Tuesday, 28 February 2012

"Fun" in The Sun

The Sun have played a blinder. The day after they launch their new Sunday paper they are accused of paying for information on an industrial scale and the following days frontpage predictably ignores the story everyone else is covering.

They splash with the story of a woman on disability benefits living her life, or as they prefer to represent it, cheating tax payers of their hard earned cash because she has, according to her, a fluctuating disability and is pictured on a rollercoaster.

The front page seems to have her beginning  to explain what it means to have a fluctuating condition- which will be ignored as the paper plays to the gallery of hate baying for blame in these days of austerity. She’s been branded a liar and a cheat with the finest example of disability ignorance I’ve ever seen “She’s disabled? Well then how can she ride a roller coaster?”

My children are disabled. They ride roller coasters. They walk and talk and everything.

The dirty little cheats.

The scummy little benefits thieves I’m harbouring in my home, do many things without the aid of a wheelchair or cane or leg braces. They are prevented from doing many more because of their hidden disability, they are prevented not just by their condition but by the fact that society has always been uncomfortable with difference. Now it’s being actively whipped up to spout hatred.

As the Sun brings us smiling semi naked women on page three, displayed for the sweaty and sad to dibble over, it is, it assures us, more than equipped to preach chapter & verse on majority morality.

It is hell-bent on exposing the liars and thieves who live and breathe and lie and thieve their way to luxury mansions and cars.

Who needs facts when you are the gang leader? Who needs truth that fraud accounts for a tiny percentage of money lost by the DWP. The bullying Sun has a story to spin and and policy to bring.

Welfare won’t reform itself and if the majority ground isn’t well prepared then too many people will oppose the Bill. You only have to see the way the Health and Social Care Bill is taking a beating to know that. People love the NHS they are vocal in their concern and distrust and their voices are being added to everyday by Doctors and Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors.

Dear God if The Welfare reform Bill received the same kind of community questioning the whole thing may just fail. If people actually knew what is being planned for disabled people, which could be any of us at anytime, what then?

Everyone apparently “knows” a benefit cheat. Really? Do they? Or have they simply read about them in the filthy rags, which peddle the myth of disability cheat as the norm- not the exception. The propaganda myth is being deployed so effectively, so thoroughly that people are not stopping to question any of the rhetoric being peddled. The Sun is the champion of the “report a benefit cheat” hotline. The urban myth of the disability scrounger, liar and cheat is the most shameful propaganda peddled since Nazi Germany rose to power. This is bullying on a massive unprecedented scale and yet another day brings another headline.

But something truly frightening has evolved from all this nonsense. People have become so brainwashed so desensitized by the same tales churned and rechurned as news that they have stopped looking for people faking it.

A threshold has been reached and surpassed but people seem to have developed a taste for hatred and the scapegoats are “perfect” for bullies.

Because so many have a vulnerability, a fragility present since birth or acquired in life this doesn’t give anyone the right to vent their anger at the actions of bankers on Wall Street. A global financial meltdown has caused a trickledown of blame, which shamefully has caused disabled people to become the “perfect” target for the predators we are all becoming. Seemingly without even a pause, fingers are being pointed.

Sickening though it is genuinely disabled people are being routinely targeted by people on the streets with verbal and physical abuse. According to Scope this has risen by 75% in the last year.

So if you see this story and you will, thanks to the 24 hour news cycle, don’t be quick to applaud the outing of a liar. This woman has been given no anonymity millions of photos of her will be appearing everywhere tomorrow. She has no defence; she has been selected and targeted and the gangs of bullies who hate her and millions like her, will cheer.

When you see her photo remember that her life has been altered and ruined, altered by disability and ruined, by propaganda. Unlike the pampered luxury that many of our tabloid editors inhabit, disability isn’t a lifestyle choice. Disability chooses you not the other way around.

A ride on a rollercoaster isn’t a crime. When did that become the way we interact?  Why is she being treated like a criminal? We don’t have access to her medical records we don’t know the truth. We are being encouraged to arm ourselves with pitchforks and flaming torches and denounce someone we don’t know by The Sun.

(Here is the audioboo of this blog http://audioboo.fm/boos/688130-fun-in-the-sun )

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Mirror, mirror.

So getting older is a bit of a bitch. This we know but I’m thinking that for all the aches and moans and clicking knees and wrinkles and changing eyesight and cruel twist of gravity and slowing of reactions and memory lapses, it’s better than the alternative.

The thing that’s on my mind a lot as my older daughter approaches her 18th birthday is where my generation fits in to the age spectrum.

It's as though there is a swathe through western society of women between 30 and 50 who aspire to 25 and have the money to achieve this. Looking good does seem to have a clear path to feeling good for so many

 We have old women and young women and girls trying to look older and women trying to look younger and I’m wondering that as we fill our foreheads with Botox and our wrinkles with a collagen, our breasts with silicone and our hair with tint are we somehow stemming the flow of natural ageing in some way?

Of course women have now attained the right to do as we wish dependent on where you live but does that come as a result of our own needs or the urging of a society which alters when it alteration finds?

To be flat chested or wrinkled or greying or even to have thinner lips than a twenty year old seems to be a primary concern, whilst truly diverse people become even more marginalized and targeted by hatred on our streets.

So I struggle to marry this with the notion that you can now have collagen injected into the back of your hands to diminish the visible sign of cartilage, which denotes ageing. This takes trivial to a new level in my opinion.

To be a woman who tangibly ages it seems is tantamount to self proclaimed failure. When did denying your age visually become tantamount to an expression of emancipation?

I tint my hair so I’m not denying that I fall into the category of vain, I’m just wondering if we somehow have devalued ourselves to such a degree that we now only exist if we do so from the vantage point of attempting at least a nod towards physical perfection.

I think if what you need you can find supplied with a procedure or an appointment then all power to you, I’m just raising the idle question of why.

When did feeling better about you become the standard for so many women? In doing so do I’m not suggesting that they are sublimating the intellectual for the physical but it’s interesting to me that so many women feel driven to find the fountain of youth and have it injected into their bodies.

This also does not diminish the horrific stories of the for-profit Pip implants which have filled the headlines. These women trusted that they would be cared for and they weren’t. They were utterly devalued and let down.

I’m just wondering what is the next step on our journey into an image obsessed age.

I also wonder how far it takes us from those of our fellow humans who cannot match this highly prescriptive model.

My Mum was very youthful. She dyed her hair for a while but then let the grey show through and until she died last December two weeks shy of her 78th birthday she had hardly any. 

I think of her a lot especially as Lizzy approaches adulthood. Not only her external beauty but the loveliness of her character which is although trite and often said is the best aspiration eh?

                                                           Mum at 60 holding Lizzy.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Love is all you need.

Enforced love and the celebration of it has made Valentines Day a bit of a reality tv star these days.  Famous and known to all but the reasons for it are unclear.

The origins of St Valentine seem to suggest a group rather than an individual is responsible for the naming of the day and like many traditions the genesis of this tradition lies in the Church.

Chaucer too seems to mark it out as worthy of observing and I prefer the notion of a writer claiming our tradition.

Valentines day when I was younger (single) seemed like one long love fest of nauseating competition.

I’m sure like bed post notches it was simply bollocks bragged by people too young to fully understand their own ludicrousness but it remains and prospers still on the notion of coupledom as King. Whilst those whose lives remain happilly or unhappily single, simply ignore it or get through it.

If Valentines day is Christmas then the hearts and flowers and champagne and chocolates are the equivalent of the fantasy land John Lewis ad.  Anyone with experience of children will tell you that the idea of giving rather than receiving presents is one which features further down the list of our young than voluntarily cleaning their bedrooms.

Anyway if we’re going to choose a writers endorsement of a named day to spread love can we not have a more modern character. How about a Malcom Tucker Day? We could send anonymous expletive fuelled messages to one another?  

Mind you if that was the case we could simply call it Twitter day.

Or and stay with me here, we could actually be a little more loving to one another all the time.

I love, love. I tell everyone who means something to me that they do all the time. It doesn’t diminish love as a concept or as a bond stronger than titanium to spread the notion of lives improved by others. Love survives all separation. Even death.

As we rush and fuss through life with a weather eye on the attainments of others in case they outstrip and shadow our own, we forget that connections with others are our greatest joy. 

Telling people that their life is of value because of the contribution they make in enhancing yours is crucial especially now with hate on the rise.

Anyway that’s my suggestion.  Give it a go. You’ll be amazed.

Monday, 6 February 2012

What have we become?

Remember compassion? We used to have that in the good old days. Maybe like white christmasses it is a construct of memory that didn’t really happen but neither did "jokes" like this one. I remember the good old days when Satire was reserved for politicians. Whilst Frankie does Cameron's bullyboy dirty work I fail to see his point.

As reality bites down hard with the first wave of cuts the scapegoat of choice is unbelievable to me.

Disabled people.

Mocking the potentially (and in some cases actually) vulnerable -the go to guy for school yard foulness has in a breathless display of entitlement and elitism not seen since the T4 euthanasia programme taken centre stage again.

The results, which I and many others like me have long predicted are bearing fruit. Disabled people are routinely being attacked on our streets.

Disabled people. Not bankers, not racists, not homophobes, not extreme fundamentalist Christians hissing and spitting their purile venom, but disabled people.

Their crime, scream the abusers, is simple. They claim benefits. Justifiable, life enhancing, socially inclusive benefits which enable them to live and work and contribute. That is one Tax Payers Alliance I can get on board with.

Yet when so many cuts are being rolled out, the one cut we all need to see apart from banker bonuses, is disablist propaganda which screams from the rooftops that people like my children should remain imprisoned by their condition.

"The world" say the rhetoric fuelled politicians "does not owe them a living".

 Of course it fucking does. We are not all born equal. Those of us not currently disabled owe a huge debt of compassion and support and solidarity to those of our fellow human beings who need us.

"Genuinely disabled people", claim the politicians "will be protected". This is the biggest lie they have yet peddled. No one is safe- not from the whispering campaigns,the right wing media, nor the jack booted private companies tramping across the welfare system.

There really is profit from misery and those of us not currently disabled are paying with our moral core as we watch the coalition playing Russian roulette with disabled peoples lives.

Don’t believe the hype. From the jokes on our TV screens to the votes in our House of Commons if we believe or repeated this myth we are all of us responsible.
Don't believe the hype.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Everyone is sleeping

Finally get Emmy into bed at a relatively early time and all I can think about is mum.

It's that throat grabbing feeling which I suppose is just another part of my brain accepting that she's gone but it means I can't sleep and all I can do is cry.

Do we all love our mums this much? Presumably even the cruel ones the selfish and unkind ones must still spark in us this feeling of being utterly terrified when they die. Possibly not.

Maybe for some people there is relief or even a type of happiness when the irretrievable end of a dysfunctional relationship is reached. Possibly though that only brings a different grief one of resentment and recrimination?

I don't know. I was so lucky that I will never know how it must feel to lose a mother you loathe.

My mum was all that was kind and gentle.

I hope that she knew that even at the end. I hope that she could tell I was there she rallied each time I arrived and declined each time I left. That may be ego that presumes the connection but I see it as her being a good mum.

Fighting until the end to protect.

I'm blogging this because I don't what to do. I don't know how to express it in this silent house of sleeping people other than to type it until it goes away. Or at least dissolves a little.

One day at a time is right.