Fall of a hero

How does it feel when your hero falls off their pedestal?

Fall of a hero
image from BBC.co.uk

 

Oh Lance Armstrong, how gutted am I; you were the ultimate in marketing/hope story dreams.  The cancer recovery, the seven wins of the Tour De France (my husband is a fan, and I like the bums), the amazing record.

We’ve been listening for years about the fact that it was all a lie, but I admit that I really didn’t want it to be true.  I’m still a lover of a romantic story, despite my admitting that the ‘Cinderella complex‘ has not done me any good.

Hubby isn’t too upset, he still feels that it was an amazing story.

But for me it’s a worry about the fabric of our society, because it raises a big question: ‘Is it only possible to succeed in this world by ‘cheating’ or being willing to ‘do everything needed to succeed’?

All those people who weren’t willing to cheat, who will never know if they could have won.  Isn’t that true of lots of our world?

Am I worried because I’m not willing to do everything in order to succeed?  Yes, sadly I am.  I would dearly love to be able to reach millions of Mums and explain to them that they are perfect by being themselves, and not to listen to parenting gurus.  But, I’m not willing to leave my kids at home and go off to america as the Baby Whisperer did.  Or work all the hours that God sends as some of my coaching associates do, in order to earn more money.  There is the possibility that this will get in the way.

 

Jerome Flynn
Image from BBC/Tiger Aspect

In the world of personal development there are many hero’s or guru’s who end up (after many years and lots of their followers money) falling off their high horses.  Look at the story of Jerome Flynn (remember him from Robson and Jerome?) who disappeared in to a spiritual sect for 8 years that is run by Andrew Cohen.  Jerome looks like a pretty sensible guy, who had already done plenty of study, but even he got dragged into something based on untruths.

My teacher is a guy called Dr John F Demartini, who is very strict on saying that he’s not a guru, and that no one should ever be infatuated with anyone, or consider them better than themselves.  But even he has a habit of encouraging his students to follow his priorities, rather than their own.  I think it is always difficult when you are around a charismatic, strong charactered person, to not end up comparing yourself and thinking that what they want is what you want too.  But down that route is confusion, loss of identity and a very uncomfortable journey back to who we are.

 

Do you remember the first time you realised your parents weren’t perfect?  I do, especially for my Dad, but it was pretty obvious because he used to drink a lot.  However, with my Mum it was a sudden, awful and over night realisation, which took me years to recover from.  She had totally misused the position of Mum, which I can kind of understand now, but at the time it felt like the ultimate betrayal.

My kids already know I’m not perfect, especially as my cooking has very few skills!  But I need to make sure in the years to come that I gradually dish out the truth of how imperfect I am, so that I don’t have a long way to fall from that ‘Mummy Pedestal’ one day.

 

I think that the lesson to be learnt is:

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If it’s a built up romantic story, there is a hidden ugly sister that isn’t showing up.

If they don’t take their responsibility to stop you from thinking that they are as perfect as can be, then they are stinkers.

No one is better than you or worse than you.

If you sense yourself looking up at them, you are ignoring some less attractive bits of them or wonderful bits of you.

If you sense yourself looking down at them, you are either ignoring your crappier side, or not seeing what they’ve got going for them.

 

I might not be as ‘successful’ as the people who are willing to ‘do what it takes’ to succeed.  But that doesn’t mean that I can’t be as focussed and motivated.  It just means that my first priority is that my kids feel loved, and my second is that I’m strong and sure of myself.  At the end of the day, I’d be gutted lieing on my death bed with millions of book sales, but miserable kids, rubbish health (I know I’d be dieing, but you can die quick or slow), and no idea of who I am.

UpdateBen Richards who has recently recovered from cancer (and lives near me, so locally we all think he is fab), made a valid point that I ignored when I first wrote this post: He said that he found Lance’s recovery from cancer inspiring, and there is no doubting that even with the cheating, he also cheated death, and maybe that’s a time we would all want to be a cheat?

Have you had someone fall off a pedestal big time?  It can be rough heh?

When is it OK to cheat?

Are you willing to do what it takes?  What have you sacrificed or done that was slightly ‘dodgy’ to get there (you can always comment anonymously).

 

 

Don’t Cut The Easy Ones Mr Osborne, Cut The Right Ones

Benefits CutsToday I’m not here!

I’ve over at Britmums talking about Welfare cuts (if you haven’t read the story of Tamsyn Woods story of her fight for her husband, please do click over there) and how whilst we need to deal with this recession, we seem to be picking on the vulnerable and weak who can’t speak out at the moment.

Come and join in and if you are around on twitter tonight (fri 12th 8.30pm) join us with the hashtag #Shouting4Tamsyn.

It must be possible to have cuts with:

 Common sense

Fairness

The right priorities

 

In the meantime I have some ideas for where they can get extra money from – just took me 5 minutes off the top of my head.  Have you got any? (Yes, yes I know there are the bankers and the rich, but whilst we are being fair, lets look at the middle and bottom of the range too!).

 

Builders: (not all of course, my Dad was a roofer) the ‘pay in cash’ system is HUGE.

Peterborough: when I lived ‘up north’ (I know it’s not really up north, but it felt like it!), everything was done on the black market or in cash, I bet that is true of many places.

Benefits fiddlers: near me now (Hertfordshire) I reckon you could get back £1million easily from the people who are openly playing the system.

Councils: stop letting ridiculous people make ridiculous decisions like spending money on fiddling with the road near me that didn’t need doing.

EU: Oh don’t get me started on the EU.  Other countries don’t do what they say and they totally get away with it, why are you letting them play us for fools?  For instance, if you have a banding system for council houses, shouldn’t people born in England (from any colour/creed/background) get priority?  Shouldn’t people not born in the England pay for their NHS treatment?

Foreign Aid: of course we have a responsibility to help other countries too, but there are some seriously ridiculous spending going on and you know it.

 

Need help Mr Osborne?  Let me at your budget; I can give you a sense of perspective and reorder your spending in a month and I’ll do it for free; think of that, you can have common sense, intelligence, and the ability to add up all yours for a month for free!

 

In the meantime,  stop picking on Mums.  Mums are where everything starts, we are important.  I know you may not be in power when our kids grow up, but the ramifications of your decisions will have a dramatic effect on our society.  So support the strong Mums, struggling to provide for their families or overcome illness/disability.

And seriously Mr Osborne, we shouldn’t have to keep kicking off about ridiculous decisions with no common sense!

So come on, stop picking on the weak ones, and go for the ones that are meant to be paying, or make cuts that show us that you have your priorities in the right place.

 

 

Want to help speak up about this?

Read my Britmums post #Shouting4Tamsyn

Join us on twitter tonight if you can.

Sign the petition for Tamsyn’s campaign being organised by Babyhuddle for her.

Sign the general petition for disability cuts.

If you would like to know more, there is an interesting article in the guardian with lots of stats.

 

 

 

 

 

Child at Omaha War Memorial

What Would Have Happened If Germany Had Won WW2

Child at Omaha War MemorialI think the family thought I was being a bit eccentric when I kept saying I wanted to see the cemetery at Omaha Beach for the American Soldiers.

I’m not even sure why I wanted to go?

Something to do with Dad flying in the war?

Perhaps wanting to give Curly Headed Boy who loves computer games some perspective?

Maybe to pay my respects?

I don’t know, but I do know that I would definitely recommend anyone in Normandy visit one of the many sites related to the war.

The atmosphere was lovely, it was quite breathtaking, and the kids seemed relaxed despite the message of the place.

Children at omaha watching war video

First of all you go into a building with great videos and pictures to take you quickly through the history of the war.  It’s amazingly touching to see pictures of real life people and read about their real life stories.

It’s not sad exactly, although I would admit big tears sprung to my eyes.  It was more looking inspired/grateful at the thousands of lives sacrificed for our freedom.

There is also a museum at a different location that Curly Headed Boy and the big hairy northern one went too (I was looking after a sleeping Little Dimples).  He bought a brilliant book done in a cartoon style that explains lots about the war, which he has really enjoyed.

On another day we popped to the British cemetery at Bayeaux, but unfortunately it’s not set out like the American one, so I couldn’t park nearby, and leave the tired kids with the big hairy northern one while it p*ssed it down; so I had to  compromise with just driving past it.  I’ve heard that because it has less pomp and ceremony it is actually even more touching.

 At Courseilles sur Mer (Near Arromanche) you can still see loads of evidence in the sea and on the beach of the D Day landings and when the tide goes out it looks like you can walk out to them (there was an awful storm, so we made a dash back to the car before we got a chance).

Omaha war memorial helmet and gunJust incase you don’t remember the numbers, here are a few for you to digest

 

50-70 million people died in WW2 (2.5% of the worlds population)
40-60 million approx were civilians
20-25 million were soldiers (5 million of whom were prisoners of war)
6 million Jews were killed
9,387 American soldiers are buried at Omaha, most of whom died during the Normandy landings
4,648 British soldiers are buried at the Bayeaux war memorial
22,000 civilians in Normandy died
My uncle died, lost at see and my grand mother never got over it.
My Dad never talked about the war, but you could tell the gravity of what happened when you saw him reunited with his friends.

 

And it got me thinking …

What would life have been like if we’d lost?

From Wikipedia I found the following quotes ..

Nazism favoured private property, freedom of contract, and promoted the creation of national solidarity that would transcend class differences.  The Nazis outlawed strikes by employees and lockouts by employers, because these were regarded a threat to national unity.  Instead, the state controlled and approved wage and salary levels.

It is a variety of fascism that incorporates biological racism and antisemitism.

 

My daughter hugging the graves at OmahaMy history and political understanding isn’t great but just looking at my life I can be pretty sure that it would be unrecognisable …

– Near me is a place called Radlet, which must be 50% Jewish.  That would be empty and none of Curly Headed Boys friends from his old school would have existed.  I find that a shocking thought.

– We wouldn’t have ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’, because Gypsies wouldn’t exist either.

– Curly Headed Boy wouldn’t be going to street dance and tap dancing classes because we wouldn’t want the risk of him being marked as a potential homosexual.

– My biggest gay best friend crushes wouldn’t exist: Gok Wan and John Barroman

– There would be no paraolympics, either because they were dead or hiding

– I suspect that the power of women and Mums wouldn’t have grown to the extent it has today and we would have very much been stuck in the more traditional role of staying at home.

– He hated the poles almost as much as the Jews, so there would be no Polish builders here; he would have probably been as ruthless there when he ran out of Jews to kill.

– I doubt there would have been any immigration allowed or benefits cheats; which might sound OK in ways, but what about the people who really need and deserve benefits?

– The improvements in racism wouldn’t have happened and the big arrival of West Indians after the war to help rebuild Britain wouldn’t have happened.  Bristol where I was born wouldn’t have had such a big Jamaican community and if I was Nigerian I wouldn’t come over to england, so Curly Headed Boy’s best mate at nursery and reception wouldn’t have been here.

– What about the World Wide Web?  Maybe something underground would have kicked off, but nothing to the extent that we have now and not with the freedom that we enjoy.

– Blogging would be definitely outlawed; especially a pile of opinionated women bloggers stirring up trouble like us Mummy Bloggers.

– No Facebook or Twitter; lots of time saved maybe, but the amount I learn everyday from the sheer speed of information sharing.

– There’d be no recession, because although he encouraged nationalism and industry, the wouldn’t have let the banks have such a free reign and we wouldn’t have been allowed to be so greedy and get ourselves into such a state of wanting more stuff and getting more debt.

 

Would it have lasted?  I doubt it, because the power of the resistance is strong and extended himself too much.

The scariest thought is that the cold war would probably still have existed and Hitler would have had the bomb.  The likelihood of someone with his nature using it would have been very high.

It’s given me a real sense of perspective going to see all those graves.  Although life is tough for most of us at the moment with the recession, the fact that our lives could easily have been so different is humbling.  I’ve always taken note of remembrance day, but from now on I won’t just ‘remember’ the people who died, but I will also remember how lucky we are to have the freedoms to make the mistakes and the great creations that we have today.

 

Here are all my other posts about Siblu:

An adventure in Normandy: my official review of Domainne De Litteau

Which is best going by Ferry or Plane? A review of the ferry trip to Siblu

How to go on holiday with more than 2 children and not pay a fortune: One of the key benefits of Siblu

 

Disclosure: I was on a review trip of a Siblu mobile home site called Domaine De Litteau and received a return ferry trip with Brittany Ferries and a weeks holiday for the family, we bought an extra week ourselves.  It has not affected my review and my opinions are still my own.

 

 

Cake

#DoSomethingYummy – Eat Cake!

Today I had a huge pile of Mummy bloggers at my house and here is the massive pile of cake we had (in fact there was more, but I missed off some lovely biscuits!)

       

This is the advantage of living in St Albans; the Mummy Blogging capital of the world.  Lots of bloggers and lots of cake!  I think that we can potentially look a little scary when we go to an event together, but we are really very friendly – after all everyone who eats cake must be friendly!

I know that they wanted a look at each others blogs, and thought you might want to know who else hangs out around me.  So here is the list of cake eaters …

  1. Helen Redding – Crumbs and Pegs – who feels she is a newbie; I can remember what that feels like, I still feel like that myself sometimes!
  2. Annie Robb – Just Annie QPR – who brought eggs and will be my children’s heroine this weekend as they love eggs for breakfast and are loving make easter decorations.
  3. Renatka Behan – Fabulicious Food – who made the big chocolate cake and cupcakes; all I can say is yum!
  4. Penny Carr – Mrs C – the lovely Penny, always so humble about her blogs success
  5. Clare Rudd – The Veggie Experience – poor lass had to sit on a wooden step with no complaint
  6. Helen Wills – Actually Mummy –
  7. Chrissie – Mediocre Mum – so pleased to see her since her husbands accident and hear that all is OK
  8. Heidi Roberts – Kitchen Talk – brought warm banana bread, much to Chrissie’s delight
  9. Mirka – All Baby Advice – the memorable Mirka who managed to not give birth while there – phew!
  10. Me – who eats cake, and has a rubbish memory!

I admit to having help – the lovely Nanny Bets came over to keep an eye on the kids, so that we might get a chance to finish the odd sentence.  Plus the big hairy northern one sorted the crumb mountain which pretty much went from the front to the back door by the end of the morning.  He is actually going back to work next Tuesday, so I thought I should make the most of him; hope this is a confidence boost for any of you looking for jobs at the moment.  (BTW I’m just a bit behind, there will be more blogs about coping with redundancy coming soon).

 

I’ve written this post for #DoSomethingYummy #EatCake for the charity Clic Sargent (an amazing charity for families dealing with a child who has cancer).  I’ve been supporting it for the last 4 weeks with my blog posts:

Surviving Mental Health for #DoSomethingYummy – my first honest account of 3 problems I’ve experienced

#DoSomethingYummy for Half Term and Two Year Old Birthdays – guaranteed to make you smile!

#DoSomethingYummy: A Warning from my childhood: The Cinderella Complex – a serious discussion about how ‘the one’ and expecting to be able to rely on a prince, can have dangerous effects.

#DoSomethingYummy: Can you love two children the same: How I found it different but the same loving two children

If you would like to get involved then Yummy Mummy Week is from 10-18th March 2012. It is a week long fundraising event where mums are being asked to get together with friends and family and ‘do something yummy’ for CLIC Sargent.  If you would like to run an event to support the week go to www.yummymummy.org.uk and sign up for a fundraising pack.

NHS: Is it Fair That People/Children Without Choice Don’t Get Help?

My head’s disagreeing with itself.

It watched a program about the American situation with horror.  There are children without homes, and not getting anything to eat when they go home from school.  People are living in tent cities or storm drains.  It was like something out of the middle ages.  Of course, unlike us they don’t have the same degree of NHS and Benefits system.

Someone asked an American politician what he would do about a man in a coma without health insurance who would die without medical assistance.  The Politician said ‘but he made the choice not to have health care’.  So they pushed and said ‘So you are going to leave him to die?’, and again the politician said ‘he made a choice’.

I came away for the first time glad that our rate of tax is higher, and much more appreciative of our systems; despite the fact that at times I have wondered why I’m paying for a group of people (NOT all, just some) to do nothing and taking away their responsibility and ‘choice’ for sorting their lives out.

Then I watch a program about the growing problem of obesity in the UK and that the likelihood is that it will bankrupt the NHS.  This makes me think that America must be really struggling with it already.  For a start it infuriates me as no operation is going to educate someone or help them learn the skills they need to motivate themselves to take care of themselves.  Why don’t people understand that you can’t help people to lose weight with diet and exercise only?  Why don’t they realise that mindset and education are the most important things?  So I’m not keen on the operation anyway and am pretty sure that mindset, education and exercise could be covered for less than £50,000 (cost of the gastric band operation).

Then I hear stories about Bailey Sarwa, a 12yr old boy with Neuroblastoma cancer.  During his remission he raised loads of money for charity.  But now it’s back.  There are treatments available for him in America or Germany.  But ‘we’ don’t have the budget for it.  So his parents are desperately trying to raise the money for him.  Doing all the posts for #DoSomethingYummy over the last month has made me find out more about parents with children who have cancer, I can totally see why they are trying to pull out all the stops to save their son.

How can that be right?  He has no choice about being ill.  But the obese, alcoholics and smokers do have a choice.  How can that be fair?

My parents were alcoholics, my mum had lung disease from smoking, I smoked for 10yrs, I was overweight for years, my husband was overweight and technically obese.  I understand the problems involved in having an addiction.

But there is choice; Oh God, now I sound like that cruel American politician.

There’s no doubt that we know that over eating will kill us, infact according to new statistics, being obese is more likely to kill you than smoking or drinking; which is shocking.  There’s tonnes of information all over the media about nutrition, hell even Jamie Oliver tackled it!  So it’s no excuse to not understand the basics of nutrition.  Admittedly mindset isn’t covered much, and even the personal training world doesn’t focus on it much.

Would I have wanted my mum to have no health care for her lung disease?  My Dad died of cancer, which could have been associated with the alcohol.  Would I have wanted him to die at home with no pain relief?  Was I just lucky to learn the things I learnt about nutrition and mindset?  Am I being overly harsh on these people, and not thinking of them as ‘real people’?

Or is it the budget that is wrong?  Our governments (labour and conservative)  spend stupid amounts of money on things that make no common sense.  But the budget can’t be un-ending.  We all have budgets, so we know the truth of that.

Is it all about sacrifices for the ‘greater good’; the idea that sometimes you have to make a tough decision because there is the potential that any money spent on a child with cancer, might be ‘wasted’ because they might still die?  The cost of the treatment is really high, but there aren’t as many sick children as there are obese people.  Children have so much potential to give to this world.  Or am I just blinkered because I’m a mum?

I don’t have any answers.  I’d love to know what you think?

Are you as confused as me?  Or do you know something I don’t that will shed light on all this?

 

If you would like to know more about Neuroblastoma here is the link to ‘Families Against Neuroblastoma‘.

If you would like to donate to Bailey Sarwa’s appeal (every little pound counts), then you can donate here.

 

Learning About Solar Energy with Tutbury Eco Power and Energyshare

I might not have the best Eco credentials in the world as a blogger, in fact I’ve looked briefly at politics and the riots, but I don’t think I’ve covered green issues yet, although I do love saving money and recycling has always appeared to be sensible to me, with or without global warming.  Well that is all going to change!  Hold onto your hats as I learn about Solar Power and Hydro stuff, and then convince you to vote for my guys Tutbury Eco Power.  (And when you vote, make sure you have voted and not just subscribed – check by trying to vote again!)

So what’s this all about?  And why should you be bothered?  Because by voting you could win River Cottage books, and because all of these projects are great ideas on how to make local energy that then saves money for or gets used in the local community.  Plus it’s projects like this that are going to be important in making sure there is energy left for our kids to use.

Now there are a lot of people involved, so in this post I’m just going to explain the basics, and then I’ll do another about how fabulous Tutbury Ecopower are at the beginning of next week:  (However you can VOTE HERE now in the medium sized category, if you are convinced already, and remember to check that your vote went through by trying again!).

Who is involved in this project?

River Cottage:  Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s has already been involved in people fund.it,  hugh’s fish fight, three hungry boys, landshare, and chicken out.  I love people with a lot of passion, and this guy clearly has it.  He is one of the founding partners of Energy share and well done him for combining his celebrity with something he feels strongly about.

Energy share was founded by river cottage and british gas. It means that you can pay the same for energy from a community as standard energy, rather than having to pay more (i.e not get ripped off).  The project gives “everyone the opportunity to source, use and (when you’re ready…) even generate your own 100% British renewable energy – and save money doing it.  Energyshare brings together people, communities and organisations to turn the system on its head to”.  So that means that aside from this competition, you can actually apply to get a grant for your local community project for creating renewable energy.  Plus you can support the growth of the usage of renewable energy, by signing up for the energy share tariff.

British Gas has a number of tariffs (payment options), and one of them is energy share, which is where some of your energy comes from british renewable energy for the same price as standard energy.  I couldn’t quite understand what all this was about and why you had to ask to go on it.  So I put on my private detective hat and phoned up pretending to be a customer (naughty, maybe, but it was a way for me to check whether this was all above board!).  The BG guy was very helpful.  By signing up for Energy share tariff you are basically telling British Gas that you do want it to look for more renewable energy sources.  If everyone signed up for it, BG would then have to go off and try and find/make loads more renewable ways of getting energy.  The reason why there are separate tariffs seems to be because they are gauging interest.  The difference is that you can instead sign up for a fixed tariff, where you pay extra now, but are promised that the price won’t rise, and this isn’t available on the energy share tariff.  Plus, there is a cancellation fee for coming off the energy share tariff.  I think this fee basically covers the Eco gadget (like an eco-friendly kettle) you get and that £10 pa goes into a fund for energy share.

Three Hungry Boys is a channel 4 program who last year where challenged by river cottage to live without buying food.  This years program is all about renewable energy, so they will be covering the competition.

Now Tutbury Eco Power is one of six contestants in the MEDIUM sized group.  They already have a proven track record with a Hydro Project going, and have won a pile of awards (see next weeks blog).  They are a great example of a community project because they have involved so many parts of the community that I really can’t keep track of everyone I’ve met so far!  There’s the council, the housing association, the local school, and loads of local people and groups.  For this competition they would like to expand their project to add Solar Panels to local buildings (Like schools and village halls).

Solar Power: So I did a bit of research.  If you would love a techie description of solar power go here to wikipedia.  I found a simpler description as well for the kids (and me!) here.  What was amazing was that it said that if we put solar panels in 4% of the worlds deserts, we could power the entire planet; which kind of makes me ask why we haven’t done it already?  The downsides are clouds and that the panels are expensive, but if we made more panels the cost would reduce, and deserts clouds aren’t always around, at least we don’t run out of sun, like we do fossil fuels etc.

Okey dokey that’s me done for today!  More about Tutbury coming next week.  By the way, did I mention they desperately need your votes?  They’ve spent a lot more of their time getting the community involved than learning about social media, so they are a little behind in the voting system.  Go on, give them a boost and VOTE HERE (remember it’s the medium group, and you need to check your vote went through by voting again; some people have found that they only subscribed and didn’t vote).

 

By the way: This is a sponsored opportunity on behalf of Tutbury Eco Power.  Because The River Cottage and Energy share love the concept of community so much, they found bloggers they considered to be great/connected/influential and asked us to support one of the finalists.  We have been paid for our time and expenses.  No projects near me in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire or London got through to the finals, which is how come I’m supporting a Staffordshire group.  However, if I thought the project I’d be assigned was rubbish, I wouldn’t have continued despite the cash.  Plus having spent a fabulous weekend at the Just So festival in Staffs, at least I can say that I have been there, next year I hope to go back via Tutbury and check out their shiny new solar panels on the local primary school and other buildings!

11:11:11: Telling your children about the war: It’s easier for me because my Dad flew in WW2

Do you ever mention war to your children?

Curly Headed Boy is nearly 6 and often plays computer games with the big hairy Northern Hubby, including World of Warcraft (an adult game). I was shocked to find that he was quite flippant about death one day, so I talked him through the fact that death isn’t just about the loss of a person, it’s also about the loss for their family, parents, wives, children and loved ones. He’s a quick boy and he understood after I’d explained; but the worry is how many people forget to explain? Then I explained about the wars and the millions of people who died and that we still have wars today.  As you know I recently had our lovely dog put down, so he has also seen it close up as well.

That’s why Remembrance is so important. It’s easy for me, my Dad flew in the RAF in the second world war, and lost one of his brothers which my grand mother never recovered from. My grandfather lied about his age/occupation so that he could fight in both world wars.

This is the weird thing that happens when you have unusually old parents, because you are more connected to a history that other people of your age are distanced from.

Dad never talked about the war. But the one time I used to see him relaxed and at ease was with some of his old friends who we met once per year in Zimbabwe (that’s where we trained some of our pilots and many of my Dads friends returned there after the war). It was as though with them he could admit to something and be himself for a short time.  It must change a man to be so close to death, and to have avoided death.  By nature we are definitely an aggressive race, but it also affects us at a deep level when we have experiences like this.  (See my post about psychopaths and what creates them)

I may never be sure about the wars we fight, the reasons behind them or the politics. But one thing I am sure of. It’s important to remember our history and it’s important to remember the human price paid.

This post is in memory of my Dad who died not long after this photo was taken. My thoughts are with all the families of any soldier lost to war.

 

Update:

Since writing this we went on holiday to normandy and took the kids to see the American cemetery.  It was an amazingly touching experience.

 

Video Wed: London Riots and Lack or Gain of Purpose?

After writing my post ‘The problem with politics is it doesn’t understand human behaviour’, I’ve been thinking even more about the Riots, as I’m sure many others of you have done as well.  I was mainly making the point in my post that it is psychologically detrimental to give people benefits for no fair exchange and how important it is to take responsibility for what is ours to do (and not for what is someone else’s).

Since then I’ve been thinking about the arguments posed by people about how hard it is for kids from deprived areas who have ‘no hope’.  There is definitely some truth in this.  Every creature needs a purpose, it is what keeps us going and keeps us alive.  Even young babies enjoy putting the washing in the machine because it gives them a sense of being useful.  We had a rescue dog that came to life when he learnt to ‘work’ (he was on lone to a working kennel and ended up staying there).  I’ve thought back to the times in my life when I didn’t have a clue about what I was doing and where I was going, and I agree it felt awful.  They were black times.

This is in no way the full answer as we now know that a huge pile of the rioters were nothing to do with this group of young kids, they were just people out to take advantage of a situation, with little moral thought, who thoroughly enjoyed the frenzy and excitement.  However, it would be unwise to cut funding on programs that can educate kids on what is available and the opportunities that are there for them.  Plus programs that help them work out what they are good at and gives them directions would be great.

I was sent this youtube video after my previous post, and I think it is great.  (For my kindle readers, it’s called ‘Keep Britain safe, every individual counts’).

Ironically though in the balance to the lack of purpose in these kids, there was a huge creation of purpose in the people who got together to clean up the streets.  How amazing was that?  We need to capitalise on this, in order to bring back the sense of community. I have always had a ‘bigger plan’ for ‘the mummy whisperer’.  It makes me wonder whether I should kick it off now, rather than later when I’m better known?

Then there are the people who just took advantage of the situation.  What to do about them?  Well partially make going against society’s rules much harsher so that people wouldn’t consider it.  Plus make sure that we do something about people who we know have done something ‘wrong’.  Shop the benefit cheats.  Stop turning a blind eye to stuff.  In a way, it is us that let them think they could get away with it.  If they don’t have the same values as us, we can’t force them to be sypathetic, empathetic or thoughtful of those around them.  But we can make the price of breaking other people’s property too high for them to do it!

What worries me most is that I suspect that there is another, smaller, quieter group of people.  I don’t think that they were lacking in purpose.  I think that their whole sense of purpose is to create chaos and anarchy, and that the young people without hope, the criminals, and the middle class people wanting something for nothing, were just pawns for them.  I wonder if I am a bit paranoid?  But after the deaths of those kids shot in Norway and that mad man’s talking about his connections, it makes me think.  This is another reason why we need to not be ‘ignorant’.  We might be ‘educated’, but it’s easy to ‘ignore’ what is going on around us.

The Problem With Politics Is It Doesn’t Understand Human Behaviour- London Riots

I found tears in my eyes as I tried to explain the riots to Curly Headed Boy this morning (5.5yrs old).  But I have had to explain something similar when local teens burnt down a pile of things near where I live.  One blog post can’t explain away the whole of the London Riots, and I’m not going to try and do it, but I am going to explain what us as parents can do right now.

The problem with politics is that it doesn’t understand human behaviour.  Its a pile of people on the right believing that the world ‘should’ be one way and a pile of people on the left believing in another way.  The middle road of the liberals should technically work, but doesn’t because they don’t really understand how the world of human beings works, and just cherry pick the options that they think will sound the nicest.  So they put in place a pile of ideas, and have no clue about the repercussions.  I understand the concept of how the world ‘should be’, but the reality is that there are a pile of humans in the way of that and ‘should be’ doesn’t work in reality.

The other problem with politics is that we don’t have much choice in who we put in power, and then for some reason we give them a huge amount of our personal power and stop taking responsibility for our own stuff.  I’m not saying that we should be out there stopping the rioters, but I am saying that many of us (myself included) blame the government for stuff that really we could be sorting out for ourselves.  Hence a pile of people rioting and taking no responsibility for it.

So how did I explain it to my little boy?

I pointed out to him what a tantrumy pain in the butt he becomes when he is spoilt.  Have you ever noticed how your kids behaviours are worse after a visit from a kindly relative who let them have everything they wanted or after a major treat that you organised?  Have you noticed how they become more demanding?  ‘Little Lord Fontleroy’ we call curly headed boy at these times.  These rioters are like big 5yr olds having a massive and hell of a lot more destructive tantrum.

The reason is that when we get too much for too little effort it makes us think that we deserve things, but ironically it squashes our self-esteem and makes us feel horrid.  Add to that a need for rules and safe boundaries as children, and you get people who get bored and destructive.  Remove the security of parents who know how to love their children by seeing both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ sides, rather than being abusive or overly supportive and you again affect their sense of security which they try to replace with ‘things’ they can buy.

I have no doubt that there are people in poverty in england, but they are not rioting.  They would be looking for heaters, food, and blankets.  They are the people who don’t know how to work the system, and who have really basic needs that are not being met.  They are the people that we are failing in the UK, whilst we give too much to a generation of young people who are just too damn spoilt.

So when my son asks me why people are rioting I say that they were not lucky enough to have parents who made them do something for every treat, who were strict and consistent about their rules, and who loved them from the top of their heads to the bottom of their toes.  He understands this, so this is the easiest thing I can say.

He asked about the police and why they couldn’t stop it, and the answer is that the system we have in the UK doesn’t hit people where it actually bothers them enough.  If curly headed boy doesn’t care about a punishment then it wont work on him.  I’m not that tough, I just make sure that I use things that are fair and that mean something to him.  For example; it starts with going into another room and counting to 30, then maybe a 5min time out, or a removal of a treat, or taking away a toy for 24hrs.  They are never too harsh or heart breaking, but they are fair and make sense to him.  (Little Dimples will need a totally different system as she was born naughty!).

I’m not saying that prison is a great place to be, but if it doesn’t stop people from offending, then it’s not going to work.  If you knew you were going to spend a lifetime paying back the damage you had done, then that would be a very different situation.  If you knew you were going to have to work to fix the damage you had done, it would be different.  If you knew that you were going to lose your benefits after bad behaviour, but be taken care of for 2yrs in a hard national service like we used to have, it would be different.  I can see why there is a sudden interest in the death penalty returning, although I’m not sure that is the choice I would have.  We can’t remove ‘criminality’ from our world, but we can reduce it by making it a damn site less attractive.

What can we do about this chaos?  Well start at home first, use the simple rules I’ve mentioned to love our kids with.

If your kids are involved, and you can’t keep them in, then you need to make sure that the police knows about them; keep them safe from more riots and from a future where they think that they can get away with anything because they deserve it (very easy to say I know, and hard to do).

Tackling the riots?  Well we need to use people’s values to stop the riots and stop them happening again.  For a small percentage I think that education and the ‘softer’ side will get through to them and help.  But for the majority I’m sorry I think that it needs to hit them where it hurts; prison, their benefits, and some kind of national service ala old fashioned bootcamp kind.

For the future?  No one should get anything for nothing.  Keep the benefit system, but if you get benefits and you are capable of moving a finger then you should get the right to do something, even if it is only a little thing.  Carers looking after those who can’t move, therefore deserve to be paid as a proper job.  This gives basic self-esteem, and is only fair.  Mums are a different matter, as they aredoing something; they are taking care of children.  However, I must admit that I think that young single Mums would be better off being put together in specific communities, rather than getting houses of their own.  OAPs have done their bit, but they aren’t useless, hell I have an OAP looking after Little Dimples for me and she’s a fabulous 73.  And the bored young people?  They need boundaries, structure, rules, not benefits.  If they aren’t going into further education or apprenticeships, then I cringe to say it ‘bring back national service’.  Our system of punishment?  Where it’s not a death/physical attack, then make the people pay in kind for what they did by fixing it, or paying to fix it.

New Laws?  There is one new law needed ‘only people with common sense and nonse should be able to make decisions for the country’.  Everything is topsy turvy and quite ridiculous, with a pile of jobs worths, health and safety nuts, insurance ambulance chasers, and higher punishment for minor offences that child abuse.  Not sure how to put this one in place; any ideas?

Right, I’m going to get off my soap box.  I’ve never posted politically before, and I hope that it doesn’t cause offence.  My objective was to give you some ideas as to how to explain to your little ones what is happening, but I did have a bit of a rant along the way.

Andrex Puppy – Prizes To Be Had And A Conversation About Disability

Just incase you didn’t guess this is a sponsored post ;o)

The guys at Andrex contacted me to ask if I would let you know about a competition running at the moment, and you know what that means – PRIZES!

Before I let you know more about it, I thought I’d chat a bit about the power of brand.

Funnily enough my little boy was given an andrex puppy last week by a lovely little old irish lady who is helping me out in the mornings, so I had a long conversation with him over a couple of days about blind people, guide dogs, and charities.  The puppy was a great way if gently introducing to him the concept of people having disabilities, without it being too scary, plus with the additional concept of their being something positive that people can do about tackling their challenges.  Many people find marketing to be an uncomfortable subject, almost ‘bad’ because it encourages us to spend our money and has a subliminal kind of power over us when there is a strong brand image, especially when it comes to Ben10 (ugggh!) and Power Rangers (double uggh!).  I certainly immediately think puppies and guide dogs when I think Andrex.  However, there is always a ‘good’ side to everything, and this opportunity to explain something important to my little boy was very helpful.

Marketing is actually just a company letting us know what they have got, and trying to persuade us that their version is better than someone else’s.  I was disappointed to find out the other day that there is a Mum working as a chiropractor literally a 5 min walk from my house.  She hasn’t done a flier drop, because she has been so affected by the concept that marketing is ‘bad’.  What a shame; as I have gone to a different chiro with myself, my baby, my son and my husband in a local town, whereas it would have been much easier for me if I had known about her.  It is wise and actually caring to understand your value and how you can ‘sell yourself’ to your loved ones, boss, children and customers.

With corporate brands us ‘grown ups’ have a degree of discernment about us (apart from my husband when anything new called ‘Apple’ arrives as he LOVES all things macintosh), but I do think that it is wise to ‘protect’ our little ones until they have a degree of emotional maturity.  So my 4yr old boy is only allowed to watch cbeebies or disney because they don’t have adverts; seriously 10mins on any other channel is followed by a list of ‘I want xxx, and xxx and xxx and MUST HAVE xxx’.

Ironically, when I looked it up on the internet, Andrex has actually supported many charities, it’s just that the combination of puppy and guide dog is such a strong image, that I naturally assumed it is always that way.  The Guide Dog promotion was in 2006, and they made nearly £250,000 which is over 40 dogs.  But they have also supported Teenage Cancer Trust, Dogs for the Disabled and Look Good Feel Good.

Right, onto the bit where you can get prizes!

If you love dogs (don’t worry PS, you don’t have to look!), then you might love this advert on youtube:

Then here is the andrex puppy facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/TheAndrexPuppy

The game is quite simple; all you need to do is have a pull on the Pup-o-matic (which works in a similar way to a slot machine, but instead of boring fruit symbols you get to play with the Andrex Puppy and his friends) for a chance to win one of thirty top prizes every day for 21 days with a total value of over £20,000.

There’s a whole host of fun things to be won from a Sony Cybershot Digital camera to gift vouchers for all your favourite stores (all chosen by the Facebook fans), as well as many smaller prizes such as money off coupons and Andrex Puppy goodies.

I’ve just won a 50p off voucher, and every little bit helps; that’s atleast half a cake from another very strong coffee shop brand with a green logo, which I happen to be a major sucker for ;o)

Let me know if you win anything and pop a comment back here!  Good luck