Let's Do Something For The Many

The 2019 General Election, the one Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he never wanted but pushed for relentlessly since his elevation to the highest office, is shaping up to be the most divisive and broken in living memory. I don’t think it need take an Oxford Don to work out why. But more of that later…

So, in this election, the 36th after my first punt at choosing this country’s Prime Minister, I find myself with a massive dilemma. That’s because the question I have always asked myself, ‘who do I want to lead this country into the future?’ has changed to, ‘who do I NOT want on the leavers of power for the next five years?’

Experience has always told me where my bread is buttered, and with who. I can tell you this time is no different. And that is still the case with the elephant of Brexit running amok outside the proverbial room.

In today’s world of reckless division, my starting point has to be the governing party. Do I still want them to remain in Downing Street? What have they done in the nine years since moving in? Have they improved the lives of all the people of this country and beyond since winning power? Have they had time to make the improvements they promised? 

The overwhelming answer to these questions has to be a big fat ‘no’. I can list some of the reasons below:

  • Shelter recommend the building of 3.1m new social homes to meet demand. A demand this Party has had no intention of achieving.
  • That lack of availability in social housing obviously increases homelessness. Between 2013 and 2017 homeless people dying on the streets has more than doubled. That is a frightening statistic for the 5th richest country in the world by GDP.
  • Food bank parcels are on the increase. In 2009/10, as this Party came to power, 41,000 food packs were distributed. By 2016/17, 1.2 million packs were given out. That is a massive increase and something to be ashamed of. 
  • In employment, some 66% of people languishing on zero-hour contracts want more hours and security in employment. That’s not a lot to ask for.
  • What about health? The NHS has been under fire for many years. Targets for treating cancer patients after GP referrals haven’t been met for five years. We now have the worst waiting times, over four hours, in A&E since 2004.
  • According to the Independent, some 17,000 people died while waiting for essential benefits. It’s inconceivable that any government could preside over a more unresponsive or uncaring system of benefit payments.
  • Police numbers are important to the electorate because they use that as a sign of how safe they feel on the streets. Since the present party came to power in 2010 there has been a cut of some 19,000 police officers. Not exactly the party of law & order, I would suggest.
  • What about defence? People who obsess about whether the leader of this country would press the nuclear button to annihilate millions forget that the army has systematically fallen in numbers for years. Ironically, they’re generally the very same people who call for the re-introduction of National Service, and the same people who never had to square-bash the parade ground for a day in their life.
  • These people need to get a grip. Come the day, they will be dead! Finished, just like the Norwegian Blue in the famous Monty Python sketch. Nuclear weapons are not for protection, a deterrent or any such thing. They are a phallic example of the ruling elite’s strength and position. Nothing more, nothing less!

During the years of austerity One Nation Conservatism has been well and truly killed off! This ruling party has succeeded in dividing the country for generations. Principally, their strategy in holding the referendum in 2016, their lack of strategy in dealing with the fall-out of a Leave result, and their continued divisive examples of Leave perpetuate the uncertainty of the stable future we desire for our children and grandchildren. Bland statements like ‘Get Brexit Done’ don’t cut it. Boris Johnson has been regurgitating that one since his arrival at Number 10 and he still hasn’t got it done. And that’s a failure he and his party own alone.

The fawning over of Trump, the man who gets his world view from Fox News and cannot avoid the spectre of impeachment in his own country, is an absolute scandal. The man would sell his own grandmother to get a deal for the Good Ol’ US of A. Britain and its needs would be well down the pecking order.

In saying all the above, I would not presume to tell you how to vote. That is for you and your conscience to live with. I also know the non-dom press barons have been helping you along with that for some time anyway. Their vilification of other leaders has been one of the most depressing parts of modern reporting. I would advise you to look at other reports and seek out the truth before deciding that he or she is this or that, though. Believe me! Reading beyond the headlines is worth it.

But taking the things listed above into consideration and the sense of entitlement this Prime Minister and his cohorts seem to possess, I cannot with all honesty advocate a vote for them.

My cross will land in a different box because I want this country to regain a sense of togetherness, where we can all live with dignity and with the security of a state that cares for everyone. I want us to be able to hold our heads up and say that we did our best for all, not just the favoured few. This governing party has done as much for the few that it can. It’s high time we had a government that does something for the many. Show me the Party that does that, and I’ll show you where my cross will land.

Epilepsy

Having a seizure is a very uncomfortable experience. It’s confusing, upsetting, inconvenient, frustrating, embarrassing, and can result in injury.

There isn’t a lot that can be said that is positive about experiencing a seizure, except that you soon find out who cares for you. Those people soon become accessible and helpful.

I developed epilepsy later in life and, if I’m honest, I am still a little miffed it settled on me. Fortunately, I don’t have seizures regularly. I can go years without experiencing one. But it does make you forgetful, that the epilepsy actually exists within you. There are reminders, of course. Like every evening when you pop your tablets out of their foil. Or when the helpful, and informative, Epilepsy News drops through the letter box. But essentially, it does drift into the background of everyday life becoming less important by the day.

And then, with a rabid snarl, the epilepsy attacks with a vengeance. How dare you forget I exist! How dare you take risks with your life and others by driving! Don’t you know a car is a killing machine in the wrong hands?

But of course these questions come to bear after the seizure. For when the seizure hits, for me, the lights simply go out. That is the only description I have. I’m sorry if you want something more lurid or exciting. But I haven’t got anything more, despite the voyeurism of the modern world. All the excitement is experienced by others. People close by might see me stiffen up, fall down, bite my tongue, thrash about, my lips go blue, or my desperate gasps for breath, or the panic of onlookers who haven’t seen a seizure before. But be assured, I’m seeing none of that awful scene. The lights are definitely out.

And then, like a dimmer switch, some minutes later, the light begins to resume – slowly. The ”dimmer switch” is a good description, because as you would turn a light up slowly, I come to understand what has happened. The text book words I often hear are, ”you’re OK”. When I first hear these words, to be honest, I haven’t got a clue why someone is telling me I’m ”OK” or even where I am.

With a groggy head and a body that really has no control of itself, I am generally manoeuvred into an ambulance. Now there are more people telling me I’m ”OK”. Even I’m beginning to get the message.

I’ve never had the compunction to argue at this stage. I don’t really think I care. If anyone was to tell me I’m ”OK” while lifting my wallet, I sense now that would be something I wouldn’t argue about. So putting me in an ambulance with a cheery smile and a cheesy joke that only ambulance staff can get away with isn’t going to be a problem.

What is a problem, and you can only see this on reflection, is that sometimes you are going to be in some very tricky places when a seizure occurs. My first experience was when I was sat down. Sounds fine doesn’t it? If you’re going to have a seizure at least be relaxing on the sofa. Only don’t have a hot cup of coffee in your hand and don’t be at work. One burns and the others raises questions about whether you can continue to fulfil your role at work.

I’ve also experienced a seizure in the shower, trapping myself behind the bathroom door. It’s embarrassing when you realise you were stark naked when someone you’ve known for years was trying to save your life! And the most dangerous of places, driving a car. Thankfully, someone was able to take control of the situation and subsequently avert the worst of fates. So falling down on the carpet does on the whole seem preferable!

The upshot of these periods in life, generally, is a visit to the local hospital, plus to your GP for a chat about medication and lifestyle. You do tend to visit these establishments more than most other people. Once you come to terms with your condition, these visits become routine.

Of course, there are other implications following a seizure. Giving up your driving licence, for example. Thus, relinquishing your freedom of movement. A bus pass can alleviate this, but it’s no replacement for the sheer joy of being able to jump into the car to visit your grandchildren. To use public transport takes time and planning beyond anything needed when you own a car.

There’s also work. There is a sick period to negotiate. When will you be ready to return, especially if the seizure occurred at work? It takes time for the fuzziness to clear, the last time for me at least two weeks. But what happens if your employer raises concerns about your fitness to complete tasks that before were seen as ordinary? What do you do then? The last thing you need is to be seen as either a burden or as a skiver! You just want to be able to return as normal. But oddly, you find yourself talking, explaining, justifying. 

In reality you know you can’t talk it away. You can’t explain it. And you know there’s not much point trying to justify it. However you came by your condition, you now have it and it isn’t going to go away. It will always be there lurking in the back of your mind, waiting to explode! Regardless of the medication you take, it will ride roughshod over your life. It doesn’t care where you are or who you are with. It is the devil within you!

But, despite it’s readiness to pounce, it is important to fight the temptation to dwell on your epilepsy. You have to queue up for the bus in the rain. You have to reorganise your work and recognise adjustments might have to be made. It’s important to fight for what is essentially a normal life, even if the style you’re accustomed to has to be modified.

But whatever the epilepsy thinks about you, you are still you! You still like the same tv programmes, the same music, the same holiday destination. You still love the same people and more importantly, the same people still love you.

You might not be able to beat epilepsy, but like everyone else, you can lead a satisfying and successful life with it.

This article has been edited from a previous blog.