Friday, June 19, 2009

It Shall Not Stand

My dad researches and instructs other teachers on methodology and school effectiveness, including work in far-flung places, with it regularly taking him to Brazil, Pakistan, and Tonbridge Wells.* Because he is now such a seasoned traveller, he has got used to odd hours and his body clock being awry. One of my favourite ever conversations with him involved him announcing that he'd found a way to get over jetlag. Ever eager to get over it, as I suffer terribly when I don't sleep (as I may have mentioned), I asked him what it was. "Just don't give in to it. I've decided" came the response.

Would that I had the willpower. Waking up at 5 two mornings in a row seems to indicate otherwise.

* I always want to ask him if he ever comes across "angry of..." the aforementioned TW.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


At Shakesville, they ask "What is your favourite silly question game to play with friends?" Mine always seem to devolve into ranking games, with the number one game that TOH and I play ranking couples on who we could beat up in a fight. Sad, but true. We'd do reasonably well, based on our generally large weight advantage and my ruthlessness (i.e. spitefulness/viciousness when cornered). I wish I could say street smarts from growing up on the mean (ahem) streets of Catford, but that's sadly lacking.

Friday, June 12, 2009


I've been enjoying myself at home, despite the circumstances - the weather has been glorious, we have eaten extremely well, and I have spent some extended time with my parents and various wonderful home people.

Being home again provokes torn responses within me, parts of me struggling against each other. The New York part rallies against seeing the Daily Mail, the election of BNP politicians (and, more gallingly, the willingness of people to excuse voting for the BNP because people are pissed off with Labour and immigration - no matter how pissed off I am with any politician, it does not excuse racism), Boris Johnson, early closing, tube strikes, etc. etc...

Yet the Londoner rejoices in staying in a house, with a garden; the abundance of tea, decent dairy products, and curries as well as the availability of creme fraiche; cricket on the tv and radio; cryptic crosswords; pub gardens - the weather has been so good that everywhere you went this weekend, you saw people just hanging out with a pint and the sun on their shoulders. Lovely.

I just wish I could have both - the things I love about New York combined with the lure of home comforts and the proximity of continental Europe. If only. I can satisfy myself however with the knowledge that I have also been (not so subtly) waging a war on TOH's predilection for North London, which hopefully will, if and when we return home, pay dividends. Small steps.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The cold-blooded, vigilante murder of Dr. Tiller on Sunday morning has left me speechless, with both rage and an inability to express that rage due to the seeming inevitability of it all.

But the overwhelming feeling is one of despair. Despair at what desperate women will do: those women whose babies are incapable of living, other than for a few hours, in agony because of defects and abnormalities, blood diseases; those women whose babies die in utero, and now, can only find two doctors in the entire United States that will remove the dead foetus beyond 24 weeks. Less than 1% of all abortions are in the final trimester; these require medical indications, such as those listed above. Women may go through labour with such children; that's their choice. But to force them to do so, particularly if it will cause the baby nothing but pain and agony, is inhuman. Terry claimed that what Tiller did was "literally demonic," but I really do believe that forcing a woman to go through that experience and inflict such pain on her baby is more deserving of such a label. Tiller's opponents are cheering this "saving" of unborn babies, yet judging by the stories, most of these babies are desperately desired and will, if they live at all, suffer greatly.

I am not going to post anymore on this, because most of it has already been said elsewhere, and with greater eloquence and focus than I can really muster. There's so much I couldn't collate it all, but I do urge you to read the stories of his patients, that recount his kindness, the funerals he shared with patients, his attempts to support a 15 year old on her birthday while being a patient at his clinic that week.

Monday, June 01, 2009

On a Wing and a...*

So, without wanting to go into too much detail, next week is going to be a little rough. I know this in advance, which is always strange, I think - most unpleasant things are anticipated only just beforehand, unless they are exams, I tend to find, and after last year, I'd hoped that was over.

Nonetheless, it's looming. Today, a colleague offered me her prayers. I always find that offer difficult to deal with - internally it feels hypocritical to accept, because I do not believe it and I feel dishonest in accepting it; yet it would be ungracious to get into a theological debate with someone who I appreciate on a daily basis for her support, friendship and general fabulousness. So, indeed, I just said "thank you," recognizing that it's something of great value to her that she has gifted to me. Of course, not all gifts should be received with grace: if it were KKK memorabilia that meant a great deal, I'd doubtlessly rebuff it with (more than) a few stiff words. But this was something she really thought would help me, and she wants what I want: a safe and good outcome. Clearly, I'm not still comfortable with this, but I think I've made a decision that this is an internal struggle that can be left to wither away; out of all the terrible things that happen to people on a daily basis, this really is a minimal existentialist crisis.

* I will never, ever, be able to think of this phrase without We Need To Talk About Kevin. That book certainly leaves an impression.