28 March 2012

I Need a Favour

I am, I know, pretty opinionated on a lot of subjects.  But this subject, it's a passion, it's something I feel truly strong about.

So I'm asking a favour.  I realise that some reading this will dismiss what I say and do what they want, which they are entitled to do.  We all have free choice.

This is the favour I ask.  Please, please, please do not bet on the Grand National.  Ideally of course, I would be asking you not to bet on all horse races, but the Grand National is the pinnacle of horse racing in the UK so it's a good place to start.

This post should be read in conjunction with previous post Horses are not for Courses but here is the summary.

In the past five years, in excess of 150 horses per year have died as a result of horse racing in Great Britain.  At the time of writing my previous post on the 15th March, the total since the tally began 5 years ago was 804. It is now up to 809.  That's 5 horses in a week and a half.

I think that that figure would qualify horse racing as the most dangerous sport in the world.  For humans, no, but for horses, yet.

I imagine many people will watch the Grand National this year.  I'm sure many people saw the race last year, with the course diverted around the dead/dying horses which the BBC so coldly called "obstacles".

They aren't mechanical these horses.  They have feelings, they feel pain and they deserve to live.  Not to die as a result of a broken leg, a broken neck, at which point they become "commercially non-viable" and are destroyed. The results shown by Animal Aid are clear.  These races are clearly excessively dangerous.

Horses love to run.  They don't love to die.

So that's my favour.  Please don't make a bet.  In an ideal world I'd like to get #dontbet trending on Twitter.  That is far out of my reach.  But if you don't try to make a difference, nothing ever happens.  Please don't bet, please pass this post on.

Not betting on the Grand National won't save a horse's life on the day.  But like any big business, which horse racing is, if the money isn't coming in, things change.  Here is a link to a form letter drawn up by Animal Aid to use if you wish, asking that the Grand National be banned - Letter to MP

26 March 2012

I Don’t Need a Nanny

So once again the budget rears it’s ugly head. 

There is usually something on there which will incense parts or most of the population.  Am fortunate enough that usually, the effects of the budget do not affect me too much. 

I travel on the bus, don’t have children and the hike up in price on alcohol and cigarettes is expected.  Not this time however.

I am aware that as a smoker, whilst not a minority, I am definately in the category of “You should know better” or “Well there go, quit then”.  The smoking ban in pubs, restaurants etc didn’t bother me.  I don’t have a problem in not smoking around non smokers.  It’s common courtesy.

37p a packet extra on cigarettes though?  That has taken the biscuit for me.  George Osborne’s defence of the hike up in price is.
"Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable illness and premature death in the UK.  There is clear evidence that increasing the cost of tobacco encourages smokers to quit and discourages young people from taking it up."
Am sorry, but that is complete and utter rubbish.  Whilst, yes of course, smoking related illnesses are preventable, for the Government to use this as a justification for raising the tax on cigarettes is ridiculous.
Smokers pay taxes, just like everyone else.  Part of that taxation goes towards the NHS.  We also pay a very high price on tax on cigarettes.  The Government get millions upon millions of pounds from smokers.  Yes of course a lot of that can be offset against smoking diseases.  But certainly not all of it.
I will not be dictated to by the Government into choosing what I can and can’t do.  Last time I checked everyone in this country still had the freedom of choice.
The Government don’t really want people to stop.  It will lose them money.  However jumping on the health bandwagon is just a useful tool in order to hike the sales tax up.   All it will do is encourage people to buy cigarettes from the black market.
In one way, I would have still be shocked and horrified that the Government had added such a large addition to the sales tax if they had simply said, it’s one way of boosting funds, getting us out of the recession.  But to hide behind the health issue, well that just adds fury to the flame.

It's There for a Reason

I wrote a post a few weeks ago called Trashing the Memory Palace  It this post I had decided that it was time to open up all the locked doors, see what really was hidden in the attic, get everything out in the open.

Well that was a few weeks ago and I have been trying to do that.  I have genuinely tried to let all the repressed stuff in my head out in the open, let myself feel it instead of lock it way.

I've come to a conclusion.  You create a memory palace for a reason.  Mine was made unconsciously, as a result of blocking out anything bad or crappy over the years.   But it has served it's purpose, I am happy 99% of the time (apart from when ranting but hey, I enjoy that too).

Since opening up the biggest feelings to come out are hate and grief.  I don't need or want them in my life.  Past events are just that.  The past.  Dragging those feeling into "the now" is for me, a pointless exercise.

I've acknowledged those feelings now at least, but now they are going to be thrown back in the palace, under lock and key, where they belong.  Just like that ghost in the attic, you know that it is there, but don't want to see it.

Undoubtedly all psychologists would be shouting at me now saying "Carry on!  You're making progress!".  Well that's about as much progress as I want, thank you.

I don't know really when I am writing this here.  I needed to put it down somewhere and I don't do diaries.  So it's here.

The next post, I promise, will be a rant or about something happy, like bunnies.

15 March 2012

Horses are Not for Courses

Imagine you were invited to join a sport where:
  • Someone whipped you in order to make you go faster/work harder/improve.
  • It would be classed as nothing unusual for someone to die.
  • Should you die/be badly injured, the event organisers, TV cameras and fans would think nothing of just merely covering up your body and carrying on the event around you.

Would you want to be part of that sport?  I certainly wouldn’t.  Even for the adrenalin junkies who might look at No2 and still think that it is a risk that they would choose to take, what about the other two points?  No, you wouldn’t choose a sport like that.

But yet, it is a sport.  A very popular one and all those things do happen.  Horse racing.

Animal Aid have been tracking the deaths of horses during racing since 2007 and incredibly, there have been 804 deaths since they started their record.  804.  That’s 3 a week.  That’s just in Britain alone.  With horse racing all over the world that figure is in fact much higher.    Update: since I wrote this post a year ago, the figure is now up to 944. 
Their findings are available for all to see, with the date, name of horse and the injury which caused them to be destroyed.  Here’s the link for you to see for yourself.
The jockey chooses to enter the sport.  He trains with the horse, rides with the horse, chooses to enter an event with the horse.  The horse?  Well he just likes to run.
The horse can’t be briefed for the race ahead.  He doesn’t know how many fences there are, how high they are, how many people and horses are going to be jostling around him for places.  He doesn’t know the fact that if he falls, he will more than likely be destroyed because he is then “useless”.

I was going to put a picture of here of horse racing and the falls.  But I can’t bring myself to.  If you are an animal lover they just make you sick to your stomach.
But this I will put on.  What the BBC called “an obstacle” in the Grand National last year.  I call it a travesty. 
"An Obstacle"

Horse racing is a business.  If people stop making the bets and boycott the events, a difference can be made.  It takes no effort on your part.  Just this year, don’t make your yearly Grand National bet.  If someone asks you to a race, say no.
When the public really get together and use their voice, their spending power and their opinion, it is amazing what can happen.  A horse may not be endangered, it may not be exotic like a lion or a tiger, but it certainly doesn’t deserve to be treated this way.

8 March 2012

From an Apple to a Berry

I was going to do a phone review for my new Blackberry 9900 but then I wondered if there was any point.  The phone has been out for a while now, there are tons of reviews out there already, written and video and all the information is at your finger tips. 

I’m a firm believer that if you are to commit yourself to something, particularly technology, you need to do your research first.  I hate the people that buy a product, be it a phone, laptop whatever and then complain after purchase that it doesn’t do this or that.  If you had done your research, you would know what you are getting.  I knew for example that the battery wasn't great and would need charging once a day.  Coming from a phone I used to have to charge twice a day, that didn't faze me.

The reason I decided to do this post in the end was the amount of people who have been surprised, some shocked at my decision to move from Iphone to Blackberry.  I don’t see my decision as shocking, although as it is my decision, I guess I wouldn’t.

I wrote The Defection a few weeks ago before I committed and bought the 9900.  I said at the time that time would tell if I loved it or hated it.  Would I miss the full touch screen, would I miss all the apps?  The answer, no.  I am in love with this phone.

My requests from my new phone were clear cut.  I wanted a keypad but still with a decent touchscreen.  I wanted to still have the apps I used to have on my Iphone.  I also wanted to still be able to have all my music. 

The 9900 suits me down to the ground.  I love the keypad.  The geek in me loves all the lists, the countless options.  Anything I want to do on the phone, it can tell me how.  I have a media card in the phone so all my music is there, and unlike with the Iphone where you might have to limit yourself to an 8G due to the price of the phone, with this you can have 64G for a the price of a SD card.

Everyone told me I would regret it, that I was crazy to change.  But come on people, it’s only a phone.  It isn’t a life changing decision.  You decide what works for you want and you see what is out there that fits your specifications.  You shouldn’t have to limit what you want to fit with “the brand”.

I am slightly worried about myself however, now and again I find myself just looking at it, stroking the keys.  I may need to go Blackberry addicts anonymous.  But who cares, it’s mine, and I love it.  Plus, now I get to see this every time, am a McClaren girl through and through.

6 March 2012

Tigers – Wild & Free?

I’ve always wanted to see a tiger.  Big cats in general are a fascination for me but tigers in particular hold a little piece of my heart.

When I say I’ve always wanted to see a big cat, I mean in the wild.  Where they belong, where they are meant to be.  Where they were intended to be. 

Yet countless circuses are still allowed to parade these animals to the public, teach them tricks, cage them.  It isn’t of course just the big cats, there are the elephants, the zebras and many more.

Last year, after the massive publicity regarding Anne the elephant, a lot of the public finally woke up and joined the cry, that many of us have had as long as we have had intelligent thought, that these animals do not belong in circuses.

The Government claim that they will impose this ban.  Some time before 2015.  The MPs voted in the Commons last year for the ban of wild animals in circuses, yet now we hear “Oh but we have to change the licensing, then hopefully implement the ban”.  This does not placate me.

What the Government should have been doing, and continue to be doing with regard to the ban is find out exactly what animals are where, find alternative places for them, work effectively with DEFRA and bring the ban into force.

Let’s be realistic, these animals can never be re-introduced into the wild, it is far too late for that and whilst I do have a problem with zoos, there are some of them that have integrity, are sanctuaries and do work with getting wild animals back to where they should be, in the wild.

Future generations of these circus animals could end up back in the wild, that gives me hope.  An animal in a cage, on display for the public does not.

Numbers of the big cats have been in decline for as long as I can remember.  Deforestation, hunters, poachers, everyone in the world is an enemy to the big cat.  Would you like to live in a world where there are none of these beautiful creatures left in the wild but instead, behind bars?  Because I wouldn’t.

Which would you prefer.  This?
tiger cage
Or this?

tiger wild