Worried About Paul Levett

This morning when I turned my computer on, Facebook informed me that it is Paul Levett’s birthday. Truth be told, I never had much contact with Lyn’s brother. We exchanged messages once or twice when Lyn died, but that’s about it. However, he seems oddly quiet: his Facebook page shows a distinct lack of activity and he hasn’t replied to any of my messages or emails in months. He promised to let me know about Lyn’s commemoration event, but I never heard back from him. His silence now has me worried about his wellbeing. If anyone has any suggestions about what I can do, I’d appreciate it.

The American Redoubt

I just came across something very, very disturbing indeed. After watching this Youtube video by The Times, the USA seems more fucked up and scary than ever. In northwestern America, a group of religious zealots are trying to establish their own fascist nation based on religion and the bible. They call it the American Redoubt, and as the documentary explains, it is “a movement to build a home for conservative christians and unhappy Trump voters [which] is being exploited by extremists planning for secession.” Needless to say, watching it I was enraged by the hate-filled crap some of these bigots were spewing: they are allowed to spout all kinds of racist, homophobic and transphobic shit from radio stations, political lecterns and churches, justifying it under the guise of religion. By rights they should simply have been sectioned years ago; or at least told to just shut up and/or ignored like the moronic bigots they are. It concerns me deeply that such views are now so popular in America. Nonetheless I think it is a documentary worth watching, if only to get an insight into just how distorted and warped the views of some Americans are becoming.

The Other Platinum Jubilee

While a lot is being said about the queen’s platinum jubilee next year, I’d just like to flag up what I personally think is an even more remarkable anniversary. Next year marks seventy years since Sir David Attenborough started working for the BBC. While that’s mind blowing in itself, the great man will present a new program, The Green Planet, in January. When you remember that Attenborough has been making programs since 1954 – before either of my parents were born – and has a body of work behind him which no other television presenter or personality can come close to, your jaw can only drop in awe. For him to still be going so strongly is even more amazing. Attenborough is just as much a national treasure as the Queen, so I really hope his platinum jubilee gets the celebration it deserves too.

How I Ended Yesterday’s Entry

You may have noticed that I closed yesterday’s entry with the words ‘Merry Christmas’. Without wanting to sound like a miserable git, to be honest I was in two minds about doing that. I still feel, quite strongly, that religion is an oppressive, repressive force: a collection of myths used to tell people what to think and how to act. If that is true, then it follows that whenever we make statements like ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘God bless you’, we play into and reinforce that system of social control. We – perhaps inadvertently – help the church maintain it’s unearned social authority by perpetuating the fictions that authority is based on. By closing yesterday’s entry like I did, it occurs to me that I was thus being a tad hypocritical; I was playing into a cultural phenomenon I claim to oppose. Then again, not to have done so might have seemed too bleak and cynical, so perhaps I better just chill out over this.

Thank Zark for Webcams

I really don’t have much to say today. After going for a lovely trundle yesterday, I’ve spent today at home on my computer. I just had a lovely long web chat with all my family, who seem to be doing well. I suppose the main thing I have to say today, then, is thank zark for webcams. Where would we all have been these last to years had the webcam never been invented? I know we would still have phones, but there is something special about being able to see someone face to face, especially when it comes to family. And remember, guys like me couldn’t use old fashioned telephones very easily. Thus things like Skype and Zoom have really got us out of a bit of bother these last two years. Sat here in this quiet flat, waiting for Serkan to arrive so my evening festivities can begin, I think that is something worth noting.

Merry Christmas.

Mysterious Red UFO Spotted

I just saw a report that a mysterious red flying object about the size of a car was recently spotted leaving the artic circle. Despite it’s size, the Prime Minister ordered the Royal Navy to shoot it down as a precaution. Mr Johnson said the object had the potential to spread the Omicron Variant throughout the world. There is no word as yet about what the object was. More news to come…

Vaccinations and Free Healthcare

So far, so good. The side effects from the vaccination which I was so concerned about yesterday never appeared, and apart from quite a sore arm, I currently feel perfectly fine. In the end, it was just a case of trundling along to my local vaccination centre and trundling back.

Today, though, I’d just like to draw everyone’s attention to something. On my way out of the centre last night, I made a point of thanking the staff there for doing such a wonderful job. This pandemic has really put how much we owe the NHS into perspective. This morning, however, I heard on the news that Australia is thinking about charging people who refuse to get vaccinated for their COVID-related healthcare. The Aussies have a system like the NHS, but the right to free healthcare will be suspended for anyone refusing to get jabbed.

This policy is obviously very controversial. The whole point of free, universal healthcare is that anyone has a right to it, irrespective of your status or ability to pay: surely that is one of the defining features of any modern, civilised society. Yet, to be honest, I can see their point. The only way we’ll ever get through this pandemic is if we all pull together and get vaccinated; if just one person refuses, it puts everyone else at risk as the virus might then mutate. We don’t just get jabbed to protect ourselves but all of society.

Refusing the vaccine thus potentially puts a strain on any healthcare system as it risks prolonging the pandemic, so I can see what the Australians are getting at. Indeed, part of me might even advocate implementing such a policy here. The NHS is one of the UK’s greatest features: to knowingly and wantonly put a strain on it by refusing to get vaccinated does a disservice to us all. Why should such selfish people have a right to free healthcare if and when they fall ill? Then again, the same could be said of smokers or people with other bad habits: Should knowingly doing something dangerous invalidate your right to free healthcare? Going down that route would open up a minefield of questions which would ultimately render the idea of free, universal healthcare moot. The idea of systems like the NHS is that everyone should get the medical help they need, absolutely no questions asked. The second we start playing around with that concept, we are all doomed.

Getting Boosted

All being well, I’ll get my third COVID vaccination later today, and to be honest I currently feel quite anxious about it. I know it’s necessary – even vital – to have it if we’re ever going to get over this wretched pandemic, but from what I’ve been hearing, the booster has some very nasty potential side effects. I could be in for a very icky twenty-four to forty-eight hours. If anything interesting happens, of course I’ll note it here, but if I fall a bit silent, now you know why.

Oh well, at least it’s for the common good; and at least I now have No Time To Die on DVD to keep me entertained.

Then Barbara Met Alan

I just came across some very interesting news indeed. Outside of the disability community, I doubt many people know what DAN stands for. I doubt many realise why it was established, or what it achieved. However, the 2022 television drama detailed here looks like it might change that. “Then Barbara Met Alan tells the story through the eyes of Barbara Lisicki (Ruth Madeley) and Alan Holdsworth (newcomer Arthur Hughes), two disabled cabaret performers who met at a gig in 1989 and would go on to become the driving force behind DAN – the Direct Action Network, whose fearless and coordinated protests pushed the campaign for disabled rights into the spotlight.”

If what I’ve seen so far – very little, admittedly – is anything to go by, this program stands to be utterly groundbreaking. The Disability Rights Movement and it’s history has been near enough totally ignored by the mainstream. If Then Barbara Met Alan can shed a little light on it, it could very well be a total paradigm shift. Alongside films like Crip Camp, it stands to shed light on a civil rights movement not many people outside the crip community realise even took place, and in doing so carries the aims of the movement even further. I really can’t wait to see this program.