Just hangin’

I was on skids to the bottom of the heap last week but the weekend has perked me up a bit- a 50th birthday party and a Winter Solstice Dinner! The 50th was pretty hilarious- freezing cold night, mid-winter- stars everywhere. We were outdoors and inspite of multiple gas heaters and a brazier, we froze- we left at 10.30 like a pair of old-age pensioners.
The Winter Solstice dinner (at lunchtime, Sunday) was absolutely delicious, although I managed to eat too much despite having the tiniest serves of everything. On arriving we had kir (mine with traditional cassis) and then started on the red wine. As a huge ham was the first in a series of courses, I didn’t eat that at all- I’m allergic to pork and don’t like ham all that much either- too salty and squishy- gimme crisp bacon! There were zillions of cheeses, of which I had a few little bites, plus various bickie nibblies and dried fruit.

Here comes the turkey!

Here comes the turkey!

Then we went into the magnificently turned out dining room for the main. A monster turkey from the farm of two of the guests came next- nom noms! This came with all the traditional vegetables- brussells sprouts with ham garnish, roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips- mmm! Various sauces and gravies were passed around and we munched on, accompanied by several more red wines.
For dessert there was traditional christmas-style boiled fruit pudding, with double whipped cream, brandy butter and flames! This was followed by a shiraz jelly containing berries, with more cream!
Spotrick was in a slightly bad way for the rest of the evening! He needed his antacid and a few painkillers to get him into bed , but seemed to have survived! I was fine- my restraint saving me from all except only being able to fit in a banana for my evening repast!!
Various people were trying to get me to think more positively over the last few days and I am trying to concentrate on some of the things they said. Some say I shouldn’t think I am not contributing/that I AM contributing something to the world, although I find this hard to accept. Apparently my friends writing the proposals for various power and agricultural projects in Iraq have found that my research on topics such as integrated fish/land-farming arrangements were beneficial for their planning and they have used the info I dug out on the skills needed to set up a fish farm or a large poultry business in a desert climate were real gems. They also liked the fact that I found some research work about fish farms done by local people who then accepted their project as ‘serious” when they were able to quote from it. All this stuff I was able to conjure up via the internet while sitting on my backside at home. If only someone wanted a half-time researcher permanently, I might be able to earn some cash! Too bad I have the wrong qualifications to work on that!
My young friend in Nigeria with the communications degree from Uni of North Carolina is asking me for advice on what direction his career should go next. I’m wondering too, as I only know him online. He runs leadership groups for young Nigerians who have been in a little trouble, or who are unemployed and without real qualifications- missed school etc. He is also seeking advice on how to re-integrate young Sudanese who have been used as child soldiers in their own and neighbouring countries. I would say he needs to get the young Sudanese to realise that what they have been doing up until this time in their lives may not be the way to attack tasks in their new lives! I think he needs them to become empathetic, to take instruction and “orders” quietly and learn to be led, before they can actually lead themselves in civilian life. Perhaps some role playing of situations they will see in real life NOW would help them understand how the world works in peace time and how other people like to be tr eated. I think he has a difficult task- good luck to him. As for further career moves- he needs to be aware how politics affect various social arrangements in his country in a broad sense. For instance, there is widespread corruption in the public service, diverting money from confirmed worthy projects into the pockets of others, including current staff. He really needs to understand administrations and how to put into place systems which guard against corruption. Perhaps he should study business admin or fraud prevention/internal audit of procedures as well as finance?? I think he’d make a good administrator/project manager in the health/social services field, trying to put in place systems that produce work of high calibre and enabling people to work as teams. I’m not sure exactly what he should study or where- perhaps the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has a program he could fit into?? Anyway- so maybe I am contributing a little to the world by listening to this young fellow and trying to point him in a useful direction in a practical way. He is a devout christian and I’m an atheist- he found this a bit hard at first, but seems to think I know what I’m talking about now! Maybe he has learnt that different religions don’t necessarily mean opposition to worthy goals! If anyone reading this has any ideas on what Oje should do next- please comment! He’s only 25 and has had a responsible job traveling around Nigeria doing youth leadership programs for several years already. His sister is doing a PhD in Public Heath in the UK and I think he is concerned about the health and social direction of young Nigerians. Perhaps he should do some training in a different country first? I’m not sure, but he seems to have great potential to influence his fellow citizens for good in the future.

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