I must say that I am truly astonished that Ken Clarke is still in a position of power this evening, and what’s mire is said to be ‘laughing off’ calls for his resignation. Now, we all know by now what he said: he implied on national radio that some cases of rape were less serious than others, and later that he thought the term rape was sometimes added to a story to hype it up. Is it me, or do these words sound like those of men who think that some women almost want to be raped, and often bring it on themselves? Such notions are of course, repugnant, and easily dismissed when placed under any form of scrutiny. The bigger question, then, is what the hell is still doing in office tonight; surely it casts doubt over this entire farce of a government for David CaMoron to allow Clarke to stay. He seems to be saying ”don’t worry about ken, he’s just speaking his mind.” I must say I have started to see CaMoron as very patronising indeed, in his attitude to ed Miliband and the public at large; this just adds to that impression. CaMoron is ignoring public opinion and acting like he knows best. This entire situation is repulsive, and for Clarke, this antiquated, bigoted misogynist to go around acting like he’s done nothing wrong and that it is public opinion which is wrong, once again appals me.
I would like to try something new today. My blog is usually text only, with the ocasional link, but last week at the school I volunteer at we learned about embedding videos in blogs. Today I came across the following demonstration of a new type of car door, which I think is pretty awesome, not least due to it’s potential for making cars more accessable for wheelchair users and wobbly-types. It seems rather apt that the first video I try to embed demonstrates something so cool.
[Rats! Embedding didn’t work. I don’t think my brother Luke gave my site the ability to embed videos. I’ll try again another time. Here’s a link to the clip anyway]
Dear most mighty and powerful god of London busses. Thank you for making London busses accessible after such a long time – I really do appreciate the ability to get on public transport. But why, in your near-infinite wisdom, do you allow mums with prams to fill the space? And why this afternoon in Lewisham, did you send not one but two such busses, meaning I couldn’t get home? And why did you then plant the foolish notion in my head that I could walk home, only to direct me to a ‘shortcut’ which actually took me on a long loop straight back into the centre of the aforesaid Lewisham? I must say that it is a good job I was not in a particular hurry, lest I would be burning Peter Hendy dolls in effigy. Oh bus-god, you are wise and powerful, but your ways are yet a mystery to me.
In an odd way it feels like I have been reacquainted with two good old friends. Dad brought down my old F55 powerchair, the Defiant, this morning, my newer one is still being repaired. It’s good to have one of my chairs at least, rather than a slow, underpowered temporary replacement from the mechanic’s, but at this point I must say how truly awesome I think my father is. By the end of today he will have driven for around seven hours just so I have my chair. He is, and always has been, an absolutely brilliant dad.
On top of my chair problems, though, there is something up with my – or rather Lyn’s – lightwriter. Since she got her Ipad, she has kindly allowed me to use her SL40. That too started playing up over the weekend, so it also needs to be looked at. As a result, I’m back using my trusty old SL35, so not only am I using my old chair but my old communication aid too. The funny thing is, it feels rather good: it was on these very machines that I took my first steps to independence, had my first true tastes of freedom. I remember taking Defiant up to the Swettenham arms for the first time, ordering my first beer on my own; my SL35 saw me through university, where my friends dubbed it Colin. In a way I feel quite nostalgic. Don’t get me wrong: it’s good to have the newer equipment, and I look forward to it’s return. But for now, me and my two old friends are just fine.
I think I will change my tack today – my last few entries have become far too vitriolic, not to say probably somewhat repetitive. Yesterday afternoon saw me in something of a pickle: I needed to go to Greenwich to get a couple of thinks. I kind of like Greenwich, as it sort of reminds me of Chester, and it has a good range of shops. However, I’m still using my replacement chair, so getting there was fairly slow going, and by the time I got back the battery was totally flat. Once I got home, though, my battery was not my main concern: there was no sign of Lyn or Laura, our PA. Initially I thought that they had just popped to the co-op, and would be back shortly, so I let myself in with my electric key and waited for an hour. I then started to worry.
After looking frantically, I realised I didn’t have Laura’s number. Facebook claimed Lyn was online, but I couldn’t be sure that was her Ipad and not her desktop, lying idle but still on in her studio. I left her a message anyway, but when she didn’t answer I had a somewhat foolish idea: I decided to go see if chopper had Laura’s number. The battery was still dead so that meant walking; it’s not really that far, but it’s still the longest distance I’ve walked for some time. When I got there, chopper was still at work; Angela, chopper’s wife, insisted I wait there and wouldn’t let me walk home, during which time I had really started to worry.
When eventually I did get back, having been driven the three hundred metres back by chopper’s workmate john, there was still no sign of Lyn and Laura; chopper had been unable to get through to them on his phone. It was then that I really began to worry, until I checked my email to see Lyn had emailed: ”on bus”. Those two short words made me sigh with relief, as they meant everything was ok, and a short while later I saw them both – Lyn unmistakable in bright pink – coming round the corner. It turns out that they had been to Lewisham; Lyn had texted me to rendezvous there, but for some reason I didn’t get that message. It’s a shame because dinner in a pub in Lewisham would have been nice, but at least we were both home, safe and well.
Well, I suppose it beat staying home.
I find myself becoming increasingly agitated at the prospect of the so-called rally against debt tomorrow. I know I shouldn’t be: I know that, on the one hand, people have the right to make their views known whatever they may be, and on the other, if I blog about it I only publicise their cause more. But tomorrow people plan to march in favour of Osborne’s cuts, as a kind of counter-strike to the recent protests against them. I have to say, I find this utterly contemptible: they argue, of course, that these cuts are necessary and will help avoid passing the burden of debt on to future generations. But any fool can see that these cuts are primarily inspired by Tory ideology, and are intended to enable too cut taxes. Thus those marching tomorrow do so in favour of a hugely diminished wealth fare state, an essentially privatised healthcare system and the prospect of starvation for millions of people with disabilities. I love freedom of expression, but I view tomorrows march as an event beyond contempt, derision or democratic, liberal, civilised values. People can go on such a march if they want, but don’t expect me to respect anyone who is selfish enough to do so.
I had an idea in the bath this morning. I thought it would be rather cool to google all the news articles concerning yesterday’s protests and write a short review of each for my blog. The thing is, when I got out of the bath and onto the web, I realised that there was very little coverage of it. The beeb reported it, of course, but somewhat half-heartedly: the article about it on their website seems a tad patronising, and I saw they were going to report it on their news channel yesterday, but when the link to their live reporter failed, they opted to cut away to a report about a boy who decided to wear a skirt to school.* The Guardian also has an article on it today, but that too seems patronising, and written in a somewhat pitying manner.
These are news outlets which you would expect to cover such a story, of course. Interestingly, in my cursory search I did not see anything from the mail or the express. And, having just contaminated my PC by checking the Daily Mail website , I don’t think they covered the story at all. It is as if, for the right wing press, there were no protests. Read into that what you will, but I have to say I am rather sad at how little coverage there is of the plight of us crips in the mainstream media as a whole. We are, after all, the hardest hit, but nobody seems to care.
*Something which I also found interesting, but for entirely different reasons.
I must admit I feel like such a traitor right now. Right at this moment I should be up in central London marching alongside GAD and my fellow disabled people in protest against the cuts. But my wheelchair is still being repaired, it’s lift mechanism having been broken since a week ago Friday, so I’m stuck here. The replacement chair I have simply isn’t capable of covering the distances that would probably be involved were I to go up there. I can only watch the news for reports. Earlier I watched CaMoron lie through his teeth about how the Tories are protecting the NHS when the truth is he will bring about it’s end; he and his party are poised to force millions of disabled people off benefits and onto a jobs market in which they have very little chance of sustaining themselves. Such blatant injustices make my blood boil, yet, because I have no chair, I cannot make my voice heard. I know there will be other protests – I hope to fuck there will be at least – but I can’t describe how frustrated I feel right now. Only by going onto the streets can we show our contempt for what these Tory bastards are doing.
I just watched last nights Panorama programme on the killing of bin laden, and I must say it left me with a nasty taste in my mouth. There seem to be more questions than answers concerning the whole episode, not least that of why bin laden was killed rather than captured. Was this, despite the American claims, simply a mission to take the sonofabitch out? But what troubles me most is the fact I agree with the Americans over Pakistan: I think it’s hard not to. The guy was found in a compound not half a mile from Pakistan’s top military academy; the place was crawling with soldiers. How the smeg could they not know the worlds most wanted man was there? The Pakistanis claim to have wanted him too, but obviously weren’t looking very hard. Part of me now sympathises, in a way, with those on the American right who now want to cut all ties with Pakistan, but cutting aid would only increase fundamentalism. Anyway the whole thing stinks; I suspect Pakistan’s relationship with the west is about to take a distinct turn for the worse. Can the regime there be trusted? I now find it hard to answer ‘yes’.
I cannot pretend to understand all the intricacies of the debate, but broadly speaking, there is widespread suspicion within the disabled community of the so-called charities which profess to represent our interests. It is pretty well known that Scope, for instance, has long been run by non-disabled people on the most patronising, repressive manner. In an era of protest and upheaval probably unseen since the sixties, there is a feeling among us cripples that these organisations, while claiming to represent us, are in fact, our jailers. Dennis Queen, who is much more aware and clued up about such things than I am, writes ”Self-serving multi-million companies are organising a well resourced and publicised ‘disability’ protest march, on Wedneday (11th May) as part of their Hardest Hit campaign. It is put together by the Disability Benefits Consortoium (DBC) who are trying to absorb the feisty new wave of protest against increasing discrimination and poverty. The cosortium is, for disabled people, a wolf in sheeps clothing. They are preying on the real fear and hardship facing many of us since the cuts got worse, to protect their interests.” The fear is that these organisations are only in it for themselves, and the only way to truly achieve our goal of social equality and true freedom is to represent ourselves through organisations like Dan. I must say I agree vehemently with her – we do not need such organisations, who for many years ran institutions not much better than prisons, claiming to represent us while actually representing only their selves.
Edit: Here is my friend/comrade/co-activist Phoebe’s rousing piece on the same subject, added for good measure