How learning French made me appreciate the countryside. Win Win situation.

swan

I am a city girl.

I grew up in the centre of Prague, and wanted to stay there. Trips to my parents’ country weekend cottage bored me. I was happy to sit indoors and read. They kept chasing me to go out. Get some fresh air. Do I mind a not so fresh air? Nope, not in the slightest. I never smoked, but smoky atmosphere of Prague coffee houses was just fine.

In the end, my dislike of the communist regime made me emigrate. I live in green England. The English love their countryside.

I would prefer not to be so close to nature. But I am not a millionaire, so I will never live in the centre of London, I am destined to stay in the leafy suburb.

When I say that where I live is “too rural”, people laugh. They think I am joking. I am not.  Yes, we have an underground station in my village, but it is still a village. I do not go for walks, unless I can talk to somebody. I get bored by nature.

I remember a friend I was skiing with telling me off when I started typing an email on my phone when we had a break. “Why are you not looking at Mont Blanc?” “I have already seen it.” I said.

But recently, I bought a French course to refresh my rusty command of the language. Audio. Michel Thomas. It is very good. So, thanks to Monsieur Thomas, I started going for walks, listening to him on my iPod.

And you know what? I am enjoying it, and the area round the Grand Union Canal is really beautiful.

Mind you, it is nature + entertainment and learning. I am not sure if I could cope with just a walk.

 

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Book review – a Slave narrative

I just got back from Mauritius. And this is something I also copied to my Facebook. Sorry for duplicating ! I am a bit busy!

1947877141-olaudah-equino
I am reading an interesting book, appropriate for reading it in the hot African country. Slave narrative, written by an African man who was kidnapped, age about 10, and sold into slavery, eventually, he buys his freedom, moves to England, writes this book. It was first published in 1789.

If you do not want to read it, I found a summary:

http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/equiano1/summary.html

Written by a man born in Africa, slave since childhood, this is an intelligent honest person, navigating through life, slavery, learning English and many skills, becoming a Christian and abolitionist. The language is simple and archaic, and there is a certain charming naïveté, combined with a smart brain. I liked his arguments for better treatment of slaves, which later changed to conviction that any slavery is bad. There is a development in the character, who grew up in Africa where slavery was part of life, black slave owners.

It made me think about racism, and how I hear all those prejudiced idiotic generalisations about Muslims, Gypsies (Romany), Black people, Chinese etc.

It is not only white people who are racist. I heard racist anti-Chinese remarks by the Indian Mauritian guide, and from what heard there is a lot of racism between Indian and black people in Africa.

Reading about the horrible conditions of slaves reminded me of the war and the Holocaust. Many of my relatives were treated by the Nazis similarly to the slaves in this book. The degradation, cruelty, treating them as if they were vermin.

Those Nazis, like the white slave owners, did not consider their victims truly human.

For me, Olaudah Equiano is a hero- a man who starts as an 11-year-old illiterate “savage” and becomes an articulate adult, freeing himself from slavery, enduring terrible hardship, and yet remaining kind, optimistic, forgiving. I am sure some black people would dismiss him as an “Uncle Tom character”. I do not think they would be right, despite certain things – for example he buys his own freedom, de-facto recognising slavery as an institution. But to criticise it would mean we do not realise people belong to their epoch and cannot be judged by contemporary standards.

This I worry about the fact that the tribalism, nationalism, and hostility to people who are “not one of us” is growing, rather than getting smaller. Having said that, I know plenty of people who are tolerant, open, non-racist. So, I am sure there is hope.

Of course, I read good books about slavery written by white people, or people who are not contemporary- like Toni Morrison. This is different, and very powerful. It talks with a voice from 18th century.

” Assisted Living”, yes, but how about ” Assisted Dying”?

Often Victo Dolore inspires me with her blog “Behind the White Coat – Beats a real human heart”.

rose

In her blog, she wrote about her 90-y old patient who wants to die.

It happens a lot, sometimes, life just stops being fun.

I remember an elderly woman Mrs B. in a residential home- you call it “Assisted Living” in the USA.

She asked them to call me for a visit. Didn’t tell the staff why. AN intelligent witty woman, an ex-head teacher.When I came, she said “I have had enough, doctor, I would like you to kill me.”

She was blind, chair bound, had no relatives. Her brain was working perfectly, but her only stimulation was radio and her audiobooks, and her hearing started to deteriorate. I told her I couldn’t do that. I held her hand, and told her I understand. To change the subject, I asked her what audio book is she listening to. She wouldn’t budge.

“If I stopped my tablets, would I die, doctor?”

She was on heart failure medication.

“Yes, I said, but you would get very breathless and uncomfortable.”

“You are being a great comfort yourself, doctor,” she said with a smile.

Next day, the staff called me telling me that she is refusing her medication. I told her to leave her alone, she is fully with it, and that she discussed it with me.  “We should not force her to do anything she doesn’t want to do”.

Mrs B. died two weeks later. She died when she wanted. I think that is a blessing. Maybe the idea of Assisted dying as well as assisted living would not be such a bad idea…

 

Are we re-living the 1930s?

My social media presence seems to be changing. I used to write about sex, writing, and my medical work. Now I am writing more about political issues.

I just spent 45 minutes on the phone to my partner, and I had nothing better to talk about than the xenophobia and racism I see everywhere. We used to talk about love, sex, books we read, stuff like thatNow we talk about how somehow, it feels as if we lived in 1930. And I have been thinking about all that anti-Muslim talk. Recently, whenever I take a taxi, the taxi drivers, most of them of Pakistani origin talk about it. They seem scared, vulnerable.

And I had an idea.

How about if we replaced the word “Muslim” by the word ““Jew”?

Try it. And then think about the choice German people had in the beginning. And how they mainly looked on without doing anything. Are we the same? I am afraid we are.

I am also imagining Putin invading Estonia and Europe and America not doing anything, like we did nothing with Ukraine and Crimea.

Scary, if you ask me!

Maybe I should start writing about sex again. I am editing my book for a re-publish. It might cheer me up.

Enclosing a symbol of Love. Kind of a good ending,  ha?

heart-1078771_960_720

Do we need Alien invasion to bring us to our senses? I hope not.

I have just come back from my birth country, Czech Republic. I like going there, Prague is beautiful, and I have many good friends there.

prague

However, I can see the same nationalistic shift there as in other countries. Far right parties- small but growing, people constantly talking about the Islamist threat, the racism towards Roma, or, as most Czechs call them, Gypsies. The generalisations, the fear.

There is an old competition where Czech people vote for the most popular pop and rock musicians. It is called Zlaty Slavik- Gold Nightingale. This year, an obviously fascist group called Ortel got the Silver. I looked at you tube, listened to their songs. It was shocking. The lyrics are clever, just skirting the boundary of legality. Manipulating people’s frustration and fear. The disaffected, unsuccessful people who want change. People who don’t feel part of the society. It seems to be happening everywhere, Brexit, French and American election.

Fear and frustration makes people hateful.

I speak to my generation of Czechs, people who are intelligent and educated, people who should know better, but they seem to be suffering from the same blinkered right wing and xenophobic views. I find it scary.

But then, there is the other side.

I read this obituary of Fidel Castro. No mentioning of the prisons, censorship, oppression. The obituary portraits Fidel Castro as an almost saintly figure. Not true.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/26/fidel-castro-obituary

I grew up in a communist country, and I could never understand the Western enthusiasm for Mao Zedong, or Che Guevara.

For a while after emigration, I made a mistake, assuming that enemies of my enemies are my friends. So, I had my blinkered, slightly right wing period.But then I started to use my brain. Asking questions, distinguishing between opinions and facts.

And here I come to the things I worry about.

If you present opinions as facts, or if you accept other people’s opinion as facts, how can you ever discover the truth?

The binary vision of the world is, in my opinion, dangerous.

The “ Them and Us”.

Will it lead to wars? I hope not.

I came back to the Brexit United Kingdom.  Place where the sentiment about “Make England real again”.

Not so different to “Make America Great Again” of Donald Trump.

I have friends from different ethnic groups. I am a non-believing Jewish Czech living in England.What is my identity? Well, I think I am a person. I truly believe people all around the world have more in common than they think. I am thinking about Rudyard Kipling:  “We are of the same blood you and I”

Which brings me to this, something I found on Facebook:

left-wing-right-wing

Maybe the differences could be reconciled.

Somebody told me about a quote, by Ronald Reagan, then repeated by Bill Clinton;

“Alien Invasion Will Usher in World Peace”Maybe, let’s hope that is not the only solution.

Sounds a bit extreme to me.

Going it alone, scary and exhilarating, wish me luck.

I am changing things.

I am leaving Authoright with the Clink Street Publishing. Somehow, it no longer worked for me.
I will use the opportunity to re-write my first book a bit – mainly culling some parts- I am a woman of many words. I will re-publish it together with my sequel. maybe even break it into a trilogy. That will help me not to have to be so careful about not writing too much.

I will use kindle direct publishing. I should have done that the first-time round, but I  did not have a clue how it all works.

I learn from my mistakes.

Like with my sexual revolution and writing, I learnt a lot.
I will need to find a publishing editor, proof-reader and cover designer, but I hopefully know what I am doing, second time round.
This will mean my book might not be available for some time, so if any of you want it, get it on amazon now.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-No-Strings-Att…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

https://www.amazon.com/Woman-No-Strings-Attac…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

HINT HINT LOL.

It is a bit scary, like fast skiing. But I like that!

Wish me luck!

Lucie