Thursday, 2 August 2012

I used a bus!

I had a clinic appointment in town today, but the clinic I was attending is on a main road. There are double yellow lines, and it's difficult to stop, so although I was able to get dropped off there by Mum I couldn't get a local taxi firm to come and pick me up.

The nearest place I could be picked up within the town centre was a bus stop 0.2miles, 4 minutes away (according to Google Maps). It's not far, but up a steep hill and took me 20 minutes to walk there.

Of course, by the time I got there I wasn't about to pay for a cab. The bus to my house loops around the village and passes by twice, so the driver let me stay on until the second time (which is on the right side of the road). Thank you, nice bus driver!

This feels like a major achievement, using public transport without help at either end. It was a slow journey, it took an hour and a half, but it's a start.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Learning from the wheelchair weekend

I have always tried to understand how hard it can be as a disabled person to deal with getting around day-to-day. The world doesn't make it easy; help is there but has to be specifically requested and the onus is on the traveller to calculate all the timings precisely. I've been aware of this for some time; I worked with disabled students at UCL and sat on the 'Committee for People with Disabilities'*. I saw how hard it was for people, and like to think occasionally I helped to make it easier, but the fact is that the world was designed by people who don't have to think about this stuff, and changing it will take a really long time.

As I've said, a lot of people in customer service work really hard to make life easier. The staff at Travelodge were excellent, and although the system didn't seem to live up to much, once I'd managed to get support at Marylebone the staff were really helpful once they'd realised I was there!

Being dependent on taxis is really hard work; and a lot of cab drivers were really reluctant to lower the ramp or carry the wheelchair at all. The first time I tried to get into a cab on crutches, I fell over on the pavement twice and then had to crawl in - I refused to try again after that!

When you get into a black cab in London, there is a helpful diagram showing you how to position a wheelchair. It is to be wheeled up the ramp, then rotated 90 degrees so that it is facing backwards. The problem is, the wheelchair I was in (which is by no means oversized) didn't have the space to rotate. I found that a little worrying. Obviously I'm fine, but if the guidelines exist, surely they do for a reason? Did no one stop to wonder if there would be wheelchairs that couldn't be manipulated into that position? Why did none of the drivers of the four cabs I took in the wrong position reassure me that they believed it was safe? Why did I have to fight to get the ramp lowered? I don't want to be difficult; I avoid confrontation when I can, but after the disastrous attempts to get into a cab independently at Marylebone I really wasn't going to try again! When you only have one load-bearing leg and are still learning to use crutches, cab floors are too high and ceilings too low to allow it.

When you travel in a wheelchair or need assistance at a train station, you have to phone and pre-book assistance at both ends of the journey. Once you're on the train, the staff at your station of origin should confirm with your destination that you're on the train. The problem I found was that although two members of staff helped me onto the train, and another one assisted me at the barrier, at High Wycombe, no one phoned ahead to Marylebone. If they did, the message didn't reach the people it needed to. I was left on the train until someone came aboard to clean and found me, but they did then help me and it was ok.

The other thing I noticed was that the attitude you face as someone in a wheelchair is unpredictable. A few people got onto the train with large bags, and obviously had hoped to be able to use the wheelchair space to store them. I was a bit embarrassed at their exasperation. Someone also tried to sit in one of the fold down seats but stopped because it would have meant folding it almost onto my lap, so tutted and moved away. I was a bit embarrassed. Of course, other people were very kind. Someone stopped on the way out of the train to ask if I would be ok to get off. I think she was partly responsible for finding a member of staff at Marylebone, actually.

The other thing I found was that people are somewhat prone to help without being asked! I once saw this happen to someone else; I was on the escalator at Angel tube (the longest on the Underground, fact fans), and a man in front of me was supporting himself in a wheelchair. It took a lot of concentration, and he was clearly very focused and knew what he was doing. I didn't want to startle him by offering assistance and would never intervene without permission. I was shocked when a woman marched up the escalator, pushed me out of the way, and said, "Why will no one offer any help?" She just seized his wheelchair without asking permission.

I had the same experience trying to get from the Travelodge to Featherstone Street. People took hold of the wheelchair to move me up onto curbs, or out of their way. Someone even pushed me into the breakfast table mid-mouthful whilst I was still eating breakfast at the hotel! There is a very fine balance between assistance and interference. I was quite scared by people grabbing hold of the wheelchair to move me without asking. You become very conscious of just how vulnerable you really are.

The whole experience taught me a lot about how much we expect from disabled people. I don't know that I see that changing any time soon, either. But we can all educate ourselves about what it's really like.

Have a read of some of these blogs:
Through Myself and Back Again: Lil Watcher Girl, blogging about feminism, disablism and everything
Benefit Scrounging Scum: Bendy Girl, blogging about benefits and the reality of living on them

They both link to a number of other brilliant bloggers and activists.

*Yes, it is a stupid name. And apt; for a very long time there were no spaces reserved for disabled staff or students. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Navigating London in a wheelchair (part 2)

After yesterday, I suppose I should have predicted how tired I would feel waking up, but I underestimated by a long way!

Muscles I'd forgotten even existed in my arms and my right (i.e. non-broken) leg were sore as soon as I woke, but I managed to wash, dress and get down to breakfast in the hotel this morning. 

The Travelodge staff were excellent at breakfast, they helped me to a table and collected my breakfast for me, then helped me to reception to check out and out onto City Road to head back for another day with Leaders. 

I was astonished, however, that whilst I was eating breakfast, someone moved me out of their way! I suppose I was taking up a bit of space in a wheelchair, and he wanted to get past, so he pushed me forward into the table. It took me a second to register what had happened, I spilled the drink I had in my hand. 

I thought I was running late for the morning session, and admittedly I suppose I was a bit cocky, so I tried to make my way along City Road on my own. It's a five-minute walk, but took me about half an hour even with some help from nice people along the way. Again, one or two people took it upon themselves to move me in the wheelchair without asking, or telling me what they were going to do. I admit that I was struggling, but I was embarrassed to be struggling, and I felt even more embarrassed when I was just moved out of the way like an inanimate object. 

I wouldn't attempt something like that again - it was a pretty stupid idea - but I'll admit I was pretty pleased with myself when I did finally make it to the office. 

I had great fun in the morning with fellow-Leaders Katie and Tolu leading a session on developing and strengthening the Leaders' network to achieve even more in the next twelve months than we have in the first year. We played a game at the beginning of our session where we asked people to label each other with a range of tasks they've completed in their time as volunteers. I had my labels collected on my cast - which had remained stubbornly undecorated over the previous ten days! 

Later on, some of the girls took it a step further, so that before I left for church I had collected three very sweet messages! 

Thanks, Rochelle, Rach and Sophie!
It always sucks to say goodbye at the end of the weekenders, but I hope we're all pretty fired up and looking forward already to the next one!

I was lucky again to have some fab support getting to church, in the form of a lift from Debbie. She wrestled my heavy and clunky wheelchair single-handedly into the car and braved the wrath of Camden's many over-keen traffic wardens to get me there. I honestly wouldn't have managed it otherwise - I couldn't have either got a cab or a bus without pretty serious difficulties.

Was lovely to be back at church after some time off - and I was really pleased that I managed to get up to celebrate communion and pray with some of the congregation against the odds. I had another lift home from one of the deacons, and am now thoroughly exhausted. 

I'll sleep well tonight. 


Saturday, 14 July 2012

Navigating London in a wheelchair (part 1)

Before I broke my leg, I planned to attend a weekend of workshops with YouthNet at part of a programmed called Leaders. I enjoy the 'weekenders', always get to meet new volunteers and I've made some great friends through YouthNet over the years so it was one thing I was really keen not to miss out on.

However, the logistics of getting me and my broken leg from Bucks to Old Street turned out to be rather on the complicated side! Luckily,

I managed to get onto the train with the help of Chiltern Railways staff, but then almost didn't get off it at Marylebone! Of course, I discovered a major advantage of being in a wheelchair on a busy Saturday morning train is that it guarantees you a seat. The disadvantage is that people with luggage who were expecting to be able to use the wheelchair space get somewhat openly frustrated to have to stand because someone's parked a wheelchair there...

Thanks to the lovely Matt - a fellow Leader who'd traveled into Paddington - I eventually got off the platform. There was some problem because the wheelchair accessible barrier at platform 3 was set to entrance not exit, so we had to leave through platform 1 (more complicated than it sounds!) and it took a while to find a cab.

When we did find a cab, the driver couldn't get the ramp out so I foolishly tried to get in on crutches. Hint: you can't! The floor of a black cab is too high, and the ceiling too low. After a couple of undignified falls, I settled for the even-less-dignified crawling-and-dragging-my-cast method. Nightmare!

But eventually, we did make it to YouthNet and it was a relief to be settled somewhere that was both all one one level and navigable! I only had a couple of minor falls during the course of the day. (And, to be fair, they were my fault...)

We headed out to the Travelodge on City Road to check in. One of the volunteers took the unenviable task of pushing me along what might be the most uneven pavement in London, but did an admirable job of getting me there intact! I hadn't booked a disabled room (I wasn't broken at the time of booking!) so I was in a room a fair distance from the nearest lift. The corridors are narrow and winding, and the doors very heavy, but it was possible to get around unassisted. There was more than adequate space in my room to get around it either in the wheelchair or on crutches with the chair locked in place by the bed.

Getting out for dinner at The Breakfast Club (Hoxton), was surprisingly easy once we'd found a cab prepared to lower the ramp. Getting pushed up a ramp into a taxi is a pretty nerve-wracking experience, and my wheelchair was too big to manoeuvre into the safest position (back to the driver), but not uncomfortable.

It was easy enough to get the chair to a table at the back of the cafe when we arrived - and, of course, the food was absolutely delicious! I had a veggie burger with smoked applewood cheddar, and a Cadbury's Caramel milkshake. Yum. Highly recommended - I always love the atmosphere of the place and the menu is consistently fab, even for awkward veggies.

The next adventure was to get from Hoxton Square to Rowans in Finsbury Park - positively one of my favourite places to spend an evening. It took ages to sort out a cab because it was Saturday night and the first two we booked didn't arrive (thanks, Radio Taxis) so we hailed one from the street when it started raining!

I'd forgotten, because it was never relevant to me before, that Rowans is a very high step up from the street. Thankfully, there were two very nice - and very strong - security guys on the door who were amazing about getting me in and out. I was mortified, but can't fault them for trying! The bowling lanes themselves are up a few steps, so I couldn't get the chair up to the lanes and couldn't carry a ball on crutches. No worries - it saved me a whole heap of embarrassment, as anyone who has been bowling with me will attest.

Getting back tired was a bit tricky - both my stamina and balance get very ropey when I've been out a long time, so getting myself back to my room and into bed was hard work, but I made it! I can't help feeling a bit proud of myself...

Thursday, 12 July 2012

I ventured out into the real world

...and I am knackered!

I went from the car park, about 100m to Waterstones (with a rest half way, and a nice sit down inside) to buy myself the new Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth. I also bought the new Thursday Next title by Jasper Fforde for my sister, and was about to take a sneak peak when I realised I've not read the 5th or 6th - almost exposed myself to a spoiler. Lucky escape!

Then I was tired so I hobbled to Zizzi and had a lovely pizza (thanks, Mum!) and some of my lunchtime painkillers for dessert. Then I wanted to get some shoes for Amy Oliver-but-soon-Webb's wedding (actually I just wanted one shoe, but they come in pairs). So I hopped all the way to the lift, and back across the shop to the shoe department (hard to rest en route, the only seat is in the shoe department). Anyway, I bought some nice flip-flops for the wedding and made it all the way back to the car (four benches en route, I am in love with the architect who designed the Eden Centre).

We went home via Grandma's, so I had the chance to give her the tea cosy I designed based on a song she used to sing us:

I like a nice cup of tea in the morning,
Just to start the day, you see,
Then at half past eleven,
Well, my idea of heaven
Is a nice cup of tea.
I like a nice up of tea with my dinner,
I like a nice cup of tea with my tea
And when it's time for bed,
There's a lot to be said
For a nice cup of tea.

I've just fallen over trying to cross my bedroom without crutches. So it really hurts and I need to take some pills and get some sleep!

Here is Binnie Hale singing A Nice Cup of Tea. Good night!

Friday, 6 July 2012


(That's what a knitting spell would look like if I wrote Harry Potter.)

Of course, even Molly Weasley doesn't have a knitting spell. That would take all the fun and the little imperfections out of handmade goodies.

I've been crap at finishing Kirsty's Weasley Sweater but there's nothing like a broken leg to get the knitting juices going. So here's the finished object!

I've also finished another sweater for Joshua. Unfortunately, it took a month so he's nearly grown out of it.

This is his "no, really, I love it" face.

Things that are almost impossibly hard on crutches

  1. Stairs
  2. Toilets
  3. Sinks
  4. Showers
  5. Sitting down
  6. Getting up
  7. Carrying anything
  8. Picking up (the stuff I dropped because I attempted 5)
  9. Opening curtains
  10. Many things I haven't yet attempted...
Thankfully my family are being super-helpful!

Sickbed, in the spare room

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Independence Day

On the orthopaedics ward this morning with my shiny new cast

I'm exhausted, but finally home.

Left the hospital around 2, after passing my crutches driving test. Now I'm on the sofa dozing. Getting upstairs to the toilet is really hard, exhausting to the point of tears. I'm sure it will get easier but right now I'm just grumpy.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Physio-terrorists, surgery and plaster

Aside from Rosie, a nurse who works on the orthopaedic ward and always has a terrible joke to hand, hospital staff don't seem to make many jokes. One of the few universals is to refer to the (very nice) physiotherapists as 'physio-terrorists'.

I had an operation yesterday morning. Hilariously like a medical drama, viewing everyone from parallel to the floor. The surgeon had a blue cover over his beard, which under the beginnings of an anaesthetic was the funniest thing ever. Seriously.

Apparently the arrow worked, I came round with pain in the right (i.e. left) leg, and the temporary cast restored. Had a new cast put on by the plaster room (disappointingly white, but I guess that just means people can come and visit and draw on it, right?). Then pretty quickly started working on crutches technique with the physios, originally hoping I could go home tonight.

Unfortunately, I'm still quite woozy and nauseated from the anaesthetic so I didn't get very far. I'm not able to use my crutches properly. Instead of keeping my arms pinned to my side and leaning through them, I seem to just hop. It's not ideal, but it works and my upper-body-strength is pretty shit. If I'd known I was going to break my leg I would have trained for it!

So, given that I'm particularly dangerous on stairs, I've got to try and sleep it off and have another go tomorrow. All being well I'll be home in time for book club chat and my moderator shift tomorrow night.

Dinner time. No visitors today, but Mum brought Joshua, Luke and Tori yesterday. Was really nice to see them. Apparently they visited twice, but at 2pm I was only an hour out of surgery and don't remember them being there!

Legally stoned, waking up from an anaesthetic.
(Me, not the baby.)

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Morning on the orthopaedics ward

I didn't sleep very well last night - there is a woman with dementia on the ward who gets very confused at night. The lights on the ward go out around 12:30 and come on again at 5:30. We get a cuppa at 6, but it's a bit weak for my taste. This is an eternal problem for the Englishman away from home - no one else makes tea how I like it!

The nurses are delightful, and I've just had my first meal since yesterday morning. When I arrived on the ward, they'd already had dinner so I had some bread and butter and a cup of tea around 9pm. I'm not sure if it's my hunger speaking, but I think the food is pretty good. Vegetarianism catered for and icecream at lunch time. It can't be bad for me if it's provided by the NHS, right?

Visiting starts in a couple of hours. I'm expecting Mum and Dad. They've cut a visit up north short. They were meant to be visiting family friends on the way back from a wedding, but have decided to come down to the southwest instead. Amy might also pop in, which would be excellent. She's at a spa today winding down from last night's hen frivolities. I'm looking forward to seeing the pictures!

The surgical team visited this morning, but my ankle is still too swollen to operate. It might be tomorrow, or as late as Wednesday. If they can operate tomorrow it's not worth being transferred home. It's no easier for most of my friends to visit Wycombe, anyway, and I like and trust the doctors here now. I'll see what Mum and Dad think.

I'm beginning to realise what an impact this might really have. At first it was just funny, but now I'm having to have assistance with almost everything (I insist on dressing myself and using the commode alone - but the fact I have to use a commode is pretty awkward). I obviously won't be at church today, but it doesn't seem very likely I'll be able to march with LGSW in WorldPride London either, and I've been looking forward to that all year. I'm not even sure if I can continue as a GamesMaker for London 2012, which would be a devastating loss.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

A Very Busy Day

Exciting news: my lovely friend Amy is getting married! She and I have been friends for 15 years now (count them!) - we met at a pre-term induction rounders match at Becky High in July 1997. We were 11.

I met her fiance pretty soon after they started dating. Here is a very blurry photo of the two of them on the Roman Romp (Bath Uni RAG event) in February 2006:

Needless to say, I was very excited about her hen party. Looking forward to seeing old friends, and people from her shared houses at Bath whom I haven't seen for ages. I arrived early, and pottered around Bath (one of my favourite cities to visit; part of my dissertation centred on the Roman shrine). I went into the abbey for the first time. 

Bath Abbey

Then I couldn't resist a quick wander around the perimeter of the baths, whilst I had time to kill. I was waiting for a couple of people who didn't know the city, so it was an obvious landmark to meet by.

Water is Best from the opening
of Pindar's Odes
It was also p***ing it down, being June in England, so I waited in the doorway of an empty shop. Got a text saying Nic and Fi had met Amy before finding me so gone ahead, and I put my phone down and stepped out to go and meet them. I'm not sure how I got from there to lying sprawled across the wet stones of the square with no umbrella or handbag and really kind people asking me questions, collecting my belongings and calling an ambulance. I think in total 5 complete strangers stopped to help in one way or another, and I'm sure others offered. I wish I had found out who they were to say thank you.
The lady at my foot was another visitor to the city (and, mercifully, a really good first-aider!), she was on a treasure hunt with her skittles team. I hope she got bonus philanthropy points!

I remember worrying that Amy's super-organinsed older sister and Maid of Honour was going to have her perfectly laid plans ruined, so I did phone Amy to tell her to go on without me, but I don't really remember what I said. Evidently there was some confusion about what was going on so she sent Peter's brother to check on me (lovely guy, stayed with me for ages, but I'm pretty sure I was so confused I'd have a hard time recognising him again), and then Nic and Fi came over. St. John Ambulance volunteers are drawn to accidents! I was so thankful they were there, though.

The ambulance came amazingly quickly, and both the paramedics were completely lovely. (They did cut one of my lovely M&S patent mary janes off, but it was medically necessary...) Apparently I'm pretty funny on a combination of 10mg morphine, 'laughing gas' and shock. I was distracted by Nic and Fi's geeky amazement at the features of a NHS ambulance. Apparently SJA don't have hydraulic lifts for getting stretchers into the back. And Fi got to ride in the front, which is pretty cool. I think if I'd been fully conscious it would have been quite exciting! It was a bit like Casualty, when you see the patient's POV and it's all ceiling and funny-angle faces.

After a few uncomfortable x-rays (they involved quite a lot of posing my sore foot - vogue!) and a bit of poking and prodding, it turned out I had 2 injuries on my left leg: I dislocated my ankle and had an unstable fibula fracture.

Fun fact, fact fans: The fibula was named using the Latin word fibula, meaning brooch or pin, because of how it looks related to the tibia.

Thanks, Wikipedia

They were also amazing in A&E. More or less exactly at the moment the shock and morphine wore off (you could tell because I started screaming), they took me into resusc, knocked me out for an hour, reset my ankle and put it in temporary plaster. Then, when I was awake, a surgical registrar came to talk about how they could make my fibula more stable (put a pin in it), and to mark my leg in case the surgical team failed to notice the bruising and cast, and somehow cut open the wrong leg...

A doctor drew this, for the benefit of another doctor.
I'm on the orthopaedics ward now to wait for surgery (in the room with all the old ladies who need hip replacements, but they're very nice). Nic and Fi have gone to join the hen party in the pub after missing the first five hours to hang out with me and talk to my parents. Super-awesome of them, and I hope it reassured Amy. I'm going to get some sleep now. Epic tiredness and nothing else to do... 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Preemie beanie

This is one of my mum's patterns: Theatreknit on Ravelry. The PDF is available to download here

Joshua models his funky new hat in SCBU (NICU)
at 32 weeks (3lb 12oz)

My first grandson was born 10 weeks early and, like most preemies, had difficulty keeping warm. This hat grew with him from birth at 30 weeks (3lb 6oz), and so is suitable for a preemie or
a small newborn. When they’re really tiny, the brim folds up neatly to fit.

Knit kit
3.75mm (US 5) DPNs
Sirdar Click DK with wool, 1 skein (50g, 150m)

NB: I skein will easily make 2 hats;
you can use any washable, soft DK wool

Cast on 64, join in round and divide evenly between DPNs.
Work in k2 p2 rib for 4 inches.

Rnd 1: *k2 p2 k2 p2tog* to end (56 sts)
Rnd 2: *k2 p2 k2 p1* to end
Rnd 3: *k2 p2tog k2 p1* to end (48 sts)
Rnd 4: k2 p1 k2 p1 rep to end
Rnd 5: k2 p1 k2tog p1 rep to end 40 sts
Rnd 6: k2 p1 k1 p1 rep to end
Rnd 7: k2 k2tog p1 rep to end 32 sts
Rnd 8: k2 p2 to end
Rnd 9: k2 p2tog to end 24 sts
Rnd 10:k2tog p1. To end 16sts
Rnd 11: k2tog rep to end 8 sts
Rnd 12: k2tog rep to end 4 sts

To finish:
Break yarn and pull through remaining sts.

When knitting for a baby in hospital, always wash the garment,
then (using clean hands!) 
transfer it to a ziplock bag for delivery. 
download now

Monday, 19 March 2012

The Inevitable Gay Marriage Blog

One thing about having been brought up in an era of increasing civil rights for LGBT people, is that I feel like I am being debated all the time, and sometimes I don't find that fun. At the moment, for example, the British Government is considering expanding the legal partnership rights for same-sex couples. The extant law allows couples to enter into a Civil Partnership. This is very similar to marriage but for a few small differences:

  1. There is no requirement to consummate - so CPs cannot be annulled for non-consummation, and legally there is no allowance made for dissolution on the grounds of adultery;
  2. CPs of male peers or knights don't receive the titular rights of a wife; 
  3. It is not legally necessary to have a public ceremony, or even to both be present at the time the register is signed, as long as each signature is made in front of witnesses and a registrar;
  4. Currently, they cannot be conducted in places of worship, or by a minister, or include religious liturgy / readings. 
I realise those sound like small things, but they are enough to ensure that there remains a line between CP and marriage. After all, they are concessions made by the last government to prevent religious leaders from blocking the change to the law in the House of Lords. 

This is the basis on which the government wants to make a change from CP to marriage. Essentially, even the consultation is an acknowledgement that there are certain differences between CP and marriage - and, therefore, that the government accepts that separate but not equal is not equal. (So when government spokespeople or cabinet members say there's no difference between CP and marriage, they are making a mockery of their own decisions, it's daft.)

So, here's the thing, these changes are certain to resonate within the religious community - especially amongst those Anglicans who have a say in the lawmaking process - because they are designed to remove the concessions that the last government made to the church. The separation of church and state simply doesn't exist in the UK (particularly England), with the Queen as head of the Church of England and the PM nominally appointing the Archbishop of Canterbury. This particular consultation challenges the church's power by attempting to remove any part of the CP law that the church had asked for. It's actually much bigger than just gay marriage; we've seen this again in the last couple of days with the challenge to the Sunday Trading regulations (which will be relaxed during the Olympic and Paralympic Games). 

It's understandable, therefore, that the debate tends to assume that there is a polarisation between what is right for same-sex couples and their allies, and what is right or appropriate for the church. After all, those are the terms that even the government is framing the changes within. The subtlety and complexity of the issue has been lost. 

For example, there are many in the LGBT community who aren't all that fussed about the changes. And who can blame them? The true impact is negligible for a lot of people. How many queer peers do we have, anyway? And how many people really care if the government expects them to have sex or not (as long as they're getting what they want when they want it without coercion or abuse)? And, since the changes don't affect the rules on religion, those of us who want to involve God in our lifelong partnerships are still put out. What is being achieved, except the use of the word 'marriage'?

As I have already said, one can clearly understand why the church has got a bee in its biretta. What I can't understand, however, is the way in which some opponents of gay marriage / equal marriage / [insert your preferred term here] are defending their position.

There is a tendency amongst ethicists to resort to what is known as the 'slippery slope' argument. For example, if we allow shops to open longer hours on Sundays during the Olympics we are opening the way for the Sunday Trading rules to be repealed. Sometimes, like in the above example, this is perfectly logical. Often, when talking about human sexuality, it is not possible to use the slippery slope argument logically. It does not directly follow that if we allow two men or two women to be married, the law will eventually be forced to allow one to marry a sibling, a child or an animal. Whilst homosexuality was once illegal, it was never considered to be abusive, as are incest, bestiality and paedophilia. It is downright offensive to suggest that loving, adult relationships are comparable. Yes, there are lobbies that claim otherwise, I accept that, and I don't know what will change in the future. But I do know that societies create laws and moral and draw lines. Sometimes the placement of those lines stops making sense, and we move them; sometimes not. 

I'm not particularly going to try to make the case for gay marriage; if you're reading this you will have heard it and you will probably have strong views one way or the other. All I would say is that, whether those views are based on church tradition (or lack of), your own experience, or political bias; be aware that these issues are not abstract, and whatever you say will offend someone. I've had my fair share of uncomfortable conversations with people I (still) respect, and that's ok. Goodness knows, whether they are separated or not, both church and state make mistakes all the time (left-handedness, poll tax...), and sometimes we won't know the mistakes for what they are at the time. To err is human, after all. The important thing is that we don't allow these ultimately petty, worldly concerns to lead us away from loving God, and one another, unreservedly. If we can manage that, we can hang in here for a little while longer.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Little tiny Joshua

My little nephew was born today. He wasn't due until May 21st, so we've been really worried, but he's a little superstar! He hasn't been on the ventilator, and although he's in SCBU it's nowhere near as bad as Tori was prepared for.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I will knit and wear a Scarf of Doom with pride

I have had a problems with my mental health over the years, as most people who know me will know, but many things help to keep me ticking over when it's pretty crappy. Knitting is definitely one of them. The satisfaction of producing something handmade is always brilliant, even when it's as simple as a scarf that will take 3 hours. And, moreover, there are always other knitters to talk to, encourage, be supported by, and learn from. Not to mention all those potential knitters to bring to the dark side!

Deadly Knitshade is the sort of knitter all knitters want to be. She's a fab designer, a brilliant and clever writer, and she scrapes a living doing what we all love. Proper kudos! She also learned to knit - like so many others - when life was a bit shit. She appeared on BBC London news a few weeks ago (alongside the perfectly marvelous Aneeta Patel of Knitting SOS), and managed to do an early morning interview, whilst knitting a garter-stitch scarf. Quite an achievement! Both Lauren and Aneeta are fabulous ambassadors for the knitting community, and the range of knitted items they had between them to show off would be enough, I hope, to convince the world that these talented ladies have something pretty special going on.

However, not everyone was as entranced by this performance as they might have been and the haters came out in force. Hiding behind the internet, ordinary people (even some knitters) started bitching about the scarf and using it as a means to cast aspersions on Lauren herself; even on the lovely blue hair! (I also have blue hair at the moment, blue hair is cool.) Very sadly, the staff of some well-known yarn companies joined in on their Facebook pages. As Ms. Knitshade has failed to name and shame them in her blog, I will follow suit, but I will also think twice before I shop with them again.

And so to the Scarf of Doom. It has become a symbol for all that is best about the knitting community. We make stuff that looks however the fuck we like. If we want to make a fugly scarf, and if we (or anyone else) is proud to wear it, then we damn well will and all the internet hate in the world won't stop us.

I have raided my stash and found some left-overs that will look brilliantly bold and probably clash quite a lot. My Scarf of Doom will stand for all I love about knitting; it will make me happy!

Woolly solidarity!

Aneeta's books: Knitty Gritty, and Knitty Gritty: The Tricky Bits
Deadly Knitshade's books: Stitch London, and Knit the City
Ravelry users' Scarves of Doom

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

What Would Dickens Knit?

Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Dickens!

In honour of this auspicious occasion, I have added to my 2012 Knitting Resolutions the fabulous Defarge stole from What Would Madame Defarge Knit?

It's a good excuse to combine knitting and Latin, and poke my tongue knowingly at all the people who've called me Defarge over the years (you know who you are)!

For more info on Dickens 2012, click here

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Knitting Resolutions 2012

1. Finish everything I have on the needles: Kirsty's Weasley Sweater, my Over the Rainbow shawl, my Geek cardi, my summer cardi. I find it hard to keep working on things for myself, when there's so much pretty to make for other people!

2. Knit some overdue presents: something pretty for the Wife to replace the Mangyle she never wears (and donated to C4WS), a green tea cosy for a friend at Seminary, and one for Mum and Dad to match their new kitchen, a Bloody Stupid Johnson for Peta.

3. Other presents: A Mangyle for Dr. Mark, because he was admiring the Wife's but wants one in blue, lots of little things for Baby Peanut.

4. For me! A Noro skirt from Stitch and Bitch superstar, and the Defarge Stole from What Would Madam Defarge Knit.