Sunday, 3 June 2018

We Are Stronger Than We Think

When I first saw a marathon on TV and saw all the mad people running in their shorts and t-shirts, I honestly thought there's no way I wanted to ever do that. Not the marathon, I still don't want to do that, but the running itself. Me a runner, no, never, not in a million years. That all changed when I started volunteering for Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) and actually went to a marathon. It was amazing, the atmosphere was incredible and the crowds were unbelieveable. This time, the marathon was a lot more fun and I began to understand the joy of running and being free. So when I went to my second marathon, I asked my friend Bill how to begin this running malarky. His suggestion: do a parkrun. A free run every Saturday at 9am in parks all over the UK. So I did. I've been running ever since.

It's not easy at first, and sometimes the idea of getting up and running a 5K can be daunting, but that's the best time to do it: when you absolutely don't feel like it. 

So I did. And I was so happy about it. I got fresh air, moderate exercise (you don't have to be a fitness freak, even a slow person can do it and you can even walk, the point is to get out in the fresh air) and best of all I got to make friends. And any advice I needed, I just asked other runners including Bill. I was having a ball. I ran for nearly three years. I even got really fast at one point (37.11). It was great.

And then disaster struck about a year ago. Everything fell apart. I suddenly couldn't run. At first it was a depressive 'I really don't want to do this' sort of thing and then it got to a point where the idea of running absolutely terrified me. I couldn't work out why. I loved running. It wasn't easy, but I loved it. 

When the AJ Staff got jailed, this was a motivation to get out there. They were imprisoned, couldn't run, except up and down a corridor. I also remembered the people of Boston who had their marathon ruined because of terrorism. And I remembered Mohamed Fahmy's words: "Be thankful for small mercies. You're not homeless, you're not in prison and you're not dead!".  And Bill's words: "I can do this! They (Boston) couldn't, because of an act of violence, so just keep going". Eventually, though, even they ceased to motivate me. I asked Bill's advice. It was simple, but sensible: Don't run for a while. Just accept you can't and don't. So I didn't. I was glad I didn't have to anymore, but I was sad, because I loved running, I was slow, but I didn't care. Just being able to get out and run was fun and the freedom of it was wonderful. 

This went on for a while. I thought I would never run again. Then I remembered we had entered the London 10,000. I had to be able to run for that, so I went to my park runs as a volunteer to at least get back into the spirit of it and then ran if I felt like it. About twice. I wasn't worried about the Westminster Mile, because it was only a mile. Even someone with no mojo could manage a mile. My friend Pauline said "Don't worry, you'll be ready, we'll get you there". So I (painfully) did a couple more Parkruns and volunteered in Richmond, where Bill also said, "You'll do it!"  I tried to do a 10K around Pugney's and just got there. I tried a week later and couldn't even make five. The week before the 10,000, I wasn't even close to being ready or motivated. I had to do something drastic. So, I told Don that the next morning, I wanted us to run as far as we could. I had to at least try. So I did. I ran 8K. I don't know how I did it but I did. I was determined to get out of this running funk I was in. Two days later I ran 6K with Pauline and Geoff.  

I still wasn't sure I could do this. But everyone had got so much faith in me, that I had to try. It was then I surprised myself in the most fantastic way. I ran the Westminster Mile - all of it. Usually, I run, walk, run, walk, run, walk ad infinitum. This time I started to run and I kept running. I was slow, but I did it.

The biggest test though was the 10K. Could I manage that? It turned out I could and in the time I wanted too. I wanted to do it in around an hour and a half. I was only two minutes out. I was thrilled. Before I did it, I was terrified I was going to fall apart. I didn't. The atmosphere was amazing, the crowds were fantastic, the sprinklers were a wonderful idea and the feeling of getting across that finish line was the very best feeling in the world. I loved it and I am so glad I persevered. 

Will I be doing the Westminster Mile and the 10K again next year? Damn right!! In fact I'm so pleased with myself, I am doing the Kew Gardens 10K in September. I can't wait. 

All this has made me realise one thing. Never give up, just keep going. You'll be surprised at what you can achieve.  

I thought I couldn't achieve a 10K, but I did. Never forget, you are stronger than you think.

"Run like hell because you always need to! Laugh hard and run fast!" ~ Peter Capaldi.

Monday, 21 May 2018


Of the many blogs I have written in regard to heroes and people I admire, I have mentioned Bill Neely. However, I have hardly ever mentioned my other hero, the wonderful Kate Adie. I've mentioned her in passing, like in my bucket list and my blog about women, but never in a blog of her own, as I have with Bill. This has not been deliberate, just a bit remiss of me. I intend to correct that right now.

I first got to know Kate Adie around the same time Bill Neely began working at ITN: 1989. 1989 was as Bill Neely once put it, "The year of miracles". The Berlin Wall fell down and the Soviet system started to collapse too. However, this was November 1989. The beginning of the year wasn't so great. On the 15th of April thousands of miles apart, two different incidents happened that I will remember forever. In my hometown of Sheffield, we had the Hillsborough disaster. A tragedy that would change the face of football for a long time to come. Both for the people of Sheffield and the people of Liverpool. 

Meanwhile, in Bejing, China, people were dying for a different reason. Students had taken to the streets, as many students, in many countries had before them, and have since. They were protesting for human rights and freedom and the things most people take for granted. And there, stading right in the middle of it all was Kate Adie. I took to her immediately. She was strong, dynamic, she gave me inspiration that women could do dangerous things, she had a tough no-nonsense way about her reporting. She was detached, doing exactly what she had to do.

I have followed her career ever since. She covered the Seige of the Iranian Embassy, the Zeebrugge disaster. She has been in Kosovo, has been embedded with troops in Iraq and like many people who wanted to cut their teeth, she ended up covering the Troubles in Northern Ireland.  And even though she is detached on her reports, this doesn't mean she is a detatched person, far from it. Through her interviews and her books, I found out she is a very warm and compassionate person with an absolutely wicked sense of humour. 

She has also been the butt of some harmless humour. As she has been known for going to a lot of warzones, there was a joke that said, "A good decision is getting on a plane at an airport where Kate Adie is getting off!" And there was this little gem:

She has wriiten openly about her career, being adopted, about the role of woman in war, especially World War II. And now she presents From Our Own Correspondent, still showing what an amazing broadcaster she is. 

When she was awarded the BAFTA Fellowship on Sunday 13 May, I was so thrilled for her, I jumped up and down. Well, as best you can jump up and down sat in a car at a motorway services. It has been too long in coming. She should have been awarded it years ago.

To Kate Adie, I have only this to say: I should have mentioned you before and for that I apologise. You have inspired me just as much as Bill Neely has and in some ways more because you have showed me that woman can be brave, get into danger and be downright awesome. When I'm doing my work, I will always keep asking myself that important question when I'm confused: "What would Bill or Kate do?"  I know what Kate would do. She would just, "Get on with it!" One day I hope to chat to you too, and unlike a lot of people, I will be happy to talk to you about Northern Ireland.

As I pursue my own journalistic endeavours, I know I have you to look up to and I always will. Maybe one day I will be in amazing places like Bejing or in the desert looking for a place to go to the bathroom. Thanks for the inspiration! You are one amazing woman!

My favourite anecdote by Kate:

Kate revisits Bejing

"You do not invade people's privacy too much. You do not expose the vulnerable. You do not question those who are incapable". ~ Kate Adie.

Friday, 18 May 2018


If you ask a foreigner to name something essentiallly English, many people will say the Royal Family. They make millions of tourist pounds a year and they are known around the world. And yet they (or rather their lives) are equally hated by people.

People are fed up of hearing about things they do that are no different to stuff anybody else does.

For example: a while ago Prince Louis was born. He was beautiful. But when he was due, the media were camped outside the Lindo Wing of St Mary's Hospital in London for at least a week before. She (Kate Windsor) was having a baby. Something women do every day of the damn week. It's nothing special and is nothing surprising. A lot of women do it. 

And tomorrow - on the 19th of May Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle. An actress who under the the old rules would never have been allowed to be a part of the Monarchy. Firstly, she is American, and secondly she is a divorcee. Yes, okay, so was Camilla, but at least she was English. You remember Prince Edward and Wallis Simpson. Yeah, exactly. They weren't allowed to marry, so why the hell should Harry and Meghan? I'm not saying I disapprove. I'm just making a fair point.

Anyway, the main point of this is that it's just two people getting married. That's all. People get married all the time. Even I did it. Their wedding is no more important than anyone else's. They are tying the knot. And yet press people are under the illusion that we do care and my timeline has been full of it ever since the damn wedding was announced.

Well, I am not interested and to be honest, I'm fed up of the whole damn thing. They are just getting married, just like hundreds of couples do in a year. I am not anti-royal, but I am anti-Royals-doing-stuff-that-is-usual-for-everyone-else-on-the-planet. 

So you got married and had kids? Yeah and so does everyone else. When this whole (to quote Martin Bell) 'Comprehensive Rubbish and Palava' is on TV and Twitter tomorrow, I am going to take the advice of a TV show I used to watch as a  kid:

"Why don't you switch off your TV and go and do something less boring instead?"

Here Jay Foreman sings what I think:

Monday, 14 May 2018


My husband has a chant, which he uses to help keep me going, especially if I'm running. It goes: "Keep on trucking, keep on trucking, keep on trucking,'coz we like to truck". It's silly, but it's rhythmic and it works. However, this doesn't mean we have an affection for truckers. We don't and here is why.

We love to take long drives, especially on A-roads. Now one of the most important things drivers are told by police is take a rest and never drive tired.

Well, the only place to rest on an A-road (because the services are few and far between) is a designated lay-by. So, you're asking why we don't stop in one of those for an hour or so. Well, at night, it is virtually impossible because they are filled with trucks. 

Now, if the truckers/lorry drivers stayed there for an hour or so for a quick rest like they are supposed to, then everything would be fine.

But they don't. They stay there all night. And there aren't just a few. They are in practically every lay-by you come across. The bigger the lay-by, the more damn trucks are in it.

"Well, they need sleep too!", you may be screaming. Correct. And that's why we have service stations/rest stops with sections for trucks and lorries. And there are also official lorry parks, specially for this purpose. Don and I are fed up of not being able to get a break because of damn trucks clogging up the road.

Of course, this only reinforces my point that trucks shouldn't be on the road in the first place. Local trucks delivering to supermarkets is okay, but large artics' and vans should be taking off the road. In the old days most freight that is now carried by road was taken by train and I'm not even talking about necessarily small things. Even cars were taken by train. I still can't understand why this is not the case. It's just ridiculous.

But no. Instead of this, we can't rest in a lay-by because they are always full of anything but cars. 

So, my message to the trucking community is this: We understand you need to rest, but if you need to sleep properly, don't do it in a lay-by preventing long-distance car drivers from having the same privilege. 

Either go to a services station or better still, find a a frickin' lorry park. You have facilities, make use of them instead of causing inconvenience to car drivers.  

Sunday, 25 March 2018


My mom is dying of cancer. I wrote this just to vent some of the anger I feel about it. If you read this and you are/know someone who is dying of cancer, or has died, please know you have my sympathies. I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone.

You are a complete pain in the arse and several other places too. You are vindictive and you never let up. You are always hurting someone. Even if people have lived a hateful live, that doesn't give you the right to come along and hurt them.  No-one deserves the misery you bring to the world. I wish you would f**k off and never come back EVER! 

But things don't work that way. The first time we met was in around 1981...! I don't remember exactly when because I was quite young. One minute I was enjoying my life as a young kid, then you had to come along and ruin everything! You took my grandfather away from my Dad. And my great aunt then also died because of you. You didn't directly kill her, but she and my grandfather were inseperable and when you took him, she lost the will to live and died of a broken heart. I wish that could've been the end of it, but no, you just hadn't finished had you? You attacked both my grandmothers and my step-grandad.

Then came my father in law and my brother in law. Two men who I still hadn't got to know well enough. And just to be a real bitch to my family, because you hadn't done enough to us, you decided to kill my dog, one of my cats and my beautiful white rabbit. I hoped after that, you and I would part company never to meet again; that finally you had disappeared for good and that my family and my pets could live happily until they died naturally of old age. And for a few years I didn't see you. But you were just waiting for another chance to be a twat weren't you?

In 2014, you returned. Except this time you decided to use a different tactic. Instead of aiming at my family, you aimed at one of my friends. I never got to know my pal Ray well enough, but thanks to some help from his wife, my beloved friend Tara, I did at least know him a bit. To leave me without my friend and her without her life companion was as cruel as aiming at my family.

And now, here you are again, attacking the one person that means everything to me! 

My mum. She stood by me, no matter how bad things got and she was always there for me. She would jump for joy when I succeeded, scold me when I did wrong, look after me when I was sad and more than anything was my best friend in the whole world when no-one else would be. She is the only member of my immediate family who ever cared about me. We only had each other. My mom and I love each other so much and were always so close. We laughed together, cried together, got mad together, and talked about girls stuff together. I don't know what I would do without her. And now I am going to lose her to you too.

But you've made a mistake this time. Like my great aunt, I too am suffering from the immense sadness that I am going to lose the one person that I can't face my life without. I am losing the will to live too. However, I will not let you kill me, directly or indirectly. I will not die for you!!

Cancer: You have may have killed many members of my beloved family, one friend and my beautiful pets, but even though you have pulled me into sadness, because you are taking my mother away, that is as far I will go for you. I am sad now and hell, it hurts, but you will never take my life because I will NOT let you. You've picked the wrong person to fight with.

So leave! And never come near me again!!  

"You can't whack death on the head!" ~ Arnold Rimmer
"You kidding!? If it comes near me, I'm going to rip its nipples off!!" ~ Dave Lister
Red Dwarf - Future Echoes 

Sunday, 18 March 2018


We are all children at heart. I find people who say stuff like, "You're too old for that" or "You need to grow up" very dull people. To be an adult and never experience the fun of being a child once you become one is, to me, a very sad and jaded way of looking at and living your life.

That's why I have no problem walking into a toy store. I have no problem with having teddies, Hello Kitty stuff (I'm a Hello Kitty addict), even my study wallpaper has Hello Kitty, or having jigsaws, board games, console games, etc. As long as you know when it is appropriate to act like a child and when it is not, it's absolutely fine.  

Which brings us on to the demise of Toys 'R' Us. I wish I could say something good about this shop. Unfortunately, I can't. I used to be quite happy with them. I've bought many things from them, mainly Lego and Mario stuff. But that's only because I had never been to a different store. 

Then one day I did. I walked into Hamley's in London. I also went in to Lego. But we'll leave Lego alone for the moment as this is more about toys in general. However, I will say only this about them: if regional shops worked the way their London store in Leicester square does, they would be a hell of a lot more fun to visit. And please return to selling individual bricks rather than already designed sets. People use Lego to fuel their imagination. I don't want to build something just by copying a design - that's boring!

Anyway back to Toys 'R' Us: The moment I went in to Hamley's, I realised how awful Toys 'R' Us really was. Even Smyths which is slightly better is not that great. People are saying it's the fault of the internet. That I'm afraid, is only one reason. Yes, the internet has been a point of contention in regard to sales and I agree that online shopping hasn't helped. but if that was the only thing, I think Toys R Us may have survived longer. 

My experience in Toys 'R' Us the other day (hey, they were having a sale and I am only human, gimme a break!) is one good example of why they've failed miserably. I went in there and couldn't find the console game (Mario Odyssey, if you're interested) I was after. so I went to an assistant who kindly told me if I went to customer service, they would check if there was one in the stock room. Very helpful, I thought. So far, so good. I did as she suggested. The manager was there and I told him what the other girl had said. His reply in the most arrogant, obnoxious voice and manner possible was, "I don't have to go and look for it. We haven't got it!" I asked, quite reasonably, how he knows they haven't got it if he doesn't look. He said, "I'm not going! I said we haven't got it". His tone sounded rather threatening. I backed off. The weird thing is, the checkout girl, when we paid for our other stuff, said, "God, I hate it when people do that! I'll go look for you". She did. The manager was right that they hadn't got what I was after, but even the cashier agreed that the manager should have moved his butt and gone to at least look for me.

He was nasty and assumed that as he was the manager he was not obligated to get off his butt. Don suggested he may not care because he would be out of a job soon, but this logic, although sensible, is flawed. I've known people in shops that aren't closing do that too. It just a whole, "I don't give a f**k" attitude that a lot of retail stores seem to have these days. 

So here are the reasons why I hate Toys 'R' Us. 

You walk in (and even when they were new it happened) and they are virtually empty, even on a weekend. There are no staff to be found and the place is virtully silent except for some tinny music that you'd rather they switched off anyway. There is nothing you would associate with toy stores: no children laughing, no staff showing you how toys work, no toys for you to pick up and try out. When you finally do find a member of staff, they don't even want to give you the time of day. They make no effort to help you. If you ask them if they have something, as I've previously said, they resort to the old and lazy cliche of, "If it's not on the shelf, we haven't got one!" Translation: "I'm too lazy to give a crap!". Oh and even when their stuff is on sale, it's still over priced and their stock levels are appalling! Toys 'R' Us, to be blunt, is DULL.

I walked into Hamley's and their shop was the exact opposite. You felt happy as soon as you walked in. There was no music, mainly because the noise in there would have drowned it out anyway. It was noisy, it was lively, the staff were smiling and laughing and even playing with the gadgets. There were toys lying all over the place for you to play with (Don aimed (forgive me) straight for the Nerf targets!). Their were children laughing, singing and enjoying themselves and there were us bigger kids enjoying the games as well. There were demos. One woman demonstrated a sticker-maker box so well that I bought one (I'm a sticker obsessive too). The atmosphere here couldn't have been a more amazing contrast. It was a wonderful place, and I didn't want to leave. The same couldn't be said of Toys 'R' Us where you are bored after ten minutes.

So, is the internet to blame? Yes, but not altogether. The company has actually been the executor of their own failure by being incompetent and not caring one bit for their customer base, young or old. 

There is one thing that bugs me. I get heartly peeved off with people who say, "Ah, what a shame (name store here) is closing down! They were really good!". Then you ask them, "When was the last time you walked into one?" Either they haven't, or it was so long ago they don't remember. Really irritates me.

I think there is a lesson here for Toys 'R' Us. If you don't keep up with demand, move with the times, or give a crap about your customers, you will end up on the scrap heap. Serves you right!

RIP Toys 'R' Us - You will not be missed. Not by me anyway.

"There's no point in being an adult if you can't be childish sometimes!" ~ Tom Baker 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


It's February 2018 and already in the USA this year, there have been 18 mass school shootings.

Of course, this happens so often in the US now, we know the routine. And even though shootings and terrorist attacks are rare in the UK, we have the same narrative. It happened after Westminster, after London Bridge and after the Ariana concert bombing. 

It goes as follows: the incident - whatever it is - happens, people are outraged. We say how sad we are. We use a #PrayingFor..... hashtag on social media, go to said place if we live nearby to lay flowers, hang balloons, sing songs, light tea lights, etc. And give thoughts and prayers to the victims who we claim to care about, but whom we will have forgotten about next week. I'm an empath, someone who believes in love, life, and peace above all else, and even I am guilty of this, I'm ashamed to say. 

 Or if you're on the idiot side (God forbid), you'll go on ad nauseam, about how it was all the government's fault, how it was a psyop/false flag event with crisis actors and how the victims' families and the survivors are lying.  You will also try to use the excuse that there were shooter drills a few days before. This is flawed logic. You would except them to do this and prepare for a shooting, considering how many there have already been. Why is that any different from a fire drill, a tsunami drill or an earthquake drill? Please know that I have nothing but utter contempt for the people who talk this rubbish, especially, as in Sandy Hook, there were those who actually went to the houses of said families and bullied them, saying that the thing never happened.These people are despicable and should be jailed.


Most Americans want mass shootings to stop, of course they do. The problems we have are gun owners, the NRA, and the government. We'll take them in turn.

First the NRA and the gun nuts. Maybe you need to take a good, hard look at yourself and ask why the hell you are so damned obsessed with weapons. Why the hell would anyone need an AR-15 rifle in their house? I am so fed up of hearing the, "It's in the constitution!" argument. Its got boring. If this is your only answer, then your argument is invalid. The constitution was written in 1776 for Heaven's sake! It was a) talking about militias and not every sodding person in the USA and 2) There's a difference between a flintlock musket and an automatic rifle. You are not Minute Men, you are NOT in the militia (today it's the National Guard), so why the hell do you need a weapon? There is certainly no reason to openly carry one. And stop saying the constitution cannot be changed. What a load of nonsense. It's been changed many times on many occasions.

And no-one is trying to take your damn guns away. All that's been suggested is that people have background checks before they can buy a military-grade weapon. Why is that such a problem? Is it possibly because you know damn well that if you have to have one you may be found mentally unfit to own a weapon? And what are you trying to hide that makes you fear a background check so much?

The worst gun nuts are the ones who say, "This was a false flag. It was done to garner the sympathy of the public, so they can vote for gun legislation as a way for the government to take our guns away". Oh and while we're on the subject of barmy people, how about, "If a goverment person came to my yard and tried to take my gun(s) away, I would shoot him!". I'm sorry, but if you find either of these arguments sensible, then that is exactly the reason your weapons should be removed from your possession, as you are clearly not mentally fit enough to be trusted with one in the first place. And don't say it's your "God-given right" to own a gun! That is ridiculous!

You think that isn't insane enough, how about this: the best way to stop mass school shootings is to arm the teachers! Arrrgh! So, the answer to gun violence is more gun violence? Where the hell is the logic in that?

The answer is proper gun control. In the UK, we had a mass shooting in a school in Dunblane in Scotland. After it happened, gun control was reinforced. We haven't had a mass school shooting since. That tells me that gun control works better than arming people against people being armed. We need to stop the cycle of violence, not make it worse.

Next, the government: Firstly, all politicians need to refuse funding from the NRA. Then they can't say "we have to support the NRA and be in their pockets because they paid for campaigns/elections etc" Stop the funding, stop the excuses.

Stop blaming mass shootings on mental health when you just repealed legislation that made it harder for people with mental health problems to get a gun. If that restriction was still in place then the guy couldn't have got hold of a gun in the first place!

Oh and can you please stop coming up with the tired old "this is not the time to talk about guns" chestnut. When the hell will it be time? Translation: "We are not going to talk about it, because it will piss off the NRA!". Sod the NRA. Let them complain. Stop accepting funding from them, get some balls and do something. Don't arm the teachers. Do something constructive like ban assault rifles and bump stocks. Don't tell me it won't work. It worked here in the UK. And don't bother with the "thoughts and prayers" BS. Unless you are willing to act on it, your thoughts and prayers are empty words, nothing more.

All I hear are the same tired cliches from gun owners, the same gutless crap from the goverment and I see the same boring crap on social media. ENOUGH!!

Do something about gun crime, I mean REALLY do something. Talk about mental health, ideology, and the gun culture and find a way to sort this out.

No more, please! 

"Maybe the end begins with one boy putting down his gun" - Jonathan Frakes (TNG - The High Ground)