I’ll be introducing a screening of Crip Camp this evening. Come and watch if you can.
I think I need to flag this shocking news up today. “The deaths of three adults with learning disabilities at a failed hospital should prompt a review to prevent further “lethal outcomes” at similar facilities, a report said. There were significant failures in the care of the patients at Jeesal Cawston Park, Norfolk, it found.” The details of the stories are horrific enough, but the fact that this sort of thing is still going on makes it even worse. One hears nightmarish stories about disabled people being abused in institutions from the sixties, seventies and eighties, but you would hope that that sort of thing would have been stamped out long ago. It just goes to show that, when it comes to disabled people who can’t speak out for themselves, the people supposedly caring for them think they can do what they want and get away with it. And the most sickening thing is, more often than not, they do.
Having just seen the news that the SNP have restarted their independence campaign and now plan to hold a second Scottish independence referendum next year, I automatically decided that that would be the subject of todays entry. Before starting to write, though, I thought I’d check what I’ve written previously about it. To be honest, I don’t think I can do better than to direct everyone to this entry, written last year. My views haven’t changed since then: I still think that, were Scotland to break away from the union, it would be an act of utter selfishness and betrayal. The scots would be selling the rest of the uk out for their own petty self-interest: They might be ok, but they would have completely abandoned us, especially at a time when we need to work together to solve problems such as Brexit.
It has been a long, glorious day north of the river, exploring the old docklands. That area is becoming so gentrified, with multi-million pound blocks of flats being built all over the place, it’s crazy. Part of a project called the Royal Docks, dozens of new ten-storey-tall buildings are going up, equipped with trendy cafes and gyms, and set between stunning new parks. It makes me wonder again whether the same thing is happening in the rest of the country, or is it being left behind while London gets all the investment. Mind you, I was out so long I totally forgot a test match was being played, but having just checked the score, I see that I was right to do so.
I watched the Tokyo Paralympic Closing Ceremony earlier, but again there is not that much I think I can say about it. I am, of course, quite blown away by Team GB’s performance this year: to have come second in the medal table, besting everyone but China, is pretty phenomenal when you think about it. Yet, as with the other three ceremonies this year, the paralympic closing ceremony struck me as rather paired down and subdued, with nothing to get me excited. The fact this was the first such ceremony since Lyn’s death also cast a bit of a shadow over things for me, I must admit. Having said that, one image really caught my eye, not from Tokyo but Paris.
If this is an example of how our Parisian friends intend to proceed, I think we’re in for something rather interesting in 2024.
To be honest the very last thing I expected to come across today was a field with sheep in it, but that, remarkably, was exactly what I found. Taking a cue from my entry a couple of days ago, today I decided to go and explore Canary Wharf. I had only been there a couple of times before, and had never really looked around the area. Yet it looked so modern and snazzy in the photos I had seen, today I decided to put that right, first trundling down to Greenwich and then getting the DLR under the river.
Getting off just a stop later, I was instantly surprised. Where I had been expecting to be surrounded by skyscrapers, the area around Island Gardens felt fairly low rise and mundane. Having said that, the shiny towers of the Wharf looming over the area, there was definitely a sense of wealth and power in that area which I don’t feel south of the river.
Using the skyscrapers as compass points, I headed through Millwall Park and into Mudchute Farm and Park. It was there that I found my biggest surprise of the day: a couple of fields, albeit rather small ones, with sheep in. They were obviously a tourist attraction, but there, in one of London’s most developed areas, it was the last thing I expected to find.
I trundled on through the parks in the south of the Isle Of Dogs, my surroundings becoming more and more built up as I went. It felt like Manhattan, skyscrapers rising from both sides of busy streets, DLR trains whizzing around on overhead tracks. It seemed so modern and sleek I couldn’t help being quite taken by it: there was clearly a shedload of money in that area, I could see evidence of it almost everywhere I looked. The way the gleaming buildings were reflected in the docks between them made it seem like I had been suddenly transported to a distant city of vast wealth. At the same time, the docks themselves felt like reminders of a distant past: this was, after all, once London’s gateway to the British Empire; a place where countless thousands had sailed from and to, bringing riches from all over the world. Yet the area has now become one of the world’s foremost commercial centres, the docks now mostly inhabited by luxury yachts and crossed by stylish foot bridges.
I didn’t stay long at Canary Wharf, just exploring one or two of it’s small yet emaculate parks and it’s mall which rather cooly links directly into the tube station, before getting the Jubilee line to North Greenwich. It amazes me how every part of this city has a different feel to it: today I had a look around one of it’s richest areas, and got a sense of just how exuberant London can be. To be honest I found it astonishing, partly because of the wealth, but mostly because of the sheep.
Just to follow up on this entry a couple of weeks ago, about my concerns for disabled people living in Afghanistan, I think I ought to flag this very, very concerning article up. It reports that the Taliban are now targeting disability rights activists because of their links with america. It says that the religious nutters, who have used people with disabilities as suicide bombers in the past, are now coming to their homes and attacking them. The situation it describes is appalling, and indeed extremely frightening. I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to live under such circumstances, but surely anyone with more than an ounce of compassion would agree that we can’t leave these people to suffer like that.
I was just browsing Facebook, looking for something amusing to pop on here, and I suddenly noticed the plethora of pictures of young schoolchildren: many of my friends from university are now married with kids, and they all keep posting pictures of their children in their new school uniforms. I suddenly feel very, very old. It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was dancing the night away with those guys at Brandies, and now they are all packing their children off to school. Time really does fly.
To be honest, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air was one of those programs which I’d watch if it was on, but which I never payed any serious attention to. However, the project detailed here may change that. It seems someone took the premise of the show, about a young black man from Philadelphia who gets into trouble and has to move in with his wealthy Californian relatives, and reread it to give it a much more serious tone. He made a spoof trailer for it (a very well made one in fact – he obviously wasn’t just a casual fan) and put it on Youtube. That apparently caught the eye of Will Smith himself, and, according to the report, the reboot has now been commissioned for two seasons. From the look of it, I think the new program might be worth watching: it has a far grittier feel to it than the original comedy, and will deal with issues like class. Obviously only time will tell whether the new version is any good or not, but I like the idea of someone taking a lighthearted sitcom and refashioning it so it becomes a comment on contemporary society.