Blackout

“Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan,” President Barack Obama said. “We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied.”

RIP 38 lives lost in the US Chinook crash
Saturday 7th August 2011.

I had a gypsies warning that the news was going to break. I knew before the news was released. I knew it wasn’t Hagar. I didn’t have to reconcile the information and establish the facts so I was calm. Then at 10am the electrical power in my house cut out completely.

You see when you are alone, and carrying the burden of responsibility of two people, you can pretty much guarantee that you will have to face some form of calamity, with varying degrees of severity. This particular calamity had been building progressively since just before Hagar departed. The newly installed electric shower on/off button slowly ceased to function, so the only way that you could switch the shower on and off was at the wall. Then, one press too many -‘bang’ the fuse box popped and the power in certain rooms was gone. ‘Ah,’ I think, ‘yes, the shower is f*cked’.

Many men come and officially diagnose it’s f*ckedness, concurring that it is verily f*cked, but not able to rectify the problem until much later than is ideal.

In the no mans land of officially f*cked shower and living in house, the Grenade one night, on the landing, heading for a late night pee, accidentally switches the shower on instead of the loo light. In an instance the house is catapulted into an inky, pitch blackness, where you actually can’t even see the outline of your hand. (I live in a place where the is no cultural lighting – it gets proper dark.) The Grenade starts screeching like an injured wild animal because he is terrified of the dark. I scramble from the downstairs to the upstairs at a great pace to connect with him in the darkness. He promptly jumps on my head like a freaked out cat and engulfs me with vice like grip. Aunty Pat comes out of her room onto the landing and I have to negotiate even more stairs in the blackness to handover The Grenade to her so that I can seek out the torch; which is downstairs in the kitchen, to then resolve the power failure. I go down the stairs on my arse and feel my way into the kitchen, where I find the biggest, heaviest, most phallic torch in the world, which I would never buy but I am now eternally grateful that Hagar did, and then there is light.

A few days later our friends arrive, and Mrs Ladyfriend makes the same mistake, but in the hours of daylight and how we laugh at the chaos of the f*cked shower. We then head off to the pub, get verily, merrily inebriated and the next day I get the gypsies warning about the cab going down.

At 10am the power dies. Everybody runs crazily around the house, shouting ‘powercut, powercut’ accusing Mrs Ladyfriend (who is actually in the same bathroom as the shower, trying to have a hungover poo) of switching on the f*cked shower again. The Menace (aged 3) bangs angrily on the door and provides a tirade of three year old abuse.
“Did you do that to the shower again? Did you do that so that it is not working? What did you do? You turn on the shower again?” she shrieked.

I follow a few minutes later, with a similar but more articulate line of questioning, and Mrs Ladyfriend explains in no uncertain terms that she did not switch the f*cking shower on and could we please leave her to her ablutions.

This poses many dilemmas. Not in the least because we have no power; but all of the fuses are in the on position, which means that this power cut could extend beyond my own property and not be a result of the f*cked shower. I then ring the neighbours and discover they have power. Next, I ring the electricity board and explain to them that we have a power cut and could they please send an engineer out as electricity is our only source of energy. (This means we have no gas! Just in case you weren’t clear.) However, due to the quirks of the residence I need them to send a special engineer because I have a special unit – it’s a CT unit or something like that! And it requires a specialist. The electricity board duly note this and an engineer is raised. This will take an hour.

The hangover is beginning to take hold and we all need hot beverages and breakfast. I remember that we have a gas BBQ and so we get Mr Blokefriend (husband of Mrs Ladyfriend) to boil a kettle (I have a kettle that can be boiled on an Oz pig) make scramble eggs and toast on the BBQ. (BBQ is long way from house, it’s raining and it has nettles growing out from underneath it. Note to self – move BBQ nearer kitchen for future usage). It turns out Mr Blokefriend has never made scramble eggs before and says in Welsh (he is actually Welsh and not just speaking in a Welsh accent for comedy, egg making purposes), lyrical tones, “what do I do with this then? Do I just stir it?”
“Yes,” is my somewhat curt reply, married with a ‘what are you a talking about you crazy fool?’ look.

BBQ toast is very crunchy with charred bits on. The eggs were great. I discovered, under a metal flap that our BBQ has this little gas side ring on it, which I was able to use to boil the milk for the coffee. It was very handy. Later, in the day we were also able to use it for more kettle boiling. We found boiling the kettle on the griddle took ages and then I lifted the flap and there was the gas ring. Would you Adam and Eve it??!!

In the meantime, the children, 2 x theirs, and 2 x mine run around the house slowly discovering which entertainment devices are powered by electricity. It’s a revelation for them but eventually they resort to more Lord of the Flies, feral behaviour and run crazily around the garden like little mentalists.

Eventually, the electricity board engineer arrives, and of course, he is not the right one because despite my brief that they needed a special one they send a normal one. Having dismantled the kitchen to access the behemoth. He then takes one look at the meter and says ‘I am not qualified on this, you need a specialist.’
I think, ‘no shit Sherlock!’

Anyhoo, turns out there is only three of them specialists in the country. Then the negotiation begins because it’s really about who is responsible for fixing the fault – them or me. Plus I need to get the power on before darkness falls because I don’t have enough illuminating devices to get The Grenade through the night without him sitting on my head like a freaked out cat, clutching me with a vice like grip. I need a contingency that means should we have no power and the darkness falls then we need to be somewhere else. (Contingency in place – we would head to Mrs Ladyfriend and Mr Blokefriend’s house an hour and half drive away should power not be restored. Not ideal but beggars can’t be choosers in a crisis.)

The non-specialist then starts phoning around to see if he can speak with one of the three specialists to get some tips to diagnose and discover who has to pay for the repair. As you can imagine these specialists are as elusive as the Scarlett Pimpernel.

In the interim, I line up an electrician to come in and take over the baton should the electricity board determine that the responsibility is mine. During this process I learn more about the functionality of an electrical meter than I ever wanted to know. This takes literally hours. Eventually, we (and I say ‘we’ because I was instrumental in the fault diagnosis) discover the fault (someone had bridged this mahoosive fuse – biggest mother f*cking fuse you have ever seen in your life) and establish the responsibility is mine. I then step up my electrician, who is going to take another hour or so to arrive.

I write on facebook status:

A Modern Military Mother is powerless

The children at this point are now beginning to experience severe electricity withdrawal and simply cannot understand why the promised swimming trip has been cancelled, the internet, the TV, the ipad, the ipod, (not to self – must be more vigilant in charging electrical devices for child entertainment in the event of future power failures. Please note it is difficult to entertain and supervise children when resolving crises especially when Aunty Pat is away shopping in nearby city and not at home during power failure) etc, is not working, despite our very calm, lucid and rational explanations. Their world quite literally is falling apart. They cannot quite fathom why the adults are not gripping this situation and resolving the problem. (By the way, Mr Blokefriend has headed off to the local pub to watch the rugby.)

Eventually, the electrician arrives and Mrs Ladyfriend’s eldest son feels that he must take matters into his own hands to get this problem fixed. As the electrician steps into the hall he is greeted by an 8 year old’s perspective on how we find ourselves without power for such a sustained length of time. I am feeling quite jaded at this point, but after 15 minutes decide that it is time to release the electrician from the 8 year old’s version of events and gently send the 8 year old back into the jungle so that he can continue the mass genocide of the stuffed animals that is occurring on the set of The Lord of the Flies.

The electrician then proceeds to be starstruck by the awesomeness of the meter and I yet again find myself engaged in further chat about the meter and it’s wonderment. Anyway, without boring you with the detail – he does a bit of jiggery pokery and moves some fuses and the power is restored!
“Hurrah!”

Mr Blokefriend returns from the pub. Wales lost to England. He says, “the story about the crash is on the news”.

Time passes…..eventually, I catch up with my facebook. Following my status is a friend sending kisses, another says “I have been thinking of you all day’ and there are kind words and thoughts from folk who know that Hagar is Afghanistan. The electrical black out meant that I had no access to the news as it rolled out.

Today my status reads;

“yesterday’s power cut was a gift – was in news black out – like a comfort blanket. RIP those tragically killed and great vigilance to those who fly in the ghostly trails of their vortex…..but the battle continues on”

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The Truth Is We Can’t Handle The Truth

Do we want the truth or do we like to wrap ourselves up in someone else’s fantasy life? The grip of the news hacking story is dying down now and Cameron is hanging on by his finger tips.

“I did not have any inappropriate conversations” he declared to parliament – Cleverly put.
What he is really saying:
“I did have some appropriate conversations though.”

I don’t know what is the truth. But if I were to speculate, I’d say this; in my humble opinion (IMHO) – I hasten to add:

1.) Cameron brokered a deal with Murdoch for his support (IMHO)
2.) He agreed to take Andy Coulson on his team to give the Murdoch eyes and ears inside Downing St (IMHO)
3.) In return for Murdoch’s support he agreed not to oppose the BSKYB bid

But the truth is that we let this happen because we are apathetic and we want someone else to make our decisions for us. The majority feed off the salacious scandal, the muck digging and the rise and fall of those in power. We let this happen because we gorge on the junk and invest our pennies in it. We bought it – we drove it and we supported it.

A friend sent me an article recently written in The Times declaring that celebrity film interviews were vacuous and pointless because they are so heavily minded by viperous PRs. The journalist wrote this article anonymously because they feared would be blacklisted by celebrity PRs and they wouldn’t get their 10 minutes of guff. The PRs are in charge because they provide access. But maybe journalists aren’t working hard enough to stick to the truth. If the truth is so important to them they would just write what they see. Or maybe folk just want to know that all is well in Happy Ever After and we need the fantasy escapism of perfection to keep our aging inferior selves satiated. Could we handle the truth?

The thing is now I don’t feed off it unless I am in the beauty parlour being plucked and polished so to indulge in a mindless cheese-fest of the empty helps keep my mind off the torture of beauty I am enduring. I don’t invest it in myself because I am not bothered. I am barely interested but I am interested by those who are. I am surrounded by early 20 years olds at the moment – they invest it and they believe it to be real. They are bothered. They buy into it. They want to be Kate Middleton – the fairytale myth of Cinderella centuries on still permeates society and girls buy into not understanding that it’s a honey trap and will inevitably result in domestic slavery.

I just want to runaway. Live in exile, off grid, self sufficient – un-influenced and un-interrupted from a world, I can’t control and vice I can’t avoid.

The truth is that Hagar is at war doing things I don’t agree with. The truth is that many military wives are unhappy but are frightened to say the words out loud. The truth is the military want us to be all cupcake bakers and backbone but give words of thanks they don’t mean. Why am I supporting unpaid, the methods of combat, in a war, we shouldn’t even be fighting in this way?

Hagar is paid for his job – he is not a volunteer yet he has equal responsibility to parent his children and yet he is sent away for months on end. So tell me why should I carry this responsibility? Why should I support the military and the Government? Especially, when the military make up the rules as they go along to suit their own ends. They will punish me when it suits them and then use me when it suits them as well. I am at their mercy by marriage. For the record, ‘no I did not know what I was getting in to when I got married’ and ‘no, I am not used to it.’ When I say these words in other places I am subjected to a barrage of abuse about how wrong I am. But the truth is most can’t handle my truth.

Op Minimise

All quiet on the Western Front. Hagar’s epistles are sparse and in-frequent.

Hagar writes:

“Just a quick note to say if it ever goes quiet from my end, it is usually because we have to minimise (ie stop) any e-mails or phone calls from here as a result of a death. As you will have seen on the news today a UK serviceman was unfortunately killed so all comms are stopped to allow the next of kin to find out first! Anyway, please don’t worry is my point.

All is well, morale is high and looking forward to any mail coming my way! It takes around a week or so to arrive out here, depends on flights.

Anyway, happy to hear all is well in UK, apart from the rain, but hopefully the sun will come out for the whole of August!”

Meanwhile, back in Blighty, I am running around like a blue arsed fly. (I love that expression – what does it mean? Flies fly not run – anyhoo.) Thankfully, it is the school holidays so I don’t have to muster The Grenade. I am working full time on a freelance contract, actually in an office (I normally work from home) until the end of July so I am up and out before the house stirs. My aunty is staying with me to help out with the kids while I work. It’s such a luxury. I am so very lucky. She had the audacity to pop home for a few days last week and I literally thought my right arm had been removed. I even had to look after my own children!!!

There is no rest for the wicked whilst Hagar is away. The workload doubles. I am looking at the rain with horror and watching the grass grow and grow. I was wondering if I should put a notice up in the pub – to see if anyone fancied doing their bit for the war effort by coming over to mow my lawn! And ‘no’ that is not a euphemism for trim my beaver, or come around and give me a good seeing too – I ACTUALLY want someone to cut the grass!

On the whole, I don’t know how to stop. I have to keep living at 100 mph, which invariably involves consuming vast quantities of alcohol and staying up until the early hours, then digging in the next day, washing down tonnes of ibruprofen and taking the kids swimming. I have joined a club with a pool so that we can swim whenever we want. It has an outdoor pool and we can go everyday. This is my holiday. The pool is so warm that the pool temperature is often warmer than the air temperature. The kids are hardier than me they can stay for hours and hours while my lips turn blue.

Then I still have my business to run and deals to wheel. I am in the process setting up the next quarter. It is full hope and excitement with some great contracts being finalised. I can’t tell you because I would have to kill you. All will become clear in time.

All of this is played out with the backdrop of News International-gate which I am still utterly gripped by. I see people dropping off the story now but my hunger for it hasn’t changed. It is so significant – it will change the face of the next election. Will Cameron survive? Today, was a big day – the first mysterious death. The saga unravels like a Jeffrey Archer novel. I can’t wait for the film. This is as big as Nixon and Watergate, for sure.

Did I mention that my kids don’t sleep – they are never asleep before 10.30pm. Every night, even when you get them up early. It’s a constant source of endurance that you have to experience to believe. I am an insomniac too and don’t need much sleep but I am older and I need more than them. They are young versions of me sent to test me. Onwards and upwards. Sleep when you are dead. That’s what I say.

Hagar’s Day Is The Night Shift

My day:

I work mainly nights when on det, it’s the safest time of day out here. The dark is my friend so I embrace it and hopefully, it will look after me. I get up around 4:30pm. It’s still hot outside, low 40s Celcius. You can feel the heat even from inside our 2 man air conditioned room. A shave and a clean of my teeth and I am ready to get dressed into my fire proof Multi Cam combat trousers and shirt. A cotton t-shirt or flame proof long sleeved layer goes underneath, along with cotton underwear. In my right thigh pocket is an escape map, printed on silk, so it is small and yet strong, in my left, some American dollars and a morphine syrette, safely contained inside a plastic ‘coffin’ so it doesn’t auto-inject me by mistake (as has happened to some pilots in the past!). My left hip pocket contains a lip salve and mini leatherman tool, my right a small wallet with my meal card (more on that later) my various compound passes and my ID. My shirt chest pockets hold my work mobile phone and pager. Around my neck goes my dog tags and small head torch that always lives there for when I am in the dark and need to see! I wear desert socks and tough desert boots, with sole that won’t melt in a fire – I often wonder that if I am standing in a fire that is hot enough to melt the soles of my boots I won’t care if they are melt proof or not, as the rest of me will be melting anyway! On my head go my issue ESS sunglasses (going from dark to light is hard on the old peepers) and my Multi cam floppy hat with cut down rim to make it look less like a sombrero……

I walk the 5 minutes to work with some of my crews and we check in to see what’s on the cards for us work wise, sometimes busy straight away, sometimes not. If we are not busy, we have scoff, then gym, then TV, sometimes we go shopping…..

Around 7pm we go for ‘Breakfast’ ie Scoff, but that is evening meal time for most people, so we have pasta or salad or steak or burgers etc. The choice of food is pretty good, as the choice of eating establishments (around 5 at the last count – hence a meal card so we can eat anywhere). If we are busy, it is: in, eat, out, no messing – a habit I always continue for a while after I get home – speed eating (along with Det tourettes). I usually grab a triple coffee at that point with plenty of sugar, to take away, if its going to be a long night. If we are out all night flying we usually get back after it gets light, so we go from day into night into day, which is a bit of a head fuck until you get used to it. When we land, we de-brief the night and then give the aircraft back to our engineers who fix our trusty steeds, make good all the things that re broken, patch any holes the bad guys have made in them, feed and water them, and get them ready to go out to work again later that night. They are bloody good, our engineers, I like them a lot, they look after us – we need them too.

Once we have popped back into work and shut things down for the night, we usually bimble off for brekkie, sometime a full fry if its been a hard night, sometimes fruit salad, always loads to drink. In fact I seem to drink all night when I am flying, endless bottles of water passed forward to me by my crewman and I never need a piss until after I land – that’s what flying in fire proof gear, sitting in an armoured seat, wearing body armour, a frag vest and survival combat jacket, in a glass cockpit with an outside temperature of 35 degrees C at 3 in the morning, does for you. When we get back to the block, its shower and chill time for a wee while then collapse into the lower bunk of my bunk bed (the top bunk holds my junk) and with a fond look at the pics of my kids above my pillow, I fall asleep. The sleep of the tired and the damned, or maybe, just maybe, sometimes the sleep of the righteous. 14 hours per day, 7 days a week, 10 weeks.

That’s was my day. How was yours?

Help for Heroes – Father’s Day Special

(if you click on the above banner it should take you straight to the Help for Heroes shop)

Sometimes, I have these great ideas. I visualise in my head how it’s going to work out, and yet somehow, it just doesn’t play out how it was supposed to in my cotton candy, idealist, fantasies. So…… I have been talking with Help for Heroes for a while, and we thought it would be great if we could bring The Grenade and The Menace into H4H Downton HQ to check out their range of Father’s Day gift ideas so they could pick a gift for Hagar for Father’s Day. Hagar is off to the Afghan beach sometime soon, and so, I thought, I might, perhaps, buy him something from the children to mark this day of dads. To make it more of a laugh, H4H very generously agreed for Hero the bear to turn up too, to make the children’s Father’s Day present picking a veritable fun-filled treat.

Help for Heroes have taken over a business park in Downton, Wiltshire and has recently moved the majority of their staff over from their ‘Tin Hut’ origins in Tidworth. The H4H Tin Hut in Tidworth is manned by volunteers and showcases the meteoric and emotional rise of Help for Heroes. (If you are ever passing Tidworth then pop in. There is a shop there with a range of H4H’s great products to buy.) We were meeting Gaynor, the head of Trading at H4H HQ.

This was the plan: kids, Hagar and me visit H4H HQ, meet Hero the Bear, look at the Father’s Day pressies on display and kids choose Daddy a gift, whilst being delightful and engaging performing monkeys. Then I record the momentous occasion and share it on the blog with you all.

Well, it sort of worked out like that. Apart from….

The Menace fell sleep in the car so had to be awoken on arrival. She was very grumpy. The lovely comms team tried to cheer her up by bribing her with a lolly. Then she freaked out when she saw Alfred the border terrior and started squealing. Sharp exit out of comms and a quick dash across the car park we were at the hub of the H4H trading, warehousing and distribution. The trading outfit of H4H turnovers around £7 million per annum, and funds the operating costs of the charity so that all the fundraising goes directly to those who need it most. It is managed wholly out of the Downton HQ. As we made our way into the office Hero the bear, was sat in a chair with his head on her lap.

“Look mummy, Hero the Bear is a women,” squealed The Grenade. Fortunately, The Menace didn’t see the red headed young lady that was sporting the gigantic bear suit. We quietly backed out of the room ready to come again in when Hero the Bear had his head on.

As we walked in to Gaynor’s office to meet Hero the Bear, The Menace retracted herself further and further into Hagar’s shoulder and refused to play ball. I felt it was going really well so far. Gaynor’s office was an Aladdin’s cave of Father’s Day gifts from H4H i-phone covers to the great range of Hoodies for him. (I have to confess I did pick myself a Honeysuckle Pink hoody. I couldn’t resist which I spied on the way in. Ladies – I do recommend you have look at the lady hoodies – very nice with some great colours – I digress).

Before I could turn my attention to what we were buying for daddy, I was still trying to get a Santa shot of The Menace and Hero the Bear. However, this was the best I could do. (Excuse Hagar’s face – that is my rapid editing on the hoof with the anti red-eye pen. He’s serving though so it wouldn’t be right to reveal him.)

The Menace was not loving Hero at all – poor Hero 😦 In the end, we had to behead Hero to try and reassure her that it was fine really. He’s a lovely bear. The Grenade couldn’t wait to get his hands on Hero’s head.

In the end, I did manage to get a decent pic of The Grenade with Hero the Bear (after threatening to cancel his pending birthday if he didn’t sing for his supper. It’s amazing what he’ll do when this threat is issued.)

Eventually, we ushered Hagar out of the room and relieved Hero the Bear of her duties, whilst the children chose Daddy’s pressies. This involved sticking lolly over them. Noooooo! Aaargh!!

During the choosing The Grenade freezed, clenched his butt cheeks and then farted very loudly! As the stench wafted around the room, I was so embarrassed. Gaynor fortunately has a grandson, so smiled sympathetically as her lovely office is polluted by my vile child.

“What are you doing?” I exclaimed with horror.

“Ah c’mon I am your son after all, mummy,” he retorted.

“What is that supposed to mean? I don’t bottom burp in people’s offices!!” I was so appalled by his behaviour but also slightly flabbergasted by his complete lack of disregard that I realise that it really is just time to pick the pace up and get the truck out of there. This is certainly something to be dealt with elsewhere and not so publicly.

The Grenade choose a H4H water bottle and towel, which is great and just what Hagar will need when he is pumping iron at the Afghan beach, amongst his other war-fighting duties. (Clearly, I am being glib and trying to make light of it. Hagar is going to there for the 7th time. There is a war on but my philosophy is there is no use worrying about things you can’t control.)

And The Menace chose these great cufflinks, which will be the perfect acoutrement to his best mess dress.

Once the whole experience is drawing to a close The Grenade squeezed out one last bottom burp for good measure and I give him a ‘just you wait until I get you home you little bugger’ look! All I can think of is Jake from Two and a Half Men shrieking, ” I am baking air biscuits – get them while they are hot!”

Very embarrassed I quickly usher my two little non-performing monkeys out of Trading, apologising profusely to Gaynor, and head over to reception to purchase our gifts.

At reception, there are even more goodies and so I grab myself so H4H oven gloves for good measure and also to make up for the unannounced gassing of the head of Trading’s office.

It wasn’t so much of a sacrifice. Who knew? I did not know that there was so much good stuff at the H4H shop. I am surprised because I have supported the charity since the outset and I am a military wife so you think that I would be paying more attention. Father’s Day is on the 19th June – even if you think that it’s a trite, exploitation created by retailers to boost sales then at least spend your pennies with H4H and help support our sick, injured and wounded serving peeps.


https://www.shop.helpforheroes.org.uk/

Help For Heroes Needs YOU! 1st & 2nd July – Please help!

HELP FOR HEROES NEEDS YOU!

Help for Heroes are calling for volunteers to help with one of their biggest fundraising pushes yet!

During the weekend of 1st & 2nd July 2011 there is a huge opportunity for you to do your bit during nationwide collecting days at your local Tesco store, whether that be for a few hours or all day.

The volunteering days form part of the Help for Heroes One Hour for Heroes (1H4H) appeal which launched earlier this month, which everyone, from politicians, companies, sportsmen, actors, celebrities to the millions of generous and decent people across the country are giving One Hour.

Bryn Parry OBE, CEO & co-founder, Help for Heroes said: “At H4H we rely heavily on our wonderful volunteers to help keep our overheads low and ensure more money goes to the wounded servicemen and women who need it. It is our hope that the 1H4H call to action will be heard across the country become a demonstration of National support for our boys and girls as well as enabling H4H to continue to provide direct, practical support to those who have been injured.”

“We’re often asked what people can do to help and hope these two days will give our supporters a great opportunity to raise much needed money for our wounded heroes.”

If you’re interested in collecting at your local Tesco store, or to find your local store, visit the Help for Heroes website at www.helpforheroes.org.uk/tesco

For other volunteering opportunities over the coming months visit the Help for Heroes website at www.helpforheroes.org.uk

War Is A Risky Business

In three years, my direct contact with death, through war, now tolls at three.

Dong:

A young JTAC (Joint Terminal Air Controller – ie. Please drop that bomb here) I was introduced to by Hagar in the pub one night. We chatted a bit. I knew what a JTAC did because I had written about it in Immediate Response. He deployed to Afghanistan. Not long after he was killed. I was shocked by the news of his death. The instant extinguishing of life. Here today and then gone just like that.

Dong:

The journalist Rupert Hamer, from The Mirror. I had been speaking to him quite regularly up until he was embedded in Afghanistan. We were both interested in whether a peaceful resolution could be achieved. Again, his death hit me hard. I barely knew him but he struck me as journalist who was looking for more than just a story that would sell papers. He had integrity. Maybe this is hard for many in the military to fathom but I was introduced to him by a serviceman because he trusted him. I was deeply saddened by his death.

Dong:

Tim Hetherington. His death, a week today, and I still can’t quite get my head around it. I can’t imagine how his closest friends, loved ones and family are reconciling it. I feel like we have been robbed of a someone incredible. I know it was his time. It’s just that no-one was ready for him to go. War is a risky business and the business of war creates attrition. It can happen to you. We must never forget that. Everyone who knew him will mourn the loss and the gap that now exists in their lives. Death is a wound that heals but it leaves scars. His death has wounded many. For some it cuts deep and others it’s just a scratch. I will seize the creative freedom to which he aspired. We can but keep putting one foot in front of the other, and some must decide, once again, if they can walk in the Valley of Death. Unfortunately, there will always be wars for the intrepid to venture into.

Scanned from Newsweek

My last email with Tim was three weeks ago. I knew that he was going to Libya. Deep down, I knew that he wouldn’t come back. I had stopped looking. He threw himself mind, body and soul into the promotion of Restrepo. We called it Planet Restrepo – he was like a dog with a bone. I watched the short film, Diary that he made and saw a man at a crossroads. I think he should have taken a holiday after Restrepo didn’t win the Oscar and the rollercoaster had drawn to a halt. He needed a break to transition into the next phase. When I learned that he had opted to go to Libya I knew he was a war chaser. It was his crack cocaine. I stopped looking. Just like when Hagar goes to war. I can’t look. Hagar deploys again soon. I hate war. I hate guns, weapons, bombs and destruction. But men need war. Rest in peace Tim. Be vigilant Hagar. To all of you war chasers, in the war business, regardless of how I personally feel, your work is valued and you are loved. Tread lightly.

But onwards and upwards. I can’t hide anymore. Life goes on and we must keep pushing forward while we still breathe.

I am in France opening up our French House – we still have weeks available if you fancy a holiday in France this summer:

Le Petit Pre

Plus I have been invited back to be a Toys R Us Toyologist so more toy reviews, competitions and giveaways coming this summer.

Welcome to Review-land, a new place on the blog where I shall be reviewing all the products that PRs send me. Look out for the latest reviews on the right side of the blog – I have just uploaded some film reviews for your delectation.