Freedom Of Speech – Why?

Now you might think it’s ironic that I am about to big up the importance of being able to speak freely, when 90% of the phrases I have screamed at you throughout your childhood involve the words “shut” and “up”. 

Silence isn’t always Golden

Sure silencing other people sounds great, but there’s a problem.  Where free communication stops, conspiracy festers.  Underground groups form and then the ignorance they whisper to each other goes unchecked by anyone better placed to explain the truth.

It’s only human to want people that you don’t agree with to shut up, and one of the best reasons people have for wanting to limit free-speech is that it’s bloody hard work arguing with idiots.  BUT, and here’s the important bit, one of the WORST reasons people have for wanting to limit free-speech, is to silence all opponents.

There are countries in this world that do not have freedom of speech, and for precisely the worst reason above.  So we must fight hard to maintain the freedoms we currently might NOT enjoy, but do HAVE.  Even if that means our ears do bleed occasionally.

Listen To Opposing Views 

You don’t have to listen to someone whose general values and opinions are the opposite of yours, but you should, because you might learn something 

…even if it’s just something to use against them later. 

Seriously, the phrase “know your enemy” was invented for a reason.  It’s easier to outgun someone if you know what they’re packing.

Another important reason to listen to people you disagree with, is to maintain objectivity in your own opinions.   Living in an echo-chamber, where nothing is ever challenged, not only damages your objectivity, but worse it damages your ability to argue your case effectively.    

Auntie Kate and I have never liked the phrase “If you’ve got a problem, say it to my face!” because we both hate confrontation and agree it’s far more comfortable for everyone, if people say things behind our backs instead. 

We are of course right, it IS way more comfortable, but it neither identifies nor resolves problems, for that unfortunately, you have to let others speak out.

The Best Dad Ever

Your Dad is a natural parent.  When you were born, he showed me how to hold you, clean you and change your nappies.  If I remember correctly his exact words were “YOU’RE going to have to do this one day”.  In brief, having parented me for 15 years, he already had it down to a fine art when you came along.

It’s not all one-sided, in return I protect Daddy from his two main fears; running out of chocolate and, of course, his only natural enemy, the spider.

If you’ve ever wondered why Daddy vacuums the house so much, and why it’s Mummy that insulates the loft, it’s just part of the ongoing Daddy vs Arachnids war. Daddy can hoover up the small ones, but as you know Mummy has to catch the big ones with the more traditional glass and a bit of card.

Daddy Versus Arachnids

Mummy can’t kill spiders because they eat flies, and she hates flies.  Also, as the mediator between Daddy and the Arachnid species, I don’t really want to start any vendettas with the bigger ones.  At least not until I’ve finished the loft – where Daddy won’t set foot for love nor money until I’ve spider-proofed it completely. 

Daddy isn’t afraid of much else.  Although that’s not always a good thing either, for example when he chases down people, with what are clearly gang-tattoos, to give them a good telling off for dropping litter.   

Thing One – Daddy may well be where you get your urge to police people from.  Although, that could also be Grandma Tiny-Face, as she is equally keen on rugby-tackling litter-louts twice her size.  Though, to be fair, EVERYONE is at least twice Grandma’s size. 

Daddy has always been a very kind person, he especially loves looking after old people, but he’ll help anyone who crosses his path.   

If you see him out and about he’ll invariably be helping an old dear across the road (not always me), picking up their spilled groceries, or waiting with them for an ambulance whilst other people (like Mummy) step over their cold motionless body and hurry about their day. 

As you already know Daddy is the “fun” parent and Mummy is the screechy-killjoy one.  He’s the one who swings you up in the air (usually straight towards fan-blades or a mirror) and Mummy’s the one who screams.

There is no right way to be a parent in the same way as there is no right way to be a human (although in both cases there are plenty of wrong ways) but if there was a right way to be a fantastic Dad, your Dad would be as close as it’s possible to get.

 

 P.S.

If you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned Grandad El Paso (my Dad) on Father’s Day, it’s because I took him out for lunch and he was perfectly lovely the whole time. 

It was great for our Father-Daughter relationship but the downside was no new material for the blog…

 

The Family Memory

There has long persisted a myth that one side of our family has the most diabolical memory known to man, or as it is more commonly experienced in our family, known to woman.  This myth has persisted because none of us can remember if it’s true or not, or why we keep finding our purse in the fridge.

Not everyone in our family suffers from “the memory”;  Thing Two you are lucky enough to have inherited yours from Daddy’s side.  Bad news Thing One, I think maybe it comes with the ADHD.  …Although I forget why I think that.

A poor working memory doesn’t have to be a disability though.  Over the years I have discovered a few handy tips to cope with it.  I’ll impart these to you now, in writing – because…   well, I forget why but here goes.

Never trust your memory – Write It Down

“Of course I’ll remember my best friend’s new baby’s name!  It’s SO them, it’s unique, it’s beautiful, it’s…    shit what is it?!”

Keep an address book, preferably brightly-coloured and too heavy to move.  Write in it, methodically, all the important details – especially addresses and phone numbers, and especially that one number you are 100% certain you will remember tomorrow – you won’t.

Keep a calendar, somewhere highly visible, a place where you naturally glance every day is ideal.  If the screen of your gaming PC is a little inconvenient, maybe try on the back of the door.

Post-its AND Technology – Two-Pronged Attack

“Oh-my-God I’m so excited, the finale of my favourite show ever is on tomorrow night, I can’t wait to find out what happens with the dragons, and the White-Walkers and the…   Last night, it was on last night! That’s why all these spoilers are on Twitter.  Arrggh!”

Set a reminder on the TV, AND stick a post-it next to the telly, or the door, or on the fridge, preferably all three.

Also, TOP-TIP, marry someone with a better memory and get them interested in the programme.  Make sure they’re the kind of person who won’t start watching it without you (*gives Daddy serious side-eye*).

Explain It – Friends Will Understand

I mean pick your moments obviously.  A job interview, for example, is NOT a great time.

Once you’re safely out of the probation period of a job (having narrowly survived on post-its and Outlook reminders) that’s the PERFECT time to let the cat out of the bag.

It’s good to tell friends early days so that they are more understanding when you remember every word of a Star Wars film but can’t remember that today is their birthday.

True friends will probably overlook the occasional lapse BUT, true friends are also worth making the effort for.  Employ all of the above techniques to do everything you can to remember their stuff.  If only, to show them how important they are to you.  By the time you lapse, hopefully they’ll have seen you turn up to a night out in your slippers enough times to have made their peace with it.

It’s a Handicap, Not an Excuse

Everyone has something they don’t do as well as others, it doesn’t detract from what they’re great at, and this is just the same.  It’s not a get out of jail free card though – literally, I’ve checked with a policeman.  It’s simply an area we have to work harder at to achieve the same results as others.

Most of the time, with a bit of effort we can function just like everyone else, standard hit and miss, except that when we miss, we don’t remember the embarrassment. Win-win.

Dementia

At any one time there are at least three family members concerned they have dementia, but this is only because they don’t remember that their memories have always been this terrible.

I have checked the Dementia leaflets in the doctor’s surgery several thousand times and the gist of the thing is this:-

If you know who you are, where you are and who you’re with, it doesn’t matter if you can’t remember: why you went in there, what for, or the word for the thing you’re trying to tell them about, which you’ve currently misplaced.

I’ve also heard people say that people with bad memories don’t get dementia.  I don’t know if that’s true or if, as I strongly suspect, it’s just impossible to tell the difference.

Now, what did I come in here for…

Diet Advice

Everything in Moderation

Despite regularly chanting “everything in moderation” at you like a wise old Buddha, it will quickly become abundantly clear (from my similarity to a wise old Buddha if nothing else) that I have never followed my own advice for longer than the minute it popped into my head.

I can tell you some basics, like burn off more calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight.  It works both ways, take in more calories than you can use and you’ll gain weight.   

Although, if you’re lucky enough to take after Grandma you’ll be able to stuff your face with anything, then drive every single person in the room crazy by announcing how terrible it is to not be able to put on weight “no matter what I do”. 

I suppose that’s an important bit of advice, if you’re lucky enough to take after Grandma, do remember not to gloat.  Saying “I just can’t put weight on no matter how much I eat” is the equivalent of loudly proclaiming that “I have so much money I can’t get rid of it no matter how much I spend.”  It’s not only a problem that most people want, it’s also one they’ll hate you for, immeasurably.

She’s No Renée Zellweger

Also, to an extent Grandma is telling only a partial truth, when she says “no matter how much I eat” or “how much I try”

(a) She rarely eats food with a high fat or sugar content.  Yeah, sure, she can put away a roast dinner (eventually, once she’s cut it into one hundred pieces and chased it around her plate for an hour) but it’s not like she’s ever sat down and eaten a box of donuts to herself, even once.   

(b) She’s never really “tried” to put on weight – That’s an out-and-out lie.  She’s not Renée Zellweger preparing for a role, and she’s not in training to become a boxer either. 

Remember the old woman lies sometimes, so before we take her word for it let’s do a controlled experiment at least, where we make her eat only pizza and cream-cakes for a week and see if she still “can’t put on any weight”.

I suppose the most important thing I can tell you about diet is not to get too hung up about it.  There are no bad foods, just bad portion sizes.  …Actually there are LOADS of bad foods, anything with more than one ingredient that doesn’t sound like food for a start.

OK, so some general guidelines:-

  • Drink water when you’re thirsty – hydration is important for health
  • Foods made of food are good
  • Foods not made of food are usually less good (also applies to drinks)
  • You can tell what is food by the way the ingredient list says things like milk or butter
  •  Vice versa if it says things like Chemicalum Biexplosionate or Arsium Flypoosite
  • Smaller portions and exercise will help you lose weight
  • Larger portions and no exercise will make you put on weight
  • Food is not your enemy, or your friend, it’s just food

Most importantly of all, do as I say and not as I do.