What do you call a film buff that doesn’t watch films anymore?

Sunday 29 March, 2020

I love films. I can’t give an accurate idea how much I love films. I eat, sleep and dream films. I can analyse films, reimagine films, recast films and quote films. I have binge watched franchises, I have rewatched the same film multiple times in a week, a weekend and a day. Ask me about how I only had four DVDs for about 16 months and so just watched them, or at least had them on in the background, over and over and over again whilst I did my coursework for my GNVQ. I love the cinema! I once went to the cinema three times in one week, I once went two days on the run. I’ve seen two films in one day at the cinema at least Twice and i’ve seen the same film more than once in a run because i’ve liked it enough to go see it with two or more people, one at a time!

Except…

Except when my Mum went in to hospital, my concentration went down hill. We watched crappy films with my auntie as we waited for the phone call the first time we were told it wasn’t looking good, and that’s the last time I watched a film.

I’ve tried to watch films I like, and I just lose interest. I’ve tried to watch new films and it feels off and then I switch it off because i’m not paying enough attention to warrant ruining the movie for myself. I’ve even tried to watch crappy movies, something I won’t ruin by emotional association… and that didn’t work either.

I’ve got DVDs there that I bought around my birthday last year, that I never got around to watching because first i was saving them, then I came down sick, and then uni started up, and I fell further and further behind until I deferred, and then I spent a few days catching up on much needed sleep, and then I needed to get into Christmas mode. And then it was Christmas. And then my mum went in to hospital.

The DVDs are sitting there ready to be watched, I just can’t bring myself to watch them.

I’ve got films saved to the digital box. Some are two years old because I was waiting for my mum to be in the mood to watch them with me, they are films she liked enough to ask me to tape them for them and I didn’t have the heart to watch them without her and she always wanted to watch other things instead of these films. I can’t bring myself to watch them without her. There’s other films there that I recorded for myself. I don’t want to watch them either. It’s a mixture of “can’t be arsed”, “Mentally exhausted by the idea” and “I know I’ll lose interest ten minutes into it so what’s the point even starting?”. There’s also the fact that when I am sad, and I watch new films, I then associate the film with feelings of sadness I felt at the time. I can’t watch Lilo and Stitch anymore for that reason. I can’t bare to ruin a film I’ve not even seen yet just by watching it at the wrong time.

My netflix is mostly going unused. I’ve re-watched sections of 6 Underground a few times, but not the full film since the first/last time I watched it, which I watched with my mum and it was the last film we watched together.

I planned to go back to Cinema Paradiso before all this happened, and go back to renting DVDs from the library. I had a list, I had a system. I had all four corners covered and it optimised my viewing capabilities. Now with the corona virus, I don’t fancy receiving DVDs I have to handle, open, and send back through the post system, so that’s Cinema Paradiso out. I still have the list, it lays discarded underneath my bed. I keep picking it up and leaning it against my bedside table but it keeps sliding down. I can’t be bothered to move it elsewhere.

I let my CEA card expire and between this and the corona virus, I don’t see me renewing it any time soon.

The other year when I deferred last time, I watched at least one film a day besides during the world cup when it was just wall to wall football. I’ve not watched a single film, not properly, not taking it in from the background, since the 26th of January.  And I think, at a time like this, when I’m being forced to stay at home for my own health, some sort of entertainment would be a good idea… but it just hasn’t happened yet and I don’t know when it will.

So… What do you call a film buff who doesn’t watch films anymore?


I’m a blogger, so let’s blog

Monday 23 March, 2020

I honestly don’t know what to say about all of this that’s happening in the world. I thought last year was pretty bad, and now this.

I mean I had a chest infection which put behind on uni work, I had to catch up on the uni work and my laptop broke. I had to go to the library and borrow the communal computer on the weekends to get my work done, and then my wheelchair broke. I spent most of seven months in bed, eating cold foods and food I could eat by hand. I got a very low mark for my module and, needing a better set up for next module, I ended up having to put a lot of stuff in storage to re-organise my room so that I could have my overbed table in my room for the laptop.

I got another chest infection, fell behind on uni work pretty much as soon as I started, had to deal with DSA and Student Loans messing up yet again, and alternative formats for books I needed to read over the summer arriving days before my module started. Alternative Formats, by the way, which were not compatible with note taking. I was already reading slower than usual, slower than everyone else on the course, and making notes as I went along slowed me down even further because there was just no efficient way to do it. By the time everyone else was doing their second deeper reading, I was still only half way through my first reading, and that was because most people got familiar with the novels in the summer so didn’t need to spend all that much time reading it for the coursework. I fell further and further behind, needed an extension, missed a deadline on groupwork and deferred. That was in december.

And then we had to rush my Mum to hospital on the 8th of January. I say rush, but actually we waited about 7 hours for an ambulance to turn up. And first it looked like she was getting better, it looked like it was an infection that had just thrown everything out of sync. But then she went downhill again, and the doctor took us into a side room and told us though they weren’t out of options yet, we did have to prepare for the worst.

And another week went by, we were told if the last combination of medication didn’t help, we were going to lose her. And then the Sunday she was put on end of life care, and we lost her on the Thursday, the 30th.

We had over two weeks of sorting the funeral out, and I had to deal with social services because not only was my mum’s care package on the brink of being started just before she went in to hospital, but I’d sked for some emergency help with my mum being my primary carer, and in hospital. And my emergency care to help deal with the fact my primary carer was in hospital took until the week after we lost Mum to start up.

Shortly after the funeral, the coronavirus took over the world.

If borders had been closed, if holidays had been cancelled, if the prime minister of this country hadn’t have said “we just have to take it on the chin” and “I have to level with you, people will lose loved ones”, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad around the world as it is now. But it is, and I am a constant ball of anxiousness.

I’m scared I will get it, I’m scared my Dad and brother will get it, I am scared my friends will get it. I see the blase attitude the general population has and I despair. It’s not just their lives they are risking, it is everyone’s.

They’ve been talking about a possible lockdown all weekend. I wonder, why the wait? It should have been on the table as soon as we saw what it was doing in China and in Italy.

I worry at every cough – even though i have chronic acid reflux and that gives me a cough. I worry everytime I feel a bit hot – even though I have chronic fatique syndrome which throws random fevers at you for a couple of hours, randomly. I have chronic pain. I’m meant to watch out for body aches? I don’t have a single minute where something isn’t aching! How will I know? I worry about being asymptomatic and passing it on to somebody else. I can’t believe there are people out there not worried! If not them, it could be their loved ones. If they don’t care about My loved ones and me, you’d think they’d care about their own!

I’m sure many people feel the same as me, if not worse, because people have actually died but… could the world just stop for a minute? Could I not have gotten my bearings over my degree, and over my mum, first before staring down at the face of an apocolpse? Would that have been too much to ask?


More Queen Coincidences

Sunday 15 December, 2019

I went a few days without anything odd happening and then, for the first time in 6th months of being stuck in bed due to illness and a broken wheelchair, I was finally able to eat tea with my family in the living room, in front of the television. I’d just put a forkfull of food into my mouth when Bradley Walsh, quiz master of new ITV show called Cash Trapped, asked the question of “Which opera singer did Freddie Mercury sing Barcelona with?”. I nearly choked on pie.

The next day I heard on the radio an advert for Queen Symphonic. I thought it was a sign! Unfortunately, wheelchair spaces for the Liverpool Philharmonic have all gone and whilst proportional seating is a blog post for another day, let me just say that just 16 spaces for a venue as well known as the Liverpool Philharmonic is ridiculous; Either way, obviously this was not a sign. I put down the phone, and a few minutes later Radio Gaga came on the radio.

The next night my Dad asked me if I’d told my friend about the tickets – I told him she didn’t even know I was considering getting the tickets so there would be no point. My Dad, massive fan of Christmas Music and watching the music video channels for the countdowns from as early as they start showing them, then put on the Top 50 Christmas Songs chart, just before #3 was announced.

It was Bohemian Rhapsody. I decided right then that I was buying tickets to We Will Rock You. I then became annoyed at whatever song was on the radio at the time before I went to sleep, so I switched back over to Absolute Classic Rock.

The next morning I woke up, went the loo, returned to my room and then Killer Queen came on the radio. A couple of more days passed without any coincidences, just mere Green Car effects of Queen being on the very station most likely to play them, until yet again I was sat in front of the television with my parents whilst they watched Cash Trapped. The question was “Who did Rami Malek play in the Queen Biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody?”. Later that night just as I as dozing off to sleep, good old One Vision came back on the radio. I was awake as long as the song was on, and then I must have fell asleep. I woke up to I Want To Break Free.

Earlier on tonight, whilst trying to fix a technological issue with my laptop and listening to music to drown out political conversations – and the election result is also another blog post for another day – I had to take a break to have a drink. I wheeled back to wear my water was, parked up and drunk some water. Just then an advert for a documentary that’s coming on about Fredie Mercury came on the television.

I could have easily delayed having a drink of water, I could have given up sooner waiting for a program to load and had a drink of water a good fifteen minutes earlier than I did, but no, the very minute I decide my laptop can do what it likes – like it always does – is the very same minute that advert came on the telly.

I promise at some point I will blog about something else other than these Queen Coincidence phenomena.


Haunted by Queen – Part 2

Wednesday 4 December, 2019

So of course, two days after my last post, it was sadly the anniversary of Freddie Mercury’s death. I’m not completely insensitive or deluded so much to say that this has been more than a coincidence, but again, the timing of this has been just a little bit odd.

All my thoughts and love go to his friends’ and family.

I will say, though, that I thought, if this is some universe alignment/haunting thing – because I have no other way of explaining these levels of coincidences – I thought it would finish after the anniversary, and the few bizarre coincidences happened after that I could put it down to Green Car effect.

But then last night happened.

I decided to defer from my uni module. I’m really struggling, i’m not well enough to put my full capabilities to the work. As soon as I made that decision, I got up and I turned my radio on. The song that was on when I turned the radio on finished, and the next song to start was One Vision.

I waited for that song to finish and went to go the loo, which is by the living room. My Dad was watching Bohemian Rhapsody. I came out of the loo to the scene where they’re arguing over I’m In Love With My Car. I stayed watching a few minutes but couldn’t stay there for too long so went back to bed. About fifteen minutes later I realised they didn’t do the cupboard scene (Remember, the anecdote which seemed to have set this whole Queen Coincidence Enigma off) and went back in to talk about it with my Dad. By that point, for some reason, a Tony Hadley music video count down on a music channel was on instead.

So, Tears for Fears came on, finished, and then Radio Gaga came on after it. (Side coincidence – a thread went around twitter the other day asking which was your most controvercial Sci Fi opinion, and mine is that I think Metropolis, which has some very good bits, is actually boring over all)

This morning I woke up to I Want It All.

What is this message the universe, or maybe Freddie Mercury himself, is trying to tell me?


I’m bored with alphabetizing my DVDs

Friday 3 May, 2019

Sometimes when I couldn’t sleep when I was younger, I used to rearrange my CDs. It would be like a rota of late night organising to see me through my insomnia, until I felt tired enough to sleep. Sometimes I would swap from them being alphetised by artist and band, to alphabetising them by album names. Sometimes I would rearrange them so that all the bands beginning with “The” would be alphabetised so that the second word was what was counted – The Beatles came under B, The Beach Boys came under B, The Beautiful South… also came under B…. I guess I like a lot of bands who begin with B. Oh, I also like The Ataris, and they would come under A, and of course, The Proclaimers, who would come under P. So now we all know how the alphabet works, I’ll move on.

The VHSes were put through similar flights of my fancy, in the day during school holidays. We didn’t have many (as in with case and cover) because we tended to tape off the telly (and we had loads of those!) but at one point my parents were members of a VHS club, and I don’t know what the terms and conditions were or even why, but every month for a while, we got a fancy schmancy full on VHS (as in not taped off the telly) through the letterbox. This meant that we had Stephen Seagal films, James Bond films, various thrillers and the occasional rom com. In fact, it was the sudden prevalence of Romcoms, which my parents did not watch, which led to my parents ending their subscription to this film club in the end. But, thanks to that club, we did have 4 Weddings and a Funeral, While You Were Sleeping, and a Tom Hanks one I can’t really put a name to. And what I used to do was, I would rearange them from alphabetical, to rating, to genre, to colour of the case – and it used to annoy the crap out of me that so many James Bond films had that black and gold spine, but then randomly one was blue!? And then, after my Dad bought some tapes from the local renting tape shop’s closing down sale, we also had two oversized white VHS cases, which was even worse than blue! How was I meant to keep our tapes in some sort of order with that?

I’ll tell you how, sometimes I also rearranged by height.

Anyway, lately in my life, it’s been a bit stressful.  I’ve not been well, i’ve had problems with my wheelchair, I’ve been trying my hardest to keep my head above water on my degree, and so as a source of comfort, or maybe just plain old disctraction, I’ve been itching but unable to rearrange my DVDs. I’m physically no longer capable of kneeling, sitting on the floor, or bending. So if I want my DVDs arranged, not for a whim but because I’ve been on a DVD sale purchasing binge (hello, CEX 10p DVDs! And also hi charity shops that sell three DVDs for £1!), I have to wait to have time with someone – usually my PA – to put them in the order for me.

But lately…. alphabetising hasn’t felt “right”. Like with the CDs and the VHS, I need to change it up and around a bit. I can’t physically do it myself right now, but if I was able to…. I’m unsure as to how. As in, I don’t know which order I should change it to.

I considered by rating, but they actually changed the rating system in 2002, so I don’t want to do that on principle of not liking 12A as a rating. I think it’s ridiculous and just very, very unneccesary.

I could go by colour, and I’m tempted to go by colour, I have a couple of pink spines there that would make it interesting, but there’s a lot of black spines too and I can see that being a problem for directing people to the right movie for me.

I’m extremely tempted to arrange by genre. I feel like the boredom of alphabetising is shoved over quite forcefully when I think of arranging by genre! It’s exciting to think about! I’ve been alphabetising my DVDs for 10 years! By genre will be a new experience! But it’s also complicated. Which genre goes first? Do I alphabetise the genres? I plan to alphabetise inside the genres, as in 10 Things I Hate About You would go before 27 dresses in the romcom section, so it would make sense, but should Romcom come before Thriller, for example?

And exactly what genres are there? Because I look at my DVDs and I see (some) romcoms, I see animated Disney, non-animated Disney, Disney Pixar, I see 80s classics, I see Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi comedy, Sci-Fi kids. I’ve got fantasy movies, pirate movies, animated pirate movies, comedy, horror comedy, slasher, drama, period drama, drama musicals, musicals, kids non-animated musicals, thrillers, coming of age, and historical fiction!

What genre does Attack the Block fall in to? Horror, Sci-Fi, Coming of Age or Comedy? Does anime deserve it’s own genre, or do I put Endless Walts under Sci Fi? Is Fame a musical, an 80s classic or a coming of age movie!?

And then there’s the few “inspired by comics” movies that I have, do I put them all together in one section, or alphabetise them into Sci Fi too?

I just don’t know!

It’s exciting times at The House of A Failed Journalist.

Anyone have any suggestions? I’m all eyes!


Spontaneious Travelling: Chester (Part 2)

Saturday 23 March, 2019

After we ladies who lunched in McDonalds, we headed over to Chester Cathedral. This was not a revisit from me and my Nana’s day out in Chester, I’ve just always wanted to go to Chester Cathedral, mostly to compare it to our Anglican one here in Liverpool (We don’t talk about the Catholic one). There wasn’t a set ticket price to enter, however there is a certain pressure to “donate” a “suggested amount” at the entrance before you enter, in the form of an intimidating donation box with a sign as you pre-queue to go in, passed a staffed desk by the doors. I paid the donation, but due to free carer tickets being the standard, I only paid for myself and my Carer came in free with me. I think it was quite fair!

It is nicely done! It is not 100% wheelchair accessible, but it was accessible enough for me to finally feel welcomed somewhere. I would say it’s got a different feel to it indoors than the Liverpool Anglican cathedral, and because I’m biased I might be inclined to say it’s not as beautiful as the Liverpool Anglican cathedral, but that would be unfair. It has it’s own beauty to it and it was nice to look around. We arrived just at the start of a short afternoon service, so me and my carer stayed at the back, admired the architecture and when the priest finished his short service, we went looking around the grounds

I’m not religious now though I used to be, and although there’s a lot that doesn’t sit right with me when it comes to religion – and never did, as a matter of fact – but you have to give credit where it’s due. This building, like the Cathedrals here in Liverpool, have become half way houses to meet the needs of the religious and the tourists, and it is a very peaceful place to wander around.

The side of Chester Cathedral at a corner. A cast iron fence in the foreground at the bottom of the screen, with a bit of green garden between that and the building. The building is mostly a dirty brown. On the bottom floor is 8 glass windows, the second floor shows 10 glass windows, with spires obstructing their view. Above those windows are more spires and the top is the tower bellfry with three chimneys showing

And, like all tourist places, it even had a gift shop! It was a bit cramped, but you’re reading the words of someone who got through Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s gift shop without knocking a single item over, so rest assured, no items were smashed in the procurement of labelled pens! There was also a lovely stain glass window effect magnet that I now regret not buying.

Finally, after what felt like a terrible morning, my mood was shifting and I started feeling a bit better about this outing and my lack of mobility. Ironically it took an almost 2000 year old building to do that, against a backdrop of modern businesses. Modern businesses in a similar-ye-olde-aged-building, admittedly, but modern nonetheless, with modern customers who are no longer institutionalised in institutions…

Ahem.

Where was I? The only downside was the battery on my wheelchair. Thanks to our stop and start tour around the Cathedral, and the weather warming up temporarily, I found my battery was still hovering on full orange when we first came out of the Cathedral, however 10 minutes later after trying to get my maps on my phone to work to see where the roman gardens were, I turned my wheelchair back on to see I’d gone down a full orange.

I still decided to continue on and risk it. After all, what’s a day out without risking battery failure in the middle of the main road, right? I did let my carer know what was going on, at this point… but not to the degree that I could have. I told her, at that point, I was losing power a bit more quickly than normal, but we should have enough power to get to the park and back. With her faith in me, we continued.

So we eventually got to the park, but not without a few false starts. IE, I can’t read maps and even when I’m following the directions I always tend to go to wrong until the arrow sends me off in the right direction. Unfortunately, it was winter, so the beautiful gardens with the beautiful roman mosaics on the floor didn’t shine up on me like it had all those years ago. Don’t worry, I plan to go back and admire it in full bloom!

So I took a few photos but, the temperature had dropped again, we could see our breaths despite the bright watery sun in the sky, and worried my battery – at this point flickering between one orange and two oranges – would leave us stranded at the bottom of the ramp, we didn’t go much further than half way, and turned around.

“Can we get a hot coffee?” my carer asked.

“Yes,” I said, “And I’ll get a cup of tea.”

The plan at that point was to head back to the train station, get something to drink there and wait around for our train back. However we saw a nice little quaint tea and cake shop on our route which had a ramped entrance and, frozen to the core and my carer’s caffiene levels dropping as fast as my battery power, we ducked inside for a mid-afternoon, pre-train snack.

Elements of a fancy tea - a jug of hot water, a jug of milk and the teapot behind, all white on top of a white tablecloth with a blue layer coming through the lace. A nicely manicured hand is in the background, the nails visible show an orchid magenta and a light pink on the third nail. To the left of the photo there is a pot of sugar and salt sachets

I found the tea was lovely. My carer ordered coffee and a traditional cream scone which she also thoroughly enjoyed. It was only after drinking my tea and finding myself in need to use the toilet that I realised I’d failed to do the first basic check when in a food establishment – ask where the toilets are first! This place did not have a wheelchair accessible bathroom and their non-disabled toilet were down a set of internal steps.

Bugger. I do hate giving money to places who only want my money, not actually cater to my needs.

On those grounds I can not recommend this place, and that’s also why I won’t be naming them here. You know who had an accessible toilet? McDonalds and the Cathedral!

Oh well! We continued our journey for the trian back. It was at that point I told my carer how bad the battery situation was – I was critically losing battery power, flickering between the last orange and the first of only two reds, and that I thought the taxi driver had done something when he tied his straps around the wrong place on my wheelchair. This wasn’t the usual cold weather battery loss. So the walk back to the train station had to switch to the bus – which was easy to catch once we knew which bus stop we had to go to, and unlike the shuttle bus, it stopped at a normal stop opposite the train station and we got out no problem.

On arrival at the station I nipped to the toilet – red cord was tied up and there was a bin in the transfer space – and then with the help of staff and my Carer, got on board the train. At that point I was down to the reds and wondered if I was going to make the switch between platforms when back to Liverpool, but that turned out to be the least of my worries when I was on board.

I won’t go into details, but basically I got harassed on the train, the staff did nothing to help and next time I go to chester, I will go by bus. On the plus side, thanks to the warmth of the train and being stationary for a while, by the time we got back to Liverpool, I’d gained full oranges again. With the change over to the Northern line and then the pavement journey home, I managed to get back on red, going at a snail pace.

I do plan on going to Chester again, especially because shortly after I got back I was made aware of a guardian article that said Chester was one of the most accessible places! But I would do things a lot differently. Whilst the rows is accessible – as in you can get to them from the ground floor of the shopping centre – it’s not completely accessible, and most of the shops on the rows have steps to get in to them. I have a policy for life – If I have to ask to get in, I won’t go in and i’ll go somewhere else. It could be that the shops have ramps inside, there might be alternative entrances, but that to me is shifting the responsibility of access on me, not them. If there are alternative entrances, why are they not good enough for everyone to go through?

And the shuttle bus situation needs to be fixed. I sent a complaint letter shortly after I visited chester, and I never heard anything back. I should probably chase that up!

But that cathedral is very much worth a visit. I think on a warm, sunny day, just sitting in the gardens would be lovely, and next time I go I’d like to try the cafe instead of depending on McDonalds.

On the matter of this being an affordable day out, let’s tot it up:-

Train Faire:- £5.20, day saver
Begdrudging Taxi Faire:- £10.00
McDonalds Lunch consisting of a McChicken Sandwich, Medium Fries and a cup of tea:- £5.37
Cathedral “suggested donation” entry fee:- £4
Afternoon tea:- £5.50
Emergency Bus Faire:- £2.40

Total:- £37.97.

A bit high for a day that was only half enjoyable, I must admit, especially when you think that taxi faire was completely unneccessary, but for the distance travelled and in comparison to a day out in, for example, London, I think it’s not as bad as it could have been. Especially when you compare it to London even one step further and think how long it takes to get between places when in a wheelchair. At least in Chester, the furthest part ouf was the park.

And for anyone interested, I went out a few days later and despite only being out a couple of hours I came back on orange. I called up the wheelchair repair people and the guy who came out confirmed what I suspected – the battery case had been cracked, and also a wire connection had been broken. There is only one way that could have happened.


Healthy Eating: A Failed Journalist goes Lifestyle Mag!

Wednesday 9 January, 2019

Remember my financial crisis, which led to tokens for free or dirt cheap food at fast food resuatarants, which made me put on weight? Well, I was trying to lose the weight I’d gained, which is very hard when you can’t really move without pain, and energy levels are almost all low, and all energy is needed to fight off the flu and get right back into the uni saddle to write a 1000 essay… holy run on sentence batman!

I don’t normally go for the whole new years resolution thing, or diets. Health issues notwithstanding, I find a lot of people make dieting too much about goal weight orientated instead of healthy living, and they want the weight off now now now. I can’t stand when food is considered “bad” or a person considered “naughty” for eating said “bad food”.

However….

However…

All of my hard work put in after the financial crisis:- cutting down on sugar. cutting down on big fast food meals when out on social calls, trying out chair exercises just to increase movement a bit – it was all undone by 10 days worth of family christmas meals and biscuits and chocolates. I don’t know how much I weigh, because it’s not like argos sells wheelchair accessible scales, but I was almost close to fitting into my favourite pair of jeans and now I’m not, again. So I think it’s safe to say, I’m back to square one.

I don’t know what I’m doing with blogging this. I’m not about to go all Take A Break on everyone and start talking slimfast shakes, but I feel like I’ll struggle to acknowledge my effort if I don’t blog about it here.

The problem I think I have, in comparison to other people I know on a New Year’s Resolution diet, which isn’t what I’m doing exactly but is close enough it might as well be; is that they’ve got something to start from. They either plan to cut out alchohol or ready meals or sweets, but my problem is I don’t drink any alcohol, I do need to depend on ready meals a lot because otherwise I wouldn’t eat any hot food on days my parents can’t make my food for me, and although I go through phases of eating sweets, sugar is hard to cut down on when you’re literally a CFS zombie without a kick of sugar half way through the day.

But, I start as I mean to go on. I have a lunch box for when I’m out of the house, an ice pack, and a love of fresh salad. I’ll be using a calory counter as I have been using for the past few months, and I guess I’ll figure out the exercise problem along the way, somehow.

I’ll now return you to your normal AFJ wordpress blogging.

-AFJ

 


How I Survived My Very Own Financial Crisis

Wednesday 16 May, 2018

Hello there. It’s been a while since I updated about something personal (Who am I trying to kid? Almost everything I write about is layered in personal) but lately I went through something and I feel like sharing about it.

It was just a spate of bad luck that all happened at once. My whole family was sick at the same time as daily living expenses went up, plus I had appointments I had to travel for, and then my beloved pet got sick so I ended up with vet bills, and paying for the taxis that got me and my beloved pet back and forth to the vets. We had, as the old advert went, “More money going out than what [we had] coming in”. It was stressful and it’s only now that things are beginning to level out.

So, how did we survive? Well we couldn’t do anything to bring more income in at that point. For the family members that work, days off sick on 0 hour contracts are days you’ll never get back unless the boss will give you more hours (they didn’t), and it’s not like you can get more ESA just because your heating bill has gone up whilst you’ve been sick over the winter. Personally, I scrimped and saved and became a bit of a Scrooge. I’m ashamed to admit that I noticed i was over charged 70p on a money saving multi-buy item because of a glitch and contacted Morrisons about it to get that 70p back. Even now the vice-like grip of impending destitution (Hi I’m A failed Journalist and I like Hyperbole) has eased, I’m still being as cheap as possible until I really feel like the danger has passed.

First was that any and all points on any loyalty cards were used. I’d saved up quite a few Morrisons points over the last year and a bit, enough to get a lot off the Christmas shopping and still had some money left over to build up on from the new year, not to mention some £10 vouchers for the delivery being late. So £10 a week off the weekly shop helped a lot. Same went for Sainsbury’s. I hardly ever shop in Sainsbury’s, but I have done my fair share of ebay purchases over the last 10 years, and points have built up which I’d never had opportunity or need to use before. Whilst family members who normally care for me were sick with the same flu I’d had, those points went a good way to helping me buy microwavable meals. Boots was another that I had accrued over 10+ years, and £13 covered a nice little Boots spree that’ll keep me going for a few months.

One of my Morale treats is Subway. I originally got addicted to Subway, and yes, addiction is accurate – back before I went to Uni the first time. I loved the smell of the place, I loved the way the bread toasted and the cheese melted, and the way the tang of the gerkin mixed with the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. There was nothing quite like Subway. Unfortunately their ableism became too much for me to handle so I stopped going there, until the last couple of years where the one by where we moved started begging me to go in. And even better, these days Subway has ramps! Not always suitable seating, but ramps, and a disabled toilet! And the staff don’t talk to me through the mostly soundproof glass! Well, these days my food allergies and intolerances have changed my diet a bit, but a nice chicken salad does me no harm. And even better, once you get enough points, you get a free sub! I had enough for one and was well on my way to a second when my Financial Crisis Hit. I got the free sub for a free lunch, and kind companions without their own cards or apps have been happy for me to have their points so I could get a second within a month.

The second method was vouchers. And I hope you note the problem is with all this discounted food. I have the Burger King app. At full whack, you can pay £5+ for a meal at Burger King, with the app vouchers it allowed the same meal cost £2.99. And then McDonalds brought out it’s Millionnaire Winners tokens. With my Unidays app I got a meal, with the token I got from that that I got a McChicken Wrap and Fries, with the Fries I got a cup of tea. I’ve been given unwanted tokens from Carers and Friends. I had five meals for free or under £2 thanks to those tokens

The problem is, I hope you’re starting to notice, is that most of this quick, easy, discounted and free food is all fast food and convenience food. But nobody is thrusting a free lettuce into my face that isn’t on a burger, and nobody is offering me a half price home made roast dinner, and I can’t look a gift horse in the mouth (I’ve heard it’s nice in lasagne).

I save on bus fair by wheeling where I can, when my carer’s can manage the walk. I’m sure if I could walk places or even self propel, I’d be burning off all the calories I’m getting from the fast food but alas, I’m fully electric. If Jeremy Corbyn fancies extending his free public transport idea to under 45s, I’d really welcome that, too! Carers don’t travel for free, you know!

I wouldn’t like to imply that there was even a good thing about this, because I’d go through bankruptcy if it meant he’d have had something treatable that I could have bought medication for. But it does mean no more emergency transport to the vet, and the electric bill  go down as

So that’s foods, toiletries and transport. What about hobbies and other daily stuff? Well, luckily for everyone, I already had enough hobby fodder in from bulk buying on sale two years ago. So that’s keeping me going. I’m on the cheapest phone tariff I can find. I’m using a free student trial of Amazon Video to keep up with film watching and I told NowTV I could no longer afford their services, so they kindly offered me the movie pass for half the price I was paying. That has now run out but it was nice whilst it lasted. I didn’t have any other subscription services other than Cinema Paradiso, which I cancelled back in February.

On a bizarre twist, I went further out of my area with my travel pass for a cheaper trip to the cinema. The disabled travel pass meant my train journey was free, the cinema is a short walk from the station, and the ticket itself was £5.75 with a free carer ticket, and I don’t bother with concessions on a normal day, so I definitely didn’t bother on my “keep the price as low as possible” kick. With my local cinema it’s almost £20 there and back in a taxi, and between £8 – £11 for a ticket. The only downside was that the wheelchair seat was way too close to the front so I won’t be repeating that money saving venture again!

I might have come across as a neurotic scrimping fiend the past few months, but all I can say to those that helped me and gave me their freebies, is that i’m grateful. Indulge me in my hyperbole here, but helping me keep things as cheap as possible kept the stress and the tears at bay. And, I’m relieved to say that the clouds do seem to be parting. Working members of the family have been back in work and back to normal for a few weeks now, prescription costs are back down to a more affordable level, and the weather is improving so some of the household bills are down. But the books balancing doesn’t mean the money’s stacking up, it just means for now, the waves are settling. There will always be water, and rain clouds can gather again to flood us out of house and home, and there’s not much I can do to build up a defence against it other than what I did this time; And next time, if I’m knocked off kilter again soon, I won’t have anywhere near as much of the safety net I’d incidentally created for myself.

Sorry, unsually for me, that’s all I’ve got. It’s hard to end this on a positive note.


12 Year Memorium

Monday 16 October, 2017

You and I have memories
Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.

1985 – 2005


Please don’t take our straws away

Friday 1 September, 2017

Hello, yes it is I, AFJ.

Funny story, I did plan to write film reviews, but here’s what happened shortly after my last entry. My laptop died a terrible terrible death, so not only was I without a desk with which to put my laptop on so that I could type up entries with ease, I was without the whole kit and kaboodle to type on.

It has been hell. But here I am, on a borrowed keyboard set up, and I want to talk about something which is kicking up a fuss on the internet that has me concerned.

As you may know if you read here regularly, I am all for saving the planet and cutting down on waste. I think frivolous purchases don’t do anyone any good and I think the throwaway culture we have is destroying the planet. I still have a fountain pen that lasted me 11 years, through my GCSEs, my A Levels, many hand written stories, uni the first year and a bit of uni on the second attempt, in my drawer in the hopes one day I can get it repaired. I find it disgraceful that we’re encouraged to just throw away things which at one point could have been repaired and buy new. So I really don’t say this lightly.

Do not take plastic, disposable straws away from shop shelves. I’m not asking, I am telling whoever is in charge of this world-wide campaign against straws: Do not take them away, it will have an inproporitonate negative affect on those of us who need them:- The Disabled Community.

Over the last year or two, things which have been, or could have been useful to disabed people have been mocked and revered by the able bodied eco-friendly campaigners. Explanations for how certain things make all the difference to disabled people is met with condescention and virtual shrugged shoulders. I am, of course, talking about the night everyone on twitter was up in arms about pre-sliced oranges in plastic containers, and pre-peeled avocados in similar packaging. And the latest item to be villified are straws.

I first became aware of this campaign when I saw this article on the BBC Website, which is worded slightly differently now than it was when I first read it. What has become a third-party re-write was originally an opinion piece by waste management spokesperson, Mark Hall, about how awful straws are and how anyone over the age of 12 using a straw were failing at being an adult, with the title of the article being the provocative statement “Only kids need straws with their fizzy pop”. An able-ist statement if I ever saw one. The article went on to suggest alternatives that should be used, and agian, only for children.

What these campaigners such as Mark Hall are failing to acknowledge is that many people depend on straws, and the alternatives are just simply not as good as what we currently have right now. I say this as somoene who only depends on them infrequently, but when my back and neck sieizes up I’m not able to lift a cup to my mouth and drink from it, and I certainly can’t tip my neck back to finish off a well earned cup of tea. Many of my friends are in the same boat, all of the time. The only way they can drink and stay hydrated, without having to have an invasive operation or depend on saline solutions delivered by a drip system, is by using straws.

I have read on twitter that wax paper alternatives don’t last as long as their plastic counterparts, they can be warped by heat. Are disabled people meant to just stick to cold drinks? I have also read reviews about metal ones, some people have found they’re not able to clean them properly, even if they have a washing machine. Usually there’s a public outcry if a children’s drinking cup or bottle catches drink remnants and goes mouldy, but claims on straws are met again with shrugs. As if those who use straws should just expect to ingest mould every now and then as a punishment for using something deemed childish and unneccessary by some. It’s not just a worry about the types of drinks that could catch in the straw, many medications come in liquid form which also need to be drunk and i don’t think mixing them would be a good idea either.

I’m aware my opinions come from people who might not know what they’re talking about, but I think I’d rather take my chances with people on twitter who have no stake in their claims, over businessmen who do and haven’t thought about the implications of their opinions and attitudes. And it’s one thing to have to scroll through the fire and fury people on facebook direct at novelty straws and multi-packs alike, it’s a whole other to go in to shops looking for straws and being told they don’t have any due to request of the public, which is starting to happen.

Campaigners might be patting themselves on the back, but disabled people are worried about being left thirsty or having to resort to drastic measures just so that they don’t dehydrate.