What Really Counts?

It is not a movie I can watch often. I am sure I went to watch it at the cinema with a large group of friends back in – was is 1997? I remember one of my male friends feeling a bit embarrassed at some of the more intimate scenes in the movie (we were teenagers) and in the still silence of the cinema, his voice was clearly heard turning to us and saying “Would you like a Poppet?”…

…several angry “ssssshhhhhhhh!!!!” noises followed, and the rest of us found it hard to suppress our giggles. Teenagers hey! We were a little embarrassed…we were not expecting the bare chested moments, or the steamy hand print on the car window pane.

But please don’t think we were unmoved by the scenes that followed. Truly, we remained silent, except for the occasional tearful sniffle for the rest of the movie. Remember we were all from the Liverpool area and we were all familiar with these significant pages of maritime history. We had heard the story over and over at school and had many school trips to the Liverpool Maritime Museum. It was a story that had an impact on us since our earliest days and weighed heavy on our hearts. I am sure you too will have contemplated how truly awful it must have been.

I visited the Liverpool Maritime Museum again this summer and I lingered around the exhibits for a long time, because it was years since I had seen them.

IMG_20180703_133804

Lots of information and artefacts. Lots of stories from survivors and stories of those who sank with the ship that night. But it is only if you allow yourself to contemplate what it must have been like, that you really absorb these pages of history.

IMG_20180703_133915One part of the exhibit really caught my attention. I love seeing scenes of the Arctic landscape, but pondering on what led to one of the worst tragedies at sea in modern history made me feel horrified viewing a picture of a huge ice-berg.

Time and time again I have heard people use the example of the RMS Titanic hitting an ice-berg in various analogies.  So many sobering lessons can be drawn. The apparent blind confidence in an “unsinkable” ship, some were so convinced that the giant feat of engineering was beyond destruction. Some not responding promptly to the alerts of staff to put on life-jackets and board life-boats. The absurd injustices in the way different classes were treated. Some of the life-boats not being filled to anywhere near full-capacity. The list goes on and on of the things that contributed to such an enormous loss of life that night.

For me personally, the example of the RMS Titanic has effected my view of making a comfortable life for myself. When I was about seven, one of my teachers at school powerfully touched our hearts, motivating us to be aware of the holes in the way this world works. She wasn’t talking about the planet. I knew she was talking about the economic system, the way the world is governed often based on economic expediency. Short-term decisions to gain a profit at the expense of oh so much. I knew she was right, any system motivated by greed and selfishness is doomed to sink.

She explained that all of humankind are essentially in the same boat and it is a boat that is leaking, holes like racism, injustice, war, pollution that highlight that it is not unsinkable. She asked us to think of how we could make a difference and always always remember what really counts. She emphasised that life is precious and special. It was up to us to decide how to use our life, our time. Would we use it wisely? She said worrying about having a sportscar or a fur coat or fancy jewellery, is a bit like wanting a posh suite on the Titanic. She said we could spend our lives polishing the brass on the Titanic, or think about helping others into the life-boats.

IMG_20180703_133123.jpg

I often thought of what she said, but it was only when I became a volunteer that I felt I could live by the conviction she had cultivated in my little heart. I have never been interested in having a posh suite in this sinking ship or polishing the brass. It feels like an utter waste of time. But relief from that sense of wastefulness came in seeing the people whose lives we made a difference to. I have so many stories of people of various backgrounds who were crying and groaning because of the damage from the holes I have mentioned, racism, injustice ethnic violence and warfare.

It is important to remain balanced and to enjoy all the wonderful things about life and this beautiful beautiful planet. But I have never forgotten that the holes in the way the world runs at the moment, have caused damage on such a scale that it essentially needs a complete reconstruction, based on an entirely different foundation. There are so many lessons to learn from the tragedy of the RMS Titanic. I try to live my life thinking of what really counts. How precious lives are, how extraordinary our planet is compared to any other in the known universe, how stupid class divisions are, how destructive so many economic and political decisions can be.

I am optimistic, very optimistic, because I trust most people do at heart realize that life is precious; whereas sports cars, fur coats and fancy jewellery are not! I think most people want to make a difference in whatever way they can to achieve a better world, one in which we live, we really live, not just survive. I know at times these big leaky holes can be incredibly frustrating, but keeping a focus on what makes life really precious…reminding ourselves of what really counts, and seizing opportunities to contribute to a better world, because at the end of the day I would hope most people want a better world.

The Brilliant Tom Burton Has Nominated Me For The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Background.png

Tom Burton the creator of Slumdog Soldier has very kindly nominated me for The Sunshine Blogger Award as you can see in his post below:

https://slumdogsoldier.wordpress.com/2018/10/16/sunshine-blogger-award/

As you can see from Tom’s post, The Sunshine Blogger Award has some rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them. -THANK YOU TOM!
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
  • Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or your blog site.
1. Where are you from?

I am originally from the North of England.  I grew up on the outskirts of Liverpool.

Currently I live in London.

2. What animal would you best describe as your spirit animal?

I am not sure what a spirit animal is. But I like animals.

I admire ants…because of their incredible co-ordination as a work force. I find horses and giraffes inspiring. I like anything cute…you know fluffy bunnies and the like. I am jealous of birds, flying through the skies. Or butterflies with such beautiful wings. I would love to be allowed to hibernate all winter like a bear. There is something about elephants that makes me happy. I have always loved frogs, I have always loved whales, I am absolutely fascinated by them.  I would love to be able to study them and understand all of their ways.

 

3. What’s your favourite season of the year and why?

Summer…

 

…because I live!

4. What’s your favourite book (or book series)?

I am going to have to give you three of my favourite fictional books.

persuasion     Les Mis     the count of monte cristo

5. What’s your favourite film, TV show, and song?

la vita e bellaI have a few favourite movies, but there is one which lingers with me as absolutely brilliant. The film is “La Vita E Bella” (“Life Is Beautiful”).

I don’t watch much TV, but I have been trying to keep up with the current series of “The Great British Bake Off”.

Favourite song….ooooooh that is incredibly difficult. If you have read other posts of mine, you probably have an idea how diverse my music tastes are. But there is a song, which I loved back in the days I worked for the record company and still love because I think the lyrics are clever. It is an iconic Britpop song and whenever I saw the band play live, the crowd went crazy when this song was played.

“….tore up all you photos

didn’t feel too clever

spent the whole of Sunday

sticking you together…”

6. How do you like to wind down after a busy day?

ironing

As soon as I arrive back at the little nest, I start to unwind.  I like to potter round, making myself a little something to munch. I like to catch up with my ironing (there is also something that needs ironing).

Once my tasks are completed, I like to ring a family member or friend, reply to e-mails from family and friends.  And of course, I like catching up with posts from bloggers on WordPress.

7. If you could tell your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Listen to your Mumma and Dadda! And stop worrying so much Kiddo! You are alright!

8. Why did you start writing a blog?

love letterWell it all started with this:

He told me he was captivated by by letters!

He suggested I start a blog.  “What’s a blog?” said I.

And here we are…a long time has passed since then, but I am following his suggestion and I am enjoying it more than I ever imagined.

I wrote a bit more detail about what led to the start of this blog in these posts:

9. What do you hope to achieve for 2019?

Every day of life is special. I hope to remain alive throughout the year! My head injuries being such a concern to everyone…I don’t take it for granted that I am alive.

My goal is not just stayin’ alive…but also walking through life with a skip and a bounce in my step!

10. What have you enjoyed most about blogging so far?

Two things…coming into contact with some wonderful bloggers who produce remarkable stories, poems and some very inspirational personal accounts.

The other thing I have enjoyed is finding a way to express things that were locked up away within my heart.

11. What would your best blogging tip be?

Hey…enjoy it! It is supposed to be fun, don’t become stressed or discouraged by statistics.

Enjoy writing or producing your style of posts…don’t compare yourself to others, but do connect with them. The success of blogging is mostly down to mutual support and encouragement.

____________________

Well that was fun Tom – great questions!

Here are my eleven questions for my eleven nominees:
  1. DO YOU EVER FEEL DISCOURAGED ABOUT BLOGGING?  WHAT DO YOU DO TO KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
  2. WHAT IS YOUR OWN FAVOURITE POST FROM YOUR SITE OR THE ONE YOU WOULD RECOMMEND READERS CHECK OUT FIRST?
  3. DO YOU ENJOY CAMPING OUT IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS?
  4. DO YOU ENJOY PLAYING OR WATCHING SPORT?  IF SO, WHICH SPORTS?
  5.  DO YOUR FRIENDS KNOW ABOUT YOUR BLOG SITE?
  6.  WHAT IS YOUR MOST EMBARRASSING MEMORY OR EXPERIENCE?
  7. WHICH SONGS WOULD YOU SING IN THE SHOWER WHEN YOU THINK NOBODY CAN HEAR?
  8. IS ANYONE ELSE IN YOUR FAMILY A BLOGGER OR VLOGGER?
  9. IF YOU WERE BEING A TOURIST FOR A DAY IN LONDON – WHERE WOULD YOU VISIT?
  10. COULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DREAM CAKE?
  11. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TV DETECTIVE?
Here are my eleven nominees:

This is a little way of saying thank you for your wonderful support and encouragement!

Slavery On A Sinister And Sadistic Scale

This is quite a gloomy title isn’t it?  It is not my intention to gloomify your day – not at all. It’s just that we took a visit to the Liverpool Maritime Museum the other day, I have not been there for years and I heard there had been changes to the floor that is devoted to the history of the slave trade.

You know, I have decided it is alright to pick a sombre subject to write about once in a while.  I hope my site on the whole reflects the joy I feel in life.  But serious sombre subjects are part of life and you have to be heartless to bury your head in the sand.

Liverpool Maritime Museum

I wanted to visit the Liverpool Maritime Museum again and to produce a post about it because it provided very sobering lessons to me during my childhood years.  This is one of the first museums I went to and I remember as a child being shocked and dismayed to learn about these callous pages of history.  I was raised near Liverpool and I remember being taught at school that Liverpool played a pivotal role in this cruel era.  And yes, our teachers taught us that it was a bitterly shameful connection.

I have spent some time out in Ghana (I also have family who have lived there for the last few years) and whilst we stayed in Accra, we were also able to visit a few other locations, Kakum National Park, Aburi Botanical Gardens and Cape Coast.  I have found the journal I kept while I was in Ghana and will prepare future posts about our amazing trip out there.

IMG_20180703_132044

IMG_20180703_132052The painting above is of Elmina Castle, which we did not visit when we were in Ghana.  However, we did visit a similar castle in Cape Coast.  When they took us on a tour down into the “dungeons” they asked us to imagine we were one of the hundreds who were crammed into that space before being loaded onto ships that were eventually to find their way to the Americas.

I already had strong feelings about how people were treated,  Humans dominating each other, treating other humans as commodities, forcing other humans into labour under barbaric conditions.  Yuck!  These injustices and atrocities make me wonder how can it be that human beings can sink to such a degree of hard-hearted brutishness.  I know slavery is perhaps as old as “civilisation”, but there is no excusing the utter disregard for your fellow human.

I have been happy to serve as an unpaid volunteer for many years, (and at times we joked that we were a bit like slaves) but I sensed I was more loved and appreciated than I have been by employers who paid me a wage.  But the forced slavery that enabled a few to profit while many suffered unimaginable cruelty…that is a crime that is deeply shameful.  Amongst other crimes recorded indelibly in history books.

img_20180703_132006.jpg

The Maritime Museum has some pretty graphic exhibits to help you to fully realize how bad conditions were for those being transported to the Americas.

The model of a ship in the photo above shows the lower decks crammed with the cargo of Africans who were being transported to the Americas.  Some of the exhibits made me feel sick.  Even though I have been to this museum several times before it still makes me react the same way as I did as a child.  I was so angry and sickened that a group of humans could be so wicked so as to degrade their fellow humans like this.

Of course since my childhood, I have learnt of many other acts of “inhumanity” – that is what we call it isn’t it, when a human or a group of humans commit a crime and for some strange reason they hold their heads up high for a while with clear conscience until eventually it is pointed out that what they have done is actually despicably evil. And oh so often, it is all about money, wealth, a more comfortable lifestyle…at what cost? At the suffering and cruelty of others!

IMG_20180703_131934 (2)

I remember the impression learning about the slave trade made on me as a little girl.  I felt ashamed actually.  There was no possibility of me being able to develop in my heart any improper pride or nationalistic streak.  No, I was struck with a determination to see a human family who are equal and can only be judged by what they say and do, not for where they were born or educated, the shade of their skin, the condition of their home or how much money they earn.

I have learned a wonderful lesson from travelling.  There are people all over this world that are very beautiful in their minds and hearts.  I have adopted many family members in my travels in many countries.  There are people I live near and work with who I do not warm to because of opinions they voice which smack of hateful racism and a self-centred, short-sighted nationalism.  Time will tell whether they are ignorant, “unwell” or whether they would go far enough to commit crimes in relation to their horrid outlook on other humans who happen to have grown up in (or whose parents grew up in) a different part of Planet Earth.img_20180703_132307.jpg

In fact, I pinch myself whenever I visit magnificent historical buildings in this country. I find them beautiful and interesting, but I remind myself that so much wealth has been amassed through corrupt and crooked means. I do not approve. I cannot feel proud of what was essentially crime on a vast scale.  What were the words I used in my title? “Sinister and sadistic”…  There are a lot of terrible things that have been done, but those that shock us the most are often those done on a mass scale.  The Holocaust, the Slave Trade, the Crusades.  It’s as if on a vast scale consciences were callous and unfeeling. Faulty crooked reasoning and degraded ignorance.

I do enjoy learning about history, very much.  I am fascinated by how people used to live. Especially prior to the industrial revolution.  I sometimes crave an existence without the pace of the modern technological world.  And I think it would be jolly sensible for us all to spread out a bit more rather than living on top of each other. Oh, to learn some basic skills, cultivating our food, making our own clothing and furniture, that would be so satisfying.  But the pace of life now, my feet don’t seem to touch the ground some days!

However, so much grieves me.  So many stories I have heard, how I would like to welcome back those who led a life of unimaginable hardship they were powerless to escape, I would love to make a fuss of them. Give them a soft bed to rest in and a banquet of tasty dishes.  And hugs, oh so many hugs, so much love and kindness.

Maybe you can understand why I became a volunteer?

I am still aghast at some of the situations I hear of today.  As a volunteer, we receive regular updates on what could rightly be described as “humanitarian crises” in various locations.  My own definition is when a human or a group of humans treat others in a way that is simply evil, and yet the oppressors do it with their heads held high with clear consciences.  Others are dismayed and outraged.  Yet at times, those oppressors seem untouchable, as they often have so much control and power.  It seems as if they answer to nobody.

IMG_20180703_131835

Helpless and hopeless is my overwhelming sentiment at times…yet I do feel hopeful.  I am inspired by the power that is beyond any human, wicked or good to control.  I read something recently that I found filled me with profound awe.  There were a couple with beaming smiles, standing outside of the train station when I arrived in Liverpool, giving out free magazines.  It was one of the most refreshing and positive wodge of pages I have set my eyes on in a long time.  When I came back to my sister’s I wanted to verify some of the quotes in the articles I read.

As we are experiencing a heatwave here in Britain that many of us have never seen in our lifetime, this quote about the sun captured my attention.

“How much energy does our sun radiate? Imagine how fierce a fire would have to be if you were ten miles [15 km] from it and could still feel the heat. The sun is, on average, about 93 million miles [150 million km] from the earth. Yet, on a sunny day, its heat can blister the skin! Remarkably, only about one billionth of the sun’s energy strikes the earth. Still, this fraction of the sun’s power is enough to sustain life on the planet.

In fact, scientists have calculated that the total energy output from just our sun is enough to sustain some 31 trillion planets like the earth. Or to measure this enormous output another way: If all the sun’s power could be harnessed for just one second, it would provide the United States “with enough energy, at its current usage rate, for the next 9,000,000 years,” says the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) Web site.

SunThe sun’s energy emanates from its core​—a nuclear reactor that smashes atoms together and spews out power. The sun is so big and its core so dense that it takes millions of years for the energy produced within the core to well up to the surface. “If the Sun were to stop producing energy today,” says the SWPC Web site, “it would take 50,000,000 years for significant effects to be felt at Earth!”

Now consider this fact: When you raise your eyes on a clear night, you are seeing thousands of stars, each disgorging vast amounts of energy, similar to our sun. And scientists calculate that there are billions upon billions of stars in the universe!”

To be able to control power like that is mind-boggling.  When I read figures and statistics like that it is hard for me to comprehend.  Yet, it also fills me with hope.  I might feel helpless and powerless, but I am convinced that those who are content to profit while closing their eyes to brutality and cruelty towards fellow humans are going to be humbled.

I just long for the day when a united human family, rich with varied cultures, are able to live in true freedom without being oppressed or dominated by other humans.  I know there are differences in the cultures and beliefs of different people living in different parts of this planet – but  I feel akin to any human who has the conscience that tells them abuse of power, disregard for the lives of others for economic gain and selfish and greedy violent conflicts are crimes.  Although they may appear to get away with it, the perpetrators of such acts will go down in history as criminals – corrupt and crooked in their reasoning – no matter how much charisma they may parade.

special.jpg

I would give up everything I owned to see a world where everyone cares about their fellow human, their fellow family member.

 

A Lorra Lorra Laughs In Liverpool

IMG_20180703_124240

By the time I reached Liverpool with some friends who I grew up with, I finally started to feel I was relaxing.  It has been a long time since I have had a two week holiday.  Maybe ten years or so.  Normally I spread out my annual leave and have long weekends or take a random day off because a friend is passing through London and wants to see me.

At first I still had the pent up “places to be, people to see” rush rush mode switched on inside me.  But after a couple of days of realizing how incredibly slow the public transport routes are, I accepted you can’t rush outside of London.  I am not insured to drive anyone’s car at the moment.  In London, I don’t miss having a set of wheels at all. But outside of London, you have to accept a different pace enforced by the schedule of the buses and trains.

img_20180703_125727_1.jpg

The day in Liverpool was great fun.  We did a bit of a whirlwind tour of some of the locations I was keen to see and then we relaxed with a phenomenal feast in a restaurant up in China Town.

My ear was delighted to hear very strong Liverpool accents again.  I have a few friends in London who grew up in Liverpool but their accent is blending with a southern hue. But hearing raw scouse is fantastic!

If you are a tourist visiting Liverpool, I am more than happy to recommend to you a visit to the Albert Docks.  It was so pleasant to be near the river on a blistering hot day. Walking through the colonnades provided plenty of much needed shade.  There are great museums and a myriad of little shops and cafes.

IMG_20180703_125444

This photo came out rather blurry I am afraid.  The boat was just moving so quickly, I found it hard to focus.  It was packed with passengers at their leisure who were waving at us.  It looked so colourful in the sun today gliding along the River Mersey.

We did not take any boat trips today…we had too long a list of other places we wanted to visit.

Liverpool seemed very vibrant and lively today.  I think we were as well.  We laughed so hard, I felt I had a pain developing in my side.  I notice immediately the propensity Liverpool people have to laughter.  They truly like a chuckle and it is so easy to ignite what turns out to be a conversation of pure comedy.

And we were singing, we sang songs we knew off by heart that “The Beatles” were famous for.

img_20180703_141259.jpg

It is so so good wandering around a place that you have been visiting since childhood, arm and arm with friends who you have known since childhood.  To have no time limitation because you are on “holiday” and can explore and play like a child.  Oh we did!

I don’t want to overload you with holiday spam!  But, if you can tolerate a few posts about my travels around the North West of England and North Wales this week…while I am on my hols!  I would love to show you around.  I could do my whole “Tour Guide Barbie” thing and tell you facts and figures that would probably give you more of a laugh than impress you.

img_20180703_120308.jpg

We had a lorra lorra laughs in Liverpool.