Tuesday, December 15, 2015

News Bytes

Some items form the past week's news . . .

Chocolate slices:

There really is a recognised addiction to chocolate and it really is known as “chocoholism”, a word first coined in 1968. In fairness, not all shrinks recognise the existence of such a disorder but it is universally acknowledged that in studies of food cravings, chocolate and chocolate confectioneries almost always top the list of foods people say they crave.

According to Jo Brand, “anything is good if it’s made of chocolate”.

Lovers of chocolate should therefore be rejoicing at the latest idea for making sandwiches: chocolate slices.

The slices have been created by a Japanese company, Bourbon, and at present can only be ordered online.

The product has been described as a cross between Kraft cheese singles and Nutella.

The company has ideas for various uses for the slices:

(Again, in fairness, there have been reports of some smaller companies in Denmark and elsewhere having produced chocolate slices for small local markets.)


Trudeau PM:

For people my age the name “Trudeau” evokes memories of Pierre PM and his ‘flower child’ bride. Pierre was 51 and already PM of Canada when he married 22 year old Margaret. She had three children, the oldest being Justin, now PM. 

Margaret Trudeau with her sons Justin Trudeau (left) and Alexandre Trudeau (in her arms) in August 1977

The marriage began to fall apart early on, with Margaret having difficulty with her husband’s frequent absences and the pressure of raising the children virtually by herself. Add to the mix that she suffered from stress and bouts of bipolar depression. She smuggled drugs in the prime minister's luggage, made scantily clad appearances at Studio 54, and tore apart a quilt work made by Canadian conceptual artist Joyce Wieland that hung on the wall in the prime minister's official residence. In her autobiography she admitted to an affair with US Senator Ted Kennedy and was also reported to have hooked up with members of the Rolling Stones, including Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger. The couple divorced in 1983.  Their youngest son Michel was killed in an avalanche in 1998, hitting Margaret quite hard. When Pierre Trudeau died in 2000, Margaret Trudeau was at his bedside with their surviving sons, Justin and Alexandre. Speaking in 2010 about her marriage to Trudeau she said: "Just because our marriage ended didn’t mean the love stopped." Today she is president of an organisation dedicated to helping poor communities in developing countries build sustainable water supply and sanitation services. She is also an advocate and spokesperson for reduction of the social stigma of mental illness — bipolar disorder in particular — with speaking engagements across North America. 

In contrast, younger people hearing the name Trudeau today think of Justin, the couple’s oldest son, who became PM of Canada in October 2015. Born on Christmas Day 1971, he is the second youngest Canadian PM.

PM Justin Trudeau with Oz PM Malcolm Turnbull

Justin with parents Margaret and Pierre

With mother, Margaret

Canada's new first family: Sworn-in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, his wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau and their children Ella-Grace, Hadrien and Xavier 

Which is all by way of a segue for a news item that I came across. Justin Trudeau is a father of three and has been a teacher of French, drama and maths. When at Parliament in Canada, he met a young student sitting on the steps and looking unhappy. In speaking o him, the lad advised that he was having a bad day. What did Trudeau do? Give him some encouraging words? Extricated himself asap? No, he sat down with him. And listened. 

A photographer snapped one shot, then posted it on Instagram.

As the article says, sometimes, all you need is someone to listen.


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