All in all it’s been a much better week – I think!
No, I don’t think…. I know – for sure.
Last week was one of the lowest weeks I have had for a very long time and this past seven days has been a whole heap better. I can’t claim that I am out of the woods yet, but fingers crossed if I keep plugging away, I will yet avoid the need to resort to taking anti-depressant drugs.
For starters my health, although still somewhat fragile, is slowly improving. I have been out walking every day (save yesterday) with no noticeable effects on my body and in particular, my ability to breathe.
For the first couple of days I seemed to detect a tightening in the chest, but to be honest I think it was psychological, and the further I walked the easier the breathing became. In any case it has become insufferably hot and humid, even at sun-down, so that alone can cause a shortness of breath in us old dodderers.
I’m still not really sure what has been going on in my chest over the past 9 months or so, but whatever it is, the meds, and the daily ‘puffs’ in my nose and mouth seem to be doing the trick and I am mercifully cough-free. The only problem is that the pains in my sternum, (from my open heart op last year), have reappeared. This is undoubtedly due to the in the incessant coughing over the past few weeks which I assume has put a strain on my still weak chest bones. But it’s not too bad and I can love live with it.
I have tried to keep busy and have largely been successful, although on some days, the whirring, sort of dizzy feeling in my head has made it very difficult. Anyone who suffers from depression will probably recognise this feeling I am trying to describe, and I am in do doubt that it is party and parcel of my illness. As I come out of the depression, the ‘buzzing’ goes away. Today, right now, at 11.30 a.m. I can feel it slightly but it is not too debilitating.
During the week I quite enjoyed the challenge of reformatting Noo’s little net book and setting up for her son to use as his first ever computer. It proved harder than I had at first thought and it took 2-3 days of trial and error and pouring over the internet after I had re-loaded the machine with a very old (genuine) copy of Windows XP and couldn’t even get it connected to the internet, let alone download updates and get it set up with some appropriate software.
Anyway, I plugged away and after a few days, I got there. It was with a sense of achievement and pleasure when I showed the young lad how to use his machine, and how to carry out such tasks as copy music and photos from his fake Samsung S3, how to play music, use Office, access the internet and, crucially, how to access You Tube.
I should add that he is only allowed to use the computer in the lounge, in our presence, so we will be the first to know if he decides to go in search of porn etc. (But not before I have taken a note of the offending websites…)
Yesterday I took Noo and her son to Central Department store where we had an enjoyable meal in Sizzlers. I do think this place is good value, with the excellent freebies: salads, soups, sweets and fruit etc and we always crawl out of the restaurant feeling absolutely stuffed.
Next we took in a movie and as a special treat, I opted for a Thai movie. It is many years since I have seen a Thai movie, and only then, when it came highly recommended. As a result I have seen some very good Thai movies through the years and very few bad ones.
The movie we saw, Panya Renu 3, was bit of a punt and I didn’t know too much about it, but it turned out to be quite watchable (Actually, strange to relate, I believe I enjoyed it more than Noo and her son did.)
I applaud the general theme of the movie – the story of pre-teenage Issan kids who flew to India with the local village monks to participate in a religious cultural festival, and became hopelessly lost when the bus they were travelling in, took off without them and left them stranded, miles from anywhere.
Amazingly, the sub-titles were in Thai as well as English as much of the dialogue was in the Issan (Laos) dialect.
The story lines were quite corny would have benefited from some more professional honing and the whole tproduction seemed to have been thrown together in a disjointed, rushed manner. The plots –such as they were – were pretty unbelievable and lacked credible detail, There was also a fair bit of amateurish acting, mainly by the adults, (especially the monks), but the kids were natural – positive little gems.
Unfortunately, the film didn’t seem to be able to make up its mind whether it was a comedy, a drama or possibly a melodrama. I think for the most part it was played for laughs, and indeed there were some genuinely funny moments, but somehow all these laughs sat uncomfortably with the tragic death, half way through the movie of one of the principal children. Yes, above all it is a movie about kids.
Some years ago, I recall watching a Thai movie called ‘The Letter’ which was such a tear-jerker that the cinemas provided everyone with a packet of tissues as they entered the cinema. OK, it was a bit of a gimmick – but they weren’t wrong. Thai movie makers have an incredible knack of knowing how to make its audiences cry.
So it was with Panya Renu 3.
Not when the poor kid dies and the lost gang of kids had to cremate him – sad though that was – but at the very end of the movie, where you would have to be the most unfeeling person alive if the closing scene didn’t extract tears of joy from your hardened, critical eyes.
The kids were filthy, starving and without hope – having been lost for many days in the wilds of India. One of their number had died and they had been wandering from town to town, desperately seeking help, but to no avail.
Their final act was to raise a Thai flag on a very tall bamboo pole near a Buddhist shrine in the hope that someone would recognise the Thai flag and come to their aid.
The group of six kids held up the flag, but one by one they collapsed exhausted to the ground. Finally there remained only one little girl, holding the flag erect with all her strength, but it was too much for her.
The pole started to slip from her grasp and fall to the ground. With tears of distress pouring down her cheeks, she screamed that one day she would go back home to her mother and father. Just before the tip of the pole hit the ground, somebody grabbed it, at the far end, just below the flag. The girl looked along the pole towards the flag and her tears turned to smiles as she stared at the saffron-robed arm that held it.
Zoom cameras, swell the rousing music, bring on the tears…….
A Tale of two Spag Bogs
These days I don’t go out to eat very often, but Noo was away somewhere the other week and I went to one of my regular watering holes where I knew I could get a perfectly palatable meal at a reasonable price. This place always have a daily special, and on this particular day, it was spaghetti bolognaise.
Now I have eaten a great many spag bogs in my life – some good, some not so good, but I’m not a fussy eater and even the occasional duff spag bog has always ‘filled a hole’, and I have never have any problems finishing what I have paid for.
Never, that is, until a week ago. On this particular occasion, the spag bog tasted so foul that I just could not get through it. I have no idea what the cook put into it, but the flavour was so strong and sort of acidic, that I thought it was dissolving my gullet when I tried to swallow the foul mess.
As the waitress removed the half eaten meal from my table, she casually mentioned that I was the third person today who had been unable to finish their meal! She said that two farangs had been in earlier on and told her it was inedible!
I happen to know that Noo is a very good cook and she can spend hours in the kitchen cooking all manner of Thai and Issan food and I can just tell by the way she goes about it that she clearly knows what she is doing. A lot of Issan food dishes require much diligent preparation and she is obviously an expert.
She also does a few very tasty Thai dishes for me, and is a dab hand at seafood and barbeques, but her knowledge of farang cooking is extremely limited. It is basically just sandwiches, salads and heating up frozen stuff like Indian curries and stews. There’s some other stuff that she can do – like poached eggs, soft boiled eggs, fried eggs, sausages and the like – but not much, because nobody has ever taught her.
The problem is that I am world’s worst cook. I can cook to exist, but that’s about it. To be honest I hate cooking and have no interest in it and I am the last person in the world to teach anyone how to cook.
So I get by with a mixture of Thai food, farang food as described above and the occasional fish and chips take away etc – but it’s all a bit limited in choice and nutritional value.
I have thought for a long time that if only I could find someone to teach Noo a few western dishes she would soon cotton on and be a fine western food cook; but there seems to be nobody around who fits the bill. Even worse, try though I may, I haven’t been able to find any recipe books in Thai that contain farang menus.
That very day when I arrived back home, still hungry from my abortive spag bog lunch, Noo proudly announced that she was going to see her friend and learn how to cook spag bog.
I still had the after taste of that awful lunch in my mouth so I smiled and told her that her plan sounded fine, but could she postpone it for a few days until I had fully recovered from my poisoning and was in a mood to try it once again.
Somewhat disheartened, it was several days later when she went to see her friend and was shown how to cook one of my favourite dishes.
I confess that I still wasn’t particularly keen on trying her effort as I was still put off from my recent experiences, but once I took a single mouthful I was completely hooked.
I swear to God it was the most delicious spaghetti I have ever tasted in my entire life. No! I am not kidding! It was so delicious and sort of smooth tasting. The flavour wasn’t too strong – it was absolutely perfect – as was the pasta.
It turns out that Noo’s friend is married to an Italian and that they used to run a restaurant. She showed me all the ingredients and spices etc she had used – all fresh, no canned tomatoes, no packets of sauce or anything like that.
Noo’s son had previous been given spag bogto eat but couldn’t stand it. This time, he liked it so much that it was all I could do to prevent him from eating the whole lot in one sitting.
Suffice to say that Mobi, Noo and her son lived on Noo’s home made spaghetti for the next two days and we never got tired of it.
Now then, what next?
Wope the Pope!
You would have to be living on the moon not to know that over the past week or so that the world’s media has been totally obsessed with a medieval ritual taking place in Italy to elect the latest in a long line of el papas
While I accept that the election of a man who will be spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics, or some 16% of the World’s population is a significant event, they seem to forget that 84% or some 5.9 billion people throughout the world will have little or no interest in the event.
Sure enough these things don’t happen too often, and when they do, it is something of a novelty with which to flood the 24/7 news hungry airwaves.
But let’s face it, in a world that seems to be forever teetering on the brink of all manner of global disasters, is it right to provide nightly, blanket coverage of an event, that at best, is little more than an pathetic mason-istic style ritual involving ancient, science- denying hedonistic dodderers, most of whom would be ideal candidates for collective Alzheimer’s research?
The sight of BBC’s Jon Soper camping out night after night at the Vatican Square, discussing the mysteries of black smoke and white smoke, and his henchmen carrying out asinine interviews with the idiots braving the cold and rain for hour after an hour in the hope of taking a phone snap of the ring of smoke.
Can you believe that many of those interviewed weren’t even Catholics; they were just there because the incredible media hype had made it an event to be at – like a pop concert or a Royal wastrel’s wedding or the funeral of the Peoples’ Princess.
If they had all been told to bring flowers, you would have seen a million bouquets piled up against St Peter’s Basilica and if they had been told to cry, the flow of tears would have raised the level of the Tiber by 6 inches.
Actually, they missed a trick. When the white smoke rose to signal the choice of El Papa Frankie boy, the Vatican speaker system should have burst out with a rendering of ‘Smoke gets in your eyes’ or maybe Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring of Fire’. We could all have had a good old fashioned sing song.
But the banal commentaries descended into total drivel after we learned the identity of the God’s latest personally appointed representative here on sinful Earth. (God was in the smoke…) We were informed that sassy Assisi was setting a new, warm and informal tone to his papacy. How did they know? Well, he said,
‘Good evening, Ladies and gentlemen’.
Oh my God! – (sorry, he is God) – such munificence from the holy, humble pie deity.
There is more.
He declined the limo sent to transport him to church in favour of hopping on a bus!
Oh my God! – (sorry, he is God) – What number bus was that? Where was it going? The Coliseum? The Trevi Fountain?
No, not quite, it transpires that el papa’s humble mode of transport was also transporting all those well fed, self-indulgent cardinals, so you can bet your bottom dollar it didn’t have a running board with a cheekie chappie conductor, shouting out ‘old on tight, luvvies’.
I doubt there’s too many folk back in dear old Blighty – Catholics included – who will be celebrating the installation of papa Frankie from the Argie Bargies.
Here’s what his holiness said in at a Mass in Buenos Aires on April 2 last year, the 30th anniversary of the Argentine invasion of the Falklands:
“We come to pray for all who have fallen, sons of the homeland who went out to defend their mother, the homeland, and to reclaim what is theirs, that is of the homeland, and it was usurped.”
Oh dear, it seems that God isn’t on our side on this one guys. Looks like we will be fighting the Argies and God!!
Oh my God!!
Sorry everyone, but I just don’t get it. We devote hundreds if not thousands of hours of news coverage to a religion that over the past 1,200 years has been responsible for the untold torture and unspeakable acts against its fellow human beings, and by conservative estimates, the deaths of millions of people.
All in the name of God.
This is a religion that steadfastly refuses to sanction the use of condoms. This is despite the untold misery and deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in Africa and other poor parts of the world (quite possibly millions) from AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases. There are quite possibly millions of unwanted, unfed and unloved infants who have died due to the prohibition of any form of birth control.
This is a religion that has a dark and terrible history of sexual abuse by its priests on hundreds of thousands of children, all over the world, and if anything, an even darker catalogue of their tireless efforts to cover up these heinous sins –right up to the present day.
And if you need any further corroboration of this, one of the first things papa Frankie did after becoming el papa was to go on an unscheduled visit to a basilica in Rome where he greeted Cardinal Bernard Law.
It so happens that this man – Cardinal Law – resigned as Archbishop of Boston 10 years ago, after issuing a statement begging forgiveness, and he fled America after being accused in scores of law suits of failing to protect children.
His former archdiocese has paid out more than $100 million to settle as many as 750 suits
The Vatican has confirmed that he had “discreetly” met the Cardinal, but campaigners for the abuse victims described the fact that the meeting happened as “rubbing salt into still festering wounds”.
And then there is the estimable Cardinal Keith O’Brien, up to a short while ago, Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric.
In recent times, Cardinal Keefy has been an outspoken critic of gay marriages and has been particularly erudite on explaining to us the vile sin of homosexuality. On gay marriages, he said the following:
“If marriage can be redefined so that it no longer means a man and a woman but two men or two women, why stop there? Why not allow three men or a woman and two men to constitute a marriage?”
“What if a man likes little girls? Can he adopt a little girl and then just have a little girl at home? We are working towards the destruction of any sort of moral standards.”
Then, just as this man of pristine virtue was about to jump on a plane and head for Rome to help elect the new papa, we discovered he was yet another of those lying, self-aggrandising hypocrites. It came to light that there had been four serious complaints made against him.
The first, from a former priest, claims Cardinal O’Brien made an inappropriate approach to him in 1980, after night prayers, when he was a seminarian at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange. The complainant says he resigned as a priest when Cardinal O’Brien was first made a bishop
A second statement from another complainant says he was living in a parish when he was visited by O’Brien, and inappropriate contact took place between them.
A third complainant alleges dealing with what he describes as “unwanted behaviour” by the cardinal in the 1980s after some late-night drinking
And the fourth complainant claims the cardinal used night prayers as an excuse for inappropriate contact
In the statement, released on Sunday, the Cardinal apologised, and asked for forgiveness, as well as admitting that, despite previously contesting the allegations, some were true.
“In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them.
“However, I wish to take this opportunity to admit that there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.
“To those I have offended, I apologise and ask forgiveness… To the Catholic Church and people of Scotland, I also apologise.”
Back in Rome, retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, who was stripped of his duties in January after files were published that revealed he helped cover up scandals, is expected to return from Rome after taking part in the 115-member papal conclave.
Mahony was stripped of his church duties by his successor after the release of the files exposed his role in the cover-up, approved the deal which involved paying out 10 million dollars to 4 victims, earlier this month, before travelling to the Vatican.
One of the victims was raped repeatedly by a Californian priest in the mid-1980s, yet Mahoney simply sent the priest away for a while before allowing him to return to his normal, priestly duties.
I could write a book on the horrors that have been perpetrated by the Catholic Church, throughout history and up to the present day.
If the BBC, CNN and others insist on covering the appointment of a man to a position of unfettered supremacy as the leader of one of the world’s most powerful and .. sorry… there simply is no other word for it… this… bullshit religion, then surely they have a duty to inform the unquestioning public that there is another side to this church.
A church – and a pope – that once tacitly approved the actions of a certain Adolph Hitler.
(Urban Dictionary: Woping is when you wipe your ass with someone else’s hand
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