Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
Something to say?

Monday, 12 February 2018

Baby and the Bathwater

A few men apparently ran rampant in Chad and Haiti. Disgusting! Especially disgusting if they bought sex with AID money. Nobody is saying that yet.

   However, there is a very noisy press keeping this in the front of our awareness' daily. I am hoping, frantically, that this will not mean whole institutions -- UNICEF, Save The Children, OXFAM... are all penalised, deprived of funds, stigmatised, because a few men couldn't keep it in their trousers.

   I have personally seen the work done by these Aid agencies when I worked for the British Council in four countries in Africa, for fifteen years. Sometimes I worked together with some of them in delivering joint objectives.

   GTZ (German Aid) funded the thousands of Maths Methods books for Primary Schools, which we produced in Malawi. In Zambia, I worked with the UNICEF in promoting the education of girls and the careers of women in Primary Education.

   These are two examples out of many that so many others in the AID business did for the countries in which they worked.

   If the wrong people were recruited, the Head Quarters bears responsibility for this oversight. If misbehaviour was covered up, those who did it must take responsibility.

   But this frenzy of brick-throwing is clearly wrong. Do we close a hospital down if a doctor abuses his position of trust? The whole of OXFAM is not culpable and should not be penalised.

   There has been an agenda - a right-wing agenda-- to reduce funding in aid. This has been going on for a long time. Now the Press - the Right Wing Press -- has joined raucously, day after day. Like a leopard pouncing on a weakened prey.

   The people who will suffer in the end, if Aid is curtailed, are the children, women, men, old people, sick people who need urgent assistance merely to survive. AID organisations have done a great job with resources always just short of need.

   So, please don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Monday, 5 February 2018

Me and the Cold

I sometimes think it is my birth and youth in India that make me feel so cold this year. It is cold with a vengeance this February. I have spend the last three Februaries in England and have got by. My daughter says I moaned loudly all those years too. In even less generous moments she says I am getting older, what did I expect? I know what I expect. A civilised degree of cold, but not this determined, freeze.

   My feet are permanently cold and my toes are various shades of purple. My varicose veins stand up angrily on my ankles and their surrounding skin is also green/ blue. I wear two pairs of woolen socks and today I am wearing a leg-warmer, which my son added to my strategies for surviving. He has also given me a fur hat, which wraps around my ears and buttons under my chin.

   In bed I have two sausage-shaped warm bean bags, two quilts and my Kindle to let me forget the cold. In addition to socks and a jumper.

   I rack up the heat on our central heating to the point when my daughter's face goes pink and she leaves the room. Next year I will have to migrate to warmer places. This won't do. I hate the gloom more than the cold and the wet too more than the cold.

   But today -- I had it! 'In your face,' I told the cold. I rustled up a  long woolen overcoat, woolen socks, jumpers (plural), gloves... and went out for a walk. I'm darned if I'm going to let the weather dictate my lifestyle. I felt I had won something, at the end.

   And then a friend from Kazakhstan phoned. It is minus 13 degrees there, he said. He is Indian, a lot younger than my nearly 83  -- he sounded great. He got me thinking. There are many people in this country who are old and manage to negotiate this weather without fussing. So what is wrong with me? From today on, I am getting out there, snow, sleet or frost. Bring it on!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

A Short History of Waste

I know -- I do go on about waste in our lives, waste of food, clothes, electricity, water... I suppose if you have witnessed want on all sides of you in India when you were a child, you are bound to get sensitive to waste. But today, I am concerned with the waste created by affluence and Maybot's ham-handed solution for getting rid of the plastic we create.
   It is interesting that Kerala banned plastic bags of above a certain thickness many years ago. At that time it surprised me that we in Britain had still not thought about it. Once upon a time, you could see blue plastic bags floating in the beautiful backwaters, entangled with the ubiquitous Water Hyacinth. Now the waters are clear again and that's a miracle. It did not take twenty-five years.
   Twentfive bl---y years to achieve, not something created, but a habit stopped. We don't have twenty-five years for this - the fish and the coral and all of our wondrous blue planet do not have the luxury of a May PLAN (like all of her other plans.) We need to do something TODAY.
    After all, all this plastic happened in this century, in fact, not so long ago. To this day, small shops in India wrap sugar and salt and groundnuts in paper cones. Saris in textile shops are often wrapped in brown paper. I am not arguing that we should start wrapping perishable food in paper. What I am hoping is that some clever chemist will come up with a bio-degradable material, which can imitate the useful qualities of plastic.
   That may be a long-term solution. Right now, why can't we stop the city-luxury of plastic coffee-cups? And plastic bottles for water. Surely we can all find drinking water within reasonable distance when we want a drink.Bring back the old water-fonts.
    Surely, someone should audit the many ways in which we create and dispose of plastic and design remedies:
    For instance, how can we stop cruisers and boats and yachts disgorging plastic into the ocean?
  Does anyone need to display a cup of coffee in the train, walking in town… Is this a badge of some kind of clan-thing?
  Could we not sell/ buy all fruit drinks in paper cartons?
 Just thoughts. But thoughts now, not next year, let alone 2042.
Is this Maybot’s escape  route? Cop-out?
 We can’t let Maybot and her friends do this kind of faux planning. We need to ignore that bunch and try to do this ourselves.

Sunday, 7 January 2018


Where's it gone? Just when I need it.

So many octogenarians have died these last three months. And I'm not talking about the celebrities -- they too are dying in numbers. For me, it's my childhood and youth slowly being wiped out.
   Rathi died last week, suddenly. She was eighty-five. She belonged to my childhood, went to the same school and lived nearby. Gentle and kind always.
   Raj was eighty-four; he died last month. I met him in Kampala and we spent time together -- Sunday lunches, Bridge with a group of grass widowers, tennis at the ARA (American Recreation Association)... He worked for the Department for International Affairs and I for the British Council -- they had a faintly incestuous love-hate relationship. So, between us, we had the British expatriate gossip tied up. 
   When I returned to the U K, he was still working in some godforsaken outpost. Simple man - you wouldn't know he did Law at Cambridge and was a judge.    
   In Kampala, there would be a tennis tournament now and then, the Oxford graduates against the Cambridge. They would be scouring the place to get enough people to play, but they never asked Raj, who played decent tennis. They probably assumed he would not be allowed within calling distance of the hallowed, arrogant premises. We had a quiet laugh.
   Over the last few years I saw Raj a few times, but with age and familial commitments it was laboured. His death reminds me I am in the ZONE too.
   And the NHS has skived off. A doctor's appointment takes six weeks if you want your usual doctor, who knows your frailties. What if I need a doctor in a hurry, like that poor old woman who could not get help for nearly four hours and died alone? And that other one who died in a waiting ambulance.
   Maybot insists 'We are not perfect,' that's all. Where has the woman misplaced her heart and her brain?
   I think I am in my eighties at the wrong time -- I should have been born earlier. Then I would have been old in a time when we had a health service we relied on. 'At point of need,'  remember? That woman needed care at her house, in her last few hours.
   Where is it gone? Our wonderful NHS, the pride of our welfare state?

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Instead of the 5.1 billion colander

I hear we are the proud owners of a 5.1 billion steel colander. Vow! as they say, short of words. I expect that even if you are homeless, or a single mother with no food to feed your children, you could still feel proud.

   Even pushy-Putin noticed. Not too well, I hope. He can be dangerous, in many ways. When a colander takes water in, we have to wonder whether Putin somehow managed to scupper  the 2017 Titanic. 

   Could be bad oversight too. More common these days to find shoddy work in our country. Lots of things, which should be waterproof, and leak - proof, like stories about MPs that 'mislead' (new word for the plebeian porky.), or have wandering hands.  In India we used to call these men with multiple hands spiders. I stray from my point of today.

   How many units of housing could be built with 5.1 billion? My mouth waters. A bedroom and a kitchen and a bathroom would be a great deal better than cardboard boxes and tattered quilts and puffas.

   And food? The Christmas turkey? Well, any food at all. And clean clothes. Clean body after a bath - with soap and hot water.  Not much to ask for really in 21st century Britain. Yet, those numberless ( Nobody knows the numbers) homeless won't remember how THAT feels.  Disgraceful!

   How many people would 5.1 billion feed, and for how many years?

   What is urgent in our self-obsessed island is NOT Brexit, not investigation of predatory men (a curse on them.) but food and housing for the poor and the abandoned. First things first.

We should all say, Mea Culpa. The Government should say it many times.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Book Greed

Book Greed

Where books are concerned, I must admit I have committed every sin possible under the sun - except folding corners in to mark pages. I put them face down instead, also remove dust jackets and put them away while I read, and then forget to put them on.

   Faced with books to read I am like a hungry, greedy person faced with a feast. I grab, I ingest too quickly, get indigestion, and then go back for more.

   The last month was a bad month with me and books. Maybe it was the last three months. The madness started with the Booker long-list and descended rapidly into the short-list. Some years the Booker is a huge disappointment; this year I cannot complain. Or did not till they selected the winner. I found the Saunders novel or ghost story, Lincoln in the Bardo impenetrable - the only one that defeated me.

   At one time I had four on the go simultaneously - Autumn by Knausgaard, Ali Smith's Autumn, 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster, an outsider, The Golden House by Salman Rushdie and for light reading, Crow Girl  by some Swedish person with an unpronounceable name. . Alongside I also devoured some passing poetry. Crow Girl is going slowly, surprising as I like Scandiwegian crime stories. Instead I read an old favourite author, a Backman novella And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. Backman is inimitable. And profound.

   Now you know why my writing never really gets done.

   I find I have no discrimination where books are concerned. I'll read anything if I am book-starved. Like the weekend in Blantyre when I ended up reading advertisements in a newspaper.

   I have made a decision though. I will NOT read a book I am not enjoying, just because I started reading it. LIfe is too short at eighty-two to waste on imaginary disciplines. I thought Paul Auster would be abandoned - it was so long. But I enjoyed it. His style is always engaging and though I could manage to learn less about the sexual exploits of American teenagers, Auster was a quiet late-night indulgence. I could not hold it up in my hand in bed, so ended up buying both book and kindle copy. But it is a book I would keep in my collection.

   This is not meant to be a book review, but I liked Roy's latest book The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. She flies a few flags but I think these are flags I would fly myself.

   What next? Do some writing is the correct prompt.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Following up on Tyranny - our very own special kind

Following up on Tyranny - our very own special kind

Here in Britain, the once-great, we are perfecting a very special, home-grown form of tyranny:

   Some of it is class-based, and who knows better to wield that invisible soft-truncheon than us? I ponder - the so-called upper classes: what do they have in common? 
   First there is that cut-glass accent, for which you attend special schools and submit to all sorts of atrocities, caning, separation from parents sometimes as early as at three or four years old, bullying, which becomes a way of life, which you can learn and use to torture other new-comers when you have become a senior, predatory masters and seniors who believe buggery is part of the culture and will do no harm...

   All these atrocities happen in other places too, I'm sure, but the captive situation of the poor sods has been well-documented in English literature.

There is the Tory sense of entitlement. Theresa May believes she has to carry on being Prime Minister even when she is failing on all fronts. The Tories believe governing is their birth-right. How dare unremarkable, slipper-wearing, Jeremy Corbyn, who can't even knot a tie properly (and Cameron's mother has to advise him about sartorial matters) even contemplate becoming Prime-Minister? And getting to No 10? Unthinkable. That more than becoming a Prime Minister, after Cameron (who has sold our European Heritage to please his back-benchers, absconded in a unholy hurry.) Thank God we did not lose the Scottish referendum as well.

   There are people among the Tories who believe that even Boris Johnson ( who can't be bothered to do his homework before he opens his mouth and puts his foot in it,) Rees-Mogg, who thinks rape is hardly the fault of the rapist, and Gove (who thinks Weinstein is a joke rather than a historical calamity.) are all suitable candidates to become Prime Minister. We'll keep Jeremy -unt out of this account because I'm sure even the Tories will not tolerate him.

   I think Mrs May believes she is not accountable to anyone. If the Parliament votes against the sorry welfare package called Universal Credit, let the M Ps hide in the toilets till the vote is over. And pretend it did not happen.

   If the European Union makes mince-meat of our bargaining positions and laughs at us publicly, let's ignore them. We just have to hang on to power. And not answer any questions or give anyone too much information.

   We can always bribe the D U P.  Give them another two billion if they raise their little worm-heads.

   Forget the food-banks, the NHS down the chute - how many Tories know what hunger feels like? How it feels to have no NHS on your side when you are old and ill? I'm old and I realise I should have got old a long time ago. Not just now.