PASS IT ON!


So we’ve just gone through that Christmas time again, when all is well in the World and Santa brings joy and pressies to one and all. At this time of year we would be forgiven for not realising that not everyone will share the glad tidings of joy and abundance of happiness that overflows from the cup of ‘Seasons Greetings’.

There are many reasons for not sharing in this joyous time; it could be religious: Islam is the fastest growing religion in the World while, according the Christian Orthodox calendar, we are way out! It could be that you have experienced the loss of a loved one at this time of year so Christmas becomes a time of reflection on a life that’s lost and for those left behind; or it could be that you are homeless, not knowing where your next hot meal is going to come from or if you’ll find a decent, dry pitch for the night. But, I think, the killer is loneliness.

Loneliness accounts for more deaths at this time of year than heart failure, alcoholism and substance abuse; all of which can be attributed to the consequence of loneliness. My mother, like so many other mothers, feels lonely since the death of my father and at this time of year her loneliness becomes much more acute; it’s lonely when everyone else is having fun and you miss, with every sinew of your being, your soul-mate and life-long partner. For the single person, living away from family and friends, ‘seasons greetings’ can feel hollow and something of a ‘sham’, Yet, to me, the worse kind of loneliness is the loneliness felt while you are in a loving relationship with family and friends around you.

Like everyone else I have felt lonely at various points in my life… some may say “it’s character building”! I’ve been on my own at this time of year, but, before and after the 25th, always managed to party well. Yet, as a result of 17 years of constant pain, I have had my greatest ‘moments’ of loneliness while being married with children. But wait! That statement should not reflect upon my family in a negative way, it’s not them… it’s me!

Constant pain causes depression, huge revelation that! No! Of course it’s not! Anyone with a few, free grey cells knows the consequences of chronic pain; that tooth abscess x365days! Constant, chronic pain becomes all-embracing, after a while it starts to rule your life. You can fight it for as long as you can, but, at some stage, it’s going to beat you! It’s going to beat you so bad that you withdraw into the shell that was once you.

In my case, the early stages of depression manifested as sporadic feelings of helplessness and loneliness. I recall on a particular occasion opening-up to my wife and telling her I felt lonely, she found it totally incomprehensible that I could have feelings of loneliness while being married with 4 children. My wife felt it was a reflection upon her and our family, which, of course, it wasn’t, but it was very difficult to explain, exactly, what I was going through. Over the years, I have found it easier to explain and my wife now recognises many of the ‘signs’, much more than I do in fact!

One of the issues people have regarding loneliness and depression is that ‘it may rub-off on others’, which of course is bollocks! in the same way that a scowl won’t turn the milk sour!

People are social animals; we need each other, whether its to talk to or to kick us up the butt every now and then! We need to feel the warmth of another and to know there is someone there when we are ‘ready’ or ‘able’ to look for that hand-up, that hand of friendship.

So, please, as we go into a new year, take a look about you. That person stood at the bar or sat on their own; whether it’s a he or a she; old or young. Hold out that hand of friendship, say hi! You don’t need to become life-long buddies, but, just by acknowledging the person you will change their day; no big talks, no life stories a simple Hi! will do.

Loneliness is not contagious but laughter is most certainly infectious, so pass it on!

JSB

Pain really is a pain (Re-Post)


Pain is a pain, we all know that; I know that as an irrefutable fact.

I get nervous when writing about myself; about ‘cronic-pain’ and depression, Myoclonic-jerks and falls, its personal… very personal and you can’t be sure who the audience is, who am I trying to reach; are you interested in the trials of life of a middle-aged, slightly shy male?

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s said that all of us will suffer back-pain sometime in our lives; if you haven’t had it yet then you’ve probably got it to come. Our hope is, that, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye, the truth is, when pain comes, it will linger for sometime and cause lost moments of living not to mention days off work.

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s not a pleasant thought, but, take heart in the knowledge that you may never have another episode again in your life! Unfortunately some will have repeat episodes which could go on to become cronic-pain.

Pain is a pain, In my case, it started with neck-pain and sotmach-pain, followed a month or two later,  with back-pain. That was about 18 years ago and little has changed, despite medical interventions, and, so-called, cures. Little has changed, except my state of mind!

I’ve now been offered a choice: nerve-block jabs in the spine, which was less than successful on the 3 previous occasions; spinal fusion to ‘help the pain in the leg’ or accept that today is the best it will ever be!

I had an operation before, with high hopes of success, it failed!

Pain is a pain, we all know that; 3 years ago, I was sent to a consultant regarding issues in the thoracic area… ‘It’s muscular, but, I will send you for a scan because your GP has asked for one!’ So I go for a an MRI and await the results. Some two years later and yet another consultant, looking into an unrelated issue, tells me the results. It turns out the first consultant hadn’t reviewed the scan; the very same consultant now offering, yet another, operation???

Pain is a pain, we all know that! But how far do you go to get rid of it?

JSB

Defending Democracy


The Labour Party is a great party, it has achieved so much and has been the vanguard of democracy both at home and abroad, indeed, while in government, the Labour Party has sent our young people in to military action in defence of democracy. Given this, one would imagine, no! One would expect, the Labour Party to fiercely defend the democratic process internally as strongly as it does externally, after all if it is a principle for which good people have died in order to protect! Unfortunately, however, this is clearly not the case for many of our elected representatives in Parliament.

The current crisis in the Labour Party flies in the face of democracy.  Corbyn supporters will argue, with some justification, that he (Jeremy Corbyn) has a true democratic mandate to lead the Party. After all, Corbyn received some 60% of the vote of ordinary members in last year’s leadership election! While Labour Party members rejected the stance of the so called ‘Blairite’ supporters, with the candidate seen as having the closest policies to the Blair government, Leicester West MP Liz Kendal, receiving around 5% of the vote. Yet, in the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn enjoys no such support! Over the past week we have witnessed the resignation of the vast majority of Labour’s front bench and shadow ministerial team in a coup that is not only ripping the Party apart, but, is also frustrating an electorate that desperately need strong political representation more now than it has since the Thatcher years.

The Parliamentary Labour Party acts as an independent section of the Labour Party, above ordinary party members, with an absolute right to decide who their leader should be. Those involved in the coup argue that ‘they’ [Labour MP’s] are answerable, in the first instance, to the electorate, Party 2nd and party membership bringing up the rear. Labour MP’s enjoy a different relationship with the Party membership than do, for example, Labour Councillors who go through a full selection process before each election. MP’s, however, avoid deselection by the membership completely, giving them the prospect of a job for life and a false belief that the membership are not relevant. And here lies a problem! Some Labour MP’s view politics as a career option not the privilege it undoubtedly is. Since the 1990’s it has become much more difficult for someone from the wider community to get on the list of perspective Labour MP’s let alone selected for a ‘safe’ seat. The majority of Labour MP’s come through the educational conveyer belt with a great degree but little in the way of experience of life in today’s cutthroat world of work and worklessness. They ‘choose’ a career in politics rather than feel compelled to ‘act’, compelled to stand-up for their communities, to stand-up for their families and for families like their families, creating a disconnect between our elected representatives in Parliament and the electorate they seek to represent. This disconnect is at the very heart of British politics and the party system today, as was evident in the recent Brexit referendum.

Throughout the Country, since the financial crash, people have been sending a message to the political establishment which, until the results of the Brexit referendum, had largely gone unnoticed. In the week since the referendum, however, that message has been received loud and clear! The ‘Leave’ vote resulted in the resignation of the Prime minister, disarray and bitter division in the Conservative Party and a coup in the Labour Party. The Parliamentary Labour Party has used the ‘Leave’ vote as their excuse to remove Corbyn as Leader, through drip-fed resignations and recriminations ranging from support for racism to the manipulation the Labour Party ‘Remain’ policy to ensure a ‘Leave’ vote. Their tactics involve Piling-up the pressure on Corbyn to force his resignation rather than following the Party’s own democratic process by putting-up a candidate, with 51% support from Labour MP’s, in a new leadership election to stand against Corbyn. It beggars belief that a Political party which so strongly defends democracy would ignore the democratic process when they feel it is a threat to their ‘jobs’! Democracy isn’t something you can use or reject when it suits, it is a fundamental principle that has been hard fought and defended with the blood of heros!

If the Labour Party are to become relevant again then ‘they’ would do better than to manufacture crisis after crisis and brief against each other at the first hint of a journalists pen! They need to understand that their actions are being viewed as a self-indulgence they can ill afford! A couple of questions I was asked on Thursday night is typical of the way in which the Labour Party is seen by the wider public…

“If Labour MP’s don’t want to follow their own rules, how can we trust them to represent us?”

“If they [Labour MP’s] can’t sort themselves out what hope do we have in them sorting out the mess the Country is in now?”

I could offer no answer!

JSB

Response to Paul Mason, Guardian June 25th 2016


​This is a really good article from Paul Mason, however, it does suppose that the Labour Party is populated by principled politicians, who represents the wider community. This is not, in my experience, the case!

The Labour Party has embraced the notion of career politics and have encouraged people to stand for office, both at a local and national level, for nothing more than quedos, or status.

Our political representatives should reflect wider society and accept that to be elected is a privilege not a career choice and that personal status is a barrier to true democratic representation. We need our representatives to reflect our communities, to have experienced real life not merely read about it in some obscure Oxbridge reference book!

This is a good article but the call for a new left alliance, led by the Labour Party, is doomed to failure. Labour has lost its influence in our former industrial heartlands, people don’t just feel let down by Labour, they feel abandoned by them! So, a new left alliance, yes! But one that has, at its heart, the people who have been worse hit by the lack of any meaningful industrial policy and the worst hit by needless austerity!…

http://gu.com/p/4myb2?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Facebook

JSB

Political Disintegration 


​As I write this post the ramifications of #Brexit and the failure of the ‘remain’ campaign are ripping apart the old political order as coup upon coup unfolds in both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party.

At just after 1:30am Jeremy Corbyn sacked his shadow foreign secretary, Hilary Benn, whom, the Observer newspaper claimed, had been phoning around Labour MP’s asking two questions: (1) Should he (Hillary Benn) ask Corbyn to stand down as Labour Party leader and (2) If Corbyn refuses, would other shadow cabinet members join Benn and resign en masse?

I feel they still don’t get the fact that Corbyn was the last hope for the Labour Party, or at least his principles were. While the ‘careerists’ are running around like headless chickens, worried for their own ‘jobs’, the people they purport to represent are overburdened by needless Tory austerity, which many of the ‘careerists’ supported, at least in part, and angry by political misinformation and lies, so very evident throughout the referendum campaign, that they will never trust their political representatives again!

The question shouldn’t be ‘how can we make the Labour Party relevant again?’ It should be ‘how can the left re-engage with abandoned Britain?’ More people these days get their political information from organisations such as #38degrees rather than from a leaflet stuffed through their door in the run-up to an election! The Labour Party reeks of ‘establishment’, the very thing that the public stuck two fingers upto in the #Brexit referendum and the focus of anger throughout western democracies. Everything about the Labour Party is outmoded, even it’s name is irrelevant and harps back to a pre-thatcherite, industrial, Britan that will never return. So now it’s time to put the Party to bed, to work on new alliances and new structures which can adapt to the needs of a 21st century Britan. A positive, progressive, force rooted in the united goals of the left and representative of the dissolutioned and abandoned communities so desperately needing a voice!

(previously posted on Facebook June 26th 2016)
JSB

Richard 3rd; An APOLOGY


So King Richard lll or ‘tricky dickie’, as he is sometimes, affectionately, known as here in Leicester, is confirmed as being the bones in the car park.

The car park, at Gray Friars, is very close to the ‘Shakespeare’ public house, a short distance from the ‘Last Plantagenet’ pub and not too far from King Richard lll road. Later years, the building around the car park housed Leicester City Council Social Services department and is flanked by a considerable number of hostelries and popular bars.

Over a weekend, the area is particularly busy, with young and old partaking in copious amounts of liquid refreshments and all having to relieve themselves of ‘spent’ alcohol, mostly in the appropriate place, some, however, in all to public a  place, such as: doorways, alleyways and the odd car park.

Before I continue, I need to make it absolutely clear that I have not felt the need to relieve myself in such a public manner, on the streets of this wonderful, historic, City of Leicester!

The thought that some unsuspecting persons, let’s say, for the sake of argument, some boisterous history students from the University of Leicester, have, should we say, ‘watered’ the head of the last Plantagenet, is amusing, sad and ever so slightly sick!

Maybe now is the time for these people to search their souls in regret at such an outrageous act of humiliation against a former Monarch of the realm. It is also an appropriate time it for others, such as myself, to review their actions; how many, I wonder, have walked on Richards grave or parked their car on top of ‘Those lovely bones’? Well, it is with huge regret and shame that I, quite possibly, could have done both! (although, I can promise you, I have never danced in any part of Gray Friars car park!).

In the spirit of this momentous occasion, I would like to offer an apology to the family and friends of King Richard III for my indiscretions, in my defence I would just say that I did not notice the large ‘R’ inscribed in paint on the tarmac directly above Richard’s grave, the significance of which was, in hindsight, fairly obvious.

JSB

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Warming the cockles of my heart


Sunny day in Leicester, great to feel the warmth easing the aches and pains, ready for them to kick the crap out of me tomorrow, not doubt.

People suffering with cronic-pain will tell you just how so very frustrating life can be. It’s difficult for a non-sufferer to understand, how this daily trial that we call life, is for those in the know. You see, you cant see pain! Oh! Yes! You can see the ‘effects’ of pain written on the face of every sufferer. It may be that you don’t see someone for months, well, that’s usually because they been having a crap time of it lately.

I sometimes wonder whether its just sufferers and physicists that understand. I say ‘physicists’ because if you can comprehend black holes and dark matter or quarks and neutrinos, then, surely, you can comprehend neurons firing pain throughout your body, or should that be misfiring? If physicists do understand just what pain sufferers are going through, on a day-to-day basis, then, they will be members of a very small club indeed. for, it seems beyond the understanding of many in the medical profession.

I have been suffering from constant cronic-pain for some 18 years now, and, bit by bit, it seems to take just that little bit more of me. The most recent acquisition has been my mind.

Sometime back, and as a result of cronic-pain, I developed depression followed by ‘jerks’, you’ve all had them, you know, you are sitting watching your favourite show, when, out of nowhere, you arm shoots out or you kick the coffee table for no reason, well I developed a more severe form of the same. It was quite amusing at times and most frustrating at others; they are called Myoclonic-jerks.

Sometimes, Myoclonic-jerks become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy, the more you try not to focus on them the worse they become. In my case, they led to ‘seizure’ like episodes which, eventually, led to a week in hospital, so high on medication that I was bouncing off the walls!!!

Now, Just to be clear, I am not seeking your sympathy, far from it, there are many people who wish they had my problems! No! i’m not seeking your sympathy, I merely seek your understanding!

Imagine you have a tooth abses, the pain is all-encompassing, it’s shooting through your face, into your head and through your neck. Now imagine that pain, running, like Usain Bolt, down your body and through your legs… now smile!

‘Chin-up!’, ‘you look as though you have the weight of the World on your shoulders!’ ‘never mind, things can only get better!’

Things can only get better, um! today, I may well agree! Tomorrow? Well, we’ll see!

JSB

PAINFUL TRUTHS (UPDATE)


Since posting this blog and asking the question ‘What would you do’? I have decided to go ahead with the operation to fuse my spine and decompress some trapped nerves.

I am under no illusion for a complete cure of my ills but there is now hope: a chance of experiencing less pain in my legs; a chance, in all honesty, I  feel I have to take!

Big thanks to all for the emails and kind messages, all truly appreciated, Thank you!

It’s now a waiting game, I would very much like to get it done asap but I fully accept that there are many people worse-off than me… I have waited this long I can wait a little longer!

———————

Pain is a pain, we all know that; I know that as an irrefutable fact.

I get nervous when writing about myself; about ‘cronic-pain’ and depression, Myoclonic-jerks and falls, its personal… very personal and you can’t be sure who the audience is, who am I trying to reach; are you interested in the trials of life of a middle-aged, slightly shy male?

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s said that all of us will suffer back-pain sometime in our lives; if you haven’t had it yet then you’ve probably got it to come. Our hope is, that, it comes and goes in the blink of an eye, the truth is, when pain comes, it will linger for sometime and cause lost moments of living not to mention days off work.

Pain is a pain, we all know that! It’s not a pleasant thought, but, take heart in the knowledge that you may never have another episode again in your life! Unfortunately some will have repeat episodes which could go on to become cronic-pain.

Pain is a pain, In my case, it started with neck-pain and sotmach-pain, followed a month or two later,  with back-pain. That was about 18 years ago and little has changed, despite medical interventions, and, so-called, cures. Little has changed, except my state of mind!

I’ve now been offered a choice: nerve-block jabs in the spine, which was less than successful on the 3 previous occasions; spinal fusion to ‘help the pain in the leg’ or accept that today is the best it will ever be!

I had an operation before, with high hopes of success, it failed!

Pain is a pain, we all know that; 3 years ago, I was sent to a consultant regarding issues in the thoracic area… ‘It’s muscular, but, I will send you for a scan because your GP has asked for one!’ So I go for a an MRI and await the results. Some two years later and yet another consultant, looking into an unrelated issue, tells me the results. It turns out the first consultant hadn’t reviewed the scan; the very same consultant now offering, yet another, operation???

Pain is a pain, we all know that! But how far do you go to get rid of it?

JSB

WHAT?!


What are they pumping into the Vale?

It runs on through not absorb in shale!

They take the good then dump the spoil

above your school, your girls, your boys.

The heavens had opened on this land of ‘song’

for days the deluge had carried-on!

Yet they kept on pumping into the Vale,

expecting water to be absorbed by shale

.

On a foggy day a mountain moans

as streams beneath a sonami forms

now well lubed, the shale gave way and 

down it crashed onto a new school day.

A road runs through it 50 years on

The pit and spoil all long since gone

The greening of the Valley’s hides their violent past

but of this lost generation the memory lasts.

images

RIP

JSB

TRIUMPH AND DISASTER


How far back can you remember?

My earliest memory is of 1966, I was 3 years old.

Most people in the UK are aware of the importance of 1966 but not necessarily for the reasons you may think!

For England, 1966 was a sporting triumph, winning the FIFA World Cup, but, to the people of Wales, in particular the people of a small mining village in the heart of the south Wales valleys, 1966 brought disaster of monumental proportions.

On the 21st October 1966 at 9:15am, just when first lessons were about to start in primary schools through-out the Country, a slag-heap above the village of Aberfan, south of Merthyr Tydfil, came crashing down, engulfing the local primary school, a farmhouse and some terraced houses, claiming the lives of 144 people, mainly children, not much older than me.

I recall in, vivid detail, standing outside the front-door with my mother, watching the lorries trundling up the road with their cargo of spoil from the disaster area. There was no talking, no idol chit-chat, just silence, as they made their way to the steelworks where the spoil was to be burnt in the mighty furnaces, no talking, no idol chit-chat just a deep sadness for the loss of 144 souls, 116 of whom were children, all of whom had been engulfed by this very same spoil.

Some 15 years on, I was working for a furniture manufacture and helped deliver a three piece to a home in a village near Aberfan. The home-owner had her elder sister with her, she was suffering from mental illness. The home-owner explained how her sister was a survivor of the Aberfan disaster. She had been buried up to the chest, her cousin, who was with her at the time, lost her life.

A mind damaged and a generation lost.

 

jsb