Aside

CONTROLLING THE WEATHER


The argument goes that by striking at SYRIA now, it will stop the use of chemical weapons in the future. But what target should be ‘hit’?
The only sure way of removing the threat of CW’s is by strategic strikes upon the weapon stores themselves, presumably, now relocated far and wide. The problem with this, is, we simply can’t be sure innocent civilians won’t be caught-up in such military intervention, either directly or through environmental factors such as the weather, we don’t control the weather!
In whose interests is it to have plumes of contaminated smoke rising above Syria’s towns and cities and along the border areas near Jordan and Israel?
Israel also has chemical weapons and have used them against Palestinians in recent years, are we going to bomb Israel as well? Of course not! So we can’t argue that these current deliberations have morality at its heart.
Then there’s the issue of aligning too closely with the Syrian opposition
coalition. Some groups within the Syrian opposition coalition have been in armed combat with British forces for over a decade and have their own reason for calling for military intervention by the West, one of which is the spread religious fundamentalism.
We have too often joined with the US and others to enforce a particular interpretation of international law, much, it has to be said, to the detriment of the reputation and ability of the UN, particularly in terms of conflict resolution.
Have any of our military interventions throughout the region resulted in a more peaceful region? Or ended the threat of terrorist attack here, in the UK, or elsewhere?
I’ll let you be the judge!

 

PASS IT ON!


So we’ve just gone through that Christmas time again, when all is well in the World and Santa brings joy and pressies to one and all. At this time of year we would be forgiven for not realising that not everyone will share the glad tidings of joy and abundance of happiness that overflows from the cup of ‘Seasons Greetings’.

There are many reasons for not sharing in this joyous time; it could be religious: Islam is the fastest growing religion in the World while, according the Christian Orthodox calendar, we are way out! It could be that you have experienced the loss of a loved one at this time of year so Christmas becomes a time of reflection on a life that’s lost and for those left behind; or it could be that you are homeless, not knowing where your next hot meal is going to come from or if you’ll find a decent, dry pitch for the night. But, I think, the killer is loneliness.

Loneliness accounts for more deaths at this time of year than heart failure, alcoholism and substance abuse; all of which can be attributed to the consequence of loneliness. My mother, like so many other mothers, feels lonely since the death of my father and at this time of year her loneliness becomes much more acute; it’s lonely when everyone else is having fun and you miss, with every sinew of your being, your soul-mate and life-long partner. For the single person, living away from family and friends, ‘seasons greetings’ can feel hollow and something of a ‘sham’, Yet, to me, the worse kind of loneliness is the loneliness felt while you are in a loving relationship with family and friends around you.

Like everyone else I have felt lonely at various points in my life… some may say “it’s character building”! I’ve been on my own at this time of year, but, before and after the 25th, always managed to party well. Yet, as a result of 17 years of constant pain, I have had my greatest ‘moments’ of loneliness while being married with children. But wait! That statement should not reflect upon my family in a negative way, it’s not them… it’s me!

Constant pain causes depression, huge revelation that! No! Of course it’s not! Anyone with a few, free grey cells knows the consequences of chronic pain; that tooth abscess x365days! Constant, chronic pain becomes all-embracing, after a while it starts to rule your life. You can fight it for as long as you can, but, at some stage, it’s going to beat you! It’s going to beat you so bad that you withdraw into the shell that was once you.

In my case, the early stages of depression manifested as sporadic feelings of helplessness and loneliness. I recall on a particular occasion opening-up to my wife and telling her I felt lonely, she found it totally incomprehensible that I could have feelings of loneliness while being married with 4 children. My wife felt it was a reflection upon her and our family, which, of course, it wasn’t, but it was very difficult to explain, exactly, what I was going through. Over the years, I have found it easier to explain and my wife now recognises many of the ‘signs’, much more than I do in fact!

One of the issues people have regarding loneliness and depression is that ‘it may rub-off on others’, which of course is bollocks! in the same way that a scowl won’t turn the milk sour!

People are social animals; we need each other, whether its to talk to or to kick us up the butt every now and then! We need to feel the warmth of another and to know there is someone there when we are ‘ready’ or ‘able’ to look for that hand-up, that hand of friendship.

So, please, as we go into a new year, take a look about you. That person stood at the bar or sat on their own; whether it’s a he or a she; old or young. Hold out that hand of friendship, say hi! You don’t need to become life-long buddies, but, just by acknowledging the person you will change their day; no big talks, no life stories a simple Hi! will do.

Loneliness is not contagious but laughter is most certainly infectious, so pass it on!

JSB

Aside

PAINFUL TRUTHS (UPDATE)


Since posting this blog and asking the question ‘What would you do’? I have decided to go ahead with the operation to fuse my spine and decompress some trapped nerves.

I am under no illusion for a complete cure of my ills but there is now hope: a chance of experiencing less pain in my legs; a chance, in all honesty, I  feel I have to take!

Big thanks to all for the emails and kind messages, all truly appreciated, Thank you!

It’s now a waiting game, I would very much like to get it done asap but I fully accept that there are many people worse-off than me… I have waited this long I can wait a little longer!

———————

Pain is a pain, we all know that; I know that as an irrefutable fact.

I get nervous when writing about myself; about ‘cronic-pain’ and depression, Myoclonic-jerks and falls, its personal… very personal and you can’t be sure who the audience is, who am I trying to reach; are you interested in the trials of life of a middle-aged, slightly shy male?

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s said that all of us will suffer back-pain sometime in our lives; if you haven’t had it yet then you’ve probably got it to come. Our hope is, that, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye, the truth is, when pain comes, it will linger for sometime and cause lost moments of living not to mention days off work.

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s not a pleasant thought, but, take heart in the knowledge that you may never have another episode again in your life! Unfortunately some will have repeat episodes which could go on to become cronic-pain.

Pain is a pain, In my case, it started with neck-pain and sotmach-pain, followed a month or two later,  with back-pain. That was about 18 years ago and little has changed, despite medical interventions, and, so-called, cures. Little has changed, except my state of mind!

I’ve now been offered a choice: nerve-block jabs in the spine, which was less than successful on the 3 previous occasions; spinal fusion to ‘help the pain in the leg’ or accept that today is the best it will ever be!

I had an operation before, with high hopes of success, it failed!

Pain is a pain, we all know that; 3 years ago, I was sent to a consultant regarding issues in the thoracic area… ‘It’s muscular, but, I will send you for a scan because your GP has asked for one!’ So I go for a an MRI and await the results. Some two years later and yet another consultant, looking into an unrelated issue, tells me the results. It turns out the first consultant hadn’t reviewed the scan; the very same consultant now offering, yet another, operation???

Pain is a pain, we all know that! But how far do you go to get rid of it?

JSB

WHAT?!


What are they pumping into the Vale?

It runs on through not absorb in shale!

They take the good then dump the spoil

above your school, your girls, your boys.

The heavens had opened on this land of ‘song’

for days the deluge had carried-on!

Yet they kept on pumping into the Vale,

expecting water to be absorbed by shale

.

On a foggy day a mountain moans

as streams beneath a sonami forms

now well lubed, the shale gave way and 

down it crashed onto a new school day.

A road runs through it 50 years on

The pit and spoil all long since gone

The greening of the Valley’s hides their violent past

but of this lost generation the memory lasts.

images

RIP

JSB

Aside

TRIUMPH AND DISASTER


How far back can you remember?

My earliest memory is of 1966, I was 3 years old.

Most people in the UK are aware of the importance of 1966 but not necessarily for the reasons you may think!

For England, 1966 was a sporting triumph, winning the FIFA World Cup, but, to the people of Wales, in particular the people of a small mining village in the heart of the south Wales valleys, 1966 brought disaster of monumental proportions.

On the 21st October 1966 at 9:15am, just when first lessons were about to start in primary schools through-out the Country, a slag-heap above the village of Aberfan, south of Merthyr Tydfil, came crashing down, engulfing the local primary school, a farmhouse and some terraced houses, claiming the lives of 144 people, mainly children, not much older than me.

I recall in, vivid detail, standing outside the front-door with my mother, watching the lorries trundling up the road with their cargo of spoil from the disaster area. There was no talking, no idol chit-chat, just silence, as they made their way to the steelworks where the spoil was to be burnt in the mighty furnaces, no talking, no idol chit-chat just a deep sadness for the loss of 144 souls, 116 of whom were children, all of whom had been engulfed by this very same spoil.

Some 15 years on, I was working for a furniture manufacture and helped deliver a three piece to a home in a village near Aberfan. The home-owner had her elder sister with her, she was suffering from mental illness. The home-owner explained how her sister was a survivor of the Aberfan disaster. She had been buried up to the chest, her cousin, who was with her at the time, lost her life.

A mind damaged and a generation lost.

 

jsb

Aside

CALIFORNVACATION


The holiday period comes around far too quickly for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike holiday periods, how could I, there’s nothing better than having the ankle-biters off school, being bored for weeks on end. No! I don’t dislike holiday periods, I just can’t afford them!

For many years, we would spend our holidays alternating between Wales and Norfolk, my two favourite places in the whole World. One year, we decided to have a change.

We thought long and hard about where we should go, we wanted somewhere different. Having thrown-out the idea of Spain and the Mediterranean, we decided to take the kids to… CALIFORNIA!!!

Having forked-out a small fortune for this holiday, all too quickly departure day was upon us. Four kids, two adults and three wardrobes full of clothes, or at least, that’s what it felt like.

I didn’t think they would let us on with all this baggage… but they did!

We sat in awe, as the jets flew over-head, at the end of our journey, as we awaited our transport to the holiday centre.

‘Dad!’ ‘This place looks like Great Yarmouth’, my daughter pipes-up, ‘Don’t be daft Amy!’ ‘This is ‘California!!!’…

‘Great Yarmouth is 3 miles away!’

For the record, we all had a great time! 😉

JSB

Aside

I’VE NEVER SEEN THE BEACH AT ABERAVON


Growing-up in the Valleys of south Wales in the 1960-70s, it was not the norm to go off on holidays. True, there was always the ‘fortnight shut-down’ at the steelworks and at the collieries; I can hear people shouting up the garden… “get your washing in Mrs Blackmore… the orange cloud is coming!”

The fortnight ‘shut-down’ at Ebbw Vale steelworks referred to the shut-down of just about the whole plant and a time when essential maintenance was carried-out to, among other things, the Bessemer converters; the furnaces which gave people driving through the valley the thought that they were entering the bowels of hell. After cleaning the furnaces they would be fired-up and an orange cloud would hang over the valley, a lot of it would find its way onto any unsuspecting washing-line that happened to have washing on it at the time. In a jealous fit of rage, the river Ebbw would deposit even more tar on to the rocks that we, as kids, would use as stepping-stones. The colour orange was something of a defining characteristic of my home town, if not the sky then the river.

As I was saying, it was not the norm to have holidays away, it was more likely that you would have day trips out to the seaside or to Bristol Zoo, trips put on by the churches and chapels and the pubs and clubs; if your dad was a member of one of the workingmens clubs, then, the children would get an envelope of money to take with them and use on the fair or to get some sweets. Egg, cheese and ham sandwiches were the norm in our house, that and flasks of tea.

I have many fond memories of those trips; trips to the Gower or Porthcawl and Barry Island (Yes! I know! that’s where Gavin and Stacey was filmed!) to Western super-mere and Bristol Zoo. I’ve seen them all and had great fun at all of them, yet, every time we went to Aberavon the only thing we would see was the bus… and the wheel of the bus if you needed the loo!

You see, I have never seen the beach at Aberavon, every time we would go to Aberavon the heavens would open, and, as if getting us back for polluting the sky with orange clouds, it would not stop raining until we hit the heads of the valleys road on the way home to Cwm. Aberavon rain is in a category of its own, rarely have I seen rain that comes close to it, it’s a big droplet, cold… very cold, eye closing, blustery wetness. In these conditions the inside of the bus and a view of the car park through the windows, was ALL we would see. This wasn’t a one-off either, this was every time I have EVER been to Aberavon, I have NEVER seen the beach at Aberavon.

Aberavon beach is three miles long situated in Swansea Bay, popular with surfers due to the large breakers along the shore… or so I’m told!

jsb