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Bitsy Von Muffling - Bitsy's Emporium
8/23/2015 10:34:55 PM
There are times - Dear Reader - when I set myself an almost impossible challenge.

Four words - Salted, Caramel, Layer, Cake.

Please accept my apologies for the lack of photos with this blog post.  I was too busy trying to resist eating the rest of the above cake (which I had munched my way through a delicious slice of) to bother getting my phone out and taking photographs of Bitsy's wonderful goodies.

In fact, there is only one problem with blogging about food.  Sure, you can take as many photographs of it as you want to but how do you describe the gorgeous texture of the cake, the oozing caramel topping, and the divine taste of it???

There is only one thing for it - you will either have to go to the "Open Air Stall" that Bitsy has got on Cank Street in Leicester, on Saturdays, and sample it for yourself, or - visit her website at:  www.bitsysemporium.com/

Emma Cowley - Illustrator
8/23/2015 10:21:21 PM
I have a confession to make about this particular artist - I was attracted to the picture I bought because of the flowers in it.

Put it this way - her drawings of birds are very lifelike but - to me a bird is a creature which flies and/or lays eggs (and - in the case of a chicken - tastes very nice in either a plateful of Nasi Goreng or doused in Satay sauce).

I would be very interested if anybody could tell me where I could buy a plant with red flowers like the ones at the top of the picture???

For more drawings of nature (among other things) please visit:  emmacowley.com/

Jade Walsh Illustrator
8/23/2015 10:06:13 PM
If you know me by now you should realise there was one thing which drew me to Jade Walsh.  In fact, there could only have been one thing which drew me to her.

A whimsical picture with a brilliant motto.

Brilliant picture with a very true motto.

On the back of Jade's business card you find another brilliant drawing.

Please visit her website at:  www.jade-walsh.co.uk/
Matthieu Leger - Painter Doesn't Quite Cover What He Does - Try Wizardry!!!
8/23/2015 9:40:44 PM
There are painters and there are Painters.  The former are the ones who do it as a hobby and show glimpses of brilliance at times.  The latter are like Matthieu Leger - I would be willing to visit any exhibition of his work I can find.  In fact, I would love to buy some of his works if I ran my own gallery.

The picture which caught my eye was a rather interesting one because it could have been a volcano which had just started to erupt.

Then another one caught my eye. (He told me this was a work in progress but I kind of liked the memory it brought into the focus of my mind's eye.)

Cue Rod Stewart "I am Sailing" - this reminded me of the North Sea.

Apparently he paints in Technicolour too.

I cannot do Matthieu's paintings justice on here - they really need to be viewed in the flesh as it were.

One thing I found very interesting about his work (which also set him apart from his brother, Olivier) was that Matthieu paints on MDF or wood.

Visit his website at: www.matthieuleger.com
Olivier Leger - Illustrator, Drawer, Artist
8/23/2015 9:16:32 PM
I feel like I am writing about Olivier and his brother, Matthieu, in the wrong order (I saw Matthieu's work first) but there is a reason for that.

Apparently one of Olivier's friends asked him to do a 10 minute sketch of a wolf - a week later Olivier went back to his friend with this lifelike drawing.  I loved it so muh I bought a copy.

Some people just do small drawings, don't they???

Not Olivier!!!

A large drawing by Olivier.

For more of his amazing creations please visit;  www.olivierleger.co.uk

LuvinBling - Creative Wombling At Its Best!
8/23/2015 8:46:37 PM
There are people you meet who you immediately feel at home around.  Senika Simon is exactly one of those people.  Her infectious smile (not to mention her hugs) really brighten the place up.

Infectious smile and unique jewellery in one photo!!!

As I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog I absolutely love her upcycled jewellery.  In fact, between Senika and Kristyna Myles I have found my two favourite independent women to support.  I honestly think that Senika is gorgeous where it counts (on the inside).

I honestly cannot wait until she gets her website up and running so you will be able to see and purchase her fantastic items.

What I love most about her is that she actually wears her own work with pride.  You cannot get any better advertising that the noise you make about your own products.

You can see other photographs of the enormous range of jewellery she makes elsewhere on my blog but I wanted to show you my favourite pieces now.

"Frost" Collection set.

Close up of "Frost" Collection Earrings

She even runs jewellery making workshops - and she is a very patient teacher (I have experience of this).

All set for a live Jewllery making exhibition (guess who else had a go at making some earrings???)

This Jewellery making is highly addictive!!! (And - as I have proven - you don't need 20/20 vision to enjoy making it!!!)

Follow @LUVINBLING on Twitter.

Introducing The "Social Creatives" Section (Meeting Place For The Artistic, The Crafty, The People With Unusual Ideas, etc)
8/23/2015 7:56:31 PM
Welcome to this new section where I will be showcasing the "Arty", the "Crafty", and those people who come up with unusual ideas (the more off-the-wall the better as far I am concerned).

Unusually - the name for this section of my blog was not totally my idea.  At least part of the credit for the idea goes to Olivier Leger, who is one of the humans I want to introduce to you in a blog post (his brother, Matthieu, is another one).

But I have decided to start with pointing you in the direction of one of my friends who has made several appearances elsewhere in my blog (in nearly every single one of his many "personas") but I decided to put my favourite of his sites in one place.

I originally met Derek Lee at a Creative Writing group we both went to.  To be perfectly honest I think his writing is a lot better than mine.  He has found that elusive way of writing which ensures that you find something interesting in the most mundane things he writes.  Also, he writes in such a way that unexpected things start firing in my brain every time I read something he had written.  The most unusual (and memorable) was "Another Brick In The Wall" starting on a loop in my brain when I was trying to get to sleep after reading a blog post he had written on frothyfilosofy.wordpress.com/.  If you would like your mind expanded, twisted, and knotted into submission I would strongly suggest you read this blog.  (I have given up attempting to compare my writings to his - his win no contest.)

Not only is he good at "Straight" Creative Writing - he is pretty good at poetry as well - have a read of this site - poetrypond.wordpress.com/.

But if there is a reason for me to be totally envious of him it his wizardry with a camera.  Combined with a view of life more "sideways" than mine (although this might have something to do with his profession as a Clinical Psychologist) it gives his photographs their own individual stories (either intentionally or unintentionally).

www.perceptualemotion.com/ is under construction as we speak but there are some brilliant photos on the homepage (a bit of a slideshow).  Keep checking back because you will find some amazing photos on it when it is finished,

If you cannot wait for him to finish building his photography website you can always look at his Flickr page.  www.flickr.com/photos/derek-john-lee/
I keep attempting to talk him into exhibiting his work in real life - I honestly think his photos are that good,

Visions Of Prescriptions (Or - Literally - Welcome To My World)
8/23/2015 6:59:44 PM
Every so often I come up with an idea for a blog post and dismiss it out of hand almost immediately - either because it is extremely complicated or because I can imagine one of my friends in particular deciding that I need to be booked in for an urgent processional consultation with them as a result of reading the results.  (In case you are wondering - the friend I am referring to works in the Mental Health Profession.)

There are many reasons why what you are about to read only narrowly escaped instant dismissal when the idea came into my head (some of those reasons will probably become obvious as we go along) - but I decided that they were cancelled out by one major reason for writing this blog post.  That reason is blood, guts, and gore (not literally but it does come very close) honesty.

I wanted to give you a small taster of my vision, as well as show you my glasses in a new way (as well as giving you an explanation of them.

So - sit back and enjoy the trip into my eyes.

The idea for this blog post came to me as I was standing in my kitchen this morning trying to put one of the lenses of my glasses back together after cleaning my glasses.  I was actually trying to stick the flexible bit of the lens onto the solid bit of the lens.  (Don't worry - I will explain what I mean as we get a bit further on.  All you need to know for now is that - technically - instead of having one lens in each hole in my glasses frame - I have got two lenses.)

First things first.  I suppose I had better explain the "process" behind the photographs you are about to view.

(I told you that I was going to dismiss the idea of this blog post, didn't I??? Now you are going to find out one of the reasons - pay very close attention to this next bit.)

When I say that I am a member of the "Bat Brigade (Blind As A)" I am not exaggerating.  Anything further away than approximately 3 centimetres from the end of my nose is a blur if I haven't got my glasses on.

As you can imagine this causes two slight problems as far as photographing things so you get a flavour of what I can see without my glasses is concerned.

Problem number one being that it is very difficult to deliberately get a camera that far out of focus at the best of times.

Problem number two being if the object I am trying to photograph is my glasses themselves, and they are not on my nose, I have great difficulty seeing what I am trying to do for obvious reasons.

(Before I get much further I have to thank Julie Kirkpatrick for looking at the photos in this blog post and making sure they were OK - as well as telling me that this would be an interesting idea for a blog post.)

Please note - all the photos were taken by me with no huamn assistance whatsoever.

So - the question I get asked more often than not is "what can you see without your glasses?"

Find camera - take glasses off nose - take photographs through each lens individually as though I am looking through them - and you will get your answer.

In both cases look at the TV (that black blob in the corner).

This is as close as I can get to what I can see with my left (bad) eye sithout glasses.

You are forgiven for thinking that my right (good) eye is not much better because - in the great scheme of things - it isn't!!!

So now you have had a slight taster as to what I can see without my glasses on I will tell you a bit about the "mechanics" of my glasses (and why I have been known to take them to be cleaned by my optician).

I told you that my glasses technically have two lenses in each eye (one flexible lens and one solid lens)???

I can prove it.

The left lens of my glasses is left in "one peice" - the right lens has the "carrier" (solid) lens in the frame and the (flexible) "Fresnell lens" below it.

(You are very lucky that I decided it was worth the aggravation of "sticking" the flexible "Fresnell" lens back on to the carrier - otherwise you would not have seen either this photo or the next one.)

What do I mean by "Carrier" lens???

Well, the simple explanation is that the Brainiacs who manufacture the "Fresnell" (flexible) lenses do not make them anywhere near strong enough for my prescription - apart from that the "Fresnell" lens are too floppy to be put in a pair of glasses on their own.  So, I have a solid "carrier" lens which is just over half of the prescription and a "Fresnell" lens which is "stuck" to it - think of both pressing the back of a board rubber to a wall, so it sticks to it by suction alone, and one of those holders for your Satnav which you stick onto your windscreen, with the help of a little moisture, and you get the idea.

My "Flexible Friend" - No - not a Mastercard (or whichever credir card had that as the tagline for their adverts - this is the only up close and personal view you will ever get of one of my "Fresnell" lenses.

(I have just noticed a sheer fluke in that photo.  The carpet is only fractionally less blurred than it looked when I took the photo of the lens!!!)

You will notice the second reason for me preferring to get my glasses professionally cleaned (apart from their annoying habit of coming unstuck from the "carrier" if I catch them at a certain angle when I am cleaning them) - the circular grooves which have a nasty habit of getting dust, etc, in them.

The observant among you may now be thinking "I have seen that lens somewhere before".  You would be correct - especially if you have been on a coach or a bus with a square of what looks like frosted glass stuck on the rear windscreen.  It is exactly the same thing.

I hope you have found this interesting and/or helpful.

I have one more photo I wish to share with you which might explain why I will never go back to "conventional" one peice lenses again if I can help it.

Please excuse the extreme closeup of my ugly face but there is a point to the photo.  If you look at the "bridge" of my nose you may just be able to make out a dent in it.  That dent was caused by almost a lifetime of wearing heavy lenses in my glasses.  Not only are my current glasses a visual improvement on the old very thick lenses - they are almost a quarter of the weight as well.

As I said at the beginning of this post I nearly didn't write it - not so much because of the difficulty in making something I don't usually think twice about (because I am used to it) accessible to you (the uninitiated) through words alone - more because of the difficulty of doing the photography on my own.

I will let you make your own mind up about the "words" bit of it but I am very pleased with how the photos turned out.  Although, I have to admit that photography without my glasses on is not an experience I am in a hurry to repeat if I can help it!!!

The Playground Of Social Media (Or - How Easy It Is To Get Involved In Small Things Which Can Make A Big Difference)
8/14/2015 11:06:18 PM
I don't know how you found out who wanted to join in your games when you were in Primary School but the Primary School I went to had a brilliant method.  It was brilliant because it was almost stupidly simple.

One person would walk around the playground with their arms stretched out at either side and shout, "All in who wants to play...", (they would insert the name of the game they wished to play).  One by one people would join them and the shout would get louder - until the required number of people had joined their group.

The next thing was to decide who would be first in the game (especially if it was a game of tig - or tag - or any other game that required one person to be "it").  This was done by "putting your foot in" (literally putting your foot into a circle so the "winner" can be decided by a process of rhyming elimination one by one).

Why am I telling you all this???

I am slowly coming to the conclusion that Twitter runs along the same lines.  However, there is no walking around shouting, "All in", etc, or "putting your foot in".

Twitter seems to be a place where anybody and everybody can either start a conversation or join in a conversation and (as long as they are not being abusive or committing what one of my Twitter friends called "Crimes Against Intelligence") they are quite free to drop in and out as they want to.

Twitter also seems to be where proper protests can start.  If you have a bugbear about something - put it on Twitter and 9 times out of 10 someone else will take up your protest.  If you are really lucky you will either find a famous person who is interested in your protest or you will be able to direct your protest at the correct person straightaway.

Facebook is a bit different - in fact - if I didn't have friends or relations who I contact mainly through Facebook I would close my account and forget about it.

It is not the fact that some people appear to insist on telling everybody on Facebook about every single thing they get up to in their life that I have a problem with.

What I do have a problem with about Facebook is the temptation to turn it into a kind of "alternative reality" - you can do a lot of things on Facebook that you wouldn't be able to get away with in "real life".

This is best summed up by the "joke" - which started on Facebook before someone posted it onto Twitter - about someone interrupting private conversations to pass comment on them, and giving people "thumbs up" if they liked what was said.  The 'Punchline' is "I now have four people following me - two Police Officers, one Private Detective and a Psychiatrist".

Social Media has its good side and its bad side.

The good side (for me at least) is when you find people who are willing to enter debates on subjects which end up educating you.  Or you can find a cause which is close to your heart and find a group which welcomes your opinions.

The bad side is when people seem to gang up on you for no reason.

Some of the issues I have written about on this blog came as a result of conversations I have had with people on "Social Media" - for example - the Police, Mental Health (Cyberbullying), petition about people losing their benefits if they stay in hospital for over 28 days, etc.

Other things I have seen on Social Media (but I have not shared with you) just gave me a different perspective on life.  Seeing someone else's life (even if it is just a momentary glimpse of it) can have a profound impact on you if you let it.

I have found some incredibly brave people on Social Media - and they don't realise how brave and strong they really are.

The only thing I really wish I could make happen is to transfer the feelings I get from Twitter and Facebook into real life - particularly the sense of community spirit among people who really share a belief in a cause.  Even when it seems the cause is a lost hope before they start.

So - All in who wants to transfer the community spirit from Twitter into real life!!! (And - no - you don't have to put your feet in for this one - just try to do your bit where you are!!!)

Seven Circles Of Life (Or - What On Earth Am I And, More To The Point, What Am I Doing Here???)
8/14/2015 10:19:34 PM
Every so often I stumble on a website or blog post which I think I can nick the idea of and use it to entertain you (especially if I can apply an Inkyworld-style twist to the original).

One of my friends has decided to take part in a "Blogging Challenge" from Wordpress - I saw what he did and decided I could have fun with the idea in my own twisted way.

For his original interpretation of "Seven Things" please go to frothyfilosofy.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/an-exercise-in-knowing-myself/.

For my version of it - continue reading.

My "Seven Things" are only going to be one list of seven of my favourite things, places, etc.  I admit you will know what some of them are already (the reasons may surprise you though), whilst other things may strike you as totally "out of the box".

1)  Favourite place - This has got to be Schiebroek, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.  This is where I feel most at ease (even though my Oma moved out when I was approximately 10 years old it still seems to have a kind of string pulling me back there every time I am in Holland).  When I am there (or even just in Rotterdam City Centre itself) I feel invincible - nobody can hurt me or upset me.

2)  Favourite Colour - Orange.  You may be surprised to learn that this is not remotely connected to my favourite place.  To me the colour orange represents fire and heat.  This can be from a candle or from a raging inferno which clears the area ready for new things to emerge eventually.

3)  Favourite method of getting anywhere - Just sit me on a car ferry and I am happy.

4)  Favourite food - Nasi Goreng.  An Indonesian dish involving fried rice, egg, spices, and meat.  This reminds me of my Mum and my Oma - both of them were brilliant at making it.

5)  Favourite time of day - just after I wake up before I put my glasses on,  This is my "me time" when I remind myself of who I really am and what I can achieve.

6)  Favourite sound - the sound of a car engine.  This is not as crazy as it may first appear.  This is one of the most useful sounds in the world for me - usually because either it means I am about to get transported somewhere, or, it means I can figure out how likely I am to get run over when I attempt to cross a road.

7)  Favourite smell - That custardy vanilla smell you get whenever fireworks are being let off.  This reminds me of the times I spent New Year's Eve in Holland.

I could have continued the list past "Seven Things" but I think the above list is frightening enough, don't you???

As Nick Ross used to say when he presented "Crimewatch" - Don't have nightmares!

Independence Comes When You Have "Choice Unlimited" (Or - The Disabled Are Not Willing To Be Boxed In Any Longer!)
8/14/2015 9:40:59 PM
Words cannot describe how happy I am to be officially allowed to type this blog post.  I have typed a blog post about the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow in Leicester. earlier this year, but this is the first "officially authorised" blog post about "Choice Unlimited" itself.

I must admit that I was a little unsure as to what a "Choice Unlimited Roadshow" would be when I was invited to attend my first one last year.  To be perfectly honest I thought it would be a crowd of disabled people moaning about their lives and trying to get people interested in their "fight for life".

I couldn't have been more wrong.

"Choice Unlimited" is the brainchild of some very clever people at Leicester Centre for Integrated Living (LCiL).  LCiL is a charity run by disabled people for disabled people - with some rather interesting sidelines (for example the "Social Media Cafe", on Fridays between 12.00pm and 2.30pm, and "The Real Junkfood Cafe" on Thursday evenings from 7.00pm to 8.30pm, both at The West End Neighbourhood Centre, on Andrewes Street, Leicester - you will find me at both events).

"Choice Unlimited" started as a result of the UK Government's decision to change how they support Disabled People.  The really good thing about "Choice Unlimited" is that it is based on the idea that you need to adapt the services to suit the clients and not the other way around.

Did you realise- for example - that Disabled People alone have an annual purchasing power to the tune of £212 billion???

This makes us a very influential group of people.  Which makes me wonder why "Mainstream" companies sometimes seem to enjoy actively putting barriers between us and the goods and services they provide???

If you want to find out how best to help a disabled person - surely the best person to ask is either the disabled person themself or someone who works very closely with them (a carer, support worker, etc)???

Choice Unlimited started doing Roadshows where they showcase goods and services which are available for disabled people and their carers, etc.  The geniuses at Choice Unlimited call them "Market Place For Independent Living".  The Roadshows also have something else in their favour.

They are also a good place for Professionals (Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, etc,) to go and learn about the goods and services provided for disabled people.
They show how disabled people can live like everybody else (with obvious adjustments at times).  Roadshows have featured Disabled Sports, a Catwalk model show through "Mods of Diversity", etc.

The Leicester Roadshows have also had Matt Hampson (disabled ex-Tigers rugby union player) attending representing his Foundation for Disabled People.

This year has been the first year when the Roadshows have gone national.

The next Choice Unlimited Roadshow will be at Stockport Town Hall, Edward St, Stockport, SK1 3EX, on Tuesday 22 September 2015, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  It is a free entry event.

The Roadshow after that will be at Worcester Guildhall, The High Street, Worcester, WR1 2EY, on Thursday 29 October 2015, from 10.00am to 4.00pm.  It is a free event.

For more dates for Roadshows which may be closer to you please visit www.choiceunlimited.co.uk/events.

If you go and visit a Roadshow you may be surprised by how independent Disabled People can be if you give us the opportunity and stop trying to stuff us into your preconcieved boxes!!!

Keep Going And You Might Just Get Near A Destination - Not Necessarily The One You Thought You Would Arrive At! (Or - Roads And Footpaths Lead In Strange Directions!)
8/14/2015 8:49:46 PM
Well, this week I got what you might call three very pleasant surprises - all connected with my blog.

If I have to be honest there have been times during this past year when I have found blogging extremely difficult (to the point of deciding to give it up more than once).

In fact, it is only thanks to a handful of people that you are reading this at all.  I am not going to name them but they know who they are (or, at least, I hope they do).

I could go into the reasons for me wanting to give it up but I don't think there is much point (mostly because I want to try to forget them).

Recently I have had discussions with one person about the possibility of having my own column in a newspaper they seem to be Editor of.  I didn't want to say anything before now in case I jinxed it (or it didn't come off for some reason or another).  However, I am pleased to report that I have had my first column printed in "Choice" newspaper - which is edited and published through LCiL.  I know it is not officially out until next week but I have had a sneak preview of it.

So - that is one bit of good news.

The next two are also connected with my blog in slightly different ways.

Two separate people liked the reviews I typed of their activities ("City Outet" and "The Real Junk Food Project").  Even though I had not been paid for the reviews (I wouldn't have done them if any money had been mentioned) it was nice to feel appreciated.

The biggest shock I got was one which I am still recovering from.

You may remember I typed a blog post last Saturday about LCiL and their "Pop-up" shop???  I wrote about what I thought the idea of the "Pop-Up" shop had been (as well as how we should react to charities).

Well, two things seem to have come directly from that.  (Apart from being pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the blog post - more truthfully - totally amazed by it.)

You could be reading more from me in different (and unexpected) places in future.  I am unwilling to say any more about it at the moment because I have yest to have a discussion with someone who thinks I may be useful to them.  And if that discussion proves successful I am hoping to use the results to propel me to bigger and brigher things.

The other thing to come from my blog post about LCiL's "Pop-up" shop is something I have already done in an unofficial capacity already.

As you probably know, I am passionate about Disability and how disabled people are also useful members of society (if only the "able-bodied" would let us speak our minds a little more often).

Depending on which order you have decided to read my blog you may already have read my "officially authorised" blog post about "Choice Unlimited" and the very good work they do raising the profile of people who provide goods and services for Disabled people.

If you have anything to do with Disabled People I would strongly advise you to visit one of their Roadshows.  Even if you haven't got anything to do with Disabled People I would still advise you to visit a Roadshow just so you can see Disabled People taking part in activities which may surprise you.

I would like to finish this blog post with a few lyrics from one of my favourite songs, "The Real World", by a former Dutch pop group called City to City, which I feel are very appropriate for this stage of my "journey" with blogging;-

I'm just a singer and I don't wanna go,
I'm trying to earn a living here on my own.
I'm just a man whose world's been torn apart.
Please Mister - hear me - I'm making a brand new start.

(I'm just a man with a mountain full of dreams.  Tell me - Is this the Real World, or not what it seems?)

I am hoping that this is in fact The Real World - and I am finally going to go some way to acheiving my ambition of using my writing and my blogging to make the world a better place for everyone.

If Society Was A Word Processing Document I Would Suggest We Start A Massive Mailmerge Campaign!!! (Or - Why "Disability" Should Be Taught In Schools!)
8/14/2015 7:35:40 PM
I have been watching with great interest the debate about how different "communities" are under-represented in the Media (particularly on television).

We have Lenny Henry shouting about the lack of Black and Ethnic Minority actors, etc.

We have a list as long as my arm of females shouting about the lack of women (young or - more usually - more mature).  I am honestly not sure how "Women" because a "community" but that is beside the point.

We even have some people crawling out of the woodwork who are saying there are not enough LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people, and disabled people on TV.

I have one thing to say about all the different people wanting to raise the public profile of their "pet" groups - they should all be very careful what they wish for.  Yes, we need more of the "under-represented" communities in the media but we need to ensure they are not just there to compete with the "Mainstream" people.

What I mean is - I would prefer to watch a programme like "Mock The Week" - for example - with two panels of three high quality male comedians - instead of five high quality male comedians and one female who seems to be there not only to fufil a quota but also is not remotely funny (and resorts to stereotypically "male" humour to get a laugh).

I couldn't care less if you are a man, woman, white, ethnic minority, heterosexual, or a member of the LGBT community, or whether or not you have a disability.  You are paid to entertain me on TV.

What I do have a problem with is the total ignorance of people about education around "Disability" (particularly educating children).

In most "Mainstream" schools people with disabilities are either swept under the carpet (metaphorically - but I get the idea that - if it was possible - certain establishments would prefer it if they could literally sweep people with disabiities under the carpet) or they are treated as some kind of "zoological experiment" - usually by the other children in their age group.

Instead of just gently telling children off when they call people things like "foureyes" and telling them that we don't say that to people because it is not very nice surely it is about time the children were taught about Disabilities in an "age-appropriate" way???  After all, children are getting sex education lessons from a youngish age.

Today I was amazed to learn that - whilst "Disability" does appear on the Personal, Social, and Health, Education (PSHE) curriculum for schools - it is not part of the statutory lessons which schools have to give.

The next question would be - who are the most appropriate people to teach the children (and other adults) about "Disability"??? Would it be (Heaven forbid) people who have read about "Disability" in a textbook, or worse, know someone with a disability but don't have it themselves???  Or would it be someone who has the particular disability under discussion - so that the audience can fire questions at them and get "honest, real life" answers to their questions???

The same would be applicable to Mental Health issues.

The reason I mentioned "Mailmerge" in the title to this blog post is because I feel that is exactly what needs to happen - we need to get into a situation where "Disabled" people are merged into the lives of children from a very young age.  This would give them the opportunity to "get used" to them and feel comfortable around them.  The children could also learn how to make life easier for the people with disabilities (not calling those of us who wear glasses with very thick lenses "four-eyes" would be a very good start) as well as asking questions in a such a way that they could usefully learn about "inclusion" as well.
If Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder We Are Using The Wrong Measuring Device (Or - Why We Would Learn A Lot More If We Measured "Beauty" From The Inside!!!)
8/14/2015 6:45:47 PM
Society judges people really harshly when it comes to ideas of "beauty".

How many times have you found yourself being bombarded by the latest ideas in Physical "beauty" - either by the Media or in discussions with your friends???

Dye your hair!
Wear the latest trendy fashions - whether or not (a) they suit you or (b) you feel comfortable wearing them!!!
Do you lack confidence???  If so, have as much Plastic Surgery as it takes to make you feel fantastic!!!  (Just don't blame us if you get into thousands of pounds worth of debt and you still feel unhappy!!!)

Kristyna Myles got it right with the following lyrics from "Wanna Wear Black";-

"What's on the outside - That's overrated.  What's on the inside - That's understated!"

I am now going to introduce you to one of the most gorgeous men I have ever met.

This photograph is next to my computer in my office watching over me every time I type a blog post.

Before you decide I need to get my eyes tested I suggest you read on.

The man in the photograph may not match Society's idea of gorgeousness when it comes to how he looks physically but - given a choice between the opportunity to spend time with Society's idea of a gorgeous man and the opportunity to still be able to spend time with him - I would choose spending time with him every time.


Well, he was kind, generous with his time, full of fun and laughter, quiet (as someone said at his funeral "he never said two words when one would do"), honest, strong in spirit - oh and he was the bright spark who found a useful way to help me with my handwriting when I was little.

I suppose you could say I am biased for many reasons.  The major one being that this is the first photograph I have put on here which shows any of my relatives.  (I was looking for my favourite photo of him but I think it made its way to my Dad's house.)

Allow me to introduce you to William Poultney, and his wife, Hazel, aka my English Grandparents.

(I would have asked them for their permission to put this photo on my blog but you could say they are both "terminally unavailable" - My Granddad died in 1992 and my Grandma died in 2013.)

The biggest thing my Grandparents (including Oma) and my parents have taught me is that confidence and beauty come from within.

If you have ever seen me you will realise that I am what you might call "no oil painting" to look at.  Most of the time this doesn't bother me.

I know some people who Society would classify as drop dead gorgeous when it comes to physical beauty.  At least two of my friends could become professional models if they chose to.

However, I judge people by what is on the inside (as in how they treat their friends and strangers).

You can be the most beautiful person in the world to look at but - if you have a "scruffy" soul (as in you don't treat people with respect, you look out for "number one" at all costs, etc) - you are not likely to make it on to my list of truly gorgeous people.

I admit - a pair of blue eyes I can swim in (or even a pair of eyes the colour of melted chocolate), yellowy ginger (preferably curly) hair, either a Dutch or Glaswegian accent, and/or being over 6' tall, would work in your favour as far as my idea of a physically gorgeous man is concerned.  However, you would have to be kind, compassionate, generous with your time, honest, patient, and above all have a dry sense of humour.

Society needs to rethink its idea of beauty - instead of it being in the eye of the beholder maybe it should be in the soul of the person being beheld!!!

How Twitter Is Winning The Media War (Or - If You Want The Truth Behind The Story Please Consult Twitter)
8/8/2015 1:29:34 PM
This morning I woke up to find that I have a new Twitter follower who has got me intrigued.  Apparently he is the Editor of "Panorama" (the documentary programme on the BBC).

I have no idea how he found me or why he decided to follow me.

I actually thought it was quite funny in a way.

There is one thing I will never claim to be - a journalist.

I am an unqualified (as in the highest qualification I have in the English Language is a GCSE), unpaid (although I have plans to change this status) Blogger.

To me - a journalist is paid to write - and not necessarily paid to write the truth either.  Correction - most journalists are paid to write a twisted version of the truth.  (I have seen and read some news reports on a certain subject where the truth has been twisted so much it almost turned into an outright lie.)

I was quite amazed last night when another Blogger - who I really admire for their ability to explain the unexplainable about their job in plain English - agreed that I was better than a paid Journalist at telling the truth.  This particular Blogger thinks I am good at writing too.

I do have one question though - if the "Mainstream" Media are required to report "the Truth" why do I now feel like I have to check every single story with the people I follow on Twitter???

Sometimes the "Mainstream" Media fail to report an event merely because it happens in another country - even though the same thing could happen over here

A prime example of this is the Crane collapse in Alphen aan den Rijn in The Netherlands.  Two cranes which had been moving a bridge into place collapsed causing destruction.  I found out about this on both Twitter and the NOS (Dutch State News) website several hours before the British media heard about it.  This was probably because there were no British people involved.

When it comes to seious subjects like the "Kid's Company" fiasco, the Police cuts, and Britain's place in the world, the British "Mainstream" Media seem to enjoy whipping up hysteria through their version of "reporting".

Even dead politicians are accussed of crimes they are unable to defend themselves against.  Because a few Police Forces have started investigations into Ted Heath's alleged involvement in pedophilia (which I don't think they should have unless they are prepared to exhume his remains and put them on trial in a Court of Law) - certain sections of the "Mainstream" Media have already decided he is guilty.

Please note:  Ted Heath is different from Jimmy Saville because there was provable evidence of Mr Saville's crimes in the public domain before he died.  I still think that the only investigation which should take place when a deceased person is accussed of a crime is to find out why they were not arrested when they were alive.

Not only do the "Mainstream" Media feel they have a God-given right to judge the deceased - they also seem to have decided they have a God-given right to harrass certain sections of the living.

I never thought I would live to see the day when the Police Service was thought of by the "Mainstream" Media in the same way as the Unemployed and the Disabled - as in - good for nothing whingers who are scrounging off the State and complaining for no reason.

I admit that Twitter does have its downsides (Trolls, bullying, abuse, etc) but it is a brilliant place for debate and discussion - as well as learning the real Truth behind the headlines and news reports.

I just wish I could have as much confidence in the "Mainstream" Media.
There Are Times When I Wonder Why The Ennglish Dictionary Was Invented (Or - If English Is Such A "Beautiful Language" Why Do We Insist On Mangling It So Much???)
8/8/2015 12:45:29 PM
Sometimes English can be used in the strangest of ways without anybody realising it.

For example one menu I read seemed - at first glance - to offer "Barbecued Kids" (as in small humans).  When I pointed this out the owner of the cafe I was in pointed out that they meant children's portions of Barbecued Pork Ribs.

Then there was the sign outside a Travel Agents which - at first glance - seemed to have entered the Slave Business.  It was only after I had got close enough to read the entire sign that I found out the Travel Agents were selling One Austrailian Dollar for £1.50 and not One Australian.

However, my favourite one is to be found on a "Professional" website.  I ended up laughing at what came into my brain when I first read the following;

Cravings - Handouts.

This could go two ways - either the cravings themselves could be handed out or the items which are being craved could be handed out.

Oh dear - and until that point the website was dry, clinical, and almost without humour.

Although I have to give you one more courtesy of my parents - and you will see why in a minute.

One day my Mum asked my Dad something about the word "Manifold".  The definition he gave her left me with a very strange thought in my head regarding one particular hymn.

According to my Dad a "Manifold" is part of a car's exhaust system.

Now my brain has decided that a car's exhaust system actually appears in a hymn where we sing about "Manifold Witness".

Strange how English loses all logical meaning some times, isn't it???

Privacy, The Truth, And Honour (Or - What I Think About When Writing My Blog Posts)
8/8/2015 11:55:57 AM
As you sit reading my ramblings you may have noticed a few things which (I feel) can set me apart a bit from other blogs by various other people and institutions.

I operate a strict Code of Ethics and Conduct when blogging.  Sometimes this Code is stricter than when I speak to people in person for reasons which (hopefully) will become obvious.

You will have noticed that I do not use swearwords on my blog.  It is a public forum where people of all ages can read my ramblings.  Some people do not like reading or hearing bad language so why should I subject them to it (even if I can swear in two languages)???

I stand by every single blog post you read.  If I cannot honestly type what I believe to be the truth as I see it what is the point of blogging???  Don't misunderstand me - I am open to argument and debate (in fact I welcome it with open arms) - just don't expect me to delete a blog post merely on your say so without very good reasons because I won't.

Which brings me on to the following;

I ask your permission for a reason.  When I ask you if I can either type a blog post about something you have said to inspire me or quote you on something I am trying to show respect.  I would rather get permission up front than have you silently fuming until the next time you see me or contact me because I accidentally spilled a secret or aired your private problems in public and caused you distress as a result.  I am happy to hide your identity if you ask me to (as one of you knows already).

I try to steer clear of jargon and acronyms.  (If you really want to know the "ruler" I use to measure the way I write - I pretend I am writing so my Dutch family could read it and understand it. This ensures I don't use English slang without translating it, etc.)

Finally, I try never to say anything out and out negative unless I cannot avoid it.

I hope this has given you a bit of an insight into how I decide what to blog.

Why We Seem To Have Lost The Idea Behind "Charity" - (Or How Giving Your Bank Details To A Chugger Is No Different To "Liking" A Protest Page On Facebook!)
8/8/2015 11:45:28 AM
As I sit here typing this blog post it is the last day of what I would call my idea of a "charity shop" (and I am not the only one who thinks this way).  The LCiL Pop-up Shop has been about raising awareness - not picking people up by their ankles and shaking them until the last coin they possess falls out of their pockets.

I have been following the arguments about "Kid's Company" with interest.  (If you haven't got a clue what "Kid's Company" was or claimed to be - it was a charity set up to help vulnerable children which closed its doors rather more rapidly than anyone expected for reasons which I am not about to go into on here.)

I was interested because of my ideas about what charity should be about.

If you have read this blog before you will know that I will promote, discuss, argue about, attempt to educate you about, etc, things which interest me.  What I will never do is attempt to influence you one way or the other about the topics I discuss on here.  You get the facts as I see them (with the odd comment from other people I have had contact with about the subject) and I leave you to make your own mind up.

In some cases this has been proven to work better than I could have expected - at least two people who have known me for several years have told me that they learned more about me through reading my ramblings on here than they ever did before (the poor things) and one of them actually used something they had learned to help me the last time I saw them.

I blog because I love writing (correction - I am addicted to it) and I feel it is my way of contributing to making a difference to this world we live in.

We live in a society which appears to value "throwing money at problems" more than practical things like blogging or getting our hands dirty trying to help.

I must admit to being rather hurt and upset when a Chugger near the Clocktower in Leicester refused point blank to understand my argument.  I told him I was more prepared to make a "practical" contribution to his charity through my blog rather than handing him my Bank Details and forgetting about it.  Going one step further I also told him that I had previously volunteered for a group in the same Sector of "Charitable Work" as a Blogger.  Unfortunately, his mind was set on the target of emptying as many Bank Accounts as he could for his cause.

Chuggers are a bit like protests on "Facebook" and internet petitions.  You can "Like" a protest page on Facebook or sign an Internet Petition and forget about it.  All you lose is a few minutes of your time (and the price of however much internet time it cost you to either sign the petition or "Like" the page).

The next level up is things like going on Marches or doing thimgs like raising awareness through blogging (or even "Letters To The Editor").

However, there is nothing like getting a group of humans together who have got a problem or concern and giving the humans themselves the tools to sort it out.

My story is not the same as yours - I can help you raise awareness of your problems through my blog but it would be using my words - I would prefer to sit down with you and give you the tools to use your voice to raise awareness using your powerful story.  I have spoken to people whose stories have nearly brought me to tears but I know I would feel like I was being disrespectful to them if I tried to tell their story no matter how much permission they gave me to quote them in my ramblings.

To me - charity should not be about raising as much money as possible for whatever cause is now fashionable.  Instead it should be about coming together to use our individual gifts, talents, whatever you want to call them, to help each other.

The LCiL Pop-Up shop has (in my eyes at least) been more successful than an actual Charity shop selling stuff would have been.  It gave people the opportunity to learn about the organisation and how it might help them, it also showcased some really talented people who otherwise would not have had a chance of so much publicity, and it also told people it is "OK" to get involved in a debate about 'Disability' in a 'Mainstream' venue like the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester city centre.

What I am trying to say (in my usual rambling uneducated way) is that a project like the LCiL Pop-Up Shop was more useful than - for example - a hundred adverts telling people that "Only £2.00 per month will save a child in Africa from dying of Malaria" for two simple reasons.

The first one being that we have become so desensitised to those adverts that we ignore them (the fact that the "Charities" who put them on TV and Radio never actually tell you how much of your £2.00 per month will actually be spent on saving the children is beside the point).

The second reason is that you learn more when you can get involved with activities or look at things which interest you (whether or not they are directly connected with the aims of the organisation).

For example, last Saturday I went right out of my comfort zone and had some photos taken as part of "Models of Diversity" (regular readers will know about me and camera flashes).  This is a campaign to get more "realistic" models on the Catwalk and in magazines in place of the Stick Insects we are usually bombarded with.

So - next time you decide to hand a Chugger your Bank Details - stop and think if you can make a practical difference instead.

Waste Not Want Not - A Cafe For The Conscientious (Or - How "The Real Junk Food Project" Lived Up To Their Name!)
8/8/2015 10:43:57 AM
On Thursday evening I decided to investigate something which I had only recently heard about through LCiL.

How I heard about "The Real Junk Food Project" was when they provided some very tasty food at a "Super Friday" at the Social Media Cafe run by John Coster of LCiL.

I know what you are probably thinking - "Junk Food" is a term which is used to describe the food you get from places like KFC, Birger King, McDonalds, etc.  So why should I go all the way to the West End of Leicester to eat what I can get in various forms from outlets within a 50 yard radius of my house???

Allow me to introduce you to the concept of a "Real Junk Food Cafe".

Information sheet I was handed when I sat down - tells you how a "Real Junk Food Cafe" works

First you have to re-imagine the term "Junk Food".  In the case of a "Real Junk Food Cafe" the "Junk Food" is not the sort of stuff you get out of a Fast Food outlet.

The "Junk Food" in a "Real Junk Food Cafe" is food that shops cannot sell because it has past its 'Best Before' date but is still perfectly wholesome and edible.

The Cafe is run on a "Pay As You Feel" basis (and if you cannot afford to pay they accept voluntary work and ideas in return).

On Thursday evening we had a choice of four Main Courses and two Desserts.  I honestly felt like the food had been cooked in a Restaurant kitchen.

Even if you cannot get to the West End Neighbourhood Centre on Andrewes Street in Leicester, next Thursday evening at around 7.00pm, I have a request for you.

Look in your local newspaper, or on Twitter, or Facebook, and find your nearest "Real Junk Food Cafe", and give them a try.  You will find yourself in a group of interesting humans too.

A "Lucky Dip" With A Difference - (Or Why "City Outlet" Is An Inlet For Fun!)
8/8/2015 10:09:42 AM
I don't know if you remember the "Lucky Dip" you used to get at fetes, bazaars, carnivals, etc?  You used to have to put your hand in either a bag or a bucket filled with sand and grab something without knowing what you would get.  Sometimes you would get something really good and others you would get a tacky piece of plastic.

Well, a few months ago I found another sort of "Lucky Dip" - this one came in shop form.

"City Outlet" could be classed as another exercise in Wombling but this one has a kind of fun element attached to it from the old "Lucky Dip" idea.

The shop is located on High Street in Leicester - a double-fronted shop with lots of goodies in it.

Speaking to the owner, James, I learned that the shop apparently sources all its stock from places which have gone bankrupt.  This means the stock frequently changes (so if you do find something you love I would strongly suggest taking a trolley and loading it up).

Because the stock comes from places which have gone bankrupt you can get items a lot cheaper than you would get in other High Street shops - a few days ago I went in and came out with a pair of shoes and a pair of good quality trainers for a total of £10.00.

Where the "Lucky Dip" idea comes in is - "City Outlet" is not the kind of shop to go in if you are looking for something specific at that moment in time - it works best with an open mind.

Another reason I love "City Outlet" is because it is not masquarading as a 'charity' shop - it is merely selling quality items cheaply.

I would definitely recommend "City Outlet" as a good place to visit when you want some entertainment which is easy on your finances.

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