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Referendums Highlight Divisions In Society (Or - There Are No More Fairytales Or Bedtime Stories To Tell)
6/28/2016 11:19:39 AM

Paalwoningen (or "Cube Flats") near Rotterdam Blaak Station

I think I can guess what you are thinking - Why am I looking at a photo of weird flats when you have told me this blog post is about the divisions in society which have been highlighted by the Brexit Referendum???

Allow me to explain (or attempt to explain).

This year I managed to psych myself up enough to actually set foot in the "Kijk Kubus" (or the show flat.  Although I am glad I did it I don't particularly wish to repeat the experience because of the steepness and narrowness of the staircases I had to go up and down in order to experience the flat for myself.

What I am trying to say is - they are still my favourite building in Rotterdam to look at but you could say I have been there, done that.  I would thoroughly recommend a walk around the "Kijk Kubus" if you can manage narrow and/or steep staircases.

Getting out of the flat and back down to ground level was the only time when I have felt discriminated against due to my sight in Rotterdam.

Chess board in Rotterdam Library (and - yes - I did see people play it)

If something good has come out of the Brexit Referendum as far as I am concerned - it is the fact we are being forced to look at our society and how divided it has become.

I could attempt to turn into some kind of "pseudo-Brainiac" and tell you that the photo of the chess board was supposed to be a metaphor for people in power playing different sections of society against each other.  However, that would be over-complicating things.

Whichever way you look at me I am an outsider when I am in Britain (I certainly feel like one).  For a start - I have never felt totally English or British even though I was born here and have lived here my entire life.

Compared to The Netherlands - where you cannot help being exposed to newspapers, magazines, and TV Stations from other countries - Britain seems to want to stick with English-centric media as much as possible.

I will give you an example.  I live in Leicester - where you find a high proportion of Asians living in certain areas.  I am used to realising that - if I walk around certain areas I will be in the minority because I am Western and white.  I can expect to hear Asian languages being spoken in the centre.  What I cannot expect to find (even if I was looking for one) is any kind of newspaper in an Asian language.

We have a large amount of Eastern Europeans in Leicester as well.  They have given us Polish shops, etc.  However, if I walk into a Newsagent I will have about as much success in finding a Polish newspaper as I will finding a Dutch one - none whatsoever.

I was split between my head and my heart when it came to voting in the Referendum - Head said "In" and Heart said "Out".  I went with my head.

However, I am just waiting for the EU to collapse.

The racism which has been brought to the surface of British Society as a result of the Referendum also needs to be tackled.  But I feel we need a proper "grown up" debate about it.

I read somewhere that "Political Correctness" enables people to communicate without causing great offence as a result.  In most cases that is true.  However, I am not sure that putting nice "acceptable" labels on the things we cannot say in public is a very good idea.

Personally I find it easier to discuss something when we both feel comfortable with the language used.  Only then can we start to change some of the ideas that people have about other people.

As well as needing a debate on the best way to get a Parliament which truly represents the people it is supposed to serve (I thnk we should have Electoral candidates which not only reflect the Political views of the Electorate - we should have candidates who reflect the human population of the constituencies themselves.  I would love to see more Disabled people in Parliament.) we also need a proper conversation about the benefits or otherwise of Immigration - as well as people's fears regarding Employment, etc.

Yes - you are correct - it does say "Brain Wash" - however - it is not somewhere where you go for Psychiatrict or Psychological evaluation or treatment.  It is the name of a chain of Dutch Hairdressers,

The second part of the title to this blog post is actually some lyrics to a song I have been listening to rather a lot recently.  "No More Fairytales" by City To City.  I am not going to quote the entire song (you can get the "The Road Ahead" album on Amazon - and listen to the song for yourself) but I am starting to realise that it is the most applicable song for these times.

I have heard too many arguments blaming different sections of the Referendum as well as different situations which people have found themselves in (regarding employment opportunities, etc).  I am also alarmed by people calling each other selfish as a result of their votes.

I saw something on Facebook which may put things into perspective.  The general message of it was - people have fought and died in World Wars so you can have the opportunity to vote (and some of them were young people with their futures in front of them).  So if you want to moan about how different people voted just be thankful they (and you) did have an opportunity to vote.

We have already had one person die as a consequence of this Referendum - we do not need any more people to lose their life as a result of it.

From A "Living" Museum To An "Exhibition" Museum (Or - "Military History" Served Two Ways)
6/20/2016 12:02:55 AM
The funny thing was - I wasn't even looking for the church when I found it.  In fact - it was in a totally different part of Rotterdam than where I had expected it to be.  I was actually looking for the Library and the Markt Hal (or "Market Hall").

Laurence Church in Rotterdam

I would have loved to have had a look around inside it but I was put off by the sign which practically ordered me to pay an admission charge.  I realise that such a historic building needs to find a way of raising money to keep it in good condition.  However, I would have felt happier with a sign reading something like "Suggested Donation = 2 Euros".  (Maybe it is because I am not used to having to pay to get into an English Church.)

The Laurence Church might not mean anything to you but it is one of very few original pre-WW2 buildings left standing in Rotterdam city centre.

The doors to the front of the church are a relatively recent edition (1960's) and have "Peace And War" as a theme.

This started me wondering if I would be able to find "Het Witte Huis" (or "The White House") - one of the other original pre-WW2 buildings in Rotterdam City Centre.

I found that a few days later - after consulting both my Dad and Googlemaps.

Tall white building in background is "Het Witte House" - now a hotel or cafe.  In the foreground you can see the site of the original Rotterdam Harbour.

In between those visits to Rotterdam City Centre I went to the beach at Hoek van Holland.  Here I found another interesting WW2 exhibit - the Atlantic Wall Museum.  (Open alternate Saturdays and Sundays.  Still impressive to look at even if you cannot get inside it.)

The day after I got back from Holland I went to a "Military History" exhibition at the Adult Education Centre in Leicester.  They had plenty of exhibits and re-enactors (along with a few serving Military personnel).

Maybe it is thanks to the influence of my Oma but I much prefer history "in-situ" where I can get a proper feel for what happened.

I am going to end this blog post with what I think are three very "talkative" photos I took when I was in Rotterdam.  Two are of information boards which you can see on the roof of the "Groothandel's Gebouw" in Rotterdam - the last one is a mix of old photo and modern scenery (in the same place).

A Trip Back To The Future In More Ways Than One (Or - The Day Someone Cheered Me Up More Than They Realised)
6/19/2016 11:12:51 PM

(View of the stairs to the roof of the "Groothandels Gebouw" in Rotterdam - a temporary "sculpture" to celebrate 75 years of the renewing of Rotterdam)

Have you ever felt like you have known someone from somewhere else - even though you have only just met them???  I am not even talking about thinking you know them because they have told you about themselves in letters, emails, phonecalls, Social Media conversations, etc.  I am talking about getting the feeling you have actually met that person before in real life - even when you know you have never seen them before in your life.

I had exactly that feeling one day last week - which had the rather strange effect of making me feel like I was in the classroom of my favourite teacher.

This was rather strange for two reasons - the first (and most logical) one being I was in totally the wrong country.  The second reason was that I was most definitely not talking to any kind of teacher.

Before I totally confuse you - I think I had better explain a couple of things to you.

You could say that this month is a bit of a strange one for me.  Twenty years ago this month my Oma died.  As you can imagine - this has quite a few emotions connected with it.  These were not exactly helped by me wishing my Mum could have come to Holland with me and my Dad (just so I could talk to her about it).

The funny thing is the staircase in the photo I put at the top of this blog post kind of has a part to play in the story as well.  Actually - it was more a case of the husband of the first couple I recognised who had put a photo of themselves on it (more about the other one a bit later).  Put it this way - my mind immediately rewound to when I went over to Holland for Oma's funeral and I had been absolutely convinced I was going to be escorted out of the country until I heard my Mum's "family name" being used.  (Yes - that incident does appear elsewhere on this blog.  I just don't remember if I had stated when it happened.)

Back to the point.

I had decided to try to cheer myself up a bit by "exploring a new bit of Rotterdam" - or at least that is what I told myself so I didn't scare myself enough to back out of what I actually intended to do (it was also a way of stopping myself from being too disappointed if my actual plan failed).

I had decided to see if I could find one of my favourite Twittercops.  To be honest - I didn't exactly hold out much hope.

I got a very pleasant surprise - as well as the "Deja vu" experience I mentioned earlier.

In fact - that "Deja vu" experience was a little more interesting than me just feeling like I was in the classroom of my favourite teacher.  In a strange way - it went back one stage further to when I was growing up with my Mum.

Being spoken to in a mixture of English and Dutch has to be the best way to de-stress me.  It even works better than handing me a book to read.  (Well, if you are used to hearing that combination of languages as you are growing up I am sure your brain will find it calming as you get older.)

Regular readers of my blog will know about my experiences at school and how Steve Bowkett was the only teacher who appeared to make things easy for me by allowing me to do the things I enjoy the most in his lessons (reading, writing, and daydreaming)

On paper Wilco Berenschot has got very little in common with Steve.  Neither of them are English (Steve is Welsh), they are both humans of the Male species, both got curly hair, oh - and they both love speaking to people as part of their job.

So why on Earth did I end up feeling like I could have been sitting in a classroom in Lutterworth High School in 1985, looking at a teacher in a navy blue tank top, instead of in a "Pop-up Police Station" somewhere in Rotterdam, in 2016, talking to a Police Officer in uniform???

There is one thing Wilco and Steve have got in common - a friendly way of educating people and making them feel safe for as long as they are in their presence.  Oh - and a way of making sure people leave their presence feeling happier than when they arrived.

Funnily enough - that is exactly how my Mum made people feel too.

The Differences Between The Netherlands And The UK For People With A Visual Impairment
6/19/2016 9:15:16 PM

I wrote this article (in English) for a Dutch magazine - who translated it into Dutch for me.

In England I am what is known as “Registered Partially Sighted” - this entitles me to walk around with a white stick (which I never use).

I was brought up to be independent and not make a big deal about my sight problem (which means I try to act “normal sighted” as much as possible. I am severely myopic (nearsighted) – I also have a condition called “Photophobia” which means my eyes are extremely sensitive to bright lights.

I am half-Dutch (my Mum was born in Rotterdam) and I have visited The Netherlands on several occasions in my lifetime.

This may sound funny but – for me at least – The Netherlands doesn't seem to make as much of a big deal of Visual Impairment as the UK does. Life as we know it doesn't suddenly grind to a halt when the Dutch are faced with someone who cannot see as well as people may expect.

If I am going about my daily life in England I have to put up with signs I cannot see, bad lighting, obstacles in my way (usually racks of clothing standing so close together that I cannot see a way through them from a distance).

The Dutch appear to have seriously considered any difficulty I may have as I wander around The Netherlands (in fact – the only slight problem I have is the steps onto the older trains).

Dutch signs are big and easy for me to read. Even the “Backlit” signs are easy to read. That is before you realise that the Dutch seem to be trained in “helpfulness” when they see someone struggling in their shops, etc.

However, the best thing for me is knowing I can walk into a Dutch shop, cafe, or restaurant, without wondering if I am going to crash into anything on my way around. Dutch shops are nicely spaced out (even when they are very small).

As for the difference between public transport in The Netherlands and the UK. The Dutch buses have nice clear destination boards. I particularly love the screens you find on some Dutch buses, Trams, Metro, and Trains, which show you the stops the vehicle will be calling at before it gets to its destination. (Dutch people don't have to peer out of the window in the dark wondering where they are in relation to their stop.)

I honestly feel the UK can learn a lot from The Netherlands about how to integrate people with sight problems into society without making a big fuss. In The Netherlands I feel “Designed Into” my surroundings – unlike the UK – where I feel designed out of them.

You Find Yourself Wherever You Are! (Or - A Meditation For The Soul)
6/8/2016 8:21:11 PM

I love the wording on Dutch Maps - like the ones you find in Tourist Attractions, large towns, or Shopping Centres - it makes more sense than being told "You Are Here".

"U Bevindt Zich Hier" literally translates into "You Find Yourself Here".

The question is where do I actually find myself???

Yes - I know that the best place to find the true "me" is in Rotterdam - but what if I am stuck in England???

Well, I can usually find myself when I get totally lost in scenery.  The scenery usually has to include water or unusual buildings or sculptures.  Preferably all three.  (A clue - try taking me back to Kings Lynn - that works.)

If I cannot find freedom in my real surroundings the next best thing is to do one of my hobbies - reading or writing.  I love books and blogs which I can get completely lost in as I read them.  It doesn't matter if they are fiction or factual - the test is if I can read them in one sitting and then want to reread them.

My favourite blogs are ones where the authors take me with them as they describe situations to me - or explain even the most complicated theories in extremely idiotproof language.

Writing is something else I can find myself in as I get lost in it.  There is just something calming about seeing letters and words appearing on a page as I either move the pen or hit the keys on the keyboard.

I remember reading a book by Steve Bowkett, called "Meditations For Busy People (How To Stay Calm And Stop Worrying)".  The most memorable line in it was "imagine you are on a tropical deserted beach.  This is your personal shakra - visit it often".

The funny thing about that is - I cannot stand warm places and my favourite beach has got a rather large port very close to it.  Hoek van Holland beach is almost next door to the ferry terminal.  My second favourite beach - in case you were wondering - is the one at Scheveningen, near The Hague (I always want to type "Den Haag"). 

For those of you who are fans of "The Hairy Bikers" - the beach (or rather the promenade) at Scheveningen was featured on one of their "Bake-ation" programmes.

We are all too busy and stressed out - whether it is connected with employment, health, relationships, financial matters, or anything else.

I read in another book (which I cannot remember the title of at this moment in time) that there are times when unresolved stress and mental anguish actually gives unexplained physical symptoms - if not properly dealt with.

I know that there are people who enjoy walking (my Dad is one of them).  However, seeing as it is one of my primary forms of transport, I don't see the point of walking for leisure.  If I want to walk I usually have both a destination and a purpose in mind.

A recent kind of a hobby is being showcased on this blog post.  These photos were taken outside St Martin's House, near Leicester Cathedral, a couple of years ago.

I must admit that my idea of photography will drive most people up the wall.  Not for me the pretty - chocolate box - photos of architecture or scenery.  I like my photos with a twist in them - the kind that makes you wonder "why the Hell did she take that???".  Either that or the sort of photo which can be interpreted in more than one way.

I was talking to someone today who asked me if I would go for Laser Eye Surgery if it could be proven to be 100% successful.  She was surprised when I said "No".  Apart from the reason I gave her (I wouldn't be "Me" if I have it) - I wouldn't have the most useful escape route ever invented any more if I did.

As it is now - I can easily escape into my thoughts whilst in your presence and you wouldn't necessarily notice any difference.  Well - that is not quite true.  You would notice a difference but not the major one.

I think I have written before about how my favourite time of the day is when I wake up - before I put my glasses on.  My world is in its natural (for me) blurred state.  My brain can gently tick over as it warms up ready for the day ahead.  When I reach for my glasses it is a sign that I am going to get up and do something difficult - which means waking my brain up properly.

This means that - as well as giving my eyes a break when I take my glasses off - my brain gets a break as well.  You see - without my glasses on my brain just gets blurred images via my eyeballs.  So it switches off and treats whatever is in front of me as a kind of screensaver.  You will notice that I very rarely walk around without my glasses on (unless they are being cleaned - or "defogged" - as I walk or I am inside my own house and I am staying on one level).

We all need a way of escaping at times - be it daydreaming (something else I am very good at), something creative, physical exercise, or something else of your choice.

Some people are happiest in a crowd of people whilst others - like me - prefer their own company or dealing with people one on one.  (I sometimes have to "psych myself up" before I can even face a small group of friends or relatives.  That depends if I think I am going to have to "perform" or not.  If I feel like I can be myself and merge into the background I am extremely relaxed - if I feel like I have to act "normal sighted" I can get extremely stressed out extremely quickly.

We all have our limits as to what we can and cannot cope with.  The trick is not to cross those limits too often (if at all).

You are special because you are unique.  There is no point in trying to be like everybody else because they cannot be like you.  In fact, if you think about it, the only thing we all have in common is that we are all human with a 100% Mortality rate.  Some of us identify as men and some of us identify as women, some of us are right handed and some of us are left handed, some of us are white and some of us are from "Ethnic Minorities", etc.  The list is endless.

My least favourite rock group (U2) released a single called "One" which has very relevant lyrics;

"We are one but we're not the same.  We've got to carry each other - carry each other".

The Real Junkfood Roadshow (Or - Educating People One Delicious Meal At A Time)
6/6/2016 9:31:03 PM

Poem by Ken Duddle (One of the "The Real Junkfood Project" Volunteers)

OK - so it wasn't technically a "Roadshow" as such.  The "Super Saturday" event which usually happens at the West End Centre, Andrewes Street, Leicester, just moved itself to the Riverside Festival on Saturday.

Before I continue I suppose I had better declare an interest in this great bunch of people.  I am one of the Volunteers.  However, you won't see me serving or cooking at any of their events (even though I helped out on Thursday afternoon).  I am more of the "Behind the scenes" Volunteer - as in - I do the Admin.

The "Pay As You Feel" concept is a very good idea.  You don't even have to pay in money - you can volunteer your services instead.  This has the effect of allowing everybody to be treated as equals (whether or not they can afford to pay with money).

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will probably recognise the "Menu" board from whenever I am having my Thursday night dinner at the "Pay As You Feel Cafe".

I must admit that Thursday afternoon was an eyeopening experience for me.  Put it this way - I got a big shock when I saw the food which had been collected from various places.  There was lots of it.

At the Leicester "Pay As You Feel" Cafe they also have a "Food Boutique" where you can pick up some perfectly edible food which has been thrown out by supermarkets, etc, that you can use at home.

The motto of The Real Junkfood Project is "Feed Bellies Not Bins" and - if you could see the amount of food which the Leicester gang collect from various places - you may get some idea of the best way to solve the problems with people going hungry unnecessarily.  Use the food which Supermarkets throw away to feed people who honestly cannot afford the crazy prices you have to pay for thngs like fresh fruit and vegetables.

I am really tempted to suggest that the Police sign up to the Junkfood initiative - and either donate their excess food or serve food which has been prepared by their nearest Junkfood Project in their stations.

Is there any way of the Junkfood Project being incorporated into the Criminal Justice System???  Either as a volunteering opportunity or as a place where people can get a healthy meal without being judged???

What I love most about the Junkfood Project is not the food itself - it is the way of bringing the community together - and helping people to learn about each other.

Old, New, Recycled, And Reused (Or The Riverside Festival Appeared To Have Been Overrun By "Wombles"!!!
6/6/2016 8:50:46 PM
Every so often I attend an event whilst having extremely low expectations of it.  This year's "Riverside Festival" in Leicester was one such event.

I found these two ladies crocheting old plastic carrier bags into new shopping bags

To be honest the reason for my low expectations was hearing someone (who shall remain nameless) saying that there would be an "Eco Zone" at the Festival.

You will have to excuse me for thinking this was just going to be a "Lip Service" idea.  However, I do have my reasons.

Leicester was actually the UK's first "Environmental City".  The fact that Charles Street, in the city centre, can almost be classified as the most polluted street in the UK (in proportion to the length of it), is apparently beside the point.

Anyway - I digress.

I was actually hoping that this year was going to be more of a "Holistic" Festival - dealing with things like Mental Health, etc.  Well, they did have my friends from The Real Junkfood Project there - as well as the "Rescue" bit of the "Fire and Rescue Service" (also known as the Fire Brigade).

This dinghy was put to very good use in a demonstration of how the Fire and Rescue Service rescue humans from inland waterways

Although, I did wonder if an invasion was in the process of being planned.

I have to admit that my favourite stand was the "Abbey Pumping Station" one.

Abbey Pumping Station is currently a rather forgotten museum.  Its next door neighbour seems to attract all the publicity now with their rockets and high tech gadgets (it is next to the National Space Centre).  The Pumping Station is where most of the old vehicles are housed.

On the Abbey Pumping Station stand I saw a Messerschmidt car, an old lorry, and something that I think the Real Junkfood Project should have borrowed.

There was one other stall which I found rather intriguing.

In fact, I found them so intriguing I decided to put a photo of one of their flyers on here.

You could say that "Wonky Veg" is a very interesting concept.  The vegetables in their boxes can definitely be described as "Wonky" - as in they are the vegetables which the supermarkets usually reject because they do not meet their standards of presentation.

I am hardly what you would classify as an "Evangelist" by any stretch of the imagination but I really think we need to consider the amount of food which is wasted by everybody - supermarkets, farms, Domestic Humans, etc.

If the Riverside Festival gave me one message to take home it is this - "The Emergency Services and The Military attempt to protect us and our homes - who is protecting our food sources???"

Stop Press - Newspaper Learns UK Firearms Officers Need To Eat!!! (Or - Someone Has Got Their Priorities Seriously Twisted)
6/1/2016 10:26:20 AM
Last night parts of Twitter went into meltdown as a result of a newspaper article in Cheshire.  Apparently Firearms Officers were sighted in a Tesco supermarket somewhere in Cheshire buying lunch.  If this wasn't bad enough - their guns were in a holster on display.

I wanted to put a photo of UK Firearms Officers on here but all I could find were ones where either the Officers were dressed in their "Armour" or the Officers were armed with AK47s.  Not small handguns like in the photo in the newspaper report.

Now - as you may know if you have either read my blogs before or you follow me on Twitter - not only am I a vocal supporter of the Police (following quite a few Twittercops on Twitter) but I am comfortable with the idea of Police Officers being routinely armed with handguns.   (Dutch Police are armed with handguns as a matter of course.  The rules regarding whether or not they actually draw them or shoot someone are pretty strict.  Put it this way - even a Police Officer firing a warning shot in front of someone can make headline news on the NOS website.)

On the flip side to that story I found another story on Twitter which was more "newsworthy".  This story was posted on Twitter by a Dutch Newspaper.  The headline asked "How many times have the Community Police Officers in your area pulled their guns???"

Now - call me crazy if you want to but - according to me there is a big difference between a Firearms Officer roaming around a supermarket with their gun in tucked away in its holster whilst they buy lunch - and the aforementioned Firearms Officer suddenly deciding to pull their gun out of its holster and start aiming it at random people for no apparent reason???

The first one is not a newsworthy event - the second one would not only be a newsworthy event but (and I am sure Nathan Constable and Harry Tangye - among others - would correct me if I am wrong) also a possible case for investigation by the Police themselves as well as Disciplinary Proceedings against the Officer concerned.

Police Officers are human too.  Actually - they are one of only five groups of people who I can think of who willingly put their lives in danger every time they go to work (Police, Firefighters, Coastguard, RNLI - Royal National Lifeboat Institute - and the Military).

Whatever you may think of them they actually deserve the utmost respect for the job they do - not hounding for things like needing to eat or even just being human.

For all you Police Officers who are reading this - I am sending you a big Thank You Hug for protecting the public.

Lies We Are Told About "The Body Beautiful" (Or - Why I Am Becoming Proud Of My Scars!)
6/1/2016 9:46:10 AM
I feel I should do the same as the Mainstream TV Media would do in instances like this blog post.  So - here goes;

WARNING - This Blog Post contains images some readers may find disturbing!!!

It is funny how you sometimes can look at something a million times yet not really see it unless someone points it out to you.  It is also funny how people can be offended by the strangest things.

After all - apparently photos of scantily clad (as in naked or near-naked) photos of women can be printed in mainstream newspapers and hardly anyone complains.  The minute someone shows photos like the ones below - people start getting a bit squeamish and disturbed.

Yes - this blog post is about a recent phenomenon I am calling "Scar-shaming".

Please note - all the scars in the above photos (whether or not they are blatently obvious or you need to peer really closely to see them) are the author's own.  Not only that - they have been on my person for as long as I can remember.  The faint one on my torso is almost as old as I am.

As you can imagine I am slightly sick and tired of there appearing to be one rule for people who have "earned" their scars - be it as a result of a life-threatening injury (stabbing, etc), as a result of fighting for their country, or as a result of illness like meningitis - and another rule for those of us who have scars as a result of life-saving surgery.

The scars I have shown you in the above photographs are on "public display" most of the time (unless I am wearing something which hides them - as in - socks, a long sleeved top, a jumper, etc) and the chances are - if you have seen me - you have seen at least one of them.  (Most probably the one near my collarbone.)

It may surprise you to realise that there are very few parts of my body which do not look like someone has practised their embroidery on me for whatever reason.  You may have to peer closely at me - or catch me when I am wearing different clothes - in order to locate some of the needlework.

I count myself as extremely lucky that my scars only became an issue shortly after I had started secondary school.  I think I have told you about the time when I was getting changed for a swimming lesson and one girl pointed at my front and said "Ugh, what's that???"?

I am now going to show you what she was pointing at.

(You have to imagine the rest of the scar from near my collarbone going down to meet the top of the vertical scar - I didn't want to get arrested for putting pornographic photos on here!)

Forget the idea of "Page 3" photos giving me an inferiority complex due to my scars - that girl got in way before I had heard of "Page 3".

Quite a few years later I managed to shock my Mum by telling a public audience about how the three scars on my torso made me feel.  (I had kept my feelings to myself before that point and she had thought I had found a way to cope with them on my own.)  I still don't like looking in the mirror when I am in what some might describe as "a state of undress".

So - in future - please be a little more respectful towards those of us with scars from lifesaving operations (be they scars which have been around for a lifetime or from recent operations for things like cancer).  After all - without the scars - the people they are attached to would not be alive today.

I am not asking you to go for the sympathy vote - as in "Aww - you poor thing".  Look if you want to (don't stare) - and ask me about them.  I am happy to tell you about them (as much as I can).

And if you meet a child (or your children meet another child) with serious scarring on their body - please please don't make them feel ashamed of their appearance.  They have got enough to deal with when they are subjected to fashion and media photos of the "perfect" (unblemished) body.

I must admit this is yet another of those blog posts I really wish I didn't have to type.  You can pass comment on whether or not you think I should have written it or included the photos - but - remember - this is an issue I have dealt with for most of my life in one way or another.  Just please don't call me "brave" for doing it.  If you want to do something constructive - get angry at the people who make the decisions as to what is "palatable" for society to see in photographic images and complain about the fact that there are not more photos of scars which are presented in a "positive" way.

I am scared for the next generation of children who will grow up with serious scarring for whatever reason and feel forced to hide themselves away as a result of them  - and the lies the Media tell about them not being "perfect" because of them.

We are all special and we should all be allowed to present ourselves in whatever way we like - scarred or unscarred - without being judged by people who do not know the full story.

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