Friday, 26 May 2017

Michæl


[Image description: "Michael" a portrait of a hirsute, muscled, bespectacled man,
naked but for a skimpy pair of white briefs; courtesy & © Mr. Jo Ji]


*

Michæl

"he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgement upon him"
(Jude nine)

*

thud, thud, thud
dance music pounds out
trendy café-bar
youth's cultists
surround
momentarily alone
in the crowded space
a table is vacated
straddling a seat
taking a place
looking out
away from the animated
laughs
frowns
the vociferous longings of desire
staring through the sheet-glass
over the car-park
where myriad lights shimmer or twinkle
calm
inner silence
an eternity
an instant
and it is broken
two male lovers
take the chair beside me
one spoons into the other's lap
distracted by presence
uncomfortable proximity
I turn around
sipping at my Seltzer
punctiliously
glancing at the next two
approaching new arrivals
surreptitiously
half-recognising
yet unsure
the mien opposite mine
strikes a chord
half-remembered
almost recalled
but from where
not from…
nor from…
from…
maybe?
enlightenment
creeps stealthily
and jumps out
of course!
a party long before
six months ago
or thereabouts
it must be
attempting to catch his eye
noticing his orbs remain
unblinkingly
downcast
and cast down
toying with his Bier
cheeks
erubescent
blushing cognisance
or the flush of alcohol
deliberate avoidance
or does he just not know?
his charming, attractive partner
crosses his legs protectively
so no inadvertent touching
uses his expression
the sour scowl of one confident of possession
to parry
advances on his spouse
my pal returns
settles down
in a chair
drawn up to table
the two who are one
and the two who are two
the four
and we two
six in silence
thud, thud, thud
moments race
then dawdle maddeningly
rising from my chair
walking around to him
two eyes remain cast down
staring at the now tepid liquid
eight eyes follow
a look of mistrust from the lover
a look of misapprehension from the paired lovers
a look of curiosity from the friend
oblivious he
down
towards his unproffered ear
I bend
are you…
something of a god
jet hair
bronze skin
piercing sapphire
enchanting emerald
or flashing ruby
opals
perhaps an angel
come to wage war
on the dragon
or what menace
what powers of evil
a holy warrior
Israel's sar
a guardian of the innocent
a defender of justice
whose scales you hold in your hands
eliciting
repentance
righteousness
mercy
sanctification
in their secular guise
confession
Sabbathiel
Beshter
Mik'al
now commonly Michæl
so many names
for such an ancient presence
irony or predestiny
your namesake
the patron of your chosen profession
excuse me
are you…
a policeman
he recalls our meeting
in detail
not as drunk as I thought
now
then
thud, thud, thud
my sex-life as empty as ever
standing in an alien kitchen
a friend of a friend
who was invited
too abashed
to approach any of these strangers
the would-be movers and shakers
of Granada television production
smiling from embarrassment
at all and sundry
a lipstick lesbian duo
take me under their wing
chatting away
insignificant minutiæ
banality repels isolation
I didn't see him
enter
a rather tall
dark
handsome chappy
it transpired
a policeman
novel chat-up line
"puffa-jackets are passé now,
aren't they?"
cringing as
speaking
if only
but somehow
despite ineptitude
we
connect
he gave me his number
…then blurted
he has a partner
with whom he is in love
drop by drop
with the effects of alcohol
he became a little irritable
by degrees
he began to display
a sadistic streak to his nature
decision-time
continue to pursue
on the off-chance of
a fella to fellate
or to discreetly back off
cowardice or valour
my best interests
leave him be
later that night
after having bopped away
I sat down for a rest
on one of a pair
of unoccupied chairs
shutting my eyelids
- suddenly
a hand gripped my thigh
firmly
tenderly
opening my eyes
to see him
kneeling
on the floor
beside me
in a maudlin state
I pressed him
I did implore
sit in the empty chair
next to me
the other party-goers
were in the main
hetero
such extravagant behaviour
attracting
unsolicited attentions
once
a decorous amount of time
had elapsed
I got up
went into
another room
just before
we were about to depart the party
suddenly re-appearing
he hugged me
tightly 
tenderly
 then dashed
through the front-door
of the apartment
knocked two blokes
at the top of the stairwell
stumbled down the stairs
staggered at the bottom
and then
ran off down the street
needless to say
though I very much wanted to
and even worked out scripts for
his answering
his partner answering
an answer-machine
answering
I did not telephone him
thud, thud, thud
in Paradise
primal rhythms
extricate
dance
worship to hedonism's
natural endorphin fate
glimpsed again
he regarding me
and the partner looking on
rather irate
and then gone
as the image of the archangel
in the burning bush
but you remain
a prince of light
in my dreary
mundane life
you remembered me
so
I must have made
an impression
your smile
your glances
tell me
remembrance
tantamount to love
but isn't that
a necessary part
of training
a police-officer
to recollect
remember
me
I turn to dance again
listen to the music
thud, thud, thud

*


Today is my blog's fifth birthday. I am not up to writing my usual analysis of the blog's stats, etc. Hopefully, readers will be content with an old poem I wrote in the 90s prior to my disablement. I do not take readers for granted; so thank you all for visiting and reading. %)

Monday, 22 May 2017

Maracas 2017: a Review


Back in my second home of Benalmádena, I naturally gravitated to my favourite café-bar, Maracas, on Playa Bil-Bil. The popular venue celebrates fifteen years of business and international friendship this year. This is my fourteenth year of frequenting. Dani the waiter raised his eyebrows in greeting whilst serving elsewhere, but once free came over for our order. Sunday is always the busiest day of the week for the staff as the tourists are augmented by the locals on their day off who also want to enjoy the benefits of their blessèd municipality, now grown to seventy thousand registered residents. Maracas is not the cheapest place to eat and drink, but obviously one must expect to pay a small premium for being able to enjoy a cocktail or paella right on the beach and within a couple of metres of the gently lapping sea.

It was a warm Sunday, so we commenced with a caña apiece @ €2, that’s a small draught beer. In Spain, one will observe even respectable-looking women as well as the menfolk taking a small beer first thing of the morning. This does not signify a nation of drunkards or alcoholics: recent research has proven the benefits of this small pick-me-up.

As the afternoon progressed we moved on to tinto de verano @ €2.50, a cocktail of chilled red wine with a sparkling lemon drink, often Sprite or lemonade. It is surprisingly refreshing and not as sweet as perhaps one might anticipate. We chatted with: a group of four German, late middle-aged chaps on a friends’ break; an extended queer family and their beautiful bairn; a very middle-class family from Holland; and, a Spanish mother with her brood of peckish children. One has probably gathered that Maracas is a friendly place for all: child-friendly; gay-friendly; alien-friendly…

[Image description: read following paragraph]

The time to eat arrived. My chum ordered a hamburguesa de ternera - this strictly-speaking ought to be a veal hamburger, but is often made from beef cuts. My companion loved the burger: tasty, juicy and not over salted. He was also content with the filling. The bread roll was not the best and crumbled. Over all, at €4.50, he was very content.

[Image description: read following paragraph]

I opted for a dish Maracas introduced about three or so years ago, ensalada pasta tricolor. In a large bowl were three colours of perfectly cooked pasta twists, with sweetcorn, chicken, walnut halves, diced cheese, and hard-boiled egg slices. One has the choice of several speciality dressings or one can use the balsamic vinegar &/or olive oil brought to table whenever one places an order for food. At €8 this represents great value for such a substantial meal.

[Image description: read following paragraph]

We shared a large bowl of perfectly cooked French fries, patatas fritas (in Spanish this can mean chips [US fries] or crisps [US chips]). Accompanying our luncheon we enjoyed a medium, chilled rosé, vino rosado, @ €2.

After three hours of chilling on the beach in the sun, we were were ready to head back to our hotel for a siesta (nap). Of course, we shall return to Maracas.

Highly recommended. %D

Sunday, 21 May 2017

ATOS & DWP question whether disabled can go abroad


[Image description: writer in his NHS adapted wheelchair, covered
in a blanket & large cabin-bag for meds, at Manchester Airport]


As my conditions pejorate and my state of general health deteriorates, I am only ever going to get worse. At the current time there is no chance of amelioration let alone cure.

Over the last few assessments for ESA (Employment & Support Allowance) & DLA (Disability Living Allowance - now being replaced with PIP [Personal Independence Payment]), I have either had a decision made on the paperwork or ATOS have sent round a doctor to carry out the medical assessment at home.

For some odd reason, this time ATOS do not wish to send round a medic. Nor, for that matter, are they willing to contact my G.P. - details of which were on the claim-form - to determine whether what I say is true.

I suspect the absurd in/actions of #ATOS belie the reason for behaving so obtusely: if they send the paperwork back to DWP and then it is referred back to ATOS, the latter private company gets a second fee.

The email I received a day or so ago from Charlotte (a bot I believe as she is always sorry for the delay!) at ATOS:


Good Morning Mr Hunter,

Thank you for your email and I apologise for the delay in my response.


Unfortunately a Home Consultation has been declined as the information on your PIP Questionnaire which you filled out advises that you were going abroad in March and also in June and as you are able to travel you would be expected to attend an assessment centre.

If you are not able to attend an assessment centre this may result in the claim being sent back to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) if you wish to take it up with them directly you would need to contact them I am not able to provide an email address for the DWP.

I am sorry I cannot help you further at this stage.


With Kind Regards

Charlotte

PIP Customer Service Support
Atos Healthcare
P.O.Box 1006
Stockton - on - Tees
TS19 1UL
Well, having had a rather bad few days, in which I have been in excruciating pain and dosed liberally with pain-killers that never quite seem to hit the mark, I finally had some nous this evening. I caught up on my emails and responded as follows:
Of course I can go abroad. But it takes careful planning.

You have not taken account of the need for recuperation, typically a couple of days. Whilst I could attend a medical examination, as soon as I arrived I would need to rest for typically 2 to 6 hours; but depending on the level of exhaustion could be up to 22 hours. You would therefore need to make available a darkened, very quiet room where I could sleep until recovered. Of course, if a relapse is set off due to excessive stress I could end up being there for several days or even weeks.
You have not taken account of the need to rest up and store up energy prior to my making any undertaking. Again this takes several days, depending on my state of health at the time.
You have not taken account of the need to take pain-killers prior to taking any physical activity, nor the increased number that have to be taken post activity. These drugs, whilst they mean I can travel, also have the effect of putting me into drowsiness or a sleep state, depending on the number taken and the state of my health at the time.

You have not taken account of the need for a carer. When travelling I take at least one with me and if needed arrange for a second as well. The trip I shall be taking in June is because my housemate is at a conference and there is no-one else to care for me at home. I therefore have to travel with him, where I shall be holed up in a hotel-room until (assuming I do) recover. I have no carer who can accompany me to a medical examination and as such will be at risk, unless you are wiling to pay my housemate £400 to cover a lost day's pay. Hence the need for an ambulance to collect me.
You have not taken account of the fact that both by NHS consultant and my GP advise me to go abroad for my health, otherwise I should be even iller at home and thus require more care & health support.
Given your on-going failures to act reasonably, I am copying in my GP and my MP.
Sort this mess out and use some common-sense!
Colin
FAO DR. E[…]: DWP refuse to contact you to conf[I]rm home assessment needed.
FAO Graham Brady: Please can you now intervene for as you can see DWP playing silly-beggars. By the by, would you like to attend my medical examination, so you can see what a disabled person has to go through in respect to PIP?

If lives were not at stake, this might not be so serious and rather amusing; but folk have committed and are attempting suicide because of the way ATOS & DWP treat us.


Saturday, 20 May 2017

Café Capricho, Benalmádena, Andalusia: a Review


We have been frequenting Café Capricho for several years. It is located in the Torrequebrada district of Benalmádena, which also happens to be the location of my favourite supermarket chain, Supercor.

[Image description: the eatery's outside terrace, partly covered]

The vast majority of the staff are professional and affable, speaking to one with genuine smiles. Occasionally, one encounters a member of staff having an off-day - do not let that put the reader off from returning. The most difficult aspect at Capricho is trying to pay, for the café is invariably busy and frequented by locals and tourists alike, surely good signs.

We often just pop by for a coffee prior to doing the shopping; but we also stop for longer periods to enjoy a light luncheon.

[Image description: luncheon at table]
 
Whilst there for our first visit of this holiday, we ordered two dishes to share. It being Friday, we requested a plate of queso manchego, traditional cheese from central Spain which goes well with a glass of Rioja. However, we chose to drink draught, light beer instead, a small glass of which is called a caña. We also selected bacalao frito, a small serving of French fries (NB not English style chunky chips!) surrounded by the most lightly battered cod chunks, the flesh of which was moist, and flaked only when one broke off a forkful. This latter dish cost €10, but is highly recommended, especially for Brits who like their fish & chips of a Friday.

[Image description: club sandwich]
 
 [Image description: huevos rotos]

On the second occasion, we started by ordering a caña apiece, @ €1.60, whilst we mulled over the menu. I plumbed for the club sandwich, which contained a substantial amount of chicken breast, lettuce, delicious & sweet beef-tomato, and a light dollop of mayonnaise. At €6 better than anything one might obtain at certain burger chains: a substantial and tasty, quality meal. My chum opted for huevos rotos, a plate of lightly cooked Spanish ham with fried eggs with a slash through the yolk, on a bed of shredded lettuce and French fries, @ €7, my chum wolfed down and said he would be more than happy to order again. We also shared a plate of home-made French fries at €3. They arrive golden and unsalted, so one can season to taste. Very little remained of this repast, as ever.

Recommended.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Masturbation & ME


Masturbation tends to be a taboo subject. Can you recall the last time you discussed the issue? For most readers it will be never. For those who have, probably only with a select few intimates. I suspect this blog-post will be considered #nsfw. It ought not to be, as various research has demonstrated the health benefits of regular masturbation.

It is often averred that ninety-nine percent (99%) of men masturbate and the other one percent are lying. It is a truism to be sure: but the fact is most men do masturbate at some point in their lives. The statistics for women (wimmin) vary considerably. I suspect this is in part due to the questions put to them.

A very narrow definition of masturbation is the sexual stimulation of one's sexual organs. Babies and toddlers can often be spotted playing with their genitalia. As a trainee-teacher I recall an embarrassing P.E. lesson in which a young girl sitting in front of me had her hand up her knickers and was quietly playing with herself whilst the class & I were discussing the children's achievements. On that occasion, I chose to ignore what was happening as the child was not being observed by other children and was causing no disruption - other than to my cheeks! However, in the four years I was studying for my honours degree, the topic of masturbation in the classroom was never discussed, mentioned or even cited.

I am going to suggest that masturbation is more than genital stimulation; indeed, it is about self-pleasuring. Masturbation, especially but not solely amongst women, is about exploring what are one's turn-ons: caressing an inner thigh; tweaking a nipple; stroking a throat; and so on… This kind of broader definition leads us to an understanding as to why masturbation is good for one psychologically, let alone explaining the release of endorphins over a much longer period than the race to ejaculate - the essence of many men's definition of masturbation, the wank.

As discussed in a blog-post several years back (here), ejaculation and orgasm are not one and the same thing: one can ejaculate without orgasming; one can orgasm without ejaculating.

These endorphins are also released when we contemplate pleasurable fantasies. Fantasising is a creative type of thinking, it uses our imaginations. It is also a means to exploring different sexual activities and whether or not one wishes to partake. For all too many sufferers, actual sexual activity is beyond us for a multitude of reasons; so for us sexual fantasy is the only sex with a partner/s we shall experience.

Apart from the psychological benefits inherent in this broad definition of masturbation, there are also physical ones. For men, one of the health benefits of regular self-pleasuring is supposedly a lower risk of prostate troubles. From my layman's comprehension, I am assuming this works along the notion that muscles need exercising and failure to do so leads to wasting, etc.

So, finally getting to the nub of this post, what does masturbation have to do with myalgic encephalomyelitis? The reader is probably aware (if not, please click on the word in the list below to be referred to further articles on the subject) that ME's major symptoms include inter alia unrelenting fatigue and lack of energy. Many people with ME (PWME) learn to pace themselves by working out how much energy they have and calculating how much energy they need for each task or activity.

It is this lack of energy and, perhaps, even fear of the repercussions of exercise, (such is masturbation and even thinking, for all activities use the body's energy & resources) that prevent PWME from masturbating. The thinking involved in fantasising can bring on painful headaches. The act of masturbation can drain one's energy. There is also guilt to contend with: how can I pleasure myself, when I have not done anything to help in the home today; and similar reasoning. And then there is embarrassment: what about one's carer/s; they will have to perhaps change the bedding, remove a wet towel or clear away stained tissues.

I counter - and I am talking as much to myself here - that PWME need to masturbate. Our collective amour-propre is constantly under attack from relatives & friends, who do not or choose not to empathise, to the mostly unsympathetic, neo-liberal media. To heck with fear, guilt & embarrassment! We need to feel good physically, emotionally & spiritually.

Using the wider definition of masturbation as outlined, we PWME can self-pleasure everyday: lightly brush a forearm; gently rub one's lips with a finger; fondle a breast; dab the back of a hand; and so on. These are small sensual actions; but cumulatively can stimulate those wonderful hormones and build up one's sense of self-worth and stimulate sexual self-esteem.

Masturbation & ME? A resounding YES!

[Image description: the writer skinny-dipping in a spa-pool
enjoying the caress of the warm wavelets -
well, what did you expect!]

*

Today is International ME Awareness Day (#IMEAD2017). This blog-post is published to co-incide with this event in order to highlight the many needs of PWME. Please consider donating money, time or energy to an ME charity. Thank you.

*

NB I have NO medical training. The advice contained in this article is generic. If in doubt about how masturbation might effect the reader, consult a professional medic!




Thursday, 11 May 2017

Half-a-Million Blog-Views


I can hardly believe it: my blog has passed half-a-million (500,000) views in a little under five years, averaging out at about one-hundred-thousand (100,000) viewings per year!

[Image description: stats list showing views at 12.53 BST were 500,025]

A couple of Chester University chums (thanks Annette, Louise & Jon) persuaded me that I had plenty to say and that folk would want to read it. I half-heartedly said I should give it a go, without actually believing blogging was for me. As it happens, my blog has given me a place where I can vent my spleen about how disabled and chronically-sick folk are treated in the United Kingdom (UK) as well as share my dining experiences at eateries across Europe - so far these have included Austria, England, Germany, Greece, Scotland, Spain & Switzerland. I have discovered new countries with ties to Europe and that European disabled peoples are faring badly across the Continent, alas in some cases worse than here in UK.

I do not know how long I shall be able to continue the blog. My aphasia has deteriorated which means my reasoning, thinking and my ability to express myself are all pejorated. My physical stamina is also much reduced due to the myalgic encephalomyelitis. Much of this may be due to the on-going stresses I am under in relation to my thus far unresolved Personal Independence Payment (PIP; UK disability benefit) and my continuing lack of care from my local council Trafford due to the national social care crisis.

This I hope explains why there have been so few posts this year. However, I do have a blog-post ready-ish for tomorrow's International M.E. Awareness Day. It's on a taboo subject, so may or might be considered #nsfw.

To my seven loyal followers and to all readers (occasional or regular): THANK YOU. <3

Friday, 5 May 2017

Advice for Disabled Interviewees


I was on holiday in Spain for 1st May this year, but just finished on time my contribution for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2017 (#BADD2017). Due to my aphasia I have been unable to read any of the blog-posts until today. For my first read I chose, "Autistic in the Workplace: Ableism and Interviews".

I felt so upset about this writer, StrangerDarkerBetter's experiences that I penned this response:

You are NOT to blame. Employers can be very lazy and quite unprofessional when it comes to interviewing and as such frequently break discrimination laws by asking unlawful questions.

A sensible small to medium employer (SMB) will have sat down themself or a large employer requested that their Human Resources (HR) department look at the requirements of the job. Looking through CVs/resumes the good SMB/HR will cross-refrence with their own check-list of requirements. This should be done 'blinded' - i.e. without reference to gender, sexuality, dis/ability, race or ethnicity, politics, age and appearance (as photos would give the game away). In this way the best qualified &/or experienced interviewees should rise to the top.

There is some evidence that employees who are considered disabled are more productive and more loyal to their employer. I think I also read that disabled folk take less sick leave compared to able bodies (but this obviously excludes chronically sick & disabled folk who generally need more time off for medical appointments, sickness, etc.)

Ultimately, SMBs need to feel that you can be part of their team, that you & they can work together. This unfortuantely is the 'real world' and success does come down to personalities and their hang-ups & prejudices. However, if an employer does not want me, I certainly do not want to work for them.

I am not an expert however I have a suggestion: maybe have a short spiel about your condition, perhaps including a dignified appeal to look behind your neuro-atypical aspects. Be forthright about your atypicality and what advantages may arise from your joining the team.

Please do not feel despondent. Treat every so-called 'failed' interview as a run-through for the job you are ultimately going to get.

From the bottom of my heart I iterate that YOU are not to blame. Take heart! And the very best of luck for that ultimate position. %)))

I do so hope I have not been politically incorrect and that folk will accept the sincerity of my attempt at trying to help.

*

The reader can puruse this year's submissions &/or previous years' archives for BADD here.