Old Friends

Last week I wrote of the passing of a kinsman and how my world seemed to shrink, but the warmth of our association remains.

This week I write about old friends with whom my wife and I spent time over the weekend.

Old as in ‘older than us’ from where we lived before, who are still good friends.best old ones

We were neighbours and shared a love of plants, summer lunches, sometimes heated discussions, poetry and word plays. We shared similar Southern African origins and discovered that we were almost related, with a sister and an uncle romantically linked for a  while.

alphabet friendsThe word “friend” comes from Old English “frēond”, which is actually the present participle of “frēogan”, which means “to love” and “to honor”.
a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Synonyms: 1. comrade, chum, crony, confidant. 2. backer, advocate. 4. ally, associate, confrere, compatriot.

Tick all boxes!

goodbye friend

 

 

 

The sugar snake

When I have a toothache, I discover that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. That is peace. I had to have a toothache in order to be enlightened, to know that not having one is wonderful.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

But we forget about that and still drink Coke. coke sugar

The average person in industrialized countries consumes about 33.1 sugar snakekilograms of sugar each year.

Sugar has been implicated as chief culprit in the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, tooth decay, hyperactivity and Alzheimer’s disease

My Dad died from dementia, diabetes and depression which are by-products of sugar consumption. I am overweight and my brother has diabetes.

Sweetness and sugar pervaded human taste buds and became embedded in our tastes. An injection of sugar into the bloodstream stimulates the same pleasure centres of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine – it is literally an addictive drug.

Most modern day people are aware of this and cut down on sugar in their tea and stop drinking Coke.

But sugar is everywhere:

If a slippery slab of barbecued ribs makes your heart skip a beat, there’s a good reason why. Blame the 13 grams of sugar for every two tablespoons of BBQ. And with all that grilled meat to coat, who stops at just two.  too much sugar

Fruit yogurt is one of the biggest sugar bombs on the shelves, with 19 grams of sugar, no wonder it tastes like dessert! Dried fruit might as well be candy. Just ⅓ of a cup can have 24 grams of sugar.

A granola bar can pack 12 grams of sugar, so be sure to read the label before demolishing one.

Some types of energy drink pack 83 grams of sugar – no wonder we get a buzz. killing me softly

Sooo … what’s the point?

My point is that we are not just talking toothache here – we are talking disease and death. Don’t be blasé about this – it’s a real threat to all of us!

Taxing sugar is probably a good way to go. Education and example are even better. Become knowledgeable and talk to your children about controlling their own destinies.

But it’s not easy, you have to be strong … not many succeed.

If you acknowledge your addiction, you can significantly better your own health.

But if you don’t, you won’t.

 

sugar diseases

Flit like a butterfly…

meer focus

You might wake up some mornin’
To the sound of something moving past your window in the wind
And if you’re quick enough to rise
You’ll catch a fleeting glimpse of someone’s fading shadow
Out on the new horizon
You may see the floating motion of a distant pair of wings
And if the sleep has left your ears
You might hear footsteps running through an open meadow

That was Bob Lind singing about the elusive butterfly of love.

The butterfly I am thinking of flits aimlessly, changing direction for no reason other than a splash of colour, is wafted up and sideways by the breeze….

That’s my mind, which generally has a struggle to focus and apply itself. Distraction is easy and frequent and false hares are irresistible once started, so I end up foxless.

Is that procrastination, a lack of discipline, poor focus, scant 1 thing at a timeconcern? Probably all; which is somewhat depressing. Tenacity and determination have always been my weak point: it took me 14 years to achieve my BA, for heaven’s sake!

 

in the momentPhew! This started out as flash realisation it was Friday and I had not written my weekly blog and a mild self castigation for following  bloody butterflies again!

 

I have been meaning to read up on meditation; maybe this is another message?

who cares

Enjoy your weekend, y’all!

Spreading Happiness by the body

camel feeling goodYeah! I am back on the happy horse again. In the past, I believe that happiness and fulfillment were neglected. It’s like what happened to butter – it was once a no-no, with potentially fatal consequences (it and a lot of other stuff too).

Now we find that butter is really good for you. Suddenly old fashioned cooking and remedies are the in-thing. We should have stuck with our grandmother’s advice – after all, it was based on centuries of experience. Who said: Too much learning is a dangerous thing?  Give him a banana!

And so with happiness, the traditional approach to mental conditions, attitudes and behaviour has been from the unhappy end of the spectrum: cause and cure research has been focussed on the unhappiness in anxieties, neuroses and psychoses.

med next aisleLately, the realisation has dawned that the other end of the spectrum is the cure to many of those ills and greater attention has switched to positive psychology.

So prevention and cure could be: Don’t worry be happy!

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of human flourishing and an applied approach to optimal functioning. It has also been defined as the study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals, communities and organisations to thrivepositive-psychology-mind-map

A  Daily Telegraph article by Philip Johnston highlighted the new focus on happiness and wellbeing:

  • More than 200 colleges either have research institutes or offer courses in positive psychology.
  • Politicians are saying things like:
    • “the best society is that where the people are happiest, and the best policy is the one that produces the greatest happiness”.
    • “The first thing we know is that in the past 50 years, average happiness has not increased at all  – despite massive increases in living standards.”
  • Economists have noticed one apparent paradox: that despite a substantial increase in GDP in the industrialised West, the levels of human contentment have remained static.

More and more countries are developing a happiness and well-being index and measuring progress.

be so happyIn 2011, the United Nations invited all countries to measure the happiness of their people and to use this to help guide their public policies. The first World Happiness Report was published in 2012. The 2017 Report is available online.

make someone happyMy point is that if it’s happening on national levels, then everyone should be measuring their own happiness and well-being and working at improving it and spreading happiness.

Always look on the bright side of life!

As you may detect, this is not all my own stuff: I am doing a free course on Happiness and Fulfillment offered through Coursera.

If you are interested, have a look; there are 100’s of free info-only courses. I am on my third one!

 

Profanity palls

I cannot claim to be angelic in this regard; I admit that I sometimes blurt profanities in theangry words company of those that dislike such language. I always regret it,  but this little streak of perversity persists.

But if we pause to look at profanity, we see a bunch of stale words which have not evolved much except in the mouths of those seeking to offend or draw attention to their meagre presence and vocabulary.

I subscribe to an omnibus blog digest (Medium) which presents individual views on ‘anything goes’. I follow topics on art, cooking, creativity, history, politics, productivity, psychology, racism, religion and technology.

Much space is taken up by angry people. You may not believe how much is written on racprofanity Tism, feminism and anti-feminism. Vitriol and profanity spew out!

Profanity usually accompanies extreme displeasure or discomfort. It has also become some sort of sign of manliness. Big boys use profanity to impress little boys with their naughtiness and daring.

Some women seem to believe that they are liberated by their profanities. How sad! People striving to emulate others in every way destroy their uniqueness and charm.

What is also very sad is the proliferation of profanity.history_of_swearing_in_hollywood

It seems now that coarseness has become an indicator of equality, maturity and defiance. Users seek to shock perceivers and inspire the same sort of admiration that big boys sought from little boys.

Unfortunately for them their audience is different and is discerning and scornful of such puerile and pathetic efforts.

It would be tragic if the economics and rationale of media moguls prevailed anprofane sponge bobd
we are faced with further entertainment perversions, worse than Married at First Sight (#@&%!!) and presented with ‘real life’ scenarios in childrens’ hour

twain profaneGenerally speaking, I believe that, if used, profanity should not be spoken in the presence of parents or children (or by them) or indeed, anyone who would be offended by it

 

no interest profane

Ouch! But that is a stern test for big boys and girls!profane crutch

 

Nuff said!

 

Will you take a tint, Paddy?

guinessWell it may not be a surprise to some of you, but I am an Irish citizen. With a name like Malachy, you might have thought there was a hint of Guinness somewhere. Mind you some in the Wes-Transvaal thought it was a Jewish name.

The first of my family name invaded Ireland as a Norman knight. Family
service to the Crown was duly recognised in 1328 by granting of the title of Baron of Loughmoe with even a castle in Tipperary. Purcell_crest
The medieval Irish genealogist Dubhaltach Mac Fhirbhisigh wrote that our family genealogy begins with Charlemagne, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

The family supported the Catholics after Henry VIII and lost the title. So there is no need to refer to me as Your Grace.

My great grandfather was a stonemason in County Clare. Just after my grandfather was born in 1861, the family left for Leeds in Yorkshire.

He became a soldier and served in the Cape Mounted Rifles, commanded the Rand Rifles Regiment in South West Africa and then served as a Brigadier General in the South African Expeditionary Force in World War 1. He retired to Ireland but sadly the IRA suggested he should leave because of his senior service with the British Army.

shamrockMy father was taught the Gaeilge by Mrs De Valera herself. And if you ask me nicely later today, I might sing James Connolly.

 

Today is a day for joy, a drop, appreciation for the the skilful word and a limerick or two. The thing about limericks is that one needs to read them aloud.not calm

It is an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery’s the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.

(Not mine but that of Jonathan Swift).

 

O long life to the man who invented potheen –snoopy paddy
Sure the Pope ought to make him a martyr –
If myself was this moment Victoria, the Queen,
I’d drink nothing but whiskey and wather.

(Anon)

Let schoolmasters puzzle their brain,lovely day for a guinness
With grammar, and nonsense, and learning.
Good liquor, I stoutly maintain,
Gives genius a better discerning.
Oliver Goldsmith

Have you heard about the Irish boomerang?
It doesn’t come back, it just sings sad songs about how much it wants to.

It’s not that the Irish are cynical. It’s rather that they have a wonderful lack of respect for everything and everybody.
Brendan Behan

Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go.
Oscar Wilde

I have particular regard for this pithy aphorism by George Bernard Shaw which seems to apply to all media today:

Newspapers are unable, seemingly, to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilisation.

irish harp

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig ort! Saint Patricks Day Blessings on you

 

This day marks the beginning of Lent, the Christian tradition of fasting andustd renewed contemplation of spiritual life. It endures for 40 days in commemoration of the time Jesus spent fasting in the desert, during which he endured temptation by Satan. Adherents focus on prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial.

All very commendable and worthy practices.

I recall the tiny Catholic Church in Mbabane, overflowing with serious and devout Swazis lining up to be marked on the forehead with an ash cross. Incense and sweat and lovely singing. I couldn’t wait to get out and surreptitiously wipe my brow before any of our friends could see me – they were all Protestants.

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” – a sobering thought.

Dad gave up his Gordons pink gin and water (ugh!) before lunch and his John Jameson’s whisky before supper. I think Mum gave up smoking? My brother alent-birthdaynd I had to forgo sweets, which was really heavy!

The fast was for 40 days but Sundays were excluded and so were birthdays in our house.

I have for some years maintained a fast by giving up beer, which is quite a sacrifice for me.

sacrificesHowever, this year I have decided to give up meat. I must confess that my motivation is not that pure: I have been working on reducing my girth by eating healthier and less food and I am conscious that like many colonials, I eat too much meat. So a wee bit of vanity sneaks in there, but discipline and self-improvement trump them.

Giving up meat is not as simple as just forgoing beer; it is a major disruption to household habits, which affect not only me, but also my wife.

She does not like most fish. She has always done the catering including evening meal preparation. You may discern the tension. So I must prepare my own evening meals.

My research into Lent indicates that some fasts only included animal meat, so fish and fowl are acceptable. So tonight it will be tuna fishcakes; tomorrow sardines on toast, Friday could be salt and pepper squid, Saturday maybe crumbed whiting and Sunday will be braaivleis!prawn-salad

Monday boiled eggs, Tuesday tuna salad, Wednesday spaghetti marinara … I am getting into the swing of this! Suggestions are welcome.

I also intend to read up on meditation and perhaps practice it and attempt to complete the book I am writing, which is a major challenge as I have reached a stale block.

Finding a poor person to provide a meal to is difficult in the relative prosperity of a social welfare state. Some local homeless people demand money instead as they get too many meals!! I shall seek an alternate charitable cause.

I suppose I am an agnostic, but I believe in some of the traditions and practices and need self-discipline and spiritual renewal.

Give it a go! It’s a far more achievable challenge than New Year resolutions!