Thursday, 20 December 2012

My Christmas survival kit

Days to go til Christmas and I have been struck down with a horrible winter cold – which has made me think about all the things we should keep in stock, especially over Christmas when we can’t nip out to the shops for fresh supplies.

. For that early tickle in the throat – suck Comvita lozenges. I like the aniseed flavoured sweet containing propolis (a substance honey bees make to sterilise the hive). I also take Echinaforce Forte – to galvanise my immune system’s white cells so they’re ready to fight the virus.
. For aches and pains and shivers, I need paracetamol.
. For a sore throat, I love Vogel’s Echinacea throat spray. If it’s really bad try Ultra Chloraseptic throat anaesthetic to numb the pain.
. For a bunged up nose, add Olbas bath to your tub for a soothing soak, and dot Olbas oil on your pillow and PJs.
. For my cough, I’m taking Potter’s Cough Remover – a herbal syrup that moves the cough virus up and away from your chest; but I also like Kaloba pelargonium – which speeds up the movement of the villi in the respiratory tract to shift the virus.

 I also swear by spicy food for a cold – to be honest I don’t feel like much else. So it’s curry for us again tonight...

Monday, 17 December 2012

‘Tis the season to be giving, tra la la la la, tra la la la...

A month on and I am still on the theme of charity. Well, it is Christmas time...
Since my last posting, I've been on a mini break to Portugal to visit my father.
While I was there he had one of those door-to-door callers asking for charity donations.  We get them all the time in London, and I'm ashamed to admit that knocking at our door isn’t always a roaring success – we're a bit picky about who we give to, although we have signed up for a number of charities to whom we now give on a monthly basis, including Shelter, St Mungo’s, Plan (through whom we sponsor a child in Burkina Faso), the Medical Foundation, and – the latest -  Battersea Dogs’ Home (we'd just visited the home, and the poor girl who knocked at our door was soaking wet and wearing ballet pumps...)
Anyway, back to Dad. Living where he does, he was quite surprised by this knock at the door, and told me afterwards how the caller had asked if he wanted to give money to help the poor children who had nothing. When Dad said, “No,” the caller asked, “So you don’t care about the poor children?”
“No,” Dad said – and sounded quite pleased with himself when he reported back to me. 
Of course Dad was imagining he’d cleverly foiled a rogue beggar with no genuine charity connections.
Later, we saw the man near the home of some of Dad’s friends.
“Did that chap call on you, too?” he asked.
“Yes,” said the wife. “I called Security!”
Later still we had dinner with another of Dad’s neighbours. Had the scrounger called on her, too?
“Yes, and I gave him 10 euros,” she said. “But he told me that last year I gave him 20... But I only had 10 on me today.”
“Didn’t you think he could be a scrounger?” Dad asked.
“Oh course he could be,” said his friend. “But he’d taken the trouble to come calling around our houses, knowing a lot of people would turn him away – whatever his motive, he must need that money. It was only 10 euros – nothing to me - and I believe in doing good deeds.”
I admired her attitude, and, when I dug a bit deeper, she told me that once, many years ago, she met a man who’d gone through a personal crisis and travelled to India to rediscover himself. There he’d been shocked by the plight of street children trying to scrape a living and often falling into the hands of men who would abuse them. He’d rescued a few of these children and given them food and shelter. But there were more children needing his help than he could provide for.
“I gave him £100,” she said. “And when I later told my husband what I’d done, he was so concerned by the story he got in touch with the man and pledged to help him all he could.”
That was the start of the Street Kids’ Community Village, which has since built at least 10 houses and gives food, shelter and education to as many children as it can.
You only need to have watched Slumdog Millionaire, or read The Blue Notebook (James A.Levine) to understand how crucial this work is.
So, this year, I will be adding them to my favourite charities list. 
And I'll be suggesting my father does too...