Learning. Slowly. Very Slowly. Part 3

Further to my posts Learning. Slowly. Very Slowly. Part 1 and, inevitably as day follows night, Learning. Slowly. Very slowly. Part 2, this is a brief rant by Mrs O. It was originally for another purpose, but I feel it sums up better than I can some of the problems with having a child with learning difficulties.

When we adopted C., like our other three children, we felt like we had won the lottery. She failed to thrive and it became clear that she had severe leaning difficulties. Her life has been a struggle, but she always has a smile.

We have learnt that these children were shunned. Schools kept them in so-called learning corners away from the other children. Parents would openly say “she’s special needs so can’t come to play”. C. had no friends and grew up as if she and we would contaminate anyone who came into contact with us. She looks normal but needs people to treat her with tolerance and kindness. She feels like everyone else and so do we.

As C. becomes an adult there is a dumbing down of what is expected of these young people and they become marginalised. They are unable to fit in with normal education and produce results. It is a no win trap. Why invest in them at all? What can they possibly contribute to this world?

I am reminded at this point that on my first coffee morning with C. some bright spark piped up and said that if she had known she was pregnant with a baby like that she would have aborted it.

But there are hundreds of adults and children like C., who are all human beings with just as much right to be here as you or I.

We have through C. learnt more about the world she sees, the intolerance of others and how she accepts it as normal. This should not be so.

It is a deplorable, hidden and unnoticed prejudice. There are hundreds of charities, funds and spectacular Invictus Games type events; awareness of every colour, gender difference and physical disability. But special needs? Let’s be clear, there is nothing special about learning difficulties and there is nothing for them. They have no voice and are invisible, marginalised and treated with contempt, intolerance and indifference.

How many charities see this as worth bothering with? Or see it at all?

An example of the prejudice: C., who looks normal, needed a helping hand in the disabled toilets. This got a filthy look from a wheelchair user waiting outside- because she was able bodied? So I said: “Would you like to wipe her bum, help pull up her trousers and supervise her washing her hands? No, I thought not. Not all disabilities are visible.”

C. is at a fantastic school which she leaves at 16. Then hopefully she goes on to the only college with anything like a challenging education, although this is only three days. For the rest of the week she is presumably left to occupy herself.


New Bloggers, Blogging and Life

This is a reblog of a thought-provoking piece reaching far beyond blogging.

Find Your Middle Ground

blogging and life

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon recently with new bloggers. Perhaps, if you are reading this, then you may have noticed as well. There are flurries of Likes one after an other and then a Follow.

I doubt this new generation has superhuman ability to read so quickly… and it makes me wonder if they are actually reading what is posted, or are simply wanting reciprocation, with multiple likes and a follow. Is the goal to accumulate lots of Likes and Followers, regardless of connection with other bloggers?

It makes me think of my adolescence where there was much self doubt and a craving for validation. If I do this for you, you’ll do this for me. If I like you, you must like me. This, of course, is encouraged in all Social Media.

Perhaps this keeps many people in a state of wondering what others think, and being seen…

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Forgotten Dishes 7: Memsahib Scones

A strange cultural mix, this one.

In the days of British rule in India a memsahib instructed her cook to make her fruit scones. Unfortunately she was very peremptory and had not bothered to learn Hindi. The poor cook did her best, and ended up with what were basically chapatis layered with local fruit.

These were apparently rather appreciated by the British rulers and enjoyed a brief popularity.

They were mentioned in an old children’s book called something like ‘Child Heroes of the Raj’, allegedly as a true story. (This stirring book was along the lines of one I used to have called ‘From Powder Monkey to Admiral’.) I read it at school in our very eccentric class library. I have never seen it since and have been unable to trace it.

I have no idea what these chapati/ scones look like, so have photographed some of Mrs Oblique’s creations with some fruit that is grown in India. Yes, it is. I checked.


Election Notes 3

The turnout for the recent UK local elections was abysmal. In the mayoral ballots, fewer than a third of eligible voters turned out. In the council elections: well, I can’t find the figures. Not even my usually reliable political sources (RG and CASA) can tell me. I assume the turnout was awful.

So, trying to be positive, why is this and how can it be changed? (Assuming, as I always do, that voting is a Good Thing.)

Apparently people think that voting doesn’t change anything, to which you only have to whisper “Brexit” in their ear. (Or, if you are one of our cousins from across the Atlantic, “Trump”.) Admittedly, Brexit was an unusual event. Most ballots don’t have such a clear effect. However, looking at recent history in the U.K., Thatcherism and Blairism are two clear consequences of ballots. If voters hadn’t voted the way they did, neither would have happened.

You are probably going to say that these are isolated examples, and that once you have made your choice you have no further say. Additionally, it may be that those idiots who voted for the other candidate were in the majority, and you have been ignored. This is only true if you let it be true. Believe it or not, your elected representatives (and those who want to be your elected representatives) will listen. Sure, if you are campaigning for, say, the Flat Earth theory to be taught in schools, they may well ignore you. However, if you have a clear, well-argued and sensible case; if you are polite and persistent; and especially if you have some others involved in your cause, you will get attention. I believe that most MPs, councillors  and the likeactually do care about what their constituents think. You might not get any policy change, but they are acutely conscious of anything that might start to swing the electorate against them.  Write, e-mail, go to surgeries. Join a political party, if you care enough for a particular point of view.

Come to think of it, Brexit is a very special case, and the above does not necessarily apply. No further comment.

As I have mentioned in a previous Election Note, some of the electorate will tell you that they are not sufficiently informed about the policies of parties and candidates. I increasingly feel this is a cop-out. You have the right to vote; you have the responsibility to inform yourself about the issues. Newspapers, radio, TV; there’s also this new-fangled thing called the internet. Fake news? Bias? Of course. It’s your job to use your critical faculties to sort it out and make your choice. Talk to canvassers, other people. To be honest, if you want to make your choice based on how much you like the various candidates’ eyes, at least it’s a reason. At least you voted.

In the longer run, it’s clear the public needs to be better informed about politics: the issues, the policies and the system. No doubt someone will say that this is yet another job for schools, blah blah blah. I have a sneaking feeling that we need more respect for politics and politicians.

Footnote: Having seen the newspapers this morning, I am not sure about their validity as a source for information about issues. I say this without a party bias! More later, if I get round to it.

National Health? Part 2: What seems to be the problem?

(Caution: I know little about the workings of the NHS, but I am of course a user of it. Miss Oblique 2 is a paramedic, but I must point out that this blog does not in any way claim to represent her opinons and does not use any of her experiences.)

(Come to think of it, we are all users of the NHS…. just as we all know best about schools, because we were all at school, weren’t we?)

This is not a complete, objective or balanced list of problems with the NHS. It’s just a collection of jottings about what I see as some of the problems, seen especially though the misty lens of my experiences with the likes of Dr B.

  1. Doctors’ surgeries and hospitals cover massive areas. It will be claimed that this enables efficient use of resources. However, the size seems to result in a very impersonal service, and alienation from health care, as opposed to dealing with emergencies.
  2. There seems to be a huge reliance on the use of drugs. Despite efforts to counteract this, patients seem to expect a prescription as a matter of course. Drug companies make huge profits, which they claim are necessary to fund new research (and of course to reward their investors).
  3. There is an enormous amount of time wasted with trivial, imaginary and risible ailments. Runny noses, dandruff, new shoes, sprains, travel sickness….. and more. (Yes, I know there are underlying causes. I will come to these next week.)
  4. Linked to number 3 is a lack of willingness to take responsibility for minor ailments and our own health.
  5. This is probably the most subjective and possibly ill-informed point: it seems to me that the NHS, probably due to its scale and the scale of its sub-units, is enormously inefficient and is wasting a huge amount of money.

I will put my own tentative ideas forward next Sunday. Thanks- I think at least one person has been reading!

The Wit and Wisdom of…. My Mother

Yes, really. Just a gentle indulgence.

My mother, who died last year, was a gently rather than hilariously funny woman. She was also (mostly) very tolerant. I have very fond memories of teaching my children to untie her apron while she was cooking. She would always pretend not to notice, until it fell down and she feigned huge surprise.

She and I had a long running routine based around that old, old joke:

I say, I say, my wife has gone to the West Indies on holiday.”


No, she went of her own accord.”

We would change this around and muddle it up, until it became something like:

I say, I say, my wife has gone to the West Indies on holiday.”

Did she go of her own accord?”

No, Barbados.”

At which we would fall about laughing, even if listeners didn’t. It morphed into variations such as:

I say, I say, I’m taking a young lady to Italy on holiday.”


No, but I hope to!”

She was not without her acidic side. When my grandmother came out of hospital and was staying with us, Mum would ask her what she wanted to eat. “Just throw me in an egg,” Nan would reply. Knowing that this simple request would necessitate very careful organisation so that the egg, bread and butter and tea were all to my grandmother’s exacting requirements, my mother would mutter suggestions about where she would like to throw the egg. She would often mimic my grandmother’s comment of “You like that sort of thing, don’t you dear?” with its accompanied critical intake of breath.

When things went wrong with my life, as they do with all lives, she would observe, with her tongue only partly in her cheek:

Never mind, dear, it’s just another crimson thread in life’s rich tapestry.”

Recently Mrs Oblique made Miss O. number 3 a red dress. We are still finding crimson cotton threads on the floor, and each one reminds me happily of Mum.

On the last occasions we saw her she was mostly sleeping, counting or grunting, without making any sense. As we left, Mrs O. told her that she had just made some strawberry jam and would bring some down. My mother called her back.

And did it set?” she said, briefly intelligible at last.

No,” Mrs O. admitted.

The last coherent thing we heard was Mum’s throaty laugh, no doubt recalling the many times she and Dad had struggled to make the marmalade set.