Category: Opinions and rants

Let’s talk about death

Let's talk about death - close up of typewriter with word death typed on white paper

Death. It’s not a topic most of us enjoy thinking about, let alone talking about. But talk about it we should. It is, after all, an inevitability for all of us. (Unless anyone reading this has discovered the secret of immortality and is keeping it to themselves?)

My first memorable experience of death was when my Great Nan on my Mom’s side died when I was 7. My Dad’s Dad died when I was 8. My Mom’s Mom when I was 13 and my Mom’s Dad when I was 18. Each of these experiences affected me, all in different ways and with different depths of emotions due to my age and understanding. I cried and I wished they could come back and I grieved and there was a difference in my life afterwards. But ultimately I guess my life pretty much went back to normal.

The ongoing impact

It wasn’t until my Dad died 3 years ago that I really understood the ongoing impact of death. The combination of experiencing loss for the first time as a proper adult, and also losing a parent made me truly look at my own mortality. My Dad’s death also taught me a lot about the way I think, feel and approach the subject; especially because he wasn’t an old man (he was only 59).

I’ve developed a real dislike of the softly softly language used around it. I’ve posted before about really disliking the term “lost the battle” when it relates to cancer or other illnesses. “Gone to a better place” grinds my gears, because there’s no better place than being alive and with your family.

I recently read an article, inspired by a Twitter post, which looked at other people’s thoughts, and that in turn partially inspired this blog post.

Have a read: Whatever you do, don’t say ‘dead’

Why do many people struggle to say the word dead? Why do we try to dress it up into something else? The end result is still the same. The person is gone. How you refer to it isn’t going to make any difference.

My Dad is dead

Personally, for me, I sometimes say “my Dad id dead” for the shock value…as much to shock myself as anyone else. I need that reality behind the situation. I can’t dress it up into something less harsh. He died. He’s dead. He didn’t “pass away” (there was nothing gentle about his final day), he isn’t “with the angels” (we’re not religious, and neither was he).

None of this makes it any easier to deal with, of course. There’s a hole that will never be filled. But using different terminology doesn’t change the situation.

I think the article makes a very valid point that language is subjective, and what works for one person wouldn’t work for another. Some people need to soften the blow, especially where children are concerned. There have been times when I’ve said “my Dad is dead” and my Mom has said “oh don’t say it like that.” What works for one person doesn’t work for another. But not talking about death isn’t good for us either.

A Natural Undertaking

A while ago I came across a funeral company local to me called A Natural Undertaking. I’ve been following them on Facebook for a while now, which probably sounds quite morbid, but their approach to, and way of talking about, funerals is very refreshing. For a start, their strapline is “funerals celebrating life.” Run by two women who want individuals and families to be aware of the different options around funerals, they offer anything from traditional through to unique ceremonies. They also encourage people to speak more openly about death, to help remove the stigma and also ensure that people who are dying have the kind of send off they want.

They even have an all electric hearse, for those who are thinking about the environment even when they’re not part of it anymore, or a VW Campervan for those making the journey to the great campsite in the sky (how’s that for not referring to death by it’s actual term?)

Let's Talk about Death - white electric hearse at a Natural Undertaking
Let's Talk about Death - silver VW hearse at a Natural Undertaking

They also promote and participate in Death Cafes. They sound horribly morbid, but are actually just a place for people to come together, drink tea, eat cake and talk about death.

Afraid of death

You might think from all this straight talk that I’m not afraid of death. You’d be wrong. I’m petrified of it. Mainly from a missing out point of view, because there is so much in life to be lived and loved. So much to experience, places to see, cuddles to be had, laughs, finding out whether Brexit will ever actually happen! The process of dying scares me; the idea of suffering, of being in pain, of people I care about seeing me deteriorate. But talking about it in hushed tones or euphemisms doesn’t change the inevitability of it.

I’ve seen death. I saw my Dad in his coffin the day before his funeral. For some people this would be troubling, but for me it helped my grieving process. My Dad was most definitely not alive anymore! That sounds obvious (and very reassuring, bearing in mind he was to be cremated the following day) but what I mean was, I saw first hand that a body is just a vessel. Without a smile, a frown, a hand gesture, warmth, a body is just a body.

I talk about death quite a lot. Not seriously. Mainly with a dark sense of humour. I talk about who we’ll leave our house to when we die, and what I would do if the husband died before me. It’s all fairly light hearted. I think, for me, it’s because my life has been irrevocably changed by the death of my Dad, so death is a very real concept to me. It makes me want to do more, see more and experience more, because life is finite, whether we talk about it or not.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

1+

Does your MP represent your views?

Pointing finger - does your MP work for you?

Politics. You can’t escape it right now. Whichever side of the Brexit fence you sit, I think it’s fair to say we’re in a hell of a mess which shows no signs of abating. Boris appears to be going bonkers and heading towards dictator/despot status, Rees-Mogg can’t even sit upright, and the government has no majority.

Wowsers!

Like (I think) many people, my interest in politics has developed in the lead up to the Brexit referendum and in the time that has passed since. Prior to that I felt (rightly or wrongly) largely unaffected by the political landscape. I held loose views on the political parties but didn’t feel that what was going on in Westminster really made a difference to my life.

So what changed?

As well as the vote on whether to leave or stay in the EU, which began to shape my views and pique my interest, I have become a more avid and staunch supporter of Dignity in Dying and the rights they campaign for. Following an inoperable prostate cancer diagnosis, my Dad started looking into assisted dying as an insurance policy to avoid what he feared may be a horrible death. Due to the UK law this would have meant travelling to Dignitas in Switzerland, where assisted dying is legal. Dad wasn’t able to progress with his plan due to his doctor denying him access to the necessary medical records, but his wife has since shared their experience with Dignity in Dying, and I was invited to Parliament to a debate in January 2018.

The last assisted dying bill was voted on in 2015, and MPs voted 330 to 118 against a change in the law to allow terminally ill people to end their own lives with medical help. I started to wonder how my own MP, Labour’s Roger Godsiff, had voted.

That’s when I found website They Work For You. Here you can find a history of how your MP has voted on matters that are important you.

I was delighted to find that Mr Godsiff had voted in favour of a change to the law, allowing assisted dying, in both the 2015, and the preceding 1997 vote.

More recently…

You may have seen news coverage earlier this year about protests outside primary schools regarding LGBT teachings. Despite the messages being around acceptance of differences than hardcore gay sex (as you might imagine from the uproar), parents and none parents alike were causing disturbances outside the school in the Birmingham suburbs and withdrawing their children from lessons. While at first covered only locally, in time this reached the national news.

Roger Godsiff was, at first, conspicuous in his silence. Then, even worse, he publicly declared that the protestors were correct to be against the teachings and that they had just cause to be unhappy (despite, it later emerged, having not even read the books that were at the centre of the controversy). Once again I turned to They Work For You, to find out how our Roger had voted on LGBT issues.

Turns out that, up until July this year, Rog couldn’t be bothered to turn up to 4 votes regarding allowing same sex marriage, and voted once against it, in 2013. Funnily enough, in July this year, he voted in favour of allowing same sex marriage in Northern Ireland (where it’s currently still illegal). Now, either he’s had a dramatic change of heart (doubtful) or, as the cynic in me believes, is trying to get back in the good books after his misplaced and archaic comments around LGBT teaching in school (for which he was publicly denounced by fellow Labour members, and reported to the Chief Whip).

Back to Brexit

To give Godsiff his due, he has voted against leaving the EU with no deal. But he did vote in favour of a referendum around EU membership in both 2011 and 2013 – which is what caused this mess in the first place!

Just down the road…

In a neighbouring constituency, Labour MP Jess Phillips is a breath of fresh air. She represents Yardley constituency – with a mix of ethnicity, wealth and education. As recently as yesterday she made headlines in her out and out vocal disdain and distrust of Boris Johnson as the current Prime Minister. She’s straight talking, passionate, and in politics for the people rather than the status. She spoke out against the LGBT protests even though they weren’t happening in her jurisdiction. She has been an active part of protests around cutting funding for schools, so that some can only afford to open 4 or 4.5 days per week (her son is one of thousands of pupils affected).

British politics need more people like Jess Phillips. In touch with the people, wanting the best for the country (rather than self promotion and vanity titles), dare I say young? Not that all older politicians are out of touch, but many of them are.

Find out more about your MP

If you get 5 minutes, have a look at the They Work For You website and get an overview of your local MP. Of course you won’t agree with them on everything. But it’s an interesting read nonetheless. It could well be helpful to you if a General Election happens sooner rather than later!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Blogging and me – which one has changed?

My most recent blog post was about my trip to Santorini, which happened 11 months ago. I still haven’t finished writing about Dubrovnik, which was 13 months ago. My weekend in Lincoln earlier this year, and my trip to Norway for my mother-in-law’s 80th birthday haven’t seen the light of day.

There was a time when I’d have been chomping at the bit to get these trips written up. When I’d have been vocal about the current political situation, or sharing my latest book purchases.

These days I hardly ever blog. And it got me wondering why?

My job is definitely part of it – I look after the social media accounts and some content creation at the company I work for, and in truth it can zap my creativity! I don’t really feel like getting my laptop out after work, or even at weekends. I used to do much of my blogging during my lunch hour in my previous job, whereas in this job there is a much more social aspect to lunches (and somewhere to actually sit away from our desks!) so I tend to spend my lunchtimes with colleagues rather than writing blog posts. I keep telling myself that I’ll spend maybe one lunchtime a week at my desk doing “life-admin” and catching up on blogging, but it hasn’t happened so far.

I don’t read other blogs as much these days either, and I don’t know why. Are people less prolific in promoting their blog posts on Twitter these days? I don’t seem to see blogging mentioned nearly as much, and I guess I’ve just gotten out of the habit of checking in on my favourite sites (other people seem to be posting less too!)

To conclude…I think both blogging and me have changed. Not necessarily for the worst, but certainly not for the better. My blog was never about views or followers, so that isn’t what’s stopping me from posting. I guess, like many people, I just need to get my mojo back!

Watch this space…!

Is anyone else feeling this way? Is blogging dead? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

2+

How I’m dealing with getting older

Getting older - field of flowers with mountain background

Getting older. It’s a privilege not afforded to everyone so I try really hard not to be ungrateful about it. The alternative is an early death which, unsurprisingly, I’m even less keen on. So getting older it is.

I don’t have a problem with the getting older per se. I don’t miss going out clubbing, or wearing teeny tiny clothes, or functioning on 3 hours sleep. I’m happy pottering at home in my garden and that’s fab. Going to bed after 11 is a late night. I wear comfy cotton pants instead of undercarriage flossing thongs. With age has come a calmness and happiness I didn’t have in my 20s. Passing years have enabled me to do so many things that only come with time and experience, including travelling to many different countries and cities across the world. My earnings cover the lifestyle I have and want. I have a long and happy marriage under my belt and a strong and fun relationship. I’m very content with where I am in that respect.

So what’s the problem?

Truth be told (cringing a little bit at this) part of my problem with getting older is that I’m now surrounded by younger people at work who don’t tell me I don’t look/act my age. Ha, there, I’ve said it! Up until my most recent job I’ve worked mainly with people who are a similar age or older. In my current role there are a lot of people who are younger than me, including my manager, and it seems to have had this weird effect on me where I constantly point out my age / call myself old / talk about when I was younger…AND NO-ONE TAKES THE BAIT!! What they’re supposed to say is “you don’t look any older than us” or “I can’t believe you’re 41”. Stupid work colleagues.

Vanity

Coupled with that, vanity cards on the table, another problem is how I look. I don’t think I look that different, but if no one is picking up on my (not so subtle) hints, then I must do. I’ve started becoming very aware of wrinkles, wanting botox and/or considering a fringe. I’ve even started using face cream more regularly! I’m heavier than I’d like to be which is could be because I enjoy a life of eating and drinking, but could also be down to getting older and a slower metabolism (I’ll keep telling myself that).

Writing it all down sounds, quite frankly, ridiculous, and I’m almost tempted to delete this post and never publish it but I think it’s important to be honest here on this blog, and maybe other women my age will read it and not feel such a loser if they have similar thoughts.

I wouldn’t go back to being in my 20s for anything (not that it’s a possibility anyway), so I need to just get a grip and embrace “the gift of life” (ha ha, I can’t pull that hippy BS off!) Failing that, does anyone know a good botox practitioner?!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Well done Meghan!

How wonderful to see Meghan Markle in her first public appearance since the birth of little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. She looked beautiful – radiant, natural and just post-baby. Her still existent bump was refreshingly honest in a world of “perfect” celebs and their perfect figures.

Her tousled hair and fresh faced glow was very real. Her choice of outfit – belted and fitted and not designed to hide any post birth lumps and swellings – was lovely. The way she beamed at Harry as he cradled their newborn son was full of love and adoration.

I applaud her and Harry for taking the decision to appear publicly in their own time, when it suits them, rather than bowing to public pressure to do the traditional hospital steps photo call. Regardless of their status as royals and, as some would say, public property, they’re a young couple in love who’ve just welcomed their first child. It’s a special and precious time for them, and they shouldn’t have to stick to any timetable apart from one they’re comfortable with.

I also love the move away from tradition when it comes to baby Archie’s name. I don’t think anyone saw anything so “un-Royal” on the cards – especially the bookmakers who had the favourites down as Arthur or James. Not even a nod to royal tradition with the baby’s middle name either. I wonder if we’ll ever find out the reasoning behind Harrison? (I like to think Harry’s a secret Indiana Jones fan and has honoured Harrison Ford!)

Hopefully the press will leave them alone now to just be a family and enjoy these precious times.

What do you think of it all? Do you like the baby’s name Let me know in the comments.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

1+

Why I disagree with gender neutral parenting

Gender

Gender neutral parenting was in the press recently. More specifically, the press reported that Harry and Meghan, aka the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are planning to raise their child gender neutral.

Of course this very probably isn’t what they’ve said at all. I’m sure they’ve said that they will raise their child without traditional gender constructs, which is what parents with any common sense do anyway. You know the thing – if they have a son and he wants to play with dolls that’s fine, and if their baby is a girl who wants to play with cars that’s also fine. That’s not gender neutral parenting at all. That’s just being a good parent. And a modern parent. Both of which Harry and Meghan are able to be, despite the fact that they’re royals.

He or she?

Gender neutral parenting is raising your child without acknowledging their gender. Not calling them he or she. Not referring to them as a boy or a girl. Allowing them to find their own way and decide on their gender as they grow up and experience life

Now I am neither a parent or ever have the intention of being one (regardless of the suggestions I mentioned in my last post!) so you may think my opinion is a moot one. That said, this is my blog and I pretty much have an opinion on everything, ergo I’ll proceed.

Bonkers

In a nutshell, I think that gender neutral parenting is absolutely bonkers. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll be aware that I have no issue with gender fluidity or changing gender. I very recently posted about an enlightening and heartwarming transgender documentary I’ve been watching. If you haven’t been following then let me make this statement – I very much believe that people can be and are born in the wrong body, and that they should be entitled to treatment to correct biology’s mistake. Science says it’s real, the experiences of actual humans say it’s real, and so, for me, it’s real.

But I’ll say it again, gender neutral parenting is, in my opinion, bonkers.

How are you supposed to know what you are, or more specifically what you aren’t, if you’re brought up without an identity? Surely transgender women know that they’re women, because they’ve been raised as a boy and know that doesn’t “fit”. And vice-versa, obviously. If you’re raised as “they” then what do you rebel against? You have nothing to identify with, and therefore nothing to compare yourself against, surely?

Special treatment

Imagine sending a child to nursery or childcare, and insisting they do not be referred to as he or she. Immediately you’re setting them apart as different; as deserving of special treatment. They get called a different pronoun to any of the other children, and the other children maybe want to know why? What toilet arrangements are made for them? Because, like it or not, male and female toilets are still a thing in life. Not everywhere, of course. But if a young child comes across male toilets and female toilets and no “they” toilet, what is that telling them? Isn’t that stripping them of an identity? Making them, from a young age, into something that doesn’t always exist?

The difference between adults and children

Gender neutral adults can handle situations like this – they’ve been around long enough to know that we live in a gendered society (even if they don’t agree with it). But young children don’t have that understanding. Why would you choose to set your child apart in such a way?

I’m no expert, obvs. Some would argue that starting with gender neutral parenting is the way to achieve a gender neutral society in the future. But, for now, I can’t help but think some parents are trying too hard to do the right thing, and in doing so they’re doing something very wrong.

Your child is born a girl or a boy. If at some point they tell you they’re the opposite of their assigned birth gender, listen to them. Support them. Be there for them. If they tell you they are neither male or female then the same applies.

That’s good parenting.

Gender issues

In the meantime, if your son wants to play with dolls and has a toy cooker, that doesn’t mean he has gender issues. If your daughter tells you she wants to be Superman instead of Superwoman, that doesn’t mean she’s transgender.

In trying to do the right thing, parents are going too far. They’re creating something that doesn’t need to exist at birth. Experience and research shows that children who are transgender will begin to self identify at a young age, regardless of what they have been labelled as in early months and years. Jazz Jennings is perhaps the most prevalent case of a boy knowing they’re a girl. Thankfully Jazz’s parents listened to her. Would gender neutral parenting from birth have helped? Who knows.

All I know is that if and when my nephew (due July this year) wants to try on my shoes, I’ll be right there suggesting the ones that look best with his outfit! Experiencing different things, with no restrictions because of what society might think is appropriate for your gender, is the best way to become a well rounded person.

I’d love to know your thoughts. Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

2+

The Making of Me on Channel 4

If you’ve seen The Making of Me it needs no introduction. If you haven’t, here’s a precis. The 3 episodes follow 9 transgender individuals in their journey from man to woman, woman to man, or in one case woman to non-binary.

There’s no way I can think of to phrase this without it sounding condescending, so I’m just going to come right out with it and hope anyone reading doesn’t misconstrue what I’m saying. I find the whole concept of transgender fascinating. I find transgender people fascinating. And that’s not in a rude way, at all. I can’t emphasise that enough. I don’t look at people with gender issues as freaks, or weird, or anything negative at all. I just find it incredible that a person can be born into a gender and realise that it’s completely wrong.

Maybe that’s why transgender people get such a bad rap. The average person on the street can’t comprehend not being who they are. Most men have never thought about wearing a dress, much less hating their penis to the point of feeling like an alien in their own body. Most women can’t imagine wishing they didn’t have breasts to the point of wanting them surgically removed.

It’s an alien feeling to most people

That doesn’t make it an unreal feeling though.

I’m a great believer that if science says something is real, then it’s real. I’m an atheist who doesn’t believe in god. I trust that the moon landings happened, and I know that the Earth isn’t flat (if you think that, then stop reading now).

So the fact that science says people can be born in the wrong body, is fact for me.

What harm is it doing anyone else?

Back to the TV program. It’s wonderfully done. Sensitively filmed. There are no gratuitous surgery or genital shots. The focus is very much on real people with real feelings. How they feel at the beginning of the process, and how they feel at the end.

Cairo – female to male transgender; previously a very attractive female model – proof that “being pretty” doesn’t make you a woman.

Andrew – female to male transgender who couldn’t wait to get a mastectomy to remove his breasts.

Karen – male to female transgender who felt so strongly about being born in the wrong body that they were willing to put their professional career on the line.

And that, for me, is the crux of all this. Being transgender isn’t easy. It’s probably the most difficult thing any of these individuals have ever done. They risk being ostracised by their family, friends and work colleagues. And yet it’s still worth it. If that doesn’t tell you that trans is real, then I don’t know what will.

Imagine everything you hold dear in life

Your career. Your partner. Your children. Then imagine telling them something that might make them turn against you. Would you risk it? Could you risk it?

In episode 2, Pete comes out to his wife as trans. She’s filmed as saying that “transitioning is very selfish”. Is it though? Isn’t it more selfish to insist that someone live a lie to satisfy the image you have of your life and future?

I don’t know. You could argue that they should never have entered into a marriage if they weren’t the person they purported to be. But, for people transitioning later in life, today’s more open, more accepting society is their chance to be who they are. And don’t we all deserve that?

For anyone who doesn’t believe in, or doesn’t agree with, people transitioning into the gender they should have been born in, I leave you with this. Jackie, previously Simon, who signs off episode one with “I can just be me all the time. I can be happy.”

And the smile of every one of the 9 brave people who took part in this filming. Compare their before and after smiles. Compare their stance and their eyes. Look at how they hold themselves.

Then tell me that transgenderism is wrong.

Go on…I dare you.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

When will the media be regulated against public bullying?

Bullying is bad. We all know that. It’s instilled into (most of) us as children. We’re told “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all”. We read in the press about teens, young adults, people of all ages taking their own lives because they have been bullied. Online bullying – cyberbullying – can lead to criminal charges.

Why then is the media exempt from these “rules”? Why are they allowed to print nasty, jibing, critical things about people with no recourse?

The impetus for today’s blog comes from a post I saw on Twitter by TV presenter and entertainer Stacey Solomon.

Stacey Solomon tweet

What’s got Stacey so upset? This is what. This personal, unfounded, and blatantly rude magazine front cover.

Now magazine Stacey Solomon

How bloody horrible. Imagine reading that about yourself? Imagine seeing that on a news stand while you were queuing at the supermarket. Or your kids seeing it. Or your parents. Or the parents of your kids schoolfriends.

Why oh WHY is that considered acceptable “reporting”? And why are celebs deemed to be fair game, or without feeling? It’s obviously impacted Stacey enough for her to make a public comment about it. She doesn’t seem like the type to court the media and use them to further her own agenda, so it’s extra spiteful that they would turn on her.

Not long ago Scarlett Moffatt publicly tweeted about how upset she was by the headline on a woman’s magazine calling her “hefty and heartbroken” after her split with her boyfriend. Scarlett’s harsh reality is that she rose to fame as a normal young girl in Gogglebox, loved for her opinions and personality. She was voted Queen of the Jungle in I’m a Celebrity, because she was well liked. On the back of that, she was more in the public eye, where people felt it their right to comment on her appearance and dress sense. After her stint in bootcamp when she lost lots of weight, she was vilified for being “too thin”. Gaining weight after a break up led to the “hefty and heartbroken” headline. The poor girl can’t win, and nor should she. Being in the public eye is no excuse for the media to be so damn opinionated and rude about anyone (apart from Donald Trump and Katie Hopkins, they both deserve it).

This was how Scarlett reacted to the headline.

Scarlett Moffatt hefty and heartbroken tweet

Good for her! Yet, just a few days later when she was attacked by the press again for her dress choice on an episode of Love Island, she revealed the real affect that such negative headlines can have, because they not only appear in print, they fuel online trolls who also think it’s ok to get involved in bullying people for their appearance.

Scarlett Moffatt crying tweet

Scarlett Moffatt social anxiety tweet

Some people will always be mean. It’s in their nature, or they use putting other people down to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings. We can’t do anything about everyone in the world. What we CAN do is start regulating the press so that damaging and bullying headlines like this are not allowed to be printed.

There’s so much public focus on suicide and mental health problems at the moment, with all sorts of people urging those affected to “just talk” or “reach out”. But how many of those people are also part of the problem, because of their ill thought observations and comments?

The media needs to lead by example. Build women up for being good kind people who do good kind things. Don’t beat them up and flog them publicly.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

The power of subtle protest

It’s pretty fair to say that Donald Trump’s visit to the UK has dominated the news over the past few days – from him holding hands with Theresa May again <<shudder>> to walking in front of our dear old Queen, and kiss arsing with Piers Morgan, there was more than enough hairy tangerine fodder for the media to report on. Also gaining column inches and airwaves were protests around the country; the frankly hilarious Trump Baby balloon, and marches across London and other major cities, continuing up into Scotland as he enjoyed a round of golf with his son at his Turnberry golf course before flying off to Finland.

The laws around protesting in the UK are pretty relaxed and, if you follow the right protocol and keep it peaceful, public protests are a valid part of democracy and exercising the right to demonstrate displeasure. Of course there’s the policing of such protests, which comes at a cost to the taxpayer, but it seems that sometimes the police are in agreement with the protestors (the picture below has been hailed as the photograph of the weekend).

Trump protestor high fives policeman

What about in countries where protesting about something important to you isn’t as welcome though? In Russia, where the World Cup reached its grand finale yesterday, the country has a terrible reputation for supporting the rights of the LGBTQ community and ranks 45 out of 49 European countries for gay rights by the ILGA-Europe, a network of European LGBT groups.

You can imagine then that a public protest wouldn’t go down too well.

Undeterred a group of activists has been subtly sharing a Gay Pride message throughout the duration of the tournament. Project Hidden Flag  has seen six people from six countries (Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia) dressed in different coloured shirts – which together, form the Pride flag.

Project Hidden Flag 3

But what can the Russian authorities do? They’re just football fans enjoying a football tournament, right?

Project Hidden Flag 2

Project Hidden Flag

The brilliance of this is it’s absolute subtlety and creativity. Sometimes a handful of protestors can be just as effective as thousands. Well done those people!

Find out more about Project Hidden Flag and the people involved here.

Coupled with Paddy Power’s donations to LGBTQ charities for every Russian goal scored, which culminated in a cool £170,000 total, and the message is clear. The Russian approach is wrong, and people are calling them out on it. Let’s hope for change in the future.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0

Happy 70th birthday to the NHS

70 years of bringing people into the world, looking after people in need, putting people back together again, fixing bones and scrapes, replacing internal organs, saving lives, making lives better, holding hands in times of need, saying nice things, delivering bad news, staring death in the face.

We should be forever grateful for our NHS, and forever protective of it to keep it as a free service for everyone who needs it. It will be a sad and socially dividing day if our NHS is ever privatised and we’re all forced to pay for care.

When we were in LA a few years back we made friends with a guy, Steve, who had no health insurance because he couldn’t afford to pay for it. He got sick and was put into a coma in order to recover; he was in hospital for 10 days all told. The doctors knew he had no insurance, so at that point they literally had to make a decision as to whether a man’s life was worth saving for “free”.

Steve recovered, thankfully for him. But the debt he accrued from his hospital stay was allocated against his name, his records, so that any time he earned any money, it was deducted at source as payment towards what he owed. Steve had an estimated $50,000 debt from that hospital stay and the treatment he received. He will never be able to fully pay it back and will never be able to get on his feet financially because of it. The treatment saved his life, but will also negatively affect the rest of his life too.

What a horrifying situation to be in.

Of course the NHS sometimes gets a bad rep; sometimes it’s deserved and sometimes it isn’t. People are always quick to point out the negatives, but less so the positives. However, knowing that in times of need there are highly trained doctors, nurses, physiotherapists and surgeons on hand to do whatever they can whether you’re living on the breadline or a millionaire is a comforting thought.

The NHS has given me years of expensive corrective dental treatment when I was a kid, treated me for pre-cancerous cells, diagnosed and continue to prescribe medication for my depression. The care and compassion of the nurses and staff on the day my Dad died will remain with me forever.

Here’s to everyone that is part of the NHS – not just the frontline treatment staff but the receptionists, the hospital porters, the cleaners. Nurses who go above and beyond to deliver not just medical care but hand holding, tissues, compassion and a shoulder to cry on. Surgeons who hold peoples’ lives in their hands. GPs with their extensive knowledge of a whole range of ailments; every day and otherwise, and can write us a prescription to make us better.

Share your NHS experiences with me in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

0