Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

August 2008

PoliticalFriday, August 29th, 2008, (7:57 pm)

Has Presidential nominee Senator John McCain made a cunning move in picking Alaska’s Governor Sarah Palin as his republican running mate in this years Presidential election? I know nothing about Palin other than she’s a woman, but with so many pissed off Hillary supporters out there this might just have been the smartest move McCain has made in his bid to become America’s next President.

America’s Next President sounds like it could be the title for a low budget ad-laden reality TV game show, and in a sense that’s exactly what it is. So far we’ve had the bitchty name calling, the lies and double-talk, the drama surrounding expensive hair-do’s, and an emotional defeat that have left fans (known in this setting as supporters) in tears and embittered.

In many respects this has actually been reality TV worth watching, but since the Clinton/Obama battle faded the ratings must have taken a slight tumble. Yes, former candidate John Edwards was spotted skulking around the corridors of a hotel getting a little extra-marital input, but the there was something, dare I say, sexy about having Hillary do battle with the Barack-star (and that’s the only time I’m ever going to use the word sexy in the same sentence as Hillary Clinton!). Her supporters might have hoped that Obama would choose her as his running mate, but that was never going to happen, and their hopes were dashed when Joe Biden’s name was put on the ticket.

Enter Miss Congeniality and former runner up of Miss Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin. Senator John McCain’s running mate is bringing sexy back to the show (sexy in a Hillary Clinton way, not a Christina Aguilera way you understand). This might just have been a master stroke by the McCain camp. It’s very possible, some might even say likely, that all those pissed of Hillary supporters who have been telling anyone who will listen how they’re not going to vote for Obama, might now be far more inclined to vote for McCain.

But who is Sarah Palin? That’s the question many people will be asking, and no doubt the news anchors will be answering that in brain popping detail. But come on, yes I know this is a serious presidential race and all, but in terms of good ol’ fashioned reality TV, Governor Palin is a ‘MILF’, and thank God for that. Now we’ve got our trash TV back and the race for the leadership of the free world is back on the ‘possibly watchable’ list once again.

Who is Sarah Palin?
Sarah Palins experience : Check mate
If Obama Loses
[Video] Sarah Palin in the 1984 swimsuit contest

GeneralWednesday, August 27th, 2008, (8:59 pm)

I know many of you are following the progress of my nephew Jacob as he battles cancer. So with that in mind I thought I would share this video of him and his twin sister, Sumalee, that I filmed yesterday (Tuesday).

It took something like five and a half hours to drive through the heavy traffic to Essex to see Jacob and Sumalee, but even though I was only with them for about fours hours it was worth the long journey.

Bearing in mind Jacob has only just had the operation to remove the tumor which he and Sumalee refer to as ‘the bug,’ he was as active and playful as ever. We ran around the garden, played with toys in the living room, built bridges out of lego, and even played musical statues to the music of Abba (my Mom’s choice I think?).

Every time I see him I’m amazed at this little guy. You or I would probably feel somewhat sorry for ourselves if we were in a similar situation, but Jacob has just adjusted and continued life as a little boy.

Back when his hair was first falling out from the chemotherapy Sumalee told me something which I think really illustrates the resilience of children. She said it was “funny” when his hair was falling out because they could take little clumps of it out of his head and put it on their top lips and pretend they had mustaches.

He was due back in hospital today for more tests before starting his high dose chemotherapy in a week or so. After that he’ll then be in isolation for about six to eight weeks. I’ll be in the States then, sending him postcards to add the the collection he’s been getting from people who, despite never having met the little guy, have been kind enough to send him and Sumalee postcards from all kinds of far flung places. Louise told me those cards actually lift the whole families spirits, so keep them coming, and remember, Jacob isn’t out of the woods by a long way yet, so please keep him in you thoughts and prayers.

About Jacob’s cancer – By his Mom

GeneralMonday, August 25th, 2008, (11:43 pm)

It’s been a holiday weekend here in the UK and a very special one for my friend Gavin. Following his stag night last month came the far more civilized celebration of his wedding day as he tied the knot with his longtime girlfriend, Savanna.

The traditional church wedding took place on Saturday in the small village church of Barnston. The seemingly unending rain, that has soaked Britain all summer long, broke and bathed the church in warm sunlight, just as it did for Gav’s stag do, and Savanna’s hen weekend.

In the morning Gav and ‘the boys’ all went to the Shamrock Cafe for a traditional English breakfast. Just as Phil did on the morning of his wedding last year, Gav elected to get the biggest breakfast he could, a huge plate of animal that would satisfy a giant, let alone “a little fella” like Gav!

Having eaten his final breakfast as a single man we didn’t see him again until he was sat nervously at the front of the church waiting for the arrival of Savanna – and what an arrival that was. She looked amazing! Her dress, well heck – what do I know about dresses! It was a spectacular brilliant white off the shoulder dress with a corset type thing going on at the back (I appreciate there is probably a technical term for that). As predicted Gav began to cry the moment he saw her in it. Nobody lost that bet!

After the church service we all headed off to a nearby manor house for the reception. There was the obligatory time spent posing for pictures, then the ‘wedding breakfast’ and the speeches. Jon, the best man, very kindly added a gag to the speech for myself, Fozzie and Si. Gav and Savanna didn’t have a wedding present list and had instead just asked for money, which while not unusual these days, did seem rather boring. So Fozzie, Si, and I decided we would give them what they wanted, but with a twist.

I contacted my bank and changed our money into small change; coins no bigger than 5p. Just to add to the fun we threw in foreign coins too! It weighed a lot more than I had anticipated, so much so that the best way of carrying it was between two people. So when Jon announced that we had decided to adhere to their wishes to give them money Foz and I carried the wooden box of change to the top table and placed it right in front of the happy couple.

In the end the entire day was over far sooner than I think any of us would have liked. Gavin and Savanna (or Gavanna as I think they should now be called) are quite simply made for one another and fit like hand in glove together. They were positively overflowing with happiness that day but in truth if you mention Savanna’s name to Gav on any day he can’t help but tell you how much he loves her, and long may that continue.

So right now they’re on their honeymoon in Mauritius enjoying the tropical sun and the beginning of a new life together. I doubt Gav’s grin will leave his face for weeks yet, and really, who could blame him.

Fozzy’s pictures of the wedding

Top picture by Paul Crook.
Left picture by Joanne Simpson (converted to black and white by me)
Picture of ‘Gavanna’ with the bridesmaids by Joanne Simpson
Confetti picture by Paul Crook

GeneralTuesday, August 19th, 2008, (11:58 pm)

Green tea… What’s that all about then?

Fat people swear it makes them thinner. Healthy swear it makes them healtheir. Trendy people think it makes them cooler. Tree huggers like it because of reasons that probably have something to do with the moon, and up market ‘ladies that lunch’ like it because of a mixture of all of those reasons.

Am I the only person who thinks green tea is rubbish?

Green Tea: Nutritious Miracle or Nasty Myth?
Benefits of green tea
Beauty myths – Busted

GeneralMonday, August 18th, 2008, (7:42 pm)

As regular readers of this blog will know my four and a half year old nephew, Jacob, has cancer and recently had a operation to remove the tumor. The operation went as well as anyone could have hoped for and ‘Jake’ was soon feeling well enough to declare he was hungry, something he hasn’t said for many months. Pretty soon the post-op chemo and radiotherapy will begin. The picture below was taken over the weekend and the post below was written by Louise. The text is taken from a web page she created in order to collect sponsorship for a run she is doing to raise money for cancer research here in the UK.

If you had asked me about Childhood Cancer just three months ago, I wouldn’t truly have been able to tell you a thing about it.

I may have said “do you mean Leukemia?”, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what Leukemia is, or how it is treated. And I wouldn’t have known that there are actually different types of childhood Leukemia, requiring different treatment racemes.

How life changes in just three months… in fact how life changes in the matter of minutes, because three months ago, my own son Jacob, who is just four years old, was diagnosed as having a form of childhood Cancer. Not Leukemia, but another type of cancer called Neuroblastoma.

Neuroblastoma is a solid tumor that begins in the neural crest cells. These versatile cells help form the nervous system amongst other things. Neuroblastoma means “Neuro” = nerve and “blastoma” = cancer in immature cells.

Like a lot of children diagnosed with this appalling condition Jacobs Tumor started in his Tummy, between his kidney and Liver. The disease then spread in to his bone marrow.

When we were told Jacob had cancer all I can remember feeling was fear. Plans that we had made for the future were shattered. Everything in life suddenly felt uncertain…and still does. You can’t imagine life will ever be the same again. Life becomes full of ifs, buts and maybes. That feeling of fear is still with me now, and I don’t suppose it will ever leave, but that’s what living with Cancer is like.

In the UK alone there are around 285,000 cases of cancer diagnosed each year. More than 1 in 3 people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. These are shocking statistics, but thanks to the work of charities such as Cancer Research UK progress is being made, from finding out what causes cancer and investigating how to prevent it, to improving diagnostic test and developing more effective treatments. Even our own son is taking part in a clinical trial to try to help discover the most effective treatment for his condition.

98% of men with testicular cancer are now successfully treated. Almost two thirds of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to survive for at least twenty years. And 7 out of 10 children with cancer are now successfully treated. These statistics are an improvement compared with ten years ago, we are naturally praying that our Jacob is one of those lucky 7.

On 28 September this year I will be taking part in Cancer Research UK’s “Run10k” (that’s 10 kilometers… or just under seven miles for those of us who only do miles!) it’s my way of repaying all the amazing individuals who have looked after our son, for the very worth while work they do. My goal is to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK and I am extremely grateful for any donations that you feel you can give, however big or small.

Jacob is still receiving treatment for his condition on the pediatric Oncology ward at Addenbrooks hospital in Cambridge. Unfortunately we still don’t know what the future holds for him, but he continues like so many of the children on C2 to show extraordinary courage which is truly humbling. All the children endure awful side affects from the treatment, but they don’t seem to moan or grumble, they just get on with it taking it all in their stride, and for that reason alone I think they’re all pretty amazing!

Written by Louise Marshall.

You can sponsor Louise as she does the Run10k by visiting her sponsorship page at She’s also very grateful, as are Bryan and Sumalee, for the continued prayers and support of everyone out there who is hoping and praying for Jacob to make a complete recovery.

GeneralMonday, August 11th, 2008, (2:11 am)

The other night I watched a TED talk given by anthropologist Helen Fisher who has studied the brains of people who are “madly in love” to see just exactly what’s going on in the their heads. As you might imagine, her results are fascinating.

Fisher is an anthropology professor and human behavior researcher at the Rutgers University who is widely regarded to be the one of the world’s leading expert on the topic of romantic love. She describes love as a universal human drive that is stronger than the sex drive, as well as thirst or hunger, and possibly even the will to live.

Using an MRI scanner Fisher has anylized the brains of 37 “madly in love” people, 17 of whom were happily in love and 15 who were in “bad shape” after having just been dumped. More recently she has examined the brain scans of 5 people who said they were still in love after 10-25 years of marriage.

In her 15 minute TED talk (shown above) Fisher calls love “life’s greatest prize” that has “all the characteristics of an addiction.” Asked if love is spoiled for her due to all her inside knowledge of its workings she compares love to chocolate saying that while you might know what makes a great chocolate cake that doesn’t detract at all from your enjoyment of it.

So, given it’s chemical complexity and it’s emotional power, maybe the following simple sounding question is in actual fact so difficult and complex that I should expect no answers, but out of pure curiosity I’ll ask it nonetheless. In your life, considering your experience, expectations and understandings, what is love?

Another (earlier) TED talk on love by Helen Fisher
Helen Fisher’s website
Why We Love by Helen Fisher

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