Saturday, 8 November 2014

To Keep Or Not To Keep…

Yesterday, JuliJuxtaposed published the following blog-post here. She quite succinctly sums up what many disabled folk have been and are thinking about Ed Miliband and the Labour party. Please read it and share widely, as we need our disablie voices heard loud and clear.

After the blog, appear my comments.

[Image description: Ed Miliband addressing Mancunians in 2012]


Not just Ed. Maybe not Ed, at all.

To Labour,
Taking into account the Media’s efforts to paint Ed as a disaster and halving it – and halving it again – the fallout around poor old Miliband is still not fuelling confidence in me that he can hold it together, even if he wins the next General Election. What kind of Cabinet will his ‘team’ make? Who will be served by it? And how much is Ed Miliband the real problem? Is his perceived weakness due more to his ‘awkwardness’ – by now a self-perpetuating force – or to his inability to discern and avail himself of useful, appropriate advice? Most of his team, whether front or back benchers or hired consultants are hardly helpful or even inspiring. He surrounds himself with the dismal advice and strategies of banality, nostalgic muddle-heads and should-be Conservatives. Did he actually choose this team? How much of it is chosen for him? Is the weakness not in his judgement, then?
The party bigwigs should make their minds up about how their individual, personal philosophies fit to the mission statement. The ‘crisis’ in the party is that, like the Conservatives, Labour doesn’t know itself anymore; like the Conservatives, Labour has become two parties in denial. Like the Conservatives, Labour doesn’t identify sufficiently with the real worlds of its electorate. So, by all means, get rid of Ed, if you think it’ll help but, for goodness’ sake: don’t stop there! Wake up and lose the stale and mouldy obstacles. Not just Ed. Maybe not Ed, at all. Are you sure you’re not worrying a little too much about the wrong Ed? Get rid of the Blair acolytes and apologists; get rid of the Brownonian bulldozers. Shift them all to the back benches or suggest they join another party if they’re so keen on being a politician but tell them that their ideas of what Labour means have turned out to be an historically nasty, neoliberal blip and that they are not at all the desired trajectory.
The social, political, economic circumstances in which this country (and indeed, the world) finds herself are too grave to waste time on loyalty for loyalty’s sake. Be loyal out of respect and faith or walk away. Keep Ed, or don’t. Put up or shut up. Shit, or get off the pot. Just make your minds up and sort it out already! Change your rules or overrule him if that’s what you want and that’s what it takes. But is it entirely Ed Miliband or is it mostly the scaffolding?
The Conservatives will kill us if they win in 2015. You know it. And you know why. Stop imitating them. Stop pandering to the right-wing press. Stop pretending you know what we want just because you wandered around in public the other day, surrounded by cameras, looking for a photo-op and a soundbite. Stop seeing us through your own projections and try actually listening beyond received clichés. Try speaking to us in more than soundbites and clichés. Be brave, get a grip and give this country or however many countries we are, these days, a credible box on the ballot. One that will be my pleasure to mark my cross in.
Whatever you do, it’s going to be a risk. Lose because of him. Win in spite of him. Win because you dared to change the guards and the message. Lose because you replaced him too late with the effect of greater farce. You have to choose which one you can live with so that I can choose.
Please… Choose integrity. Choose authenticity. Choose to have courage in your convictions. Choose. Hurry up and choose.

© JuliJuxtaposed

I have met Miliband: I find him to be a very thoughtful, intelligent and caring person; I also believe he does listen to those to whom he actually speaks. Alas, as you have so well encapsulated, Labour is not their leader.

Nonetheless, whilst I respect Ed, a good leader would have gone out of his way to castigate the bigwigs who shifted the disabled folk at the last party conference and would have personally apologised to the individuals concerned.

A few months back, I was invited to his key-note NHS speech in Manchester (blog-post). Those of us in wheelchairs were in a no-man's land at the back where he could not possibly see us, let alone interact with us. Again, not his fault, but that of Labour organisers & bigwigs. We disablies are an after-thought if we are even considered at all (we were not at a previous event of his & MEN in 2012 - blog-post).

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Toxic Individuals; Toxic Affinities

[Image description: a photo of sky above mountain peaks,
upon which the following text is overwritten -

You don't ever have to feel guilty about
It doesn't matter whether someone is a relative,
romantic interest, employer, childhood friend,
or a new acquaintance - you don't have to make
room for people who cause you pain or make
you feel small. It's one thing if a person owns up
to their behaviour and makes an effort to change.
But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores
your boundaries, and "continues" to treat you
in a harmful way, they need to go.


© Simple Reminders


I have separated myself from very toxic parents. This was done on the advice of my G.P. (family doctor), psychologist and psychiatrist more than a decade ago. My mental health has never been better and I can genuinely say I am now a content and happy person. My previous (the afore referenced) G.P. noted within a matter of months the amelioration in my confidence levels, previously never experienced by myself. I can never wholly clear out their toxic legacy; but I have done my level best.

A couple of years back, a friendship that was adversely affecting my amour-propre was brought to an end by myself after discussing with the chap and finding no way to improve matters.

One of my cousins, whom I love dearly, is extremely negative, so I try to avoid as much as possible, especially when feeling low myself. But I should never wish to cut the person off completely, as there is much good in them.

Knowing that specific folk are toxic to one's health, is the first step in preventing them from causing one harm. It is never an easy step and one ought to fully consider all the ramifications before ending any relationship. However, I personally can vouch for the benefits of ending toxic affinities.


Wednesday, 29 October 2014

The Rooms B&B, Lytham St Annes: Review

A traditional English country garden with a splash of contemporary modernism is what one first espies when approaching The Rooms: well, gardeners will. Architecture fans will probably note the late nineteenth century suburban Gothic façade. One enters an über-chic palace of modernity with carefully preserved original features enhanced by cooling Nordic hues. Our habitation for the night was room 3, which can be either a double or, for my companion and myself, converted into a twin.

A 32-inch wall-mounted television set with integral DVD-player faces the beds. What is rare, is that it is actually set at a comfortable height and angled perfectly for both beds - no-one needs to lean at an odd angle! Hanging space, storage, drawers and the drinks-making facilities are all hidden behind a floor-to-ceiling, well-padded headboard. There is a console-table serving as a desk cum dressing-table next to the window, above which hangs a large mirror. A DAB radio, tissues, water and glassware stand ready for use.

The beds have extremely comfortable mattresses, firm and supportive and comfy. Bedding linens are of a high quality and are soft on the skin. A choice of soft and firmer pillows or both are available on each divan.

Unfortunately, next to one of the main roads into the town-centre with double-glazing that failed to insulate from external noise, I hardly slept at all. When it was time to rise, I was totally shattered.

The completely tiled bathroom is a wet-room set-up with Grohe taps and Roca santitaryware. Plenty of thick non-scratchy towels were stacked available for use. Two towelling robes were also at our disposal.

Draw-backs and criticisms to the room:

* not sufficiently sound-insulated
* main light-switch only partially worked
* my bedside light-switch did not function at all
* no functioning light in hanging space
* two light-bulbs in the sleeping area were non-functioning
* thick cobwebs above the curtain-pole
* large cracks between tiles in en suite
* NO WIFI !!!

[Image description:
the breakfast room;

The breakfast menu is quite extensive. One helps oneself to juice and cereal. Tea-/coffee-pots are brought to table. My companion sampled the fishcake and ordered some toast; I the home-cooked ham & poached eggs. We were not asked if we wanted anything else. However, we were offered Bucks Fizz’, but we declined. The cuisine justly deserves its various plaudits.

On checking out we were not asked, “How was everything?” or anything similar. This makes me suspect that the proprietor is aware there are issues, as we were not asked for any feed-back or for reports of any issues.

We paid £125 for bed & breakfast, but most rooms are more expensive. Whilst The Rooms is quite lovely, it is certainly not value for money; we could have stayed in an hotel for a similar price.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Yishaq's Bequest

No poetry for months and then two poems in a row. My ditties tend to be my less than most popular jottings from a statistical perspective. Nonetheless, they are a part of me: of who I was and, thus, who I am.

This one was written about a decade ago about the person I have most loved thus far in my life-span. Today I publish it to mark the young man's birthday.


Yishaq’s Bequest

The mansion rose from the waters,
towering above the settlement;
the river, its moat;
on closer look
its wooden façade appeared
charred, ebonised
or covered in a layer of soot.
Even as he approached
the journalist was startled
for laughter was heard
tinkling, coruscating
cutting the pendulous air;
his jaded heart
let down the barriers,
shed its studied cynicism
a gleeful chortle
slipped out

Inside: blinds wouldn’t go up;
windows’ shutters remained stuck shut;
plaster flaked in discomfiting chunks;
soft furnishings grew mouldy;
woodwormed furniture lay collapsed
where once it had proudly stood;
no pictures hung on the walls;
gilded treasures and objets d’art abandoned,
all hideous grotesquerie;
chrome and acrylic minimalist items,
installed here and there,
festered unused, unpolished
and coated in dust.
The servants tottered, torpid:
marionettes with strings half cut.
Her ladyship and the paterfamilias,
in Edwardian morning dress,
greeted the reporter:
the lugubrious formalities
and so-called pleasantries
cut short by laughter -
the joyous sound of a child.

Behind the ark spread the mooring,
a flowerless alpine garden.
Freikörperkultur was the fad:
the writer shed his inhibitions
and all in which he had been clad;
he reposed on his front,
bathed under the bright clouds
in the unfiltered UV-rich light,
his milky skin warmed;
laughter suffused his being;
his tightly controlled humour relaxed.
And finally the child emerged:
laughing merrily;
yawned once,
and shivered.
The man jumped up;
grabbed a rug;
swathed the boy.
The blanket, holey,
let in the cold.
Laughter died.

A steam-train rumbled in;
quaking shook the land,
the station’s promontory;
root vegetables spilled from a barrow
to the shaking ground.
Almost silently,
almost with dignity,
the mansion fell in on itself,
a house of playing cards,
and sank.
The dreamer, somnambulantly
made his way to his carriage,
clinging on to a solitary root;
a memento of love’s demise;
a promise of love’s future fruit -
an unconventional marriage.
But no more laughter.


with my love…


Friday, 24 October 2014

postcards (from Málaga)

[Image description: the Mediterranean from Málaga]


postcards (from Málaga)

wish you were here:
          on the Paseo del Parque
          sitting on this bench
          colour bleached
          olive, satin green, bare wood
          watching the red and black ladybird
          crawl up the leg of my jeans;
          pigeons herding by
          on the white marble plain
          dappled with guano
          stained by age
          and accidents' cracks;
your hand on my thigh.

wish you were here:
          an unblemished azure sky;
          the salt-air of a calm sea
          cerulean and aquamarine
          bejewelled with gems
          of coruscating sun
          the chanting wavelets
          lap the honeyed sand gently;
          mid-distance fishermen
          trawl for their morning catch;
          while hirsute joggers limp past -
          here, they do not run -
          ectomorphic flesh
          posturing machismo
          mesomorphs are prized so dear;
          palm trees rasp against the breeze
          shivering in the unwelcome chill;
you come to mind, and
I horripilate to the thrill.

wish you were here:
          in the Alcazabar ruins
          fragments of Roman lore
          Moorish exotica restored;
          setting for nuptial reminiscences;
          literally breath-taking panoramas
          of this Legoland city
          from towers and look-out points,
          and timeless vistas
          quite unexpectedly
          tell of half-remembered historias;
          lunching on a marble tombstone
          unpeeling my oranges
          as those spectres once did
          savouring the thirst-quenching liquid
          trickling down my throat
          my fingers all sticky
          from this self-indulgent fest;
          in the future I believe Hope, lest…
but you are there, my very own.

wish you were here:
          on the mountainside
          in the fir and rowan woodland;
          the fresh scent of pine
          absorbing my nostrils
          in olfactory delight;
          the harsh glare of the sun
          defused and blurred and softened;
          calming tones
          of clover, sage and unripe lemons
          an intoxicating verdure;
          marred by the detritus
          of trysts and assignations
          of the echo of al fresco coitus
          and juvenile masturbations;
and I want you, need you now
of that I am so sure.

wish you were here:
          at the El Telón bar;
          the wondrous aroma of coffee
          its unique woodiness
          its heady spiciness;
          perhaps the only
          proof of God's existence;
          every time I pass a café
          experiencing a spiritual epiphany;
          and my prayers
          turn to
          are for