what is happening to us, & how do we stop it?

I always knew the Conservative party cared naught for the likes of me. My grandparents were servants, not landowners. My father was denounced from the pulpit for daring to challenge the status quo and put a Labour candidate up for election. (This meant the expense and bother of having an actual election rather than simply having the local big wigs sort it out amongst themselves.) I remember when it was possible to be shot for the crime of having an Irish accent and carrying a table leg, without even having an Irish accent. My accent is of the harsh northern type. I come from Churchill’s “dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone.” Not long ago, people with my accent- me and mine-  we were who the people of GB were scared of.

As the perceived threat of my voice receded, of course, I became something else. Another sort of other. I became chronically ill, had to give up work. I have to submit to the ritual and regular humiliation of applying for welfare support. The technical term is ‘benefit scrounger’. For years now, the sick and disabled have been disproportionatley affected by so called austerity measures. Hundreds of people have died not long after being found ‘fit for work’. And concerns, criticisms, complaints are all seen to be ‘well, you would say that’- as if we are only capable of personal bias, as if we have no empathy, no sense of society, no desire for equitable treatment. We have nothing to offer the world, in this view, those of us not able for gainful employment. We are there to be tolerated, at best, those of who are sick. We are not valued. Being of no use, we are nothing.

And still, I am shocked:  List foreign employees.Foreign doctors to leave after interim period

Despite never being considered ‘one of us’, I am horrified. But if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere.

I didn’t expect good things, but I never expected this. Remove armed forces from the requirements of human rights law

I’ve been burying my head, ignoring politics for a while, because I was annoyed at what was going on. I was overwhelmed and feeling useless.

But we know the truth as Burke told it: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

We cannot be the people to do nothing.

Social media users are familiar with Godwin’s law, where if an online discussion goes on long enough, someone will compare a person or idea to Hitler or Nazism. We have reached a real life point where the Home Secretary gave a speech broadly similar to parts of Mein Kampf.

These are scary times, chaps. It’s not just that the UK had a small majority vote to leave the European Union. A horrible undercurrent of right wing xenophobia appears to have become mainstream.

British= good.

Everything else= bad.

People who choose to live in the UK and contribute to the economy= bad.

How long will it take for British= white anglo saxon only?


We cannot be the people who do nothing.



a tale of the unexpected

For 10 days we did our thing, cleaning doggy eyes three times a day, with various levels of protest.

He stopped fighting with us, so we thought he must be getting some ease. But there was still a lot of junk. No sign of tear ducts being kick started.

I took advantage of his ease to snaek in extra hugs, and kisses on the top of his head.

I planned to give his stuff away, eventually. We considered what day would be best to do the deed.

I veered between denial and maudlin.

And we went back to the vet.

Against all the odds, wee Jake is much improved. The vet is delighted. I still had to check…

“No, no need to put him to sleep. Keep doing what you’re doing.”

Spurs Fan was driving, but I may as well have floated home. Phone calls, texts and FB updates nearly all before we reached the front door. Such excitement, delight and relief. Our ignorance didn’t kill him.

He lives to sniff another day.


image from http://offtheleashdogcartoons.com/



life saving duty

Jake was getting on and anti social when we got him, four years ago. He protected us from swimming pools and violence on TV, from passing strangers, and from Grandad. He guarded me against bookclub buddies, making sure that anyone who movedin their seat got a Very Hard Stare. He made it clear that approaching dogs would be eaten, and that he shouldn’t be let off his lead.

Now he’s properly old, and blind, and he doesn’t care about what’s happening on TV. Visitors can step over him without causing a stir. Bookclub buddies are ignored. Dance mates are warned about being inadvertently friendly. An unthinking pat can cause much aggravation, but Grandad may be permitted an odd pat. When he least expects it. Jake will approach and welcome displays of affection, but only when he feels like it.

And we’ve discovered that doggy health is more complex than we thought. He’s been drinking more and eating less. He’s either in a deep sleep or pacing about, as if there was a sausage somewhere he can’t find. We thought he’d probably need his insulin uptake boosted, so took him to the vet. Hmm, said Peter, bring him back in the morning for a blood test some hours after he’s eaten. Hmm, said Peter, I want a better look at his eyes. Hmm, said Peter, I may do a kidney function test.

We spent the evening reading about doggy renal failure.

We were not prepared.

Yes, we need to top up the insulin again. No, there’d not be a kidney function test just yet.

Instead “It wouldn’t be fair to keep him going like that. With his very bad eyes. They’re very painful. Never mind the diabetes, or the kidneys. The eyes are that bad.”

Whaty what what?

Jake has always had gunk about his eyes, which gets removed when he’s showered. The gunk got worse over the past few months. We noticed, but thought it was old age. We never considered that it could indictate something serious. Dry eye. No tears being produced to clean and lubricate his wee unseeing eyes. Now, scratched and painful eyes. “If I saw that dog out walking, with those eyes, I’d wonder about his vet.” And we, goofy people, had no idea. Our lovely grumpy pet is in so much pain that it would be better to put him to sleep, and we knew nothing about it.

So now, we’re in doggy ER mode. Superduper ointment in his eyes 3 times a day for 10 days to try to kickstart his tear ducts. I wonder if that’s even possible, or if Peter is giving us time to get used to the idea. Giving us something to do, however useless, to assuage our guilt. Giving us time to show our love to the boy by holding his muzzle tight shut, his paws tucked in, while we stick ointment in his sore eyes. (Yes, it’s a 2 person job.)

Giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. Giving us a chance to forgive ourselves.

because ‘coping’ is present tense

Life feels like pretending a lot of the time.

Pretending to be sociable.

Pretending to be capable.

Pretending to be healthy.

Everybody else is back at school and I’d hoped I’d be back in my volunteering routines, but it’s not happening for me. I have a long to do list again. I can’t get my head around making phone calls or talking to people I don’t know.

I went to a PSP support group this week only because Ditzy came to the door for me. I did the driving and it was a long enough day. There were giggles and gossip and hugs and sharing. Always exhausting. Always worthwhile.

The next day I left the house again, and I pretended. I had on a colourful top and red lipstick, and apparently that’s all it takes to seem switched on. I chatted about rare disease and advocacy and how people coming together makes a difference.

And I have been low and practically immobile ever since. I have been asleep or watching box sets (downloaded so no actual boxes involved anymore).

When I can’t do all that I want, I feel like I’m failing. That I’m letting people down. That I’m not contributing to any of the household activities. And then I feel bad, because I know better. I know I’m not failing, but feeling is a different thing. I cope better than I used to, but these days remind me of what I tell the medical students- that ‘coping’ is present tense. It’s present and active. I have to keep on doing it. My ability to do so varies.

Yesterday I read a fabulous essay by Melissa Broder, and much of it resonated. Not the open marriage bit (who’d have the energy?) but these words.

I don’t want to be defined by [his] illness. I don’t want people to ask me how he is doing when I see them. I pretend to people, especially to myself, that this isn’t hard. I don’t want pity. I want to be happy and have a good life. I don’t want to be sad. Or, I want to be sad about the things that I choose to be sad about. But I guess that is not how life works.

Sometimes I feel full of despair and cannot figure out why. Like I forget to equate the two things: the illness and the sadness. Then I wonder why I am sad. Then I get scared that my sadness is a free-floating sadness that will never go away. Sometimes I feel doomed.

And then I went back to watching Nashville and wondering when I’d fit in the world again.