Looking ahead – and backwards (27.2022)

I haven’t written a weekly update for some time – sorry about that. I’ve been letting other things take up my time and as a result have not focussed much on this blog.

Some short headline life news: I didn’t get the job I applied for. I am not terribly upset about it. I think I realised some weeks ago that I was not going to get it – I would have heard something within a few weeks if I was going to get it. Shrug, and move on.

I saw a news story about the world’s largest sting ray, which was caught in the Mekong river in Cambodia. I was anxious about looking for more details, worried I would find out the ray was turned into some kind of large scale supper for a village. Happily no, instead it was tagged and released so scientists could track it and learn more about the fish. This is a good sign for the Mekong river, where concerns about dams were creating worries that rays were not able to move about.

Images by FISHBIO and Ocean Image Bank – Connor Holland.

A less happy result was a video posted on my local community group. It came with a warning that it contained scenes of animal cruelty so I shouldn’t have watched it. But I did. We have a local wetlands area that is part of London’s water supply network but also a walking space, a fishing space and a water bird protected area. There are signs up warning you that certain areas are bird priority areas – and while you’re welcome to run and jog in the area, no running or cycling is permitted in these bird priority areas.

There are always lots of geese about when I walk there. They just stand about, watching you, eating, talking amongst themselves. The video that was posted showed two men on a quad bike (definitely not allowed in the area) who had their dog off the lead (also not allowed because – as noted earlier – birds). A goose was standing by watching them. One of them pulled out a catapault and shot the goose. The goose wobbled, and then collapsed, struggling to move, obviously gravely injured. The two men drove the quad bike closer and you see the non-driver shoot the goose with the catapault again. At this point the dog comes racing over and I shut the video down because I’d read the accompanying text, “The goose later died of its injuries.”

Who are these people? How were they raised that they kill a goose for fun? What kind of parenting teaches children that this is OK that they grow up to be men thinking this is fun? What kind of family teaches children that cruelty is fun, it’s a way to play, it’s a good time?

The video has been passed on to the police – I think the person who posted it was looking for information on who these men are since they obviously live in the local area.

It makes my heart heavy to think about it, and I’m sorry if I’ve made your heart heavy too.

Two animals, worlds apart – one lives, one dies. Does it really matter in the scheme of things? Yes. The ray could have provided a good meal for a village, but it was released to carry on living its life. The goose died for no good reason apart from to provide some entertainment for a couple of yobs.

Another story from some weeks ago was the news that the Jumbo floating restaurant in Hong Kong was towed away. It closed during Covid lockdown and never reopened. The plan was to tow it away to “an undisclosed location” but it sank en route so is lost forever now. Husband and I ate there when we were in Hong Kong 15 years ago. I remember we wanted to do a dim sum lunch but we arrived too late for lunch (we got there around 4pm – lunch was well and truly over by then), so we had to order off the regular menu instead. I remember how exciting if felt to travel out to a restaurant by boat, like we were living some kind of wild James Bond lifestyle. I only ate there once, but it feels sad that it’s gone now.

Peter Parks/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Our pub quiz team has highs and lows over the past few weeks. We’ve come last and we’ve also won; we seem to veer between doing very well or very badly. Last week we were knocked slightly sideways with the opening question, “Which two Tory cabinet ministers have resigned today?” Husband and I hadn’t watched the news so luckily our other team members had, and they had to explain to us what had happened. After so many scandals surrounding the Prime Minister and him managing to avoid resigning over any of them, finally this past week, after having pretty much everyone in his Cabinet resign as a gesture of no confidence in his leadership, he has agreed to go. But not until Autumn.

Last weekend Husband and I cleared out the loft space. I say we – he’s the one who was up the ladder passing things down to me. It seems we have kept every cardboard box from every purchase for the last 10 years. Why did we keep so many Amazon/Shoe/other boxes? Were we using these boxes as a cheap form of loft insulation? The cardboard box collection is no more. Instead, we now have a small cardboard mountain ready to put into our recycling bin but it’s going to take a few weeks to get through it all. We also found things we were holding onto for no good reason – two wine racks (empty!), a CD rack, a fully-functioning computer monitor, a functioning DVD player, a number of lampshades. We have managed to dispose of most of these through the sharing app Olio, which was set up mainly to share unwanted or excess food, but also has a non-food section where you can put things up on offer. It works on a collection basis, so if you want what we are offering you have to agree a time to collect it. We are discovering lots of people are good at saying, “Yes please, I’ll have that thing,” but less good at (a) setting up a time to collect said object or (b) turning up at the time agreed to collect said object. We’ve had a vase wrapped up and ready for collection since Friday but the woman who messaged that she wanted it hasn’t even read the message Husband sent in response, asking her to confirm a time to collect it.

We have been generally going through all our stuff over the past weeks, pulling things out of storage to check their condition (Husband was very concerned to find his vintage All Blacks jerseys were covered in mildew) but also to appraise them – do we still need them? Why have we kept these things for so many years? We are amassing a pile of smaller things to take to a charity shop (eventually). I have too many clothes so I am trying to whittle things down. That dress that I like but never wear because it has the funny neck that feels like it’s choking me? Thank you, but it’s time to say goodbye. The lovely skirt I never wear because it’s designed for a waistline several inches smaller than mine? Thank you but you need to go to a new home where someone can actually wear you.

Our safari trip to Kenya/Tanzania is creeping up soon – just over six weeks away! We sat down this weekend to do some research: we need visas for both countries; we have Covid proofs to prepare; and we are arriving two days before and staying on for a week after the tour so need to plan for how we will fill our extra days. We were not best pleased to find out (a) our tour is now fully booked, so we are travelling with 20 other people (I feel exhausted just at the thought of meeting 20 new people and being around 20 new people for 2 weeks); and (b) there is an election in Kenya on 9 August. Why would we care about an election you may ask? Because after the last election in 2017 there were riots and protests and I am a little bit anxious about being in a foreign country while there is political rioting going on.

I am still working on my Swahili with the Duolingo app. But not very hard. It’s not an easy language because it has very little to do with any other language I’ve ever learned. I’m not used to words front loading their pronouns, e.g. anapika, wanapika, unapika (he cooks, they cook, you cook).

I hope the week ahead isn’t front loaded for you.

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