Thursday, 28 May 2015

Walk In My Shoes

Can you spot the customer care failure in this photo ?     no, not that the counter is too high, it needs to be that height for you biped people.   there's nobody to greet the gentleman ?  no, even receptionists need to pee sometimes.   can't you see it ?  THERE'S A BLOODY GREAT BOX   BLOCKING  THE WHEELCHAIR LEVEL SECTION.   you see it now don't you?   if you spotted it i congratulate you, not many would even think of it being a problem.

Try this photo.........
now, isn't that better.... no i don't mean the nativity set, though that is a nice touch.   us of the Limited Mobility Movement like the concept of "our" bit of counter being as wide as "theirs".

Would you feel it acceptable to approach every shop counter, reception, airport check-in,  pharmacy pick-up, even some hospital sign-in desks, on your knees and have to reach on tippy toes to use the pin machine or even be seen??  would you ??  can you begin to imagine how it feels to sit in your chariot with fingertips holding onto the edge of a ledge waving.... yes !! WAVING !! to attract  attention?   oh the shame, the shame.   oh no, not MY shame, the shame of businesses in the 21st century failing to understand how it feels to be thus diminished when accessing essential services.   click the link below to read how it felt for Kiruna of East Enders,  and know that it's a regular occurrence for many of us who don't fit the 5ft plus 2 feet on ground mould.

Perhaps business leaders, and those who work for them, would benefit from a day strapped  into a wheelchair, not allowed out for any reason including comfort stops and ablutions.    i would leave them to navigate round a hypermarket  with a list of items, from the top and bottom shelves, to be purchased.   they would have to track down  the lift, following signs obscured by high shelving, only to discover the call button at 4ft level,  and once inside discover the button for the top floor is......right at the top !!  

They would have to run the gauntlet of shoppers annoyed by the fact that a wheelchair takes up a lot of space when the aisles are blocked by the huge cages used to re-stock shelves.   On their list of items to be purchased would be bread from the bakery  and cheese from the deli  and  fresh meat from the butcher and fish, and, and, and..... oh every high  shelf i  could find.

I would lurk behind an advertising stand to watch as they tried to manoeuvre through the narrow space between check-outs and reach the conveyer with a basket full of groceries as the assistant tapped her fingers and rolled her eyes to heaven at their uncoordinated attempts to lift the basket and deposit it safely without it tipping,  because they are too low down.   

Finally, as the piece-de-resistance, i would set off the fire alarms!!!!  do you know how hard it is to see exit signs when your eyes are at knee level?   try it........i challenge you.   

Or maybe, because i'm a merciful soul, i would spare them all that embarrassment and distress and simply suggest they read the article below.   as they need to walk a mile in a person's shoes etc etc.....

Monday, 25 May 2015

Tutorial On The Wonders of Blogspot

Isn't technology wonderful ?........isn't it ?.........umm hello ???.......say, "yes jeni, technology is wonderful"...........oh come on, sound as though you mean wouldn't be reading these scintillating words from the depths of the jeni universe without it.........ok, have it your own way........ I think technology is absolutely amazing.   For those of us condemned to spend too much time in the containment bubble called home the internet can open windows onto the world.   where, once, we strode amongst the stars at will, embracing all that life offered,  it could  feel stifling without this outlet.     

So, in the spirit of enlightenment  i would ask my more computer literate friends to be patient while i answer a couple of techie questions some of my readers have  asked about using this site.   hopefully the peculiarities of google wont blow your mind.

For those who would like to receive an email whenever i write  something new, have a look at the top right of this page and you'll see "follow by email".    if you type your email address in the box underneath and press submit.........hey are safely in my subscriber list.   you wont get junk mail from google.........just notifications from me......simples!

Next tutorial by request from my lovely friend Val who would be keen to read comments from other people.     val and i shared various flats in Bath when we were about 17 ish ???  and this blog has put us back together again.    i THINK this was one of the houses we lived i right val ?

To make a comment follow these easy peasy, lemon squeazy  steps:
at the bottom of the page you'll see a pencil with how ever many comments have been made  OR  "no comments".    click on "comments"  OR  "no comments".    (not logical i know.  it should say "comment" cos you want to write a comment !!  take it up with google)

a box will open up with "enter your comment"   so type your words of wisdom in  the box.   

underneath the box  you'll  see "comment as"  with a little arrow.    click on the arrow and a list of choices will drop down, choose  "Anonymous".    

then click on the blue "publish" and you should be all honky dory.

if you want people to know who you are just sign your comment with your name.   you can have conversations with others and respond to their comments.    you might make friends with my friends cos my friends are very fine people.

your comment wont show up straight away as it gets sent to me to give the go ahead.    that's to stop strangers putting nasty comments just to be.........well,  nasty !!  sad, i know, but true.    the internet has the down side that it gives anonymity to those who just want to trash anything good.

Finally, i have started a Facebook page........i know, i know........consorting with the dark side.   

That's all folks.    get commenting if you'd like to and thank you for indulging me.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

A Salute to the Brave

Sometimes people say to me,  "you are so brave" when they discover how damaged my spine,  is and how much it hurts.   my response is always the same  "no, not brave.    stubborn?  yes.    bloody minded?  yes.   accustomed? yes.   unheeding? yes.   impervious? yes.   brave? no".

Bravery is another beast altogether and i truly don't know how i would act if ever i had to face a situation that calls for it.    in the past, righteous anger has impelled me to take a stand in a risky situation and i can honestly say i really didn't like the pounding heart rate, clammy hands, nausea that followed.   living with pain and the accompanying restrictions that disability bring cannot be classed as bravery for one simple's unsought. 
True bravery is seen in the actions of the chinese student who stood in front of tanks, moving left and right to match them as they tried to move round him, knowing that many of his peers had died, been beaten, and disappeared into custody following the Tiananmen Square protest the previous day.   
True bravery was shown by Mother Maria who was killed at Ravensbruck concentration camp in the second world war when she took the place of a Jewish mother to save her from the gas chamber.

True bravery is shown every day by the many who risk their lives to save others.   those who  undergo painful medical procedures to donate bone marrow or organs to a sick loved one.   by our rescue service men and women who go into burning buildings, sail on stormy seas, face down hostile crowds.   by those who risk persecution and death for their faith, for their politics, for freedom.   they know what they are walking into and make a decision not to turn away.

Pain and disability are imposed on a person so there's no bravery involved, as no choice has been made.  given an option i definitely would not choose these limitations and sleepless nights.   by nature i would always choose satin over sackcloth,  pleasure over pain.    by nature i'm a confirmed wimp,  a committed  wuss.   by nature a tabby not a tiger.   

Brave?...... .. no.........honest ?........hopefully.

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Wisdom of Solomon

Sometimes those whose task it is to uphold our labyrinthian laws have all my sympathy.    how to keep a rational head on the shoulders  is something i think  would drastically increase the proportion of grey to henna in the jeni frizzy hair if the decisions were mine to make.    i mean, imagine having to find  a response to this dilemma faced by the monarch of a Middle Eastern country a few thousand years ago:

Mr Monarch finished his breakfast of peacock eggs and toasted soldiers.......that's the bread sort not the machine gun toting sort........and headed for his kingly chair, premium Ikea imported that very season.   settling down and hoping for a quiet morning judging he had just finished a long, silent eggy belch when an almighty.......small a, not CAPITAL A He came into the original story at an earlier  date......kerfuffle broke out at the back of the courtroom.   

Two distraught young ladies bickered their way to the front each holding a small baby.    one not.    the tragic story poured out of them of sharing a labour ward and each delivering a healthy infant called Charlotte........i know, predictable but it's late and there is a sort of royal theme to the story, and  it  IS a pretty name.......   When they woke in the morning one of the babies was deceased.     Now, our labour ward........that's baby labour ward not political district Labour Ward....... hadn't really got to grips with health and safety and had failed to attach name bands to the couldn't get  good quality staff in those days.   both of our mums were claiming the surviving baby  was theirs.

All eyes turned to our king, it was his task to pass  judgement and decide which one was to go home with a living infant.    no adjourning to a future date or passing the buck to a jury, no CSI.......his was the final word.

Our Mr Wise King  called for a not ISIL, wrong tribe.......and ordered the baby  be chopped in two so the mums could have half each.    pseudo mum nodded assent and asked for the top part not the smelly part.    truedo mum declared  "no way kingo dude,  i'd rather she took him alive than see him felled like a young oak"......or something like that.   of course real mum went home vindicated with her baby and we gained the saying "the wisdom of Solomon".

Now, fast forward several thousand years to last week and read the link below for our very own 21st century Solomon.......though we have judges who take turns in making the hard choices not kings.  spreading the load must make it easier to sleep at night.

Isn't it heartening to know that in this time of psycho babble and un-understandable  judgements that come out of our courts there are some who can cut through the crap and show some humanity and common sense.    


Saturday, 16 May 2015

The Twisty Turny Path of Time

I find the longer my sojourn on this spinning orb of water and rock the more friends are gathered along the way.   everybody needs a hobby and i collect humans.   so,  not  simply  the  "crazy cat lady" but also the "crazy people person".........though it has to be admitted that cats are far cuter and much funnier on video.

Can you remember the name of the kiddlie who most often sat next to you in primary school?   or your "very bestest fwend ever"?   how about the the muppet who was your  " very bestest fwend ever"  the next week ??   or the next ??   there are some who can remember the names of those they were at nursery with !!!    now that really does freak me out as i don't remember anybody before age 15.   

When i look on Friends Reunited there isn't a single name i recognise and the few people of my year i've  messaged don't remember me either.    of course  you  know my theory  don't you?......... i'm actually an alien......    the mother ship left me here to improve and will come back once they think i've  ceased to be a disruptive's probably that my generation are less likely to be computer literate........but that's boring.

Throughout  adulthood there have been  friends who have  moved on,  or i've had a bout of gypsy feet and left them behind.    some i  still miss and regret not making an effort to keep the connection,  some were probably best left  and forgotten,  and others i don't even remember to forget.......or should that be forget to remember........i can't remember.

Occasionally though there are those special faces who leave for a while......sometimes a long while.........and then life takes one of those strange twisty, twirly,  turns and they re-appear,  and that twist becomes a time warp,  and the time warp becomes a grand reunion,  and the grand reunion steps back onto the conveyer belt of time and it's like those years between had never passed and you had shared this universe without ceasing.   

Some of you who share this blog are my time traveling friends and i want you to know how very, very glad i am that we found each other and then re-found each other again,  even though many miles might lie between us now.   somehow i can't help feeling that wherever and whenever  life leads,  our paths will intersect.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Blow Your House Down

Now my self imposed political purdah is officially over and we know the apocalypse will be upon us before the end of the next five years,  perhaps you would indulge while i break my fast with  a subject close to my heart.

Many children  born in the early 1950's entered the world  dragging  a package of poverty behind them in those post-war years.   my parents and sister shared a three bedroom house with a  grandmother,  an aunt and uncle,  a single uncle and a  guide dog.   six adults,  two children,  one large  dog,  three  bedrooms.   do the math !!

It wasn't until i was born that they were declared officially overcrowded.    my joyful appearance meant they qualified for one of the shiny, new council  houses  that had started sprouting up on every inch of wasteland.    the houses had big rooms with lots of window  and  a garden that went on forever.  it was the beginning of social housing estates with the catchphrase "a home for everyone".    i lived in that house and sun bathed in that garden till i was 16,  understanding that in his lifetime  my  father, a self employed builder,  wouldn't earn a fraction of the amount needed to buy a property and that a caring government had provided us with a home for life at a fair and affordable rent.    that house is now in private hands with an estimated value of £214,000.    do the math  !!

The  quote attributed to Mrs Thatcher that "a man over the age of 26 on a bus can count himself a failure"  may be mis-attributed,  it certainly can't be found in writing anywhere, but it sums up an attitude that became prevalent during her reign, possession equals success, support equals failure and social housing paves the way to Hades.    only.......we didn't end up in the land of the parents lived on the same street until their late 80's, my sister has been  in a large bright council flat in a different part of Bournemouth for four decades and i'm in a lovely little Housing Association Supported Housing cul-de-sac in Hexham.   look at it......not all hell and high water is it?

Why am i seething?   because, in it's nasty party, flog the lot  little mindset, our esteemed new government wants to sell off  housing association properties to tenants at huge discounts, in the same way as it has council housing, even though it's own ex-housing minister has said  "it could affect the future provision of affordable housing".

Now i wouldn't have a problem with this if the proceeds of this sell off were used to finance the building of replacement social housing.    if someone has paid rent for years it's understandable they would want to buy if they could afford,  but if the past holds any clues to the future this wont happen.   for every 21 council houses sold only one is built and that's one reason there are nearly 2 million people on waiting lists.    do the math  !!!

The other iniquity in all this is the evidence that 36% of houses bought from councils are being  re-let on the private market.   so, a low rent council  house is bought at a knock down price by the tenant,  he sits on it for a while then lets it out at full market rent often double what he was paying, he uses that rent to cover a mortgage for himself.  the new tenant of our ex-council house claims housing benefit  and  the council is hit by a double whammy.  do the math !!!     read the article below from The Independent to get the full picture

Social housing will continue to be essential as we will always have the underpaid.   on a minimum wage of £6.70 an hour it's impossible to dream of home owning let alone home maintaining.   do the math !!

If the roof flies off my flat in the middle of the night the state pension wouldn't even cover the call out fee for a roofer.   having lived in the private rented sector i know first hand the insecurity of living month by month wondering if a lease will be renewed, that's no way for anyone to live especially those with children.   we sell off our social housing at the risk of a huge increase in homelessness and slum landlords.   if you see a petition about this please sign it and keep a roof over the heads of those who need it.

Rant over for another few posts........thanks for listening.


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Oh Be Careful Little Mind What You Think

 Wotta-mistaka-to-maka, !!!       misunderstanding on a nuclear scale  !!!

What i wrote in the note was 

"Goodbye,  i hope you are happy now you are back in your beloved village."

                                              what i meant was

"Goodbye, i hope you are happy now you are back in your much loved village."

                                            what she read was

GOODBYE,  i hope you are happy NOW!  back in your precious village"

Isn't language a mine-field, especially when it's written rather than spoken.    our humanity has this nasty trick of hearing what we THINK a person intends and,  if by nature we aren't one of the earth's sunnier souls, like the recipient of my well intentioned moving home card, it's too easy to perceive the intention as criticism  rather than kindly.   There probably wasn't anything i could have written that would have conveyed warm future  wishes  in a manner that wasn't fraught with possible double entendre but it would, also, have been seen as a crime against humanity if i hadn't tried.

Of course, it doesn't help if you are cursed with an idiosyncratic turn of phrase.     i blame my mother, as people say i speak just like her,  and you can't live with someone for 16 years without picking up a style or two along the way.   she would have enjoyed swearing in Russian too, in fact she was half way there as she used Russian names when invective was required.    you have to admit there's something deeply satisfying in spitting Vladimir Ashkhenazi or Vladivostok.......try typing it without hammering the keys......impossibles !!

Anyway.......if there's a moral to my tale of woeful miscommunication  it's multi faceted........first of all,  the world isn't out to get you, and even if it is,  don't  succumb to  the temptation of  letting on that  success is  in sight.

Secondly, hold before you the old children's song "Oh be careful little hands/feet/mind    what/where/how   you  do/go/think."  do you remember it?   the pure simplicity of sentiment would silence the most philosophical  of philosophers.    out of the mouths of babes and infants shall come forth the wisdom of the ages.......along with an annoyingly unforgettable melody that takes up board and lodging at the back of the cerebellum and keeps you awake all week.

Thirdly,  if you find yourself putting nefarious motives on to things others say it might be worth asking where that comes from?    is it possible the suspicion and negativity come from the way YOU respond to others and you are simply seeing a reflection of yourself?     not very attractive is it?  

Friday, 8 May 2015

Strangers On A Bus

We talked,
We walked,
For a Moment in Time.

You passed through my life that day and left your mark.

You may never pass my way again,
Or you may stay for a lifetime.

I enjoyed the walk,
I enjoyed the talk.
I am blessed for that moment in time.
 by Cynthia Kepp

When you woke this morning did you have an inkling of what the day might bring?    perhaps you had an appointment arranged, or  planned to meet a friend for a coffee,  a regular get  together that you look  forward  to all  week maybe, or the chance to catch up with the life of a friend unmet for a long time.     it could be that when you stepped out of bed you believed the day was planned, organised, or an open book, an adventure waiting to whisk you off to places unknown,  people unmet,  opportunities undreamed of.    either way it's most likely other humans featured somewhere if only briefly and at a distance.    

One thing i can be sure of,  any time you or i step out to meet the world we never know where we could end up or who might transect our path.    most of my dearest friends have entered my life in the most unsought ways and a few have re-entered it repeatedly over the years, ebbing and flowing like the tide on Lindisfarne.

When my bizniz had to close i knew i would be devastated.   but what i discovered   when i examined my deepest thoughts and feelings was that it wasn't losing my livelihood or the closing of a very successful and popular enterprise that i dreaded  most but that i could lose the people who worked for me, laughed with me, supported me, who had become as brothers and sisters, friends, my "children."  when i woke the morning after closing the doors for the last time it was those humans who came to mind with the opening of my eyes, there was a gap in my world that was chris shaped, sue shaped, caron shaped, kat shaped, Nathan shaped, anne-anne many names, so many memories, so much to miss.

Yet.......all those names had started out as strangers, people i could sit beside on a bus or wait in line with for coffee and cake and not notice, never think about again, not even make eye contact with. one moment of time we  crossed a line, all  it took was a smile, a grasping of the  hand,  a  "hi, i'm jeni, who are you?"  and in that moment everything changed......strangers no more,  the etch of a smile already becoming dear and familiar,  the voice so quickly becoming as recognisable as my own. 

It's a cliche to say "every stranger is a friend you haven't yet met".   all those hundreds of thousands of strangers will stay just that......strange! !  but it's true.......  "every friend was once a stranger".......some of whom will still be strange but that's something else altogether!!    

I wonder if it's possible to train ourselves to see beyond people's otherness and recognise  a potential friend in the crowd......i wonder how much joy i've missed by walking obliviously past a soul sister without a second glance.......i wonder.........

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

To Care Or Not To Care

I hope those of you who know me well are impressed by the fact that i've avoided politics during this frenetic, over hyped time of General Election, and i hope you'll forgive me for succumbing to commenting on an issue that i can't ignore.
I know some of you feel  apolitical,  that "it's not for me", but anyone who has a heartbeat is subject to politics every moment of every day and to abdicate that responsibility is the way to losing our remnants of democracy.
For instance employment is subject to politics via wage levels, the right to join a union, taxes, national insurance, and at the other extreme unemployment support if you lose your job.

Disability and sickness and old age are totally at the mercy of politics and we are all going to face that unholy trinity at some point in our lives no matter how young and healthy we are now.   did you know that until recently,  when they put on a more friendly face, UKIP was committed to decommissioning the NHS?   and  did you know the Conservative party tried everything in it's power to stop the formation of the NHS right back at it's inception and a large number of it's politicians are still of the opinion that we should have an insurance based health system like the U.S. and are slowly working towards this by privatising step by  incremental  step.

Disability has been made a hugely political issue by this government and has affected millions of lives.   for the first time there was universal booing at the Paralympic Games when George Osborne gave out medals.  Such a response at an overwhelmingly feelgood event is unheard of.  watch the video link below 

People are dying because of the cuts and changes to disability benefits, dying of hunger, dying by suicide.   Read this shocking article and ask how you can not be involved.

Last year when i had to re-apply for disability benefits i was turned down and informed i had to take steps to prepare for employment.   my spine has nine different defects with additional problems radiating out from head to toe and i'm in constant pain and exhaustion, how could i find a job?   retirement rescued me from the soul destroying process of appealing the decision, an appeal that can take up to a year without any payment until it's over, that's how the disabled are dying of hunger under this government.

I wouldn't dream of telling you how to vote, but i would ask that you look hard at how different parties are planning to care for the most vulnerable in your land, your town, your street, your friends, your family, yourself !!!   and place your X accordingly.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sleep The Final Frontier

                                 "There are some nights when 
                                  sleep plays coy,
                                  aloof and disdainful.   
                                  And all the wiles
                                  that i employ to win
                                  it's service to my side
                                  are useless as wounded pride,
                                  and much more painful."

                                      Maya Angelou  

"Goodnight" definition:  "a pleasant expression said at the end of the day"

Yeah says the dictionary......i have a different definition......

"goodnight" jeni's definition: "oxymoron, contradiction in terms, interminable"

I am often accused of being an incorrigible optimist.   it's said with affection, mostly.    annoyance, often.      admiration, rarely.    but there's one aspect of life that can beat me down into oblivion........SLEEP......or the lack of it !!

I said in my last post that i've always been a sleepwalker when stressed.   during the moving house process i would wake to find all sorts of rubbish tidily packed, the contents of the recycle box folded neatly and laid between tissue paper, as pretty as a bride's trousseau.  And essentials untidily unpacked and strewn around different rooms, the cheese grater in the microwave, a lamp I N the loo, what depths of the psyche dredged that up?    

After we were burgled in the middle of the night a few times as we slept, i spent weeks  barricading the doors from the inside in the early hours, whilst asleep, to protect us from  Attila The Hun, with his sidekick Noggin The Nogg, coming to rape and pillage.   i suppose the sleeping brain doesn't differentiate between a couple of spotty oik kids and Thor of Asgard.    it took the installing of that wonder of modern technology to bring me back to the world of rationality, to whit......a burglar alarm  !!!!   simples !!!   old Attila didn't know how to contend with one of those now did he?

My wakefulness has a different cause now.   Disability has a habit of bringing some of his mates, pain, discomfort and insomnia, to the party, and they have a bad habit of boogieing  on down all night long with loud music,  pokes in the back and pains in the butt,  but i wish it wasn't  MY  butt being pained.

A typical night goes something like this:

10 - 11.00    climb into bed with cat and book

11 - 12.00    pet cat, read book

12 - 1.00        settle down to sleep,  fail, read book

1 -   2.00       sleep, wake,  read more book

2  -  3.00       wake cat, feed cat,  make cocoa, read yet more book

3 -   4.00       sleep,  wake, read forgotten previous pages of book

4 -   5.00        sleep, wake, swear (in Russian) at length

5 -   8.00       sleep

8 -    wake and leap out of bed full of joy and vigour, keen and ready  start the  day.......NOT !

Now, this isn't a complaint at the unfairness of the universe, picking on poor,  little old me.......the me who survived Attila.......the me who only swears in Russian so the cat isn't offended.......the me who quotes a worthy like Maya Angelou........the me who increases her knowledge by reading crappy sci-fi in the early hours........the me who is the universe's most optimistic optimist.......the me whose butt is the butt of too many butt jokes........the me ...............!!???!!! is a complaint, butt (sorry couldn't resist)  every sentient being is allowed to whinge once in a while surely?