I just read this bit of background on the bbc website, just to bring myself up to date on all the kerfuffle about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and I burst out laughing. What the hell is all the fuss about?! She just got sloppy and used the wrong email account. It’s a blunder, but hardly criminal. Yet to hear trump talk about it, you would think she had put america in mortal peril. Hoq stupid does Trump think americans are? Is it not blindingly obvious that, behind in the polls, he is trying to make a mountain out of a tiny, irrelevant mole-hill? If I were american, I’d frankly feel insulted to be so patronised: he is clearly trying to fool people into thinking Clinton is some sort of enemy of the state, and using the most base, juvenile, transparent showmanesque tactics to do it. Is this what really passes for American politics these days? Really!?
I just came across something suggested on a Remainer facebook group I read, which I find pretty worrying. I’m not sure how serious it was, but someone suggested we should now have a way to differentiate between those who voted leave and those who wanted to remain, such as wrist bands. As angry as I am about the outcome of the referendum, this scares me. How anyone else voted is none of mine or anyone else’s business. It seems indicative of a worrying trend in our society: we are beginning to divide ourselves into two camps, drifting further and further away from each other. Right now it may be just a joke, but the trend is a serious concern: before we know it, we could have something resembling a civil war. I may be overreacting, but I’m starting to read worrying trends in what people are now saying in relation to the referendum’s outcome.
I think I should flag this video up by Zach Anner. Called ‘A Tribute to Badass Moms’ (sic), anner draws our attention to the role of the mother in current US sitcom Speechless. He makes the point that, as shown in the program, the parents of disabled children often have to be fighters. They are usually told by social workers and teachers that their children won’t be able to learn like other kids; their expectations are deliberately kept low. Parents have to push hard against that if they want their children to have the education they deserve. My parents had to; this is an experience they share. The special school I went to could tell I was fairly bright, yet made no effort to push me. It was only due to the stubbornness of my parents that I got proper GCSEs, then did my A-Levels, then went to uni. Had it not been for them, zark knows where I’d now be. Thus I echo what Anner is saying here; it’s good to see this show playing tribute to parents like ours.
I for one think this news that the work capability assessment is to be overhauled is broadly to be welcomed. I’ve lost track of the number of stories I’ve read of how brutal that assessment was. People were told they were fit for work, had their disability benefits slashed and forced to find jobs after only the most superficial of assessments. Of course, most people with disabilities want to work; we want to be productive, valuable members of society. But the system as it was was inhumane it had even drawn criticism from the united Nations. At least the new system claims it will take one’s personal circumstances into account: ”Ministers want claimants to be assessed in a more ‘targeted and personalised’ way to help more people find jobs.” Some welcome news, then, although whether the Tories make good on these nice promises as ever remains to be seen.
I think I’ve just fallen back in love with my oldest filmic interest. Ahead of possibly watching the third film, I thought I’d give the first two Ghostbusters films a watch. I can’t have seen them for about twenty-five years, since childhood. I want to see how the third film compares to the originals. What I just found myself watching, then, was a great little comedy: one rife with wit and cynicism, but not without pathos. Although it’s supposed to be pastiche, there is some great acting in both films, and the characters and themes aren’t without weight. For example Peter, played by Bill Murray, is a bit of a smarmy little slimeball, yet it is still good to see him in a happy relationship in the end. If anything, I found the second better than the first. I just watched it on Youtube, and thought I saw some nods to cult horror films, and directors like Hitchcock. It’s also a great love letter to New York. How the third film stands up to the first two remains to be seen for me, but truth be told, I’m not holding my breath.
Every now and again, I like to take a glance through my blog archive. I take considerable pride in the fact that I’ve now kept it up for well over a decade now, and intend to continue for as long as possible. For some reason, I take great joy in revealing to the world what I’m thinking and doing. Earlier I discovered that a decade ago today I wrote this entry, about seeing a guy on campus wearing a Timmy Tee shirt and being a strange combination of offended and jealous. I’m not sure I would react so strongly now. For the most part, I think I just wanted one.
To continue the story, I got one in the end. If memory serves, I think my brother Luke got me one for my next birthday. It was my pride and joy for a while: I wore it with great glee around campus, relishing the irony of being a disabled person wearing a shirt with a picture of a character intended to take the piss out of disabled people. I wasn’t supposed to enter in to the joke myself: ‘Special’ was a term of abuse; I wasn’t supposed to use it on myself.
But then, sadly, it went missing. I haven’t seen that shirt since I moved in with Lyn. i don’t think she really approved of it, anyway. It’s a shame, because that was a cool shirt. South Park is not quite so current any more, though, so I suppose it’s just as well. Nevertheless, I still wonder where it went, and whether it will ever turn up.
Would you believe that, despite professing to be a Tolkien fan, like many fans of Tolkien I’ve never read The Silmarilllion. I’ve started it a few times, but the prose was so dense and laborious that I always abandoned the effort after a few pages. A few days ago, however, I decided to put that right, but rather than getting the book out, I wondered if there was an audiobook on Youtube I could listen to. I found one, so for the last few days I’ve been listening to it, a bit at a time. I’ve always found listening to rather than just reading Tolkien’s work adds something to it: since my dad read The Lord Of The Rings to me when I was young, I’ve loved the sound of the words he uses, especially when delivered in a deep, authoritative voice. Thus, not only have I been finally getting to grips with the elder days of Numenor and the creation of Arda, but I have also been lapping up the rich language of one of it’s masters.
I just got back from a lovely coffee with Charlotte, Will and a couple of her friends up at the o2. She invited me to join them there a few days ago, and, the o2 being a short, pleasant walk along the river away, there was no reason for me not to join them. It was splendid to see my old university friend: C is doing really well, and seems in fine health. She commented how well I look now I’ve stopped drinking – I certainly feel far, far healthier. Mind you, she was a bit surprised at how much coffee I drink these days.
The meeting ended all too soon. She had somewhere to go, and I was eager to get back here to see my love. When I’ll see her next is anyone’s guess. Next year marks ten years since we graduated: I can barely believe that it is now almost a full decade since those heady, undergraduate days of discos, drink and house parties. At one and the same time, it seems both like yesterday, and a lifetime ago. I’m just glad things like Facebook allow me to keep in easy contact with my old friends; and that, from time to time, we can still hook up for a coffee.
While a lot of the comments to it really tick me off – it seems outists can’t handle the fact that they were fooled so easily – I’d like to flag this LSE article up. In it, Adrian Low looks at the polling data for the referendum and argues that it cannot be said to reflect the will of the people. Whether such arguments are a case of sore losing or not, they are certainly worth considering. As much as I acknowledge that democracy must be respected, nonetheless as one who passionately believes Brexit is a con sold to us by lies intended to push this country towards nationalism, this adds to my conviction it must be stopped. Next time anyone tries to tell me brexit is the will of the people, I can tell them it isn’t.
Believe it or not, I’m currently seriously considering resitting A-level psychology. I first attempted it fifteen years ago, aged eighteen. I was just out of special school and utterly unprepared for that type of academic thinking. Needless to say, I didn’t do well: the various different approaches confused me; I naively expected facts, and did not like how speculative and ambiguous the discipline was. I was lucky to scrape an E. The irony is, when I then went on to study sociology, I found it much easier, as psychology had prepared me. By then I could think in a much more scientific way.
In the last few days, I’ve been pondering going back to it. I’m pretty sure what once confused me would probably now fascinate me. Human behaviour has always intrigued me. Now I know a bit more of academia, and about how science functions as a discourse, I find myself yearning to go back. I know there’s no reason why I can’t pick up a few books and start teaching myself, but that E still hangs over me. It would be great to learn more about human behaviour, of course, but I also want to exorcise a bit of a failure in my past. I want to prove to myself that I do understand, and I can do it. Whether I’ll actually act on this idea remains to be seen; part of me worries that I’ll be just as confused as I was the first time. And then there’s the question of where – would a nearby college allow me to study it again? At the moment this is just an idea, but I think that studying psychology a bit more would hold a lot of benefits for me.