Thursday, September 21, 2006


I just sent my thesis to the bindery - almost four years to the day I started working on it.

Now, my next challenge - building flatpack furniture...right now, I think I'd rather go back to my thesis :S

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Whose backyard is is anyway?

Recently, I've been hearing an absolute plethora of sweeping statements about Muslims - mostly from middle of the road moderate Christians. I'm as cynical as they come these days, but even I've been surprised by the level of ignorance and hatred that's coming out of the mouths of normally gentle and calm people.

My favourites include, "Our religion is one of love, their's is one of hate." "Our God is forgiving, their God is full of vengeance." Hello - have you read the Old Testament? Why exactly did God need innocent blood to placate his wrath? What was that I heard about unbelievers burning in hell for all eternity, that's ok is it?

People keep saying the Muslim community should do more to prevent terrorism in their communities. Well - why is that? Is it Muslims' fault that young Muslims are becoming increasingly frustrated? And whose backyard is terrorism springing up in anyway? Do terrorists belong to the Muslim community? Or do they belong to our communities?

There's barely a person around High Wycombe (where I've been living and working for 8 months) that doesn't have some personal contact with the people who were recently arrested on suspicion of terrorism. I have met their neighbours, their friends and their former school teachers. One of the London bombers came from just up the road in Aylesbury. Terrorists come from our communities and its all of our responsibilities to work towards preventing terrorism.

The Muslim community here has taken action, but they cannot control loose canons. Leafleting is banned around mosques as people were handing out highly charged leaflets outside one of the mosques. The imams around here preach peace and tolerance. In fact, my experience of the Muslim community here (we live right in the middle of a predominantly Muslim area, and many of my clients at work were from the Muslim community) has been very positive - they are peaceful, welcoming and hospitable people. But, just like we can control loose canons in the Christian community, the Muslim community cannot prevent all extremism. I grew up in Belfast - there were certainly dodgy people in my church and a friend of mine from church wound up in prison for attempted murder which had something to do with paramilitary involvement - no-one ever preached a message of hatred or violence in the church I went to - yet, people still got involved with the paramilitaries and said they did it "for God and Ulster." (Interesting, that in the past when people talked about religion and violence, Christians in Northern Ireland were the top example, now its the Muslims.)

Its not enough to point our fingers at the Muslim community, and thereby increase the sense of suspicion and distrust they are very likely to experience in the current climate. Frankly, it does not help to make sweeping statements about Muslims. Perhaps we ought to ask ourselves whether we are doing all we can to work for justice for the Islamic people - what are we doing for the Palestinians or regarding the Kashmir conflict? What are we doing while our government liberally blows Islamic nations to shreds in Afghanistan and Iraq? What are we doing to support isolated and frustrated young Muslims, who care deeply about the situations their brothers & sisters find themselves in across the world, to get involved in the political process and ensure that out government takes positive action?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I need a haircut...

I need a haircut, but I have been putting it off after my last experience at the hairdressers. Don't get me wrong, I came out with a very nice haircut, and I'm pretty accustomed to putting my foot down to the sales pitch, "No, really I do not want a bottle of shampoo that costs £50, I'm happy with the one I get in tesco."

My problem is the small talk, the terrible, irritating, chirpey small talk interrupting my precious quiet. But, surely I've put up with that every haircut I've had since I was old enough to have haircuts. And yes, I have and I can handle talking about holidays, the weather, what I'm doing for Christmas/easter/the summer. I can cope with that, its when they ask *that* question that my heart starts pounding...

HAIRDRESSER: So, what do you work at then?

ME: I work for the NHS (vain attempt to dodge the issue)

HAIRDRESSER: Really, what do you do?

ME: I work with people who have mental health problems/children with behavioural problems (here it comes)

HAIRDRESSER: Oooh, what as?

ME: An assistant/trainee psychologist (Sh*t, I've said it, better brace myself)


Whereupon the hairdresser almost invariably launches into something along the lines of...

-->"Can you read my mind?" (Ha ha ha, I've never heard that one before...but its an easy one to handle, "Sure, but it'll cost you £50.")

-->"I had depression and my GP prescribed me antidepressants, what do you think about antidepressants, should I take them? I thought I should have therapy, you know, I could talk about my terrible childhood/dodgy ex-boyfriend/..."

-->"Oh, my sister's kid is really badly behaved. I thought he might be autistic, what do you think? Oh, and I read something about ADHD the other day, and now they're talking about ritalin and, well I think its all an excuse for bad parenting really. What do you think I should tell my sister to do?"

The last hairdresser was the worst of all - I had to listen to a very sorry tale about a horrible childhood involving a very dodgy psychoanalyst.

Don't get me wrong, I like helping people - I love my job. If any of those hairdressers were at the other side of the consulting room at work, I'd know what to do and I'd be completely sympathetic. Indeed, if they were friends, I could handle it. But really, when I'm having a haircut, its the last thing I want to think about. Not to mention the sheer awkwardness of saying to a total stranger with a pair of very sharp scissors in her hand, "How terrible for you but its not professional for me to comment, now just get on with cutting my hair please."

At least doctors only have to put up with people showing them bunions and rashes and such like. So I am trying to come up with a ploy to dodge the question or ensure that the hairdresser doesn't wish to continue the conversation. Partner dude (a mathematician) never has these problems...perhaps I'll start fibbing. Can anyone think of any unbearably dull professions that are sure to turn a hairdresser off continuing the conversation (but are not so complicated just in case the hairdresser has sufficient knowledge of it, that I couldn't bluff my way).

Partner dude reckons I should tell them if they wish to continue talking about their personal problems/horrific childhood/dodgy sister that I should tell them they're welcome to continue but I'll charge them at private rate and deduct the cost of my haircut (I do think that's a bit mean. Although a friend of mine is employing it very effectively with unwanted telesales calls...)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The terrorists!

The terrorists
The terrorists
The terrorists are coming!

They think their book is the direct word of God
Its violent
Its bloodthirsty
Its full of blood and gore.

The terrorists
The terrorists
The terrorists are coming!

Their book is not like ours
Ours' is just infallible
And not really quite so violent.
Besides, our God is love.

The terrorists
The terrorists
The terrorists are coming!

They're brainwashed
Their religion
Tells them what to think.

Its dangerous

My friend, it is indeed.