Land of my fathers

Today marks the beginning of the six nations rugby competition for 2023, since as long as I can remember the family would gather around the TV to watch Wales play rugby against the Irish, Scots, English, French and Italians starting each year in February.

Watching Rugby is one of the few times when in my heart I know I am welsh. Having spent most of my life living in England which I enjoy and feel a part of and accepted as a citizen of the UK, there is no national event quite like it for me than when Wales take to the pitch and play a game of rugby in the six nations championship.

I don’t mean this unkindly but were not the best team in the competition and we don’t win all our matches, so there is always the underdog mentality. As much as we have the potential to beat every team they have the potential to beat us too. The buzz of seeing them play well and scoring a try or the drama of seeing them count down the seconds to hopefully win a game, there is nothing quite like it.

I have watched Wales win the six nations a few times sometimes even beating every team that is known as a Grand slam and there is nothing quite like watching them do well in the competition. But we have also had more than our fair share of beatings too.       

I have just had a quick look at the betting odds for this years’ competition and Ireland are the team that Wales play today are favourites to win the whole thing and Wales are most likely to be predicted to come 4th out of 6 in the competition according to the odds at the bookmakers, so a win today for Wales would be a huge boost but again not likely buy I can always dream prior to the game and hope during it.

Stereophonics – Just Looking

Have courage and be MORE kind

I miss read the quote in the photo above when reading it the first time around and though it meant and said have courage to be kind instead of have courage and be kind. I think it can and does take courage to be kind at times. Men more often than not there is talk of courage in the context of a threat of violence, rather than being brave enough to speak out and be kind and have courage in our conviction of what we do we see courage as means of facing down violence with an act of risking physical harm to oneself.

One such circumstance I remember being involved in when I lived in Abergavenny many years ago was being a witness to an assault taking place to a mentally disabled young man. The girls I was out with that night were walking down a road after being to a local night club and we were on our way home,  I then had seen down another road there was a group of guys that looked at first to be having a group fight or some such ruckus going on. I stopped and stared at them to see what was happening I hate and hated fighting but instinctively wanted to see if anyone was hurt or anything like that. Then the young man that was in the middle of this group staggered out from the middle of the group it then became clear that the group were assaulting him and no one else.

I slightly recognised the guy now I did not know his name I just knew him as a local mentally disabled young man I walked towards him and could hear him saying ‘I’ve got blood on my shirt, I’ve never had blood on my shirt before’ I walked up to him and said something like ‘your ok, you have done nothing wrong, walk over there and they will look after you’ in the distance from the road we had just walked up from was the nightclub that we had just come out of and I pointed to him to go to see the police that were outside the nightclub.

I was drunk while all this was going on and when I woke up the next day I thought, bloody hell what were you thinking stopping and getting involved in that situation, I was firstly lucky that the young disabled man did not lash out at me thinking I was part of this group and I was also lucky that the group did not attack me as it just would have taken one of them to start on me and like a pack of wild dogs I could have the group on me but I was lucky I guess and able to with an act of care towards that young man help him too.

Jacinda Arden is a living legend of emotional and political sound judgment and progressive thinking and leadership, unfortunately as with Obama possibly leading sadly to the rise of Trumpism in the US, New Zealander’s just need to hope and vote in for no anti Arden, Trump like figure to rise up on the side of the opposition of her party when she steps down.

I like to think of myself as an effective human-being and love the fact that i don’t need to be aggressive in order to express myself or be myself or in order to do the right think. In work during training this week I was told I can be too helpful to customers of the council – I can’t really see how I can be too helpful. If they need the help and I have the knowledge, time or power to provide it then why not?

There is a phrase about random acts of kindness in my mind acts of kindness are not random it is the consequences of those acts that are random.

Sometimes if not all the time I want to express acts of kindness because we live in a cruel world and not decide to be unkind because of that cruel world, I’m not a push over and have values, ideas, opinions and boundaries. There are things I will help to happen and things I will help to prevent and my views will most likely differ to yours in what I consider to be an act of kindness as opposed to an act that will cause more harm than good.

The system only dreams in total darkness

Woke up at 1:30am after having a dream that I was in my lounge in the house we used to live in, in Liverpool, in the dream I was half asleep and half awake just about to nod off in front of the TV. Then from the window I see an explosion of a mushroom cloud of a nuclear detonation going off in the background. Back in the real world I wake up and open my eyes just to make sure it is not really happening and so now its 2:30am and I am sitting in front of my PC/TV typing away about what I just saw in said dream.

Dreams and nightmares are very intrusive at times I can rationalise or come to terms with my waking thoughts but dreams can sometimes catch you off guard and inflict ideas and visions onto you that you perhaps would rather not think about or comprehend.

So then I went to twitter for some inspiration and that then led me to  Pintrest where I saw this little iced gem of inspiration.

Speaking of icicles my heating stopped working yesterday and I have had no hot water or heating on since yesterday morning I was out most of the day so did not find out until getting home at 10pm and phoned the emergency number and reported it. They said they should be out in 24 hours or so and I am guessing they don’t work weekends so probably catch up with an enginner on Monday now.

I hope it stays like this as my home feels warm to me and I am wrapped up warm too with a hoody on my top and a blanket on my legs. Its about -3 oC outside and still about 15 oC in my flat so not to cold.

Song The System only dreams in total darkness by The National

Friday 13th January and my own Superstitions for this time of year!

So how was your Friday the 13th, I hope it went off without any snags, accidents or panic attacks. Friday the 13th has not one but two unwieldy terms to describe it—paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia—  supposedly the unlucky day.

Although my unluckiest day of the year so far kicked in on the evening of Thursday the 12th of January – so I seemed to be planning ahead when it came to my unlucky actions, thoughts and behaviours. Although I did not walk under any ladders, break mirrors or cross paths with any black cats. I did however fear for the safety of a good friend whose last post on Facebook stated they had no money to buy food that day and they were not looking after themselves physically or mentally. I was worried about them so when I left work I started to message them on Facebook, and text and phone them. Sadly there was no response and then my phone also died on me to.

I was out in the centre of Exeter trying to arrange to meet up with them so that I could buy them an evening meal treat them to a beer or three and give them some money for a food shop if needed. I have a reasonable disposable income at the moment and so offering to help a friend in need would be no trouble at all and a treat for me as well as them. My phone then went dead as the battery was flat and so I went to get out my charger in order to breath a little life back into the phone but sadly for the first time in years I had took the darn charger out of my bag so did not have it to charge up the phone.

I then thought it was best to catch the bus home and see if said friend had left any messages for me. So got home no messages from friend but I was a little more relieved to see that he had deleted my message from his Facebook page so at the very least I now knew he had read it and knew I was trying to get hold of him. He then messaged me saying he was ok and had actually sorted out some food and was getting paid on Friday 13th and was doing ok.  

A big part of me wanted to give him a bollocking for frightening me probably his other friends and his family like that, but people that are in some way in crisis don’t realise the fear and fright that they cause to others and if he is vulnerable already any bollocking from me is not going to help him so I bit my tongue anyway and wrote this instead getting my Thursday evening experience of my chest in this way instead.  

To be fare though things had gone well in work during the day on Thursday, a colleague had been struggling earlier in the week and due to some signposting and a little advice by me and also through their own resilience and determination to sort out their own problems, they were able to pull through and help themselves out.

People that struggle with life and their emotions that work at helping themselves, can be tremendously resilient and face battles that we might never see in order just to be keeping their heads above water or holding down a job or looking after a family or even finding the strength and time to look after themselves. I have huge respect and patience for people that do their best to help themselves and do right by others even when experiencing difficulties themselves.

January can be a tough time of year for some people that struggle and it is seen as the most depressing Month of the year or the Monday of all months. With a Friday the 13th occurring in January as well on the following Monday, statistically the most miserable day of the most miserable of months coming up which is the 16th of January this year being basically the most depressing time of the year, I kind of try and look out for people at this time of the year to see if there is anyone I know and care about that I can intervene with that needs any help that in my own limited way I might be able to provide.

MyBrother Andy Edwards

My brother died on 28th Feb 2015 and I am sure in the last two months of his life he was really grappling with his life, looking to get out of one job where he felt used and undervalued and start a new job where he could earn more money and have a stable future for him and hjis family, he was fearful that his then boss was not going to pay him for works that he had done, fearful that he could not pay the rent on his mortgage for his family home and also upset that he lacked the way out of the situation that he was in and perhaps did not know who to ask or what help was available.  

There is an article link here which is more about him and his life and death here

https://www.falmouthpacket.co.uk/news/13733452.helston-man-took-own-life-in-moment-of-madness/

His life was to my mind stopped short, I miss him and am sure he could have been still with us today had his choices and options been different and he had felt like he had more options than those he thought he had at the time. His life was a joy but his death was a true tragedy on which ripples of consequences across time still can be felt to this day and will continue to be felt into the future by many.

The people that were around my brother on the last night of his death feel tremendous sadness and pain due to his death and I wish they did not feel those emotions and worry so about this terible night that my brotehr took his own life upon, I think that many of us feel and wish my brothers actions were in some way preventable but people should not look ti blame themselves for what he did what we did not see coming or could prevent.

I don’t want another soul to go through what we all went through that night and the nights after, although I am not strong enough to save everyone or do everything all the time to help everyone or sometimes fail in seeing the warnign signs in even the peopel I am close to when they hurt. I can always try though to spot those warning signs in friends and family and keep an eye out and try to do my best to help people as and when I can. I little prevention is far better than dealing with the aftermath of a disaster or death.

  

Christmas is a time for giving    

Presents wrapped, cards written, items posted, pennies counted – One thing my Mum and Dad have both taught me is that giving is not about the joy of getting things back to you but its more about the pleasure in doing something for others.

My Mum is the present giver and my Dad is the charity donator. So after sorting out my Christmas cards and presents I turned to looking at renewing or donating afresh to a new charity or two for 2023.

Over the last 13 months I have been giving a small monthly payment to International Rescue Committee who are basically the good guys that go in and provide support on the ground or to people fleeing war zones and area of crisis across the world. It makes me feel like I can contribute to something and help people out in the world with a small donation that they then choose where the money goes to and to people in most need.

I also became a member of a charity called Moor Trees back in 2020, they advocate for and actively re-establish the planting of woodlands on and around Devon and Dartmoor. I really am impressed by the hard work that this charity does and the results they have achieved I worked as a trustee with them in the past and really am inspired by what they do.

I also nearly forgot – I am also a member of the Green Party of England and Wales and they are doing really well in Exeter which is great news too.

With regard to the International Rescue Committee my payment card that I used to pay them has just expired and I don’t know whether to renew my donation to them or change it and become a member of a charity that concentrates more on issue concerning climate change and the environment. If I were to change charities I would want to give to an organisation that is having a positive impact on tackling climate change and protecting the environment and not perhaps just worrying about it.

I am going to try and do a little more research on who is best to donate to prior to making a decision. Below are a list of the few I am considering contributing to.

I have today discovered a charity called Green Alliance they are also on WordPress so have signed up to follow them they are an independent think tank and charity focused on leadership for the environment. Since 1979, they have been working with the most influential leaders in business, NGOs and politics to accelerate political action and create transformative policy for a green and prosperous UK.

There is another organisation called the Rainforest Alliance is an international non-profit organization working at the intersection of business, agriculture, and forests to make responsible business the new normal. Who are building an alliance to protect forests, improve the livelihoods of farmers and forest communities, promote their human rights, and help them mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis.

Finally I have also just found an organisation called Cool Earth on its website it says Cool Earth exists because right now, the world is in a climate crisis.

The most effective way to fight back is to protect the best carbon-storing technology that already exists: rainforest.

And the best way to do that? Back, support, and listen to the people living there.

Indigenous peoples and local communities have lived in balance with rainforest for thousands of years and are the real rainforest experts.

They are people who face extreme injustice whilst living on the front line of the climate crisis.

We champion the relationship between people, rainforest and climate.

Cool Earth exists to give cash direct to rainforest communities, to fund projects that create choice, tackle the root causes of deforestation and protect vital carbon sinks.

Their mission is to back people, to protect the rainforest and fight the climate crisis.

I think I will probably sign up to donate to Cool Earth and probably renew my donation to International Rescue Committee.

U2 – Desire

It’s a trap!

I’m generally quite good at detecting phone scams and normally don’t fall for them or even give them a chance to speak before I hang up on them. But this evening I really felt like I got scammed.

I was on the phone to my mum just chatting about how the day has gone and checking what Christmas parcels that I had ordered to her house had arrived today when suddenly my mobile phone started ringing.  

I instantly though oh I had better get that call and it was showing up as a UK landline number , real number, real human being and you would hope real place that they are phoning from.

So I answered the phone and they that they were phoning from Ofwat (who are the water company regulator for the UK) to do a customer survey about South West Water (my water supplier). My first and only sensible question that I asked them was, ‘do you know my address and who you are calling today?’ I figured that if this really was not a hoax call that they should potentially know my name and address. Right away the woman speaking told me that she did not have that information.

I would have and perhaps should have hung up there and then but I did not. The thing is this the second time that South West Water survey people have tried to call me and the last time a couple of weeks ago was in the day and I said that I would answer a survey from them but could only do so after 5pm and this call was just after 5pm. So I thought they were either a very dedicated or lucky scammer.

Sadly I also was interested in the questions that they were asking and also wished to express my views on those questions such as, what were my views on the pollution on the coastal areas and what South west water were doing about it and that kind of thing so if this was a real questionnaire I did want to provide my views.  

There were 3 questions that I thought were dodgy but 3 questions is more than enough, firstly they asked me what my job was a just said officer for council (nice and vague), secondly they asked me for my annual household income, I said I was not prepared to provide them with these details it just seems the perfect kind of info a hoax caller would want to put me in a how much money we can extract form this idiot category on their hit list. Finally and the very last question they asked was my name, which I went ahead and told them to which after 20 minutes of survey I thought oh well I hope this is genuine!!!

So back to trusty Google, I searched about scam calls and South West Water and they had a 24 hour emergency phone line open for reporting water leaks on but you could also call them about scam calls and so phoned that number got put in a queue as you do waiting to ask a human being whether or not I had been scammed and who do I call about it?

So finally got through to a human and asked them if they knew of any surveys I was due to take and they confirmed that Ofwat were due to phone me and there was nothing to worry about. ARR FOR FECK SAKE!

On a plus note I found out I am in credit in my water account when I logged on trying to contact them so am going to cash in on that, well at least I should get some cash back in time for Crimbo, so long as that’s not a trap!

It’s cold outside

Life, Love and Loss

A lot has been happening in my family’s life over the last month. My mum has now moved into her new built home which is lovely place and I must get some photos of it too. But as for now I don’t have any yet.

Her dog that is a rescue dog called Milly and absolutely loves the new home and is even after nearly 3 years is beginning to trust me a little more too and not see me as a person to bark at and be fearful of all the time, which is great.

Mums dog Milly

Just got back from a weekend in mums new home after visiting with a friend who was helping us do stuff in the house too. The house is looking much more like a home now with a lot more of mums boxes from the movers unpacked. Her place is looking lovely now.

My friend Justin that was helping us with the move has also just started a new job as a mental health support worker. One of the area of guidance and advice that he will be offering to people is talking to people who are suicidal and providing them with help and support or offering interventions where necessary such as hospital or 999 calls.

This leads me onto something that I have been avoiding talking about on this blog, to friends or family or anywhere to be honest for about a month. But a wonderful human being that used to be a supporter of my blog called Ashley Peterson took her own life in October and I very much feel like the world has lost one of its brightest lights. She had a lived experience of depression and was an author, former mental health nurse and wonderful human being, with great warm, kindness and humanity.

She commented on one of my blogs on the 16th October and then on the 18th October took her own life. There was no hint on her blog or in her comment that she was in any way at that time suicidal or in any way struggling. Its often those that you lest expect or at least at unexpected times are the ones most vulnerable. Having lost an aunt and a brother to suicide already I am so very sorry for her family and what they must be going through now because of the hole left in their lives and the light going out of such a bright and loving soul.   

I always try to keep an eye out for certain people that I worry suffer in the emotional waves of their life and where possible and practical try to support friends and strangers alike for want of a better description help to help those in need and keep them in the land of the living rather than let them prematurely pass into the land of the dead.

I find it upsetting that not all that fall can be caught and that not all that feel lost, can be found in time to be saved. It’s hard enough to know one day everything must pass and all will one day will be gone, but it is particularly sad to me to know when those that commit suicide often feel like they had nowhere to turn instead of taking their own life there is always another option and it is sad when they depart that they did not know at the time what the other option was.

Eric Clapton – Tears In Heaven

Stranger than fiction and more horrifying than Halloween

The world has gone mad, stark ravingly bonkingly looney tunerlingerly mad and we are so used to knowing this, that it no longer upsets, disturbs or surprises us. Well it’s all kind of very normal now.

We vote for politicians that we hate and distrust or even better don’t vote at all, for policies we don’t believe in and support in order to manage the disintegration, destruction and dismantling of the world.

If your an atheist you can blame those dam religious nuts for trying to force their somewhat medieval views, opinions and prayers onto the rest of us.

If you are religious you can blame those degenerate freedom thinking folk or go straight for the jugular and claim that those that don’t believe what you believe that are evil and going straight to hell.

If you have no view or interest on what is going on concerning the future of the planet or even just the next election for who you can vote for or how or even what the earth will look like in a year or decade from now then fair bleeding play for reading this far into the blog post but also a little shame on you for simply not caring.

Madness in reality is now the new norm, with the leader of the UN saying we are on the highway to hell due to the climate catastrophe unfolding right before our very eyes and we either a) agree and say hey ho what do you know or (b) choose blindly ignore what is happening or (c) to know what is being stated but claim without evidence or factual information at your side that it is fake news and a mainstream conspiracy.

Scientist and news outlets have warned and reported on the destruction and potential destruction of the earth since I was a child and the news and scientific reports are continuing to be accurate and get worse and yet as a people we seem powerless to act and are just spectators on the side-line of a man made apocalypse.

You could not invent or make up a lie that is crueller than the truth.

No story told, book written or film seen is as down beat and nerve wreckingly potentially depressing and madness inducing as our very own potential unfolding right before our eyes future the destructive nature of man and his/her capacity to be born into such a wonderful environment and then with out even realising, caring or being able to stop him or herself witness its very destruction.  

If we can get over worrying about how many pennies or cents that are promised in a pay check, instead of worrying more about what those pennies or cents can be used for that are taken out of a pay check for the benefit of you and others then we might just stand a chance of surviving this sorry mess we built up for ourselves in 2022.

But alas not even the basic sums of human decency and respect seem to add up in the general consciousness these days and perhaps they never did. Dictators invade or plan there next invasion or bomb drop on the free. The democratic nations of the world continue only able to vote for their own pennies or cents in their own wallets and with an eye also to keeping economic migrants foreigners from your shores.

Spreyton a village of Devon

I watched the Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring again recently and it just reminded me of what an absolutely wonderful film that it is.

I have not watched it in what must be nearly 10 years and there are so many little magical moments etched on my memory such as the scene below where they arrive at Bree.

There’s talk of strange folk abroad

The whole Hobbiton in the shire storyline really does make me think of what my own County of Devon and Village of Spreyton where I grew up might have been like had we in an imaginary  alternative reality grown up in middle earth.

Spreyton has its own folk songs and stories such as that of Uncle Tom Cobley and all! A folk song about a resident of Spreyton who set off with a number of people from Spreyton to Widecome on the other side of Dartmoor to get to Widencombe Fair.

There is a print of the song and story below and my Dad has one of these prints hanging in his home

Next is a photo of a what is known as Devon long house, this one is called Stockhay Cottage and was where I live for some of my time when in Spreyton.

Stockhay Cottage

Stockhay was given a Grade II listing in 1988. The Historic England description is as follows:

Grade II. House, formerly small farmhouse and linhay. Mid-late 17th century farmhouse, mid 19th century linhay, modernised circa 1970. Plastered cob and stone rubble; stone rubble stack topped with 20th century brick; thatch roof.

The thatched roof once nealy caught alight when my father put some logs in the fire that got to hot and set the chimney, the fire brigadge were called and came out and prevented the fire from setting fire to the thatched roof. 

The property was also one in which had plenty of wildlife around it. We would have hornets that would nest in the thatch and also bats that would be living up in the roof space too.

I also have a photo of Spreyton from the air, as you can quickly see it is surrounded by fields, wildlife, farms and greenery.

Spreyton from the air

The first mention of Spreyton is in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it is called Espreitona or Spreitone. The name is Anglo-Saxon and means “settlement in the brushwood” (from spraeg (brushwood) and tun (settlement or farm). Spraeg has also given us the modern word “spray”, as in a spray of flowers. The Anglo-Saxons settled Devon in around 700 AD. Spreyton may well have been chosen by one of those early settlers as the site for establishing a farm – although it is not inconceivable that it was a Celtic settlement before then.

The settlement would probably have started as a single farm. Dependants and labourers would have settled nearby and other families would have joined them, leading eventually to the typical Devon village with a central settlement surrounding a church and a series of scattered hamlets and farms.

Spreyton Church

Ode to my Family – The Cranberries

New Tory Govt crash and burn the price of the £

The beautiful political landscape of a democratic nation in a state of flux right now!

The new UK Conservative Government announced a load of tax cutting and borrowing policies this week that resulted in a crash of the pound against the dollar to an all time low as even the stock markets reacted to the UK government as if to say ‘what the hell are you playing at, doing that with your economy’.

When a governments or political parties boast about tax cuts to benefit your wallets, what there really saying in this day and age is their actually trying to reduce the amount of goods, services and support that they are trying to provide to you and others.

You might feel good to have a few pence or pound in your wallet each month but what there really trying to tell you is all those ongoing government problems that they have not solved concerning how to hire more doctors and nurses and reduce waiting times for health services for the one in five over-50s who have dropped out of UK workforce who are on National Health Service waiting list for treatment are not going to have an improved system of care anytime soon to help get them back into work and be healthy contributing members of society anytime soon.  

Over the first 46 years of my life I have had the support of my government at times its shelter and protection and healing as well as an opportunity to again be given the chance to stand on my own two feet and live, work and be free to make my own way in life once again.

I don’t expect something for nothing or to live off handouts. I work full time, pay for my own food, shelter and life expenses. But there have been times in my life where I have needed the help from the UK government to enable me to again be in a position where I can look after myself once again and be independent.

I don’t know where or how well or even if I would still be alive today, had my life not occasionally  been injected with some government support in order to help my become well again, once sick or fed and sheltered again when at risk of being homeless or unemployed and impoverished.

Benefits, health services and provisions of homes for the homeless are in no way god given rights in any country to any citizen and due to an inherent mental health condition that I was most likely born with, I will always be at risk of losing everything due to an illness that can trigger potentially at any time and under the right circumstance.  

I do my best to look out for myself, do all I can to keep my mental health stable and well but ultimately I am potentially blind to when or how I might become unwell again and whether or not my life will be structured with enough safeguards in order to come out of my illness on the other side at an as yet undetermined time in the future. Having a national health service really has kept me alive and mentally well. Had I been born in a different country or at a different time I just don’t know what support and assistance I would be able to have in order to maintain a good quality of life for myself.

I have personal lived experience of when a society decides to invest in its people rather than just its banking system, the huge gains and returns on that investment and I am very grateful for the assistance that I have received. At the very least I wish to vote, fight and advocate for others as well as myself to have a reasonable quality of life and social support in order to help them when they are down and not just help them to help themselves when they are rich and assume those that are not wealthy must just fend for themselves and hope for the best health, endure the worst poverty or die trying.

The Killers – Human