The Value in a Pebble

It’s been a funny day today. Yesterday I visited a charity shop with a number of plates being sold being sold with images of animals on. I was told they had come in as a collection and the volunteer sales assistant offered me a discount if I wanted them all. I didn’t buy them but came back home thinking of the woman, her collection over the years and them being for sale for some other lucky person to pick up. Then today whilst tidying up I got to looking at a round wooden bowl me a Mrs g keep on the coffee table. The bowl is full of pebbles, driftwood, stones, little Buddha’s, clay pipes and odds and ends. They’re all little bits we’ve picked up from walks over the years and kept as little memories. They wouldn’t mean anything to anyone else and have no real value but memories. I suddenly remembered yesterday and got to feeling that there will come a time in the future when me and Mrs G won’t be around and they’ll all just be discarded as what they really are nothing just memories, which mean nothing to anyone else. It made me feel really sad and I actually ended up shedding a little tear over a few pebbles and stones.
And that’s it, it’s just been a funny day!

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Our Human Rights are about you and me, they’re about equality, fairness, and protecting and safeguarding the most vulnerable and providing them with a safety net. For older people in this country they’re about ensuring that our older people are treated with dignity and respect in care, they’re about ensuring our older people are able to play a part in their loved one’s care and they’re about ensuring that family life and privacy are respected. The Human Rights Act is a tool for people like You and Me and every organisation and individual interested in the issues of older people to challenge and defend the rights of each and every one of us. At the end of the two years learning I have had in human rights I have been left with a sense of the importance of the Human Rights Act and how it is about each and every one of us and equally just as important in this country as that far off country the other side of the world. I have genuinely sensed and felt the power of the Human Rights Act and how it can be used to bring about change for older people and yet feel that the Human Rights Act isn’t about having the legislation to attack or for embarrassing local authorities or the state into acting because it’s their tool also to use to protect those older people also. In the words of the Equality and Human Rights Commission “human rights are recognised as values we share with one another, not simply rights we claim for ourselves, helping to build a more cohesive, civilised and fair society”. The Human Rights Act is simply about having the legislation that is in place to protect all of us which can be used to uphold our rights simply and effectively when challenging things that we see as unfair and unjust.

 On the 29th of March I attended the annual British Institute Human Rights Conference in Westminster London. The conference was entitled Human Rights at Home: an agenda for fairness. I listened to a number of speeches throughout the day but the three that stood out for me were the Keynote speeches. The first speech was from Lord McNally, Minister for Justice and secondly Sir Geoffrey Bindham, QC and Chairperson of the BIHR and the third by the new director of the BIHR Stephen Bowen. All three keynote speeches talked about the future of Human Rights. I think everyone went home with a sense that our Human Rights and The Human Rights Act in our country are under threat by being replaced with a UK Bill of Rights and that if this happens the safety net for the most disadvantaged in our society could be watered down or removed if we don‟t all act now to show our support for them. We need to demonstrate that the Human Rights Act, as it is in its present state now, is the minimum we need to still be in place following the Commissions investigation (and if anything more rights should be incorporated) to protect the vulnerable in our society. If you do one thing today visit the British Institute for Human Rights Website http://www.bihr.org.uk and find out how you can protect your rights and especially the rights of your family, friends and neighbours and those most disadvantaged in society. Don‟t leave it until it is too late!

It’s time for each and every one of us to bring about change for older people

On Saturday I read a letter in a local newspaper from a woman aged 88 asking for somewhere where she can go to die when she can longer attend herself so that she doesn’t lose her dignity. Last week our older people’s Human Rights Group were finishing off a DVD they have made and one of the most heartbreaking moments of the film is where an older woman says before she goes into care she will just take all her medication and finish it all. A fortnight ago a woman I was speaking to said she can see a time coming now where she will just want to sit down and go as she doesn’t want to become a burden on society. Three people in the space of two weeks feeling that in the later stages of life there is no dignity, there will no longer be a purpose to their lives and they will become a burden on society and would rather take the opportunity to die than continue living. What is this saying about our society, about how we care for our older people in the later stages of life and about the messages we are inadvertently giving out to our older community about their worth?

Constantly we can hear our older generation being bombarded with the comments “that the aging population, the baby boomers, is the cause of all the difficulties we face around health and social care and again that the situation will only get worse as this older population continually grows over the coming years” . These comments are being made by the government and the media alike and I genuinely believe it is like a slow tap dripping on pebbles slowly wearing them away. Every single day I talk to older people not only on a one to one basis but in group situations and I am being told by an ever-growing number of older people that health and social care for older people is at crisis point and the problems we are facing around pensions are a direct result of the baby boomers. I am not being told by older people the problems are because previous governments and think tanks haven’t planned for this day but because it’s their fault because they are part of the baby boomer generation and there is too many of them, if they wasn’t around the country wouldn’t be facing the difficulties they are.

These types of comments are becoming more and more frequent and more frightening. Older people are beginning to feel they are to blame for the situation that we are now in by default of simply being born in an era when lots of children were born. In the past when I first started in health and social care you would often hear an older person saying that they didn’t want to become a burden in old age on their children but now its older people both individually and in groups saying they are becoming a burden on society, that it’s their fault, they are the cause of everything and for me that’s wrong. There is an old saying that if you tell people something for long enough whether it is true or not they begin to believe it. No one individual or of people should ever be made to feel a burden on society and there has to be some kind of change in attitude by those sending out these messages.

There are a number of great charities out there working to bring about change for older people but they can’t do mit alone and I no longer believe we can genuinely rely on Government to bring about change for our older people. I genuinely believe it has to be a time for us all as individuals to start working positively to take our older people out of poverty and give them the respect, dignity and real choice and empowerment in the later stages of their life they deserve.  As a society we have to find ways to show our children and their children that we are a society that actually cares about older people and they will have something to look forward to in later life. Whether this is just phoning an older person we know once or twice a week, knocking on neighbours door, visiting gran more often, sending a little card and asking the kids to put a note in, volunteering to do visiting in a care home, buying some extra foodstuffs and taking them around to an older friend, anything as long as it is something. 

I think it has to start with each and every one of us today because if we can’t bring about change individually in our own lives to how we see and treat people in the later stages of life then we are certainly not going to be able to achieve it as a society and get Governments to do it.

London

Have just come back from London from seeing our daughter after what has to be one of the best weekends I’ve had in ages.  So much buzz, life, inspiration, creativity and food and drink of course.  On Friday night we went to one of the most interesting streets in London – Brick Lane for an Indian meal. We started with a drink in a Moroccan styled bar served by three of the most attractive Bar staff I have seen in ages. He had his hair in a Japanese style bob and the girls had so much character about their looks and manners it took me all my time to take my eyes of them.  The Indian meal was interesting and good value and it was just night to take the long walk home taking in the night life.

Saturday we went to a market in Islington, then to the City of London Museum, then Borough Market, the Tate, the Clink Museum, over to Covent Garden’s, Leicester square and Piccadilly over to Soho for a drink in the French House and then to Covent Garden’s again for a quick drink in the Punch and Judy, finishing in Islington for another Indian meal and a drink in The Camden Head which is a fantastic little pub and we did all this walking from one place to another.

Sunday we went to Spittle fields Market and then to the smaller Brick Lane Markets before heading over to Victoria, Covent Garden’s, Leicester square and Piccadilly again before heading home.

I know a lot of people say they hate London it’s too busy too overcrowded, too big but I love it. I love the Art the Fashions, the Multicultural flavour that the City holds and its history. I love the markets, the buzz of it and how its people are so creative in etching a living. I am not stupid I know underneath all the lights it has its negative sides, it has its bad parts, poverty and it isn’t all wonderful but it has one things most places don’t anymore and that’s its character etched on to every street corner and face you bump into – and let’s face it if it’s happening it’s happening in London. Can’t wait to go back there – I think heaven would be a home in Brighton and a Job in London.

Masquerade, Cup Cakes and Meditations

 Went to see Hurly Burly at Deda in Derby last night only to find out that I’d got the wrong night and the tickets I’d bought were to see Masquerade by Tilted Productions.  However, despite missing out on the Burlesque evening  I was so much looking forward to it turned out be a fantastic evening and I couldn’t help but become totally absorbed in the production of Masquerade and with a feeling of wanting to step into the piece whilst it was being performed.

It’s really funny but I can genuinely say I do love my job working with older people but it doesn’t and never has felt like home if that makes any sense to people. The job has always felt like I have been guided or steered there for a reason of which I’m still unaware.  I love photography, dance, art, poetry but not very good at any of them and whenever I see anything that I connect with I just want to write or photograph it or climb into it and escape from where I am now . For some reason I feel I don’t have that feeling of belonging in the place I’m in now and have either been, or going, to another place where this world of photography, dance, art, poetry means a great deal more at some point.  It’s really strange Indian culture has the same effect and I feel as though I have either been and I’m from or going there at some point in the future. There’s a deeper understanding and connection deep within the spirit of things around Art and India that I can’t explain or put my finger on which leaves me confused, lost and with an overwhelming feeling of loss and sadness that I’m not consumed in them there and now, it’s quite strange at times.

Went to meditation class this week and had another good meditation session. If anyone wants to try something that really works for getting rid of stress or inspiring the creative juices then you should try meditation. Seriously thinking of starting my own classes or one to one sessions in the evenings or weekends at some point in the future I think the benefits of meditation could really help people and is amazingly under used as a tool for bringing some inner piece to people’s lives .

Our work server is being fixed this weekend and so I have been without my work laptop this weekend and to be honest it’s like temporarily losing the use of part of your body. Definitely coming to the conclusion if that’s how it’s leaving me feeling that I must be using it to much lol.

Woke up this morning and I’m lying in bed thinking that somewhere in the world now a lion is catching forty winks, in the Amazon a tribe are hunting for food, Eskimos are doing their thing and Guru’s in India are meditating, millions are either eating, making love, killing each other, planning coups, revolutions, where they’re going to do their shopping and I was lying there twittering to Blue Door Bakery who was baking cake for a contact tea for older people  and make what look like the most wonderful cup cakes – Funny Old World isn’t it?  

Anyway I’m off to spend some of Sunday afternoon meditating 🙂  Have a good rest of the weekend everyone.

The Best Film I’ve Seen In Ages

Been a really good day today – I managed to pull myself out of  a warm bed around 11am  and then visited a friend with Liz. We then all went to the Savoy in Nottingham to watch the Kings Speech – Fantastic film and it had me hanging on to its every word.  The film is quite moving in parts and also very funny with some really good acting.

We bought 10 balls of orange wool yesterday so that last night we could make some orange bobble’s for Orange Bobble Day on the 11th.  After numerous attempts I have given up – it appears I’m not that good at making bobble’s – in fact my bobble’s didn’t even get started  as I wrapped and tied myself in knots.

So if anyone wants any orange wool – I know just the bloke!

Orange Bobbles, Twigs With Thorns And A Trip To The GP

Have You Got Your Orange Bobble Yet?

Age UK’s Spread the Warmth campaign want everyone to recognise the 250 older people who die every day during the winter months as a result of the cold weather and help them to take steps to eradicate this issue by taking part in Orange Bobble Day on Friday 11th of Feb. To find out more visit  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/get-involved/spread-the-warmth/go-orange-for-bobble-day/

Or visit us at our Age UK Derby and Derbyshire 50 plus centre in the Eagle Market or at our Morledge office and buy your bobble from us. Ps if you’re any good at knitting bobbles knit us a few and bring them in for us to sell on Friday.

 Diet, Drink, Sex and Life

What a week it has been! Comedy Career Wrecked and a Trip to the GP

It started with my comedy career going out the window when I was called home before I even got to the comedy workshop I’ve been waiting ages to go to because our dog was in excruciating pain and couldn’t sit down. It turned out to be a small but lethal twig with thorns lodged under her tail which she couldn’t dislodge – Ooooh just the thought is painful – and yes I did remember to wash my hands 🙂

Tuesday also saw me having the most massive panic attack I’ve had to date which ended in a trip to the Walk in Clinic. If anyone has ever suffered from panic attacks they’ll know exactly what I mean when I say once they take hold they take hold and you are literally left thinking  you’re just about to depart this world and nothing is going to change your mind without a full medical.  Luckily this is what I was given and following my detailed check over by Nurse Mick I left reassured I wasn’t dying but being told it might be a good idea to pop and see my GP. Well don’t stop me laughing here but trying to get an appointment at or Doctors is getting a little bit like trying to get Mubarak out of power – You know at some point you will but not without a bloody fight first. In order to get an appointment (and from the first phone call) it took me  18 hours,  25 phone calls, four receptionists and a triage nurse  only to be told “yes I think you’ll need to see the doctor – can you get here in twenty minutes”.  I nearly killed myself just running up the road to make the appointment never mind the feelings of still thin king I’m about to die and guess what – Yes appointment 9.40 – arrive 9.39 to big man blocking entrance talking to receptionist – see receptionist 9.45 – classed as a late for appointment get into see the doctor 10.20. It was all such a smooth smooth process I left feeling as well as one can be expected under the circumstances with reflux tablets in one hand and an appointment for a blood check in the other.

The diet, with all the worry and running around, has meant I have lost weight and I’m now down to 102kgs.  Can I make it down to a 100kgs by Monday I ask myself?   If I can just avoid the dreaded JD and Cokes and curry for another 2 days I’ll be laughing – Hungry and miserable – but laughing!