Jade Goody – A Cautionary Tale

Whatever any of us might think of Jade Goody. Whatever uncharitable thoughts we might have harboured for her in life. In death, and today of all days, we should remember that somewhere there are two small children to whom she was everything. To say nothing of the rest of her family and friends.

As much as the world needs its heroes and shining examples, it also needs its cautionary tales. It’s a cliché, I know, but sometimes a person’s most important role in life is to serve as a warning to others. Given the more than 30% increase in smear tests since her plight was publicised I’d say that not only has she fulfilled that role, she has excelled at it.

There is no “right way” to die of cancer aged 27. If there’s anything in this world which is excusable to do any damn way you please, then that is probably it. To those whom Jade’s life or death have offended, you have only yourselves to blame. No one forces you to watch that kind of television or read those kinds of newspapers and magazines. I’m just sayin’.


5 Question Interview

Twitter, home of a million memes, has thrown up another bit of fun. I’ve been tagged by @sniffyjenkins for the 5 Question Interview, so here goes.
Q1.  When were you happiest?
I am a happy person. It’s always been my natural base-line state and it takes a lot to put any kind of a dent in my my basic demeanour of good-natured contentment. I suppose I should say that I was happiest on my wedding day or at the birth of my children or something like that, but the truth is I don’t remember being especially happy on those occasions. I remember being apprehensive, worried, excited and a whole host of other emotions but happy? Like “walking on sunshine happy” ? I’m not so sure. I can remember having a really good time at university. I mean “time of my life” kind of stuff but I don’t look back on it now as some kind of “golden period” of my life. I also think that there’s probably nothing in my adult life that can compare to the excitement, the sheer unadulterated, bouncing-off-the-ceiling joy of waking up on Christmas morning aged 5, but it’s all relative isn’t it ? I think there was also a time  that a hospital doctor told me that I didn’t have appendicitis after all – it had all been a false alarm – just as my Mum arrived on the ward with my new light sabre that she had bought me out of guilt for having dismissed my “tummy ache” for 3 days. That is a pretty good day for a 6 year old.
Maybe it’s because I’m happy now, that I don’t get nostalgic for happier times. I love my family, they make me happy. Watching my kids grow up day by day is an emotional rollercoaster but not one I ever want to get off. I love playing music and cooking and socialising. I love my job and the fact that I am good at what I do. I’m happy that my job and my hobby overlap so much. That saying, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. That’s really true.
Q2.  Are you a planner or a rambler? What I mean by this is do you structure your life according to some plan, or do you just take things as they come and ‘go with the flow’?
There’s no grand plan or over-arching strategy to my life. I do plan stuff. I plan holidays, I plan menus and shopping lists, I plan the downfall of my enemies, I plan the enterprise architecture for a major airline…you know, the small stuff.
I didn’t plan my career, I fell into it by accident. I didn’t plan my relationship with my wife, we actually disliked each other intensely when we first met. I didn’t plan our first child, no one saw that coming.
A lot of the big stuff in my life has been a combination of serendipity, my willingness to go with the flow and my ability to both land and think on my feet. I sometimes think I should plan more but it’s worked so far and I worry I might mess it up if I try to interfere. I don’t think my plans would be very realistic or effective, sort of :
  • Monday : Secret Lair
  • Tuesday : Winged Monkeys
  • Wednesday : Death Ray
  • Thursday : Minion Brainwashing Session ( => Hand out uniforms <= )
  • Friday : Shop for the weekend (Extra bread for packed lunches !)
  • Saturday : Take over the World.
Except while I was out shopping on Friday one of the minions would accidentally open the monkey enclosure and, even though we spend all Friday night cleaning up, the Death Ray is useless on Saturday because of some suspiciously peanutty poop on the concentrator crystals. Y’see, the best laid plans…
Q3.  You sang as a child. Is this something you wish you still did, maybe professionally?
I still do sing…quite a lot actually, though not professionally and rarely publicly. I play the piano and guitar and sing and I love it. I don’t think I could do it professionally, or at least if I could, I doubt I could make a decent living at it. It’s a question of pragmatism really. I think I get the same level of satisfaction and fulfilment out of playing music for my own pleasure as I would out of doing it professionally, but I know that I would not get the same level of reward either financially or in terms of intellectual stimulation and challenge if I did software development and architecture as a hobby or sideline.
Q4.  What would your perfect day be.
That’s hard. Probably some wonderful mix of the things from question 1 that make me happy. Some sense of achievement like finally finishing a great piece of work that I can be really proud of and get that climactic feeling of a job well done coupled with the freedom of some well-earned time off. Then going off somewhere with friends and family, ideally somewhere outdoors with beautiful surroundings, to eat great food and drink great wine and have fascinating conversations, hear hilarious stories and jokes all with the sense that there’s nothing particularly important to do the next day, so you can just chill and live in the moment. Also, Jon Cleary would be playing live at this event and insist on a duet.
Q5.  What is one of your main goals in life?
To raise my children so they turn out to be a) fundamentally decent human beings and b) at least as happy as me.
So that was much harder than I thought it would be. If anyone wants to get tagged, mail or tweet me and I will provide questions.
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