Tag Archives: Duchess

Far away from topless Kate Middleton, critic Kate Copstick’s shock pregnancy…

The big story in British newspapers

The big story in British newspapers for the last couple of days has been the French magazine (and now the Irish newspaper) publishing topless photos of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

I blogged yesterday about a very enjoyable visit to the Pull The Other One comedy club and about the origin of the word ‘Wally’.

Meanwhile, in the real world, a couple of days ago, nine men were found hanging from a bridge in Mexico and the Syrian civil war continues, mostly unreported.

Doyenne of British comedy critics Kate Copstick, meanwhile, is currently in Kenya, where she spends four months every year and where her Mama Biashara charity aims to help poor women start up self-sustaining businesses.

These are a couple of extracts from her diary.

____________________

Kate Copstick: story of an unexpected pregnancy in Kenya

Saturday

The small market is in full swing and I learn from one of the woman that my friend Janet has been taken to Kisii because she was having complications with a pregnancy I had no idea she was having (the last two ended in miscarriage) and she couldn’t afford the medical fees in Nairobi. I get a number and call Janet. She doesn’t sound good.

The baby is too big, she says. Coming from Janet – a woman who would have given Rubens himself pause for thought – that is quite something. The baby is backwards, she says. As it is unborn, I assume this refers to position in the womb, not IQ. The doctors say it might die, she says.  I say I will try to get to Kisii but I do not have much time.

Doris is only an hour and a half late (“because of jam”) but gives great feedback on the women Mama Biashara medicated and financed last time out. Pretty much all good! The ladies with the pus-ridden gums are all sorted, the man with the infected leg is still one of the Great Unwashed but healed up, some businesses are really flourishing, some are opening second branches, some rice sellers are finding out our warnings about low profit margins are true and tweaking their business to increase income.

The least successful workshop seems to have been the one where God was called upon to strike me down. (Previously blogged about here)

Businesses are going on but there is no massive expansion.

Still, the women have income.

Doris comes back to my little house and we sort through the medication I have – an eclectic mix, thanks to Zetta making almost nightly raids on her friends’ medicine chests.

The first clinic and workshop is fixed for Monday in Limuru.

How do people sleep on plastic sheeting ? I slide all over my mattress and the sheet just slips off into a ball in the corner. I feel like wetting myself just so I can enjoy the benefits of the thing, rather than the drawbacks. But I don’t.

Monday

We are guided to the dying boy by a woman up a tree on top of a hill shouting things like “I can see you!” and “You have gone too far!” down Felista’s phone. At one point, Felista gets out of the car and walks in front, taking instructions from the woman in the tree on the hill. We crawl along behind, like the first cars driving behind a man with a red flag.

When we get there, it is to find a woman who looks like a twiglet in a hat lying on an old mattress in a mud hut and a boy sitting outside. His face looks hamster-like. He is listless. Probably neither is being helped to health by not having eaten in days.

I head off back down the hill to get food, charcoal and anything else useful the settlement shops might have. Bones for soup as it turns out.

Joseph, the boy, is being ‘looked after’ by a group calling themselves the DREAM Foundation.

The Sisters of Charity of St Vincent get huge amounts of money to identify positive children ‘at risk’ in the community and place them in homes, monitor them, give them food and make sure they are getting the right medication.

This translates – in the real world – into They find children who are positive, take them to a home and dump them there. The kids have to come to the DREAM centre for monitoring (a round trip of at least half a day, costs to be borne by Felista), seem to have doctors who trained under Dr Mengele on the staff (or didn’t train at all), hand out a couple of kgs of gruel flour and a bag of sugar each month to each kid as ‘nutritional support’ and then, if the child stops responding to the very basic medication they offer (two lines of antiretroviral drugs and little else), they send them away to any relative they can find to die, as dying in a DREAM approved home would look bad on the statistics.

Joseph has stopped responding to the second line of antiretroviral drugs, hence he has been sent to die in a mud hut on a hill with an ancient twiglet as his carer.

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Charity, Kenya

Duck! The dangers of Chinese subtitles, kidnap and Rupert Murdoch’s flying bus

Yesterday, I went to see a movie The Beginning of the Great Revival (aka The Founding of a Party), which was screening in London as part of the China Image Film Festival. It seemed to be very good film. A sumptuously made movie. Of course, if you work for the state film company, have a virtually limitless budget and you are making a movie about the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, this could help. But I thought I espied a director who had been influenced by Sergio Leone’s historical epics.

I say The Beginning of the Great Revival “seemed” to be a very good film because, alas, despite opening and closing titles with English translations, the actual two-hour long historical epic turned out to be in Chinese with Chinese subtitles.

This reminded me of the time I sat through Sholay at the National Film Theatre when they had accidentally rented a print of the epic Indian language movie with French sub-titles.

I speak neither French nor Hindi but you cannot fail to enjoy an all-stops-pulled-out Bollywood film where (as always) people randomly burst into song and the hero has both his arms cut off yet continues to fight in true action man style. (Both Sholay and Monty Python and the Holy Grail were released in 1975 so I doubt if either ripped off the idea of an armless hero; it must have been the spirit of the times.)

I also do not speak Mandarin nor read Chinese script and my knowledge of Chinese history 1910-1921 is a tad hazy, but The Beginning of the Great Revival was never less than interesting. You can see why in the (subtitled) trailer on YouTube:

I was brought back to some form of reality when I came out of the cinema and read Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-only newspaper The Daily. The front page story was:

DUCK! – Anyone’s guess where 13,000-pound satellite will hit

sub-headed as:

READY TO TUMBLE! Satellite hurtles toward Earth – and scientists can’t say when or where it will hit

This was a story I had never heard of before – and I had seen the lunchtime news on BBC TV yesterday.

“NASA scientists,” The Daily said, “are shrugging their shoulders with little or no idea when – or where – a satellite the size of a bus will fall to Earth. The latest projections last night were that the defunct NASA satellite would tumble to Earth from space sometime this afternoon, but because the satellite is free-falling, the space agency and the U.S. Air Force cannot make a precise prediction about when and where it will hit.”

According to the article, NASA claimed the chances of someone being hit by a piece of falling debris was 1 in 3,200 and the debris would fall along a 500-mile path.

Those odds of 1 in 3,200 seemed surprisingly low to me.

“The only confirmed case of a person being hit by space junk,” The Daily told me, “was in 1997 when Lottie Williams of Tulsa, Oklahoma, was grazed on the shoulder by a small piece of a Delta rocket.”

NASA has apparently warned people against touching any part of the satellite they might find lying around on the ground.

“While it contains no hazardous chemicals,” The Daily reported, “the space agency said people could potentially be hurt by sharp edges.”

Apparently what NASA calls “medium-sized junk” falls back to earth about once a week. Debris the size of a bus falls about once a year. When bits of the Skylab space station (the size of a house) fell onto parts of Western Australia in July 1979, local authorities fined NASA $400 for littering.

I thought I should perhaps check if anything the size of a bus had fallen on London while I was in the cinema watching the glorious founding of the Chinese Communist Party in The Beginning of the Great Revival so I got a London Evening Standard (which is now owned, like the Independent newspaper, by an ex-KGB man).

Its front page news was a story about a boy who had been encouraged to read by the Duchess of Cornwall. I could not find any story anywhere about anyone being killed by a bus from outer space falling on their head so, when I got home, I checked the BBC News channel (no unusual deaths; no mention of death from above) and then checked my e-mails to find one from mad inventor John Ward – designer and fabricator of the highly-prestigious Malcolm Hardee Awards for comedy.

He told me he had been booked by the University of Lincoln to appear on 12th October at something entitled An Eccentric Symposium – Tomato Tomäto.

Among other billed events and speakers at this academic symposium are ‘Project Pigeon’ (“an art and education project that works with pigeons as a vehicle to bring people together”), the World Egg Throwing Championships and a talk on Gender, Exercise and Art by Anthony Schrag, an artist now living in Scotland whose work, according to the University of Lincoln, “focuses on blowing things up, climbing on things and occasionally kidnapping people”.

I could take no more.

I went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, the BBC News channel was reporting that the NASA spacecraft could not be found, but it had passed over the UK twice during the night and was now “the size of a refrigerator”.

They also reported Prime Minister David Cameron’s warning to the world that we live in dangerous economic times.

Fuck the economy. Where is the fridge?

2 Comments

Filed under China, Eccentrics, Movies, Newspapers, Science