Appetite for Adventure

I've been listening to music today, an old favourite Guns N' Roses and it reminded me as music often does of times gone by :0).

I think I Appetite for Destruction came out in 1987 when I was about 13 years old. I didn't buy it straight a way, at that time I was drowning in a musical waste land. I hadn't found the sound track to my life and really just listened to whatever was on the radio or played by other people.

The album release went unnoticed in my world but about a year later they released Sweet Child of Mine which made it into the UK single charts. I loved it but there was no chance of it getting air time on TV, top of the pops - heavy metal/rock no way. It was played during the charts but even then they cut it short so I decided to buy it. I went to the local shops one weekend but they didn't have the single just the album and I couldn't afford that. So I saved my pocket money and on the first day I had enough I nipped out of school at lunch time and headed for the nearest Woolworths. When I got there they only had vinyl, no cassettes left. I didn't have a record player but I bought it anyway. After school I made an extremely rare trip to my Dad's house so that I could copy the album onto cassette. And then I had it Appetite for Destruction!

At first some of the tracks were a bit heavy for a metal novice but after a few plays I loved the album. I played it so much I'm surprised it didn't wear out. The album was life changing, it was the first time I'd liked something away from the main stream and it made me realise there was so much more out in the world.

A couple of years later Guns N' Roses announced a world tour that included a stop in London to play at Wembley Stadium. I knew I had to go to that concert, I just had no idea how I was going to do it. The tickets were going on sale in March 1991, I was 15 and the concert was over 300 miles away.

By that time I had friends with similar taste in music and they wanted to go too. You would think the fact that the father of one of my friends wanted to go and said he would take us would have made this simple. Sadly not because the adult in question was a bit of a stoner to say the least and my Dad knew him. However, I started my campaign early and by the time tickets went on sale I had negotiated permission to go.

Finally the day arrived, 31st August 2001. I was up early to get a lift to the bus station to get the bus to London. I was so excited it was like every Christmas rolled together. I met my friends and the token adult and we boarded the bus. The journey seemed to take forever, I think it was the furthest I had travelled from home and it was without my parents. The excitement built as we got closer. ? thought I would explode, then finally finally we could see the white domes of Wembley Stadium (the old one) and we were there.

It was like nothing I had even seen before, the stadium was massive and the people! Thousands and thousands (76,000 in fact) of men and women dressed in black jeans, black T-shirts, leather jackets and DMs. It was like a uniform really. The atmosphere was electric, the excitement was almost unbearable for me. The decision of which tour T-shirt to buy was way harder than the GCSE exams I'd sat a few months earlier.

My friends and I instantly lost the adult and headed across the covered field to get a good position, we were pretty close to the front when we sat down and waited. It probably wasn't long but it felt like an eternity until finally the first warm up act came on stage. Nine Inch Nails, I guess they were OK but I didn't really know their stuff and they weren't important to me!

After that there was a second warm up act and one that I had been waiting for, Skid Row. I had such a crush on the singer Sebastian Bach, my room at the time was plastered with pictures of him. They were fantastic, pure raw energy, and Seb's voice was just great.

I'm pretty sure this was their set and through the power of You Tube you can have a look at some of the show:
Slave to the Grind
Big Guns
Piece of Me
Riot Act
18 & Life
Psycho Love
Seb's Rant
Get the Fuck Out
Monkey Business
I Remember You

I can hardly believe it now but I'm somewhere in that crowd, near the front, slightly to the left of the centre I will be jumping up and down yelling out the words to every song. One thing I remember is how good the crowd was, they were totally different to the crowds I've experienced more recently. I guess we were three girls in our early teens so maybe people looked out for us, I don't know.

After Skid Row there was a long long gap, I'm pretty sure Guns N' Roses were late. The crowd were getting pretty impatient and I remember there were a few surges were you just had to go with it. I didn't know enough to be scared and I think that the guys behind us made a big effort not to push too suddenly.

Finally after so so long they were on stage but here's were it got a bit disappointing. I knew every word, every note of Appetite and Lies, I could still tell you them now, here's the play list:

Perfect Crime
Mr. Brownstone
Bad Obsession
Welcome To The Jungle
Live And Let Die
Dust N' Bones
Double Talkin' Jive
Civil War
I Was Only Joking [Intro] / Patience
You Could Be Mine
November Rain
Drum Solo
Guitar Solo
Godfather Theme
Sail Away Sweet Sister / Bad Time [Intro] / Sweet Child O' Mine
14 Years
My Michelle
Only Women Bleed [Intro] / Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Paradise City

The concert was on 31 August 1991 and the Use Your Illusions albums were released on 17 September 1991. I guess you can see the problem. Over half the songs they played had never been heard before. They were still fantastic, but no way could the great Guns N' Roses live up to the power of the Skid Row's performance with songs I'd never heard.

New songs aside they were good. We managed to weave our way right up to the front and I have the privilege of knowing that at the age of 16 I was pulled out of the front of a Guns N' Roses concert, I think during Nightrain. After that we actually went and sat down for the rest of the set. It was hot and we had been pretty crushed near the front. The final song was Paradise city and that was everything it was supposed to be. It's an experience I'll never forget although it's all a bit blurred now.

Then just the long trip home, we arrived back at the bus station much earlier than expected. In the days before mobile phones and not wanting to wander the city in the early hours to find a phone we sat on the floor in the station and waited until my mum came to collect us. The "responsible" adult was lost, assume he got a different bus.

So that was it, my first big adventure without supervision. My first concert and what a way to start!

This city she loves me!

Sometimes I feel like I don't have a partner
Sometimes I feel like my only friend
Is the city I live in, the city of angels
Lonely as I am, together we cry

I drive on her streets 'cause she's my companion
I walk through her hills 'cause she knows who I am
She sees my good deeds and she kisses the windy
Well, I never worry, now that is a lie

The Red Hot Chill Peppers song Under the Bridge, love it. One reason I like it so much is that I feel like this about Edinburgh. It's not my original home town but it's my home. I've had some bad times since I moved here, but I've changed and learned a lot, you could say I've grown up. It is here in Scotland that I have become a person that I like a lot.

I used to drive around Edinburgh late at night after the clubs closed and it felt like it was my city, "She's my companion". I actually get annoyed with the other drivers during the day, "get off my streets".

When I was having bad times there were some places that I would go to be by myself and think. "I walk through her hills," Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh is one of my favourite places. A hill curled like a dragon in the middle of a city, you can climb to the top and just watch city life. It is the perfect place to go to think.

"Lonely as I am, together we cry." When I'm upset and stressed I generally drive to the beach and watch the sea. As this is Scotland there is a good chance of grey skies and rain so it often matches my mood. There is a bit of river bank / beach where I take my dogs all year, again in the summer I find it hard to share my beach with others. The dogs love it there, perfect for a swim, shame about the people wearing white trousers.

The other place in Edinburgh that I love is the Pentland Hills they form the southern border of the city, there you can feel like there is no one else in the world. So peaceful but just 10 minutes from my city.

I love Scotland and Edinburgh "cause she knows who I am".

I'll tell you about the invasion that is the Edinburgh Festival some other time!

10 reasons why I love my dogs!

Inspired to write a list by Scappychick so here it is:

10 reasons I love my dogs:

1) I get the biggest welcome when I get home with hugs and happy wagging tails.
2) They give the best puppy hugs
3) They take me out for great walks in the hills and at the beach
4) They are always happy, it's sort of contagious
5) They make me laugh with their silly games like pull your sisters ear or pounce and roll
6) They don't mind too much if I can't give them all my attention but are always there when I can.
7) They sit on the window sill and protect the house from anything that comes close, crisp packets, flower pots, next doors cat whatever.
8) We make new friends where ever we go
9) They are always there when you need them. Great listeners and don't mind if you cry into their fur.
10) They are cute and cuddly, loyal, faithful and phenomenal

Awards for me!

A strange thing happened this weekend, my blog got two awards. So to start an acceptance speech:

Unaccoustomed as I am to public speaking I would just like to say a few words. No, OK then on to the awards. I'm new to this so bear with me:

Award 1, my first award:

Mikey from the Psyche of Mikey has nominated me for the Creative Writer blogger award. Me creative why thank you Mikey.

So this was a surprise, I'm new to the world of blog and wasn't really aware of bloggy awards. So its really nice to discover them by actually getting one. So thank you Mikey again and now on to the award fun:

I have to tell up to 6 truths and at least 1 lie. I guess this is to show you all how creative I am. So here goes:

1)I used to date an olympic boxer
2)I have a collection of elephant teapots
3)I have my own speed boat
4)Mr Midnite is a male stripper
5)I sound like a lumberjack when I play tennis
6)I buy too many candles that I never light
7)I drive a sports car

If you're not sure just stick around, I'm sure it will all come out in the blogging.

Next I need to nominate 7 other blogs, so:

Plenty more fish out of water
Stranger in a strange town
So Long and Thanks for all the fish

The crusades of a critic
Sing a little tune to me

Think thats me done for my first award. So onwards to:

Award 2:
Amber has not only educated me in the craft of scrap booking but she has also nominated me for an award. So head on over and check out Amber' blog

So now I just need to answer some questions and nominate 5 more blogs for this award. This is all pretty hard work for a Sunday:

1. What do you do when you're bored? I dance with the devil in the pale moonlight. Well OK really I take my dogs out for a walk, it always makes me feel good. If they have been walked and boredom arrives I read, write or annoy my friends.
2. Are you an Autumn or a Spring? I like both, I love spring because everything is new and the trees outside my window get pretty blossom, it means that lighter nights are on the way. Autumn is when my trees turn orange and then I can see the hills behind Edinburgh, its a great view. I like crisp, cold autumn walks. Think spring has the edge today.
3. Quick! You're stuck at an airport for hours, and the only options are crossword puzzles, or an old novel nobody's ever heard of. Which do you pick? The novel.
4. Jane Austen or Emily Bronte? Heathcliff it's me your Cathy I've come home! Actually of the 3 Bronte sister's Emily wouldn't be my favourite. Jane Austen would be my choice of the two.
5. Do you feel prepared for the five other questions coming your way? Not at all I haven't revised or anything!
6. Who’s your hero? Hard hard question. I really have no idea, possibly me. Can I be my own hero? Or my Gran she was the strongest person I have known.
7. Favorite word? Just one? Lily
8. Are you one of those “checklist” people, or are you a “wing it and hope everything goes well” sort of person? A checklist person by nature and as a job but I can just wing it sometimes.
9. What phrase has stuck with you in your life? Don't know, these are hard questions. Probably patience is a virtue.
10. If you were to choose between coffee and tea . . . which would you go with? Tea, I'm a little teapot, Tall and Curvy!

And here are my 5 blogs:
Benchmark 60
Meaningful Meaderings from a mad mother
The author is unknown
The psyche of mikey
Mentally Hilarious

So if I've nominated you please join in and tell some lies or answer some questions and nominate some more blogs.

Eyes Wide Open!

When I hear Faithless Insomnia I just need to close my eyes and I am back at that rave. 1996 and I was 18 years old. I have seen them loads of times since but that is the one I will always remember.

We planned it for months, buying the tickets, planning the route, picking the driver and most importantly getting the drugs! There were five of us going, squeezing into a Ford Fiesta and driving that ancient car 300 miles to Manchester.

There was me, the baby of the group. Not even the youngest but most definitely the baby. Everyone always had to look after me, maybe because I had this weird innocence like the whole world was new to me. A fortune teller at one festival said I was a new soul and that I had a lot to learn. My response “if you can’t go crazy and fuck it all up when you’re new when can ya?”

Next my best friend Nicky, she was a party animal and so far from new it scared me. I had known her forever and she was always the first one to try anything new, light years ahead of me but only a step ahead of most people.

Then there were the boys, Nicky’s current boyfriend Watta. Oh my god, that man was gorgeous. Add to that he somehow always managed to find the best designer gear allegedly at some market stall and he was just perfect. Then there were Scotty and Macca two of the most fucked up guys I ever met, but they were funny. I never laughed so much as when I hung round with them.

Following our strict rules on partying meant that one of us, Scotty, was babysitting. This was a system set up by us to ensure we were safe. We took turns to not drink or take anything so that someone had their head straight in case anything went wrong and in this case so that we had a driver. Good theory right? Well not really because we were all unreliable and there was a good chance the babysitter took something just to help them stay awake, I know I did when it was my turn.

So there we were first thing in the morning, that’s half past four in the afternoon to me and my mates heading off in the Fiesta......................................

“Iwant to sit in front, I’m not sitting in back with those two snogging all the way”
“No way babygirl, I’m sitting up front with Scotty so I can DJ, we’re not listening to your Take That tapes. Anyway you might learn something watching Nicky’s moves!”

Not fair I think stuck in the back with them but someone has just opened a bottle of poppers and it doesn’t seem that bad anymore. I’m listening to Macca telling Scotty about some girl he met last night, takes him about an hour to reveal that nothing happened. And of course Scotty has a story, top secret it can go no further:

“You know little Doug?” he starts knowing we all do. “He was out down town last weekend and he’s in this bar and this hot woman comes over to him and says he can buy her a drink. He goes for it and she orders a cocktail. They’re both sitting on bar stools and she has slipped her shoe off and is rubbing his crotch with her foot. Dougie’s turned on in about 2 seconds. They sit talking for a while then she says he can take her back to her place if he wants. Doug can’t believe his luck, this is a real sexy woman and older so probably knows some stuff. He leaves the bar and doesn’t notice that all the other guys are cracking up. Dougie told me the story while we were playing pool the other night. He pays for a taxi back to this woman’s flat and all the time she is touching him and stoking him, hand right in his pants in the cab.

The flat was one of these new blocks with private parking and security. They go in and the flat is unbelievable. She gets him some beer and they take some coke. It’s all going really great and I’m sure she sucked him off but he didn’t admit that. There’re in the bedroom and she takes her dress off, Dougie says the light wasn’t good but she had a fantastic body. He is pressed up against her, kissing her and starts to slide his hand into her knickers and finds that she has a dick. It’s a guy! Dougie says he was out of the flat in a second, left his shoes and had to walk a couple of miles barefoot before he gets a taxi. He thinks no one else knows she was a guy so he’s gonna tell them it was fucking fantastic. Didn’t have the heart to tell him that Scullie paid the guy 50 quid to set him up!”

I’m laughing so hard it hurts but inside I’m thinking would they do something like that to me just for a laugh?

“We’re stopping at the next services.” I hop out to use the toilet check my make-up. I know its going to slide off my face as soon as I start dancing but have to look good to get past security. We all grab some food and stretch, gives Nicky’s tongue a change to talk instead of check for cavities in Watta’s teeth!

Now we’re back in the car and we’re racing down the motorway, doing about 55 because any faster and the car feels like it’s going to break-up. Macca and Scotty start arguing about something, I missed the point. Macca starts to get really wound up and I’m getting scared. Scotty just stops it with: “I’m the left eye, you’re the right, would it not be madness to fight?” Macca laughs and comes back with “We come one”. I love these guys.

“This is it, we’re here” and we are. It takes ages to find a parking space and then we are all taking pills. Well everyone except me and Scotty., I’m not allowed, “you don’t try new things away from home” so I have to stick to speed. You have to time it just right so that you don’t look high when you’re going in. Then we’re walking to the field. There is one giant tent in the centre and loads of tents and stalls round the outside. It’s about 10 o’clock and the place is bouncing. I hand over my ticket my heart racing; it can’t be the speed yet must just be nerves and excitement. The security guy seems to be staring at me but he doesn’t stop me and I’m in.

The guys are laughing at me because already I’ve got my big frightened bunny look. Nicky sticks up for me, “she’s not scared she’s just trying to take everything in a once, that’s why her eyes are wide open!” There is so much going on, people everywhere. You’ve got your proper hippy travellers with their baggy clothes and dreadlocks right though to Watta types with their designer gear. They would be worrying about mud if they had there heads with them. There are stalls selling glow sticks, handmade jewellery, food, and drinks. There are lights and noise from everywhere and the smell, it’s nearly indescribable – grass, food, smoke, poppers and people mixed together. There is nothing like it in the world, the place attacks all your senses at once and it almost hurts.

There is music coming from the main tent but we need to leave that for a while. We walk around and watch the sideshows. There is a fire-eater, always my favourite and we stop there for a while. I can’t keep my eyes off the flames, the way they leave tracks in the darkening light as the guy spins them around his head before swallowing the fire. It is as if he is swallowing the sun as it sets in the background. I could stay here all night but there is so much more to see.

A girl stops us by grabbing mine and Nicky’s hands. Nicky tries to pull away but I just go with it. The girl says to Nicky “you have an amazing ability to make people feel comfortable, it will take you far in life, don’t waste it!” Then she looks me right in the eye and says “you will betray a friendship but don’t feel guilty it was always meant to be that way!” We run after the guys laughing “you just attract these psychic types everywhere you go don’t you”, I just laugh because it’s true they always have something to say to me. I guess it’s because I have my eyes and my mind wide open.

Finally we head for the main tent. Everything in there is even more intense than outside, the smell is stronger and the music louder. The lights are amazing with laser shows on the walls and big screens showing animations. I stop to watch one of the screens for a while. I don’t realise how long I have been just staring until Watta takes my arm and hands my a bottle of water. He smiles down at me and asks “are you OK babygirl?” I just nod because my heart is racing, he is so close to me and the look in his eyes is making my heart pound so hard I think it is going to break through my chest. He looks at my lips and I know he is going to kiss me. But then he looks back into my eyes and I feel like I’m falling into the blue. He says so quietly “you’re just perfect” and then he does kiss me. It feels like nothing I have ever felt before, the music, the lights, the smell and his lips soft but insistent pressing on mine. It feels like it lasts forever but it probably was only a minute or two.

We break apart and the first thing I see is Nicky standing behind him. I put my hand up to my mouth and turn and run. She catches me easily and just looks at my face for a second before hugging me and saying “how could he not want you?” I look at her totally confused “you’re not angry?” “No, I always knew he liked you from the first time he saw you. I was just having some fun with him while I waited for him to realise what he really wanted.” I think at that moment that ecstasy is the best invention ever!

We go back to the others and just then Faithless come on stage. The opening bars of Insomnia fill the air and I feel the excitement growing as the sound builds. I look at my friends and I love them. We are all dancing now as the beat builds up and then that baseline kicks in and the crowd is going crazy. Finally he is there, Maxi Jazz, the worlds only Buddhist rapper. He starts to rap and I feel my soul lift. They are fantastic, I believe “God is a DJ” and if he is this is my church! They end with “We come one” and we are shouting ONE back at them with our arms round each other. I have never felt so good.

So that was it, our adventure was over. And as I said whenever I hear Insomnia I’m there. It fills me with memories, I can almost feel the heat, hear the sounds and smell that smell. The emotions are mixed now because of everything that has happened since then. I look back at the child I still was in so many ways and think how stupid we we’re. We had no idea what we were doing. I have really fond memories of that night but it is mixed with sadness now.

After that night Watta and I stayed together for a couple of years and then saw each other off and on for a while after that. I stopped calling him Watta and used his real name, Ian. He was the man I finally lost my virginity to when I caught up to the rest of the world. We never really broke up, I moved away when I got my first job and the distance meant we drifted apart. For a long time we just picked up where we had left off when ever we saw each other. He never stopped taking the drugs and gradually he just got worse and worse. The perfect man that I fell for when I first met him disappeared and this shell of nothing was left behind. He died of an overdose when I was 25. I saw him not long before and it has left a pain in me that will never leave. No one could help him, but I just wish I could have done something to take his pain away.

The others well they are just fantastic. We don’t see each other much but when we do its like going home.

Nicky didn’t waste her ability to make people feel comfortable. She is a doctor in a kids hospital and I told and believe that she is amazing.

Macca and Scotty, well how we didn’t realise at the time! They are still together, had a lovely wedding just as soon as it was legal and now live happily with their dog, Petal. “So we can say settle petal!”

And me I’m learning a lot everyday. I’m still a young soul and everything around amazes me. I’m fascinated by everything and everybody. Nosey people call me, but I just want to take in everything. It really is like I’m seeing it all for the first time.

Oh and Faithless, in case you don’t know they are still going strong. And I still love them, their greatest hits album is my most played cd ever.

Friday, Blade and Dancing

Hello weekend,

Thank you for coming around again I welcome you. You are loved and appreciated.

To celebrate your much anticipated arrival lets watch the first 15 minutes of Blade (best movie scene ever) and then go dancing.

Oh and weekend, if you could see you way to being hot, sunny and perhaps lasting 3 days I would be eternally grateful. You'll do your best I'm sure.

OK lets dance!

The good news and the bad news

The bad news first to get it out of the way, Sasha is having an extremely bad hair day today :0)

And the good news is that I got a pay rise, woo hoo!

Sometimes at work I get a bit worried because I have created myself a work life balance that is weighted in favour of my life.

I had a bad time a few years ago and decided then that I had to put myself first. I like my job most days, sometimes love it (occasionally hate it) but it isn't my whole life. It is easy to get caught up in the culture of working extra hours for no extra pay. Taking work home and logging on to e-mails at weekends are all common practice for a lot of people. Then of course we are all the proud owners of blackberry's so that we can work 24/7. There are people I work with who start early, finish late and do some extra from home. Crazy!

I made the decision nearly 2 years ago to stop the overtime. I work my hours, I try to get everything done in that time but if I can't I go home and forget about it until the next day. I will stay for an emergency or a one off meeting but not to just get through my workload. I also don't check my e-mails or my blackberry from home, holidays and weekends are my time. Again I will make an exception, if there is something urgent that will arrive out of hours I will check but not routinely.

When I made the decision to work like this I did suspect that I was limiting my chances for promotion. I thought that the people who practically sleep at their desks would have the edge over me. I know that no company would say it publicly but I just assumed that my attitude would be against me. I am good at my job and I work hard most of the time but I thought going home and not doing the extra would be viewed as not putting in the required effort.

It looks like I was wrong!

Last year I got promoted, one of only two people to go up. I did deserve it and was very pleased. I wasn't the longest serving person in my position so it wasn't a case of next in line to go up, I leaped 3 people who had been their longer.

Then this pay rise, totally unexpected. We were told there was no standard rate of inflation pay rises this year due to the economic situation. The director told me that he only had a small amount and decided to give it to those who deserved it based on their achievements. Only 4 out of 16 got anything. Guess I'm doing something right!

I think that my attitude towards work is right, you need the balance. If you don't have your own time then stress at work takes over your life. Plus if you are working all the extra hours what happens if there is an emergency? Do you give up sleep? I know I'm right, my work is better now than it was when I stayed late, I'm more focused and I'm better at deciding on priorities.

I'm just surprised that the company has recognised Quality over Quantity!

Alligator Dreaming

As I might have mentioned before most of my dreams have a least a guest appearance from an a
Alligator. I won’t bore you with the details but the dream I had on Friday night had the obligatory gators.

Ok then, if you insist I will bore you:

This is your Life:

There was a TV program when I was young called This Is Your Life. Basically you find a famous person who isn’t busy and he or she sits in the studio while the host drags in people from their past. Filled with lots of sentimental crap it always sort of went:
“You haven’t seen him for 30 years, here is Mr Smith your high school maths teacher”.

So I’m snuggled up in my well posh bed knocking out the z’eds and along comes my torturous version of this is your life.

“You haven’t seen her since she held your head under water until you were sick, she is the reason you were scared of water for most of your childhood, here she is Mrs ****”

“All the way from their job in Macdonald’s especially to be here tonight here is the girl who bullied you at school because you had a funny accent, yes you guessed it, it’s ******”

“You thought you would never see her again but we got permission from the prison governor. Here she is the girl you thought was your friend until she went psychotic, tried to glass you and threatened to burn down your house. It’s your worst friendship mistake ever *****”

And then the grand finale. “You have seen them in your dreams for the last few years but tonight we have made special arrangements to bring them here to the studio. You have never met them in person before, it’s the dream Alligators.”

And out on to stage come a set of alligators. One normal in his gatorness just kind of waddled along looking mean. The other had made a big effort and dressed for the occasion in a smart suit.

I have a feeling my subconscious hates me!

I checked out alligators in the web dream interpretation sites, it’s not good:

Alligators most always symbolize a problem! To kill or conquer one means you have overcome a problem. To be surrounded by one means you have to choose one bad thing to get out of a lot of bad things. (any way you run you will encounter at least one). To be eaten or killed by an alligator means the problem that is haunting you is likely to do you harm if not cured. To have a pet alligator symbolizes great control over one's problems.

I'm not sure that I have dreamt about a pet alligator but in one dream I was wearing alligators as shoes, I hope that means I'm walking all over my problems!

Voyage of the Cavalier or Have we broken Evolution?

Reading another blog (Thanks Leroy) reminded me of a discussion I had a while ago with Mr Midnite on Evolution.

Natural selection (survival of the fittest) describes how genetic variations within a population can lead to change (evolution). By chance some have a variation that leads to them being better suited to their environment so they survive and thrive better than others. Individuals that survive and go on to reproduce may pass these helpful characteristics to their offspring.

So say you took a population of a species and split them across two environments, dessert and swamp. If you could come back thousands of years later you should find that the changes that have allowed survival in each location are different. The descendants in the two locations would look different. For example the swamp dwellers could have developed webbed feet to help swimming. The dessert animals could have changed colour to give better camouflage from predators.

When it comes to humans we, Homo sapiens, are currently the only species in the homo genus. It looks like we evolved from the great apes into animals that used tools and spent more time walking rather than climbing. It is thought that we evolved from apes to:

Homo Habilis (nicknamed handy man) who had smaller molars, bigger brains compared to a great ape and used basic tools

Homo erectus, you guessed it he walked upright. Changes to the knees and skull (foramen magnum) were required to allow this and Mr H. Erectus did it. He may also have used fire!

Then around 250,000 years ago Homo sapiens arrived, they are characterised by greater skull expansion and ability to use more complex tools.

In my mind evolution goes
Miss H. Habilis – “oooh he tall and has bone tool, me love him, me want his hairy babies”
Mr H. Erectus – “Me tall man, me spread tall seed to hairy ladies”
And a few years later
Miss H. Erectus – “Oooh he tall, straight and has big head, he control fire and make good food. Me love him, me want his big head babies”
Mr H. Sapiens – “ Hairy lady, me like”
Research suggests that our DNA is more alike between individuals than in other species. There are some distinctive genetic characteristics caused by environmental factors, these include skin colour, nose shape and invisible changes like ability to breathe better at high altitude but generally we are all pretty similar.

So what now for evolution of man? Searching the web there is lots of evidence that human evolution is going at high speed while other evidence claims it has ground to a halt.

I happen to think we have broken evolution because we have stopped natural selection in the way Darwin saw it:
• Evolution is driven by natural selection and genetic mutation, the mutations not suited to the environment don’t survive. But in today’s world the majority of human offspring survive long enough to reproduce. Infant mortality is lower than ever and medical advancements mean that children who wouldn’t have survived 20 to 30 years ago now live into adulthood.
• In recent history (hundreds rather than thousands of years ago) the powerful and successful men would have many legitimate and illegitimate children. Now well I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think (with no evidence to support it) that powerful and successful people have less children.
• Evolution seems to like isolated populations; these populations are more inclined towards random change. The world has become so connected that changes of random change are now very low. Also inbreeding is less likely by either mistake or intention. In fact we are much more likely now to get together with someone from a different ethnic group creating diversity but not powering evolution.

So natural selection has lost a lot of its power. Maybe man as we know him today is the same as man will be in thousands of years.

But perhaps natural selection is working in a different way. Survival of the fittest isn’t exactly the right way to describe natural selection because the fittest are not always the best adaptation for the environment. Examples I have spotted in my browsing include Neanderthal woman who could have kicked Terminators ass (sorry Arnie) and prehistoric Australian Aborigines who it is thought could easily take the modern 100M record.

People who reproduce most will determine the next steps in evolution because it is their genes, mutations and all that will be passed on the most. So who in our society reproduces most?
• It’s not your skinny size 0 models that the media flaunt before us as perfection. Low body fat prevents ovulation so they are much less likely to reproduce. Plus baby weight, stretch marks, I think not.
• What about the role models in our society? World leaders, actors, sports stars, pop stars? Well it looks like most will have a kid or two but there seems to be a new hobby to adopt one of each colour, “gotta catch em all” as they say.
• Industrial leaders, top business men and women, CEOs, Innovators etc? Most will have put their career first so probably looking at low birth rate here too.
• So what does that leave? The Jerry Springer section of society? You know the ones, you see them on Jerry’s show, Tricia, Maury etc. It usually goes something like “I know he’s my babies daddy, I ain’t never been with anyone else, see the baby looks like him, it’s his nose innit” closely followed by the proclamation “you are not the father”. I think we have a winner.

Yes they are reproducing, surviving and thriving. Physically the women are fertile, not too thin, not too fat. They are perfectly adapted for their environment but there is scope for evolution. I’m thinking of an increase in the ability to scream obscenities, better developed thumbs for game play and perhaps better vision and hearing for picking up the gossip.

Guess I’ll just have to pop back in 50,000 years and see what everyone looks like then.

Flat Watching

There is a flat across from mine that has me fascinated.

I have lived here almost seven years. I walk my dogs in and out of the door opposite this flat at least five times a day. I quite often notice the flat when I open and close my curtains and have diverted some walks to see whats at the other side.

What I here you ask is so interesting? Is there a hunky man posing in the window? No nothing that exciting.

In seven years I have never seen a light on, the blinds have never opened or changed position and the windows never open.

I started thinking it was an empty flat but seven years? Why would the owner not just sell it or at least rent it out and make some money.

I wondered if it was someone who works nights permanently but I think by now I would have seen a light. We have days when it never gets light and with the blinds permanently closed they would have to put lights on some time.

I started thinking that someone has died in there and that I will get home one day to find police investigating a mummified body that has been there longer than I've lived here. Macabre?

Then I'm wondering vampires, could it be?

It just seems odd. It bugs me. I want to know who lives there or owns it but doesn't use it. It doesn't matter or make any difference to my life but I still want to know.

Love CSI but........

............. they have to tell us where they get their mass spec.

It runs samples in 30 seconds. It gives them every bit of information. Yes the paint is Ford moonlight blue from a 1997 Ford Fiesta made in Oxford but sold in Devon.

Our mass spec gives us the molecular weight. Is it broken? Or do CSI have a better model?

Glee - don't get it!

Everyone over in the UK seems to be raving about Glee. It's alright but it's not the best thing ever. There are some funny one liners and I like the music but I don't get why it is getting the reception its getting. Anyway for all those Glee-ers out there who might have missed it here is my favourite, most politically incorrect Sue Cs It:

Disclaimer - the opinions expressed by Sue Sylvestor are not those of Mrs Midnite!

Made me think about humanity

A while ago I got an e-mail from a friend that I found very distressing. It was requesting that I sign a petition, maybe you have already seen it but basically it is highlighting an artist (and I use the term in its loosest form) Guillermo Vargas Habacuc. He allegedly captured a stray dog on the streets and used it as an exhibit in a museum in Nicaragua. The dog was tied up and allowed to starve to death as an exhibit. There are pictures on the net if you care to search under the artists name and there is also the petition trying to stop him doing this or something similar / worse in the future)

The artist seems to have a number of changeable reasons for this exhibit. One was to highlight that strays starve to death on the streets everyday. But that is significantly different from watching one starve and doing nothing. On the streets dogs have a chance to find their own food which was taken from this animal. It is also not placed right in front of our eyes where we can see it and make a choice to act or watch.

This artist is obviously a cruel and disgusting man but he is not the only person at fault here. How many people stood by and allowed the dog to die? Off the top of my head there are the museum management who allowed the exhibit, the staff who must have seen the dog everyday (curators, security, tour guides, cleaners etc). Finally there were all the people who visited the museum and saw the dog suffering. Not one person stopped this from happening. Everyone I have mentioned this to thinks they would have done something, but no one stopped this animal’s suffering.

Did everyone there expect someone else to stand up and stop the cruelty? Did they go home and justify it in their minds saying that it couldn’t be real and the museum would feed the dog at night. Did the museum staff think it is not my responsibility the boss should stop it?

This is how humanity allows atrocities to happen. Everyone waits for someone else to say something first. We all like to believe we would be the person to stand up for the innocent but how many people really do? I want to believe that I would!

Never talk about ...........

Religion or politics! I don't expect this to happen often but:

its only a few hours until the polls open in the UK general election.

Maybe it's because I'm getting older but to me this is the most talked about election in my memory. The surprising thing was that in an unofficial poll in my office today 6 out of 6 hadn't decided who to vote for. Wondering from this how accurate the "too close to call" opinion poles can be.

Or maybe it was more to do with the respondents to our poll. As a group of educated professional 30 somethings we are looking at the issues and trying to make a decision on the party that matches our beliefs. We aren't just voting for the party we have always voted for because our parents voted for them before us. We're not voting for the man who makes the best first impression but on the plans for the next 4 to 5 years.

So how come none of us have reached a decision? Maybe this is actually a reflection of the whole UK, after all the polls are predicting a hung parliment.

My problem, as the mighty Chris Rock puts it, is that I am liberal about some things and conservative about some things.

In previous elections I have voted for my local MP because he did a lot for my local area, but he isn't standing. While I agree with his party on a lot of things there are one or two things I disagree with strongly so I'm not sure I can vote for them this time?

The current government, well I just don't know what to say. They are supposed to be for the working classes and yet many of their policies have made the poorest in our society worse off. I've never voted for them but I still expected better. An American colleague recently asked how we can have a PM that no one voted for, well our system works differently but point taken it seems crazy. I don't think they have handled the credit crunch as well as they could have and the expenses thing! I just don't trust them. As someone who at 18 had only really know one government I was excited when this goverment came in expecting changes for the better but right now I don't see them

The main contender? Well in Scotland we just don't do that. They only have one constituency in Scotland. I think their last government has left scars that won't heal for a long time in Scotland and the North of England. The current party could be different and the main man seems genuine and has a sense of humour but fear based on past experience is against them. I agree with a lot of what they are saying but again there are one or two things I don't like.

The Scottish party I have only one problem with, I don't think Scotland should be totally independant. I agree there are areas where making our own decisions and setting our own targets is a good idea but total independence, no I'm not convinced.

So what will I do tomorrow? Eeany, meany, miney mo? Or decide which parties bad points bother me least? Decisions.

And what does that mean when I watch the results and the swing-o-meter, will there be any result I will be happy with? I doubt it.


During my holidays I like to try new things, sometimes it is stuff that scares me other times just something I've wanted to do for a while.

This holiday I tried Falconry:

Wikipedia definition - Falconry or hawking is a sport which involves the use of
trained raptors (birds of prey) to hunt or pursue game for humans.

It was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone as long as they are not squeamish (avoid the last picture if you are).

The Falconry company had five birds for us to see, first we got to hold Swivel the eagle owl. Eagle Owls are not native to the UK but are brought over from Europe as pets. It's thought they are let loose when people can't look after them. If a pair were to breed in the wild they would cause problems with our ecosystem. But enough of the lesson. The owl was giant and pretty heavy. I had to hold my arm up slightly as if you lower it Swivel likes to walk up and stand on your head. As he sat on my hand he had a good look at me with his giant yellow eyes. I stroked his feathers and he had a bit of a hiss at me. Found out that he hoots rather than the twit twoo that is only tawny owls.

Swivel the Eagle Owl

Sitting on my hand

Giant wings, so impressive

After Swivel we got to fly Moss the buzzard. They are supposedly very common and are often seen in the UK. Moss and other buzzards are pretty lazy, Moss had been hunting and had caught a worm, not very impressive really!

Moss was let loose and went to sit in a tree, he was pretty well camaflaged.

When a peice of meat was put on the glove Moss would swoop in and grab the food.

After that we had some fun with Loki the Harris Hawk. He was flying down rows of people between our arms and legs.

There was another Harris Hawk, a female to show the size difference and Norman the peregrine falcon who didn't really do anything :0(

After we had taken some pictures the birds were given some treats and then put back in their boxes to go home. Stop scrolling now if you don't want to see Swivel eating. The only bit of disappointment is that the company don't bring their Golden Eagle out to play in case it eats any small dogs. Wish I lived close enough to go and see it.

So thats my "What I did on my holidays" essay for this break, wish I'd had something like this to say when I was at school. If you get a chance to do some falconry it is definitely worth it.

About me

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30 something female, GSOH, independent, unreliable, seeks sanity. Must like dogs and handbags!