Sunday, 28 May 2006

Postscript on guilt

Following comments to my post Dear Mr Attenborough, thank you. I have agreed with all that others have commented, and others' following posts, and now offer a postscript.

While I was thinking of this postscript, synchronistically my monthly copy of the Quaker (Society of Friends) newsletter arrived along with my Quaker friend. The newsletters contain writings by Friends on their experience and understanding of the human condition, one's ability to live usefully, at ease, responsibly, with purpose. Each edition has something useful or relevant to what has been around for me. The Quaker newsletters are complemented by my ongoing Jungian studies which remind me of the gaps in my maturing process, assist me to relate to others as a mature responsible adult, give insight into situations that I am living unconsciously in, support me to uncover the unconscious contents of my Shadow that continue to trip me up in day to day life and relationships.

My Quaker friend also trained as a psychodynamic counsellor, with Jungian analysis, over a period of many years. So we speak the same language, from the same foundation of understanding, but from our own personal experiences from childhood, parents, relationships, work and community. We talked of responsibility in relationships and that of God that is in everyone. We talked of the synchronicity of our seperate recent life events that led us to talk that day of guilt, where it comes from, what it is, is it ours, when it is and when it is not. We also consumed much cake and pots of tea.

It is my belief that we need to have been able to develop a strong sense of self in order to hold guilt that is appropriate and move forwards with it towards apology, reparation as appropriate, with following redemption of our selves.

Guilt is only the appropriate response if we know we have done something that we know to be wrong, in the small things of daily life and relating, or the larger picture of community or society. It is necessary to know it, in order to repent, apologise, and be redeemed; in our own eyes and in the view of the other. We have to apply mature knowledge of ourselves and society, to an act, an ommission, and acknowledge the harm we have done. In order to know it, we have to be comfortable with the feelings that our own acknowledgement to ourselves first, causes. If we are fragile, or self-protective through necessity, we may not be able to carry the weight of the negative feeling attached to guilt. We may have guilt thrust upon us by outside events that hit us full square, that arrive at our doorstep unbidden, unwelcome. The amount of negative feeling an event brought to our threshold of acknowledging, that we can bear, is dependent on our strength to bear it, not defend against it, but bear it. See it through. If we have not that strength to withstand the negative feeling, we will stop it entering past our boundary, long before it reaches our conscious understanding and acknowledgement. With those useful and maturely arrived at protective boundaries in place, there is no foothold for any inappropriate shame or guilt that individuals, community or society may attempt to lay at our door; when it is not appropriate, when it is not our fault, when it is beyond our personal or collective responsibility.

Also synchronistically, this week one of my regular home helps bashed the vacuum cleaner into pristinely painted door frames, twice. When politely but firmly faced with the evidence of chipped paint and flakes on the carpet; affronted she stated that it was not her and staunchly defended herself, with her own (previously prepared ?) arguments why it was impossible it was her fault. I know from past small events (she takes teabags and half empty boxes of tissues) that she feels un-cared for and put upon. She lives alone and feels freer and safer in England than she did in her home country of France. With regard to my paintwork, it is my understanding that she cannot bear the feelings rushing up from the constant guilt, shame and devastating agony she felt as a child from the nuns at her Catholic boarding school in France. I can imagine that as a child, she did not go through the necessary stage of maturing, supported by loving 'good-enough' parent/s who gave her experiences of acknowledging her minor wrongs, putting minor wrong doings right, time and again through childhood, so that as an adult she can hold the discomfort with herself, when guilt is appropriate, in order to lead her to say: sorry, I will re-paint it for you.

It is a blessing or an achievement, to arrive at mature responsibility for our actions, to move away from guilt that is not appropriate to feel, regardless of who (individuals) or what (society, the media) attempt to impose on us. It is a blessing when we have grown up in a loving good-enough family. It is an achievement if we have worked on childhood harm, to arrive at a strong appropriate sense of self, so that we are able to live balanced lives comfortably, responsibly, in relationships, community and society.

So, Mr Attenborough, don't put it out through the media to individuals. Ask for my support for your argument by all means. Then you use your influence and standing in society to tell the government. Lobby them not me. Shame, or frighten, them into taking action, with your righteous anger, evidence and statistics.

So, parents, don't shirk your responsibility for your childrens' well being, by blaming them for your shortcomings, your discomfort. Don't tell them they are bad, when they are actually confused, afraid, vulnerable, untaught and unloved, unsupported.

So, teachers and authority figures during childrens' and young adults' formative years; control them with love and time and understanding. Share with them your love for your work, not your frustration, give them of your patient time to learn. Understand that when they ask questions, rebel, don't listen, they are testing boundaries to mark out what they are and what they are not, during their important maturing years.

My understanding is that guilt is a personal responsibility; to know and defend when it is not appropriate, to accept and learn and put right the situation when it is appropriate, to bear the discomfort that I have been wrong, because I know I have been wrong. To bear the other's retaliation when the guilt they attempt to put on me is sent straight back.

I must have been dreaming most of this post, because I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote it down while it was fresh in my conscious mind. Now I find that the notes I made don't begin to cover all I thought I had said. So this post feels as though it is missing important bits.

But enough already.


Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Dear Mr Attenborough

Thank you for your response to the Newsreader's question on the television news this evening. He had introduced the subject of global warming saying we are all to blame. We all have to do something about it. I said to the television: it's not our fault. He asked you what can be done. You answered: it starts with governments and agreements.

Thank you. I think that too.

You went on to say we; all of us, every single one of us, democratically, have to do something about it. I agree.

But first, so that I don't start to feel at fault that there has seemingly been no change in the last decade, can I ask, not you specifically, but generally: how ?

Can we, by democratic means, make the water companies stop the leaks, when it is easier to impose drought orders ?
Can we, by democratic means, ensure that all people dependent on disabilitiy benefits, have access to cheap renewable fuels, to heat our homes adequately, to fuel our wheelchair adapted cars, charge our batteries, and to lighten our darkness and wash our laundry.

Can I ask my elected representatives to local, district and county councils, and central government, to do something about it.
Can they do something about it.
Can they ask government ministers to do something.
Positive. Far reaching. Brave.
Vote loosing. Taxes raising. Bush offending.

In the meantime, on the home front, I am having trouble recycling all my household waste, due to the packaging insisted on by the supermarkets. I know it is to ensure food is managed during the long transit from field to table. I don't buy green beans from Kenya, but I cannot grow my own food, or shop locally from local producers, because home helps don't dig, sow, harvest. They are just allowed time to go to Tesco.

In the meantime, I am not warm enough during the winter. Heating oil prices have risen from 10.4p per litre in 1996 to 36.9p per litre now. Plus tax. I buy 1,000 litres at a time. Petrol was 85.9p per litre in May last year, I had to pay Tesco 96.9p per litre last time. My budget for petrol is restricted, so I spend much the same on petrol as I did last year, I just don't go out as much now. My disability income has not kept pace with price rises of fossil fuels.

I don't want to think that my brothers and sisters, cousins, sons and daughters, future childrens' partners, future grandchildren, will be fighting wars in oil producing countries to maintain things the way they are. Whatever that may be.

I am in my fifth decade, and getting more tired, more ill. When I am in my six decade, will democracy have made any difference. When I am in my seventh decade, will we have turned the corner. When I am no longer here, will the next generation find it more possible to change the world democratically than I have ?

Thank you Mr Attenborough, for using your enthusiasm, the respect people have for your views on ecology, to make me question something again.

I don't know what the Democracy that is within my reach, can do.


Saturday, 20 May 2006

It's My Party and I'll Rant If I Want To

While I'm on a ranting roll, I may as well continue, to help myself deal with the disablist world.

Rant No. 1

At a concert in a church last evening, I was almost dis-abled by a church warden, a nice plump lady, strawberry blonde with pink cheeks and nice jewellery (I'm easily impressed), whom I had telephoned previously to check the church was accessible. It was, with a nicely paved discrete ramp for all, replacing the steps the Victorians added to many churches, to make them higher, literally to halt the lame (who they presumed had done something to deserve that god-given fate), and to bring parishes up to a high church, along with incense and sung services.

I love incense and sung services; we have societies to promote them.

So I had gone along quite confident in my ability to be included. The church was traditionally pewed, with aisles, so spotting a pitch with good sight lines was the first task. The church warden wasn't comfortable with that; 'that' being a wheelchair deciding for itself where it was going to sit. The wheelchair was directed to a wide aisle between blocks of pews; empty, dark and lonely, save for an ominous chest (could have swallowed me and the wheelchair) and told I would be alright there. No I won't - what about my friend ? " Well she can sit anywhere ...": No, She and I sit together. I and my wheelchair left the church warden to figure out eventually that wheelchairs, like bipeds, like to be with the rest of the audience, not put somewhere deemed suitable for wheelchairs only. Is it any wonder that some people are afraid of letting their children talk to wheelchairs or use disabled toilets. Aliens. Bitch. Except she wasn't of course, just ignorant. But she is a churchwarden, and inclusivity is her job and she will have received training for it - I bet the trainers weren't dis-abled.

I had forgiven her by the time she served me a Pimms in the interval. Yes, I love going to church ! The Pimms with summer strawberries and leaves of lemon balm and mint, highlighted the unseasonal tempest rattling the stone tiled church roof.

Rant No. 2

This rant has been removed by the editor, as all is forgiven.

Apology No. 1

If it is needed, it is only the exception like Rant No. 2 above, that proves the rule that disabled males are generally more compassionate, open, friendly, witty and wise, than able bodied males. In my experience.

Rant No. 3

SC&H have almost at last finally yes really, agreed that I need wheelchair access into my home, and to principle downstairs rooms and a wheelchair accessible bathroom. After three years of my asking. See earlier post.

At the meeting this week I had the bizarre argument, that led to the first (and second) time I have ever used the expletive 'f--k that' in front of (not at or to) my occupational therapist and care manager/social worker. OT said: wheelchair access to principle rooms, means to the door, not necessarily in the entire room. F that I said and burst into tears. (I was so so tired after three years of arguing my case). Sobbing... (oh for f's sake, let it all out...): Are you seriously trying to tell me that I can sit in my wheelchair and look at my kitchen from the widened door, but not actually use the kitchen, ditto the sitting room. She backed down on that.

And, (blowing my nose loudly) I asked boldly: are 'they' going to do the building work in two stages, so that I can still get into the house, and move all my furniture and my life upstairs and seal off downstairs rooms against builder's dust and muck ?

No, it will be done all together, will take about three months, so we will get you a temporary housing association tenancy. F that I said (second time) ... you are joking (she is newish to the job). I know someone disabled who had to wait eighteen months for a housing association tenancy; homeless and camping with relatives, their life and belongings put in storage. Not a hope in hell of that happening at the same time the builders are in. Temporary stalemate, but that is what they are paid to sort out.

Not me, I'm tired, I have engaged in the battle, I have won the war; let them fight the little remaining skirmishes.

Rant No. 4

No, I'm too tired, it will save. If you wish to prepare, read CROW 2000, as homework. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. This law applies not just to rights of way on green bits in the countryside and coast, but also urban rights of way (through the 'vehicle' of LTPs: Local Transport Plans) so it applies to the footpath through the housing estate that is too narrow for wheelchairs, the pavement in the town that has a dropped curb once every half a mile. In CROW 2000 spot the references to C123Vs if you can - you won't; they are not in there.

In the countryside, at the coast, in the town, through the village, in cities minor and capital, rights of access to paths, pavements and other public rights of way and (newly) opened access land, wherever the term 'on foot only' occurs, in law that term also includes users of Class 1, 2 and 3 mobility vehicles - manual and powered wheelchairs and trikes. I'm a country girl so lift me over the stile somebody please.

If, having done your homework, you and your wheelchair wish to pursue the issues, let me know and I will send you details of how you can have your views included. Anywhere in the UK. Down here in South West Disability Shire, I am looking for volunteers, seriously. I cannot do it all on my own.

More pills please, waiter.


Friday, 19 May 2006

Rose Coloured Spectacles Smashed

All is not lovely in the garden.

Yesterday morning life seemed pretty perfect but it does not take much to smash the illusion.

I live in a borrowed landscape. I have an averaged sized garden, that I cannot do much with and it does not have many features. Yet I sit in it and feel like a queen, gazing over the fields to trees and woods and wildlife. I sit under a neighbouring ancient tree that gracefully provides shade in a corner of my bit. The neighbouring field will never be built on, as it is outside the 'village envelope' for development and also because we do not have mains drainage (where does it go ? - another time) and the chalk valley is a water source protection area, for the acquifers; planning permission will always be refused, unless the government decide to shift the south-east west a bit due to drought.

For fifteen years the neighbours adjoining my garden have been Norman's cattle, just a few, three to maximum six, as it is only a little field. The field belongs to my neighbour's sister who lives a little further along, and it is let to Norman for grazing. The cattle are black Aberdeen Angus, with some character, unlike docile milking cows, particularly if Norman's castration technique has left quite a lot to be desired and the young bulls remain frisky until they become beef. Good mature beef; Norman had a permit to rear them longer as they were grass fed and not a BSE risk. They even attempted to join my birthday tea in the garden party one year. Occasionally the owner's grandchildren played there when the field was vacant. All in the garden was rosy.

The grandchildren grew up; the boy took to wearing battle fatigues complete with toy radio backpack, helmet and binoculars, pretending to be a signalling scout, or scouting for the enemy, but I nipped that in the bud when I waited for him to pop his head up from behind a hillock, to find the lady in the wheelchair, not just looking at him, through her binoculars, looking at him looking at her, but also waving at him when he saw me in his sights, over the top of my binoculars. He had the good sense to be embarrased and loose interest after that. The grandfather, like many retired men with no brain, plays golf, and he tried in vain to get the granddaughter to be interested; thankfully she grew impatient with the swing technique.

All has now changed. Grandfather has given the grandchildren, now young teenagers, a quad bike. A noisy quad bike. Grandfather has spent two days sat on his little sit-on mower, cutting the tall grass, buttercups, food nettles, down to golf course height. Six hours yesterday, four hours today before rain stopped play. Teenagers noisy in the field for two hours yesterday after school. A large low branch broken off the ancient tree. Swallows and house martins put to flight, buzzards disappeared, along with the mice, voles, and other food on legs. I have been cursing loudly behind closed doors.

Today I pray for lashings of after school rain.

I came to this place when I was healthy and active and only had tinnitus to contend with. I bought it because it is quiet, peaceful, not overlooked. I needed quiet. Now with Meniere's and Lupus cogdysfunc, noise wipes my brain. I cannot think straight and when external noise stops, it takes ages for my tinnitus levels to subside. They, those people who own that field, are impinging on my life and my ability to cope. I have phoned the council, both planning and environmental health, and taken advice. There are forms I can fill in, a complaint can be lodged anonymously and if the noise is excessive they will monitor it discreetly. I must now take action to get a 'Tree Protection Order' before it is too late, for the tree.

This too will pass.

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Good morning

My goodness but it is busy out there this morning; the crows are playing kites on the breeze, those that aren't on look out, patrolling for buzzards. The swallows are massing for circles and bumps along the field and the playfull ones are doing figures of eight around the garden and the adjacent ancient tree in the field, doing quick ups and downs over the garden fence that cuts into their route.

The sparrows have to check in with flight control before they make a swoop from the house roof to the neighbouring bird table, to avoid the house martins' gossiping visits to each other's nests/desireable residences under my eaves. Gold finches aim at dandylion clocks, hitting the stalks at just the right degree to bend them slightly, so they can slide down to feed on the seeds, the silky parachutes released into the breeze seedless. Blackbirds chase everything they think might have found something to eat they didn't see first. The robin flits from one arm of the rotary laundry dryer to the other, a useful perch for sighting food.

I was up early this morning, so I was in time to see the stately progress along the top field of the deer, up to their arm (leg) pits in the swaying grass of the field being left for hay making; tall field buttercups brushing their bellies with pollen, not that I can see those particles of colour through the binoculars.

Later in the season when the grasses are cut, dried and harvested, foxes will come out at dusk scouting for succulent slugs in the short rough cut stands. Another detail I could not verify through the binoculars but by deduction I could not imagine what else they would be so greedily scooping up. With the last filaments of the setting sun on their rusty backs, they stood out in the silent field and the neighbours came out to lean on their fences and marvel.

This morning, people are beginning to join in the world now, with their dogs, cars, laundry and gardening tools, so those eternal residents, living here before our time began, are retreating to the further corners, away from our settlements, footpaths and busyness.

Friday, 12 May 2006

In a parallel universe

I had been interviewed before, but never so satisfyingly as I was yesterday outside the library.

In the past I have been interviewed for a radio money programme, but they didn't use my name so the object, to embarass my deserving ex, failed.

I have appeared with a photograph in the Indy but, as that was to shame my medical insurers for no longer covering osteopathy for my bad back, being persuaded to include my photogenic Airedale in the picture (big dog, so obviously needing big amounts of exercise) was self-defeating.

I have a photograph somewhere taken by my father, of me and my mother on Bournemouth Pier, being interviewed by Chris Tarrant (Tarrant TV) and crew. I was in my best 1980s Laura Ashley, accompanying my mother in her best ("I'm saving it for my holidays") and then, as now, I was wearing a hat; then trying to get used to contact lenses in bright sun, now as protection for Lupus.

So I looked a fair target. Mother was ignoring the gleaming 'Mr Universe' posers in miniscule pouches, some sort of body beautiful festival parading on the pier (they did that then). I was ignoring them because I was with my mother and it would have been too complicated. Then Chris Tarrant turned up and asked what I thought of the posers, and I answered suitably primly. I was with my mother, father was not far behind and at that time I was married to a minor pillar of a little community. Then I noticed the crew were looking bored and Chris Tarrant wasn't making eye contact, so without missing a beat I said: "we-ell, that one's got a neat bum". They fell about laughing, it made it onto the tv programme, hubby was furious, believing he had a reputation to protect; however the tv programme was local, so mother was spared from being seen laughing (ee, our lass, what wur yu thinkin') on tv, back up north.

In a parallel universe there are teenage men who are clean cut, neatly and conservatively dressed, who speak in complete sentences in the right structure, unware of the relief that comes from a: "wtf ?!" occasionally said with feeling. They are Christian, they are inevitably Evangelists, and they are Male. Nothing wrong with any of those in isolation, but the combination is fatal to their Selves.

They are confident and unafraid of approaching a well dressed lady (its rare to see a hat in May) in a wheelchair, and haven't a f'ing clue what is about to hit their consciousness.

They are Nice Young Men, with a camcorder and a microphone, and are smiling at me winningly. Madam; (!) have you read 'The Da Vinci Code' (yes) and what do you think of it, have you read the New Testament, and have you seen Da Vinci's painting, do you consider yourself a Christian? (Not in one breath, but properly asked after each of my answers.)

Me: May I ask who you are ? We are Male Teenage Christian Evangelists. No, they didn't say that. We are from ..... church and we are researching peoples' views.

So this universe met theirs:

Me: (in a nutshell) Da Vinci knew many things and he knew what he was doing when he included a female amongst Christ's followers at the last supper; the New Testament was not written in English, but in Greek and translated, firstly into Latin then into English, by male translators at a time when society was not comfortable with women having equal status in any part of life, including the priesthood. That the early Christian church had female priests, who had equal status with male priests, and that around 500 AD for political reasons, history was re-written and it has taken 1,500 years for the Christian church to recover what it had lost. Yes, more of a Celtic Christian than an evangelising, or even active, Christian. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my views.

They went quietly, looking at each other, and THINKING.

A very satisfactory interview. I am happy to now retire from giving interviews.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

O Fortuna !

Carl Orff Carmina Burana (Cantiones profanae circa 13th century Bavaria)

O Fortuna, velut luna, statu variabilis, simper crescis aut decrescis; vita detestabilis nunc obdurate et tunc curat ludo mentis aciem; egestatem, potestatem dissolvit au glaciem.

O luck, like the moon, changeable in state, you are always waxing or waning; hateful life is one moment hard and the next moment watches over the mind's acumen in gambling; poverty, power, it melts like ice.

Tubular bells for standing up to and striking,
Chinese resonating gong, ditto.
Chinese bell (a proper one) ditto.
2 Tambourines, for rubbing the licked thumb along the skin, shaking the bells, or tapping and drumming.
Maracas (school day memories).
Triangle (how can the sound wave of a little ting travel so far ?).
Three xylophones, one or two wood bars, one metal bars, so probably 1 xylophone,
1 mettalophone and a celeste (without binoculars I couldn't tell).
2 cymbals, large and very large (you can almost see the sound waves coming towards you).
Huge bass drum, on a stand (enough to wake the dead).
2 sets of 4 timpani, gleaming kettles.
Hanging cymbal like a china man's hat, for striking rather than clashing.
2 grand pianos (with the lady from Radio 3 on mix console tucked in behind).
A thousand violins; i.e. too many to count.
A hundred or so violas, ditto.
8 cellos
4 string bass, the players lounging on bar stools to put their arms round and play them.
1 brass bass (like having a baby elephant on your knee).
4 farting trombones (I am allowed to say that, both father and ex played them).
Trumpets or cornets (I couldn't see which).
A CONTRA BASSOON, deserving of capitals.
2 other Bassoons.
Various breathy floating flutes, clarinets, oboes and also I think an oboe d'amore,
and 4 glorious hunting, sorry, glorious French Horns, muted with a fist or open sounding (needing regular tipping to exit the spittle, like all brass; that's why they are hidden behind something else in the orchestra, then brought home to lay in the bath).

A heavenly soprano, voluptuous, sensuous, her feet leaving the ground ever so slightly as she soared above the highest of high liquid notes.
A dark haired, jutting jawed, baritone; astride his voice.
A swooningly handsome tenor, so knowingly apt; milky coffee rather than black roasted* bean (see below), singing a swan's falsetto lament (and he did a 'high 5' with the children as he left the stage, a master of the craft of singing and encouraging young ones to sing).
A vast choir of coiffured sopranos, trendy altos, confident and numerous tenors (who are often rare in amateur choirs) and on-beat basses (also rare in A.C.s).
Sweetly composed childrens' choirs, some in colourful blouses; muted blues, lilacs, soft greys, but some still girded by school uniforms - white shirts and ties, I ask you).

All commanded and swept into Carmina Burana by a glorious tempestuous lady condutor; with style, wit and passion.

O Fortuna !

I've been there, done it (second alto 1988 ish), got the t-shirt (blue, size medium, Berlioz Grand Mass d'Morte, Royal Albert Hall 1989). Across the years and across the choral range from Bach to Holst and Vaughan Williams. No more, not got the stamina but I have still got the voice, so it was difficult to stay contained during last evening's stunning performance by the BSO, but Oh it was GLORIOUS to be there !

Sors salutis et virtutis michi nunc contraria, est affectus et defectus, simper in angaria. Hac in hora sine mora, corde pulsum tangite; quod per sortem, sternit fortem, mecum omnes plangite !

The luck of health and strength is against me, is attacked and ruined all the time, in your service. In this hour without delay sweep the sounding strings; and for that which, by lot, overthrows the strong man, weep with me, all of you !

Buy the CD, being recorded next week by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, hopefully with a printed translation, then listen and partake of the music:

... mourn the roasted swan: Once I dwelt on the lakes, once I appeared beautiful, when I was a swan. Miser, miser ! modo niger et ustus fortiter ! - Wretch that I am ! Now black * and roasting fiercely ! The spit turns and re-turns, my funeral pyre burns me fiercely; now the serving boy approaches me. Now I lie on a silver salver and I cannot fly away; - dentes frendentes video (yes really !) - I see champing teeth.

... join in the monk's drinking song: Ego sum abbas Cucaniensis: I am the Abbot of Cucany and my deliberation is among drinkers ...

... dance to welcome in spring: Floret silva nobilis, floribus et foliis - the noble wood is in bloom with flowers and leaves ... Gruonet der walt allenthalben, wa ist min geselle alse lange ? - If the wood is everywhere so green, why is my lover so long ? Der ist geriten hinnen, o wi, wer sol mich minnen ? - He has ridden away from here; alas, who shall love me ?

... so that when you hear: "Veni, veni, veni, venias" - you will hear just what the music (building to a climax) is implying - enough to make a maiden aunt blush !

O Fortuna !

Monday, 8 May 2006

Trying to picture this

Many times have I tried to add photographs to my blog pages. Each personal story has had images in my mind, that never appeared on the blog.

I know there is an icon up there (I see it now) and I have followed the instructions on good not- cogdysfunck'd days and on days when I should know better than to try. It has never worked.

I keep a lot of my favourite personal photos and web images on my laptop. I keep my life on my laptop. I have this fear of (again) being very ill and not being well enough to do anything except sit in my recliner, or in bed. So when I won my case for mis-selling of endowment policy, the compensation, although not much, was enough to indulge in a laptop and scanner.

But the pictures stay locked away from my blog. The poster from 1845 of the Lifeboat Society's fundraising, my Dad in his prime, celebrating after winning the Brass Band Championships, young, fit, with long fingers that I remember so well, like mine. My Airedale, in various poses - reclining on the sofa with 'Ewok' ears, with the look that said "but I've just got back from my shampoo - I'm clean Mum really, I have not been anywhere near that dead badger carcass in the wood, honest."

So, here goes. If what follows is an empty space, its not worked, again.

Well I didn't put it up there !
Sorry about the zig zag sofa, that went years ago.

You see, I have little control over where they go ...
editing now in progress.
Nope, hopeless.
However some progress has been made.
My thanks to Bloggingmone who indicated it was straightforward but who is not responsible for my lack of control over where the pictures ended up.

If there are pictures, then please clap loudly, whistle, cheer and stamp your feet.

Thank you and Good Night.
(National Anthem plays as everyone slopes off)

Sunday, 7 May 2006

A little ditty for Companion Animals

Inspired by my Airedale Terrier some years ago, and today dedicated to BloggingMone's companion animals:

A Vicarious Visit to the Vet:

Suzie my Airedale says, that one of the joys of visiting the Vet
Is the Cats, contained in wicker baskets,
Bandaged and constrained.

They may spit and spite and hiss, but what bliss,
They cannot get away but have to stay
and whisker-sense her, sitting close, straining forward,
She remembering all the humiliations their cousin cats
that sat upon our fence dispensed
since last she sat in the Vets, waiting.

Another joy is piddling on the Vet
As she goes under, legless, careless
In anaesthetised dignity.

Friday, 5 May 2006

Ruddy Ducks at 12 o'clock

For a week when I should be taking it easy, I had quite a lot that had to be done; routine hospital appointments two days in a row in different locations, east yesterday, west today.

Afterwards my PA and I went for a 'walk' at the RSPB at Radipole Lake. A bird nature reserve, originally marsh land down to the sea at Weymouth. Now surrounded by dual carriageways taking the traffic to KFC, Carpets-R-Us and the like, the constant traffic noise a distraction.

Despite the background noise, the reserve is peaceful and the paths along the water; with willows, hawthorn, blackthorn, and through the reeds, are accessible, with reed warblers very vocal, cormorants lined up on poles, swans, swallows, and a pair of grebe. I was quite pleased, never having seen a grebe before, I don't think. Then just as we turned to go back, I said "Ruddy Ducks at 12 o'clock" meaning straight ahead (when the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 12 - on the clock) which made my PA laugh.

I explained that when I was a little thing, my father (ex-RAF ground crew) used all sorts of phrases from his airforce days. If we were out and he wanted to draw attention to something he would say; xxx at 3 o'clock (to your right) or xxx at 9 o'clock (to your left). However, like many mysteries of childhood, he had never thought to explain to his daughter what he meant by the o'clock thing.

I had been thinking of my father all day, since a phone call this morning, planning a 'walk' in the woods tomorrow, the bluebell woods. My father died in 1998 (I hope that is the right year, my memory !) and was buried, typically, at the time of the solar eclipse, the ambient light dimming to dark grey as we left the church. 'Typically ?' - yes I know, he only did it once (being buried) therefore it could not be a typical act, but the combination of circumstances that led to him being buried on that day at that time was 'typical' of him. He had bipolar disorder and was a very forceful character, who made an impact on the world around him, often pedantic but, also, often positive. Being buried at the time of the solar eclipse was typical.

My mother, being the daft mother she is, had arranged the funeral for the day before the eclipse (naturally being unaware of the everyday world events at that time), then panicked when she realised she had arranged the funeral for the day of my birthday, so she made a huge effort to change the arrangements to the following day; and rang me to explain. Then my sister rang and said; "typical, you know what day that is !" Oh my ..... no, that is just going to be too weird, said I, but we cannot change it again. So, typical. "Ruddy 'ell", as my father would have said.

'Ruddy' was the only expletive he would allow himself, being a god-fearing teetotal-er who gave up drink and cigarettes after his brass band playing days, but only after he had the honour of playing a solo spot on his trombone at the Royal Albert Hall in London ("bye, 'eck, our lad, yuv dun al'reet thee-r") when the village band won the National Brass Band Championships - yes, just like the film 'Brassed Off' !

Back to the Ruddy Ducks. The male was such a beautiful ruddy red colour, like dark terracotta brick dust, or that deep brown tinged with red on a wizened Egremont Russet keeping apple that hasn't kept and has, unnoticed, slowly rotted to a soft pulp still in its skin. As this is mating time, the Ruddy Duck had dipped his beak in sky blue gloss paint and was wagging it from side to side to catch his lady's attention.

Therefore, when I saw the Ruddy Duck I unconsciously used a term my ruddy father would have used. This morning's phone call arranging the 'walk' was from a young relation with M.E. and I am glad she suggested it, as she does not have the stamina to do such things usually; this is a good sign. The fact that I am not my usual self at present, does not come into the equation, so she will not know this.

In the woods each spring, before the bluebells, are daffodils, not in naturalised clumps, but in straight lines, outlining invisible rectangles, deep in the wood in slight clearings that have only recently in the last sixty years or so, begun to grow trees again.

The connection of the bluebell wood with my father is that the woods are adjacent to a World War II airfield site, now returned to farm land. The air force base accommodation blocks were sighted in newly made clearings in the woods, presumably offering some camouflage. The air force personnel must have planted these daffodils in lines around their accommodation. I first came to this south west shire twenty years ago, before disability, and explored extensively. When I made that connection about the daffodils, I dug around a bit on my daily dog walks, and found the concrete bases still remaining from the accommodation blocks.

When I moved south, from the midlands, via London, and other inland counties, and my parents first visited me here, I drove them around to show them the area I felt fortunate to have moved to. My father said: "I know where we are .... that lane leads to the airfield." Now that was, and is, weird.

My father is, was, a Geordie, but lost his Geordie accent as his family moved south when he was a boy. My great grandfather was the fishing town's lifeboat coxswain, awarded a silver medal for bravery.

My aunt, who married a navy man (to keep the sea in the family), told me she was a babe of a few days old when her grand father the coxswain was buried, and the whole town closed down and turned out to line the streets to pay their respects. My aunt tells me their family history, because the treatment for bipolar disorder in the 1950s and 60s was electric shock 'therapy' which wiped many of my father's memories. Once I witnessed him weep when he heard someone playing a 'squeeze box', the small accordion that was the folk instrument of the fishing community, but he could not tell me why, and later I made for myself the connection with his childhood.

When the fishing industry declined, my grandfather moved south, relatively, to the midlands, and I was born from a mixture of Geordie connection to the sea, with a smattering of Irish and French ancestry, slaked with the mannerisms and dialect words of my Derbyshire maternal ancestors. I was born in Yorkshire, that is where 'we', my immediate family are from. We knew nothing of the south country.

In the war preparations for 'D-Day' my father was stationed for a few months on the south coast with the glider regiment, but for security purposes they were not told where they had been posted. He had always assumed it was on the south east coast. He did have this memory, and it was a memory that was very special to him; he said he had always dreamt of living in such countryside. He remembered small farms and many dairies, fields of cows and water meadows. Now he knew it was south west, not south east. Now his daughter was living here. He was very pleased for me. He said it felt right.

He died of a brain tumour. It coincided with the start of my ill health and I was struggling to pay the mortgage; he was concerned that he was leaving when I was not settled and secure. In his condition, all we could make him understand, and eventually accept and take comfort in, was that I was: "... living near the airfield, remember Dad ?" and he was at peace.

There are connections in this world, of people, places and things; mysterious connections. As Carl Gustav Jung explained; Synchronicity: an a-causal connecting principle. There is a connection, and no-one caused it. Of synchronicity, Jung says: take notice, then keep open and attentive, to know what meaning it has.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Stock taking

This morning, taking stock of my medicine cabinet (downstairs) and stash of prescribed pills (upstairs) and putting them all together on the table, to list what is left and what needs to be re-ordered today.

This is complex, because on the writing pad in front of me I am mixing words and numbers, and confusing totals of drugs left (in numbers) with number of doses left (in words) and how many week's worth of doses are left, in order to make diary notes of when they need to be re-ordered.
The ten different prescribed drugs are taken at different intervals; some hourly, some daily, or weekly, some every day of the week, some only on certain days of each week, some only once in a blue moon.

The surgery has a policy of not prescribing more than four week's worth of drugs at any one time. I loudly protested at this, as four week's MTX equals 16 tablets, but MTX should be prescribed in its original packing, of 28 tablets, with the patient information leaflet as there is DANGER OF DEATH if it is accidentally taken daily instead of once a week, and my Employer's Liability Insurance has fairly strong clauses about my responsibility to provide a safe working environment, which I say includes safely stored drugs. You never know, with some of the home helps I have had to look after over the years.

I am despondent because I am finding it difficult to stock take my drug stash, when it should be relatively easy, and I feel physically tired, when this is the first of three or four good days that I should be having this week. There are lumps of lead on the back of my neck and top of my head, which are dragging me down. The molten lead over-coat, which is not just heavy but hot, which is my description of my systemic inflammation, should not be draped over my shouders today, as the weekly low very low dose of chemotherapy MTX should have dealt with it, for now.

Then I find I have half a dose of MTX left, which should not be there in the packet.

I only took two pills on Saturday evening, instead of the dose of four. Why, because I was cogdysfunck'd probably.

Which is why I felt unusually bouyant on Sunday and Monday, with energy I don't usually have on those days because the MTX makes me feel brain tired, therefore a bit down emotionally, and physically drained, but this weekend it didn't. At the time I thought it was all the adrenalin from BADD. BADD was, is, brilliant.

Yesterday I felt emotionally and physically down, which I thought was because I had done more physically over the weekend when I should have been resting during the time I have the MTX in my system. For me, physical fatigue = brain fatigue and conscious effort is required to feel and be positive.

So relax Sally, give up, stay in bed blogging. You silly thing, you only took half a dose, so you will feel only half alive this week, and can only do half of what you were expecting to do, and will only be half as positive as you usually can manage.

Don't worry, this too will pass.

Give yourself permission to give up on a lot of what you should be doing this week.
Instead, spend time reading all the BADD blogs and feel BETTER.

Monday, 1 May 2006

Sally's Blog Against Disablism 1st May 2006

Disabled by my medical conditions,
Dis-Abled by society's attitudes and the built environment.

Hold those two opposites in mind while you consider the statements in this Blog.
Much of what follows is familiar territory for people with disabilities and this is my attempt to add to the awareness of those who are not.
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Disabled - OR - Dis-Abled
My Wheelchair gets in the way of other people at the
Concert Hall
Hospital waiting room
Doctors' Surgery
Do I apologise for my wheelchair
Or should the built environment provide ample space for
wheelchair access, manoeuvring, stopping and parking.
I need to use the toilet just the same as non-disabled people,
but using a wheelchair means I cannot go the village hall for
craft fairs, pantomimes, art exhibitions, theatre groups, parish meetings,
weddings, wakes and parties.
Should I give up on joining in village events
Or should the Village Hall committee provide a wheelchair
accessible toilet(and a wheelchair accessible fire escape, just in case)
In the summer I cannot go for 'Walks'
in the countryside, because of stiles rather than gates
at the beach, due to lack of boarded walk-ways
by the river in the village because it is a narrow overgrown rutted path
I can't do these things because I use a wheelchair
Funding should be made available for my right of access
under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 where the
designation 'on foot only' also applies to Class 1,2,3 wheelchairs.
I cannot make my garden colourful and productive
Because I use a wheelchair and the ground is too soft
the incline too steep
the grass is too high
and the soil is too low
Because there are no grants for wheelchair
access in my garden, for paths, ramps, raised beds,
and no -one has yet invented a grass mower to attach to my wheelchair
My neighbour told me my garden is wasted on me
Because she is ignorant
Because I am disabled
I am over-weight
Because the drugs that keep me alive
contribute to my weight gain
Because I am lazy and eat too much
I sometimes look a mess
Because on means tested and disability benefits
my clothing budget is severely restricted
Because I can't be bothered to take a pride in my appearance.
I have not had a holiday for 8 years
Because I cannot afford one
Why do I need a holiday, I don't have to go out to work.
My neighbour's husband threatened me with his fist
when I proved he had damaged my property
Because I am a disabled female who lives alone
Because I asked for it
I employ staff who do the ...
housework, laundry, ironing, cleaning, shopping
You work 9-5 then have to do it all.
My mortgage was paid off by my medical insurance 20 years early
You have to work another 20 years before you have paid yours.
and last but by no means least ...
My husband left at the first signs of my disabilities
saying: " I need a wife who can support me in my career"
That was a real bonus to becoming disabled, which I only
appreciated once the shock had worn off.
My Physical Disabilities have been a golden pathway
to meeting many lovely, intelligent, articulate, amusing
entertaining, beautiful, wise
people with disabilities - look around all the other Blogs.
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It Could Happen to You - Help Change Society Now

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