Some thoughts about Guns…

TOH is playing Watchdogs. For the most part, he likes it because you can sneak around playing the game without hurting any of the civilian characters that are wandering around the city.

There are puzzles and you can choose the way you play so that you become a Vigilante rather than Terrorist (the opposite end of the reputation bar.) You can protect civilians, stop them getting hurt and attacked.

The story line is quite an interesting one. It looks at the way that information is used in the real world and just how much information everyone puts out there that can be twisted or used to hurt. It’s a scary concept, but that’s not what I want to talk about.

Like with many of the games now, you get digital trophies for certain things – for example, the number of police scans you evade. Most of these are easy enough to do without hurting anyone. However,  TOH being who he is, likes to get all of the trophies, and there was one that he couldn’t figure out; you had to escape a level 5 police scan.

So he went online and googled the problem. He was not happy with the result, but try as he might, it was the only one he could find. So he did it this morning before he went to work.

He took the character to a crowded place, pulled out a machine gun and let rip. It must have killed between 15 and 20 civilian characters before the scan meter was at level 5. The noise was horrendous and it attracted both my attention (and made me muck up the pattern I was knitting) and the baby’s attention (she’d been playing with her ducky ball).

It was realistic and I started having a panic attack. I picked up the baby and cuddled her away from the noise.

Now I can think logically about it, it wasn’t what was on the screen that was panicking me. It was the noise. The realistic sound of the machine gun he was using on the game. It took me back to a particular incident that shaped my life without me realising it.

* * *

When I was 16, I was in the Air Training Corps. It’s the cadet branch of the RAF and I was seriously considering a career in the RAF at the time. One of the last events I went to was a joint exercise with the local USAF base. The Military Police there had put on an exercise for the local ATC units complete with full military training gear. This meant we were wearing the laser vests that they used and carrying blank adapted M16’s with laser equipment to “tag” the vests.

And yes, you read that one right. They were allowing teenagers to use M16’s. There were also two M60 ‘s set up the same way, one for each team. We were given the guns and put through training exercises – stripping, cleaning, reassembling in a set time, practice on a range with live bullets and on a stationary dummy wearing a laser vest with blanks in the gun.

All stuff we had done before at ATC with the 302 rifles we’d used for ages on our range.

We also were given a small strip of ammunition and allowed to shoot the M60. This was to show us how the rifle worked and make the point that the only people big enough to carry the things were two of the biggest boys I had ever seen in my life… and I wasn’t a small, dainty little girl.

Anyway. It wasn’t the experience of shooting the M60 that did the damage. That was funny because the gun moved me back in the heather by about 3 feet. It wasn’t even the “capture the flag” exercise we played next, albeit with the M16’s on our shoulders. We’d done that before with LR98’s and laser equipment on a RAF Base.

It was the Night Exercise.

We’d been told that we were being treated like Military Academy students and that when they were on exercise, they carried their guns at all times. So we had to. I literally slept that night with an M16 next to me. We were all in one camp, both teams together.

I say slept. Others slept. I didn’t. I couldn’t. The gun felt as hard and dangerous as a knife and while I knew it was loaded with blanks and the safety was on, I was terrified that it was going to go off in the night.

I fell into a half doze about three in the morning when my body refused to remain awake any longer.

At dawn the camp was attacked.

I lay in my tent, my hand on the M16, frozen with fear as an M60 opened up out in the woods around us and blasted us. Everyone’s laser vests started screaming at us and while some of the boys managed to rally and fire back, the rest of us lay there, scared out of our wits.

They were trying to make some kind of point apparently, because they’d noticed that some of the boys had got rather cocky, trigger happy and were being reckless. Our Officers had agreed and were joining in.

That noise has lived with me ever since.

I managed to complete the event without being hurt (normally I got an injury of some sort), cleaned and returned my M16. I even got a commendation for being able to complete the entire 1 mile obstacle course within a decent time.

I quit ATC  not long after that. My excuse was that I wanted to concentrate on my exams. The real reason was that I realized that the RAF wasn’t for me. At the time I didn’t want to think like that and I was being encouraged by my teachers to choose that career, so I acted out the charade a little longer and then when I got to University, I changed direction.

This morning, it was that noise. The machine gun going off on the TV that sent me straight back into my 16 year old self lying on the ground, listening to the M60 shoot over my head and the laser vest’s warning screaming in my ear.

I know now that should I have to, I can pick up a gun and shoot someone with it. To protect my life, to protect my children, to protect TOH, I will do it. But I’m scared of them, of guns. I’m scared that I found that in myself. I’m scared that I could kill another human being.

And I’m scared that all the war and violence that I ducked out of by not going into the RAF might actually happen over here. That I might actually have to pick up a gun to defend my children.

Thoughts and Ramblings: Respect

Respect. It’s an odd word.

There’s so many people using it and sometimes I wonder if they know what it means. Hell, sometimes I don’t even know what it means, and I’m a writer. I should know what words mean… but sometimes the English Language stumps me and I have to turn to the old faithful, the dictionary.

Definition of respect


  • 1) [mass noun] a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements:the director had a lot of respect for Douglas as an actor
  • the state of being admired or respected:his first chance in over fifteen years to regain respect in the business
  • (respects) a person’s polite greetings:give my respects to their Excellencies
  • informal used to express the speaker’s approval of someone or something:respect to Hill for a truly non-superficial piece on the techno scene
  • 2) due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others:young people’s lack of respect for their parents
  • 3) a particular aspect, point, or detail:the government’s record in this respect is a mixed one


[with object]

  • 1) admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements:she was respected by everyone she worked with(as adjective respected)a respected academic
  • 2) have due regard for (someone’s feelings, wishes, or rights):I respected his views
  • avoid harming or interfering with:it is incumbent upon all hill users to respect the environment
  • agree to recognize and abide by (a legal requirement):the crown and its ministers ought to respect the ordinary law
Taken from entry in; 30/11/2012

Ignoring the other meanings for a moment, let’s look at the first:

a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements

How many people can you truly say that you respect? Can you actually say to yourself, while looking in your eyes in the mirror, that you respect someone that you have professed to hate?

Taking a personal example; I hate my Grandfather.

It might be a bit of a shocking example for many reasons, the very least of which is the fact that he passed on to the Summerlands a while back and one should never speak ill of the dead, but I have some very personal, very deep seated reasons for hating him. Some people that know what I am talking about may actually understand why I hate him.

Can I respect him?

I don’t know. I honestly, truly and with deep feeling in my bones do not know if I can respect him.

Why? Mostly because I barely knew him. Possibly if he hadn’t have done what he did to me, I might have been able to get to know him and I might have been able to respect him. However as things stand, I didn’t know him and I am unable to decide if I can respect him.

Can any of you say the same about the person that you hate?

Anyway, back to the main subject, why is it important to be respected?

Believe it or not, Wikipedia gives us a very good definition of the emotion of respect which may shed some more light on the question:

Respect gives a positive feeling of esteem or deference for a person or other entity (such as a nation or a religion), and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of the one respected (e.g., “I have great respect for her judgment”).

It can also be conduct in accord with a specific ethic of respect.

Rude conduct is usually considered to indicate a lack of respect, disrespect, whereas actions that honor somebody or something indicate respect. Specific ethics of respect are of fundamental importance to various cultures.

Respect for tradition and legitimate authority is identified by Jonathan Haidt as one of five fundamental moral values shared to a greater or lesser degree by different societies and individuals.[1]

Respect should not be confused with tolerance, since tolerance doesn’t necessarily imply subordination to one’s qualities but means treating as equal.

The antonym and opposite of respect is contempt.

Taken from entry in; 30/11/2012

Respect is important because it defines civilisation. Everyone in this world is trying to gain respect in one form or another. And it has so many different forms… Self Respect; Environmental Respect; Cultural Respect; Societal Respect… and these are just the big ones.

Putting it simply, respect is the glue that ties civilisation together and when it is lost, differences become arguments, arguments become fights, fights become wars… and we all know what war does to civilisation.

Want an example? Okay. Let’s look at Israel and Palestine.

Going to the root of the problems in the geographical area of the world that these two countries claim is their land would probably be a whole article in itself.

Actually, thinking about it, the whole conflict could have a hundred different people analyse it and write weighty tomes about what they think is the problem and still not solve anything.

So I am going to tell you what my opinion on the matter is. Feel free to disagree; we’re all human after all and that is a big part of our nature, but I promise you I will respect your opinion (see #2 under Verb in the dictionary extract to see what I mean by that use of the word) and we shall remain on friendly terms.

Israel is the country that Judaism calls home. It is the place that their records tell them they come from and the birthplace of their religion.

Palestine is the geographical name for the area. When the news talks about the Israel /Palestine war what they are actually going on about is the State of Palestine…

Again, Wikipedia does a damn fine job of explaining this one, so I’ll let them enlighten you:

Palestine[i] (Arabic: فلسطين‎ Filasīn / Falasīn / Filisīn), officially declared as the State of Palestine (Arabic: دولة فلسطين‎Dawlat Filasin),[1][2][3] is a state that was proclaimed in exile in Algiers on 15 November 1988, when the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO’s) National Council (PNC) adopted the unilateral Palestinian Declaration of Independence.

Taken from entry in; 30/11/2012

So here we have two separate countries claiming the same piece of land.

Why did the war start? I don’t actually know why (that’s an article for someone more interested in the subject), but I do know that they could have lived together quite happily had they just respected each other’s differences and agreed to share the physical space. The World is quite a big place… even if the piece of land they are fighting over is pretty small in comparison

Historical region of Palestine (as defined by Palestinian Nationalism) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Historical region of Palestine (as defined by Palestinian Nationalism) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

See? Surely it’s big enough to be divided equably between the two countries? Especially if they were to respect each other’s wishes and religious places.

Obviously they couldn’t come to a respectful conclusion. Look what happened next:

Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Palestinian territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

Surely both sides would be happy now? Well we all know from the news that neither side is happy. Look at how it stands now:

Palestinian National Authority showing Israel's 1948 and 1967 borders

Palestinian National Authority showing Israel’s 1948 and 1967 borders

Will they ever be able to respect each other enough to live together without fighting? That’s a question that only time can tell.

Why on earth are you maundering on about this? Is there an actual point to this article?

Um, yes, actually there is a point. And believe it or not it’s about people…

Think of the geographical location of Palestine as a single person. What do you get?

One very messed up disturbed person! Schizophrenic even…

Definition of schizophrenia


[mass noun]

  • a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behaviour, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
  • (in general use) a mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements:Gibraltar’s schizophrenia continues to be fed by colonial pride




 /-ˈfrɛnɪk/ adjective & noun


early 20th century: modern Latin, from Greek skhizein ‘to split’ + phrēn ‘mind’

Taken from: 30/12/2012

And the way that Palestine is looking, I’d say that there was almost no hope left of curing them… I could be wrong; I hope I’m wrong. As a Person, Palestine  lost it’s self respect  a long time ago.

In a person when you lose respect for yourself it starts you on a gentle downward slope. A lot of different things can cause that initial loss of self respect, but it’s what happens if you don’t recover that feeling of admiration for yourself that concerns me.

Why it concerns me is that I had an Eureka moment today.  And yes, it actually happened in the bath. All the best things happen in the bath; half my best story ideas occurred to me in the bath… as well as a few other things. This particular eureka moment is a bit more serious… And this is where what I said about my Grandfather comes in as well.

What my Grandfather did to me (no, I won’t tell you exactly what it was, just that it should never ever happen to an eight year old girl) stopped me from developing my own self respect properly. Then I went through the whole growing up thing, hit teenage years and what little self respect I had managed to regain disappeared into being a teenager.

When you’re a teenager, you are looking to be treated as an adult, but still want to act like a child. So you do some very stupid things to gain respect from your peer group.

In my case, that included getting completely and utterly blotto on red wine and throwing up in other people’s gardens on the way home, as my long suffering little sister did her best to get me home (did I ever say thank you to her for that? I can’t remember, but I’m saying it now – THANK YOU, CHRISSIE!)

You mistake the respect and tolerance that adults give each other as self respect… and in the process you lose what little self respect you actually have.

Now most people climb back out of that particular pit and redevelop their self respect. I did too, pulled myself back out, went to uni and met my fiance… then I had kids.

One of the things that they don’t warn you about having children is that if you aren’t careful, you can lose your self respect. I did. I mistook the love I had for my children as self respect and submerged myself in their needs. I forgot about my needs. There’s a fine balance between loving your children so much you give yourself over to them totally and loving them while you love and respect yourself.

In the bath, I realised that I had done the former.

It’s time to get myself and my self respect back…again.

And that revelation and realisation makes me happy. It’s going to be tough, but I’m going to do it.

Feature Friday: Inspiration Station

For a couple of weeks now, I have been using a piece of software intended to help motivation, inspiration and other aspects of everyday life.

It’s called MindBloom and I’ve actually enjoyed playing with it. For it is self improvement in the form of a Game. The official explanation is this:

Mindbloom Incorporated is a Seattle-based interactive media company that’s out to make life improvement accessible to everyone.

By harnessing next-generation engagement techniques and focusing them on personal development, Mindbloom has created a new, powerful way for people to improve the quality of their lives.

Utilizing behavioral science, personalized rich media, and fun social gaming techniques in their offerings Mindbloom makes the process of personal growth fun, simple and effective.

Mindbloom Life Game – Tour from Mindbloom on Vimeo.

They send you a daily email which reminds you of all the tasks you have scheduled and with each task you complete and mark off, you are awarded with water in the form of a cloud to keep your little tree healthy.

But trees, and lives, need more than tasks to complete. They also need sunshine in the form of inspiration and as you go through the inspirations on mindbloom, you build up a slideshow of images, quotes and music to inspire you in your daily life.

I’ve found some beautiful pictures and some awesome quotes as well as managed to inspire myself and actually start taking care of my life as well as everyone else’s.

This is my tree when I started:

I’ve added inspirations to my slideshow everyday – pictures, quotes and music of all sorts. I’ve put a few of my favourite pictures from the site into a slideshow on here for you –

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Accompanied by the music I have chosen and interspersed with the quotes that are in the slideshow, some of which are ones that I have created, the whole effect really is soothing and thoughtful.

This is my tree today:

It doesn’t look much different, but there are differences that I can feel. I am more in control of my emotions and I can relax a lot easier. Now all I have to do is get my career (not sure what it is yet) sorted out and I’ll be very much more content…