FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – Fast forward two years
Looking back through my records today, I noted that it is nearly two years since I started the Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes’ Blog. During that time, I have shared some of my thoughts on many diverse subjects – some anecdotal; some serious; some poking harmless fun at me and my family and some which I hope have been thought provoking.
It has been a pleasure to make this journey in your company, and I hope we can continue this sojourn for a long time to come.
When I started writing this Blog I had just completed a revision of Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes; the Thalidomide Memorial Campaign had taken shape; the so-called credit crunch was still biting hard and I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Valerie Jones who delivered me, way back in December 1960.
So for this month, I thought it would be interesting to consider how quickly things can change.
Fast forward two years – The Thalidomide Memorial Campaign continues with its good work, in securing that lasting recognition of the contribution that Thalidomide people and their families have made to society. We are concentrating on three potential locations for the sitting of the Memorial Plaque. We have gleaned support for the campaign from Lords and Baroness’, those in Business, Commerce and Law, Celebrities and Sports Stars, Henry Hoare, the eldest son of Sir Frederick and Lady Mary Hoare, and people from all walks of life.
I have met with Valerie Jones on several occasions, and a firm friendship has ensued which has allowed me to have a better understanding, of just how poorly my Mum was during the time leading up to my birth.
Sadly the global financial crisis, which some predicted would be over by the end of 2009, is still very evident. And of course there have been dramatic changes in the world of politics and the media.
Humanity appears to revolve on an axis. As a psychology graduate, I believe things are balanced one against the other – Ying and Yang. But try as I have, I can’t actually find any really significant changes on the world stage, over the last two years to create that Ying and Yang balance.
As the world economy struggles to get back on its feet, I fear that the most vulnerable people in society, including disabled people, are still being hardest hit (socially and economically) in the face of our changing world. When I recently logged onto my social media account, I was appalled to hear of a disabled friend who had been subjected to verbal abuse whilst out and about in her home town. Having experienced that kind of discrimination when I was a teenager, I know how it feels. However, as a promoter of Disability Rights, I find it hard believe that in our developed world, such deep-rooted bigotry still exists.
I was also deeply saddened to read last week of a decision in the UK Supreme Court in the case of celebrated former ballerina Elaine MacDonald. This gifted performer, described as “Britain’s best classical dancer” was appealing against a mandate from her local authority to deny the provision of over-night care. Instead, this articulate lady is to be required to wear incontinence pads at night. It is apparently common practice in the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea to adopt such practices for people in similar situations to Miss MacDonald.
What is interesting is that in 2007, Kensington and Chelsea was listed as the wealthiest borough in Britain. The problem is that there is a great disparity between the “haves” of the fashionable areas, compared to the “have-nots” in the high-rise blocks in the northern most parts of this most “royal” of London boroughs.
Why has someone in the corridors of power of the Town Hall not realised that if there is fundamental need for a basic Human Right, then where the divide between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is so great, there must be a sensible distribution of services to help those who are in most need.
The lone voice of Lady Hale (the dissenting voice of the judges who heard Elaine’s appeal) echoed the sentiments of disgust from many people the length of the United Kingdom. As a lawyer whose foundations are firmly grounded in the field of family and social welfare, Lady Hale’s condemnation of the other judges sitting to hear this case was forceful. I can only hope that common-sense will prevail in the interpretation of this judgement, and human dignity will not be sacrificed on the sword of budgetary constraints. Somehow I doubt it. And the consequence? Older, vulnerable and disabled people will fear that their care package (if “care” is the correct terminology) will be reviewed with dire consequences.
I’m not entirely convinced that the next two years will see any major changes that will boost optimism in many areas of life. Rising costs of living will not make things easy by any stretch of the imagination. The future resolution of the phone hacking scandal will be of little comfort to those who have been affected by this most awful of journalistic actions, and the horrendous effects of war and poverty will continue to be keenly felt.
As I conclude this Blog, can I leave you with this thought …
This summer, maybe those who are in positions of real power and authority – politicians and policymakers – should forego their luxury vacations, and spend their holiday amongst the people who live in the most deprived areas of the world; make time to interact with people who live in unending isolation due to age or disability and then take time to see just how hard it really is for service personnel, their families and other disabled people, to adjust to a life destroyed by injuries inflicted through war, or more generally though accident, illness or old age.
At the end of the summer, these findings could then be taken back – not to some Select or Congressional Committee, but to where real action can be taken to make genuine changes.
Then, when in a further two years, I hopefully celebrate four years of blogging; there will be changes that we can really enjoy.