Friday, 26 June 2009

The Legacy of Peter Pan

When I was three years old I danced my very first dance. Well, that's debatable. It was more like a bum wiggle. But the song that so inspired the wiggle was 'Don't stop till you get enough.' And I didn't. I 'danced' until my little legs could no longer do so.

The following year I was given a battered cassette tape labelled 'Bad' and a portable player from my sister's hand-me-downs. Clipping the player onto my skirt, I adjusted the massive headphones and pressed play.

The rest, as they say, is HIStory.

So far I've had a 21 year love affair with Michael Jackson's music. I spent most of 1988 to 1995 listening to the entire catalogue of hits from 'Off the Wall' to 'Thriller' and 'Dangerous.' Needless to say I was shocked when I heard the news of Jackson's passing. The reminder of death always leaves an unpleasant feeling. It hangs around, questioning our beliefs, our way of life, our future. It goes against what nature intended- that is-to live. Ironically, death is a part of life too but, when it happens, you never remember that. Why would you want to?

It is important to remember that Jackson has succeeded where so many others have failed. He left an amazing musical legacy that I doubt anyone will repeat. Or even come close. Despite his death he will continue to live- through this legacy. Regardless of how the media and some may have viewed him, he's left his mark on the world. One hell of a mark. Isn't that something?

Friday, 19 June 2009

The Importance of being Educated

Can you smell that? It's a bit of excitement with a whiff of anxiousness and a dash of pride. Yes. It's that time of year when millions of students start the first day of the rest of their lives: Graduation.

Next month I'll be one of those students. Except that I've done it all before. Yep. Been there, done that, worn the t.shirt. Instead of excitement and anxiousness there's just the stench of embarrassment.

My last graduation in 2007 was hell. I was forced to wear a scratchy black gown that bought me out in hives. And a cap which made my head sweat so much I looked like I'd been swimming. Then there's the endless sitting around, for hours. The kind of sitting that makes your arse so numb that it feels like a separate entity. Oh and the constant clapping. I'm all for congratulating my peers but jeez, I couldn't feel my hands for the rest of the week. The only good thing to come from that day was that I got to shake hands with Richard Attenborough who was Chancellor of the University of Sussex. Now he's the man.

So I find myself full of regret for agreeing to attend my upcoming graduation, part deux. And it isn't because I had a boring day the last time round. Sadly, I feel that 'further education' has turned into a bit of a farce. That's where the stench of embarrassment comes in.

90% of my brain (and my heart) hates me for feeling this way. But there's that 10% that can't be denied. The 10% that thinks education has become nothing but an excuse to get out of getting a real job in the real world. That believes by making university education so readily available, we've downgraded its value. It's such a harsh opinion to have but I just can't help it.

Going to university was always on my agenda. The reason my life for so long was study hard and study harder. I went off on a gap year to relax and have a good time, pre-empting that I would need all my strength in my future education.

But when I arrived at uni, I felt like I was surrounded by people on their own gap year. A stopgap. A bit of time to figure out what they really wanted to do with their lives. When students come out with things like, 'Oh I only need 40% to pass the first year,' well, you know there's a problem.

Education and its importance has always been drilled into me. Having a degree would further my career and widen my prospects. I've since discovered it's a bit of a hindrance. So many people have degrees nowadays, all fighting for the same jobs. How on earth are employers meant to separate the men from the boys? The good from the bad? It's just one big vicious cycle of mess.

Surprisingly, I don't regret going to University. The skills learned outside the lecture theatre have provided me with a greater wealth already. I'm independent, responsible, know how to cook and the social skills alone are surely a benefit. Plus I did learn. My brain got bigger. That's always a good thing. I just think that the education system needs to change. We need to adapt the way it is used. And make sure it's used for the right reasons.

Reader, what do you think?

Monday, 8 June 2009

I'm back baby!

While I am not one hundred percent and my walking can be likened to that of an old fart or a snail or possibly an old snail, I am feeling okay after my operation. Unfortunately, it was more serious than your average appendectomy; my appendix being the size of a foot when it should have been the size of a finger. Add that to the removal of a small part of my bowel and you've got some idea of the scar now trawling its way down from my navel. Not that you needed to know that. Jeez. I really should stop with all the sharing.

My stay in hospital was an eventful one. You would think that the Gods of Fate or whomever ordains our paths in life would have allowed me a quiet convalescence. Oh no. First, there's Evil Nurse. She's the one who doesn't really want to be there. Who sneers at the sound of help-alarms and tells everyone you've been nothing but hassle when really, you've been off your face on meds and not made a sound. Evil Nurse woke me on the first night of recovery by slapping my face. Just to make sure I was alive. The care provided in hospitals is first rate.

Then came Frances. The 69 year old lady in the bed opposite. She liked to talk. A lot. Particularly at 4am when the morphine was crawling through my veins, hypnotic and sleep inducing. Frances was erratic and confused, pulling out IVs and jumping from her bed. I once awoke to find her asking me if I was part of the conspiracy occurring in the ward. My 'yawn' had qualified me to join the 'scheme.'

This all really happened. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

But now normality has returned. I'm back. Kind of. In a half-hearted sort of way. I can't really laugh 'cos it hurts. Sneezing is out too. Plus any kind of bending down and spinning round. Man. This op has really taken all the fun out of life. Whatever will I do now?