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Hoo-Ray!

10 Mar

So glad to see Ray Quinn win the last-ever Dancing On Ice.  Incredible to think he’s an amateur.  Here’s his Bolero:

My favourite skate:

His solo skate:

What am I going to do now DOI has finished forever?  Sad face.

I guess I’ll have to watch Strictly.  Sadder face.

It’s National Poetry Day

3 Oct

In protest OFC

As it’s National Poetry Day, I thought I’d share some news: I have another poem coming out in an anthology.

For me, this one is kind of a big deal, because I get to be an anthology buddy with Carol Ann Duffy, our Poet Laureate, and Ruth Padel, a big noise in the British poetry world.  You can’t see it, but I’m dancing a joyful jig right now – I’m an ‘emerging poet’!

Contributors have been asked to publicise the event, so here goes:

Press Release

In Protest: new poetry anthology explores human rights and social justice

Poets from around the world explore themes of human rights and social justice in a unique collaboration between the Human Rights Consortium and the Institute of English Studies (both School of Advanced Study, University of London), and London-based poetry collective the Keats House Poets.

In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights is an ambitious new publication aiming to bring together the fields of human rights research and literature in an innovative way. Selected from over 600 poems submitted by established and emerging poetsit provides a rare international insight into issues ranging from the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the Hola massacre and indigenous peoples’ rights to the current war in Syria.

All the poems received were anonymised and the final 150 chosen include works from jailed Colombian human rights activist David Ravelo and acclaimed UK poets Carol Anne Duffy, Ruth Padel, Moniza Alvi and Douglas Dunn. Campaigner and philanthropist Sigrid Rausing, who wrote the afterword for the anthology, said:  ‘Poetry brings tiny details to life, and in a world where human rights is mostly about reports and abstractions, where real life and real details are lost, poetry can still make us see and feel.’

Co-edited by Helle Abelvik-Lawson (Human Rights Consortium), Laila Sumpton and Anthony Hett (both Keats House Poets), the 251 pages make up a body of contemporary works that is truly outstanding for its exploration of human rights. The poets come from a variety of backgrounds from more than 16 countries.

Divided into 13 themes – Expression, History, Land, Exile, War, Children, Sentenced, Slavery, Women, Regimes, Workers, Unequal, and Protest – the poems vary in style from compelling personal stories to reflections on contemporary events experienced via the evening news. With the forthcoming centenary of the First World War, this anthology also proves vital reading for an insight into contemporary war poetry, covering conflicts ranging from the Spanish Civil War to Syria.

‘This book has validated my suspicion that there is space and enthusiasm for literary creativity in human rights,’ said Helle Abelvik-Lawson. ‘Reading and writing poetry is a very therapeutic way to process some of the darker aspects of humanity. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom – there are some very empowering, fun and funny poems in this book. The feeling of solidarity is palpable, and I feel very privileged to have been able to read so many incredible poems. Like any good anthology, each poem offers something unique, telling a different story about the human experience.’

The editors, together with a number of poets, will speak at an event marking the UK launch of In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights (paperback) at the Bloomsbury Festival finale in Senate House, University of London on 20 October at 18:00. Discounted copies will be available. A series of events connected to the anthology are planned throughout 2013-14.

 

Poached, by Dr William Fowlds

20 Sep

Warning: the pictures in the video below are distressing.   I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried when I saw them.  If we don’t help these magnificent animals, they won’t be around for much longer.  We are brutalising them into extinction.

I don’t usually do grim here at The Laughing Housewife, but I saw this story on Sky News and I have to share it.  I have included a short extract but I beg you to read the whole story and watch the accompanying video.

The number of rhinos killed in South Africa looks set to exceed last year’s record total.

With just three months left in 2013, the number of rhinos killed is more than 500 and appears almost certain to top 2012′s death toll of 668.

One man doing his fair share [to help] is veterinarian Dr William Fowlds who is the founder of Rhino Lifeline.

Dr Fowlds was the first vet on the scene when three rhinos were attacked by poachers 18 months ago on the Kariega Game Reserve. One was so badly mutilated, he died hours later.

But somehow Dr Fowlds’ prompt work managed to bring the other two back from the brink.

The rangers were traumatised by the sight of these animals with their horns and part of their faces ripped off by the poachers.

Seven billion humans live on this planet: are we all going to stand by while a greedy few exterminate an entire species?  I don’t want to have to explain to my grandchildren that, in this information age, when a group of like-minded people with computers can put enormous pressure on individuals, huge organisations and even governments, I said nothing; I did nothing; I let others worry about it.

This is not someone else’s problem; it is ours, right now.  I urge you to blog about it; tweet about it; talk about it on Facebook; start a petition; lobby your MP, Congressman, political representative.

Don’t let us lose another species because we were too busy watching cute kitties on You Tube.

Joke 886

26 Aug
English: High Street, Edinburgh Festival Fring...

High Street, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Funniest Jokes – a sample from 2008-2013

  • “My girlfriend said ‘did you know that hippopotamuses kill more people every year than guns?’. ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘but a gun is easier to conceal’.”
    – Lloyd Langford
  • “When I was a kid I asked my mum what a couple was and she said ‘oh, two or three’. And she wonders why her marriage didn’t work.”
    – Josie Long
  • “The Scots invented hypnosis, chloroform and the hypodermic syringe – wouldn’t it be easier just to talk to a woman?”
    – Stephen Grant
  • “I’m sure wherever my dad is he’s looking down on us. He’s not dead, just very condescending.”
    – Jack Whitehall
  • “Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?”
    – Dan Antopolski (winner, 2009)
  • “I picked up a hitch hiker. You’ve got to when you hit them.”
    – Emo Phillips
  • “I bought one of those anti-bullying wristbands when they first came out. I say ‘bought’, I actually stole it off a short, fat ginger kid.”
    – Jack Whitehall
  • “Dave drowned. So at the funeral we got him a wreath in the shape of a lifebelt. Well, it’s what he would have wanted.”
    – Gary Delaney

From the Huffington Post

Ewwww!

6 Aug
county-clean-fatberg-image1

county-clean-fatberg-image1 (Photo credit: walt74)

This is probably the grossest thing I’ve ever read, so naturally I want to share it with you.

From Sky News:

 [A] 15-tonne mass of festering food fat mixed with wet wipes and sanitary products threatened to send raw sewage spurting onto the leafy streets of Kingston upon Thames.

“The sewer was almost completely clogged with over 15 tonnes of fat. If we hadn’t discovered it in time, raw sewage could have started spurting out of manholes across the whole of Kingston.

“It was so big it damaged the sewer and repairs will take up to six weeks.”

The foul blockage was discovered when residents of nearby flats complained they could not flush their toilets.

Mr Hailwood added: “Given we’ve got the biggest sewers and this is the biggest fatberg we’ve encountered, we reckon it has to be the biggest such berg in British history.”

*

All I can say is, I’m glad my London trip wasn’t last week; ’cause you know the Hub would have blamed it on me.

The fatberg was the size of a double-decker bus.  

Seriously, London: it’s time to diet.

 

Bottoming & Bung

16 Jul
English: Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson on the G...

English: Cory Monteith as Finn Hudson on the Glee Live! In Concert! tour. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apologies that I haven’t replied to your comments for days.  Our German visitors – who were lovely and, contrary to popular British opinion, proved that Germans do have a sense of humour – left yesterday and I collapsed on the couch in front of the TV, catching up with Glee (I’m up to date with ER).  It was rather poignant to watch what were probably Cory Monteith’s last scenes.

I have been reading your comments even if I haven’t had time to reply; and also your emails.  Please accept my apologies for not replying to those, either.  I was too tired to go near the computer yesterday, and I am about to go out just now, catching two buses to a sleep clinic in Manchester.  

Sadly, it doesn’t live up to the hype of its name: no sleeping for me; just an oxygen thingy for my finger, to determine whether I have sleep apnoea.  I will probably have to go back again tomorrow, as the NHS needs to hold on to its oxygen thingies for other sleep-problemed patients; so I may not get a chance to reply until Thursday.  I really am sorry. Or I would be, if I could stay awake long enough to care about social conventions.

One Thousand Years of German Humour with Henni...

One Thousand Years of German Humour with Henning Wehn and Otto Kuhn (Photo credit: dullhunk)

I have enjoyed your discussion of the meanings of ‘bottoming’ and ‘bung’.  I didn’t have a title for this post until I wrote that last line, so thank you once again, dear readers.

I can tell you now what bottoming and bung are not: they are not the named partners of a dodgy law firm.

Keep guessing; or tell me what you think their real meanings are – or are not.  

The funniest reply will receive an answer in the comments from me.  Can’t say fairer than that, can I?

No, really, I can’t: my temporary crown has given me a lisp.

 

Four Fun Facts For The Fourth Of July

4 Jul

  1. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both signed the Declaration of Independence; went on to serve as Presidents of the United States; and died on July 4th, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary.  Adams’ last words were said to be, ‘Thomas Jefferson still survives,’ not knowing that his friend and rival had died several hours earlier (no internet back then).
  2. Fifth President James Monroe, another Founding Father, died on July 4, 1831.  He was the third consecutive President to die on Independence Day. Fourth time was the proverbial charm, to the relief, I’m guessing, of John Quincy Adams.
  3. The Declaration of Independence has been celebrated since the first anniversary in 1777, but the 4th of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941. It was first referred to as Independence Day in 1791.  Ideas caught on slowly back then – like I said: no internet.
  4. Three times I have declared a Will Smith Day, because he is the King of Independence Day.  No government either side of the pond has taken me up on it.  You can read the details here, but here’s an extract to whet your appetite:

Sadly, Will won’t be starring in my forthcoming movie, in which large blonde dogs band together and betray humanity to an alien species.  I call it Independence Day: Boomer’s Revenge.  Tagline: The Day The Dogs Bit Back.

Happy Independence Day!

*

 

Britain’s Got Talent

9 Jun

We watched the final last night and believed there was a worthy winner, but we’d have been happy if any of four acts had won.

The Luminites were brilliant throughout the comp and we were astonished they weren’t in the top three:

Richard & Adam have gorgeous voices and were so professional when the viola player ran on stage to throw eggs at Simon Cowell, I thought at first it was part of the act and she was throwing stars into the audience:

Jack Carroll, only 14 and with Cerebral Palsy, is a brilliant comedian and must surely have a big future ahead of him:

And here’s my favourite performance from Attraction, the winners, though they were all good:

 

A Treat For Downton Abbey Fans

17 May

Breaking News!  Downton Abbey has cast its first black character – Sean Combs, better known as P Diddy.

Don’t believe me?  Hear it from the horse’s (occasionally foul) mouth:

For more details, go to Sky News

 

A Man In A Can

13 May

I saw this wonderful clip about astronaut Chris Hadfield on Sky News:

The Bowie purists might not like it, but I do.

In other news…

Last night, the Hub and I heard what I can only describe as a weird chattering.  I thought it might be magpies but it was after their bed time and higher-pitched.

Turns out it was a couple of courting foxes, lying in the road and making eyes at each other.  Once they saw us watching, they ran off.

I can’t blame them; I’d be spooked, too, if someone peered into our bedroom at an interesting moment.

 

Today Is M.E. Awareness Day

12 May

The Hub has M.E. and I had intended to write about it and him but – somewhat ironically – after the day I’ve had, I’m too tired to blog.

Instead, I will re-post last year’s article (which is actually a re-post from the year before, but nothing has changed so I don’t feel guilty), and ask you to spare a thought for people like the Hub, facing prejudice and disdain from those who believe he is too lazy to work, on his best days; and too lazy to get up, on his worst.

 

Today is International CFS/ME Day.

That’s a mouthful so, in layman’s terms: millions of people across the world suffer unexplained fatigue, excruciating pain, the stigma of being called ‘lazy’, and are generally considered too idle to work.

Please consider me sticking two fingers up at those who say my husband who, before he became ill, ran his own business, travelled all over sub-Saharan Africa, trained under-14s at football, was a qualified referee who covered as many as five games every Saturday, set up and ran the official MCFC Supporters Club of South Africa and occasionally came home to remind himself of what his family looked like, is lazy and too idle to work.  I don’t buy it.

I don’t know how much you know about ME but here’s a bit of info to get you started:

It has many names, including:

  • Yuppie Flu
  • Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Post-Viral Fatigue Syndrome

Fibromyalgia is similar but not exactly the same, though I can’t really tell you the difference; and I don’t think it matters to those who suffer from these dreadful and debilitating conditions.

It robs you of a meaningful life.

You will spend your time in a haze of pain, exhaustion and prejudice – because ‘you don’t look sick’.  Someone once said to the Hub, ‘I wish I had it; I could do with six months off work.’  Now that person does have it, and it’s been a lot longer than six months.  I don’t gloat over that because I wish nobody had it.

Symptoms vary from person to person.

That’s one of the reasons it’s so difficult to diagnose and treat.  It doesn’t help that many in the medical profession don’t believe it exists.  It took two years before the Hub was taken seriously by a doctor.  He would be in bed for weeks.  When he could drag himself to the doctor’s he would invariably be told to ‘take two paracetamol and go to bed.’  One doctor said he needed a psychiatrist.

When a doctor finally did take him seriously, it took many more months for him to be officially diagnosed: the only way to do it was to rule out anything else.  He has had every kind of scan, blood test, whatever, available on the NHS.  They were thorough, but what a waste of money.

Then, once diagnosed, you are left to get on with it because there is no cure.

A few of the symptoms:

  • severe, debilitating and disabling fatigue
  • poor concentration
  • brain fog
  • poor memory
  • useless sleep i.e. you never feel refreshed
  • muscle pain
  • headaches
  • migraines
  • joint pain and inflammation
  • swollen glands
  • sore throat
  • hot sweats
  • cold sweats
  • noise sensitivity
  • light sensitivity
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • too much sleep with no benefit
  • short-lived paralysis
  • numbness
  • twitching muscles
  • tinnitus
  • blackouts
  • depression
  • feeling spaced out
  • mood swings, particularly bad moods
  • nausea
  • IBS
  • lack of temperature control
  • allergies
  • chest pain
  • sinusitis 

This is not a complete list.

Not pleasant, is it?

So, if you know someone with CFS/ME or Fibromyalgia, please don’t take it personally when they cancel a long-standing date or seem fidgety and uncomfortable when you visit.  They simply don’t have the required energy.  If they live alone, offer to help with their shopping, take them to appointments, or anything else they might need.

Be nice.  Don’t judge until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes – you’ll have to do it, because they can’t walk a mile in any shoes.

And be careful yourself: slow down; don’t feel the need to do everything.  Believe me, M.E. can happen to anyone.

*

An apology: I had intended to write a good-humoured piece that would send you on your way with a smile and hopefully leave you thinking a little about this illness.

I couldn’t do it.  The sufferer has all the suffering, but their loved ones have to stand by, helpless, watching as their lives go on hold.  I hate it.

The saddest thing he ever said to me was, ‘I never got to play football with my own children.’

*

Two Useful Links:

If you need help claiming benefits: AfME Fact Sheet

From a convert to the cause: Daily Mail Article

 

The Beginning Of The Enderverse

10 May

Regular readers of this blog know, having been told over and over (and assuming that they were paying attention), that Ender’s Game by Scorson Ott card…let me re-type that, I’m so excited!…by Orson Scott Card, is my Desert Island Book. Assuming, that is, that they give you a book on top of the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare.  If not, I might have to take it as my luxury item instead of the giant vat of Vaseline I had set my heart upon.

Vaseline is fabulous:

  • Lubricant: to grease rusted screws from washed-up airplane parts that I can turn into three-storey homes and life rafts
  • Skin softener: to protect me from the harsh elements
  • Lip salve: Vaseline’s most vital function in my own universe: have you ever tried smiling at strangers when your lips are cracked?  Don’t.  It frightens them
  • Frying grease: I’ll need all my fat stores, obviously, because I can’t hunt or grow vegetables.  My best hope will be to eat suicidal sharks.  I’ve eaten shark.  It tastes fishy.  But I don’t do sushi, hence the Vaseline.  Fat stores are the reason I don’t diet – in case of desert island castawaying.  I find a good precaution is never wasted
  • Sore sealant: it’s what they put on boxers’ cuts to stop the blood obscuring their vision as they pound each other to pulp.  Which brings me back to Ender’s Game:

My beloved eldest son (this month’s favourite child as a result of what I’m about to tell you) sent me a link yesterday: the film of the book is FINALLY made!

The book was written in 1985 and is beloved around the world, but various attempts to film it were defeated because the Battle Room was just too difficult to turn into hard copy.

Thankfully, CGI is now so sophisticated, the dream has become reality. Imaginary reality, of course, but you get my drift.  Remember – the enemy’s gate is down!

I’m sure it won’t be the only book in the series to be filmed, but I do hope they go the Bean route rather than the Ender route.

You don’t know what I’m talking about, but I don’t care: I’m happy in my own little world.  Unlike poor Ender, a lonely child soldier.

Dystopian futures – I love ‘em.  Ho!

 

 

Martians Read English?

3 May

A chance to go to space!

Even better: a chance to go to space without leaving your computer.

No, not on Richard Branson’s £200,000 ticket to the atmosphere with your laptop as carry-on luggage, but through a request from NASA (via Sky News):

Nasa Wants Three-Line Poems For Mars Mission

The space agency is inviting the public to send in poems to go on a DVD that will be carried on a new Mars mission.

Nasa is inviting the public to send in their name and a poem to be put on a DVD that will be carried aboard a Martian-bound spacecraft.

The disc will be in the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, scheduled to launch in November.

Every name submitted will go on the disc but the space agency also wants people to write a short haiku poem.

A haiku is a form of writing that originated in Japan and is usually made up of three lines and around 17 syllables.

The three best poems, as voted for online by the public, will end up heading to the Red Planet.

People who send in their names for the DVD will be able to print off a ‘certificate of appreciation’ to record their involvement and the deadline for entries is July 1.

The voting for the three best messages begins on July 15, with the winners announced on August 8. The MAVEN mission itself is expected to blast off in late 2013.

See here for details (there’s something I never expected to Google: Nasa poetry competition…).  

And remember, if you win, to link back to this blog.  Martians read Laughing Housewives, I’m sure.

 

Six Down; Eighty-Seven To Go

2 May

I’m a little behind in answering the daily prompts – about 93 prompts behind, if I’m honest.  So here goes:

At noon today, take a pause in what you’re doing or thinking about. Make a note of it, and write a post about it later.

12:00  Mmm, lunch!

12:02:  Mmm, lunch was delicious!

Hot dog eating a hot dog

Hot dog eating a hot dog (Photo credit: interpunct)

*

Head to your favorite online news source. Pick an article with a headline that grabs you. Now, write a short story based on the article. 

From Sky News:  Cannibalism Confirmed At Early US Settlements

Summary: Jamestown residents eat 14 year-old girl after difficult winter.

We’ve had a difficult winter, haven’t we Spud?

Mmm…lunch…

*

What role does music play in your life?

It often accompanies lunch.

But what it really wants to do is direct.

*

Read the story of Richard Parker and Tom Dudley.  [Shipwrecked sailors dine on dying cabin boy] Is what Dudley did defensible? What would you have done?

I plead the Fifth.  I will say, however, that if I had been there, which I quite possibly was because the report says Tilly succeeded in obtaining bail, that I’d have been cleared on the grounds that it would drive any Tilly insane to have to go for more than four hours without food.

 *

Invent a definition for the word “flangiprop,” then use the word in a post. 

 Flangiprop: 

An open, tartlike pastry, 
the shell of which is baked 
in a bottomless band of metal
on a baking sheet, 
removed from the ring 
and filled with custard, cream, fruit, etc.  
It has a gelatinous base.
*
Mmm, dessert was delicious!
*
*
Reincarnation: do you believe in it?
*
Not at all.
*
Though I did in a previous life.
*
*
*

Today, I Am Ashamed To Be British

10 Apr

Zapiro

From The Mail & Guardian, South Africa

By now, everyone knows that Margaret Thatcher died on Monday.  It has been headline news everywhere.

The BBC managed a Freudian typo – accidentally, I hope:  

Margaret Thatcher dies after a strike.

I wonder if the British reaction has been headline news around the world?  I hope not.

In Britain, many mourn; many…rejoice.  Champagne was sprayed; happy chants thought up; in Glasgow, people who are too young to remember her time in office threw a street party to celebrate.  It was not the only ‘death party’.   Signs appeared saying, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead!  Facebookers – people I know – spewed vitriol.  

While I don’t deny that her policies caused hurt to many, I have been appalled and saddened at the awfulness of the public reaction in some quarters.  The weltschmerz I feel is compounded with shame.  Margaret Thatcher wasn’t a mass-murderer, a torturer, a genocidal maniac who kept heads in the refrigerator.  She was a strong woman, convinced she was right, and unafraid to act on her beliefs.  She was our first and, so far, only, female Prime Minister; for three terms.  No small achievement.  She was respected and sometimes feared on the world stage.

But all of that happened more than twenty years ago.  When she died, she was just a frail old lady.

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatche...

former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in October 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is wrong with a country in which people can show such scant respect for the dead?  In which it is okay to dance on the grave of a pensioner?

All politics aside, today, I am ashamed to be British.

 

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