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The "Inkyworld" Awards Ceremony (Or - Who Has Made My World Spin A Little Faster This Year?)
12/22/2015 11:48:37 PM
I thought that - seeing as everybody else seems to be handing out awards left, right and centre, I might as well join in the merriment.

My Awards are a little different to everybody else's - apart from the fact that there are no actual Awards to hand out.  (What did you expect though???)

These are just based on what I found funny, interesting, inspirational, educational, or just downright crazy in 2015.

First off - we have the Award for "Removing The Barriers And Letting People See Your Humanity Behind Your Uniform".

This Award goes to the Police Officers who use Social Media as a means to connect with the wider public - as well as metaphorically taking their uniform off and letting us see the men and women underneath.

Special mention goes to a bunch of Twittercops who I have learned a great deal from.  Starting with the three Police Officers I call the "OffBeat Musketeers" - Nathan Constable, Sgt TCS, and Constable Chaos - if there is something that these three humans do not know about how to use Social Media to engage with the public I very much doubt it is worth knowing.  Each of them has their own blog which I find very interesting and Educational.

Next - we have a Police Commander with a great sense of humour. Commander John Sutherland really has the ability to make you feel like you are with him when you read his blog posts about his rise through the ranks (detailing what he has faced on his way)/  Put it this way - I wish I could work for someone as human and humane as him.

Last (but by no means least) in the list of English Twittercops is someone who has in fact inspired one or two of my blog posts - Chief Inspector Phil Vickers.  The jury is out regarding what his role is but he has been very useful (and very open to a little education) on the subject of Police cars - particularly with reference to the various flashing lights on them.

However, I have to admit that the most inspirational Twittercop is a Dutch Police Officer who has made it his mission to break down the barriers between the Police and the public in any way he can.  I have never actually met him but I have spoken to him via Skype.  Wilco Berenschot is also available via Twitter, Periscope (among other Social Media channels).  If you are lucky enough to live in a certain part of Rotterdam he is also available for face to face discussions.

The next Award is for "Supporting New Music".

Stand up and take a bow - Mr Ian Rose of Radio Warwickshire.  Whenever I listen to one of his shows I am introduced to music I might never have heard of otherwise.

The Award for "Having The Patience of A Saint - And Letting Me Argue With Him If I Don't Agree With Him" goes to (and this is almost a permanent Award for him) - Dr Derek Lee.  The grounds for him getting this award this year can be summed up as "Frothy Filosofy" - the most surreal website which I actually like reading.  For a taste of what I am talking about visit frothyfilosofy.wordpress.com/.  A word of warning - prepare for a rather interesting experience which will leave you feeling like your mind has been expanded, twisted, and (possibly) tied into knots!!!

The next Award kind of leads on from that one - it is the Award For "The Most Confusing Sentence I Have Read".

This was found on a collar attached to a dog I stroked last Friday.  The sentence was "I Have Been Microchipped - Please Scan Me" - to which my immediate thought was - would a QR Reader Scanning App work???  Well, if they don't actually tell you what to use to scan the chip with you cannot really blame me for wondering.  (Just to put your mind at rest the battery of my mobile phone was flat so I couldn't try it.)

(I had visions of it turning into a kind of "There's a hole in my bucket, dear Liza" scenario!)

The penultimate award is the "Award For Standing Up For What You Believe In And Trying To Make A Difference To Society".

This award is a three way split between three organisations who I am very proud to be associated with in different ways (one behind the scenes and the other two a little more "publicly").

The Winners are - The Real Junkfood Project (Leicester Division), LCiL, and Choice Unlimited.

If you know me you will know that I will support any venture which makes a real difference to people's lives without just throwing money at the situation and hoping for the best.  In fact, you could say I am almost evangelical about the aims of all three of the above ventures which I am happy to support in any way I am able to.

The final Award for this little session comes in the form of a round of applause, hugs, and pats on the back, for a crowd of people who have really made this blogging lark seem like more fun than I could have imagined.  Some of these people are personal (real life) friends of mine, some of them I have never met but I still appreciate their feedback.  Ladies and Gentlemen - the final Award is for you all.  You have inspired me, educated me, made me laugh, been a friend to me, and - most of all - stuck with me.  THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

There is only one thing left for me to say to you now (even though there may possibly be a blogging session between now and the New Year) - Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - or Prettige Kerstdagen en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar.

And It's From The Old We Travel To The New (Or - Excuse Me Whilst I skip Straight To New Year's Eve)
12/22/2015 10:25:49 PM
I must admit to never really having been a fan of the fuss and hype surrounding Christmas.  In fact, if I could have my way we would treat it like any other day - as in anybody else's birthday.  When was the last time someone decided your birthday was going to be recognised as a Bank Holiday (or even a Statutory one)???  When was the last time the TV and Radio schedules were changed to wall to wall "Birthday Specials" and "End of Year Reviews"???

And don't get me started on the crowds of last minute panic buyers!!!

No - the time when I srart to get excited is around the 27th of December.  Christmas is over and the fun is really going to start for me.

I suppose I will have to attempt to explain what I mean by that.

Even though the last time I went to Holland for New Year's Eve was in 1996 (the year my Oma died) my Dad and I still keep up one of the traditions.

I can still remember the excitement I felt when I knew it was nearly time for our trip to Holland.

In fact, there have been a couple of occassions when I thought I was going to be disappointed because either my parents and I would have had great difficulty getting there (due to my Dad somehow managing to separate a rear axle from his car as he was working on it) or my parents deciding to go over for Christmas instead on what turned out to be the last "Festive Season" my Oma was alive for (for some reason they didn't expect both me and Oma to be unhappy with this idea - we ended up going in our usual time slot).

I remember going over to Holland for Christmas one year when I was really too young to appreciate it.  It was back when Dutch Christmas was a quite, solemn, almost somber (compared to English standards) occassion.

Of course, my Facebook and Twitter tell me that everything has changed now.  The lucky Dutch children now seem to get visited by "Santa Claus" twice in one month.

At the beginning of December they have the original "Santa Claus" (they call him "Sinterklaas" - and he is nothing like our Father Christmas - Sint Nicolaas, or "Sinterklaas" is actually dressed as a Bishop - and he travels on a horse in place of a reindeer-propelled sleigh) - then they now seem to have commandeered (excuse the pun) our Father Christmas (but they call him the "Kerstman" - or "Christmasman").

I don't know what your favourite festive foodstuffs are but - for me - you can keep your mincepies, your Christmas Pudding, and your Christmas Cake (abuse of Marzipan that it is) - my tastes run to something a little different.

Give me a plate with one or more of the following on it and I will be very happy indeed;

A slice of Stolle - yes - I know - it's really German but at least it is not a total waste of marzipan.  It has got marzipan running through it.

A chunk of "Kerstkrans" - Just think of a sausage roll with the sausage meat replaced by marzipan.

A peice of "Speculaas" - Gingerbread with a kick of cinnamon - there is an option to fill it with marzipan as well.

(Do you get the idea I might like marzipan???)

But my all time favourite festive foodstuff is - drumroll - "Oliebollen" - or the original Doughnuts.  You did read that correctly - much as the US would like to claim they invented both Father Christmas and Doughnuts, they are completely wrong.

A properly manufactured "Oliebol" is a fruit doughnut to savour like a fine wine or a liqueur chocolate.

In fact, my Dad has had so much practice at making them they are a little bite of heaven when you sink your teeth into them.

I will let you into a bit of a secret.  My all-time favourite chocolate manufacturer shares their name with one branch of my Mum's family (unfortunately the chocolate manufacturer comes from Zaandam and not Rotterdam - otherwise I would try to find a way of getting free chocolate for life).  The Zaandam "Verkade" is a really famous company in Holland - the Rotterdam Verkades (as in my Mum's cousins) should start up an "Oliebollen factory".  In fact, I remember a barn being used as a factory for the manufacture of Oliebollen and something called "Apple Beignets", among other things.  The barn was part of Tante Jannie's farm in Rotterdam.

My favourite part of the activities may surprise you - mainly because it didn't involve food.  Instead, it involved fireworks.  The Dutch have a massive addiction to bangs, whizzes and bright lights.

The Dutch also have a bit of an addiction to something else - which I share.  Not plants - candles.  If you are in an area prone to powercuts make friends with your friendly local Dutch person.  Seriously - I think my Dad is finally near the end of a parcel of candles which my Oma sent over shortly after my parents moved over here (in 1972).

So - whilst you are enjoying your Christmas festivities don't forget those of us who are looking forward to our fun times.

And The Award For The Most Obvious Identification Goes To... (Or - Maybe I Should Speak About Myself In The Third Person In Future???)
12/18/2015 1:48:01 AM
I know that the fact I answer to my Christian name as well as two nicknames can be confusing (even I get confused sometimes).  What makes it worse is both my nicknames (the ones for "public" consumption anyway) appear in any English dictionary you wish to read - just look up "Ink" and "Inky".

Tonight I was involved in a slightly surreal conversation involving two other people and a pair of glasses (which someone else had thought were mine but weren't).

Now - an explanation may be needed as to why I thought it was surreal.

The way the conversation started was - I was talking to one of my friends when someone walked up with a pair of glasses and said, "These have been left behind.  They might belong to Inky.".

Admittedly the lady who brought the glasses had never been introduced to me (although - the people who told her they might have been mine could have given her a very accurate description of me - due to the fact that all three of them had spoken to me this evening).

Inky's response was, "I have got my glasses on."  That was a bit obvious for two reasons really - the first being that I was in fact wearing my glasses - the second being that there was no way on Earth that I could have walked from the room I had been in to my location at the time of the conversation without crashing into anything (however, the lady wasn't to know that reason).

Now - I don't know about you but - if I hear my nickname I will answer.  Even better, I will make any comments or remarks about myself in the first person - just to clarify exactly who I am talking about.

I could have said, "Inky is wearing her glasses", and either sounded like a pretentious idiot or sounded like I was suffering from a split personality.  Or merely left the other lady wondering how I knew Inky was wearing her glasses.

Even though I thought I had made it crystal clear that I was in fact the "Inky" in question - mainly by (a) replying to her query with "I am wearing my glasses" and (b) wearing my glasses - her next question threw me.

"Are you Inky?".

You do not want to know the list of sarcastic replies to that question which went through my mind (and remained unspoken).  The reply she got was a simple "yes".

I think I have told you before about a Science Teacher I had in my last two years of Secondary school who never actually called me by my Christian name once.  He didn't even hazard a guess at it.  He had somehow found out that I answer to "Ink" (probably through the people I was sitting with using that nickname and me answering them).  He proceeded to use that all through my time in his class (and when he saw me afterwards).

What he should have done was at least make a stab at my Christian name - or asked me if I minded him calling me by my nickname (and my reply would have been - actually I mind very much - I find it very disrespectful from a teacher).

Of course - the fact you see "Ink" and/or "Inky" on my blog (and as part of my Twittername @Inkyworld) means you are free to use either of them to attract my attention.

However, I will never introduce myself in person as either of those (unless you have shown absolutely zero sign of being able to remember my name after the tenth attempt - in which case "Call me Ink" is usually seen as a last resort).

If Its Time To Play The Music It Is Also Time To Light The Lights (Or - The Evening I Realised How Flashing Lights Could Help Me With Fast Moving "Mobile Discos")
12/18/2015 12:33:29 AM
There I was on Tuesday evening - sitting in a bus shelter waiting for a bus, and minding my own business, when a blinding blue flash appeared from the righthand corner of my vision.  The blinding blue flash proceeded slowly to the point where even my left eye had a problem trying to ignore it.  Shortly after the blinding blue flash had stopped moving it was turned off (or at least - dimmed to the point where I could regain my ability to focus again).

Before you think I had some kind of Medical Emergency happen to me I feel I should point out that the flash was attached to the top of a motorised slice of "Battenberg cake" with the word 'Police' helpfully emblazoned on the side of it.  English translation - a Police car had decided to stop a van in the bus stop where I was waiting.

This gave me an idea about a possble solution to another of my bugbears - the "Mobile Disco".

Forget the idea of "Mobile Discos" being the outfits who used to run discos in village halls, etc.  My definition of a "Mobile Disco" is one which travels at speeds in excess of 30 miles an hour (unless it has stopped for any reason - ie, at traffic lights)

I am - of course - talking about those dangerous idiots who drive around with their music on so loud that it can be heard 5 minutes before the actual vehicle appears.  And - what makes it worse is - not so much the choice of so-called "music" emitted by the cars but - the fact the windows are closed (almost to the point of being sealed shut).

Apart from wishing I could submit every single one of those idiots for a hearing test - after all, they must be deaf if they need to have the music on so loud in the first place - I wish someone would invent a way of telling me how fast the vehicle is going (as well as which direction it is intending to travel in - especially if I can only hear it).

I have said before that I rely on engine noise (especially in bright sunshine or in the dark) to tell me the speed of the vehicle.  I find this very useful in helping me not to get run over as I cross the road.

I did have an idea of trying to find some way of attaching the stereo to the accelerator pedal (meaning the beats per minute of the music increases or decreases with the speed of the vehicle).  However, that would be way too complicated.

I realise this idea would need to be cleared by the Police before it was put into practice (just to make sure it could be made legal) but it is extremely simple..

Fit every vehicle in existence with a bar of disco lights on the roof.  When the volume dial of the stereo system is high enough for the music to be hear with the windows shut the disco lights would automatically be switched on.  The disco lights would have the same brightness as your average blue flashing lights on an Emergency Services vehicle - this would ensure the general road crossing public would be able to judge the speed of the oncoming vehicle just by looking at the disco lights as the vehicle travelled towards them.

This idea may sound a little drastic (and I admit there are more than a few probable legal challenges connected with it) but I am sick of playing "Guess the speed of the car" whenever I want to cross a road. 

How Long Will It Take??? How Long Must I Wait??? (Or- How A Blog Post Seems To Be A Start)
12/17/2015 11:26:39 PM
You could say I had a slightly strange experience on Monday evening.  It was the first time that someone had had exactly the same experience as I had had - even though their sight is a lot better than mine.

It also happened to be the second time the person concerned appeared to decide I was brainier than they had previously thought I was.

I must admit to being a more than a little upset as a result of being reminded of how low in the "Food Chain of People Who Should Be Taken Seriously When They Have An Access Problem" I actually am.

Let's face it - my concerns about accessibility usually get dismissed with the phrase "not everybody's eyesight is as bad as you make yours out to be!".  I feel like replying, "You don't know how lucky you are that that is true."

I must admit I did put a disclaimer (or caveat) in my "Eighth Circle Of Hell" blog post about Birmingham New Street Station (and the Grand Central "Shopping" Centre) saying that people with "normal" vision would probably love the place.  After all, that is exactly who I thought the place was designed for.

I didn't allow for Constable Chaos in my calculations.  I had told him that I didn't like Birmingham New Street Station - but I had been prepared to suffer it once more (until I realised the event he set up in Birmingham was on a day I was unable to make).

The first I knew about Chaos' experience of the station was when I saw a series of tweets from him saying exactly what I had said in my blog post.  I decided to send him the link to the blog post in a Direct Message.  His response shocked me- "I recognise the points you made in your blog"!  Woah - something must be seriously wrong with the place if a man - whose eyesight allows him to wander around without glasses on (and not crash into things) - makes exactly the same complaints as me.

This is where I begin to have problems.

In an ideal world I should not need the back up of the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) or LCiLin order for my complaints to be taken seriously.  The RNIB seem to be too scared of losing funding to complain anyway.

The people whose support I should be able to count on when I have a problem with access are the very people who are likely to be able to use the exact same things without any problems regarding access.  As in - people like you.

If I have to be totally honest - the most soul destroying thing about my sight is that (due to me being in the worst 0.001% of the population) I know I won't be taken seriously if I complain about access unless someone with near perfect vision experiences the same thing.  Either that - or the person I am complaining to knows me well enough to understand my difficulties.

It is almost as if the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equalities Act don't exist sometimes.

If I had my way I would totally rewrite the Planning Laws regarding the design of Public Buildings.  I would force the Architects to involve Disabled people at the very beginning of the planning and design process, as well as the Emergency Services, in order to solve the problems of accessibiity as well as any Public Order issues which may arise as a result of the design of the building.  In fact, I would make it illegal for any Planning Permission to be granted for a Public Building if the above criteria had not been met.

You may be wondering why I used some lyrics to "You Can't Hurry Love" (by either The Supremes or Phil Collins - depending on which version you heard first) as the main title to this blog post???

They sum up my exact feelings about waiting for full recognition of the rights of Disabled people to have totally equal access to buildings without having to fight for every single inch of ground we get (pun intended) first.

One day I really hope my dream will come true.

My Story - How My Sight Has Made Me What I Am!
12/14/2015 12:06:14 AM
Yet again I am going to try something a little bit different.  This idea came as a result of a discussion I had with Laura Horton of LCiL about the perception of "Disability" being exactly that - as in - it disables (or - at worst - removes) your ability to function in society, hold down a job, etc.

Of course, there are profoundly disabled people for whom this is the case.  However, in most cases, all it really takes is a willingness to listen to - and learn from - the disabled person as they teach you how to cope with their disability.

This blog post is going to be in the form of a question and answer "interview".

Thank you for agreeing to take part in this interview - can you start by telling us a bit about yourself?

Certainly - my name is Ineke Poultney, I am half-Dutch.  I am Registered Partially Sighted.  Oh - and I am the brains behind Inkyworld.

You say you are "Registered Partially Sighted"?  Does that mean you carry a White Stick wherever you go?

Although I do own a White Stick I never actually use it.  I find it draws unwanted attention to my sight problems.  I prefer to announce my difficulties on a "need to know" basis.

As for the "Registered Partially Sighted" thing - I suppose you could say I consider it to be a kind of "Badge of Honour".  A kind of admission that I was right all along if you want.  Although, I realise that other people see it as a kind of "Badge of Dishonour" - as though I have admitted defeat.  Or worse - that I don't actually deserve the label.

Why would anybody see it as a "Badge of Dishonour"?  More to the point - why do you feel that some people don't think you deserve the label???

It might help if I answered the second part of your question first, if I may.

People seem to have this idea in their heads that people who are Registered Partially Sighted come equipped with either a White Stick or a Guide Dog.  Oh - and they wear very thick glasses (which has been known to be used as a way of measuring the level of the wearer's intelligence).

As it happens, I mentioned the fact that I am Registered Partially Sighted in a job interview a while back and the response was "well, you don't look it".  For the most part that is true.  OK so my glasses are fractionally thicker than normal (due to how the lenses were put together) but - most of the time I manage to function more or less like everybody else.  This is only because I have been "trained" not to draw attention to my disability from a young age.  Trust me - there are frequently times when I just want to crawl into a corner and sleep for a few centuries because of the mental fatigue that causes me.

The "Badge of Dishonour" comes from the fact that people judge you more by what they think you cannot do that what they think you can do.

Even on job application forms there is always a time when I know that I am not going to get the job.  I dread seeing that question - "Are you Disabled?" (Or worse - "Do you consider yourself disabled?") "if so, please state your disability".  It is usually found on what is laughingly called the "Equal Opportunities Questionnaire".

Seriously, if I were to go back to wearing glasses with "normal" lenses that were the true thickness required by my prescription - you would probably take one look at me and think that my level of intelligence was the same as what used to be legally defined as an "imbecile" (seriously stupid in other words).  They do say "Never judge a book by its cover", don't they???

The "seriously stupid" would find it extremely difficult to hold down a job in an office for 15 years - especially dealing with suppliers and clients from all over the world.  They could not speak more than one language either.

I think I did pretty well holding down a job for 15 years.  As for speaking more than one language?  I have GCSEs in English, French, German, and Dutch (I admit that my French and German are rusty from not being used but I am reasonably useful with Dutch).

Can you please tell the readers how your sight affects you day-to-day? As well as how you overcome any problems?

To be totally honest - my major problem boils down to one thing - other people's attitude.  There are two attitudes which really put me off people.

The first one is the "Everybody else can..." attitude.  You know the one - "Eveerybody else can read the menu written in small type (and helpfully glued to the wall behind me) so why can't you???  After all, you are wearing glasses.  Perhaps you are illiterate???"

The reply I would love to give in situations like that is "That might be because I am not like everybody else.  Glasses don't miraculously give you 20/20 vision you know - especially not with my prescription".

If I find myself having to ask for help I usually try to make a joke out of it.  Or if I am tired and on the verge of a "shutdown" (because I have had enough of trying to "perform" to everybody else's expectations) I will explain as politely as I can that I cannot read the board.

The other attitude I hate is the one where someone sees I am struggling and immediately takes over - or asks if they can help me first and then proceeds to do the exact opposite of what I am trying to achieve.

I was brought up to be independent.  There are very few things which stop me in my tracks.  They are as follows;

Bright lights,
Dark spaces (put it this way - I am useless in a powercut).
Angles (particularly when I am trying to get down a strange staircase).
Working out visually how much space there is between two objects which are very close together.
Oh - and - print that is 12 point and below.

I usually find different ways of working around them.

I suppose the big thing with me is that you have to be patient with me sometimes.  I can usually do most things asked of me - it may take me a little longer to do them, or my methods may not exactly be the most conventional ones that you have ever come across - but they will get done one way or another.

My major failing (if you want to call it that) is my reluctance to ask for assistence until I have tried everything I can think of.

What gifts do you think your sight problem has given you?

I would say the major "gift" my sight problem has given me is what I call sideways thinking.  This means that I usually approach a problem completely differently to other people.

Another one - although I sometimes see this as more of a curse - is that buzzword "adaptability".  I have no choice about whether or not I want to adapt to your way of doing things - nine times out of ten I will do it anyway just to make your life easy.

I can amaze people with my feats of memory.  You can tell me something or walk me through a route and it will get filed in my memory banks for ages.  This is useful for when I am walking around in bright sunshine and I have to remember landmarks which appear to have gone walkabouts.

My friends tell me I am a good friend - I try not to judge people until I know the full story.

Finally - You said you held down a job in an office for 15 years.  Have you got a job now?  If not, what would your ideal job be?

I have been unemployed since being made redundant in 2009.  I can tell you what both my ideal job and the job which would be the worst for my health are.

The job which would be worst for my health is going back into an office environment where no account is taken of my sight.  Whilst I can operate as per the "usual" requirements for office staff - doing this for extended stretches very quickly tires me out mentally.  Especially if faced with page upon page of what look like Egyptian heiroglyphics - but are actually someone's excuse for handwriting - that need to be typed up as quickly as possible (you could say I am pretty good at "live" audio typing as a result of my last job).

My ideal job???

If I could get paid for blogging about things which are important to me - and interest me - I would be very happy indeed.

People say blogging is lonely work but I actually enjoy the solitude which comes from writing on my own.  I have nobody to answer to - no deadlines to meet (ie, getting important documents out of the door with a courier 30 minutes ago - or so it seemed sometimes) - as long as my ramblings are polite and stay within the law, as well as the realms of decency, I don't have that much to worry about.

To be honest - and this may shock some people - I am not really a "people person".  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy speaking to people (particularly my friends) but I am happiest either curled up with a good book or writing (in whatever format that takes.

Thank you for agreeing to do this interview and tell your story.

You are welcome.  I just hope someone gets something out of it.

Wireless Wonders Will Never Cease! (Or - The Day I Fell In Love - With A Printer)
12/10/2015 1:40:53 AM
I didn't intend to buy a Printer (or any electrical goods of any description whatsoever).  I had actually gone to Tesco in South Wigston to buy myself a tub of Ben & Jerry's "Speculoos" (Spelling Error - should be spelled "Speculaas") ice cream but they hadn't got any.

Slight detour - if you like cinnamon and gingernut biscuits, or you have heard me talking about one of my favourite sorts of biscuits - Speculaas - and want to know what they are like - buy that ice cream and wonder no more.  It is delicious.

When Microsoft decided to bring their Windows 10 out they forgot to inform people like me that things like Lexmark printers (older versions) would not be compatable with it.  This left me in a bit of a pickle.

I had been halfheartedly looking at printers but they either seemed too bulky and heavy to take home on my own or they seemed too expensive for what they were.

It was either on or just after "Black Friday" - not that it made much difference.

I had been reading about different printers - some of which seemed to be able to make you a cup of tea (if the literature was to be believed).  I wanted one which I could use to print from my mobile if I needed to.  How it connected with my laptop was of no interest to me (although I would have preferred to plug the printer into it with a wire).

So I bought myself an Epson XP-322 All In One.

I haven't tried the scanner or the copier functions out yet - they are not why I bought it.

There are good points and bad point with the printer.

It is nice and small - with the reasonably idiotproof panel folding away neatly.  I admit the screen on the panel could do with being a little bigger - but at least it is in colour.

Setting the Printer up was reasonably easy.  The guide was easy to follow.

The only minor drawback is that it uses four cartridges.  Now - this is not a problem in itself.  After all my old Lexmark used one black cartridge and one colour cartridge (which left me wondering how much of the coloured ink I was wasting when the computer told me to renew the cartridges).

The problem is actually twofold.

The cartridges are small (but they don't look like they will fit into the slots provided).  They are also very difficult to get into their respective slots - the printer deciding to try them out whilst you are tring to put them all in is annoying too.

Once you have got the cartridges in - however - the printouts look brilliant.  Clear and crisp.

I even managed to set it up so it would print from my mobile without too much difficulty.

I am not sure if I would pay £80.00 for it if I had to buy another one though.  Maybe that is just me being picky.

When Pretty Words And Legal Weapons Are Not Enough (Or - The Difficult Question About Arming The UK Police)
12/10/2015 12:57:46 AM
There has been a bit of debate recently about whether or not the UK Police should be routinely armed with guns.  I know people who sit on both sides of the argument (both sides have very good reasons).  After all, it only takes one trigger happy idiot in a Police Unform to bring the entire Police Service into disrepute.  Just ask the United States of America.

However, my opinion of Police and guns is a little different.  Given a choice between a country where the Police are only armed with the most basic equipment (as well as those Tasers which - if you ask me - should be banned) and a country which routinely arms their officers with Pistols - I feel much safer in the country which routinely arms their officers with pistols.

Please note - I did not say "I would feel safer" - I said "I feel safer".

I suppose it might help if I explained a bit about how I found myself up close and personal with a Police Officer who was armed with a (holstered) pistol???

Elsewhere on my blog I have written about one of my Mum's cousins who was a Dutch Police Officer (he has now retired).  Let's just say that me not recognising him the first time I ever saw him in uniform led me to believe that he was about to deport me until my Mum identified him to me.

When I had got over the shock (and panic) I went over to say hello to him.  At that point Dutch Police Officers had two distinct uniforms - black uniform was reserved for "Transport" (usually found loitering in and around railway stations, etc) and blue uniform was your common or garden Police Officer.  Leen was in a blue uniform.

Nowadays the Dutch "Street" Police have a uniform which makes them look scruffier than the modern UK uniforms.  However, at least the Dutch Officers have nice bright markings on their tops that even I cannot miss from a distance.

I noticed Leen's gun in his holster and I must have asked if it was loaded (yes - I know - stupid question) to which - after Mum had translated - he replied (in Dutch) "very loaded".

Once you get used to the idea that - as long as you obey the law - the Police will have no reason to shoot you, you very quickly get used to wandering around among them.

I know that there are people who say that if the UK Police were routinely armed they would have been able to prevent the Leystonstowe knife attack from happening.  I wou;d say that the Police were the wrong Agency to deal with him in the first place (as Inspector Michael Brown - who tweets under the name of @MentalHealthCop - wrote on his blog the correct hashtag should not have been "You AintNoMuslimBruv" but "YouIsAPoorlyMuslimBruv" because of apparent Mental Health Issues) but that is for better minds than mine to discuss.

One incident which comes to mind when I think about the question of "Should the UK Police be routinely armed with pistols?" is one which didn't get as much coverage as it should have in the UK.  I say that because of it's similarities with an incident which took place a couple of decades ago during a live news broadcast in the UK.

I don't know if my UK-based readers would remember but there was one BBC News I think it was the 6 o'clock news) broadcast where the studio was occupied by some demonstrators (who were unarmed) who kept shouting and disrupting the live broadcast.

Almost the same thing happened a few months ago in a studio in Holland.  A man tried to disrupt a news broadcast by the Dutch State News Broadcaster (NOS).  By sheer fluke he picked the wrong studio.  The first thing I heard about it was a clip on YouTube showing a pack of Dutch Policemen - weapons drawn - storming the studio.

If the same thing had happened in the UK (and the Police were told the suspect was armed) I think we would have a bit of a long wait before the AK47's (with accompanying Police Officers) rolled up.

One of the Twittercops I follow is an officer who tweets as Nathan Constable.  He is one of the Officers who you will find at scenes ordering the guns (armed police) around.  He disagrees with me on whether Police Officers should be routinely armed - for one very good reason.

Nathan has taught me a bit about what being a Firearms Commander involves.  Basically - if the decision to call in the Firearms Squad either is not cleared by someone higher up the "Food Chain" or something (Heaven forbid) goes wrong - the Firearms Commander can get into very serious trouble indeed.

I am not sure what the rules are regarding on what grounds Dutch Police Officers are allowed to fire their weapons - but a couple of them have found themselves in Court as a result.

What I am trying to say is - whilst I wish the UK Police were routinely armed with Pistols (to save waiting for the "Armed Police to turn up to an incident where large numbers of people are either threatened with immediate death or actually being killed) - I realise the rules on their use would need to be very strict indeed.

The only argument I don't understand is the one which says "if you routinely arm the Police that is the first step to a Military State".

We have to face the fact that there are people wandering the streets who insist on arming themselves with knives and guns in order to "protect" themselves (and commit crimes).

Surely, knowing that is the case, we should give the Police every available tool to help them uphold the law???

Maybe if the Police had the capability to disarm a knife-wielding or gun-toting maniac before they could do any damage our streets might be safer???

Just a thought.

When Two Worlds Collide (Or - I Would Love It If You Could Live In My World For A Week Sometimes)
12/6/2015 9:54:21 PM
Did you hear that loud bang when you clicked on this blog post???  You didn't???  Oh good - in that case my world is allowed to dock in yours for a while.  Thank you for your patience and understanding - I will not disturb you for very long.  In fact, I just wanted to say "hi" and gve you a heartfelt "Thank You" hug.

If you did hear a loud crash as you clicked on here - please accept my apologies for the damage but - my world was trying to make some space for itself in your busy solar system.  A solar system which appears to have only one planet and a few moons (the planet being you and the moons being your friends).  You are the ones I want to annoy the most.

Think of it as me getting my revenge on you for the aggravation your unthinking comments, your habit of blocking my path with anything you can lay your hands on, your joyful glee about that PowerPoint presentation which just gives me a headache when I attempt to focus on it, your colourful signs which I need a microscope to read, etc, cause me.

I come from the Planet Ink (inhabitant = one very angry, upset, disappointed, lonely, Alien).  I try to come in Peace but you have a nasty habit of blocking me (sometimes literally) - which makes me feel unwanted so I sometimes try to make your world more habitable for me.  For reasons which I honestly do not understand - this seems to cause you to derrange yourselves more often than not.

In fact, you have no idea how unwanted you sometimes make this Alien feel.

I have collated all the data and run it through my computers - and I think I know what the problem is.

You see - when I was a young Alien I was taught that I should act as much like you as I possibly could.  Apparently, it would make me easier for you Earthlings to accept???  Yeah - right - the Alien Teachers got that one so wrong it was unbelievable.  Or maybe I just became too good at morphing into something you find a tad more - shall we say - palatable???

I forgot - they were not Alien Teachers (although - looking back at my experiences in the classrooms of some of them - I am not so sure - some of those teachers seemed to come from a completely different planet from the pair of us - but that is another story).  They were Earthling Teachers (mostly) - with Earthling minds and experiences.  I must admit to having some success interfacing with one of those strange beings but I think that is because he let me write and mostly left me to my own devices - I am still trying to delete one Earthling Teacher from my Memory Chip but they still keep coming back like a persistent virus.  Just don't talk to me about working out the volume of a solid cube by counting squares I can hardly see.

Back to the point.

Dear Earthling - I know you probably don't want me in your orbit any more than I particularly want you in mine.  However, circumstances are such that we have to spend at least some time interfacing - so - I decided to tell you about some small steps you could take to make your world a little easier for me to dock into.  (You know - so we can avoid nasty collisions like the one we had when I entered your orbit a few minutes ago???)

All I ask for is a little patience when I do not act exactly as you expect me to.  The reason for this is usually caused by you doing something which means I have a lot (and I do mean a lot) of calculations to run through my programming - and I really hate that subject you know as mathematics or arithmetic (it really makes my head hurt).

If I ask you to read something out to me it is not because I am illiterate (after all, I can compute two of your languages - at the same time if I need to) - it is because the size and/or colour of print you have chosen to use makes it rain in my world.  Rain on Planet Ink only happens if I cannot do something which you can.

Putting obstacles in my path - unexpected tables and chairs where I want to walk, a "Berlin Wall" of racks blocking a shop entrance, vehicles parked mostly on the pavement, etc -  just starts thunderstorms in my world.  Thunderstorms are definitely not good.  The lightening plays no end of havoc with the programming of all the systems on Planet Ink.

As for your extremely unhelpful attitude when I ask for your assistance in making my journey through your world easier for the pair of us???  Have you ever tried to survive the biggest storm ever to swamp an entire Planet over and over again???  Trust me - it is no fun.  Especially when you think the last storm was the last one ever - only to be disappointed again and again.

I would like to invite you onto Planet Ink to experience the kind of life I am most comfortable with.  OK, so the blurriness may take a bit of getting used to - as well as the problems with angles, etc.  However, I can guarantee you one thing.  If you were to decide to spend some time in my world I would treat you with the utmost respect and try to make your transition as easy as possible.  In fact, I would go out of my way to make you feel welcome.  And - no - I wouldn't grumble if I had to be patient as you made the same mistake over and over again.  After all, I would want you to feel at home on Planet Ink - so much so that you tell your friends and family about the lovely time you had.  Maybe you could take some ideas back to Earth with you and use them to make it easier for another Alien to dock their Planet with yours in future???  I would be so pleased if you did.

I have to go now as I think I have taken up too much of your time already.

Take really good care of yourself.


Inky (from Planet Ink)

Why Disability Should Not Be Seen As A "I Shriek Your Weight Machine" - (Or - Some Battles Are Best Kept Private To Level The Ground Between Us And You!)
12/6/2015 8:43:27 PM
It is not very often that a conversation I have with one of the readers of this blog matches so well with a book I am reading at the time.  In this case the coincidence was so great I just had to share my thoughts about them both.

On Thursday evening I was talking to a very nice lady called Michelle Headley, who works as a Receptionist at LCiL (I am sure she is going to tell me that is not her real job title but she is usually found behind the Reception window) when she related a story to me about something which happened to her.

I didn't realise when I first met her but Michelle has hearing problems (she wears a hearing aid in one ear).  She acts like someone with normal hearing - and I am not being patronising when I say that - I am giving you a bit of background to Michelle's story.

Apparently the acoustics in one of the rooms at LCiL are not ideal if you have a hearing problem like Michelle's.  She was in this particular room when a lady tried to speak to her.  Michelle could not hear what she was saying so the other lady accused Michelle of ignoring her.

Now - one of the reasons I like Michelle is because she is so laid back - usually.  In this case though, Michelle went off like a rocket and informed the other lady in no uncertain terms that Michelle has a hearing problem.  Apparently the other lady's attitude immediately changed (I wonder why???).

I have had a similar experience myself with - ironically - a Chugger from "Guide Dogs for The Blind".

This idiot decided to begin with his spiel about how blind people have problems with every day life.  His attitude and tone of voice just wound me up (he gave the impression he was just in it for the money he could earn instead of the money he could raise for the charity - you have no idea how much I hate that sort of Charity Fundraiser).

Now, I must admit that I have one advantage over Michelle (and she won't mind me saying this).  Unlike a hearing aid - which is of no use to a hearing person - a pai of glasses with my prescription comes in very useful when I want to shut someone up about sight problems (especially when I get the impression they have no clue what they are talking about).  All I have to do is hand the annoying idiot my glasses and tell them to try them on - their attitude usually changes no end afterwards (and they usually get the added bonus of a headache as a result) - I am not nasty really.

What Michelle didn't realise is that in my fourth and fifth year of secondary school I was in the same tutor group as a boy who was profoundly deaf.  This meant that all his teachers had to wear a box which looked like an egg slicer around their necks so he could hear what was going on.  Michelle informed me this is some kind of Transmitter so the hearing aid (or aids) worn by the human with hearing problems can hear what is being said.

As Michelle pointed out - and I totally agree with her - disabled people should not have to announce their disability prior to each and every interaction we have with someone.

Can you imagine it if we did have to make the same announcement every five minutes???  "Ding Dong - Your Attention Please - Michelle Has A Hearing Problem - Ding Dong!", "Warning - Partially Sighted Person Approaching!  Warning - Partially Sighted Person Approaching!"

And the above would only happen if Michelle was in one place when I entered her orbit.  Just imagine if every disability and Mental Health issue had the same audible warning system???  You would never get any peace!!!  (Especially if somebody had more than one at a time.)

I have written before about the fact I wish attitudes to disability and Mental Health issues would change so the barriers would be broken down.

Last week I read a book on the history of Autism right through to the present day.  Some parts of the book were quite horrifying - like the part about parents of Autistic (at that time diagnosed as Mentally Subnormal to the point of being useless to society) children being asked if they wanted to be told before the institutions the children were in killed the children or not.  Would you believe that some of the parents said "kill them and tell us afterwards"???

The biggest shift in public attitudes towards Autism came at the time the film "Rain Man" came out.  That film was based on people with Autism.  It has now got to the stage where people on the Autistic Spectrum and their carers have a voice.  And they are asking for the same opportunities as everybody else regarding education, etc.

We should not have to ask for things like the same chance (OK - maybe with a few adjustments in some cases) as everybody else.  We can (and usually do) make our own changes to our surroundings to suit our needs better,  All we ask for is a little openmindedness from you.

Drink Driving And How Attitudes Have Changed (And Why The Should Keep Changing)
12/6/2015 7:49:47 PM
One evening last week I watched a broadcast which - in a strange way - I wish really hadn't been needed to be done.  It was on the consequences of Drink Driving.

If you are wondering where I saw it it was on a Social Media Platform called Blab.im.  The broadcast was hosted by Nathan Constable, Sgt TCS, and Constable Chaos, who are all serving Police Officers (they have called their broadcasts "OffBeat" - quite an apt name if you ask me as the three of them are offduty when they broadcast and absolutely anything can - and does - happen during them).

This Blab blab.im/tcs-offbeat-drink-drive-the-facts-and-the-consequences-4 is a "must watch" because it contains the story of someone who survived a collision caused by a Drink Driver but one of their daughters didn't (the other daughter saw it happen).

It also reminds me of a blog post I wrote on the original "inkyworld" blog - because of one of the questions which was asked.

The question was "why do motorway Service Stations have pubs (or places which sell alcohol for immediate consumption)?".

I can give you an answer to that (provided by the nephew of a pianist who played at Leicester Forest East Services when it first opened).

When motorways first existed they were nothing like they are now.  In fact, people used to go for a leisurely drive along a motorway to the Services for something to do on a Sunday afternoon.  (Difficult to imagine that these days with all the speed demons wanting to get to their destination above the speed of sound - or so it seems - isn't it?)

Leicester Forest East Services had a bar which sold alcohol (a long time before Drink Driving had even been heard of).  It also had a piano in it.  The piano was sometimes played by a man called Henry Poultney.  If you think the surname suggests there might be a family connection with me - you would be correct - the nephew who told me about it doubles up as my Dad.

However, I digress.

I don't ask you for very much as a result of reading my blog but I have one very serious request from me (and all the Emergency Services) - IF YOU are going to DRINK over the Festive Period please DO NOT DRIVE!!!  Of course the same request is applicable all year round.

In The Beginning Was My World - Then People Got Interested In It! (Or - Back To The Future And Beyond)
12/6/2015 7:12:06 PM
I know it is not New Year yet but I thought you might be interested in how "Inkyworld" started (particularly if you have recently entered my world) and how much it has changed since I first had the idea.  I also wanted to tell you about a few ideas I have had for future blog posts (depending on whether or not I can get the right humans involved).

In the beginning

This blog started in 2009 - shortly after I was made redundant after 15 years as an Administration Officer in an Engineering Company in Leicestershire.

(The only reason the blog posts on here start from 2014 is - when I decided to move the blog to another Web Host - I lost all the previous blog posts and had to start again from scratch.)

It started off as a "Head Emptying" Exercise.  I had previously had three "Sounding Boards" - one had died (my Mum), one was seriously ill (my English Grandma), and I wasn't on speaking terms with the third one at that time (Dr Derek Lee).

So I decided to set up a small blog just to stop my head from exploding.  To be perfectly honest I didn't think anybody would be interested in my ramblings (half the time I still don't think anybody would be interested in what I have to say even now).  In fact, it is thanks to two very dear friends of mine that you are reading this.  (When I say "very dear friends of mine" I consider one to be my second Mum and the other one to be one of my sisters.)

I still have to pinch myself when I think back to a conversation I had with Mila Slapak near the start of the whole "Inkyworld" idea.  She was the first one who told me I was good at writing who (a) I was not related to by blood or genetics, and, (b) had not been paid to teach me or tell me I was good at anything.  I had posted a review of the first gig of Kristyna Myles I had ever seen - and Mila saw it.  She told me how good she thought it was - then she told Kristyna Myles herself - who said the same thing.  I honestly could not believe my ears.

Those two (and Mila's husband, Tim) are still among my biggest supporters.  I want to take this opportunity to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their support and encouragement.

So, I decided to go on a bit of a "fishing trip" and tell people on Twitter and Facebook when I had posted something on my blog - I still didn't think I was any good at writing for a public audience.  My thoughts were "I am writing for myself and if anybody else likes it that will be good but I doubt they will".

If you think I am being self-deprecating or making you think I am just saying it for effect - please don't - I am honestly amazed when people say nice things about my writing.  I know a lot of writers (bloggers, Creative Writers, Published Authors, Songwriters, etc) who are a lot better than me.

As a result of that "fishing trip" you could say 'Inkyworld' slowly snowballed into something I could never have dreamed of.  People who I would be too scared to speak to face to face have tweeted me to say that I was good at writing (as well as making some good points).  I have been given the privilege of writing for a couple of people as a result of them reading my blog.

I would say - if you really want to know what I am thinking at any given moment - hand me a pen and paper or sit me in front of a computer.  Thinking seems to come easier to me when I use letters to communicate instead of the verbal method.  I feel less pressured - as well as not feeling like I have to "perform" (unless I know and - more importantly - trust you, that is).

The Present

It is still taking me a while to believe that humans I look up to and respect think I am actually any good at writing.  Only last week I had three separate people telling me (in different ways) they thought I was good at it.  One sang my praises about a blog post that I had written which I thought would be controversial, one shared some of my blog posts on their website as part of an event they held last week, and the third (this was a very big shock to me - coming from someone I least expected to say anything good about me) asked me a question - and they took my answer seriously!!! Help - I am not used to this!!!  I just try to make you feel as though we are having a conversation when you read my blog posts.

The list of people (apart from those already mentioned in this post) I am eternally grateful to for their support, encouragement, and inspiration, is too long to go through on here but I would like to give a shout out to a few of them if I may;

The lady who always reads my blog without fail and has been of such enormous support I actually consider her to be my other "Sister" - Julie Kirkpatrick.

The LCiL gang - John Coster (and his Mum - Joan), Michelle Headley, and Laura Horton).

The Scribbles crowd who - even if they don't read my blog posts - still encourage me in my writing - not forgetting English Teacher Extraordinnaire Mr (should really be "Sir" if you ask me) Steve Bowkett.

My faithful readers - Deb Mayer, Deme Olliver and her sister Efrosyni Hobbs.

The Twittercops - you lot know who you are.

And - last but definitely not least - you who are reading this.

The Future

Long time followers of this blog may have started to see a subtle change in the kind of things I write about (as well as my writing style).

I still intend to write about anything and everything that interests me - after all - this blog is about "Inky's" (as in - my) world - but even I am starting to notice a subtle shift more towards things like Disability, Equality, and other issues I really care about (either because they directly affect me or because I know people who are affected by them).

I am hoping to collaborate with a couple of my friends on blog posts (one on what it is really like to be a carer, and the other on the connection - or otherwise- between the perception of Mental Health and the perception of Sight Problems).

As always - my world is an open space for you to come and go as you please.  I only have one request (and - yes - it does come in the form of a song lyric);

"Don't you walk through my words - you got to show some respect.  Don't you walk through my words - you ain't heard me out yet" ("Dreadlock Holiday" by 10cc.

(You didn't think I would end this post without using the original lyrics - OK so I slightly misheard "words" as "World" when I first heard the song - which I used as a strapline to the original "Inkyworld" blog, did you???)

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