Stroke Visits

In mid-March, the girl whom I always dealt with at the Stroke Association phoned me to say she was being made redundant at the end of the month. I mean, I think thats very sad, but shit happens and we have to make the best of things in the face of it.

But since then….nothing. On the grounds that somebody would have told me if something was changing (wouldn’t they?), I’ve just carried on doing my ward visits, on my own, on alternate Wednesdays. The girl who left told me that they hadn’t decided who’d organise what yet, but that her area manager would likely take over liaison with volunteers. But no phone call or email from the new person to say hi. Nothing. So I went up there today and one of the nurses says, “I didn’t think you did this any more”. Well, I was only there a fortnight ago so I asked her what she meant. By the sounds of things, the other guy who visits – we went on alternate weeks so generally missed each other – has stopped doing visits. Reuben – the other guy – had a stroke several years ago, had been volunteering since a long time, and was obviously quite well known to people (although possibly more his purple garb, just like mine, than his face).

I feel a bit like I’m doing these hospital visits, but nobody at the Stroke Association has any clue that I’m doing them. One day, someone will approach me and say “what are you doing?” or “who the hell are you?” Or, possibly, “what are you doing wearing one of our shirts?”

I mean, this is only volunteering after all, but I’d have hoped for slightly bette organisation!

UK General Election (3)

Interesting to hear the Conservatives talking about capping fuel prices.

The news feeds have picked up on the fact that they have hijacked an idea from the Labour party of a couple of years ago. And the two parties claim to be diametrically opposed to each other…

But the thing I find interesting is that the Conservatives always advocated a free market economy, whereas they are now proposing an interventionist stance. To me at least, this is big news. Not that I’m complaining – I think that the market is far too short-term a thing on which to base your infrastructure policy (for example, whether your mines, farms or railways are viable).

By the by, I talk about my own energy arrangements here.

Responsibilities

In the recent local elections, I was asked by the Green Party if, as a supporter, I would be prepared to display a poster in my window. I said yes, but was a little uncomfortable when I saw its wording – “Vote Green”.

It gets straight to the point, I suppose. But I think that we should all make up our own minds. If our conclusions lead us in a certain direction, fine. I think the notion we see a poster in somebody’s window and vote on the strength of it is nonsense.

So I don’t really think that my views are consistent with putting a poster up in a window. I’d be happy to say which way I was voting and why, but the caveat is that we all need to decide for ourselves. That’s why I could never be a politician – I’m happy that I’ve got my thoughts sorted, but what somebody else thinks is for them to decide.

Same goes for religion, by the way. I’m happy to say what I think, but everybody needs to make up their own mind. I wouldn’t dream of trying to convince anybody else that I am right, that my truth is better than theirs. And that’s by-and-large the message I pass on to any evangelist who cares to knock.

Actually, I do think that religions usually offer people a good template to live a positive life, but I also think that there is nothing to stop someone living that same positive life anyway, without them having any religion. Whatever floats their boat. It’s the “live a positive life” bit which is important.

Psychiatrist / Psychologist

Ha ha – the girl on TV just now clearly didn’t know the difference, but rather than using one, being consistent, and hoping she’d got it right, she chopped and changed word throughout the article, making her ignorance quite obvious.

But I must admit – I don’t really know the difference either! Answers on a postcard, please (or in a comment)….

UK Local Elections

An interesting result, at least so far. Many UK councils have not even started counting yet, although now that I have my postal vote, I must admit to having cast my vote weeks ago. The Greens even had a candidate in our ward, so it isn’t much surprise that I voted for him, as I was one of his nominees!

Elsewhere, I am satisfied that the extremists of UKIP have lost ground. Now that the UK has had its referendum, I think the general public is struggling to see its relevance. Of course they argue otherwise…

But I do see some contradictions, too. The Conservative party has effectively hijacked many of UKIP’s policies, and yet rather than people being wary of their adopted extremism, they have strengthened their hand. And again, despite evidence that our infrastructure is deteriorating – high-profile evidence such as health and social care, but also visible, everyday evidence such as worsening road surfaces as councils can’t afford to make repairs, people still prefer the Conservatives to other options. Certainly, for a party that uses a lot of rhetoric about economics, the numbers don’t stack up.

I suppose it also says something about Labour’s credibility, although other parties had quite poor result too. It’s not reallly clear whether their results appear so bad because (a) they are exactly that, or (b) because they are such a large party, their losses appear magnified.

Plus, of course, the media doesn’t help, trying to rile the politicians (I’m sure that confrontation gets much higher ratings) but their interviews really are quite amateur and superficial.

So is it really any wonder, in the face of skepticism of both main parties, that I looked for a different option? At least the Greens can claim electoral success last night – although in their case the numbers are so small…. But perhaps evidence that more and more people are dissatisfied with the larger parties?

I must admit, finally, that these results feel somewhat strange to me. It is almost as if I’m looking on as an observer, that I’m not directly involved. I certainly can’t feel the passion these days like I used to. Interested, certainly, but passionate? No. But then my blood pressure is that much lower these days, too, and maybe there are other fish to fry!