It’s been 22 years

I woke up about 6.30am on a day not too dissimilar to this one. Mum had shouted me down to help with dad again his asthma. It had got worse and she couldn’t get him to relax and calm down.

I came down stairs and dad was leaning over the sink holding himself up trying to breathe. I immediately called an ambulance as six months before we had been in the same situation and it was only the fact that dad had got to the hospital in time that they doctors manage to save his life.

I went up stairs to change and said that I would go to the hospital with him again but mum screamed my name and I came back down stairs quicker than I could. Dad head had fallen back on the chair I had sat him on and he wasn’t breathing. There was no pulse and we tried to use CPR.

For a moment I ran outside to see if there was any ambulance and mum continued with dad. I couldn’t believe what was happened it all seemed surreal somehow. Eventually the paramedics came and they tried to revive him. They had asked us to wait in the living room while they did their best. Eventually a local doctor arrived and must have worked to try and get some response.

About half an hour went by and the doctor came into the room where mum was sitting and I was standing.

“He’s dead, isn’t he?” My mum asked.

“Yes I’m afraid he is.” The doctor replied.

I can still recall that day 22 years ago today like it all happened yesterday. Now that mum has gone as well it all seems a bit bizarre. Like it should have happened to someone else. Seeing both your parents when they have passed is strange but I am glad I had time to say goodbye unlike others who have lost loved ones.

I spare a thought who have lost children or siblings. How much harder it must be so lose someone you thought that would be with you all your life. Most people don’t get to choose when they die and some live long and happy lives.

If there is anything I have learned in all of this is that only life is priceless. Making each day count.

Black lives do matter

From 1988-91 I studied Theology at Overstone College. It was a predominately black church where the congregations were made up of the West Indian community in the UK. For someone like me a young lad from the north east it was a shock to the system being placed in a totally unknown culture. But it was one of the happiest times in my life.

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America’s ‘shoot first ask questions later’ policy is causing innocent young men to die needlessly on the streets. I watched online a video of Ronald Johnson who was running away from the police at the time when he was shot and killed. I have to get my head around USA law that says that a police officer can use deadly force if they ‘reasonably believe’ that someone has a firearm on them. Even if they don’t see it they can use force to kill.

The CNN article that I linked goes on to explain that each case is determined individually and that the prosecutors should way up the information leading to the police using deadly force.

I can understand that each case will have to be assessed but what I still cannot understand is the necessity in the USA to have guns. The lack of gun control laws is alarming for someone born and raised in a country where it very rare for you to see policemen holding guns.

Black lives matter as much as white, hispanic or Jewish lives. But what seems to be emerging that you are more likely to die at the hands of police if you are a young black man.

It’s alien to me. I never saw or heard of any racism at my time at Overstone and I would have been horrified and distraught at the police deliberately targeting any of my friends.

Stop the world 

What on earth is going on with our society and other countries?

  • Two unarmed black men shot and killed in USA
  • Over three thousand incidents of hate crime reported to the police in the UK last month
  • Five police officers killed in a sniper shooting in the USA
  • Hundreds dead in Baghdad in a terrorist bombing
  • Two dead at a music festival before its even started in Scotland
  • New prime minister voted in who has a poor record on LGBT rights

These are just some of the stories I have been reading about this morning. What really is going on? Has the world turned in on itself?

Hate is the keyword in all of these. Hating on black people or gay and lesbian community. Lack of tolerance and education has caused this. Justification of religious freedom to deny decent equality laws.

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Let’s get rid of proper education on relationships in schools as we are terrified to teach children to be aware of dangers that lurk in all areas of life. Terrified of standing up to people who spout hatred and bile about muslims or other religious groups.

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I bet not many people know that the Mayor of London met with Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to discuss the rise in race hate incidents that a occurred since the vote to leave the EU. Mr Khan broke his fast during his time in Ramadan for Iftar.

There are those who think that people of different faiths and nationalities cannot live side by side in harmony. There are those who are determined that their hatred will somehow win over the rest of the country. I have said it time and time again these people will NOT win. I prefer to live in a world where there isn’t fighting or death. Where people can share their differences and respect them.

There has to be reform of gun control. There has to be the continual stamping out of race hate and crime. Those who perpetrate these crimes should be punished. Those who use deadly force again another person without proper justification should be made to face the consequences.

 

100 Battle of the Somme

I don’t remember doing any work on World War I at school when I was young. I think we did some on the Second World War I might be wrong. I certainly think that it is important that we teach not just young people about war but also everyone who is living today. A respect of the past and its atrocities is needed for a better future.

The Battle of the Somme started on the morning of July 1st exactly a hundred years ago today. It has been said that it was once of the bloodiest battles in the history of World War I. It is estimated that there were least 60 thousand casualties by the end of first day and around 20 thousand of those men lost their lives.

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The horrors of the war are just unimaginable. People thought that it would be over by christmas but seeing the wounded come and with horrific injuries it must have been a sharp realisation to those in the front that it was going to take more effort and sacrifice than first thought.

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Some of the men were teenagers. A word that wasn’t used a hundred years ago once you got to the age at which you could work which was around fourteen you were considered an adult and joined others at work each day. Young men who signed up for the army before conscription was brought in where trained and sent to the trenches. Many never to return home to their loves ones.

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I think it’s more poignant to remember their sacrifice of their own lives for freedom we have today. Those who have greed and hatred in their hearts aren’t welcome. Commemorating their loss is something that we all should do and taking time out of our arguments and squabbles, however trivial some of them seem to be, to realise the events of 1916.

More Brexit silliness

I have been thinking about this post for a long time. I have been wondering how to make sense of it all. For someone who is innately miserable and depressive I am trying to see the good.

I said in my last blog that we need to pull together as a nation and work for the good of everyone. That seems a far away dream at at the moment when rolling news items talk of awful incidents of racist attacks on people who are British citizens but where born in a different country than the UK.

Racism and abusive hate speech should be socially unacceptable. It should be condemned right from the beginning from all political parties what every their differences of opinion may be.

The turmoil within the Labour Party adds fuel to the uncertainty. Within times of crisis it has been said that the country needs an affective opposition to hold the government to account and to ensure that we come out if this crisis as unscathed and intact as we were before Brexit was announced.

We need to reassure each other that things will be okay. There might be some rough moments but those in the communities should reassure the minorities that they are welcome in our country. Our country is better than racism and hate. Despite the lies that have been bandied around by both sides its time for reconciliation and hope.

The result

I woke up about 7am and looked at my phone to utter shock and dismay. The majority of the people in the UK want to leave the EU. It had been said at the beginning that it was going to be close but it would be the remain vote that would get the overall majority. This wasn’t the case.

The simple claim that we could automatically funnel the supposed £350 million from the EU to the NHS has been proven to be false even Farage backtracking to claim he never said that in the first place even though it was a big decider in voting to leave.

Billions have been wiped from stocks and shares and I already have seen an advertisement on TV for those people who have lost money and how to claim compensation. This won’t last for today and the stability that we experienced before the referendum will not continue over the coming months and years.

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What do we do now? I am a firm believer in democracy and freedom but when the country decides to vote in such a way that yourself might not agree with we have to respect the majority.

I will continue to fight inequality and racism where ever I see it. I will champion the immigrant who has left their country due to war and conflict. If they need somewhere to go I think our country should be welcoming. You won’t see closed borders despite what the leave campaign have argued.

I will roll my sleeves up and get on with life.

Loyalty

I have met thousands of lovely people in my time. Some of them I am happy to say that I can call friends. It was William Butler Yeats who said “There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t met yet.” Is it as simple as that?

I tend to get on with most people. I know that you should always see the good in anyone but in the course of time you get to know someone you find out what they are really like. I spoke to someone I didn’t know yesterday and in the course of our conversation he had used some pretty racist language and made assumptions about a certain group of people.

I have my bad habits. I am grumpy, messy, over-weight and mostly lachrymose and miserable. I know at times I can be rude and make off the cuff remarks which some see as being hurtful. I was told that when a colleague first met me in a classroom at school that I seemed rather a miserable and rude old sod. Nothing like I was when they actually got to know me. I explained that times I am not all happiness and laughter.

I think about the people who I have met over the years and who have remained my friends. Those people who have stuck by me through the good and the crappy times. That’s the point of being a true friend. When the shit does hit the fan and by this I don’t mean you have been unable to choose the right shoes for a night out but when life does get truly bad will they stick by you?

I have friends who I have known for decades. These people who stayed by me. I have stayed with them. Its not all fun and laughter but 90% of the time it is. You provide support for when they are going through a rough time. They do the same when it happens to you. After a while you build a bond that is truly strong. Sometimes you mess up you work things through and you move on.

Too many fair-weather friends have come and gone. Others have decided to leave of their own volition and others have been pushed as they weren’t bothered about you right from the beginning.

One thing I some people have learned from the terrible tragedies in West Yorkshire and Orlando is that friendship and love will always win. I don’t want to know people who aren’t welcoming to all. It doesn’t mean that you cannot be sensible about these things but if you lack compassion for those who are less fortunate that yourself then what sort of person does that make you?

One friend I used to know told me that his parents had taught him to look out only for himself and that’s it. The self is the number one person. What a selfish uncaring attitude that is. Unfortunately the world doesn’t revolve around one person. A materialistic selfish attitude is dreadful. After all when you have lost all of those things what do you have left? Any house or car can be gone in an instant.

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