Pug Life

Ethel

Ethel

I am pleased to announce that the Lush family has a new addition. (And not, for the avoidance of doubt, anything that necessitates a 9-month gestation period inside of self.)

Ethel the Pug is 11 weeks old, and has stolen the hearts of all whom she has deigned to grace with a slurp of her rough little tongue. Even my mother, and that’s saying something. In fact, such is the extent of my mother’s love for Ethel, that she phoned me to ask if she could pop in to visit her. Not me, my husband, or her grandchildren you understand, but the dog.

This is a woman who, when camping, put cotton wool in her ears incase anything crawled in them whilst she slept. (She didn’t camp again.) My mother even chooses to spend precious minutes of her life ironing sheets, and would sooner eat her own toenails that get licked by a dog. Ethel therefore is quite the exception.

She is our second dog, for we already have Dolly the Shih Tzu. Fortunately, the pair of them are getting along very well indeed, and Dolly is enjoying the company of another canine. Even if that canine does occasionally hold onto Dolly’s tail, with her teeth, in order to get pulled along the floor at speed. It must be the doggy equivalent of a ride at Alton Towers.

Such is my adoration of the new addition, I have even set Ethel up on Instagram as @Ethel_Pug, where, should you so wish (I am not biased), you can see her adventures, along with her 530 (!) other followers.

It was my husband who, after much careful thought, bit the proverbial bullet and decided that we should get another dog. Part of his plan was to distract me a little from the heartache of losing my Grandad, and I have to admit that it has, to an extent, worked.

As has the kindness of strangers – only last week, a lovely lady, Debbie, sent me a card. She had read the column I had written about grief and the death of my grandfather, and she had wanted to offer comfort. Debbie had written the card over a month ago, and it was only a chance meeting, and her hearing my name in regards to a community meeting we had both attended, that led to her being able to pass it on to me.

Little kindnesses such as this make the world spin round, and I’d like to thank her for her thought and care. The past couple of months have, at times, been drenched in pain, and it is wonderful to know that sometimes, reading this column helps other people. Just as writing it often helps me.

An older column for all those dog lovers among you. Enjoy! 🙂 https://lushnessblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/be-more-dog/

The Beginning of Endings

Image courtesy of imgfave.com

Image courtesy of imgfave.com

It was the heat and the booze that threw me,

And in the hush of his orbit, he knew me.

With a whisper of soul and a shadow of sin

the End prepared itself to begin.

The End was trusted, steadfast, strong

His voice rang silent, clear and long

like summer bells in vocal flight

or stars at noon and lunch at night.

The summer floods sent torrential pain

And the thunder clapped to watch again.

The End observed but did not flinch

the face of love, when its cheek he pinched.

And just as End had knew he would,

The Final Curtain came down good

to shroud the sorry little show

of life and love and all we know.

Social Conscience and A Sense of Community

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A sense of community is something I often feel is missing from life these days. I remember listening to my Grandad’s tales of times passed, and thinking how much more spirited people seemed. Perhaps it was due to the war effort and a sense of camaraderie, but these days, you don’t see much evidence of it.

People seem more content to keep themselves to the themselves, and to only bother standing up for a cause if it will have a direct effect on them.

I have a habit of making my opinion clear about issues that I believe to be important, but I think that much of this stems from my belief that being a bystander – and doing nothing to stop an act that may be atrocious – is as bad as committing the act oneself.

I teach a lot about the Holocaust in my line of work, and having an in-depth knowledge of what can happen if you stand by and do nothing, changes your opinions on how to deal with a situation. We may not (thankfully) be talking about something that can have a devastating impact on humanity, but, as everyone with a fragment of intelligence or social conscience knows, life is usually about the little things.

From standing by observing bullying in the playground, to listening to a ‘friend’ bad-mouth somebody whilst saying nothing yourself to defend them, from being unhappy with the way your child’s school have dealt with an incident but not making the effort to say, to loathing government policies yet sitting on your backside and forgetting to vote; if you don’t stand up and say something, then nothing will change.

Sometimes of course, people have a tendency to shoot the messenger. Plenty of parents blame teachers for term-time holiday fines (the responsibility for which lies with the government), and plenty of people in hospitals blame staff for failings that, again, are actually the fault of the government. These alone are further evidence to use your vote – or your metaphorical vote – wisely. Because we are the people who give power to the government – we put them there.

This evening, people in my street are grouping together to show a respectful objection to a planning application. Many have lodged their valid and logical objections online too, and, equally, many haven’t.

Some of those who haven’t most likely don’t object, some won’t have online access, but others still will simply have had better things to do with their time, and decided to let others do the ‘dirty work’ for them.

I wonder how much of this attitude has led to our current government being re-elected, and how the bystanders will feel when they are the person who, one day, needs a morally supporting hand.

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 19th May 2015

The Royal Baby, and the Royal Baby Belly

Image courtesy of whiteasmilk.com

Image courtesy of whiteasmilk.com

My family and I watched the new royal baby leave hospital somewhat later than the rest of the nation.

This was due entirely to my husband’s insistence that we watch it on ‘live TV’. I, on the other hand, being less interested in the astounding news that ‘woman gives birth to baby’, read the paper, whilst he and the girls waited for a glimpse of the tiny new princess.

“They keep mucking the times up,” he moaned. “They said they’d be out by now,” he complained.

Finally, at nearly 7pm, I decided enough was enough, and took an executive decision to gain control of the remote (ie stole it once he left the room).

I changed the channel and put the BBC on.

I was heartened to see that the British Broadcasting Corporation were, as expected, eminently more sensible, and were covering proper news as opposed to training every camera they possessed on the double doors of the mysterious ‘Lindo Wing’.

(What goes on in there? What is ‘lindo’? Where do the non-royals go? Or does it cater only to birth canals stamped with an HRH?)

Suddenly, all was revealed. The BBC were not, it transpires, more sensible, they were merely functioning in real time. For my husband had had the entire family glued not to ITV, but to ITV plus 1, so whilst the rest of the nation watched Kate and Wills emerge, for all of ten seconds, my lot were still watching a set of double doors.

My favourite quote of the coverage came from a journalist who was watching from the studio. She must have subconsciously realized that there was actually little to report other than the obvious (I refer you back to the ‘woman gives birth to baby’ shocker), but she then let rather herself, and womankind, down, by announcing to the nation that you could see Kate still ‘had a belly’ under her dress.

Well, one would hope so, wouldn’t one? Because, firstly, Kate hasn’t given birth to her intestines, but, secondly, she HAS given birth.

The woman has grown an entire human inside her body for 9 months, expelled it out of a hole the width of a pencil, and is staggering down some steps in heels so that the world can stare at the product of her and Wills’ evening entertainment activities.

She’s probably stitched up to the nines and sporting enough padded products on enough orifices to give Memory Foam a run for its money. Give the girl a break!

First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 12th May 2015

Self-awareness, happy families, and how to take the blame

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Have a think about your family for a moment. Are you a happy family? Alternatively, are you a close family? What about your relatives outside of your marriage or relationship? Do you get on well and meet up regularly for family celebrations?

Family can be the bane of some people’s lives, or the pure of joy of other’s. We haven’t chosen who we’re related to by blood, and yet we are expected to get along. It can be a lot of pressure to live up to a Waltons’ style ideal because, in any situation, disagreements occur and need to be dealt with before they escalate.

However, if nobody holds their hands up and takes their portion of the blame, fractures can occur.

Which leads me to wonder, should we not make the effort to raise our children knowing when to hold their hands up? Each action we make or perform has consequences – if you behave poorly, then you have to pick up the metaphorical tab for that behavior. But if we’re raising our kids to bury their heads in the sand, then we are binding ourselves to live in a society where people are simply filled with their own virtue, and refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

I am sure that sometimes, for example, people take offence at things I have written. But if I’m writing about something that is morally questionable, then what is there to take offence at? Unless of course you’re reading yourself into it, and your conscience is picking up on it for you. In which case, the fault is yours, not mine, but how many of us are willing to admit it?

Self-awareness is such an important part of being human, yet so few of us have it. Partly, I suspect, because we don’t want to admit that we are fundamentally flawed. The old cliché that nobody is perfect is certainly true – but perhaps that depends on our definition of perfect.

I think the best we can do for our children and our families, is to be open and honest, to the extent that we can gently pick up on faults, but not take offence when our own come to light.

For the record, as no doubt my husband is reading this, yes, I am a control freak. I do like to think I’m right and my way is usually the best way. That’s not opinion darling, it’s fact. Heh heh heh.