Archive | February, 2013

Word press & Me: Why I’ll never be Freshly Pressed.

28 Feb

I started blogging because I thought I had a lot to say.  I used to write quite a bit on Facebook . not that often but when I did, my status update always used to receive a verbal response from friends and others. You have so much to say for yourself, especially the reviews about the books you read and the films you watch, why don’t you write a blog instead?  or they said you seem to have an opinion on everything, you need to channel your energies on a  book or something.

So I thought long and hard about my opinions and views that I store in my mind and vocalise with close ones or people who know me well and the idea of  sharing that personal information in a blog. It’s not like  Facebook where you can choose who you want to add as a friend. Someone mentioned WordPress amongst other free blogging websites, and I decided to do a bit of research before settling on WordPress. I chose it because the format, and style appeared to be easy to navigate. Then, with bated breath, I typed my first post. Not knowing what to expect or what to do next. Then, I just started typing and waited to see if I received any comments, responses or likes. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed when I received some comments and “likes”. I appreciated the feedback.

Then, I started to read other blogs on this website and some blogs I disregarded and others caught my interest. Then, I started to read and analyse the other blogs, the style of writing, the content, the descriptions, the feelings evoked . I started to look at the photos, how they were being used and  the impressions they left on me. I looked at the categories and tags used and how some articles or posts were “Freshly Pressed”. Posts which were or are chosen for FP tend to be witty, original, creatively  written in ways that I would never thought possible, inspirational and innovative. It made me think that maybe my style of writing is staid, linear and slightly old fashioned. I don’t think I could compete or compare myself to writing styles which appear to be more fresh, and place a different slant or perspective on life events.

I know I’ll never get freshly pressed or receive many “likes” or comments. But I have found that I do enjoy the writing processes, which I find therapeutic and  almost addictive. I find that when something happens or I have something on my mind, recording it all here makes it seem as if I am talking to a close friend or maybe even a Counsellor. I’m also picking up ideas and finding ways to be more discerning with what I write and share. I find blogging enjoyable and for now, fills a void and hopefully, with time, it will enable me to hone my skills and be able to write more freely, and concisely.

I find that I tend to write when my other half goes to bed and I can be sitting up until 2am writing. Just me and my laptop. Sometimes, I have the television switched on in the background. Other times it’s a distraction. But once it is switched off,  all I hear is the hum of the machine on my lap and the ticking of the clock on the wall. I don’t know about other bloggers, but it can take me ages to think about what to write or how to write what I’ve got to say. But then, that’s why the blogging world is full of creative, thoughtful, individuals or writers established, published or otherwise. Blogging is a platform for speakers of the 21st Century, another form of the chattering classes.

I just hope I can keep up the momentum in the long term and remain motivated to write, share and express myself as freely as I can without giving up the notion that my voice will not be heard as I realise that it’s very much part of  culture today to have a blog.  You can start a blog with good intentions but sometimes you can be either too overwhelmed with life in general or just give up on the interest as it’s deemed to be “just another piece of technological communication, alongside other forms of social media”. I intend to keep writing, either here as a blog or on a Word Document.

Hypothetically speaking, I think all bloggers hope to become published or established writers one day, don’t we? If not, why are we here? But it doesn’t matter. After all, if you’ve got something to say, say it or share it with others. You’re bound to come up smelling of roses one day, won’t you?

The Learned Kat

I am not my father but…

26 Feb

Today is a significant day for me. It is the fifth anniversary since my dad passed away. It is five years ago to the day that I received the call from my brother which changed my life. The day before, I had just started a new job as a Daycentre Manager for Older Adults with dementia. I had explained to my new staff team that I was expecting the imminent call to tell me that dad was no more. How do you know? they had asked. I can feel and sense death I said. I’d felt it for months. I predicted what would happen and told my friends that he’d either pass away the first or second day of me starting my new job. People wouldn’t believe me and thought I was being overtly dramatic.

On that day, Tuesday 26 February 2008, I woke up, went to work and within 10 minutes of my arrival, my brother called and told me not to rush!! I was in the taxi and on my way to the hospital when he spoke to me. I remember it all as clearly as if it was yesterday. The whole family met up at hospital. My main concern was mum and how she would cope. The reality of it all is, she didn’t. She was a broken woman and she just drifted through each passing day…

I was so angry, lost and emotionally mixed, I wrote a novella. It described my relationship with my dad and the associated memories I had growing up, intermingled with the events of the day of his funeral, the trauma and emotional aftermath that followed and how we attempted to pick up the debris of our shattered lives in the week that followed. It helped me cope with my grieving processes. It was incredibly cathartic at that time…

But now, five years later, I am not stronger. I am not feeling better for it. The saying “Time heals” is not necessarily true. It’s not time that heals. It’s the fact that I have to try and be practical and “get on with my own life” because if I did not, I’d probably end up having a breakdown of some sorts. There is work, bills and mortgage to pay, meals to prepare and cook, there are loved ones around me, friendships that I relied or depended on, and everyday tasks that we take for granted, have to be carried out. I know death affects people in many different ways. I know some people either receive counselling, or turn to other forms of “escape” like alcohol or drugs, some choose to withdraw from society. Others do end up having psychiatric care, treatment and therapy to help deal with their loss or manage their grief.

My way of coping was to write. And once I started to write, I couldn’t stop until all was out of my system. There were times when I sat on the train journey home from work and wrote notes in my diary. There were times when I wept silently. There were days when I didn’t want to get out of bed but I did because I had to work, and went to work to help me through the days. I created my own distractions and coping mechanisms. There were days when I would see or hear a word and it’ll get me all worked up, grief would wash over me like a wave and I would feel myself choking. There were days when I would be walking around and suddenly, I would see a man who would remind me of dad, an apparition that would stop me in my tracks, my heart leaping and a sharp intake of deep breath… An image or part of clothing would remind me of dad, a trilby, a Crombie coat, a white nylon shirt or beige trousers… even going into a charity shop would trigger things he would say, do or the memory of the items he would purchase and bring home. At the time, I would say they were tat but he would insist it might be worth keeping as a valuable item one day…

There are or were many things that used to irate or annoy me about dad. But now, years since he passed away, I find myself doing those exact same things. When I was growing up he would do the following:
1. He used to watch old movies and comment on the stage sets, costume and design which I thought was an intrusion of my viewing. Now, I find myself doing the same.
2. He used to visit charity shops, purchase items that might come in handy one day or clothes that he might wear one day, He never got around to doing either. I find myself sharing the same habit.
3. He used to write in the early hours of the morning, which sometimes annoyed my mother. Here I am sharing and replicating the same pattern and passion.
4. He used to try and create new South Asian curry dishes. He succeeded in creating over 1,000. I find I enjoy cooking and wish to explore further cooking skills/recipes.
5. He was a very sociable man and was compelled to join several socio-political groups, clubs and associations. As a teenager, I used to think he was wasting his time. But I now realise he was following what he believed to be a worthwhile course. In my 40’s, I find I am doing the same but on a smaller scale for now.
6. He started to go grey around the temples at the age of 28. So did I!

I used to think my dad and I were at opposite ends of the pole. But since I lost him, and took time to re-evaluate and re-assess my own life, I realise that I am more like dad now than ever before. When I used to wear a suit for work, people would remark how similar I was to dad…I recall about three months after dad passed away, I visited mum straight after work. I sat on the side of the sofa where dad used to sit. Not realising it, but I caught mum looking at me in deep thought. I asked her if everything was ok. She hesitated and said she was just looking and thinking… She didn’t have to say anymore. I knew. I knew that she caught sight of me and was going to say how much I looked like dad, sitting there in a suit, similar build, height and mannerisms. But she didn’t. She never made that comparison but the intention was there.

I wished I’d spent more time with dad. Just spoke more about his interests, hobbies, passions and motivations. I could’ve learnt more about his story, his written work(s), his accomplishments and achievements over the years. But I didn’t as we seemed so far away from each other… Yet we had so much more in common than he’ll ever know.

In “celebrating” the fifth year since the death of my father, what did I do but visit the cinema to watch ‘Song For Marion’. And watching the male protagonist, Arthur, brought home a lot of memories. I looked at him and remarked that he was dressed so similar to how dad used to dress, even with his thinning white hair and stubble reminded me of dad. His relationship with his son, restrained and estranged, a distance between them, reminded me of my relationship with dad. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get close to him. Not even as close as my other siblings could. I was like a breed apart… But when I watched that film today, my emotional gates just burst open and in such a public auditorium, I had to hold myself in check to prevent myself from breaking down in tears.

Just like Arthurs son, James, I held myself together because grown men don’t cry, do they?
I just wanted to say I’m proud of you dad, I’m proud to be your son and I’m proud to say I love you. I know you are looking down at me and with whatever I do, you will support me all the way.

The Learned Kat

Song for Marion: A Review

26 Feb

‘Song for Marion’ was a film that I was waiting to watch since I first saw it advertised. And, I must say, it was well worth it.
Devoted couple Arthur (Terence Stamp) and Marion (Vanessa Redgrave) live in a small bungalow, where Arthur cares for his ailing wife. Marion is a member of a choral group made up of elderly people and looks forward to her regular singing sessions at the local community social centre. Marion is optimistic, outgoing and well liked.
Arthur, however, is quite reticent or insular, grumpy, stubborn and refuses to be drawn into the same arena which Marion enjoys so much. They have one son, James (Christopher Ecclestone) who is close to his mother but there appears to be a void between father and son.

Like a number of films before it, and no doubt there will be many more to follow, the premise of this film is based upon the idea that Elizabeth, the choir leader, played amiably by the versatile Gemma Arterton, informs the group that she is going to enter ‘The OAPz’ (the ‘z’ is added to give it more street cred, and also a nod to a singing/dancing group of pensioners who entered Britain’s Got Talent a few years ago) into a choral singing competition. So the “oldies” throw themselves into rehearsing and performing for their one special night. It is only when Marion is informed she has a couple of months to live that we realise she is dying of cancer and things begin to change.

A scene where her fellow amateur singers gather together outside Marions’ bedroom window and sing in the rain leads to a minor disagreement between Arthur and Marion. Arthur shouts at the singing crowd and tells them to “bugger off!” and Marion asks him to apologise, which he refuses to do. So she refuses to speak to him until he does. The scene is both humourous and typically quirky of British eccentricities.
The two stars share scenes like a well worn old pair of shoes, and come across as a very familiar, doting and loving couple.

With Marion passing away, Elizabeth takes it upon herself to offer Arthur the opportunity to say what he feels and be true to himself. At first, he is reluctant to change but decides to open up and seeks solace or refuge at the social club, to continue the good work of Marion. At the same time, he tries to reach out to his son and make amends for being so distant. The son closes the door on him…

Vanessa Redgraves portrayal of a dedicated, loyal, dying wife anchoring the bonds between the strained relationship of father and son and singing Cyndi Laupers “True Colours” was sensitively handled. One of the grand dames of screen and theatre presented Marion without any schmaltz or the feeling that we’ve seen it all before. And Terence Stamp singing his ‘Song’ for Marion, hence the title of the film, at the end was a real heartbreaker. He sang it with aplomb and such powerful emotions came through. Not a dry eye in the house on screen as well as off, I would say.

“Song for Marion” is a well written, well directed tender, simple yet touching story which engages the audience and is likely to bring a tear to the eye for anyone who has loved and lost, experienced grief and bereavement or is a fan of sentiment and family humour. Some parts of the script were deliberately construed to set the viewers emotions in a certain direction, soft hearts with a slightly cynical edge. I certainly had my tissues handy and I’m sure others in the auditorium were feeling as if they’d gone through a bittersweet chapter too.

What sets this film apart from other films of similar ilk is the understated and sturdy performances of the stellar cast, although the supporting actors like Ann Reid and the extras were superficial to requirements. Setting it in a social club in one of the many towns in the UK community adds realism and attention to detail. I think the British audience would be able to relate to it more than our overseas friends but the core of the tale will strike a chord with many.

Yet another heart-warming, charming tale in how to deal with the elderly, dying and death. It’s about time we saw more films dealing with the elderly and real issues that we need to face up to and manage. Some people would say it was corny, but if this is corn, I like it sweet with a pinch of salt. More please!

The Learned Kat

Emptying the ManCave

26 Feb

The loft in my home has become my personal space, my world, my domain. When we moved into our house, the loft was without light, boarded floors and pitch black. We agreed to convert it into my study and the only place I could keep my desktop computer, books, CD’s and DVDs and anything else that was work related.

Not only did I use the loftspace to use my computer on a regular basis, but it also became my haven to become more “messy” and personalise it as my other half has OCD and cannot bear the idea of seeing magazines, books, cds, and all other such paraphenalia on display. So, we agreed that the loft would be my area to “spread myself” without any such restraints, without limitations or making my other half feel more anxious at seeing items on display. Although, it does not stop him sometimes from re-arranging “my stuff” around as he deems it to be “too messy”!

Anyway, after living in the house for 5 and a half years, I decided to have a thorough clear out…I’ve already mentioned I started to download photos onto memory sticks on a previous post. The clean up campaign didn’t just stop there. In fact, it was just the start of my blitz. Whilst waiting for the images to be transferred, I started to sift through all my old boxes, my work related documents (hard copies) , old bills, payslips, diairies and other such items. I didn’t realise that I carried so much bumph. But alongside all that, I walked down memory lane as I read and shredded each document, copies of application forms, altered CV’s, pages and pages of cover letters with the slightest mistake, memos and Minutes of Meetings…

I was finding it hard to let go of my past. It seemed that the items in question, although they may seem boring and trivial to others, were to me,  mementoes of my life. I found particulars/details and bills fom my first house, a small two bedroom terraced house purchased in 1999.  I pulled out payslips from the days I worked at a Daycentre for people with learning disabilities/difficulties and established friendships with my peers that have lasted for 10 years now. I found minutes from meetings where the people I supervised were more than just workers, they were people with endearing flaws and personalities which created a diverse and dynamic team, which I admired and found appalling at the same time. I found rejection letters and acceptance letters, which reminded me of my struggles to find work whilst living in Devon, I found notes which made me feel angry or sad all over again as it brought back flashes or images of people who had wronged me, I picked up training notes which placed a smile on my face or thought a waste of time as I never had the opportunity to use the “skills taught” in any of my job roles. It was a strangely heartfelt experience…

But it didn’t stop there…I started to look around at my prized collection of over 400 DVDs and shelves boasting a proud collection of over 1,000 CDs. With the recession biting hard in our household, I took stock of my indecision and began to sift through my DVDs. We have bills to pay, and for the first time in my life, I have had to sell some of my items. With each DVD placed on the side, it was heartwrenching to place the barcode on the WebuyDVDs website to find that the majority of DVDs, although purchased between £5 – 15 are only worth 31p each. As my friends’ 25 year old son says, most people are streaming online now…

I remembered where I was and why I bought a certain DVD. I recalled the feeling it left inside me when I watched the film. I was looking at my favourite film, the saddest film, the happiest film, the most sentimental or weepy, romantic or action…each film brought a reaction or emotion and I was having to sell a part of me to be practical…So far, 134 DVDs, which my other half was worth several hundred pounds, have been sold  for a song.  I knew they weren’t going to fetch an awful amount of cash, I was just holding on to what they were worth to me. A collection of specific films purchased over a period of 10 years… to be disposed of within a few days.

My next step would be to download my music collection…I don’t think I’m quite ready for that yet but I know it will happen soon. On the one side, I try not to think about it, but on the other, it’s like a relief or self cleansing therapy. Will it all be worth it? I ask myself?

My loft was my space. But soon I think it’ll become an empty shell. Even the computer that I’ve had for 10 years now is showing signs of giving up… I suppose I could’ve used a garden shed or used one of the bedrooms as a study but it’s not quite the same in this house…

I feel my act of disposal is a reflection on todays society and how we lead our lives today. Is that how easily things, whether objects or items, tangible or innate, emotional/physical or practical can be disposed of? Is that how much it’s worth? Like in life, at work and in play, we are easily picked up, used and disposed of, from the “Purchaser” e.g. hirer/employer or even in relationships (partners/spouses/friends etc),  to wait for the next big or best thing…to the item or person being deselected and made to feel redundant, useless or unwanted.

My loft was MY space. But the recession has taken hold, and I feel I am losing faith…

The Learned Kat

Photography is not an Art Form anymore

25 Feb

The last few days have been pretty daunting for me. I’ve spent most of my time downloading photos from my mobile phones and onto my pc, only to remove them and place them onto a memory stick. Initially, I was burning them onto CDs, which seems antiquated by todays’ standards but I was intending to stockpile them for future reference. Then, I realised that the discs weren’t holding as many photos as I was expecting or hoped. Not only that, my computer kept crashing and it took many long hours in the evening into the early hours to have the photos categorised and placed into accessible albums/files or folders. I had over 1,000 photos to sift through, and memories captured over several years.

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The photos were of my neighbours, the cats, family, friends, places I had visited, holidays, flora and fauna, landscapes, images of buildings in the city, birthday cakes, random shots, staged images, obscure, faded, some good,  some bad and others deleted as they didn’t portray anything in particular or hold anything of importance or interest. The thing is, with the gadgets and technology that we hold in our hands, it’s so difficult to let go and be more discerning. After all, the images, photos that we take become so personal and subjective, and less objective. I think I’ve almost lost track of what makes or constitutes a “good photo”. With something like Instagram, an app I haven’t yet used, taking photos becomes almost another commodity and part of the “fast food society”.  At one time, photography appeared to be an art form, but now, as we’ve all got that built-in camera on the gadgets we carry around with us nearly all day, every day,  it just seems like we’re all at it.

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Photography  seems to have lost that unique quality or value that it once held. We seem to be taking snapshots of everything and anything. It doesn’t matter what it is, we’re snap happy. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Some people appear to take photos of large items like a car and all its body parts, some people will take photos of their dinner and place it on facebook or twitter. Others will take images of tattoos and various body parts, or their dog having a poo, a baby covered in food or whatever else they can find which they think may be humorous, of interest or exciting to others. Personally, I like to think twice about what I take a photo of and ask questions in my mind like: Is it worth taking a photo? Does it gage my interest, does it hold a significant event or memory to retain? Does it tell a story or trigger thoughts or questions in the person looking at it? Is it worth while ? Can I invest my time, effort and money into sharing these photos with others? I know I’m quite happy to take photos but I’m also quite discerning as to the subject matter. There are lots of images out there which you begin to see and say “that’s contrived, cliched or boring”. We’ve all seen that visual image that becomes the pictorial equivalent of the social network status: “I’ve just bought a cabbage/ my night is going to be windy. LOL!”

Then, there are the exceptions which are highly unusual, original, quirky and stimulate the senses or thought processes.

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I have some photos that I’m quite happy to share online, others are just for my own personal use, many I would share with friends. A number of photos are taken, looked at once and don’t even get seen at all afterwards. They  just become stored on my mobile or pc and forgotten about! Then, I would look at them again, and think that’s a photo I remember taking and sometimes recall where, why and with whom. Others I would think why on earth did I take THAT photo!?? and delete it.  It’s good to have memories, but sometimes it’s also good to delete them.

I mean, like a good PC, laptop, mobile, tablet or album, why clog up your brain with useless images when the good, informative ones will provide more hours of enjoyment, entertainment and clearer memories. You don’t need hundreds of dud shots when one quality shot can speak volumes.

The Learned Kat

The telephone, the handgun and the pole dancing Muslim Woman

24 Feb

I received a phone call from my cousin several years ago. She informed me that her younger sister had been admitted into the Priory Hospital, a low secure unit for people with Mental Health issues or illnesses such as self-harm, eating disorders, alcohol or drugs misuse, anger management. Could I visit her as I appeared to have a good understanding of her “issues”? I said I would and immediately made my way to the hospital in question.

My cousin appeared to be slightly sedated and did not seem to comprehend the reason behind her being “incarcerated”. All she could say was that she was at work one day, had flared up with anger and frustrations and had an outburst at one of her colleagues, which appeared to be out of character. My cousin, when normally presented to us at the family home, had usually appeared to be very docile, passive and placid with people.

As I had not seen her for several years, all I knew was that she had married an Egyptian man of her choice. A man she had met over the internet. I didn’t know much about him and neither did my family. Nor did her own family, truth be told.
So. My cousin informed me that her “marriage was on the rocks” and she was trying to salvage what she could. She had tried to hold her emotions in check she said and did not wish to disclose her feelings or emotions with anyone. She just realised something was happening to her mindset when she could not concentrate at work and had to repeat requests and tasks several times over. It all became unbearable when her manager asked her to do something and my cousin retaliated in anger. She didn’t mean to hurt or upset anyone. It was an emotional pressure cooker. She had just exploded at the wrong person. She meant to direct her anger at her husband. Her parents, when informed of her “difficulties” were trying to be very supportive but didn’t quite appear to understand her predicament. As always, they tried to protect their young daughter from harm. Everything will be alright, they assured her.

“You don’t understand”, she said. “My marriage is failing, I have failed and I have failed my parents. I’ve lost all hope to live”.

After several weeks or was it months? It’s hard to tell…it was a very stressful time. After treatment, therapy and medication, my cousin was eventually discharged back into the community. She returned home to her husband and everything appeared to be okay. However, all was not as it seemed as her husband decided to go on holiday – back to Egypt – for a week and when he returned, he told her he couldn’t live a lie anymore, packed his bags and walked out.

 “I knew it was going to happen”, she said, “It was just a matter of time, and when, what or how…”

The outcome was two fold: On the one side, it offered her independence and at last, for her, so she said, a sense of freedom.
“Freedom from what?” I asked.

She divulged the fact that in her opinion, he was very domineering and abusive. She cited recent examples of how he tried to control her life, telling her how to dress , wear the scarf on her head, not cut her hair, not approving of her long term friendships, not picking her up from her support groups or abandoning her alone when she happened to be two minutes late coming out of her meetings. He’d rather she stayed at home, cook decent meals although they seemed to manage to consume a large number of takeaways, visit low graded restaurants or cafes, or eat at her parents as she admitted to being a “hopeless cook”, iron his clothes and carry out all the household duties. This is a role that my cousin knew she could never fulfil and had no inclination to be the obliging Muslim wife. After all, she said, I’m born and bred in the UK, I’m an intelligent, educated British Asian woman and my mind is full of Western cultural beliefs, outlook and opinions. I couldn’t dispute her logic and agreed that a partnership or relationship should strive to of equal balance.

But it did not stop him accepting the fact that she had to work at several different jobs in order to maintain him and pay for his academic courses or degree to train as a pharmacist…

She also admitted that in 5 years of marriage, she could not, or they could not, consummate their marriage. This was an issue that was discussed. Could this have been the reason for the failing or strains within their relationship? This was a question poised many times but hardly drew adequate or satisfying responses.

Needless to say, this did not stop my cousin from exploring her sense of self, her sexuality, sexual orientation or identity. After her husband left, she began to believe that she was either frigid or had lesbian tendencies. No wonder he didn’t fancy me, she said. I didn’t give enough…
So. She started going clubbing on her own, explored the nightlife, frequented gay nighclubs in the hope of being chatted up or finding a female companion, although she found some men “so fit and hot – but GAY!” and attended several pole dancing classes in the City Centre. Although she said the other attendees were of similar age, they were fitter, leaner, more supple, flexible and dedicated to use the pole with skill and determination.

Bearing in mind, my cousin was still, effectively, under the care of a mental health Psychiatrist and on medication. She did not meet anyone nor did she attempt to strike up a friendship or relationship. She was merely reacting to her frustrations, anxieties and belief that she was unwanted, unloved and undesirable. She was looking for her “ideal companion or just wanted someone to love”. She was reacting to major life stressors.
One day, whilst at home, she went upstairs to her bedroom. Before she knew it, she could smell smoke and realised that her kitchen was on fire and smoke was bellowing up the stairs and began to choke her. She managed to climb out the window and stood on the roof of her porch. The fire service and police arrived and she was taken care of. She was temporarily re-housed in a small flat, not too far from her parents. Her coping mechanisms were put to the test.

She was invited to a fancy dress party. She went as a cowgirl. She had bought a cheap, plastic toy gun but did not think it authentic enough. She then went out and bought a BB airgun from a toy warehouse. She had no intention of using it, but as she had experienced two major life changing events in her life – an estranged husband and the marital home almost grazed to the ground – it came as no surprise that when she visited her Psychiatrist, to review or renew her medication/prescription, she was calling out for help when she said she was having negative, vengeful thoughts and produced the bb gun, still sealed in its box, and placed it on the desk of the professional.

The Mental Health Consultant, in his or her capacity or professional assessment or opinion, rather than query to find answers to what was going on, saw a bespectacled, South Asian Muslim woman, wearing a headscarf tightly bound around her head, and clothes that appeared to restrain a plump body, pressed the alarm, called in two security men and had my cousin, who would not, could not hurt a fly, had her sectioned for “being a risk to self, being in possession of a handgun to use for criminal intent and harming others”.

Now, tell me. What would you do?

 

The Learned Kat

Oscar: A Fallen Idol

15 Feb

There isn’t much that can generally shock or faze me but when I was browsing my msn homepage, I was stunned to read that Oscar Pistorius had been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend. I was in utter disbelief and looked to my other half who said he’d forgot to mention it to me in the morning.

My heart sank and I was quite upset. The first time I had seen Oscar was at the televised London Olympics 2012. First of all, I saw a very handsome, masculine athlete. He could be a model I said. Then, the cameras panned out and for a brief moment, I thought it was a bit of camera trickery, like CGI. It looked surreal and then I twigged that he was a double leg amputee and watched as the crowds roared and the commentators praised this man for his abilitities, prowess and breaking the last taboo. Here was a man, an athlete, who broke the mould for people with disabilities and what they are capable of achieving. He made history for being the very first athlete to cross over from the lesser known or least popular paralympic games into the mainstream. For a lot of people, he became an instant symbol for the disabled. He increased awareness and reduced the stigma associated with disability. He seemed to make it more accessible/acceptable by the majority. His strength, speed and stamina earned him the nickname ‘Blade Runner’ and suddenly, every newspaper, magazine and advert wanted a part of him.

Like most of the world, I was mighty impressed with his passion, committment and overall zeal for showing a new side to the much overshadowed, and in some cases, derided world of disability.

I admired Oscar for what he stood for…but then, another side of him appeared which didn’t sit too comfortably with the viewers, spectators and the media. The South African athlete lost the 200m race to another relative unknown, Brazilian Alan Oliveira. Oscar claimed he was “not running in a fair race’ and accused the Brazilian Winner of cheating and using ‘longer blades’.
This incident caused much anger, outrage and upset amongst those who were watching and following the rising star in Oscar. Some called him a very bad or ‘sore loser’. Others watched him carefully and commented that he was a very angry man who had to learn how to control or taper his anger…

Even I could see that Oscar Pistorius was a man who looked as if he were fighting inner demons. I commented that I wouldn’t “want to get on the wrong side of him”. It was almost as if he were a rottweiler and would not let go…I assume it was his management who persuaded him to show a more softer, caring side, as within hours of that very public criticism of his opponent and eventual winner, the tide was turning against Oscar. He had to show more support and empathy towards his fellow peers…

It is a shame then, that the news we have received in the last two days strikes Oscar when he appeared to have the world at his feet. A spectacular ascending star of the future, a hero to many, especially in his native country and the majority of South Africans, to see a possible end to his career before it has properly begun. The death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp (a law graduate, media reporter and model) and however or whatever the dire circumstances, cuts short the life of a young, attractive woman and leaves two lives ended.

This truly is a remarkable turn of events and a tragedy for what appeared to be a very happy, model couple.

It saddens me to think that this real life event may, if it hasn’t already done so, catch the attention of Hollywood and possibly made into a movie.

The Learned Kat