Les gens qui ne rient jamais ne sont pas des gens sérieux

Be who you are and say what you mean, those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind

Thursday, March 29, 2007

hypothetically speaking of course...

Has anyone ever knocked their knee against the side of the bed, while asleep, so hard that the whole of the following day they have walked with a limp?


Beds on platforms with balustrades are dangerous.

At least I haven't fallen off it.



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Wednesday, March 28, 2007


...the latest addition to our household.

Yes, it's an elephant.

Yes, it's also a watering can.

Yes! You fill it up (under its tail, which is cleverly arched to form the handle) and it squirts out its trunk and I realise it's the most impossibly kitsch thing I have ever bought, but it's fun! and have you seen the sun? It makes you want to sing and jump and buy kitch pink plastic elephant watering cans!

Oh. Just me then?


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Monday, March 26, 2007

In case you were wondering...

If you were a daffodil, stuck in the very middle of a bunch, crowded out by the others and trying to get your head above the rest, you'd probably look something like this.

I didn't know they could do that.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Not literally I'm guessing...

The Polish language gets me rolling on the floor, haw-hawing, with tears streaming down my face and an arm clutched to my side where it hurts from the laughing, on a fairly regular basis.

The latest such episode was the result of an article about Polish hero Adam Małysz, who whizzes down very high slides with skis attached to his feet and then flies through the air until he lands what look like terrifying miles later, better than pretty much everyone else at the moment.

The phrase that caused my attack of hysterics was this:

Małysz znokautował rywali

To those of you who don't speak Polish (hi!) I realise it looks like a bunch of gibberish, although the quicker ones will have recognised his name as the first word (gold star for you).

To those of you who speak Polish and are all 'it's not that funny', just shush.

Look at the second word, and then think 'knock out' and then just accept that if something is in the past tense in Polish it very often starts with a z and ends with ował, then look again.

Małysz znokautował rywali

Małysz knocked out his rivals. It's AMAZING this language.


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Friday, March 23, 2007


I look at you, sitting there next to me in a fug of self importance, and I wonder why you think the rules don't apply to you.

You heard the air steward saying we should leave our phones switched off until after immigration, so why do you covertly flick it open, enter your pin and check your messages? Why is your partner, waiting outside for you, more deserving of hearing you've landed than mine?

You are in a bus carrying you to the terminal with tens of people who took the same plane. We will have to go through the same checks and wait for our luggage just as you will. Why do you push to the front of the bus, station yourself by the door and make sure you're the first to the passport check? Why do you deserve to get through faster than the lady struggling with her month old child? Or the old man with the worn coat? Or me?

You must see that if a planeful of people crowds around the baggage claim, nobody will have easy access to their bags, let alone see when they arrive. Why do you stand there, toes against the carousel, hand luggage surrounding you, obstructing anyone within half a metre either side? What makes you so sure your bag will be the first? What makes you so angry when mine comes before yours and I have to excuse myself, squeezing by you to drag my bag through the crowd?

Why are there always so many of you whenever I travel?

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Monday, March 19, 2007


Day-old lambs were in the fields and the sun was filtering through the stormy clouds as we buried Grandpa.

The humanist ceremony celebrated his life, and words from Grandpa's children; my dad and aunt, added personal memories and fitting words to the farewell.

His burial, in a wood above the Penrith cemetry, overlooking stunning Cumbrian countryside was moving, and we added our own handfuls of earth to the grave and thought our own sad thoughts before moving away.

Funerals can be sentimental and somehow superficial occasions, but this one was honest, fitting. The impressive turnout showed how many lives he'd touched.

Eating sandwiches in the village hall and watching Grandpa's great granddaughter playing on the slide, I was grateful that he'd lived so long, and that when his time had come, he'd gone peacefully.

Don't lay me in some gloomy churchyard shaded by a wall,
Where the dust of ancient bones has spread a dryness over all,
Lay me in some leafy loam where, sheltered from the cold,
Little seeds investigate, and tender leaves unfold
There, kindly and affectionately plant a native tree
To grow resplendent before God and hold some part of me.
The roots will not disturb me as they wend their peaceful way
To build the fine and bountiful from closure and decay
To seek their small requirements so that when their work is done
I'll be tall and standing strongly in the beauty of the sun.

Woodland Burial, by Pam Ayers

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

International Women's Day

I walked briskly towards the tram stop, swerving to avoid the old ladies with shopping bags on wheels, and whistling young men going about their business.

As I waited for the lights to change, I noticed the makeshift stalls that had been set up on each corner, with their bunches of bright yellow tulips and single red roses tied up with ribbons. There was a small crowd of men by each stand, comparing prices, weighing up how much they were willing to spend on flowers for her, today.

At work, as I waited for translations, I skimmed the news. I read about women in Iran being detained for peaceful protests, I looked at pictures of a young Kenyan single mother and her fight to live life the way she wanted, I read the report of a policeman who has been relieved of his duties while an investigation into video of him repeatedly punching a woman is carried out.

I thought of the women I've met as part of my refugee project and their strength they've shown in the face of such odds. I thought of the women I know and admire, my friends, my mum and especially my Gran.

Then I went back to work. I edited a story about Polish business women, which was written by someone who seemed surprised that Polish women should be known for more than their 'outstanding beauty'. I tried to cut and correct a review of a corporate event where showgirls had 'added sex appeal' to the evening and a Miss Poland runner up had handed out prizes. I tried not to gag.

On the tram ride back, I pushed my way through groups of girls clutching flowers. A man got off a stop before mine and wished his female companion a happy women's day as he left. I walked back to my flat, past the men in suits, buying up the last of the tulips.

Women's day is about more than flowers and well wishing. Isn't it?

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Saturday, March 03, 2007


A couple of weeks ago I booked a ticket to take me to my family in England. It has been a while since I was last there and I felt a need to go and see how everyone was doing. In the six months since I last saw them Gran has been in hospital with pneumonia, the baby has been developing her feistiness and a fall put Grandpa in hospital too for a few weeks.

I was due to fly in a couple of weeks, via Brussels to hitch a lift with Mum and Dad.

Yesterday evening though, as I was coming to the end of my working day, Grandpa came to the end of his life.

He was a man who awed me when I was young; a natural authority. Grandpa held all the power and expected things to work his way. His tough outer shell fell away more and more as he got elderly though, and the last few times I saw him, he was a mellow, forgetful old man who had moments of brilliant clarity in which he let loose with his cutting wit.

He had been fading for some time, and he lived for 87 years, but the shock is never any less, however much you try to prepare for it.

I'll be in England sooner than I had planned.

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