THE CROSSING

road crossing before

(Before)

Harvey was killed in July of 2008. He would have been almost 18 years old now. This young boy was the son of my daughter’s work colleague. He died, crossing a busy road where the traffic moved far too fast and there was no safe place to cross. Hundreds of flowers and messages were left at the foot a tree nearby the spot he was killed. That tree is now called ‘Harvey’s tree’ by the locals. 

The young lad wasn’t the first person to die on that stretch of the road. A van hit an elderly man who was with his dog, some years before that, and there had been several accidents causing various non-fatal injuries. Numerous minor incidents and near misses had also occurred over the years. 

Following Harvey’s tragic death, a group of us got together to form a campaign to fight for traffic safety measures to be put in place. We organised a petition of all the local homes, shops, businesses and doctor’s surgery to present to the local council, asking for a zebra-crossing to be put in place. Nearly everyone supported us. A few of those that didn’t were very plainly more concerned with getting to work or home in a hurry regardless of the consequences.

The council considered our application, not carefully enough, I thought and after eighteen months, they turned it down due to financial constraints. The number of people from the original group gradually started to dwindle until eventually, there were only four of us left. We continued to fight, this time with the help of the local press who came and took photos of the fast-moving traffic there, with us four plus a small crowd of schoolchildren and parents standing nearby. The article was on page two of the paper and at least got people talking about the situation again. We appealed to the council again but were turned away once again.

After that, we enlisted the help of our local radio’s presenters who broadcast the plea to the county. We were beginning to look like we had a chance. We petitioned the officials at County Hall again. This time, they said they would consider new safety measures and then proceeded to dig part of the road up to install chicanes on either side. When done, this did slow the cars and vans but long queues built up on either side. Not a great success so back to the drawing-board.

We pleaded for our zebra-crossing. It was vital to the safety of adults and children alike, all of whom took their life in their hands every time made their way to school, to work, to the shops, etc. If it hadn’t had been illegal, we would have been sorely tempted to creep out to the danger-spot and paint the stripes on the road ourselves. Meanwhile, another school summer holiday came. Gradually, we saw that roadwork signs were being erected along the pavement.

Digging commenced. After, three weeks, the appearance of the beginning of speed-humps was noted. We queried this, to be informed that this indeed was the new safety measure and that there was no intention of installing a pedestrian crossing! At this point, we thought we were going to have to admit defeat in a minor way, but we had to agree that the road was safer, also thanks to the addition of the double-yellow line down the middle of the road. Now, six months down the line, and there hasn’t been a single accident and barely a near miss. Finally, we have safe passage for all pedestrians and cyclists across that road and far fewer collisions between cars and other vehicles too.

It is so tragic that it took the loss of the lives of a young boy and previously, an elderly man before anyone would to listen to local people and take action on this obviously dangerous stretch of road. Harvey B. RIP.

speed humps and sign

(After)

 

AIRING MY DIRTY LAUNDRY IN PUBLIC

ddirty laundry

Why write a blog? Why write a blog at all? Why do I feel the need to share with total strangers, my innermost thoughts, my idiosyncrasies, my Pandora’s Box of secrets that if written in a diary, would, without a doubt, be kept under lock and key?

When I write, I pour my heart out, as if I were talking back at myself, as if I were confiding in a much-trusted friend or a therapist. I write under a pseudonym to protect my anonymity and to keep the contents away from those prying eyes outside of the blogging world that would tear me to pieces in disbelief if they read the fairly shocking truth of my actual life.

One dear friend who has discovered I keep a blog and just cannot understand the logic of it, has said so many times, “what do you want to put your innermost secret of secrets out there for?” Then adding, “Why on Earth do you want to air your dirty laundry in public”?

I hesitate, giving this careful thought, cautious not to make their opinion of me worse. I fail miserably by saying things like, “I get to know other people who often feel as I do or at least are interested enough to want to read past the first few lines”. “I get support”, I say. “Who from?” is the next question and they then add one long string of complicated technical words like, “What a lot of rubbish you are mumbling. These computers are just machines that speak to each other”. They then sometimes state the obvious in that machines don’t have emotions or character, but plainly, they completely fail to understand that there are people with thoughts, worries, ideas and feelings, at the receiving end of these much-criticised machines.

I feel I have made good friends; friends who I can share humour with or occasionally share my darkest, deepest thoughts with who do not rebuke me, nor criticise my language skills. And I feel very privileged to be thought of as trustworthy enough to read of other blogger’s inner worlds.

The world of bloggers is as secret as it is public: We spill the contents of our hearts onto the paper under glass, usually under a pen-name so as not to be discovered, and before we know it, we’ve pressed the PUBLISH button, and there it all goes, spewing out into the world for all and sundry to see.

Personally, I feel it helps me. It is the time I can let go of my thoughts and inhibitions and just share what happens to be in or on my mind and that it always a relief. However, when my words go out into the universe, I am self-critical about what I have written, and find myself thinking, ‘Well, that wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on! Who on Earth seriously wants to read my thoughts?’ But occasionally, I get feedback to say I have helped someone feel less alone, or that we have shared some humour, so that makes at least two of us who have benefitted at least somewhat! Sometimes I don’t get feedback, or I have doubts about what I have written and am only too ready, and sometimes do actually hit the DELETE button, and there it all goes, gone, out into the ether, unspoken and unheard.

 

 

 

SHINE ON

burning candle

Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

I was given a card with this quote on it this morning and it had a strong impact on me. It made me think about light and about how one candle can spread light to another and what effect that can have.

We can all spread a little light – we don’t necessarily have to be believers of faith to do so. The above verse inspired me so much that I decided to go out and spread a little light myself.

As usual, when I came from town, I said my usual ‘good morning’ to strangers passing by and smiled a genuine smile at the faces coming toward me on the path. Some people smiled back or nodded. Others didn’t but that’s ok too. Of course, that’s lovely if they do, that’s a bonus, but the important thing for me was to give out the light that was given to me this morning.

I don’t have a lot of money to spare (If there was some to be had, I could help so many). However, in the absence of gold coins, I decided that I could still give … giving could come in the shape of a kind word; a good deed; a gentle touch on the arm to a troubled man or woman; a tissue to wipe away his or her tears; a chat to a lonely soul … and so much more.

I stopped in the street and spent some time in conversation with an elderly man who was playing accordion in the street. He was playing his heart out but we could just hear one another above the music he was so obviously familiar with.

Then, I passed a tired-looking guy on the street who was obviously homeless. He had a hat in front of him, collecting money. All I could offer was to spend a little time talking to him. He turned out to be a fascinating man – he’d been a driver of a London bus for nearly twenty years. He had some tales to tell that beat any comic-strip you could find in a newspaper!

Just as I was walking toward the bridge, I saw a rough-looking, young man offering hand-made bracelets made from cotton thread. He was sitting making them as people walked by. Some folk stopped and looked; some glanced across at the placard propped up next to him. It read ‘I am no longer homeless. A local man gave me a room in his house but I have nothing to put in it.’ I stood for a few minutes and watched him crafting them and decided to make a small donation in exchange for a beautiful blue and lilac bracelet. He said thank you and I smiled at him and said thank you too.

I decided it was time I started heading home but just had to call in at Tesco’s for some milk. In front of me were bunches of fresh flowers in buckets which were too expensive for me but made me smile, just the same. I headed toward the milk aisle and just happened to come across the ‘bracelet man.’ He had a bottle of cider in his hand and was just picking up a second. I went up to him. We spoke. He looked surprised. I think he expected me to have a go at him for taking money off passers-by and then buying alcohol with it but I’d said, “nice to see you again; hope you have a good rest of the day.”

Why? Because I knew that, I was no-one to judge. I only said, “I understand. I’ve been there – done that – and worn the t-shirt.” I had been in a similar place myself, many years ago. I had my reasons as this man may have also. We should never judge someone until we have walked a mile in their shoes. Whoever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you’ve been through, it’s still possible to spread a little light (and a little love) – you never know where it might travel and who it might touch.

PRINCE GEORGE (THE CASE AGAINST)

Well, sadly, that’s the end of Charlie, my wheelchair. He has finally given up the ghost and gone to that great big wheelchair heaven in the sky. I’ve been without Charlie for nearly a month now and have been cooped up indoors, slowly climbing the walls and developing a serious bout of cabin fever. Oh, it’s so sad and so hard to let him go after four long and faithful years.

Farewell, Charlie x

Charllie front

 

Introducing ‘Prince George’

I have now had to acquire a new wheelchair, although due to a serious lack of funds, he is somewhat, or should I say, considerably, inferior to Charlie. So, let me introduce ‘Prince George’, ordinarily known as George (and will possibly become Georgie if he behaves himself and endears himself to me a little more).

George 1

Today was my first full day of driving him and, oh boy, am I feeling it now?! Ouch! Prince George has so far shown himself to be very inconsiderate despite the deceiving ‘go faster stripes’ on either side of his back and his smart blue paintwork. I have noted the following points of comparison in the case against Prince George:

  • His back is tough vinyl whereas Charlie was comfortably upholstered.
  • George has four wheels, much more difficult to drive than Charlie’s well-balanced six wheels.
  • Parking is a nightmare … Charlie could do a nifty three-point turn. George just about manages it in fifteen points, (give or take a few).
  • Charlie had a neat, flip-up footplate whereas George has two very stiff footrests (I think he’s developed arthritis at an early age) .
  • George feels every bump in the pavement and he feels like he’s climbing the humps on a Bactrian camel’s back.
  • The armrests are plastic, as hard as cement which is tough on the elbows, as opposed to Charlie’s softly-cushioned arms.
  • I came home today totally exhausted and with my back feeling like I’d run a marathon in stiletto heels.

However, I do have to say in defence of George:

  • He has fitted LED headlights and rear lights for coming home on those chilly and dark winter nights when a starless sky is as black as coal.
  • He even has left and right indicators although because the controls are completely different, I indicated to turn left when I was trying to turn the speed down and I ended up having a close encounter with a brick wall which had very conveniently placed itself in my way.
  • George even has hazard warning lights – very useful in my case as the sheer effort of trying to keep him straight on a narrow footpath/cycleway renders him a hazard to anyone within a ten-metre radius.
  • George’s ‘beep’ is a tad louder than Charlie’s which means, “excuse me, please remove yourself from the vicinity if I am coming towards you”. Alternately, if I’m really exhausted and ratty, this may come across as, “get out of the way you silly idiot” (or for silly idiot, read “%$#@/&*£*”)!

So there you have it; the case of Prince George versus Charlie, with Charlie winning outright. However, unfortunately, I’m stuck with arthritic George so I’ll just have to persevere and leave the stilettos at home in future.

RIP Charlie

A TALE OF A WOUNDED SOUL (The Catcher In The Rye)

dreamcatcher - secrets

 Finest gossamer kisses

Like sheer and aged lace

Guarded secrets, hidden

Daring not to show their face

~~~

Shattering the human psyche

Destroying inner souls

Lying buried deep in hearts

Digging deeper holes

~~~

A tangled knot of words

Come drifting on the wind

A featherweight of tales

Against fair airbrushed skin

~~~

Perhaps the nightmare follows

I ask “well, who am I?”

The dreams, they closely follow

The catcher in the rye.

‘THE BORDERLINE’ AND FACEBOOK

sometimes when i say i'm okay

BPD and Facebook! Not a good combination when I’m feeling vulnerable. I’d posted the above image on a mental health support page and 51 people ‘liked’ it but not one truly got the message – that I really wasn’t ok and was in need of a hug, all be it virtual. One ‘friend’ cut me off altogether. Such is the capricious nature of Facebook. But, when I’m feeling low, the last thing I need is what to me feels like a ‘kick in the teeth’.

BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder); sometimes referred to as EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) is now being referred to by my local mental health team as EID which stands for Emotional Intensity Disorder because people such as myself, feel their emotions far more deeply than the majority of the population. I speak for myself, of course.

The first paragraph, above, is just an example of how easily I get affected and upset. That meaningless, minor event has been enough to send me from feeling happy and content with my world to now, feeling alone, hurt and totally rejected, and although I know I get things ‘all out of proportion’, as some would say, I feel it … I really feel it, and it hurts. It hurts, just like if someone had punched me in the back. Emotional pain is just as great as physical pain. In fact, speaking as someone who has a great deal of both, I would say that emotional pain is harder for me to bear than physical pain.

TWO DAYS LATER – I’ve been watching some YouTube videos on all sorts of topics today including mental health issues. One or two videos were quite helpful. However, I saw one that made me angry. I don’t mean the type of ‘raging anger’ that is meant to be ‘typical’ of all people with BPD but isn’t necessarily so. I mean very justifiable anger, I think … you tell me ….

Why? Because one particular five-minute video continually referred to me and other folk with BPD as ‘The Borderline‘, as if I were an object of curiosity in a museum. If we all took that attitude, then would we call other people with illnesses such as pneumonia or cancer by their diagnosis, i.e. how is ‘The Pneumonia‘ today, or, have you spoken to ‘The Cancer‘ this morning? I think not. Am I being unreasonable in asking to be spoken of respectfully, and not just seen as my diagnosis, but, as a warm, thoughtful and reasonably intelligent human being that I try to be to the best of my ability?

man in box

Image courtesy of ibtimes.com

Well … back to where I started – Facebook (friend or foe?). It has its problems; there’s no doubt about that – it certainly gets a mixed review from me. I have made ‘friends’, but I have also lost a few. I’ve read some good articles and posts, and some dreadful, misinformative posts too. I’ve joined and left a few groups over the time I’ve been with FB (far too long, I’m beginning to think). It can bring people together but it probably also causes more wars between them too. I’ve deleted and deactivated my account more times than I can remember and for various reasons but I’m always sucked back into its vices after a few weeks (fickle by name, fickle by nature). 

Social media, in general, has a hell of a lot to answer for; not just Facebook, but also, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus+, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr etc (I have to say I’m not with many of them, though). What about WordPress here, and Blogger etc – do you consider them to be social media in some way too? After all, we have followers that stay, followers that go. Some participate – some sit in the back row and watch – however, both are fine with me. I write because I enjoy it – sometimes I make sense; other times, not so. I have made sense in the past, though – I have written two books a good while ago, both more serious poetry (some of which I’ve shared over the years). Finally, I’ve also been known to rant. However, just now, I think I am mortal danger of beginning to ramble so here I will stop and bid you adieu 🙂 

BROKEN PIECES

 

 

 

broken soul

There once was hope, when I was whole
but shattered now, I lie with you
My dreams are but a breath away
in cloud so high, sky deepest blue

  Reflections of my inner soul
are fragments scattered on the ground
These shards of glass that glisten so
when depths within my mind are found

My heartbeat slows like tidal ebb
It scolds me while my world is bleak
and forms a map in front of me
paved with ashes; words unique

  Broken pieces; shadow sought
Thoughts flow fast but mind so scarred
where once I was; I am no more
Dust to dust; I’ve fallen hard

THE ART OF HUGGING

cute monkeys hugging

Hugging – have you seriously thought about hugging? It has multiple benefits, and we should all be doing more of it. If we were, half the wars and battles wouldn’t be taking place, and thank the Lord that no-one has invented an anti-hugging vaccination. Hugs are much more life-preserving and also far more pleasant than coming down with a nasty case of chickenpox or the flu.

Did you know that you need at least one hug a day for reassurance, two a day for survival, four for maintenance and eight for growth? This fact would explain why I am reasonably ‘happy little bunny’ still breathing, in reasonable ‘nick’ but only two-feet-and-eight-inches tall.

If anyone would like to contribute to another few inches of height, I wouldn’t object or turn you away.

Hugging is environmentally friendly and ecologically sound. It builds self-esteem and also builds strong arm and shoulder muscles both of which are far less costly than building another new block of apartments and therefore, is economically viable.

It slows down aging which probably means I’ll feel like I’m ninety-seven before I reach sixty given that I live alone and don’t have a handy partner or nearby children.

However, I do hug the odd friend, (as I tend to prefer my friends to be a little on the peculiar side, like myself rather than conventionally rational).

I have to confess that I have a rather unusual habit in that I have been, on the odd occasion, known to approach and embrace a complete stranger. Hugging in those circumstances is sometimes okay, especially when it is to offer comfort or solace.

However, there are times such as when it’s with the bus driver en route or a waiter with a full tray of tea and scones which are not a wise idea. Also, cuddling up with the airplane pilot of a Jumbo Jet in mid-flight, or offering an embrace with Her Majesty, The Queen in the middle of giving her Christmas speech, etc., it can be seen as somewhat inappropriate.

Hugging also releases the feel-good hormone, oxytocin that is nature’s anti-depressant, so if they were readily available, we would have a lot more warm and happy people about and a lot less diazepam/valium needed.

A first rate hug ideally needs to have two elements, a hugger, and a huggee, preferably willing participants and not someone like ‘The Incredible Hulk’ squeezing the life out of a reluctant Miniature Chihuahua. Likewise, a hug needs to be shared between two beings, or more if near to hand as clutching thin air is no better than attempting to embrace a boa-constrictor.

At this point, I should say that I am offering free demonstrations. In addition, all contributions to myself will be gratefully received as I am saving up for my Blue-Peter badge.

healing hugs