It was a quiet week for me, personal wise, apart from my rant at the beginning of the week (all ongoing, I’ll provide an update as soon as I have one. Suffice it to say, I am even more sympathetic to anyone who has been the victim of identity theft) and having a drink with my little friend, Hot Chocolate.


She’ll hate me for calling her that, but it’s quite a funny story. A couple of years ago, we were out in a bar in Covent Garden, having a quiet drink, minding our own business, not interfering with anyone. Hot Chocolate went up to the bar to get another bottle, and whilst there, an American chap started to talk to her. Actually, it was a bit more than talk; he took her hand in his and started stroking it, saying,

“Hot chocolate, I love hot chocolate.”

(Note to self: something vaguely creepy about that, I think.)



He proceeded to invite her to spend “some time with him,” but my little mate declined politely and came back over to our table with our wine. I dare say that the fact that he had extremely bad taste in suits had as much to do with that as my scintillating personality. It’s been a standing joke ever since. I blame Hot Chocolate for bearing her arms in public. That evening, at the beginning of last week, was peaceful and fun, and promised a good New Year.

Since then, of course, the world seems to have turned on its axis. People who know me will know that I am not a political animal. I have no desire to write a political blog. I take an interest in politics purely because it affects me, but I have never been on a political rally or been a member of any political party in my life. But like most people, I have been shocked and stunned by the events in Paris on 7 January 2015, and I want to express my condolences to the families of all who were murdered on that day.

I think that those people who don’t understand why we in the UK is showing such solidarity don’t understand the connection between what happened in Paris and what has happened here in the UK in earlier years (yes, I do mean 7 July 2005), the Twin Towers in America and other terrorist attacks across the world. There is most definitely a link and, in my opinion, all terrorists are worse than scum, but I do not approve of using bad language in my blog.

I don’t always like what is written in the press, nor do I always like some of the satirical cartoons drawn – see the Guardian on 7 January but I’m not putting the link in. I find some of them offensive, but I have the right to turn the page and not look at them any further. I’ll tell you what I’m not going to do about my displeasure. I am not going down to the Guardian offices and kill everyone who works there. If something annoys me, I write about it. Even if I don’t write it here, I write my feelings down (you never know when they might come in useful for a novel!). However much we may moan, here in the Western World, we are lucky enough to be able to pretty much say and do what we want. The pen is mightier than the sword and our right to freedom of speech is something to be defended, to the death in the case of Charlie Hebdo.

Terrorism has nothing to do with religion. It uses religion as a front, a bit like a bookies or a restaurant might be used for money laundering. And when it drives a wedge between decent people of all races and religions it wins. So it is our duty, it is incumbent on all of us, to ensure that we don’t let the terrorists win, that we don’t turn against our neighbours and start to question the beliefs of people with different religions. At the risk of offending half the world, I have always thought that the major religions all teach the same thing: treat other people the way you want to be treated, don’t kill and don’t steal. I think that pretty much covers it and I apologise if I’ve missed anything, and offended anyone, that was not my intention.

Finally, I must just say a little thank you to Aman and her young male colleague (whose name I have forgotten) in my local Nationwide branch. They were lovely people to speak to, and very helpful and polite as well. I had a nice little chat. Please don’t think that I just pop into banks and building societies for a chat, that would just be silly, I had a legitimate reason for going in there, it just happened that I spent a bit longer than I had intended. It proves to me that there are still some truly lovely people in the world.


Je Suis Charlie


© Susan Shirley 2015


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