Tuesday 28 February 2017

Taking responsibility for your

own actions seems to be a thing of the past, especially in politics.
Last week the Leader of the Opposition was blaming the government for the decision on penalty rates. The only problem with this is that the decision was made by the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission was set up by the Leader of the Opposition when he was a Minister in the previous government. He appointed the people who made the decision.
But no, it is the government's fault.
The Prime Minister is blaming a previous Prime Minister for his own disastrous ratings in the polls. He is accusing the previous PM of undermining him, sniping, trying to get his old job back etc.  Even supporters of the previous PM are trying to lay at least some of the blame at the door of the previous PM. That it might have anything to do with the fact that the present PM is not doing a good job is apparently beside the point.
In this state the Premier, who has been there a long time, still tries to blame a previous government for anything and everything. It's part of the political game.
Of course if they did say, "Yes, I made mistake and I am responsible" then there would be calls for them to resign. It's probably a no-win situation whatever they do. But, should that stop the previous PM from pointing out a few faults and saying, "Do something about it"? He knows as well as anyone else that it is almost impossible to get legislation through a hostile Senate even when there is a clear mandate. That isn't an argument to ditch the Senate - although the Senate needs to look more carefully at itself and recognise that it was set up to look after the interests of the states rather than the party in power.  
When John Major took over from Margaret Thatcher in Britain it was generally thought he didn't really have it in him to be the sort of PM who would make his mark. He wasn't going to be another Thatcher - whatever you might have thought of her. Nevertheless he did things that have had a profound influence on British politics - like keeping the UK out of the euro zone and the Schengen zone. Whether you agree with those things or not is not the point here. He has turned out to be more influential than most people thought possible. 
It will perhaps be the same for the previous PM now seemingly making waves. The idea that he is deliberately undermining the government and his own party seems rather far-fetched. Is it just possible he might end up being more influential than most people thought possible?
Will all of them end up taking any responsibility for their own actions?

Monday 27 February 2017

Throwing rocks at cars

has to be one of the most stupid, idiotic, insane, and dangerous "pastimes" out. I simply cannot believe anyone would actually find it "fun" to do this.
Yesterday I went to deliver a knitted garment I had repaired for someone. I had rung him first to see if he was home and he said,
     "Yes, thanks. Come on over and have a look at this. You won't believe it."
His neighbours have a new-to-them car. It was one of those "demonstration" models - a car at a reduced price because there were a few kilometres on it but in otherwise pristine condition. Well, it was in pristine condition until yesterday.
When I turned up my elderly friend and his neighbour were still standing there staring at a large dent in the back and a shattered rear window. His wife was sitting on the steps looking white and tearful.
Her husband said tersely, "Rock. A.... was driving."
I was too shocked to say anything. I just went and sat next to her and she burst into tears again. She isn't somebody I really know at all. I doubt we have said hello more than three times. Cautiously I put my hand out and she grabbed it so hard it hurt and then she buried her head into my chest and howled. It was awful. The two males stood there looking helpless so I mouthed "cup of tea" and at least my elderly friend had the sense to realise what I was trying to get across. He is rather deaf and does depend partly on being able to read lips.
Her husband went off to make tea. She calmed down a bit and started to apologise. I told her I'd feel the same way, probably worse. Having a good howl probably helped a little but it will take more than that to get over the incident.
Had they called the police? No. I told them they must. Yes, of course. The husband went to make the call. About twenty minutes later a patrol car arrived. I left them to it. 
I started to pedal home - and then realised that my elderly friend's vest was still in the bicycle basket. I went back and delivered it.
We both agreed there is no chance of finding out who threw the rock. That nobody has been killed in the recent spate of such incidents is extraordinary.
Just what do people get out of doing this? 

Sunday 26 February 2017

Did someone mention "penalty rates"?

Yes, that extra money paid if you happen to work on a Saturday or Sunday.
There used to be a good reason for Sunday penalty rates - people went to church. If they couldn't get to church they were compensated for not being able to go. Now penalty rates are more of an issue in the hospitality industry where people are paid to serve other people things like Sunday brunch. There used to be the assumption that most people worked Monday to Friday with some unlucky individuals having to work on Saturdays. Now a lot of people I know work quite different sort of hours - and many of them work far more than the "standard" number of hours. The way we live has changed since penalty rates for weekend work were introduced.
There were a slew of complaints about the proposed cuts - as is only to be expected. People said it was "big business" being "greedy". It is also possible it has something to do with more and more people demanding the "right" to shop whenever they please. "We are at work all week," they say, "We need to shop at night or on weekends." 
When I was a teacher I remember people telling me how lucky I was that I "only work(ed) between 9am and 3:30pm. They simply did not believe that I was there by 8:15am and left some time after 4pm and did several hours of preparation at night. So yes, being able to shop all day Saturday would have been useful but I don't think I needed to shop on Sunday. 
The Fair Work Commission wants to cut penalty rates on Sundays - while leaving Saturdays alone. I know people, mostly students, who choose to work on Sundays because it pays more. They often do it because they need the money. The argument is that penalty rates should not be cut because these people are working on other people's day off, that they don't get to socialise with family and friends and they rely on the extra money. 
The review of penalty rates was put in place by the previous government, specifically by the man who is now the Leader of the Opposition. He is a union man through and through. Either he was not canny enough to realise what the likely outcome would be or he simply didn't believe that the Fair Work Commission would come down on "the other side" (the employers). Whatever has happened he isn't happy with the outcome and he is, naturally, blaming the present government for what he set rolling. Perhaps though he really shouldn't be too worried. The whole issue could lead to an increase in union membership.

Saturday 25 February 2017

Deporting a gangster

should be  easier it seems. After what I had to say yesterday one of my readers left me an email and asked me to comment on the possible deportation of a "career criminal bikie". 
He's apparently survived five assassination attempts by rivals here and still hasn't managed to learn how to behave himself. I don't know whether that is extreme good luck, exaggeration, or something else.
I have met some "bikie" types in my time. The first three I met were headed for the magistrate's court. They were familiar with the children's court and, this time around, it looked like time inside. I was asked to go along because the magistrate wanted to try something different. Perhaps he sensed something different about those three. I don't know. They scared me a bit. They were big. They had long hair, tattoos, and "attitude". They ignored me. I was a mere kitten, not worth noticing. 
But the magistrate knew that I knew people who needed help - in a country far away. In court he gave the three a choice. They could go inside or they could have the adventure of a life time but it would be a tough adventure and, if they failed, they would be inside for the maximum time allowed. I think everyone was startled. Certainly the magistrate's court was quiet, very quiet.
They went off on the "adventure" which involved going to the far away country and building a small hospital under the most difficult of conditions. Since then they have been away three times - each time to do a specific task in a complex humanitarian emergency or disaster situation. They go with their own kit, their own tools, their own food, and their own shelter. They have some idea what to expect now. 
But the first "adventure" turned boys who might have been career criminals into useful citizens.
It wouldn't work for everyone but the magistrate must have known something.
I have met other bikies as well. There's the one in the wheelchair because he had broken his back coming off his bike at speed. His mates still take him out. They tell me I'll be "all right" around them because I did a lot of paperwork for him.There's the one who cried and hugged me when his profoundly disabled daughter told him via her new communication board,  "Daddy I love you." 
And there are the two who turned up to help an elderly man move into a nursing home. I eyed them with great suspicion but they told me, "Just returning a favour."  I never found out what the favour was but they were reluctant to even accept a cup of tea. 
Not so long ago one of the roughest looking individuals I have ever seen rode up on a Harley Davidson and asked me if I knew where a certain business was. I told him it had recently closed. He swore and then said, "Sorry, shouldn't swear in front of a lady."
They have their own code of conduct. I wouldn't trust most of them because I am, thankfully, not part of their community. But, they look after their families and each other in their own way. Given the chance some of them will care for the rest of the community too. I don't know about the one they want to deport - perhaps they should have tried sooner.

Friday 24 February 2017

A girl with autism is about to be

deported from here - because of her disability.
She has been here eight years. Her mother is a doctor who works as a GP.  They originally came from Bangladesh. Her father, another doctor, lives in Hungary. Her brother lives here. They have extended family here.
That is about all I know - assuming that the media reports are correct.
The argument for deporting her is that she will be a "burden on the taxpayer". That's it. Apparently nothing else matters. The contribution her mother is making counts for nothing in all this. The contribution her brother could make counts for nothing. The care that might be given by her extended family counts for nothing. 
What is more her own potential contribution to the community counts for nothing.
I know all too well that her chances of being employed are minimal. I know from personal experience and from seeing far too many able people with disabilities not being able to get employment. There is legislation in this country which is supposed to make discrimination with respect to the employment of people with disabilities illegal. It doesn't work. Asked why someone has not been employed and the employer will find some other reason - and it applies as much to a government department as anywhere else. It applies at the highest levels. 
I spent years setting something up. When the whole thing was ready to go in this country I applied for the lead position. I heard nothing. I wasn't even "interviewed". An announcement was made and then someone told me that someone else at the highest possible level had intervened and said he didn't want me in the position because it involved being the government's representative and a person with a disability was not acceptable. If I wanted to continue working on the project as a volunteer that was fine but I wouldn't be paid for doing it.
It was at that point I realised I would have to create my own job. And yes, it still makes me angry. Still, I could do something. 
The girl with autism won't, from all accounts, have that capability but she must be able to do something. I have an acquaintance who is training people with similar disabilities to be assistant gardeners - and almost every one of them who goes through her course gets a job somewhere. They are contributing something.
We are sending an appalling message to people with disabilities and their families when we say, "You are a burden on the taxpayer. You can't contribute anything worthwhile. We don't want you."

Thursday 23 February 2017

"They're closing Coca-Cola!"

the man behind me was talking into his mobile phone. He sounded outraged. He meant the factory on the outskirts of the CBD would be closing with the loss of about 180 positions. 
I am sorry for those who work there. Brother Cat did a summer stint there while at university. I don't know what he did - but he still doesn't like "Coke". I have never liked it.
My brother-in-law does like Coke. His workmates gave him an entire case of the stuff and decorated his office with Coke cans when his eldest son was born. (It should be explained that champagne would have been wasted on him. He doesn't drink alcohol.)
But, for me, it is sickly sweet. I am not fond of any form of carbonated drink  but Coke seems sweeter than most. As a kitten I thought it was more fun to be given a single spoonful in a saucer and watch it "clean" a half-penny or penny. Yes, it was a long time ago. It was something my maternal grandfather, who made some piece of fine-measuring equipment for the plant, showed me and my brother.  It never failed to fascinate us. 
But the news should not have come as any surprise. The land is a prime piece of real estate which will almost certainly be used for housing now. I can imagine a mix of medium/high density housing, shops, and essential facilities. Mind you, all this may take years. There is a site in the north of the CBD that has been vacant for a very long time - while people argue over the plans for development.
And people will have lost their jobs. They will have lost their jobs in a state which already has high unemployment. Perhaps some of them will get positions in the expanded factory in another state - but I doubt it will be many, if any. The 58yr old they interviewed last night is not likely to get another job easily, if at all. He knows it too. 
The state's Premier complained the government had not been consulted about the closure. I doubt I would have been consulting him about a business decision either. He would do the arithmetic rather differently.
And will it stop people from drinking Coke? 

Wednesday 22 February 2017

Unsolicited phone calls

are driving me even less sane than usual.
There were three in a row  yesterday. Two were from India. There is not much that can be done about these. The companies which use Indian call centres believe they can get away with anything. It makes no difference to them that you are on the "do not call register" because the call comes from outside the country the legislation applies to. 
I have tried being polite. I have tried just hanging up. I have tried telling them not to call back. I have tried "we don't do business over the phone" and more. I don't like being rude. I know that the call centre job is someone's way of eating something that day. 
But, I want to scream.
And then there was the third call in the row. "Hi, this is Vince from H.... Real Estate. How are you today."
I was in the middle of trying to rewrite a submission. It's an important submission. I need to  get  it to around 500 words but I also need to get a complex idea across. I am working. I do not wish to be interrupted.
I seethed. We have had more than one communication from this real estate company of late. Until now they have all come as flyers and "personalised" letters in our letter box.  We do not want to sell our house. 
Oh but this isn't about selling your house.
I am not interested.
I sent an email to the company concerned. It doesn't matter how they try and dress it up this is about business for them. They are breaking the law. 
When we do need a real estate agent I won't be doing business with them.
And the "Paypal company" which sent me a message saying I had paid a hefty sum to another company...be warned. I have sent your email on to Paypal. They will track you down and deal with you.
Now, may I go back to writing that submission please?

Tuesday 21 February 2017

I don't like "eating out"

in fancy restaurants and paying high prices for someone else to do the washing up.
Yes, I know. I am odd. Most people seem to enjoy the idea. They don't mind paying an enormous sum of money for a piece of meat and a dribble of gravy artfully around the edge of the plate. You pay still more for vegetables of course. 
And if it is all given fancy descriptions - often in French.
The Senior Cat will stare suspiciously at menus and then ask me, "What's this mean?"
I explain as best I can. 
I like to know where my food is coming from, what sort of kitchen it is prepared in. I slink off at the sight of vinegar and alcohol. I loathe mayonnaise...and why ruin a perfectly good bit of lettuce with "dressing". It is an insult to the lettuce.
It was "boy's day out" yesterday. The Nephew Cats took their grandfather off to lunch "somewhere". I did not inquire as to what they had in mind. The two of them know eateries all over the city - none of them expensive. It isn't their style either. They don't believe in "wasting" money on fancy service. They want actual food. They want it in reasonable sized portions and well cooked. Their paternal grandmother, a Greek-Cypriot woman of small village origins - "peasant" if you will, was a superb cook. It has taught them to appreciate "proper" food. 
I wondered where they would go this time. I knew it wouldn't be the sort of thing any of them usually eat for lunch. 
Eventually they arrived back here and I waited. The Senior Cat sank into his chair.
     "Well, what did you have for lunch?" I asked. Eldest Nephew Cat smirked.
     "Pizza," the Senior Cat told me.
Oh, right. Maybe there was a change of plan or they had to do something else or the place they were planning to go to wasn't open on a Monday or...
No, it was pizza. It was a deliberate choice of pizza. I looked at Nephew Cat. He smirked again, took the book I was handing over and scurried off.
      "Tell me," I said to the Senior Cat.
      "The place looked like a garage."
I nodded. It sounded like one of the "interesting" places the two young cats have found over the years.
       "And what was the food like?"
The Senior Cat is not fond of what passes for "pizza" in most commercial establishments. 
        "It was good, really good - nice and hot and tasty with  not too many ingredients on it. It was the right size too."
        "Good," I said and started to think about his tea.
And then he said,
         "I think it was proper pizza - like you make."
Now is it any wonder I adore the Senior Cat? 

Monday 20 February 2017

The school lunch box

contents row just got a little worse.
The note sent home in the lunch box of a pre-school child complaining about the inclusion of home made chocolate slice apparently "went viral" as they say. In other words, a lot of people heard about it. 
What they heard and what they thought varies. Like so many other things it depends on what you believe. Some people believe the story is not true. Others think the day care centre has every right to monitor the contents of lunch boxes.  Still more believe that it is all nonsense and that it should be up to parents to decide what a child is going to eat.
I talked recently to a mother who told me that her child is not allowed to take anything with nuts in it to school - because one of the children in the class has a nut allergy. On the surface that might seem reasonable - except that her child is now in the final year of the primary school. I wonder if they plan on carrying the ban over into the secondary school - and why it doesn't apply to the rest of the school as well? Yes, a nut allergy can be life threatening but is banning all nuts for all children the answer? 
For other children nuts are likely to be a good food, one they should be encouraged to eat.
There is a child in the Whirlwind's class who has a similar allergy. She is a allergic to nuts and eggs and chocolate - and possibly other things I don't know about. The school provides lunch for everyone, even the day girls. Nuts and eggs are often included in the menu. When they are she is simply given something else. There has never been a problem. 
I told the mother of the other child about this and she looked horrified and then said, "Oh, I suppose it's a fee paying school so they have plenty of staff to watch that sort of thing."
I don't think that's the point at all. The staff know but the girl knows too. At thirteen she is considered old enough to take responsibility for asking and for telling. She carries an EpiPen with her. There is another one on the school premises. They have never needed to use it and probably never will.
And they have never cut all nuts and all eggs out of the lunch menu just for her. 
If there is good reason to be very watchful with small children then it is right to be very watchful. Scolding a parent for sending home made chocolate slice left over from a party the night before is not being watchful. It is intrusive and interfering. 

Sunday 19 February 2017

Antibiotics may or

may not survive overuse. The last lot of antibiotics I had was many, many years ago - and I needed them. I was a rather poorly sort of cat.
But the Senior Cat is on antibiotics at the moment. He probably got a small seed or burr under his skin while gardening. It has come up as a red lump with a nasty, messy looking centre - well, it was that way when he finally got around to showing me. Things are now improving but back then I growled and said, "That needs attention - more attention than I can give it."
He has now had several trips to the medical centre while the thing is cleaned out, monitored and more. As he is now 94 they are not taking risks. 
Nephew Cat turned up yesterday to look at it - having been told by our GP that she would like him to monitor the situation over the weekend.  It was interesting to watch him change subtly from being "grandson" to "doctor". His partner, a nurse, actually dealt with changing the dressing. 
We all agreed antibiotics were necessary in this instance - and that they are too often overused. 
This bothers me because I know how much I needed them when they were prescribed for me. I am also aware of how some people have less capacity to fight infection than other people. Over prescribing antibiotics puts the very old, the very young, and those with a range of diseases and conditions at risk. The antibiotics they need will be less effective if they are over prescribed for other people. We all know that. It's selfish to want antibiotics just in the belief that they will help us "get better quicker" and because we don't like being ill. Is it selfish of me to want the Senior Cat to recover?
     "Now don't get that dressing soaking wet," the partner of Nephew Cat told the Senior Cat.
Hmmm.... I taped a plastic bag over the dressing so he could have a shower. He yelped when I pulled it off again. The Senior Cat still has a lot of fur!

Saturday 18 February 2017

The SAS is

supposed to be the Special Air Service I think? Is that right? It is also the Scattered Authors Society and probably other things as well. 
I know that yesterday Nicola Morgan made a comment about getting her balaclava out for the SAS meeting. She meant the Scattered Authors Society of course. I suggested it should be the Serious Alternative Strategy society. Nicola replied with an "of course. Erm...." 
I know that the members of this SAS will have a good time together  but it will also be about more than a good time. It is about supporting each other.
It is the same about some other groups - or it should be. I belong to three knitting groups. It sounds like a lot but two of them only meet once a month...one in the library, and one in the bookshop. They are small groups. Some people come and go as they need help. There are a few "regulars".  As I am the "leader" of both groups - or the "go to" person I see them as a form of community service. I'll teach. I'll help. I also try and make sure that the people who come on a fairly regular basis are not in need of other help. 
One of the bookshop group has been going through treatment for cancer. We sent her a card and included a chemo-cap when she started - and had a lovely thank you note back. I sent her a note recently. I haven't heard back. I hope she is making steady progress but I don't know her well enough to feel I can phone her. A note lets her respond if she wants to.
There's someone who occasionally comes to the library group - when she remembers. She had a CBI or "closed brain injury" some years ago. She's loud. She has all sorts of problems. We've tried to include her and she tries to knit - which is all that really matters. 
They are just two of the people I know need those groups when they feel they can or when they remember to be there. 
But there is someone else who was coming to both groups and she has  stopped. We included her. We made her welcome. I thought she liked coming - and so did other people. So, I inquired and received an abrupt, "They're just casual groups. I didn't have to tell you I'm not coming any more."
As I had been including her in group emails about things like a slight change of location or the new times for this year I was startled, taken aback. Yes perhaps they are "casual" groups and perhaps she didn't need to say she wasn't coming anymore but it would seem to be polite to send a message and say something even if it was just "Please take me off your list."
Of course it's up to her whether she continued to come or not. I would have replied to the email myself and anyone else in the group would have done the same thing.
Obviously she feels differently. I wondered as I was sorting out something for another member of the library group whether she recognised these groups as anything more than "some people get together and knit" groups. Did she not see that they were also there to offer some companionship and - more importantly still - support? Did the idea of  perhaps having to support someone else - even if it was just a "What do you think this abbreviation means?" - too much for her?
I also thought of Nicola and others heading off to their SAS meeting in high anticipation of not just a good time with friends but the all important support they could give one another.  That support is as important, if not more so, than anything else which might happen at an SAS meeting or anywhere else. A good group is also a  support group.

Friday 17 February 2017

Studying English

used to be compulsory. It seems it isn't any more. Even if you do a subject called "English Studies" you don't seem to really study any literature. 
The new English course allows for the study of just one novel and one play. It allows for the study of two films and various forms of "short" communication...perhaps a bit of poetry, a short story  but please include "visual" and "graphic" communication. Apparently this is "studying English".
English was compulsory when I was at school. We "did" Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, Joyce, Yeats, and Eliot...and much more.  
The Senior Cat taught English, along with being school principal. It was the way things were in rural area schools. And, it can hardly be said that many of the country students were interested in Shakespeare or Dickens or Austen or anyone else like that - until the Senior Cat got hold of them. Some of them were still not enthusiastic but they managed to learn enough to do well in the exams that followed. 
Almost everyone read books because television was difficult to get, reception was poor. You had to generate your own electricity. 
Yes, I know it is different now. Teenagers do not read as much - unless you count text messages. There are other things to do.
The idea of studying English, of having to read, of having to actually think about a text is all too much it seems.
I can remember one of those lists floating around a few years back. It was something to do with the one hundred books everyone should read. I know I had read most of them.  Middle Cat looked at it and shrugged. She had not read more than three - all required reading for school. She does read but "not that sort of stuff". There was another list of some sort where you had to try and recognise the last lines from novels. They made it easy enough I suppose. You were given the last line and three books to choose from. I got most of those too. I recognised some and I could guess others from the style. 
Yes. I read. I read a lot. I don't read all the things I "ought" to read. I am not likely to read "Crime and Punishment" for instance. I started it and decided it wasn't something I wanted to read - but I did look at it. 
The Senior Cat read a lot to me. He read to me from the time I was old enough to sit on his bony knee and follow his finger along the black squiggles on the page. I progressed rapidly from simple picture  books to "chapter" books, to other books. He saw to it that I was introduced to classics like "Wind in the Willows", "Peter Pan", "Alice in Wonderland", "Five Children and It", and "The Princess and Curdie". Later he read bits of James Joyce, the poetry of Yeats and Eliot, and much more.
My last English teacher at school added to all that. There were books she enthused about - and I was the only student in the class who shared her enthusiasm for reading. I was, she told me years later, a "joy to teach". Really? She was a joy to have as a teacher.
Later still the late Judith Wright introduced me to more and more. "Read this Cat", "here's something else you need to read", "you need to know about this Cat". Oh yes, she made me read. 
      "What's the point?" asked the person I know who proudly claims not to have read a book since he left school. 
Is there any point to reading? Does it matter if people don't? What if people simply stopped writing? Aren't there enough books in the world?  Yes, I have heard all those questions and more.
My answer to that is a passionate, "Yes, it does matter. It matters a lot. If we don't read then we miss out on so much.  Television and film are fleeting."
One book, one play is not enough. Reading connects us to the rest of humanity.

Thursday 16 February 2017

The culture of blaming other people

seems to be endless. Oh yes, I am as guilty as the next person. It is always nice to think that someone else has caused the predicament in which I have found myself. 
I got myself into a small mess yesterday...nothing serious. It was soon sorted out and things were back to what passes for "normal" around here. Someone else asked about it and I said, "It was my fault." They looked rather startled so I explained. We actually laughed about it. That felt good.
But there are times when other people need to share the blame. There was the news story about the former Olympian getting arrested. He has mental health issues. He needs support and understanding. Yes, he still needs to take responsibility for his own actions if he can but perhaps others do too in those circumstances. I can imagine few things more lonely than spending hours and hours upon hours staring at the bottom of swimming pool as you push yourself to go faster and faster - forwards, backwards, forwards,  backwards. You win a race? Good. You lose a race? Shocking! You are the darling of the media one moment and ridiculed the next. I wonder how many people ever consider the pressure on such people?
I also remember my late friend R... saying to me, "Don't you ever take all the blame on yourself Cat. We are just as responsible."
We were talking about the way many Australians blame the "white" population for the state of the "indigenous" population. Yes, bad things were done. We both knew that. I still know it. But R.... insisted that it didn't have to go on being that way. Her family was not like that. Her husband had a steady, responsible job. Her two children went to school - and wouldn't have dared to skive off for a day. Her house was clean. She worked hard too. No, it wasn't easy. The family faced prejudice but they kept going. 
I know they were exceptional. I know there are barriers but they didn't blame other people. R...simply tried to find ways around instead. 
I have another problem coming up. In this case someone else did do the wrong thing. She isn't likely to acknowledge it. Blaming her isn't going to help. I need to look at my own reaction and work out how best to handle it. 
If I let myself by a "victim" by blaming another person, even if they should take on some of the responsibility, I am not going to be able to move on.
"Victimology" is interesting but it isn't helpful.

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Sean Spicer seems to have a problem

with names. He called the Downunder PM "Trumbull" instead of "Turnbull" and now he has called the Canadian PM "Joe Trudeau" instead of "Justin Trudeau". I don't know whether it is incompetence, carelessness, or calculated to insult.  
People like you to get their name right. They like you to remember their name. It makes them believe that they are sufficiently important to you to remember them.
I am not as good with names as I would like to be but I hope I am no worse than most people. At very least I know it is important to remember them if I can. 
I never like being labelled with a name tag but I recognise it is necessary sometimes. It's polite because no, not everyone knows me. Why should they? I am not important in their lives. I may never have met them before. I may never meet them again. 
The Senior Cat used to be quite good with names. It might be a teacher thing. He would know the name of almost every child in a school of 600 - for the time that he needed to know them. Once he moved on to a new school he would forget the old names and start remembering the new names.
It was rather the same with laws cases. I would remember many names - until I had passed the necessary exam. I knew I wasn't going to need the information again. A few have stuck but the rest have gone. The group I "hung out" with at law school said the same thing. We all just forgot most of the information. Hopefully, for those who went on to actually work in law, the principles of the cases stuck in their minds.  
A friend who works at a very high level as an interpreter/translator will learn specific vocabulary for a special meeting and then "forget" it again. She doesn't need it. 
But there are jobs where you do need to remember things or write them down and have them on paper in front of you and you need to get them right. Diplomacy demands it. The Senior Cat's cousin who ended up at the top of the foreign affairs tree knew how very important that was and he made every effort to remember people - however briefly he had met them.  Former Prime Ministers I have met more than once have shown they can do the same - for what must  surely be the most insignificant of people in their lives.
So Mr Spicer needs to do better. He is talking on behalf of the person generally considered to be the most powerful in the world. If he can't get names right then how can he expect his boss to do it? Does it matter? Yes, I think it does.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

So it is Paid Parental Leave versus

the National Disability Insurance Scheme is it?
I remember my mother, not "working" at the time, getting something called "Child Endowment". It was paid at the rate of five shillings a week for me as the first born. My mother then got ten shillings a week each for the three kittens who followed me. The scheme started in 1941 to help mothers whose partners had gone to war and continued in one form or another until 1976 when it was replaced by the Family Allowance. 
The Family Allowance payment has been fiddled with ever since - mostly reducing the amount paid to parents. That's understandable. There are more two income households.
And then along came "Paid Parental Leave" - 18 weeks of paid leave providing that you have been working for 330 hours in the previous 13 months. That works out at around a day each week I think. Employers are required under certain conditions to help fund it. The government tops it up.
And, in certain circumstances, people can "double dip" - get more than other people. Very nice if you can do it. It's expensive to have a child. The money comes from both the employer and the government.
The government wants to stop the "double dipping" and  has offered to increase the amount of time on leave to 20 weeks in return for a stop to double dipping. Fair? Apparently not.
The government has tried to ram the changes through three times now - and failed. This time they are tying the changes to a raft of other measures. They are including the National Disability Insurance Scheme. They are saying "pass the changes to the PPL scheme in order to get the money for the NDIS". The Opposition and a minor party are saying "no, find the money for the NDIS somewhere else". Yes, easy to find another $3bn for a scheme some Australians believe will never be of any interest or benefit to them. I heard about this late yesterday afternoon. I was at a meeting. Someone came in towards the end of it and said to me, "Well, that's it. N... won't support it. You can kiss the NDIS goodbye and a good thing too. It was going to cost far too much. It's not like the disabled contribute that much."
There was silence. I picked up my things. I walked out. I am still waiting to hear something.
And I am wondering how many other people, for all they say, actually think like that? 

Monday 13 February 2017

Schemes to save the planet from climate change

all seem to involve fantastic amounts of money and incredibly complex bits of engineering to do things like increase the amount of ice in the Arctic. Why do they need to be so complicated?
I have put my paw up more than once and asked, "Why don't we plant more trees?"
I am told that there are schemes to plant trees but these aren't enough on their own. Oh  yes people have thought about planting trees in the Downunder desert and the Sahara but these aren't enough on their own. It's too expensive. It's too complicated. It's this and that and it won't work.
And so it goes on.
I know the answer of course. Planting millions of trees could save the planet but we won't ever do it because we lack the political and economic will to do it. It's too simple a solution. It doesn't involve expensive engineering which will make a lot of money for just a few. It won't give someone a Nobel prize or get their name into the history books.
The UN, for all the talk, doesn't really want to do anything. It would require too much cooperation. It might mean displacing people who have moved on to land they have cleared. They might need to be given aid for years while the trees grow. It might mean big business or government losing a source of income - and the power which goes with it.
Just imagine what would happen  if the Downunder government decided to impose a "tree tax" on everyone. Imagine the outcry if they said, "We are going to charge every single one of you enough to plant and maintain one tree each so that we have at least 25 million more trees in the next three years."  I wonder what the cost would really be? 
Yes, you have to decide where to plant them, provide the seedlings, the labour, the water and the management to keep them going. No, it wouldn't be cheap but...is it any more expensive than some of the other rather more complex schemes out there. 
Plant the right sort of trees and you have the potential to provide food, fuel, housing, clothing and more. What about more argan trees in the desert areas? Date palms? Then there are figs, olives and almonds. What would happen if you gradually added stone fruits like apricots and nuts like macadamias? 
And then of course you would need to maintain the existing trees and plant new trees. You could increase the number of trees over the next decade so that Downunder alone had planted say at least 100 million trees. By then the trees would be paying for themselves and more besides.
But, we won't do it. I am told it wouldn't work. I don't know why it wouldn't work - except that the answer is too simple and nobody is going to be able to say, "I saved the planet with my complicated scheme" - oh and there won't be any trips to Paris or Tokyo or wherever either.

Sunday 12 February 2017

"How's he coping with the heat?"

For once I was the one asking the question. It is usually other people asking me how the Senior Cat is coping with the heat.
The Senior Cat is frustrated thank you very much. He's tired because he does not sleep well in the hot weather but he also hates leaving the air conditioning running as he doesn't like a breeze blowing on him while he is trying to sleep. But, he is a sensible sort of cat. He stays inside. He drinks a lot. He reads. He watches video clips about gardening, woodwork, and conjuring on his i-pad...and uses up so much of our download quota for the month so that I have to quietly  buy some more. (Middle Cat says "change the plan" but I know that we don't really need to. He will be back outside when it cools down. He is an outdoor sort of cat. I don't watch many videos on the internet. My work comes and goes as documents.) He still has to do something about the bookshelves and we didn't go through his wardrobe and toss out any more clothing with holes in it but never mind.
But there are other people I know who are not like the Senior Cat. They don't "do the internet". They don't read. They don't really have hobbies of any sort - unless watching sport on television is a hobby.
There is one person of particular concern to me at present. His wife is concerned. He has never been "a reader". He hasn't read a book since he left school half a century ago. His hobbies, if he has any, are watching sport on television and riding his motorbike. Even those two things have been curtailed of late. He had surgery for a  brain tumour. The outcome was good,  better than anyone hoped, but he has found he can't tolerate watching too much television yet and he has been told he can't ride  his motorbike until later in the year.
His wife, a patient woman if ever there was one, sighed. It was a sound of pure and utter frustration.
     "If only he had some hobbies....something other than keeping the place so well maintained. I know I'm lucky. Things get done. I never have to ask. He just does them but sometimes I wish they didn't get done, that he made things out in the shed or played chess or the trumpet or something. He's actually bored and that's making him irritable. I just want him to do something."
I wondered if he had enough energy to do anything but I also knew what she meant.
"Has he ever been fishing?" I asked. It seemed like a suitably mindless occupation for him. He could go and sit on the jetty at the nearest beach for a few hours when it cools down a bit tomorrow.
She looked at me, whipped out her mobile phone, pressed a few keys. Someone answered.
"P, it's J....you said you N was going fishing tomorrow....yes, I was wondering..."
She gave me a thumb up. Men can go fishing all day without needing to talk to each other. They can just sit there. At least it will get him out of the house for a bit if he agrees to go.

Saturday 11 February 2017

Small business is

suffering around us. Adding to the excessive amounts of "red tape", restrictions, and more there have been the problems with the unreliability of the power supply to the state.
Our local shopping centre has two empty premises at present. Another will soon go. I wonder how several others survive. There never seems to be anyone in them. Add to that the fact that the excellent maintenance man quit  because they cut his hours back from full time to half time and then to just three hours a day...and still expected him to do the same amount of work.  The new contract cleaners - who reportedly cost much less of course - aren't doing the job properly. (I know something about this as one of the people on the old cleaning staff was also a craftswoman and I know her in another context.)
Add to that they are putting in an emergency bypass on one of the main roads which leads directly into the shopping centre. There are almost constant traffic delays.
The owner of the shopping centre is interested in just one thing, the shops being full and the people in them paying their rent. Oh yes, they pay rent - a lot of rent.
Then yesterday there was a story in our state newspaper. If the facts are correct this is even more iniquitous than the problems I know the local shopkeepers are facing. The owner of a small cafe in the park which endures "the Clipsal" - a car race held on the streets and through the park each March - was reportedly told he had to give 28% of his takings and buy his stock from the company which has the catering rights to the event for the duration of it. The cafe owner is already under pressure because of the building of an extension to the O-bahn. It is what has caused this present problem too. This extra would come close to ruining his livelihood. It has a financial impact on all business around the venue. The government claims they need to wear it because of their location and the money it brings into the state.
But should they be paying people to put them out of business, to make a loss? Of course they shouldn't. If the government wants to run the event then they have to do so in a way which has a minimal impact on existing business. The owner of the cafe should be permitted to continue trading as he always does. He shouldn't have to pay anyone else and he should be able to buy from his regular suppliers rather than risk breaching any contract with them too. The catering firm is a very, very big one. Their prices are outrageous because they have a captive audience. 
Did anyone think this one through? What price are people prepared to pay.

Friday 10 February 2017

The "Gold Pass" should

be retained for former Prime Ministers and Ministers who have served a full term - for use if they are not being paid to do something official or semi-official.
For Upoverites - the "Gold Pass" was a scheme whereby retired politicians with a certain length of service could get ten free air trips in a year as long as they were not for business purposes.
Downunder is a very big country in terms of physical size. Flying is an economical way of getting around. Former Prime Ministers and Ministers rarely fully "retire". They are often called on to go to places and do things. Sometimes they get expenses for it and sometimes they don't. It often costs them something anyway - and of course it costs them time. 
I know two former Senators - on opposite sides of the house - who still perform public duties. One of them gave up an afternoon for me recently. It was something I genuinely appreciate. She is still a busy person and I know it wasn't just the afternoon. She had to get up and say things and there were some negotiations beforehand. It was at least a day and a half of her time. Of course I said "thank you". I know she didn't have to travel too far but  I made the effort later and pedalled over to her and gave her some biscuits I had made. She had given me the afternoon as a friend but, for me, it was much more than that.
But I wonder how many people just think "it would be nice to get Mr or Ms or Dr or Mrs or...someone to open this or sit on that committee or attend our function or....". They think "so and so is retired now so they must have plenty of time" and they sometimes have false ideas about how wealthy they are. Perhaps our present Prime Minister does have money stashed away but my friends don't. They have a parliamentary pension. Yes, in the scheme of things it is generous - but not that generous.
And why shouldn't they get their expenses? We tend to treat them a bit the way we treat writers. There is the idea that all writers are rich and they have plenty of time and they don't need to be paid to come and talk to anyone. It's just part of their job for goodness' sake. Really? 
I think we need to be more aware of these things. We need to think about what the other person is giving up - not just to us but to everyone. 

Thursday 9 February 2017

There was another power cut

yesterday. We were lucky it didn't affect us but there were 40,000 homes without power in 41'C heat. There were mutterings about "load shedding" this time.
Today it is forecast to reach 42'C. It is already too warm for comfort outside. The  sun bites at you even early in the morning. By mid-morning it is too hot to be out.
We are lucky in that we have street trees and a small patch of lawn to help keep the temperature down a degree or two. There are vast new areas where such things don't exist. Any street trees have not  yet grown and people haven't planted lawn.
Or they have "planted" an artificial lawn. It doesn't need to be watered or cut. It does need to be maintained but people forget that in their rush to avoid mowing and watering. The green looks wrong. It is too uniform. Nature isn't uniform. Artificial "grass" is also hot and gives off a toxic "perfume". 
Some people have a different sort of designer garden. It's "natural" or "native" in their eyes. It is neither of course. There might be native plants in it but not the way nature ever arranged them. These gardens are often supposed to be "low maintenance" and "water saving".  All too often they do nothing to absorb the heat and keep homes cool... but they are seen in a sort of politically environmentally correct light. Please just forget  that you are surrounded by asphalt or  brickwork footpaths and macadamised roads which raise the temperature still further.
And of course all this means that yes, people rely on air conditioning to try and stay cool...and air conditioning needs power. 
The Senior Cat used to cope reasonably well with the extreme heat. He didn't like it. Who does? Now though he needs to be more comfortable. Other older people need to be comfortable too. If the climate is changing to warmer with longer and hotter summers then there needs to be a reliable supply of power. The electricity can't just be turned off because someone, somewhere makes a decision about "load shedding". Yes, things will still go wrong and the power will still fail  but not because a human decides to make it fail because the system can't cope or there hasn't been enough sun or wind.
I am not opposed to this renewable energy idea. We have solar panels for the hot water and others which feed power back into the grid. We did what we thought was the responsible thing. What I am opposed to is working towards trying to rely 100% on something which is a fickle as the weather. 

Wednesday 8 February 2017

The mercury is rising

and we are in for a heatwave - in more ways than one.
This summer has, apart from the occasional day of extreme heat, been reasonably bearable. On the hottest days we have tried to stay indoors. The very elderly and the very young need to be kept cool and hydrated.  I am fortunate that, in hot weather, the Senior Cat can - and does - head to the kitchen and drink a glass of water more than once during the day.
We have a guest coming for lunch and I will shortly head off to get some fresh salad vegetables. When I go I will take water with me. I know that even if I don't feel thirsty I will need the liquid.
I am not much interested in those "designer" bottles of "spring water". I see no reason to pay a couple of dollars - or more - when I can take something from home. We have rainwater tanks, one particularly big one and several smaller tanks. The smaller tanks are used for the garden, supplemented by the hoses now that the Senior Cat finds it difficult to cart water even in his walker tray. He wants to do the watering as much as he can so yes, we  use the hoses as well now.  The large tank is drinking water and some other household uses - although it could be much more if we had it plumbed to an internal tap. 
I wonder if we could do all this with politics? When things heat up there they need to be cooled down. The present government is likely to fail because it did not cool down internally. It wasn't get watered. Parts are breaking off and trying to survive alone. Oh yes, they are getting a little water for now - but will it last? If we have days of political heat the parts that have broken off may not survive but they will still have left the main plants wilted and struggling to survive too.
The plants need food too - something they are not getting right now.
Someone complained I had been too quiet over the summer. There have been no letters to the editor of late. I told them I had been busy.
They told me to start watering the plants. Maybe I will - but others need to help provide the food.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

I was accused of being a liar

I don't think the person who did it actually realised what she was doing. She was too busy concentrating on defending  her own actions.  Her rather "over the top" reaction to something she didn't like was to demand to know who was saying it and say "I'm going to check on that". When she does "check" she will make a fool of herself.  I can't stop her.
It made me wonder about adults who argue. I get along with 99% of the world. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of people I have not managed to have some sort of at least reasonably civil relationship with - and have some fingers left over.  Perhaps I just don't know enough people - or I don't know them well enough. I grew up in a family where, although there was tension at times, actual arguments were rare. The Senior Cat is one of the most peaceful, even tempered people I know.  Yes, he can get irritated but for him to get really angry is so rare the occasions have been passed down  in the family's oral history. 
The Whirlwind's father is rather the same. At his place of work he has a reputation for being the man with whom they can't argue. 
"You just can't argue with him. It's not that he agrees with you or anything but he just doesn't let argument happen. It's really annoying when all you want is a good bust up," one of his colleagues once told me. He was clearly frustrated.
On the few occasions I have found myself at the scene of an argument taking place in another family all I have wanted to do is prowl off rapidly. I squirm with embarrassment. It's intruding on something I should not be intruding on. 
Perhaps I should have said something yesterday but we were talking in a very public space and someone was standing close enough to hear every word which was  being said. I didn't want an outsize row which would embarrass everyone.
Still perhaps it would have helped to clear the air. I just hope she doesn't make matters worse for herself.

Monday 6 February 2017

"Is the country leaning right?"

someone asked me yesterday. 
It was the Senior Cat's birthday yesterday and  he had a number of phone calls, cards, and presents. People called in. We escaped it all late in the day and went to Middle Cat's place for the evening meal. 
But, before that happened one of the Senior Cat's younger friends asked me, "Is the country leaning right?"
He had just asked me whether I had heard the White House spokesman call the Downunder Prime Minister "Trumbull" rather than "Turnbull". 
I had heard that. It didn't surprise me. It was "President" too rather than "Prime Minister". 
Downunder likes to think it is rather more important in the scheme of things than it actually is. The size of the land mass seems to be something to do with it. Is it the "smallest continent" or the "largest island"? It makes no difference really.
Is it "leaning right"? Or is it "leaning left"? The questioner meant politically of course. He had raised the prospect of a rather conservative politician leaving the ruling party and setting up his own party. 
Downunder already has a rather radical party on the right. It's called "One Nation". More people are voting for it than once did. That does not surprise me. It could do rather better than many other politicians are hoping for in the next Queensland state election. It may get more votes in the next election. People will also votes for it ahead of many "fringe" parties because they see it as more mainstream. 
But there are groups on the other side too. The Greens may yet split into something more radically left than they are at present. 
I don't think the country is leaning right or left. I think the two major parties are ill-defined. It is difficult to see the differences between them in some of the major policy areas. People who have voted one way or the other and who don't have a great deal of interest in politics will go on voting the way they have always voted. Because Downunder has a system of "compulsory voting" which actually means "compulsory attendance at the ballot box" the major parties know they don't have to work too hard to convince the majority of their supporters to vote that way again. They just need to concentrate on the "swinging" voters - people who might change their minds.
I am wondering whether that might be starting to change. If it is then it could be dangerous. People could start to look for "alternatives" and some of those alternatives are going to be more radical. 
A little bit of tension on both sides might be a good thing but if it becomes too great then yes, the country could learn right - or left.

Sunday 5 February 2017

"The bookshelf just collapsed"

the Senior Cat told me rather quietly. He was looking a little startled.
I followed him down to his bedroom and had a look. Hmm. The collapse was not total but it was rather dramatic.
Yes, I know it is not usual for most people to sleep in what amounts to a small library but both of us do. We have nowhere else to put all the books we own. We both have bookcases in our bedrooms. He has two free standing bookcases and one which runs the length of the room behind his bed. 
It was a free standing one which had lost three shelves. They had simply collapsed under the weight of large, double stacked and triple stacked reference books. There are two more shelves and the one at the top also needs attention. The bottom shelf is fine. It is keeping the rest of it in place.
I spent the next twenty minutes picking books up from the floor and stacking them out of the way.
      "Do you really need all of these?" I asked. I  held up two large books about herb gardens and a smaller one.
I waited for the, "I can't get rid of those!"
There was silence and then the Senior Cat gave a large sigh, "No, I suppose I could get rid of one."  
I looked at him. I continued to stack books. 
Last year I made an effort. I removed almost all the cookbooks belonging to my mother. I kept a few basics and several genuinely interesting ones, such as the "flatbread" book which is full of history as well as recipes. I also removed a lot of knitting patterns, cross stitch, and quilting books. These were not things I used. My mother did - sort of. She read them. I read technical books on knitting and I read things that might be useful for knitting but I don't use other people's patterns...so those things went. I kept some of my own - review copies and books by people who use techniques within patterns in ways I find interesting or think might be potentially useful.
I also removed a lot of other detritus - although not nearly enough.
This year I plan to move some more. It just requires time and a certain amount of courage. 
But the Senior Cat looked unhappily at the piles of books and at the collapsed shelving. He looked even more unhappily at the shelving next to those. 
      "I suppose I should get rid of some of these things but I don't know who else will want them. Everyone else looks things up on the internet these days."
Even he does that. I hugged him and went off to make him a cup of tea. 


Saturday 4 February 2017

"I've put a hole in my

singlet," the Senior Cat tells me. He is standing in the doorway holding up a sad looking piece of cloth. Oh. The hole is large, very large.
The Senior Cat is old enough that he wears singlets all year round. It doesn't matter how  hot it is he puts a singlet on under his shirt. 
I have tried to explain that it might be cooler not to wear one in very hot weather. It makes no difference. He puts a singlet on. 
He has a collection of singlets. I have just hung two on the line. They both have small holes in them. They are his "old" singlets. The singlets he refuses to part with because, he says, "I can still wear them around the garden."
When he says such things I take a deep breath and then let it out slowly. He doesn't like to waste anything. I know I am almost as bad. I do use things as  dusters or something else when they have holes in them. I clean my house shoes with socks that are more darn than sock.
But the Senior Cat hates to throw anything away. He still wears a sports jacket that is more than 70yrs old. His father made it for him. It has been relined three times. Harris Tweed doesn't wear out - or so it would seem. 
I had to forcibly remove a pair of house trousers from him last year - after he had tried to mend them himself. I held them up to the light and showed him "you can see through these". His "gardening trousers" are a disgrace. He loves them. They have multiple pockets. (I am with him on the pockets.) They also have multiple stains and thin places and a couple of patches.
I have discovered, at last, that shirts are simple to be rid of. I just take the buttons off. He does know how to sew a button on but all those buttons? He knows when he is beaten - and the last shirt was a flannelette one with a badly frayed collar and a rip where the fabric was so thin the body had come away from the sleeves on both sides. "But it was a good shirt! I could still wear it!" No, you couldn't.
His "good" shirts progress to being "house" shirts to "shed or garden" shirts. He will go on wearing singlets underneath them. He will go on wearing his disgraceful gardening clothes.
And although I growl  I love it all. I love that he still needs things. He will be 94 tomorrow.

Friday 3 February 2017

Australia has made a mistake

in seeing itself as an ally of the United States. It has also made a mistake in see itself as "part of the Asian region".
It made the biggest mistake of all when it turned its back on Europe.
I am not suggesting that Australia should have clung to the United Kingdom. That would be ridiculous.
But, modern Australia was first built on migrants from Europe. Yes, there are more Asians here now but they have come into what is fundamentally a European style country built on the Westminster system of government and the Jewish-Christian tradition. It is not an Asian country. It is not seen as an Asian country. Asia, from Indonesia up, does not see Australia as part of their region. Australia is merely a neighbour. 
Australia is a neighbour that is actually considered a little odd, a little too anxious to be friendly, a little too ready to give advice, a little too unwilling to conform to Asian ways - and a great deal more. Asia is polite because it suits Asia to be polite - after all there is plenty of backyard produce to be got rid of and Asia appears to be more industrious and the backyards are more productive.
Australia wanted to be part of the cricket team on the street, indeed it would have liked to captain the team under people like Rudd. It didn't happen. Australia is sometimes given a chance to do a bit of fielding but that's all.
In the meantime Europe doesn't understand this. Do the kids really want nothing more to do with them - or do they just come running for a bit of trade now and then, when it's convenient or they have nothing better to do?
I know that what I have said above is a highly unpopular view but it is one which is quietly conceded by a number of senior political and other figures. They feel it is too late now, that Australia should have maintained ties with Europe for many reasons but that rebuilding them now is almost impossible and there is no will to make the effort. They privately admit that Australia is not going to be part of the Asian family but also feel there is no choice but to keep trying. They know that the United States is only interested in as far as it is convenient for their defence forces to be stationed here and for their ships to be able to dock here - with perhaps a little trade thrown in. 
It has been a blunder of drastic proportions which nobody dares to publicly acknowledge. There needs to be a change of strategy - and a lot of hard work.

Thursday 2 February 2017

The Prime Minister donated money

to his own party for the election campaign? Shock! Horror! What a shocking thing to do!
Quite frankly I think all politicians should be required to donate money to their own parties during an election campaign. If they want to get re-elected then they can help to pay for it. 
Our present Prime Minister is a very wealthy man. If he wants to spend money  that way then I would say, while the present rules remain in place, encourage it. In this case the Opposition can't argue against it. They had more money to spend. 
In this state taxpayer funds were used as well - a lot of taxpayer funds which could have been better spent on other things. They were given to a group which claimed to be "not political". It was "opposed to cuts in health and education". Most people, the vast majority of people, would be opposed to cuts in health and education.  The problem was that the group was actually run by members of the Opposition and was effectively an Opposition campaign strategy funded by taxpayers. It should not have been funded by them - however much people might have agreed with what they had to say. 
My own feeling about elections and election advertising is however simple. There should be a strict limit on how much can be spent, and by whom it can be spent. It would force parties to focus on their own policies not on undermining the policies of their opponents. It would stop a lot of of the vicious commentary by those seeking election and in the media. If you win a certain quota of votes then you get that money refunded. If you are caught spending more than that then you get nothing and pay a penalty instead. 
I know. Too simple. 
But just think what might have happened if that system had applied in America.

Wednesday 1 February 2017

It seems as if the world is crumbling

breaking, disintegrating, falling apart, dissolving....something. We still haven't got the children out of danger and I suppose that has something to do with the way I am feeling.
I know there are other children in situations which are just as dangerous but this feels personal because I have been peripherally involved and I know one of the people involved. He is one of the few I have met and I know how often he has put his own life in danger - too often. 
Over the years I have tried to "switch off", not become too involved. It is  the only way to do the job. It might not be PTSD - that is something far worse - but you can still get too involved. Then you can't function. You can't help anyone. You end up being the person who needs help.
It is why I did two things yesterday. The first thing I did was go to the "last Tuesday of the month" meeting at the local bookshop. It's a knitting group. It's small and it is as much about support as it is about knitting. I am supposed to be the "leader" of the group. All that means is that, if questions are asked, I am the person the bookshop staff go to. That's fine. I can cope with it. There were only four people there yesterday. I think school starting and illness may  have had something to do with it. I put a note into the post for one person yesterday. She has been having chemo and we have to leave it up to her as to when she feels physically and emotionally ready to return. I just want her to know we are there for her when she is ready. I'll ring another person today and pop a note into someone else's letter box. The others I don't have a means of contact for and they are not regulars. 
Doing that made me feel better. I've stuck my paw in the dyke which was threatening to overwhelm me.
The second thing I did was write a difficult email, one I have been putting off for several weeks. I couldn't write it  until I was sure that the person I was writing to had not come to the same group yesterday. I had tried by including her in the group email notices. There had been no response. 
It's a complicated situation, complicated by her own behaviour. I've been trying, not very successfully, to reach out to her. I wasn't going to try again but something told me, "Don't give up." 
And I have had a response. It isn't encouraging but it is a start and it has told me, once again, that you should never give up on anyone.