One frustrating thing about carers…

Saturday 5 December, 2020

At the end of last year and then the beginning of this year, I went back to the social services to get more hours/more elements for my care package because my mum’s health was clearly getting worse, then she was in hospital and it was clear her role as my carer was over, as, well, at the start of her hospital admission it looked like she would be coming home in need of a full care package herself.

It took over 3 weeks for their “emergency” assessment to take place, which was an absolute farce and I can’t even be bothered to get into it, but it ruined everything I already had in place with my PA, and then it took until after we lost my mum for the new “emergency care package” with a care agency to start.

Now as well as it being frustrating because it displaced everything I had set up with my PA, which meant I had to change the set up with my PA, these tea calls, a half an hour call, was meant to be the carer comes, makes my tea, washes the dishes… and somehow helps me get changed. At half 5 in the evening. (Also, my PA was meant to come all 7 days a week and leave lunch out for 3 hours because apparently social services don’t provide dinner calls anymore. Cold beans on toast, anyone?)

With only half an hour, I was stuck only to microwave meals that could be made within 10 minutes, and had to scarf it down quickly so they could do the washing up before they left. I didn’t have time to get changed even if I wanted to. That wasn’t their fault but you could see some of them were ready to go as soon as they put the food out.

“That all, then?” they’d ask, picking up their bag and about to step out the door.
“Er, no, you have to also wash the dishes when I’m done…”

But that wasn’t the most frustrating part. (Even my acid reflux/food reflux issue being the worst it has ever been wasn’t the most frustrating part)

The most frustrating part was how much they made me feel like my… everything, was wierd and bizarre and different. I know the door situation is odd, and maybe the layout where the bathroom is, is odd… I mean, no! You know what, I don’t understand what could possibly be so difficult to understand about the instructions “Yeah it’s through that door there in the middle of the wall, and it’s the first the door on the left.” It’s the first door down a little corridor, the door to it is less than a foot away from the hallway door. Yet the amount of times people have come in, and just… gone down the hallway to the bedrooms, ignoring the big door in the middle of the wall, and ignored me correcting them, whilst heading into my parent’s bedroom. And I point!

But also, they’d come in, search around for the light switch for the kitchen- it’s right there by the kitchen door, they’d press all sorts of buttons on the microwave, changing the power percentage, and then not knowing how to turn the nob to get the times. They get too flustered to actually listen to me and i have to tell them to turn the microwave off and on again because god knows what new combination of settings they’d put the microwave to. And then they go “ahahaha oh your microwave! I’ll get the hang of it one day!” Well, maybe if you just… stopped and listened to my instructions? Maybe read the words above the buttons before just jabbing at them frantically? It’s a microwave. I’m pretty sure everyone else they go to don’t all have one specific brand and type of microwave and I’m the outlier with a strange one. Everyone must have a different microwave, and the microwaves can’t possibly be that much different from each other! But they never said they were the same with everyone else’s microwave, just mine, as if mine was some sort of strange object they’d never come across before.

I had one carer who wanted to rush through everything. I cook frozen veg in the microwave, the instructions are on the bag. I read out the instructions and I told her to stir at the time specified on the instructions. She stood right in front of the microwave, took out the veg when it pinged the first time… stood there with her back to me, and I couldn’t see what she was doing, and then she put the veg back in to the microwave and then served it up.

The middle was still frozen. “Well you read out the instructions, love” this carer said to me. “I followed what you said. I thought it should have been longer.” Other carers had been given the same instructions (Measurements and time), other carers followed the same instructions, and I had no problems. The food was cooked through just fine. Other carers also turned and talked to me whilst they stirred, and some even showed me to check I was happy.

Maybe the problem was actually she didn’t stir the veg? That’s the only thing I can think of was the problem. She just stood there with her back to me and didn’t turn around, and she rushes through everything, and more importantly, didn’t even check when she put it on the plate.

They say the attitude “If I want something doing right, i’ll do it myself” is a trauma response, because you’re continually shown that you can’t trust anyone to do things as right as you. And sadly, that’s been my experience. Things going so wrong because my parents dropped the ball. Friends letting me down. Teachers, doctors, you name it. The amount of things I have had to take control of or been left in control of so things would be done right, or the times I’ve depended on people only to be let down. I could make a really long list, really. And I really feel it with these carers.

I also feel it with my Dad, who has taken over the feeding and watering of me during the pandemic because I had to ask the carers to stop coming (one refused to wash their hands). He is the type of man who will say “No, it’s not in there” when looking for something, and then sit back down again without looking properly. And that’s that. Doesn’t matter if it’s something needed, he can’t see it so that’s that.

So I have to get up and get it myself. Which would sound like i’m just lazy if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m physically disabled and living in a flat that isn’t fully wheelchair accessible. It’s not easy for me to “Just get up and look for something myself”, if it was, I wouldn’t depend on carers in the first place.

And one time, going back to actual agency carers, I had a carer swear down she absolutely couldn’t find something I knew was in the cupboard, and I had my Dad going on that I mustn’t have bought it, I must have gotten confused, if they can’t find it then it isn’t there and I shouldn’t go on about it. Because apparently sauce with my meal isn’t a big deal. This is despite the fact that I saw my Dad put it in the cupboard the week before, when I bought it. But he couldn’t remember, and she couldn’t find it, so clearly I was wrong and mistaken.

The next day I went in to the kitchen – Again, not something easy for me – and I looked in the cupboard that I saw my Dad put the sauce in, and what do i find to the right of the door? The jar of sauce I definitely did not buy and absolutely was not there. Right there. Where I said it was. I’m a few feet lower than the cupboard. If I can see it from my height, I have no clue why the carer, at a more average height and actually able to look into the cupboard, couldn’t see it.

(The reason is she didn’t look properly, and it wasn’t important to her to find it, and so she clung on to my Dad’s explanation of me being an absent minded fool with a poor memory over my own word of telling her I definitely bought it and it was definitely in there.)

It is so frustrating that this is what I have to put up with. And I’m not looking forward to restarting the care package when the pandemic is over and I’m not at risk of carers bringing it in.

So i’ll have daily calls of people coming in, trying to put the light on from the wrong side of the wall, trying to start the microwave with the percentage button, trying to start the microwave with the deftost button, and giving me half frozen food because they don’t want to listen and don’t bother checking food on dishing it out.

And if i could do it myself, I’d do a damned better job, but I can’t, and that’s why I depend on other people in the first place.


Is it me, or am I just unlucky with the media I watch?

Sunday 22 November, 2020

After hardly watching any films almost all year, and I mean I watched three films between the months of February to November 2020, and two of them were more “On in the background whilst I was in the room and I kept turning around to look at the telly”, I finally felt curious about one film enough to get Netflix back, sit in front of the telly, and watch The Old Guard.

Because, since it’s release during the summer, it’s like everyone has seen this film, and i’ve spent the last however many months dodging meta, gifs, memes and reaction posts about it. And finally I thought, i’ve absorbed the whole story of this film through cyberetic osmosis, I really have to watch it for myself and see if it’s worth the hype.

And I did, and… I’m not sure about the latter. I really liked the film, don’t get me wrong. I like it how it is, I just don’t think it was as Amazing with a Capital A as everyone made it out to be. I do think it’s one of those films you notice more things in the more you watch it, meaning there’s more to it than meets the eye… I just think, the little moments we got that we could hyperanalyse if we wanted, should have been made a bit more of. There’s clearly a lot of story there to be written, and it would have been nice for it to be expanded. Maybe, if they get the sequel, we’ll get more of that in there. But there’s always a risk with a sequel that it’ll go forwards from there, or that it’ll not actually come to light at all. And with the virus…

But here’s the thing. I knew it was about Immortal people, and so I guessed death would be a topic too, but I suppose I didn’t realise what the driving emotions would be behind the film. We also have a character, Nile, who talks about missing her mum. That hit hard.

There was also a scene where one of the characters gets one of the henchmen in the eye whilst fighting him.

Yesterday I thought, well, if I’m watching films again, and series 3 has finally started airing in the UK (some weeks ago now), I’ll watch that. I forgot that series 2 ended with a death, leaving the viewer unsure if it’s Nic’s sister who has died or her Dad. Series 3 started with Nic attending a funeral, maybe a grave… I had to turn it off straight away.

And then I watched The Witcher. It’s something that I had plans to watch as soon as I heard about it, but then obviously life happened, and so I didn’t. And everyone was talking about The Witcher! For the first half of this year, for all through the first Lockdown, I saw poeple bingewatch The Witcher. So, I got Netflix back and it made sense to watch The Witcher.

First episode: Death. First we’ve got one guy getting an arrow to the eye, then everyone’s dying, and then a motherly figure is wounded and the girl is crying, and then it gets worse…

Second episode: People are bullying a girl with Scoliosis. I get it, I understand on multiple levels. It’s just not that great when you have scoliosis and a hump and know it could have been so much worse if circumstances had been different (but not so different i’d have died…) and watching a bodily deformity be yet another emotional plot point to make a point. I don’t know which way it will go. I’m glad she’s not evil, because that’s a tired trope. But I don’t know if she’s going to be another Rezo The Red Priest type (though he was blind, but my point still stands).

Oddly enough, the reason I had to turn it off partway through the episode was not because of any emotional turmoil caused by the plot or character interaction, but because a british-accented character said the phrase “On accident” instead of the more correct phrase of By Accident and it pissed me off to the point I had to turn it off.

Well, I suppose in a way you could say that is emotional turmoil over character interaction…

Does anyone have any recommendations of films or shows for me to watch where no mother figure dies (or nobody gets shot in the eye with an arrow) nor gets bullied because their bodies are “outside the norms of perpetuated beauty standards”? Cos if you do, answers on a post card, people!

Or comment below, that would be more efficient. Especially because you don’t have my address, but there is a handy dandy comment box you could use.


15 Years Today

Friday 16 October, 2020

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

1985 – 2005


I’ve never been to Penny Lane

Saturday 4 July, 2020

I’m a massive fan of The Beatles, and I live in Liverpool, but I’ve never been to Penny Lane. Not even on patient transport. My mum never let me!

I used to live on the bus route where I could get on just by mine and, if I was so inclined, go all the way to Penny Lane, but my mum, who lived her life to a strict shopping list and the phrase ‘we’ve got food at home’ never deviated her plans to allow this to happen. And she forbidded my dad from taking me! I never found out why. I began to suspect Penny Lane never actually existed…

It does exist. I’ve seen the photographic evidence!

The most frustrating thing is, it would have been so easy! Just get on and stay on the bus. No changing buses, no walking to another bus stop, just one bus, one route and back again. But the suggestion always went the same way.

“No you’re not going to Penny Lane.”

“why?”

“Because I said so, and that’s that!”

“We could just go, and stay on the bus and get on the next bus back.”

“You’re not going to Penny Lane, don’t go on.”

When I was a bit older and traveling on buses and trains by myself, to friends houses and a bit further afield, I thought if I planned it all out and just told my mum, like, ‘hey so on Saturday, me and this friend are gonna go to Penny Lane, okay? We’ll eat at this place at this specific time, and get this time bus back. Okay? Cool, all sorted!’ she’d have no option but to just accept it.

She did not accept it.

“You are not going to Penny Lane!! Don’t you even think about it!!”

The thing is, I got away with a few things, where I could prove my parents over protectiveness was over the top, after the fact, and some other things without mum and dad knowing, but I didn’t think I could get away with sneaking off to Penny Lane. And then just as my parents started accepting my own decisions on where I went, and what time I was getting home, my mobility worsened and I became a full time wheelchair user.

The bus route to penny lane didn’t have wheelchair access.

And then they changed all the bus routes and that bus didn’t go to Penny lane anymore. And then they dissolved that bus route altogether.

By the time I came through the other side of university the first time and being bed bound operation recovery and moving away and moving back, all the routes had changed. One good thing is wheelchair access is almost universal, but the route I’d have to take would involve changes, and getting there and back again within my social call time. Or an expensive taxi journey.

I think ive been thinking of this lately because of lockdown. I’m potentially looking at being stuck inside until there’s a vaccine, as people take more risks to get back to normality. The risk of dying from this hasn’t changed, and I worry as the death count continues to fall, it’ll go the same way as the flu, and the same attitude towards the coronavirus that has simmered under the surface from day 1: it’ll be up to the most at risk of dying from it to prevent themselves from catching it.

I feel like nobody has considered the idea that maybe the death count is falling because the virus is running out of people susceptable of dying from it, besides those of us lucky to have not caught it so far.

And the idea of having to stay indoors until there is absolutely no risk, when others are going back to work, education, visiting family, going on holiday, to the pub, not wearing a mask, not caring that they may be asymptomatic and spreading it… It’s so frustrating. So much of my life has been spent stuck inside as it is! And if I do my best to ensure I don’t catch the flu, and catch it anyway because other people aren’t ensuring they don’t spread it, then it’s obvious what the outcome will be eventually with this.

It makes me wish I’d have been able to do things when I had the opportunity to do them, cos I don’t know when I’ll have the chance to next without literally risking my life, and the life of the people around me.

I need to get over my fear of heights so I can enjoy the skyline of Liverpool properly, I need to get over my fear of water and try and swim, and I need to go to Penny Lane, and get a photo of myself by the sign!

It will be so much more difficult than twenty years ago. Why couldn’t I have gone there twenty years ago?

Maybe when I get there, I’ll find out.


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.