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Watching The World

28 Sep

 

 

Antiques 1

 

I am

watching the world screaming the headlines

masses tweeting tweets

chattering classes

nattering faces on books for fools

ogling not Googling on Youtube channels

dirty faces needing a towel

needles thrown dirty in The Channel

Syrian wars and Nairobi crimes

child pornography & criminal minds

pension prizes leaves no surprises

Council binmen could hire the Hitmen

drugs of white lines

MPs drawing time & expensive red wine

schools closing

children suffering

Fashion followers & football swallowing millions

to kick a ball

Doctors doctoring, nurses bellowing

stop the Aged taking falls

diet debating & pie stuffed faces

can’t bend down to tie our laces

energy supplies higher, internet usage slower

& still we are fixed to our screens.

Animals are dying, fish no longer diving &

still we think we are Green.

Big Brother watching,

Sat Navs are not matching routes and the

Rulers rule on.

People keep living

Miley Cyrus keeps twerking

& The World stops still for no-one.

Death is defying

Life is denying

& the Lives of Loved Ones have gone.

The Headlines are crying

The World is dying

& yet we fight to live on

With What?

Rep 3

The Learned Kat

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Syria & The Playstation Generation

27 Mar

It’s snowing. It has been snowing everyday since last Friday and we are fed up and cold. Fed up with the fact that the cold penetrates through the walls and no matter what we do, no matter how high we set the temperature on the thermostat or combination boiler, the chill remains and we worry about the utility bills and how much it will cost to keep the heating on as the prices are spiralling out of control and the vulnerable and elderly are left to fend for themselves…The roads are icy and only the other day, my other half slipped and fell onto his side. There are people slipping and sliding everywhere and some are even literally snowed under or in their own houses. There have been reports of several deaths and some communities losing power supplies for several days…The Met Office reports that the cold snap and Siberian type weather maybe here until mid-April.

In Birmingham alone, 100 schools closed down due to the inclement weather and many stores have either closed due to lack of staff or slashing prices due to lack of sales. Many people have reported that they are not able to get into work due to their cars not being able to start, trains running late, flu or a number of other excuses or reasons. Valid or not, I’m not sure… I know I sympathise with those communities who are stranded up North or on several isles of the UK. The rest just seems petty. The snow in the City is not that deep. Maybe about 10cm or just above the ankle. But it seems as if life comes to a standstill…

Rock star and former hell raiser Rod Stewart (not that I’m a fan of his) was being interviewed last Friday on The Breakfast News by Charlie Stayt. Rod was asked about  a story in which it was reported that he had a swimming pool filled with blancmange and $100 bills thrown in so that his daughter and her friends could dive in to retrieve the money. Of course, Rod dismissed the story as newspaper fodder, stating that his children are brought up properly: ” to work hard and are allowed a small allowance”. He said children today “know the price of everything and value nothing!”

How right he is, I thought.

As it happens, the next day I spoke to  —–, a mother and business woman of two daughters.  She was attempting to scrub clean the stains off a pair of UGG boots, which cost £200. They belonged to her 16 year old daughter but unbeknownst to her, her 21 year old sister had borrowed them, walked in the snow, and had accidentally damaged the worth of the boots. There ensued a horrendous row and arguments apparently. So mum ended up cleaning the boots because if the perpetrator ( the older sibling) of the whole saga was to do it herself, “she would not do it properly”. “You’re spoiling the kids.” I said. “That’s what parents do” she replied. And carried on brushing and buffing the boots.

We are breeding a “I want” culture and there are many services and marketing brands out there that caters to these demands. LoveFilm , for example. caters for Games Consoles such as Wii, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Smart Televisions, Blu-Ray Players, Tablets like Kindle and iPad and other devices such as PC, and set top box. When I was a child or even in my teen years, having one an item like the ZX Spectrum within the home, never mind the bedroom, was deemed to be a luxury. Today, children want them all. If not in the bedroom, in the lounge or kitchen or on their mobile.

The Playstation Generation would rather VIEW their lives away rather than DO.

In complete contrast, The Channel 4 News on Monday 25 March at 7pm ran a news story on Syria. I have to admit I am somewhat ignorant about Syria, its histories and conflicts, the current crisis. But I do know that the story which it covered had a deeply disturbing and profound effect on me. It formed part of a short series of films by German filmmaker Marcel Mettelzefan. The news reporter, Jon Snow, provided the introduction and  verbal warning to say that the item contained distressing images.

No matter what was going on around them, the young children and teenagers continued their lives as normal as possible. They didn’t whine, complain or show signs of fatigue. They didn’t WANT anything. Didn’t want anything but peace and the war to stop.

I saw children, young adults and older men pull dead, bloated bodies out of the river. Women crying and children playing in the debris and the remains of an exploded bomb…

I saw innocent young children talk as if they were mature beyond their years, boys as young as 11 wipe away the blood stains of a wounded adult. I heard a child say that when he first saw the blood running, he was scared and frightened but afterwards, he saw the blood “like running water”.

I saw a brave little boy lying dead on a table, his face contorted with shock and pain.

As I said before, The Playstation Generation would rather VIEW their lives away rather than DO.

The Learned Kat

View :  Aleppo: a city abandoned by the world? on link.brightcove.com

Facebook and the Jeremy Kyle Generation

6 Mar

Joining the virtual community has it’s ups and downs. Choosing social networking sites has its own lovers and haters. When I first heard about the social phenomena known as Facebook, I didn’t want to know as it just didn’t interest me at all. All I ever heard was people rating it and saying how marvellous it was to talk to people online and share interests, photos, keep in touch with people and so on. There were also those who said it was a complete waste of time and would rather meet people face to face or hold a good old fashion social gathering or communicate with people on the phone. It’s better that way so you can read peoples body language, facial expressions and listen to their tone of voice. I listened to both sides of the arguments and tended to agree.

Because everyone was talking about it, good or bad, for better or worse, I decided to become a member of Facebook. That was back in August 2007. God, even just writing that date down has made me realise how long I’ve been addicted, if that word can be used to here, to the online community! It was with great trepidation that I typed in my name and created an account. After a bit of research and waiting around, waiting for something great to happen, I suppose, I added  several friends. Then, a couple of months later, I “shared” my first item, an article about new technological clocks and watches that I hoped my brother (and others) would find interesting. Then, I received my first message. Like anything unfamiliar, you allow time to get used to it. So, my only connection with Facebook was a gradual process. I had an account but I was not active  on it for months on end. It took me about two years, would you believe!? to use the account properly and really start to communicate. I really thought I was making headway! I thought I was hip, trendy and flowing with modern culture and technology. I was quite happy sharing photos, conversing with friends, commenting here and there, passing on jokes, updating my status with regular observations or thoughts.

Then, something strange happened. Facebook had gained notoriety on British TV.

  

“It was Facebook that did it!” the woman screamed. I looked up and it was a woman on the Jeremy Kyle Show. She was blaming the breakdown of her relationship with her ex-boyfriend on Facebook. “What do you mean?” asked a perturbed Jeremy Kyle. He obviously hadn’t joined the social revolution like the rest of us. The woman explained how she had found him speaking to other girls, sharing personal and private photos, making comments about her behind her back, ridiculing and poking fun of her appearance, weight, habits and behaviour. The boyfriend came out and denied all the allegations. “There’s nothing going on!” There followed a spat and it dawned on Jeremy that the manner in which the estranged couple spoke was no different to how the comments were made on Facebook. The ex-boyfriend thanked Jeremy for his understanding and said that that was exactly what he was trying to explain to his girlfriend. “But it was all written down!” she sobbed. There was some more discussion and a reconciliation of some sorts. Now, I’m not a fan of Jeremy Kyle, but when you are flicking channels, sometimes you can’t but help getting drawn in. With many of Jeremy Kyles’ participants’, we know that they are of a certain class, status and social background (I’m not a social snob by the way) But the point being that over a period of time, it was becoming evident to Jeremy and us, the viewers at home and in the audience, that Facebook appeared to be the bane of peoples lives. There were arguments, petty squabbles, bullying, stories of stalking, accusations thrown, physical brawls and other horrendous issues were making themselves present. People on the show appeared to have their family, relationships and friendships lives broken, dictated to and destroyed all because of items or comments made or misconstrued  on Facebook. They would never admit to the fact that in most cases, the majority of the issues were lying dormant or unresolved for years long before Facebook came along. A lot of the stories came about because comments, articles or items posted were misconstrued or insensitively placed  and ridiculed. Sometimes there was deliberation behind what they did, or malicious or vindictive intent. Other times, it was a mistake or a spur of the moment decision made in haste. Overall after a number of years, after a number of debates, altercations, confrontations over the use of Facebook,  Jeremy finally became exasperated by it all and said he was glad he did not bother with Facebook and preferred to talk to people face to face, to talk through any feelings or misunderstandings and was glad to have a close network of friends and a very loving family, people whom he could trust and know would support him.

I agreed with his sentiments as I was beginning to feel jaded by what people were sharing on the site. What started off as light conversation, as a way and means to keep in touch, would soon become a minefield of social etiquette. Do I “like” a comment or not? If I didn’t, did that mean the person wouldn’t speak to me again? Do I comment on what someone has written ort not? If I wrote something humorous, would that make me insensitive? And the questions that worked there way around my thoughts just wore on and on. Eventually, I just became a “skim reader” of status updates and only commented where I saw fit or felt I needed to share something of value, importance or interest. For me, Facebook wasn’t just about sharing things like a cat photo or mundane items like what you’ve had for breakfast, or going out. It was about life events, telling or informing me that my friends, people who I knew, were doing something exciting, inspiring or magnificent even. Tell me something that I don’t know. And the poems or “inspirational” pieces that have been liked and shared thousand of times irritate and annoy me. They are like the junk mail through the letterbox or the spam in the emails. The majority of items shared, we’ve all done it. It’s commonplace the world over.

Anyway. Bear with me, my rant is nearly over! Several months ago, I had joined a community page called The Bearwood Page, with the emphasis being “For people who live, work and use the many facilities in Bearwood, to share ideas for and celebrate Bearwood”. I enjoyed the community spirit and at last, I thought could join an open forum which was passionate, positive about the locality and was obliging to accept posts which celebrated creativity, diversity and ways to improve my community and help others. I read status updates, posted my own items such as poems or photos of my cakes, provided information about businesses, tried to be helpful and thoughtful in my queries and criticisms.

Then, I noted that one or two individuals would provide information or answer queries in a relatively acceptable manner. Sometimes it was useful, other times it was deemed to be “harmless banter”. I took it at face value at first because I didn’t know the people and I didn’t wish to offend, be hurtful in my comments or say something that might be misconstrued. I accepted comments for being there or just skimmed through them. Then, I noticed that if someone posted a query or had something positive to say, there was always someone who would disagree. I understood and appreciated that. But things began to change when I asked the group just to “like or dislike” things about Bearwood. It started off with good intentions, a great exercise I thought to stop the negative attitudes on the page. But it soon lost direction when people started to comment on other things. “AAAAARRRGGGHH!” I shouted at some point. “I just want a LIST! you know, like a SHOPPING LIST!!? Is that so difficult!??” but people were quick to respond and took the thread onto a completely different tangent. So, I kept calm, and moved on…

Three days ago, a random person, new to the area, posted a query on The Bearwood Page. It was just a general question about what groups could she join without it being affiliated to the local Council. She received three relatively useful comment or signposts. Leave it at that, I thought. But then, someone posted a comment and didn’t necessarily mean anything nasty by it. However, this comment was picked up and scrutinised by others; within hours, in fact over a period of two days, the thread was lost to almost 400 comments which were critical, negative, sarcastic, rude, offensive, derogatory, childish, worthless, subjective and had no bearing whatsoever to the original question. Now, the people using the page, I thought or assume, tend to be white, middle -class, educated, professional people. I would think or hoped they would conduct themselves better than that. I mean, if they were at work, would they be so open in their views or opinions? I think not. Hiding behind the façade of a latop at home provides a safe haven to say what they like.  They are probably the same people who would mock, scoff or laugh at the people on Jeremy Kyle shows or turn their noses up at what is presented on daytime TV with disdain and disgust. Like Jeremy Kyle, Moderators debated whether or not they should intervene. After all, the wife of one of the Moderators partners was being attacked on Facebook and he, in turn, would naturally want to protect and support her. The other Moderator thought it best to leave the online community forum as it is. Let them make fools of themselves, he said. Now, if responses or comment to a question or status update has no bearing on the post, why bother to comment? They used to say if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. People you don’t know take liberties and there are certain things that we should be wary or mindful of…Facebook is the Jeremy Kyle Show of the social networks. Forums, Groups and Pages  start off with good intentions but soon degenerates into a farcical, sometimes cruel event without any backup, support or identity. Some issues are resolved easily, others leave a bitter taste in the mouth or leave one angry. This latest incident has made me wonder, is it all worth it? The amount of people who are taken in by the merits of Facebook, have or having experienced anguish, had their health affected, a drain on their mental well being  and physical hurt has been astounding over the years and more recently in this Bearwood Page debacle.

On some websites, like Youtube, comments can start off relating to the music video and can turn into a spiteful, vicious and personal attack on others. In some instances, comments can be disabled so as not to offend. 

They say that about 90% of communication is nonverbal. Can we keep it that way or are we as a society, social beings, losing that connection, losing the power to understand nuances, subtexts, humour, reading facial expressions, sensing something is good/bad, as we seem to rely so heavily now on social networks and online forums and discussions. We appear to becoming so insular, I am reminded of the characters on the ship in Wall-e, an animated CGI film, seated comfortably and not taking notice of the changes taking place around us. At the same time, I also think that no matter what class, social background we come from, education we receive or intellect we perceive we have,  we might not show or demonstrate it physically on television like those individuals on the Jeremy Kyle Show, but we appear to be doing that same thing  in the written word and through the use of online forums. With 1 billion users, is Facebook really a social phenomena or are we taken in by a gimmick, manipulated like those on reality TV? What do we gain by using Facebook on a regular basis?

The Power of the Written Word. Be careful how you use it!

The Learned Kat

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

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

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