Wetherspoons Update

2/29/2008 05:25:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 12 Comments

Thank you to everyone who commented to offer support and/or advice after the Wetherspoon's incident.

I wrote a letter of formal complaint and following Jim's advice I sent a copy to the local licensing authority. I received prompt responses to both letters, the licensing authority telling me that my

"complaint is currently being investigated and [they] will write to you again with the outcome"

They also gave a (direct line) phone number and suggested if I have any queries I should contact them

Wetherspoons however simply said

"Thank you for your letter we received yesterday and for taking the time to write to us.
We are currently investigating the issues you raised and will be in touch in due course"

I'm very touched and grateful for the support that other bloggers have shown over this issue, Jackart posted on the subject, and Stonehead has not only posted on the subject but emailed Wetherspoons himself to let them know what he thinks. Gowen and Humaniform (who is I think Matt Wardman) have also posted on the subject.

I'll keep you all posted as and when I hear anything.


Did the earth move for you?

2/27/2008 01:56:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 18 Comments

About an hour ago I was lying in bed, trying to sleep when the whole bed started to shake quite violently. I thought it was the cat at first, but it was much too powerful for that, and carried on far too long, especially after she'd leapt off the bed in fright! It felt like the bed was being shaken from underneath by a giant hand.

After it stopped I looked out of the window, but everything was quiet and I couldn't see people turning lights on, so I dismissed it as 'just one of those things' despite thinking it had felt like an earthquake...turns out it was!

I'm a fair distance away from the epicentre in Lincolnshire so I hope all you other bloggers are ok, it must have been very dramatic closer to it.

Sleep tight.



2/26/2008 02:14:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 9 Comments

I made it out of the house today! A cause for celebration, even if it was just to the supermarket. I'm halfway through my second course of antibiotics and unfortunately still feeling pretty lousy. As it's exactly a year ago today that I gave up smoking (I know cannabis counts, but it's still a year since I quit all tobacco products) I'm a little disappointed the only effect it's had has been on my waistline. Even if that did initially need it.

It's likely to be a little longer before I get back to blogging regularly but for now here are the photos I stopped to take on the way home from the supermarket. As it was so bright I couldn't even see the screen of my mobile phone and had to just point, click and hope for the best, I'm quite pleased with the result. Hope you enjoy them.


2/21/2008 01:42:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments

Just a quick update to say thank you for all your comments and get well wishes. I'm ok, just don't seem to be shaking off this current infection. I finish my antibiotics today, having spilled a good portion of them on myself, the floor and the cat, so I'll have to visit my GP again.

Blogging has seemed like far too much hard work, actually anything that isn't sleeping or lying down watching tv has proved too much effort, but don't worry, I'll be back to cure your insomnia soon!
BG x


It's viral, honest!

2/15/2008 11:21:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 18 Comments

I finally got round to making an appointment with my GP this morning, the one I really should have made some time last year when some sort of viral infection meant I wasn't well enough to go to the naming ceremony.

I've got a track record of insisting all sorts of things are 'viral' and ignoring them, but really it's about a mix of not being able to judge when I'm ill, a hangover from so many years of being told I was attention seeking prior to being diagnosed with EDS, and not wanting to go to the doctors. However nice my current GP's are. It was the BYM who put his foot down this time after seeing me yesterday and insisted I had to go.

I phoned at 8.30 this morning, got through to the receptionist after a few attempts and was made an appointment for 10.20am. It's 11.30am as I'm typing this, already having had my first dose of antibiotics, a (gentle) lecture from my GP about not leaving things so long, and that although this current bug is viral infection in 99% of people, who do not need antibiotics, for those like myself who are more vulnerable it's a different situation. I had managed to convince myself that it was still no big deal, despite the length of time I've been ignoring it, the constant overwhelming desire to sleep, and having reached the 'feel a bit confused and can't tell you what hurts most stage'. So I was a bit surprised to be told I needed antibiotics quickly before I ended up with pneumonia.

I'm off to bed. Hope you all have a nice weekend.


Chick, Chick, Chick, Chick, Chicken.....

2/13/2008 06:07:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 15 Comments

Today's made me think about community. Bugger. I sound like David Cameron already. Unforgivable. It could only be worse if I started to sound like Brown the great disability denier. Not a good start.

Still, back to community. My neighbour just knocked on my door. She brought back my ironing, all
neatly hung ready to go in my wardrobe. Another neighbour knocked at the back gate earlier today, she said she wanted to check if I was still alive, and could I take some freshly laid eggs off her hands. She works from home so we took advantage of the sunshine and sat in her back garden to drink a quick cup of coffee whilst the chickens ate bugs and one in particular demanded cuddles. (Chickens get to be eccentric too!)

The postman's called Phil. He's a nice guy, knows that its not easy for me to get around, so if he ever has to deliver a parcel he'll wait the amount of time he knows it takes for me to get to the door. So will the older gentleman who supplements his pension working as a courier for the home delivery companies. The one who was in the RAF. Ok, so being really honest, he knows me well enough to allow enough time not just for me to get to the front door, but to get out of bed as well. So does Phil. I was just being coy.

My window cleaner's called Darren. Lovely guy. Prison record, probable benefit fraud and all. He's his mum's primary carer and she's not been too well lately. She doesn't want anyone else in to help, and Darren doesn't want to try for any equipment that might help since it took 7 weeks for the continence service to come and see them, and, although they've helped, Darren's got to find the money for a new bed now. His mum's was ruined by the time the specialist nurse came out. It's a good job she doesn't mind, he tells me, but it was alot to get used to at first, having to lift her in and out of the bath, and change her. All I can find to say to him is that his mum must be very proud.

I know my butcher by name too, and all the people that work in his shop. It's a modern business, like any other, typical for my town in that it has no physical adaptations for people with disabilities and so is tricky to access. Physically that is. You just have to ask, and someone will assist you inside, or for those whom that's not possible they'll come out to the car to serve. Hands starting to play up? No problem, they'll prepare your meat into bite sized chunks for you, even deliver very small amounts of food for free in the winter to those people they know can't get about.

Next door is the chemist, and down the road my GP. It's a similar story there. When I was at my most poorly my GP would abandon his consulting room and see me in a disused office. It made life a bit tricky for him and the computer system really didn't like it, but it was less distance for me to attempt to walk so that's what he did. Along with all sorts of other vital, impossible to quantify adjustments.

I don't live in some sort of '50's style Utopia, just a small town with its problems the same as any other. All these things are things that help to build the town and its community. None of them can be measured on a form. I wonder, is it the change in my physical health that has shown me these things, or is it that this is a small town just like small towns all over England, a secret known only to those who stay at home all day?


The Britblog Roundup #156

2/12/2008 12:34:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 2 Comments

The Britblog Roundup 11 February 2008: Ideas for Avoiding the Archbisop is up over at The Wardman Wire with the usual great variety of posts, including this one from yours truly.

There's even the podcast from Radio 5 Live helpfully posted there for your convenience.


One Laptop Per Child

2/11/2008 04:32:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 7 Comments

I had heard about this project, and seen news items about it, so when a friend of a friend had one of the 'One laptop per child' laptops in the pub on Saturday I was wildly excited to get my hands on it.

The person the laptop belonged to is a self confessed computer geek who explained to me that for a short period of time the laptops had been available to buy in the USA, the makers of them knowing that such people would be excited to get hold of them, and would be the very people able to help the project in terms of programming etc. The person this one belongs to has already managed to get msn installed and working as well as firefox. He'd also, somehow discovered that the makers have installed the whole of Hitch Hikers Guide to the galaxy on them in a form that enables you to pull up random quotes.

I'm not techy enough to answer detailed questions about the specification, but it quickly became clear that was an advantage in learning to use the laptop as everyone else present was in some way involved in the computer industry, but I found the laptop easier to use, which apparently is the intention. The size of my hands also helped, but even though is a laptop designed for little hands, and as such I found it much easier to use than a standard keyboard, it still needs work in that area.

The laptops are incredibly robust, as they have to be, and are also nice and lightweight, the source of much amusement from Ziggy who suggested one might be suitable for me as it would be difficult to break. He had to attempt to fix my pc after it met with a nasty accident involving (we think) a cup of tea and my falling over. These laptops would survive such abuse and unlike my pc would not melt inside.

The holes you can see in the carrying handle are so a child can thread a ribbon, or piece of string through and sling it over their shoulder, or it can just be carried in a similar fashion to a lunchbox.

It has many applications on it that would be exciting to children (as well as geeky adults!) including those to draw and make music with. There is even an oscilloscope on there. There is a webcam of excellent quality and all manner of educational programmes preloaded.

Unfortunately they are no longer available to buy in the way this one was, which was under an initial scheme that meant you had to buy two, one for yourself, and one for a child in a developing country, but there are facilities to donate on the One Laptop Per Child site.

Overall, I can't help but feel there are more important priorities such as health, peace and food, but the vision of this project is incredible, as are the laptops and it was very exciting to see in action.

Edit: I should have included a bit more detail in this post about the One laptop per child project. It's a project intended to bring technology to the developing world, the laptops are a very low specification designed to be powered from whatever is available, solar generators, car engine batteries, anything can be converted to charge them. They are soley for educational purposes and so come pre loaded with a the school's curriculum for say a term, then can all be updated at once. They aren't the kind of laptop you'd buy for a child in the developed world who would want to surf the internet, play games on it etc.


My local, friendly JD Wetherspoons

2/10/2008 10:44:00 am BenefitScroungingScum 31 Comments

Being humiliated and screamed at was something I thought I'd left behind me with my family. Perhaps that's why it was both so unexpected and difficult to deal with last night.

I didn't really want to go, didn't really feel 100%, but it was Zelda's birthday so I felt obligated to, at least for one drink. As is always the way, once I was there I was really glad I went and met all sorts of friends of friends I'd not met before.

When I arrived I went and sat down before going to the bar and ordering myself a glass of orange juice and a bowl of chips for us all to pick at. Both Ziggy and his gf immediately offered to go to the bar for me, as they always do, being a protective and considerate bunch, but at the time I could do it myself so that's what I did. Independence being important an' all that.

Meeting sis's ex had made it somewhat of an emotionally trying night, and physically so because I'd gone outside to chat to him whilst he smoked, and sat on a metal chair in the cold. I had a proper coat and gloves on, but it was still too cold for me, and combined with another trip to the bar to buy him a sympathy drink and trips to the loo, I was all done being able to move around by the end of the night.

When it came to closing time, initially a female (slightly older) member of staff came over and asked us to stand up and move to the door where they were trying to get everyone out. Ziggy, by then very drunk and in full on protective mode didn't need to ask me to know that was going to be a problem and said to the lady something about my having mobility problems and that we needed to wait sitting down until the crowd had cleared. She was fine about that and carried on with her job.

The male manager was having none of it however. He came over and immediately started shouting. Whilst Ziggy (somewhat slurrily) attempted to explain that I had mobility issues and we just wanted to wait sitting down whilst the crush at the door cleared, the manager found that unacceptable and said to me directly that I did not have mobility problems because he'd served me a bowl of chips at the bar earlier and I had been standing. I can only assume he chose to ignore the orange juice I ordered during his rant as a sober person didn't fit with his theory of lying about disability.

Unsurprisingly it all got a bit heated at that point, the manager was determined to communicate only by screaming or shouting and was not going to back down. Ziggy was incensed, I was shocked, angry and deeply humiliated, and of course whereas initially it had been just a couple of us quietly sitting down asking to wait, and repeatedly insisting we didn't want to keep our drinks that they could clear them, it very quickly escalated to everyone left in the pub staring and those from the wider group of friends who were left coming back to back us up.

The manager continued to shout at myself and Ziggy in front of the entire pub, as things progressed he must've realised he'd made a mistake accusing me of not having any mobility issues, but he was not going to back down and tried to say that I could sit and wait, but that Ziggy and all my other friends had to leave and that he or another member of staff would assist me. Unsurprisingly I found that unacceptable and told him so, but he didn't want to back down on that either and continued to shout. I suggested (loudly and somewhat angrily by this time) that under the terms of Disability Discrimination Act he might just find we were in the right, but he still didn't want to back down and continued to scream and shout.

What I hadn't wanted to say during all this was that after moving around too much earlier, being out in the cold, and then sitting for too long, I couldn't get up. That in itself can be a bit humiliating, but I'm lucky to have great friends who offer help appropriately and don't insist on doing things if I say I can or want to do them myself. It certainly wasn't something I was prepared to start explaining to the manager of a Wetherspoons who had already accused me of lying about my disability, refused all reasonable requests for a very minor adjustment and who now wanted me to be left on my own, in a highly vulnerable position and accept assistance from the very person who'd just screamed at me for the past 5 minutes. The answer he got was simply that that was entirely unacceptable and that did he really want to go there.

He did. The guy just would not back down. He tried insisting that they would provide assistance for a few more moments, screaming and shouting whilst Ziggy in an absolute (drunken) fury demanded the police be called. I said that was neither necessary or appropriate (although had the manager not backed down eventually we'd probably have been left with no choice) and that I didn't want the police, but was insistent about the DDA again and by that point I think the manager had realised he'd made a major error in judgement and in some way was going to have to back down.

He wouldn't let it go though and insisted Ziggy had to leave. Pointed to Zelda, appointing her as the one he deemed acceptable to stay and help me, and told Ziggy to go. Fortunately Ziggy did and didn't argue the point further, although as Zelda was just as drunk as Ziggy the only possible reason for insisting he leave and she stay could have been to do with Ziggy arguing with him.

Zelda and I sat and waited, whilst another girl I've known for years came over to say hello and give me a hand. She knew some of the bar staff and had obviously been telling them the manager had made a mistake whilst he was too busy screaming and shouting to listen to reason.

We waited for the crush at the door to clear, but before long the manager was back insisting the crowd had gone and we had to leave now. We were not the last people in the pub by any means, but by then I just wanted to go home anyway, and there wasn't so much of a crowd I was afraid of being knocked over or getting multiple dislocations as we tried to get through. The manager was so insistent we had to get out there was no way he would have allowed us to wait until it was actually safe, so with assistance from Zelda on one side and the other girl I knew on the other we made our way to the door. On our way there the female member of staff asked if we were ok, and I told her I would be making a formal complaint about the incident. She told me he was the manager as if to say there was nothing she or I could do about it. The area around the inside and outside of the doors was still dangerously crowded as we tried to get out, to where Ziggy and the others were waiting to help.

This morning I'm still horrified, as well as humiliated, angry and upset about the whole thing. Whilst I'm aware I have a mainly invisible disability, my size makes me noticeably vulnerable looking and I do walk with a very visible 'gimp' (it's not a limp before anyone objects to the term). I also understand that people try it on at the end of the night in pubs, but that doesn't make the manager's behaviour in any way acceptable. Had he just asked a question about what the problem was rather than immediately starting screaming and shouting at us the whole event could have been avoided.

2008. Disability Discrimination Act 1995. We've got a very long way to go.


How Bright?

2/06/2008 04:25:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 14 Comments


Blogging Lite

2/05/2008 04:57:00 pm BenefitScroungingScum 6 Comments

Apologies for lack of comments/replies to emails

More sleeping than waking in the past 48 hours

Left shoulder producing spasms of an intensity enough to make me scream and momentarily consider calling for help. Only momentarily. It's settled

Power Cuts.

The Captain

Brightly coloured tights make me look 10. If I'm lucky.

Unusual level of anger with social services (and govt funding cuts) for insisting I 'can cope'

Watch Dispatches, Heat or Eat. Yes things are that awful. Worse even. Post to follow.