Monthly Archives: September 2011

Shaving in public / Choose (for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)

Life is choices. Choosing to act. Choosing not to act. Acts of commission or omission.

I wonder what possessed the woman in this story to choose to behave in such a startling way?

A mother writes:

I was sitting in a cafe with my daughter, when a lady came in and bought herself a drink. She took it to the outside seating area. We nodded at each other. She smiled at my daughter and then settling herself down with a newspaper.

A few moments later she took out her makeup bag and peered at her reflection.

Then she pulled out a disposable razor and began to dry shave her neck and chin.

It was all I could do not to fall off my chair.

My daughter has stored the experience away for the next time I tell her: “Don’t stare. It’s not polite.”

But I was helpless

Would you choose to shave in public? Would you choose to look on or look away or somehow manage not to look up at all? Does it make a difference whether you’re a man or a woman? For either question.
And which was she?

To find out what the other members of the Loose Bloggers Consortium came up with in response to the theme Choose (set by Grannymar) click on their links on the right hand side of the page under the LBC title.

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The Day I Met… Indira Gandhi

She even has her face on stamps

This week’s entry in The Day I Met… Competition takes place in sunny Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It used to be famous as the only home of the Dodo. Since then a more reilient resident has been roosting there – guest blogger Padmini Natarajan in Chennai, India. The dodo is extinct, but Padmini and her blog This & That, There & Here is still going strong. She and I met a few months ago at the Royal Academy. (Click for her photo.)

According to Padmini – actress, writer and cultural ambassador to the world – she and her husband have met many celebs over the years. But the one who sticks in her mind is a very formidable woman – an international figure – controversial, some would say notorious. We’re talking about bestriding the world stage here, not some reality show Z-lister (though stories about encounters with them are also welcome).

You know – Indira Gandhi Continue reading

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offender art

Disappoint Man - Anon

Can music soothe the savage beast inside?

Can art help rehabilitate offenders? I think the answer is yes to both questions Continue reading

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Marriage (for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)

Zsa Zsa Gabor, huge fan of marriage - nine life sentences. Her verdict? "A man in love is incomplete until he has married. Then he’s finished.”

“Marriage, huh! Good God. What is it good for Continue reading

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The Day I Met… Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg packs a political punch

(Ta dah!) It gives me a queasy feeling in my stomach to introduce the latest entry in The Day I Met… Competition.  Here’s a taster:

We had to stop at a hotel to collect someone. A performer. Someone whose first album I owned. My first discovery of political music for myself. Even my dad rated him. Squeak!

But then it all goes wrong. The story is from Speccy and her Me, Mine and Other Bits blog in Belfast.

I’m trembling a bit. This is about a musical hero of mine. An inspiration (of which more below). A singer songwriter. If you’re from somewhere that has not yet had the pleasure of Billy Bragg (also at his official website), he’s an unashamed leftie. The “Bard of Barking” has sung against the right-wing press, Thatcher, the arms industry, war as an easy option (he had a brief spell in the army himself) and racism; in favour of trades unions, international solidarity, sexuality in its various manifestations and the humane treatment of asylum seekers; and about loss, relationships and love.

But he’s mainly known as being incredibly right-on. (Which is an odd term, as it generally means being on the left, in a politically correct sort of way.) Right on – and fun. And a good song writer. I’ve seen and heard him live quite a few times – every time a good ‘un.

But hark! Perhaps the Braggster is not quite as saintly as he seems Continue reading

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Breath (for the Loose Bloggers Consortium)

Ever used your breath to fog up a window and draw a happy face? Why not?

I think of holding my breath, swimming as far as I can underwater as a child.

I think of the same child watching his father blow his breath into the lungs of a swimmer dragged from the sea Continue reading

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The Day I Met… Gerry Adams

He's the one in specs, paramilitary beret, no beard - an ice cream would just look silly.

(Fanfare.) It gives me great pleasure to present the next entry in the The Day I Met… competition. Here’s a taster:

I rushed through to the front to see two more extremely large “boys” wearing trench coats in a heat wave stood at the front with a third man. In trying to evacuate the premises, I nearly evacuated something else. The three at the front were close together. A shotgun with some fine buckshot might take all three out and then a run like buggery down the fields across the stream and don’t stop until I hit Larne and the boat to the mainland. It is amazing what goes through your mind when you believe you are about to be kidnapped!

The story continues below. This entry comes from… Actually I can’t tell you his name. (At least I think it’s a him.) Because he is keeping his true identity a secret. He writes about dodgy goings on in the police and the criminal justice system under the pseudynom Noble Cause Corruption. He’s a serving police officer in the UK, so Continue reading

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Fluke or miracle? The strangely moving aftermath of a death.

This is a very very poignant film.

It’s about the unexpected thing that happened – or did not happen – after a cyclist was knocked off his bike and killed.

His name was Michael Caulfield. He was married and had four children.

Not at all gory. It’s more of a slideshow than a film.

It’s short and strangely moving. Beautifully done.

Bad things happen. People die too soon. But have a look at this short clip. I predict you’ll feel a little better after it.

The single rose surviving against the odds. A fluke or a miracle?

I saw it at the blog of Malachi O’Doherty – a journalist in Belfast. He’s a very thoughtful commentator on life.

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Attack of the Evil Muffins

And now for something completely different – evil muffins.

What happens if you use rotten eggs for baking? Find out in the short film by Hannah Charles below. Whoah, it’s a bit scary.

But first a couple of updates:

  1. Brain scientist Livia Blackburne , who prompted the whole Why Writers Shouldn’t Blog discussion has joined in the debate – sparking off still vigorous back and forth. The latest comments are here.
  2. People keep leaving funny stories about The Day I Met… in comments. There’s one about Keith Chegwin from Jake Kale and a funny one about the actress Rula Lenska by Charles Dickens London in the comments here. You can still enter – details here. The next winning entry will be published this Wednesday. It’s from Noble Cause Corruption – but listen up NCC – you won’t receive your glittering prize unless you email me your address. (I’ve a feeling the prize may not be quite enough to tempt him to blow his cover and breach his undercover cop anonymity. Come visit on Wednesday to find out – and to read his tense tale.)
  3. I found out this weekend that I will have another chance to confront my nemesis. Now just need to decide what to wear on my head.
  4. And after my own shameful behaviour was revealed, the burning question of what my Dad would do with the painty water after cleaning brushes and rollers is answered in the comments here.

And now – just when you thought it was safe to go back in the kitchen – The Attack of the Evil Muffins…

That was fun. Hannah Charles is Continue reading

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Chess on 9/11

It was a grim day for first responders, but I didn't want a sad picture. So here are happy NYPD officers.

It’s that time of year when you talk about where you were when…

Which I haven’t done before because it seems a distasteful online version of shroud waving, unless you actually were there, like BBC journalist Stephen Evans who happened to be inside the World Trade Center when the planes struck, or you really helped, or – of course – it hit close to home – like with this young man who lost his Belfast-born father.

But somebody asked me to write something and perhaps once every ten years is acceptable. So…

There I was sitting in a radio studio in Bush House in London. I was editing a radio show called Newshour which goes out on the BBC World Service (reputed audience of 157 million Continue reading

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