Saturday, 1 March 2014

Thatcher Day, Electronic Skeletons And The Lockout

I signed a petition the other day. I don't normally sign petitions. Ordinarily my Olympic sized apathy concerning everything and everyone prevents me from bothering. That and my award-winning laziness. Admittedly signing an online petition does not involve getting off the couch and missing the end of Pointless, but it invariably involves having to read a long winded message about what it is they want you to sign and why. I just can't be arsed.

I usually treat the petitions I come across as just another of the many annoyances plastered all over social media. On which subject, don't you just get fucking mad with rage and hell fire about people posting pictures of various forms of physical abuse on Facebook and Twitter? Don't be posting disturbing images on my timeline unless you are going to actively do something about stopping the abuse. Don't just leave it there like a dirty bomb while you fuck off back to watching Towie and eating bacon butties. What are you trying to prove? That you disapprove of cruelty to children and animals? Don't we all. Your position is not revolutionary. All right thinking people disapprove of cruelty to children and animals. The only people who don't are either psychotic and should be removed from your friends list and arrested immediately, or have beans for brains. You are not going to be considered some kind of modern, independent free-thinker by contaminating cyberspace with pictures of malnourished dogs or tortured children. But you might get 583 'likes' which if you are honest, is what it is really all about. Cut it out, as my mum used to tell me.

Back to petitions. This one was different. This was a petition to try to stop the August Bank Holiday being named after Margaret Thatcher. No, really. Some delusional Tory, specifically Peter Bone MP, is sufficiently unaware of the depth of hatred of Thatcher in many quarters to have seriously suggested dedicating an otherwise pleasurable late summer holiday to her. This displays a staggering level of ignorance at best and arrogance at worst. Even if, like old Bonehead, you are one of those Greed-Is-Good turdwits who liked Thatcher because you did very well out of her premiership thank you very much, how is it possible to not understand that at the very least she polarises opinion across the country to extreme levels? There hasn't been a more divisive figure in British history. Where I live, Joanna Dennehy would get more votes in an election than Thatcher. If you're going to name a Bank Holiday after her you might aswell go the whole hog and rename Christmas after Mussolini.

I'm happy to report that I am one of 124,000 people who felt moved to put my name to the petition to stop this and that we have been successful. Bone's bill was due to be heard on February 28 but it was one of over 30 due to be discussed that day. They never got round to it. Well, it was Friday afternoon and most MP's are asleep by then. You would like to think that those who remained awake would, had it got that far, been aware enough of what is going on around them in the country they claim to represent to laugh the idea out of the house. Knowing what we know about our politicians that is far from certain, but at least they had the wherewithal to prioritise the afternoon's agenda in such a way that this turgid idea will now never get off the ground. Had it done so I might well have felt compelled to boycott that Bank Holiday, preferring instead to sit outside my place of employment banging on the door until they let me in. I'm not celebrating anything in her name except maybe the fact that she is no longer running this country. It would have been a moral dilemma of the worst kind though. Celebrate Margaret Thatcher Day or lose your August Bank Holiday because of the evil old witch? Thankfully I'll probably never have to decide.

I was having a conversation with a friend and colleague yesterday about some kind of research into therapy for people who have become paralysed. You know the kind of stuff Christopher Reeve was into before he sadly shuffled off the proverbial coil? It transpires that some crazy boffins somewhere are trying to develop some kind of electronically powered skeleton suit or whatever the hell it might be to try and trick the brains of the paralysed into making their affected bits move. Can you tell I wasn't listening all that well and that I haven't really done much research into this since? Why should I when you can get significantly more 'likes' on Facebook by posting a photograph of a dying puppy than you can from trying to write something accurate and informative? Anyway, at first I scoffed at this in a way that only I can. I'm a champion scoffer, as we know. I saw it as an attempt by the able bodied to rid themselves of the shame of having disabled people living among them. I'm not that bothered about walking and I see the task of making things accessible for me as the duty of a civilised society. It is not incumbent upon me to find ways to start walking, surely?

Having given a bit more thought to the question of whether I would like to eliminate my disability I now accept that yes I probably would. But not by simply moving my legs. Getting my disobedient limbs to comply is not going to eliminate the worst things about disability. If research of this kind can find a way to give me control of my bladder and my bowels so that I may not have to use implements which make me more susceptible to infection and the subsequent organ damage I have suffered then that's worthwhile. Of course, you can't go back in time so no amount of research could reverse my kidney damage. But in theory I would support that idea for future generations. Provided the shamed, socially inept teen mothers of the modern generation haven't aborted us all out of existence by then. Genuine results from this research are so far away that they won't affect me in any case, so I'll hold out and request only that people start showing a little more respect for disabled people and treat them as equals. That would cost an awful lot less than an electronic skeleton, I would imagine.

Before I leave you for another prolonged period of introspection (which mostly involves reading through old columns and squirming at their pomposity) I can't neglect to mention that the lock on my front door is broken. Emma went out to the shops this morning and when she got back she couldn't get in to the house. Her key turned but the door wouldn't budge. I tried to unlock it from the inside but had the same problem. The lock turned, but the door jammed. I had to go through to the back door to let her in, which sounds simple but such is the amount of junk now stored in our house it actually meant that I had to bail out of my chair and crawl on the conservatory floor in order to get to the back door. I looked like Leonardo Di Caprio in that awful, offensive cerebral palsy scene from the vastly over-rated Wolf Of Wall Street. Although I concede I was not nearly as good looking as Leo. Anyway, If only I had an electronic skeleton type suit thingy I could have walked there. By about 7.30 on Tuesday. On route, I had to move an enormous blue basket-shaped contraption which I'm told helps dry clothes. I don't go into the back room of our house that often but every time I do it seems like another new attraction has been added. Like they do in Disney Land from time to time. The upshot of all this is that we now have to get a locksmith out to attend to it, and since they are cheaper in the week than they are at the weekend it's going to have to wait till Monday. To compound things, this happens only a year away form a complete overhaul of the way the house is laid out and when we will therefore need an entirely new front door. With classic Emma-and-Stephen luck on our side, what is the betting that we will have to buy a new front door now aswell?

Fortunately, Emma has been good enough to plot an escape route for me past the blue, basket-shaped clothes-drying contraption.

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