Tuesday, April 22, 2008

What gives you the right?

Listening to: 'Warwick Avenue' by Duffy [Rockferry]

Someone paid me a compliment today. They probably thought nothing of it, but it meant a lot to me, so thank you :-). To be honest, I found the suggestion that I'd be good at counselling somewhat amusing...and all this time I thought I was the one that needed it most! I mean I think it's pretty obvious that I have 'issues'. So am I in a position to give advice to others? Is anyone?

How many times have you complained about something to a friend, only to be told "I know how you feel" or "I can imagine what you're going through". Can they really? Example: I've never been in a relationship...can I genuinely comfort a friend going through a break up by saying "I know how you feel"? I think not. I mean I can imagine what emotions are prevalent, but there's no way I can predict their intensity. And frankly, to claim that I can, with the prescribed response, would probably come across as being quite hollow and patronising to the recipient...at least that's how I would feel in such a situation.

Or what about when you complain about something, and whoever you're complaining to thinks that the best way to respond is to dismiss your complaint completely? Take my face for example...I'm one of the unlucky sods whose acne didn't disappear with the advent of adulthood. And trust me...dark brown scars, bright red blotches and shiny whiteheads on café-au-lait skin do not comprise a 'good look'. I've recently invested in make-up for concealing purposes (which is surprising for a tight-arse like myself), and I spend a fair amount of time making sure no one outside my house is exposed to my 'naked' face. But then someone (usually a female friend whose skin just happens to be flawless) has to come along and say "oh your skin's not bad, you're just being silly". OK firstly, I would've accepted their criticism if their skin was in a somewhat similar state to mine, but it's not. Secondly, isn't it how my skin looks to me, that matters? Who are they to tell me that I'm being silly?

I understand that their intentions are good, and I'm not deluded enough to think that my issues are in anyway comparable to some of the hardships that some people face...but they are issues for me. So what gives you the right to pass judgement?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Please, don't shoot!

Listening to: 'I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You [The Twelves Remix]' by The Black Kids [-]

I like taking photos. Whether they're silly candids of family and friends, documentations of significant occasions, or attempts at artistic interpretations of the world we live in, I am snap-happy. If the weather's good, I usually have my camera with me, just in case I see something worth capturing. And I definitely have it with me if I'm travelling. I'm learning more and more about how to develop my hobby, and while I can only aspire to mimic the talents of haelio, Co25 and others, I am content with what I do produce.

"Yay, she's found a hobby!", you might think, after my whinging about needing a distraction. Yeah I thought so too. But it appears the Met might not agree.

I'm sorry, but can someone please define "odd"?!?!? If I kneel down on the pavement in order to get a better angle for my pseudo-arty pic of Nelson's Column, am I 'odd'? If I spend 20mins on Westminster Bridge taking as many photos as I can of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament from as many angles as possible, am I 'odd'? If I have brown skin (and a beard/headscarf - delete as appropriate) and I'm walking around with a camera and a backpack (full of lenses and a tripod), taking pictures of sights that would be appreciated by the photographic community, but considered pointless by everyone else, am I 'odd'?

London-based flickr groups have been buzzing with tales of innocent amateur photographers being 'stop & search'ed by police, for taking photographs in public places. Now the mainstream media - well at least the times and the bbc - have got wind of the situation. I spent a while trying to find some kind of guidance for amateur photographers on relevant government websites, but to no avail. So basically, no one knows what photographers can and cannot legally photograph in public. The general consensus is that anything goes, but would you risk a run-in with the boys in blue?

A concerned citizen has set up an e-petition on the PM's website, asking for clarification of photography laws in the UK, and the numbers are steadily rising. You can show your support here (as long as you're a British citizen/resident). I'm sceptical about whether it'll amount to much, but you know what they say - "evil thrives when good people do nothing".

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In memoriam

Listening to: nothing

I remember the first time I met you, when I was twelve. I had a list of questions, all written out - what? how? when? how long? - you answered every one. I was a kid, and some (well, probably most) of my questions were juvenile, and would be laughed at by most. But not you. You gave me the respect every patient deserves.

I was just another one of your patients, but you treated me as though I was the only one. I mattered to you. And that fact made me unafraid. Everyone kept on saying "oh you must be so scared"...but I wasn't. I knew you would fix me. And you did. You fixed me so well that now I'm cycling, like everyone else. You would've been proud.

RIP Doc. Thanks for everything.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rage against road rage

Listening to: 'All She Wrote' by Default [Elocation]

And so the (primarily Sri Lankan) joke goes...
Q: What's the difference between a porcupine and a Pajero?
A: With porcupines, the pricks are on the outside
I think in Cambridge, the word 'Pajero' could be replaced with any of the following: car, bus, van, lorry, or any other type of vehicle that I've missed. Do they hate cyclists that much? I mean what kind of asshole would accelerate when he sees a cyclist crossing his path? Honestly, makes me want to get off my bike and go and punch them. Although considering the size difference between the trucker and myself, that might not be the best idea I've ever had.

Is it just 'cos I'm a novice? I've been cycling for about a month now. I've overcome my fear of falling - I know that sounds silly, but imagine you've been told that the smallest fall could paralyse you from neck down...no reward seems worth the risk. I stick to the cycle lanes where they exist, and I get out of the way when I'm finding it difficult. I apologise when I make a mistake, and I make sure the road's clear before changing lanes, turning etc. Are motorists that impatient that they have to toot the horn at me the second the light changes? I appreciate that when they see a twenty-something on a bike, they don't automatically assume that she's still learning, but still?!

I think I've changed in two ways since starting to cycle. Firstly, I've become a better pedestrian. Cambridge is fully of pedestrian/cycle friendly roads, and pedestrians tend to think that they can walk in the middle of the road, even when the pavement is empty. This is especially true of those pesky continental European teenagers whose behaviour I detest so much. I shouted at one the other day. I rang my bell, said 'excuse me' as clearly as I could, and she still thought it was cool to stand in the middle of the road and twirl her curls. I should've shouted "Oi stupid cow, get out of my f***ing way!"...but I managed to stop at "Oi!". I think I'm glad I didn't swear at her, but I probably wouldn't have had to rant in this post if I did.

As for the second way I've changed...I think I've become less tolerant. Can you tell?