January 2015


That’s it. Finished. I am no longer passionate about raising awareness of social anxiety.

Why? I just read this article. It says, “Passion is something that takes place in a bedroom not a boardroom.” Except that in my case it should say, “Passion is something that takes place in a bedroom, not a personal computer.” Outside the bedroom, passion is a cliché.

The only trouble is, I don’t know what to replace it with. My goal is to raise awareness of social anxiety? Shouldn’t “goal” be reseverved for the football pitch? My ambition is to raise awareness of social anxiety? Isn’t “ambition” a word for job fairs?

The jury’s still out on this. No, I don’t mean that – I’m not in a courtroom.

PS I’m not poking fun at the article, which was written by a cousin of mine. I agree that marketing needs to be stripped of meaningless words. But I’m not a company; I’m just me. Please may I still be passionate?

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To individual people, lives are not equal. Some are much more important to us than others. The lives of those closest to us are the most important. Then perhaps the lives of those less close to us. Then public figures. Of the people we don’t know, we tend to worry more about those who have some connection to us. When some major disaster happens in the world, my local news tells me how many Israelis were involved. If I turn on BBC news, I hear the number of British people involved.

Does each country value the lives of all its citizens equally? Israel does. Britain does. India, as I discovered recently, doesn’t. I’m going to describe the incident that brought this home to me.

During our recent tour of the states of Odisha and Chhattisgarh, our group was driven in six cars. All six drivers were excellent at their job, but that didn’t stop us being scared. The drivers drove fast on bad roads full of obstacles. We passed buses, tuk-tuks and motorbikes carrying a lot more people than they should have done. We skirted round cows wandering around freely. In fact one time, our driver hooted at a cow in the road. (They all hooted a lot.) The cow appeared to be moving to the side but then changed its mind and the driver, still going quite fast, had to swerve to avoid it. We thought we were going to turn over but somehow the car remained upright.

Our cars in IndiaDriving at night was particularly scary. They overtook on bends where they couldn’t have seen what was coming, especially as not all motorbikes there have lights, and bicycles, pedestrians and cows certainly don’t.

Another time, I was sitting in the back with one other, while a third member of our group sat at the front beside the driver. For a change, we were on a dual carriageway with two lanes on each side. Our driver was just overtaking a bus when a motorbike shot out from behind the bus, crossing our path. The driver braked sharply, but couldn’t avoid hitting the motorbike, on which were four people. A crowd gathered and we saw one of the motorbike passengers, who looked to be a teenager, being carried to the side of the road. If he was alive, he was certainly unconscious.

What happened next shocked us. We knew what would happen in our country and in other western countries. At the very least, we would have to wait for the police to come to take statements and note down particulars. In our naiveté, we imagined the same would happen here.

As soon as all the passengers and the motorbike had been moved to the side of the road, the people waved us on and the driver moved off, driving even faster than usual. He said something to us about the car being from a different state and he spoke in Hindi on the phone. There had been contact between the drivers throughout the trip.

Afterwards, our guide, who had been in a car in front of us, tried to hush everything up. He sounded surprised to hear that anything had happened, although I’m sure he must have been told by phone. Then, after supposedly finding out, he told us that the injured boy was drunk and not hurt at all. No one asked if we were all right. As it happened, two of us hit our heads on the seats in front, but we were OK.

The way the accident was handled shocked us. It is known that the accident rate in India is bad, but this was an accident that probably didn’t enter into the statistics. Probably someone died in it. But what’s one life amongst so many?

I come to the second of Wake Up World‘s

Top5RegretsOfTheDyingI discussed the first one here. What about the second?

Top5RegretsOfTheDying2No, that’s not going to be one of mine. True, I’ve worked hard. But I don’t think I’ve worked excessively. It’s good to work hard. Hard work brings satisfaction – especially when you enjoy your work. As long as you find time to relax, which I do.

How about you?

This subject came up recently because of Sue Barnard’s poem based on the cumulative song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, about which Wikipedia says:

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” is a cumulative song, meaning that each verse is built on top of the previous verses.

I had heard this song before, but I think I need to know more about it in order to understand Sue’s poem.

Nevertheless, it got me thinking about all the cumulative songs I know.

These are the ones I remember:

  • Green Leaves Grew All Around
  • Green Grow the Rushes, O
  • There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

And two songs we sing at the Passover seder:

  • Chad Gadya, a song in Aramaic that tells the story of one little goat.
  • Echad Mi Yodea, which, like Green Grow the Rushes, O, allocates an object to each number.

Apparently cumulative songs are popular with choirs because the words are easy to remember. I certainly remember the words of those Passover songs.

Do you have any favourite cumulative songs?

Times have changed. If I ever thought about mental illness in my youth, it was in connection with “mental asylums” as they were called then.

Today, attitudes are very different, but there is still a stigma attached to mental health issues. That’s why I decided to add my story to a website called, “Stigma Fighters.” It’s an American site and they’re looking for donations that will help it become a non-profit organisation.

Many thanks to Ailsa Abraham for the link and endless thanks to Gill, who changed my life.

The competition I ran for Indie Authors Appreciation Week was won by Cathy Bryant, who will shortly receive a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There. Congratulations, Cathy.

Front50%In chapter 1 of Neither Here Nor There, Esty, as a first step in the process of leaving the haredi (ultra-orthodox) community in which she was raised, has to phone Avi, who volunteers for an organisation that helps people like Esty.

There were two competition questions:

1. How does the person Esty calls on the phone react when Esty tells him that she wants to leave the haredi community?

Cathy answered: “The man on the phone reacts by carefully explaining the risks, and making sure that Esty understands that she can go back – that she still has a choice. He outlines what might go wrong.”

2. Why do you think he reacts in this way?

Cathy answered: “I got the impression that he was trying to make sure that she knew what she was doing and wasn’t acting on impulse – as a representative of his organisation he has to be responsible. After all, she’s taking a very serious step.

Both answers are correct. But I wanted to point out something else. The members of the organisation must be aware that they could be accused of tempting young people away from their families and their way of life. They need to make absolutely clear to everyone that they become involved only after the person has made that crucial decision.

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Neither Here Nor There is available from Amazon, Smashwords and The Book Depository.

Before I deal with the topic of this post, here’s a reminder of a competition to win a signed copy of Neither Here Nor There. More information on my Facebook page. You have a bit more than a day to enter the competition.

Edit: Actually it was 2 days. Now it’s one. Until midnight GMT on Thursday night.

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A friend shared this picture from Wake Up World the other day.

Top5RegretsOfTheDyingI’m not thinking of dying anytime soon and neither is my friend, but this got me thinking. I could say four of those about myself. And two of them would go deeper than that.

So I thought I’d explore each one in more detail, starting with:

Top5RegretsOfTheDying1And when I thought about this some more, I decided I do live a life true to myself – now and in the big things. In my childhood, there were many things I’d have liked to have done – things I didn’t even ask my parents about because I knew they wouldn’t agree.

But as an adult, I generally do the things I want – the big things, anyway. With the little things, I try to do what’s expected of me, even without knowing what that is. It’s all part of wanting to be normal, whatever that is.

There’s an easy answer to that: Stop doing what’s expected of you and do what you want.

Absolutely. Good advice. Except that I do it automatically. Without thinking. Because that’s how I’m programmed. And it’s not something that’s easy to change.

Where do you stand on that?

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