Saturday, 23 July 2011

Judgements of the Unqualified

I usually don't blog about the lives of celebrities. I may catch the odd headline on the news, but beyond that my interest fades.  I've never been a buyer of OK, Hello or whatever the latest hot pick on the newstand is.  I'm simply not interested in what their duvet cover looks like or what dress they're wearing whilst sidling up to the fridge in their fifty thousand pound kitchens.  I try to avoid the speculation about who's having affairs and who's been photographed slumped in a drunken stupor in the back of a limo in the early hours, or who's had a tantrum at the nightclub bouncer because they're not A-list enough to get in the club in the first place to end up in a drunken stupor.  But over the years, as I've got older, it's become more and more impossible to watch the news without all this being thown in front of me.  Tragedy, violence, humiliation and despair sadly attract the journalists and the more depraved the story, the quicker it hits the headlines.

And this brings me to Amy Winehouse, who this afternoon, tragically secured her place amongst the members of the macabre '27 Club'.  A young woman noticed in her teens, with a raw unusual quality to her voice - a sound so distinctive amongst her peers, that set her apart, accelerated her ability to grab the heights of fame and elevated her to the sycophantic attentions of those who saw the opportunity to exploit what should have been nurtured and protected.

For many years I was intolerant of drug users and alcoholics.  To an extent I still am, but ignorance by innocence is somewhat excusable, ignorance by dogmatic arrogant choice isn't and as I've experienced more and more of life and modern pressures, my intolerance to these people has softened.  I will never accept that people have no choice when it comes to drink and drugs, unless they're physically forced.  Nobody MAKES them carry on drinking to oblivion and nobody forces them to snort up powders or shoot toxic liquids into their veins.  It is a choice, but the strength of character to walk away from this is sadly lacking in those people, like Amy, who are flung into a life of money and glamour when they're far too young and immature to handle it.  Furthermore, having the discerning ability to see through the murky intentions of vulturous advisers who are set on exploiting young talent in the guise of a support network is nigh on impossible.  Especially when the very trappings of success are promising a future where everything landing in your hands is considered a reward for talent.  And those trappings, for Amy, enabled her sadly to lend those hands to her own fate.

So my reaction to her death is not one of surprise, but immense sadness and anger.  Anger that the Press saw fit to make a mockery of her troubles, to document her struggling to perform, to deliberately set about catching her during some of the most undignified and despairing moments of her life.  The 100m distance ban on all media near her or her friends came too late and in reality was a sneer though the viewfinder of the modern age zoom lens.   My immense sadness at a unique young woman who was really given no chance to turn her life around without every step she took being scrutinised.  Each visit to rehab dismissively mocked by the tabloids, a father who resorted to speaking to the press in an apparent desperation to 'reach out' to her.

Disbelief at people, who even after she's died, seem to think they have the qualification and authorisation to determine that her death was deserved.  Because, obviously, they have such great experience of having associated with people like her, they are so well placed to quantify those statements.  People who say 'life is what you make it'.  These people clearly having absolutely no pressures in their lives, no disappointments, and sat on the pedestals of their self inflated egos.

I would challenge these people to confirm whether they have the same disgusting abusive attitude towards obese people.  After all, eating beyond the body's calorific need is surely self abuse - but an illness that many people struggle with and need support and understanding to cope and live with, not taunts and sneers of disgust.  Do they have the same attitude towards people in debt, who spend beyond their means because the lure of goods in shops are just too tempting?  Or what about people who just can't keep up with the cost of life - are they failures in the eyes of those simply because life is too tough for a season in their lives?

I feel incredibly sorry for Amy and my heart reaches out to her family and friends.  Those people close to her who have had to watch the woman they love and care for, slowly ebb her life away.  A woman they could appreciate and love for her immense talent and for who she was to them and it is my hope and prayer that in her death, she is afforded a moderate amount of dignity and her family are allowed to grieve without the voyeuristic vultures of the media and public performing their own moral autopsy on her.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A Splash Of Memories

Us parents have to constantly judge whether it's right to become stressed about something when teaching our kids.  Some days things bother us more than others.  Some days we worry too much about what other people are thinking or saying.  Some days we don't realise that when we say 'no', it's not because it does our kids any harm, but more because we can't be bothered dealing with the things that follow.

So, occasionally, I dig out these photos below and remind myself that some days I can just say 'yes'.  Like this day in July 2007 when coming home on the last day of the school term, the local area flooded.  We were faced with this and the only choice we had was to go through it and get extremely wet, or trudge the long way round.  Maddie and Joshua had a schoolfriend coming home for tea and after much begging on their part, followed by a quick mobile call to their friend's Mum, the go-ahead was given for them to dive in and 'swim' in the field on the way home.  

They had such fantastic fun coming home that day.  Admittedly, had it been the day before, they would have probably had to walk the long way round. But occasionally us parents need to chill, to stand back and just let our kids be kids and let them do those mad little things, that ordinarily we'd never dream of letting them do. 

So, if you're a parent, let go once in a while, let the kids do something a little wacky - as long as they're safe, no offence is caused to other people and nothing gets damaged, ask yourself where the harm is?  If there isn't any, give them those precious moments to dive in and swim.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Happy Exhaustion

Andy and I have four happy exhausted children today.  The younger two are in bed after having an absolute blast of a day at the South Reading Churches Fun Day, followed by a first birthday party for a dear little boy in our church.  And for Sam an extended day involving a much longed for trip to Toys R Us early this evening to spend birthday money.

The older two are collapsed on the sofa vegging in front of the television having enjoyed a great day out in the fresh air just being kids and enjoying a bit of freedom and independence.  They're about to head up the wooden hill.

Me and Andy?  A lovely cool refreshing beer each, feet up and DVD.

All's good in the house :-)