|This blog post was a kind of "request" blog post. As in someone handed me something with the words "I thought you could write about this on your blog". What they handed me was the most confusing piece of paper I have ever had the misfortune to attempt to read. Therefore, it ended up on here.|
The "Virtual Reality" I refer to in the title to this blog post is not quite the "Technological Advance" involving screens and pictures, etc. This "Virtual Reality" would more appear to have involved a blindfold being tied around the head of the person who was in charge of coming up with the design of an information leaflet.
Forget for a moment the fact that it is not available in a font size which is readable by people who have got worse eyesight than me - as well as the fact that it has some print in colours which my eyes didn't like peering at for very long.
For having decided the title of the leaflet is "Where to board your bus in the new Haymarket Bus Station, St Margaret's Bus Station, and at City Centre bus stops" the Brainiac in charge of the Information Department at Leicester City Council informed us of anything but that.
Good Luck with finding out where the buses will stop on that map. Too small, too cramped, and too faint, for me to read properly.
I need more information than this!!!
The leaflet would not have been so bad had it not been for one pretty major error (and an obvious one at that).
The new Haymarket Bus Station has indeed got stand numbers with letters (HA through to HZ). However, if you go to St Margaret's Bus Station and look for any letters on the stands there you will be in for a shock. The stands in St Margaret's Bus Station are all numbered (1 through to 22). So I would strongly suggest that anybody looking for a bus in St Margaret's Bus Station starts counting. (Unless of course - the stands at St Margaret's Bus Station are going to revert to being letters - but the bus using public have yet to be informed of this???)
I could talk about how the Haymarket Bus Station is in the wrong place to start with but I will leave that for the blog where the bus station gets reviewed after I have been inside it.
First impressions are not very good at all. I remain to be pleasantly surprised but I doubt I will be somehow.
|If you want to grab my attention when you decide to follow me on Twitter it helps if you have a quirky Twitter name. It also helps if your Twitter name contains "NL" as in the country code for The Netherlands.|
Studio NL fulfilled both of those requirements. So I decided they were worth investigating. I found out from their website they are located in a little place called Tur Langton in Leicestershire (if you have a car you can get from Leicester to Tur Langton in approximately 20 minutes - as stated on the website - by Public Transport you might as well make a day of it).
Studio NL is based in an "estate" type development called "The Manor" - along with some other boutique type places.
Studio NL is a Art and Craft type place which sells prints, books, candles, etc. They also run workshops in the converted barn they are based in.
They are open Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The lady I spoke to was extremely welcoming and friendly.
For further information please visit www.studionl.co.uk/
|Before I start this blog post I would like you to look at this photograph which I took on my way to the exhibition I am going to ramble on about. Concentrate on the black and white bit in the middle of the photograph and try to see if you know what I might think it is every time I see it. (I will tell you what I think it is near the end.)|
Yesterday I went to a fascinating Art exhibition by some students from DeMontfort University in Leicester. They had paintings, sculptures, a video, etc, showing a side to "Art" that people don't usually see - or if they do see it they don't think about it for very long.
I must admit that I am not very keen on "Art" Exhibitions because I usually find them difficult to both physically navigate around and stretch my mind enough not to get frustrated when people decide to put contemporary ideas onto old works of art. (I have only ever found one thing which actually combined "contemporary" ideas and the realities of the artwork in question - and it was a book - the English translation of which was turned into a film. Vrouw Met De Parel Oorring" (or "Girl With The Pearl Earring") turned out to be the most complicated - yet deliciously enjoyable - book I have ever read in Dutch.
To be honest - I prefer "Art" when it has got some kind of connection with real life as it is now. I think I have told you before that my favourite "painting" was found on a Dock at Europoort in Rotterdam. Some really gifted human had got quite a few shipping containers and turned them into a replica of a Mondriaan painting.
The exhibition was fascinating because I could see some of the emotions behind the work (and I actually understood them as well).
(In fact, the only slight drawback was the fact that the "plaques" informing you about the different pieces were impossible for me to read.)
Long time residents of my world may remember reading a blog post about a streetlight on Charles Street in Leicester, looking exactly like a spoon from where I was standing when I photographed it.
I actually prefer my "Art" to be mobile, interactive, touchable, and (vaguely) programmeable. As well as coming in different shapes, sizes, and outer wrappings. You may be puzzled when I say I haven't been in the same place as my favourite "Artwork" since before Christmas but I do know how to get in touch with them.
Yes - I consider humans to be "Art" - as well as the more conventional paintings, sculptures, etc.
Before you think I have lost the plot completely - think about the humans you know. We all have our own patchwork life story - some of which is painted in monochrome whilst other bits of it are painted in bright colours. And that is without the fact that some people have scars and tattoos on their bodies, either the result of an accident or a deliberate act. Some people dye their hair a wide variety of colours (and if someone could tell me where to get a bucket of hair dye which would either turn my hair a gorgeous yellow-ginger colour or a gunmetal grey colour - I would be extremely grateful indeed).
Whilst our experiences and our perceptions of the world around us can form part of a piece of Artwork - surely the best pieces of "Art" are ourselves??? Both our physical and our emotional self tell a wonderful story. We should let that story speak for itself.
The photo at the beginning of this blog post is of a staircase. However, every time I look at it all I can see is a black and white "snake" toy.
|Every so often I buy a book purely based on either its title or its cover. (Yes - I do know that saying about not judging books by their covers. However, sometimes I just cannot resist odd titles or interesting looking covers.)|
"Black Box Thinking" by Matthew Syed, sounded like it would either be a book I would love or it would be what I think of as a "Double PhD book" - with at least one PhD on a subject concerned with the inner workings of either the human brain or the electrical circuitry and software which enables a "Black Box" Flight Recorder to work.
It turned out to be a mix of both a "Double PhD Book" and a nice relaxing read (with a couple of chapters which scared the daylights out of me).
One fact from that book which stuck in my brain was about the first foldable pushchair having the landing gear (as in wheels, etc) from a Spitfire aircraft.
Talking of "Military" machines, etc, I have a question for you.
When was the first Two Minutes Silence held? If you say at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 - you would be completely wrong. In fact - as I have been reliably informed by Roger Nield (who seems to be very interested in Military stuff - what with being involved with a project down in Surrey to help ex-Forces veterans cope with Civilian life) the first "Armistice Day" Rememberance event actually happened just over 2 and a half years later than the first Two Minutes Silence.
The first Two Minutes Silence was actually held on 1 May 1916, to remember the soldiers who had been killed at the Battle of the Somme, in Belgium. The date only got changed after the signing of the Armistice at the end of the First World War.
The first Two Minutes Silence being held on 1 May 1916, is quite intriguing in a way (for me anyway). On 4 May 2016, the Dutch will have their version of "Remembrance Day", followed by "Liberation Day" on 5 May 2016. (Although - as I have blogged previously - there is still a reasonably strong connection between the Netherlands of today and the Second World War.)
One thing which did make me smile in the "Black Box Thinking" book was the fact that "Sideways Thinking" was actually spoken about as a very good thing in it.
I know there may be (second thoughts - there are) people who read this blog wondering what I am going to write about next and how outlandish I am going to make the topic sound.
However - as demonstrated by things like the first foldable pushchairs - without "Sideways Thinkers" like me we would still be looking for solutions to problems from long ago (and someone who shared James Dyson's frustration with vaccuum cleaner bags and their influence on decreasing suction power would probably be very angry by now).
Thoughts and ideas can be seen as extremely weird but - sometimes - with a little luck, knowledge, and stubbornness, they can help us make life easy for ourselves as well as making the world a better place.
|I had the absolute pleasure of reading a tweet I was mentioned in after the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow. Someone thanked me but ommitted to mention what they were actually thanking me for. When I queried it they said I was part of a "Team" (this was - and still is- news to me - I was more under the impression that I am found on the periphery of the team as I am more comfortable on the edges).|
The same person decided to surprise me again on Saturday by doing something else I didn't expect. This took the form of sending another tweet with my name on it. I was quite surprised to find that they had decided I would be able to help someone who had sent a tweet asking for help with starting a blog. Their opening of "You are a blogger so you might be able to help" coupled with a retweet of the help request - told me they definitely thought I could help.
I offered some advice to the person who had sent the original tweet.
However, I have a favour to ask you.
If you know of someone who wants to start a blog (or you yourself want to start one) please point them in my direction.
I don't get evangelical about a lot of things but I passionately believe everyone has got a story to tell which may help the rest of the world. I also believe that writing is one of the best stress busters in existence.
You could say I was lucky being taught by a teacher who was passionate about writing (and daydreaming) for fun. I would say I was lucky being born to parents with the foresight to encourage my love of reading, writing, words, languages, and letters.
Even before I could write I gave my Mum practice in English writing skills when I dictated stories to her which I had made up. (The poor lady had only been in England a year longer than I had been alive.)
Trust me - if you grow up finding yourself being spoken to in two totally different languages (sometimes in the same sentence) you will learn to love how different words change meaning depending on what language they appear in. You will also start off spending a large part of your life being totally confused by words - like "pop" being a fizzy drink, the noise an overfed (apparently) Weasel makes ("Pop Goes The Weasel" being a nursery rhyme), or a form of music (Pop music) in English - but a doll (as in Sindy or Barbie) in Dutch.
The funny thing about blogging is that you don't really need to have a degree in either English or Writing (if you did I would be snookered). You just need a story to tell and some imagination.
|I have almost given up on watching advertisements (be they on TV or on YouTube) because the ones which the advertisers think are being clever usually just leave me cold.|
I am not even talking about the slogans which are attached to some products - I am talking about the adverts themselves.
Even I will admit that my brain is capable of the most surreal thoughts and imaginings you have ever heard of. However, even my brain sometimes has problems computing the so-called links between the product being advertised and what I see on the screen.
I have to admit that my favourite adverts are the ones with a link to the product which I can connect in my head, a sense of humour, and ingenious camera work.
There was an advert for a car manufacturer involving different parts of the car joining themselves together to build a car.
Both Heineken and Grolsch had brilliant adverts at one point - one had a group of workmen in a hole in the road when a hearse pulls up and the driver looking out of the window, the other one had a series of adverts on the subject of things not being ready (my favourite of those was when someone asked if another person wanted a crisp and handed them a raw potato instead).
I also loved the Specsavers advert with John Cleese playing Basil Fawlty.
However, my favourite advertisement of recent times is the most simple one I have seen for ages.
I don't know if you have seen the "Warburtons Giant Crumpet" adverts??? They just appeal to my sense of humour. www.youtube.com/watch
So - if you want to capture my interest keep it simple - keep it connected to the product you are trying to interest me in - oh - and don't baffle me with science.
|If you were a reader of the original "inkyworld" blog you may remember that I decided to attempt to self-publish a book. (Had my Grandma not got steadily more and more poorly - to the point of passing away after a couple of near-misses - when it came to trying to market the thing I might have had more success than I actually did.)|
Anyway - I was talking to someone who could be classed as a relatively recent permanent addition to Inkyworld about it. They sounded intrigued - so I lent them my copy to have a read of.
The book came back with a challenge to attempt to write another one. To be honest I wasn't really in the right mindset to think about the challenge properly (coming so close to the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow).
In fact, that Roadshow is what convinced me to accept the challenge. More to the point - the (somewhat undeserved) praise I got convinced me. Not to mention the support I keep getting from someone who forms a kind of "Double act" in my brain with my Challenger.
I have got an idea for a story as well. (If you actually read "Someone" - don't worry - this is not going to be the same kind of 'stream of consciousness' as that was. This is going to be proper writing.)
What my Challenger doesn't realise is that they are going to be roped in at some point to make sure it keeps making sense (probably by attempting to decipher my scruffy handwriting to start with - before I transfer it to the typed word).
In a funny way - I am looking forward to making a start on this challenge because I know I can have a bit of fun with it.
I am not going to give very much away at this early stage but I will say this - they say "write about what you know" and I still haven't seen any fiction books where the main "heroine" (I really hate that word) has got a disability which she successfully copes with day to day.
Come to think of it - that is why I ended up attempting to get "Someone" self-published. I have spent my entire reading "career" reading fiction books starring characters who I have very little in common with - to the point where we are both human and that is about it as far as similarities go.
I know I can sound like a broken record when it comes to trying to point out the total absence of anybody with a disability in TV programmes or in fiction books. However - I don't think you realise (unless you are like me) how difficult it is not to judge yourself by the standards you are exposed to the most often.
If you are drop-dead gorgeous with no physical disabilities or Mental Health issues whatsoever I can recite a list of fiction books where you will find a character to match you.
As I was growing up I came to hate "Cinderella" with a passion you can only dream of. Yes - I know it is only a fairytale but - in my eyes at least - it has to be the cruellest story you can tell someone like me. Fairy Godmothers don't exist for a start. Cinderella's Fairy Godmother made it clear to me that you have to be "Picture Perfect" before you even get a chance to meet your Prince Charming. Let's face it - the Fairy Godmother didn't let Cinderella meet Prince Charming when she was wearing her scruffy work clothes did she???
I know I am probably asking too much but - just for once - I would love to read a fiction book which actually teaches readers that people with Disabilities (and Mental Health issues) are as valuable as everybody else - we just process the world slightly differently.
I have just reminded myself of my favourite themetune to a Children's TV programme from when I was little. "De Fabeltjeskrant" was a brilliant cartoon with a very educational (if not rather philosophical) theme song. (In order to understand what on Earth the song is rambling on about you need to know that the main character is an Owl who - in the song - reads from the "Fables Newspaper" ("Fabeltjeskrant" in English).)
The lyric I always think of when it comes to the representation of disabled people in the media is translated into English as follows - "Animals are the same as people - with the same human wishes and the same human mischevousness".
The chances are you will not understand a word of the lyrics of this song but I will put a link here anyway because the picture sequence is spectacular (the original cartoons were made in either the 1960's or the 1970's - put it this way - both my parents knew the themetune by heart). www.youtube.com/watch
|You may have noticed a change in the font this blog is now being typed in. One of my friends accidentally reminded me that the original inkyworld blog was typed in "Comic Sans MS" and this font is what I have now switched back to. (All you need to know is that it is actually easier on my eyes as I type.)|
I honestly never thought I would find myself offering to help someone with their studies (especially when they are at least three qualifications higher than my GCSEs) but - in this case I am very happy to make an exception to the rule.
I have a friend called Joshua (or Josh) Melville who is doing a PhD which I am actually very interested in because it links in very nicely with the current thinking behind this blog.
As you know I am very interested in "Visions on Inequality" - as in how people are treated differently (usually in a negative way) based on how the rest of the world sees them.
Josh attempted to explain his PhD to me (something to do with Sociology and number-crunching) - however, the bit I did understand is his wish to learn more about how "Personal Budgets" affect Disabled people.
As he was the one who had reminded me about the different font for my blog (hence the "One Good Turn Deserves Another" bit in the title to this blog post) I decided to ask him if I was allowed to mention his research on here - he jumped at the chance.
So- if you or anybody you know have experience of getting Advice, Information, and Support about Personal Budgets and you are willing to share your story with him he would appreciate the oppoturnity to interview you about it. Your story will be treated in the strictest confidence as well as being completely anonymous.
If you think you can help him (either because you have a Personal Budget or you have had one) please contact him on 07908754085 or email him on firstname.lastname@example.org.
|This is the first review I have ever done with the permission of the manufacturer of the item. Please note - I have not been paid for it - all I did was inform the manufacturer that I was a blogger and asked if I could review it (that was the first time I evr plucked up the courage to do anything like that).|
To say I like gadgets is a bit of an understatement. The more unusual the better as far as I am concerned.
You cannot get much more unusual than "Nimble".
The "Business End" of a Nimble - it has a very small cutting surface which doesn't cut your skin - just paper, card and plastic.
A close up view of the working end of it.
A "Nimble" being used.
I must admit that when I saw the "Nimble" it looked like a thimble you would wear when sewing - just a bit chunkier.
It was actually the card on the stand which grabbed my interest more than the device itself. The card suggested it was a "Kickstarter" (crowdfunding) project. The card also told me the device would be more useful than the novelty "Christmas Cracker toy" it appeared to be.
It may just look like a bright yellow plastic thimble but it has a small blade protruding out of the top of it which will cut card, paper, and plastic (apparently it is useful for microwave meals).
My favourite thing about it is that - not only can you wear it on your finger (thereby saving you hunting for a pair of scissors) - it is portable without being bulky. Also, you don't have to attempt "reverse Origami" like you would do for those foldup nail scissors you can by on keyrings.
If you want to help "Crowdfund" this brilliant gadget (and pre-order yourself one at the same time) please visit www.kickstarter.co.
|There are few things I find more scary than being in a group of people who I feel I have to compete with for whatever reason. I don't even mean "compete with" as in enter any sort of actual competition with them - all you have to do is stick me in a group of people who I think are going to look down on me for whatever reason and watch the transformation from someone who seems confident into a nervous wreck.|
I have never been very good at feeling I can hold my own with anybody who I perceive to be above me. (I suppose this might have something to do with the fact that I equate "suited and booted" people with a loss of my freedom of choice - if that happens as often as it did to me when I was growing up it can have an effect on you.)
So - you could say I was slightly nervous about my appearance at the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow. A more accurate description would be "terrified".
Turn yourself into a "Sandwich Board" and you will get comments and interest (the back of my tshirt reads "Thank You For Visiting")
I took my laptop along. It was rather unnerving because I saw stands with lots of "free gifts", leaflets, etc, about the products and services that the other stall holders were trying to interest people in. Me and my laptop were on a table with some "Voice" magazines (which were helpfully opened at my articles) - that was it.
When I had finally plucked up the courage to have a walk around the other stalls I was amazed to learn that quite a few companies and organisations hadn't really caught on to "blogging" as a Marketing tool. A couple of the companies who appeared in that category were actually "National" ones as well.
My tshirt proved to be a rather useful icebreaker. Although I did have to think twice about how to answer the question "What is 'Inkyworld'?". You see - to me 'Inkyworld' and the website address are two completely different - yet linked - concepts.
Allow me to attempt to explain;
www.inkyworld.co.uk is (obviously) my blog and this covers 'Inkyworld' - as in my "world". This means I could have perfectly honestly answered the question "What is 'Inkyworld'?" by saying "You are in it right now". The answer I actually gave the people who asked me referred to my blog.
Back to the subject.
I got quite a few compliments about my blog but - the one which stuck out in my head most of all was from a lady who I wish I had told how much of an "Inspirational Person" she was.
I think I first saw her on one of the "Mental Health" stalls where we got talking. She told me a little bit about her story and sounded interested in my blog - so I told her where my stall was. A few minutes after I had finished my tour of the Roadshow she appeared at my stall and read some of my blog. I don't know if I managed to convince her that blogging about her experiences (even anonymously) might help her - but she told me that she had found my blog very interesting and easy to read. She then proceeded to almost make me cry by telling me that she thought I was an "Inspirational Person".
If my experience on Wednesday taught me anything it is that I can actually be proud of what I have already achieved with this blog and I don't have to compete with people in order to get anywhere - in fact - I am better off going my own way because I have got something nobody else has - a story which is all my own - as well as a blog which I can use as a springboard (hopefully) to helping show others they are not on their own.
There is a big difference between going your own way because you feel you have to through thinking that nobody will be able to understand your hopes and dreams (therefore, there is no point in asking for backup when you need it) and feeling like you can go your own way knowing full well you have as much backup and support as you need - all you need to do is ask.
In fact, I think that - as well as owing quite a few people a thousand "Thank You's" for supporting me and giving me the opportunity to do what I am passionate about - as well as showcasing it at such a prestigious event - I owe some longtime supporters of this blog a thousand apologies for not believing them when they tried to convince me that I am good at this writing and blogging escapade.
I have said before that Experience should count for more than Qualifications. This is not just because I am nowhere near as qualified as some of my friends (as far as "paper" qualifications are concerned) but experiences make you who you are and give you your own story to share with other people if you choose to.
A Wise Owl once told me that I will never understand what they have been through because I have never had their experiences but - that particular Wise Owl also (later) taught me that my experiences could stand up on their own merely by taking me seriously when I put an idea to them which I honestly thought the Wise Owl in question was more likely to laugh out loud at (basically because it pitted my ideas and personal experiences against their professional judgement and "Textbook" knowledge).
Even after Wednesday's escapade I am still not confident enough to shout about myself from the rooftops - I still prefer speaking to people one on one - I am still scared of "suits".
However, I think I am slowly starting to realise I might have found myself a very good support network if I ever start to think I am not good at anything again.
Thanks to the wonderful gang of organisers behind the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow - you are all absolutely wonderful and dedicated people with a cause to believe in.
|OK - so maybe "Trick People Into Being Educated" is a slightly sinister way of putting it but you may understand what I mean as we go on.|
I find blogging to be a personal means of communication. When you read my blog you are stepping into my life and learning about me and what I make of the world around me. To be honest - the name "Inkyworld" started off as one of those "this will do until I can come up with something better" names - and it stuck.
On Wednesday I am going to be slightly easier than usual to spot because I am going to turn myself into a kind of "Sandwich Board". I will be wearing a tshirt which will advertise my blog in what I think is a quirky way - the front says "Welcome To www,inkyworld.co.uk" and the back says "Thank You For Visiting".
Back to the point.
I love reading blogs which show a different side of life. Especially when the writer makes me feel like I am with them in the situation they are writing about. There seems to be a new name for me to add to my list of favourite bloggers (this man should really start his own blog). Step forward and take a bow Paul Clements.
What I meant about "Tricking People Into Being Educated" is that some people find it easier to learn about things when they are doing something they enjoy (I am one of those).
Sit me down and tell me to read a blog on a subject I may or may not be interested in when I start reading. Then wait until I have finished reading it. If I can tell you something which I have learned from it - that will tell you I may or may not have found it interesting but I was educated by it. On the other hand - If I sound like I could find a way of putting what I have learned into practice in order to improve my life or someone else's life - the writer should really be commended for leading me through their world. The best scenario is when I sound like I canuse what I have learned to improve life - as well as feeling comfortable enough to ask questions about what I have read. That - to me - is the sign of a well-written blog post.
Yes - videos and photos can be useful in a blog post in order to hold people's interest. However, they can also be a distraction. I try to think of videos and photos as seasoning in food. A small amount of paprika powder (I am specifying the powder because Dutch people call the peppers which come in red, yellow, green, and orange "Paprika") will give your food a nice hint of warmth and spicyness - a heaped tablespoonful of the stuff will ensure you need access to a fire engine as you attempt to consume your meal - if you are anything like me that is.
A few well-placed photos which link in to the subject of your blog are a nice "garnish" to the "meal" you intend your blog to be. If the balance between the words and the photos tips towards the side of the photos however - may I suggest you do a video-blog instead???
Blogs are like computerised versions of books. Or at least that is how I think of them. You can read books on all sorts of subjects at all sorts of levels - ranging from "Dummies Guide To..." right the way up to "Trust me - you need at least two PhD's before you even bother attempting to dream about considering trying to read this book". The same scale applies to blogs.
I have deliberately tried to keep this blog feeling as though we are face to face over a cup of coffee (or a drink of your choice) having a good chat. There are some subjects which I have found difficult to blog about (which I would not even discuss with my closest friends as they are too painful), I have blogged about things which I found funny or puzzling, I have blogged about the impact my sight has on me. Basically,this blog is - hopefully - my side of an interesting conversation with you. A few of you have even told me I have succeeded in making it interesting.
One final piece of advice would be - your blog is a reflection of you. However, unless you have deliberately put yourself centre stage in it, make sure it is accessible (and understandable) to everybody who may read it. Try not to use jargon if you can help it (I don't mind reading words from your native dialect as long as you translate them for me). The less additional reading someone has to do in order to understand your blog the better.
|This blog post has been bubbling away in the back of my mind for quite a while. To be perfectly honest I was actually going to try to combine it with a kind of "Post-Mortem" of my upcoming exploits on Wednesday. That was until I had a conversation with one of my friends on a similar subject which sent this blog post rocketing towards the top of my "Blog posts To Write" List at a rather alarming speed.|
I believe we have all got an in-built talent. It could be for Computer Programming, Painting, Music, Photography, Writing, Science, Learning a Language, etc. Not everybody has got the same talent (as witnessed by some of the poor deluded people on prgrammes like "Britain's Got Talent", etc). Nor is everybody able to use their talent in the same way.
However, personal experience tells me that not being allowed to use your talent in some way during the course of your daily life just makes you ill. Never mind not being allowed to use your talent to its fullest extent.
(This may sound slightly crazy but - even though I was not too keen on my first name as I was growing up - the fact I can get away with answering to "Ink" or "Inky" seems to fit in very ncely with this blogging escapase. When I was in Leicester city centre quite some time ago I saw a poster which I would have loved to have had made into a tshirt - it said "I ink - therefore I am".)
You could say I come from a pretty creative family - my relatives include two concert standard pianists, some painters (as in on canvas - not on walls), a couple of humans who - if they didn't know what to do with a bit of material and some thread it was not worth knowing about - you could say liked sewing.
I have read about people being under-employed or over-employed (either working too few or too many hours). However, not enough is written about people who are in the wrong job full stop.
I admit there are certain hobbies or talents which can be moulded into certain types of jobs. For example - find someone who likes tinkering with computers and they can either be a Lecturer in the subject or they can troubleshoot them for a living.
There are certain other hobbies and talents which - try as much as you like - you will never bend into certain so-called "useful" jobs. Just because I happen to enjoy sitting at a computer blogging - it doesn't mean to say that I feel very happy sitting at a computer all day doing other (more stressful) work.
My imagination likes coming out to play more often than not. If you want me to feel comfortable in an office please - I am begging you - let me use my initiative and my creativity during my job. This will tell me you see me as a useful individual instead of an Android (other robots are available).
Working against (or rather - being forced to hide) my talents in my last job ended up doing me a lot of damage. In fact, it is why I am so keen to blog and write, etc.
This is probably going to sound like I have suddenly either totally lost the plot or developed a very high opinion of myself but I can only say one thing - I exist to write. Writing excites me, writing de-stresses me, reading (or hearing) what another person has written interests me. Sharing information with others via the medium of written (or typed) words just pleases me no end.
I am lucky enough to have people who are prepared to support me with my writng (by paying me to do it, giving me the opportunity to share my talents with others, or just by reading my ramblings on here and talking to me about them).
I can honestly say I have never enjoying anything as much as being able to share my passion with you.
The only thing which upsets me about it though is as follows;
Writing (and other "Creative Arts") is not really seen as a proper job - even though (if you apply some of my "sideways thinking" to the concept of a job) it actually forms the spine of most jobs I can think of,
Let's face it - you might not be able to make anything tangible or physically useful just by creating a pile of letters in the middle of a factory floor (apart from a game of either "Lexicon" or Scrabble) - but you would deffinitely need a sheet of paper with letters or words on it if you intended to manufacture a "Dock Mobile Loader". In fact, you would need reams and reams of paper to find out how to manufacture one of those (the Maintenance Manuals for those things were my least favourite things to put together).
Now we have virtually lost our Manufacturing and Engineering sectors I think we should fund more of the Creative Arts. This may encourage people into trying jobs they would enjoy doing instead of merely existing from one week to the next.
|Well, it looks like I might be slightly busier than I thought I was going to be on Wednesday next week. I have yet to get it confirmed but there may be a chance that "Inkyworld" might turn into an exhibit at the "Choice Unlimited Roadshow".|
I am always genuinely amazed when people tell me they enjoy reading my ramblings. I must admit that one of the high points was when Constable Chaos asked if he could borrow the "Roadsweepers of Society" line from one of my blog posts (he also put the entire post on his Facebook page). Thst proved to me that I must be doing something right.
A few other people have been kind about other blog posts - both on here and on the "Simple Solutions" Blog (Click here www.smpl.org.uk/blog/ to read yet more of my ramblings).
Someone I spoke to tonight showed me they actually understood what I am trying to achieve through "Inkyworld" (apart from it being a "head-emptying" exercise) when they said that "Inkyworld" is my way of doing something for the Community. I share my thoughts on a wide variety of topics "Disability", "Policing", "Social Projects", etc. I happily give you (or attempt to give you) tasters of my world and how I experience it. In fact, there is very little which I keep totally private - obviously, I ask people before I quote them or include them in detail on here - apart from my Dad (who has made a couple of appearances - sometimes literally - he knows I have a blog but he hasn't shown much interest in it except to ask if it is still going) and my Mum, English Grandparents, and Oma (who are all deceased). Namechecks of my Dutch relatives are just that.
I said in a previous blog post that I prefer it when someone shows me they like my blog rather than just telling me.
This can be done in a few ways;
Leave a comment or send me an email. (Or you could try my favourite form of the "Points of View" themetune "Send me a Postcard - Drop me a line - Stating Point of View" - nicked from "When I'm 64" by The Beatles.)
Quote me elsewhere.
Or do what a few people have done (and are prepared to continue to do) give me an opportunity to showcase my "talent" in a more "Public" setting (with or without paying me - although money has a habit of making life easier for people). I have been given a couple of wonderful opportunities which included writing for people who I honestly thought would never - in a million years - be interested in anything I write. (The most recent one will be available to read at the "Choice Unlimited Roadshow" on Wednesday.)
However, the people who deserve the biggest thanks are the people who read my ramblings - whether or not we have ever met in real life.
Ladies and Gentlemen - the people who deserve the biggest thanks from me are you - the readers. I can sit at my computer and type away endlessly. posting blog after blog after blog, but if nobody reads it it will be a waste of effort. (I would still enjoy doing it though.)
Have a BIG HUG each.
|Before I start this blog post I would like you to watch this video www.youtube.com/watch. However, I would like you to concentrate on all the different tunes you hear in it. (Yes - I know it is a Christmas Carol but it was the only song I could find to serve my particular purpose.)|
I have been known to sing in a choir (in fact, I was in a choir who sang the carol in the video at a Christmas Service a few years ago). I must admit that I loved it when the conductor was teaching us the song and the different parts of the choir all sang their own part separately. I actually preferred hearing the Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses sing separately.
However, I digress.
What got me thinking about songs, harmonies, etc, was the Haymarket Bus Station in Leicester (more to the point - a cancelled visit to look around it and make comments on it before it is opened).
I have heard people being described in several different ways (most common one being an "Onion" with different layers to get through before you get to the real person underneath). I prefer to think of them as songs with different tunes sung by different sections of the same choir all at the same time. (Well - what did you expect with my habit of quoting random song lyrics on here to help me get my points across???)
After I had managed to find out that the look around the bus station had been cancelled I somehow managed to do something I had wanted to avoid doing. I managed to sign myself up to the "Disabled Access Group (or Forum)" for Leicester. Don't get me wrong - I have got nothing against the group. In fact, it was one of their members who had invited me along to give my opinion on the revamped Bus Station.
My reason for not wanting to sign up as a member of that group is more of a personal conundrum for me.
Yes - I am "legally" Registered Partially Sighted. Yes - I do own a Disabled Bus Pass. Yes - this blog is starting to focus more on "Disability issues". The question is - Do I want to turn the volume up on the "Disabled" part of my personal "Choral Masterpiece" at the expense of what I think of as the nicer bits of the song???
The way I hear my personal "Choral Masterpiece" is with my sight problem as the Bass line. (As in - I know it is there but it only really makes itself known to the rest of the audience at certain times.)
If you are interested in how I would describe the rest of the "Choir" - keep reading.
The "Soprano" section is where you find my "Sideways Thinking". Just out of interest - I think I am technically an "Alto" but - due to being taken to various choir practices with my Mum when I was younger - I feel more comfortable singing the Soprano bits.
The "Alto" part is where you will find my thirst for knowledge - both recieving it and giving it away. This is where my love of reading and writing comes in.
The "Tenor" part is where you will find the other inescapable part of me. Unfortunately - unlike my Mum - I cannot say "I was born Dutch, I am Dutch, and I will die Dutch". However, I am very proud of my Dutch heritage - and I know I have got more than a couple of Dutch traits in my personality (I can even do a passable impression of the accent - as well as making myself understood in the language itself).
We have all got our own personal "Choral Masterpiece" which we sing. Nobody hears the full arrangement unless they are among our most intimate friends and family. However, though each separate part can be a tune on its own (with some bits occassionally duetting) - you can only judge the full effect when you hear the whole song.
|I have a list of my favourite bloggers (and video bloggers - or "Vloggers") in my head. Some of these I love because they entertain me (sometimes without meaning to), some because they educate me about their world in easy to swallow (and process) chunks, and some because they inspire my thought processes in a slightly different direction.|
If I were to make a Venn diagram of the above three groups I would find two names right in the middle of it. The one who inspired the blog post is Nathan Constable.
Mr Constable wrote a very eloquent blog post on the subject of "Experimental Policing" (well, you will have to read it to see if you agree with my reading of it - nathanconstable.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/ok-to-fail/).
One particular line in it got me thinking.
"The world of medicine experiments all the time but it is always a very very long time before drugs or interventions are tested on live human subjects."
The trouble is - the Police are not the only group of "Non-medical professionals" who seem to constantly be forced to experiment on "live human subject" - not are they the only group who are treated like Lab rats to be experimented on as a result of someone else's whim.
Please don't misunderstand me - I realise the Police have a very difficult job and do the best they can under enormous stresses and strains.
However, I can think of four other groups who are also subjected to "experiments on live human subjects" (two of which I either belong to or I know someone who does).
Teachers, Students, the Disabled, and the Unemployed.
Forgetting the Disabled and the Unemployed for now (I could write a very long and ranty blog post about the treatment of those two groups - and I may do at a later date).
Teachers seem to be both subjected to experiments (similar to the stress tests of Policing but more "results-based" - as in Test results) and forced to experiment on other people. I know I keep saying this but what I consider to be the biggest loss to teaching was caused by the person concerned not feeling able to teach in the way they wanted to any more.
Yes - I know I have said this before too - but the students are the ones who are really paying for the Government's continual experiments with teaching.
Even the students who start off being the most enthusiatic about learning can end up with psychological problems due to pressure from having to do well in tests - on top of bullying, etc.
If the students leave school like I did (even though they may not come under the "Special Educational Needs" umbrella) and think they are totally worthless and/or useless - even the most fervent believer in testing to the limits should realise that there is something seriously wrong with the system.
Something else Mr Constable said has just come back into my brain (and yes - I did quote it in another blog post). It was regarding some SAT test or other and he had tried to do it. His Tweets said something along the lines of "I am at the Educational Level of a 7 year old. I am now off to Command Firearms incidents".
In an ideal world we would irradicate what I class as "Experimental Living" (where we are experimented on at someone ele's - usually the Government's) whim. At least until we get to such a point when the Experimenters start to really listen to - and take notice of the opinions of - the Lab rats themselves.
|I know I am not exactly the most highly intellectual person on the Planet - and what most people understand to be "Logic" has never been my strong point - but yesterday's events in the House of Commons have got me totally and utterly confused. That is apart from getting me seriously angry at the degree of contempt some of our democratically elected "Representatives" in Westminster treat anybody who is not like them.|
Let me get this straight for a minute - Dennis Skinner gets asked to leave the Chamber of the House of Commons merely for refusing to withdraw his comment about "Dodgy Dave" in reference to the Prime Minister??? Yet Alan Duncan gets to write off just about the entire UK electorate in one offensive sentence - yet nobody bats an eyelid???
I am not going to quote Mr Duncan in full (mainly because I don't want to throw my laptop out of my office window - my office being on the first floor) but apparently he thinks that anybody who is not wealthy is "a low achiever" and "knows nothing about the real world". He seems to be under the impression that both of these shoud be a barrier to becoming an MP.
I had to have a smile to myself when I read some tweets he had sent (they had been retweeted and ended up on my timeline) where he dug himself into a deeper hole by trying to claim he hadn't meant what he had said in the way it came across. Put it this way - he sounded even more pompous in those two tweets than he had when he spoke.
(Unfortnately - due to legal reasons - I cannot tell you my thoughts on reading a tweet informing me that someone thought Mr Duncan had been "Something in Oil". The legal reasons being I don't really want to be sued.)
The whole sorry saga reminded me of how unfair the rules governing the House of Commons are - with particular reference to "Parliamentary Priviledge" and "Parliamentary Language".
I get the general idea that - unless you do what Mr Skinner did by referring to the Prime Minister as "Dodgy Dave" (and implying - or inferring - that the Prime Minister is dishonourable) - you can practically say what you want in the chamber of the House of Commons. This is up to and including breaking injunctions, breaking the Official Secrets Act, and putting our National Security at risk by discussing things like wars.
In plain English - "Parliamentary Privilege" and "Parliamentary Language" are both instruments which (whilst the MP is on Westminster turf) grant people like Mr Duncan the right to insult the electorate but do not give Mr Skinner the right to make personal attacks (even verbal) on the Prime Minister. Yet - if you or I attempted to do the same as either of the humans of the Male Species mentioned above - we would find ourselves up in Court if they got to hear of it.
You may be getting the idea that I am jealous of MPs - you couldn't be more wrong. Whilst I might agree that MPs should be allowed to break certain laws during their discussions in the House of Commons - I do not agree that they should be allowed to break the laws of common decency and civility.
However, I suppose one good thing has come out of the "Panama Papers" saga - at least we now know what the wealthy MPs actually think of those of us who are nothing like them.
|Here's a question for you - what do you pay the most attention to when you are driving??? More to the point - what state are you in mentally when driving???|
If you say I am mentally alert and I pay attention to the road at all times - I have a one word question for you - Really???
Having a conversation with a passenger who is present in the car is not all that dangerous (unless you start a furious argument).
We are all told to ignore our mobiles when driving because texting and driving and having a telephone conversation whilst driving are both dangerous and criminal offences.
There is a new phenomenon which has recently started. Since the arrival of an App called "Periscope" on App Stores there have been total idiots who have been - not only filming themselves whilst driving but also reading comments and answering questions at the same time too.
You may have heard about a Twittercop known as Sgt TCS starting a campaign called "Don't Stream And Drive". This is about all those idiots who use their mobile phones and livestream videos of themselves driving.
One day this week Sgt TCS even gave his twitter followers a live commentary as he watched a livestream of a complete moron driving around in the West Midlands. If only there were (a) enough Police Officers to track and arrest these idiots - and - (b) a penalty like having your car crushed, being banned from driving for life, and surrendering your passport (or other identification documents), whilst having to sign a Driving Offender Register for life,
You can always wait until the end of your journey to take calls, send texts, etc. This should also include livestreaming yourself doing anything.
Failing that - feel free to use Public Transport. You can livestream all you want when you are a passenger.
|Apparently there is going to be an Election for a Police And Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire next month. (The fact that I don't remember being asked if I wanted one in the first place would appear to be beside the point.)|
I think the idea is that people electing other people democratically is supposed to make the electorate feel we have a say in what goes on in the country???
I have to admit I haven't got the desire to scour the media for news about Mayors, Police And Crime Commissioners, etc. This is for one reason alone - I have no personal attachment to them - as in - they are not accountable to me.
We live in what most people would recognise to be a "Democratic Society". This means we are given the chance to elect people to represent us in various places. Whether or not we take up our chance is up to us.
However, it never seems to work in the opposite direction.
We have witnessed several MPs and other Politicians wriggle out of doing the decent thing and answering questions in an honest and transparent manner recently.
I admit there may be personal and political motives for this - however - to me it just makes a laughing-stock out of our so-called "Democratic" system.
(Put it this way - at least Government has not been forced to attempt to live by the Peel Principle of "Policing for the People by the People" - even though Robert Peel was actually a Prime Minister as well as setting the original rules for the Police Service.)
I wish we could scrap Westminster and devolve all powers as locally as possible. That way we might be able to ensure both Democratic Electability and Democratic Accountability.
As it is now - people who earn over a certain amount are legally obligated to pay Tax on their incomes (yes - I know - there are people who have successfully dodged paying Tax for years) - but we have absolutely no say in what they are actually spent on. For example - Trident, Wars, MPs salaries, any other scheme and scam Westminster wants to drag us into (propping up bankrupt banks, etc).
I must admit to smiling a little when news about the result of the Dutch Referendum on whether or not Ukraine should have Trade Links with the EU hit the UK Media.
The Dutch Government kept well away from the Referrendum (apart from passing the law which enabled it to take place) but they said that if the overwhelming majority voted against ratification of some Treaty or other they would have to listen. The barrier for a valid vote was set at a rather low 30% of the Electorate - over 60% of whom voted against.
Compare that with the activities of the "Bremain" camp in the British EU Referrendum. Not only has the Government been split by the referrendum itself - the Pro-Staying In The EU ranks have decided to waste a lot of Tax Payers money attempting to strongarm us into voting to stay in.
My interest in British politics was dying a slow death - it is now rapidly approaching the funeral service. I will vote because it is my Democratic right and duty - "duty" is exactly how it feels.
Until we can vote people both into and out of Democratically elected institutions we will never have Democratic Accountability.
|Have you ever wondered how one mug of black Americano can make you hallucinate enought to believe that (just by crossing a small space) you are in a completely different country???|
I had just over an hour to waste in Market Harborough on Tuesday afternoon before I could catch a bus to Lutterworth (having just missed one by a few minutes) - so I decided to investigate an establishment I had heard about.
The building was actually familiar to me - but not in what you might call its current format. They had apparently tidied the Library and Council Offices away upstairs and left the downstairs free for a slightly surreal experience - to me any way.
When you walk into the Symmington Building in Market Harborough, (Ex-library and Council Offices building) you will find that the former Library space is now filled with a Coffeeshop and Wine Bar with - what I think is - a very appropriate name. (That was just based on the strength of the coffee I had from there.) The former Reception bit for the Council Offices is now taken up with something I found even more intriguing than most people might. (More about that later.)
The Coffeeshop and Wine Bar is called "Insomnia". The best way for me to describe it is a cross between my two favourite cafes. (I didn't stay until it turned into a Wine Bar.)
It had the comfortable feeling of St Martins Coffeeshop - but the armchairs were more like I would expect to find in someone's home.
The crockery reminded me of the "Douwe Egbert" Coffeeshop in Rotterdam. So much so that I was half-expecting any cakes to be served on a cakeplate with a slot for the fork.
I must admit I am not a big fan of "Branded" cups, etc, when I intend to consume what I have bought in their own establishment. It just seems a bit of a waste to me. But I liked the logo on these.
No - this is not what you are likely to get as a result of visiting this establishment.
The serving area looked a bit posher than I was expecting.
In fact, the last time I saw something look that inviting I was in the cafe at Rotterdam Central Station.
However, my favourite touch was found on one wall (and I think my Mum would have loved it as well).
Old fashioned sewing machines on the wall.
I also loved the fact that - when I had placed my order I was advised to sit down and it would be brought to me. The person who brought it over was very polite too.
After I had finished consuming my coffee and snack I decided to investigate the shop on the other side of the entrance - and promptly thought I was in a Railway Station in Holland. I also thought I was standing in a supermarket with a different name but the same nationality as the one I was actually in.
Allow me to explain.
The shop I was standing in was called "SPAR". For those of you who think SPAR is English - I am afraid it is actually Dutch. (Its name is actually an abbrieviated acronym - the original Dutch name was "DE SPAR" - but the SPAR bit still means something. "Samenwerking Profiteren Allen Regelmatig" translates into "Working Together Profits Everybody Regularly".
I said that I thought I had walked into another supermarket from the same country, didn't I??? I also said I thought I was in a Dutch Railway station???
There is a simple explanation for both of the above.
There is a Dutch supermarket chain which I absolutely love. It is called "Albert Heijn" or "AH" for short. Stand me in this shop and I will be amused for hours. Now - AH have got a chain of smaller supermarkets (usually found in Railway Stations) called "AH To Go". Forget "Tesco Express" - these are compact and very well laid out (usually).
The layout of the SPAR shop in Market Harborough reminded me so much of an "AH To Go" that I was quite surprised not to find myself looking at Dutch train timetables as I exited the building.
It was a shame I couldn't stay longer in both places.
|Whenever I think of LCiL and The Real Junkfood Project (Leicester Battalion) one word comes into my mind. That word is the Dutch "Verbinding". Don't worry - the English translation is not as ominous as it sounds - "Verbinding" may read as though it may mean "Binding" in English - it actually means "Connection".|
There are three events per week which make me think of that word. All three are held at the West End Neighbourhood Centre on Andrewes Street, in the West End of Leicester.
Thursday evenings (7pm until 8.30pm) are when people turn up for food at the "Pay As You Feel Cafe". Not only do you meet a rather eclectic group of people - you are also helping to divert perfectly edible food from landfill. The volunteers are a great bunch of people too.
On Friday mornings (11.30am until 2.00pm) LCiL run something called a "Social Media Cafe" (with food provided by the Real Junkfood Cafe). In this case - the term "Social Media" has what you might call a slightly more "human" element than Twitter, Facebook, and the rest of the computerised "Social Media" streams (although these do come into play on occassion). This version of "Social Media" is more of a "Human Newspaper" kind of meeting point. You can get information or advice about different subjects - you can sometmes hear interesting talks - or you can just sit and find people to share your news and views with. The people who attend range from the ones who "society" would consider to be "normal" through to the "Disabled" - physical disability or Mental Health issues. Personally I have had discussions with people who I would never have plucked up the courage to speak to otherwise on subjects which "Society" can sometimes still treat as "Taboo" - and felt absolutely comfortable. Seriously - the "Social Media Cafe" is a great place for learning about issues which affect different people - without having to worry about your personal safety if you accidentally say the wrong thing. It is also a great place for realising that even people with severe disabilities can (and do) have a valid role to play in society.
Last Saturday was the start of an event called "Super Saturday". This runs from 11.00am until 3.00pm. The best way to describe it is a mix of both the Thursday "Pay As You Feel" Cafe and the Friday "Social Media Cafe" with extras thrown in - in the form of some kind of crafty-type stuff, table football, a small stage where budding performers could entertain the crowd, etc. Even the local Police turned up and joined in with the fun.
We hear so much about how Society is so fragmented with different groups almost living in isolation from each other - as well as how there is no such thing as "Community" any more.
All it takes is a couple of people to get together and organise an event for everybody to attend - in a location which is accessible for all - not forgetting the friendly people who help run it.
If you are in the West End of Leicester, on a Thursday evening, Friday morning, or Saturday afternoon, come along and join us. You will be given a very warm welcome.