A short letter I sent today

13 May

Hello. I hope you are well.As I know you are very busy I decided to write an update on my new desk that I made today. I found an old wardrobe door left outside , brought it upstairs with neighbourly help ,washed it down with soap and hot water as I do for all shopping that comes in.Then placed it on 2 large heavy boxes by the window.It is now set up near my window, so much better than a balancing a lap top on an armchair.And I have a Rear Window-like view of the action in the close.

In the last week, I have been out for the first time in weeks- to the pharmacy for medicine and masks and to grocery shop. How fresh and clean the neighbourhood looks and many wearing masks, most social distancing.
Meanwhile ,neighbours continue to leave food for me outside my door and offer any assistance
I have also done an interview on Voice Islam Radio breakfast show about the excellent online Virtual Iftar series that the Ahmadiyya have been running online that I have attended . Each session deals with aspects of Ramadan and being a Muslim .That was early last Monday morning.

I also made a short film to put on You tube for my sister’s birthday as I was unable to send a present. I hadn’t used good old Film Maker in a while.

On the estate, things seem quite calm.Am in touch with many neighbours. Some of whom are really quite stressed, mostly by the uncertainty.
Personally, I think it is much too early to come out except for essentials.

My health has amazingly been quite good but let’s keep it that way
Last night , I attended a zoom webinar on Coronavirus and Africa and will be attending one later on Facing Mortality. Global Net 21 has been presenting some marvellous topics with great speakers and I look forward to each webinar as I enjoy learning.
Have a good afternoon.

start at 13.43 for the interview.


The Internet and the virus a simple perspective in a small London flat

13 May

The first workable prototype of the Internet came in the late 1960s Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense,something called packet switching allowed multiple computers to communicate on a single network.

The Internet was first invented for military purposes, and then expanded to the purpose of communication among scientists. The internet was to make communication possible if a nuclear attack occurred..

Fortunately we are not in such dire circumstances now but we are all being brought to realise a new reality that there is a virus -a very effective one capable of taking us out, although who will be taken out is as yet an unknown as some patients have surprised doctors by recovering just as others have shocked doctors by dying .

The internet has proved to be a godsend. We can stay in touch, Facetime those in isolation ,chat online, look up information even worship online as I attend daily mass .We learnt about Zoom which made us look like an unusual Brady Bunch.Of course the phone has also proved useful. It’s good to talk.

But this new reality has forced us all to stop, take stock, develop new routines, get rid of habits, beliefs ,activities that are no longer relevant.We are forced to confine ourselves, plan ahead,occupy ourselves and use commonsense. Hand washing has always been the accepted practice for keeping germs away. When did we stop? Likewise for\keeping our environment clean . And keeping ourselves educated in science. This has become increasingly important in every part of our existence from the chemicals in make up to the number of satellites being launched of late.

And now what a virus is and how it works.How some animals can carry viruses .And how no drug can be said to be a complete success in fighting this one . I am lucky in some ways.My long term illness has forced me to stay home in the past sometimes for days so I have learnt how to plan ahead, prepare, stock up ( but not to a ridiculous extent) , to keep my distance from others, to follow a routine, to keep my place looking nice and clean,to find things to do on and away from the internet. Music is always a great backstop.So is prayer/meditation.

Another way in which I am very fortunate is the fact that so many have contacted me with offers of help,some who I know well and others who are not so close.I am grateful and once again see that in any emergency there are always the helpers. Sometimes the most unlikely people shine when things turn dire all around and believe me just an offer of help means loads. We are now in a new normal..We see which jobs really matter for the functioning of a society .The lowly have been exalted .

We know what we have to each play our part Keep ourselves healthy, get plenty of rest as the doctors recommend, and most importantly stay home


Muhammad (pbuh) Speech Contest. Raising my voice.

27 Oct

It all started quietly enough.

It was a Sunday morning. My phone rang. It was Bilal Mahmood, from the National  Outreach Team of the  Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, who works hard  to educate the public about what Islam is and what it most definitely isn’t.

“Hello, Katherine, I hope you are well.” I replied that I was ok and waiting to hear what activities were planned.

“There’s a speech contest about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and I hope you will take part, just a short speech.”

“All right, I can do that but just something simple”.

So that’s how I found myself filming two short speeches, thinking of what to say as I went so as to try to be natural , after checking my clothes and the background were suitable.

I took part in the contest as I heard that there are dark forces trying to stir up more trouble against Muslims, where a religion that believes strongly in living in peace is not allowed to have a moment’s peace. And  there is clearly a general misunderstanding about Islamic beliefs and teachings, as I found out when I went to events as a guest at the Baitul Futuh Mosque and asked a lot of questions. The media seem to have no interest in dispelling the wrong ideas the public have.

My stand is for religious freedom. I believe taking a stand when possible is essential when there is a real threat. As a Catholic, I am aware of times when Catholics have been and still are persecuted around the world, where wearing a cross or talking about religious beliefs is forbidden even in some UK workplaces.

Having  sent the speeches, they were duly posted on Twitter  and received a number of likes, retweets and words of praise, all very gratifying and I felt I had reached my aim of showing solidarity.

Imagine my great surprise and a feeling of deep respect when my phone rang last Friday. It was Bilal to inform me that one of my speeches had been singled out and my name given in the sermon  by His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, at Friday prayers, a sermon heard by millions around the world, given in Urdu and translated into many languages.

Here is the reference on Twitter.

What an honour for our Christian sister that Head & Khalifa of the Worldwide Muslim Community mentioned this speech of hers in today. We’re humbled by the fact that beloved Hazoor mentioned the International today.

I am glad that I took part in the speech contest about the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is open to all who wish to take part Muslim and non Muslim, religious and non religious as the contest encourages all to take a closer look at the life of the prophet, what sort of man he was and his teachings which are intended to promote peace and not the divisions that some are working to create.

*pbuh = peace be upon him which is a title of recognition of his work as a prophet.


Ride like a girl meets Anti-Knife UK

27 Sep

String theory physicists would no doubt have a formula to explain it but it seems that yesterday the story was completed with a most satisfying conclusion.

It all started when back in London in early November 2015,I phoned the founder of Anti-Knife UK ,Danny O’Brien , to talk about knife crime related matters and his upcoming trip to an event in Edinburgh. At the end of the conversation ,I said, “I’ll send you the field for the Melbourne Cup.Pick a horse and I’ll put a pound each way on it for you.”

Back came the due reply ,”Prince of Penzance please”.Not a horse that I knew anything about as I didn’t follow Australian racing at all. I went to Paddy Power in Morden , placed the bet and said jokingly ,”I’ll be back for my winnings.”The price was 100/1.

For some reason I woke during the night so I switched on the radio just in time for radio BBC 5 live to cross live to Melbourne for the running of the Melbourne Cup.

The race that stops a nation in Australia.

Two miles ,where legends are created.

I listened out for Danny’s choice and my own. And the result is well known- Prince of Penzance ridden by Michelle Payne created history. The first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup,a race they send horses from all around the globe to win.

And Danny O’Brien had chosen the winner,mine came 4th.

As Danny wrote on Facebook later that day, the only time he didn’t mind being woken up early was to be told the horse he had chosen on the other side of the world because he had visited Penzance had won him a nice amount of money, which would be used to travel to campaign against the rising tide of knife crime in the UK which affects all age groups and all levels of society. A lot of campaigning is done out of our own pockets as funding is scarce .So having dropped by Paddy Power ,collected the winnings and tipped the employee,I met Danny at our usual business meeting place,a coffee shop at Victoria Station to hand over the winnings.

Danny set off for Edinburgh and I looked online for more information about this amazing win. That the jockey had had to struggle hard to get to where she was was made clear in her words which caught media attention.She named those who had given her a chance but added

“I want to say to everyone else, get stuffed, because women can do anything and we can beat the world.”

And that reverberated with me.That had been my attitude in the seventies and eighties in Australia. Last century.

Surely things had moved on since then .

Not in horse racing apparently.

Move on 4 years. A new film is released , Ride like a girl, telling the story of Michelle Payne,filling in many details the media had not mentioned in their Cup success story.

Yesterday I went with family members to see it and we all enjoyed it immensely.

A gripping tale bringing laughter and tears and much talk that continued over a Pad Thai in the local Thai restaurant.

The circle is now complete.String theorists must surely agree the world is a very small place. Certain themes are universal.A chance event can have surprising consequences.


love Kensington Gardens

16 Apr


Even in London, the sunsets look tropical and the planets are visible.

10 Apr

Of course, it helps to have a window that faces west.

And it helps to have the time to stand and stare.

Sunsets are a daily event to enjoy, especially when there are plenty of clouds to refract and reflect the light.

It is said that angels gather at sunset. I usually see more dragons than angels wings.

And then, from twilight on , a range of planets can be seen alone or with others.

So instead of dulling the senses with tv, take a look at the sky.




Expert Patient Programme a life saver

07 Apr

So there I was with a series of long term conditions. What to do?

Wait it out? Wait for each hospital appointment for affirmation that I had an identity ?

Worry about the future ? Feel anxious every time the w word or the b word were mentioned on the radio?

Then lo and behold , a nice volunteer at the Job Centre suggested a course.

A course? I love learning and keeping my mind active. What will I be learning?

A free course for people with long term conditions.

The Expert Patient Programme.

So I sent an email and received a phone call from a nice lady named Jemma to talk over  whether the course would meet my needs.

I decided it would and it did. By jove it did.

From the friendly welcome by the tutors , the kindness of fellow students, the laughter at the break-

our parties in the kitchen as we called them- the action plan for each week’s homework,

the pride in achievement, the reunions.

I loved it so much I took part in a series of 3 videos to talk about how good Expert Patient Programme  is.

And that was fun too with Jemma and Loren and post production meeting and emails all keeping me active in the community which is the most important part of a sick person’s life.

The message- don’t sit back, grab those opprtunities as they appear .

Knowledge is power.


Have a great day. Don’t forget to smile.

25 Feb

Smile. It does make you look better. But more importantly ,it makes you feel better.

Now. I’m not one to quote medical evidence.I leave that to the research crowd who just love all

that data. No, I speak ( type) with the evidence of my own years on planet earth.

The number of people who react positively to a smile is huge.

A smile will make a cross face relax, a suspicious look will disappear.

A smile tells a person that they matter, that they are respected and not under threat.

But let me be quite clear. Smiling is not a sign of weakness.No Siree.

A smile is a powerful weapon that achieves a lot. Have a great day. Don’t forget to smile.




So I’m uncool.

10 Mar

1527007_10202870060539963_1791412173_nAnother day spent staying home, out of necessity for reasons both health-related and financial.

The sun , the ever threatening sun was shining this morning. For most a source of joyand for me too so long as I do not have to go out in it. The old risk of inflammation has made its presence felt of lateso I must be careful. add to that the fact that I am not rolling in money. A facebook comment written yesterday is only too true.-Living in London does not mean you have a pocketful of money.I have learnt to enjoy staying home . There is a freedom that comes from finding things to do at home.

And there is quite a lot to do. Liking your own company seems to put a balance in your life, gives a kind of confidence.

I happily join the ranks of the uncool . As the man says in “Almost Famous”, ” I’m always home . I’m uncool.”

But his music insights were spot on. I too find I can judge situations better from a distance.

Yes, I am always on Facebook, maybe too much in your face but I find great interest in posting what interests me and

hearing from  thousands. I also grace twitter and keep informed. My golden rule probably very uncool in this age of

showing how clever you are is to treat others as I would like to be treated.


Sunday sunny Sunday

09 Mar

What a difference a fine sunny day makes. I woke up to a bright sunny morning.

On the walk to church, I realised I was too warmly dressed but that is better than feeling cold.10003894_10202866695015827_1017190216_n

People were walking more energetically and some even had the trace of a smile.

Long may it last. We need this spring, not because winter was freezing as it   wasn’t a  particularly  cold   winter.

But it was a long rainy winter. We need some drying sun. And a chance to enjoy the spring flowers.



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