Monthly Archives: April 2011

A preoccupation with fat

Better to focus on the strength and beauty of the human spirit.

I loathe and detest television producers’ and programmers’ current preoccupation with fat.

For example, reality fat shows where excessively overweight people are pitted against each other in a bid to lose the most kilos; or a British family of four – all of whom are morbidly obese – trying to change a lifetime of bad habits; and now a sitcom about a large (fat) family brim full of fat jokes.

I know the first two scenarios are examples of programming on a budget. They cost little to make. The chosen candidates give the impression of enjoying being the centre of attention for a change and are probably doing so for little or no payment – their 15 minutes of fame. It’s pathetic.

In the case of all candidates selected (of the shows we get to see), fat equals stupid equals ridicule.

The programs reek of voyeurism – like a circus sideshow featuring the world’s fattest person.

I remember an extremely smart girl in my class throughout our teenage years. Her German-born mother was a petite and very neatly dressed, very precise. I can’t recollect the context of the discussion we were having in class, but I do remember Alison saying, “intelligent people don’t get fat.” (I could hear her mother in the background on this one.) I didn’t agree with her then…and I don’t agree with her now. The answer is not that simple, there are so many other factors at work.

Reality shows don’t focus on intelligent people. Intelligent people don’t put themselves up for derision.

I prefer programmes focusing and aspiration and genuine achievement, of people succeeding when odds are stacked against them, stories that bring tears to your eyes and applaud the strength of the human spirit.

Our worst taxi ride

Did this in our taxi ride from hell

This morning we needed to catch a cab to the airport from our hotel in central Sydney.

During our six-day stay we’ve been in a variety of taxis – from clean and tidy to smelly and unkempt. The appearance of the driver often gives a clue to the state of the car’s interior.

But this morning, we had no clue as to the sort of drive we were about to embark on.

The driver was asian. I suspect Vietnamese because he was softly spoken – barely audible – and had a strong accent. He was neatly dressed and the inside of the cab was clean and tidy even though a little aged. After we’d fastened our seat belts, we had to ask him to turn down the radio. It was so loud as to make conversation impossible and was tuned to a station playing unidentifiable trash.

Then we had to ask if he wouldn’t mind winding up his window. Nothing worse than being blown to bits in the back seat. If I wanted that, I’d ride on a motorbike!

Anyway with that done we settled down for our early morning trip, a chance to glance at the sights one last time. How wrong I was.

My first thoughts as we sped through the city streets turned to whether taxi companies were liable in the event of an accident. I didn’t feel safe … if we were to crash, would the company cover hospital and travel expenses?

We soon reached the new tunnel – opened in time for the Olympics – which gives a more direct route to the airport. I had thought that our driver’s pumping of the accelerator was because we were in the city. I was wrong. It had nothing to do with the road. He just seemed to like releasing and depressing every few seconds. So much so that I began to feel queasy.

I wondered who on earth had taught him to drive, whether in fact he actually had had lessons, and who in their right mind granted him a license? I got the feeling he was driving the cab like a tuk-tuk with each depression of his foot coinciding with the revolution of a pedal. We kept jolting gently along until suddenly our driver slammed on the brakes, I was thrown forward and we came to a jarring halt narrowly missing the rear of the cab in front of us. Thank God for seat belts!

He mumbled something – I don’t know whether it was an apology or an excuse, and then we continued on lurching toward the airport.

There was a long queue on the drop-off ramp. Rather than stick with him until the bitter end, we bailed at the first possible opportunity, paid the man (thankful to be alive) and then wheeled our bags the extra distance.

I hadn’t been alone in my discomfort – my partner let out a huge ‘phew’ as the taxi drove off and we agreed it was one of our worst ever taxi rides.

Getting ready for ANZAC Day in Australia

ItsANZAC Memorial, Perth

ANZAC Day is a big day in both New Zealand and Australia. It is the day we have set aside to remember the servicemen who fought and fell for us at Gallipoli. Comemorated as a public holiday, it is marked annually on April 25th with services throughout both countries and now recognises all returned servicemen.

It’s now only the 23rd of April and we’re in Sydney seeing family.

In the past few days, ANZAC day has been mentioned regularly on the news. Each SUPER rugby game has been preceded by the soleful bugle anthem we associate with ANZAC Day, and with the words “They will not grow old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them …we will remember them.”

On the TV news interviewers have been spending time with returned servicemen, listening to their stories and offering genuine thanks for their efforts so long ago. The stories are heart rending. These courageous men were the same age my sons are now and some even younger. It is such a chilling thought.

I can’t help but think of the many mothers and fathers who lost their sons, the young mothers who lost their husbands and children who lost their fathers.

They gave their lives so that we might live. It was such an amazing thing to do and is a debt we can never repay except by protecting all those who follow us.

Living with diabetes: coffee with the workmen

Cheese scones loosen tongues ...

I don’t know many people with diabetes – I’m not one for joining support groups and the like. Not yet anyway.

So it was a huge surprise this when giving our four workmen their morning coffee to be asked who if I was diabetic. It tunes out that two of them have Type I and the third has a wife who is diabetic.

I immediately offered Olivio instead of butter for the yummy cheese scones! Laughter … none of us fit the profile … none were willing to deny ourselves butter …

We got to talking about how and when we were diagnosed.

Geoff had been on a real bender for his 30th birthday  – far far too much partying – and woke next morning with what he thought was a hangover. It persisted. His pounding headache refused to abate, likewise his intense thirst and frequency of toilet stops. His wife, being a nurse saw the signs and took him off to the doctor. He was diagnosed within minutes.

Brent, our youngest workman was diagnosed at 10 years of age after complaining of the same symptoms.

The glazier’s wife had a similar experience to me with gestational diabetes being the forerunner. I kept my final symptoms to myself … no way was I going to divulge in a room full of men.

The conversation for that half hour was focused on diabetes, how we and our families live with it.

A real eye opener for the odd-one-out – whose partner has celiacs disease. They have different issues to deal with. Not your usual morning coffee discussion – particularly with tradies!

What I would like to accomplish with this blog

A picture taken while striding out...Civic Square, Wellington

The most common question – it seems – related to blogs is ‘What is your blog for?’

I’ve struggled with this one. I don’t have any lofty intentions – I’m not here to change the world.

I don’t have an overriding theme either … I chose the name ‘Striding out’ because this is how I approach each day.

Most often my day begins with a fast-paced early morning walk – with the stride as long as my shortish legs can carry me. Until late last year I was accompanied by  Toby. He set the pace when he was a puppy, often dragging me into bushes in pursuit of a cat or two. In his later years (he lived to the ripe old age of 14) I would be dragging him.

Nowadays my companion is an iPod or iPhone tuned into a podcast or whatever music takes my fancy. This is when my ideas begin their gestation! Some don’t make it very far.

‘Striding out’ also gives me license, by virtue of its name to link photographs – however tenuous the link – to my subject of the day. Some days the photographs are my subject … something will spark my attention, I’ll capture it, and then see where thoughts take me.

My original intention with blogging was just to write about what’s going on in my life (if I think its interesting), whats going on around me, what’s going on around our city, and what’s happening in our country. I don’t claim to be an authority on anything, but will willingly pass on anything I find interesting.

I have also taken to recording memories, those important to our family.

I love writing and hope that blogging helps me refine my skills and find my voice. Some days I feel like Eliza Doolittle from My Fair Lady “By George, she’s got it!”  Then there are the days when I’m really disappointed with my efforts and after publishing, want to send them to the trash bin.

I just hope that someone, anyone, finds what I write interesting enough to return. I know I write far too much – I find it difficult to stop.

Having signed up to Postaday 2011, the challenge is on.