What we should expect from 2013

I promised a review of 2012 for yeterday’s last blog post of the year. Got back late from a christmas supper so it didn’t happen my apologies. So now my last blog post of the year is being swapped from yesterday to today.

When I started to think about the highlights of 2012 – for most Brits it has to be the Olympics in London. We had the honour of seeling the Paralympians in action in September, taking our seats in the awe inspiring stadiumto watch people defy the odds and achieve. It was awesome for me and my family to watch and a fantastic life experience for my children (even though my baby boy was only about 8 months old. That for me is the highlight of my year.

London was, and is a fabulous place to be and the Olympics brought everything that is good about the city together into one brilliant vibe. The lady who runs my son’s nursery is spening christmas day at homeless charity Crisis, who turn several floors of an office block into a giant restaurant for homeless people to have some respite from the cold and a well earned christmas lunch with all the trimmings. She has done this for several years and says the atmosphere is really upbeat. The homeless visitors are just like you and me (professionals, doctirs, lawyers, graduates, skilled personnel) who have just hit on hard times through one too many late mortgage payments or marriage break-up – in short an occurrence in life that could happen to anyone. Crisis don’t just give the homeless a slap-up meal, there is also a hairdressers and a job centre as well as advisors and counsellors on-hand to help them off the streets. If I didn’t have young dependants I would gladly help out too because it must be so wonderful to see people who normally find life tough during the whole year to see them finally enjoying themselves – Christmas is for everyone and how lovely to share that with them.

I also hope that in 2013 we find a solution to better distribution of wealth, food, medicine and human rights. I was shocked to hear of 50 somalli refugees – of which most were women and children – who drowned after their boat capsized trying to escape the humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa. One of the children was as young as 4 years old. I am lucky, as a wetsren parent, that I don’t have to choose between bringing my children up in a refugee camp or risking their lives to escape. The discrepancy is unbearable and it shouldn’t exist in 2013.

I am blogging every day for Unicef – if you can help the campaign please visit my fundraising site.

Thanks for reading, Happy Christmas and Happy New Year x

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Arrogance and other mistaken characteristics of the hard of hearing

So today I’m going to talk about the negatives of hearing loss.

First is how the hell it happened in the first place – it is annoying not knowing. I didnt discover I had hearing loss until I was 10 years old. I was on a school trip in Germany and I was staying in a hotel. My friend and I were un-packing in our room and the telephone started to ring. I answered it and put it to my left ear like I always had done. After the call, my friend said “why do you put the phone to your left ear when you are right-handed?” I replied “because I can’t hear them speaking if I put it on my right ear”. I had thought (like most children do) that because I couldnt hear in my right ear everyone else had the same problem. My friend’s puzzled face prompted me to tell my Mum about it when I got back home. She took me straight to the Docs and then a few referalls later and a couple of trips to ENT in London (ear, nose and throat) and I was classified as hard of hearing.

There were lots of theories as to why it had happened. The main one being that an illness when I was very young affected the cilia (tiny hairs) along my inner ear that are essential to help noise vibrate around the ear drum and that will explain why I can’t hear despite having a perfectly formed inner ear. It also could have been a bad reaction to an innoculation. No-one really knows why my husband is hard of hearing either and his theory is oxygen starvation when he was born. We will never really know. His was much worse though because it affected his speech and school was very hard for him. With me, because of the innoculation theory, I have serious reservations about the MMR jab in children and I am doing research in to it at the moment to establish how to protect my baby son – but this is a huuuge topic – so will do a separate post on this in the New Year.

Perhaps the biggest down-side to hearing loss is socially. I find it very hard to hear everyone in a party situation or when we are sitting down at dinner. I have to make sure that I am on the end of the table with my right ear facing the end so that I am able to hear people. I have lost count of the number of times I have turned to my right to find a person standing next to me with a puzzled and expectant expression. They have obviously asked me a question or spoken to me and expected a response despite the fact that I haven’t heard them – but they aren’t to know so what do I do – wear a badge? I could wear my hearing aid but i don’t for reasons discussed in my previous post. Over the years I must have unwittingly insulted quite a few people who may have thought I was ignoring them because I didn’t hear them.

Another big down-side is crossing the road. If you cover one eye and then try to touch something it is very difficult to judge how close it is to you and you end up thinking you have touched it when you still have a way to go – try it now. This is the same when one ear doesn’t work as well as the other – although you can hear the sound, you can’t judge where it is coming from until you actually see the source of the sound. This means I am rubbish at telling which direction a car is coming from if I hear an engine when about to cross a road. I also don’t think I would make a very good paratrooper or spy….oh well.

However i like being slightly wonky – its boring being perfect. I often joke that I should have a right body transplant because it isn’t just the ear that doesn’t work. My right shoulder is shorter than the other because of a riding accident and my right leg is full of varicose veins (sorry I know that isn’t pleasant) due to bursting a blood vessel during childbirth. The right side of my pelvis is a bit stiff too because i carry my baby boy on my left-side.

There have been some comical moments because of my wonky ear, which I will mention every now and then in future blog posts. Tomorrow will be my last blog post of 2012 as we will be leaving to spend Christmas on a snowy welsh mountain and i am not sure about the wi fi up there. So tomorrow i will do a little summary of the best bits of 2012 and wish you all a very happy christmas and new year.

Unicef will benefit from my down-time fee over the next two weeks, which will boost the coffers of my fundraising campaign – the reason why i blog every day. If you are able to support my efforts, please visit my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

Living with a deaf boy

“Oi deaf boy” is an endearing term I use for my old man who I have lived with for 15 years. He is not completely deaf (apparently there is some level of hearing in his left ear but I have yet to find it). After he takes his hearing aid out a bomb could go off and he wouldn’t hear it.

I met him on an night out with the girls after finishing my A Levels. It was love at first sight (well physical attraction at first – the love bit followed later) and while we were talking my friend pointed out to me that he had a hearing aid. “So what” I said shrugging my shoulders. You would have thought she was talking about leprosy in the way she reacted. Needless to say she is no longer my friend – not because of that but just a cumulation of incidents that led me to conclude “you are actually not a very nice person – goodbye”.

As it so happens my hearing is slightly wonky too and I could wear a hearing aid if I wanted (my husband technically should be wearing 2 but he only wears one in the ear that is completely deaf). Before he met me he had been considering attending a ‘deaf club’ to meet hard of hearing friends but he didnt get that far when he met me in a nightclub. You don’t need good hearing in a nightclub anyway as most people use a form of sign language to communicate.

There are positives and negatives to being hard of hearing.

Positives:

– the world is in mute – I hadn’t realised how muted my world was until I started to wear a digital hearing aid and HATED it. When I turned up at the hospital for a fitting the lady put it in my ear and said, “right I am about to turn it on now” she then put her piece of paper on the table and I jumped a mile – it was so LOUD. She laughed and said I might want to keep it out on my way back through the hospital otherwise I will be a nervous wreck by the time I get to the car. She then suggested I start wearing it only at home on it’s most muted setting until I acclimatise to it. I did as she said and gradually got used to it but I found it exhausting to wear it because everywhere was so loud. So I started to take it out every now and then – which became a permanent habit and now I don’t even know where it is. Both our children have excellent hearing and I worry that we have our telly on too loud and the radio on too loud because we can’t hear it as well as them.

– If I need to sleep and its noisy (either because next door are having an argument or hubby has the TV on loud) I just turn over so that my better ear is squashed on the pillow and then …silence – its bliss

– Selective hearing – I can’t be the only person out there who doesn’t ‘pretend’ not to hear people when it is convenient (sorry I know thats naughty)

– I enjoy making my hubby’s aid whistle by covering it – it reminds me of when I used to hug my gran and I squeezed her so tight she would say “oops your making my hearing aid whistle again” and I used to squeeze her even tighter and it would make her giggle. When she died I asked if I could keep her hearing aid (slightly werid request I know) but sadly the NHS needed it back.

I think that’s it – I will list the negatives tomorrow.

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to support the campaign please visit my site on Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

Carry on bloomin camping

The old man and I are in a feud over camping. The truth is I like camping but only during the day. Come night-time I’m off to the hotel to retreat to warmth, sumptuous beds, light and the luxury of being able to pop to the loo without braving sub-zero temperatures and unzipping a zillion zips every time.

This year we had a break from camping as little one was very little – thank fuck we did as it would have been even more interesting to be up for 2 consecutive nights in a tent with baby teething issues – bad enough in a 4 bedroomed French gite. Last year we camped while I was pregnant and the frequent trips to the loo were beyond a joke – never  mind the added awkwardness of stretching my sleeping bag over my bump. So frequent were these toilet trips that I got to know the camp-site at night quite well. On our final night on the umpteenth trip from the loo, I was just unzipping the tent when I felt a presence behind me, which, as I turned, became a tall silhouette of a man. I freaked and let out a bloodcurdling scream that must have woken up the entire camp-site – the man jumped too then said “shhhh its me silly” (my husband). I have discovered he is quite scary if you come across him at night when you least expect it. I was glad it was our last night as I was soooo embarrassed.

I also remember some very very heated arguments over keeping the gas cooker outside the tent (excuse the pun). Recently in Britain there has been an increase in deaths by carbon monoxide and gas poisoning after campers left their barbecue or cooker in the tent over-night. By the morning they were dead. I did not want us to suffer a similar fate, which was why I was adamant that the cooker stayed outside the tent over-night – my stubborn husband thought I was over-reacting and refused – a tussle over the cooker ensued – again it must have been very entertaining for fellow campers. In fact camping causes many arguments – you only have to observe couples and families trying to assemble their tents in the first place.

So that is a summary of my gripes about camping – I would like to try out a slightly more lux alternative… trailer tents are an option but not convinced being a few more inches off the ground is any better? Your views as ever are welcome….

I am blogging every day for Unicef. If you are able to contribute to the campaign, please visit my site.

Thanks for reading.

 

The vulnerable Brave

I have been inspired today by the brave acts of those who tried to protect the school children in Connecticut using their bodies to take the blows. I watched a father talk about how wonderful his daughter was just days after her death at the school and admired his bravery to get in front of the cameras so that he could share his grief and communicate the message that something needs to be done about guns.

In watching a review of the London Olympics, the story of Martine Wright who survived the July bombings in London and went on to perform in the Paralympics is incredible. When she recovered from the explosion on the tube a police officer found her with both legs blown apart and she saved her life. I find it humbling to observe such strength of character. Martine managed to piece her life together and strive to achieve new goals by embracing what had happened to her and doing something good with it.

The Connecticut shootings highlight how vulnerable we are regardless of where we live and what laws are in place to protect us. I cannot comprehend the unbearable pain the families must be enduring. Too much senseless violence occurs world-wide and children are too often the innocent victims. Some have more protection than others. You would expect a school in the US to have more protection than children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, purely because we presume the US is a less volatile area and it is a Western Society where, sadly, a greater value is placed on Western lives than in a developing world – harsh but true.

That’s why it is important that we do what we can to protect the next generation worldwide. We observe those who are in the bottomless depth of sorrow with sadness and sympathy…..and relief we are not there with them – but we are  standing on the precipice of this sorrow as vulnerable as the next person to falling in. Politics is where changes can make a difference but charities such as Unicef are vital to fill the gap between the current reality and the political ideal that can only be realised through changes in policy.

That is why I am blogging every day for Unicef.

Thanks for reading.

 

The best West End musicals

I had the pleasure today of watching a youth production of West End favourite ‘Cats’. The last time I saw it was when I was a kid in the eighties and I had forgotten how good the soundtrack was. ‘Jellicle’ cats was one of my favourites. My daughter was tapping her toes to the beat the whole way through and I kept having to remind myself that the oldest actors on stage were teenagers. ‘Memories; is another timeless classic with a melancholic verse that is sad and beautiful all at once. It is a shame it is no longer on the West End.

Starlight Express is also experiencing another come back with a tour that commences in Brighton. I really want to see it but it only runs until the beginning of January. Again, the last time I saw this I was 8. I remember everything about it was an assault on your senses – from the pyrotechnics to the costumes and the music.

Another musical I particularly enjoyed was ‘My Fair Lady’ – particularly the scene at the racecourse with amazing choreography as they sing while swinging their binoculars from one side of the stage to the other as if the racehorses have just shot past. The Woman in Black has been at the West End since the 80s and is still on show today. It is successful because it plays on the audience’s imagination with excellent acting and an electric atmosphere.

I am so glad my daughter enjoys the theatre and acting. I have always had a mild interest in theatre but her enthusiasm has rekindled a childhood enjoyment of theatre that went as years passed.

I am typing this blog while scanning you tube for some of the best band music of the past few decades. I am drawn to tracks with a phenomenal guitar intro – so far I have enjoyed:

– Manic Street Preachers – If you Tolerate this

– Biffy Clyro – Many of Horror

– Nirvana (well this is quite a long list: In Bloom, Heart shaped box, Breed and arguably the best Lounge Act)

More to add in another blog soon!

Unicef is my reason for this blog – please help Unicef around the world protect children from harm. Today my thoughts are for the families of the children and staff killed at the school in the US.

Thanks for reading.

 

Who is Father Christmas?

Before bed-time my daughter and I were enjoying the Raymond Briggs book ‘Father Christmas’ – a cartoon that follows the life of an ordinary man who happens to be Father Christmas. Most of the time he is swearing about the weather and the size of chimneys and how to get into caravans. He finishes by saying ‘Happy Blooming Christmas to you too’. My daughter loves it because she finds it funny that he is so grumpy in the book and it makes sense to her that someone who shoulders the burden of delivering every child in the world their presents should be a bit grumpy about the whole Christmas thing.

She then remarked how good it was that father Christmas doesn’t die. “How do you know that?” I said, “because he isn’t human he is special human” she said. I then started to daydream that being father christmas was a bit like being summoned for jury service. I wondered if there might be a Father Christmas rota and that someone somewhere in the world receives a red and white letter congratulating them on being randomly selected to play the role of Santa this year. I wish this system did exist because it would make life easier for all us parents.

It is not the sourcing and buying of presents that is necessarily a pain in the arse, it is all the conspiracy that goes with it to make sure that the presents are hidden from view and are wrapped in special santa wrapping paper etc etc. It’s exhausting. I haven’t been able to use the loft this year either as we are having loft insulation put in. So, the top of my wardrobe resembles a game of tetris, with all the children’s presents surrounded by various different shaped boxes and toys they have already seen me buy for other children.

Add the extra complication of being somewhere else for christmas this year and then you have a real headache on your hands to ensure FC’s presents are successfully transported from one location to another (using a pick-up truck rather than a sleigh) without being noticed by eyes that are getting more and more inquisitive as time goes by. I remember the time when I realised at a young age that FC wasn’t the person I thought he was when we went to Toys R us and on leaving (with me a bit miffed that we were leaving with just mug) I noticed a suspicious looking box covered by a blanket in the back of our car. I asked what it was and dad said it was a bike for the daughter of one of his friends – not satisfied with his response, I sneaked a peek and saw the My Little Pony Paradise estate. (So my first realisation prior to the FC one was that Dad lies and because he lied it must mean the pressie is for me). So when Christmas day arrived and I opened up the present from FC and discovered it was the Pony Paradise estate I was so excited to get it that I pretended not to have seen it before so that my parents wouldn’t know that I had found out their secret and subsequently had lost faith that FC was real. I was only about 6 or 7 and I was already pretending that I believed in FC to keep my parents happy! I don’t want my daughter to do the same thing but I think that she is the kind of person who would just to keep me and her daddy happy.

We are seeing the Polar Express tomorrow at my daughter’s school. They put it up on a giant screen and the headmaster dresses up as the conductor – he even sounds a bit like Tom Hanks. I love the film, particularly at the end when Father Christmas’ sleigh disappears like the Back to the future Delorean (the Robert Zemeckis influence) and the idea of the sleigh bell ringing only for those who really believe sends shivers up my spine every time. Last year my daughter received a book about Santa with a bell attached to it as a bookmark. When she showed me the book I rang the bell and said “That’s funny it doesn’t ring” and she absolutely loved the fact that I couldn’t hear it and was shaking it madly and laughing because she could hear it and I couldn’t.

I am blogging every day for Unicef – a vital cause to help children in harm around the world . If you can support the campaign please visit my site on Unicef.

Thanks for reading. Ten days left! See the Xmas clock