Secret film project

You may have noticed that I haven’t written quite as much here on my blog recently. Apart from being quite ill, one of the reasons for this is that I have been working on a new project. I am making a short film which is a new form of media for me. In the last two weeks I have been filming, editing, re-filming, re-editing, swearing at video editing software, and generally spending a lot of time learning how to do this!

Unfortunately I have a few changes to make after a couple of preview screenings, and so it will be a few more days before I release the final edit. If anyone wants to give me some feedback, I can arrange access to the preview version on Youtube if you send me your Youtube account name. Email me – latentexistence at gmail.com

Sticks and stones

Words.

Words can hurt.

Words can flatter.

Words can insult.

Words may convey the opposite of what the speaker intended.

Take the word cripple, for instance. Many disabled people react with outrage if any person uses the word to describe themselves or someone else. But what does it mean?

Cripple: noun
1. Sometimes Offensive.
a. a person or animal that is partially or totally unable to use one or more limbs;a lame or disabled person or animal.
b. a person who is disabled or impaired in any way: a mental cripple.

Now I understand that many people born with certain differences such as being deaf, blind or without the use of limbs do not see themselves as disabled, just different. They are perfectly happy the way they are, wheelchairs, guide dogs and all, and don’t see themselves as missing anything. As one person I know put it, “I would turn a cure down.” That’s fine. I can see that they would object to the use of the word cripple to describe them since they don’t agree that they are crippled. But plenty of other people have through accident or illness lost the use of limbs, senses or other abilities, and they DO see themselves as crippled. Loss is the key part here – they have lost something that they once had, and are therefore crippled. If those people want to describe themselves that way, what right has anyone else got to stop them? I know several people that refer to themselves as cripples or crips, and they say it is fine because they are one. They make jokes about it. Once friend calls his cane a “crip stick”. Some other people have the word “crip” in their names on twitter or other internet forums.

The word crip can be used as an insult, but it is important to realise that it might be an insult only in the mind of the person using it. They look at someone, see less or different functionality in that person than themselves, and call them a cripple. They mean less or different, as in lower than them. The person on the receiving end of the insult may or may not think the same. People should be insulted by the other person’s intention behind the word, not the word that was used.  In the same way that someone could mutter “oh, sugar” when they drop something. They meant the same as someone that would have said shit in the same situation, we know they meant the same, they know they meant the same, so does the use of a different word mean anything?

Recently following the Slutwalk movement in protest against victim blaming, many people have decided to use the word slut about themselves in a (to them) positive meaning. Can other people that don’t want the word used stop these people from doing so? There are plenty of examples like this. Gay – a sexual orientation, or an insult and a disparaging description? Recently I’ve seen a fuss made about the word “Retard” – see The Guardian: It’s time to cut ‘retard’ from use.

There are some cases where phrasing is important in order to be inclusive. When I write I am careful to try and write “sick or disabled people” when I talk about this group that will be affected by cuts to the welfare state. The reason why is obvious – some are sick and some are disabled, some are both, but all that claim Incapacity, ESA, DLA or similar benefits are in the affected group, and using only one word or the other will leave people out. Sue Marsh wrote a good article on this – Diary of a Benefit Scrounger: Sick or Disabled.

Ultimately, words are important to express inclusiveness, and to avoid insult. Unfortunately a huge number of people know nothing about these areas of other people’s lives, and do not know the words to use. Most will adjust their language when the reasons are explained to them. Some will not, through laziness, a desire to insult, or through just not thinking it important. Recently I wrote a blog post on gender. Soon after I wrote it, a friend contacted me to warn me that I had some subtle definitions of sex and gender wrong, and that some affected people would be angry because of this. I changed the wording, and know now to be careful when talking about the subject. Millions of other people still have no idea of the difference.

I will try to use the correct words when I know about them, and will listen and learn when I get it wrong. And I do still get it wrong, most recently writing “the disabled” instead of “disabled people” repeatedly because of habit. Unfortunately some people attach more to the use of words than others, which is a problem in political campaigning. I know of one disability rights group that will not work with another group because they don’t always get the language right, and because they don’t correct others that don’t get it right. I’m inclined to agree with the view that correcting technicalities of words is less important than standing together at the moment. (Although there are some situations where large groups have done nasty things, I agree about not working with them.) I try to use the right language, but ultimately my goal is to fight for our lives against the government. I want to win that battle first, and we can sort the words out later. Anything else could be a huge risk.

 

It’s all go! (Personal Update)

Moving home. It’s suddenly happening.

We were supposed to move out of our current flat by the end of last month, but despite our astonishment at being allocated a flat within two months, (I was rated priority Gold Plus by the housing association) we haven’t actually been allowed to move in yet because quite a lot of work had to be done to clear up after the last tenants. Our landlord and letting agency have been rubbish about this, grudgingly agreeing to let us stay an extra week but demanding that we hand over the keys at 8am on Monday the 6th. The housing association called today to say they can give us the keys to the new flat on Monday afternoon. They still haven’t fixed the boiler because the parts won’t arrive until the end of next week, but we can move in if we accept that there is no hot water.

Since then we’ve been rushing and stressing and trying to organise everything. The house movers are booked for Tuesday. I’ve ordered a cooker and a washing machine, expecting delivery on Wednesday, only to find out that they’re actually coming a week on Wednesday! These ones are still £120 cheaper than any other supplier though, so we’re sticking with it. So in our first week there we will have hot water only from the kettle and the electric shower, and will have to cook using the microwave, slow cooker and maybe camping cookers, and can’t wash any clothes. We might as well be camping!

Right, I have to go and contact lots of people to tell them that we are moving. And to magically find some energy to get through this.

 

 

 

Bust and boom, a spoonie tale

Yes, I know that the title has the phrase the wrong way around. But bust and boom perfectly describes what has happened to me in the last few hours.

Last night after dinner and watching Doctor Who my wife and I decided that we wanted cheesecake for desert. The nearest cheesecake was at the co-op which is about half a mile away from us. My wife asked me if I wanted to come out for the walk to go and get the desert. I stood up, stretched, checked whether I was able to stand without wobbling and walk without hurting, and said yes. I regretted it almost immediately, with pain in my left leg and foot, and I was putting weight on my stick from the start. After a short distance I had to stop and lean against a lamp post for a minute while I waited for pain to go down and dizziness to stop. A bit further and we started to go uphill. I was using my stick to push me uphill and was leaning on the hand that my wife was holding too. I was dizzy and out of breath, I had pain coursing through my feet, my legs, my arms, back, shoulders, neck and probably other bits if I thought about it. At the top of the hill was a low wall. I sat on it. I couldn’t move for fifteen minutes.

Having sent my wife on without me to get the cheesecake and waited for her return, I managed to stand up (just about) and stagger home, held upright by my wife and leaning heavily on my stick. On getting home I collapsed in bed, ate a slice of cheesecake, looked at twitter, and then promptly passed out. When my wife came to bed at 9:30 I took my medicine and went back to sleep. Although I woke up for a few minutes after midnight, I slept the whole night through and woke up shortly before 5am feeling pretty good! I amused myself with twitter, trying to stay in bed a bit longer until the rest of the world woke up. Sometime around 6am my wife woke up too, and she helped me fill up my medicine tray for the week. That was actually a fairly interesting half hour, as I talked her through the medicines I take and what they are all for. The only problem is that while distracted by talking about my medicines I accidentally took two doses of paracetamol. We checked up on it, and apparently the toxic dose for my body mass is 16g and I took 2g so I am not too worried about it.

Since I was obviously feeling quite well this morning I suggested that we go out for breakfast. This time although I was using my stick I wasn’t leaning on it that much. We walked all the way up to the pub, about the same distance as the co-op, with only one pause to sit on a bench halfway there. So now I am sitting in the pub writing this on my netbook. My wife has gone off to church, and I’m writing, websurfing and drinking coffee, and not feeling too bad. Which almost makes up for my disastrous walk last night.