Out and about by myself

By way of a change, I went out and about by myself yesterday morning. I went down our road, turned the corner and then quite some way down another road to see a couple with whom Lisa and I are friends.

The journey was well beyond my walking limit. I even have to sit down halfway from our door to the car in the drive and that is walking with the aid of a stick/cane. Any distance longer than that and Lisa has to  push me in my manual wheelchair. She doesn’t mind but it makes me feel so dependent

Yesterday, though, Lisa stayed at home and I went alone. It was exhilarating, it was fun.  No, I hadn’t made some sort of miraculous recovery.  wish I had but no, multiple sclerosis is still, regrettably, very much part of my life.

Yesterday’s freedom, and that was not the only example, was because I had just taken delivery of one of those fantastic all-singing, all-dancing lightweight folding electric wheelchairs. I had ordered one from Shaun Atkinson at Better Products for Disabled People it actually arrived on the promised day; amazing. My first impressions are that it is everything it is claimed to be – but I’ll be writing a full review once I have used it for a while.

06 blueI had already taken it out of our home, folded it up and somehow managed to place in in the back of the car. Today, it was taken it out of the car and unfolded it before I powered my way down to see our friends. Tremendous.

Then I reversed my journey and, having folded the chair, needed to sit down for a few minutes before having enough energy to lift it back into the car. But, in the end, I did just that.

Earlier, I used the wheelchair in our nearest town, when we went to see our doctor before enjoying breakfast in a local café bar.

As regular readers of this site know, I am travelling to Moscow this Sunday to undergo medical tests and assessment to determine whether or not I am likely to benefit from HSCT at a future date yet to be determined. My new chair is coming with me which will give me the independence I need in a foreign city.



Tribeca ban increased demand for Vaxxed screenings

vaxxed robertRobert de Niro: “I think the movie is something that people should see.” 

Vaxxed: from Cover-Up to Catastrophe has undoubtedly gained great impetus from being dropped from the Tribeca Film Festival, gaining many screenings throughout the USA – very often to capacity audiences.

And the reasons are simple. First of all, we don’t like being told what we can and cannot do and this is a phenomenon that many people ignore. Kids will touch if told not do, we ignore signs to keep off the grass, banned books become popular reads and songs barred by radio stations become top hits.

Similarly, we hate being told which films we can and cannot watch, and it is more than censorship; it is about freedom.  Throughout the civilised world we have freedom of speech, of expression, that is guaranteed by law and so we must also have the corresponding right to listen. We don’t want what we are told to be ‘sanitised’ by anyone in some form of authority or with some undue influence.

Lastly, in the case of Vaxxed, the news coverage surrounding its initial acceptance and later exclusion by New York’s Tribeca Film Festival was more publicity than the film makers could have reasonably bought and created greater public interest and clamour to see it.

However good or bad the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ cases of the vaccination debate may be, we have the right to hear them both and make up our own minds. Even actor/producer Robert de Niro, the man behind that New York festival, agrees. Despite Tribeca’s change of heart, interviewed on NBC’s Today show on Wednesday (April 15), Mr de Niro spoke about vaccines and autism and said “I think the movie is something that people should see,” and that it’s time to “find out the truth, let’s just find out the truth.”

Yes, let’s do just that!


Hunting not a sport or hobby

Just taking a short break from packing up possessions for shipping to Spain in advance of our move in November.

A few years ago, well in the 1990s to be accurate, I worked full-time as a journalist for a weekly newspaper in North Wales, in the UK. I include the UK qualification so that my American readers don’t think I was in Pennsylvania – yes, there is a North Wales there too.

Anyway, back to my story.

I have taken on many and varied roles during my journalistic career but, at that time, I was Rural Affairs Editor for a regional newspaper group covering a vast area of North West Wales. That area is renowned for its diverse terrain of mountains, including Snowdon, and lowland areas such as the Isle of Anglesey.

Commercially, it includes beef, dairy and cereal agriculture but the main rural activity, by far, is sheep farming. Next to this, the next major industry is tourism.

My rural affairs coverage included news and feature items along with a clearly labelled ‘opinion’ piece in which I was able to express my views on various rural matters.

One of these was the vexed issue of fox hunting that, at that time, had come under the spotlight as there was a plan to ban it. Many in the rural community opposed such a ban, talking about having the freedom to hunt and enjoy country sports. Others, also opposed to a ban, spoke of the need to keep fox numbers down because of the number of lambs that would be killed without hunts to control fox numbers.

In my opinion pieces, I may have surprised many readers by stating my clear and unequivocal opposition to fox hunting and in favour of the proposed ban.

The facts are simple:

  • Being chased by a pack of hounds would be terrifying for any creature.
  • Being torn apart by hounds is cruel. It is not a quick clean kill.
  • As a method of fox control, hunting is inefficient; very often hunts return without even finding a fox.
  • Some hunts even go as far as to encourage fox breeding in man-made ‘earths’ just to provide foxes for the hounds to hunt.

In due course, the ban was implemented. Did we see a huge explosion in the fox population in the UK? No. Did we see a sharp rise in the number of lambs and sheep being killed by foxes? Again, No.

It was with some surprise, therefore, that I heard that the current government was going to give MPs a vote on whether to amend the law, effectively rescinding the ban. Protests followed and the powers that be decided delay the vote until they could be sure of a majority. The battle may have been won but the war still rages on. It is not all over yet.

Talking of hunting as a so-called sport or hobby, I really don’t have time for anyone who hunts any animal just for something to do. And here I do not differentiate between foxes, lions or even giraffes. And to say giraffes are dangerous is ridiculous. They are placid and will run away rather than fight. If you get too close, they can kick if they feel threatened but they are not made to bite.

To me, there is something lacking in the brain of anyone who thinks such ‘sports’ are a ‘freedom of choice’ that must be defended. They are blots on mankind’s copybook and need to be erased permanently.

OK, I got that off my chest, now back to the packing.