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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The social model of disability

Being an article composed by the Editor for publication in her trade union periodical, intended to be read by persons who have no previous knowledge whatsoever of the social model. Reproduced here (suitably anonymised) in case it should be of interest to any of Lady Bracknell's readers, with the proviso that those who have been following this blog for some time may find parts of it remarkably similar to sentiments which have been published in these pages in the past.

[The Union] is committed to tackling discrimination against its members. But it can’t do that effectively unless it understands the true nature of the discrimination those members experience. When it comes to disability, this can be difficult. We are all – consciously or not – affected by media representations of disabled people as being either terribly brave, or objects of pity. And sometimes both at the same time. The traditional approach to disabled people is to think of us as having experienced personal medical tragedy, and as needing help to be made as “normal” as possible.

But increasing numbers of disabled people see attempts to change, 'fix' or 'cure' them, especially when it’s against their wishes, as discriminatory and prejudiced. It’s damaging to your self-esteem when you’re constantly being told that, on a very basic level, you’re not as good or as valuable as non-disabled people. Also, it is clearly not our medical conditions which place us at such a comparative disadvantage.

The social model of disability grew out of disabled people’s rejection of the way in which they were perceived by society. It distinguishes between two entirely separate elements of a disabled person’s experiences.

Firstly, we have impairments. We experience functional loss or difference. Of course, lots of people have some degree of functional loss, however minor. But they are only disabled if there is a negative social response to them because of that impairment. The DEMOS think tank came up with a very clear example of the point at which a particular impairment will result in disability, as follows:

“A person with impaired vision requiring reading glasses would not see themselves as disabled if they lived in the UK. But if they lived in a rural area of Africa they may well be, as they might have been excluded from a proper education and would find it more difficult to find employment.”

We live with the impact of our impairments every day. For some of us, that in itself is difficult and exhausting. But it’s not disability.

Disability is the negative interaction between people with impairments and the physical, environmental and attitudinal barriers in society which prevent their full inclusion in it. We are disabled and excluded because society doesn’t take full account of individual difference.

Still struggling to understand (or even care about) the difference between impairment and disability? And why that difference is important? Perhaps some examples will help:

Traditional/Medical Model
John can’t get into this building because he’s in a wheelchair.

Social Model
John is a wheelchair user. He’s disabled by the fact that this building doesn’t have a ramp or a lift.

There’s no point in inviting Susan to this meeting because she’s deaf, so she won’t be able to contribute.

Susan is disabled by the fact that the room we’re holding the meeting in doesn’t have an induction loop.

Damon can’t use this website because he’s blind.

Damon is disabled by the fact that this website doesn’t meet the legal accessibility requirements.

Linda can’t be given a job on the reception desk because she’s not what our visitors will want to see.

Linda is disabled by people’s attitudes towards facial disfigurement.

In each of these examples you can see that, according to the traditional approach to disability, the problem lies with the disabled person. The disabled person is different and doesn’t fit in. But if you look at the same examples from a social model perspective, the problem lies with the failure of the other people in the equation to make the necessary adjustments. In other words, disability is discriminatory behaviour towards people who have impairments. And that’s what the Disability Discrimination Act is designed to legislate against, and therefore what [the Union] is committed to fighting against. Not the fact that we have impairments, but the discrimination we experience because we have those impairments.

Language is important in all equality agendas, and disability is no different. Disability is something which happens to people with impairments, not something which is part of them. To those who agree that the social model of disability reflects their life experiences, the phrase “people with disabilities” means “people with social oppressions”: it’s simply illogical.

If all the barriers to our participation in society were removed, disability would cease to exist. We would still have impairments, but we wouldn’t be disabled. Just as, if negative attitudes towards gay people disappeared, homophobia wouldn’t exist.

The social model removes the stigma from self-identifying as a disabled person. Under the social model, describing yourself as disabled isn’t an admission of weakness: it’s recognition of the fact that you experience a form of discrimination which is deeply embedded in our society. And, of course, once you’ve identified where the problem lies, you can start to put together a strategy to tackle it.

The Editor's new toy

Two weeks ago, when Lady Bracknell's Editor was feeling at a particularly low ebb as the result of the ongoing saga of her reasonable adjustment (or lack of one) at her workplace, she succumbed to the temptation to treat herself.

The resultant parcel was delivered to Bracknell Towers this morning. It is a Kodak V803 camera. In "red shimmer".

To the right is a charming image of Young Master Bertram (who would be nine months old tomorrow, were it not for the fact that February does not run to 29 days) relaxing in his igloo, taken with the camera in question.


Mr Larkin has this morning drawn the Editor's attention to the cartoons of Mr Dave Lupton. Lady Bracknell has little doubt that many of her regular readers will enjoy the examples here and here.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Just singin' (and whackin') in the rain.

Lady Bracknell has long been of the opinion that
  • there are some very strange things indeed on the interwebnet; and
  • the Editor seems fated to find all of them in the course of carrying out searches of an entirely innocent nature.

As a case in point, whilst idly trawling Google for "walking stick stand", the Editor found this umbrella. Which is to say that she found something which looks like an umbrella and which, indeed, performs the functions of an umbrella (protecting the user from rain, and so forth), but which is, in point of fact, a weapon. One which "whacks just as strong as a steel pipe" but which "doesn't arouse suspicion", and doesn't attract any "strange looks if carried by an able-bodied person". Unlike, presumably, a steel pipe.

Tom Kurz (whoever he is) carries his with him on aeroplanes "and has never had anyone question him about it". Lady Bracknell, although an infrequent flyer herself, has no doubt that some persons who travel by air can be very irritating. Whether this would be sufficient provocation to hit them with something as strong as a steel pipe, though, is open to doubt. In fact, one would probably risk lengthy incarceration should one venture to so much as prod them with the tip of one's umbrella.

Potential purchasers of this exceedingly dubious item - "Do you know how to strike with a sturdy stick? If you do, you know all you need to know..." - will no doubt be pleased to know that the frame is "warranted" not to break under normal use. However, they may wish to note that the warranty in question doesn't extend to actions such as throwing the umbrella under a train or bulldozer, or throwing it into a wood chipper. Although quite why they should feel the urge to do any of those things with it (unless they are on the run from law enforcement officials after running amok on an aeroplane) is beyond Lady Bracknell's capacity to imagine.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The joy of text

Being a treatise composed by the Editor on the benefits of what is, to Lady Bracknell at least, an incomprehensible aspect of mobile telephones.

Having just upgraded my mobile phone tariff from a package incorporating 500 text messages a month to 1000 (in order to accommodate my daily text marathons with a certain P Larkin Esq, you understand), I've decided it's past time I came clean about my texting addiction.

Not everyone from my generation has taken to texting. I know various people of about my age (some of whom have dyslexia, and whose antipathy can therefore be excused) who simply can't imagine why anyone would want to do it. "Isn't it easier to just talk to someone?", they say.

Well, actually, no. It's not.

Now, I'd be the first to admit that I was a late convert to mobile phones and that I still think they're a bloody menace. Although the "bloody menace" aspect of them lies with the people who use them, rather than with the phones themselves. People who compose text messages while walking down busy streets should, in my humble opinion, be strung up. It's hard enough for me to negotiate crowded areas even if everyone else is watching where they're going: it's damn near impossible when they're not. And, no, your fellow passengers do not need to be subjected to you yelling , "I'm on the train!" to whomever it is who cannot rest for worrying that you might not be on the bloody train.

Lady Bracknell has perorated in the past about members of theatre audiences who consider themselves to be sufficiently special that requests to turn off mobile phones don't apply to them. When I went to see Brad Fraser's "Snake In Fridge" at the Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester some years ago, I particularly enjoyed his creative response to the important person problem. In pitch blackness, in a voice like poisoned molasses, he threatened to personally remove and destroy the phone of anyone foolhardy enough to ignore the request to turn them all off. Rarely have I seen so many people reach as one for their pocket/handbag to beat their phones into submission. (Great play, by the way. Don't know whether it's still being produced anywhere, but do go and see it if you get the chance.)

And yes, I do deplore the effect that "text speak" has had on the literacy levels of people in their teens and twenties. Although not half as much as I deplore the education authorities who permit this bastardisation of our fine language to be used in written exams. (It's twenty years since I was a student teacher. Even then, I was advised that making the little darlings correct every "could of" and "should of" stifled their precious creativity. And, as someone who had legitimately lost a mark in her mock RE A level exam for splitting an infinitive, I took this rather ill.)

I never, ever resort to "txt spk" in my own text messages. I just can't bring myself to do it. Knowing this, of course, the Dude fights his own vehement dislike of the phenomenon to compose messages to me including as much text speak as he can possibly cram into one short message. Just because he knows it makes me grind my teeth with rage.

Nevertheless, I love texting. In fact, it's not an exaggeration to say that texting probably saved my life. When you are dealing with such intense pain that you simply have no energy to spare on talking to anybody on the phone*, sending and receiving text messages has a value beyond rubies. You don't have to sit up. You don't have to change position. You don't have to un-clench your jaw sufficiently to force words out. But you're not alone. No-one can take the pain away from you, or manage it for you, but they can keep in touch and let you know they're thinking about you.

Plus, of course, there's something about the discipline of text messaging which makes communication by text very different from communication by telephone or by email. You've got a strictly finite character limit, so you've no opportunity to waffle. One is forced to be pithy, even if one is not naturally so inclined. They do say that brevity is the soul of wit, and it's not at all unusual for me to fall about laughing at the content of text messages I receive. Yes, even the ones from the Dude. (Drat - now I need to come up with a way of distracting him so that he will never read this post.)

*If you're fit as a flea yourself, it's probably very difficult to envisage having such limited reserves of stamina that talking to people of whom you are very fond on the phone could be exhausting. With the cost of phone calls lower than it has ever been, you may well think that it wouldn't be a problem if you were stuck at home for a while, because you'd be able to keep yourself perpetually amused by phoning everyone you know.

You never have to stop to consider whether the phone call you'd love to make will result in you being unfit to work the next day because it's taken so much out of you. And that's the enjoyable ones. Let alone any where you have to have your wits about you because you're ordering things, or wanting to register a complaint. If your phone rings, you answer it. If my phone rings, I have to try by some intuitive process to work out who it might be and whether I have the strength to talk to that person. I long ago lost any feelings of guilt I might once have had about not answering a ringing phone.

Which brings me neatly back to text messaging which, frankly, could have been designed with the weedy crip in mind. It takes almost no effort, but it brings huge rewards. I love it and I would be lost (or, at the very least, miserably lonely) without it.

So there you have it. My name is The Editor and I'm a text addict.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

In which Lady Bracknell makes a foolish mistake

Lady Bracknell regrets to report that she is currently very decidedly under the weather. It being entirely out of character for her to present the medical fraternity with a combination of symptoms susceptible to immediate and incontrovertibly accurate diagnosis, a comprehensive battery of blood tests has been scheduled.

If there is anything more dispiriting than dragging one's ailing frame, together with one's handbag, into which one has slipped a variety of sustaining foodstuffs, to the surgery for an 8.40 a.m. appointment to have "fasting bloods" taken, it is the humiliating realisation that one has done so on the wrong day.

Which would explain why Lady Bracknell will retire to her bed momentarily in order to repeat the whole process tomorrow morning.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Lady Bracknell went to market

It would seem that children these days can barely set foot outside the front door unless armed with the capacity to make telephone calls, listen to what they fondly believe to be music, and slay alien invaders. What possible need, then, can they have for the games of yesteryear? (Always assuming they could be persuaded to communicate with their elders in anything more than a series of vulgar and inarticulate grunts, of course.)

It has occurred to Lady Bracknell that, in this era of hand-held electronic devices, the vast majority of which are prone to emitting annoying pinging noises should one so much as look askance at them, some of the old methods of passing the time on long journeys by motor car risk being lost for ever.

When Lady Bracknell was a child, the tedium of such journeys was relieved not only by rousing family sing-songs (who will join Lady Bracknell in a chorus of "I've got sixpence"?) but also by a variety of games which were intended to exercise either the intellect or the memory. (I Spy, whilst not without its uses when a family is stationary, can become problematic when played in a moving vehicle, given that the object spied has a tendency to disappear into the distance at considerable speed. Amongst suspicious siblings, this fact can lead to unfortunate accusations of the, "There was no llama in that field we passed a mile ago. You've made that up. Mama! Cedric is cheating again!" variety.)

The Parson's Cat enjoyed brief popularity in the Bracknell family, but the favourite by a long chalk was I Went To Market.

Fearing the loss of this harmless but amusing pastime, Lady Bracknell has decided to revive it in blog format. Those of her loyal readers who wish to play are asked to refrain from cheating by copying and pasting the last player's response, and then merely adding a purchase of their own right at the very end. The game is a test of memory, after all.

Lady Bracknell will make the first move:

I went to market and I bought an aardvark.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

There ain't no cure, there ain't no cure, there ain't no cure for love

Except, possibly, for these.

In which the Editor chairs a meeting

Chairing meetings is generally a fairly thankless task, if one in which I have had a fair amount of practice over the years. I can't say I actually enjoy it, but I prefer it to being chaired by someone who considers an agenda to be a vague starting point for general, meandering, inconclusive discussions. Woe betide anyone who meanders under my jurisdiction! Of course, a lot depends on the character and intelligence of the people who attend a particular meeting.

Anyway, just for the record, I'd really rather never even sit in the same room again as the individual whose comments today included the following priceless gems:

"If you need anyone to take on management, you might want to know that I speak fluent Klingon."

"I need to stand closer to you. Then I can sniff it."*

I promise you I am not making this up.

*It's possible I shouldn't have regaled Pop with this while he was driving home. I suspect that his immoderate mirth rendered him a temporary danger to other motorists.

The Editor

Sunday, February 11, 2007

In which the Editor experiences a frisson

The Editor - much to Lady Bracknell's dismay - has a great fondness for Tim Burton's moving picture, The Nightmare Before Christmas. (Mr Larkin recently had cause to sigh deeply in response to her distress when she temporarily lost the pumpkin charm from her mobile phone, and to agree with Lady Bracknell that her reaction to having misplaced a small piece of orange plastic was not that which might have been expected from a grown woman.) Imagine, then, the excited squeaking which ensued when she discovered that a full-size Jack Skellington walking stick has been produced, and may be purchased cheaply from this eBay seller or, at considerably greater expense, from starstore. (And, very probably, from a variety of other retail outlets too numerous to mention.)

The stick would be of very little practical use to the Editor, given that it has no crook and could thus not be draped over her wrist when she has temporary need for both hands to be free. And she is far from sure that it would support her not-inconsiderable weight. Neither of which considerations, of course, significantly reduces her temptation to buy one right now this instant minute. (Lady Bracknell has suborned her into taking dictation so that she will be kept busy until the initial rush of excitement has passed. Never let it be said that Lady Bracknell pays no heed at all to the welfare of her employees.)

At the other end of the scale entirely, those of Lady Bracknell's readers who have need of a handsome walking stick, and whose purses are bottomless, may find themselves salivating with desire over the work of Boris Palatnik, of which the splendid cougar below is but one example.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Shades of disability

Some years ago, Lady Bracknell was asked whether she could assist in devising the disabled persons' equivalent of the pink and grey pounds. (In case any of her readers is unaware of the relevant statistic, disabled persons in the United Kingdom have £80 billion to spend per annum. It is, of course, something of a challenge to persuade retailers to recognise how much money they are turning away by refusing to make their shops and websites accessible, which is why the "disabled pound" was made much of when Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act came into force in October 2004.)

Try as she might, Lady Bracknell was unable to provide any suggestions which found favour with her interlocutor. Nevertheless, the issue continues - if only very occasionally - to haunt her.

However, the mystery is now solved! According to the photograph on the right, disability is a particularly virulent shade of cerise! (It would appear that disability is only cerise for disabled persons who do not travel abroad: it may be that international jet-setting disabled persons have their own colour. Although why this should be the case, Lady Bracknell really has not the slightest idea.)

Cerise being a shade of pink, it is possible that the non-heterosexual community will feel that we are simply copying them, and may therefore pour scorn on our lack of originality. But Lady Bracknell does not make the rules: she merely reports them. Clearly, a decision has been made in high places that disabled persons' life experiences are most accurately reflected by glossy cerise. Why else would unpleasant little tubes of cosmetic goop* be so labelled?

*Lady Bracknell rather hopes that the majority of her readers are of the type who would have no truck with (ahem) "Sparkle Babe Sparkler Colors" (sic), and no wish whatsoever to either "mix and match" them or "glide them over your favourite lip color**". However, as Dude the chauffeur always likes to look presentable when in uniform, she feels duty bound to point out that these substances may be purchased here.

**Note the baffling mixture of UK English and US English spelling conventions in this phrase. Lady Bracknell would have expected either "favourite" and "colour" or "favorite" and "color". She would, of course, always much prefer the former.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

In which we learn that only heterosexual persons buy one another chocolate

The Editor is currently receiving a plethora of emails from purveyors of goods and services suggesting that their website holds the perfect gift for Valentine's Day. Most are deleted unread. However, the Editor's fondness for dark chocolate tempted her to open the one from Green & Black.

In a break from the usual sentimental drivel about "the one you love" deserving the most expensive item on the website (and this despite it having only very recently been Christmas, and therefore probably safe to assume that you very recently showered the individual in question with a variety of lovingly-chosen gifts for which he or she is still desperately trying to find space), Green and Black have a more novel approach.

This is what they say:

"Dear Editor,

Valentine's Day is looming - is that bunch of 'whatever as long as they're red' really going to cut it? Possibly not. So why not drop your lover a subtle hint? Forward this email onto him immediately.

All he has to do is visit our online gifting service where he'll find a deliciously tempting range of Valentine ideas, beautifully presented and stylishly wrapped. Each gift contains a sumptuous selection of Green & Black's intense chocolate and delivers immensely more pleasure than anything you're ever likely to put in a vase.

Gifts are wonderful things. They're even better when they're gifts you actually want. So send him this email and make sure he gets it right.

The Green & Black's Team"

There are two issues here. The first is that Lady Bracknell was brought up in a world in which one did not know the financial cost of the gifts one received, and it would have been considered the height of bad manners to ask. Sending the Green & Black email to "him" is surely the modern-day equivalent of dragging "him" by the ear to the local chocolatier's, pointing at the confection one most desires, and saying, "Get me one of those, Humphrey. You can surprise me with it on Valentine's Day.".

Is this what now passes for romance? At exactly what point did it become acceptable to pour scorn on the gifts one's significant other chooses to the point where one decides he can no longer be permitted to actually do the choosing himself, and that one is entitled to "make sure he gets it right"? Are Green & Black sending their male customers an equivalent email in which the masculine pronouns are exchanged for feminine ones? Are both genders permitted to dictate their choice of gift? And, if one is dictating one's choice of gift, might it not be a great deal simpler all round if one just bought it for oneself? When did we, as a nation, become so deplorably acquisitive that the gift became more important than the intentions of the giver?

Secondly, unless Green & Black have been carrying out extensive surveillance into the Editor's private life, how can they be sure that she is straight? The answer, of course, is that they can not be sure: they are merely making an assumption. An assumption which, in light of the fact that 10% of their customers are very probably gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgendered, could cost them very dear. It simply beggars belief that any marketing team, in this day and age, should have so little awareness of the diversity of what Lady Bracknell believes is called their "customer base".

Have these people never heard of the pink pound? Or is their company so embarrassingly successful that they can afford to simply throw away 10% of their turnover? (Lady Bracknell has been watching Dragons' Den on the television: note how cleverly she avoided the trap of equating sales with profit. She feels rather proud of herself, and believes she may be possessed of previously-unsuspected financial acumen.)

Perhaps the marketing team are not entirely ignorant of diversity issues. Perhaps they considered the problem their email presents, and concluded that replacing "him" with the grammatically incorrect "them" in order to avoid a firm indicator of gender would be more likely to be offensive to their homophobic customers than the current implication that only straight people are entitled to Valentine's Day gifts is to their LGBT ones. Which, if true, would be rather more disturbing than it having never occurred to them in the first place that their heterosexuality bias might cause offence.

Lady Bracknell wishes to make it abundantly clear that she has no criticism of Green & Black's products: her criticisms are confined to their method of marketing them. Oh, and to their unforgivable use of the barbarous term, "online gifting service", of course.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Fear and self-loathing in Liverpool

I have to go out tomorrow. I have a long-standing professional commitment which I really don't want to break. But there's a problem. A big one. Heavy snow is forecast. If I have checked the BBC weather forecast once today, I've checked it a dozen times. And it hasn't budged an inch. Heavy snow all across the region. Possibly interspersed with light snow. Maybe. Snow, anyway. They're pretty definite about the snow.

I am terrified of snow. Paralysed with fear. (Well, not of the snow itself, obviously. Snow is white and fluffy and innocent. Hardly the stuff of nightmares.) No, what scares me is that the ground will be slippery and I might fall. And hurt myself. More. And worse.

"But, Editor!", I hear you cry, "you have a (frankly rather dodgy) IT set-up at home as part of your reasonable adjustment. You won't need to go out: surely you can work at home?".

Er, yes. Ordinarily. But I'm actually on leave tomorrow. My professional commitment isn't connected with the day job. It's Something Else Entirely. I have committed myself to sit on an interview panel for a different organisation with which I'm involved on a voluntary basis. And I've had to let them down so many times before that, frankly, if I have to do so again tomorrow, I'll feel that I have no option but to resign.

Remember what Westley, when he's still disguised as the Dread Pirate Roberts, says to Inigo Montoya when he's bested him at sword fighting? "Get used to disappointment." And I have. Trust me, I am used to disappointment. I've lost count of the things I've missed because I've been in too much pain, or too ill, to go. I spent an entire day queueing on the phone to get front row seats to see Patrick Stewart at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, and I couldn't go because the doctors couldn't work out what was preventing my blood sugar levels from balancing. I missed Paterson Joseph's Othello at the Royal Exchange. After six months of agonising pain, I missed Adam Hills at the Neptune because I'd picked up a sodding stomach bug the day before. It sucks at the time, but I've become very skilled at rationalising these things, and convincing myself - in the teeth of a mass of wholly contradictory evidence - that it was all for the best, and that I hadn't really wanted to go anyway.

But things are a bit different when other people are involved. If I miss something I wanted to do, well, it's just tough. Life's like that for ouchy crips, and there's no point being bitter and twisted about it. But if I miss something I was doing for other people, well, that I can't rationalise away. I probably should be able to, and it's probably a Great Failing in me that I can't, but I can't. The bottom line is, with the best will in the world, I'm just not reliable. Hell, I wouldn't take me on, regardless of how impressed I was by my knowledge and skills. (I would, of course, take on somebody else with exactly the same impairments: but one is always harder on oneself than on others.) I am, frankly, neither use nor bloody ornament. To anyone. And, yes, I am stupid enough to risk my health to avoid confirming my belief that I am neither use nor bloody ornament.

So, what is an Editor to do? Well, I spoke to Pop. Pop was not pleased. He was Stern Pop. He frightened the pants off me (er, in a manner of speaking). He had to, I suppose, because he's got to make me more scared of what he will do if I go out in the snow than I am of the snow in the first place. And, as I think we've already established, I am very scared of going out in the snow. So he'll be phoning tomorrow morning, and I've no doubt that he'll be Stern Pop again if he thinks it's necessary. And I am now, of course, consumed with guilt for having bothered him when he's away on business in Perth. Which, in itself, is more indicative than anything else I've written of just how much of a state I've got myself into over The Snow Issue. As if it matters where Pop is, as long as Pop is somewhere. And has his phone with him.

So, that's it. There's nothing I can do but wait for the morning and see whether the forecasters were right. And pray (in an entirely agnostic way, you understand) that they were wrong.

The Editor

The wait is over

After what has seemed to Lady Bracknell, who has never been famed for her patience, to have been an almost intolerable delay, photographs of the latest litter of selkirk rex kittens have finally been published on the Mewsoscats website. All, of course, are endearing beyond description, but the red point curly boy (who would appear, from his photograph, to have blue eyes) would need to make very little effort indeed to win Lady Bracknell's heart.

Also published is this recent photograph* of Young Master Bertram's red** brother, Mac. When purchasing Bertie, Lady Bracknell had to choose between him and and his brother. Although she believes that she made the right choice, she continues to be completely astonished that Mac is still available, and has no qualms whatsoever in recommending him to her readers as the perfect feline companion (despite the fact that Bertie has just used his superior weight to evict Caspar from her Vantage Point of Choice).

* Lady Bracknell is in behopes that Pam will forgive her for publishing Mac's photograph here, given that her motives are to assist, in what small way she can, in finding him a home.

** Lady Bracknell knows nothing of Mac's political allegiances: she merely describes his colour.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In which Lady Bracknell twitches inadvertently

Whilst standing on the station platform earlier this evening when it was very nearly dark, waiting for the train which would convey her home from her visit to the osteopathic gentleman (a visit in which, she regrets to report, she was treated most roughly), Lady Bracknell's eye was caught by the silhouette of a wol* drifting silently over the railway line.

Whilst by no stretch of the imagination an expert in the identification of our countryside's crepuscular creatures, Lady Bracknell suspects the bird in question to have been a Tawny Wol.
One is not often granted the pleasure of seeing a wol in flight, particularly when one lives in the city. Lady Bracknell has the great good fortune to live in a decidedly leafy area of Liverpool, close to one of its largest parks. On occasions when sleep escapes her, she therefore sometimes hears the cries of the local wol population. But, it having been many years since she has actually seen a wol, she considers the quarter of an hour she spent standing in the deepening frost on the station platform to have been entirely worthwhile.

*Having been exposed to the delightful volumes penned by the talented Mr Milne from a very early age, Lady Bracknell finds herself constitutionally incapable of referring to birds of the strix aluco genus by their more common English name.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

This just in...

Lady Bracknell has just been sent this link by a friend.

Whilst the content appears, to Lady Bracknell's untutored eye, to be written entirely in some sort of particularly impenetrable code, she is assured that it will be of both interest and practical use to disabled persons who

  • drive a motor car and
  • have a gentleman-friend who goes by the name of Tom Tom.

(Tom Tom is, apparently, not the butcher's son. Is it any wonder that Lady Bracknell finds the modern world confusing?)

Speaking words of wisdom

It is Lady Bracknell's experience that, where persons to whom the Editor would no doubt refer - in her deplorably vulgar way - as "ouchy crips"* are gathered together, the conversation will turn to stamina. Or, rather, to lack of the same.

"It isn't the pain itself I resent", they say. "I can live with the pain. What really hacks me off is that I have no reserves of stamina at all, and I'm permanently too exhausted to do all sorts of terribly mundane things that other people take completely for granted. And, while I'm on the subject, I also resent the fact that the people who can do those things with no appreciable effort whatsoever think it's terribly amusing to point out that they wish they could get out of housework/gardening/washing the car, and mustn't it be wonderful to have a built in excuse not to?".

Now Lady Bracknell is allowing her intolerance to show: this is another symptom of severely-reduced stamina levels. It is not one which is likely to help her win friends and influence people, and it is one over which she fervently wishes that she could exert greater control.

Whilst speaking to Mr Larkin yesterday, the conversation took a turn which encouraged the Editor to bemoan her lack of stamina and general feebleness to him. Lady Bracknell suspects this may have occasioned one of Mr Larkin's now-legendary deep sighs. Rising to the challenge, however, he ventured to posit an entirely new (to the Editor and her employer, at least) point of view on the issue.

In Mr Larkin's considered opinion, the Editor's reserves of stamina are by no means low. On the contrary, he believes them to be remarkably high. The unfortunate fact with which she, and those she loves, must come to terms is that, unlike her non-disabled peers, she has very little choice** on the matter of how they are to be expended.

On those few occasions when he has himself experienced severe pain, Mr Larkin says that he has been astonished at just how much energy he has needed to devote to

a) coping with that pain; and

b) maintaining a demeanour sufficiently affable to meet even the most basic requirements of his professional position.

The whole experience, he says, is exhausting beyond belief; and he has the greatest respect for the Editor's resilience in endeavouring to remain generally cheerful whilst experiencing constant, unremitting pain. What surprises Mr Larkin, he says, is not that the Editor is sometimes irritable and intolerant, but that she is not irritable and intolerant more often.

Having believed themselves to be almost wholly devoid of stamina for many years, both the Editor (and Lady Bracknell, once the import of the conversation had been relayed to her) find themselves enormously heartened by Mr Larkin's (to them) entirely novel take on the subject. Having had time to get over the inexcusable smugness engendered by his words, Lady Bracknell felt it would be a kindness to those of her readers who are themselves in chronic pain to promulgate Mr Larkin's theory further in the pages of her humble blog.

*Speaking of ouchy crips, Lady Bracknell wishes to take the opportunity to reassure the readers of his blog that Young Master Marmite has not expired from blood poisoning following his latest "ink". Being, in his own words, particularly "sore" at the moment, he has been signed off work by his doctor for a while. His expenditure on CDs and fashionable footwear having, as usual, outstripped his purse, he has yet to invest in a functioning keyboard for his home computer. Or, indeed, a functioning home computer. Unless he can limp out to his local library, therefore, he will be unable to update his blog until such time as he is fit to return to work. He sends his best to the blogosphere.

** Dude, the chauffer, has his own view on the issue of choice. In a recent conversation with the Editor, he opined that she does have the choice to resume her regular attendance at the theatre. It is just that the consequences of that choice would be that she would no longer be able to hold down full-time employment. The Editor muttered something in response to the effect that that, then, is the choice which is no choice. But she is prepared to admit that there is something to what the Dude says.