Lyn and I go for a ‘walk’

For the first time ever yesterday, Lyn and I went for a walk in our chairs, just by ourselves. Before now, she has had to have someone pushing her in her manual chair; but yesterday it was just us two. Now that she has a powerchair, she can leave the PA at home and we can share a loving walk. It felt wonderful yesterday. Of course, we didn’t go far – I didn’t want to push our luck, and to e honest I felt a bit nervous – but Lyn drove well, and hopefully it was just the first of many. I think we’ll now be going on such walks quite regularly. It will help Lyn gain confidence in her chair, and it will be a wonderful way for us to spend some quality time together.

What have I got to be miserable about?

Believe it or not, I’m happy. Imagine that: little old spastic me, barely able to walk and talk, happy! What have I got to be happy about? Well, when you think about it, is it so hard to believe? I have a wonderful partner, a great home, a loving, supportive family, and live in the greatest, most exciting city on earth. What have I got to be sad about? Yet according to this excellent article by Tom Shakespeare, many people still assume that people with disabilities must be miserable; they associate disability with sadness. That baffles me, I must say. Certainly, having CP can be a pain in the butt sometimes, but that is most often due to external factors:* I’m not miserable because I use a straw to drink, but I’m miserable when a restaurant doesn’t have any straws. I’m not miserable because I use a wheelchair, but I am when I can’t go to places because there are no ramps or lifts. The situation is therefore much more nuanced than many people seem to assume. I do not lounge about all day feeling sorry for myself, just because I can’t physically do some of the things others can. I enjoy life: I write (using my special extended keyboard); I go for walks (in my wheelchair); I go to pubs (armed with straws). I have done so many incredible things in my life, I genuinely don’t get why people would assume I’m miserable, or that I live a less satisfactory life than anyone else.

*This is, of course, leaving aside the experience of going to special school. Watching one’s classmates pass away one by one is certainly not a happy aspect of being disabled.

TTIP is no threat to the NHS, and nor is the EU

I can’t claim I know much about TTIP. I know it’s a huge trade deal with america, and much is currently being said about it. It’s rules apparently state that a government body cannot get in the way of business, so some people think it’s a threat to the NHS. Outers are using the issue to scare people into voting to leave the EU. Of course, if it was true, I would be concerned too: the NHS is an issue which outranks all others, and if I thought our continued membership of the EU threatened it, I’d vote out. But it doesn’t. I just found this article on Labour list, explaining that health is one of the areas exempt from TTIP.

[quote=”Rachel Reeves”]As a US-EU joint declaration last month made clear, TTIP will not ”prevent governments, at any level, from providing or supporting services in areas such as water, education, health, and social services.” EU officials have been at pains to ensure that health services will not be covered by the deal. Cecilia Malmstrom, the Swede who runs the EU’s trade policy, has categorically said that ”health services will not be affected in any way by TTIP.”[/quote]

Thus the outers are using an issue we all care about to fool people into leaving the EU. It’s baffling when you think about it. Why would the EU suddenly want to destroy the NHS, when in the past they have supported it? And why would people who ordinarily want the NHS privatised such a Boris Johnson suddenly want to defend it? It’s a sickeningly cynical ploy on behalf of the outers: they are trying to play on people’s fears, pretending to champion a national institution at the very moment that, according to this Guardian article, the tories have embarked on a ”conscious strategy to run the service down to a point where privatisation can be sold to the public as a way of improving things.” TTIP is no threat to the NHS, and nor is the EU. For the outers to say it is, to pretend to suddenly care about something most of them want broken up, perfectly demonstrates the type of people we are dealing with. While I have a few concerns about TTIP, and, as explained here, one cannot be absolutely sure what will be effected until everything is worked out, in all probability the NHS will be safeguarded. For the outers to use an issue they wouldn’t ordinarily care about to try to fool people into siding with them, is utterly contemptible.

Lyn’s new powerchair

wonderful news! Lyn has a new electric wheelchair. We just got home from the hospital, and L is testing it out. I’ve never seen her like this: she looks so happy and confident, the change in her is amazing. It’s as if getting this chair has turned something on in her which was not quite there before. It’s a shame she had to wait so long for it – Lyn required some quite specialized adaptations – but now she has her own powerchair, I think this is the start of a thrilling new chapter in our lives.

Diaries and blogs 2

It might be a few months old, but I just came across this interesting Youtube vid by Michael Palin about keeping a diary again. Having kept a blog for thirteen years, I can certainly understand the urge to record: something just compels one to write, every day or so, as if it makes time more concrete. What pricked my attention, though, were Palin’s comments on going back an editing an entry after you write it. An entry, he suggests, can only record one’s thoughts and feelings on a certain day; to go back and change it after it is written is somehow dishonest. I know what he means, and used to impose such a rule on myself, but the urge to edit or add to an entry after I’d posted it got to much, especially if it was about something I cared about. I suppose that just highlights the difference between blogs and diaries: whereas a diary is a very personal, static record of one’s thoughts in time, a blog is public, meant to be read by others, so if something changes, or you think of something you want to add, you can. Maybe the shift from one to the other shows how public our lives have now all become. I know I’ve written about this before, but it occurs to me that this is a symptom of our changed relationship with time: in this postmodern era, the past is no longer fixed; we can rewrite it, altering history. Perhaps some would call that dishonest, but it just shows just how intangible ideas like ‘the past’, ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ really are.

If Hunt had any honour, he would resign

Where the fuck is Jeremy Hunt’s resignation this morning? The guy is a disgrace. The NHS is the most wonderful institution ever created; the medical professionals who work in it all deserve our respect. Instead, the p’tahk Hunt treats them like shit, thinking he can bully them into accepting a contract we all know will put patients in danger. Nobody is against the concept of a seven-day NHS. In fact, it already functions 24/7. This dispute is about how that is funded: to do so properly, the doctors argue more resources need to be put into the NHS, something the tories refuse to do. That’s where the problem lies.

Rather than listening to their concerns, the tories are blatantly trying to manipulate the public into turning against the NHS. The issue could easily be resolved, but the tories don’t want to – they’d rather make political capital. It’s sickeningly cynical. They say they value the NHS while treating it with utter contempt; no doubt this is part of their overall plan to eventually beak it up. If Hunt had any honour, he would resign; but he’s a tory, and none of those arrogant insults to humanity has any. They want to push the NHS so hard that it crumbles and the public start to turn against it, at which time they can foist an American-style free market system on us. The tories would welcome that: they hate everything fair and equal, and loathe paying taxes into a system which helps others. But where will it leave ‘ordinary’ people, or those with disabilities? Lyn and I try to avoid going to the hospital whenever possible, but it’s reassuring to know it’s there should we need it. The tories think that that safety net should only be there for those who can afford private health insurance, and to hell with the rest of us. That’s why they are trying to destroy the NHS, and why it is imperative we stop them. They’re pushing it and pushing it, hoping it will crumble. They are trying to cast the doctors as the bad guys, hoping that the public will turn against them. Thus I support the doctors’ strike and demand Hunt’s resignation: our greatest institution must be maintained, for the good of all.

What has the ECHR ever done for us

I was just doing one of my regular searches for Star Trek news, and stumbled on to this piece of sheer awesomeness. A short film responding to people like Theresa

May, who say that the ECHR somehow holds us back, it has Sir Patrick Stewart as a prime minister asking cabinet ‘what has the European Convention on Human

Rights ever done for us?’ Thus not only does it use one of my favourite actors (whom I have met, by the way) in clear reference to a classic scene from Monty Python (who I’ve seen live by the way) but it does so to make a very good point about the biggest issue of the current moment and something I care deeply about. I love it!

A blog in all but name

When it comes to the question of readership and influence, I try not to hold any illusions. I know very few people read my blog – just my family, friends, and a few people I’ve told about it. That’s why I keep my entries short, and write about things which interest me on any given day. I’m not out to persuade anyone of anything. I’ve noticed, however, that other bloggers take a different approach: they seem to think having a blog means you have power. They give themselves remits, finding subjects to blog about and sticking to that subject. In the disability community in particular, there are one or two sites which seem to have nominated their selves as ‘our’ prime news sources, taking it upon themselves to relate every bit of disability- and welfare-related news to us, as if they were our only source of information. I wouldn’t object – each to their own, and so on – but the way they insist in putting their links in every disability-related facebook page and forum implies these writers think they are of a higher status than the rest of us, when they have just as much access to the primary sources of information as anyone else. In a relatively small community like ours, I have problems with someone taking such a position for himself, and telling everyone to come to him for their disability and welfare-related news. It would be fine if such sites were just called blogs, on a par with the rest of the blogsphere; or else they could set up a proper disability news website with a proper staff; yet to inflate a site to such a position, as if it somehow outranks ‘normal blogs’ like mine, seems to me a tad egotistical.

Brows held high on Klingon Hamlet

I feel I should write something about Shakespeare today. He is, of course, a major influence in my life as a writer; I first came across him, like most British children, in GCSE English. We studied Macbeth, and from the first few lines I was in love with the sheer richness of the language. Something in the way he used words blew me away, both in their rhyme and rhythm and the imagery they conjured up. However, that is not an uncommon experience, and, truth be told, I’ve not had many dealings with the Bard for quite some time.

I was mucking around on Youtube yesterday afternoon, though, when I found this. It’s the first part of a two part appraisal of Klingon Hamlet. I’m flagging it up here for a couple of reasons: not only does it tie one of my favourite filmic franchises into a current event, but it is a great example of fandom merging with cinaphilia. The guy who made it is clearly very intelligent; he knows what he’s talking about, both in terms of Shakespeare and Star Trek. He has obviously sat down and thought about what he wants to say. More to the point, he alludes to a wide range of references, both classical and contemporary, mixing them with a great deal of confidence to form persuasive arguments. It strikes me that this is exactly the type of hybrid of fandom and cinephilia I speculate about in my Master’s. There is a type of joviality in his delivery – the type of playfulness we often see on Youtube videos of it’s type. Yet that is mixed with a high-brow refinement and an at least Bachelor’slevel knowledge of film. What he says in this as well as his other videos reminds me of the young turk writers of Cahiers du Cinema, unafraid to engage with texts from all sorts of levels, throwing in references to all manner of classical and contemporary sources.

I am thus deeply impressed with the stuff this guy makes. In fact, watching a few of his videos yesterday, I began to feel a little stupid: the arguments he was making seemed obvious, yet had not occurred to me before he put them. His knowledge is not only wide ranging, but rich and deep. He puts me to shame. Yet this impressive knowledge is communicated, not in prose, but in chatty videos, expertly edited to include all kinds of references. It is that combination of style and content which interests me: a new type of engagement with film, and a new way to display that engagement.

Obama’s advice is valid and sound

No wonder the Outers are up in arms today. While I didn’t see Obama’s speech, I just read this Guardian account of it. He burst so many bubbles, dashed so many of their fanciful hopes, that they have little choice other than to try to play it down. I, on the other hand, think Obama spoke a lot of truth: leaving the EU would lessen Britain; we would go from being a prime player in a community of nations to an inwards-looking, irrelevant little nation who cut itself off from it’s main trading partner. Far from trading directly with countries like america, we’d largely be ignored: America et al would just forget about us and deal directly with Europe. This isn’t to try to play down Britain, but to simply state quite an obvious truth. The outers can try to dismiss Obama’s intervention all they like – some of their comments get pretty close to racism – but it doesn’t change anything. His advice is valid and sound: stay in the EU and remain an active participant in world affairs; leave it, and become an irrelevance.