Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Coming out of the shadows

Coming out of the shadows; Blue Badge Blues 8
Edinburgh Festival Fireworks



It’s August, it’s Edinburgh, it’s mayhem, it’s the festival. I decided years ago as a resident in Edinburgh that it’s important to embrace it, bring out your inner tourist and have a bit of fun. The other option is to moan about the crowds, the buses, roads being closed and so on and that’s not appealing. But this year I’m only two plus months post op, i can’t walk more than two steps and it’s beyond overwhelming. I’ve been to two shows and to say I’m exhausted is to underestimate the impact. I’m currently thinking I may never try to go to an event ever again. I’ve had to make several phone calls in advance to check accessibility and how to ensure that I can get there with my families support. The planning, the exhaustion and discomfort of the trip, worrying about parking, lifting mobility scooters, gaining access and then just enjoy the show!
My abortive efforts to regain independence are probably my biggest source of frustration at the moment. 
I described myself as living in the shadows recently. I’m hit by such a sense of loss as I acknowledge this. I went to see Loki and he was challenging privilege in his fringe show. His challenge was, where was the male privilege for those men living in poverty, with little hope of change. Good question. There are many forms of privilege and so the show made me reflect on able-bodied privilege. For example 50% of fringe shows are not accessible. The inequalities that open up for the disabled and their carers are well documented. Maybe the disability movement needs it’s own #metoo campaign so we don’t forget and we bring an energy to improving access and involvement.
For the first time in my life I’m poised to apply for benefits. It’s the PiP ( personal independence payment ) form thats sitting by me. Even to get here I’ve had two loops to go through where I felt I was treated a bit like I’m guilty ( of benefit fraud presumably ) before proven innocent. It’s challenging but I’m determined to see it through. I can only think that so many are put off by even these stages and that is the purpose. No wonder attitudes to the disabled need to be challenged! 

But on the upside my efforts this week have allowed me to see two of Scotland’s greatest talents; Karine Polwart and Loki ( Darren McGarvey).Both were impressive and clearly masters of their arts. As well as very talented  both are  thought provoking and challenge you to,yes,see the beauty in our exceptional nation but also to look in the shadows and be honest about our ill divided land. 
If we ignore those in the shadows for whatever reason, if we don’t address the fundamental inequalities in our society, ultimately we all lose. If you don’t know their work do have a listen and check out the Orwell award winning "Poverty Safari". 
Meantime today’s challenge for me is tackling the stairs, wish me luck......
And on other news I made it to the sea side!




Sunday, 5 August 2018

Friendship and flowers; blue badge blues 7

Friendship and flowers

I’m more than six weeks post-op now and I’ve taken down my cards; having read them again. Thoughtful words on a card are so uplifting, please don’t ever think they won’t make a difference. It was with some sadness I was throwing out the dying flowers but then as if by some hidden force over the next couple of days flowers kept arriving; from visitors and even in the post.My house is beautifully enhanced by this array of colour and even more, my heart is full with the kindness and love they convey. I don’t have words to say how much it lifts my world which is quite small just now-being largely confined to home. 
But that said it’s been a sad week. A friend died of cancer, very quickly, having been told of the recurrence just over a month previously. Amazingly she visited me in hospital before she was admitted to the hospice and I’m hugely grateful I saw her then. I’ve reflected a great deal on friendship these last few weeks. Anne and I bonded over dogs and politics; a powerful combination. We also shared some mindfulness sessions here with some other friends which became a real source of comfort for me as my mobility and pain worsened. We called it winefulness sometimes as we took every opportunity ( excuse?!) to share a glass of fizz when each milestone of her treatment was passed. Anne was an awesome campaigner and I rather fear for the world without her commitment to change and passion to make this world better and safer. 
So it’s been a tearful and sad week and also a huge reminder to me to savour life in all its twists and turns.

This time has also reminded me to value and invest in friendship as well as family. So this blog is to honour friendship and for Anne, who is a testament to the truth that each of us can make a difference, not only through our campaigning and influencing but also through our compassion for each other.