It's 5:30AM and I'm eating pizza and drinking G&T, which means my schedule is really shot again.
I'm heading up to Durham on Saturday for a fortnight, so expect postings to range from occasional to non-existent. I was out running a few pre-trip errands earlier and apparently a little bit of exercise, a little bit of sun and a beer with tea on the patio added up to fast asleep on the couch from 6PM til midnight.
I did get a smile from the GP's receptionist. "Hi, I'm here to pick up my repeat prescription -- aaaand I'll need photo-ID for that, which is in the car. Hang on, I'll be back in a minute." OTOH they're still trying to figure out their new process for controlled drugs, never mind me. I had to remind her I was supposed to sign for it.
The other reason for heading into town was to pick up a birthday card for my sister, which hopefully will get to her today as I really had left it until the last moment. I'll see her on Saturday if not. Unfortunately I also had to pick up a condolences card as I found out on Wednesday night that my close friend Angela's son has died. It wasn't unexpected, Chris was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer a bit under a year ago, and I've hardly see her since as she's been caring for him almost 24/7. This is someone I've watched grow up from age three or four and he really had turned into a decent adult who was starting to build a reputation as a stand-up musical comedian (which was a completely unexpected turnaround as at 8 his mum was lamenting to me "he's so serious, I have this nightmare where he grows up to be a Conservative MP") . I last saw him a couple of months ago when I gave him and his dad a lift home when I bumped into them in Rochester and stayed for a cup of tea. I'm glad my last memory of him will be him poking fun at the questions and answers on Pointless, but I can't imagine what this is like for Angela. Just thinking about how she must feel is making me feel sick, and givng me a new appreciation of that line that parents aren't meant to outlive their children.
Spring weather continues; there's even a tiny amount of cherry blossom on my cherry tree - it blossomed the year I planted it, but not for the last couple. Looks like it is finally getting established. Also snowdrops growing in the middle of my lawn thanks to the blasted squirrels transplanting them. I managed to eat out on the patio for the first time this year - after rescuing the patio table from over-wintering in the shed. It was just a tad too cold for what I was wearing (heavy shirt), so I had to come indoors when I started shivering, but I might have been okay in something heavier or doing something more active. Still, it's a sign winter's probably done with. OTOH I'm heading north next weekend and 3 or 4 years ago I did that at this time and went from breakfast on the patio here, to a blizzard there. I really wasn't dressed for that.
My next door neighbour was chatting over the fence and commented he's seen so little of me over winter he thought I'd emigrated. I reminded him winter isn't my favourite season for being out of doors. Neither of us has yet spoken with the neighbour on the other side of me, who moved in in October, but they're out of the house at 6AM and not back til 8PM, so when's that going to happen? Especially as they tend to spend most of the weekends out as well. Maybe we'll catch up with them sometime this month.
And of course it happened while I was at a till. So I'd no sooner moved new toolbox onto my lap and pulled on my wheelchair gloves to move off than I had to move it back onto the counter and pull the gloves off. I thought I was going to have to slip the jacket off to get to it, but it finally came free once I could get unpadded thumbs at it.
Apart from that the classic denim jacket turns out to be exactly the right length for wheelchair wear. (Today was the first time I'd had it on, it was my brother-in-law's, but I'm not sure he's ever worn it - having someone who's a bit of a clothes horse, and the same size as you, in the family can be advantageous) .
And finally, three full months into the year, I've managed to make my regular Saturday lunch date for the first time. It's actually just me at the moment as the friend I normally would do it with is caring for a family member pretty much full time, but I was a little concerned at how difficult I was finding it to get out of the house. (Admittedly I have caught every bug going since Christmas, if not September).
I was slightly disappointed with my lunch, it was a very nice tuna nicoise salad, but when the waitress warns you the tuna will be pink, which usually means rarer than most Brits would prefer, and it turns up solidly pink, not the gorgeous semi-translucent pinky-purple I was expecting (having had it there before), then it's a bit of a let down.- 8/10 not 10/10.
I picked up the tickets for my trip up to Durham next weekend from the station, then spent an hour pootling around Homebase (big DIY/gardening store), which is where the jacket-pushrim mishap happened. I got the toolbox and roofing nails I was looking for, but I'm not paying £20 for a hammer! I'll have another look and see if I can find where mine has gotten to, it might possibly be in the shed. Nor could I find a bath plug in the appropriate size. There's a little old traditional ironmonger's in Rochester, so I'll probably be able to find what I'm looking for there.
And as if to prove it's April, I got showered on twice, though just enough to be refreshing rather than miserable.
So I suggested an airbag for wheelchairs.
(Or I could just remember to put the anti-tips out)
aka I just flipped myself out of the chair backwards.
I think I was a bit energetic in decoupling from Asda's wheelchair trolley when I took it back after putting my shopping in the car, and when I stopped my wheels the chair pivoted on them. I flung myself forward, but couldn't quite get the momentum to stop it, but it did make it a fairly slow motion flip. And curling forward also meant my head missed slamming backwards into Asda's plate glass windows by about an inch.
Of course people came running, and I had to stop them from trying to pick me up, which wasn't helped by the fact they were a bunch of foreign schoolkids and didn't understand what I was saying!
Amazingly the two bottles of spirits in my back-bag also survived, though the two loaves and sadly the box of Magnum icecreams may never be the same again. (Doubly amazing for the spirits as there is a very prominent projecting bar across the back of the chair)
I'm okay, just literally a bit rattled. My neck hurts a bit, but it wasn't exactly happy before I left the house.
The other day I received a letter letting me know that Kent and Medway Wheelchair Services is being privatised (they were worried about this happening when I went through the system last summer). Now in theory it shouldn't make any difference to the service I receive, but, as I noted on Twitter, it does mean someone now expects to make a profit out of my needs/my wheels.
Today the new franchise holder followed my twitter account. Now admittedly it's a new account, but they're following a grand total of 7 accounts, only two of which are individuals, and the other one is Tanni, aka Baroness Tanni Grey-Thomson, parliamentarian, multiple paralympian and the most famous wheelie in the country.
The scary thing is I didn't mention where I lived. They must have pulled it out of the #wheelchair stream from a week ago, figured out I was talking about them and made a note to follow me once their account was up.
Of course that's not remotely likely to intimidate someone from freely discussing the service they depend on.
Nope, not one bit.
(Well, not if you know me, but other people...)
If you're going to post something marked 'Urgent, please do not ignore' through a letterbox, maybe spend 5 seconds to make sure you have the right house?
And they weren't even close, I live at 41, the letter was addressed to number 49, which is literally the first house in the street...
I just tottered down the road in the freezing rain to put it in the right letterbox. (So of course the rain has now stopped).
*I know it was hand delivered, because a) no stamp and b) I heard them knock and them put it in the letterbox about 6PM last night, but given at that point I'd already gone to bed because of the whole sinus bug thing and was asleep not long after I wasn't about to get up to answer the door and didn't actually see it until this morning.
Yep, that's the Minister of State for Disabled People celebrating World Downs Syndrome Day by saying how 'inspiring' it is that a young woman with Downs Syndrome actually has a job. Disabilityconfident she isn't.
I may have been inspired to a rant about the objectification of disabled people as 'inspiring'.
AKA I came down with another inner ear bug over the weekend. Fairly mild, I'm just very slightly dizzy when I move around, but annoying as I've a few errands I want to run now there's hints of spring in the weather and there's no way I could safely drive. I think I've had one bug or another more than I've been bug free this year, and that may well be true as far back as last September, which is getting boring.
So I mostly spent Monday dozing in bed, which seems to have helped, and there was an interesting sequential dream to keep me amused. 'Sequential' as I woke up several times during it, but the dream picked up once I'd dozed off again.
Slightly futuristic setting, the characters were the high command of Singapore's space navy (?!) until an attack with a WMD took out the top man, at which point his deputy has to take over, said deputy being something of a joke and alleged former crook. Unfortunately for the bad guys he's also Bruce Willis. So cue thorough reprisals, both individually against those who plotted the attack and collectively against them as a nation - I never did work out who the bad guys were, but my subconscious is saying South American. Some of the reprisals were slightly Cthulhu-esque, probably a result of the Laundry Files re-read I've been doing. It's interesting the places my dream-director chooses to go.
Hopefully I'll be over this buf soon, but if not I'll settle for a few good dreams.
AKA Life with Dyspraxia.
Stumbling half awake across the living room and kick over a glass left from last night (it was at least on a tray, though if I'd been too lazy to put it on the tray it would likely have been somewhere I wouldn't kick it over - no deed of voluntary housework goes unpunished).
Glass lands roughly where my foot was meant to be coming down, I'm left standing on one leg, the dodgier, wobblier left one, with my foot dangling in mid air while trying to work out where the hell do I put my foot that isn't 1) on top of the glass (pint pot, not likely to end well) or 2) the tray (also not likely to end well).
In trying not to lose my balance, I end up throwing myself headlong across the arm of the sofa and onto the floor beyond, fortunately avoiding the wall beyond that (which I'm still not sure how I achieved, it took a 45 degree change of direction in mid-air).I escaped with a sore knee, but let's hope that's not an indication of how the rest of the day is going to go.
The title is what I was called on Twitter yesterday by Times columnist Libby Purves for challenging her article supporting the one by Rosa Monckton in The Spectator advocating that disabled people be paid less than the minimum wage (she's specifically talking about people with severe Learning Disabilities but seeing as a) LDs are a spectrum and b) you're setting a legal precedent the issue is much wider). Purves' article was shocking in its savagery, lashing out at anyone who refused to support Monckton and who argued disabled people are worth an equal wage. She's the only person I've ever seen defend that Tory social neanderthal Philip Davies MP, who even other Tories think is beyond the pale. The one thing missing from Purves' article, any opinion from a disabled person...
As for Rosa Monckton, the fawning over 'friend of Princess Diana' by the BBC was stomach-churning. Perhaps more relevantly, she's the Honorable Rosa, daughter of a Viscount* and married to Dominic Lawson, who is the son of Thatcher's Chancellor, Dominic Lawson, and former editor of both The Spectator and the Sunday Torygraph. She does have a reason to be talking about this, a daughter with Downs Syndrome, so that's her own daughter she's arguing is worth less. But someone whose Twitter profile claims "Champagne is the answer" and is the former chief exec of Tiffanys, never mind the family connections, is arguing from a position of significant privilege**
The argument has been very heavy on the 'we're parents, we have to advocate for our children, we know what's best', which they might have a better chance of carrying off if they weren't trying to shut down disabled people attempting to comment, and apparently completely ignorant that there are a lot of very eloquent LD self-advocates, never mind the whole history of parents campaigning for what they want and not what we want that's wrapped up in the Autism Speaks/Actually Autistic campaigns.
So I've been thinking about this view that we should be paid less than the minimum wage, and I think it comes down to a conflation of two separate problems:
First the idea that disabled people aren't as able, which is an aspect of workplace disability discrimination (and wider social discrimination). This is grows out of the (illegal) demand we all be identical cogs in the production machine. It's based on a presumption of incompetence and defending the right of employers to that view.
The second is a presumption that worth and dignity can only proceed from having a job - that's clearly visible in Monckton's piece. It's probably not entirely coincidental that this has come out in the wake of the Green Paper on Work and Health which preaches a similar view. The reality of disability is many disabled people can't hold down a job. Whether you're averbal, or can argue eloquently is irrelevant. Our worth isn't defined by holding down a job, our worth is equal whether we do or we don't, whether we can or we can't. Society fails disabled ppl when it devalues us over our employment status. And that's what the pay less than minimum wage argument does.
We've misread the whole discussion.These aren't the views of concerned parents. they're the views of hardline Tories.*A friend just pointed out her brother, the current Viscount Monckton, was sacked as vice president of UKIP and has views on gay rights so extreme even UKIP would be embarrassed.
** I wouldn't normally make a point based on class privilege, but in this case I think it's central to the discussion - Monckton can afford for her daughter to be paid less, that's not necessarily true of families or individual disabled people in more straitened circumstances.
I've really not been out of the house much this year, one bug after another and winter weather, etc, so yesterday afternoon I decided I really needed to pop out, at least to the supermarket. So I got myself ready, got the chair into the car, buckled up, turned the ignition, and the car went "wwwrrrrr".
Flat battery, enough power to work the dashboard, not enough to work the starter. I guess I really haven't been using it. It was getting dark at that point, so I left it for today.
Just to add to the fun, I woke up this morning with neckache. My neck is a lot better than it used to be*, but I'm having a day where I can't decide whether I'm happier with a collar on, or off, which is a real pain in the neck. The pain levels aren't actually that high, but come with associated nausea and a slight light-headed feeling, which isn't my favourite thing.
I missed my chance to snag my neighbour and ask for a jump start, so I had to go for my battery charger, which has a solid record of charging my battery - it's never worked yet. I don't think it has the oomph to charge an actually discharged battery. So picture me fiddling about under the bonnet, while wearing a collar and unable to look down properly. Also picture me confirming 4 hours later the battery charger has kept up its record. I'll see if I can catch my neighbor tomorrow, if not I'll have to dig around and find the contact details for whoever my homestart is with this year.
And to add to the fun I remembered to go out and check whether there was any damage from this week's storms - something was making a disturbingly metallic screeching noise while the wind was blowing. So picture me trying to look at the roof of the house while wearing a hard collar - just as well I have a long garden. The roof of the house is, thankfully, fine. Then I looked down.
The roof of the shed, not so much. Fortunately it's just the tarpaper that's ripped and flapping loose, the wooden roof is intact, but it will still need replacing properly at some point. For now, picture me wearing a hard collar, tacking down a rip that's a foot above my head and as far away as I can reach.
I have a bottle of wine, and I think I'm fully entitled to use it.* I wore a hard collar 23/7 for pretty much a decade. The root problem was probably a C5/6 disc prolapse, but it just wouldnt get better, As far as I can tell the problem was the way I limped putting lateral stresses on my neck, it finally went away spontaneously when I started using crutches and my limp smoothed out.
PaxSims is run by Rex Brynen, professor of political science at McGill University. His focus is "the development and effective use of games and simulation-based learning concerning issues of conflict, peacebuilding, and development in fragile and conflict-affected states" So you get lots of stuff trying to simulate the intersection of politics, military affairs and humanitarian crises. There's at least one complete game available under the Aftershock link, but it's the reviews I've been finding fascinating, as there are more games in the sector than I'd imagined, ranging from the serious military simulations with added politics (Persian Incursion - Israel tries to take out the Iranian nuclear programme, incidentally the link that brought me here), to slightly more balanced mixes with BCT Command Kandahar, to much more political/resource management focussed with Afghan Provincial Reconstruction. Even better, the reviews are mostly based on having played them, in some cases with his students, and analysing what worked and what didn't, rather than simply having skimmed through the rules.
There's also reviews of books on wargame and game design, which I'm pretty certain yhlee will find interesting, and a ton of links to related sites
Beyond my part in the Spartacus Network response to the Work and Health Green Paper, I wanted to do a personal response as I take a slightly different view of the Disability Employment Gap that Work and Health is supposed to challenge and think it's much more to do with employer/recruiter disability discrimination and tacit government acceptance of the same/reluctance to display employers in a bad light.
I'd set today aside to do that, as submissions have to be in before 11:45PM (and dyspraxic, so bad with deadlines and planning), so of course today was the day I crashed and burned and slept all day because of cumulative fatigue.
The consultation had 46 questions, I managed to answer about 30 of them between waking up and remembering and 11:30PM rolling around which was when I pressed submit (just in time, it wasn't exactly quick to respond).
Which means I couldn't thoroughly respond to Work and Health because it was too much work for my health....
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
I may have been slighty more wound up about it than I realised as I'd no sooner glanced through the contents and confirmed everything was there* than my body decided I was going to sleep. Now. By my reckoning I'd already had 6 to 7 hours, and my body decided to double that.**
So it's 8PM and I just had breakfast....
I haven't been sleeping particularly well since early January when I came down with that blasted cold, I seem to have been on more of a 30 hour, or 36 hour, cycle than a 24, which keeps you functional, but in a state of permanently too knackered to do anything constructive, not to mention awake at awkward times of the day and it looks like it may finally have caught up with me. Hopefully I can get back to something resembling normalcy now.
* Except for the stuff that went permanently out of stock in the near year it took the main item to finally be published,
** Complete with two*** dreams about starting a PhD back at Lancaster and having a pleasant conversation with the fiercest of my old lecturers. There are also vague memories of being signed up as an officer for World War Three (and Case Nightmare Green from the Laundry Files), but that's down to the reading I've been doing. All of them surprisingly domestic, rather than kinetic.
*** Or one dream, interrupted, as I woke up in the middle of it, checked the time and picked up the narrative again when I fell back to sleep.
The new Spartacus report, Smokescreen, into the government's Green Paper on Work and Health, is out. I'm listed as a co-author as it incorporates my 'Ticked Off' dissection of Disability Confident, but didn't actually do any work on the main report - which is a monumental, spectacular effort by Caroline Richardson and Stef Benstead.
TLDR: The government want us to see disabled people as the problem in disabled people being unable to work, rather than challenge employers as the actual cause of the Disability Employment Gap.
Just checked the status again. Since our last episode:
Status of Item
February 10, 2017 , 10:52 am
February 9, 2017 , 7:14 pm
Processed Through Facility
February 9, 2017 , 12:52 pm
Processed Through Facility
February 7, 2017 , 6:24 am
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
I was in the house all day yesterday. I actually took delivery of a parcel for a neighbour just after 11AM. But I certainly didn't take delivery of a parcel just before 11AM, or at any other time.
Seriously unimpressed and will be letting USPS know that.