Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
I’ve been trying to get this blog going for ages. I keep a journal where I have been trying out all the things I might write about on here. The main thing is that I don’t want this to be a depressing place that people don’t want to visit. I’ve blogged before some years ago but that was very lighthearted stuff, and I deliberately kept my MS out of it, I didn’t want to be defined by it. Things have changed since then. The MS has progressed sure, but many other things have changed too, not only in my life but in the country, in the world. So, I have to write about my life with MS but I also want to write about daily life in other respects as well. There are many things on which I have opinions and would like to share them, hopefully to provoke discussion and debate but also to raise awareness of issues that many people don’t know about.
This all sounds very deep, I don’t mean it to. I just want to give a heads up on what’s coming! Be ready 😄😄
just one more thing, I won’t be writing everyday, sometimes it will be totally beyond me!
So, we have a general election in December close to Christmas, the first since 1923. All the Parties have launched their campaigns.
So, where do they all stand?
The Liberal Democrats have called themselves ‘the Remain Party’ In other words for them it’s all about revoking Article 50 and pretending that the democratic vote didn’t happen and if we vote for them it’ll be ok because everything will go back to normal — whatever that is!
The Labour Party can’t make up their minds whether they want Brexit or not and would offer a second referendum if elected, whilst at the same time getting Brexit done with a new deal in six months! They have unveiled an apparent spend, spend, borrow, spend some more………typical socialist economics we have seen before.
All Boris has said so far is that he doesn’t want an election but nevertheless he will get us out of the EU by the end of January 2020. But he has announced major spending plans for the NHS, the Police and infrastructure. A good and proper end to austerity, which they have put the country through for years. Everybody forgets that at the end of the last Labour era how much we were in debt!
Nigel Farage has popped up again to make sure nobody forgets him, and he is still peddling the same message — he is the man of the people and the only one who understands how much everyone (except the 48% who voted to remain) wants to leave Europe. Just go down the pub Nigel!
So, already the sparring has started. From each, but particularly Corbyn, attacking each other seems to have set the tone. However much they pretend otherwise (save the Lib Dems) this is going to be a Brexit election. People are generally fed up with three years of uncertainty and interviews with the general public would appear to show that there is a general shift towards Boris Johnson as the man who will relieve us all of this burden. However, it must be remembered that this is a minute sample of roughly 50 million voters.
Mostly there is a sense of confusion. The Labour Party insists that Boris‘ plan is to sell the NHS out to major US corporations. In this Jeremy and Boris have the same message constantly uttered ‘the NHS is not for sale’. Who do we trust? Boris has lost the trust of many over his Brexit deal and it’s solution for Northern Ireland, whereas as Jeremy is an unknown quantity never having had the chance to be tested on his trustworthiness. It depends very much on which Party the voters trust to deliver Brexit, as well safeguarding the NHS, dealing with climate change, and delivering a strong economy.
Trust is a very important concept in politics. Ordinary people can be heard asking the question ‘who can we trust?’ Or ‘how can we trust Boris Johnson?’ . The sad thing is that people in this country have lost their trust in our democracy. The Parties have an opportunity to try to restore this trust. If all this election comes down to is squabbling and scoring points, as in recent campaigns, any trust that is left will be further eroded.
There is a real chance we will end up with a hung Parliament again. This will deny us the chance to move on from this ghastliness that we have endured over the past few years. Unlike others I don’t believe our democracy, system or Parliament is ‘broken’ but we do need a government with a working majority at the very least. It is very difficult to predict who are the best people to put into government.
This is the most important election we have had in 40 years. Any government we elect will potentially govern for five years. We have got to get it right.
Continuing with Episode 1 for the moment, Body Positive exponent Victoria decided to challenge the other women in the group to put on their swimsuits or bikinis and to go with her into the nearest town centre, to raise awareness of what The Body Positive movement is about. Passers-by were asked if they wanted to write on the visible naked parts of the body to show their support. Surprisingly, many people did. Babs, who truly dislikes her overweight body, bravely took up the challenge and was overwhelmed with the support they were given.
So to Episode 2. The Body Positive (BP) debate hots up as a discussion about childhood obesity draws gasps from the BP supporters at the thought that children in Primary School should be taught about healthy eating and exercise! Apparently this will cause them to obsess about food and could lead to eating disorders. One housemate, Sarah who is the director of the charity Obese UK, quite rightly worried about the drain on the NHS of obesity health issues.
Also respected geneticist Dr. Brian Yeo, gives the housemates the results of a DNA test showing that some people are genetically predisposed to excessive eating, or crave food. This had a good effect on Jed, who worried about Type 2 diabetes and encouraged him to be tested.
Watching this episode, it became apparent that there was more to Victoria than met the eye. First impressions were that she was an extremist in the BP movement, she was constantly insisting that she was happy as she was, and tried to get others to feel the same way. She was roundly criticised in the media, branded as ‘dangerous ‘, and amongst housemates, some of them found it unbearable.
As the episode went on, it became obvious that she is using BP to deal with her own deep insecurities about her body, it was very much about ‘those who shout the loudest’ . In other words, the more she went on about it the less convincing she became. She may eat, as she claimed in Episode 1, ‘what she wants’ but she was the only one who was eating in just about every shot, crisps, cake, always unhealthy stuff. If she eats like that to prove a point that’s ‘cutting off her nose to spite her face’ territory, it’s unnecessary and unhealthy. But if she is eating like that because it satisfies a deep-seated insecurity or trauma or whatever, then she needs to admit it to herself.
By the end of the episode everybody seemed to have accepted the different views and people’s right to hold them. There was genuine feeling when it came to say goodbye.
Whilst it’s true that we shouldn’t discriminate against people who are overweight or obese, it is important to realise that it’s the impact on health that is most important. When Victoria was asked whether she would prefer to be fat or lose her mobility through diabetes, she refused to answer the question. That indicates that either she hasn’t thought about it (slightly unbelievable!) or she doesn’t want to think about so as not to compromise her views. Either way, the conclusion has to be that her views are subversive and dangerous, and are extremely unhealthy.
Watching BBC2’s ‘Who are you calling fat?’ lifestyle documentary, I was introduced to something that, I must admit, I had never heard of. Body Positivity. It is a social movement that emerged from the US in the 60’s. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:
in the documentary, a group of nine people living with obesity to various degrees, were gathered together in the type of luxury accommodation seen in all reality television. You can read more about it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles
After I had watched the first episode I was horrified. One of the girls was very into this movement, but, in my view, to an extreme. She had outlawed the use of words like ‘overweight’ and ‘fat’, nobody was to use those words, or express opinions regarding the correlation between obesity and health
Many of the other housemates had had or were having serious issues with their obesity and health. Two already have Type 2 Diabetes, another was too afraid to find out if he did have it, or would get it. A lady called Babs who already has Type 2 was so depressed about her weight that she found the constant talk of Body Positivity unbearable.
At the end of this first episode I found myself furious with her for being so irresponsible in insisting that ‘health is a social construct ‘. To be so glib about what to others is something that affects their physical and mental health, whilst constantly eating crisps or cake or whatever just seems unfeeling.
There’s to much to say about all this in one blog post so, if it interests you, watch out for Part II!
Yesterday was extremely unproductive. I was frustrated at the end of the day so I wrote exactly what I was feeling. I have never done this before, not where it might be seen anyway. I didn’t intend to publish it. But then, I thought, why not?
What follows is what I wrote; absolutely no amendments. Please keep reading, the end is positive I promise.
I can’t be bothered to do anything today. Not even to play games or listen to my book. I’m cold and I’m tired and I just want to go to bed. This is how it is sometimes. MS can bring you down just like that. I made a reasonable effort at reading and a bit of writing this morning but this afternoon is useless. I’m counting down the time to bedtime.
I hate these days. This has been coming on for a while. All last week I was struggling. Now the clocks have gone back and it’s darker earlier, even more depressing.
This makes me anxious. I worry that Im not going to be able to snap out of it this time. I’ve done it countless times before, dragged myself up again into the light. But each time, it gets harder and I get more and more worried that I won’t surface.
I’m going to get a my hair cut on Thursday. Sometimes going out can make me feel better and lift me out of this. But I know that deep down I’m anxious about this as well, the prospect of leaving the house always has that effect on me.
It’s hard for people around me to understand. Because I’m always smiling, always cheerful (so they tell me) they don’t like it if they think I’m sinking because it worries them.
I don’t like it much either. It is soul-destroying. These are the days when all I can think about is what I lost when this horrible disease got hold of me.
Everything I was and everything I had before has gone. I have no privacy, no dignity, no freedom and worst of all, absolutely no choice. I cannot choose to get up in the morning when I please, or take a shower or simply get some breakfast. I cannot curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and a good book. Worst of all, I cannot pick up my grandchildren, swing them round and cuddle them. It breaks my heart when my daughters struggle with childcare and I can’t help.
The worst thing, I can no longer sleep in the same bed as my husband, put my arms round him and give him a hug or even sit at the table with him to eat. We cannot go out in the evening to the cinema, or for a meal or any of the things other people take for granted. He is my full time carer and although I am only 65, at 86 he finds it very tiring. I should be the one looking after him.
So this is where I am today. Tomorrow could be completely different. I never know.
Depressing isn’t it? And yet today I feel fine. I’ve read some useful articles this morning, carried out some research online. And now I’m writing.
It occurred to me last night, that if we have a General Election fairly soon, I don’t know who I’d vote for. I’m a lifelong Tory voter, although I suspect that had the Liberals had been a viable option, I would have voted for them. I’m talking about the old style Liberals of Joe Grimond and, God help us, Jeremy Thorpe.
In the absence of a viable Liberal option, and probably because my parents did, I voted Tory. My first voting experience came in 1974, the year of two elections, the Miners strike (the first one), the three day week (when commercial consumption of electricity was limited to three days a week), which meant working in a very cold office by candlelight and no electric typewriters! In fact that was a challenging time in British politics and bears some similarities to today. Look at this from Wikipedia:
‘The election of February that year had produced an unexpected hung parliament. Coalition talks between the Conservatives and other parties such as the Liberals and the Ulster Unionists failed, allowing Labour leader Harold Wilson to form a minority government’
So, I would describe myself as a left-wing Tory, as opposed to my father whom I would describe as a High Tory, a throwback from the nineteenth century! This has remained my position. But now, my beliefs are being severely tested.
I cannot accept that a Conservative and Unionist (to give the Party it’s proper name) Prime Minister would deliberately and without compunction undermine the stability of the Union.
By putting a border down the Irish Sea he will do exactly that. It’s clear that the DUP feels betrayed by Boris’s Brexit deal, and well they might. The problem is that unless they can get their Assembly up and running they are subject to rule from Westminster.
I would never vote Labour. Jeremy Corbyn is a dangerous man, I remember him in the ‘70s and his alliances with the Trades Unions and others. It was a politically toxic era and he was right in the thick of it.
So, that leaves the Lib-dems. Apart from the fact that they are still a minority group, I actually disagree with them. I have always been against a second Referendum as anti-democratic. A democratic vote is just that and must be respected. Although I have to say that as we have moved through this process I have sometimes thought it might be the only way, but I cannot disregard what, for me, is a fundamental belief.
There are other reasons why a second Referendum is not a good idea. Firstly, we cannot deny Scotland a second vote on Independence if we then go on to have one ourselves. Second, we could find the result comes out the same and then what happens? Third, has anyone in the whole country got the appetite for it?
If, as seems likely, we will have a General Election sometime soon, I really don’t know what I’m going to do!
I have spent the morning watching the debate in the House of Commons about the Brexit deal. It’s an education in Parliamentary procedure. This is because an amendment was laid down this morning by Oliver Letwin (an old thorn in the side?) which, if voted through, would delay Brexit further.
The law states (the Benn Act 2019) that if this were to happen the Prime Minister must, at 11 pm tonight, send a letter to the European Union to ask for an extension to Brexit, delaying it until 31st January 2020. This is well known to everyone except, apparently, the Prime Minister!
Mr Johnson is, of course, refusing to do this. He is supremely confident, believing that he can get the legislation done and dusted by his magic date – 31st October. This would seem highly unlikely, given it has to pass through both houses
There is now a cacophony of speculation, apparent messages from sources inside No 10 , comment from various experts, trying to work out what will happen next.
As predicted yesterday, it is the Democratic Unionist Party who have complained bitterly about the proposed deal which puts a border down the Irish Sea. This was always going to be a problem.
There is a sense that something big has happened today. The thing is that no one is quite sure what it means. All we know is that we have not advanced towards an end to this endless and exhausting process.
So, Boris has got his deal ensuring his place in history. Yesterday, in Brussels, lots of back slapping, hand clapping and, frankly rather distasteful, kissing!
There is a sense that this has all been rather rushed, and it’s important to take a step back and look at how this deal was reached.
Basically the Prime Minister has rehashed the May deal with only one real change – replacing the so-called ‘back-stop’ with a customs border in the Irish Sea, something which, in 2018, he stated in the strongest terms, he would never do. This, in many people’s view, undermines the Union of our four nations, as well as the hard-won peace enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. it also raises the spectre of Scotland, who, if the SNP is to be believed, is champing at the bit to break up the Union.
Parliamentarians of all colours were quickly lining up this morning, to show their support for the deal. Most of this is sheer fatigue, everyone wants it over. Even the MPs who were chucked out of the party for voting against the Prime Minister, were saying they would vote in favour!
On the other hand, some of the less enthusiastic types, were urging caution, and they are right to do so. There plenty in the House of Commons who will vote against the deal. Added to that the fact that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) will not support anything that separates them from the rest of the UK, or anything that leaves them tied to the EU in any way, it is possible the deal will not get through.
Tomorrow will be an extremely tense day, and possibly momentous. What happens next remains to be seen.