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Why Being A Yo-Yo Can Be More Educational Than You Might Think (Or - Maybe We Ask The Wrong People To Teach Us Life Skills???)
7/31/2015 11:56:10 PM
Before I begin tonight's ramblings I would like you to watch a video which is kind of linked to the title (and subject) of this blog post - I will explain as we go on;

www.youtube.com/watch

Have you ever had two separate conversations with two people (who know each other and know you) which end up sounding like one continuous conversation when you replay them in your brain later on???

That happened to me today!  The connection can be found in the lyric "We all got memories, tales to tell", from the video.

I hope you will excuse me for not identifying the friends I was talking to (as I don't believe their identities are relevant - apart from which I have not got personal permission to quote one of them).


Given a choice between saying I keep turning up like a bad penny or saying I keep turning up like a yo-yo - I was pretty surprised when the person I put the choice to decided to tell me I keep turning up like a "positive" yo-yo.

Surprised because it kind of tied in with a conversation I had had with a mutial friend of ours a few minutes earlier where we were talking about the best people to educate other people.  (One of the words this particular friend used is one I wish could be banned from the English language - "empower".  I am sorry but every time I hear that word in connection with humans I immediately think of them being plugged directly into Hinckley Point - a nuclear power station - and switched on - electrocution optional!!!)

Apart from yo-yo's always coming back to the same place (once you have mastered how to operate them) they are actually useful educational tools.  Put it this way - I remember sitting in a Science Lesson (I think it was Physics) and being taught about kinetic energy with a yo-yo being used as an example.

However, I digress.

Have you ever had the feeling that you share a strange connection with someone even though you have only just been introduced to them???  That is exactly how I felt when I was introduced to the first person who inspired this blog post (I was introduced to them quite some time ago by the second person who inspired it).

Turned out that my senses were correct in more ways than I would have been able to guess at when I first met them.

We both passionately believe that the people who are "educating" people today are (in some cases) the wrong people for the job.

I am not strictly talking about the subjects you learn at school (although - as we get a bit further on you may learn something interesting about my opinion about that) - more the "helping" subjects which you find yourself (if you are unlucky) needing to learn to find your way out of.

This "yo-yo" is ashamed to say that I seem to spend most of my life as an untapped resource.  I have a lot of experience which some people should find really useful (RNIB, Vista, etc, as well as children who are seriously shortsighted and going through Mainstream "Education" now).

Put it this way - would you ask someone who has never seen or played a piano in their life to coach you for your Grade 9 Piano exam???  No - if you are any kind of intelligent human and you actually want to pass your Grade 9 exam - you will find a teacher who has proven experience of playing a piano to a high enough standard to pass the exam themself.

So why are we relying on people who have had absolutely no experience of things like Domestic Violence, Mental Health issues, Disabilities, etc, to set the agenda and attempt to impose "textbook solutions" to problems for which no textbook actually exists???

I was hoping to do some work in partnership with a charity a few years ago.  The charity was either the RNIB or Vista.  Now - both of these were set up to help blind and Partially Sighted people (Vista is the Leicestershire branch of the RNIB).  So you can imagine (hopefully) my total astonishment when one of their employees told me that nobody who works for the organisations is either blind or registered Partially Sighted.

Call me crazy if you want to (trust me - I have been called a lot worse) but - surely the best person to help someone who is going through any kind of situation is someone who has been through a similar situation themself and come out the other side (providing - of course - there is another side) or has learned to cope with whatever situation they face???

I will let you into a secret - the thing which I had the worst experience with at school wasn't the bullying, or teaching myself how to act like everybody else.  It was the reason why I felt I had to teach myself how to be more "acceptable" to everybody (no matter how much it cost me in terms of Mental and physical energy).

I only had a handful of teachers who actually wore glasses.  Now - based on their behaviour - I could make an "educated" (excuse the pun) guess which told me that their sight was nowhere near as bad as mine.

This meant that their teaching methods were not designed for my level of sight.  (Not only that but I can still name at least three teachers who had "handwriting" which was actually worse than mine to read - and that is saying something.)

Apart from the paragraph above - the worst thing was that I didn't feel comfortable enough or safe enough to ask for the help which would have been most useful to me.

That was a double-edged sword in a way - on the one hand the teachers didn't have a clue that I really should have been judged by a different set of standards to everybody else (hence my school reports all having variations of "Could try harder" written on them - and me asking to be transferred during my first term of secondary school, as well as almost having a breakdown (hidden) during my fourth year of secondary school.  On the other hand I ended up being so good at teaching myself to be a "performing seal" that I sailed through a sight test when I was 16 which lead a Consultant at the Leicester Royal Infirmary to turn round to my Mum in my earshot and say "get her out of here - she is wasting my time" (this was after everybody at the Secondary School I was at had - very - belatedly realised how bad my sight was and started snowing me under with different aids and implements which would have been useful when I first started Primary School).

You can read all the textbooks you want to on whatever subject you are interested in - and pass exams until you have got PhD's coming out of your ears.  However, if you honestly want me to take you seriously when you try to help or advise me I would respectfully make one request.  You will either need proveable experience of the situation I am in (paper certificates are not accepted - you cannot get NVQs in things like Having A Sight Problem, Having a Mental Health Issue, Surviving Domestic Violence, etc) or you will need patience and a willingness to listen when I tell you your suggestion is not likely to work, as well as a desire to help me achieve a satisfactory outcome for both of us - whether or not you agree with my thoughts.  My hardwon experience may not seem to be on the same level as paper qualifications but I wonder how many paper qualifications actually have an overall activities basis???

You respect ,y achievements and I will respect yours.



"LuvinBling" - Upcycled Jewellery With A Heart (Or - Fashion For The Passionate About The Environment)
7/28/2015 10:26:35 PM
Every so often I introduce you to people (mainly friends) whose work I admire.  In this case I want to introduce you to a Womble whose work I admire because she reminds me of the line "Making good use of the things that we find - the things that the everyday folk leave behind" from the theme song to "The Wombles".

Senika Simon is the brains behind a company called "LuvinBling" which takes items which are destined for the bin and "upcycles" them to make fantastic jewellery - some of which looks as intricate as you would find in upmarket jewellers.

The only bits of the jewellery which are new (because of hygiene reasons) are the "Fishhooks" (sorry - I cannot think of another way to describe them) which attach the earrings to the holes in pierced ears.


Example of LuvinBling jewellery.

Senika also runs workshops where you can make your own jewellery (and she is a patient teacher).

If you want to see some more examples of her work and you are in Leicester go to the LCIL Popup Shop in the Highcross Shopping Centre this week and look at her stand in there.  (She gives nice hugs too!)

Sometimes The Distinction Between Men And Women Are Focussing On The Wrong Things (Or - I Know What I Like And My Reasons May Surprise You)
7/28/2015 9:54:06 PM
Stop the press and hold the front page - I bought myself a new watch yesterday!!!

Here is a photo of it;


Photo of watch

The observant among you will notice it is most probably what is sold under the label of "men's watch" due to the size of its face.  (Yes, I admit that the numbers are on the small side for me to see but at least it has markers showing where the numbers are.)

So, why did I buy this watch knowing it was sold as a "men's watch"???  Why did I not immediately go and look for a similar version of this watch in the "Women's Watches" section???

The quickest answer is that I wanted an analogue watch and not a bracelet.  (Actually - I wasn't intending to buy a watch at all until I noticed the advert in a shop window.  I liked the watches on the advert so much I decided to investigate and ended up buying the specimen in the photo).  By the way - I own an "Ice" watch with a larger face than that as well - white numbers on black background - (as well as a watch with bright orange numbers on a white face - bought for when Holland play in football matches).

I digress.

There is one problem with watches which are designed for my gender to wear (at least as far as I am concerned) - and this applies to analogue watches more than digital watches (but I have seen digital watches with the same problem).

Ladies are supposed to be small and delicate - especially when it comes to fashion choices (and perfume - but we will get to that in a minute).  Trust me when I say that neither of those words apply to me - I take up space!!!

Seeing as us ladies are supposed to be small and delicate we are usually offered choices in things like jewellery to match this idea.  Which leaves me with a bit of a problem.  I don't mind small earrings, delicate necklaces, or, fragile looking rings (even though my favourite ring which I have ever seen was worn by my Oma - it had a narrow band with a stone which almost went from the bottom of her ring finger to the first knuckle).  Nor do I mind thin bracelets.  But if you are going to attempt to interest me in a watch ask yourself if I will be able to read the numbers on the face - or see the marks where the numbers should be.

I have a name for "Ladies Analogue Watches" - bracelets.  The faces are usually so small that I would need a microscope to read the numbers or see the markings.  (Some of the digital watches for Ladies are not much better either.)

So I have to head to the "Men's" section when I see a watch I like the look of.

One of the drawbacks of my sight I suppose.

But - if larger watches for Ladies are fashionable - why should I still feel like I am committing a sin merely through attempting to buy a watch I can see and use for its intended purpose.

There is a very useful (if slightly strange) comparison I could make.

I wear glasses - yes - I know I am stating the obvious here but bear with me.  There have been fashion trends where glasses have been sold as looking "sexy", and "intelligent".  This has meant that people who do not need glasses have bought frames - stuck plain plastic where the lenses should go - and worn them as a "fashion statement".  This has left me wondering what would happen if someone suddenly decided that hearing aids, plaster casts, crutches, wheelchairs, or having limbs amputated, were the height of fashion???  (You may think I am overreacting here - I probably am - but I feel that things which make people's lives easier should be kept away from the "Fashion Slaves".)

What I am trying to say is that I respect your right to wear glasses even if you don't need them (even though I find it highly offensive) so why on Earth can't people respect my right to wear a watch which is big enough for me to clearly see the face of even if it is sold as a "Men's" watch???  (After all, it is not as though I have got narrow wrists and arms either.)

Remember I said something about the choices us Ladies are subjected to as far as perfume is concerned???

Most of the perfumes which are sold for Ladies is sickly sweet stuff, either that or it smells like an explosion in a flower garden.  In fact, there are only two Ladies' perfumes which I have found recently that I really like.  One of which is "Rush 2" and the other of which is "Icicle" (sorry - I cannot remember who made them).  Both of them are more on the "spicy" side.

If you want my favourite "perfumes" you need to go to - guess where - the "Men's" Department.  I love things like "Rapport" (dark, spicy, earthy), Lynx (especially the chocolate one they had out a few years ago).  Basically, the darker, spicier, and earthier, the better.

I must admit that my all time favourite "perfume" was something I bought by accident several years ago - I don't think they make it any more - the brand was F A Splash.  It was some kind of spray stuff - a bit like the cooling sprays you can get from Boots in heatwaves (other chemists are availabile of course) - but when you sprayed it on it had the sensation of popping candy on your skin.  That had a nice spicy smell to it.

Not all Ladies like delicate stuff - same like not all men like DIY.  We need to respect people's choices - even if we would not choose the same things ourselves.

Sometimes Words Are Not Enough (Or - Maybe We Should Start Listening To What Is NOT Being Said???)
7/28/2015 8:42:49 PM
I have been reading various newspaper articles and reading various blog posts and tweets which have led me to a rather startling conclusion (as well as putting this song on a loop in my brain www.youtube.com/watch).

The conclusion I have come to is as follows - we don't listen enough and we refuse to actually "hear" what is being said half of the time (both verbally and non-verbally).  Yes - yes - I know! I probably chose the wrong word but it goes with body "language" and you cannot hear a body speak unless they talk!!!

Some of this can be a result of us finding it difficult to understand what other people are actually trying to tell us (maybe due to them having a strong or unusual accent, or not being a native speaker of the language we are speaking in, or even them resorting to the language they use all the time - Acronyms, slang, or technical words with no apparent translation in the "real world" we live in - and not bothering to translate for us).

Seriously though!

I can remember one news report where a Dutch man was being interviewed about something or other on the BBC a few years ago - it was one of those news reports where you hear the first sentence spoken by the person being interviewed and then the voiceover kicks in with the English translation (you have no idea how much I hate those things - but I think you are about to find out exactly how much I hate it along with my reasons for preferring subtitles).

I cannot remember what the man was being interviewed about but I can definitely remember thinking that the voiceover translation had mistranslated a critical word which I heard before the voiceover kicked in.  So what my brain was "hearing" (the bits of Dutch which were not being drowned out by the voiceover) was totally different to what my ears were hearing (the voiceover with the English "Translation").  I ended up being totally confused.

Those of you who read the original version of "Inkyworld" may remember that I wrote a blog post along a similar theme after reading a blog post where Constable Chaos decided to cause a Diplomatic Incident.  This was as a result of him (or A.N.Other) running a tweet in Dutch through Google Translate and broadcasting the results wihout running the "translation" through a human who could actually understand the context of one important word.  Constable Chaos was ready to arrest the Dutch Judoka who had sent it for Assault (the "translation" provided indicated that she admitted to beating someone up) and typed a blog post stating that fact - listing at least one law which she had apparently "broken".  He was, therefore, a little confused when I told him he had got it completely wrong and all the Judoka had actually admitted to was hitting someone who had thrown a bottle on the track just before a final at the London Olympics.

But it is not just when translating between the languages of different countries that you have to be careful about things like contexts of words.  It can also be tricky when you are talking to someone who uses words which are either totally unfamiliar or which you know in a completely different context.

I will give you two examples of what I mean (from words which I have been known to use in everyday speech).

Unless you are from Leicester or Leicestershire I very much doubt you would understand what I meant if I asked you for a "croggy"???  It is when you give someone a lift on either the handlebars or (usually) the back of your bicycle.

Now - here's a puzzle for you;

What do you think I would mean if I said the following to you -

"We can either go round the cob shop and get a ham salad cob or we could go round the chippy and get a chip cob!"???

If you are not a native English speaker I think you would look at that and immediately give up - After all, who in their right mind would walk around a shop and expect to buy anything without going in it???

The observant among you may have realised I am offering you a choice which involves a shop and "ham salad" or possibly "chips" (the exact nature of the "chips" in question could be either what I know as crisps or what an American would know as fries).

If I were to write it out slightly more formally I would say we could "go round to" both the "cob shop" and the "chippy".

(In this case the word "chippy" refers to a fish and chip shop. Just to confuse non-native English speakers further - "chippy" can also be a slang name for a carpenter.)

To understand what I mean by a "cob" you need to throw your English dictionary or phrasebook out.  They will tell you that a cob is a male bird of some sort.  (If you find a book on the dialect of my native Norfolk you will find that "cob" means something completely different in that dialect as well.)

In this case the word "cob" was probably originally short for "Cobble" (as in the stones which some roads are built with) - which is a rather accurate description of the appearance (and texture) of a crusty bread roll.  Leicestershire people have adopted the word "cob" to describe any bread roll (soft or crusty).

The filling of the bread roll (ham salad, chips, etc,) is always before the word "cob".  A "chip cob" can be known as a "chip butty" in other parts of England.  (My Glaswegian friend always confuses me when he tells me he has eaten a "roll and bacon" because that suggests to me that he has eaten the roll and the bacon separately.)

So - what on earth is a "cob shop"???  Simple - it is a shop which sells "cobs" - and "cobs" are bread rolls - you can buy those from a Baker's shop (or "bakery").

Put it all together in Standard English and you will find out that I have said the following;

"We can either go round to the baker's and buy a ham salad roll or we can go round to the fish and chip shop and buy a roll filled with chips!"

Back to the point.

I have read so many bits of writing which can be understood to mean two completely different things in English at the same time that I have lost count.  (And that is before my "mental dictionaries" kick in and confuse me further - Please see other blog posts where I have rambled on about the confusions between English and Dutch.)

My least favourite way of speaking is what I call "Politics Speech" - you know the sort - they say the exact opposite of what they mean but you have to watch them very carefully before you realise it.  Politicians (and anybody with a high opinion of themself) have a nasty habit of using this way of speaking.

The most recent example I saw of this was Theresa May when she was being interviewed on the news tonight about the Migrant crisis at Calais.  She oozed fake concern for the migrants in the words she spoke.  Her face - and the rest of her body language - suggested she wished they would all drown in the Mediterranean (and take the entire UK Police Service with them).

If we fail to take proper care when we speak to each other we might end up feeling like we were in the sketch in the video below;

www.youtube.com/watch

(Sorry - I couldn't resist sharing that video with you.  It is one of my favourite sketches by Jon Culshaw and I thought it summed up this blog post perfectly!!!)

The Pick And Mix Police Service (Or How I Would Like The Police To Serve Their Public)
7/22/2015 10:35:44 PM
We all know that the UK Police Service is underfunded and understaffed - and things are only going to get worse.

So how would I like to see them serve their Public with what they have got left in their "armour"???

First of all (and the most important) is even if they are not immediately visible I would still like them to be accessible.  This can be via any Social Media platform you can think of or in person.

In fact, I would put a stop to all the "corporate" Police Accounts from all the different forces (in fact I would scrap the "force" structure and treat all Police officers the same no matter what rank they are - if they look like they are frightened of the public I would send them out on patrol).

The next two things I would get rid of are the two which would appear to cost the most (and one of them currently makes me feel less safe the more I see it) - Police stations and the majority of Police vehicles.

Police stations are scary places for me.  I have only been in a couple of them.  In fact, had there not been a Police Station near where I used to work I would not have reported a crime which I was a victim of at work (I actually regret reporting it because the offender didn't get the justice I thought he deserved).  They are also big, expensive to run, and hard to get at if you don't drive.  I live almost in the middle between two Police Stations (approximately 10 minutes by car to each one) - However, due to the fact I don't drive, the nearest Police Station which is accessible by Public Transport (7 days a week) is Force Headquarters.

I would also kick most of the Response Officers out of their cars and on to Public Transport.  This would have a double effect - I would feel safer on Public Transport (especially at night) - and they could collect intelligence which they cannot learn about whilst sitting in the security of a Police car.  (With any luck we might even get a cheaper more reliable Public Transport syetem as a result.)

I would also ensure that the public could raise awareness of crimes using the same Social Media platforms as the Police are using to ask for information now.  If I am looking at a Twittercop's profile on Twitter the last thing I expect is to have to dial 999 in case of emergency.  That would be like me standing in front of a Police officer and dialling 999 to report a crime which is happening directly behind him or her.

I would also design a software package so that Police officers can file paperwork regarding criminals quickly and effectively, even when out and about.

I would reinstall the "backup" services which Police used to be able to rely on to help them - nowadays the Police seem to be backing everybody else up.  Go back to an "Emergency" service - instead of being called to, say, a childrens' home where one child escapes due to an argument with staff - who should be qualified to sort out minor quarrels without calling the Police.

Basically - I would like access to officers who care about their public and love their jobs.  What I fear we will end up with is a Poice service which is full of Androids who have lost sight of their vocation.



Maybe Its Just Me Being Me (Or - Why It Is Difficult For Some People NOT To "Think Like A Freak!!!)
7/22/2015 9:48:52 PM
I suppose I kind of owe you a bit of an explanation regarding the name of the "Being Me" category on this here blog???

The cop out would be to tell you that it is complicated - well, that would not actually be a cop out because it is complicated.  Just not necessarily in the way you might expect.

You see - the name "Being Me" is a bit of a "Ronseal" name (it does what it says on the tin) with a twist.

If you were to ask me what my all-time favourite non-Kristyna Myles song is I would have to say "Being Me" by Plaeto (you can find it on Amazon).  It is the song I listen to the most when I am feeling annoyed with the world.

The lyrics are a bit dark but the part that we are most interested in right now are in the Chorus "Because I'm being me - before the night is over you'll be here but you won't see - no you won't see - what you've got here!  You've got me!".

I was reminded of it when I learned that someone I have never met got really upset on my behalf as a result of what honestly felt like a Lynching on Twitter.  (Note to self:  Never attempt to explain yourself in 140 characters (including spaces) on Twitter when the "mentally hard of hearing" are the ones you are trying to educate.  Before you decide I am being offensive to a group of Disabled people - you are correct.  However, thinking like everybody else is not exactly classified as a disability by most people (no matter how inflexible and entrenched the thinking is).

I am not going to rehash the argument again on here (I have already had my say on that subject in a previous blog post).

There have been a few good books around recently which I have read.  They made me think about things differently.

One book - "Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande - is about how wrong we have got End Of Life care for the elderly and terminally ill.  Although organ donation was not mentioned in the book, it has raised a lot of serious, negative, questions in my mind about that subject which seem to have been swept under the carpet in an attempt to get everybody to join the Donor Register.

Another book I want to mention is "Headscarves and Hymens" by Mona Eltahawy.  Ms Eltahawy is an Egyptian lady who has written about the Muslim attitudes to women as opposed to their attitudes to men.  She managed to gain the trust of Muslim women from a variety of Arab and African countries and interview them about their treatment.  Warning - this book is not for the casual reader - it hurts when you read it (or at least it did hurt me).

However, the book I want to ramble on about now is a book which (had I not read the entire "Freakonomic" series) I might well have left on the shelf because the title "Think Like A Freak" actually put me off at first.

Written by an Economist (Steven D Levitt) and a journalist (Stephen J Dubner) the entire "Freakonomics" series may sound like it will be Boring with a capital "B".  Trust me - it is the funniest, yet most educational, series of books I have ever read.

What "Freakonomics", "Superfreakonomics", and "When To Rob A Bank (The Freakopedia)", have managed to do (apart from convincing me I am not totally certifiable) is explain difficult concepts in a way which makes them easy for me to understand.

On the other hand "Think Like A Freak" has some valuable advice in it which we could all benefit from.

The first piece of advice is "in order to get the right answers you need to start by asking the right questions".  I was reminded of that one when I was watching the news this evening and saw Tony Blair badmouthing (indirectly) Jeremy Corbyn over the Leadership Election for the Labour Party in the UK.

The second one was "Freaks do not think big".  If you ask a Freak to solve a problem they will see the big picture but they will concentrate on trying to solve it in small chunks.

That sounds like me - I will concentrate on what I consider to be the most obvious problem first (whilst the rest of the world is too busy arguing about how I am doing it completely wrong).

You don't need to be an Economist or a journalist to learn the benefits of thinking like a "Freak" - you just need to be confident in your own ability to find a different way of doing something.

I suppose the hard part is explaining what you are doing and why.  Especially when what you are doing, what you believe, etc, is the exact opposite of what the rest of the world believes is how things should be done.

Take me and steep staircases for example.  Just because I went up the steep staircase doesn't mean I necessarily intend to go down it if I can avoid it.  I have been known to take a big detour to avoid going down them.  I have also been known to hold up a queue of complaining human traffic behind me as I descended a steep staircase at - what they considered to be - snail's pace (there wasn't a lift to the cardeck I wanted to get to).

As I told the lady who had stuck up for me - "I like thinking sideways because it hurts my head too much to think like normal people".

To "Help" Or Not To "Help" That Is The Question! (Or Maybe You Should Wait And See What Happens First Unless In Case Of Dire Emergency!)
7/18/2015 1:23:57 AM
This may surprise you but there is a question I dread hearing from strangers - it is any variation of "Can I help you?" or "Need a hand?".

Both of the above inspire slightly different reactions in me.

"Can I help you?" when uttered in a shop puts me on guard and makes me feel like I am under suspicion even if I have just walked in.  (I must admit the Dutch "Kan ik u helpen?" makes me feel like the Police are going to be called if I so much as pick an item up in order to look at it!!!)

There was one incident which my Mum told me about from when she was in a Dutch shop.  The assistant had been too busy to pounce on Mum when she walked in - so the minute the assistant had finished what she was doing she went up to Mum and apologised for not immediately asking if she could be of assistance.  Now, by this point Mum had been living in England for a lot longer than she had been living in Holland (even though she had made frequent trips back home) so she was more used to not being immediately pounced on when she entered a shop.  The assistant must have got the shock of her life when Mum told her that had the assistant immediately pounced Mum would have left the shop withou buying anything.

Back to the point;

Due to my past experiences (school, etc,) I am always wary of strangers - especially those who think they have my best interests at heart.  Experience tells me that their help is not going to come for free - even if they mean it to.

Either they are going to use their attempt to "help" me as a way of getting me to do things their way - because that is the best way to do it (according to them).  If I try to convince them that their way doesn't suit me for some reason it seems like I have lit the blue touchpaper and I should retire to a safe distance - trouble is - the touchpaper I usually end up lighting is my own temper.

Or, I actually end up feeling guilty for not being able to function like everybody else can.  Don't get me wrong - the person offering the help will have no idea that I feel guilty for not being able to carry out the job I want to do - I know better than to tell them that so I thank them politely and (if I really cannot manage) I will accept their help.

If I refuse your help please do not be offended.  I will politely thank you (no mouthful or earful of abuse will escape me) and struggle on my own.

You could say I have got an independent streak a mile wide - but I have my own ways of doing some things which you will not understand unless you are like me.

The guilt thing is a bit difficult to explain but I will have a go at it.

I have been brought up (some might even say "socially trained") to act like everybody else - keep my mouth shut about any and all difficulties I may have with that concept - and struggle through as best I can.

If I find myself in a situation which results in my "Independence Module" breaking down or malfunctioning it is almost as though I have to come to terms with the fact I am "defective" all over again.  Me being seen as "defective" by some people is almost like them saying I am not worth the oxygen I breathe or the space I take up on the planet.

My "defect" can show itself up at the strangest times (or - more to the point - people can see and react to it at the strangest times, and sometimes in the most hurtful ways without realising it - usually it has been blazingly obvious that I have been struggling with trying to do something which other people can do in a quarter of the time it has taken me so far).

There is something I would not advise you to say to me when I am struggling to do something which the rest of your friends can do (unless, of course, you would like to be treated to either a firework display of temper or "tin opener silence") - "Everybody else can do it so why can't you???".  I wish I could do exactly the same as everybody else - but in some cases I just have to give up and find my own way of doing things.

It is funny how people seem to think that - just because I have got a pair of glasses on my nose I have miraculously got 20/20 vision!!!  I wonder how shocked they would be if I told them that wearing glasses can make me mentally tired - and whilst they improve my vision somewhat - they have absolutely no effect on my brain (which can make things like fighting my way through a rack of clothing, which on first side appears to be blocking the entrance to a shop, interesting).

I think they would have a heart attack if I told them that (even though I have worn glasses for the major part of my life) I feel safer and more natural without my glasses on.  According to me I wear glasses to make me safer and easier for everybody else to deal with - but I actually feel more at risk whilst wearing them.

Yes, yes - I know - someone with my level of sight being let loose in public without my glasses on would be seen as being a danger to themself and other people (especially when it came to things like staircases and crossing roads, etc) but sometimes I wonder exactly why that is???  After all, I own a white stick which I could theoretically use (if I could remember where I put it) to guide me around - blind people do this daily.  Another thing they don't seem to realise is that - in certain situations (bright lights, darkness, descending steep staircases, etc) my eyes and brain operate as though I am not wearing my glasses anyway.

I want to share two videos with you which actually have a surprising connection.

The first is my all-time favourite song "Someone" by Kristyna Myles - one of the first lines of which can be taken two ways (see my last blog post for the explanation of that statement) "Oh she is a special girl who will not let you in her world - she's been hurt too many times" - no wonder it sounds like the theme song of my life.

www.youtube.com/watch

The second video took me quite a while to psyche myself up enough to record it and let you see it.  It is yours truly singing a song I wrote a long time ago (someone else wrote a backing track and I recorded it with the backing track but I have no idea what happened to that recording - so you will have to put up with my singing without music, professional production, or anything else magical like that).

www.youtube.com/watch

"Jack The Lad" may sound like it is written about a man with a really bad reputation for causing trouble wherever he goes but there is a major twist in it.  You will have to read between the lines to find out who and what it is about.  I will type the lyrics out and give you some clues (clues will be in italics) along with an explanation at the end.

Jack The Lad

Young as he is
He's not what he seems!
Popular misconception.
People he meets
Say he's really neat.
Truth is - he's scared of rejection

Chorus

Jack the Lad's running into town.
Tearing lives up and leaving again.
Says he can't help it
That's the way life goes.
That's the only way Jack knows

Day by night
Or so the story goes.
Wherever he goes - only Jack knows.
Making waves isn't his scene.
Never forgotten once seen.


Repeat Chorus

Better watch out while you're on the street.
Never quite know what you're gonna meet.
Flames of fire in his eyes.
He's the Master of disguise.

Repeat chorus and first verse.
The first clue can be explained by the fact I was around 18 when I wrote it (I know I didn't highlight the "Young" but that is actually a bit of a red herring - the song being as relevent today as it was when I wrote it).  Try reading the "he" in the first line with the "not what he seems" in the second line (put an "s" in front of "he" and you get "she").

"Truth is - he's scared of rejection" - whoever she is this female isn't exactly the most trusting person on the planet, is she???

"Says he can't help it" - "That's the only way Jack knows".  This could either be taken as a cop out (trying to excuse "Jack's" behaviour) or it could be a cry for help???  I would go with the second one!

"Making waves isn't his scene,  Never forgotten once seen" - Poor "Jack" wants to hide "himself" away in the background but you can guarantee there is something about "him" which people will remember (an unusual five letter name beginning with the letter "I" is a bit of a giveaway - that is apart from the glasses and the sight problem).

"Never quite know what you're gonna meet".  This is not as much of a threat as it may sound.  Our friend can be a bit temperamental but "he" tries to be friendly even when "he" feel threatened - doesn't always manage it though.  Can be very defensive when you first meet "him" until you have been scanned, measured, and filed in "his" brain.

"He's the Master of disguise" - A lifetime of hiding "his" sight problem, etc, earned "him" that accolade.  "He" will do "his" best to trick you into thinking "he" is like everybody else until you get to know "him" and "he" trusts you enough to tell you about "himself".

So - we are left with a rather temperamental female who doesn't like being the centre of attention but usually sticks in people's minds for one reason or another.  She doesn't trust easily but she tries to be friendly - even when feeling defensive and trying to be something she is not.

Remind you of anyone???

Remember the lyrics I quoted from Kristyna's song - I said there was a connection between the two songs, didn't I???

If "Someone" seems like the theme song of my life - you could say "Jack The Lad" is the "blood, guts, and gore" autobiographical song of my life.

Yes - I have been called a Special girl with and without inverted commas (see the last blog post for explanation) - and no - I don't let very many people into my world (in fact, if you are reading this blog you get closer to the "real" me than most of my friends in real life do) because I bear a lot of mental and emotional (and even two - self-inflicted - physical - one on the back of each hand) scars stemming from how people have hurt me in the past.

So - I am sorry if I get too defensive or seem too ready to take offence at something you say.  I know it is no excuse but I am going to say it anyway - Sometimes memories get triggered and I can get so lost in them that I forget you are a new person in a new situation.  If that happens the best thing you can do is let me ask questions (no matter how stupid you think they are).  Questions are my way of trying to grasp the thin thread that will drag me back to reality.  You don't have to answer them at all if you don't want to - just let me ask (be it as we talk in real life or on Social Media).
When A "Joke" Is The Most Offensive Thing You Can Say Without Realising It (Or - We Need A Discussion About The Use Of The Language Of Disability And Able-Bodied People!)
7/17/2015 9:44:11 PM
Warning - You may find some of the language used in this blog post offensive (or - at the very least - non Politically Correct).  My only intention is to give you a flavour of what I had to put up with in the late 1970's/1980's when I was at school.  Times have changed but there is still a "language barrier" between those people who society sees as "normal, fully functioning human beings" and those who society sees as "Disabled".

Ir really comes to something when I wish I could swap lives with one specific Police Officer so they could understand my exact level of offence at a "joke" they made at someone else's (incidentally another Police Officer) expense.  In fact, I wanted to arrest them for a "Disability Hate Crime" offence I was so upset by what they said (or - more to the point - one word they used).

What did they say that caused me so much upset??? Well, they talked about breaking someone out of a special room - but the word "special" was should have had quotation marks around it.  The missing quotation marks were the actual problem.

You see - I understand the word special to have a pleasant definition when the quotation marks are absent - a special occassion can be a wedding, a birthday, or any other kind of festive happening, that special someone could be used to refer to your partner, etc,

When the quotation marks are added to that word I understand it to have extremely unpleasant and - to be perfectly honest - dangerous meanings.

"Special" to me usually comes with two more words following it - "Educational" and "Needs".  In my experience that means "there is obviously something seriously wrong here but we either are not qualified enough to sort it out or we cannot be bothered to find out exactly what's wrong so we will just let her fend for herself".  Failing that "let's just tell her she is lazy and could try harder - that will solve the problem".

And people wonder why I now find it extremely difficult to trust those people who claim to have my best interests at heart???  Some words are sharper than knives and do a lot more long-lasting damage!!!

Admittedly, when I was at Primary School it was before the Racism Awareness of today's world came in.  I went to an all white school - although I remember one boy in my class who looked like he could have come from the Mediterranean. area.  There were certainly no black or Asian people there.  This meant that - when we were playing games like "Tig" (or "Tag") we used what would now be seen as a racially offensive word whenever we wanted a timeout. (So racially offensive I am not going to even type it.)

That was done in the innocence of "youth" I suppose.

However, some of the words which were applied to me were intended to hurt - and they did.  In fact, one of the words was used with specific gestures - just in case I was too thick to understand what it meant.  The fact that it wasn't strictly applicable to me was beside the point - it was used for people who are not "normal" - I was seen as not being "normal" so the other (usually older - but some in my class and the years below) children could use it to me.

Nowadays the word "Spastic" is not used in " UK Polite Society" to refer to a person but a condition where the muscles spasm.  Even the charity formerly known as the "Spastic Society" changed their name to "Scope".  When I was at Primary School the word "Spastic" appeared to refer to anybody with any kind of disability whatsoever - whether or not a wheelchair was involved in their disability.  Yes - you guessed it - even severe shortsightedness.  I am not even going to describe the accompanying gestures (just imagine someone with severe Cerebal Palsy and you get the idea).

Compared to that the term "Four-eyes" was quite mild (and it had a grain of truth in it - my glasses at Primary School were extremely thick and they did sometimes look like I literally had four eyes).

Ironically, the last time I was called "four-eyes" - or - to be more precise - a "four-eyed bitch" was when I was in Leicester City Centre, minding my own business, a few years ago.  The stranger who decided to verbally abuse me was a stranger who obviously had some sort of Mental Health disturbance.

It really saddens me that - even though we are aware that there are certain words and phrases we are not allowed to use to describe disabilities and disabled people - people seem to throw "Disabled" terms around like confetti, not caring where they land.

I suppose it is a little like the "Misappropriation of Racial Culture" that the black and ethnic minorities keep accussing the White people of - however, instead of hairstyles and headscarves, etc, the words can do much more damage - both to the people they are aimed at and the people they "belong to".

Autism, Mental Health Issues (rainging from OCD to needing to be Sectioned), Deafness, Blindness - anything is open to misappropriation by the "able-bodied" when it suits them.

Come on - how many times have you asked someone if they are deaf when they haven't heard something which you could hear???  Or - told someone "you must be blind if you cannot see that"??? Or a million and one other phrases which are more appropriate when applied to someone with those specific disabilities or issues???

By the way - the next time someone uses the slogan from the Specsavers advert - "should have gone to Specsavers" - they will be politely informed that Specsavers would not deal with my prescription as it is way too strong for their lenses!!!

One of my friends has gone to the extreme of rephrasing some of the things he would say to other people in order not to cause me any offence - for example, instead of saying "Do you see what I mean?" he will say "Do you understand my point of view?".  To be perfectly honest I don't mind either version.

What I do have a problem with is people deciding that - just because I make jokes about my sight - for example - "A member of the "Bat Brigade (Blind As A)" - they are allowed to do the same.  I will allow close friends and family to make jokes about it because they know where I draw the line between "funny - ha ha" and "funny - offensive" - strangers are advised to avoid all mention of my sight unless I mention it first.  I would not make jokes about any aspect of a stranger which I find odd without taking their lead or asking them first.

Disability seems to be something we cannot discuss except either in a jokey way (usually when it is totally inappropriate) or in funereal tones - as though it is the worst thing that can happen to someone.

I have news for you - it is a serious topic but it is not usually the worst thing which can happen to someone (I think you will find that accolade goes to dying).  The worst thing about disability is not what you can and cannot do for yourself - it is how some people react to your disability and make you feel about it.

Let's face it - being born disabled is bad enough in some people's eyes but going from being "normal able-bodied" to being disabled in some way can be devastating for the person concerned - mainly due to the fact that the world is designed for "normal able-bodied" people.

Until we can have a proper adult conversation about what it means to be "disabled" - and the language we use when talking about disability - we will still be stuck in our two separate worlds with that flipping "glass wall" between us separating us when the best way forward would be to have a mixed conversation.

Only by talking to each other instead of at each other will we ever be able to break the "glass wall" and live in harmony through mutual education.


Stand And Deliver - Our Security Or Their Lives (Or - Why Must The Police Pay Such A High Price For Keeping Us Safe???)
7/14/2015 12:49:54 AM
The Police are not Knife Blocks, Punchbags, Social Services, Gatekeepers, Serving Military Personnel, etc.  I will admit that some of them do a very good impression of Superheroes, Educationists, and Communication Experts (and some of them do a very good job of the last two on the list).

If you are wondering why I began my list of what Police are not with "Knife Blocks" - it comes from a tweet I sent on Sunday evening in response to the new that a Dutch Police Officer got stabbed twice (once in the back- literally - and once in the hand or arm).  The rest of my tweet requested anybody who wanted to stab something to find a block of wood.

I make no apology for supporting the Police - after all - they keep you and me safe so we can sleep soundly at night.

But I am frightened - no - make that scared - no - make that petrified - by the cuts that are not only being made to the actual numbers of officers patrolling our streets (OK so they are mostly found in single-crewed cars these days - but you know what I mean) but to the resources and powers they have.

There are two "weapons" which the UK police forces have been known to make very good use of (in this instance helicopters don't count, even though they are being reduced as well) - Stop and Search powers and "Landsharks" (when not on duty a "Landshark" turns back into a German Shepherd Dog or an Alsatian - other Police Dogs are - or should I say were??? - available for different duties).

One is being cut due to lack of funding and the other one is being cut due to too many people complaining about it (something about "racial profiling" I think).  I will leave you to guess which one is being cut for which reason!!!

One of the Twittercops I follow made another very good point regarding Police Officers - in fact he made a couple of good points - which may make you grateful for the Police and worried about their welfare.

The starting salary for a Police Constable is actually lower than the proposed Living Wage offered by the Government in the "Emergency" Budget this week - this is when you have taken the various statutory deductions into account.

The UK Police are "Officers of the Crown" - this means they are not covered by either UK Employment Law or UK Health and Safety Law.

In fact, the Dutch Police (who are having their own dispute over pay and conditions) have one advantage over the UK Police - the Dutch Police can (and have) go on strike.  (Which you may have witnessed when the "Tour de France" passed through Rotterdam.)

As I sit here typing this I have some lyrics to "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell going through my head - "You don't know what you've got til it's gone".

Are we really prepared to wait until our Police Service is completely dismantled before we - the Public - start fighting for it???  Remember the UK Police Force works to the motto of "Policing for the Public by the Public".  I really hope the rest of the Public remembers the debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women in our Police Forces who put their lives at risk on a daily basis.

I was disgusted to read about a poxy football player getting over £100,000.00 per week to stand around on a football pitch for 90 minutes a week (OK - maybe 180 minutes a week if there is a midweek match) whilst even the highest ranking Police Officer doesn't manage to earn that much!!!  Maybe we should rethink our priorities and start paying those who risk their lives to keep us safe the salary that a Professional Premier League football player earns - and pay the football player the same salary as a Police Constable who is just starting out gets now???

Yes - I am aware that this post probably reads like a rant but I am sorry if you do not get the point I am trying to make!!!  Our Police are Invaluable to us!!!

And It's From The Old I Travel To The New (Or A Short Walk From "The Globe" To An International Place Of Beauty)
7/14/2015 12:07:22 AM
Whilst I was on my way to the subject of this review I found a plaque stuck to the side of a building which was rather intriguing.

Unfortunately, I will never review "The Globe" as it fails my External Menu Test (as in I need a microscope to read the menu they have "helpfully" stuck in a glass box on an outside wall near the door.

Apparently, "The Globe" is the most notable Pub in Leicester.


Plaque on wall of "The Globe"


Maybe you can read the writing a bit better on this photo???


However, this was not my intended destination.

Those of you who read the original "Inkyworld" blog may remember I reviewed "Taps", on Guildhall Lane, a few years ago.

"Taps" is a very apt name for this pub as it has taps serving lager at the tables (apart from in the main bar area) so you can serve yourself.


Main Bar Area of Taps


This is a truly international establishment - you can try lagers and other alcoholic drinks from all over the globe.

If you want my honest opinion the best room in the place is to the right of the bar (then turn left - mind you don't (a) trip over the step just after you get into the room or (b) fall down the staircase to your left as you walk in.

As you probably know by now I hate dark or dimly lit spaces - however, I will definitely always make an exception if I am provided with stunning scenery to look at.  (Call me strange but - if you stick labels and posters on your walls advertising drinks from exotic places - I will read them.)


A Tap at Taps!!!


Something to read with your pint Sir (or Madam)???
A Place To Escape In A Busy City (The Hidden Gem That Is "St Martin's Square" - and "The Lanes")
7/13/2015 11:35:07 PM
Let me take you on a magical journey to a place where you can hide from the world.

If you read my "taster" blog post (or you follow me on Twitter) you will know that I wanted to introduce you to my favourite part of Leicester City Centre - St Martin's Square.

Ironically - one of the reasons I love it so much is because hardly anyone knows about it (so it isn't cluttered with people like the nearby Gallowtree Gate).  The other reason is why I am writing this blog post about it - it has got some great little independent shops in it which I have not seen anywhere else.

St Martin's Square has got two "main" entrances.  You will find out why I put main in inverted commas in a minute.

The most visible entrance is from Hotel Street (nearest bus stop is Town Hall Square).


The top of the Entrance to St Martin's Square (from the direction of Town Hall Square/Pocklingtons Walk)



Entrance as seen from Ground Level

The entrance from Silver Street is what you might call "slightly hidden" - I would call it almost invisible - unless you are trying to avoid stepping in any puddles (the most obvious clue is on the floor).


The writing is literally on the floor (you might just be able to make out the writing on the pillars as well).

The Square itself is nice during sunny weather as it has seats.


Anyone want a picnic???  There are picnic tables in St Martin's Square as well as the outdoor seating from the cafes.

There are three shops in the Square itself I want to give a mention to (and one which is technically not in the Square but is only a short walk away).

The first shop is St Martin's Coffeeshop.  If you are in Leicester City Centre and you want me this is where you will usually find me drinking a black Americano.

St Martin's Coffeeshop reminds me of just about every Dutch cafe and restaurant I have ever been in (OK so the furniture and the crockery in a Dutch cafe would match but the atmosphere is the same).  Another reminder will make itself known when you look at the photos.

In fact, to be perfectly honest - whenever I walk into St Martin's Coffeeshop I feel like I have walked into someone's home.  The staff are caring and friendly too.


Entrance with Terrace type seating


I could almost imagine I am in Holland - Coffee and Cycles (Cycle shop is on the right out of shot).

However, what I love most about it (apart from the mishmash of furniture and crockery) are the lighting and the space between the tables.


The string lights would probably show up better if it had been dark.


Space enough for me to navigate my way around even whilst carrying a tray!!!


They have two "menus" - a Breakfast one until 12.00pm and then a Lunch one from 12.00pm until 3.00pm.  The prices are pretty reasonable.  The food is provided by Crafty Burgers - who also do a kind of Takeover from 6.00pm from Thursday through to Saturday.

It even has free WIFI (even if someone with my eyesight has to almost get on their hands and knees to read the code and password you need to access it).

The only snag I can see is - unless you like cakes and Brownies - you would be better off going to Gelato Village (across the Square near the Hotel Street entrance to the Square) which do some lovely sorbets.  (Gelato Village is the second shop.)

Once you have eaten and drunk to your heart's content I would suggest you head for the Silver Street Entrance to the Square because you will find my second favourite shop on your way out.

"Watch This Space" sounds like an instruction more than the name of a shop - I know - but when you walk in you will find a treasure trove of handmade clothes, jewellery, and craft items.  They even do workshops where you can learn how to make some of the items yourself.


Front window of "Watch This Space"

Turn right onto Silver Street - go past the "FairTrade" shop - and you will find what can only be described as a Chocoholic's idea of Heaven.

Cocoa Amore is an artisan chocolate shop - with an old fashioned charm (the presentation of the chocolates in the boxes is really special (even to the point of tying them with proper ribbon).

Open Tuesday to Saturday it is a shop which is well worth a visit - especially since it moved out of its previous cramped premses on the top floor of the Silver Arcade.


Front window of a Chocoholic's dream.

Of course, there are other shops, etc in and around St Martin's Square - this is only a small selection.  There are also events and happenings which take place on the square itself - usually on a Saturday during the warmer weather.

I hope I have inspired you to take a trip around St Martin's Square and the area known as "The Lanes".
.
Is Blogging An Artform???
7/13/2015 10:09:34 PM

 

I wrote the writing below as an article for "Choice" - the newspaper for LCIL.

I have to admit to feeling slightly puzzled by people’s responses when I tell them that I am a Blogger.  This is usually because they seem to have this strange idea that I must be the world’s best writer, or the most eloquent and articulate person on the planet in order to write a blog post (neither of which describe me).

Let’s face it - people have been “blogging” since before the internet was invented - they just called it “writing a diary”, or “Letters To The Editor”, or even “writing
a shopping list”.  None of the above need any kind of educational qualification
(although - obviously - being able to write words is a good starting point).

Even though I started blogging as a “head emptying exercise” after being made redundant nearly 10 years ago -
I now blog because I feel I am under-represented in the world we live in and I want to make myself heard in the general clamour for attention by the
“normal, acceptable” people.  Trust me - it is no fun feeling like you are in a “Minority of One” most of the time.  I would also like to feel that I am able
to teach people about my world as someone who (even though I don’t usually look it) is disabled - I am Registered Partially Sighted.

I suppose “Blogging” could be seen as falling between “Creative Writing” and “Journalism”.Both of these are an attempt to grab your
attention and make you believe what you are reading.  At the “professional” end of the scale of both “Creative Writing” and “Journalism”
people get paid for what they write - but (in most cases) they try to avoid being the story themselves.  “Blogging” works best when either
you are the story yourself or you are passionate about an issue and you can write about that.

I prefer attempting to make other people think a little differently about Disability and Inequality - or anything and anybody else which inspires
me when I am sat in front of my computer.  (They do say “a word can paint a thousand pictures”.)

Deciding When To Make A Horrible Decision (Or - It Could Have Turned Out A LOT Worse Than It Did)
7/13/2015 9:53:54 PM
Have you ever been in a situation where you honestly didn't know whether to order someone to go to A&E based on nothing but a gut feeling that they may be seriously ill???

Well, that is not an entirely true assessment of the situation I found myself in a couple of weeks ago - but it was a true assessment of a similar situation I found myself in when I was working.

In both cases I was convinced something was seriously wrong with someone I knew - as in medically wrong with them.

The first situation was difficult because I didn't really know the person that well - the fact their skin almost ressembled a sheet of white A4 paper in colour was a clue that all might not be well with them (there is "white" skin colour and there is white skin colour) they were coughing a bit as well.  I told the person to go to a Dr ASAP.  They complained that they were OK.  The next time I saw them (approximately a month later) they thanked me for telling them to go because they had pneumonia.

A couple of weeks ago I was worried about a friend of mine because they seemed quiet (as in almost "tinopener" quiet), not really firing on all cylinders, and their facial colour-scheme indicated they were poorly.

Now, this particular friend had had a go at me previously for trying to make sure they were OK.  Also, I felt it would be disrespectful to say "Hospital - NOW" to them due to the fact they are somewhat older than me (and I couldn't be certain if my hunch was correct - it turned out that I was right at the same time as being wrong - as in it was an existing condition, just not the one I feared it was).

You may be able to imagine the guilt I felt when I heard that my friend had been rushed into hospital three days after I last spoke to them.

Luckily, when I saw them on Friday they were almost back to their usual self.  They did say something interesting though.

Apparently I hadn't been the only person who thought there was something not quite right with my friend - but none of us had had the courage to speak up when we had the chance.

When I explained my reasons for not speaking up (or at least one of them) my friend ordered me to tell them if the same thing happened again.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that there is a fine line between being nosy and pushy and acting in what you honestly feel are the best interests of someone you know (more so when you don't know the full story).

I will never know what would have happened if I had had the courage to speak up - my friend could have ignored me and still ended up being rushed into hospital (let's just say that the chances of my friend actually making that visit just on my say so were slim to non-existent).

So - please ask any friends you have how they want you to act when you feel there is something not quite right with them (but you cannot put your finger on esactly what is wrong) - it could save their life!!!



Confusion Alert (Or How Can We Expect People From Other Countries To Understand What We Mean When We Make It So Difficult For Ourselves???)
7/7/2015 4:10:41 PM
As you may know I am fascinated by language.  I have been reading a book called "Watching The English" by Kate Fox in which she talks us through the different ways English people behave (especially to how people from other countries would expect them to).

My favourite thing about the English language is when different phrases or words can have several meanings depending on what is actually being said.

For example - if you told me you were going to "pass out" I would seek medical attention for you.  But if a Police Officer or a Military person told me they were going to "pass out" chances are they would not be asking me to seek medical attention for them - I would probably hear details about a "Passing out Parade" (and no - I don't think it involves people in an exhibition of synchronised fainting).

However, there is one word that I hate when it is on boards selling the Leicester Mercury (my local newspaper) - "Critical".

This is usually because it is the last word in a short headline about the victim of a road traffic collision or a stabbing, etc.

"Accident On St Margarets Way - Man Critical"???

When you read the story in the newspaper you will find the man in the headline is "critically ill" or very poorly indeed.

On the other hand - when I first read a headline like that I wonder whether the man is a bystander who has made a comment about the accident and how "something really needs to be done about that junction", etc.  Or maybe the man has complained about the treatment he recieved as a result of the accident.

The wonders of the English language.

A Teaser And A Taster Of A Forthcoming Blog Post
7/7/2015 3:45:00 PM
I know - I know - I don't usually usually give teasers and tasters of future blog posts but I wanted to make an exception this once.

If you follow me on Twitter (@Inkyworld) you will already know how much I love St Martins Coffeeshop in Leicester.

This is the best independent Coffee Shop (or cafe) I have ever been in.

It is in a little known area of Leicester called St Martins (near "The Lanes").  This has got small independent shops in it - also "The Sweater Shop" hav got an outlet there.

I have decided I am going to introduce you to St Martins Coffeeshop, as well as some of the other exciting little places I have been known to be found in around that area.

I feel that area is too good to be "Leicester's Best Kept Secret" for much longer.

I hope you will come back and have a look when I blog about it - and maybe eve visit the area for yourself.


I really hope you can "virtually" join me at my favourite table.

Respect And Understanding Would Go Far In A Maddening World (Or - Maybe We Should Judge Ourselves Before We Judge Others)
7/7/2015 3:22:17 PM
There has been a lot of talking about flags and their various meanings and affiliations recently - mostly negative if you ask me.

We have the furore about the Confederate Flag in the US (although I did read somewhere that the most devisive flag on US soil is actually the Stars and Stripes itself).

We also have the arguments about the ISIS flag being "worn" in London without risk of arrest.

Oh - and we have the Rainbow coloured flag of the LGBT community which I am thinking would not be a welcome sight in Africa or Russia, for example.

Yesterday I was on the hunt for a coffee machine when I saw a picture I just had to buy (I am trying to work out where to put it).  It only cost me £5.00 but I think that £5.00 is worth more than the large amount I ended up paying for the coffee machine (I still have to buy new cups to use with the machine).

(As well as liking the picture  - the original reason for me buying it was because it reminded me of at least five of my friends in different ways - not that I am saying any of them are multi-coloured zebras you understand.)


"Equal Opportunities" Zebra

Closer to home we see evidence of people not respecting each other's differences.  Maybe you have been a victim yourself???

I must admit it is usually either those of us with "hidden" disabilities, Mental Health issues, or who have made lifestyle choices which other people may not undestand who notice it the most and make the biggest fuss about it.  Not forgetting the big race, sex (gender and sexual preference), and religious discrimination issues suffered by people in the world.

(A particular bugbear of mine is how the world is designed for people who would consider themselves "normal" when the best designers would be those of us with sight problems or hearing problems which maybe are not immediately noticeable - that way - maybe we would get some patience and understanding built in to our environment.  As it is I have to remember to be patient with people who think they know what is best for me and cannot be bothered to listen when I point out that what they are suggesting is the worst thing.

If we could all show each other that little bit more understanding - maybe we would go some way towards peace to all mankind.

Maybe We Need To Put Our Ideas About The "Calais Question" Into A Shipping Container??? (Or - A Simple Solution To Part Of A Complicated Problem)
7/7/2015 2:49:03 PM
Back in the mists of time when I was gainfully employed I worked for a company that did quite a bit of work overseas.  This meant we had to sent large items all over the world by sea.  In order to do this we sent the items in large shipping containers - and part of the contract meant we could only get paid when the Customer (and their Bank) recieved the Packing List for each container we sent.

I was reminded of this when I heard about the Migrants who are trying to get from Calais to the UK by whatever means possible.

It is all very well for the British and the French Governments to blame each other for the crisis in Calais - as well as the Road Haulage Association saying that something needs to be done because Calais is getting too dangerous for UK Lorry drivers - but there is an easy solution which could be up and running in minutes (maybe that is an exaggeration but it would be a quicker solution than waiting for the Governments and the Road Haulage Association to stop blaming each other).

Watching the news reports I have noticed one thing the lorries (or more precisely - the trailers) stuck in Calais all have in common.  They are nowhere near as secure as they could be.  We have curtain-sided trailers and we have "Box-type" trailers (think Tesco and ASDA).

What I have never seen on a lorry trailer which is anywhere near a car ferry is a proper sealed container.  As in the metal rectangular shaped boxes with currugated sides and a list of numbers on the back of them but without any visible way of getting into them whatsoever.

Until I started having to do Packing Lists and Shipping Documents for goods going to faraway countries (ie, places not in the EU) I didn't realise how significant those numbers are.

You have a container seal number and a container number (you may even have the empty weight) which can be checked against the corresponding container by Customs.

I just think that all goods shipped into and out of any country in the world should be shipped in sealed containers - keeping the Curtain-sided trailers and the "Box Type" trailers for domestic use in each country.  I do mean all countries - even good going between countries on the same bit of land (England and Scotland, France and Holland, etc) should be shipped in sealed containers.

Then we should work on getting all but the most needy asylum seekers a proper place to live without fear in their own countries.  There is a lot more that the world's Governments can do to prevent mass migration - stamping out on corruption, letting the inhabitants of oppressed countries live freely, etc.

However - and I am saying this respectfully (due to the fact I am typing this on the 10 year anniversary of the London Bombings) - we should seriously consider the repercussions from any attempts at trying to bend countries to our way of thinking by armed force.

I honestly feel fear when I hear news reports suggesting ISIS and other terrorist groups should be bombed out of existence.  Bombs have a nasty habit of killing and seriously injuring innocent civilians who have nothing to do with the "reason" for them being dropped or detonated.  And the people they hurt the most are the people who drop them.  The UK and the US have both gone from being seen as the "peacemakers" of the world to being seen as the major aggressors simply due to their eagerness to head for the gun, tank, cannon, etc, before even considering what else could be done.

Unlike the goods we supply to other countries - we cannot ship rubble and dead bodies across the world and call it "peace".  Nor can we force everybody else to abide by our laws and customs at gunpoint.  I seem to remember that A Hitler Esquire and S Milosovic Esquire both attempted that and ended up paying for it most severely.

Yes - shipping containers will solve the problem between Britain and Europe but we also need to ship goodwill and peace to the rest of the world via aid, help, and dipomatic means.

Bright Lights Plus White Shirts Equals Headaches (Or The Phobia That Is Not Technically A Phobia)
7/7/2015 2:01:20 PM
You may have noticed a large yellow ball in the sky recently???  It's called "The Sun" apparently.  Well, that is what most people call it.  You know the type - those who like to barbecue/grill/toast (delete as applicable) themselves underneath its rays whilst slathering on lots of basting juices (sorry - suntan lotion) and turning over every once in a while until they either turn golden brown or lobster red.

I happen to dread weather like we have been having (and not only because I don't like hot temperatures) so much so that I prefer being inside a solid building if I can help it.

Why???

Well, I happen to suffer from something called "Photophobia".  I have written about it on here a few times before but I decided to try to explain a bit more about it and how it affects me day to day.

When you think about it - "Photophobia" is a bit of a strange name for a condition which has nothing to do with a fear of photographs (although cameras do affect it).  After all, Agoraphobia is a fear of open spaces - arachnophobia is a fear of arachnids (or spiders), etc.

The "Photo" bit of Photophobia would be closer to the truth if it was replaced with the word "Light" - and the "phobia" bit would be closer to the truth if it was replaced with the word "sensitivity".

In plain English my eyes are supersensitive to bright lights.

Bright sunlight, Fluorescent lights, camera flashes, car headlights, Any kind of projector light with a large quantity of white in the display.  Oh and white shirts.

Yes - you did read that last one correctly.  That pristine white shirt you have decided to put on this morning can be the worst choice of clothing you own.  I know it looks smart and tidy to you and everybody else. However, to me it should be classed as an instrument of torture.

Allow me to explain - or at least attempt to explain.

White reflects light.  This means that if I have to look at a white shirt (and I am not being sexist here - the majority of humans who regularly wear white shirts are of the male species) and the rest of my surroundings are either slightly darker or brighter than the shirt my eyes will start complaining (if my surroundings are pitch black - or what I would consider to be pitch black - the colour of the shirt doesn't make any difference as the chances are I cannot see it any way).  In fact, my eyes will start sending the same signals to my brain as if they were being forced to look at car headlights, or a white projector screen - "remove us from the vicinity of the bright lights - or at least allow us to close until the bright lights have passed".  Not very useful when you are in an office and you have to look at the person who is either speaking to you or demostrating something to you.

If you insist on wearing a white shirt in bright light please find something to wear over the majority of it.  Either that or unbutton it and roll the sleeves up - even skin is preferable to a large expanse of white.  (Sometimes I just feel like picking up the nearest pen and writing or doodling on the shirt.)

Or you could be very kind to me (and people like me) and replace those pristine white shirts with shirts with a hint of colour (pale blue is a favourite of mine).

On a slightly different note - I think I shocked a highranking Twittercop last week by thanking them for the video of the police car they put on Twitter.

I think my exact words were "FINALLY! A police car that doesn't blind people who suffer from Photophobia - THANK YOU!".

If you saw a blog post I put on here approximately 12 months ago where I interviewed Simon Cole, who is (at time of writing at least) the Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police, you will know I asked him about the alternating flashing headlights on Police cars when they have got their lights and sirens on at night.

(Whilst we are on the subject of car headlights - if you want my attention at night and you are in a car with your headlights on - please remember the old "Dip don't Dazzle" advert.  I know you will automatically flash your lights so they are on full beam - but I would honestly prefer it - and it would be safer - if you dipped or turned your headlights off to signal your location.  Especially if you expect me to walk towards you immediately after locating you.)

Anyway - the car had its blue flashing lights on as per usual.  Come to think of it the car looked like it had more blue flashing light on it than any police car I have seen before.  I thought only ambulances, Fire Engines, and Riot Vans had blue flashing lights in the radiator grills, I could be wrong though.  However, the alternating flashing headlights were conspicuous by their absence.

(I was hoping to put a link to the video but I am awaiting permission - not to mention a link.)
Highranking Twittercop was a bit stunned by my reaction and apologised for not understanding it at first.  When I explained as best I could in 140 characters, he asked me what could be done to improve things.

I was pleased to learn that uptodate police cars have a system where it is impossible to turn the alternating flashing headlights on at night.

I would like to finish with a bit of an explanation.

Even though I wear Transition Lenses (or what used to be called "Reactolite" glasses) my eyes still need time to adjust when going from light areas to dark areas - as my lenses don't cover my entire eyes.  This means I find it a bit more difficult to see people in darker spaces.  So - if you speak and then notice me looking around as though I think the place may be haunted - please do not be alarmed.  I am aware there is another human somewhere I just need time to be able to see you - just keep talking until I speak back to you.

Tidying My World (Or - Time To Have A Springclean)
7/7/2015 11:52:31 AM
You may have noticed that my world looks a bit tidier and less cluttered.  (Please note - the photo is not me.  I am using the banner provided as a temporary thing until I decide what sort of image I want on it.)

When I started this version of "Inkyworld" I had big plans to try to make it more like I have seen "Commercial" websites and put a lot more things on it and try to make myself more 'saleable' as a Blogger.

I have recently been having a rethink - and I decided to concentrate on the part of the experience I enjoyed the most.  As I automatically went straight to the blog part when I wanted to update the website the other bits got neglected - so I got rid of them.

The result of that is the new readers of my blog are getting almost the same experience as the original readers of the original "Inkyworld" blog.  This is what I wanted to achieve in the first place when I switched hosts - well, almost - I would have preferred to have kept all the old posts from the original website that were lost in the move - but I can't have everything.

Hope you like this new look version.  Don't worry - the content will still be a "sideways" as ever.


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