I always thought Christians have calmed down since the Crusade times. (Okay, it might have taken them a few more years since then but let’s not get too technical about it) I mean, so many times I hear people refer to themselves as not religious but raised with ‘Christian values and morals’.

A friend of mine, who wanted her children to get into a state funded Christ Church school (which happen to be good schools from the academic point of view) but is not very religious herself, always said that at least she felt Christianity was quite laid back and civilized compared to some other religions.

I sent her the link to the program.

Of course, you will say this is an exception to the rule. No rational Christian person would claim that “God Hates Fags”! In fact, should God even be familiar with the concept of hate? I thought he was supposed to be a tolerant, loving and forgiving sort of geezer. But that is  a very naïve perspective coming from someone who has no proper religious knowledge,whatsoever.

According to the Westboro Baptist Church believers, God is very busy these days, punishing us with wars, soldiers getting killed, children dying in fire accidents, the anti-Christ in the shape and form of Barack Obama, and various other disasters. More importantly, the Phelps invite us all to rejoice in his judgments.

So really, I take it back when I said religious people have an imaginary friend. Because, according to these guys, God clearly is not interested in friendship. He is cruel, unfair and vengeful. He is watching over  poor religious people, waiting for them to make a mistake, such as even question his judgments, or get upset by his decisions; so that he could send them to hell where, according to the Phelps, a huge never-dying worm feasts on their flesh.

But let’s just look at this. Okay, these guys come across pretty mad when you watch them happily singing along to the Lady Gaga tunes, replacing the words with hateful messages against the Jews, the Fags and, of course, Obama. But, are their fundamental beliefs really that different from a lot of other strong religious views?

First of all, of course, is the overall hatred of the homosexuals. Does any mainstream religion accept gay people? Just because the Phelps openly shout that fags eat poo (or your babies) does not make the basic idea any different from other, more moderate, more socially acceptable religious views. Gay is bad. God does not like gay. Full stop.

Just because the Phelps disown their daughters as soon as they see any sign of them considering having a boyfriend, does not make them that different from a huge number of Muslim families, where expelling from the family is really not the worst thing that can happen. Unfortunately, the concept of the honor killings is something we all are too familiar with.

And, just because they describe hell in a very eloquent way (quote) And what will you do when you all land in hell FOR EVER where the worm that eats on you NEVER dies and the fire is NEVER quenched and the smoke of your torment ascends up for ever and ever and ever and ever and ever - never ending”  does not mean that the belief in hell is anyhow original. 

Finally, the basic concept of not questioning and not wondering, and not ever letting your thoughts “dwell on inappropriate”…isn’t that the basis of any faith in general?

As Oliver Duggan said in the Independent Blogs yesterday....

Finally,  a lovely quote from the Phelps themselves for you to enjoy.

The antichrist is sitting now, in the Whitehouse, the time is SO SHORT - the Lord is coming and this generation is DOOMED! You see the destruction already before your eyes! As filthy america goes down, and The Beast Obama, That Son of Perdition, that Man of Sin gets his power grab on, you will all give over the power of your government to him and when you see that phony façade fall away, and he gets his war on and all your fawning over him turns to great fear, then you can remember these words. “ 

( from their interview for the Telegraph in feb 09)

And, to finish on a funny note...the Michael Moore vs Westboro Baptist Church video, which made me smile.