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When Shops And Streets Start Walking Around You Have Got A Problem (Or - Writing It Down For Me Might Have Helped!)
4/24/2015 4:46:27 PM
I recently got into conversation with someone whose name managed to send me back on a rather scary trip down Memory Lane.  Scary because the last time I had had the "pleasure" of hearing the same kind of name it took me nearly 30 years to stop being scared stiff around the person who answered to it (I am still slightly nervous around them even now - I stopped being scared stiff of them after my Mum died).

There are two major differences between the two circumstances though - the most important one being I saw the name of the second human written down before I heard it (and I will explain why this is so important), the second most important being that I had come across this name as a real name prior to the conversation (even if it was mainly in the context of the name of a shop in Leicester).

As I hope you will have noticed by now I have a pretty vivid imagination.  This can make life extremely interesting sometimes.  The times when it gets extremely interesting are when I hear or read a sentence which can be read two ways - either because of the way it is written even if I know it is in one language, or because I may understand one word as coming from another language, then have to reread the sentence when it makes no sense to me.

I must admit that my Mum didn't deliberately ensure I felt I had to keep a wary eye on one of her cousins in case he suddenly decided to turn into a street in front of my very eyes - but that is how my 5 year old self ended up feeling the first time I heard his name.  (Or at least the first time I remember hearing his name - there is photographic evidence which suggests I met the poor man a few years before that.)

In this case the cause of my confusion was simple.  My ears heard "We are going to see Lane", or "Lane is coming over".  In my dictionary the word "Lane" meant "road", or "street" - nowhere my knowledge of the English language was it a man's name.

I was actually a bit disappointed and more than a bit scared when a man answering to the name of "Leen" - pronounced like the English "Lane" - turned up.

I had heard of "Transformer" type toys (the cars that can be turned into robots) by this time.  I must have put the two together in my head and decided that the human in front of me was likely to turn into a street at any minute.

Had my Mum actually written the name down I would probably not have got so confused and worried because the two spellings are completely different.

In fact, you could say that my Mum unwittingly had a weapon to ensure my good behaviour (had she chosen to use it).  It was a combination of a Farmhouse, two photos which I associate with it, and the aforementioned "Transformer" cousin.

You know how nowadays the British Police are getting upset because parents are telling their little children that the Officers will arrest the children and take them away if they are naughty???  For some strange reason my parents never actually had to try that trick with me.  They had a much easier option had they but known it.

The Farmhouse in question belonged to an aunt and uncle of my Mum (incidentally the parents of the "Transformer" Leen).  This Farmhouse no longer exists but it was one of my favourite buildings in Rotterdam.  It was almost like a surreal place with rooms all over the place.

I seem to remember the two photos being somewhere in the Farmhouse - possibly in the kitchen (they were definitely in the kitchen in the next place my Mum's aunt lived in). One of the photos was reasonably harmless (as in non-scary) - it was of a man in what looked, for some strange reason, like an English Police tunic uniform - complete with hat (not helmet).  The really scary photo was of a group of Police Officers - this is the one that ensured I was good as gold when I visited (I was never entirely sure they were not hiding around the place in person waiting for me to misbehave).

Yes - you've probably guessed by now - Leen was the Police Officer on the photos.

In fact, I don't know if you remember reading any blog posts about when I went to Holland for my Oma's funeral - and I thought I was going to get kicked out of Holland when a Police Officer appeared in the flat shortly after I had arrived only for the Officer to address my Mum by a name used by her Dutch relations???  That was him.

It is strange how some names really need to be written down before they start to make any sense - and stop people getting confused and scared

Yet Another Shortsighted Report On Bad Vision (Or - Apparently Shortsighted Children Are Created NOT Born)
4/24/2015 3:06:30 PM
Hello - My name is Ineke and I am apparently a Scientific Miracle - according to an article I read on a "news" website, that is.

You see I have been seriously shortsighted since birth.  According to the article this is a strange phenomenon - shortsightedness apparently shows itself when a child gets to approximately 6 years of age.  By the way - genetics have nothing to do with this - it is all down to the man-made catastrophe called "modern day parenting" (not letting children play outside, etc).

This is slightly strange as I can trace bad sight down from Oma, through Mum, to me.

I am wondering whether the modern idea of testing anything that moves is actually responsible for detecting sight problems earlier and dealing with them quickly?

But are we too quick to turn things into a medical problem for which we need to find a solution anyway???

Allow me to attempt to explain.

Right now it sounds to me as though the "establishment" have decided to put vision on the same level as obesity - however, any idiot should be able to understand that they are not the same thing at all.

For a start - left unchecked - obesity causes medical health complications which can lead directly to death.

Serious vision problems are a medical health complication which can lead directly to death - being run over, etc - however, you actively have to do something to start the chain of events which will lead to it.

People who are seriously overweight are at more risk of dying if they don't take exercise, eat healthily, etc, than people with seriously bad vision are likely to if they actively do the above.

I would also make one other comment.  I wonder what level the researchers are calling myopic (or shortsighted)???  I understand that there are atmospheric and environmental circumstances which will affect the development of the eyes, optic nerves, etc.  However, I would be seriously surprised if a child went from near 20/20 vision to my level of sight (approx -25 in my worst eye) just because they spent most of their life looking at a screen.

I feel we really need to have a proper debate about shortsightedness - especially the levels at which it is deemed to be a problem (both for those of us who are shortsighted and those who are in the business of trying to "help" us).

I have recently heard that I can now add ASDA to my list of "opticians" who will not deal with my prescription - they now have their cut off point at approximately -6.  Do not worry if your prescription is just above that - there are plenty of High Street opticians who will deal with you.

I know I have complained on here before about the discrimination I suffer as a result of my sight when it comes to buying glasses.

In an ideal world - having the skills and techniques to ensure that children with 20/20 vision don't end up needing glasses would make it easier for those of us on my end of the scale to be treated with respect by the High Street opticians (Vision Express, etc) - as well as bringing the costs of high prescription lenses down dramatically.

However, I fear we are still going to be treated as third class citizens - at least until someone with seriously bad vision stands up to the Researchers and the Government and says "without us you (researchers) would not have anything to conduct your stupid experiments on and you (Government) would not have anybody to demonise and force to pay extortionate prices for something we cannot live without".

Here is something for you to think about -

Thanks to the Government someone with my level of vision is actually better off claiming Jobseekers Allowance instead of being in paid employment.  It is not because we cannot earn more money in a job but because - if we are in a job we have to pay almost full price (I get a voucher for approximately £13.00 towards a pair which I cannot get for under £200.00 at full price) for our glasses, if we are on Jobseekers Allowance we get a voucher towards most of the cost of a pair of glasses (My last voucher was just under £200.00).

Oh - and before you tell me that an employer should pay for my sight test (which I get free anyway) and glasses (which I wear all the time) - why should they??? As my glasses are connected with my health I feel the only organisation who should pay for them is the NHS - whether I am employed or not.

Unless the differing pieces of research are actually going to lead to improvement in the treatment of their victims - or a better understanding of the subjects being researched - I wish the people in charge of publishing the reports would just refuse to publish.  This would also allow the rest of humanity to make their own minds up.

Maybe then people like me would not end up feeling so discriminated against (or even - in some cases - condemned) for what is basically a genetic defect which we are not responsible for.

Longterm Hospital Stays Should Be Funded By The NHS - NOT Through Stopping Benefits (Or - Please Read And Sign The Petition)
4/22/2015 9:11:34 PM
I don't usually use this blog to actively highlight political causes.  Nor do I use this blog to ask you to sign petitions.  In this case I make no apology for doing either.  This is because the reason behind the petition could happen to any one of us or our friends and family - in fact - it has happened to the sister of a dear friend of mine.

We hear a lot about how the Longterm Sick are a drain on the "Welfare System".  What we don't hear so much about is the "Welfare System" being a drain on the Longterm Sick - to the detriment of their already poor health.

If you are unable to work due to ill-health you are entitled to claim benefits such as DLA (Disability Living Allowance), Housing Benefit, ESA (Employment Support Allowance).

Not only do you have to jump through very narrow hoops in order to get DLA and its replacement PIP (Personal Independence Payments), one of the drawbacks of it (as I have recently learned) is that it (as well as the other Benefits I have mentioned) can be taken away as a direct result of you receiving treatment for your condition - especially if you are in an NHS Hospital for over 28 days.  Private Hospitals are not covered by this crazy rule.

Now - according to me - there are a couple of slight problems with this.

Firstly, the chances are you have not chosen to require an extended stay in hospital.  You still have bills to pay and a home to maintain during your stay (or do the Government think you are going to stay with friends or relations when you leave hospital???  Or even worse - sleep on the streets or in a Homeless Shelter???).

Secondly, do the Government really expect the Longterm Sick to involve their friends and relations in their private business (reading personal correspondence, contacting various Authorities, etc) so they get more and more stressed whilst they are supposed to be recovering from their latest setback???  What about those who are on their own???

Thirdly, what happens if the person who is Longterm Sick and on Benefits has any kind of complication which results in them being in a coma for longer than 28 days???  How are they supposed to report their location if they are not conscious???

Efrosyni Hobbs (the lady who set the petition up and very kindly allowed me to blog about it) suffers from poor health herself (and her condition is not going to get any better - if anything it will deteriorate).

I was shocked when she told me that - instead of feeling able to use her three week stay in hospital earlier this year to recover from whatever situation had put her in there - she was worried that her stay would go over the 28 day mark and she would lose her Benefits.  This would mean she would need to reapply for them and wait for everything to be processed again (or at least wait for a month after she had come out of hospital for them to be automatically reinstated - whilst incurring Bank Charges and going into deeper Debt).

Efi and I have both got the same reason for bringing this cause to your attention.  We are both committed to championing the cause of the most vulnerable in society who are unable to speak out for themselves.

Speaking personally - I know what it is like to have someone in hospital for a very long time and the associated stress that situation causes.  I also know what it is like to claim benefits (along with being made to feel like the dregs of society as a result of claiming what I am entitled to).

I will never ask you to sign something I would not be prepared to sign myself.  So, please join me by visiting www.change.org/p/the-government-abolish-the-stoppage-of-benefits-dla-housing-benefit-esa-for-claimants-who-have-spent-28-days-or-more-in-an-nhs-hospital-stop-penalising-the-most-vulnerable-members-of-society-by-adding-a-financial-burden-during-a-heath-crisis and signing the petition.

You never know - one of the people who ends up benefitting from this could be you.

The Disabled King Versus A Disabled Subject (Or - The Eyeshattering Illusion Of Equal Status)
4/20/2015 8:33:00 PM
I wonder what would have happened if King Richard III had turned out to have poor vision.  In fact, I wonder what would happen if any of our present Royal Family were born with poor vision.

The reason I say that is because I can kind of see a strange link between King Richard III having a curved spine and the amount of wheelchair ramps in Leicester Cathedral.

Today I finally decided to go and see what all the fuss was about regarding King Richard III's tomb.  I honestly wish I hadn't bothered - I found it much too painful.

I have been in several buildings before where the lighting was poor for one reason or another - to the point where my eyes hurt.  However, today was the first time ever when I honestly thought I was going to cry as a result of the pain my eyes were causing me.  That should tell you how bad it was.  (I had to leave the building for my eyes to stop hurting
and return after some time in order for me to take a photo of part of what had got me so upset.)

I am sure you are bored of me telling you about the difficulties I have with certain lighting situations - too bright, too dark, backlights, headlights, fluorescent lights, etc.

However, this time I have got backup.  (I sent a photo to a friend with "normal" vision and she agreed it was difficult to read the writing on it.)

I will show you both photos I took (one with a camera and one with my mobile phone).

Photo with Camera

Photo with Mobile Phone

Of course - what neither photo shows is the true effect which hit my eyeballs.  (The photos are a bit too big and neither camera can accurately replicate the effects of photophobia.)

Yes, you can see that there is bright light and a dark background.  However, standing at the distance from where I took the photos, all I could really tell you is that there was a fluorescent white number 7 separating the orange-ish colour from the white.  You needn't have bothered asking me to read any of the writing because - the closer I got to it - the brighter the light became and the more difficult the writing was to read.

I would have accepted the lighting format if it was lighting a menu outside some obscure restaurant which was run by a Chef who had a point to prove.  I would have accepted it because I would then have had the choice as to whether or not I set foot in that establishment.  (In case you are wondering - I wouldn't set foot in such a place, certainly not on my own.  To be perfectly honest I would only set foot in it with someone I trusted with my life.  Experience tells me that - if I need a magnifying glass and/or a car headlight to help me read the menu if I am standing outside the establishment - the lighting conditions inside the establishment are not going to be much better.)

So, you may not be surprised to learn that every single information board (and the glass box containing the shroud used in the re-internment) were lit in the same way.  (My eyes also informed me that - whilst some areas were better lit than others - the lighting on all the information boards was equally as bad.)

Now - if you have spent any time in my company when I have been attempting to find my way around dimly lit places (or even brightly lit places) you will know I will only complain, or ask for help, if I honestly cannot cope on my own.  Basically I will do anything in my power to get around independently.  (Less risk of embarassing myself and others that way.)

Once I had managed to navigate my way to the shop area of the Cathedral (with eyes that were putting in for being removed from my head they hurt that much) I mentioned that my eyes hurt from looking at all the displays.

In fact, the lady I mentioned my hurting eyes to can be very glad that they were hurting too much for me to argue with her.  I was maybe more amazed that I should have been when - on being advised that I would have preferred to have had a piece of paper to carry with me so I could read the information from it - I was informed that the people in the Cathedral who dreamt up the whole reinternment/Tomb/"exhibition" idea had not actually thought of that for themselves.

Typical - the Deaf and Hard of Hearing get a Hearing Loop, the Wheelchair users get ramps (useful for me to walk down too as it happens), but those of us with sight problems have to struggle.  If I had not been on Religious premises I would have told the lady exactly what I thought of her comment about me wearing "tinted glasses" (it was dazzlingly sunny outside and that, combined with the lighting on the boards, made my "Transition" - or reactolite - lenses go darker) after I had explained about my Photophobia.

You may not believe me after reading this rant but I am actually quite mild mannered and usually happy to explain about my sight to anybody who asks.

Just try not to ask me when you have made me feel unwelcome in your presence - yo may not like the answers I give you.

A Selection of Organisations I Learned about at "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow
4/17/2015 6:00:02 PM
As stated in the introduction to this section I have decided to give you contact details of organisations who either operate nationally or are likely to have some kind of national or local to you equivalent.

I hope to investigate some of these a bit further with a view to giving them a proper write up at a later date.

I am going to make an exception for one organisation who I know only operate in Leicester but I feel I have a pretty solid reason for my decision.  I have had a connection with them in the past and I would not hesitate to recommend them.  Apart from that I agree with their ethics and their way of doing business.  (However, I will get to them later.)

If you have been excluded from Mainstream provision for whatever reason and you are interested in Computer Music - get in touch with Excluded Ltd.  Website:  excluded.org.uk/

Dimensions provide services for people with Autism as well as those with Learning Disabilities,  Website:  www.dimensions-uk.org

Irlen Syndrome is something which affects vision - it is a dysfunction within the visual cortex of the brain which involves hypersensitivity to certain colours.  For further help and support please see www.IrlenUK.com

Senad Group provide support for Disabled People (including those with acquired brain injuries).  They also provide support for people who have had operations.  Website:  www.senadgroup.com.

Chat And Mingle is an online community for adults with Physical, Learning, Psychological conditions and Sensory Impairments.   Website:  www.chatandmingle.co.uk

If you are disabled and you want a friendly insurer who understands your needs go to Fish Insurance.  Website:  www.fishinsurance.co.uk

Here is an idea that I wish I had thought of before these guys.  If you are not disabled you may be puzzled when one of your friends suddenly starts complaining about the access or lighting in a venue which you have never had a problem with.  Disabled Go have taken the nuisance out of getting to a venue and realising it doesn't cater for wheelchairs, sight problems, etc.  Visit their website at:  www.disabledgo.com/ (if you have an iPhone you can also find their App on the App Store - unfortunately those of us with Android phones have to wait for the Android version to come out.

Now - I have a confession to make.  This next company is not a national company or directly (or even specifically) connected with Disabled People.  However, I have taken the liberty of including Castle Park Solicitors as I feel they are a kind, caring, bunch of humans.  Not only that but they are a Not-For-Profit organisation, which means they charge reasonable prices.  (I am looking at goodies on my desk which were handed out by other firms of Solicitors who may be more geared towards dealing with Disabled People, who were present at the same event, but I would go with Castle Park based on their friendliness and caring attitude.)  Website:  www.castleparksolicitors.co.uk/

I would also advise you to find a Not-For-Profit Solicitors in your area - or at least one who puts their Clients before their profits.

From Small Acorns Grow Bonsai Trees (Or - Praise From A Rather Unexpected Source Puzzled Me)
4/17/2015 4:27:52 PM
I must admit I got rather a lot of nice comments about how appropriate the tshirt I was wearing yesterday was for the "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow.

But I have to admit the best compliment I recieved was not on what I wore - it was about something I had written.  Not only that but it was a post on this very blog. I found that out by sheer coincidence.

What happened was - I had been walking around the stalls at the roadshow, offering to give different organisations write ups, when I came to a stall run by DEAP (an organisation set up to empower disabled people when it comes to navigating their way through the world).  The gentleman I spoke to obviously didn't realise we had communicated before through his work as a City Councillor.

Anyway - I told him that I have a blog, etc.  When he had found a pen and paper I told him the address of this website.  His next words stunned me - "Where do I know that web address from?  I am sure I have seen it somewhere."

A search through his memorybank revealed that one of his colleagues at DEAP had printed my post about Physical Disability, Mental Health, and Cyberbullying off and waved it under his nose.  I was stunned when he said it was a good article.

(On my way home yesterday evening I got myself a Chinese takeaway.  I got two Fortune Cookies as part of it - in the order I opened them they said, "You will be honoured soon by somene you respect." and, "Determination with get you through this.".

Polite And Friendly People Make Posting Things A Pleasure (Or - A Sunny Smile Cheers Up A Gloomy Day)
4/17/2015 3:41:09 PM
I know I don't usually praise people on here who provide a service which I rely on.  However, the person I wish to praise on this blog post is friendly, smiling, chatty, and generally makes a boring visit fun.  (As do some of her colleagues.)

Kush works at the Post Office in WHSmiths on Gallowtree Gate, in Leicester.  I have never actually seen her have an off-day.

Not only does she deliver service with a smile - she recently did something that really made me look forward to my visits.  She asked me what my name is - so now - every time she or one of her friends serves me I am addressed by name.

She did ask me to fill Customer Service questionnaire in and I had no hesitation in giving her full marks.
Blurred Views Are Sometimes The Most Interesting (Or - How To Turn The Ordinary Into Something Strangely Beautiful)
4/17/2015 2:06:26 PM
Have you ever had a totally crazy idea and - after you attempted to explain to another person what you wanted to do (because you wanted their help) - you thought the concept would never get off the ground because you didn't think anybody would understand what you actually wanted to do???  Never mind why you wanted to do it???

My latest crazy idea started because I wanted to take a photo of my foot and put it on my blog.  I am sure you have seen enough feet not to be interested in mine but this was supposed to be a photo with a difference.

I wanted an extremely blurred photo of my foot.  This was so I could show you what my foot looked like without my glasses on.

Unfortunately, my camera seemed to object to the idea of taking out of focus photographs of anything - let alone my own foot.  (It is one of those Digital Point and Shoot things which theoretically have settings I can tweak but it nearly got thrown through a window

So I texted the nearest person I know to a Professional Photographer who has the capabilities to understand "Ink-code" and asked for his help.  I didn't quite know what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised when Derek Lee sent me two photos (one "normal" and one blurred) which summed up exactly what I wanted to show you.

What do you think this is a photo of?  (The colours may give you a clue.)

Here is where you get a crash course in finding out what blurs are without touch.

First thing first - find out if it looks potentially painful.  This can also tell you how far away from it you are.  (The closer I am to something without my glasses on the more solid it appears.)

In this example - the very top of the purple colour looks the most fluffy.  This tells me that the chances of the top being nice and soft are reasonably high.

The parts which look the most potentially painful are the bits at the lower front.  Look at the white-ish colour with the purple-ish, and green-ish bit in front of the upper bit of the brown mass.  That looks like it could cause problems.  As for the brown mass itself - the front bit looks like it could be solid.  The gradient of colour on the brown mass suggests it may not have edges at the side.  (Edges do disappear without my glasses but - in certain lighting conditions - I can differentiate between a "sharp" side and a neverending sweep.)

So - what have I worked out so far???

There is a very good chance that the very top of the object will not cause me any injury if I touch it.

The brown part of the object looks like it is potentially painful.

The most worrying thing is the blur right at the front near the top of the brown mass.

Now - if I was standing in front of this object - I might have a very good idea what I might be looking at based on the fact that my Mum had hundreds of them in her house.  This means that I would use both hands to make one final check.

My memory banks have just informed me that I am dealing with some form of plantpot (told you - Mum had hundreds of them - I could identify one of those with my eyes shut, never mind with my glasses off).  which means the strange blurs at the top are probably flowers.

Question is - how heavy is the plant pot???  This is where two hands come in useful - both to check the size (and weight) of the thing and to finally work out if the unknown blur is part of the pot or something else entirely.

Let's see if I am correct.

Disability Should NOT Be A Barrier To Choice (Or Introducing The Innovative "Choice Unlimited" Roadshow)
4/17/2015 12:13:26 AM
I am not totally sure how I am going to deal with this section - I found so much interesting information at the Roadshow I attended which showcased services provided for Disabled People (half of which I had never heard of before) that I wanted a section where I could tell you a little about some of them (I will include links to their relevent websites).

I went to a Roadshow at the Tigers Rugby ground on Welford Road in Leicester.  This Roadshow was a great place to learn about the difference services and support groups provided for Disabled People and their Carers, etc.

The title was rather apt - it was called "Choice Unlimited" www.choiceunlimited.co.uk/.

It had a wide variety of exhibitors ranging from well known ones like Action Deafness, RNIB, Police, Fire Brigade, etc, to some pretty obscure ones like, RICA (deal with roadtesting products and services for Disabled People), Irlen UK (deals with providing lenses which help alleviate the symptoms of Irlen Syndrome - an eye condition connected with sight and colour), and DEAP (who offer peer support to help Disabled People navigate their way through Benefit Claims, Hospital Appointments, etc).

I tried to pick places to showcase in the upcoming posts on this section which may be a little unusual, but who are either national or they have a national equivalent.

(Of course it doesn't necessarily mean that every single company, etc, featured on this section was part of the event but I hope to keep it going and include more companies or groups who offer some kind of support for Disabled People.)
Pop-up Police Stations And Possible Privatisations (Or Why There Doesn't Seem To Be That Much Difference Between 999 And 112 Any More)
4/12/2015 9:54:46 PM
As I have mentioned before I have had personal links with the Police both in Leicestershire and in Rotterdam (both of my parents had relatives in the respective forces - and I am friends with an ex-police officer).

You will also have read mentions of a Twittercop going by the name of Constable Chaos elsewhere in my blog.

I am now going to throw another name into the mix to confuse you a little.  There is a brilliant Twittercop in Rotterdam who I would love to meet.  His name is Wilco Berenschot and he has come up with the most ingenious idea I ever heard about - it involves a police officer, a collapsible table, two folding chairs, and a tablet computer.

It goes something like this - find a handy street corner (if it is raining you can use an empty building) and a police officer.  Supply police officer with table and two chairs - as well as tablet computer.  Invite residents of street to sit down with police officer at table and complain at the officer.  The officer makes a note of complaints and information recieved on tablet computer.  Residents leave happy - and police officer gets information.  Residents trust police officer because they are visible (or at least reasonably easy to find).

I fully expect to find more Pop-up Police Stations in Holland when I go back - seeing as I read a report that the actual Police Stations are in danger of being shut down.

Then we come to the fiasco commonly known as the English (sorry - British) Police Service.

Unlike the Dutch officers - who are routinely equipped with a pistol (as demonstrated in the video of the NOS studio fracas - the British Officers need to be part of the Firearms Division (or so it seems) before they get issued with a Taser, let alone any kind of gun.

There are two other things I find interesting about the British Police.

Apparently they are not allowed to strike or have a union (Police Federation is the nearest they get to a union).

More interesting than that is the following;

A Police Officer is seen as a Servant of the Crown (which I suppose they are).  This somehow means that - unlike anybody else who has a grievance with their employer - your average Police Officer is not covered by Human Resources legislation.

Now, correct me if I am wrong but the last time I looked at a British Police Officer they appeared to have the same human characteristics as every other human I have ever met - head, body, arms, legs, etc, brain, blood, flesh, human needs, wants, and desires???  Some of them have even been known to communicate with the rest of the human population using sophisticated language.

I digress.

Whilst the numbers of Police Officers are forcibly being reduced (through retirement, medical discharge, being stressed out enough to just give up, etc) the work they have to do remains the same or even increases.

From where I am standing it is becoming clear that a radical overhaul of the British Police Service is needed.  When I say radical, I mean exactly that.

Disconnect it from the Crown and Parliament - allow officers to have a Union and strike if they so wish.  In fact, I would go so far as to say the entire British Police Service should be privatised.  That way funds could be raised by charging time wasters, Football clubs, etc, for each and every callout which is not a serious "blues and twos" (lights and sirens) emergency.

More to the point let the British Police Officers stop trying to answer the question "Are we humans or are we Police Officers?".  (Sorry - I paraphrased that lyric from "Human" by The Killers.)

The Tragedy Of Laziness (Or - How Bullying Ends Up Having No Winners)
4/12/2015 9:07:38 PM
The Dutch have a brilliant word for Bullying - they call it "Pesten".  After all, bullies are like pests to start with, as they are allowed to continue they become more and more dangerous and start burrowing into the core of your being.

Bullying actually relies on two pronged laziness.  After all, bullies go for easy targets to start with (but they never bother to look under the surface to really see their victim) - the other form of laziness is on the part of the "innocent bystanders" who do nothing to help the victim at the time, or don't bother to report it.

There seems to be a common misconception around bullying.  Some people seem to be under the strange impression that bullying can only be deemed to have taken place when the victim is seen to be negatively affected by it (self-harm, suicidal, withdrawing from friends and family, etc), or have visible damage to their person as a result of it (bruises, ripped clothes, missing belongings, etc).

As a "survivor" (and I use that term very loosely indeed) of bullying myself I would say - if it gets to either of those stages it is far too late to prevent damage.  In reality, bullying can start with an "innocent" remark - in my case it was "Oi - Four-Eyes" from some child who couldn't be bothered to dredge their memorybank to remember what my name was (worse was when people decided to try to use my surname to attract my attention).

Sometimes I could kind of see the funny side of the taunts - usually when some bright spark of a "gang" leader decided to try my glasses on for themself and give their friends a giggle.  Why was this particularly funny to me???  Because I soon learned that - after their mates had had a laugh about what they looked like with my glasses on - their next word would invariably be a variation of "Ow", "Aye ya" (Leicestershire vernacular uttered when someone hurts themself or is caused physical pain), or "my head hurts", or even (and this is my favourite) "How can you see through these?" as the glasses were returned to their rightful owner - me.

A couple of years ago I was being patronised by someone who was fundraising for "Guide Dogs for the Blind" - they started on their spiel about how blind people and people who are Registered Partially Sighted have difficulty coping with everyday life, I let them waffle on for a few minutes then I took my glasses off and handed them to the chugger with the polite words "try these on".  I had made no prior mention of my sight.  The chugger's attitude changed dramatically after they had (a) handed my glasses back and (b) waited for their sore eyes to calm down and their sore head to fade slightly.

You could say that I am actually one of the "lucky" ones as far as bullying goes - after all, I have a bold and prominent signpost to the fact that I am defective (nowadays you maybe have to spend that little bit more time in my presence to find out the exact extent of my defect but, I would say that having a pair of glasses almost welded to your nose during waking hours might be a big clue).

However, what about those people who look perfectly normal on the outside but have a hidden disability or illness (for example - Mental Health issues)???

One of my friends (who I will not name out of respect for them - although they gave me permission to tell you my side of the story) gave me a taster of how bad that can be.

The first I knew something was up was when my friend posted a rather cryptic tweet on Twitter - something along the lines of "why don't people ask first before jumping to conclusions?".

When I asked my friend if they were OK I was absolutely horrified by what they told me.  Some idiot had decided it would be a good idea to text my friend saying they seemed to be infatuated with someone - not only that but according to the idiot my friend was an embarrassment to someone else as a result of their apparent "infatuation".  Of course, the idiot sent the text anonymously.  (Good job too - I dread to think what I would have said to the idiot if I found out who they were!)

If the person who sent that vicious text to my friend had asked them for the reasons behind the so-called "infatuation" before sending it they might have had a shock.  The reasons were two-fold - one, my friend genuinely wanted to support someone in their endeavours because, two, the person they wanted to support had helped my friend with their Mental Health issues in a variety of ways.

My friend had previously told me why the object of the so-called "infatuation" was so important to them - and I understood my friend's reasons because I shared them (all be it to a slightly lesser extent).

Thus began the attempt to drag my friend back from the edge (you have no idea how hard it was when the only physical connections between us were the same connections used by the idiot in the first place - Twitter and text messages).

I have to admit that there were times when I thought I was about to turn into the bad guy of the story as well - in my case it would have been unintentional - I was so scared in case I made the wrong move and made the situation worse.

Eventually, I managed to persuade my friend to contact the object of the so-called "infatuation" (who is, ironically, a mutual friend of ours) and explain the situation.  After their conversation the change in my friend was remarkable - going from someone who wanted to walk away from Twitter to someone who was determined the bully wouldn't win.  This meant that my friend's campaign of supporting our mutual friend was back on.  It also meant that I could go back to being a friend instead of a kind of lifejacket.

So - maybe next time you want to comment on someone else's disability, actions, appearance, behaviour, etc, you would be wiser to ask that person about whatever you find odd, embarrassing, etc, about them instead?  A little education goes a long way. 

Never Believe Your Eyes (Or The Psychological Torment Of An Unwanted Optical Illusion)
4/7/2015 10:17:11 PM
Yesterday I went for a walk along one of my favourite footpaths (even though I would prefer it if it was still a working railway line but that is beside the point).

I took my camera along with me and (seeing as it was a horribly - for me - sunny day) I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of the illusions I came across with you.

I will start with a photo which definitely was not an optical illusion.

The Pedestrian now approaching Platform 1 is heading for Leicester Central Station.  The Pedestrian now departing Platform 2 is heading for The South.

Yes - I went for a walk along part of the Great Central Way.  In order to get on to it I walked along part of the Grand Union Canal.

You have probably read my ramblings about how my eyes do not like either bright lights or angles?  Well, the next few photos may give you a taster of why I hate strange staircases (particularly when it comes to going down them).

I have decided to try to take a photo as I would see it followed by a photo showing what it may look like to someone with "normal" vision.

Is it a ramp or a staircase???  (Careful - the wrong answer could end up with you getting very wet indeed.)

Did you guess a shallow set of steps??? (The Grand Union Canal is to the left at the bottom - once you have bounced over the riverbank.)

This next one is not as easy as that.

Why on Earth would anyone fence off a set of steps???  Is it just a lookout point for nice scenery???

If you really think that a main road can be considered to be nice scenery I won't tell anybody!!!  It is actually the spiral staircase leading from one of the former platforms down to the main road.

This next one just appealed to my somewhat quirky sense of humour.

Stupid place to put a mirror,

Finally, we have the kind of photo which definitely explains what my eyes sometimes see either when my brain is tired or when it is getting dark.  (Explanation follows the photo.)

A seat with a built in step???

OK so - you may have to use your imagination a bit more than I had anticipated to understand this one (I think I was too close to the seat when I took it).

When things are in shadow or terribly lit (as in too bright or too dark) strange phenomena can occur.  Seen at the correct angle the shadow at the bottom and in front of the seat looks to me like someone built a step so that toddlers can climb up onto it and sit down.

You can find some more photographs I took on my walk on my Flickr page at www.flickr.com/photos/91305784@N05/

By the way - in case you are wondering about the second part of the title to this blog post - you could say I was inspired to take the first few photos by one of my friends (even though they were nowhere near me at the time).  You could say that the phrase "Steppes of Northamptonshire" (which appears on quite a few websites, etc, connected with them) turned into the "Steps of Leicester" in my brain!!!  I think they will know who they are.

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