2016 Rang, It Wants Its ‘Shittest Year of the Decade’ Crown Back

Right, 2019, you need to get your act together. We’re approaching 2016 levels of fuckery and I’m starting to get suspicious and slightly paranoid. Fred had a seizure and died last week. When I stop having horrible flashbacks and feeling guilty for not doing more for him, I’ll probably feel philosophical about the circle of life and reflect on how he enjoyed 13 years of stealing food, leaping from second story windows and unwrapping Christmas presents… but I’m still in shock and I can’t believe two of my best friends died within six weeks of each other, so at present I want to run away to an island somewhere for several months.

This is definitely one of those years where a lot goes on, and we’re only half way through. I know people who are dealing with illnesses in the family, or illnesses of their own, or who generally have A Lot Going On. Don’t even get me started on how you switch on the news and it’s a barrage of the-UK-is-falling-apart-nuclear-war-might-happen-next-week-the-planet-is-dying-and-it’s-to-late-to-stop-it-by-the-way-Trump-might-get-a-second-term. I’m getting a bit paranoid that my grandmother’s going to have a fall, or an earthquake’s going to hit Zante when my family’s out there, or nuclear war might actually happen but the planet is actually dying so does it matter. I know this is a black hole way of thinking, so I also keep thinking, ‘let’s find an excuse for a huge party! Let’s go backpacking! Let’s put the whole of The Princess and the Dragon on the Internet for free! Let’s retrain in something useful like ecological management! Is ecological management even a thing?’

I don’t think ecological management is a thing. I think I’m thinking of those people who look after forests and lobby Parliament to ban single use plastic. Eco warrior? It’s too early for compound phrases. You know what I mean. Sometimes life forces you to put things into perspective.

What a cheerful post this was. Here are photos of Fred from a few years ago. He was  quite hard to photograph until he got elderly, because when he was younger he only had two modes: asleep and Doing Stuff. You’d aim for the picture on the left and get the picture on the right.

Legitimately the nosiest dog who has ever lived. I think I’m going to Google ‘ecological management’ now.

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A Shitty Week ft. the Coolest Illustration I’ve Seen All Year and Probably Ever

Morning. Or, Morning! if you’re feeling perky. I was until I sat down and now it’s just like an earlier version of the two o’clock slump which is not how I was planning my day off.

I’m not sure how many regular/committed readers there are still here, but if you’ve been following my posts as they go out, I suppose there’s an elephant in the room. Well, small dog. Well, small dog no longer in the room. We had Donnie put to sleep the week before last. I know that not everyone is particularly bothered about their pets, but I am not one of those people. Not having him around is strange and horrible and I keep forgetting and looking for a second dog and I’m paranoid Fred is pining and it’s odd only feeding one dog and I miss how he used to bark at literally everything and snore with his eyes open. I don’t miss the last couple of days of his life when it became abundantly clear that he had had enough. A lot of people say they fell guilty for making the decision to end their pet’s life, but I think I couldn’t have lived with myself if we’d made him hang on any longer when he couldn’t really walk and didn’t want to eat anything.

But I’m more interested in remembering the snoring and the ridiculous woofing, so maybe animal euthanasia is a subject for another day.

A non-sequitur that’s actually absolutely relevant if you live inside my head (a non-non-sequitur?): the next chapter of The Prince in the Tower, from The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes is available to patrons today. It’s relevant because a) there’s a dog called Bean in The Prince in the Tower, named after Donnie. He used to do this dancing, jumping thing every time he was about to go for a walk or get fed, so I used to call him a jumping bean. Which became Bean and then Bean Sprout, then Sprout and honestly what is up with pet owners and nicknames. Anyway. Point b) is that I got to hang out with my friend Tatchiana the day before Donnie died and she gave me a very cool illustration from The Princess and the Dragon that was a huge bright spot in an appalling week. Spoiler alert there’s a dragon:

girl facing giant blue dragon in cave

So you guys who aren’t patrons need to become patrons so we can make an ebook from this story and I can commission more artwork because it is seriously the coolest, coolest thing seeing your story interpreted in someone else’s art! It’s very nice knowing that I can support someone else’s work at the same time as doing something fun and promotional for my own work. It feels very eco-system-y. (I am paying Tatchiana for the piece, although she wasn’t convinced I needed to which is very friend-y. When I am feeling less bereaved and more awake we should have a conversation about paying friends for work. It’s a lot like euthanasia in that no one wants to talk about it but we’d probably all be better off if we did. God what a sentence). Oh, I’m also paying Tatchiana using money from Patreon. From your investment in my fairytale. How cool is that? We’re starting to accrue enough to pay my proofreader, Maria, as well. THE PLAN IS WORKING.

You can find links to Tatchiana’s other work here and buy her coffee (please do!) here.

Right, I’ve got patron letters to write and some Etsy orders to package. See you soon.

Check Out the Ace Dental Work

Happy birthday America. Let’s just say that I will always be more inclined to say that than I will to celebrate 23rd June.

So this weekend my big-ish little brother  aged substantially and to celebrate I bought him an poo-shaped emoji cushion and a poker set (the former because I thought of him when I saw it, the latter because… I thought of him when I saw it). Now he can legally gamble his way through life, as opposed to playing monopoly with anyone who hasn’t figured out how much he cheats yet. It has just occurred to me that if one of us kills the other, we’re both now completely responsible for our actions and will both go to big scary adult prisons, so on that note I’m going to go and eat leftover party food and reminisce the days I thought he’d never be taller than me. Here is a terrible selfie indicating how much we could both use a haircut.

terrible selfie

But seriously, we owe our parents for taking us to the dentist.

Well, It’s a Good Thing We Weren’t Planning on Winning Eurovision Again

I thought I’d let the dust settle on last Thursday before attempting to write a coherent sentence about it, but at this rate that won’t happen until 2025, so I thought I might as well write anyway.

I’ve not had a hugely pleasant week, to be honest. It’s hard to run marketing campaigns when no one’s reading anything but the news, and it’s hard to have conversations with your family when they all think you’re stupid and wrong (and patronising when you try to explain why you’re not). The fact Nigel Farage now has more political klout than the leader of the opposition is just a mild irritant at this point, although I am genuinely angry that a small portion of racists now think half the population agrees with them – and that half the population now think the other half think they’re all racists… and that I recently renewed my EHIC and might not get my money’s worth.

Gerard Way gun GIF MTV Live
This one never, ever runs out of uses. from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

I’ve been tempted a lot over the past few years to pack up and try being a digital nomad (digital nomading?!), and this week I actually found myself doing the maths. To cut a long story short, I won’t be nomading anywhere for a while, at least not until I pass my driving test and learn how to Skype on the move, but I could feasibly visit every country in the EU for a long weekend (a long weekend per country, not a long weekend for all 27 countries) assuming I checked my emails while I was there. I don’t generally like to plan my life in advance, but assuming we’ll be out of Europe by the end of 2018, I could visit everywhere including Lichtenstein (assuming I learn where it is) for a few days without bankrupting myself. If I didn’t eat much on the road and did all of Eastern Europe in one go.

I will continue working on this plan in the coming months. I will also continue walking the other way in certain social situations. If I post on Twitter that I’ve upped sticks to Bruges or Krakow or Helsinki, assume I kept walking.

Also, tell me your own awkward family dinner table conversations. Let’s make a scale from ‘slightly condescending’ to ‘I nearly threw gravy’ and compare notes on staying friends with people you used to be friends with. I think a guide could be useful.

I Wrote This Lovely Post About My Dogs Then One of Them Refused to Acknowledge My Existence and Made Me Late

(It was all academic though, because I fucked up times and should have been there four-and-a-half hours earlier.)

I spent half an hour last week working on my CV, which is… interesting. I get that we have to sell ourselves and everything, but it’s hard to explain that my favourite hobby – sitting with Fred and Adonis and falling asleep – is a qualification worthy of employment.

Speaking of Adonis: the last I mentioned of him was that he was very ill and being given palliative care. Those of you well-versed in the art of counting may have noticed that his “six months to live” ended, er, a month ago. This is because he now has a ‘normal’ life expectancy for a dog of his size and upbringing: around three more years. He is on a special diet and has been on a cocktail of drugs since December, but as long as we give him his medication and never, ever feed him anything containing protein, he will be able to enjoy his nice little life…

…Which basically means that he sleeps a lot, chases and barks at everything that moves, gets Fred into trouble at least once a day and enjoys numerous cuddles with virtually every human who comes in the house. This is him the other day:

20130725-205220.jpg

Fred is also well. He’s got arthritis in his hips and legs and he’s sore quite a bit, but he still leaps about playing catch, like a puppy, and exploring the far-flung parts of the field, like a puppy. He’s always been pretty laid back and he’s recently taken to asking – via paw-waving and grumbling – for his favourite blanket to be placed on his favourite spot on the sofa so he can hang out with whoever’s watching telly. He won’t sit unless the blanket’s been smoothed out and someone’s patted it (to check for blanket monsters perhaps… or maybe he’s actually asking permission?!) so he’s actually becoming a bit of an old-man dog. Quite refined in his tastes, apart from that day he ate Donnie’s tablets and had to get his stomach pumped, or this morning when he chewed a biro, or the other day when he herded me toward the stairs so I’d take them both out.

Fred

Whatever. They are my friends and I’m glad we found each other.

The Tentative Return of Rambling Posts

I must say, I’ve quite missed Sunday blogging. There’s nothing like sitting amongst Saturday’s mess with a mug of coffee and half-hatched weekend plans, writing nonsense and posting it on the Internet for your friends to read. Although it’s been a while since I’ve sat amongst Wednesday’s mess and written to you all, actually, or Monday’s mess, or Friday’s… I’m not even sure when to start a new paragraph, if I’m honest.

Let’s do it now and start another straight away for kicks.

It’s been a while since I’ve been properly focussed on Indifferent Ignorance, and she’s starting to feel like the spare room in our house that my brother just moved out of in favour of better lights and warmer radiators. Not that her lights were faulty – and I like to think she’s always been cosy – but she’s feeling as though she has that unique spare-room quality of dusty door frames, dead flies on the windowsills and stuff that never quite got sorted out. It’s probably my own fault; partway through what was proving to be a crap year I thought “let’s give her a facial and buy some customisation tools from WP”, not realising that I was fast losing my money, my time and my will to do anything except play with Fred and Donnie. So as I lost motivation, she lost her once-frequent updates and here we are four months later with my first post in a fortnight and a serious need to open an Internet window.

Now, though, things are slowing down. I only have two pieces of homework to do (and a shitload of extra-curricular and/or exam-based admin, but we’ll take that slowly) and when we go out later to celebrate Ellen’s birthday I won’t be stewing over my Psychology coursework in a corner, because that was last weekend at a different birthday celebration. By the last academic year’s standards, I’m basically on holiday. Which I actually will be soon!

I’ve been concentrating on a lot of different things lately, from school to physiotherapy to my lack of post-school plans to trying to find some sort of job that doesn’t involve retail or administration (hint: there are none) because it was sitting and typing and pressing cash machine-like screens that made me need physio in the first place… I’ve been getting so frantic that writing that sentence actually made my heart rate increase. And if I’ve learnt one thing this year it’s that short-term stress is good but long-term stress is bad. I’ve also learnt that Islamic fundamentalism was started by an Egyptian teacher who went to the US and basically pulled a Holden Caulfield, but I think that’s an anti-racism rant for another day.

I just went downstairs to take a photograph of Sprout for this post, but he’s looking very much like my mum got a bit overenthusiastic when she was watering the plants so I think it’ll wait until he is restored to his former glory. I should also make a start on clearing Saturday’s mess, which is nearing the ‘health and safety issue’ end of the untidy spectrum. So, hopefully there will not be another two weeks between posts – I’ve had two or three in my head or in draft form for a while that I just need to write, goddamn it – but the weather’s been so pretty that they might have to wait for me to get bored of sunshine.

In which case nothing I do on the Internet has any hope of being worked upon.

‘The Morocco Diary’, Days 4, 5 and 6

The Internet on my laptop is currently not working, so I’m using my parents’ giant TV-screen-computer to post. So enjoy, in high definition.

Day 4

8th April, 2012

Yesterday was not good – except for teaching the kids the Macarena, it was very long and dry.

Today, we only have to walk 18km. It’s not great, great being under one km, but it’s a hell of a lot better than before. Apparently yesterdays 20km was the equivalent of a D. of E. weekend, but way under the time. My legs still ache.

But, today seems hotter. Mr Dell just looked up the temperature on the thermometer heat thingy, and it was 26°C. Should I mention that it’s only 7am?

I’ll tell you how the day goes later. Yusef is calling us at the mo. We’ve learnt that “alle” is Berber for “come”. Well, he told us that. It’s pronounced in a kind of all-ay way. I’m off now.

LUNCH TIME!!

We’re currently eating lunch in the second half of the Dades gorge, next to the river that we are always following. We have done god knows how many river crossings, meaning my boots and socks are soaking wet, because we can’t wear sandals or have bare feet for “safety reasons,” which to me, is a pile of bullshit. The fact that wet boots give everyone bad blisters ALL OVER THEIR FREAKING FEET is more the safety issue, but Dandruff Dave thinks a cut would be a lot more painful. Well, somebody needs to tell Dave that once you’ve cut yourself, you don’t really feel it, because you put pressure on it, and the pain goes. But a blister, a blister doesn’t stop hurting when there is pressure on it. No, instead, it bursts after a few hours of agony, and then pus goes everywhere if you’re lucky, and it will probably get infected. Joy.

Sorry. Rant over.

Anyway, the gorge is quite pretty, and it has shade, which I am thankful for. We saw what looked like a suicide note graffitied on a wall of the rocky edge cliffy thing. I would’ve taken a photo if I hadn’t been wading through water. It said though: “IF YOU EVER SAW ME SMILING, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT I ACTUALLY FELT SICK INSIDE”

2010 – 2 -12

Soo…after that depressing note, I leave to enjoy the food (salad and pan). 

Back. It was all good. So was food. The highlight of my day has to be the oranges. Oh, and Mr Dell’s and Franki’s farting competition was pretty funny. They’re the Fart Patrol now. We spent dinner in a Berber tent discussing boyfriends, boys, and Mr Irvine’s Butt.2 Mr Irvine was my Irish Year 8 English teacher, the one that said “porn” instead of “poem”. Because of his accent. And “Cher” instead of “shower.”

Anyway, he is also sharing a house with Mr Dell, and Mr Dells’ brother. But he has a huge butt. It’s very noticeable. And now Mr Dell is going to take a look. Euurrrggghh, I’m really tired though, so I’m gonna sleep.3

Day 5

 

9th April 20124

HALF WAY THROUGH!!!!

Yaayyy!!! Half way through our trip. I am enjoying it so much, but I can’t wait to see a proper bed, let alone sleep in it. And the luxury of being woken up by an alarm clock at 6:30, rather than the prayer call at 4:30. Still, when I’m home, it’ll be hard not to speak French, and I won’t be able to stop calling bread “pan”. Can’t wait to see everyone though. Especially to show off this non-existent tan. No, wait, I lie. I have a watch-strap mark, – and god is it sexy.

I forgot to mention the campsite yesterday. We got there, and there was two guys, sitting in the middle of east Jesus nowhere, selling fizzy drinks. I got a coke, and it was the best coke ever5. However, when we looked at it, it had 4 e-numbers and way more sugar than your standard English bottle. It had 64% of the Daily Recommended Allowance for sugar in. Think that’s bad? Rhianna got the last Fanta orange, and it was a radioactive fluorescent orange colour. It really was neon, and had 8 E nos. in, and even worse, was 72% of the RDA for sugar. It probably made her hyper, and then everyone wanted one. But, well, she got the last one.

Franki also had some Dextrex, so she was hyper over dinner. She did the same tonight.

Back to today’s news. We only walked 12km, but it was worse than the other days. It was mainly all uphill, on a rocky, crumbly surface. Loads of people fell over (strangely enough, I haven’t yet, which is unusual for me), but no one is dead yet. Thankfully, as we ascended (posh, I know), it got a bit cooler, and there was a hint of a breeze. The view was good, and I like the atmosphere up here, despite it being overly colourful. Not. Everything, and I really do mean everything, is the same colour as the rock, orange. It all blends in. Have these people not heard of paint??

As I write this, I can hear the mules sneezing. It is very funny. The best bit of today, was definitely the food.

For lunch, we had pasta, bread, lentils (carbs, carbs, carbs!), sardines and, OMG, CHIPS!!!!! We went crazy, and possibly scared the guides. But then, it gets better, because when we got to camp, which was an empty house thing in a small village, with land around it, they had food for us, that wasn’t mint tea and biscuits. They had this sweet bread stuff, with a cream and hazelnut spread – which really is to die for. It was better than Nutella, and completely different. The bread, I need to make and eat back home. It was made from flour, water, milk and sugar I think. I got Rhianna to ask in French. It is the best.

Thinking about it, there is loads of stuff I have forgotten to mention.

Firstly, on Day One at the airport, I was responsible for the random drug search Laura and I got.7 We were waiting for Rhianna’s bag to get searched, and I was saying something like “It’s not like we’re child drug smugglers or anything.” And then at the same moment, a security dude was passing by, and Laura saw him speak into his radio thing, saying “These two on the end.” We were sitting on the end of the end bench, so er, yeah, it’s us. Then, alas, as we were walking away, some woman was standing at the exit staring at us, and as we got there, she was like “Excuse me, we’d just like to do a random drug search on your hand luggage.”

BAM – we were screwed. Obviously not, because as I said in the first place, we are not child drug smugglers. Tip for you all: never mention drugs at an airport. Anyway, we were all clear, except for the hand sanitiser Rhianna left in her bag.

Okay, next thing, on Day 4, our campsite was near the river. So, Laura, Rhianna, Ridhi, Katie, Natalie C and I all went down to wash hair, or as it turned out, each other’s’ hair, because we used bowls, as we didn’t want to make people’s water supply soapy. It was SO good! Pretty refreshing. Freezing cold, but nice. And we had to do a lot of back bending. What made me feel better is that everyone else had greasy hair.

Thirdly (is that a word? My sense of English has gone. Lost forever. I think it’s a word though), on Day 4, we also played football with the locals. The outnumbered us, and were about 6-8 years old. The Arabic guides though, who I believe go by the names of Yusef, Hassan, Husain and Syed joined our team, as well as the one Arabic girl. We lost. But then again, we were in sandals/flip-flops. Actually, that’s not really a valid excuse, because they were in bare feet.

That’s it for then really.

Tonight we were in the mud hut bit of the campsite for dinner, and camping in tent in the “garden”.  We also played a game of “Duck Duck Shoe” with the little girls from the village. It was only girls, and for some reason unknown to most of us, the boys were kind of forbidden to play. Maybe religion, or maybe typically violent male children. It was like Duck Duck Goose, but you dropped a shoe behind a person, and they had to run at you and touch you with it.

Overall, a good night. Off now. I crave a proper bed. And a mattress to go with. And normal milk instead of powdered. That’s all.

X

Day 6

10th April 2012, 10:38pm

Thank the Bloody Lord!

Today we completed our trek, finishing with a spiffing 20km again.  I had huge sweat patches (don’t worry, no bigger than everyone else’s), a dodgy non-tanned patch, and a need for jelly beans.

Leaving the campsite, we spotted two sheep skulls, five hooves/legs, three jaws, and a strange furry lumpy thing. The sheep round here look really healthy though, so god knows when the sheep massacre happened.

No river crossings today, which is good, but instead lots of rock climbing.

*Insert unpublishable paragraph of bitching about certain people here*8

Tonight, we are in a hostel, all in one big room. The guides leave us now, and I will be sad to see them go. It’s like losing your map in the middle of the desert. To finish our journey with them, we danced and sang English and Berber stuff.

Apparently I went a bit hyper when we got back to the room. I appear to have created a dance for losers of the Tarzan game. It’s really good. And then I went around I did some Russian Rasputin Dancing, and Just Dance dances including Ring My Bell. Now everyone thinks I am crazy. Especially as after my hyper fiasco, I sat in the corner, half crying, half hysterically laughing, and then stared at Laura for a while. Yeah…… It was probably the jelly beans. They still contained lots of sugar. And maybe I ate too many…..

As I write this, It’s just me and Caffa up, and Katie is deep breathing. I also have toothpaste on my spots, as does Laura and Franki, because according to Sophie and Sarah, it actually works. We will see.

I’ve got to say, the sun and Vitamin D is clearly getting to our heads. The debate on double dipping continued today, as well as creating and solving scenarios where we are faced with a pride of lions in the middle of nowhere – this is a serious question – Who will be eaten first, who will be allocated what role in our survival mission etc.

Katie has moved on and is talking now too. I keep hearing “I don’t know” and “Olive”, and occasionally “Hmmmm….No”.

The conversation over dinner tonight was generally about Hana’s love life, and how she calculates whether a boy likes her or not. Not very is well is the answer. She said because this guy she knows, also called Yusef, passed her the bread, he is deeply in love with her. The scary thing, is that she is serious. Mr Dell is worried now, seeing as he just passed her the tea…

Washed hair again today too – we had a mass shower of 5 people. I know it sounds extremely wrong, but the room was huge, we didn’t have a lot of time, and we were in bikinis/swim stuff. We went first, and it was me, Laura, Rhianna, Franki, Sophie and I. However, the shower was freezing cold, but we told all the other groups it warmed up nicely. It was funny to see their faces when they emerged, shivering and wanting to kill us…

What else today?

I don’t know right now. My legs ache a bit after 70 odd kilometres of walking, but if I think of anything, I’ll add it in.

Nighty night, as Agnes would say.

X

1. So this bloke, as well as being suicidal, can fly. Or owns a bloody big ladder. Both things are profitable, so someone will have talked him down. Hopefully.

2. I’m not sure whether ‘Mr Irvine’s Butt’ is supposed to be all capitalised, but it can stay there. ‘But’. Haha.

3. If Mr Dell, Mr Dell’s brother or Mr Irvine would like me to edit that out, do let me know.

4. Gerard Way’s birthday. Yout thought I couldn’t squeeze an MCR reference into a diary about Morocco? Never underestimate the power of the MCR fan.

5. I’m not sure if ‘coke’ should be capitalised, but that can stay there too. ‘Coke’. Haha.

6. Not falling over is unusual, as anyone in last week’s karate lesson can attest.

7. Actually, I’m responsible. So’s my dad. Because we are dark, and therefore not trusted in airports. Isobel knew this and talked about it. You’re welcome, Laura.

8. I’m supposed to decide what is and isn’t publishable. Let’s pretend I edited that out.

‘The Morocco Diary’: Day 3

  We return to Isobel’s World Challenge Adventures. It’s fun to comment, so I have. Note: Bel sends pictures with every update, and I’ll post the ones I don’t think are a giant violation of strangers’ privacy when the entire diary’s been published.

-F

Day 3

7th April 2012, 8.23am

 

WE MADE A FRIEND!  The whole of our group is hanging over the terrace, which in turn, is creaking, shouting at some kid sitting on the wall beneath us in French. Luckily, half of us remember some French, and four actually take it. His name is Mohammed and he’s nine. We have photos of him too. Poor guy. We’ll be leaving in a bit, so bye for now. 😀

6.49pm

EUUUURRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!

We walked 20km today, in this heat. My legs are worse than karate will ever make them1, and it’s so bloody hot. We looked at 4.00pm, and it was 26°C.

We’re at camp now, and I’m sharing a tent with Franki and Hana, my “tent buddies.”

We made more friends here too2. A bunch of kids who claim to be 12-14, that are actually probably 6-10. But there was a huge, flat sloped rock, that we stood on, and taught them the Macarena. I believe we have that on film too. They even remember the music, which we kind of sang. I only remember the names of three of them – Jamal, Syed and Mohammed.

God, there’s so much to talk about. Our guide, Yusef, is the guy that brought us tea at the hostel. He’s very nice, as well as all the other Arabic guys, who help out with everything. However, none of them speak English either, so once again, we’re relying on French and sign language.3

The scenery today was alright. But we had to walk up a long dry road, that kept going up. That was horrible, and right in the sun. But after 2 hours on that road, we just sung to pass the time. I forgot to say yesterday, that when people weren’t sleeping on the minibus, we just sang. It was pretty awesome actually, even the driver said so.4

On that road though, we passed a load of women carrying huge piles of sticks on their backs – poor people. Most of the women here are some kind of agricultural farmer thing, but either way, it’s not a job I would want.5

Footnotes

1: I beg to differ, and so would Sensei.

2: Where is ‘here’?  You should have attached a map. Most people I know can’t point to Morocco if you shove a drawing of Africa in their face, let alone work out from your diary where you are. And don’t comment saying ‘the middle of the freaking desert’. Google Maps would know.

3: I knew there was as reason I don’t sign up for foreign trips. My French and sign language knowledge consists of curse words.

4: I would beg to differ here to, had I been present.

5: That final paragraph sums up Western living, your education, your intelligence all that is wrong with the rich/poor divide at once.