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Vulnerable Banking Problems (Or - It Could Be You And Not In A Good Way)
10/25/2017 7:23:24 PM
This blog post has been bubbling away in the back of my brain for a few months now.  It is also a blog post which I am actually the least qualified person to write as I have no direct experience of the topic – as yet.

A few months ago we were talking at Scribbles when Mike Southwell told us a horrifying story about a man who he knew and their Bank Account.

I cannot remember the exact details of the whole story but I will tell you what I do remember.

The man was what would be considered a Vulnerable Adult.  He also had a Bank Account.  For some reason (which escapes me at the moment) if the man wanted to get some money out of an ATM he asked passing strangers to type his PIN in.  Eventually, it was noticed that quite substantial amounts of money had gone missing from his Bank Account (the man only withdrew small amounts).  This is where the problem started.

As Mike pointed out – Banks don't disclose details of Bank Accounts to anybody except the person named as the Account Holder.  That is fair enough you might say – and I would agree with you in most cases.

But what happens when you have someone with Bipolar who is in their Manic cycle, or, like Mike's friend above, they are seen as having Mental capacity but need physical help with certain things???  Or if they can be classed as a Vulnerable Adult for any other reason???

At the moment there only appear to be two solutions to the problem (both of which remove the independence of the vulnerable person to a greater or lesser extent).  You can either go for “Power of Attorney” or you can open a joint Bank Account.

However, they are both things you have to do.  The Bank wouldn't get involved in any other way (except when they start charging for unauthorised overdrafts).

I was discussing this with another friend of mine whose son is classed as a Vulnerable Adult, and she confirmed that she will not be informed about anything connected with her son's Bank Account.  I asked another friend – who has experience of dealing with Vulnerable people both as a Police Officer and in one of his other roles – who confirmed what I stated above about the Power of Attorney and the Joint Bank Account are true.

There needs to be a system in place where the Account Holder (or a relative) can nominate someone for the Bank to contact in the event of suspicious or unusual transactions.  A bit like arranging for the Bank to contact you if you make a large purchase if you have previously been a victim of Identity Theft.  Instead of the onus always being on the friends and relatives of the Account holder to know that they need Power of Attorney or a Joint Bank Account – which many do not realise until it is too late.

How can a Vulnerable Adult (who wishes to keep as much of their independence as possible) be assisted to achieve this???

Also, what happens when the Account Holder becomes so incapacitated they end up in hospital, or deceased, before anybody realises what has been going on???

The entire Banking System needs a total overhaul to put the Account Holders (and their nominated representatives) in charge – or at least stop the nominated representatives from having to jump through legal loopholes in order to find out what is going on.


Everybody Has Mental Health Responsibility (Or - The Night Of Long-Distance Helplessness)
10/25/2017 7:18:49 PM
I wouldn't usually put a “Trigger Warning” on my Blogposts but this one definitely needs one.  It contains thoughts of a Disturbing Nature as well as touching on the subject of Suicide.

There are two things about me which can become apparent very quickly in certain situations – I will fight for my friends and I am stubborn.  When I say the second one I definitely mean it – let's just say that I wouldn't waste my breath trying to talk me out of something if I really want to do it, if I were you.

My stubbornness can be a very bad thing (especially if you are at the opposite side of it) but it did indirectly save someone's life.

I have got a friend who has an Alphabet Soup of Mental Health issues (and when I say “Alphabet Soup” I mean I have lost track of the acronyms for them).  I am not going to name my friend, or give any identifying details about them, because they are not really relevant to the blog post – what I will say is that they gave their permission for me to write this blog post,

When it comes to Mental Health I fall into the “Uneducated Idiot” category.  As in – I have suffered from Depression myself, I have friends who have Mental Health issues, and one of my friends is a Clinical Psychologist, but that is the extent of my knowledge of the subject.  Basically – I am the last person you would put in charge of a situation where someone is suicidal because I am not qualified to deal with it – at least, given a choice between me and a group of Mental Health Professionals, I hope people would go with the Mental Health Professionals.  And I would hope the Mental Health (and medical) Professionals would actually do their job.

Unfortunately, personal experience of finding myself on “Suicide Watch” via Twitter, on someone living in Cornwall (not very useful seeing as I live in Leicester), in the early hours of last Friday morning, tells me a totally different story.

The really heartbreaking thing is that the situation could have been stopped from getting so bad on Thursday afternoon (the fact that the situation could have been prevented from getting anywhere near that stage years ago is beside the point).  All my friend's former GP had to do was to prescribe something called “PRN” when my friend asked them to.  Instead the GP said they couldn't do it without speaking to my friend's Psychiatrist.

A side note is that my friend had asked his Mental Health Co-ordinator (aka Social Worker) to ask his GP not to prescribe a month's worth of tablets because my friend knew they were at risk of overdosing – the message was not passed on – with foreseeable consequences.

The funny thing is – before Thursday night/Friday morning my friend had kept trying to get rid of me because (according to them) “everybody else leaves me”.  (Hmm, not exactly the best thing to say to me when you are in a vulnerable state – you get more attention not less.)

I feel really uncomfortable in situations where I don't know what on Earth I am supposed to be doing – and trying to keep someone alive long distance is definitely a situation where I hadn't got a clue.  (Luckily a mixture of fear, determination, and adrenaline, kicked in – I wasn't going to let my friend die on my watch.)  So I kept my friend talking and distracting them.

It was only when I went to bed on Friday night that I started to think that I could actually have made the situation a whole lot worse if I had said the wrong thing.

One good thing has come out of the situation though (apart from my friend not dying on me) – at least now my friend realises that I won't walk away when the going gets tough (I get more chatty instead).

It is a damning indictment of the Mental Health Services where my friend lives when someone like me is, in effect, left to do their job from so far away.

I could talk about the lack of resources as far as Mental Health Services are concerned – and many people would agree with me.  However – from where I am sitting as I type this – that is not the only problem.  The other problem is that Mental Health should be seen as a vocation instead of a career.  There are too many Professionals in the Mental Health “Industry” who really are not suited to the work because they are not “people-oriented”.  We are dealing with the lives of very vulnerable people here.  Before you ask – no I wouldn't want to do the job of a Mental Health professional because I am honestly not cut out for it.

We need a properly resourced Mental Health Service – both in terms of financial resources and human resources.

You may think that me typing this blog post is inappropriate and I should leave it to people with personal experience of Mental Health Services (as in Service Users or Professionals) but I would say you are totally wrong.  I have another friend who has Bipolar and I have seen her wearing a t-shirt with a very appropriate slogan on it “We all have Mental Health”.  I understood this to mean that we all also have a responsibility to speak up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves.
Ineke Is "Blank" (Or - What Do You Think I Am?)
10/14/2017 3:21:03 PM
I don't know if you remember the old TV gameshow “Blankety Blank”?  It was the one where contestants had to give answers which matched the “Celebrity” Panellists in order to score points and win a “Blankety Blank checquebook and (useless) pen”.

What reminded me of that gameshow was a couple of things which happened recently – and they both had the same result.  The result was a very pleasantly surprised and seriously confused Ineke (not to mention a slightly embarrassed Ineke as well).

I have never thought of myself as “conventionally clever” - second thoughts – I have never thought of myself as “conventional” full stop. Or “clever” for that matter.

In fact, if you and I were to write separate lists under the heading of “Ineke Is...” and compare them I very much doubt that the lists would match up.

Well – OK – there are certain things which we would agree on (only because they are blazingly obvious);

I am Human (although I sometimes seriously wonder about that).

I am of the Female Species (although I have been called “Sir” a few times).

This next bit is purely my opinion about myself (feel free to disagree with everything you read from now on in this blog post).

I am (at least) Half-Dutch.  Not only due to the fact that I have one Dutch parent and one English parent – I also have a Dutch first name.  I identify more easily as Dutch than English.

I am seriously shortsighted (to the point of being Registered Partially Sighted).

I am unconventional.

I am smart but no way would I call myself “clever” (especially when you read my list of qualifications).  My “cleverness” cannot be measured in conventional ways.

I am good at hiding in plain sight.  Well, I get that general idea from speaking to some of you who have read Inkyworld and been amazed by the challenges I face due to my sight.  It is quite funny when people tell me that they didn't realise my sight is so bad  (the clues have always been there – you just have to watch me carefully).

I am someone who loves learning – I just have a major allergy to classrooms and teachers.

I am good at “Sideways thinking” - to the point where my brain starts to hurt if it is forced to attempt to think in the same ways as most other people for very long.

I am a Bookworm.  There is only one thing I love more than reading – and that is writing.

I am creative with a very vivid imagination.

I am a lover of words, language, dialects, and accents.

I am happiest either on my own or in a one-to-one situation (or in a very small group with people I know and trust).

I am a thinker who is comfortable spending time with their own thoughts.

I am prone to bouts of thinking my only use is as a Lab rat for other people to experiment on.

Remember I said I am smart but I wouldn't call myself clever???  There is a very good reason for that.  If you measure my knowledge in “paper” qualifications you would come to the conclusion that I am not very educated (four GCSE's at C Grade or above and a handful of certificates).  If you look at me you might not think I am the cleverest creature on the planet (unless you are one of those brilliant humans who sees glasses as a sign of intelligence).  However, if you measure my knowledge in whether or not I can hold my own in a conversation with a Brainiac you may be surprised.  The best way to measure my knowledge is to watch me in my day to day life (or read my blog) as I cope with challenges that you don't need to pay attention to – as well as doing things which have a rather fascinating habit of amazing people because they don't expect me to be able to do them.

Yesterday someone paid me a very unexpected compliment when they said that my blog is interesting and that they had learned things through reading it.  Julian Harrison (yes – you are correct – he has been mentioned on this blog before) is one of my favourite Educators because he serves his education in easy, non-threatening, bite-sized chunks.  These chunks are called “conversations” - and they give my brain a really good workout.  He could make both of his areas of expertise seem really threatening (they are Mental Health – which he has got both professional and personal experience of - and the Holocaust – which he hasn't got direct personal experience of but he is an encyclopedia on that subject) but he is open and honest enough to make me feel very comfortable being educated by him.

When I thanked Julian for his compliment he said “the day we stop learning from other people is the day we cease to be human”.

I am never going to feel very comfortable blowing my own trumpet.  I always think I could be better at things.  However, there is one thing I will admit to being good at – being me.

I was going to finish by quoting some lyrics from either “The One And Only” by Chesney Hawkes, or “Last Man Standing” by Bon Jovi.  However, I have decided to quote you some lyrics from the song which inspired the name of the “Being Me” section of this blog -

“Cause I'm being me.  Before the night is over you'll be here.  But you won't see - no you won't see - what you've got here.  You've got me”. (From “Being Me” by Plaeto)

Quite what you make of me is entirely up to you.


Inspirational??? Me??? (Or - Why Being Called "Inspirational" Makes Me Feel Uncomfortable)
10/9/2017 7:45:51 PM
I have been told off by two friends of mine on Facebook.  Well, I suppose they did kind of have a point.  You see – I had put their names (among others) on a list of humans who inspired me and made the world a better place.  Before you say anything – they were not complaining that their names had been put on the list – they were complaining that mine hadn't.

When I pointed out that my name didn't belong on that list (after all – I cannot be inspired by myself) they still didn't like it very much.

This got me thinking – how do we decide who and what inspires us???

Obviously, we can be inspired by a “celebrity”, or a historical “World figure”, or a certain book or song.  We can also be inspired by our friends and family, or even our religious beliefs (if we have any).

Most of the people who have inspired me are known to me personally (some of them have even been mentioned in this blog before now).

Just out of interest – I found something on Facebook which said “you can only have 5 things – what are they?” - I didn't have to think very hard about the first item because I can still remember the first time I saw it (and was allowed to touch it).

If they were asked to name something they find inspirational - most people would (if they actually like reading) would probably name a book by one of the great Classic authors, or a biography of some historical figure???  Some people would even name the Holy manuscripts from their religion???

Not me!  My most inspirational book is a slightly obscure one which is out of print now.  You may be surprised to learn it is written in the English language.  It is a children's Science Fiction book.  You could say that it is partially responsible for the existence of “Inkyworld” - if I had not either met the author or been able to get my paws on the book when I did, the chances are you would not be reading this now.

I can still remember when I first saw a copy of “Spellbinder” by Stephen Bowkett.  It wasn't so much the book itself which was the inspirational thing – it was the fact that (to me at least) it showed you could actually get paid to daydream on paper.  What made it even better was I knew the author.  (The fact that the author was just about the only member of his “real” profession who I didn't fantasise about skewering with a window opening pole and barbecuing over the Bunsen Burners in the Science classrooms at that school was an added bonus.  Did I ever tell you I have a vivid – and sometimes seriously twisted – imagination???)

There is something which I always find intriguing.  People can find other people inspiring for the strangest of reasons.  These can range from rescuing people from certain death in situations like War, and natural disasters, to being able to sing brilliantly, to not giving up in difficult circumstances, to – what I see as – just living their life in the only way they know how to.

I said at the beginning of this post that I don't find myself inspirational.  In fact, if you were to ask me for a list of “Inspirational People” - and forced me to put my name on it – you would be reading a very long list of names before you saw mine, right at the bottom, where it belongs.

You know something?  It feels very strange to be told that I am an “Inspirational Person” myself.  I haven't done anything remotely remarkable – unless you count existing???  I can think of people who are braver than I would ever be, who are better at writing than I will ever by (and one of them has been mentioned in this blog post), who are a lot cleverer than me (and not just because I can list Brainiacs with PhDs in various subjects amongst my friends), who are better at being friends than I will ever be.  Basically, I am just me – muddling my way through life as best I can.

If you asked me to list my “Unique Selling Points” my list might surprise you.

My favourite “skill” is my ability to think sideways.  To me – the only time when “one plus one makes two” is when you are doing maths.  Let's just say that I am the one most likely to come up with an idea that people will think is too crazy for words but which might actually give the results they are looking for.

I have been told that I make a good “Sounding Board”.  One thing I do know is that I refuse to judge other people until I have experienced them for myself.  Don't expect to be judged on what you say to me – you will be judged on how you treat me.

On the flip side of that I love finding out how people and things work.  The way to find out if I am interested in you for any reason is to wait for questions.  The more questions I ask you the more interested I am (the same goes for the more “sideways” questions I ask you).

I can be a fountain of seemingly useless information (my favourite fact that I learned recently is about Iran getting its modern name as a result of the Nazis deciding that it was the base of the “Aryan” race – the original name of Iran was along the same lines as “Aryania”).

I will always stand up for people who are marginalised.  After all, I know what it feels like to be bullied, to be Disabled, and to feel totally alone and misunderstood.

However, my favourite “Unique Selling Point” is that I am nothing special – I know how hard I have had to work to get where I am now and I know I have got a lot further to go before I can join the “Hallelujah Ineke” Club.

The irony is that my school reports almost all said that I “could do better” and I “must try harder”.  The truth is – I have always felt like I had to work at least a hundred times harder than everybody else just to be the same as them.  This means that I feel very uncomfortable when people start praising me for doing what (now) comes naturally to me.  To be perfectly honest – when people start telling me that they think I am inspirational to them I start getting seriously worried because – in my experience – praise usually comes closely followed by a “but if you....”.

Yes – I am tough.  Yes – people tell me I am good at writing (mostly humans who are way better at writing than me).  Yes – I will do anything for my friends.  Yes – I continue to show courage through adversity.

Does any of the above make me “Inspirational”???  Not in my eyes – it makes me human.

If you want to think I am “Inspirational” feel free to do so – just don't tell me.  On second thoughts – if you insist on telling me try showing me instead.


Teaching Versus Sight Problems (Or - From The Other Side Of The Story)
10/9/2017 7:36:07 PM
As someone who was put through the Mainstream Education system as a “Special Educational Needs” student from the late 1970’s to 1990, I wanted to find out what life is like for the people who have to teach people like me (the teachers).

After I had left school one of my former teachers told me the staff used to have meetings about what to do about me (it might have helped if they had invited the one person who could have helped them – ie, me). This was a long time ago and I don’t have any memories of such meetings (though of course they may have happened). Nor do I recall being given any special instructions or equipment, if such existed, for helping you, given that you were in a mainstream class. Absolutely you should have been invited to such meetings, and / or there could have been discussion groups where pupils and staff could openly air their concerns.

This inspired me to write the poem below;

Teacher, Teacher,
I don't understand.
I know I'm not very good,
But I didn't think I was this bad.

My head's so stretched,
I just can't cope.
Feels like someone's.
Put my brain on overload.

I don't know why,
Everyone's going on at me.
Where's the door,
To 'Escape Capsule 3'?

You think I'm living,
In a daydream more often than not.
Dear Sir, to stop me doing that,
Would turn my life support machine OFF!

You say I could do better?
Well, I couldn't feel much worse.
It wouldn't surprise me,
If I left school in a hearse.

Don't get me wrong,
I know you're not to blame.
I want to ask for your help,
But the other kids would still call me names.

Teacher, Teacher,
Now do you understand?
I never was very good.
But I wasn't really that bad!


I asked my favourite teacher from my days in Secondary school if he would be prepared to collaborate on this blog post and discuss “Teaching and Sight Problems” with me.  Luckily he agreed.

Steve Bowkett was an English teacher when I first met him in 1985.  He has also written several books – and a poem!

Hi Steve – thanks for agreeing to do this.

My overriding emotion when I look back on my time at Secondary school is one of overwhelming loneliness.  I felt like I was the only person in the school who had difficulties.  From what I can remember – nearly all my teachers appeared to be “normal-sighted”.  I would have loved to have one teacher who had some kind of disability so I could see how they coped.  It would also have made me feel less outnumbered.

My first question is – do you think it would help if teachers had practical experience of sight problems (and other disabilities) either as a result of being disabled themselves or attending courses where they were given a chance to experience exactly what it is like? I think there are issues around recruiting disabled teachers specifically because of their ‘practical’ experience of disability. They may or may not be good teachers and their disability might not give them insights into some pupils’ problems. Also, if for example a sight-impaired teacher were employed hopefully to put his / her experience into practice, would teachers with other disabilities need to be employed to bring their own insights into school policy? I would also have concerns that teachers with disability may have difficulties with some pupils who don’t understand what they’re going through (which is a nice way of saying, some kids would play up!)

I take the point about loneliness and frustration etc, and would certainly advocate disabled people being involved in talking with teachers on courses, through INSET sessions, YouTube interviews etc.

My second question kind of leads on from that.  I don’t know what it is like in schools nowadays but – speaking personally – would you (as a teacher) be prepared to sit down with a student and listen to them when they told you about the difficulties they had in accessing your methods of teaching?  (In fact, most of the time, you were the one teacher I found easiest to cope with.  There were two other teachers whose lessons I came to dread because, not only did their teaching methods make my brain hurt but their general demeanor indicated they would not have welcomed me asking for the kind of help I needed.) Personally I would always be prepared to sit down with a student to discuss issues around their disability. Some schools nowadays probably build such dialogue into their ethos and policies. Practically, I think teachers are more pressured now than ever because schools are still sausage-making machines and, alas, seem to be run on a corporate/business model where results are all. This means that time is at a premium for most staff – though of course accommodating people with special needs would improve their educational experience and lead to better results.

You’ll appreciate that I go into schools nowadays under specific circumstances, as an author, so only get a snapshot of what any school is like. As always, there are good and not so good schools. Quite often I’m told beforehand that a child in a class is autistic, hearing-impaired, etc, and my impression is that many schools are much more aware of pupils with special needs these days than 30-40 years ago (can it be so long?). There is also more advanced technology available now that potentially can help – I’m thinking of sight-impaired pupils having access to visualisers, laptops, etc, and other devices that you probably know much more about than I do.

Being a “Special Educational Needs” student has a habit of inviting a different type of bullying than other students might be subjected to (even to the point where the student can feel like the teachers are joining in).  This very quickly led me to the point of not even trusting most of the teachers.  I can remember being shouted at by one teacher as a result of something which had happened – when I told them why I had done it (I told them straight out that I wanted to move to the secondary school in the village I lived in) I was left feeling patronised by their reaction.

If only I had had a teacher who I could have used as a go-between before things got to that stage. There was a (in my opinion top-heavy) pastoral regime at the school where I taught you, so potentially a support structure was in place. This does not mean that any given pupil would ‘get on with’ and feel supported by particular teachers. Another problem in my experience was that once ‘Baker days’ and the 1265 hours diktat were imposed on schools, meetings were called for the sake of being  seen to be filling the time. I remember spending several hours as part of a ‘working group’ discussing some topic or other – I don’t remember if it was around the issue of disabilities – and our recommendations, which would require time and money, were ignored. On challenging this we were told by the deputy head that ‘the need had been identified’: beyond that, nothing ever happened. I suspect similar scenarios occur in some schools today. I would have loved to be able to sit with one of you teachers and tell you how I felt and how best to make my life easier.  In some cases it would have been a case of making some minor changes to teaching methods, or the layout of a classroom, in other cases it would have involved asking someone to wear a jumper or a (different) coloured shirt.  (White shirts and bright lights are a torturous combination when your eyes are sensitive to bright lights.) I would never have objected to you asking me to wear certain coloured shirts, etc, if it helped you to get on in class, though I appreciate that there were some teachers you would never have approached about this!

Would you agree that it would be a good idea for a teacher who a student obviously likes (or trusts) to be a go-between when it comes to telling other teachers about any problems the student has?  (And does such a thing actually exist nowadays?) Even back then (when the world and I were young), form tutors, year heads, etc, were supposed to do that as part of their role. Of course, any given pupil might not like or trust their form tutor or year head, in which case the system falls down. Ideally it would be a good idea if a teacher that a pupil gets on with felt able to and comfortable with passing on that pupil’s concerns to colleagues. Practically speaking it depends upon how well staff get on with each other and whether that teacher would himself/herself feel comfortable talking to other colleagues about such matters. As I’ve suggested in my responses above, such a system probably exists in some schools but not others.

In your own case, in light of the occasions when teachers didn’t understand you or shouted at you, it would have been difficult for me to confront them directly if personally I didn’t like, trust or respect them – and frankly that included several members of staff! I would of course have highlighted issues to head of year or form tutor on an ‘official’ basis, but my own gut feeling is that support structures work best in schools where the people ‘gel’, where colleagues get on with each other and where such matters can be discussed informally as well as in a more formal way.

Do you have any other comments to add to this?

Really, to sum up, then and now there are good schools and poor schools in terms of addressing the particular needs of some pupils. I think schools generally are more aware of such pupils, partly because more research has been done in various areas of behaviour (ADHD, autism etc), and better technology exists now to support a range of special needs.

Frankly Ineke, I think our school was not brilliant in helping pupils like yourself. There were some intolerant / ignorant teachers there at the time, a few of whom you were unfortunate to encounter. I am pleased that you feel I was not one of those and that you could then and can now count on me to lend a sympathetic and hopefully understanding ear.

May your blog go viral!

Best wishes,
Steve.


Thanks Steve.

By the way - in case you are wondering - the reference to "Escape Capsule 3" in the poem was about the classroom where Steve taught me English in my first year at Secondary School (E3).
Foodie Festival (Or - The Best Way To Showcase What Leicestershire Has To Offer)
10/1/2017 9:45:37 PM
I am now going to let you into a secret about myself.  In the event of you requiring to keep me quiet for any reason you will have to do one or more of the following;

Give me something to read – I couldn't care less what it is (although I refuse to read “Horror” books – my imagination is screwed up enough thanks very much).

Supply me with food.  If you can make any of my favourite foodstuffs you will have a friend for life.

Educate me – I love learning about things.  Especially things which I have never known about before.

Have an unusual or interesting accent.  This may not actually work as I may end up asking you questions so you have to speak more.

(Please note:  The above do not have to be in any particular order.)

Yesterday afternoon found me in a place where I was subjected to all four.  Funnily enough – it was one of my favourite foodstuffs (or – more precisely – the Brainiacs behind the shop which sells it) which made me decide to go there in the first place.

The “Foodie Festival” was held in a cafe which I had never been to before.  Hidden down a side street near the Highcross Shopping centre in Leicester, “James” Cafe (or restaurant) was the venue for this extravaganza.

When it comes to puddings, sweets, desserts, toetjes, nagerechts, (or whatever you want to call them) my tastes run to the slightly more “exotic”.  As in – it is impossible to get two of my favourite desserts anywhere in England, and another one is only available whenever there is a “Continental Market” in Leicester city centre.  The desserts being “Chipolata Pudding” (a cross between Tutti-Frutti ice cream and a Blancmange – not a sausage in sight), “Dubbel Vla” (think “Devon Custard” and chocolate mousse in the same carton – pour it into a bowl so the substances are separate but mixed, hand me a spoon, and leave me in peace), and “Poffertjes” (Small Dutch Pancake type cakes – a bit like Profriteroles but without the cream inside – best served with sugar and stem ginger).

If you want to feed me on something “exotic” which you can get in Leicester – stand by to be dragged or taken to “Gelato Village” in St Martin's Square.  Every time I walk into that shop they have a new flavour to add to my list of favourites.

As the name might suggest - “Gelato Village” sells Gelato (it also sells “Sorbetto”) which could be described as the Italian version of ice cream.  I think it is better than ice cream – it has certainly got more “real” flavour than regular ice cream.  This is because the Gelato is made from cream and whatever is in season at that particular moment – no additives, no colouring, no anything else nasty.  Oh – and certainly no air - you ask for a cone or tub of Gelato and that is exactly what you get, a full tub or cone of delicious product.

The main ingredient you need to make authentic Italian Gelato (according to me at least) is an an authentic Italian recipe book.  “Gelato Village” was started (and is run) by two of these, Daniele Taverna and Antonio De Vecchi are Italian – complete with the accent.  They are both also very friendly.  In fact, Daniele almost reminds me of Rene from “Allo, 'Allo” because of his cheerfulness.

They were both at the “Foodie Festival”.

The other companies at the Festival were a Cocktail bar, a wine maker based in Leicestershire, a beer making outfit, a company selling gin, someone showing how to make bread the proper way, a company selling pies, and someone with an interest in bees.  (It was a pity that the Continental Market was on in the city centre as I think the Festival should have been somewhere more prominent – due to it celebrating Leicestershire companies and products.

Apart from the free samples on offer my favourite things were the talks and the reading material.  I got educated about gin, wine, the history of pubs, the baking of bread – not forgetting Gelato.

I really hope there is another “Foodie Festival” in Leicester.  I am all for being able to get “exotic” foodstuffs in Leicester but I am also passionate about home-grown companies and products getting a fair go at being showcased as well.  I don't just mean food and drink – I mean companies producing all kinds of things.


National Emergency Services Memorial (Or - Why We Should Celebrate Every Hero)
10/1/2017 9:38:31 PM
Sometimes I do things which even surprise me.  Personally I hold one of the people who I work with responsible for the latest episode of “Inky's Adventures”.  Well if they hadn't advertised the fact they were within a 50 mile radius of me (and I knew they were accessible by bus), I wouldn't have gone to find them.

You may remember I do some blogging for a company called “Simple Solutions”???  This company is based down in Fleet (in Hampshire).  Living in Leicester and being unable to drive makes getting to anywhere on the other side of London in a reasonable time-frame an expensive venture.  This meant that – although I had spoken to both the people I work with on the telephone (as well as keeping in contact via Social Media and email) – I had never actually met either Roger or Lucy.

My latest adventure was to change that.

Roger and Lucy went to the “Emergency Services Show” at the NEC.  Now – there was something I found puzzling about this.  I had known that Roger had been in the Police (Inspector Nield – as he was then – was the reason I started working with Simple Solutions in the first place, after contacting him on Twitter),  I also had had an idea that Lucy (his wife) had also been in the Police.  However, I have never seen a Police Officer in a red uniform before (on the first photo of himself that he posted on either Twitter or Facebook from his time at the NEC – Roger was wearing a distinctly red t-shirt).

So – off I went to the NEC.

Between you and me I was actually expecting not to be allowed anywhere near the exhibition – due to one minor difference between myself and Roger.  I have never worked for any Emergency Service.  Until I had found Lucy I was actually convinced that I was going to get kicked out – more precisely – I was on the verge of abandoning my mission myself as I felt out of place.

Anyway – I eventually found Lucy standing at a stall (I really love surprising people by being where they least expect to find me – when I said “Hi Lucy” the smile on her face made my adventure worthwhile).  She was wearing the same sort of t-shirt as Roger had been wearing on the photo – turned out that they were there as part of “Surrey Search And Rescue”.  Hence the t-shirts.

However, there was also another very good point to their presence at the NEC.  Roger is a Trustee of a charity which was set up by someone else with a connection to Simple Solutions.  NESM (National Emergency Services Memorial) has been set up to raise money for a memorial to all the members of the Emergency Services in the UK who have been killed.

To find out more about the charity (and buy one of their badges)  please visit - www.nesm.org.uk

You may know that I have family connections with both Leicestershire Police and the Rotterdam Police.  I also have friends (including Roger and Lucy) who have been serving Police Officers in England.  I even have one friend who still is (at time of typing this blog post) a serving Police Officer in Rotterdam – and I have lost count of the amount of serving and ex-Police Officers I follow on Twitter.

You don't need me to tell you that the Police (and the other Emergency Services) put their lives on the line every time they go to work.  (If I hear about an incident involving a Police Officer in an area where I know one of my friends works I get worried – even if I have never met the Officer concerned.)

There needs to be some public form of recognition of the sacrifice made by the Officers who have lost their lives – apart from people lining the streets at the funerals.

Yes – I know my link with “NESM” can best be described as tenuous.  However, one thing which cannot be described as half-hearted is my support for this idea.

I was just thinking – we have things like “Help For Heroes”, “Vulnerable Veterans”, etc, to help ex-Military people but is there anything to help ex-Police Officers who end up having to leave due to physical or mental health issues they sustained whilst on duty???  I know there is a charity to help their dependants – but what about the Officers themselves???

It is all very well setting up statues and Memorials for Officers who have lost their lives but I think we should also look after the ones who are forced out of the “Job” due to ill health as well.

One other thing before I finish this blog post.  Not every Police Officer who dies is killed whilst on duty – some of them kill themselves as a result of the pressures and stress they face as part of their job.  A Wise Owl of a serving Police Officer said - either on Twitter or on their personal blog – that they had had to deal with some horrific situations but were practically left to deal with the emotional and mental aftermath they faced on their own.  Surely this cannot be allowed to happen???

One of the myths surrounding the Police is that “The Police Are The Public”.  Sorry – in my eyes the Police are Superheroes – and should be treated as such.
Scales Of Language (Or - How To Complicate Things Without Even Trying)
10/1/2017 9:24:13 PM
I don't know about you but – when I find out that one of my friends is affected by something – I am more likely to go out of my way to (1) learn about it and (2) attend events which either raise money for it or educate people about it.

This might explain why I attended a “Charity Curry Evening” which was held to raise money for “Bipolar UK” and one other charity which I cannot remember the name of at this precise minute.

I had previously gone through my usual “Travelling in the Evening” checklist (luckily I knew that I would be going there in the light, and it was near a bus stop – if that wasn't the case I wouldn't have gone).

The Curry Evening itself was a great event.  The food was delicious and the restaurant it was held in was perfect for someone like me (no cluttered furniture, lighting was adequate).

My attention was grabbed by a leaflet on the table which totally confused me.  I don't know whether or not this was because I had come up with something completely different when it comes to asking one of my friends how they are feeling.  It could also have been because I hate traffic lights.

This leaflet had a kind of scale on it – with red at both ends, then yellow, and green in the middle.  The green bit was supposed to be the “steady” bit – whilst the two red bits were supposed to be the “Danger zone” bits.  My problem with that was the fact both “Danger zone” bits have got very different outcomes.  The “Mania” bit can be life-threatening without the person intending to delete him or herself from the planet – whilst the “Depression” bit can result in the person intentionally attempting to delete him or herself from the planet.  So – unless you can see the scale in front of you – when someone has been trained to name a colour and they say “red” you need to find out which “sort” of red.

I know a few people with Bipolar and one of them has allowed me to experiment on him.  Before you get worried – the experiment wasn't likely to harm him.  In fact, he told me that it made it easier for him to tell me how he was feeling.

When he had told me a bit about how Bipolar affects him I came up with a rather basic scale so I could find out how he is.  (The scale has even been added to recently.)

If you know me you will know I don't like complicated things (especially when I need the information to help with something) – you may also have realised that I have a rather “left-field” way of looking at situations.

So – I wanted to know how my friend was.  And I wanted the information in a way I could understand.  Forget using the proper terminology – miles too confusing.  Instead break it down to the basics.  Descriptions work best for me.

The scale which my friend and I now use is as follows;

“Scrape Off The Ceiling” - Hypomania or Mania.

“My friend's name” - Balanced.

“Sad” - Depressed

“Mixed” - Bouncing between “Scrape Off The Ceiling” and “Sad”

“Fell off the Bottom of the Scale” - Suicidal.

(That last one is a very recent addition to the scale.)

There is something which has always puzzled me about things like Mental Health, Disabilities, Cancer, and other “Socially Taboo” subjects regarding health.  Why are things always made so complicated when it comes to talking about them???  Why do I never feel entirely comfortable using language which I understand most easily in conversations???

It is a bit like when I was at Schiphol Airport a few years ago.  I was speaking to a lady behind a desk in Dutch (I wanted to get some information out of her about something) – then I told her I didn't understand something she had said.  The word I used was English (I think it was “sorry?” - which has a slightly different translation in English and Dutch – it certainly wasn't “What?”, which would have been quite acceptable to her ears) – the lady immediately came back in English with “I thought you could speak Dutch”.

If we could find a way of talking about Mental and Physical Health in ways that we feel comfortable with (whilst not offending anybody who may have the conditions under discussion) life would be a lot easier.  I suppose I am lucky in having people who I know I can talk to about their conditions in language I understand (as well as asking what must sometimes seem like the stupidest questions they have ever heard) without them causing me any physical damage as a result.

Just out of interest – instead of calling one of my illnesses “Heart Failure” (to me – if something fails it stops working altogether.  Whilst my heart isn't operating at anywhere near full capacity the fact that I am typing this blog post indicates it must be working) I wish we could call it something like “Reduced Heart Function”.

Even when illnesses and health conditions seem complicated – surely the best way to deal with them is to keep it as simple as possible???

Or are we doomed to spend our lives having to get translations of “Medical” Terminology which we would otherwise have no Earthly use for???

I speak English and Dutch (I also have a GCSE in French and German).  I do not speak “Doctor” or “Medical English”.  Humans who attempt to talk to me in either of those languages are likely to be asked for a translation.  I can still remember being told by a Dr in Glenfield hospital that I had told someone that I had an “ASD” (or some other three letter acronym) when I was a baby – this was news to me.  When I asked for a translation it turned out that I had told them that I had had a hole in the heart – which was correct.

Using simple language might seem like a total waste of time to those who make their living using “Medical English” but – if you are anything like me – people end up feeling a lot more comfortable when they know exactly what is happening (and that their questions will be answered in a language they can understand.)


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