the less said

The less said about the events of today the better. Let’s just say I haven’t seen that many self-obsessed pretentious teenagers since college, and let me remind Lyn that I still love her. Perhaps she should go here.

speech therapy

Today I had my first speech therapy lesson in over ten years. Well, it wasn’t really my lesson, as I wasn’t a student; more like a participant. I don’t think, however, that they’ve changed much: the aim of speech therapy, as far as I can gather, is to get one to communicate as much as possible. So, in my day, Mrs hickson and I used mostly to sit and talk, often about books. Today we played a version of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was rather slow going – we were working with one boy who seems to be a reluctant communicator.

I’m already finding volunteering at school very rewarding. At the mo, I only go in for a couple of hours every two or three days, but I get the same kind of buzz I got from Onevoice – the buzz which comes with the feeling that you might be making a difference.

veils

The subject of Islamic dress has cropped up again, and as uusual I found myself in two minds. Now, you all know my stance on clothing in general: people should be allowed to wear whatever they want. Hence Lyn and I have two tutus hanging on the wardrobe door in our bedroom!

But what about the burka or hijab? Naturally, if some people choose to wear them, Muslim or otherwise, it’s their choice. The only reservation I have is a practical one: in places where one’s face needs to be seen for identification, I think people should be obliged to take the head covers off. I guess this should also apply to things like hockey masks and zentai suits. Mind you, it also occurred to me that such clothing might be useful if one intended to break the law. But this is no reason to ban the things. In Japan and other places, people are increasingly going out in public in zentai suits where they are seen as figures of curiosity and fun; in a way it’s a form of performance art, something like having a life-sized plasticine figure walking down the street. If I have no objection to that, how could I possibly object to people wearing the veil?

In other words, while I can see the disadvantages to veils on the practical level, my urge to tolerate and celebrate diversity must win out: people should be able to wear what they want. But now we get to the really problematic bit: is it really a choice? In my more facetious moments, I sometimes think that, if it’s just about covering up, why don’t women wear zentai suits instead of veils? But that would defeat the point of trying to desexualise women’s bodies; I guess the point of veils is in part to prevent men from seeing women as sexual objects. But I sometimes think veils – especially the big black ones – objectify women in other ways. It denotes gender, making it impossible to see the person inside. You can’t see that person as an individual, but just as ‘a woman’, in a way, especially if there is a group of women in such veils. I sometimes see women wearing such things when I’m out with Lyn; having only just moved to London, I must admit to still feeling a little scared by the sight. On the other hand, you can say exactly the same about zentai suits: they can be said to turn people into objects, removing their identity; and some people are indeed scared by them.

Yet, as an atheist, I also worry that women are forced to wear veils and denied the freedom to wear what they want. Problem is, how can you tell whther they are given a choice – many Muslim women argue they chose to wear the veil to show their religious identity, in which case it is prescribed to them and, paradoxically not a choice. If this is so, then the difference between the full veil and the zentai suit is that one connotes fun and freedom, the other is repressive. The whole debate rests on whether it is a choice.

I fear I might be rambling here: I’m talking about things I might not fully understand, so I’ll leave it there.

protest on the plinth

I just came across this link, which I think you should all go watch. It’s another perspective on what I was blogging about yesterday, and one with which I totally agree. I’d like to dismiss such people as reactionary and paranoid, yet I cannot for I know they are right. There is an inherent danger in assuming some lifes aren’t worth living.

Btw, the person in the bandanna is Claire/Dennis, whom I have mentioned here before.

right to die?

I was just watching the news. I’ve had quite a good day: I went into school to help with an ICT session. We’re starting to figure out my exact role there, but the staff seem rather eager for me to help. Anyway, I was watching the news item on the court case of the mum who killed her daughter who had ME.

I know I’ve blogged about this before, possibly more than once, but it still worries me. Of course, people have a right to do what they want, even kill themselves, but I worry that some person would take advantage of this case? Say someone is caring for a severely disabled person who can’t communicate, and decides they’ve had enough? they might claim that the person being looked after wants to end their life when they don’t. of course, there will always be ways of communicating – even wiggling one’s toe can form the basis of a system of communication – but my point is that this can be abused. Disability history is littered with abuses like this. I mean, how do we know such people really want to die? What if they lack the cognitive capacity to make such a decision, and are being coerced into doing so? It would be seen as condescending to have one rule for people with learning disabilities on this, and another for those without. Thus this ruling opens up a huge moral can of worms, and I feel rather uncomfortable about it.

my playground

I went exploring again today. Again, I tried to find the dome and again I failed. You’d think that it wouldn’t be hard to find, wouldn’t you? It’s big and ugly and looks like a huge white spot. But no! this time, though, I went along the previously mentioned Shooters Hill road and found the royal observatory? How incredible is that? I went in and took a look – it’s free! I didn’t do a very thorough tour, but it was amazing to see things like the ancient telescopes. I also wondered over the Greenwich meridian almost without noticing.

From there I went down the hill, to the national maritime museum. I have an affinity for ships and boats, but couldn’t find an accessible entrance. I was going to go further, but I noticed my battery had dropped a few bars, so I headed home. Next I’m going to figure out the busses, and maybe the tube; then virtually the whole of London will be my playground!

And I will find the damn dome one day.

school

I should probably have typed this up yesterday, but by the time I got in I was knackered. Even just three hours at school wore me out; I don’t know where my teacherfriends get their energy. Nevertheless, they want me to go back there on Monday afternoon, so I must have been doing something right.

I encountered quite a few things off extreme interest yesterday afternoon, but there isn’t much I’d want to put on here, not at this point anyway. They had the kids interview me for school radio, which was rather fun. One of the kids on the radio team seemed to be a born entertainer. They also showed me around the school: it is bigger and more laberynthine than Hebden, and very impressive. Yet it had the same ‘feel’ as Hebden – that special school feel I can’t describe. An oxymoronic feeling.

I’m looking forward to going back there on Monday. I just want to help, and I think the staff think I can be a positive rolemodel for the kids. Who knows – maybe I can teach them a few things.

urbanite

I am now an urbanite. Well, kind of. For all my life I’ve lived in the country: the housing estate where I grew up – indeed, where I was born – backs onto fields. Three minutes driving in my chair would bring me to lanes and hedgerows and the smell of manure. Every day, growing up, my trip to school took me past fields full of cattle, sheep, or crops.

Yet now, I’m surrounded by miles of concrete and tarmac. I’m not complaining about this: in fact the prospect of exploring London excites me; but I find it odd to reflect on the fact that, for the first time in my life, I’m living in a place without a field or tractor in site. Even alsager campus was surrounded by farmland.

I’ve already taken my first steps into my latest brave new world. I’ve been making trips to the local shop and back, but the other day, armed with an electric door key so I could let myself back in, I set off on my first real voyage of exploration. We’re reasonably near the O2 arena, so I decided I’d try to find that. Lyn gave me directions, but I must have taken a wrong turn as I couldn’t find a pub I knew I needed to pass. Interestingly for history buffs, I did find Shooters hill road, which was strategically significant during world war two as it would have been the road the Germans would have taken into central London had they invaded.

Anyway, this afternoon we’re off to the shops – I need more cash – and tomorrow I start a voluntary post at a local school. I’ll let you guys know how I get on, and whether I see any cows.

the first day

this is just a quick blog to say that I’m safe and well in charlton. The last few days have been largely uneventful. I’m settling in okay; dad dropped my PC off this morning, as well as other essentials. I get the feeling todday just might be the first day of the rest of my life.

turn it up

I am in two minds about blogging anything today. Tomorrow I begin my move to Lyn’s. all being well, I’ll live with her permanently, which means tonight is my last night living here. I was born here, in this house, so it’s kind of an odd feeling. It is, at one and the same time, both sad and exciting. I don’t want to reflect on it too much, so I’ll just send you here – it’s one of my favourite songs, and today it seems a good choice.