Monday 31 December 2018

shame of our nation

Speaking to an MS Nurse at my Tysabri infusion she surprised me when she said she'd had some good news that day. Because she had just found out that her application had been successful and she would be allowed to stay in the UK.

Call me naive but this totally blew my mind. That there was even a possibility that this qualified and endlessly experienced and empathetic nursing professional might be forced to leave the country she and her family call home.

Who's next? The MS Specialist Neurologists, who are all EU citizens? Who exactly is lining up to replace them? 

At the same time, a friend shared a video from the Home Office Facebook page publicising the EU Settlement Scheme. Over some jolly muzak, a series of diverse and smiling family and social groups, presumably talking about how much they're relishing the opportunity of applying to live in the communities they have enriched.

See how happy they are!

caption: If you are an EU citizen living in the UK, and want to stay in the UK after the 31 December 2020...

To say we should be ashamed of what our nation has become is something of an understatement.

Sunday 30 December 2018

meat is… murder?

Even before my dalliance with the OMS lifestyle I've been a circumstantial pescatarian for a while.

[Circumstantial Pescetarian - great early EPs but that first John Peel session was an absolute cracker #oldManJokes]

Back in the day of my initial diagnosis the watchword was varied diet with as much fish as you could stomach.

Mrs D has been vegetarian for more than half of her life so our diet is naturally veg-heavy - although Little Ms D loves chowing down on all of her farmyard friends.

After falling out of love with the OMS Pesco Vegan diet last year I decided not to start eating meat again - not from any great moral standpoint, just for convenience sake. Even for someone obsessed with (that band AGAIN!) The Smiths at a formative age, I've never really thought about the food I eat at a particularly deep level. As long as it tastes good I'm in.

alright, alright, we get it - you really REALLY used to love The Smiths

Having said all that, the food section is one of my favourite parts to read in our paper. Recently there was an article about preparing the perfect Christmas ham. My mum prepares one every year and I looked at the picture in the article for so long I could practically taste it.

I posited the idea of eating some this year and was all set. But when the time came - much like the Philly Cheesesteak I didn't have in Philadelphia - I just couldn't face it.

I think my meat-free diet has been going on so long that the idea just seemed bizarre.

I know how hypocritical that is when you consider the horror-show practices of the dairy industry. And that's even aside from the fact that I'm perfectly comfortable with eating living things as long as they do their living underwater.

But I don't think I can do any kind of vegan diet again. It was hard on everyone around me and super-expensive. Which is pretty depressing - it's cheaper to eat the flesh of an animal bred and kept for the purpose of being eaten than something which grows out off the ground.

Plus when I talked to Mrs D about this blog she said - in no uncertain terms - that there was no way I could even consider trying to be vegan ever again.

Thursday 6 December 2018

the power of The Smiths

I went for a UC (Universal Credit) "commitment" appointment the other day, due to starting my job.

This is because, even though this job is still classed as Freelance / Self Employed, it affects some of our other benefits. And because Derby is now a Universal Credit area it’s all change for us.

We’ve all read about the shitshow that is UC. But last year, when I was repeatedly answering the same questions when applying for JSA, ESA and Housing Benefit (all while battling the evil PIP beast), we talked about how much simpler it would be to input our info once and it be automatically farmed out to the relevant agencies.

So in theory we’re all for it.

The meeting was fine and we were well prepared. Although it was another case of a meeting where the person we were talking to said, "I don’t actually think you need to be here..."

Part way through, the chap asked if he could answer his phone as his car was at the garage. We said fine but as he walked off we were puzzled by his familiar sounding ringtone.

So when he came back I asked him what it was. It turns out it was Spent The Day In Bed by Morrissey, which we'd heard on 6 Music.

He asked if I was a fan - I said no, but The Smiths were a different story. I repeated my party line that, although I don't listen to them very often, there will never be another band who means as much to me as The Smiths did when I was a callow 13-14 year old.

(and yes, I do repeat this line a lot)

The chap we were talking to said he got goosebumps when I said that - thankfully Mrs D didn't burst out laughing at that or suggest we get a room.

We had a brief chat about the music, Morrissey's recent wrong-headed pronouncements and got back to the job at hand.

At the end of the meeting he said, "I just have one final, very important question to ask you - what's your favourite Smiths song?"

That's quite an ask! (no pun intended) Mrs D helpfully reminded me that my favourite lyric is the opening line of This Charming Man (for the economy - SIX WORDS! - which sets up the world of the rest of the song).

But the song which immediately sprang to mind - and which I still stand by - was The Queen Is Dead.

He said that he was more melancholic so his favourite is Well I Wonder, possibly one of the most hilariously downbeat and self-pitying songs in their whole catalogue.
Gasping, dying, but somehow still alive
This is the final stand of all I am
Maybe this bloke's in the wrong job?

Over the last couple of years, I've had to deal with local government benefits agencies alongside the Department of Work & Pensions on numerous occasions. And the bureaucracy is staggering at time.

But whenever I finally get through to talk to a real person, they are almost without fail incredibly helpful and understanding. And they're the people at the sharp end of carrying out the sticky manoeuvres of some fairly unpopular policy.

Maybe I've been lucky. But the next time you get through 55minutes of call waiting messages soundtracked by Vivaldi's bloody Four Seasons, spare a thought for the person who eventually answers your call.