I had plans

Yeah, well, we know how that goes.

This plan was to go to a conference, abroad. Experience had taught me not to go on my own. This time there were to be three of us, sharing the load of worthy talks, finding our way and having fun. We produced a poster, like proper health conference people. I had plans of mingling and learning, followed by meandering happily through cobbled streets and a chance to explore Brussels.

I had concerns, of course. It would be a huge energy commitment. Could I realistically do that and recover before 2017? Part of my enthusiasm, undoubtedly, was to overcome the many minor traumas of my last conference travel attempt. I wanted to participate without the melodrama.



And then a headcold turned nasty, despite me trying to kill it off with days of medication. I was floored, sneezing & spluttering. My inner ear protested crossly when I moved my head. My nose, well, you can imagine… The cough still sore and tickly, its full joys yet to come.

Travelling, mingling, thinking- all given up for hot water bottles, cold ‘fixers’ and even more time in bed than usual.

Right now, fellow volunteers are doing their thing- learning and chatting in a beautiful city. They’ll talk about their experience, our charity, about patients changing policy, about working with pharma companies, accessing clinical trials and treatments, about impact & funding, and making a difference.

I am the great unwashed, snuffling on the sofa. I’m never going to be a jet setter am I?


the 46.9%

So maybe I’m naive. Maybe I don’t know enough about US politics.

I went to bed in a huff during the election count. Things were shifting in Florida, and reality began to dawn. A few hours later and it was over. Brexit +++ indeed.

I was shocked, and deeply shaken. Of course, it was always a possibility. My head knew it could happen, that it was more likely than I wanted to believe, but my spirit wasn’t ready for it. The fibre of my being refused to accept that misogyny, racism, xenophopia & ableism, so clearly expressed, could win. That people would choose to ally themselves with a vulgar bully. That that’s who they’d want to be their representative in chief.


As the day went on, breakdowns of the vote became available. My mind was boggled by the majority of white women who voted for Trump. Do they not believe they deserve better? Are they happy to be seen as objects for male pleasure only?

There was an interesting discussion on TV last night- the summary being that US voters didn’t take Trump literally (nobody believed he’d do what he said) but they did take him seriously (he speaks to us). Outside the US, observers took him literally (he thinks he’s going to build a blimmin wall) but not seriously (he’s a buffoon).

So perhaps if people didn’t believe he was going to deport Muslims, they thought it didn’t matter that he said he would… That’s a remarkable failure of empathy. An incredible thoughtlessness towards all the ‘others’.

Maybe that’s why 46.9% of those who could vote, didn’t. Maybe they thought that Trump was all mouth and not that dangerous because he wasn’t serious. Maybe they dislike Clinton so much for being still married to Bill/ open about her taxes/ good at her job/ whatever (I simplify of course, but most of the criticism of her I saw seemed to be because she’s good at being a politican rather than legitimate objections to her actual policies) that they just thought, “Nah, I can’t be bothered.”

Some people will have been sick, or unable to get to a polling station. But not nearly half the eligible population. Most of those will have decided not to vote, not even for the 3rd party candidates. It’s not like they didn’t know the election was on. There’s been at least 2 years to get ready, think about it, listen to the candidiates, mark the diary with *vote*.

Is it because they think their vote doesn’t matter? Is it that they don’t care about the world they live in? Before, Trump was supposed to be speaking to the disposessed (which I never understood), but it was the educated middle and upper classes who, predictably, voted for him in droves.

Are there 46.9% of the population so disconnected from the world that they didn’t see this election as important? That they didn’t know or care that a reality TV billionaire bully was going to terrify women, children, people of colour, LGBT people, those with disabilities and non Christians? And god help those at the intersections.

Trump isn’t one for hiding his light under a bushel. Since he entered the race, this election has been all about him. Every day, in every way, he affirmed the adage about there being no such thing as bad publicity. He said and did previously unacceptable things, and not enough people cared that these were unacceptable. They supported him or they did not oppose him. They may have been good people, but they did nothing.

And so, it’s all ok now. It’s ok to be a sexual predator. It’s ok to mock the disabled. It’s grand to talk about nasty women and bad hombres. No problem with threatening your opponents with violence or jail. It’s Trump world and the bully has won.

But, no.


There is such a thing as society. There is love and goodness and support for others. We have to hold on tight to it, to nuture it and let it grow. I have surprised myself by using biblical language- fighting the good fight, being a light in the darkness, whatever you do to the least of my brothers etc- but that’s the power of poetry, oral tradition, and primary school. Others will have different touchstones they had thought long forgotten.

I struggled yesterday to find a way out of the fug. I wanted to have moved past disbelief and rage by the time Girl1 and Girl2 came home from school. I wanted to be able to articulate a way forward for us. I wasn’t quite there, but I was trying. Then we watched Clinton’s concession speech, and it was just what we needed. Grace, dignity, truth, hurt, power & resolution. She spoke to us all, even when defaulting to the bible. She spoke to us all, wearing suffragette colours. She spoke to us all, to comfort, support and motivate, while dealing with what must be personal devastation.


Hillary went high. We must too. We must reach out. We must engage. We must remember that politics is about people, because without people there is no chance of change or progress. We have to make a difference. We must participate.

Don’t pretend it has nothing to do with you. Don’t believe that your opinion doesn’t matter.Don’t believe that you are not worthy.

Don’t be the 46.9%. Believe in yourself.



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/