Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Two Faces Of Janus


Did you know that January is named after the Roman god of gates and doorways?   that's right... Janus... he with the physiognomy that faces two ways, backwards and forwards, to the past and to the future.   he symbolised home, family, civilisation.  the doors of his temple were closed in times of peace but wide open during war to show he was no longer in residence... let's face it, a huffy deity doesn't have to hang around when neighbours start squabbling, he can just up and off at the first whiff of animosity, no mortgage or rent for him to worry about like us mere mortals.

We can blame the Romans for the tyranny of New Year's Resolutions too. their officials would publicly vow to stay loyal to the Emperor on the first day of the year then have a knees up, toasting the hob nobs and throwing the hoi-polloi to the lions... those Italians and their superstitions... i think it's their retaliation for all those years patrolling up and down old Hadrian's separation barrier in the bitter North East winters.   mind you, i totally see their point... vineyards, baths, underfloor heating or... sheep, wind, more sheep, more wind, sheep with triple layer fleece to cope with triple strength wind...  i'd be cranky and impose impossible habits on the natives too.   yeah yeah, i know all about it having abutted the border for nine years, i learnt all about sheep, wind, more sheep, more etc. etc. etc. 


After one particularly difficult year when my children were young we created a Happiness Jar.   the idea was to think of one good thing every day, no matter how mundane or simple, such as a nice lunch or an answered prayer, write it on a slip of paper and pop it into the jar.   the plan being to empty it at the end of the year and look back.   well... it was overflowing by Easter !!  it seems thankfulness and optimism are like a muscle, if you don't consciously exercise them they atrophy, wither and become pathetic examples of their original glory.   knowing "The Jar" was waiting for it's offering each evening stimulated us to search out or create examples to tell each other and  we discovered  the universe is full of little wonders waiting to be found and enjoyed, shared and celebrated.   
My resolution for 2016 will delight those of you who read this blog regularly... i intend to invest in a copy of English Grammar for Dummies and work to overcome the shortcomings in my early education. understanding WHY my punctuation is non existent and grammar occasionally metamorphoses into gobbledygook should only be the beginning of revelation.  it's a reason, NOT an excuse and there's nothing except apathy stopping me from addressing it. these areas of lack only define us if we don't strive to overcome them, it's never too late and we are never too old to learn or change.   perhaps you will be kind and leave a comment if you perceive improvement so i can take the next step and start on maths ???

Do you have plans to join Janus at midnight and look over your shoulder as one year passes into history and then peer into the unknown of the future with it's inevitable joy and despair, health and sickness, life and death?  or are you like me preferring to climb into bed with that good book you treated yourself to at Christmas and a mug of cocoa, making a conscious decision that living the moment is enough hard work for one year? 




Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Papuan Greetings


It doesn't feel very wintry in the North East.   No white stuff falling or drifting into crooks and nannies, no chilblain inducing minus degree temperatures, no icy puddles for kiddlies to crack, no frost, no freezing winds howling off the Siberian steppe.   yesterday it was 15*.  FIFTEEN DEGREES ... IN DECEMBER !   most disconcerting, too clement, no hoof-holds for reindeer, and definitely no sublime chocolate box Christmas scenes.    


I've been dithering for days over this blog-post as i find myself with a dichotomy.   you see, i LOVE everything about Christmas... the glitter and glitz, the giving and receiving, the carols and candles, Nutcracker and orchestra, the lights and liturgy, they all find a fit with my personality and, for me, the two thousand year old legend we ostensibly celebrate has meaning... its evolution in the telling doesn't negate the possibility of seeds of truth.   we don't hold all of Darwin's theories as gospel yet, with the knowledge of the time, he discerned a kernel of fact that we have built on as our knowledge has increased.

So... here i sit, surrounded by tinsel, fairy lights and extravagantly wrapped pressies contentedly feeling as though i must be one of the most blessed humans to inhabit this fragile lump of rock as it wobbles merrily around it's oblivious star... let me rephrase that, I AM one of the most privileged of humans, i know that and strive not to become complacent or feel entitled as i know how tenuous life can be.


Yet, i don't forget the many friends and family who endure rather than enjoy Christmas, who would prefer undergoing root canal dental treatment without anaesthetic to facing yet another rendition of Jingle Bell Rock jangling from every loudspeaker in town... actually i am in total agreement with you all on that and speak as a committed dentaphobe.

How hard it must be to wake in the morning broken hearted or downcast with grief or pain and know the world and it's mates are going to expect you to be merry and bright, the manager at work is going to command you to wish your customers "HAPPY CHRISTMAS" with a radiant smile, the bus driver wearing antlers will bluster "cheer up mate it may never happen", only "it" did happen, and "it" happened to you.   

And what of those who will be working this Christmas?  one million of us Brits will be putting in a shift on Christmas Day (see link below) and many million more will be expected to work on Boxing Day.   a lady i love can't go home Christmas Eve until she's cleared the seasonal stuff and has to be in early on the 26th to start the sale... she's had to do that every year i've known her... just so we can shop !!!   

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/nearly-1m-uk-workers-will-have-to-book-in-for-a-shift-on-christmas-day-a3142496.html

So my dear friends, you who are the bereaved, the hurt, the lonely, the working, the homeless, the agoraphobics, the alienated, know that while i'm revelling in the season i'm also with you in spirit, feeling for you, thinking of you, remembering what it is to be you...that's the dichotomy.

May i leave you with two greetings?

To those who, like me, are privileged and enjoy this season... Happy Christmas.

To you who are struggling... Dabal Bagarap ... as they say in Papua New Guinea Pidgin English.   It loosely means to find yourself in a bad situation and is pronounced

                                 !!   DOUBLE  BUGGER  UP  !!


Hope that raises a smile through the pain.     Jeni



                             




Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Help For The Helpless



Well, Hexham has recovered from Storm Desmond....just !! at it's height the river ALMOST reached the top of the bridge, the royal mail sorting office was under 3 foot of water and 17 of their vans were thought to be a write off.   homes have been flooded, roofs lost, roads closed.    the beck at the back of my flat coped magnificently, though it was surreal to be woken in the early hours by flashing lights and loud voices.  four hazard jacketed men, waist deep in the water, wrestled with tree branches and random debris as the rain hammered down and the torrent roared.

As i snuggled back into the warmth and comfort of my duvet i offered a prayer for those who didn't have a roof to lose, or a home to flood, or a bed to retreat to...and then i remembered...

a barn, rats rustling in the dark, condensation dripping off a corrugated iron roof, prickly points of hay poking through a sleeping bag...

a camp site, cold wind, hard ground, the outside of a tent against my back...

a shop doorway, smell of pee, rain, footsteps, fear...

a beach in Cornwall, cold damp sand, the sound of waves, incoming tide lapping at feet, black velvet sky, diamond bright stars...

Oh yes...i remembered...i will never forget...it's impossible to forget.



There is a prevailing attitude that associates homelessness with alcoholism or addiction, that it's self inflicted and those losers need to "get a grip" and "pull themselves up by the boot strings", that they "brought it on themselves".    it's a way of thinking that the tabloid media mines in self righteous indignation and it stifles compassion by encouraging the lie that it could never happen to you.

None of the homeless i've known, and i've known and given a bed to quite a few over the years, chose that life of unremitting precarity.   behind every vagrant is a story of rejection, abuse, domestic violence, mental  illness, emotional vulnerability, family breakdown, bankruptcy, sudden redundancy, eviction, maybe even un-insured flooding or fire.   oh yes...it COULD happen to you.

In the musical universe of the Mamas And The Papas "the darkest hour is just before dawn".  it's also the coldest and loneliest, the time where despair can lead to suicide, or the bottom of a bottle....what came first the depression or the drinking?   the fear or the self medication?   the vulnerability or the eviction?   does it even matter?   the original cause is often buried under layers of recrimination and justification or fogged by delusion.  if long standing, untreated mental health issues are present it may never be possible to put together a coherent history, as the past may be shrouded in psychosis.

Strong winds have returned, it's going to be a wild night in Hexham again and maybe where you are too.    Do you know where the homeless in your town will sleep?   Do you know if there are hostels where a bed and a shower and a hot meal can be found?   do you know how they are funded?   where the food comes from?   who runs them?

Perhaps this winter you could show you care by helping to provide a meal or shelter over Christmas for those out in the cold.   Crises At Christmas and The Salvation Army are just two of many charities who step in when the world steps out....will you step up ???






Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Go, Go Girls




When early retirement came knocking over a decade ago my bookshop was at the height of it's success.  popular with the young,  a good reputation, solvent and bizzy bizzy bizzy.   closure wasn't unexpected as the Metro Centre had always coveted our site for reconstruction along with higher rents, so it was no surprise when we received notice to quit.   nor was it totally unwelcome on my part so i was spared the trauma inflicted on my team who found it hard to let go.... if you are reading this all you 'The Ocracy' boys and girlies, you were brill, the best EVER !!! and i've  missed you every day since.

Bassett The Wheelchair hadn't put in an appearance at this point but anyone watching would have known it was inevitable as i was in constant pain and even walking beyond the end of the mall felt as daunting as Scott's trek to the Antarctic sans ponies.

As preparation for a life of leisure i  set myself Five Commandments Of Retirement.   shamefully the only one i remember came in at number four :
                   
              Thou shalt wear nice clothes daily, whether 

                                 going out or staying in.

A simple action that felt laden with significance ...

i may be retired but ...  i'm NOT  OLD

i may be retired but ...  i'm NOT LAZY

i may be retired but ...  i'm STILL  FEMALE

i may be retired but ...  i STILL CARE HOW I LOOK


When wheels became a necessity it felt as though all the above could no longer be taken for granted and i had to fight even harder to retain my individuality, my personhood.   in a wheelchair even the young-ish don a cloak of invisibility :

i am in a wheelchair therefore i am  ...  asexual

i am in a wheelchair therefore i am  ...  infantilised

i am in a wheelchair therefore i am  ...  non-sentient

i am in a wheelchair therefore i have ...  no style

So ... it was with great delight that i stumbled upon these wonderful young fashion bloggers on the BBC disability page who refuse to accept they can't be beautiful or fashionable or stylish or YOUNG just because they are paralysed or unseeing.   

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/disability-34899731

Go, go Gadget Girls, i'm proud of you ... 



Monday, 23 November 2015

For The Sake Of Alfredo


In 1981 in an Italian village a little boy called Alfredo Rampi fell into an artesian well.  it was the first day and i began to cry.......and cry.......and cry. 

For three days the attempted rescue was broadcast live around the world.  a parallel shaft was constructed as the well  was too narrow and deep to reach him directly.   a walkie talkie was lowered and he could be heard calling for his mother sobbing and whimpering, his voice growing weaker by the hour.   every tactic used to reach him sent him sliding deeper into the cold mud.    on the third day a tiny, experienced caver managed to touch his hand, it was lifeless and the rescue was abandoned.  

I woke at dawn on that last morning and knew deep inside that he had gone......it was over......i had cried for three days.


Throughout that time i was gripped by grief, it was as though i had become one with the villagers keeping vigil, inhabited the broken heart of his mother, strived alongside the putative rescuers, watched with the eyes of the world and, horrifically, was in that well, thirsty, alone in the dark, scrabbling in the mud, crying for my mother.......i WAS Alfredo.

This wasn't the first such experience nor was it the last, but it was the most powerful and i had no idea what it was all about.   

Much later, during a time of counselling, a personality test indicated the traits of an intuitive empath.   first i'd heard of it, hadn't asked for it and most definitely didn't want it.

empathy:  the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also :  the capacity for.
"Intuitive empath"........sounds noble doesn't it?   a touch of the Mother Teresa's perhaps?   blue always suited me.   but, sadly, not noble nor high minded, simply a quirk of brain function.   where some can see patterns in reams of random numbers or memorise the contents of entire books, occasionally my brain takes sympathy to the next level and it becomes an intense emotional identification with the other person.

As with all personality qualities it's both a curse and a blessing, a strength and a weakness, a joy and a sadness.   but what infuriates others most is that often it leads to holding two totally contradictory opinions at the same time as the head and the heart fail to converge.  at those times it's as though day is night and night is day, i would fight for black being white, wrong being right.  don't worry.......it confuses me too.
Feeling  the emotions of others doesn't come with an 'off' switch or the ability to change the channel, nor is it a moral imperative dictated by society's norms of acceptable behaviour.   Whilst sharing the fear and trauma of the mugged and rationally knowing all the blame lies with the mugger, i find it's also possible to equally empathise with the young, homeless youth facing the horror and panic of being lost in our brutal and brutalising prison system as punishment for the crime.  sometimes it's hard to differentiate between the victim and the victimised in empath land.   perhaps there's an element of both within every human transaction but we chose not to see it for fear of having our certainties shattered.

Sometimes too, it can seem as though i'm being wilfully provocative by supporting the demonised, but whereas the devil's advocate is merely stirring the pot to create discourse or discontent i find i can perceive innocence in the guilty and culpability in the assumed virtuous, but frustratingly lack the words to express this, thus putting myself in the line of fire of those who are blessedly free of such ambiguities.

So.......next time i speak up for the bad guy, suggest forgiveness in place of vengeance, seek to reconcile rather than revile, understand instead of judge, please know i'm not simply being difficult, it just might be that a little glimpse of another's pain has inched it's way into my soul and painted the universe a different colour......the colour of the intuitive empath world.




Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Yippeee For Blogs Mr. James


Do you think it's inevitable that intolerance and judgementalism accompany older age?   i'd like to think not,  but...........

I imagine we all have a vision of our future selves as adorable little granny/granddad figures radiating sweetness and light, distributing humbugs to children and wisdom to the "young'ns", sought out by our adult children in need of philosophical guidance or insight,  but.........  


........since writing the post "Grammatically Limited" i've read several articles and letters in the press commenting on the inability of the young to use the English language correctly, often written by the elder generation of our species.   

Clive James in a piece for the Guardian is particularly dismissive of those, like myself, who failed to learn the basics of grammar and have never managed to catch up.   now, i have great respect for Mr James's writing.......or should that be James' ?......and have enjoyed reading him for many years, but isn't it a mite arrogant for a man of such erudition to assume that a lack of commas, hyphens and apostrophes on the part of the messenger negates the message?   have a read of the link below and let me know what you think?



Often the blame is dumped at the feet of modern teaching methods or lack of discipline in the home or the classroom.   having endured 60's schooling where minimal carrot and maximum stick......caned hands.....slapped legs.....thrown blackboard cleaners bulls-eyeing between  the eyes.....military style barracking.....were the norm, i can't say i was taught  much except   fear.
  
                Definition of BARRACK
                  chiefly British:   to shout at derisively or sarcastically 

It's hard to learn when mentally cowering in a dark corner of your mind, metaphorical eyes tight shut, imaginary hands over ears, frantically trying to transform into the smallest  creature nature ever created.
Sure, there have to be rules around the written word or we would veer off in so many directions we would eventually be unable to communicate with each other, but language is fluid, it evolves with each generation, would we be able to follow a conversation spoken in the manner of Mr. Shakespeare? doubtful.   increasingly employers are seeking those with conversational foreign language skills rather than that typically taught at exam level.....the lingo as spoken by the locals. a dynamic, idiosyncratic, personal speech form.   

Finding the balance will always be a matter for debate, disagreement, but perhaps we needn't worry too much about English's bastardisation since there's very little "anglo" left.  we are a mongrel nation after all, the offspring of countless invasions and social discord.   do you really think us mere mortals realise the varied foreign roots of the words that we assume are ours?

I wonder how many imaginations have been squelched, silenced for the sake of punctuation, how many valid voices with insights deserving an airing have been dismissed for using "there" rather than "their". I say.....Hurrah for Whatsapp and social media, yippeee for blogs and Twitter, word up for rappers and hip hoppers, preach on brothers and sisters of the interwebs, make your message heard and if your elders don't like the way you write it........well that's their loss....how sad that they might miss something rather precious.    



  











Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Twenty Metre Rule


When i moved to the lovely Holy Island of Lindisfarne from the inner city friends and family were, understandably, concerned that i would be cut off and isolated.   logically they were right but the reality was strangely different.

Twice a day the metres high tide  pours over the length of the three mile causeway and forms a separation barrier between nirvana and civilisation.   misread the timetable and it's  "bye bye car, hello North Sea " 


As the water nears, hoards of invading tourists become a wave in retreat.  wall to wall merrymakers weighed down with backpacks, binoculars and walking boots, meander their way to the car park reluctantly leaving this little corner of paradise to the millions of birds and 150 souls who call it "home".

The streets, fields, sea, dunes are enveloped by a cloak of velvet silence, broken only by the cry of gulls and the happy chatter from colonies of sparrows, fattened by the thieving of cake and scone from the plates of unwary patrons in the coffee shop gardens.


I spent many sunny, summer afternoons sitting in a field overlooking the sea with a flask of coffee watching seals slumber in the heat, or through the cold months toast my toes by an open fire, sipping hot chocolate in Pilgrims, the coffee shop at the bottom of my garden, surreptitiously people watching over the top of my Guardian, a carrier bag of birthday or christmas gifts from their craft shop nestled at my feet.

Often people ask "what do you miss most?"   well.......all the above !!   

You see, once all the people had gone i could stop obsessing over the 20 metre rule and venture out.......what?......you don't know the 20 metre rule?......forgive me if you've heard this before.......if a person can walk 20 metres they are no longer eligible for disabled mobility support.

How far is 20 metres?.....65 foot......approximately 5 cars or two double decker buses......any more than that and kaboom,  you're on your own.....housebound......no more coffee shops......no more craft shops......no more sea......no more leaving the house.......no more anything.

Those of us with broken bodies use that benefit to pay for taxis getting to dentist, doctor, hospital appointments.   i also use it to pay a lovely lady to help me go shopping twice a month......have you ever tried pushing a supermarket trolley when in a wheelchair?   trust me, it's beyond impossible.   some use it towards a motability car or scooter.   sometimes it pays for simply seeing the outside world.....maybe even to see the sea.   

The island village is tiny so i could reach everything easily and, once the tide came in, there was nobody watching and counting.   here,  in civilisation, i'm afraid to breach those 20 metres.    i'm not permitted 30 metres or 50 metres, which is what it used to be,  step over 20 and that's it, penalised.   

So.....yes i miss island, but what i miss most is autonomy, the freedom to put on some shoes, pick up a paper, walk down the garden path and engage with the world.











  




Friday, 23 October 2015

Sleep Paralysis


You would think that after sixty decades of living in close proximity to my psyche most of it's foibles, be they physical/biological/psychological/neurological, would be good friends by now.   apparently not, and it took a movie for this latest manifestation of jeni weirdness to make itself known.

From childhood sleep has been a land i've struggled to enter, and once passed customs have found myself an illegal alien, always on the cusp of exile.   the slightest unusual sound or scent wakes me, i was even disturbed by a spider walking across the ceiling's polystyrene tiles !!! it was akin to an ogre trampling a giant packet of crisps !!  i kid thee not......it WAS a large spider.


Twice when young i launched myself down the stairs with the intention of flying to the bottom......it worked so well in the dream. the reality was deeply disappointing......and painful.   i lost the argument with mother over the massive pocket money increase i'd been promised......though i still don't believe i dreamt that, she was covering for her ministerial u-turn.....honestly.    and the sweet shop owner was wise enough not to disturb my somnambulation, he just gently walked me home where i'd climb back into bed totally unaware of any nocturnal adventures.   

House moving was a nightmare......pun intended......i would wake in the morning to find items packed the previous day decanted and put into their usual place, the newspaper used around breakables neatly folded back into a reasonable facsimile of it's original self.

somnambulate



[som-nam-byuh-leyt, suh m-] 
verb (used without object),
somnambulated, somnambulating.
to walk during sleep; sleepwalk

Sleep walking is funny, an entertaining tale to tell the children about their dotty mum.  but the terror of waking unable to move or speak or breathe.....now that's not funny.   not knowing if you are alive or dead or in a coma is very frightening.   the mind saying you are up and walking and talking, only to find.......nooo, i'm not......i'm still lying here.  let's try it again.....yes, this time i AM moving, i'm getting out of bed now.....NOOO, i'm not.....MOVE !! legs MOVE.....arms MOVE......WHY CAN'T I MOVE.......Nightmare...... the movie is accurately named.

Yep, you've got it.......sleep paralysis.   i am blessed to be one of the 10% who regularly half wake totally unable to twitch a muscle. the brain doesn't synch with the body, so for a short while we enter a limbo akin to the living dead.   it only lasts for a few minutes but it feels like hours and  it's absolutely terrifying.

But here's the thing......i thought it happened to EVERYBODY.   i didn't even know it had a NAME, was a recognised s y n d r o m e.   ooooh i do love a good syndrome.

So....this started me mulling.....ooooh i also love a good mull sprinkled with a syndrome or two....what other pathologies are there in our lives that we assume to be universal?   and.....more pertinently.....isn't it possible that a lot of the fears/weaknesses/abnormalities/eccentricities that we believe are ours alone are actually common traits of humanity?   that phobia you have been too embarrassed to mention, the anxiety that holds you back from living life to the full,   grief or depression that sit on your shoulder like an evil twin,  a physical problem that has shamed you into a mafiosi style omerta, paralysing self doubt hindering your dreams.......wouldn't they be easier to live with if you knew those confident, arrogant, extroverts around you also shared some of your terrors, because i'm sure they do.......they just don't talk about it.   why not ask them?   
   





Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Grammatically Limited


Hello again.....
when i was encouraged to start a blog i wasn't convinced anybody would want to read it, and i certainly didn't think you would come back for more after your first perusal.   so.......hello again......and thank you for your encouragement and kindness to this random scribbler......it's comforting to know there are some humans out there who enjoy my ramblings.
Do you realise how fortunate we are in being able to write and to read what has been written?   Ooohh nooo, don't panic......jeni isn't having delusions of grandeur!  i'm meaning, the ability is a gift not to be under-estimated.   according to the National Literacy Trust around 16% of adults in England have literacy levels below that of an 11 year old.    as someone who is functionally, grammatically limited i have great empathy for those who don't write because they feel they can't.


Our education system has always been myopic in it's quest for "correct" expression, whether that's spelling, structure, grammar,  at the expense of imagination and innovation.    i wonder how many of you who say "i don't know how to write", actually mean, "i don't know how to write in a form that is conventionally acceptable", or "i don't know how to spell" or were solemnly informed at school  "that's all wrong, it's rubbish" after pouring out your thoughts and feelings onto an intimidatingly pristine lined sheet.
As a friendless young teen i would spend long hours alone inhabiting a fantasy world where i would write tales for an imaginary audience, becoming the protagonist in a life i wished were mine.   usually it was a life richer, warmer, funnier and with good company.    socially i was inept but in this dream world i could go wherever i wanted, whenever i wanted, with whoever i fancied........at age 13 it was Davy Jones of The Monkees.......hey......i was young.....with poor taste..... i saw the error of my ways  !!
From those early escapist adventures grew an intermittent, lifelong love affair with the written word manifesting in long chatty letters, journal keeping, poetry, and now this humble blog.   

When life has thrown it's crap at me i have stayed sane by manic, free association scratchings on any scrap of paper that strayed within pen reach.  during calm, mellow times i have written, and discarded, sentimental musings of saccharine sweetness.   very occasionally there's been a glimpse of literary potential, never followed up.    

Sadly my childhood dream of being a journalist was dunked in cold water and drowned at conception by a careers adviser who "advised" me that i actually wanted to be a shorthand typist....no i didn't.....i hated it......dropped out and became a traveller.....didn't re-discover my desired career till becoming a bookseller in my 40's.
So......don't assume you lack the spark of creativity with your words.  it could simply be that you haven't yet started writing for your own, rather than other people's acceptance.  nobody needs to see your jottings.....if they don't see they can't judge.....can they ?   next time you find yourself weighed down with sorrow, anger, regret, or lifted up by joy.....go grab that pencil and make marks on paper......you might surprise yourself.......




  






Saturday, 10 October 2015

Your Gift To The World


One of my beloved teens wrote and expressed her feelings of impotence and despair at so much tragedy all around her every time she picks up a paper, watches  the news  or opens  Facebook.   she feels  overwhelmed by   so  many   issues,  conflicted  countries,  people  in  need   and   her inability to make an identifiable dent in the flood of tragedy. 

In empathy i can totally relate to her frustration and understand how she feels because i feel it too.  Long ago i stopped watching the news and focused on reading a newspaper or  my tablet.    seeing so  much aggression  and destruction,  homes bombed  into rubble graphically playing out on  screen from the comfort of my sofa  seemed to me an obscenity.   it  seemed  callous to watch  filmography  of famine  and hungry children as i tucked into a bowl of thick, hot, chunky soup.   
I would cry myself into a migraine at the futility of politics or protest to stem the flow of suffering playing out inches from my eyes.   moments later the horror would be swept away as though it had never been shown, replaced by a sparkly, glitzy, ditzy advert for luxury, moisturised toilet paper.

There is a peculiar schizophrenia that western society has developed to protect ourselves from this dichotomy.   i call it the "blink moment".....starving child.....blink......Big Brother.....blink.....flattened city......blink....flashy advert.....blink.....riots.....blink.....Bake Off....blink.
Whatever happens don't give the suckers T I M E .   it takes time to digest horror, for it to touch the emotions, for us to say "enough already", to propel our  bums out of the chair and actually DO something about it. 
  

So, what advice did i give the lovely girly?   quite simple really.

1/   choose a cause that touches you deeply and research it.

2/   decide realistically how much time and energy, physical and                    emotional you can give.

3/   support  your chosen cause to  the best of your ability.     sign                  petitions....post on Facebook or Twitter.....join a charity....talk 
       to  friends and family......donate what you can afford.......keep 
       informed......go on demonstrations.....believe you can make a                  difference......AND.........

.....when the weight of a war weary world becomes too heavy allow yourself some light relief and imagine the fantastical.    what would you do if you were granted the gift of a magic wand, but.....it's use  had a caveat......it would  work only once,  and your gift to the universe had to be F U N !!!

How would you use your wand ?   what gift would you grant ?   i like this one......




Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Disability Hate Speech

Like you i have read about disability hate crime and been outraged, appalled, baffled even.    how could an intelligent being persecute a fellow human, a weaker, broken, vulnerable brother/sister of the human family?     and although i didn't doubt the veracity of people's experience i don't think i truly absorbed it's reality.

As a wheelie of almost 15 years i've experienced a range of reactions from others when out and about, thoughtlessness, exasperation, indifference, annoyance but never discrimination, definitely never hate or abuse.    

I think i have imagination enough to understand how frustrating it must be to find the supermarket shelf blocked by a pink, boa bestrewed chariot with a jeni gazing mindlessly into the void attempting to discern the voice of the universe before making the vital, final, soup decision of the day......tomato or pea and ham.   probably as annoying as finding the last disabled parking spot filled with a 4X4 with no Blue Badge, but i don't use that as an excuse to blade the side of the behemoth........i might want to, but i don't put the thought into action.
So it came as quite a shock when scanning a Facebook page to find some vitriolic views expounded along the usual scroungers, fakers, benefit takers lines.   but what saddened me even more was the tone taken by my disabled brethren, attacking the attacker by rudely and crudely  denigrating her looks, her weight, her intelligence, her motives until it turned into an all out cat fight in which neither could claim the high ground.

How sad that those who are the butt of cruelty and venom should in turn use the weapons of the assailant as a defence.   it isn't edifying and it isn't effective if we are hoping to win a sympathetic audience.   a wise man said "a gentle word turns aside anger" and there was  a lot of anger being spouted.   i wish i had been brave enough to see what effect a  "gentle word" would have.........maybe next time.