Psst! Ħares ‘l Hawn…

Lehen is-Sewwa, February 28, 2016

 

Hawn min, biex ikellmek, jaħtaflek il-komma u jħares ċass f’għajnejk, qisu jrid jagħmillek seħer. Hawn min għandu ħabta jħares lejn ħuġbejk, jew moħħok, jew lejn imnieħrek.
Staqsejt lil xi uħud kienux lesti jħarsu fiss fl-għajnejn – u skantajt kemm kien hemm min ħadha bis-serjeta din il-mistoqsija.
# Jien insib li meta xi ħaddd iħares dritt f’għajnejja, jkun qisu qed jxrobl ruħi. Qisu jrid iku jaf jekk hux qed nigdeb, jew forsi jun qed jipprova jara sa fejn jista’ jasal miegħi – kemm jista’ jieħu mingħandi, sew jekk affarijiet materjali, jew emozzjonijiet.
# Għamilt ħabta inbati bid-dipresssjoni, u ma nsibnix kapaċi li nħares lejn dak li jkun, għax għaija hia xi ħaga emozzjonali wisq. In hoss li moħħi jitgħabba ż-żejjed meta rrid nikkonċentra fuq dak li nkun qed ngħid, u fuq il-ħarsa ta’ dak li jkun.
# Ommi u missieri nfirdu meta kont żgħira, u għalija, il-mod idejali biex nuri d-dispexx tiegħi lejha u lejn ir-raġel il-ġdid tagħha kienli ma nħarisx lejhom. Ma ngħidlekx kemm qlajt swat fuq hekk. Kont drajtha l-biċċa, u għamilt hekk fl-iskola wkoll, u l-għalliema kienu jgħidu li jien insolenti. Aħjar milli nirrispondi u naħli saħti.
# Jekk inħares f’għajnejn xi ħadd, nitfixkel, għax nipprrova nifhem dak li ma jkunx qed jgħidli. Nibda’ ntemtem, u ma nkunx naf fejn jien.
# Jien inħares lejn dak li jkun, għax m’għandix x’naħbi – kif tarani, pinġini.
# Jien bi-polar – u ma rridx inħares lejn għajnejn dak li jkun, li ma murx ninduna li jkunu qed jaħsbu ‘din miġnuna’ għax ikollna xi ngħidu żgur.
# Jien nitlef il-konċentrazzjoni meta xi ħadd iħres f’għajnejja. Rari ninża’ n-nuċċali tax-xemx, u nħobb nuża minn dawk li jirriflettu, biex żgur ma jkunux jistgħu jarawhomli.
# Hija tattika tiegħi li nħares fitt lejn dak li jku, biex nagħmillhom pressjoni psikologika. Inħobb nagħmel in-nies skomdi, bħallikieku qed niskrutinizzahom u niġġudikahom. Nitpaxxa narahom jintlew bit-tensjoni, u jirrepetu l-kliem fil-vojt.
# Jien nitlef għajnejja, u nħossni tac-cajt nipprova nħares lejn l-għajnejn, għax qisni nitwerreċ. Kieku kelli nipprova, imma, xorta kont inħossni anzjuża, għax jien mistħijja ħafna. . Forsi hawn min jaħseb li għax ma nħarsix lejh, ma nkunx qed nagħti kasu, imma nikkompensa għal dan billi nuża leħen ħlejju u nistaqsi mistoqsijiet li juru li jien qegħda attenta għal dak li jkunu qed jgħidu.
# Jien ma nittolerax li ħaddieħor iħarisli f’għajnejja, għax fix-xogħol tiegħi ma jaqbilx li nikxef dak li naħseb. Allura ma nħarisx lejhom jien, hux? Kien ikun diffiċli għalija li nispjega dan lill-klijjenti tiegħi, li ma jmurx jaħsbu li qed nidħaq bihom – imma fil-fatt, jien ma nħarisx lejhom biex inkun nista’ nibqa’ imparzjali, u ma nikxifx is-sigrieti fdati lili.
# Ma nafx għaliex, imma għajnejja jiekluni u jdemmgħu meta nħares lejn għajnejn oħra. Ikolli jew inħokkhom jew inxappaphom bil-maktur. Mela allura aħjar xejn – kuntenta li jgħidu kemm jiena stramba.
Jien naħseb li wasal iż-żmien li ma nibqgħux naħsbu li kull min jiftaħ għajnejh daqs plattina, ikun sinċier, u min jevita li jħares fl-għajnejn, għandu x’jaħbi. U int, x’taħseb?

The Luck of The Devil

 

Do you remember, back in 2013 – January, I think it was – the fuss made about the remains of a Roman woman who died in her 30s?

As I recall, the find was made in a necropolis near Lleida in the Catalonia region of Spain. The woman, who had died some 1,600 years before, had a calcified tumour in her pelvis…and it had a bone and four deformed teeth embedded within it, two of which were still attached to the wall of the tumour.

The “experts” called it an ovarian teratoma, and explained it away as a ‘bizarre but benign tumour’. If only they knew…

Forget stem cell manipulation – it is so yesterday. Oh, I know that people who call themselves geneticists still use it – and they use it to make ridiculous experiments like growing ears on rats’ backs, or fingers on pigs’ bellies, or spare skin on horses’ thighs.

My system is cheaper, and simpler – and infinitely more successful. But I’m not telling. This paper will only be found after I am dead. And then you will know why I had to be the reclusive “typical crazy scientist” that the Press and everyone else (except my patients) expected me to be.

The theory was simple, as all perfect theories usually are. But of course, I say this with the foresight of hindsight. I’d known about Chang and Eng, and the Biddenden Maids, but this was something new. The idea occurred to me way back in 2009, when I was still a kid and I’d read that story about the fetus-in-fetu case of Kang Mengru, the Chinese girl who was ‘pregnant’ with her own twin.

I remember reading up all I could about parasitic twins. I found dozens of recorded cases; and inevitably, most of them mentioned the character in The X-Files, Lanny, the alcoholic with an underdeveloped conjoined twin named Leonard, who is able to detach himself from Lanny’s body and get up to all kinds of mischief… including murder.

But I digress. What had really got me thinking was Kang Mengru’s story. Of course, the tabloids had regaled us with photos in Glorious Technicolor. The poor kid looked fit to burst, and the CT scan had shown what the matter with her was.

Not many people know – or care – who Little Gav was. His story was the same as that of Kang Mengru, and it happened in the same year; only Gavin Hyatt’s twin was bursting out of his belly button, as the Xenomorph did in Alien.

Having been diagnosed as suffering from a severe case of folliculitis, or a cyst, or hernia, Gavin was incredulous when the doctor ‘birthed’ his undeveloped twin – and asked for permission to take him home in a specimen jar.

I devoured any literature I found – I made a list of many known cases of people with extra limbs, of those with irises of a different colour…you know, heterochromia. While my friends were struggling with their French verbs, I was swatting up on craniopagus, thoracopagus, xiphopagus achipagus and pygopagus conjoined twins. Chew on that, Einstein.

I made up my mind to study genetics. It fascinated me how the DNA held, encoded within it, the entirety of an organism’s hereditary information, and how the genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA.
Inevitably, after a time, the idea struck me… If a person can have two brains, and be able to think with either of them, and three legs, and be able to manipulate them all… there must be some way to make this happen naturally – and use the extraneous tissue thus created.

Oh, yes. But just imagine me going to the Medical Council and telling them that I would like to make women carry what are usually referred to as “encapsulated tumour-like formations inside the body”, so that I could then extract them and use them to conduct experiments and culture and clone new body parts. Oh, yeah, right. I should be so lucky that they would accept my project, no questions asked…

As I was saying… now, where was I? Oh, yes. The pedants would probably tell me that I was using the human body as a “thing” upon which to experiment. I would probably be crossed out of the List and not allowed to practice. Therefore, there had to be something “easier”, that would not bring own the law on my head like the proverbial tonne of bricks.

Ah! Teratomas. That had to be the solution. Like the parasitic twin, it was often encapsulated in tissue, but unlike the fetus-in-fetu, or extra limbs, stomachs, or organs, this could in no way be constituted as a legitimate body part.

Just so you’ll know – the word teratoma comes from the Greek words teras and onkoma which translate to monster-swelling.
In the interests of research, of course I wrote a paper about the condition, and, after being recognized as the world expert on teratomas, I was getting referrals as if there were no tomorrow.

You know – nobody asked for the “products of surgery” to take home with them – although I know that this is all the rage when extra limbs are cremated, or when teeth are extracted.

In any case, I found I could build up a bank of tissue and organ components, and take it from there…. sometimes, I was lucky enough to get brain tissue, teeth, hair, bone… and the occasional eye or complete limb. Strangely, I never had any rejection problems, as happened to my peers with some transplants from living donors.

Any doctor worth his salt would know that most teratomas are benign; nonetheless, I have developed a method to ascertain this, because I never, but never, used lines made from cells of malignant teratomas.

So now, you all know why my patients’ treatments were so expensive – but were a hundred per cent successful. You now know why the new skin of burns victims was so smooth and perfect on my patients, and how receding hairlines became a thing of the past without ever having the “doormat” look that some aesthetic surgeons could not avoid.

Therefore, if you were thinking that this is my Last Will and Testament, I am sorry to disappoint you.

My secrets have died with me. Game Over. Unlike me, you’re out of luck.

XXX

Caution: Dangerous toys

Saturday, February 13, 2010, 08:44 by Tanja Cilia

At a time when buying a girl “Organic Fancy Fairy Make-up” kits and “Personalised Pink Princess” aprons seems so utterly sexist and Edward and Jacob dolls are considered too naff, what’s a parent to do?
Air-guns and pea-shooters, like swords and bow-and-arrow sets, are as dangerous according to how they are used. Children’s jewellery (especially shiny and sparkly items) may still be dodgy because some manufacturers have been substituting illegal lead with the more dangerous heavy metal cadmium.
Some time ago, children in single digit ages were introduced to Miss Bimbo, innocuously described as a “virtual fashion game for girls”. Ah! This would, perhaps, save money for parents who were tired of shelling out oodles of boodle for Barbie, Minx and Winks gear.
Think again. Becoming “the hottest, coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the whole world” cannot be done on a shoestring. The system works like that for a basic avatar – up to a point. Upon signing up, the girl is given a naked virtual character to “cultivate”, in competition with others. The clothes cost “Bimbo dollars” and so does the clubbing in which this doll revels. Forget virtual pets that just needed a click in order to be fed and cleaned.
But that’s not all. Miss Bimbo makes Victoria Beckham look like the Michelin Man because she can buy diet pills, at 100 Bimbo dollars a pop, to keep herself looking like a stick insect. In fact, the Bimbo dolls must only be fed “now and then”.
This, in turn, has the undesirable effect of reducing places that can be made more obvious through cosmetic enhancement surgery (11,500 Bimbo dollars for a boob job), including facelifts. Alas, there is no “brains” buying option. Of course, the Bimbo can always get a virtual job at one of those places where she can be “discovered” by a billionaire sugar daddy and spend the rest of her life getting extensions to her hair and her nails done.
Till that day dawns, however, she must undertake “Missions” and “Goals” that earn her “Bimbo attitudes”, moving her up in the social scale if she succeeds.
What are the chances that a girl would want the pole dancing kits, the furniture, the waxing sessions, make-up and clothes that are available to Miss Bimbo? Very high, apparently.
The game is ostensibly free to play but, inevitably, the stash of Bimbo dollars one is given at the start is bound to run out as soon as the child understands how the game works and, thenceforth, she has to send text messages or use PayPal to top up the accounts.
And just when you thought it could not get worse it does, to the extent that Lady Gaga could well retire. The inventors of My Minx say that the game is targeted at teenagers but parents report that schoolyard chatter has made the game known to the younger set too.
This character may be dressed in a selection of revealing lingerie (tattoos optional). But what makes it even tackier and trashy is that somewhere along the line in this Style City, the Minxes can adopt “trophy” orphans who just happen to share names and nationalities with the Brangelina Brood, as well as the children of Madonna and Ewan McGregor, and newly-orphaned Haitian children. The adoptions cost money but some of this may be recouped by trying to sell the photos to the glossies. Here, top (female) dog is called Minx of the Minxes.
She can go clubbing and binge-drinking and try to attract (snare would be more like it) a boyfriend. Again, when players run out of virtual cash they can use text messages or PayPal for a top-up.
But the “Bad Toy Award” goes to something else: an Ouija board in pink, since it is being marketed expressly towards girls; so much for non-sexist playthings. Let’s forget, for the moment, that this is meant to be used in the dark, when colour would not matter; the hue is its selling point. Another, apparently, are the “72 questions” included in the pack so that the child is never at a loss what to ask.
Everyone – and that includes Pagans and Witches – knows Ouija boards, with their invitation to necromancy, are dangerous. They have been known to lead to haunting and possessions. They have been known to exacerbate serious psychological problems in vulnerable people and even “normal” people have suffered terrible psychological consequences when dabbling with Ouija boards. So how can this ever be considered a “game”?
Just because they are not custom-made and wooden does not make them any less potentially dangerous. This is obliquely admitted in the blurb of the product: “…. Concentrate very hard and watch as the answer is revealed in the message window. Make up your own questions and let the Ouija board satisfy your curiosity in virtually endless ways. Ouija board will answer. It’s just a game – or is it?”
As John Wilson says: “Oh for a book and a shady nook, either indoors or out… For a jolly good book whereon to look, is better to me than gold.” And infinitely better than bad choices, too.

Angry Young Men and Women

http://www.adviceandinfo.com/teenagers/angry-young-men-and-women
First posted on May 9, 2013 a

Some teens look back, forward, and around them in anger – the ultimate in one-upmanship over the horde of (mostly) working and middle class 1950s British playwrights and novelists.
Kingsley Amis, Michael Hastings, Harold Pinter, John Osborne, Thomas Hinde, and the rest would have been surprised – and possibly perturbed – and the number of teens going around with perpetual pouts and frowns, erupting into toddler-like tantrums when things do not go exactly as planned.
We tell our teens that people their age never had it so good; including that some of us had to find part-time jobs if we wanted money during our school-days…
They dismiss this with a shrug, rather as if it is their divine right to have all that they need, and a bag in which to put it. The gap between teens and their parents or carers, alas, often seems to deepen as fast as the adults thrown in rubble from the top to fill it up and make it even with the rest of the terrain.
We wonder why our teens are acting in such a way; after all, don’t we know what is best for them? Don’t we need over backward to help them achieve what they want?
It is all too easy to wash the teens off our hands by quoting adages like “as you make your bed, so you must lie on it”… and it is even easier to react to their irrational ire by even more of it.
However, it is better, safer, and more logical to nip the problem in the bud. Here are a dozen ways to help you do so:
1. The teen is often trying to test boundaries. How far will you let him go before you issue an ultimatum? Will he be able to needle you into a reaction by using specific phrases or body-language actions? The solution: practice deadpan in front of the mirror. The teen will realise that the reaction they so want will not be forthcoming.
2. Anger from us engenders even more anger-related behaviours from children. These may react either by seeking solace with their friends or other adults (of whom we may not approve) or by retreating inside an impenetrable shell, or by even more extreme reactions – including outbursts that can wreak damage.
3. The sulks and the silent treatment are what some parents give their parents; they hope that we will ask them what the matter is, so they can say how hard-done by they are. This type of mind game appears to be very popular. Look at it this way: a child who is angry because his jeans are not clean will not always realise that this happened because he did not put it in the laundry chest; you have to tell him that.
4. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is advice that ought to have gone out with the Ark. Yet, alas, many still believe that the only way to get a child in line is to use physical force. In this way, you are teaching a teen that “might is right” – and, never mind that a time will come when they will be physically stronger than you will – the chances are that they will behave in a similar manner with weaker siblings or friends. Bullying is never a solution. When you hit your child, you are expressing your anger and frustration, not teaching him mores and morals.
5. A generation ago, parents were told to use the broken-record method to make children kowtow to them. Smart teens recognise this, and use the same attitude to make their parents change their minds about curfews, hair-dye, piercings, and other issues. He will badger, pester and harry you until (he hopes) you give in and tell him to do what he wants because he has exasperated you. Bingo!
6. If a teen is angry, he will not, and cannot, listen to reason. He sees “Let’s talk” as an order, and not as a suggestion; so he is bound to refuse. Go a step further and tell your teen that when he decides he wants to have a coherent, reasonable, two-way conversation, you will be there, waiting for him.
7. Sometimes it is specific incidents that prompt an outburst from a teen. If a teen feels helpless, or excluded from his peer group, it is bound to make him angry. However, he expects you to read his mind to know why he is speaking in monosyllables. You can watch out for the warning signs – a tic in the cheek; baled fists; swift blinking; narrowed eyes; nail-biting… all these may herald an eruption of anger. Therefore, it is better to nip the episode in the bud; letting it all out is not the best of solutions.
8. The general idea is to let the teen know that you know he is angry, and that, although you can assume why this is so, you will never know for sure unless he tells you. A teen needs to know he has your support and love. This will not happen if you only communicate with one another when the need arises, or when the only time you are together is when you drive him to his next ball game.
9. Remember that your teens are probably watching you, and, as a corollary, learning by example. It is useless telling them not to get angry when they see you mouth off at someone who has cut in front of you on the road; or describing your in-laws in graphic detail when you think he is not listening.
10. One of the worst parenting examples I ever saw involved a child who had fallen off a swing in the playground. His mother actively encouraged him to bang the swing against the supports, calling it “rude” and “nasty” and “cruel” the while…in effect, blaming it for the accident. The child’s face as he did this was a picture. If we teach our teenager to lay the blame elsewhere, rather than at their own door, they will never learn how to discipline themselves and control their anger.
11. Life skills include being sociable even if you do not really feel like it; being polite; negotiating compromises with people who do not see eye to eye with you, and curbing anger, amongst other things. Developing healthy self-esteem is part and parcel of a well-rounded character.
12. If you treat your teens like adults, they will behave thus – but if you treat them like toddlers, they will behave like babies. Explaining a situation from your perspective educates them, without driving them to be on the defensive. A child who is in a receptive frame of mind because he is relaxed is more amendable to correction than one who is het up in the throes of an argument.

Anger, Ire, Fury, Rage: An Acrostic
Antagonism… annoyance… abhorrence.
Nothing you will do or say will soothe the
Great wrath
Eating the soul.
Resentment.
######
Irritation and indignation have
Risen like an
Eerie tide of aggression and
######
Fulminating loathing.
Umbrage and dislike combine,
Redolent of wrath and resentment.
You don’t even know why you are angry.
######
Resentment and regrets….
About time you realise ire is futile.
Garbled emotions boiling within.
Exquisite pain; anger propagates and feeds itself.

 

 

Be My (Chinese) Valentine!

Chinese Writing - Love

 

ONCE upon a time, as all good stories go, on the seventh day of the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar (August 7, 2019), the seven daughters of the Goddess of Heaven were visiting Earth and caught the eye of a Cowherd called Niu Lang.

Niu Lang’s parents had died when he was a toddler; he lived with his elder brother and his wife, cruel, mean-spirited people who treated him as a serf. She was even worse than Joe’s wife in “Great Expectations”, and that’s saying something.

Kept on a starvation diet, for which, moreover he had to work really hard, he suffered. Eventually, they – or rather she – decided he was not earning his keep, and kicked him out of the abode, with nothing but the clothes on his back and one scrawny ox.

He constructed a tiny thatched cottage on the side of a mountain, and created a vegetable garden out of the rocky soil, sharing the produce with his pet. One day, the ox talked. It insisted it used to be Taurus, the proudest star. Taurus had committed the heinous crime of stealing in the night sky. He had violated the law of the Heavenly Palace by stealing cereal grains to give to Man; and he was banished to Earth as an ox.

Like many other young ladies in many other legends, the seven sisters had gone bathing in a river. The ox had told the man that, if he took away the silk robes of the maidens, the one of them whom he would glimpse naked would be his wife.

The youngest, daintiest, kindest, most virtuous, and prettiest daughter, Zhi Nu, the Girl Weaver, (who wove rainbows and clouds to beautify the world) took the short straw, and was delegated to ask for their clothes back. Their eyes met and it was the proverbial love at first sight. And as tradition would have it, since he had glimpsed her naked, they were duty bound to wed and, because the husband was mortal, take up residence on the planet rather than in the sky. This was a marriage that was frowned upon by the gods.

Zhi Nu raised silkworms, and made sure there was enough to give her exquisite silks and satins, much sought-after throughout the land. Three years later, Zhi Nu gave birth to twins, a boy, Gold, and a girl, Jade.

After some time, however, the Goddess of Heaven decided that a broken family would not do, and was adamant that the daughter should return to her.

One day, Niu Lang came back from the field to find his children sitting on the ground, crying, because an old lady had kidnapped their mother away.

Niu Lang remembered that shortly before dying, the old ox had told him that its hide would enable a man to fly. He placed the children in wicker baskets on a yoke, put on the magic hide, and flew up to the sky. But the Queen heard the crying of her grandchildren, and the game was up.

She waved her arms and created a river between them. But eventually she had pity on the separated couple, with the upshot being that, just once a year, the couple would be reunited.

Qi Qiao Jie, the day that is The Seventh Eve or the “seventh night of the seventh moon” is when magpies make a wing-bridge for Zhi Nu to flit across and meet her husband.

The Legend of the Fairies

There is, however, another legend that purports to indicate the origins of this Chinese Valentine’s Day equivalent. This festival is also known as the Seven Sisters’ Festival or the Festival of the Double Sevens.

Niu Lang and Zhi Nu were fairies, who, as luck would have it, lived on diametrically opposite sides of the Milky Way. The Jade Emperor of Heaven, saddened at their plight decided to do something about it.

Niu Lang and Zhi Nu, so to speak, were in the seventh heaven to be together, with stars in their eyes – but they began shirking their duties. So Jade Emperor ruled that henceforth, the couple could only meet once a year – on the seventh night of the seventh moon.

Look to the Stars

It is the done thing to celebrate Qi Qiao Jie by gazing up at the star Vega (the maiden who weaves), east of the Milky Way, representing Zhi Nu, and at the star Altair (cowherd) in the constellation Aquila, on the west side of the Milky Way, the place Niu Lang waits for his lover to join him. The two stars, Alshain and Tarazed, next to the Altair, are the Cowherd’s two children.

On a more mundane level, people in love like to go to the Matchmaker Temple. Single girls look to the Waving Maid star to help them become “smart”. When Vega is in the sky, they try to place a needle horizontally on a bowl of water. If the meniscus does not break, the girl will be savvy enough to find a partner within a year. This test, however, may only be done once annually. Other customs involves decorating an ox’s horns with flowers, and tying coins with a red thread to hang around the neck of children under sixteen years of age as a protective amulet in the tradition of Chiniangma (“Seven Mothers”).

Women traditionally wash their hair on the eve of this festival, to have it clean and fresh on the day, whereas children are supposed to wash their face in the dew collected overnight, for inner and outer beauty. Young ladies throw the five-color ropes, made at Chinese Dragon Boat festival, on the roof for the magpies to use, if they need help with the bridge.

Chinese woman who are seeking to become pregnant think that this is the best time of the year to plead with Chusheng Niangniang, the Goddess of Birth, who could well be an avatar of the Weaving Maid or any of her sisters.

Chinese Writing - Love

Vinegar Valentines

Wednesday, February 11, 2009, 09:45
As the days go by, I think how lucky I am…. Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day….. How can I say this….? I always wanted to have someone, someone to love…. I love your smile, your face, and your eyes…. I see your face when I am dreaming….. If we were on a sinking ship with only one life jacket… I’m so miserable without you… I want to feel your sweet embrace….. I want you, and I need you… Kind, intelligent, loving and hot….. Looking back over the years, I wonder….. My darling, my love, my beautiful wife… My love, you take my breath away…… Of loving beauty you float with grace…. Someday I hope to marry… We have been friends for a very long time… You are a part of my life….
Receiving cards with the above messages written on the front would make anyone’s day…. but opening them to find cruel words would wound deeply.
These cards are not run-of-the-mill “joke” cards. They deliberately seek to hurt, insult, the recipient, with acidic messages, and that is why they are called “Vinegar Valentines”.
They were originally sold for one penny – and that is why some people still mistakenly call this type of street literature “penny dreadful” (the name given to potboilers). They counteracted Cupid’s sweet arrows with tart barbs.
The picture, when there is one, is usually a caricature of the recipient, according to type… and sometimes, the message makes reference to this too. This is the type of card that Calvin (of Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes) gave to his classmate Susie Derkins, along with a bunch of dead flowers, as an integral part of their love-hate relationship.
It is obvious that these precursors of hate mail were sent anonymously – and seeing that there was a time (not in Malta) before postage stamps were invented, when people had to pay to be given their mail… it means that recipients paid to get insulted.
Raphael Tuck & Sons, proud to be known as “Publishers to Her Majesties the King and Queen” with printing houses in London, Paris and New York, from the mid 1800’s into the early 20th Century also got on the Vinegar Valentines bandwagon, when they realised that it paid.
One could buy these Vinegar Valentines as we buy “open” cards today. Others were aimed at specific professions that people loved to hate – dentists, undertakers, politicians, lawyers, teachers, or anyone to whom one would have taken a dislike.
These days, most people tend to sign their Valentine cards – especially if they cost good money. It is only a few who want to play the guessing game.
Although Vinegar Valentines have gone out of fashion, some so-called humour cards are crass enough to be classified as worse.
Just in case you were wondering what was written inside the cards, the front of which was quoted at the beginning of the piece… here are the complete messages.
As the days go by, I think how lucky I am… that you are not my girlfriend!
Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day… too bad no one likes you!
How can I say this…? I can’t stand you!
I always wanted to have someone, someone to love… and you’re not her!
I love your smile, your face, and your eyes… am I not good at telling lies?
I see your face when I am dreaming… and that is why I wake up screaming.
If we were on a sinking ship with only one life jacket… I’d miss you!
I’m so miserable without you… it’s as if you are still here.
I want to feel your sweet embrace… but don’t take that paper bag off of your face.
I want you, and I need you… to leave me alone.
Kind, intelligent, loving and hot…. this describes everything you are not.
Looking back over the years, I wonder… what did I see in you?

 

My darling, my love, my beautiful wife… marrying you messed up my life.

 

My love, you take my breath away… what have you stepped in to smell this way?
Of loving beauty you float with grace… if only you could hide your face.
Someday I hope to marry… anyone else but you.
We have been friends for a very long time… how about we stop?
You are a part of my life… the negative part.

 

Family matters

Blogs » Tanja Cilia
Friday, 27th August 2010

I was zapping through different television channels last Wednesday, and a photograph of a young boy playing a drum-kit caught my eye.
The child turned out to be a character, now an adult, who is a head of department. Someone had filched it from his drawer and sent as an e-mail to all the staff. He thought it was a slight, because he had a “reputation to uphold”. However, his half smile indicated that he actually enjoyed the ribbing that he got from his colleagues – and of course it was conducive to his solving the case in hand.
The episode – from a series the name of which I do not know since I chanced upon it towards the end – involved the usual shady character planning the murder of his wife. There was a twist to the hackneyed plot of hired assassins, though. He knew that each Monday, his wife deposited the takings from his saloon, at the local bank.
So he kitted out two of his henchmen as robbers, and sent them on a pretend heist, the object of which was to get his wife killed. This had to be an inside job; and the guard who shot himself point blank in the upper arm to pretend that the robbers had hit him conveniently forgot that the wound would be different from one that had been made from a distance.
But I digress; my point was that I felt for the person ragged as “Ringo Starr”.
This week, five people, in five totally dissimilar situations, told me I am “sweet”… an adjective that is hardly ever used in the same breath as my name. Frankly, this bothered me.
But my faith in humankind was totally restored yesterday, when someone told me I was being obstructive, obdurate, and deliberately argumentative.
It all began when someone in a writers’ group to which I belong, posted a link to the reality television show about The Duggars. This family of Independent Baptists – like the website called Raising Godly Tomatoes of Elizabeth Krueger – advocates several ideas of how to bring up children in a “godly” manner. This led to a discussion about similar lifestyles, mostly oft he Quiverfull style.
The Quiverfull movement takes its name from Psalm 127: 4-5; As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Natural Family Planning is anathema to the movement. Spanking, however, is often not; ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ is treated as Gospel truth. In fact, the line comes from Part 2, Canto One of Hudibras (“Love is a boy by poets styl’d; Then spare the rod, and spoil the child.”) What the Book of Proverbs does say about chastisement, however, is quite similar: (1) 13:24 He that spares his rod hates his son: but he that loves him chastises him betimes; (2) 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying; (3) 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him; (4) 23:13 Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beats him with the rod, he shall not die; (5) 23:14 Thou shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell, and (5) 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself brings his mother to shame.
In my opinion, however it is fundamentalist to assume that the Bible insists you are to spank children to get hem to obey you, whether or not this is illegal, or classified as abuse, in your country. Cynics would say that it is also an easy way out; it stops the endless “why-why-why” lamenting of children who feel they have been hard-done by. It is the be-all “because I said so” ‘reason’. By the way – a girl should always do her “serving” cheerfully.
Systems like this, apparently, must be adhered to devoutly in order to work. There is no room for mix-and-match; and if you do not agree with certain phases in the system, you are judged to be against it in its entirety. Parenting systems that rely on regimentation usually contain references to “secular gurus” whose advice is as nearly worthless as does not matter. Some things, however, such as living debt free, and not having premarital sex, make perfect sense.
Does “reasonable discipline” include showing a baby a toy, and then smacking him for reaching out his hands for it? Likewise, Michael Pearl suggests tempting a child with a bite of their favourite food (placing a morsel within the child’s reach) and when said child instinctively reaches out for the food, their hands are smacked and the parents says “no”. This is repeated as often as it is deemed necessary – a sort of Pavlov reaction in reverse. The child then knows not to reach out for what he wants, but to seek parental approval, first and foremost, before doing this and anything else.
Such ruses are supposed to teach the child that he is in this world for the purpose of Joy – which, here, does not mean happiness, but (a) Jesus (b) Others (c) Yourself. We pray “lead us not into temptation” and then these people do it deliberately, to teach self-control. It is unfair, as I see it. Children must be raised in the same manner that tomatoes are attached to a stake, while being homeschooled, so that they will have no temptations to stray from the straight and narrow.
Incidentally, it is a part of the duties of older siblings to nurture and care for their younger ones, and older girls must learn to defer to younger boys because the latter are, meant to lead. These ideas come not (only) from the aforementioned two systems, but from others similar to them in certain aspects. Adult women are not supposed to take paying jobs outside the home; girls may, however, start earning money by having home-based businesses. At puberty, a daughter will pledge her virginity (sometimes in writing) to her father who will match-make for her with a male from a similar background whom he finds suitable.
For some this Christian Patriarchal system is a way of life. For others, this radical, extremist side of “Evangelical” “Pentecostal” “Christian Right” “Fundamentalist” and “Charismatic”, and even “Fascist”.
I am all for sublimation (not submission) – but I also advocate dignity of the person. I am all for young to dress neatly and decently in order to deserve the name. However, I would never insist they wear dresses only to safeguard their femininity – or, as they have it “not defraud their brothers”. Some of the women also wear head-coverings; but this is extant in some cultures and religions too. Trousers may be as womanly as dresses, according to cut and fabric.
Maltese mothers, in our majority, tend to and watch out for my kids (and sometimes, by force of circumstance, those of other people too). However, a straw-poll among my friends indicates that as a general rule we do not spank, and when we do, we do it with the flat of the palm on the bottom (where fatty tissue will absorb the hit) rather than with a strand of electrical line.
Each system of nurturing offspring has its plusses and its drawbacks; I find that inculcating into a child that free will is abhorrent is not to my liking.
I also question the wisdom of bringing up children under the watchful eye of a television camera – but that, of course, is another story.
Comments
mary gerada
(on 31/8/10)
It seems to me that taking text out of the bible too literally is not the point about being good parents. Where the concept of Love? Or is it becoming so rare that it is not even mentioned in parenthood? It’s true one has to love one’s children so much that one has to reprimand. Explaining consequences would be even more suitable. After all what is a parent’s utmost role apart from caring etc. preparing offspring for adulthood. Regismistic approaches even if camouflaged as being holy – coming from a Holy Book certainly won’t let the child grow through experiences apart from the fact that biblical interpretation is a very delicate matter.
Then we get the other version TV, try out everything no matter what the consequence! Moderation and gaining children’s respect and teaching them to respect all, themselves and environment included is a slow process but in the end the most rewarding for children, parents and society. Bye the way cleverly knit article showing two extremes!.
Lisa R. Smith
(on 27/8/10)
To ‘live’ your private life ‘publicly’ on camera at the Jon & Kate plus Eight did, and “Octo-Mom” and the Duggars do-is pandering to voyeurism. Fascinating they may be-but the attention given to Super-Fertility (this includes the obviously deranged “Octo-Mom”) makes my point that these titillating family bits are part and parcel of a culture bent on self-amusement-and those who pander to such tastes are hardly biblical Christians-no matter how they ‘get’ themselves up…headcoverings, long dresses or sporty strappy outfits. THEY are all laughable AND irresponsible no matter whether Baptist, Catholic, Mormon, Muslim or Atheist. Super FECUNDITY is a CURSE-according to the admonition of God as HE punished BOTH ADAM and EVE in the Book of Genesis-work and thorns, child birth pain and numbers greatly increased, et cetera! While I find the cases of these super families somewhat interesting-too (shame!) in truth their display of fertility and engendering of children seems more like it’s selfish personal desire rather than normality. So even if they are the best parents in the world-each of those many children are getting the very smallest bit of their parents and no matter how good the surface those kids will always be notorious and freakish citizens.
PDeverit
(on 27/8/10)
Just a handful of those helping to raise awareness of why child bottom-slapping isn’t a good idea:

American Academy of Pediatrics,
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
American Psychological Association,
Center For Effective Discipline,
Churches’ Network For Non-Violence,
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
Parenting In Jesus’ Footsteps,
Global Initiative To End All Corporal Punishment of Children,
United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child.
PDeverit
(on 27/8/10)
People used to think it was necessary to “spank” adult members of the community, military trainees, and prisoners. In some countries they still do. In our country, it is considered sexual battery if a person over the age of 18 is “spanked”, but only if over the age of 18.

For one thing, because the buttocks are so close to the sex organs, anal region, and so multiply linked to sexual nerve centers, striking them can trigger powerful and involuntary sexual stimulus in some people. There are numerous physiological ways in which it can be intentionally or unintentionally sexually abusive, but I won’t list them all here. One can read the testimony, documentation, and educational resources available from the website of Parents and Teachers Against Violence In Education at http://www.nospank.net.

Malta ħanina, ħobża u sardina…

https://andrewazzopardi.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/kien-hemm-zmien-li-kienu-jghidu-fuqna-malta-hanina-hobza-u-sardina-tanja-cilia/

 

 
“Kisja ta’ zokkor… ewfemizmu… il-kelma Pushback tfakkarni f’dak il-helu msejjaħ Pushpop (dan mhux rikla, imma eżempju), li jkun qisu stoċċ tal-penit iebes, u meta tixba’ sseffsef fih, tgħattih u terfgħu għal darb’ohra.
Pushback – kelma inokwa li warajha taħbi elf u mitt storja ta’ mibgħeda, sofferenza, kefrija, disprament, dwejjaq, faqar.
Fil-klassi tiegħi fl-iskola kelli min hu mill-Ażja, mill-Afrika, mir-Renju Unit; u kif ukoll nies ta’ din differenti minn tiegħi. Imma jien mhux għalhekk ma nistax nifhem x’hemm wara dan ir-razzżmu sfrenat.
Qed jeħdulna xogħolna: iva, tarax, kollha Chairmen tal-Entitajiet Pubbliċi u Chairmen tal-Banek u għalliema u avukati qed nahtruhom lil dawn in-barranin.
Iriduna nsiru Musulmani bħalhom… barra minn dawk li huma nsara, nimmaġina.
Qed iħassrulna l-ġenetika tagħna… billi aħna l-Maltin mhux ġa Heinz 57.
Qed neħdulhom id-drittijiet tagħhom għax huma mhux Malta jridu joqgħodu… mela allura push ON irridu nagħmlu, mhux push Back.
Jekk nibgħatuhom lura, l-oħrajn ma jiġux għax jaraw li aħna ta’ stoffa… iva; dejjem jekk l-aħbar tiġri tul il-kosta kollha tal-Afrika ta’ fuq… inkella, milli għedna mhemm xejn.
Iġibu lin-nisa tqal u lit-trabi biex niggustawhom u nitħassruhom… fejn huma l-provi ta’ dawn il-kliem? Sa fejn naf jien, min jiġi jħabbatli l-bieb biex jipprova jikkovertini jagħmel hekk soltu, mhux min iħallas kull sold li qatt faddal f’ħajtu biex imur fil-kontinent u jispiċċa hawn…
Malta ħa tegħreq… kos, vera,ma kontx naf li l-global warming waal sal-Mediterran, u li Nostradamus qisu kellu raġun fit-taħwida ta’ tbassira li fassal…
Għax kien hemm wieħed hu… mela ta’ li għamel wieħed, jeħlu kollha. Mela allura għax tal-Lvant tal-Ewropa, ġew f’Malta u qegħdin jisirqu… dawk ukoll, kollha ħallelin, allura?
Għajjejt u nfnejt.
Niftaħru li San Pawl huwa Missierna, u kieku jkun ma’ dawn in-nies, illum… anqas jersaq ‘l hawn ma nkunu rriduh, hux?
Anqas tagħmel sens li ssalva lil xi ħadd bix imbagħad tibgħatu, x’aktarx, għall-mewt…
Kien hemm żmien li kienu jgħidu fuqna Malta ħanina, ħobża u sardina.
Kellu bżonn jerġa’ jiġi dak iż-żmien, illum qabel għada.”

Rivoluzzjoni Papali

two broken 6-pane windows on white painted wall
Listi kontra listi; lil min irridu nċemplu; liI min irridu nistiednu; lil min irridu nibgħatu l-kartolini… lista ta’ listi li ma jispiċċaw qatt.
Saħansitra Franġisku I għamel lista ta’ riżoluzzzjonijiet – imma għamilhom għalina… bħala l-Missier Spiritwali tagħna.
Mill-bidu tal-Pontifikat tiegħu, il-Qdusija tiegħu saħaq fuq i-ħniena; tant li iddikjara dan il-Ġublew tal-Ħniena barra minn żmienu.
Il-Papa jgħidilna li aħna għandna jkollna qalba kbira, miftuħa lil Alla u għal għajrna. Jinħtieġ li nħossu u nwettqu l-valuri tas-silenzju u tad-dixxerniment, u li naraw lil Alla f’kull persuna, saħansitra dawk li ma jinżlulniex.
Sib ferħ u jaqsmu mal-oħrajn. La tkunx bħal Randan mingħajr Għid. Tgħaddix ħajtek tilmenta u ssib l-iskużi, biex nilgħabuha tal-martri għax mingħalina li hekk biss inkunu ta’ min jammirana. Tgħallem sib i-ferħ fl-iżjed ħwejjeġ sempliċi. Aqsam il-ferħ tiegħek ma’ ħaddiehor, u jiġi lura għandek għal sebgħin darba.
Sir fqir għall-foqra. Ħares madwarek u fittex lill-injorant, lill-mistmerr. Teskludi lil ħadd. Tkunx narcissist. Għin lil ħaddieħor jippareteċipa fis-soċjetà, kif u meta tista’. Kun il-leħen ta’ dawk li jew m’għandhomx leħen, jew li jissikktu minn dawk li jaħsbu li m’għandhomx ikollhom leħen.
Kun ta’ qalb kbira; qalb ħelwa u umli. Isseksikx. Tkun qed iċċarrat lil min isseksek fuqu, f’elf biċċa. Ħadd ma qabbdek tkun imħallef ta’ ħuk – u għid is-sew, trid lil min jgħid fuqek u jikxiflek għawwarek?
Kul sew; imma taħlix. Aqsam li għandek. Ara ssibx lil min titma’ platt sħun.
Sib il-ħin għall-oħrajn. Għid grazzi, skużani, jekk joġgħbok. Apprezza kull ħaġa li jagħmel miegħek ħaddieħor, imqar jekk kemm iħallik tgħaddi qablu minn bieb. Mhux biżżejjed li “tgħin” fl-astratt.
Taħlix. Billi għandek il-belli liri ma jfissirx li għandk tberbaqhom kif ġie ġie. Il-flus jagħtuk l-illużjoni li int kuntent; imma meta tird minn kollox, xejn ma jissodisfak.
Iftaħ moħħok, qalbek, dirgħajk, u ruħek għall-oħrajn. Ftakar fil-foqra u f’daqk li ħaddiehor jittraskura. “il-kultura tal-iskart twassal għall-globalizzazzjoni tal-indifferenza.”
B’hekk, tikber is-soċjeta fi spirtu ta’ mħabba u tagħlim.
Impenja ruħek. Tkunx nofs kedda’. Tagħllem għum kontra l-kurrent meta u fejn ikun hemm il-bżonn.
Kun ferħan. Uri impenn. Wettaq l-Opri tal-Ħniena. Il-Kappillan tad-Dinja jmur ‘l hinn mit-tejoloġija astratta.
Sib il-ħin għal-oħrajn. Issib ruħek iddawwar minn stazzjon tat-television għal ieħor. Mhux għaax, bħas-soltu, m’hemm xejn sura, iżda biex taħli l-ħin. Għax ma ċċempils lil xi ħadd li taf li m’għadnux min iċempillu; jew xi ħadd li ma tantx joħrog, forsi għandu bżonn xi qadja; jew xi ħadd li ma tantx jiflah? Għax ma tiktibx xi erbgħa ittri u forsi żżejinhom b’xi erba’ bewsiet? Għal Franġisku I, mhux biżżejjed li aħna “nibgħatu l-flus għall-Missjoni”, għax kif jgħid Ġesu, il-foqra huma dejjem fostna.
Il-Papa jgħidilna biex inħaddnu stil ta’ ħajja sempliċi; mhx biex inrekknu dak li ma nonfqux, iżda biex ma norbtux qalba mal-ħmerijiet u l-baħnanati tad-dinja. Iħeġġigna biex nħassu lilna nfusna; “Ejjew ma ninsewx li l-mibegħda, għira, u kburija iħammġula u jherrulna ħajjitna”.
Iżda fuq kollox, il-Papa jħeġġiġna biex nitolbu tul il-mixja tal-ħajja tagħna, biex b’hekk nifetħu għal Alla u għall-proxxmu.

Journey From Point A To Point B

One test’s blue-circled,
The other’s striped pink
It’s true! We are pregnant!
Too excited to think.

Insomnia, haemorrhoids,
My head’s in a whirl
A boy; or a girl?
One of each would be swell.

Nuts and spinach;
How stultifying
But… unborn baby needs his iron.

Beached whales, yoga
And breathing drills
Old wives’ tales
Versus Parenting Skills

This morning’s sickness
Is yesterday’s news
Must really recap
On Doctors Spock and Seuss.

My waist has vanished,
My toes have disappeared.
I’m the Michelin Lady
Just as I’d feared.

Anxiety, crises, Doppler scans, ultrasound
And I catch every bug
That’s been going around.

The Gym Shoes Syndrome
Now reveals
Oedema’s put paid to stiletto heels.

Smocks and sacks
And dungarees
No ski-pants or miniskirts,
Or hot pants – please.

Bad acid reflux
And varicose veins
One day all this will be the stuff
Of Memory’s Lanes.