Wednesday, 27 January 2010

A date with Dr Who

Hello and welcome to my blog. It's nice to see you and sorry I haven't been around for a couple of weeks.

I promise I've not just been sitting around pondering. I've been busy, busy busy.

After my last blog on Haiti, I thought it only fair that someone on the inside had a chance to respond so am fixing that up; I've interviewed a courageous and passionate beach resident who will feature in a series of blogs leading up to Remembrance Day; and last but not least, I've got a date with Dr Who. Not the recently deceased Tenth Doctor, but the very proper and slightly bewildered Fifth Doctor.

Big Finish, an audio-book company have put out a call to new writers for an original adventure starring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, his assistant. So for the last few days I've been poring over clips of Tom Baker and Peter Davidson slaying monsters and defying death. Now it's time to stop watching and leap into the fray.

So, with reluctance, I bid farewell to this serene day on Shoreham Beach and set off for an intergalatic war between the brilliant Cytons and the deadly Hudogs.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Haiti - day 3

Hello and welcome to my blog. Thanks for popping by, it's always nice to see you.

I was going to start this blog in my normal way and this week was going to tackle the art of relaxation. However, I've abandoned that idea because it is so trivial in comparison to the devastation that has been wrought on Haiti and it's people. I can't pass that by without comment.

It's three days since the news was first reported and by now, I hoped there would be miraculous stories of children being pulled from collapsed schools and re-united with their desperate parents. Instead I read that a search and rescue team is turned away from the airport minutes from touching down. I hear radio reports that say there are stock-piles of essential aid and equipment languishing within miles of those dying for want of it. Crushed infrastructure, lack of co-ordination and possibly co-operation is to blame, and I want to scream.

What has happened to individuals acting independently and coping with the hand that they've been dealt? Surely when you can hear the groans of the wounded, the wails of the grieving and can smell the remains of the dead, you should not be content with saying, "the roads are too bad, we can't get through." No. Unload the lorries, load up your backs and walk to where you're needed. Even if you saved one life rather than a hundred, isn't it worth the risk that you may be disciplined, your promotion be delayed, or you may look foolish? You may accuse me of being a simpleton, of failing to grasp the bigger picture, of ignoring the chaos that may ensue if we all broke the rules. Fair comment. But you will have to go a long way to persuade me that any rule, or any potential disorder, is worse than having the power to save lives and failing to use it.

Bureaucracy and government works for the benefit of the masses. It thinks in big numbers and acts in big numbers. We don't. We think in very small numbers indeed. In ones, twos, tens, hundreds at most. If we remembered that and said to ourselves, what would I do if it was my husband, my wife, or my child pleading for help? Would we say, "sorry, can't get the lorry through", or would we say, "I'm coming now even if I have to carry one bottle of water, one blanket, one syringe at a time?" I hope I would have the courage to say the latter.

So what am I saying? I am saying think for yourselves, think outside the box and think for the good of others. If your car is stuck in an icy drive, dig it out or ask someone to help you dig it out. If your neighbours car is stuck in the drive, offer to dig it out. If the path outside your house is covered in snow, clear it. Don't wait for the Council to do it, you do it.

Where life is at stake, it is never an option to do nothing. Let alone when the catastrophe is on a biblical scale as in Haiti. Be outraged that there are mountains of aid waiting to be distributed which will soon be matched by mountains of the dead who never got it. Harness that outrage to positive action. You could never dumbly sit on your hands if you are outraged, but you could if a life was reduced to a number; a number to add to the growing death toll.

I hope the the aid agencies get to where they are most needed in the next 12-24 hours because the alternative is disasterous. I don't care how you get there, just get there.

Thanks for listening and see you next week.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Welcome to my blog and a very happy New Year to you. I hope it's a good one.

Well here in the IRoSB, it's snowing. Our snow was a bit laid back and arrived way after the rest of Shoreham's. It must be feeling a bit guilty now as it's furiously trying to make up for lost time. Tomorrow the kids will be off from school again and it'll be very exciting until you try to get anywhere. Having said that, I bravely battled my way to Holmbush before Christmas so I reckon nothing can stop me now, unless of course, I fancy a little nap.

Having spent the last 6 weeks rising at Sparrow's gasp, I've re-learnt that I can't survive on little sleep. I become all martyrish. When I started the contract, I imagined I'd be like one of those women in novels by Ruth Gaskell and George Elliot. I'd meekly and selflessly go about saving the family from ruin, telling no-one why I'd suddenly taken to early morning drives. The reality was somewhat different. I continually complained about the early starts and touch of arthritis from the chillers, and rather than squirrelling away my paltry earnings, I spent them on the shop floor.

That's the trouble with turning up to work when you should be fast asleep, you believe that the food will look like the photograph. Thank God I never worked in the lingerie department.

Disappointing pork joint aside, I did enjoy my brief flirtation with retail. The staff and customers were great. During Christmas week some had to be reminded that it wasn't a catastrophe if they didn't get their 50 piece party pack, and on the first day of the sales I was astonished when a customer asked if a sales cardigan came with different buttons. Didn't she remember that normal service is suspended during the sales? On sales days there are;

1. stand-offs between buggies and a trolleys
2. people pinch stuff out of other people's trolleys
3. customers strip off to try on clothes.
4. There are queues as long as the London train.
5. Ladbrokes takes odds against you getting the garment you want in the right colour and size.
6. You meet someone like me in knitwear.

It was in knitwear that I encountered the buttons question. Deciding that honesty was the best policy, I cheerfully explained that I'd been drafted over from foods knew precious little about jumper buttons but if she had a question about turkeys, I'd be happy to help. She didn't so we parted company.

Aside from the dreadful hours, (I had to be up at 4.30 each morning y'know) and aching knuckles, I enjoyed it. I admire how M&S has grown from a market stall to a global brand, but sometimes I wanted to give it a shake. It's demoralising to be told en masse that you are unproductive and your work rate will be checked when you all know that the message is only intended for the 3-4 people management aren't prepared to tackle.

Nevertheless it was a pleasure to work at Holmbush and although I would not return unless compelled, that's only because I'd have to forgo my writing and my sleep.

I've met some fascinating people with interesting stories to tell. I wanted to tell those stories as I peered at sell-by dates and froze off my proverbials in the chillers. Writing's for me, not stacking shelves. That's why it's a pleasure to be writing this blog. But you can have too much of a good thing and as I'm still catching up on my sleep, (was up at 4.30am for weeks y'know), it's time to sign off.

I'll see you again next Wednesday and in the meantime take care of yourselves in this fiercesome weather.