C is for…Childhood

Well, I’m going to use a c-word… I was thinking of  writing about ‘cod’, ‘Caracas’ and ‘comedy’ – all aspects of my life I’d like to blog about, but tonight a programme on TV really had me thinking hard about what it means to be a child. So yes, this blog has been a challenge because it’s raised some issues for me!

I am child-free by choice, but that doesn’t mean I am not grateful for my childhood.  In the grand scheme of things, I probably had a fairly ‘normal’ upbringing – loving parents and siblings, good relationships with friends and extended family. Pets…there were a few. We had cats, guppies and a rabbit called ‘Pookie’…And of course, the benefit of a good education and a safe environment in which to live. Sadly, that is not the case for many children across the world who face poverty, neglect and abuse.

Poverty. According to UNICEF, 24,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.

Neglect.  It’s estimated that the number of children in the world  is roughly 2.2 billion. Of that number, almost 50 per cent (1 billlion) are living below the breadline. Worldwide, 2.2  million children die each year because they are not immunised, and 15 million children are orphaned due to HIV/Aids.  This is equivalent to the total number of children in countries such as the UK.

Abuse. Despite the fact that we live in a so-called civilised society (another c-word) children are still sexually exploited and damaged by the adults who bear a responsibility for nurturing them. Every year, 1.2 million children are trafficked into the sex trade. This cannot be right.  Like animals and elderly people, children very often do not have the resources or faculties to defend themselves. It cannot be right for children who are raped to think they are to blame. It cannot be right for children to be raped.

Every child and young person has rights, no matter who they are or where they live. As adults, it’s our responsibility to ensure that these rights are protected – whether we have children or not.

B is for Bedpost…

I am the eldest sibling and therefore supposedly the ‘sensible’ one.  Yeah, and whoever made up that myth was clearly an only child!   When my middle sister went to university, I wrote her a long letter explaining that she would encounter several types of men – most of which came with a health warning.  I know…there are exceptions and she married one, but he didn’t go to uni, so bang goes that theory!

It wasn’t so much that I was trying to warn her off, more that with prior knowledge she would be better equipped to identify and neutralise nefarious types. A sensible approach. Now, I know loads of really lovely men – stand up guys, fantastic friends, great fathers, husbands and generally good boyfriend material.  But like I said, there are exceptions… After comparing notes with a group of girlfriends, I realise that even when you are a grown up, you may still need the sensible girl’s guide to a$$holes, so here it is, just in case…

Scenario #1. If… after a first date, they do not call, it is not because they are 17th century time-travellers who do not understand 21st century technology.  And no, they have not been in an accident and lost all memory of your phone number! They do not call, because they are a$$holes…and you…well, you are another notch on their bedpost.

Scenario #2. If… they say ‘I’d like to be in a relationship, but it’s complicated’…that is your cue to exit the building. Complicated usually means they are a) …married b) ….in rehab or c) …have more high-maintenance baggage than a Louis Vuitton store!  They are to be avoided…

Scenario #3. If…they text you incessantly at odd hours of the night but at no other time…it is not ‘grand passion’ – it is the drunken trawling of their Blackberry (aka the modern version of the little black book) and the arrogant certainty that you will be so desperate to have sex with them (well, you are single after all), that you will find this endearing.  It is not.

Scenario #4. If…they request spanking on the first night you actually do abandon sense and sleep with them, or if they profess a love for duct tape…(?)  fishing…(??) line or pole dancing…(???)  Do you really have to ask? They are deviant psychopaths and you should dial 999 immediately!

A is for Attraction…

So far, it’s been a weird month…which probably explains why I haven’t blogged for a while. I won’t go into the gory details, but recent events – you know, the sort of things that make you go ‘huh?’ just before you step on the exploding death-square or pick the card that says ‘Do not pass go!’ – have made it a bit tricky to collect my thoughts, let alone commit them to cyberspace in an erudite fashion. Anyway…so far, so blah! Rather than mope, I’ve decided to blog about a subject for each letter of the alphabet, starting with A. Reasons will become obvious, later…

Truth is, I’ve recently found myself with a surfeit of younger men in my life who all share the same first initial. Even stranger, they share the same first name… Yup, this is the parallel world I now live in!  Call me superstitious, but I think the universe is trying to tell me something, and it doesn’t spell C-o-u-g-a-r!  I realise that you might think I got lucky, but these boys seem to be cropping up everywhere – at work, in my uni class, via friends. If I didn’t know better, I would think this was a bad repeat of Matrix out-takes…

Still, It got me thinking whether I have a type – ‘younger’ fits the bill for reasons I won’t elaborate on in a public forum – but it also made me wonder what intangible qualities draw us to people, places and things. What is the essence of attraction? How is it that we know in an instant whether we like someone? And what makes some people obsess about art or trains or stamps? Why can a perfume or a pair of heels make you salivate? And what draws our souls to return to places and spaces that we feel fill our spirit and make us whole?

We are not all attracted to the same things, but I wonder…do each of us have a personal ‘A-list’ – a checklist of factors, characteristics or attributes that make the difference between love and loathing – whether the thing in question is animal, mineral or vegetable?  I guess, the bottom line is that attraction – like any other emotion – is deeply individual, sometimes cerebral, but almost always illogical.  What or who, does it for you…? Answers on a comment, pls…