Friday, 29 July 2016

Tears For The Turtles

I was in the kitchen  - doing the usual - emptying the dishwasher, prepping dinner, putting shopping away etc. etc.

The kids were watching television and, as is her way, La-la had it tuned to some nature programme. I was vaguely aware of its contents hearing various references to dugongs and turtles.  Now, the Dude loves nature and is very respectful of the environment but by and large he would rather be watching a programme with turtles of the ninja variety.  Therefore I was waiting for his inevitable appearance in the kitchen to lodge his usual complaint about his sister watching "them nature programmes" again!

I didn't have to wait long.  Five minutes later he appeared before me but this time, instead of launching into complaint mode, he asked me a question.

"What does extinct mean?"

I looked at him.

"Extinct?" I asked.

"Yes," he replied, somewhat impatiently, "what does it mean?"

I wondered where this had come from and concluded it must be something he had seen on the T.V.

"It means when there is no more of something on the planet, like no more of a certain creature."

His little face creased into a frown.

"What do you mean no more?  Like none at all?  Not even one?"

"Yes," I answered, "not even one."

His eyes teared up and he looked stricken.

"You mean," he choked out past the lump in his throat, "you mean there won't be any turtles left?"

I was at a loss for words and caught completely off guard by the extent to which he was upset.

"Well, I'm not sure what the exact story is with the turtles," I started to explain, "but..."

I didn't get any further before he exploded at me, "but the guy on Bushwhacked just said they are in danger of becoming extinct!"

I was silent.  I didn't know what to say.

A tear slid down my son's face.

"Why?" he cried, "Why? Why are we killing the turtles and their friends the dugongs?"

I stood there looking at my son and I didn't have an answer because I have no bloody idea why we are killing the turtles and their friends the dugongs.  I was under the impression that things were improving.  I thought we were turning this situation around.  I thought there had been a collective cottoning on as to the fact that instead of destroying this planet and all the creatures on it, we've got to start saving it.

I stood there in the face of the Dude's anger and confusion and I said, "I don't know.  I don't know why so many of the turtles are still being killed.  All I know is that there are many people trying to save them and protect them and those people are doing great work."

Somewhat mollified, the Dude considered my response before coming to his conclusion, whereupon he looked at me and stated, "well they need to do a lot more, because we need them to not get extinct!"

With that he turned around and headed back to his position in front of the T.V.

The whole situation bothered me today so I checked out what the status of the sea turtles is. Sadly it's perilous.  Here are the stats:


The world's seven sea turtle species are classified as follows according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species:



Critically Endangered: Species is considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.
Endangered: Species is considered to be facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild. 
Vulnerable: Species is considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild.

I'd no idea things were this bad!

So what can we do? Sadly, there's not a lot we, as individuals, can do about more traditional societies in Asia and Central America who eat both the eggs and the meat of the adult turtles but turtle conservancy groups are doing what they can to change these practices and have experienced some measure of success.  The same goes for the illegal turtle-shell trade and the effects of commercial fishing.

We, however, can clean up our act!

The Sea Turtle Conservancy states:
"It is estimated that more than 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to plastic debris in the ocean. More than 80% of this plastic comes from land. It washes out from our beaches and streets. It travels through storm drains into streams and rivers. It flies away from landfills into our seas. As a result, thousands of sea turtles accidentally swallow these plastics, mistaking them for food. Leatherbacks especially, cannot distinguish between floating jellyfish - a main component of their diet - and floating plastic bags. Most of the debris is recognizable: plastic bags, balloons, bottles, degraded buoys, plastic packaging, and food wrappers. Some plastics aren't so easy to see, so small, in fact, that it is invisible to the naked eye. If sea turtles ingest these particles, they can become sick or even starve."  

Photo of plastic bags in marine environment looking like jellyfish
Plastic Bags or Jellyfish?

Imagine if we just got rid of plastic bags - what a difference this could make!

Coastal erosion, marine pollution, oil spills and coastal development are all areas being dealt with by turtle conservancy groups - who need our support.  However, another area where we as individuals can make a difference is to keep our vehicles off the beaches!

"Tyre ruts left by vehicles can extend the time it takes a hatchling to reach the ocean and increase their chance of being caught by a predator. Driving during the day can cause sand compaction above nests resulting in lower nest success. Additionally, beach driving contributes to erosion, especially during high tides or on narrow beaches.  Night time driving can disturb nesting females, disorient emerging hatchlings, and crush hatchlings attempting to reach the ocean. "  - Sea Turtle Conservancy.

Also, we can burst our balloons! Yes, you read that correctly.  This was one that surprised me but the air-filled spherical rubber accompaniments to most human celebrations is yet another threat to the turtles.  When released into the air they don't stay there - most of them eventually end up in the ocean where the turtles mistake them for food.  So burst them or deflate them and take them home because I don't think any of us will be celebrating the day there are no more of these beautiful and wonderful creatures left on our planet.

The Beautiful Leatherback Turtle

Monday, 18 July 2016

Oh Mrs. Brown!

I have to admit to being somewhat confused as to Australia's film and TV classification system, especially the M category.  There is a plain old M and an MA both of which are aimed at "mature audiences" of fifteen years of age and over.  It's the plain old M that confuses me the most as it applies to some TV programmes where there is nothing that could be deemed offensive and then it applies to others that most certainly could. Please bear this in mind as I tell you the rest of my tale...

Graphic of the Australian Film Board's M rating
The Mysterious M
Sooooo, being from Ireland, a little bit of bad language is nothing out of the ordinary.  Whereas there are those that may find it offensive back in the ould sod, as a nation we are generally more accepting of it.  Now, as TV programmes go, it could be said that Mrs. Brown's Boys has an excessive amount of bad language and that observation would probably be correct.  However, as an Irish mammy, I don't have a problem with it and most certainly don't worry about protecting La-la and the Dude's little ears from language they will most certainly hear walking down any Irish street.  

Mrs. Brown can also be somewhat rude on occasion but usually in such a way that younger viewers don't get the full meaning - at least not on any of the episodes I've previously watched.

photo of the television character Mrs. Brown holding a banana
Mrs. Brown and Banana!
La-la and the Dude have fond memories of our last trip to Ireland, sitting in their grandparents sitting room laughing themselves silly with Grandma and Grandad at Mrs. Brown's crazy antics.  So last night we were looking for something to watch on the TV and they spotted Mrs. Brown's Boys and shouted with glee, "Can we watch it?  Can we watch it? Puhleeeeeese!"  Somewhat wary but also somewhat homesick and craving a bit of Irish humour, I agreed.

The title of the episode was Mammy Rides Again and that's possibly where I should have taken my first clue from...

It was the episode where Dermot is getting married and Mrs. brown is banned from the hen party. But that doesn't stop our girl - oh no!  She discovers the venue and hatches a plan with her ever-ready partner in crime, Winnie, to crash the party in grand style.  This is where I should have taken my second clue that things were about to erm... how shall I put this... turn raunchy.

There were also plenty of other clues, such as her "innocently" offering the plumber part-payment for the installation of her new toilet with a blow-job!

I was somewhat alarmed at this but assured La-la and the Dude that I hadn't a clue what that meant or why it was so funny!

We continued watching, me content in the knowledge that the worst had already passed.  Then the action switches to the pub and just as Winnie discovers it's not actually the venue for the hen party but a funeral is being held there, our heroine - the one and only - Mrs. Brown, comes riding into the party with a giant inflatable penis between her legs!

photos of characters from the irish television show Mrs. Brown Boys
The Moment Winnie Discovers There Is A Funeral
Going On And Not A Hen Party!

My eyes pop and my mouth drops!  I look at the kids to see if they have any understanding as to what they are looking at.  Both of them look puzzled.  La-la looks at me and says, "what is that?"

I look at her, dumbstruck, not sure what to say.

"I don't know," I reply, "I think it's a giant worm."

The Dude looks at me. "That's not a worm!" he announces.  "It's a giant willy!"

I didn't think my eyes could pop any more but they did!

"Don't be silly," I announce, with more than a nervous tremor in my voice, "why would she be running around on a giant willy."

"I don't know," the Dude replied very matter of factly, "adults are weird and she's crazy!"

Thankfully the on-screen action switched back to the morning after, back at the house, whereupon Mrs. Brown announces, "oh shit, I left my dick in the taxi last night."

La-la's eyes go wide and she declares, (totally bewildered) "oh my God, it was a willy!"

At this stage I suggest it's time to go to bed but my children are having none of it.

So far my feigned innocence and lack of alarm has resulted in them having no idea as to the sexual meanings of any of the terms or props being used and I suspect if I start making a big deal about going to bed they (or at least the Dude!) will smell a rat.  So, I tell myself that surely the worst really is over and there's only a few more minutes to go so what else could possibly happen?  What else indeed...

A few minutes later Rory's boyfriend ends up with his trousers around his ankles, revealing his fishnet stockings and suspenders.

The Dude looks at me with a "what the hell" expression on his face and La-la is open-mouthed and can't take her eyes off the screen.  It's obvious she is trying to make up her mind as to whether to believe her eyes or not.

God only knows what I look like at this stage.

La-la turns and asks, "what the hell, why is that guy wearing women's stockings?"

I decide there's nothing for it but to tell the truth, after all these are the kids who wanted to know why the lovely lady serving us lunch talked like a man when we were on holidays in Thailand.

"I don't know," I reply, "some guys like to dress like women, just like some women like to dress like men. It's no big deal."

La-la looked back at the television nodding her head slowly as if she needed to give this some more thought.

The Dude announced, "I'm never wearing those things!"

I started to laugh and soon the credits started to roll on the screen.  The kids thought I was still laughing at Mrs. Brown's new toilet exploding, and I was, but it was as much from relief that the whole roller-coaster of a show was over!

I've since given the M rating a new classification - Maybe Not! Especially when it comes to crazy Irish mammies.

A photo of Brendan O'Carroll  from Ireland and the cast of his television show - Mrs. Brown's Boys
Mrs. Brown & Her Crazy Crew!