Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Summer camp

This is not something I personally have to worry about but it's that time of year and the great American summer tradition has made it across the pond to little ol' England. The camp in question is called Camp Quest. Set up in the US in 1996, this is a camp for children who don't believe in God. Now, I am a Roman Catholic but I never bring this up in normal conversation and I make a point of not discussing my views with people I meet during everyday life (this is probably some suppressed catholic guilt but that is a whole other story which we can tackle another day!). My point today is why on earth make a camp for children that is specifically made to promote atheism, which is in itself a choice to not believe in God and a choice to not have faith. Can a 7 year old child really decide that they don't want to believe in a higher power, any more than they can choose to believe that they do?

The founders of Camp Quest allege that atheists are not allowed to join Scouts or Guides. Is this true? Apart from usual camp activities, they teach the scientific beginnings of the earth and attempt to dis-prove the existence of things like unicorns to nullify the existence of God by association. Come on, throw me a bone - this is the most ridiculous thing I have seen in a long time (even more so than the green shoots of recovery!!). What is the world coming to? Just send your kids to the same camp their friends are going to. Let them sit round a fire and sing ging-gang-goolie after a day kayaking on the lake. They have plenty of time to sit round their fraternity common room arguing over existentialism and heaven/hell whilst smoking banned substances as they come of age. In the meantime, let them believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. The race is not to have the freakiest kids who know the truth about everything, it's to enjoy the fact that they are KIDS and to protect their innocence as long as you can. I find the idea of Camp Quest about as appealing as Bible Camp. Shades of grey people, shades of grey!!!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Time is like a waterfall

always flowing down,

we have but one moment,

to swim and not to drown

In response to dear Otin who always knows what is at the forefront of my thoughts, I am going to respond to his comment through this post. This weekend was the last of the Formula One races before the summer break in Hungary. It's very popular as its central location means it is easily accessible to all European fans and thus attracts a variety of F1 fans. On Saturday, the man Alonso managed to get his car on pole, thanks to a few car improvements but also a light fuel strategy. This however was marred by the tragic accident which saw a 1kg spring off a formula one car go bouncing down the track to hit Felipe Massa on the head when he was driving at racing speed. He lost consciousness and drove straight into a barrier. He was air-lifted to hospital and is now in intensive care - the latest is that he can move his arms and legs but can not speak. He is not expected to race again this season. Spookily, a week earlier, Henry Surtees (son of former F1 champion John) died after being hit in the head at racing speed by the loose wheel of a fellow F2 racer. To add to the general bad karma of the weekend, Alonso had to withdraw from the race on Sunday after a bad pit stop saw his wheel fly off in the middle of a lap.

As an Alonso fan, I am devastated that he is being suspended from the next race (which incidentally is his home race in Spain) but as an F1 fan, I am truly devastated by what has happened to Massa and hope for his speedy and full recovery. Everyone knows the sport is dangerous but so far we have been lucky with a good run without any serious accidents.

And because I can't end on something sad, here's a quick journey into the ridiculous. A group of children were made to walk backwards into the sea, arms linked and singing a song as part of a confidence building exercise. It all went rather pear shaped as the tide pulled out the sandbank from beneath their feet and the whole group of 40 were only just rescued by coast guards. The camp organiser's reponse: "Obviously we've pulled that exercise and it will never be done again"

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Riddle's diary

Harry Potter mania is alive and well here in London - everyone is crazy about Ron's swine flu episode, Hermione's latest dress and the sexual preferences of Professor Dumbledore. The longer I live, the more impressed I am at the commercial machine that is JK Rowling. Not only are the Potter chronicles an amazing work of fantasy fiction but she really knows how to keep the media interested. Those tales from Beedle the bard (?) which were sold at auction for some crazy price - a stroke of genius. Even more so now that they have been released to the general public (I'd be pretty peeved if I was one of the 6 original owners who thought the tales would not be made available to the general public!). And now, JK is telling everyone that Dumbledore is gay which of course is like a magic word to generate publicity (yes I know, amazing that it still has that effect..). Anyway, to quote from the original JK "if there must be madness, something may be said for having it on a heroic scale". Amen to that.

There's a Potter story which is based around an enchanted diary that belonged to a boy called Tom Riddle. This diary gets into the hand of an innocent child who finds solace in the responses that appear to her diary entries. As it turns out, Riddle is on the 'evil' side of the war and uses the diary to influence lonely teenagers. As I was reading it, I thought thank goodness for internet blogs! Don't think Riddle's diary would have gotten far if left unattended in a school today as everyone can blog, tweet, facebook (is this a verb now?) etc. Having said that, I honestly think I haven't heard of a chatroom grooming case for a while - not sure if this is so common now that it is no longer news-worthy or if children are becoming more savvy about information on the internet. I like to think it's the latter - knowledge is a great argument to fight the 'nanny state'.

Sunday, 19 July 2009


If we took a holiday
Took some time to celebrate
Just one day out of life
It would be, it would be so nice!
I have had a most relaxing week in a mountain top villa in the Sierra Nevada - some may say it's the traditional British summer escape, but it was truly lovely. All the wonderful sea views without having to face the crowds. There's something very calming about being so close to the sky - I think I am definitely a mountain (as opposed to sea) person. Whilst I was mildly excited by the sliver thin resurgence of the British Pound, it didn't really matter because the cost of food was so cheap. The Spanish wine that I buy in my local supermarket in London (Tesco for those that are interested) is 60% cheaper - I can infact buy the Reserva for less than I pay for the Crianza here. Between the wine, gazpacho and sea views, it's been a very liquid week!

On the Sunday, I went to a Spanish bar to watch the German Grand Prix and experienced something I never get in London - the warm embrace of fellow Fernando Alonso fans. All the warmer for its rarity. Apart from this one indulgence, I was pretty sure I would relish the isolation but I discovered I have one further addiciton. I am addicted to news. Every morning, no matter how hard I tried to distract myself, and much to the amusement of my addiction-free friends, I had to get to a newsagent and buy an English newspaper. The only newspaper that makes the daily journey to Spain is The Sun (this is the most widely circulated tabloid in the UK, read by the masses, often based on hypotheses, with dubious journalism quality but with a fair chunk of sarcasm and some genius headlines - incidently my brother works there). So, mostly I read about how swine flu is inflitrating the nation, how Jennifer Anniston has found herself another man and how Cheryl Cole is prettier than Dannii Minogue. There were little snippets that covered the Indonesia bombings which I could use to piece together the pictures on Spanish TV. What language barrier I say...

Thankfully, the heat has broken here as you all predicted. I have come back to a much milder climate complete with drizzly showers - everyone is still walking round dressed as though it is 10 degrees hotter though, which is probably adding to the swine flu statistics that The Sun continues to churn out. When I was young, I had a Korean nanny who swore on my many dead ancestors' lives that if you went to sleep with a fan on, you would not wake up in the morning. I used to think she was crazy, but I've never been able to go to sleep with the fan on. You may laugh, but this is serious folklore in Korea - like the Bogeyman, or throwing spilt salt over your shoulder, or not walking under ladders. It's known as fan death - read the wiki-link.

As an aside, an American won the British Open today at Turnberry. It was a day of despair and disappointment - firstly for Ross Fisher, the local lad, who managed a double par when he was 2 shots in the lead to rule himself out of play. However, the real tear-jerker was 59 year old Tom Watson, an old school hero, who had been leading the competition and threw it away on the final hole to lose to another American during the play off. Sport can be so cruel.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


It's hot, like horrible Far-Eastern-just-before-massive-monsoon hot.
Sticky, wet, overcast hot.
No-tan hot.

I've been working 14 hour days and I come home and it's roasting. Top floor flats with closed windows are not what one should have to come home to. Plus I can't sleep with the windows open because of a phobia I have harboured since watching To Catch A Thief - who knows what/who will climb in through your top floor window!

Anyway, all I have to eat is low fat chocolate mousse - I really don't know why I bought this. It's clearly indulgent so I may as well have gone all out. This low fat version is really hideous and completely doesn't satisfy on any level. Who drank all the emergency wine? If only my mum could see me now...

Wednesday, 1 July 2009


...the only thing keeping me going is the photo of Alonso and me which I have taken to carrying around in my handbag! Every stranger I meet gets the full story. I'm sure I will get bored of it one day... haha

Work is super busy. After graduation, as I stepped into the warm embrace of the financial Centre of Europe, I deliberately steered away from investment banking where my friends commonly stay at work until 2am and then boast that they get to take a company-paid cab home. Instead I chose to be a fund manager - something equally important sounding at all important high school reunions yet with friendlier hours. But somewhere, I think I've been conned!

We're doing a big acquisition - taking over a company that is far bigger in size than we are. Don't even get me started on the politics involved of integrating 2 separate teams - one of which is significantly higher profile and better paid. You know what they say: Change is good. But not in my back yard!!

Lots of news over the past week but it's all just passing me by without giving me a chance to make sarcastic quips. Michael Jackson, Bernard Madoff, Air France... But the one I've chosen to highlight is the story of James Amburn, a fund manager much like myself. He was tortured and held hostage by a gang of pensioners for 4 days for losing their pension money.

His excuse? "Due to market conditions, unfortunately [the money is] gone"

Damn it, that's my line!!