Thursday, July 31, 2008

And before the long weekend

Today, while visiting the bank where the line stretched endlessly, for a service that could not be done on-line or via telebanking, The line was so long and non-moving that it seemed more productive to visit another branch. I decided to hit the ABM for some quick cash to have my watch repaired. Mind the ABM line itself was a curling snake in the little room but everyone was waiting patiently for their turn at the two working machines. There were about ten people in line when suddenly, a woman barged in and boldly jumped the line, in front of seven people waiting, walking through the people who had moved to let her in through the outside door.

Well blow me down, how rude! The woman standing in front of her gently pointed out that the end of the line was in fact on the other side. That was the beginning of fifteen minutes of haranguing while the line jumper roundly abused her, and the rest of us standing in line, profanity and invective spewed from her mouth with no regard to anyone's sensibilities. There was a child present, what kind of example was this? We wonder at the break down in our society, why? This woman had not an iota of respect for anyone and loudly stated her right to do whatever she wanted etc. It was appalling for any number of reasons.

Several of us looked for the branch guard who was no-where to be found. Having taken this person's abuse, because she was yelling at all of us, and refused to give ground without us resorting to physical methods, we were even more taken aback to discover she was not even a client of the bank. She took out her RBL linx card and shoved it into the FCB machine. There was a RBL right across the road on Park Street, one wonders why she hadn't availed herself of it. Maybe because they have more guards who would have removed her for bad behaviour?

Several minutes later walking to the St. Vincent Street branch I passed two vagrants, one lay twitching on the sidewalk with the other standing in throughway making obscene remarks. Then he started waving the knife blade in his hand around, jabbing the air and anybody who might have the misfortune to inadvertently get in his way. The man walking slightly behind me had to do some fancy footwork as we both scurried past as fast as possible to get away from this madman.

Mulling over things, it seems to me that laws in this country are now suggestions. Case in point; no parking on this side of the street today; it's okay, I have to pay a bill so I'm just running in. Is the cost worth it when you have to recover your car from the tow yard? People routinely drive badly without regard for fellow road users. This is just one symptom and I'm sure my fellow bloggers could name at least a few dozen more.

I get tired of store clerks being rude or truculent. Like the Pennywise store clerk whose response when asked by me, "may I please have a bottle of herbal essences two in one shampoo", looked at the shelf behind her where the bottle was clearly marked as such and snarled, "whey it is yuh really want nuh?" Her colleague had been ignoring me to yell at someone across the room, "wha happen to you, Ah go get yuh. Yuh ignoring me." She said it four times, I think the people outside on the street heard her.

You may wonder why I'm on such a downer, or the tourism board will shortly come and cart me away for being non-patriotic but it is because I love my country that I'll talking about these things. Our tendency to ignore, turn a blind eye or sweep things under the carpet because it's not our problem is the problem. Until we realise that it is everybody's issue to do something about it will not change.

Meanwhile, I'm escaping here and going off to have a peaceful week somewhere else.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today in Port of Spain

In the wind today, dust, lots of brown, gritty dust. The cause, ducts dug into Frederick Street to facilitate, something. We're not quite sure what but pretty sure that someone will make a statement about it soon, if only to say, look we gave you "it".

Amidst the dust, carbon monoxide fumes and vagrant leavings, vendors, on every side street, in every possible nook and cranny. It is a dreadful comedown; Trini women, once the best dressed in the Caribbean with the largest proliferation of fabric stores at hand, have reduced themselves to buying cheap looking, badly made clothing from the far east. The ubiquitous uniform of clingy top made of out synthetic fabric, the better to sweat in under the blazing midday sun, jeans of varying cuts and shades of blue, and oh, horror of horrors, mashed up slippers. To a woman, they were all wearing the current fad of "glitzy" slippers, all looking beat up as if they had been rescued from a tip. The fabric stores have made way for cheap shoes, smelling of eau de plastic and we have been left with something less.

These clothes are available everywhere, each time you turn around you are slapped in the face by yet another store, with more of the same. And I have to ask, why in heck would you buy underwear on the pavement? There it is, spread out on stalls, right there next to the road, dust blowing, people checking you out as you pick out your red, lace stretch number. As if women didn't get enough snarky comments from the male population as it is.

The MInister of National Security should be proud. City policing was alive and well today. Two would be thieves were apprehended, not by the policemen mind you, but that's okay. The four on foot patrol quickly took charge of the miscreants and proceeded to march them down the middle of Queen Street. With on-coming traffic and dozens of people out trying to purchase lunch, school books, and maybe some pavement underwear or watches. Did I mention that they were unrestrained; the miscreants that is, not a handcuff or even restraining hand to prevent them from making a break for it, the officers were walking behind. Dare I say it was fear of being chased that kept them in check. Somehow I doubt it, let's hope they made the Police Station on St. Vincent Street.

The homeless population are out in full force today. Clutching at your bags or legs as you go buy, hands out. You smell them before you see them. The stench of unwashed, sometimes suppurating bodies competing with the drain. Crusted with dirt, matted hair, these, mostly, men are a pitiful sight. You look around at the towering buildings, the monuments to untold amounts of petro-dollars and you wonder at a country that still treats its people so badly. These souls litter the pavements forcing you to acknowledge them even as you avert your eyes and scurry past hoping that they do not touch you or that you don't step in the fecal matter left behind.

The colour and life that once was this city, where did it go? We don't look happy and we certainly spend a lot of time complaining about it. Despite the new buildings the city is careworn, hard used, like an aging alcoholic running to seed rapidly. It's unfair, you look up at the frilly wrought iron balconies that now grace only a few buildings when once they lined the street giving it an elegance and pleasing aesthetic.

Today I'm not writing as the person who once wrote masses of tourist literature, it is too close for comfort. And I wonder, what have we become. This my city and I walk the streets, reluctantly.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Letters from the edge

Sunday, Jools Holland tickling the ivory keys and in the background, Jimmy Sommerville crooning, "dooooon't leave meeee this wa-ay, I can't sur-vive, I surely miss your tender kiss, dontcha leave me this way. AAAAHHHH BAYBEE....."

Just come back from a trek out east, had a huge sense of disconnect, I swear we must be having another election what with all the road paving. Everywhere. The Hi and Lo on the Highway opposite the Solo factory, what's with paving one and a half lanes, erasing the lines and then disappearing. That can't be legal. The weird goings on at Grand Bazaar, the traffic backing up past Macoya due to the road widening. What gives? Can't be local Government elections, those got put off again. The poor car reeling from the up and down on straight roads, hope I didn't injure the undercarriage of the red robin, parts are not cheap.

Outside the rain in falling. Again. Wonder if the road is going to flood. Again. That rush of earth filled water, full of debris, rushing across the road, swamping everything until it runs off. A swirling morass that leaves the road pitted and filled with obstacles making the morning trek to work and exercise in dodgem car driving. This developed nation lark is....

'Pump up the volume, pump up the volume, dance, dance yeh...' okay, trying to get into swimsuit shape. Well, at least a shape that can be exposed to public scrutiny as opposed to looking like a solo bottle, or can of coke. This exercise and healthy living thing could kill a body. What was it again, aerobics for twenty minutes a day? Or half and hour? Or an hour? What can't I eat this week? Weights? Even the dog is looking confused, why am I walking so vigorously, swearing and not be out walkies. How could you walk like that and go nowhere? Poor soul, clearly mummy has lost what is left of her mind and he needs to insert some reality. This he will heroically do by barking hysterically, at the elliptical walker, at the stationary vacuum cleaner and the neighbourhood stray cat. How much can you turn the volume up on an iPod without your brain turing into mush?

What do you mean it's Monday. Already? Must be a mistake, it can't be Monday morning already, I just went to sleep and it was still Saturday. Oh. That's right, there was the whole of yesterday. Auntie Z's stewed chicken and red beans, bless her! Five loads of laundry, it must be making babies in the laundry basket, have to look into that. Guess this means that the weekend is over. Already. Oh.

"Need to get my thoughts together....Need to get up now, get my feet on the ground....Always got something to do, someone to be seeing, Somewhere to be dancing I'm a wake human being, It's an opportunity, shout 'till you go blue, Unless I wanna do it,Your words go through...." hey Amy might not want to go to Rehab but the girl sure can sing. Guess this means that should stop procrastinating, prise my eyelids apart, go face the day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

From me to you

Liebe Andrea, It' s, das so lang gewesen wird, sind okay? You' vor VE, das auf meinem Verstand diese letzten Monate gewesen wurden, und ich wünschten Sie wissen, wohin Sie sind, dass Sie mein Leben allen jenen Jahren änderten. I' VE bewunderte immer, dass Sie Ihre Grundregeln bereitstehen und dass Sie nach den Sachen gehen, die ausmachen. Ihr Kind ist ein Segen und ich hoffe, dass der Segen fortfährt und das Sie wohl und dieses you' sind; VE die Vorteile wieder geschlagen dieses mal. Alles Liebe.

Andrea is a photographer; a very good one who has had several show. When we met many years ago, she was working as a guide for the German Government. It was one of those things, you meet someone and connect. She has presence, in those days she was very androgynous, men's pants, her tall, lanky figure imposing. She was the one who taught me to put on lipstick without looking in the mirror, she wore Yves St. Laurent, a vibrant red slash across her impish face. We had many conversations, about who we were and what we wanted to be, lots of laughs, great times even though it was short. We remained friends across the water for years.

We'd drop in and out of each other's lives, me living vicariously through her travels in Japan and China as she continued her study of photography, we supported each other through relationships and job fears. I have always thought of her as being truly fearless, sometimes with envy when I felt stuck in a rut. She was living the artist's life, being true to herself, something I wasn't always good at doing. I collected all the pictures of interesting things that she sent to me. All with her own special view.

Several years ago she was diagnosed with cancer. I had not heard from her in a while and then there came the letter. It was quite a blow. I'd always thought of her as being a free spirit, unfettered by conventionality, her own person pursuing the dream. At the end of a long road involving treatments, hospital stays and a lot of self searching she came out the other side, an even stronger person. One who found love and happiness. And then a miracle baby. She was on top of the world with baby, man and back to her photographs. I rejoiced for her.

Last year, after an absence of four years, the cancer came back. It begins again. Her relationship suffered. In all of it, she managed to find serenity. I am in awe of her. Now we have not spoken in a while I am afraid but I hold out hope that one day, a postcard will drop into my mailbox or an e-mail show up in inbox to know that she is okay.

Alles liebe my friend.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Watching the wheels turn

You know you're getting old when your favourite show now starts at 10:00 pm and you find yourself falling asleep as the opening credits roll.

Worse, you cannot go to movies that start after 8:30 pm lest you fall asleep on some strangers shoulder in the cinema, ditto the theatre.

You know you're getting old when your friends suggest an evening at some club or other and you sneak home under the pretense of changing into non-work clothes, and you stay there.

You go out for after work drinks and then complain about the "noise" in the bar.

You know you're getting old when you start talking about "when I was younger this is what we did during the August holidays".

You know age is catching up with you when the fashions in the stores look suspiciously like the things you wore as a teenager.

Oh yes, and your children are wearing them!

It is certainly a sign of age when those four inch stilettos that you would have happily climbed into and then walked around in all day are suddenly superseded by 'comfy' ballet flats - not just when you're navigating the uneven pavements, ALL THE TIME.

How do you know that it's time to get that mommy car? When climbing in and out of your low slung sex on wheels mobile requires two young men and a lot of creaking and pulling.

Conversations no longer revolve around clothes, parties or hot limes, instead acid reflux, having to go to work early the next day, what time the children have classes, retirement planning are the order of the day.

When the music you listened to becomes elevator music and is played on the "classic" station instead of Radio HOT.

Of course on the brighter side;

Getting older means that you're taken more seriously and no one says to you, " what do you know" as a result of your age.

However, you get to say this to other "young" folks.

Getting also means you get to say things like, " I told you so- because I said so - back in the ......, this is how we did it".

It means being liberated enough not to care that you haven't been seen in whatever night club dancing on a table top until what hour, wearing who knows what.

Getting older means that staying home with your book is a viable option.

See what happens when you have relentless insomnia, the mind comes up with all kinds of things to keep itself occupied!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Lest I forget, this is where I'm lucky enough to escape to!

" A child arrived just the other day, came into the world in the usual way. But there were planes to catch and bills to pay, he learnt to walk while I was away." The late Harry Chapin sang this in 1974, the lyrics are particularly poignant more so today. It is a "be careful what you wish for" type scenario, but this is what got me thinking about it.

Yesterday, a colleague was lamenting that he rarely spends time with his young children due to the heavy workload. Among my contemporaries I'm hearing stories of endless rounds of activities for kids out of school but sadly, few of them involve child and parents. So our children are being raised by people who are not us because we work.

I could talk about the breakdown in society, parenting by e-mail and text message and a host of other things but you all already know this stuff. What I find sad is how much we are denying our children in the guise of giving them everything. Are children today really better off? At the risk of dissolving into a nostalgic, rose tinted view of the "good old days", let's compare.

Our summer camp was being dropped off at Granny's house where we spent the day, not in front of the tv, but outside, climbing all eight julie mango trees, making endless bowls of chow, playing pirates in the pile of red sand that was supposed to be used for something else. Sure, we drove my grandmother nuts but our imaginations flowed free and there were no limits on our ability to create out of nothing more than a few crayons, some random pieces of wood and whatever else we could lay our hands on.

I remember going to lessons, common entrance or some other stupidness, but I didn't spend all day there. My parents both worked, but every August my mother would take off a couple of weeks to stay home with us. This is where I learnt to bake cakes, make dolls clothes and not kill my brothers. I read, incessantly. We were burnt brown from the beach. My father, always absent, in later years we could not relate, he was a stranger who occupied a space called father but not really a person to us.

My friends children have an exhausting round of extra lessons, karate, dancing, whatever,even during the vacation. Most of them have the latest electronic games, computers, iPods, whatever. The adults usually justify this by saying, we're giving them the best shot at school, university etc. They are almost always perpetually bored, wanting endless lifts, for the younger ones "play dates", the older ones, the Mall or Movietowne. They climb the walls when there is no electricity having not learnt how to amuse themselves by engaging their own imaginations. Most of the people I know work extremely long hours, not always by choice. They are faced with guilt when their kids tell them, mummy/daddy, you never spend any time with me. It's tough but is it really that you can't say no to the endless meetings and long hours or is it that it's a habit you can't break. Will the world stop if you take a couple hours off to read to your kid? I doubt it.

I sometimes want to remind them, we didn't do any of this stuff and neither did our parents and we all seemed to have turned out okay. So I don't have kids, with my current workload I would have never seen them; not an option for me. I did my own version of the kiddie shift so I do know what it's like. We all have choices, you chose to have children, now go spend some time with them.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wisdom of the cards

No, not the Tarot. Hallmark.

" Any idiot can face a crisis - it's this day to day living that wears you out" Anton Chekov

See, perspective, wonderful!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Tis to laugh

So what's with the G8 Leaders planting trees? There they were, picture splashed around the world, bunch of guys in suits, shovels in hand, planting a bunch of trees.

Why is it that every time the suits get together to talk about the well being of the "world", someone thinks that it's a good idea for them to go out and plant trees to show their concern for the environment? Do they really think we're fooled? Is that why there are no stated times for the reduction of carbon emissions or other measures that would bring tangible changes. Come on, for years the leader of the "free world", aka George Bush, has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

"The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reducing their emissions of carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases (GHG), or engaging in emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these green house gases.
The Kyoto Protocol now covers 181 countries globally but only 60% of countries in terms of global greenhouse gas emissions. As of December 2007, the US and Kazakhstan are the only signatory nations not to have ratified the act. The first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol ends in 2012, and international talks began in May 2007 on a subsequent commitment period."

Let's forget for a moment that the Head Suits usually travel with a posse of secondary suits and then the host country is required to provide a bunch of services and a fleet of transport vehicles, plus the usual entertainment etc. Is is really necessary to continuously have these mega-conferences? I'm sure Hokkaido Toyako is gorgeous, but you'd think, we sent a man to the moon we could figure out how to video-conference in real time right.

I think Hollywood is responsible for a lot of sins but most of all, I'm beginning to suspect all those doomsday prophecy movies have made leaders think that someone will come along and save us from ourselves at the last minute. It's getting to be more obvious that global warming is not a Will Smith movie and yet, lots of fiddling going on. I have friends who are what I call international Public Servants and the stories they tell about the lack of real concern for issues that do not involve arms, huge amounts of commerce, gas and oil at these mega conferences, can make you really wonder. There is so much to do; I hate that I have to quote Madonna and Justin Timberlake but "tick, tock, tick, tock". Are we really going to wait until we have four minutes to save the world?

By all means go plant some trees, we could sure use 'em, but please also get off your collective asses and make some real commitments to change please.

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Do you love me?

It always amazes me, the thing we do in the name of love. This emotion is blamed for a myriad of sins, and at some stage, we all suffer the price of loving someone. I don't understand families much either. Isn't love supposed to be unconditional? Why do I have to always conform to what you think I should be for you to love me?

I was thinking about this after spending an afternoon IM-ing my cousin. She's at lot younger than me, we did not grow up together, nor were we particularly close. I was married and out of the house before she was even in High School and yet, we are so alike and our experiences so similar that I know we are truly related. She is one of my biggest supporters and I'm part of her cheering crowd, funny really, I am the oldest of the bunch and she, the youngest. Who would have thunk it?

We are both free spirits who have always danced to the beat of our own drums, we question, we are not accepting of the boxes that we are put into and we struggle each day for our place in the sun. Our family mean well, yes they do love us, but we are so far from what they consider we should be that we are always on the receiving end of a stream of criticism. I try my best to offer support to her, wishing that I'd had the same when I was her age. Maybe I would not have self destructed and had to re-build myself over and over again. But in a way I'm lucky too, I got away.

Angry African wrote a lovely piece about his relationship with his mother and the subsequent guilt over her demise. I wanted to say to him, at least you were sure that she loved you. Despite the disfunctionality in your family, you still had that, it's really precious. Families think it is okay to question your life choices, make remarks about your weight, imply that you are not too bright, make fun of you or whatever. They say, we will accept you if you give up your man because he does not look like us; or your job is wrong because you don't have a big title and make lots of money; you're dumb, why can't you do anything right; you're so fat, where are you going with all that weight every time they see you, despite that your mother, grandmother and every other woman over thirty-five in your family are shaped the same way.

We say these and other like things to people we love, because we love them right. It's okay because we are FAMILY. My best friend is gay, when he is around his family he is so far in the closet that he's almost part of the woodwork. They still act as though I'm the girlfriend to make themselves feel better. Why should it matter who he loves as long as he is healthy and happy? Would they love him any less if he had been born autistic or had down's syndrome? This is your child, your flesh and blood that we're talking about.

I ask myself why we cannot live and let live? Why we find it so hard to just accept people the way they are? I've found my own middle ground thank goodness and I'm leaving the door open for my cousin too, just in case.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Historical Port of Spain

This one's for Blue.

This is a condensed version of a piece that I wrote for a magazine some years ago, my friend Blue wrote about her mom's experience at the old National LIbrary Building and it got me thinking. So I dusted this off and cut it down by a hundred or so words for her.

Woodford Square:

London has the lengendary Hyde Park and New York City is home to the famous Central Park, but anyone who has visited Port of Spain's Woodford Square will agree that this park certainly wins in the charm category. Nestled in the city block bordered by Abercromby, Frederick, Knox and Hart Streets, it is an inviting, green jewel lodged in the heart of a very busy city.

There is always an air of tranquility here. On sunny days you'll find a wide cross section of the of the city's population lazing in the shade provided by the scores of large, luxuriant trees; lounging on the benches or gathered around the whimsical mermaid splashing in her fountain, centre Square. Several times a year, people gather to enjoy the various musical events that mark our calendar, held in the elegant wrought iron framed bandstand near City Hall.

The Square has had a long, rich history; housing the homeless after the Great Fire of 1808 which destroyed large parts of the city; and today, sadly, it still houses some of the city's indigent population. Governer General, SIr Ralph Woodford was the architect in re-building Port of Spain after the fire and is responsible for the City's current grid pattern of streets running north to south from the docks to the Savannah and east to west, again from the docks to the foothills of Laventille.

It was under the Governer's personal direction that the Square was laid in 1816 with trees procured from Venezuela and neighbouring colonies. The process was not without controversy in that it also included the re-location of the new Anglican Cathedral, which had been built amidst protests from the community in the middle of the Square, to its current location. The building had been almost completed when Governor Woodford had it demolished and new plans drawn up and the church was completed in its current location in 1808. The seat of the Angilican See is a lovely building of hand cut stone, surrounded by verdant gardens from which emanates the melodious voices of the choir.

Bordering is the Red House, seat of Government. The current building, constructed after the original was gutted by fire during the Water Riots of 1903; closed the archway that had been formerly open to traffic and a fountain similar to the one in the Square sits alone under the rotunda. Of course the Riots started when crowds gathered in the Square to protest in equities in water distribution. Due to it's central location and proximity to the seat of power, the Square has often been used for trade union rallies, peace protests, candlelight vigils, Government events Other buildings of note around the Square; the Hall of Justice, City Hall and the National Library Building.

Also known as the University of Woodford Square, the benches on the east end are home to debates that rival those taking place in Parliament. If you want an accurate barometer of what happens in TnT, go visit the speakers spot and listed to the debaters, the pace is lively! Only the strong of heart need speak lest you be cried down by the more robust opinions.

This is my city.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On a cheery note

A couple days ago while strolling through the Falls at West Mall a bunch of angels descended upon me and my heart was light. Okay, I'm not having visions nor taken leave of my senses. The band of winged ones were in fact a gaggle of little girls all tricked out in white tees and angel wings with tin foil halos. They were handing out promotional flyers for some or other store and even an old, self proclaimed curmudgeon, me, could not help smile at their antics. They darted out from the front of the shop under the watchful eye of someone's mummy and accosted mall shoppers. Since I'm about 5' 9" in my heels I hadn't noticed them at first until I nearly tripped over one fuzzy haired, dark eyed little beauty, who called me MISS, tugging at the corner of my jacket to hand me her flyer. Satisfied that I had taken it, she sped off calling to her friends that they were letting us get away.

As an inveterate watcher of people; yes, I've been known to lurk in public places and just watch people go by. The opportunity was too good to miss and though I had things to do, I stood for a moment to watch them. They were a pack of about eight, all cute, beaming smiles, conscientious in handing out their flyers, chests puffed up with self importance at doing this most vital job. They approached each person with the same verve and energy, in groups of two or three. The shopper would find him or herself surrounded by the gaggle, one would tug on the victims arm while the others thrust their literature at them, all speaking in high pitched tones at the same time. To a man they brought smiles to the faces of shoppers, most of whom had been grimly going about their business.

Those little girls made me realise once again why my job, which I sometimes despair of, is important. Thanks little angels for making my day light!

Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Man does not live by bread alone

Today's newspapers reveal, TT$1.oo for a "hops" bread. Trini is now going to have to shell out an amazing $12.oo for a "quart" of hops, a sometimes staple of the working woman's arsenal in feeding a family. The "hops" bread, that delectable golden top crust and soft, cotton candy textured interior, hot out of the bakery oven with a smear of butter and a slice of cheese was once a familiar sight in many households, including my mother's.

While I haven't had one of these in long time, my mouth still waters at the thought of the huge wicker baskets that used to arrive in the shop every afternoon from Miss Thelma's and then Mikey's Bakery in Tunapuna. They were delivered hot, each day, around 3:30 in the afternoon and there was usually a run by housewives to get their hops and a block of "shop" cheese". Having just come home from school, my Granny would slice one open, slip in the cheese and we'd sit in the back and deconstruct our sandwich into bread and cheese. First you'd have to pull the soft insides out of the bread, eat that separately and then smush the cheese into the crust and have it slightly melting.

As pleasant as this is, I wonder though at all the things that are staples in our diets, few of which are actually indigenous. Things like wheat , smoked herrings, salted cod, even cheese are not grown or made here. These are really foods that have become ours either culturally or historically. Think about it, wheat is not grown here, though we have herds of cattle there numbers are not sufficient to produce milk and cheese in viable quantities. But who says we need bread, milk and cheese every day? These are tastes that have been acquired over time by really superior marketing. We've become convinced that just because it is convenient to use, or that we eat it because mommy and granny did or because some nutritionist in the "first" world says it's so that it is in fact necessary. Clever really. Ever notice, the country that feeds the world has the most power. If you can hold people to ransom over that most important of commodities, FOOD, then you're the one with the power. You can't eat oil and gas.

Now I like nice bread and I love cheese, usually of the stinky variety but can I live without them? A couple of years ago I had this recurring allergy that would leave a not so nice looking rash up my arm. The dermatologist suggested it might be from what I was eating. Then ensued a year of keeping a food diary, eliminating things from my diet and then slowly re-introducing them one by one. I gave up wheat, quite a hardship given my then love of pasta. No bread, no roti, no pasta, no pastry, you name it, once it was made out of flour it was gone. My skin cleared up, all of it. My sinus condition got a bit better when I gave up dairy. Hmm, I was on to something, and no, my vitamin levels hadn't suffered either, the other stuff I was eating made up the loss.

Eventually my skin condition was diagnosed and I started eating "normal" stuff again but I've found the answer, Everything in moderation. My diet is varied and as far as possible I eat what is fresh and in season. My food bill is still astronomical like everyone else's but I don't feel there is anything I HAVE to have. So as the Subway ad goes, if I'm going to eat US$5.00 dollars, it had better be for something I really like.