Not that I’m particularly interested in the music charts, but this story is just too delicious not to flag up. ”Green Day fans have launched a campaign to get their 2004 anthem ‘American Idiot’ to number one to coincide with President Donald Trump’s visit this summer.” It is a great idea if you ask me. What better way to greet the egotistical halfwit currently claiming to be the leader of the free world than with a bit of this?
I’m still working on my book. It’s getting there slowly, and I am really enjoying the process. I’ve been recently going through a few of my old blog entries about inclusion and the whole inclusive education debate, leading me to reflect on how my attitude has changed since I wrote them. I used to oppose what I called segregated education quite militantly. I had been lead to believe, by various people I had met online, that segregated education was totally needless, and that special schools were more or less designed to deliberately oppress disabled people. To such people it was a black and white issue, and for a time I agreed with them. After all, why can’t everyone get taught together?
It’s a lovely idea, but these days such militancy worries me. In the disability community, these self-proclaimed activists seem to think disabled people are oppressed as black people or women once were. For instance, I’ve come across one or two people seemingly branding the death of Alfie Evans an act of murder. They go far too far in making out that the problems we face are deliberately put there, as if they want to think of theirselves as freedom fighters in the same vein as Gandhi or Martin Luthour King. One of the reasons why I volunteer at Charlton Park Academy is to avoid falling into such dogmatism over the issue of special education.
I am not saying we don’t face problems – of course we do – but, at the risk of being a bit controversial, I’m starting to think some of these ‘activists’ are just in it for the self-promotion. They go on and on about how disabled people are so oppressed, and how they courageously fight for all our freedom, but most of them only have mild impairments and very little first hand experience of the things they claim to be resisting. Education is not a black and white issue, and one size does not fit all. Trying to teach certain children alongside kids who don’t have special needs sometimes does more harm than good. This is not an issue we can politicise or be dogmatic about, just because you like being an activist.
Today was quite a grey and cold one, but summer is definitely on it’s way. When I went to the park earlier, I was greeted by a glorious sight: the first cricket match of the year. I cannot tell you what a marvellous sight that was. It feels like an age has passed since I was last out there, watching local team the Mighty Eights bowl a few overs. I have always loved cricket, and, sat there this afternoon, I thought about Dad, who introduced me to the sport. It also made me think of all the glorious summers spent watching cricket or playing it with my brothers. It put me in one of those relaxed, reflexive moods where everything gains a little perspective. And suddenly, sipping coffee as the game slowly got going, all the world’s troubles seemed to vanish. The sky may have been grey and it may have been cold, but it felt like summer had arrived.
It’s time to dust off my pink tutu, I think. I just came across word on Facebook of a drag protest against Trump’s visit. Details are still fairly sketchy, but the idea is for everyone to dress up and meet in central London on the 13th of July to show Trump how angry we are about how he treats LGBTQ people. ”Due to the appalling way the Trump administration has regarded the rights and welfare of LGBTQI communities of the US, the idea of a Trump visit to the UK is unacceptable. Let’s get visible, stand with our sister’s, brothers and others in America, and show that we are a country that celebrates diversity.” It’s an awesome idea if you ask me: bigots like Trump have no place in world politics, and what better way to show that p’tahk he is unwelcome here than with a festival of frills, petticoats and bright pink lipstick.
I try to steer clear of talking about cases like Alfie Evans. They’re a minefield: people get so emotional about situations like his, and you can never get it right. Is it better to try to continue to care for him, or let the poor kid pass away? Continuing to care for him doesn’t offer much hope – he’ll never live a full, proper live, or even become fully conscious. Yet if you let him die you are effectively playing god; choosing whether anyone lives or dies is a decision nobody has a right to make. And you can then extend that line of thinking to say that if you stop the support for babies like this, you could then justify stopping support for various other people, perhaps with less serious conditions.
It’s an extremely difficult one, but I really don’t like how worked up various people are getting over it. The doctors involved have apparently been receiving death threats. I find that the worst part to all this: people adopt a stance on it, and then refuse point blank to hear the other side of the story; they then become quite violent over it. By all means campaign for this child to be kept alive, but to act like a fascist about it does your argument no favours because it just makes you look ridiculous. Even writing blog entries on the subject like this one risks attracting angry comments from people like that, which is why I try to stay away from doing so on here.
Lyn and I were in the cafe in the park yesterday afternoon. We spent quite a while there, talking to our friend Debbie. Yesterday was colder than it has been, so towards the end of the afternoon we were in the small cafe talking about this and that, when we got onto politics. One of the regular customers there, whom I know mainly by sight, was wearing a Jeremy Corbyn T-shirt. I told him I liked his shirt, but I only disagreed with Corbyn on Brexit. At that, his wife told me that they were socialists, but had voted for Brexit.
Predictably, that set me instantly off. I felt my usual stab of rage, before starting to try to explain that I saw that as a contradiction. The woman said the EU was essentially about capitalism, but I told her that the worst forms of capitalism would now be set free in britain. She did not realise she had directly aided the system of greed and selfishness which she thought she opposed. I worked myself into my usual spazzy huff and probably went too far: she was a lovely woman perfectly entitled to her view, and I had no right to shout at her.
I tried to calm myself down and instantly felt guilty. Deb knows me rather well now, and she has seen me get like that before. Chuckling, she told me to cool off. I apologised to the lady, and she told me that there was no harm done.
Yet it seems to me that there is a firm moral to this tale. It isn’t just me who gets angry over Brexit; the whole country is torn in two, with one side furious at the other. That is a ridiculous, childish position to be in. We should not be enemies of one another; remainers should not hate outists, or blame them, or call them stupid or racist. That only leads to more devision. I should not hate the couple in the cafe. What happened two years ago, happened; people voted how they voted. Continuing this argument only breaks up friendships or prevents them forming.
I told myself to write something more lengthy on here today. Most of my recent entries have only been a few lines long, and it’s high time I posted something of at least four or five paragraphs. But then I came across this video of Michael Wolff in conversation with Armando Iannucci and decided that it was essential that I flag it up. They discuss Trump, of course, and it seems to me that their conversation goes to the heart of the matter. As they say, there is a tendency for us to assume that all the gossip about Trump being as thick as two short planks has been exaggerated, and that he can’t be as moronic as he is taken to be. Yet, as Wolff says, he really is that stupid. Thus this video presents us with two experts, one in politics and the other in satire, discussing an utterly absurd situation, beyond even the best writers of political comedy. When the most powerful country in the world is being lead by someone with no idea what he’s doing, sometimes all we can do is sit back like these two men do, scratch our collective heads and ask each other how the smeg we got to this point.
lI usually try to steer clear of Saturday night talent shows like Britain’s Got Talent, but I think it absolutely imperative that I direct everyone here. I’ve been broadly aware of ‘Lost Voice Guy’ Lee Ridley for a while, but I think his appearance on Britain’s Got Talent last night was a major milestone, not just for him but also for communication aid users in general. His performance is genuinely hilarious: he comes across as witty, charming and self-aware, clearly impressing his audience. It is awesome to see a VOCA user blowing everyone away like this, demonstrating to everyone what ‘we’ can do. I really, really hope Ridley goes all the way in this competition.
It may be a couple of weeks old, but I think I’ll just flag this video of Stephen Colbert interviewing Dr. Evil about his firing from Trump’s cabinet. I’m not that much of an Austin Powers fan: I like parodies, and have nothing against parodies of James Bond, but Mike Myers’ parody of him seemed a bit too unsubtle to me. That said, this use of Myers’ take on Blofeld seems perfect. After all, the only way we can respond to a cartoonish, grotesque president is with equally cartoonish, grotesque characters. You do not need to be subtle and nuanced when it comes to Trump; the childish toilet humour of Austin Powers suits him perfectly.
It was pretty wierd when, last year I bumped into someone from my old special school at powerchair football training in woolwich. Hebden green is miles away in a quiet corner of cheshire; that was a world I had assumed I had left far behind. To bump into someone from that world here in my new one was quite a turn up, but I am pleased it happened.
Dan is training to be a barrister. He was telling me about it yesterday, and about how he has been turned down from many interviews due to his speech impediment. Dan speaks more clearly than me or Lyn, and does not need to use a communication aid, so I was fairly disheartened to hear that was a problem for him. Nonetheless, in the interviews he does get, he does well, and is well on his way to becoming a lawyer. In fact, I just saw on Facebook that he’s been in the Brazillian Press about it. He told me yesterday that he has another interview today, so let me wish him the very best of luck.
I may have been wrong about my old school. I now know quite a few former students who are now doing very well for theirselves. I didn’t do too badly, either. I once dismissed it along with all special schools as little more than daycare centres. While I still say there are major problems with the system of segregated education, for me to dismiss all the staff who work in such schools as not bothering to teach students properly was clearly quite wrong.