Wednesday, December 31, 2008


As the news rolls in and in from Gaza, I’m finding it increasingly hard to read the stories without tears welling up (and this from the girl that didn’t so much as flinch when Bambi’s mother bought it).

This piece on the BBC documents the reactions of West Bank Palestinians as they too watch the events unfurl.

Violence breeds violence; be it the direct aggressions of belligerent incursions, militant rocket sorties and flighter plane bombing sprees, or the more subtle violence of strangulating blockades.

I passionately believe in non-violent resolutions, but right now, if I were there, if I had a stone in my hand, would I throw it?

Palestinian lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi says of the possibility of a third intifada:

"It's a response, a reaction to being on the receiving end of such unbridled violence,"

"There are many people who are reacting in a visceral way and saying we want revenge - it's unleashing a whole new cycle and escalating the spiral of violence."

A mother, Jamila Mohamad, speaks:

"Yesterday I was crying all day. I feel like they are all my sons. I am with nobody, not Fatah or Hamas. I just want peace."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Surreal Christmas

One of the following surreal incidents did not form part of my Christmas day, can you guess which?

  • Having my father suggest we didn't take our presents over to where we were spending Christmas day, but instead save them for Boxing Day on the basis "we'll only have to bring them back here

  • Watching my brother dress-up as Noel Edmunds (fake beard and hideous shirt etc) and lead a game of Deal or No Deal in front of about 300 people.

  • Spectating as my father and brother partook in a fascinating game of who pays for the turkey. Greatly amused as the winner (the older generation) then attempts to remain gracious on discovering the gargantuan proportions of the turkey his offspring has purchased.

  • Trying not to guffaw too loudly as animal-loving aunt and owner of new rescue feline remarks mid-afternoon “ooh let me get my camera, so I can show you all photos of my pussy”. Reflect that perhaps they brought the wrong baby home from the hospital, on realising that not a single eyebrow was raised in my entire family at the above comment.

  • Feeling for my dear sis-in-law as she discovered that the older generations request to see the Queen’s Speech, was not ironic.

Ok, I'll confess. There is no odd one out, they all happened.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas passed pleasantly enough (a couple of days at my parents and then my brother and sister in-law did the honours for Christmas day), but I spent most of the short break, trying to ignore feelings of utter exhaustion and vague flu-like achings.

Is it just celebrities that get to enjoy a nice week or two at the Priory due to exhaustion?

Hey-ho, back to work tomorrow…a mountain of urgent stuff awaits me…

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas - where it all started

As I look back at 2008, undoubtedly the thing that had the greatest impact on me, was my journey to the West Bank.

Our time spent in Bethlehem brings a new nuance to all thoughts of the nativity story.

Fittingly some of my fellow travellers have pieced together some bits of audio recorded on our trip, and with photos added and a narration by the lovely Paul, a podcast has been created.

Enhanced Christmas 2008 Greenbelt Podcast from Greenbelt Festival on Vimeo.

For better audio versions (mp3), transcripts, more details etc, click here.

A short snippet of Amos Trust's DVD about Bethlehem can be found below:

And if you fancy helping secure a playground for the kids of Beit Sahour, you can donate here.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


There are two sorts of people who notoriously tend to use the network of cut-through paths that link -up our little estate and the vast waste ground beyond, robbing scallies capitalising on the quick get-away created, or hardy dog-walkers.

Fortunately the caller at my door today proved to be from the former not the latter.

“Ooh I’m glad I’ve caught you in” she said “I have a parcel for you”.

It seems that she happened to be passing with her hound a few days previous, when the post office were attempting to deliver a largish parcel to my house.

I’m not entirely sure that delivery personnel are supposed to leave private mail with random strangers that live several streets away, but happen to be passing at the time.

Thank goodness she was honest, they hadn’t so much as put a card through my door, so I wouldn’t have even know the parcel existed!

So here’s to honest dog-walkers and lovely senders of gifts called Sally – it looks very intriguing….do I have to wait until Christmas?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


It wasn’t my fault.

It called to me across the shop floor.

And after all, I do have the shoes to match…

Monday, December 15, 2008


A supposed friend recently referred to me as "1iz - the person Russell Brand goes to for appropriateness training", but this is a little unfair I do know we have to sometimes draw the line somewhere.

It may just be that the criteria that I prioritise don't always align with social mores.

But standards are important, and it's on just such a matter that I now feel compelled to speak out.

It may come as a huge shock to no one, but I don't tend to tune in to X-factor and the like (yes I know my televisual standards are low, but we all have a limit and a show that drives music to the lowest common denominator is just too painful for the music lover/snob that lies within me).

However a couple of weeks ago, a post curry chillax chez Dog Collars and Rabbit Corpses encompassed the showing of the X-factor show recorded from earlier in the evening. This was then supplemented this last weekend, when I happened upon the closing half of the final.

I'm sure the winner is a very lovely person (though I swear the look in Beyonce's eyes screamed "get me a restraining order!") and possibly she can belt out a reasonable enough tune (the vocal mix was generally so low on all the acts I've observed, as to suggest that the priority for judgement was more about 'performance' than musicality/talent), but I nearly joined her in the copious weaping, when they announced that her first single was to be a cover of Hallelujah.

Look, I'm generally a live and let live kinda girl, but there are some places in life where one just doesn't go (voting tory, buying the Daily Mail, socks with sandals, celery etc) and I'm sorry, but X-factor treatment of a classic like Hallelujah is just wrong. In the word's of the Republican's at the time of the Spanish Civil War - if we tolerate this, our children will be next.

Random vibrato and vocal twiddling is not a substitute for demonstrating at least a passing understanding of the emotional depth and richness of the piece.

To say her rendition dumbed down the affair is a major understatement; it was a bit like watching a trained chihuahua attempting to bring emotional gravitas to Hamlet's soliloque.

It'll be enough to turn Leonard Cohen into a right grumpy, old bugger... ;-)

So let us give thanks for Peter Kay. His wit may not be razor sharp, nor his satire sophisticated, but his spoof of X-factor style shows (Britain’s Got The Pop Factor And Possibly A New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly On Ice) contains some crackingly well observed elements and is oh so timely.

So if you want to buy a Christmas single, buy "Geraldine McQueen's" comedy offering (yes you'll probably deride it in years to come, but you'll still manage to show your face in public); or invest in a quality version of Hallelujah (I'm a popularist really - I'd agree that Jeff Buckley's is pretty definitive, but other quality versions are available), but for the love of all that is holy don't buy the X-factorisation (the opening 3 lines alone may cause a fatal reaction on irony grounds).

Stand firm Britain. Don't buy it. Don't speak to those who buy it.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

That Cafe - Book Group Christmas Meal

The Book Group enjoyed a rather fine meal this evening at the ever wonderful That Cafe (we also vaguely attempted to discuss Carl Hiaasen's Basketcase).

Lots of yummy food, but sadly work pressures meant I had to drive and so no drinking for yours truly. Bah humbug!

The venison was heavenly however, and my dessert of "toffee, hazel nut cream meringue with chocolate sauce" was unimaginably glorious (far surpassing its simple description).

Friday, December 05, 2008

Comedy Perfection

Moss from the IT crowd "reboots".


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Silver Linings

Work is incredibly hectic at present, with 13 hour days far from unusual.

An external training course (complete with exams to be passed) can't be postponed again, so there's nothing for it but to take a three days out. Always interesting to listen to the internal head of a given subject tell an external party what we do. We were fascinated.

Lot's to get sorted when I get back to the home office it seems.

With the motorway having been closed for much of the day, the traffic is only just starting to recover when we finish. It seems pointless to join the queues, so I decide to sit it out with a little bit of Christmas Shopping at a local retail park.

I promise I did get some presents, but a pair of cerise heels may also have called my name...

And it meant by the time I hit the motorway, the lanes were clear and my feet were happy.