Sunday, January 4, 2009

Music Mondays; let's get down to the Bare Necessities

Well 2009 is finally here and not a moment too soon for me. I’m sure there will be many of you across the world who, like me, will welcome 2009 with open arms.

2008 is a year that will be marked in my memory for a long time but I am not alone for across the world we all have our own personal stories of grief and hardship. However, empathy and love can makes losses and suffering easier to bear; it is healing.

But personal stories aside, last year was again fraught with terrorism such as with dreadful acts in Mumbai, numerous wars, famines such as the continuing crisis in Darfur and poverty. When I consider the fatalities caused by these events I know my own grief at family losses cannot match the death of even one innocent child in this world from poverty, starvation or conflict.

It is an awful world we live in if we allow such crimes to exist.

However, 2008 was also significant because many countries that have lived in relatively stable economic, political, and environmental climates began to feel the effects of the escalating global economic crisis. Food and fuel prices rose dramatically hitting families where it hurts most; in their pockets. The housing market, inflated by ludicrous loan schemes, started to collapse causing negative equity and repossessions and financial institutions built upon air and not substance began to crumble. Financial chaos ensued and ultimately the crisis developed into a meltdown of gigantic proportions. These repercussions will be felt for years and 2009 will not be a year for the faint hearted.

While the recession has been biting hard in the US and elsewhere for sometime, in the UK the impact is just starting to have a full effect. In the last few weeks some of our major retailers have gone into receivership, including MFI and Woolworths. The closure of Woolworths alone will lead to the loss of approximately 27,000 jobs. I already know some friends and relatives made redundant but the situation will undoubtedly worsen in the next few months when business contracts end and people begin to search for work in earnest. In a couple of weeks my husband's employers are closing down 50 vacancies at their head office and making another 100 employees redundant; scaling the HQ workforce down from 950 to 800. I'm optimistic my husband will make it through the first wave of cuts. After that? Who knows? No one is indispensable.

As usual over the last few weeks I've been considering my New Year Resolutions and it was with interest that I read Mark Stoneman's list. One particular resolution jumped out at me;

"I resolve to see material possessions for what they are: just stuff."

And you know I think Mark is spot on. It really would be a good idea if all around the world we stopped worrying about the size of our house, the speed of our car or even the latest technological gadget. We need to get back to basics; food, warmth and shelter for everyone. Of course, this sounds impossibly naive and as a history graduate I know that war, terrorism, poverty and famine are often the result of many complex issues which have no obvious or easy solutions.

However, that doesn't stop me from being the eternal optimist and believing that somehow there must be a way for us to progress individually and collectively for the greater good of mankind. Because you know what? I'd feel a hell of a lot happier knowing some child hadn't died of starvation in the time its taken me to write this post.

Maybe with all this current strife in this world our politicians, financiers and businessmen... those who lead the way... will review their actions and learn to make decisions based on both sound moral and financial resolutions before we fall into further ruin from which there might be no redemption. There must surely be a way that we can move forward as individuals within the framework of a caring but prosperous society. I hope so, I really do.

With the election of Obama there is an air of expectation, a desire for change amongst the masses and moreover there is now the opportunity for change. We need to embrace this moment. We need to get back to basics. We need to remember that food, shelter and warmth is a fundamental human right.

It's time to get back to the Bare Necessities and then maybe like Baloo and Mowgli we'd all be a lot happier.

This post was inspired by Mark Stoneman and Mr Geoffrey.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.


  1. Songs from the Jungle Book is definitely my favorite from all Disney movies.

    You're right, maybe all the politicians and the world leaders should just stop fighting about power control and just sit at home and watch Disney movies with their kids or grandkids. This song definitely brings a message to teach us a thing or two about life..

  2. I am a big fan of Disney songs.
    However, with your post it adds value to this piece.

    We all need to do our part help each other.

    Ultimately, even the Politicians can learn from the simple things in life. They too can find themselves trying to survive the harsh times.

  3. Hi Janie

    Well, if I helped inspire this post, it makes me very proud!

    The amount of money it would need to facilitate the provision of food, health, sanitation, warmth and adequate shelter throughout the world is miniscule compared to the amount of money being spent on bailing out banks and major corporations.

    People have misunderstood something I said recently about Obama. I am a sceptic. I don't buy into hero cultures, nor do I necessarily trust a politician whose election campaign sponsors read like a list of "Who's who" on Wall Street. But that's not really the point. It's not within the power of any one man to bring about change of the scale that's needed in the world now, not even the president of the USA. That change has to come from you and me and everyone. I won't trust a politically led social movement either. The change needs to come from the people and be enacted by their elected representatives. Apparently it's how democracy is meant to work. Barack won't fix it unless he's working with and for the people he represents. There's a big problem to surmount there too. It means we have to work at understanding the real issues in the world and be prepared to take responsibility in putting things right. It means we, as the French did, need to say no to unjust wars founded on lies like Iraq. It means we have to stand up and say no to social injustice and deprivation rather than "I'm alright, Jack." It means we have to care for each other, ourselves and for humankind. Obama can't do that for us.

    Mark is so right. Pleasures and happiness in life come from people and not stuff. Personal fulfillment doesn't come from stuff either.

    As a funny aside, my French friends here think it hilarious that Americans renamed "French fries" as "Freedom fries" because of the French opposition to the Iraq war. They frequently remind me that "fries" are a major constituent of American diet but not their own! Most I know would rather take the freedom and leave the fries behind.

    Now I must go and check out Mark's site, I don't really know him.

    Your message here is very important. Thank you for this post. It inspires me to keep writing.

    Hugs and stuff xxx


  4. Lovely well meaning song.. let's all do our part :)..

    Thanks for participating in MM :)

  5. Hi Shemah,

    I think The Jungle Book is my favourite Disney too. The Lion King is great though.... maybe it's because there's no super perfect princesses with eyes like saucers!

    I think we're at a crucial point in human evolution; where we need to start using our brains and really think about the future of mankind as a species.

    Thanks for dropping by!

    Hi Laura,

    Yep, helping each other is what it is all about. At a basic, fundamental level. I'm sure there must be a way to do it. Perhaps we just need to have the courage and convictions to do it.

  6. omg brought me back to my childhood lol good one !

  7. Ah Mr Geoffrey,

    You are entirely right. The task ahead is way beyond the remit of a single man. But if Obama can be a spearhead for change that would be, at the very least, a small step forward.

    You were right in your post about Blair's election and the feeling of "change" too..and it came to nothing. I do believe Obama is different but nevertheless with our election beginning to loom on the horizon I wonder where things will go for us...

    It is the responsibilty all of us, of that is no doubt.

    Now on to other important matters; "French fries" or "Freedom Fries". Who cares? Neither has any substance! What the worlds is good old fashioned CHIPS.

  8. LJ,

    I'm enjoying the MM link - new music, old music and memorable music - it's great.

    Ps - I don't usually write depressing stuff; lack of choclate I'm afraid.

  9. Great Post, Mrs. T!! It has only got to get better in 2009, albeit slowly. As you wrote, the opportunity is right in front of our faces, so we have to embrace it. Well.....there really is no choice anyhow. I am quite optimistic (at a personal level as well). It was interesting to read what you are seeing of consequences (economic crises) where you are. I keep an eye on Norway to keep up, and although they haven't been doing too badly, they are slowly feeling that which they expected...and, they are adjusting.

  10. My mother read the "Jungle Book" to lil` Speedy all the time. You can imagine how it can be one of my favorites.

    There is some good scratching going on !!!

    I am going to use a fake plant, and try it out ((smile))

  11. Jane ... did you marry James Bond??

    If so, I want to drive one of the cars - you know, with the oil slick spray and rocket ejector seat.


    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> |_ >>>>>>>>
    .... Z O O O M ! ! !

  12. Chips! Yes, I understand good old fashioned "chips" but our transatlantic cousins use that word to describe what we call "crisps". Two nations divided by a common language eh?

    By the way, I loved the inclusion of the Jungle Book clip! A very nice human touch, Jane.

  13. Hi Coltfan,

    Some stories are just timeless aren't they? I like that... I like the idea taht my children are exposed to some of the things I a world of so much change a little continuity is rather nice...even it's only a film (and of course the even older story of1894 by Rudyard Kipling )

  14. Hi Tamera,

    Thank you. Yep, even I can't ignore what is happening both abroad and at home; this a very real crisis indeed. There are other firms which have collapsed but Woolies (Woolworths) was a major player and had a place in the hearts of the average man on the street. There isn't anyone in the UK who has never bought something from good 'ol Woolies.(The best sweet counters in the UK!) The doors close on them for the last time today I think; the receivers could not find a buyer.

    But last night I was more distressed to hear of the collapse of Waterford and Wedgewood. There will be less jobs lost but the thought of this ancient firm which has been around for centuries biting the dust is even worse. I worked for a long time in retail selling amongst other things Waterford and Wedgewood - I've always appreciated the beauty and skill in the manufacture of such items...and of course antique Wedgewood is highly collectible and part of our national heritage. I'm sincerely hope that someone, somewhere will come to their rescue.

    I am by nature optimistic and proactive...but sometimes I get frustrated at the passivity of others...for example a few years back I tried to get the school mums to speak to our MP about an important local matter at his mobile surgery (5 mins walk). How many turned up other than me? ONE. (my next door neighbour and she proably feared for her life admittedly! Btw Well done Mrs R - again!)In fact I saw the MP twice on this matter and the first time... I can't remeber his exact words but it was something like "I can't believe you are the first person to raise this matter." In other words, he was fully aware of this matter and was expecting people to voice an opinion...but because others would not vocalize their feelings ..nothing was done. Two voices was not enough..complaceny ruled.

    As Geoffrey says we, the electorates, must not be passive if change is ever to take place. It is our responsibilty too.

    I am about to press on with my book..(sadly neglected last year)it is about change (amongst other things)...personally and politically. Even if no one publishes it I will publish it on the net..and that will be my contribution. Another voice.

  15. Speedy,

    I tell you what.. I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine!


    It's my life ambition to marry Pierce...'course I do that every night in my dreams and let me tell you Speedy... the throttle in his car is excellent.....


  16. Chips are crisps in the USA and fries are chips? Good Lord! How outrageous. So if I order Fish and chips I'll get a plate of Haddock and a bag of Walkers? Interesting combination.

    Pants are trousers and strings are flip flops there too I understand. This is way too confusing for Mrs T!

    I fear if I were to ever take my hols in USA I might have some major etiquette problems. Especially if I was asked to wear my strings to dinner and no pants!

  17. A favourite song!
    About the quote
    "I resolve to see material possessions for what they are: just stuff." --seems to be the last few years, most parts of the world seemed to have given themselves over to an orgy of consumerism, whether it was affordable or not and that kind of spending was lauded as the way to make economies grow! Can never understand all this high-falutin' economics (nor 'branding', adverts for new,expensive, useless items, etc, etc).

  18. My dad used to sing this to me when I was a kid all the time! :D it brings back so much wonderful memories of spending time with my dad... great choice! :D

  19. Sue,
    I think you've raised an important point; much of what has happened has been because of the acceptance of people/businesses to live in a what might be termed as a "Debt Culture."

    On an individual basis instead of saving up for what you want it is now acceptable to take the credit option and pay the money over time at much greater expense.

    Unfortunately, I feel many young people have come to accept this as a way of life...having a debt is not a real worry to them anymore. In addition, it is relatively easy for them to secure loans and for some, like students, loans are positively encouraged because educational grants are not as comprehensive as they used to be.

    I've nothing against the concept of credit which for can be extremely useful both for the individual who might really need something and for business in securing income they might not otherwise have had.

    The trouble is when an individual doesn't really have the capacity to pay the loan back. This is where your second point of unnecessary consumerism comes into play...where people will replace items or buy branded items for something that is bigger, better, more fashionable etc etc when there is no real need. When I was child I had trainers from Woolies... now children have £100 Nike and Reebok..even though they don't even play sport and just pose in them! That's fine if you can afford it but if you can't.....

    Blimey, I went off on one there! Let's get back to the Bare Necessities.... Grrrrreat!

  20. Ane,

    Hello and welcome! Yep, the old ones are the best; such memories!

    And your dad sounds like he was kinda groovvy!!

  21. Yes, the wonders of Anglo-American misunderstanding are mind-boggling!

    I wouldn't ask an American if they were wearing any "drawers" either!

    When I lived in the US we had a friend who had never visited before come stay with us. One morning he was reduced to complete hysteria by a radio ad. He insisted that I should listen with him next time round. The ad was for what we heard as "cacky pants"! It was the local native pronunciation of the word, "khaki". Should we explain?

    It's a wonder to me sometimes how we ever understand each other at all. :-)


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