About Me

My photo
Blogging about things that matter to me. Photographing things I love - Instagram @debcyork. Writing about both. Only wine and chocolate can save us… You can also find me on Twitter (@debcyork) and Facebook. If you like four-legged views, try @missbonniedog on Twitter

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

The Demon Drink

In my last post, I referred to family issues affecting my writing.  One of the issues is alcoholism.  One of my husband's adopted brothers is sinking ever further into addiction and is simply unable to see that he needs help.  He believes he controls the alcohol, not the other way around.  His life, nearly fifty years of it, has not gone at all as he would have hoped and he has battled other addictions in the past.  However, the death of my father-in-law this year has tipped the balance and this is the worst that we have seen him - from any substance or liquid.
One of the issues which I wonder about, in my pondering, genealogy-obsessed way, is what has driven him to this point.  The circumstances of his adoption were not handled well by my parents-in-law.  A very old fashioned approach was taken to how the two brothers were told of their adoptions (they are not related to each other) and how the family then integrated when my husband, the only natural child, arrived.  My brother-in-law has always maintained no interest in seeking out his birth parents.  However, on Long Lost Family last week, one of the stories concerned a man who had sunk into addiction because of the rejection he felt from a combination of being adopted and of his adoptive parents then divorcing.  He described very eloquently how he had reacted and I believe my brother in law may have very similar issues.
Alcoholism can run in families.  I do not think a trace of the birth parents in this case would necessarily reveal alcohol related problems though.  I believe it is self esteem and family issues which have driven the constant need for a crutch in his life.
Now, though, we appear to have passed a point where counselling alone would help him to abandon his crutch.  Drying out is the only option but to do that, you have to recognise the existence of the problem and we are at a loss with how to make this happen.
I know, sadly, from having also witnessed a couple of acquaintances slip into alcoholism over the past ten years, that at a certain point, even organ failure and imminent death do not persuade someone that drink is not the answer.  They will lie, yellowing, on a hospital bed and ask you to slip them a drink.
Many of us like a drink, don't get me wrong.  This is drinking on a whole different scale.  Wake up, drink whiskey; once you are no longer capable of holding down a job you then drink on and off all day.  You lapse into sleep, wake up hungover at whatever time then start drinking again.  Continue ad infinitum...  Paula Hawkins' thriller The Girl On The Train describes the cycle very well.
We are lucky to have more knowledge than our ancestors on how to deal with these issues.  Despite government cuts, there are many services trying to help, to cope.  The Georgians, the Victorians or whoever did not have these insights.  However, at the end of the day in whatever age of history you are looking at, the key remains the same.  Admitting the problem and wanting to do something about it.  I hope my brother-in-law can find that key soon.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Our Common Humanity

 I have not been posting on this blog for a few weeks because of PC problems and, ironically, family issues.  However, this morning, reading yet more social media and newspaper comment about "The Migrants", I felt I had to start writing again.

Back in February, after listening to a BBC Radio 4 programme, I wrote a piece on this blog called Do We Know Who We Are? relating to immigration and the lack of thought given to people's personal circumstances in the reporting of the situation in the Mediterranean.
Today, when I looked at Twitter, there is now a hashtag in use called #MigrantsCrisis.  The headlines on certain tabloids and social media seem determined to make it appear that we are living under threat of faceless zombie hordes.  Apparently they are "swarming", travelling in "packs".  Surely this is the stuff of science fiction?  Should we now be arming our borders with ray guns?
On the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Programme yesterday, he finished a discussion about the Calais troubles with a line from a listener which referred to "our common humanity".  And I believe this is what is missing from our attitudes towards "the migrants".
The terminology being used by commentators, social media and broadcasters is dehumanising.  Purposely so.  They are conjuring up nightmarish pictures of these dangerous hordes at the gates of civilisation.
But how civilised are we, if we cannot see the common humanity before us?  How would this situation be reported if it was "hard working families" who were being "denied their rights", who were leaving European shores for sanctuary in the Middle East and being turned back or even dying at sea?  Would those families be faceless migrants, zombies threatening another country's way of life?
I believe that one of the reasons slavery lasted so long was the dehumanisation of the "cargoes".  Black Africans were lesser beings, therefore could be treated accordingly.  Attitudes still plaguing race relations the world over today.
As I noted in my February piece, those in glass houses and all that.  Very few of us can be sure that we are not descended from immigrants to the UK.  Whether that be from Vikings, Normans, European refugees, people from the ex-colonies, Ireland, wherever.  The British are a tapestry not an immaculate piece of finest linen.  The thread of that tapestry is humanity.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Richard III - Cumberbitch

Well still no commas or question marks and the cursor is funny now too!  But I will persevere and post again.

Recently I was reading The Guardian app and at the end of articles they put links to other related articles.  Some are current but mostly they are historical by months or even years.  I have completely forgotten which article I started reading but it led to a piece about the fact that genealogists had proved a distant link between Al Murray The Pub Landlord (who was standing for parliament) and David Cameron.  It was a very funny piece.
This got me pondering about who I would and would not want to be linked to.  Of course in most scientific or religious theories we are all linked at some point anyway.  But how serendipitous was it for the finders of Richard III's remains when  Benedict Cumberbatch turned out to be related to the ex-king!  And links like that are gold dust for the producers of Who Do You Think You Are obviously.

So I have decided to keep pushing my tree in all directions until I come to a famous person.  I am already in the 1600s on one paternal line so that looks like slim pickings.  However I feel I must find some medieval king or personage on one of the lines.  Surely there must someone!  The journalist in the piece above mentions the idea that we are all related within 100 generations.  Plenty of scope for my ambitions.
If I want to guarantee a famous orator at my funeral though I will firstly have to become 1) so famous myself that they will want to be associated with me at all costs or  2)ensure my descendants are famous enough to get someone even more famous to officiate.  Link or no link.  Or possibly 3) lead some sort of battle get buried in a strange place and be dug up centuries later hopefully allowing enough time for really famous descendants to have made their names.
Maybe Richard was just waiting for Benedict.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Just keep swimming

It has been far too long since I posted.  I apologise to my reader!  A combination of coursework PC issues and family issues has caused me to have even less time to think and write.  I am now writing on a borrowed laptop and some of the keys do not work so commas are impossible!
Anyway the last couple of weeks have been very difficult. As written about at the beginning of the year we recently lost my father in law.  Well the fall out is now starting to take its toll.  While dog walking in recent weeks a number of blog posts have rushed around my head.  Mostly they have related to coping with elderly relatives circle of life etc
My mother in law lives in Ireland still.  She is increasingly frail and confused but utterly refuses to consider any solution other than living in her own home.  Historically in Ireland the elders of a family did stay in their own homes.  Large families just accepted that in general their parents died at home looked after one of the siblings.  That sibling then took over the home and the land as theirs.  until relatively recently that has been the way.  Thus now that we are looking for solutions we are realising that very little is available other than full nursing care.  In the |UK my grandparents' generation were able to consider sheltered accommodation type places.  Their own flats but with help available and hot meals and social activities if they wanted them.  There is a distinct lack of such places in the part of Ireland where we need them.
But frankly hats off to the families who have dealt with their elders for generation after generation.  It is hard hard work.  And it must have been considerably harder in the days before any state help a health service and the general change in knowledge of dementia and other illnesses.  We are a fortnight into a stay and I am exhausted.
I am going to post this short piece so that anyone who actually reads my stuff regularly (thank you!) knows I haven't given up.  PC and commas back next week I hope....