No Alarms and No Surprises.

3 05 2013

So UKIP have done better in the polls than twitter lefties had hoped. Are we really surprised?

For the past 6 months and more especially in the past 6 weeks, UKIP and their leader Nigel Farage have been the media darlings of the UK. We’ve seen him dancing with…. *shock horror* foreigners! He’s been on BBC Question Time more often than Dimblebot himself and everyone seems to want a piece of him and his xenophobic policies. Even bad publicity surrounding his nazi supporting candidates (pretending to be plants apparently) doesn’t seem to have done them any harm. Indeed it is likely to have gained some BNP supporters who are looking for a party with a less publicly toxic image, even although UKIP claim BNP members are barred.

As has been proven time and time again, the inhabitants of Britain get their political information from the biased mass media. With the Daily Mail being Britain’s most popular newspaper, this does not give us much hope of impartiality with the news the British public are subjected to. So are we really surprised when a party as potentially dangerous as UKIP do better in the English council polls than the Lib Dems or Tories?

Actually, if I’m honest, YES. Yes I am surprised, and saddened. I had hoped that the British public could see through the type of buffoonery and charm that does Boris Johnson no harm at all. It seems this was beyond the mentality of thousands of English voters. I say English because Scotland was not voting yesterday and Wales seems to have avoided similar results. I’ll be curious to see how they do when it’s the turn of the Scots to go to the polls.

I’m saddened because people are so easily fooled into blaming everyone else for the problems of their home country. For many, UKIP are merely an anti-European party. They have won many votes of alleged rational human beings with their promises of getting the UK out of the European Union, without considering the benefits being part of this union has had on the UK. They can blame Europe for all the problems of the UK economy but given the global nature of the economic collapse, I think they’re being somewhat short-sighted. This EU element, of itself does not bother me, UKIP will never get enough votes in Parliament alone, to be able to effect such a policy alone (however in combination with the Conservatives this could be a worry). So those voting UKIP into local council positions based on their European policies have been duped as to the power they can have at a local level.

What does bother me are the growingly accepted UKIP xenophobic attitudes and policies. In the Channel 4 video (linked above) Farage is shown giving the hard sell to Bulgarians of the benefits of life in the UK, and they’re still not interested in coming here. Even in the face of this blatant evidence to the contrary, he still believes millions of Bulgarians and Romanians will descend on Britain taking all 400,000 available jobs from our 2.6million unemployed Brits and stealing all our benefits and homes. Even his facts on this are wrong as it shows he doesn’t understand how the benefits and housing system works in Europe, but don’t let that get in the way of a good lie.

The UKIP are getting more support now because despite all the ‘on-the-face-of-it’ niceties, the British are on the whole, a xenophobic nation. We are racist, self-serving, egocentric and self-important. We still believe we have an important platform on the global political stage. We are stuck in a centuries old colonial mindset. we see ourselves as a bigger player than we actually are. It’s actually quite pathetic. We were big players, we damaged millions of lives and ruled 1/4 of all the land on the earth. For all but the wealthiest of Brits imperialism wasn’t a time of glory and indeed it is now considered by many a time of shame. We are responsible for the state we are in now, by our actions of the past. We are responsible for this false belief in our higher socio-political status based on our destructive actions of the past.

In reality Britain is a tiny wee island, full of tiny minded people. We fear the outside world. It’s a typical island mindset that does not fit with our perceived global political position. When one person dares to speak up about their racism and fear of others or outsiders, it gives the usually silent Smiths and Joneses the opportunity to air their fears too. To believe that UKIP are fooling the population into voting for them is naive. UKIP have just given the many racist fools of the UK, stuck in a historic colonial mindset, a voice they have been too scared to allow be heard. I’m all for freedom of expression but when you fear expressing your racist thoughts you have to consider why that may be.

To me all this suggests our education of the masses on equality has failed. There are hundreds of thousands, likely millions who do not conform to the xenophobic beliefs of UKIP, but as we repeatedly witness, fear sells better than future potential and no one dares stand out from the crowd. People are so scared of losing their material possessions and their perceived public position that they will not let change occur or speak out. They would rather have more of the same bad old ways than take a chance on radical change for the future in case they lose their telly and broadband. Look where that kind of thinking has got us. It has got us radical and damaging changes to state and health that no one in a position of power has confronted because we’ve been led to believe it’s in our best interest. Damaging change by those who believe in a colonial existence, those who believe their historic wealth gives them the power and right to dictate to those who do not have the same aristocratic background. They’re keeping their friends safe, wealthy and healthy while we little people get to suffer, and y’know it’s all in our best interests.

And like the fools we are we swallow it. Inequality grows alongside the fear of the foreigner. We won’t consider what immigrants can put into society or the benefits of multiculturalism or even the benefits to our economy, oh no, we shall fear them, hate them and drive them from “our lands”. We shall accuse them of stealing our women, our jobs, our houses and our money. Hell they probably eat our pets and pee on our roses. We won’t stop to consider what we could be doing wrong, merely what the “foreigners” are doing to us. It’s never our fault. Oh no! Never.

So instead of looking to a new fairer future for all, we are reverting to ancient beliefs of racism, fear of foreigners, blaming others for our own faults and taking the perceived easy route to try to solve the problems of our society. Problems caused by everyone but us. We never seem to learn from history. It’s not invoking Godwin’s Law to make a direct and realistic correlation with a situation resembling that of the rise of fascism in 1930s Germany. We may like to convince ourselves we are not gullible enough to find ourselves in a situation akin to that of Nazi Germany in the 30s, but is that really true? Back then the changes were subtle. Enemies were hiding in every nook and cranny. People didn’t trust their own family let alone their neighbours. It was a slow development that went generally unchallenged and it started with mild xenophobia. We all know what it descended into. All it takes is one charismatic person to reach a position of perceived authority to get the ball rolling. In steps buffoon Farage.

We might like to think we’re different from those nasty Nazi’s but are we really? Are we allowing the media to fool us into fearing the foreigner, when in reality the enemy is within? Is the average Brit really jaded enough to believe that a few thousands Eastern Europeans are doing more damage to our economy than the huge division between our homegrown rich and poor? Can those who are already relying on social security to survive (e.g. low paid on tax credits) really differentiate their brand of poverty from those in different but equally as difficult financial situations (e.g. the disabled)? It seems so. Can ‘ordinary’ people not see the damage being done to the state upon which so many rely, both waged and unwaged, while those wealthy and in power making the changes, profit from it all? And yet we blame thousands of hypothetical foreigners who have already said they’re not interested in coming to this sham of a country. We blame the disabled for faking it, who in reality have no alternative to the existence we allow them. We blame Europe, we blame the left, we blame a government out of power for 3 years. We blame everyone but ourselves and our own stupidity. We didn’t educate ourselves properly at the last election and apathy will drive even fewer to educate themselves properly at the next. Do I think things could get worse in the future? Hell yes!

And now we are finding saviours in ignorance and lies. We as a society are politicising on a wing and a christian only prayer. We find hope in a party on the fringes on right-wing extremism with smiley faces and a pint of ale in hand. Good ole British traditional blokes down t’pub. Someone we know and can rely on. Apparently. Our saviours. Apparently.

We have, aided by the media we pay to indoctrinate us, given a platform to a large swathe of people who honestly believe they are superior to anyone with a different cultural or religious background or skin colour. We have given a platform to those who decide a people’s worth not on what they can give to society but what stereotypes are popular at the time. And in our apathy we have not only allowed this, but celebrated and encouraged it, and it can only get worse.

As Douglas Adams once said, “nothing travels faster than light, with the possible exception of bad news, which follows its own rules” – coupled with Winston Churchill’s, “The British nation is unique in this respect: they are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.” We get a picture of the British nation past and present. We are destined to continue to try to destroy our society. We thrive on the bad news. We want bad news and we want something to moan about. I sincerely hope Britain is happy with UKIP gaining more of a voice locally, it will certainly give us something to moan about when society is completely destroyed when they get a national role and by then it could be too late to stop the demise of decency. That charismatic strange little man and his minions will keep those who think different to them in fear and silence while they do their worst to create a more ‘pure’ society, a more self-serving one. Problem is, where does it end? Who decides purity?

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Who is doing the diagnosing Esther McVey?

4 04 2013

This is the video of Esther Mcvey on Channel4 News discussing DLA to PIP.

McVey seems somewhat flustered, unable to articulate clearly her point, unaware of the realities of the policy she promotes, obsessed with asking Krishnan Guru Murthy to “hang on a sec” and generally talking rubbish.

Much of the online outrage at her talking rubbish, was at her statement on how the government perceive themselves to be treating disabled people “generously”.

But this isn’t the bit that concerns me, neither does her claim of governmental generosity (although if she’s expecting any kind of thanks or praise she can think again)

No! A small throwaway sentence at 3 minutes 14 seconds in, reveals the truth behind the governments disability assessment processes. DIAGNOSIS.

Yup, that’s right the Minister for Disabled People, Esther McVey actually says on prime time national television (3m 14s in if you want to double check) “If we can actually diagnose individuals through their historic data and their medical data…” Think about that for a moment. Think about the sheer arrogance of that statement.

If WE can ACTUALLY DIAGNOSE INDIVIDUALS through their historic data AND their medical data…

Now what set of well trained professionals do we expect to have the knowledge, skills and experience to be able to undertake such an important, life saving task as diagnosis? Who are “we” that do the diagnosing?

Prior to that statement McVey is discussing face to face ATOS assessments and for those with degenerative conditions, paper only assessments. So could “we” be the ATOS IT system or the DWP decision maker? Are they now responsible for diagnosing conditions? Are we now to send all our medical data to a civil servant for diagnosis? What training will this person have in identifying conditions and appropriate treatments or supports?

There are times I experience exacerbation with the medical professionals I see, where I wonder if an average bloke on the street wouldn’t do as good a job, but would I put my life and future in their hands? Would I hell!

I can imagine any official response to McVey’s statement being along the lines of ‘slip of the tongue’, ‘wrong choice of words under pressure’ but this is a professional woman, employed in her ministerial role to be able to clearly and confidently articulate the governments position and to be able to do so under pressure. With this in mind her choice of words regarding “diagnosis” is telling. I’d place bets on the use of diagnosis being a commonly used term in government corridors and meetings. Through the week McVey had already outraged others by talk of “healing” people and now these ministers and MPs, these jumped up civil servants, pen pushers and office workers, actually believe they are responsible for diagnosing people who ALREADY HAVE MEDICAL DIAGNOSES.

Diagnosis and cure by the government with their policies? HALLELUJAH! Praise the House of Lords! It’s a miracle.

You don’t get DLA based on just filling out a form. You need to provide contact details for ALL the professionals involved in your treatment and care. Your GP, your consultants, any nurses, care workers, support workers, social workers… If you can plan in advance and send in their reports with your application, it makes the process somewhat easier but decision makers are still meant to confirm the accuracy of the reports themselves. Decision makers are not there to diagnose a condition and I doubt their abilities to treat or heal conditions either.

So what exactly are the government planning? We already know what they think of the NHS. We know that in time, treatment and diagnosis will only be for those who can afford it. We know that people unable to work through sickness or disability are already labelled “work shy scroungers” and that society has cruelly turned on them in an attempt to cover their own backs.

Is this the first publicly admitted sign of a government led two tier health system? Those who “strive” get doctors and medical diagnoses at a price but those who cannot get an ATOS/DWP penpusher diagnosis? I know, I know all a bit woooooOOOOh conspiracy theory but what else are we to think when a government minister is on national news saying THEY will diagnose?





Too little too late

1 04 2013

Isn’t it politically convenient when the anti-policy campaigning kicks in 2days before the policy takes national effect? Isn’t it conveniently profitable when media outrage at unfair governmental policies only appears in the media two days before the policy takes effect?

It’s not as if these policies haven’t been on the cards for quite some time. It’s not as if grassroots campaigners and those aware of how it would affect them personally haven’t been battling to be heard on the matter for the past three years.

The front pages today presented as shocking news, unbeknownst to the British public, is only “new” news because the British media conveniently ignored it until a time it would create better headlines and sales figures. And yet again we fall for their profitable rhetoric as being supportive of our position. We are fools.

The political groups such as Labour Left had three years to develop mass campaigns and protests against these heinous policies designed to keep the poor in poverty, and yet they wait until the most politically opportune moment for them to protest, days before the policies take effect. Great for ratings and gathering support but it was too little too late.

This is not a game. This should not be about political point scoring or market share of news consumers. These are people’s lives.

If the media with their revealing headlines, or political groups with loud enough voices had truly cared about the implications of these policies they would have been campaigning against them with the same aggression from the start. The hypocrisy is sadly believable.

Why do we let them away with it? Why do we fall for it every time? It’s too little too late. The media and political groups know it, but it benefits them and their cause. They create high profile campaigns that give them the air of indignation the public are so desperate to see from institutions. ‘Oh look they’re taking action’ but IT’S TOO LITTLE TOO LATE!

It’s easy to complain about something when nothing can be done about it, and it doesn’t do your public profile much harm either. But who has the balls to complain when these policies are bring pushed through parliament by those deemed in a position to represent the needs of the people? It’s not the media and its not fringe political groups. They must have been trimming their toenails those days/weeks/months/years that the policies were being discussed.

It was too little too late.





The Bully Who Cried Wolf

22 01 2013

Have you heard the story of The Boy Who Cried Wolf?

It a story of a young shepherd who when bored cried, “wolf”, the villagers came to his defence and there was no wolf. He did this again and again, each time the villagers came to help him and there was no wolf. The villagers became weary of his behaviour. The final time he cries wolf, no one comes to help but this time there really is a wolf. The story ends with the line “Nobody believes a liar, even when he’s telling the truth”

This post is not about a shepherd, it’s about bullies.

This post is not about those who are true victims or survivors of bullying.

This post is about those who are not victims of bullying but claim to be.

Now before anyone starts to do the ‘funky internet freak out flaming dance’, let me finish…

Bullying is a horrific experience for anyone, and anyone can fall victim to it. It can be a very subjective experience and it’s important not to ignore someone’s experiences or perceptions or feelings because they do not fit with your own.

There are not many people who would claim to be the victims of bullies when they are not. Indeed those who do are a strange, rare breed. Why bother? Regardless, every claim of bullying really must be taken seriously and to the best of our ability, investigated. However, looking back at the story of the boy who cried wolf, there is a danger that when someone perpetually and falsely claims they are bullied, there will come a point when they eventually are and that no one will believe them anymore.

The nasty bitch in me, the bullying survivor says, “hell mend ye”, the victim in me, wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

From my voyeuristic foray into internet drama, my understanding is that when someone perpetually and highly vocally draws attention to the fact they are being cyber bullied and the communications are all publicly available to see, it is often (but not always) in fact the reverse, they are the one doing the bullying: a very subtle form of bullying. So subtle it’s difficult to detect at first, second  or third glance. It’s all a game. It’s a game of manipulation.

It’s a common tactic of any bully online or off – get the sympathy of the masses, no one will ever believe that you are not the victim but instead the perpetrator. It’s a clever manipulation of people, of language, of situations, of the vulnerable. It’s a clever manipulation of the sympathy of the masses, it plays on their kindness, it plays on their need to protect others from the vile bullying of nasty, spiteful, unintelligent, lonely… oh you name it… I’m sure you can think of all the stereotypes of nasty bullies we know and hate.

The reality is, bullies are rarely that blatantly nasty. They are charming, popular, helpful, likeable, they help you, they’re nice to you…you name it, they don’t fit the usual stereotypes. You can’t tell or point them out just by looking at them. Yet detection is a lot easier when their behaviour is public and traceable online.

The horrible truth is that there really are people who cry “bullying” when they are not truly being bullied. They are in fact the real bully. They are smart and they are subtle. There is a real danger in their behaviour. It’s obvious there is some kind of issue needing addressed when someone needs to partake in such practices, but it’s not likely to be requiring support as the victim of a bullying campaign.

My really worry, the real danger, is that it trivialises the experiences of those who really have been bullied online and off. The real victims. It reduces the reality of true bullying to a drama, where the actors confuse the positions of bully and victim. This makes me worry that when someone who truly is being bullied cries for help, no one will come, they will only hear “wolf”. No one will believe them, and this is potentially so damaging for them, and all of us. Bullying victims rarely feel listened to, we should all be angry when people pretend to be victims, it makes it harder for those who really need the help, to be heard. The voices of those who shout loudest always drown out those who need to be heard the most.

People only have so much tolerance for bullshit. Slowly but surely people come to realise, one by one if necessary, that they are being manipulated. Lied to. Taken advantage of. But what of the real victim of bullying? When everyone is sick of hearing “I’m the victim” from a bully, what chances has a real victim of bullying got of being heard?

True bullying isn’t surrounded by drama. True victims don’t seek attention. Rarely do those who are truly bullied identify as victims. Rarely to do they scream it from the rooftops. Rarely do victims make calls to arms among their friends.  Rarely will a victim partake in the very behaviour they claim to be making them so very miserable. I struggle to see this behaviour as speaking out  or standing up to bullies, it’s drama, pure and simple. I worry that high-profile dramas detract from the reality of being bullied. The dramas mask the real bullying.

I worry that when “Nobody believes a liar, even when he’s telling the truth”, those who have never lied will never be believed. Victims of bullying need to be given a voice but not one that drowns out everyone else.

 





Luxury on benefits, the next 6 years.

22 12 2012

I must point out before I go on that I am no economist or statistician, indeed I am dyscalculic so this could all be completely wrong! I haven’t applied fancy formula or academic theory to my calculations, just simple percentages based on the previous 6 years statistics where available. This is obviously a very simplistic approach to a somewhat complex issue but it filled a bored evening avoiding the Strictly Come Dancing Final… I should also point out I haven’t been keeping up with blogs to someone may have covered this already elsewhere.

When the government announced that there would only be a 1% rise to welfare benefits over the next 3 years, many were rightly quite disgusted, many weren’t and believe that those living on benefits already get too much. I was curious to know the impact of these changes compared to average spending. As it has now been suggested that the government will extend the length of time the yearly 1% benefits increase to 6 years or around 2018, I thought it interesting to highlight at its most basic, how this could pan out (disclaimer above not withstanding).

Currently a couple with a child on JobSeekers Allowance will receive £111.45 per week (not including child tax credits: £62.21pw 2012 – £66.04 in 2018 and child benefit: £20pw in 2012- £21.23 in 2018). Over 6 years with a 1% increase this will be £119.48 in 2018.

Housing Benefit is not available to people who have mortgages and the existence of capital held in a house can cause complications when claiming other benefits. If this hypothetical couple receiving JSA happened to fall on hard times after losing their jobs, things could be even more complex for them than listed below. As I stated this explanation is very simplistic.

According to DEFRA, the average weekly grocery shop for a small family in 2012 is £77 per week. This rose 37% in total since 2007 or  7.4% per year until 2012.  It is estimated that the average grocery bill will rise 4% year on year for the next 10 years.

Should we calculate figures based on the official estimate of 4%, the average weekly grocery bill will grow to £97.43. A difference of £20 over 6 years, accounting for 81.5% of the couple’s weekly income of £119.48 in 2018

If we use the previous average of 7.4% per year for the next 6 years, the average weekly grocery bill will grow to £118.72.  A difference of £41.72 over 6 years accounting for 99.36% of the couple’s weekly income of £119.48 in 2018

The difference between the average food bill and average JSA income for a couple in 2018 will be 76p. That is 76p to pay for all the other bills and costs that may arise in the course of a week.

So if we then consider household energy bills costs. The Sun newspaper (I know, I’m sorry) claims that between 2004 and 2012, household energy bills grew by 151% or an average of 18.89% per year.  In 2012, Money Saving Expert claims the average home energy bill is £1240 per year or £23.85 per week.  If we apply the average of 18.86% per year over the next 6 years to 2018, the average energy bill will cost the average household £3502 per year or £67.25 per week. This is 43.4% of the benefit recipient couple’s weekly income of £119.48. Remember if we decide to let the couple eat, they only have 76p left over with which to pay this bill.

Already, for ONLY food and energy bills the cost is £185.97 per week for the average household with a small family compared with the basic JSA income of £119.48. A deficit of  -£66.49 between income and basic outgoings. When MPs scoff at the idea of people choosing between heat and food, they obviously havent tried to look at the basic maths. Even counting in Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit for one child, in 2018 the difference between income and outgoings is only + £20per week to pay all the things listed below.

I havent looked at costs such as clothing, school trips/costs, additional utilities (water, phone, net), insurances, potential emergency costs, or compulsory contributions to housing costs or council tax and any new costs that may be thrust upon us in the future.

One additional thing I decided to have a look at but not add to the essentials was fuel costs for unleaded petrol. Petrol is essential for many to get to work, or to look for work, attend interviews, hospital appointments etc. In 2006 the cost of a litre of unleaded petrol was 89.9p. There was a 54.5% increase between 2006 and 2012, where a litre of unleaded petrol now costs around £138.9p. If we apply the same increase over the next 6 years that means we will be paying around 213.9p per litre for unleaded petrol. Already a couple on JSA are priced out of the driving market and that’s purely based on fuel costs and not including tax, insurance, repairs and HP/loan repayments.

Forcing people into abject poverty when there are not enough jobs for the number of unemployed in the UK is barbaric. Anyone looking at these figures who still thinks a life on benefits is luxury perhaps should try it for a while. It’s hard enough balancing the books based on current costs of living and in this blog there are many assumptions made about the economic situation not getting any worse, food prices and energy prices not rising by any more than they have in the past 6 years and the rate of inflation not changing upwards drastically.

This may not be my most thought out blog or best written but I wanted to see the numbers written out for myself… and it terrifies me. Terrifies me that it could be any one of us relying on these kinds of incomes with these kinds of outgoings. It terrifies me that as a society we seem happy to let people live in this kind of poverty and happy to make it worse for them. If you are not in this situation think yourself very lucky and hope to whatever power that be, you never find yourself in a situation where you have to rely on state help to exist. I wont say survive because I can’t see how it would be possible to survive on these kinds of figures, even with some fancy budgeting.

That said as I mentioned at the start, I’m no economist and there are many complex formula applied to determine living costs now and in the future… this however just looks at the basics and without manipulation or spin, to me, they present a scary story.

Good Luck. You’ll need it.

 

 

Oh I may add a simplified chart to save reading all the gibberish in the morning if I get time/inclination.

 





We saved a tree today

21 08 2012

I tried to buy a birthday card for a male acquaintance today. It’s not someone I know terribly well, but he is a good friend’s partner. The card had to be appropriate given the relatively new development of our platonic relationship.

Have you noticed how hard it is to buy decent birthday cards for non women?

I went into a shop that was once guaranteed to have me spending a fortune buying funny and original cards, even if there were no birthdays coming up. Today I went in looking for a 30th card for a male and couldn’t find anything suitable. All the cards in the shop were doused in pastel pink or pretty pastel flowers and bunnies. He’s not really a pastels type or a bunnies type. At least not in public.

The so-called humorous cards mainly contained 1950s housewives making sarky or sexist comments while undertaking household chores, because y’know after decades of fighting for gender equality, ironic sexism shared between women in humourous greetings cards is the ultimate in social freedom. No harm whatsoever. Gosh, I’m being a spoilsport by even suggesting they could be considered sexist…

Forgive me if I can’t be arsed with this equality regression…

Then there were a few googly eyed wooly creatures with “hysterical” slogans such as “I love ewe” – not knowing his opinion on bestiality and not wanting to hint at mine, I felt such cards were best left on the shelf.

The self affirming and motivational quotes seemed a little twee, especially when most were quoting, and aimed at women discussing traditionally women’s issues. I don’t think he would appreciate a card affirming his womanhood or having his ovaries motivated to explode with eggs at the sight of a baby dressed as a flower.

I didn’t think it appropriate to comment on the size of his genitals, his sexual prowess or stamina, unlike a large majority of the greeting cards on sale. As I stated at the start, this is a new friendship and given his girlfriend’s known psycho possessive streak, they were just a bit too suggestive for a new platonic relationship.

There were no cards strictly for males that weren’t ‘Congratulations It’s a Boy’, not pictures of the Fallen Madonna With Ze Big Boobies or pints of beer with allegedly witty ‘you’re almost an alcoholic’ style comment. Not blue pastel cards with bunnies or even green or lemon or just plain white. There were no gender neutral cards at all that didn’t suggest he was a giraffe or gorilla for every and any occasion.

I’m not entirely sure what this shop expected us to do for the birthdays of our male friends and family, perhaps they expected to sell only to women who feel that emulating a sarky 1950s housewife bemoaning her list of household chores is the way of the future.

I’m not averse to abolishing gender stereotypes in the greetings industry and giving a man a card appearing ‘girly’ but I am averse personally to pastel colours, gender based humour and bestiality. Where were the gender neutral cards? the truly funny without taking gender or disability or vegetables pretending they’re humans into account?

They weren’t in that shop!

So I thought I’d have a look in the local Oxfam bookshop, they usually have some funny birthday cards but it was more of the same. Oh wait! there was a difference, the housewives were replaced by ageing women from the 1920s and 1930s in a variety of allegedly hysterical poses with allegedly witty, and ageist and sexist, comments. The few that contained men were again discussing his sexual prowess.

I just wanted a ‘happy birthday I don’t know you very well and don’t care about the size of your manhood’ card but it seems such things don’t exist.

In the end we left with nothing. We saved a tree today.





Too fat but not fat enough.

21 07 2012

On the day I had my lovely cervical smear test, I wrote this experiential blog, what I declined to include at the time was the threat from the GP I had the misfortune of being intimately attached to for a good few minutes, should I not lose weight she was going to stop allowing me to have prescriptions for the contraceptive pill.

A bit of background to this weight issue is necessary.

I used to be thin. I had a 17″ waist until I was 20 despite eating relatively healthily… or at least heartily. I was for most of my 20s a size 10 on top and 12/14 on bottom.  Illness lost my passion for food but the medication they put me on for it, caused me to gain 6 stone in the space of a few months. Turned out I had a near fatal allergy to this medication and as soon as I stopped taking it, I slowly started to lose the weight. In 2006/7 I without trying, lost 5 stone, likely due to an autoimmune condition and also not taking this horrible medication.  I was back down to a size 10/12. I loved that I could wear nice (and cheaper) clothes again; shallow, perhaps but we all have our foibles.

In 2008 I was hit by a strange fatigue, my weight started to creep up but not to ridiculous levels like before. The symptoms were consistent with hypothyroidism but the blood tests weren’t. When I fell pregnant, all-day sickness ensured I lost any weight I had gained. I left hospital after giving birth weighing exactly the same as I did before I fell pregnant. Within 2 months I had the fatigue again, this time I had rapid weight gain. It took 9 months to diagnose hypothyroidism. I was 14lbs heavier.

2 years later, the fatigue still there, hindering any attempts at exercise, the weight was still creeping up. A random inflammatory problem turned into a likely systemic disease and I was put on steroids for 5 months. This is where I am now. I have bloated with water and fat, I weight 2 stone more than I did in 2009, although the steroids gave me the energy needed to join and attend the gym.

Anyway back to the Dr. She moaned at me about my eating, despite me telling her I was on a 1200 calorie a day “diet” (in the proper sense of the word), which I tracked daily using a phone app. I even showed her. I explained exercise when I was ill was difficult but that I was a member of the gym and was using it as often as I could and that I cycled there too.

Her response of “good girl” was not at all patronising, oh no! But it was not good enough for her. She wanted me to join weightwatchers. “But why?” I asked, when I already conformed to the calorie restriction they would advise and I have a set of scales in the house if I need to track my weight.

“To lose weight” she responded.

“But I’m on steroids, every other doctor has told me I wont lose weight as long as I take them, they all warned me I would gain” I replied,

“There’s no harm in trying” was her retort.

Now here’s the bit that confused me. I already was “trying”. I was doing everything these groups would tell me. I researched all the combinations of the right kind of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. I’d followed Scottish Slimmers, which I preferred and stuck mainly to their system. Any anyway I couldn’t afford to pay every week to attend a slimming class. So I told her this.

So she pushed to refer me to something called the Glasgow Weight Management Service, which was like Weightwatchers but free. I agreed as, anything free and able to help me lose weight is good…

So here’s the thing. I get a letter from the Miserable GP today. She tells me I don’t meet their criteria for eligibility. She didn’t mention the basis of my failure but went on to suggest another scheme where I would have to pay £65 if I “wanted to be supervised taking up exercise again” (emphasis mine) or to try weightwatchers.

Ok so I’ll start with the latter point about “exercise again”, at no point in time did I say I had given up exercise. I explained the difficulty of participating in exercise when I was floored with fatigue or unable to leave the loo for 5 minutes at a time, oh and lets not forget normal day to day activities too like having to actually look after my child and requiring childcare, but I do exercise when I can. I even keep track of the calories I burn when I do so too. Short of paying £900 for a personal trainer, or stopping eating altogether, there wasn’t much more I could do. Her ignorance never ceases to amaze me.

So onto the crux of her letter. I am not eligible for the Glasgow Weight Management Service. I had to look them up and see what their criteria was… It’s based on BMI and I am essentially too skinny to qualify to use their service. So while the GP was giving me a hard time about being a complete lardy bum bum and telling me she’d rather I fell pregnant than continue to take the pill (or maybe she thinks I’m so fat no one would want to shag me anyway?), the scheme she pushed me into accepting, wont accept me cos I’m not fat enough.

There has to be an irony in there somewhere. I googled the scheme and it looks really good, gutted I can’t take part. I’m tempted to try and put on the extra weight so I do meet their criteria and be referred again.

As for using my fertility against me as a form of blackmail? It’s a common methodology among doctors. It’s completely wrong and uncalled for. I may be overweight, I may even be considered obese according to my BMI but that doesn’t mean I am unfit, or that I’m sitting eating deep fried marsbars for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The judgemental attitude from this GP was horrible. Essentially she disregarded the elements of my medical history where weight gain was likely or unstoppable, and looked at the bits such as previous history of depression to mean I say eating all day feeling sorry for myself. She couldn’t have been more wrong and her attitude did nothing to encourage or motivate me, just blame me and punish me for things essentially outwith my control.

On the bright side, smear test results came today too, my mimsy isn’t mutating.