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We Will Never Get A "United States Of Europe" (Or - Why I feel The EU Project Has Failed Completely
5/30/2016 4:56:50 PM

I really hate the document in the above photograph.  I admit I have to have it in order for me to travel to Holland - but I actually find the wording at the top of it offensive.  There is no such thing as a "European Union".  There is a collection of varied states which share the same landmass that are all politically and economically "connected" to each other via Brussels and Strasburg - and the UK and the Republic of Ireland are some way away by sea.

I have two major problems with the concept of a "European Union".

One of these is the fact that anybody who tells you that the European Union has lived peacefully for 70 years really needs to learn their recent history.  The European Union has actually been involved in conflicts and wars since before it turned into the European Union.  The Northern Ireland Troubles being one such example - and the former Yugoslavia being another (this is before you start thinking about Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc) - they may not have fought under the umbrella of the European Union but that is beside the point.

The other reason is that the European Union idea has been tried before in history and it wasn't exactly what I would classify as altogether successful (even though the country still exists today).

You may or may not realise this but the United States of America started off as a mix of different European nationalities all in the same country - UK, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, German, etc.  Each with their different languages and customs.

Some of the existing place names in the United States of America reach back to the different countries of origin of the original settlers.  Place names like Birmingham in Alabama, Harlem and Brooklyn in New York (from Haarlem and Breukelen in The Netherlands), Rome and Florence from Italy.

However, there is only one official language of the United States of America - English.

The separate countries which provided the populations of different parts of the United States of America have all merged to make one country with several States within it - all speaking the same language.

If someone decides to take the European Union to its logical conclusion we will have to decide which language everybody will be forced to speak.  There will be no borders whatsoever - either physical or legal.  The names of the countries which are currently recognised by every single legal entity which matters in the world will be reduced to mere "States" in a larger country.

If we do vote to remain we will not be able to avoid being sucked in eventually.

My idea of a European Union is to go back to how it was before the borders came down and the EU Parliament and Commission were set up.  Trading with every country in Europe but having separate national jurisdictions.

I actually predict that the European Union as it stands currently will not survive for much longer.  In fact, the longer the European Union exists (with the current refugee crisis) I think there will be more chance of World War III breaking out with Europe as its birthplace - much like the last two World Wars.

I read somewhere that Winston Churchill said that a Union of Europe would be a very good thing - as long as the UK stayed out of it.   I think he had a very good point.

Talking About Being Prepared In Case Of Crisis (Or - We All Have Our Part To Play In Getting A Booklet Correct)
5/30/2016 4:04:28 PM
There are times when words just fail me.

I am looking at a booklet which I was handed on Friday by a friend of mine called Julian Harrison (yes - he has been mentioned in a previous blog post).

He would like your help with a consultation process relating to the information provided to people with Mental Health Issues regarding Advance Planning.  This is so people know what to do when your condition worsens to such an extent that you do not have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

Now - I am not exactly the most highly intelligent person on the planet but I am having trouble trying to break the information into manageable chunks in order to wrap my brain cells around it.

It is written in a language which is theoretically aimed at patients and their carers.  However, it appears to have been written by someone who has never experienced the situation for themselves.

What Julian would like to do is find out how the information can be more accessible to patients, carers, and the "Generally interested".

If you have any experience of Mental Health Issues - and you would like to help Julian - please email him at julian.harrison@ntlworld.com or call him on 07767297566.

Does Not Compute - Abort, Retry, Ignore??? (Or - Why I Haven't Put Many Photos In My Blog Posts Before!)
5/30/2016 2:33:18 PM

An observation has been made about my blog posts not usually containing very many photos (more to the point - not containing "Teaser" photos at the beginning of the posts).

The photo I have put at the beginning of this blog post is actually connected with the reason for that.  To you the photo may look like I accidentally pressed the button as I was setting up a different shot.  In reality it was exactly the shot I wanted at that particular moment.

I am starting to realise that I am the exact opposite of most people because I don't actually like pictures when I am reading.  I think in words and I find pictures extremely distracting.  (My eyes have enough to do sometimes with trying to cope with the text.)

So - to me - a blog post with a "Teaser" photo will be seriously off-putting (whether or not the photo is linked to the subject of the blog post).  Let me read and digest a few sentences first so I can work out what the blog post is about.

There is another slight problem I have got with different websites.  I have seen some fantastic websites designed by other people.  Then I have attempted to use them with varying results.

Apparently the current trend is for what appear to me to be extremely cluttered homepages.  Bombard the viewer with as much information as possible using every colour of the rainbow and or every single font size known to mankind.  Oh - and - feel free to plaster photos all over the homepage.  (Well, I suppose it does cut down on that horrible white space in the background.)

Seriously though - I know I have to make changes to the way I lay my website and blog out in order to attract a wider audience.  However, I also have to make sure the layout works for me as well as you.

There is a trap which I have seen websites fall into at an alarming rate.  The trap is websites being designed for the majority of the population - leaving those of us who cannot judge spaces or differentiate between certain shades, etc, having to attempt to tweak the settings on our computers so they are more "visible".

I have had an idea as to how best I can explain this;

Look at this photo and see if you can tell me why I might like looking at the screens in it;

You are correct - there are three separate screens with four clearly defined columns of information on each screen.  The space between the screens is important to me so I know what I am looking at.  The less my eyes have to search the better.

The current trend for cluttered homepages just makes more work for me - never mind the size of screen I am looking at.  I prefer to have my information easily accessible.

I will attempt to put more photos in blog posts but I will do it with a very light touch - unless I am writing a blog post I can illustrate with them.

When Being Able-Bodied Becomes The Biggest Disability Of All (Or - Why I Always Feel I Am At The Wrong End Of A Design Process)
5/26/2016 5:10:30 PM
I have seen a video which has made me lose the will to live.  This video also reminded me (as if I had actually forgotten) of exactly how easy it is to serve the mainstream population - at the expense of those of us who may need a little more consideration.

Please don't misunderstand me - I realise that there is no way on Planet Earth to incorporate the needs of every single Disabled person when designing a building or a train.  However, I also realise there is no way of incorporating the needs of any Disabled people in the design of a building or train if no Disabled people are involved at the beginning of the design process.

Yes - Ladies and Gentlemen - I am getting slightly fatigued and nauseated by people doing the minimum amount legally permissible to incorporate the needs of Disabled people at the beginning of a design project - then wondering why someone like me complains when I cannot access either the building (be it a static brick structure or a mobile metal one on wheels) or the goods or services provided within it.

I didn't really want to give you an exact breakdown (pun intended) of my sight problems and how they affect me all in one go but - in order for you to understand why I am so upset about this subject - I think I am going to have to.

As you know I am Registered Partially Sighted.  I will now attempt to break down my sight problems into easy-to-understand bite-sized chunks.

I am severely shortsighted (Myopic).  Yes I wear glasses but they are not able to give me 20/20 vision.

I suffer from a condition called "Photophobia" which means my eyes don't like bright lights.

My eyes are next to useless in the dark as well.  Due to my level of sight my eyes don't "see" dark spaces - I get Technicolour spots in front of my eyes instead.  (Put it this way - me and power cuts don't exactly mix too well.)

I can only compute three "angles" correctly.  These are flat floor, sheer drop, and your average household staircase.  If you want to buy me an analogue watch - make sure it has an enormous face with numbers all the way around the edge.  (Better idea is to make it a digital one!)

I have no ability to judge the ratio of speed to distance.  If you point a car at me I will be able to tell you three things about it - which way it is facing (especially if it has its headlights on), which direction it is travelling in, and the colour of it.  Unless I can see its wheels I will not be able to tell you how fast it is going.

Finally - my "spatial awareness" can sometimes go haywire (especially if I am tired or in a place which is either too bright or too dark for my eyes to see clearly in - or if I am holding a tray, for example).

Even I know that there is no way that people can incorporate all of those difficulties into the design of a building.  The same can be said for any other "complex" Disability.  Disabilities - unfortunately - do not come in a "one size fits all" format.  Nor do they come in a "one solution fits all" format.  However - and this may surprise you - seemingly unrelated Disabilities can actually have the same "solution" when it comes to making places accessible for them.

Take for example - someone in a wheelchair and me;

Wheelchairs need ramps or other access methods of getting between different levels other than stairs.  I will (usually) quite happily go up a staircase but I refuse to attempt to come down a staircase which is at an angle steeper than your average household staircase if I can help it.  I use ramps and lifts where provided.

Wheelchairs need lots of room to manouvre.  Wide aisles and very few sharp corners are useful things for both them and me.  I hate shops which are cluttered with racks and furniture which - to me at least - ressembles a "Berlin Wall" effect when I am attempting to either find a way in or a way around a shop or cafe.

But what sparked this blog post off was this video which someone took of the inside of a new Thameslink train - youtu.be/nSZocztDSLY.

I am not sure how those people with other Disabilities would feel when they boarded that train (when it comes into service) but I just felt poorly as a result of watching the video.

As far as I am concerned - there are three major flaws with the design (which could have been ironed out if someone with a severe sight problem had been consulted at the beginning of the Design phase).

Ignore the usual "stumbling blocks" on the floor near the concertina walls (the rubber bits) in the carriage.  They are present in every English train.

The things which are dangerous (as far as I am concerned) are the following;

The fluorescent lights in the ceiling.  Is there no other way of lighting a train carriage???  These are especially bad when I go from a dark space.

The fact I just about tell you that the destination of the train is Brighton (but I would really need to be standing almost underneath the sign to read that - the font is too small to see from any kind of distance) but I haven't got a cat in Hell's chance of reading the names of the intermediate stations - because the contrast between the blue of the background and the blue of the moving letters is almost non exisitent.  I shouldn't have to strain my eyes to read any information - even from close distance.

The final thing is the shadows under the seats almost merge with the seats (not much colour contrast).  In fact - I am not sure if there is a carpet or painted wide line under the seats.  This has a double effect on my eyes.  It makes the sitting part of the seats look like they could actually be on the floor - as well as making it difficult to distinguish the gap between the edge of one seat and the back of the one in front of it.

Before you say that there are organisations like the RNIB, RNID, Scope, etc, who have got experience in dealing with major companies - I am sorry but I feel these are the wrong people for Train Companies, Building Companies, etc, to deal with.  The people who the organisations in charge of designing buildings, transport, etc, should be dealing with are the Disabled people ourselves.  We can tell you what works for us and why - instead of being given some generic ideas which do not suit everybody.

Yes - I am aware this turned into slightly more of a rant (or tirade) than I had intended.  However, I am fed up with feeling like I have been "designed out of things" merely because I am not "Normal" and nobody has bothered to consult someone like me during the Design stage of projects.

Can you imagine the uproar which would ensue if some of my lefthanded friends suddenly decided that the world would be designed soley to meet their needs???  After all, the majority of the world is right-handed.

Now imagine how Disabled people feel - knowing the world is designed for the Mainstream population - and there is very little we can do to change it.

You may them start to understand why we get a little upset at times.

Food - Glorious Food! (Or - There Are Some Things Which Just Don't Taste The Same In The Wrong Country)
5/25/2016 12:10:18 AM
If you know me you will probably have heard me talk about one of my all time favourite dishes - Nasi Goreng (an Indonesian kind of "Egg Fried Rice" Dish - but 100 times tastier).

However, you probably not have heard of another of my favourite dishes - I think it appears in my Mum's big Dutch cookery book as "Brussels Witlof".

Now - I am not at my Dad's house so I am typing this from the memory of eating it.

What you need is the following;

A head of Chicory per person ("Witlof" is Chicory in English)
A Slice of Ham per head of Chicory
Grated Cheese (Do not use Edam for this - unless you like your cheese to have the consistency of plastic when it is melted.)
An ovendish big enough to fit all the ingredients in.
An reasonably hot oven in which to cook it.  (My Dad has been known to use a microwave to cook it but it is one dish which tastes better when cooked in an oven.)


Remove root end from each head of Chicory and rinse Chcory to remove dirt.
Wrap slice of Ham around head of Chicory and place in oven dish.  Repeat until you have got all the Chicory wrapped and in the oven dish.
Grate cheese over the top of all the wrapped Chicory.
Put in preheated oven and cook until ham is slightly crispy and cheese has melted.

Plate up and serve with boiled potatoes.

As the Dutch would say - "Eet Smakelijk" (or Bon Apetit).

Tourist Traps And Take Aways (Or - Why Sometimes It Is Better To Blend In With The Locals)
5/24/2016 11:43:26 PM
As someone who has never actually set foot in the Richard The Third Visitors' Centre in Leicester (and - to be perfectly honest - has no intention of ever doing so due to the cost) - you may or may not be surprised to learn that I attempt to avoid "Tourist Traps" like the proverbial Bubonic.

This is not just because I have read several articles saying how following the "Tourist Trail" in certain countries means you miss out on getting a flavour of the local life (as well as depriving locsl small businesses of income).  My major reason is slightly different.

Playing "Tourist" can cost you a lot of unnecessary money but doing a little homework in advance of your trip can save you money.  (By "doing a little homework" I don't necessarily mean buy every single guide book available on your intended destination either.)  In this age of Social Media I am sure you will find at least one English account which will help you learn about things like Music Festivals, etc.

What got me thinking was a tweet by someone in Rotterdam (I think they were working for Tourist Information) asking where people would send tourists - this was in connection with the world's biggest Cruise Ship being in Rotterdam.

If I had to send a Tourist to any part of Rotterdam I would send them to a Tourist Trap Estraordinnaire - the area around Rotterdam Blaak Metro (underground) station.  Within a few feet of that building you will find my version of "Tourist" Rotterdam - the Strange flats, the Market Hall, and the most strangely coloured Library building I have ever come across.

However, if you want to visit my Rotterdam you would have to be prepared to get a bit lost.  You see - most of my favourite places do not feature in any Tourist Guide of Rotterdam.  For example - Tourist Guides don't tell you about the experience of buying a half "Rookworst" (or Smoked Sausage - think the "U" shaped sausage you can get in supermarkets over here) in a small paper bag from a shop called the "Hema" - and burning your mouth when you attempt to eat it in the open air.  Nor do they bother introducing you to the delights of a shop called "Media Markt" (this one really has to be seen to be believed - especially the Rotterdam version of it).

Come to think of it - I have never seen my favourite Shopping Centre on Earth appear in any Tourist Guides of Rotterdam.  Formally known as "Alexandrium" (but known to me and my family by its former name of "Oosterhof") it is a bit like a smaller version of Milton Keynes but a lot more fun.  (One of the journeys to get there is rather interesting as well - you can either get the train and get off at a station called "Rotterdam Alexander" or you can catch a Metro train which goes very close to parts of Rotterdam which I have great memories of.

If you really want to get off the beaten track I would take you to my all time favourite part of Rotterdam - Schiebroek.  It is a rather non-descript kind of a place but it holds lots of memories for me.  Apart from that - the journey from Rotterdam City Centre to Schiebroek will expose you to a pretty wide variety of the population.  Put it this way - I really love using Public Transport in Rotterdam because I can just sit down and observe the locals as they go about their daily lives.

So - next time you decide to go on holiday to somewhere out of your usual routine - go and find the places where the locals shop,eat, live, etc.  I cannot guarantee you will enjoy yourself all the time you are among them but you will get a true flavour of the place if you do!!!

The Meaning Of A Uniform (Or - How To Turn An Emergency Service Into A Bunch Of Scruffs In One Easy Move!)
5/24/2016 10:43:59 PM
I have to admit that my heart sank when I read a news report about the new change to the Police Uniform.  As someone who thinks that a Police Officer looks smart in their Nr 1 Tunic and shudders when they see Officers wearing shirts, fleeces, and Hi Visibility Jackets - you may understand that I think the new hats are a step too far.

In fact, I was on a bus in Leicester City Centre yesterday when a Tactical Support Group van pulled up in front of it and unloaded what first appeared to be some kind of "boyband" wearing tshirts with "Tactical Support Squad emblazoned on the back.  (I had a flashback of the band from the 1990's called "Blazing Squad".)  The reason for my confusion was what was - or rather what was not - on their heads.

I don't mind a Police Officer not wearing those big "Custodian" Helmets on their heads when wandering around.  I kind of prefer the hats with the peaks on them (with the "Chessboard" banding).

What I absolutely detest is the new baseball caps the TSG Officers were wearing.  Put it this way - they do not say "Police" to me.  Instead the baseball caps announce the presence of youths of a dubious intent.

I know I hated wearing a uniform when I was at school (what do you expect when the colour of one school uniform was a horrible dark brown colour???) but at least it meant something.

I am all for people feeling comfortable in what they wear as they go about their paid job but I would be very surprised if many bosses allowed their employees to appear at work in their pyjamas - especially if the employees had a customer-facing job.

I am sorry - but to me - Baseball caps should only be worn by Police Officers in their own private time.

I wonder if every rank is going to be forced to wear a baseball cap eventually???  They are going to have fun trying to sew the braiding on if Senior ranks are to be forced to wear them.

Please reverse this decision and go back to wearing the smart hats.

A Call For Assistance (Or - Your Chance To "Blow My Trumpet" For Me)
5/22/2016 10:19:44 PM
I am not one to go in for saying how good I am at anything - in fact - the exact opposite is the case.

You see - I may sometimes come across as a loudmouth who seems to like the sound of her own voice a bit too much.  However, there is one surefire way to shut me up.  Tell me I am good at something - then peace and quiet will reign.  I will also probably be waiting for the "but..." which I am so used to hearing.

Some of you have told me how much you like reading my ramblings on here and I was wondering if you would be prepared to put your praise in writing.

Before you think that I have suddenly morphed into someone who needs their ego stroked or I will throw a tantrum - I will attempt to explain what I would like it for.

I am planning on making a new section on this website called "Testimonials" which I plan to use to publicise my blog.  I know some of you have offered to write one for me - and I am extremely grateful.

I am hoping to get this blog more widely known and read.  So - if you like what I write and you think your friends, family, colleagues, Postman, pets, etc, would find it interesting - please feel free to share it with them (or even just tell them about it).

I am not one to blow my own trumpet but I would like to say one thing if I may.

I blog from the heart.  I may blog about deadly serious things or things which are lighter and more humourous but every single blog post comes from the heart.  I have shared things on here which I would never tell you face to face (unless you were a trusted confidant of mine - and even that would not necessarily let you into my deepest, darkest secrets).

On here I am pretty much an open book.  If I blog about something it usually means that it either affects me directly or it affects people I know (whether or not I make any direct references to other people depends on having their permission to share their identity or quote them).

If you are prepared to write a short "Testimonial" for me please send it to the email address on the "Contacts" page.

By doing that you would be helping me try to make a difference in other people's lives.

Crowdfunding For Inkyworld (Or - Now Things Are Getting Serious!)
5/22/2016 9:16:32 PM
Well, I have finally bitten the bullet and set up a Crowdfunding page for Inkyworld.

I realise I am taking a big risk here and I hope you are willing to help me fund this blog.

If you would like to find out what I am offering in return for your donations please visit - www.crowdfunder.co.uk/inkyworld.

If you have any more ideas for fundraising please email me - My email address is on the Contact page.

The same goes for if you would like me to give a talk about blogging to a group.

I am passionate about educating people about different issues (or pointing other people in the direction of those with more experience than I have in certain subjects).

I honestly believe we have all got our own stories to tell which will help, educate, and inspire other people.  However, the best people to tell those stories are the people themselves.  I can tell your story for you but it will not have the same impact.

New Header - New Start! (Or - Now I Really Cannot Hide!)
5/22/2016 7:56:18 PM
I just wanted to say a big Thank You to Josh Melville for being kind enough to help me change my Header or Banner (whatever you want to call it).

Trust me - that is what the Passport Authorities used to classify as a "True and Accurate Representation" of me (particularly if there are bright lights in the vicinity).

You may notice something about the top I am wearing in the photo.  It is my "Sandwich Board" top.  I decided to "Welcome" you in my own little way.

So - at last - now you know for certain what I look like (as if the several photos of me in various blog posts didn't give the game away anyway).

We Need To Talk About The REAL Housing Crisis (Or - We Need To Build Houses Of All Sizes)
5/19/2016 11:20:03 PM
Have you noticed something about the new Housing Estates which are springing up in different places???  As in - Have you noticed what size the houses are???

There is one Housing Estate which is being built on what you might literally call a "Green Field Site" (it is being built on part of an ex-farm) near my Dad's house.

Now - I am as aware of the need for new house building as anybody.  I have no problem with this.  (In fact - as far as I am concerned houses can be built on floodplains and even in rivers if the Planners so decide.  After all, we need to cram in as many houses as we can fit into our country.)

What I do have a problem with is the size of them.  The board outside the Housing Estate suggests that "three, four, and five bedroom houses are going to be built on the site.  Leaving aside the potential traffic problems for a minute - I have a serious question.

Who decides how many bedrooms are needed in which houses being built in which locations???

When I move house I don't want to live in another house which is too big for me.  Instead I want to live in a house with either one bedroom or just a room these days.

There are some people who want to move house into somewhere small enough to fit them in - without having to so much as walk very far.

If you want to buy a one bedroom house which isn't a flat or a bungalow - they are very difficult to find.

Us single people who have no intention of ever getting married or moving in with someone need homes too.

I look forward to reading about housing estates with a proper mix of houses (including one bedroom) being built.

However, I suppose I will have to look for a bijou Shipping Container to move in to when the time is right for me to move.

Time To Get Serious (Or - Back Me In And I Will Come Out Fighting)
5/19/2016 10:16:40 PM
I am busily trying to keep a lid on my temper otherwise there will be a few people who will get the shock of their lives at some point in the not too distant future.

You see - I am one of those people who will do anything I can to help my friends out and not expect anything in return - until I start to feel like I am being taken advantage of (or I am being strung along to fit their own personal "programme").

If I start to feel like that - stand well clear - the explosion may not be loud but you will know about it.  I have blogged about one such occassion before now (when it involved myself and two very close friends of mine all being insulted by the same character).

I suppose the most recent incident does have one good outcome though.

It has made me more determined than ever to achieve my ultimate goal in my own way - pull up the drawbridge - pretend I am still at school - and rely on myself to get me through this as much as possible.

Yes - I know I have got people I can count on for support when I need it but I really hate asking for help.  Call me crazy if you want to but experience has taught me to be very careful who I show my "vulnerable" side to.

So - I have decided to pick myself up and dust myself off, whilst drying the internal tears.

Some of you will know that I have been trying to find a way of making money out of this blogging lark.  Blogging is something I am passionate about - both as a tool to educate people about sight problems and as an attempt to launch me in another direction.

However, I cannot run "inkyworld" on fumes and fresh air.  I have previously had some ideas about fundraising (as you may know) but this time I have decided to go down the "Crowdfunding" route for definite.  (I just need to find the correct words to make my idea sound plausible enough on the "form".  When I have had a serious think - probably either tomorrow or sometime over the weekend - I will attempt to set a "Crowdfunding" page up.)

I have also decided (and been informed it sounded like a good plan) to attempt to find sponsorship for this blog.  I will keep you posted on that one when I get a bit further forward with it.

Basically - I have decided to stop waiting for something I seriously hoped would happen yet hasn't so far (which is a pity because it would have given me some breathing space) and just go ahead anyway - even if it kills me.

There is a famous song by Queen called "I Want It All".  However, it is not my favourite song of the "Fighter mentality" genre.

My favourite song of that genre is "All I Want Is Everything" by Bon Jovi.  That is the song I have decided to end this blog post with.  The most poignant lyrics in it for me as I type this are 'Police came down with a body bag - said "Donny's a casualty".  I said, "All its about is the boy checked out - couldn't handle reality".'


How Can You Give Someone Else Your Experiences??? (Or - We Are One But We Will NEVER Be The Same)
5/16/2016 12:41:31 PM
Every so often I meet people who seem to instinctively know how to make life easier for me - just by being their natural self.

I would like to introduce you to one such person (the explanation of how they manage it will follow in a bit).

Julian Harrison is an author as well as being a Metal Health Consultant.  He has Mental Health issues himself which he is very open about (otherwise I wouldn't have even dared to ask him if I could quote him on my blog).

(He also happens to be one of very few people who look exactly the same whether or not I have my glasses on.  My eyes find looking at him very restful because of this.  Less work for my brain to do attempting to translate different images so they end up matching up and coming out with the same person.)

On Friday he and I got talking about things like disability and Mental Health and he came out with a really interesting comment or two.

The first one was something I find myself wondering every time I decide to sit down and type a blog post regarding my sight - "How can you give someone else your own experience?"

The short answer is you can't.  We are all different and we all experience the same events in different ways according to our experiences, mood, etc.

Much as I wish I could do this - nobody has found a way of literally walking around inside someone else's mind and finding out every single detail about them without their consent.  (I can name a couple of people who I would love to subject to this if I could - I think the trips could be very interesting indeed.)

I have learned different bits and peices about Mental Health from Julian and others but there is no way that I would say I know everything there is to know about that subject.

I am going to say something a bit contraversial now - but I make no apology for it.

There is not that much difference between an invisible Mental Health issue and a partially visible sight problem.  (In this context I mean "partially visible" as in - it is apparent that someone has a sight problem  - the invisible bit is the exact level of severity of it.  They wear glasses but act "normal-sighted".)

Julian and I are both faced with difficulties when it comes to making people understand how my sight problem and his Mental Health issues affect us on a day to day basis.

In my case - I can appear perfectly "normal" one minute and suddenly appear to have great difficulty doing something the next.  A perfect example is if I am in a cafe and I have paid for my food and drink, picked my tray up, turned round and commenced walking towards the nearest table - only to find that the place is cluttered with furniture, etc.  What will not be apparent is that the change in "Visual Sensor" will go from eyes to feet in that instance.  My eyes have lost their ability to focus on the floor immediately in front of me because my tray is blocking the view.  So my feet will slow down considerably to compensate.  When I find a table I will have another problem - caused by that self same tray.  My "Space Recognition" software may pick this moment to pack up and revert to "Glasses off" Mode.  This means that - where most people will probably just be able to place tray on table without a second thought - I will usually try to slide it on to the table.  This will help me find out for definite that this is a solid surface which will not immediately disappear in a puff of air.  The same will happen with a cup and saucer.

Julian's second interesting quote was "What is Happy?".  If you have no memorable experience of something - how can you know what it is like and what you are aiming for if you want to achieve that status???  You may know what happy people look like and you may have spoken to them about what makes them happy.  However, if you have never experienced the kind of happiness which is not immediately followed by a dive into doom and gloom - you are unlikely to know what true happiness is.

In my case - I have friends who can wander around day and night being able to see clearly without the aid of glasses or contact lenses.  Those friends in turn have a friend who is not safe to be let loose in public without their glasses on - day or night.  Funnily enough, I have never been half as curious about their world as they have been about mine sometimes.  (I suppose that is what comes of having to survive in a 20/20 vision world whether you want to or not.)

I wish we could all be more open to other people's experiences without trying to impose our experiences on them.  Yes - even I am guilty of that charge.  Sometimes I know I expect the world to be bent more in my direction and I get extremely frustrated when it isn't.

I would like to end this blog post by rewording a lyric from "A Little Less Conversation" by Elvis Presley, slightly.

"A Little Less Judgement And A Little More Understanding If You Please".

Compliments And Surprises (Or - Keep Going Because You Never Know Where You Might End Up)
5/16/2016 11:10:39 AM
There I was - just looking at Facebook through sheer boredom and curiosity - when I found out that someone had liked a couple of my blog posts.  Correction - when I found out that yet another human of my acquaintance had started reading my blog.

Fast forward to yesterday when I finally got a chance to speak to the lady concerned.  She blew my mind when she told me how much she liked it and why.  Put it this way - of all the words in the English language which I would have applied to "Inkyworld" the word topical didn't feature anywhere on that list.  You see - to me - topical means relevant to the world at large at that particular moment in time - not just the tiny fraction of it which I happen to occupy at that moment.

In fact, that was only one of the strange surprises I had over the past few days.

Another one was a repeat of an offer of help I had already had from someone - actually that is not exactly true - it was more the reason for the repeat.

You may remember I blogged a request for help on behalf of Joshua Melville connected with research for his PhD???  I wish to pass on his thanks to those of you who have contributed (and are going to contribute) to his research.

He had thanked me previously for blogging about it.  On Friday he told me exactly how helpful my blog post had been to him.  Hence the repeat offer to help with the layout of my website.

I know I have said this before but - I am truly amazed about how this blog has gone from just me sitting behind a laptop typing into a void to me sitting behind a laptop and typing - knowing humans are actually prepared to read my ramblings.  Not only that - but people are actually using what I say on here to help themselves and others.

There is one lady who always wonders how I come up with such "a wide variety of interesting subjects".  All I can say is - I blog about the things I find interesting.  Regular followers of my blog will know that I find all kinds of things interesting in different ways.

This may surprise you but the blog post which has had the biggest impact on me (out of all the ones I have typed) is the one about the revamped Birmingham New Street Station (and Grand Central Shopping Centre).  Why???  Because I keep reading articles and letters in "Rail Magazine" which indicate that there are times when my sight can actually mean I have exactly the same experience as other people - even if the reasons behind the experiences are the complete opposite.  (Welcome to my world people!!! You are most welcome!!!)

You see - I am aware that when I start blogging about the problems I have with places you will probably be wondering what planet I am on.  Yes - my sight is worse than most people and what may be difficult for me to see, do, or access, may be the easiest thing in the world for you.  This means that if people from the "Normal Sighted" world start agreeing with me about difficulties regarding a place, etc, I know there must be something seriously wrong with it.

One of these days I may either try to write a blog post about "a day in my life" or I may try to video bits of it.  You may be amazed by the things I have difficulty with that you might take for granted - as well as the things which you may think I am going to have difficulty with but I have managed to find tricks and tips to help me work around them.

If I can give you just a little taster of my world and help you think about the world a little differently that will make me very happy - that is really all the compliments I need.

Recently I have heard of a concept called "Pay It Forward" where - instead of doing someone a favour in return for a favour they have done for you - you help the next person you meet who has a difficulty.  If I have one wish for this blog it would be that you can use some of the stuff you have learned through reading my ramblings to help other people.  That doesn't mean you have to suddenly alter every single brick of the building you live in (or install different lighting, or curtains, etc) - it can simply be something like not judging someone if they are acting in a way you find odd but asking them how you can help them instead.  Let's just say that I react better to being asked how someone can help me than if they merely ask me if they can help me.  The second question comes with a default answer of "No thank you".  The first one is always welcome - mainly due to the fact I feel you may actually listen to my reply and act on it instead of achieving the outcome which is most desireable to you - whether or not it is actually helpful to me in anyway.

So - I just want to finish this blog post by saying thank you for reading my ramblings and supporting me.  I hope I can keep you entertained enough to keep you with me as I find out where this may take me.  A BIG HUG to you all.

Inkyworld Daydreams (Or - What Would Happen In My Ideal World)
5/13/2016 12:29:24 AM
I haven't attempted to write a blog post specifically dealing with what I personally would like to happen in the world around me.  Yes - I know I have typed different bits and pieces on the subject but I thought I would dedicate this blog post to daydreaming about my ideal world.

In my ideal world inequality would not exist.  We would all be able to take a full and active part in life without any barriers at all.

Disability would be actively treated as being a useful asset to employers, etc.  After all, having a disability can actually make you ,more flexible and adaptable than some "able-bodied" people I know.

All sports would go back to being amateur.  This would reinstate the connection between players, teams, and the public.  This would also remove the ridiculous salaries paid to footballers.

There would be no Government (at least not in its current form).  We would all have equal responsibility for the running of the country.  There would be no such thing as Taxes.  Instead - people would have to pay for everything they used - roads, schools, etc.

The current wage and Social Security structure would be replaced by people being paid a sum of money each month whilst being able to earn extra.  There would be both a Minimum and a Maximum Wage limit which would be strictly enforced.

The BBC would be scrapped and different organisations would be able to "hire" bits of the TV and Radio schedules so they could make programmes.

Bullying would not exist.  In fact, everybody would respect each other's views, opinions, religion, way of life, etc.

People would get a choice as to whether or not they ended up in hospital if they became ill.  More to the point - there would not be a culture where people were forced to live - against their will - when their quality of life was deteriorating to the point where it was outweighed by the quantity of life someone could be provided with if they got enough medication.

Cars would be banned from our streets.  This would be because the Public Transport was so cheap and reliable that there was no need for cars at all.  The entire country would be linked up to the Public Transport network - and it would run twenty four hours a day - seven days a week.

Finally - Creativity would be actively encouraged as a valid form of Employment.  Things like blogging, singing, sculpting, etc, would be given equal status to Manufacturing, Engineering, etc.  Banking would be treated in the same way that actively attempting to become a "Politician" - in the form which exists in the UK today.  As in Bankers and people who involve themselves in dealing in Stocks and Shares would be treated as criminals.

And They Wonder Why People Cannot Think For Themselves!!! (Or - The Connection Between "Best Before" Dates And Academic Exams)
5/12/2016 10:59:07 PM
Have you ever felt that you are being forced to conform every single minute of every single day???

Have you ever wondered why we do some of the things we do???

We are bombarded with advice on how to do things.  Some of this advice had a point at some time but we still follow it - even though e know it is out of date.

Take "Best Before" dates on food.  We seem to have been trained to use these as a check to see if the goods are edible.  In fact, the only date which will tell you if something is still edible is the "Use By" date on dairy products - ignore the "Use By" date at your peril or you will suffer foodpoisioning as a result.

The other thing is how English and other subjects should be taught (and if parents are allowed to take their children on holiday during term time).

I seem to remember someone saying that "Phonetic Spelling" was going to be a big craze in the 1970's and 1980's - thanks in part to Slade and their badly spelled song titles.

Instead, children today are being grilled on the different parts of sentences (nouns, adverbs, etc) without being given the tools to use them to make sense of what they are reading.  Never mind the fact that this "Clinical" way of teaching English does nothing for the idea of reading for pleasure or even writing for pleasure.

I was so tempted to type a sentence in Dutch at that point and leave you to work out what it said.  Then I realised that would be seen as me "showing off" - as well as assuming you at least had the basic understanding of the Dutch language in order for you to translate what I had typed.

When I was at Primary School we didn't see an exam paper.  We had to read to the teacher, we got dictation, we got mental arithmetic.  Basically, other ways were found to test us without us realising what was going on.

The world is becoming a very scary place.  However, we can control how scary we make it for each other by allowing ourselves and others to work things out for themselves.

You could call it "Going Back To Basics" if you want to.  However, that is the only way we will learn that there are some situations which do not have an example in a textbook.  Whilst I could have learned Dutch from a textbook (especially if I had attended a school where I could have taken a GCSE in Dutch in place of German) - there is no textbook on Planet Earth which will tell me how to deal with my level of sight.  As it is I managed to learn both by a process of Trail and Error.

We need to make thinking fun again - we also need to make learning about things seem like an enjoyable activity.

There is a Dutch chef on YouTube called Rene Pluijm who shows you how to make delicious food (in Dutch - but the videos are rather self-explanatory).  He makes it clear that he wants you to use his recipes as a starting point and add or remove ingredients according to your tastes (or even what you have available).

So next time you decide to find a textbook to help you with something or you start following "Recieved Wisdom" about a certain subject - stop and think about how you would like to try to solve it.  Experience is - after all - the best teacher. 

The Ambulance Puzzle (Or - Please Find A Template And Stick To It!)
5/12/2016 10:09:32 PM
This evening three new (and puzzling) vehicles passed through my world at high speed.  The only trouble is - when I first saw them - I thought there were six separate vehicles.

Apparently these are called "Ambulances"???  Not in my world they aren't.  In my world an Ambulance is a single vehicle which is the approximate size of a Luton Van which is (for some strange reason) nowadays painted either a bright lemon yellow or a yellowy green colour - with light green and dark green Battenberg print down the sides.  These come with blue flashing lights fitted as standard.

More to the point - they look like a single vehicle from a distance.  That is the important thing.

Allow me to explain.

My brain has got "stock images" of different sorts of vehicles so I have some idea of what is likely to pass me - as well as whether or not it is a good idea to try and stop it (particularly if I am waiting for a bus).

So - you can imagine my confusion when what I first thought was two vehicles (either a Police Car or an Ambulance Car followed by a big ambulance) turned out to be a full-sized ambulance on its own.

This had something to do with the layout of the blue flashing lights (particularly the height and "distance" of the lower lights).  The lower lights appeared to be at the height I would expect to see on the roof of a Police Car - they also appeared to be further forward than the "Roof" lights.

I am now wondering what the Fire Brigade are going to come up with as a way of disguising their vehicles - shrinking them to the size of a minibus perhaps???

I know I have been a little bit sarcastic about this but there is a serious point to the above.

There are times when I don't mind learning what different vehicles look like but there are also times when it can actually be dangerous for me to do so at that precise moment.  Put it this way - I understand that standing in front of a vehicle which has got its "Blues and Twos" (or lights and sirens) going is not exactly recommended for Medicinal purposes.  Especially when it is travelling at a high speed.  Even I am not stupid enough to try that.

However, standing in front of a vehicle (when it is stationary) is the best way for me to learn what it looks like.  This means that I can "file" the shape, etc, of it in my brain.  The next best way for me to learn what a vehicle looks like - as well as how I can expect it to behave - is for it to drive past me at a reasonable speed.  Put it this way - I can tell you if my Dad happens to be driving a car because I know his style of driving (his way of sitting in the Driver's seat, for example).

I am sure I will get used to the new ambulances at some point.

Please Drive For The Condition Of Your Passengers (Or - Why A Certain Bus Company Is Not In My Good Books At The Moment)
5/11/2016 12:19:54 AM
There are times when I really wish the DVLA would be prepared to give someone with my level of sight a Driving Licence.  These occur most often when I have narrowly avoided serious injury as I attempted to locate a seat.

Before you think this is yet another post about drunk people on Public Transport please read on.

I have blogged a couple of times before about passengers not being given enough time to find a seat before the bus pulls away from the bus stop.  (I seem to remember suggesting at one point that the seats should be stripped out of the buses and a metal bar should be put down both sides of the bus to hold the passengers upright.)

The irony is that I have seen a new breed of poster springing up on buses operated by various companies.  These posters urge you to "ring the bell and stay seated until the bus arrives at the stop".  How are you supposed to stay seated if you aren't seated in the first place???

Apparently, it is only English bus drivers who appear to ish to set the Landspeed Record for buses.  On every Dutch bus I have ever travelled on the driver waits for the passengers to either sit down or - in the event of the bus being standing room only - brace themselves so they have at least some kind of balance before the bus pulls off.

I could waffle on about empty pushchairs being allowed to occupy space in the Wheelchair bay (thereby blocking seats which the Elderly, Disabled, and Infirm - or wobbly on their feet - are supposed to be priority users of in the absence of a wheelchair iror occupied pushchair).

I could also ramble on about how annoyed I feel when humans who appear more able to race towards the back of the bus than I am (especially when it is moving) clog the Disabled seats up and don't offer to move to let me sit down.

I have actually injured my back (not severely but it was bad enough at the time) when I fell backwards as I was trying to find a seat at the very back of the bus.  The driver had pulled away from the bus stop and got up to full speed - conveniently forgetting that there was a roundabout which he was heading directly for.  He put his brakes on so suddenly when he got to the roundabout that I didn't have time to find a proper hand hold - so down I went.

It is all very well for people to advise the passengers to ask the drivers to let them sit down before they leave the stop but this only applies to the Elderly, Infirm, Disabled, and Vulnerable sections of society.  I don't see why the driver should have to be asked to wait until the passengers sit down before pulling away from the stop.  Surely the drivers should wait anyway???

It is getting to the stage where the only people who are going to feel really safe getting on and off buses are the ones who do not need to find a seat because they are already seated (either in a wheelchair or a pushchair) when they board the bus.

We need a total reeducation of Drivers so they understand the dangers of people not getting a chance to sit down before the driver drives off.

Why "Flash Gordon" Isn't Any Good When It Comes To Changing Public Opinion (Or - Can We Please Go Back To The Days When Honesty And Humour Were Valuable???)
5/10/2016 11:39:28 PM
Before you decide that this is going to be a rant about people who answer to "Gordon" - I have news for you.  The "Flash Gordon" in question is actually a song by Queen which reminds me of my GCSE French lessons.  All will be revealed.

It is funny how certain events in the world spark off different memories.  Just recently I have had a reccuring memory which has dug itself up from deep within my memory banks (that is where the bleakest memories are hidden).

What with the different debates about Politicians and whether or not countries are (a) corrupt or (b) in danger of becoming a "Failed State" - it is becoming difficult to stop for a moment and draw breath.

I must admit I am sick and tired of the mud-slinging which masquerades as "mature" debate on TV these days.  Apparently, if you disagree with something you are opening yourself to all sorts of criticism.

However, my mind immediately goes back to my GCSE French classes at secondary school.  Not because we had any profound philosophical debates in it.  Nope - instead the reason my mind goes back to it has something to do with AJ Freeman, Tom Neale, Danny Turner, Ian Campbell, and Jason Horrobin forming an impromptu choir at one point.  This choir was apparently formed primarily for the purpose of singing at least part of the theme to the movie "Flash Gordon".  (From what I can remember the boys were reasonably good at singing.)

It has got to the stage where - every time I hear the begining of a debate or interview where the topic involves any kind of change to any kind of system - I hear AJ mutter "Flash - Flash - I love you but we only have 14 hours to save the universe" before the choir kick in with the chorus.

I am not sure if it is the current interviewing (sorry - interrorgation) style employed by interviewers but it would seem that honesty and humour have flown out of the window.

There is - however - one bunch of people who have shown a (sometimes seriously inappropriate) sense of humour.  The "seriously inappropriate" sense of humour comment relates to the current craze of UK Police Forces copying something called a "Running Man" video which is doing the rounds on Twitter and YouTube.  To me videos where the Police display a sense of humour and an ability to connect with the public are best when they are spontaneous - certainly not when the UK Police has been criticised for corruption, implicated in the Hillsborough - and other ones - enquiry and found to be lacking in judgement.  And don't get me started on the use of Police vehicles in the videos.  (I thought that was somewhat illegal???)

My favourite Police video I have seen on YouTube displays a sense of respect as well as a sense of fun on the part of the Senior Officer involved in it.

Simon Cole (Chief Constable of Leicestershire Police) is a friendly man with a sense of fun.  Mr Cole has started doing "Vlogs" called "Chief's Week" (look them up on YouTube if you are interested).  Today's installment made me smile because - instead of Mr Cole doing the waffling there was another officer waffling.  This particular officer was from one of the Local Policing Teams in Leicester.  Don't worry - Mr Cole played the part of a junior officer very well at the end when he gave his "replacement" a cup of tea.

It wasn't a "Look at how clever we are being" kind of video - like the UK versions of the "Running Man" videos I have seen appear to be.

Instead it was a gentle joke which - once you knew what was going on  - was extremely funny.  It didn't misuse Police equipment or give me the impression that either of the officers involved were attempting to make the Police more "street" (whilst leaving me with the impression that one or two Officers from the varying UK forces who have taken up the "Running Man" Challenge should be immediately forced to take drug and alcohol tests for allowing themselves to be filmed cavorting in such an undignified manner whilst wearing a Police Uniform).

We need to get back to a culture of respect for everybody.  This should start by people listening to the views of the Public on various issues and not leaving themselves open to charges of bringing Society as a whole into disrepute.

Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder (Or - Why Sometimes Perspective Is Everything)
5/10/2016 10:40:00 PM
Before I start rambling on about the subject of "beauty" I would like you to look at this photo.

Before you state the blazingly obvious and say it is out of focus I took it like that deliberately.  I was at a "Taster" lesson in Photography.  I had chosen a few objects to photograph with a digital camera and - when I was happy with the arrangement of the salt shaker and the metal goblet - I tried out the new trick I had been taught about.  Find an appealing or unusual angle and take photo.  I did a test shot on my digital camera and then sneaked my mobile phone out and took the final shot with that.

The fact it is blurry is actually beside the point.  What I liked the most about it - apart from the weird angle - is that to me it highlights something which most people don't think about.

Here is a question for you - what is the most in focus in the photograph???  I don't mean what is the clearest thing on the photograph.  I mean - what do your eyes see first (and most)???

If you say "its a blur" you are kind of missing the point.  If you say "there are strange contrasts between colours - some merging and some standing out" you are nearer to what I am getting at.  If you say "nice photograph apart from the seriously ugly reflections of light in the top of the salt shaker" give yourself a pat on the back.

What has that got to do with "beauty"??? I hear you ask.  Well, here is a mind-bending task for you - see if you can work out what sort of weather that photograph would represent to me.  (A clue - I can just about guarantee you will tell me it is a gorgeous day when we get weather like it.  According to photography wizards it is also the best weather condition to take photographs in.)

If you said anything about sunshine being involved give yourself half a point.  If you said wall-to-wall sunshine without a cloud in the sky give yourself ten points.

You are probably wondering why the dark stuff - as well as why it is so blurred???

That is as accurate as I can make a photographic representation of what a clear sunny day can do to my eyes if I am left in direct sunlight for a long time (particularly if I am facing in the rough direction of the sun for any reason).

Not only do buildings sometimes have a bad habit of merging together and losing their distinguishing features - I have been known to wonder what happened to entire buildings which I remembered seeing on a cloudy day.

The best thing to do if it is a day with wall-to-wall sunshine is let me go at my own speed.  I may seem like I am on a "go slow" or I may just grind to a complete halt and hide inside the nearest solid building.  If I am awake and moving I will be OK.

The funny thing is - I understand that most people will hate my two absolute favourite weather conditions.  I love looking at heavy rain (I am not so keen on being outside in it though) especially when I can see it moving slowly across the sky.  I adore being outside in what most people (apart from people my Dad's age and over) will call "Fog".  Fog is one of the conditions I classify as "Equal Opportunities Weather".  After all, when it is properly foggy nobody can see where they are going - whether or not they have "perfect" vision.

Just because it is the accepted "normal status" to love wall-to-wall sunshine - it doesn't mean everybody can cope with it in the same way as you can.

We all have times when we cannot see as well as we would like to - the print in that book may be too small to read or the wrong colour.  The contrast between the red and green of the traffic lights may not be great enough if you are severely red/green colourblind.  The flashing laser show (or even camera flashes) may cause you to have an epileptic fit.  There may be all kinds of reasons for your sight to let you down at some point during your daily (and nightly) routine.

I admit that my sight lets me down in ways you may neither expect or understand.  I have found tricks and ways of working around it though - after all - nobody likes someone who complains all the time, do they???

As the second part of the title to this blog post says "Sometimes perspective is everything".  There are times when I will quite happily show people the funny side of the tricks my eyes sometimes play on me.  There are other times when I just want to cry with frustration at the attitudes of people who enter my world (those are the times when I have to repeat the mantra "Forgive them for they know not what they say - or do").

I can only give you very small tasters on here of what it is like living with my sight.  If you spend time with me (and I trust you enough) I will show you some of the problems I have and explain them to you.

Unfortunately, there is no way of me swapping eyeballs with you.  In fact, I think that subjecting someone with "normal" sight to the realities of my level of sight for longer than a minute would probably be classified by the UN as a "Cruel and Extreme Punishment" - especially if I sent them for an unsupervised walk around unfamiliar territory.

If you have been enjoying the sunny weather we have had recently I can honestly say I am very pleased for you.  Just please don't be surprised when I tell you I prefer cloud - and lots of it.

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