Dalek Love Song

Tags

, , ,

The thing with space is that there’s such a lot of it. Space. Loads of room up there. Or down there, out there. Whatever. I’m saying you can fit a lot of things in it. It’s spacious. One of the things you can fit in it is emotion. Another is imagination. A third is Beyonce but I’ve examined the logistics carefully and there’s no way for me to kidnap her to get her to rewrite her Sasha Fierce album. I’ve taken some time out of my busy schedule of staring at clouds and done it for her. So here it is, Beyonce singing about a dalek who is in love with a human. For a certain – daleky – definition of the word ‘love’ anyway. The lyric she meant to write is below.

Stalk down as I watch my fleet take turns hitting the ground
I shoot, I find myself in love razing the Earth

And I’m soaked in your blood
And Earth was right in my path, in my grasp
And me and you belong

I wanna maim, maim, smash into you

Minds closed, what I love no one else has to know
‘Cause I know that what we have is worth armour in gold

And I’m soaked in your blood
And Earth is right in my path, in my grasp
And me and you belong

I wanna maim, maim, smash into you, smash into you

Head down, as I watch my fleet take turns hitting the ground
I shoot, I’m in love and I’m razing the Earth

And I’m soaked in your blood
And Earth is right in my path, in my grasp
And me and you belong

Oh, I wanna maim, smash into you
I’m willing to maim, smash into you
I’m willing to maim and stun, and end, and gun you,
I’m ready to maim and stun, and end, and gun, you.

And I wanna maim, maim, smash into you
I’m willing to maim, maim, smash into you

Advertisements

My cat is dying

Tags

, , ,

My cat has a tumour. Pretty big, apparently. This is my “real” cat, Kiffer. Not Shycat or Smallcat or the foster, Boycat. Kiffer stays with my parents who sorta-kinda kidnapped her and Finn. I left them there for a year so I could come to London to do my MSc. Then I stumbled into driving trains and started looking for a flat where I could keep them. Then when I phoned home I’d speak to Mum, then to Dad, then to Finn who had a remarkably squeaky voice but otherwise had the same accent as my dad. During these conversations he’d point out that he loved living with my parents and why on earth did we want him and Kiffer to move to a big city anyway? So eventually I told Finn he could stay. Then a few weeks later I said the same to my parents. They were surprised and pleased.

Not that Finn stayed long. After a few years he vanished. My personal opinion is that he was taken by some neighbours who moved at the same time. I didn’t mind so much if someone took him because then he was being looked after. Or maybe he got injured and crawled off to die in peace. But anyway he was gone and Kiffer was left. She was much happier being an only-cat and getting all the attention. Finn was a little too pouncy for her tastes.

She’s 14 now. Mum just phoned (at midnight no less) saying that she’d been off her food and taken to the vet. A large tumour was the diagnosis. I told them to have the vet let her go because I really refuse to be one of those selfish assholes who force their pets to suffer on so the human can get a few more months of ownership. Apparently the vet is going to operate on Monday to see how bad it is. If it’s not recoverable then the vet will let her die. That’s a compromise I’m ok with. Though I’ve told Mum that if she is operated on and recovers but starts to go downhill again then she is to be euthanised. I will not be one of those assholes.

I actually think my mother is more upset about this than me. I think that’s going to be her last pet. That said, they weren’t going to get another after their dog died but then they kidnapped my cats. My father always hated cats. Allegedly. But my mother is 73 now and my father is 69. I don’t think they’ll be getting another pet.

Really, I’m not hugely upset. I mean, I am a bit but she has to go at some point. I was just thinking the other day that she was getting older and wondering how much longer she would have. I guess I know now. I just wish I could be there to say goodbye. Saying goodbye is important whether it’s to a human or an animal. There’s not the same sense of closure if you don’t. I didn’t say goodbye to Finn either. I guess this is it for her.

Goodbye, Kiff.

*scritches*

No Forward Movement

Tags

, , ,

Sometimes at a terminus late at night a person might close up everything then go to drive their train into a siding and then it turns itself off. That’s ok. It’s supposed to do that. It’s just checking stuff. All you have to do is sit and twiddle your thumbs for a few minutes til it turns everything back on and once you have motors available you zoom off.

OR, you can sit and gaze around the cab if you don’t fancy twiddling your thumbs right at that particular moment. Perchance your gaze may alight on the emergency brake button which is pleasingly big and red. If such a circumstance were to occur you might happen to notice that the emergency brake button is at a very peculiar angle and give it a little poke whereupon you might find that the whole thing spins round in an anticlockwise direction.

Coincidentally, anticlockwise is the direction you spin it in to release the emergency brake. Had you wished to apply the emergency brake you’d give it a push and it spins clockwise and applies the brakes. But you probably don’t want to push it. You might ponder that a spinning emergency brake button is not something you really want on a train and perhaps you should be calling up the Controller to mention it. But before you do…hey, wonder if it also spins in a clockwise direction? So you might test that. And then hear a soft thunk of brakes applying. And then you might be left frantically spinning the button to no apparent point in either direction.

And if such a thing should ever happen to you then definitely will be calling the Controller and then you’ll be answering some extremely pointed questions about how comes the emergency button came to be pressed in the first place. And you’ll come up with the most half-arsed explanation ever proffered to anyone, ever, including when your parents told you that Fido was going off to live on a farm where he could chase chickens. And then the Controller will most likely tell you that your signal is going to return to danger and can you confirm that you will not be moving your train? And then you’ll burst out laughing all over the radio because that’s kind of the problem here. And then you’ll have to wait a bit for them to fetch a man who will turn up and say “Oh that’s bad, we don’t have a tool for that”, and then he’ll shrug and bring out a big hammer and give it a go anyway.

And after a bout of thumping and cussing he’ll tell you it’s fixed. Well not fixed, exactly, but it’ll move. And then you’d probably high-tail it into the siding as fast as you can because you want to get rid of this damn train as quickly as possible.

And the moral of the story is TWIDDLE YOUR FUCKING THUMBS.

The Mechanisation of Savita Halappanava

Yesterday the news broke of the death of Savita Halappanava. She died due to complications from a miscarriage. Complications which could have been prevented had she been given proper medical care. But care was denied to Savita for one reason and one reason only. Her unborn child – which could not be saved – had a heartbeat.

It was a horrific death drawn out over several days. Savita developed
septicaemia two days after beginning to miscarry and died days
later. Septicaemia is caused by infection – frequently via open
wounds. In the case of miscarriage the dilated cervix leading directly
to the super-absorbent womb is the direct equivalent of an open wound.

It is not an easy way to die. It starts with fever, swelling and vomiting. If medical care is not provided then the body goes into septic shock involving multiple organ failure. In Savita’s case it took days for her body to get to that stage. Her protracted death would have been haunted by pain and fear. This torture was in the name of preserving life.

Savita’s foetus was at 17 weeks gestation. Had it been born it would
have died even with the most advanced medical care on the planet. Although Savita and her husband Praveen wanted this child they understood it was near death and would not survive in the womb.
Consequently they asked for an abortion to be performed. This was
denied as the foetus still had a heartbeat. Until the foetal heart
stopped beating then Savita was condemned to carry it. Her health, her body, her grief, her pain, her understandable wish to get the
miscarriage over with – none of these things mattered as the foetus
had a heartbeat.

Women are getting used to the idea that we are increasingly being seen
by anti-choice groups in terms of animals for breeding. In the USA
there have actually been proposals that the law should ensure
miscarrying women be literally treated like cattle. Removing a dead
foetus or one which would not survive after 20 weeks was to be
criminalised. Because pigs and cattle cope with it so women should
too. This is not just a case of those whacky Americans with their
crazy ideas. Anti-choice groups here in the UK also aim to have
abortion criminalised in all cases. Once a woman is pregnant she is
there to be bred with no recognition that she has any say in what happens to her body.

But this was more than treating women as farm animals. This was about turning a human into a life support machine for a slowly dying foetus. A living, loving, laughing woman with a family she cared about and who loved her, was casually deleted from humanity. Her death did not occur when her body finally gave up the struggle to survive. That happened days earlier at the moment the men and women who were supposed to care
for her decided that the heart beating in her womb was more important than the heart which sustained her life.

Whether this was done from disdain for a woman who requested an abortion or fear of providing a termination in a political climate where reproductive rights are under near-constant attack is unclear. And in some ways it doesn’t really matter which. The end result is the same. Savita was mechanised. She stopped being a person and was turned into a meat-machine. A machine which provided oxygen and nutrients to the dying child inside her. She no longer mattered because such is the fetishisation of the unborn foetus it became more important than the living woman suffering a horrific death so that a failed pregnancy could be prolonged a few more days.

This is what anti-choice groups like Abort67 and SPUC want to happen
in the UK. All abortions to be prohibited. And this is exactly why
pro-choice groups have doggedly pointed out that restricting access to abortion means women will die. Whether that be from denial of medical care or from injuries and infections developing from backstreet abortions women WILL die. Anti-choice groups scoff at the idea that women are more likely to die if abortion is restricted. They also claim that a foetus has the same rights as a born human beings. That life and rights are conferred upon every foetus because it has cells, because it has a developing nervous system, because it has a heartbeat. Over the last few years the concerted effort to convince lawmakers that a foetus should have rights equal to those of a woman has missed one vital point.

Savita had a heartbeat too.

The Royal Mail are wrong to only make stamps for Olympians.

Tags

,

There’s been a lot of love for the Royal Mail lately due to a canny marketing move. They’ve pledged to paint a post box gold in the home town of every athlete who wins an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal for Great Britain. They’ve also made special stamps for every Olympian – but not for the Paralympians who have to share six stamps.

This is an appalling move by the Royal Mail. The proffered excuse is that as we won so many Paralympic medals at the last games it would be “logistically and practically impossible for Royal Mail to produce an individual stamp” for every athlete. That quote is from the Paralympics GB website, by the way. And naturally Paralympics GB declare themselves happy with the Royal Mail’s decision. Because let’s face it, the stamps and the postboxes are a nice touch from a business which doesn’t have to do anything to honour either Olympians or Paralympians. Yes, the Royal Mail will sell large numbers of the stamps but with near-instant production I’d suspect their profits won’t be huge though I’m happy to be corrected on this if anyone has info. So it could be seen as a bit churlish and ungrateful for Paralympics GB to say they are unhappy with the team having to share stamps. I can see why they would not complain about it.

But I’m complaining. Because it’s awful. It smacks of a token pat on the head for a group of athletes whose disability means they are perceived to be not as worthy as able-bodied Olympians. This is so far from reality that the decision is transmuted into an insult. Let’s not forget, these people are the Superhumans. Take a look at this video. Go on, take a minute to watch it. Then tell me that those people are not as good as Olympians. In terms of effort, hard work and powering through adversity they’ve been there and got the t shirt long before they ever took up sport.

Don’t think I’m patronisingly cheering for Paralympians because I want equality. I do, of course, but the reality is that Paralympians are every bit as deserving of stamps as Olympians. Consider some of their achievements. Hannah Cockcroft has the world record for 100m wheelchair racing with a time of 17.6 seconds. Ellie Simmonds seems to have spent the last few years snagging every swimming world record she can find. At the last Paralympics Jody Cundy blitzed through the world record for the 1km Time Trial (the ‘Kilo’) to win gold in 1m 5.466s. Compare him to the able-bodied French cyclist Arnaud Tournant who did the same distance in 58.875 seconds or Olympian Chris Hoy at 58.880 seconds. The difference between Cundy and Hoy is blink-and-you’ll-miss it small. So why not treat them equally?

Let’s take it further, what if Cundy or another Team GB athlete got so good they decided to compete on equal terms with able-bodied athletes? How ludicrous would the situation be if they gained a personal stamp in the Olympics but had to share for the Paralympics? And this is not a far-fetched idea. South African Oscar Pistorius is both an Olympian and a Paralympian. His personal best for the 400m is 45.07 seconds. The world record for an able-bodied athlete (Michael Johnson) is 43.18 seconds. If Paralympian athletes are training as hard as Olympic athletes, putting in equal amounts of hard work and achieving results which snap at the heels of Olympic athletes then surely they deserve equal recognition from all of us?

I truly am disappointed that the Royal Mail have chosen to disregard the individual successes of Paralympians while they laud Olympians. They are in no way less worthy than Olympians. Citing the large number of gold medals our Paralympians are expected to gain seems such a dreadful reason. It might almost have worked if Team GB had managed only a few Olympic golds – but as the total is currently at 24 Olympic golds for Britain with each medallist getting a stamp and postbox it becomes increasingly apparent that “numbers” is a poor excuse. And in the interests of fairness I will acknowledge that the Royal Mail are donating Β£200,000 to a prize fund for the Paralympian gold medallists and that’s a lovely thing. But a stamp is about more than money. It’s recognition on a grand scale that these are amazing athletes. Should I manage to turn so much as a cartwheel I fully expect a parade in my honour and a gold-plated train. So Royal Mail, please honour our Paralympic athletes. You of all people should recognise that a stamp is much more than a tiny square of gummed paper.

The Tale of the Traindriver and the Timepiece

Tags

, , , ,

Once upon a time there was an idiotic traindriver…wait, that’s not right. Once upon a time there was a VERY TIRED traindriver who had started their day at a very specific time of day. There. That’s a better start. Pull up a cushion and see what comes next.

The very specific time of day was half past fucking three. This is fairly unique in terms of time in that it occurs only once a day. Most times have a corresponding time 12 hours later. Not poor half past three though. It happens only once each afternoon but due to some fairly rigid rules it gets paired with the similarly-named-yet-oh-so-different half past fucking three. It’s a thing. Deal with it.

Moving on: The ordinarily reasonably intelligent traindriver duly cancelled the phone alarm, pulled on something resembling uniform, stumbled off to work and (what with living about ten minutes away) was there for shortly after four. There our sleepy and anonymous* hero set about the business of the day. Despite the stupid time of starting the traindriver was as enthusiastic as is possible at that time because the following day was their rest day.

Oh rest days. So delicious. So welcome. So bloody fatal to this story. For like any intelligent person, our in no way stupid at all hero liked a bit of a lie-in. Just one day when the relentless blaring of the phone alarm would not happen. Because quite frankly it had been set to half past fucking three for every day this week and a certain person was getting a bit fed up with it.

But it does not do to sleep too late on a rest day. Because if you snooze til ten then you are all wide awake at midnight and bear in mind that the next again day is one of the half past fucking three ones. So it seemed a good and sensible idea to reset the daily alarm to a later time. About half past eight should do it. Perfect.

The traindriver then bumbled off to pick their favourite train and started driving it up and down. Possibly whistling a happy tune as they did so. And never spotting the problem. Which an intelligent reader will have done by now. I am in no way giving you a pointed look at this point.

As the traindriver came belting into a major station where – by appalling coincidence – most of the Very Important managers are based a noise was heard. It was an awful, jangling, relentlessly cheery sound. And it was ringing round the cab at immense volume. It was, of course, the daily phone alarm which – it now being half past eight – was ringing out at full pelt and causing the traindriver to nearly die of fear at the unexpected noise in an empty cab. And then reanimate and die of panic because we’re not actually allowed phonecalls while driving and there’s probably all these managers on the train and OH GOD this is terrible!

The poor, traumatised traindriver could do nothing. The phone was in a pocket somewhere within the obligatory backpack of gubbins and unreachable. Besides which, the train still belting into the station and the approaching end of the platform became something of a more pressing concern. So the train jingled it’s cheery way all the way into the HUGE station and came to a stop. The doors opened and a vast number of passengers leapt off as the contents of the bag of gubbins were hastily hurled around the cab during the frantic search for the phone.

Once silence was restored to the cab and the traindriver’s heart had come down to something like a normal rate the train continued on. Miraculously, none of the Very Important managers seemed to have been on the train because nothing was ever said about the apparent sound of a phonecall being routed directly to the cab of an underground train. And the poor traindriver spent much of the rest of the day trying to work out how the hell that could have happened. Because they’d got up at half past fucking three and were a bit muzzy still and WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED that if you set an alarm at 4am for 8:30am then it would ring out that SELF SAME DAY?

And after that the phone alarm was no longer set to ring out on every day of the week but was carefully set for very specific days. Because while it might be more troublesome to have to set individual alarms every day it is far, far better than nearly dying of fear when your cab starts singing.

 

 

 

 

*Obviously this person was not me. Obviously.

Reflections

Tags

, , , ,

Every day I go to work it’s pretty much the same. Up, down, up, down, up, down. Tunnel, station, tunnel, station. Sometimes I go to one terminus and sometimes to another and of course I work at different times of day but basically it’s all pretty much the same. Except it isn’t really. There are subtle changes every day and seeing them can turn into an obsession.

There’s this building. Some sort of office building, I think. Nobody ever looks at this building but for the past year or so I’ve been stopping to take photographs of it and letting my train leave late. Because it’s a magical building.

I love this building. It is never the same two days in a row. In the same afternoon the reflections change. Sometimes there’s a storm in the building and a summer’s day outside. Sometimes the weather is the same behind and beyond. Other times the building is transparent. And of course, there’s the story of the other building to watch unfold.

I think (although am not sure) that my favourite image is the one second from the end*. It almost looks photoshopped. But it’s not. I swear. I haven’t done anything to those photos other than crop out a little extraneous noise. It’s pretty hard to take a decent shot when you are legging it up a platform with coffee in one hand and a mobile phone in the other. It’s even harder when the signal is green and you know other trains are waiting to get into the platform and that you’re going to be late. I am not even remotely sorry for the trains running late. I needed to showcase a building.

Thankfully this building doesn’t need any assistance when it comes to looking wonderful. And the weirdest thing is, NOBODY looks at it. Ever. I have been watching this building for over two years now. The photos started about a year later. I spend a fair bit of time on that platform waiting to do something and I haven’t seen a single person so much as glance up. This is the equivalent of Howl’s Moving Castle slamming down on the High Street and nobody batting an eyelid. This building is such a non-event in the world that I was hesitant to even blog about it for fear of embarrassment that everyone would call it dull.

Sometimes I wonder how long I’m going to be photographing this building. Surely at some point I well get bored of it and focus on something else? Surely I will not spend years photographing this same building? And then I walk past it and it’s different again and I snap just one more shot. Because every day is different.

If you want to see the photos individually they are over here. I expect I’ll be adding to them at some point:

Reflections

*and you note the sneaky way I make you watch the entire damn thing to figure out what I’m on about.

It’s summer so here’s a beach

Tags

, , , ,

image

I concede that it’s not a real seaside beach but given the damp weather we’ve been having it’s not bad. And really, who wouldn’t want a strip of multicoloured sand to play in?

This beach is down on the southbank. Not far away there is a piano. I really like the pianos left around in the street for anyone to play. And there seem to be a remarkable number of people hanging out to listen or to play (and play well). We may not quite have a real summer and speaking as a person who spends much of their time in hot tunnels I’m glad of that. But at least we have a nice beach and good music.

Courtly love

Tags

,

You know when you think you know something and then you suddenly look at it in a new light? That just happened to me with The Moody Blues.

A car went belting past with the stereo blaring. It was ‘Nights in White Satin’. Or was it? Was it perhaps ‘Knights in White Satin’?

I’ve always assumed it was ‘nights’ but I realised I didn’t definitely know. So I thought about the lyric. And…well, it could go either way. Of course, a quick google tells me the answer but where’s the fun in that? It’s sometimes much better to work out something from each perspective and try to find a balance in the middle. That’s something I learned from an English lecture on the roots of tlanguage. Or was it the routes of language? Anyway, Try seeing it from the ‘knight’ perspective. I think it works. πŸ™‚

Knights in white satin,
Never reaching the end,
Letters I’ve written,
Never meaning to send.

Beauty I’d always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I can’t say anymore.

‘Cause I love you,
Yes, I love you,
Oh, how, I love you.

Gazing at people,
Some hand in hand,
Just what I’m going thru
They can understand.

Some try to tell me
Thoughts they cannot defend,
Just what you want to be
You will be in the end,

And I love you,
Yes, I love you,
Oh, how, I love you.
Oh, how, I love you.

Knights in white satin,
Never reaching the end,
Letters I’ve written,
Never meaning to send.

Beauty I’d always missed
With these eyes before,
Just what the truth is
I can’t say anymore.

‘Cause I love you,
Yes, I love you,
Oh, how, I love you.
Oh, how, I love you.

‘Cause I love you,
Yes, I love you,
Oh, how, I love you.
Oh, how, I love you.

Summer’s here

Tags

,

As I was changing ends today I came across this little guy taking a stroll across the platform:

Isn’t he the prettiest thing?

Of course, I had no clue what he was but thankfully enquiries to Twitter revealed that he is a Shield Bug. I’ve done a little reading this evening and specifically he is a Juniper Shield Bug or Cyphostethus tristriatus. That’s quite a mouthful for such a tiny insect!

I don’t think I’ve ever come across one before but it seems they are reasonably common in the south of England. Largely because gardeners are quite keen on their favourite plants: juniper and cypress. I’m not sure exactly what he was doing on my platform but there are a lot of suburban gardens nearby so perhaps he stopped to warm his wings in the sun before heading off to do whatever it is that Shield Bugs do.