It appears that my attempt to make music a few days ago had more of an effect than I thought it would. I am currently over the moon, as look what I just found on Charlie’s facebook page. Apparently inspired by my effort (I asked C), it’s a joy to watch one of my favourite songs sung by some of my favourite people (ie most of the Jones family). Just how awesome is that? Now I’m wondering whether this could become a trend.
Earlier I came across some nonse trying to usurp the spirit of Thursday’s applause to try to get everyone to have a similar clap for Boris Johnson on Sunday night. Needless to say I was unimpressed by the idea – why should we applaud a scumbag whose party has gradually cut NHS funding over the last ten years? – and it seems the internet was equally quick to react.
”No society can legitimately claim to be civilised if it denies citizens care due to lack of means.” Too me, that statement is irrefutably true, which is why at eight last night I was outside my front door bashing a biscuit tin with a pair of scissors. The National Health Service is one of the greatest things about the United Kingdom; knowing that if I fall ill I will be cared for, regardless of how much money I have or whether I have insurance must surely be one of the greatest comforts anyone can want. This is when we need the NHS the most though, which is why I’ll just direct everyone here, to the moment when our health service got the tribute it deserves.
Perhaps it’s time for a bit of perspective. A couple of days ago I came across a meme about Anne Frank, basically saying that if she can hide in a basement for three years, we can self isolate for a few months. That struck a chord, but I’d like to add something to it: people are now moaning that they’re bored, stuck at home, not allowed to go out; yet for me it’s not that different from when, say, my powerchair breaks, or from when before I got my first powerchair and was dependent on someone else to be taken anywhere.
And I had it easy. Boy, did I have it easy. I know from the history of disability that it wasn’t long ago that people with conditions like cerebral palsy, particularly severe cp, were confined to institutions and long stay hospitals: unable to walk, feed theirselves or communicate, they were assumed to have severe learning difficulties and treated like babies in adult bodies. People like Anne McDonald, who notably likens her institution to a ‘sugarcoated concentration camp’: she endured around fourteen years of her childhood lying in a hospital bed, barely being fed. Unable to tell anyone her wishes, or that she understood what was going on around her, she was seen as little more than a breathing doll. She was spoon-fed mushed up food, rarely taken out for fresh air. Such horrific accounts litter the frighteningly recent history of disability. Indeed, Lyn went through something similar. I can only imagine the tedium and frustration of day after day of being treated like that.
I cannot help but think of such accounts when I come across people on the web complaining about having to self isolate for a few weeks. Even after all they experienced, people like Anne McDonald or Lyn do not bemoan their fate but take it in their stride; the same goes for my mates from school who had muscular Dystrophy. They knew how much worse things could be and counted theirselves lucky; they all had friends who did not make it. What we are all going through these days might seem harsh and restrictive, but I know that there are far worse fates to endure. I can get up when I want, choose what I want to eat, sip my coffee and browse the web. And in a few weeks or months, life will return to normal. People might feel isolated compared to the freedoms they enjoyed a few weeks ago, but perhaps they just need a bit of perspective.
I just came across something rather interesting and quite nostalgic. Fiddling around on Facebook as usual, I saw my old school, Hebden Green, mention that an episode of the CBeebies show Something Special had been filmed there and was due to air this morning. Obviously this aroused my curiosity, so I went to Iplayer to check it out. Now, let me make it clear that I don’t usually watch CBeebies, but today I held my nose and put it on. Sure enough, there was my old school: It has been almost twenty years since I last visited the place, but it was recognisably Hebden. It is a place which I still have strong memories of, and I found myself scanning the background of each shot to try to make out where it was filmed. In this way, you could link this to my work on cinephilia, insofar as it is a fascination with the peripheral details of a filmic shot. I tried to look past the nauseatingly upbeat presenter, Mr. Tumble (but then, it is a show aimed at young children with learning difficulties, so I’ll let him off) to see whether I could recognise anything; and sure enough I recognised the very swimming pool I learned to swim in. That struck me as rather cool, although that joy is tempered with the sorrow at knowing that so many of my fellow students I knew from that place have now passed on: it would seem Mr. Tumble’s jollity is in direct juxtaposition to the darkness which inevitably comes with growing up in such places.
After writing my entry yesterday I realised I was getting a bit glum, and what we all could do with right now is a bit of levity and humour. We’re all stuck at home getting bored, but that doesn’t necessarily stop us having fun: dire situations are often the easiest to take the piss out of. Realising that, I had an idea and got to work. It took a bit longer than I expected, and in the end I had to leave it for this morning to finish. It isn’t perfect, and some of the rhymes don’t work, so see it as a first draft; but please let me know what you think of this. Apologies, of course, to Eric Idle.
I can think of several moments in the last decade or so that remind me of life’s infinite potential for awesomeness; moments which still make me squeal spastically with glee whenever I think of them: James Bond escorting the queen to the olympic opening ceremony in 2012; Stephen Hawking singing the galaxy song in 2014. There are many more such moments – points in time so ridiculously cool that it goes beyond words, yet remind me of the sheer potential of existence. And yet, recently, it just seems to me that the last such event was a long time ago, and that we can all do with another one right about now. Everyone seems so subdued and frightened, told to huddle in our homes as if awaiting some awful apocalypse. I’m sorry to say it, but these days life just feels a lot less cool. We all have cool memories to fall back on, but right now they just seem rather distant. It is high time something awesome happened again, not just to cheer me up, but the whole world.
This is just to wish my mum a happy mother’s day. Truth be told, these aren’t the most pleasant times, for me or anyone else. These days, things just seem to get more depressing with every news bulletin. Yet at least I know I have my mum (and dad) to talk to at the other end of a webchat. She has always managed to keep me on the right path, preventing me from straying too far into stupidity. I’m bloody glad I have both my parents, and that I can count on their wisdom at least every Sunday morning.
It’s a lovely sunny day here so I just got back from a short walk. I’m supposed to be self-isolating, so I can’t go anywhere with too many people (I’m already missing my rolls around Stratford) so I took myself over to Kidbrooke. I’ve found a lovely circular route there and back which goes through two quite outstanding parks. One, Sutcliffe Park, is fairly new, but is astonishingly beautiful: the river Quaggy runs through it, and there are nice little accessible paths running beside and over it. The sight of the pleasant little stream flowing through the park is incredibly evocative. At one point it flows through a bit of woody marshland bridged by well-made causeways, so, walking along them you can almost forget you’re in a city.
Just over the road from Sutcliffe Park is another new little park. I think in has only just been built as the buildings close to it are all very new. The river runs through that too, although it is slightly more developed and clearly more intended for children. There is a beautiful little waterfall I could sit next to for hours. It’s an astonishing little place which I would really like to show Lyn and my Parents when it’s possible and safe to do so again. It’s a wonderfully relaxing corner of the metropolis. From there, I can just follow the footpaths back to Eltham, once again remarking to myself what an incredible city London is.