Monday, 16 December 2019

Unisex toilets

are under discussion in this morning's paper. There are claims that some girls are trying not to use them in schools.
I don't know who thought they would be a good idea. It apparently has something to do with catering for "gender diversification" and the "everyone uses the same toilets at home" argument.
Neither of these arguments work for me. The very small minority of people who identify as gender neutral or a different gender from their original biological gender will normally have the option of using another facility - usually one also used by people with disabilities. Those facilities are usually placed in such a way that they are unisex and gender neutral. They should be provided as a matter of course. (There are more around than there once were but we have a long way to go before I will be satisfied by the provision of such facilities.)
But the other argument that "everyone uses the same toilet at home" is not an argument at all. What happens within a family unit is entirely different from sharing a space for what is a very private act with complete strangers. In many cultures it is simply unacceptable - even forbidden. 
This is not a matter of "catering for a minority". It is imposing something on everyone for the demands of a "politically correct" view that is held by very few. I know people who claim unisex toilets "discourage sexual abuse and violence against women". I would be interested to know if there is any actual research with respect to this. My belief is that the opposite is more likely to be true. Unisex toilets would hardly seem to be the answer among body conscious teenagers with a growing sexual awareness.
Maybe I am wrong but I don't think so. Tell me if I am. 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

An offer to help

is not something I give lightly. Middle Cat is much more "spur of the moment" about such things than I am.
I suppose I have always been rather cautious about such things. I tend to be uncertain about whether I will really be welcome.  If I offer to do something I know, because I will have thought about it, that I can do it. Of course that excludes the same circumstances that would exclude anyone else but, apart from that, I have thought about it. 
I think about things like where an activity is going to be held and how I am going to get there as well as what is required of those  involved. I think about how much time is likely to be involved and much more. 
No, it isn't that I spend a lot of time contemplating these things but they do pass through my small feline brain before I put my paw up.
So some weeks ago I volunteered to help with something. It is just for a few hours this week. I did it because I am not preparing for a big Christmas lunch or dinner. I knew the weather was likely to be hot and the other likely volunteers would be older than I am. 
As it turns out the weather is going to very hot. Middle Cat told me she would take me to the venue...a few minutes in the car but a good twenty-five on the trike. I could also stay a little longer than I had originally planned if it would help the person running the event.
There was an email from the organiser to the  helpers...she is a well organised person and gets things done. I emailed back and offered the extra time if she needed it. 
The response has left me puzzled. It was a "thanks for offering to help...if the others can't get there I will let you know". Does the organiser want me to help or not? I had assumed from the first email that I was needed at least part of the time. Now I am not sure I am needed at all. I emailed back and I am waiting for an answer.
But it has made me think about other volunteers as well. All too often we hear the words, "It's always the same few people who volunteer".  I know that's true. Some people never volunteer and others do so only reluctantly or have to be asked to help. But, if we do want people to volunteer, then it seems to me that it needs to be made very clear they are wanted and what they are expected to do.  They also need to be thanked once the job is done.

Saturday, 14 December 2019

The UK election results

have left me stunned. The Senior Cat has been shaking his head in disbelief.  A former resident of the UK phoned me about something else but added, "Move too far left and you just get overtaken."
It isn't the election result my friends in Upover were looking for. At the same time I can't imagine that any of them would approve of the  "rioting" being reported.
But who is responsible for the result? Is it Johnson or Corbyn or their parties and their policies or is it....the people who didn't vote? Apparently about 32% of eligible voters did not vote. 
Now some of them may not have been able to vote for good reasons. Others though will have been of the "can't be bothered" brigade and the "it won't make any difference" brigade. 
The first group can be forgiven. Things do happen which prevent people from voting. The second and third groups cannot be forgiven. They are what cause democracies to disintegrate. Democracy requires effort. If we want to live in a democratic society then we have to participate.
I am opposed to Downunder's system of "compulsory attendance at the ballot box". I think that is wrong. It is undemocratic. It is also undemocratic to compel voters to mark their preferences. I have always said I have a  duty to vote but I should not  be compelled to vote, wherever I place them, for anyone who supports something I find abhorrent - such as the death penalty. People who don't vote when they could vote put us in danger of allowing such things as the return of the death penalty to happen - and they are often the first to complain when such things do happen.
To "get Brexit done" won't be easy. The legislation will probably go through on the 17th and the UK will "leave" at the end of January next year but there is a lot of mopping up and tidying away and sorting out to be done.  The rest of the EU is not going to make this easy. There are plenty of sour grapes to be swallowed there too. It has been an immense blow to Merkel and Macron in particular. They will want to make the remainder of the process as difficult and as expensive as possible. It will be used as a warning to other countries like Greece and Italy to remain or face financial and trading consequences. 
All this might have been avoided if 30% of the UK population had thought about the likely consequences of not voting. 

Friday, 13 December 2019

The UK General Election

results will affect us here in Downunder as well. 
I think I have said elsewhere in this blog that we have made a major mistake in trying to become "part of the Asian region". Downunder is not an Asian country. It never was and it never will be. 
We aren't European either - although we have now been part of that curious event known as Eurovision. We sit somewhere between the two I suppose - and on the rim of the Pacific Island nations. It isn't comfortable.
Asia does not want us. It is time we accepted that. Asian countries will do business with us. That makes sense. Asian countries will also tolerate us but we are, at best, "neighbours". We are not "family". We are seen as Westerners, even as European. For all our much lauded "multi-cultural" credentials we are not seen as Asian. When we come to terms with that then we might have a more settled place in the world. 
I am aware that this is not a popular view among those who spruik the multi-cultural message. They tell me, "Look at the X festival, the Y festival, and the Z festival. They are all Asian. You're wrong."
No, I am right. For all those things get reported in the media there are still only a minority of Downunderites who attend these things - and even fewer who truly understand what they are about.
Middle Cat married into the Greek-Cypriot community here. It is a community which still has annual events such as the Blessing of the Waters. It will probably be reported in the media. It usually is. My nephews here have never been although they were baptised Greek Orthodox. If I asked them they would struggle to tell me what it was about. They don't go to church. It is an event which, apart from the few genuinely faithful, is more about an excuse to get together among some and for politicians and the media to perpetuate the myth of multi-culturalism. Many other festive events come into the same category. What is being "celebrated" has little, if anything, to do with the actual meaning of the event in the country in which it originated. It is like the Japanese celebrating "Christmas". Very few Japanese are Christians but many of them enjoy Christmas trees, lights, presents and the like. Nobody there would suggest they are Western because of it.
I don't know which way the residents of the United Kingdom will jump. We will find out in a few hours. The European Union, which sparked this election, is of course an entirely different idea from our multi-cultural idea. In nature it is more ASEAN and other trading blocks. It is important and the UK should be part of it. We should have a much stronger association with it than we have.
We might have helped the UK remain in the EU far more than we have if we had taken much more interest in the EU. 


Thursday, 12 December 2019

Christmas Markets

are  now on the agenda.
I am supposed to be helping on a stall at one next week. The forecast temperature is 41'C so I doubt that "knitting" will be of much interest to the hordes which attend. Actually I doubt the hordes will attend. It will simply be too hot. Numbers would not have been high on a Tuesday afternoon anyway and the weather will simply make the numbers even lower.
I feel sorry for the organisers. There will have been a considerable amount of work go into it even though it is only open for four hours. 
It has made me think of the UK election being held in what is today in this part of the world and tomorrow there. There will have been postal votes - and the political director of the BBC would have us believe she already knows what the outcome is likely to be - but the weather may well put people off from voting there too. I wonder what difference it will make?
Do they design polling places around Christmas markets? The idea of being able to buy a nice woolly hat or a pair of mittens in your party's colours might appeal to some people.
I am sure people go to such markets with the idea of finding small things at bargain prices - stocking fillers rather than major presents.
I gave the person in charge of our stall some soap bags - with good soap but otherwise cheap and practical. They might sell.
Apart from that and sending some cards overseas I have done almost nothing about Christmas. At the request of the Senior Cat I have bought book vouchers. Middle Cat is supposed to be getting plants for two gardeners to whom we give gifts. That is all I have done. 
I haven't even made shortbread or lebkuchen for the greengrocer's staff. I think I had better do that much at least. They might not let me have any salad vegetables when it is hot. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Falls in the elderly

are a serious problem. We all know that. So, why do the elderly do stupid, idiotic, ridiculous things?
The Senior Cat is all right - he may have a bruise or two but he is all right. He should not be.
The silly cat came home from hospital yesterday. You would think he would have managed to learn a lesson or two? No.
He was padding down the passage way at about 9:30pm  when he slipped and fell. The reason he slipped? His rear paws were bare. He had been told that, under no circumstances, was he to move around in bare rear paws. 
More seriously, his feet are not in good shape. He has had incredibly flat feet all his life.  When he was small nobody thought about this. When he was a little older the navy (his first choice for service during the way) rejected him on that and eyesight grounds. At the time they were taking almost everyone who applied so he really was unfit. Both problems remain with him. He was hopeless at all forms of sport.
Middle Cat has been monitoring the situation but there have been additional problems in the last few months. So, non-slip safety socks or shoes everywhere
Last night showed him why. There was the dreaded thump and the clatter of his walker against the wall. I pounded out the other door to see what had happened.
    "I'm all right."
I investigated. No, he hadn't broken anything - but how was he going to get up again?
    "I can do it!" he told me.
I knew he couldn't but I let him try. Twenty-two minutes later he admitted defeat. I pressed the emergency button and explained the situation, emphasised "not urgent" and then phoned Middle Cat to let her know.
     "Has he hurt himself?" was her question after a mild swear word, "No, don't let them take him back to hospital. It won't do his confidence any good."
I was well aware of this but I also knew that they would insist. They have to do it. 
 "Well see if you can cancel the call and S.... and I will come over and do it. I can check him out if necessary."
I called the emergency service and told them what was going on.
"Call us back if you need us - and don't hesitate to call us if the situation changes."
Middle Cat and her husband arrived. It took the combined efforts of the three of us.  One of them on each side and me to rush the chair underneath.
Then S....prowled the house and suggested more changes to the way things are laid out. That wouldn't have helped in this instance but it kept him occupied while Middle Cat gently scolded the Senior Cat.
She saw him into bed and told him he was to phone her "even at two in the morning" if necessary.
I had been awake since 4:30am (don't ask) and I was tired. Could I sleep? No. 
I wonder how much longer we can cope if this sort of thing keeps happening. 


Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Staying in hospital

is not fun and it turns out we could have had the Senior Cat home last week.
I did not see the Senior Cat  yesterday. I intended to but Middle Cat had to take her husband to another hospital for some minor surgery.  As always things were running late and she went off to see the Senior Cat without picking me up. 
The reason for this was that she wanted to be there in time to go with him for his appointment with the podiatry specialist. It was this appointment that was his reason for staying in until today.
It didn't happen. 
The ward staff knew nothing about it. They could find no record of it. The podiatry department knew nothing about it. They could find no record of it. Was it in Outpatients? No. They knew nothing about it.
Middle Cat  phoned me to let me know all this. She was, rightly, very annoyed. As she said to me, "I couldn't get angry with the ward staff. It isn't their fault."
I suspect I know where the fault lies. It would be in podiatry where someone was distracted before putting the appointment in - and then simply forgetting.
When I could not get there on Sunday I tried phoning. The ward phone was eventually answered after a long wait. Instead of asking to speak to the Senior Cat I just said,
    "I'm sorry to bother you. Could you just give my father a very short message instead of taking the phone to him?"
The response was, "Of course. I'll let him know straight away."
This meant peace of mind for the Senior Cat and less work for the person on shift. Of course there are people who take their mobile phones into hospital with them but the Senior Cat, while he can use his, is not confident about it and was worried he might lose it.  
But I do wish that, within the hospital, there were better lines of communication. The Senior Cat's appointment was not life threatening but it was important. Now it will mean Middle Cat has to get him to and from the hospital. If she can't do it then I will have to get an Access Cab both ways and, given their unreliability, it could be an all day affair. Seeing him while he was in hospital was simply a matter of getting him to and from the relevant department.
This is the sort of thing that happens all the time of course. Nobody seems to take the lack of good communication lines very seriously. They should. It could save a great deal of time and trouble.
It could also save lives.