Monday, 29 September 2014

Rambling thoughts...

I've been thinking about the continuing loss of my eyesight recently... More so than I usually allow myself to think about it. 

My 'normal' stance on it is my sight will get worst, my sight might go completely, my doctors can't tell me when or how bad it will get, at the moment there are no cures, no treatment to halt the progress and fuck all I can do to make a difference to it. 

No amount of worrying, stressing, crying, hoping, praying etc is going to make one iota of difference to my life, to my sight as it stands now. 

So for the most part I do my best to appreciate the small things, I love to see the glee my guide dog has when he's free running! 

I do my best to take in as many views, pictures, photos, faces, expressions, colours and find ways of associating sounds, touch and smells to the above. 

I try my best to really take in how my family and friends look, the way their faces change when they laugh, when they're being serious, the sideways glance when I or someone else says something slightly stupid, their mannerism, their posture, their general 'being'. 

I try my utmost not to let my amazement at the amazing variety of colours on trees at this time of year be tinged with sadness, will I see them next year? In five years? In ten?!

When I smell lavender, the rain, cut grass, the salt air at the seaside, the greasy chicken & chips in the high street, petrol while sat in a car at a petrol station I take the deepest breath I can and really, really, really look at what's around me.

Colours fascinate me, I'm not an artist, but I really appreciate colours in the way I imagine an artist would do. A blue sky at 7.30 in the morning is wildly different to the blue sky at midday. I recently saw the sun set on the Thames somewhere between Hampton Court and Windsor... I'd never seen, or perhaps actually never noticed, colours like it before. I can't begin to do it justice in words, but I am so very pleased to have seen it, it is now and always will be in my minds eye. Just like the stars in the night sky I saw when I worked on the side of a mountain in North Carolina and the the stars I couldn't see a few years later when I worked on the side of a mountain in South Wales.

When I think of the things I could once see, that I now can't, my heart breaks a bit. When I think of the things I can see now, that I may one day not, my heart breaks a bit. When I'm told I can't be told how long of 'good' sight I've left, my heart breaks a bit. When I'm told maybe, maybe, maybe you'll always see something, my heart both breaks a bit and swells...

'Maybe' is both terrifying and full of hope...

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We are not invisible

As you may, or may not, be aware at the time of writing this a guide dog has been missing for four weeks now.

I can't begin to imagine the horror that the poor guide dog owner must be going through at this time. Ever since getting my guide dog Samson I'd always said my worst fear was that he'd be attacked by another dog... I have to say I now have two worst fears, that he'd be attacked by another dog or that he'd go missing.

If you follow me on twitter you'll know that my time line has been dominated by the hash tags #findtess, #MissingGuideDog & #TESS. I along with the Guide Dog 'family' have done our best to help find Tess in some small way from where we are. Tess went missing in Nairn, Scotland. I live in London, England. I know that people have been spreading the word from Scotland to Dorset, from Manchester to Cardiff, from New Zealand to the USA. People care, people want Tess the guide dog back in her rightful place, at her guide dog owners side.

This is my take on how this search for Tess reflects what our society, our government & our media really think of disability & what place we (disabled people) have in society today...

The national media has steadfastly refused to cover the story. But they've covered George Osbourne's cat getting clipped by a car. the national media have steadfastly refused to cover this story because the 'human interest' isn't strong enough. but they've covered the 'ice bucket challenge' like there's no tomorrow (no one I know gives a flying fart about the ice bucket challenge by the way!) The likes of 'Good Morning Britain' have said that they don't 'do name checks or birthday greetings'. Okay, that's fine... But a missing guide dog isn't a birthday greeting or a name check. A missing guide dog is actually a blind persons life line, a blind persons independence, a blind persons dignity and so much more. It is also, to put a hardened tint on it a 50grand dog, a mobility aid that takes approx two years to train & works (& plays!) incredibly hard for its whole working life, to belittle a guide dog in this way I think is hugely insulting...!

It's feels like Tess is invisible, unimportant & something to be brushed under the carpet. 

Why is this is??!! Ever since the 2012 Paralympics people have told me that Great Britain is more accepting of people with disabilities, that people admire those with disabilities, that access is better for people with disabilities, that people with disabilities have a stronger voice... From my own personal experiences I can tell you that this isn't the case. I've been verbally abused for no other reason than I have a disability. I've been thrown out of shops for no other reason than I have a disability. I've been patronised for no other reason than I have a disability and I'll tell you why, our government has done its utmost to demonise those with disabilities. To screw those with disabilities over. To make people believe that we are the scourge on society. That we are the reason the country is in the dire straits it is in. That anyone that gets Disability Living Allowance is scrounging from the tax payer. That people with disabilities aren't worth the time of day. That our voice or anything we have to say is invalid, insignificant  or laughable. That anyone that gets ANY additional financial support due to their disability is living the life of a playboy millionaire... This is what they've set out to make society believe & with the help of the media they've pretty much achieved it.

They've made us invisible, they've made us insignificant & they've made us invalid. So much so that the UN will at some point, after the next general election it seems (to save embarrassment?!?!) be investigating the 'grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights'

I sound bitter I know & that's because I am & I make no apologies for that. I am not a blight on society & I resent the fact that I  am portrayed as such just because my sight & hearing are dodgy. I'm now at a point where I've got so angry at the way the media & government portray me & those I know with disabilities that I have to start fighting back & I will.

But onto the more positive side of the #findtess story & there really are some. Pets at Home have proven that massive, faceless corporations can & do have a heart. They have offered a £1000 donation to guide dogs on information leading to finding Tess. They've emailed their 2million VIP members about Tess & what to do if they think they've seen her. And they've been very active on keeping Tess talked about on their social media & in their hundreds of stores around the UK.

People have been talking, tweeting, emailing, facebooking, leafleting, postering about Tess all over the UK. Celebs, police forces, fire brigades, local shops, online shops & ordinary every day people have been sharing information on Tess. 

So it shows that society in general is 'good' that in general they don't believe the BS given by the media & government & that they DO care about a missing guide dog and DO believe she's more important than a 'name check or birthday greeting'

There IS still hope that Tess will be found, there has been a credible sighting of her which is being looked into as I write.

Tess isn't invisible, Tess isn't insignificant & Tess isn't invalid. 

#findtess, #MissingGuideDog #TESS

Saturday, 25 January 2014

To the angry man who verbally abused me,

The other night I got on a train to go home after a long day at work. It was rush hour. There were LOTS of people on the train. It was crowded. there was very little room for myself and my boy Samson to get on. But we did. And yes, it was a squeeze. Nothing untoward about that. It's three stops to my station and so while it is rather intimate, it IS a short journey.

It should have been uneventful, something that was annoying, but something I should have forgotten all about it by the time I'd walked from the station to my front door. But you decided to make it something far more horrible than it should have been. You decided to make it memorable for all the wrong reasons...

You don't know me, you don't know anything about me, you've never met me, you don't know what my financial situation is, you don't know what I do for work and as far as I know you've never even seen me before.

And yet, you felt you had the right to make some very sweeping and damning assumptions about me and you did this very loudly, very rudely and very publicly.

You saw a woman with a Guide Dog get onto the train and thought you'd take out all your frustrations out on me. I think that I'll remember the things you said to me clearly for a very long time, because they were hurtful, they were hateful and they were humiliating. You didn't like me answering you back did you? It clearly wound you up even more, to the point that you were screaming right in my face. I've never seen such hate on someones face aimed at me, when we've never even met before. In fact, I've never seen such hate on someones face aimed at me when we have met. 

Well, here are the answers to your rants that you refused to listen to...

'Why the f*ck would you choose to use public transport at this time with that f*cking dog???'

I chose to get on the train at that time because like everyone else on that train I also was on my way home after a day at work. I chose to get on the train at time because like everyone else on that train I wanted to get home as soon as possible.

'I bet you've just been sat around all day doing f*ck all on my taxes you lazy c*nt!!!'

No actually. That day I'd been doing interviews, inductions, database stuff, filing, a report and all the other day to day admin stuff I have to do in my job. Something I get paid for and something that I also have to pay taxes on.

'F*cking get off and f*cking walk! Get the f*ck off!!!'

Why should I? If you're so offended by my existence, YOU get off, YOU move elsewhere or just ignore me!

'Your f*cking sort get on my f*cking nerves! Me, me, me, give me more f*cking money, me, me, me!'

My 'sort'? You the mean the 'sort that works, the 'sort' that volunteers, the 'sort' that actually has to work harder than you just to get through the day as 'normally' as possible, the 'sort' that doesn't claim thousand of pounds a week (that 'sort' is pretty much a myth by the way!)?

I don't just blame you, although I do blame you mostly, I also blame our government and our media who have done everything they possibly can to demonise my 'sort'. Who allow you to think I am worth nothing more than something you might have the misfortune to tread in, who allow you to think that I am fair game when it comes to random abuse and who allow you to think I should be invisible and should dare to be out in public.

I also blame them for letting every other person on that train to do or say nothing. Who either pretended it wasn't happening or just stood and openly watched. That spurred you on didn't it?

'No one gives a f*cking sh*t about you or your spastic needs! You spastic c*nt!'

Right at that very minute, you're right, no one did. I was very much on my own. I don't think I had ever felt more alone than I did for those ten minutes. Never. I was raised to speak up for those going through an injustice and I have done so on many occasions. I'll continue to do so, but wwill also now know that it's not something to automacally assume others would do for me and that makes me a little sad because I've always assumed that people are in general decent and kind and moral. Not cowards.

I wonder if you went home and proudly told your family and friends that you verbally abused a blind woman? I wonder if you actually felt like a man acting like a nasty little bully? I wonder just how empty and bitter and lonely and unfulfilled you must feel as a human being to do what you did?

But... If your aim was to make me feel about two inches tall, to humiliate me, to make me feel worthless and to make me cry, congratulations. You succeeded.

I have to remember that this, while not unheard of, isn't the norm. I have to remember that my life is obviously filled with more joy than yours is. I have to remember that I am not the piece of scum you want me to believe I am.

And I have to remember that you clearly have a tiny penis!