Saturday, 28 February 2015

island dayze

For 9 years this was the view within five minutes walking distance of my home.

beautiful isn't it?

Apologies if the following makes you want to spit vitriolic spumes of envy and vow never to read my most esteemed blog ever again, i totally understand as that's what i would have felt about me if it hadn't been me living there.......sort of.

I had 9 heavenly years living on the Isle of Lindisfarne in the middle of the North Sea.   the sort of place i dreamed about for decades while living in the concrete jungle of an "up north" city never for a moment thinking it would happen.   a story for another day.

In the evenings the seals would sing.   the first time i heard them it was dark, with the sort of mist that feels wetter than rain and turns a shiver into the ague.   out of the night came the sound of a thousand banshees wailing, ululating, echoing around the island, bouncing off dry stone walls, fading into the fog.   i was TERRIFIED, all my protestations that ghosts don't exist entering the realm of doubt.   later, knowing the benign origin of the song, i would walk down to the sea and sing back to them.   somehow Amazing Grace seemed to be the only apt response to being given such a gift.

According to the RSPB and other such worthy wildlife organisations sparrows  are in major decline.   i know the truth of the matter......THEY ARE ALL ON HOLY ISLAND!!!!   never have i seen such a quantity of sparrow.   they teemed like locusts in the coffee shop gardens, diving head first into people's cake or running kamikaze attacks on the tables. 
every year when it was time to fill in the Big Bird Watch online forms a red warning would flash up telling me "too large a number are you certain this is correct".   

Once the tide came in and all the tourists were gone a profound velvety silence would drape itself over the fields and streets punctured only by the calls of hundreds of thousands of birds.   to fall asleep and wake to that sound was heaven.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

meet Bassett

Meet Bassett

No not the cat, he's called Mister Cat though he's far too pretty to be of the male type gender

Bassett is the wheelchair.    why Bassett?   go on you can work it out...

No??  what, you want a clue?  ok think about the black pink.............

No??  i can tell you don't do cryptic crosswords........another clue? 

ok...... think........sweeties!!   ahhhh i can see those synapses firing

TA DA......DRUM ROLL YOU'VE GOT IT   Bassett's liquice allsorts !!!

Why have i called my wheelchair after a chewy, sugary confection loaded with more reminiscences than calories i hear you ask?  

Because i totally resent having to use it.   i resented it even more when i had to concede defeat on this walking business in my fifties.

After some time wandering that hardest of battlefields, the human psyche,  it seemed easier to view the whole thing as a big joke intended to entertain and raise a smile on a dismal day.  

After all why should disability aids be grey and grim, reeking of hospitals and pain to be born with head bowed in thin lipped silent suffering?   if i was to be prematurely grounded then i would do it in style,  with head held high, a smile on the lips, and hold eye contact with anybody who DARED look pityingly in my direction.

You know what?  it worked!!  i couldn't begin to count the conversations held over the top of a shedding boa, feathers flying in all directions.  strangers cheer me on, other wheelie users shyly say they wish they had the courage to do the same, sales assistants lean over their cash registers and smile forgetting their sore feet for just a moment, children laugh with delight and chase those wayward, wilful feathers.   so, yes, i'd call it a success in elevating the human condition away from grey into the realm of colour  and hopefully show, for a moment, that disability can be fun.

What next??   well.......i'm saving up for hub caps...........with pink daisies  and butterflies to cover the chips taken out of the tyre rims.  fun eh?

Monday, 23 February 2015

basket maker to the queen

Image result for dog and ATM cartoonImage result for guide dog and cash machine
Mark this date in your diary to turn to when your jaded soul needs a little tomato soup therapy (i know it's supposed to be chicken but creamy  tomato is a much more satisfactory comfort food).

After what seems like an eternity of bad bank news RBS/NatWest have turned their not insubstantial nous to making this a better  universe for the less able sighted.

They have launched "accessible" bank cards that they say will be much easier to use by the partially sighted and blind.   the card features "tactile markings", a notch to indicate which way to insert it into an ATM, the telephone number moved to the front, and a font 50% larger than usual.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People have accredited it.

I had an uncle who was totally blind from childhood, measles i think.   he and his guide dog, several different ones over the course of his long life, were known in all the pubs within walking distance of his home.   at each stop he would have a pint and the dog a saucer of beer.   it was difficult to know who was the squiffiest by the time the evening was over.   

My pride and respect for him was magnified beyond imagining when he was appointed to make laundry baskets for Buckingham Palace.   M Y  UNCLE  made the baskets that queenie's knicks and knacks landed in at the end of a long day dubbing, shaking, waving and queening.   i bet you can't claim that!   

He was blessed to have an incredibly supportive family network so he could work and live to the fullest in an age before support services were the norm.   but still, it must have been frustrating to have to rely on others in order to manage his finances and banking transactions.   i can imagine him being the first in the queue for one of these cards had they been available during his lifetime.

Despite the cynic who whispers constantly behind my Pollyanna facade muttering "yeah right, damage limitation", i can't help feeling it's a step in the right direction.   

Maybe they could put all that creativity into action making it easier to use an ATM from a wheelchair.

 Image result for guide dog and ATM

Sunday, 22 February 2015

wheelchair shoplifter outrage

have you seen this video  that was on The Indedpendent newspaper website recently?   have a watch   

outrageous isn't it?

did you find yourself fuming?    i did

did you feel the injustice?          i did

did you want to take action?     i did

did you feel righteous anger?   i did

do i want to know, exactly, what it was that made you feel that way?

probably not !!!  because i'm pretty sure most people's reactions, fed and watered by our media and government, will revolve around the predictable scrounger, fraud, something for nothing carousel that passes for considered debate in these febrile times.

do you want to know what raised my blood pressure?  probably not!!!  but i'd like to tell you anyway if you would be so kind to spare me a moment.  

it's that every day, all over the country, in supermarkets, off licenses, corner shops, department stores millions of pounds worth of food and desirables are pilfered, purloined, pinched and pocketed and it doesn't result in a viral video until it includes a wheelchair.

these "playful" references to Little Britain hide an ugly attitude towards the visibly less able fueled by a deeply hidden fear that we are all just a moment away from their,  MY,   normality.   a slip on the stairs, the swerve to avoid a child blithely stepping off the curb, a rogue gene deciding to go into overdrive, a blood vessel in the brain popping during exercise all have the potential to lead us by the hand to that wheelchair.   we don't think about it because in that direction madness lies instead we turn our fear into dubious humour or derision or scepticism or persecution. time i'm in Marks & Spencer stocking up on yummy nom nom edibles and the lasagna is a shelf above my reach, will i arise from my chariot and exercise the little independence left to me or will i sit and wait for a helping hand, looking pathetic and needy, fearful of suspicion or censure.   

i don't know...........i really don't know



Friday, 20 February 2015

poorly people prefer pets

Well, here's a thought.   means tested or not,  how about pensioner pet subsidies?   And how about extending that to the disabled and depressed and despairing?

There's an abundance of studies that show pets improve the mental and physical well being of those who are housebound or poorly.   Come on, how could the furry face above not make you smile.   Doctors in Tower Hamlets are even prescribing pet petting (sorry couldn't resist the puny pun) for their patients in nursing homes.   have a look at the link below

If government is serious about wanting the elderly or those with "complex needs" to be less of a drain on the NHS perhaps a subscription to the local vet or Pet Shop would have more "added value", to use wonk speak, than a TV licence.   instead of sitting passively for hours on end in front of unedifying daytime Jeremy Kyle try  watching a cat playing hunt the mousy with a piece of string.    surely a hamster turning on it's wheel can't be more mind numbing than the soaps.    an animal needs feeding, entertaining, cleaning, grooming, stroking just as we do and these can be shared pleasures that enhance the positives of a limited life in the absence of the ability to get out into human company.

Let's start a campaign, Poorly People Prefer Pets.

Till then i'll continue to take my furry out visiting my neighbours who are shut in.   i enjoy it, the ladies enjoy it, i hope Mister Cat enjoys it ?!?

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

write a blog they said

"write a blog"  they said
"who would read it?"  i said
"you might be surprised"   they said
go on, surprise me ......please?

life in a broken body is definitely interesting, sometimes challenging, always surprising. 

the kindness's of strangers, the tricks to achieve the seemingly unachievable, the costs and the gains, all things i didn't know were part of existence until it became my normality.  The lack of supported housing for those with prematurely aged bodies that means even the youngish end up living among the elderly,  fighting to retain an active and questioning mind, horrified to find that grumpy Victor Meldrewishness seems to be an integral attitude of those over a certain age.  All this and much more has become my world.

if  i can capture the intricacies of a life that's not yours..........yet, and, maybe, pre-prepare you of what's to come with a wry dollop of humour , then those who said "write a blog" will be vindicated.   If, on the other hand, nobody's really interested then at least these ramblings will be out of my head and onto the page and might help stave off the fear that i'll be old and isolated before my time.

so..............welcome to my blog.    i may be broken but...........i'm still standing