Friday, 26 October 2018

Tears in Heaven...

A post from my great friend Dusty's blog...
It’s late afternoon and I’ve just finished a haphazard first meal of the day and am sitting in front of my computer screen crying to Eric Clapton’s, “Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same if I saw you in heaven?” His heartfelt lyrics make me wonder if anything would ever be the same again. If we would know each other over “there” and if it or we would finally be better when our tears were wiped away?
Today, however, my tears have not yet been wiped away and they flow freely from a deep well of groaning and grief that has no other way to express itself. I participated in the cremation of younger brother Nong Dton, our palliative care team’s 27-year-old sole male nurse. He was the same age as my daughter and the only child of parents similarly aged to me. He was cheekily playful, musical to the core, and an ethical hard worker when it came to caring for those in end of life. He tragically died last week in a midnight motorbike accident.
Hearing the news, the hospital staff collapsed on the floor, wept, and was unable to eat for a great while. “I’ll find my way through night and day…” Then bravely reaching outside of their loss, they rallied to ensure his religious ceremonies and cremation would be a success. They wanted to lift the family’s burden and show that their child was loved and appreciated. They worked tirelessly for many days with tears in their eyes and smiles on their faces. They tended to a myriad of details with the greatest dedication in order to send our brother off well.
“I must be strong and carry on…” Thais are experts at facing death. They have been actively involved in religious rites and sitting with the bodies of their dead relatives before they can even walk. They do so gracefully, tenderly, and kindly. They also contain an inherited sense of resolute acceptance that if you are born then you must suffer, and finally die. Today, I was deeply impressed by the number of attendees whose considerable difference in social standing meant little in contrast to the shared sense of love and loyalty. Yet no matter how used to dying any of us may have been, we all had to be very brave as we cried, sang, prayed, hugged each other, and sat for long stretches in painful silence. No matter how long you have worked in palliative care, imbibed a healthy death culture, practiced religious beliefs and forms of paying last respects, or given grieving processes there seems to be a timeless thread throughout our shared humanity. We all hurt deeply over our losses. We try to make sense of tragedy, even when there may none to be found. We often search out eternity from our narrow, earth-bound perspectives. We vehemently resist believing that birth, suffering, and death is all there is to our existence. We also come together in grief and prove that we are more alike than different!
The master of ceremonies, much like any traditional religious leader, instructed us that there was no death, just a change of apparel, or body and residence as she put it. She said we would miss Nong Dton, we would hurt and feel empty, yet he was not lost to us. She then cleared his karmic slate by asking for his forgiveness for any intentional or unintentional hurts or mistakes we’d made towards him and assured him that we’d forgiven him for any of his misdeeds. Older sisters P’ Dtuck and P’ Jim, the heads of palliative care reviewed his life and sang a Thai song of eternal love for him. P’Jim crooned just as soulfully as Eric Clapton had over the loss of his young son. She declared we’d never forget our younger brother, and asked him not to forget us. “Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven? Would it be the same if I saw you in heaven?…”
As we placed fragrant incense and sandalwood flowers and his nurse’s uniform and motorcycle gear under his coffin, we prayed we’d all know each other forever in a better place. A place where tears are wiped away and sorrow has been forgotten in the light of the joy and love we share. I knocked on his coffin and announced that it was Susan, his older sister visiting him, as Thais have taught me to do. I thanked him for being him in such a beautiful manner and wished him safe, good travels. P’Jim added as his coffin was being shuffled into the furnace, “Go well young brother. I love you. Do not forget us. We’ll follow you when it’s our time to go!”
“Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure and I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven…” In the meanwhile brother Dton, “Would you hold my hand, would you help me stand…” so our sense of shared fragility and oneness would lift us from our knees in order to better navigate this messy thing called life, loss, and death.
Tears In Heaven
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven
Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven
Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please
Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven
Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would it be the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Susan Dustin “Dusty”  Hattan (Aldous) – An Arsenal of Optimism

© Susan Dustin Hattan (nee Aldous) October 2018

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Kensington International Officially the Best in Thailand

Beverley Petch (my wife), has been very busy in Thailand for the past three years, building what is now recognised throughout Southeast Asia as a flagship school of Early Years Education. Kensington International School has won the award for ‘Outstanding Small Company’ in the Thailand International Business Awards, held annually by the British Chamber of Commerce. Beverley said, “I am so proud of the directors, teachers and every member of staff, who through sheer dedication to a ‘child first’ philosophy have helped to make our school so successful.”

Kensington International School is now an internationally recognised beacon of excellence, attracting considerable interest and hosting deputations from governments and professional organisations throughout Southeast Asia, including Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Macau and Taiwan. In May this year, they were invited to showcase at the ‘Annual Learning Spaces’ conference held in Singapore, where they presented their ‘vision of future education,’ and in December, they feature at the ‘Asia-Pacific International Schools Conference’ in Hong Kong.

Kensington website:

Saturday, 13 October 2018

The Author can change anything!


 I’m here today with thousands of others, no idea why, I can’t ever remember not being here! I’m trying to memorise everyone’s name, but they all look so alike! It’s incredibly crowded, everyone talking at once, I can barely hear myself think! Food is plentiful; it’s as if they don’t want us to stop eating, though it’s a bit boring and hard to pick up as it moves by so quickly. They look after our health and any time I see someone sick they are whisked away immediately, though I’ve never heard back from anyone as to what the hospital's like. We see the sun shining through when the big rusty doors open at the end, but it’s always over too quickly, and we all wonder what it’s like beyond those doors. We’re told that one day we’ll all be out of here, so we must be patient! We were chosen, apparently, because we were the fittest and a special day awaits us all, but it only comes around once a year. We never get any news from the outside world, just the occasional sparrow that drops in through the ceiling grid to steal our food, but they never stop to chat. A pigeon told us once that we’re in a sort of ‘holding camp,’ but he was too busy throwing bread over his head to elaborate. I’ve heard ‘holiday camp’ mentioned by the human called ‘vet,’ who said she was really looking forward to spending just two weeks in one; so that’s reassuring. The pigeon also mentioned ‘Christmas,’ a time when you get lots of presents and take part in a big feast, so I’m looking forward to that too; more variety than we’re eating now, surely? There are no toilets so the floor is a terrible mess, but every night this giant machine slowly screams along, spraying everywhere, picking up everything and dropping straw behind it. We all get so scared when it bunches us up at one end, then we have to jump over it, that’s how I know I can’t fly; we are more frightened of crushing each other than of the machine, which does leave the floor clean and more comfortable! Maybe we’re being punished for something terrible we did when we were too young to remember; there must be some purpose to all this! Every day seems like the last here and you lose track of time, wishing something different would happen, anything really! I believe in a beginning and an end, so this must be the middle, but I’m not sure how far we are from either end. 

Well, somebody heard me because something different has started to happen! Towering machines belching black smoke have arrived outside, I can hear them, I feel the throbbing through the ground and everyone is getting very excited. The rattling feed conveyers have fallen silent, and the big doors screech as they slide open, and yes, they are staying open! It’s cold, windy and raining outside, but the smell of crisp, fresh air has filled our lungs with so much goodness, we’re all just taking deep breaths, staring at each other; hoping this moment will last forever! The machines seem to be offloading lots of youngsters; they’re not sure what’s happening or where they are, all running around like headless chickens! One shouts, “How long have you been here?” I shout back, “Nearly a year I think, but it’s our turn to join in the feast, so we’re leaving on that machine you arrived on.” They all look so scared, I guess like we did when we arrived, but they’ll soon settle in and look forward to the ‘Festive Season.’ The men loading seem anxious to get us on board, they are acting a bit rough, kicking out sometimes, but one mentioned “piece work” so I guess they can’t be that bad.

“First lorry ready!” shouts one of the humans. On the road now, so crowded we can’t move, but at least we can’t fall over and the fresh air is filtering through every tiny space, fluffing up our feathers, making us all look so much more elegant. As I peer through the open vents, I feel so lucky, I can see what’s outside, and it’s more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. Creatures, like us but a lot smaller, soaring through the sky, other animals grazing in the lush green fields, young ones playing with their mothers; I wonder if I did that when I was young? Maybe I had a mother? Humans, just like ‘vet,’ pushing prams, old people feeding pigeons, young humans playing with dogs, oh such a wonderful world, I feel so blessed to be part of it. 

We’re turning down a bumpy side-road now, the rains getting heavier, turning white and flakey, and I see a sign pointing to somewhere called ‘Abattoir,’ sounds so French, exotic even. As we arrive, another lorry pulls out, a huge colour picture of one of us smiling on the side. I didn’t even realise we could, and now I feel silly because I’m trying to smile. ‘Happy Turkeys’ it says on the side of the other lorry, but I wonder why they can’t see out like we can? Our engine has juddered to a halt; the doors are opening, more shouting, looks like this could be the end of the line. It’s amazing how exciting the unexpected can be!

As the doors open to our new home a terrible smell, a stench of fear rushes out to engulf us! Nobody wants to go in, but the humans are getting angry and prodding, kicking shouting, forcing us forward. A pigeon by the door mutters, “Only the author can save you now.” “What do you mean?” I replied, “How can we contact this Author you speak of?” “His wife has read the first draft, it upset her greatly and she’s already spoken to him, so you’ll have to wait and see. He does have the power to save you; the Author can change anything!” 

Wait, something strange is happening, my wings suddenly feel strong, bursting with energy, and the others are furiously flapping too. Many have started flying out of the lorry in front of me, bumping into each other, squawking loudly as they soar into the cold, cloudy sky. This is amazing, we can fly, but how's that possible? We're all in the air now, circling in a big flock above ‘Abattoir,’ looking down at the humans who all seem to be in disbelief. But where do we go now, what do we do, who will lead us? The same pigeon flaps past, I’m sure he’s grinning, “Don’t worry, you’re safe now, the Author’s wife saw your plight, so he’ll script you to a place where you can all have a wonderful time, after all, it is the Festive Season!” 

“Happy Christmas everyone!”

Dedicated to our Granchildren: Quincy, Joshua, Dante & William

Friday, 5 October 2018

On the day that I die

On the day I die a lot will happen.
A lot will change.
The world will be busy.

On the day I die, all the important appointments I made will be left unattended.
The many plans I had yet to complete will remain forever undone.
The calendar that ruled so many of my days will now be irrelevant to me.
All the material things I so chased and guarded and treasured will be left in the hands of others to care for or to discard.

The words of my critics which so burdened me will cease to sting or capture anymore. They will be unable to touch me.
The arguments I believed I’d won here will not serve me or bring me any satisfaction or solace.   
All my noisy incoming notifications and texts and calls will go unanswered. Their great urgency will be quieted.

My many nagging regrets will all be resigned to the past, where they should have always been anyway.
Every superficial worry about my body that I ever labored over; about my waistline or hairline or frown lines, will fade away.
My carefully crafted image, the one I worked so hard to shape for others here, will be left to them to complete anyway.
The sterling reputation I once struggled so greatly to maintain will be of little concern for me anymore.

All the small and large anxieties that stole sleep from me each night will be rendered powerless.
The deep and towering mysteries about life and death that so consumed my mind will finally be clarified in a way that they could never be before while I lived.
These things will certainly all be true on the day that I die.

Yet for as much as will happen on that day, one more thing that will happen.
On the day I die, the few people who really know and truly love me will grieve deeply.
They will feel a void.
They will feel cheated.
They will not feel ready.
They will feel as though a part of them has died as well.
And on that day, more than anything in the world they will want more time with me.
I know this from those I love and grieve over.

And so knowing this, while I am still alive I’ll try to remember that my time with them is finite and fleeting and so very precious—and I’ll do my best not to waste a second of it.

I’ll try not to squander a priceless moment worrying about all the other things that will happen on the day I die because many of those things are either not my concern or beyond my control.

Friends, those other things have an insidious way of keeping you from living even as you live; vying for your attention, competing for your affections.
They rob you of the joy of this unrepeatable, uncontainable, ever-evaporating 'NOW' with those who love you and want only to share it with you.

Don’t miss the chance to dance with them while you can.
It’s easy to waste so much daylight in the days before you die.
Don’t let your life be stolen every day by all that you believe matters, because, on the day you die, much of it simply won’t.

Yes, you and I will die one day.
But before that day comes, let us live...

~ John Pavlovitz

Thursday, 4 October 2018


This does it for me, it says it all! This should be shown in all schools at a very early age.

'Greed' has taken over! Personal, business, government, a festering swamp full of the world's most ugly people. 

I've witnessed it this year when a close friend died, leaving a small fortune to his daughter. She, in turn, wasn't prepared to give a penny to help her father's widow, now living in dire poverty in a very poor country. 

I saw it with the banks, who in the past decade, pillaged our society only to be rewarded with bonuses, bailouts, and knighthoods.

We see it in almost every oil-rich country that has a starving population, because only a few, the most powerful, the greediest...


Greed! - the biggest problem that mankind faces today!

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Miracle cures just around the corner - but see the price tag!

Ono Pharma shares jump with a Nobel-winning cancer breakthrough

Cancer immunotherapy forecast to become $44bn cash cow in 2025
A doctor in Tokyo explains to a patient how the immunotherapy drug Opdivo works. (Photo by Ken Kobayashi) 
The work by the two immunologists, who share the Nobel Prize in
physiology or medicine, created the foundation upon which the
blockbuster immunotherapy drug Opdivo was developed.
The drug is projected to bring Japan's Ono Pharmaceutical, which
developed it with U.S. company Bristol-Myers Squibb, 90 billion yen
($790 million) in sales this fiscal year. Ono Pharmaceutical shares
jumped 6.9% in early trading on Tuesday and hit 3,430 yen, the highest
level since August 2016. The closing price was 3308 yen,up 3.5% from
the previous day.
The company has worked with Honjo for nearly 30 years, sending
researchers to his lab. Ono Pharmaceutical celebrated Honjo's Nobel
win with an announcement, saying, "We appreciate the fortune to have worked on joint research together."
Honjo discovered that immune cells contain a surface checkpoint protein, called a programmed death receptor 1, or PD-1. Tumors evade detection
by producing another protein, PD-L1, that attaches to PD-1 and
deactivates the immune cell. Opdivo works by interfering with PD-L1's
ability to attach to PD-1, thereby enhancing the immune system's
response to cancer cells.
Treatment with Opdivo has been shown to be effective in fighting cancer
and some patients have emerged cancer-free. But the drug is expensive,
with a 100-mg bottle costing 730,000 yen. That translates to more than
30 million yen, or $260,000, for a year's supply.
In Japan, the medicine's high price prompted fears that it would drain government coffers, given the strain the country's aging population
already puts on the budget.
The government took the unusual step of halving the price of Opdivo last February, ahead of biennial drug price revisions scheduled for this fiscal
year. The treatment is revolutionary not only in a pharmaceutical sense
but also in how it has spurred debate on reining in drug costs and
reforming social insurance programs.
That revenue, together with roughly 40 billion yen in Opdivo licensing
fees, will form a large chunk of Ono's estimated group sales of 277 billion
yen for the current year through March. After Opdivo debuted, Ono's
market capitalization doubled to about 3 trillion yen in 2016.
In addition to Opdivo, there are four other major immunological
anticancer agents that chase the PD-1 channel globally -- Imfinzi,
developed by U.K. maker AstraZeneca; Tecentriq by F. Hoffman-La
Roche of Switzerland; Keytruda, by U.S. company Merck; and Bavencio
by the German maker Merck.
Other companies, such as Novartis International of Switzerland, are also developing similar products.

Nikkei staff writer Eri Sugiura contributed to this report.