>Past Caring by Robert Goddard

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(image description) it says “The Great Transworld Crime Caper” The T in transworld is bigger and blue, the rest of the text is black.  There is a magnifying glass over the T, yellow “crime scene do not cross” tape across the entire logo and a gun with blood splatters in the top right of the image.

I was given a copy of Past Caring by Robert Goddard to review by Transworld as a part of their Great Crime Caper

This is what Amazon has to say about it (which is also pretty much word for word what’s on the back cover

1910: Distinguished MP Edwin Strafford resigns at the pinnacle of his career, removing himself from the public eye. The woman he loves, and for whom he was willing to sacrifice everything, suddenly and coldly rejects him. All the reasons for his fall from grace are shrouded in darkness.

Seventy years later, historian Martin Radford is down on his luck when a mysterious benefactor offers him the opportunity of a lifetime: to uncover what exactly happened to Edwin Strafford. But this apparent good fortune swiftly turns into a nightmare. Radford’s investigations trigger a violent series of events, which throw him straight into the path of those who believed they had escaped punishment for crimes long past but never paid for…
This was the least graphic of the three thrillers I had to review as a part of the Crime Caper, it was much more of a suspenseful psychological thriller.  Obviously it did have it’s share of moments of violence etc but it was built much more around of the question of  “what happened” for the first probably two thirds of the book.  That doesn’t mean it was a bad book, in fact it was a really good one and I think I probably enjoyed it the most out of the three (although sections of it are set around 1910, a period of history I’ve always found interesting which helps).

I think this is probably a really good book for someone who hasn’t read much in the way of thrillers before because it’s got all the required elements but isn’t too harsh with it.  But it’s also good for a die hard thriller fan because it does keep you guessing and wondering right to the end.

The characters were believable to start with but by the end I must admit Martin Radford was beginning to get on my nerves.  Everyone else you’re either supposed to love or to hate and it’s pretty obvious which it is for each character.

This book has a real feel of coming full circle which I particularly liked.  I’ve not read any Robert Goddard books before and whilst I won’t be placing an order for some right this very minute he’s certainly an author I might read the back of in a bookshop if I spotted it.  Overall a good book but a few things I would have changed.

>101 in 1001 – Item 13…

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Buy a new more appropriate life jacket

…has been completed!

I’d been meaning to get a new lifejacket for ages – since I wrote this list in fact.  And I’d been planning to ask my Dad if he could take me somewhere to look for one for the past few weeks but then it was a case of never remembering when I saw or spoke to him.

Then I went to Reading shopping last week

I went into Clas Ohlson which is an interesting shop which sells a wide and in my opinion slightly weird variety of things.  I’d wanted a quick look at the kitchen stuff but had decided to look at everything.  And to my surprise I spotted that they had a variety of decent life jackets at a price which I thought was very reasonable.  I tried one on (which I don’t think they were very happy about but whatever) and it was easy to get on and  fitted well (it was a little loose but I didn’t adjust it and usually wear more layers sailing than I had on that day).

The only problem was I was in my manual chair and knew I wouldn’t be able to carry it round Reading and back to the train station then home.  My Dad works in Reading, not far from the centre in fact, so I called him and asked if he would either come and get it from me if I bought it or if I could tell him where and what it was and he could come another day.  But he said he’d come meet me so I bought it and just about managed to balance it on my lap to wheel down to our agreed meeting point.  And dropped it at soon as I stopped moving – thankfully a man passing by grabbed it and passed it back without being asked.  Dad brought it back to me when he got the train back that evening – and he wheeled me to the next place I planned to go before going back to work too which was a win.

Sailing starts next week and I’m really looking forward to it.  More so now I have my day glo orange new lifejacket to use!

>Milestones – The 75TH Disability Blog Carnival!

>Welcome to the 75th Disability Blog Carnival!  I chose the theme Milestones based solely on the fact that 75 seems to be a huge number! I have to say I didn’t realise when I chose the theme that the day of the carnival would be a bit of a milestone day for me.  And yet the sort of milestone that only another crip can truly understand the meaning of.

My powerchair broke down almost four weeks ago.  It’s been a long and complicated road to getting it working again.  And it’s been really hard.  Today it returned home, cleaned, with new tires and with the fault fixed.  I’ve been treating it to a nice long charge before taking it out but tomorrow is the day!

I’m not the only one who has been sharing their milestones and their thoughts.

Gemma has written about a milestone in her journey with mental distress.  Her bravery and her honesty in Finding Ways To Cope show just how strong she is (contains potentially triggering material)

One of the things I like to do when I host the carnival is to include some new or new to the carnival bloggers.  I love discovering new blogs and I was especially pleased when Hannah started her blog because she’s an old school friend of mine.  In her post for International Wheelchair Day she wrote about getting a wheelchair and the freedom it gave her – a pretty big milestone in life

Andrew is also new to the carnival.  Milestones is his first submission and is about his journey since losing most of his vision

Allison is turning 21 this month which I hear is a big milestone in the US as it’s the legal age to drink (it’s 18 here).  She wrote about how she plans to celebrate and how she and her family have made sure she hasn’t missed out on other milestones even when her blindness made the traditional way impossible.  Celebrating Milestones With My Dad is well worth a read and I’d like to take this opportunity to wish Allison a very Happy Birthday!

As I have CP, I’ve always been disabled and so have no before and after memories or a day when my life changed.  Funky Mango (welcome back to blogging!) was diagnosed with MS on 17th March 2005.  In Happy Birthday to my MS she explains why it’s a day she celebrates every year

For Todd the last Christmas Day represented a difficult personal milestone showing the difficulties disability can bring and how not all milestone moments are good ones and it’s not always possible to be happy on days like Christmas.

Carl has been thinking about various different Milestones in his life – and how some people make more of them than he thinks necessary.  The old “oh look, a CRIPPLE!” type thing.  His post is thought provoking and very interesting (and not just because he described my blog as great).

Sue Marsh is an avid campaigner and blogs at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger.  She recently did a week of posts on ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) which is the newish benefit to replace Incapacity Benefit and is paid to people too sick or disabled to go to work.  I won’t go into details as they are all on Sue’s blog but suffice to say ESA has been badly planned and badly executed and a lot of disabled people are scared. Where’s The Benefit frequently receives comments from people considering suicide if they don’t get ESA and there are many similar stories on The Broken of Britain and One Month Before Heartbreak.  Recently it was announced that a public inquiry is to be held into ESA – a huge milestone considering how many people have been campaigning for change.  In ESA Week Ends in Success! Sue explains the details of how to submit to the inquiry.  She is also offering to help anyone who for whatever reason can’t put their submission in the required format.  I’d like to encourage all UK residents who read this  to strongly consider doing so.

Elizabeth McClung recently read Wish by Joseph Monninger and in made her think.  She reviewed it and shared how it relates to her own experiences.  People don’t always let you do what you want and experience what you want when you have an illness or disability as both the book and Elizabeth’s own experiences showcase.  An example of the milestone twisted by the well meaning but thoughtless person on the sidelines.  It sounds like a great book as well, I really want to read it now!

Milestones: Seeing Change Blossom Before Your Eyes is posted on Life of the Differently Abled.  It’s about having CP and being a blogger and it’s perfect for any Disability Blog Carnival but especially for this one.

Apparently, today is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day (I didn’t know) which I’m sure you’ll agree is kind of important and what are milestones if not important?  Spaz Girl has written What I Want You to be Aware of on CP Awareness Day

Cynical Beauty is getting married this year which is pretty much one of the biggest milestones ever.  Her blog, Disability and I Do is about the planning and the thoughts behind it.  I particularly liked her post Should You Hide Your Scars On Your Wedding Day?  And if we’re talking about weddings I should mention that another crip getting married this year and blogging about it (amongst other things) is Mary.

That’s it for this carnival I think!  As always let me know if any links are wrong or otherwise don’t work.  I believe the next carnival is being hosted by Cheryl but I don’t know the details.

>I’ve Had Enough

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It’s three and a half weeks since my powerchair broke down.  
And I’ve done relatively well since then.  I’m proud of how well I’ve done in fact.  I’ve done more wheeling in my manual chair than I probably have in years.  Admittedly I was in a lot of pain for two days after with a very sore neck and achy shoulders but doing so felt good. And the tears have only fallen once (although they came close to coming again this morning.).  A big part of that is probably my antidepressant – but that’s why I take it and a big proof that it’s working.
Wheelchair repairs taking a long time is normal.  Wheelchair parts aren’t like car parts and they can take a while to come.  I understand that.  That’s “disability normal”
And I do realise there are people who get to go out a lot less than I do even without my powerchair.  That need powerchairs and don’t have them or who can’t get out of bed. Who don’t live in fully adapted flats like I do.   I’d usually be the first to tell you that I’m very lucky in more ways than one
But not today.
Today I’ve had enough.
I’ve had enough of not getting out for days.
I’ve had enough of not seeing people on some of those days
I’ve had enough of understanding that wheelchair parts take time
I’ve had enough of going to the supermarket or wherever when someone can go with me not when I want to.
I’ve had enough of thinking of those who have it worse than me
I’ve had enough of having to tell my friend my PIN so she can go to the cashpoint for me.
I’ve had enough of online shops and waiting for parcels to be redelivered because I can’t get to pick it up
I’ve had enough of someone going to the bank, post office or library for me.
I’ve had enough of managing more in my manual chair and feeling good about that then paying with lots of pain the next day or two
I’ve had enough of not knowing when my chair will be back
I’ve had enough of freaking out my friends with how down this situation made me
I’ve had enough of begging for lifts and favours
I’ve had enough of apologising and feeling guilty (everyone’s understood and no one has minded but…)
I’ve just, basically, had enough.
I want my powerchair back.
But most of all I want my independence and my life back.
I am feeling a lot better about all of this than I was earlier today.  But sitting here writing this it occurs to me that I am lucky.  If the planned cuts to services and benefits here in the UK go ahead there’ll be a lot more people in the position I’ve been in for the last few weeks.  The difference is, however, when I get my powerchair back a lot of that should be allievated for me – and it shouldn’t be more than another week (I hope!).  For many of those people, that possibility wouldn’t exist.  It might never exist again.

>Updatey Updateness on the Powerchair Armageddon Situation.

>I heard from the wheelchair engineers first thing this morning.  They’ve made some adjustments my chair and got it working again by bending some frayed wires and reconnecting them (I think) but asked if I wanted the piece properly replacing.  Baring in mind that they said “it could last a week or it could last six months” and the replacement part is much less than anticipated (as its a different part to the worst case scenario part they thought and told me about) I told them to go ahead and replace it.  They’ve also managed to get the freewheel working again – it was just disconnected or had worked I think although how the hell that happened I don’t know.  Possibly it was with all the getting lumped around on freewheel on and off of a ridiculously high taxi that only had a ramp and no tail lift.  And they are going to replace my tyres.

It’s much less than I’d anticipated but it’s still going to be several hundred pounds.  Before any parts have come or been fitted my bill is already over £100.  As the guy said on Monday when he picked it up – it’s much less than a new chair.  Add in the fact I had new batteries about six weeks ago and it’s likely I’ll end up having spent the better part of a grand on that chair this year.  Thank God for DLA! But even that doesn’t go far… the work that’s been done already is more than a weeks worth of my DLA.

Unfortunately wheelchair parts aren’t like car ones where you order them in the morning and get them in the afternoon.  These parts will take a few days to come at minimum, possibly even a week or more.  It depends if the manufacturer has them in stock and I forgot to ask!

Naidex is in a few weeks.  I’m going for two days with several people I “know” through twitter etc and I’m hoping to see a uni friend too.  This year was going to be all about being one of the “normal” there and meeting some friends and giving some hugs.  But my mum is now heavily suggesting that I go play with some powerchairs too… and I must say that is a very tempting idea.

Watch Out Birmingham! The Crips are coming! And this one intends to try ever single powerchair she can.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

>Disassemble

>My powerchair was picked up this morning to be taken to the workshop.  They’re going to take it to pieces and try and work out what’s going on.  Something was mentioned this morning about hooking it up to a computer or some such but I don’t know anything about that.  I don’t know how long it’ll be gone because it depends if it needs parts (which we think it probably will) and I’ve also asked them to replace the tyres while they have it.  Even more expense but better to do it all in one hit.

One of my favourite films as a child was Short Circuit.  There’s a totally ace scene it in where Johnny Five realises that disassemble means dead and gets really worked up yelling “no disassemble Johnny Five!”  I tried to find a You Tube clip but couldn’t.  And last week I used the word “dissemble” in an e-mail to describe what they plan to do to my chair.

The guy who picked my chair up this morning said it would probably be tomorrow before they start to look at it.

I’ve got this vision of my chair in a workshop by itself quaking going “disassemble… dead… disassemble… dead. NO DISASSEMBLE Jazzy 1121!!”

>101 in 1001 – Item 82…

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Sort out my sofa so I can use it more

…has been completed!

Actually it’s been completed since part way through January, I am nothing if not consistent when it comes to blogging these things!  No idea why it’s taken me so long to blog another completed goal but it has.  Catching up on my planned and half finished blogs is an aim for the next few days as I’m powerchair less and not getting out often.

I never used to sit on my sofa very often because I found it hard to get up and down from it due to the height of it.  Part of that is due to the weight I’ve gained and increased spasticity I’ve had since I first left uni and bought it. But I’ve now got some Elephant Feet on it.  They’ve made it 9cm taller and much easier to get up and down off of 😉  My parents had been concerned that due to my balance and tendency to “fall” rather then sit in a controlled manner I’d not get on with them and end up knocking the sofa out of them.  But so far, so good!  It does help that it’s right against the wall though I think.

I did have to give my sofa a clear off as well.  And it could do with another one now, I’ve not quite managed to break the sofa as a dumping ground habit yet.

To be honest I don’t sit on it as often as I thought I would but again that’s a getting into the habit thing, it’s been such a long time since that was an option for me.

>A Broken Powerchair and The Big Society

>My powerchair has an intermittant fault.  It broke down Sunday last week and stranded me in the middle of Oxford. It was working again after a while so the next day I went to the pool in it.  It broke down again in the changing room at the pool.  Then it started working again and on the advice of the wheelchair engineers I kept using it (although I didn’t go out for a few days) as it needed to happen again before it could be fixed.  This Monday it broke down again in CAB and we couldn’t even freewheel it so I had to leave it there.  The repair guy went to CAB this morning (long story there) but it’s not fixed. I’ve got it home now though it broke down again as soon as I got it in the door. Right in front of my dryer meaning I can’t get to it.

I’ve needed a lot of help from a lot of different people to cope.  Here’s a list:

Random man (he was waiting outside the loo and came in and helped me get moving and then pushed me over to my friends)
Two of my friends (moral support and assistance with getting me in to the taxi)
Autohome’s control centre staff (made it very easy for the scared me to get home)
Taxi driver (pushed me up the ridiculous ramp into the minibus to get me home)
My Dad (came to help get me off the taxi and into my help – pretty much immediately after getting home from dealing with an elderly relative’s own emergency situation)
My Dad again (picked me up and took me home again after family meal)
A Lifeguard (went and found my friend for me)
Another of my friends (helped me out of the building, went to fetch me a drink as I couldn’t move, moved my powerchair
Another wheelchair user’s carer (got my powerchair onto freewheel which required clambering all over it due to it’s position)
The same lifeguard (helped to push my chair off of pool side and out of the building)
The manager of the pool (also helped to push my chair out of building)
The controller of a local taxi company (the only accessible taxi they had free was off the road with a broken meter being fixed. They called a driver off of their lunch break and stopped the repair to come get me home and told him what to charge me)
Another taxi driver (interrupted lunch break to come get me)
A CAB client (was in the room with me in the middle of an interview – I was going to get something – when chair broke and she went for help and then tried to help get me moving again)
Various CAB staff (took over with my client, tried to get me moving again, fetched me my bag and drink, offered me a magazine whilst waiting for rescue, agreed I could leave it there and have the engineer come there)
My Dad yet again (interrupted his day working from home and dropped everything to come rescue me)
My mum (picked me up and drove to cinema when normally we would walk/use my powerchair)
Two CAB staff members (One spoke to engineer about what was happening the other went in slightly early to be sure to be there for him.)
The same friend from the pool (picked me up and took me to the bureau to collect my chair today, dropped my library books back for me, brought manual chair back and helped with powerchair having died again)
my Dad again (he’s coming round on his way home from work to move my chair if he can – probably doubtful – and take my washing back to his house if he can’t).

This is a very long list but it doesn’t include the many phone calls I’ve had to make, tweets I’ve had offering support or even the ridiculousness of the situation with getting it repaired today.  I’ve also not included the wheelchair repair people, one of whom spent a long time on the phone with me.  Nor have I made mention of the fact I’ve had to do two online food shops as I can’t go myself.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  It feels like it takes much more than that to cope with a broken powerchair.  The Big Society definitely already exists!

>Left Out In The Cold Press Release

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On the eve of the second reading of the government’s controversial Welfare Reform Bill, on 9 March, disabled activist Kaliya Franklin stripped off to demonstrate what the result would be for disabled people across the UK if disability benefits are slashed to the bare minimum.
The photo shoot depicts a naked Franklin lying on the sand on a wintry beach, next to her empty wheelchair.
“I was absolutely frozen when I took my clothes off for the photo shoot,” says Franklin, “but it was nothing like as cold I and other disabled people will be if the government removes our essential benefits.”
The Left Out In The Cold awareness-raising campaign is being organised by disability rights group The Broken of Britain, of which Franklin is a founder and director.
Says Franklin, “It’s vital that every able-bodied person remembers they are just an accident or illness away from being disabled themselves. Many people think if they do become disabled that the state will look after them.
“But the fact is that even under current provisions, disability benefits are not enough for disabled people to live on. If the Welfare Reform Bill is passed, the situation will become unimaginably worse.”



In January, Franklin released a video on YouTube that explained how able-bodied people would be in for a major shock if they found themselves needing to apply for disability benefits. The video can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7EXSpmrVMU.

The Broken of Britain group has been campaigning since summer 2010 to raise awareness of the government’s wider anti-disability policies. The group has consistently drawn attention to disabled people being the target of unjust government rhetoric and sham consultations, tabloid slander and political myths.

It says: “We are now the targets of deep and damaging cuts to disability services that are contained in and symbolised by the Welfare Reform Bill. The Bill disguises cuts and changes to a number of benefits, from housing benefit to Income Support that will punish disabled people.”


Notes for editors


1. Kaliya Franklin and other case studies are available for interview.

2. A high resolution version of the campaign photograph is available on request.

3. For more information, contact Rhydian Fôn James at rhydian@thebrokenofbritain.org or 07774021785, or Kaliya Franklin at 07714208602

4. Contribution-related Employment Support Allowance will be restricted to 365 days, meaning that a married claimant would be unable to claim after a year if their spouse works. 

5. The Welfare Reform Bill confirms that Disability Living Allowance will be replaced by the Personal Independence Payment which will use unfair assessment and conditions to disqualify 20 per cent of the current DLA caseload. 

There is no evidence that supports government’s claims that DLA is “broken” and in need of reform. In fact, most evidence suggests that DLA is an efficient and popular benefit, and this support includes the vast majority of the DWP’s own research.

The inclusion of this benefit change in the Welfare Reform Bill took place before the consultation on DLA reform was completed. 

6. Other cuts to disability services not included in the Welfare Reform Bill are:

• Plans to remove security of tenure from social housing tenants, as costly adaptations are a barrier to moving regardless of size of property.
• Many changes to the provision, entitlement to and charges paid for receiving social care and disability services provided by local authorities.
• The Independent Living Fund which provided for the highest level support needs in combination with the local authorities is now to be scrapped without consultation. 
• Access to Work reform redefines what it is “reasonable” to expect an employer to provide for disabled staff, meaning it is likely to push many currently employed disabled people out of work and back onto benefits. 

7. Disabled people are more likely to live in poverty than any other group in the UK and more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs. 60% of those with a work-limiting disability are unemployed, with 25% wanting to work.

Creative Commons Licence
Left Out In The Cold by Kaliya Franklin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://thebrokenofbritain.blogspot.com/.

>The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

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I thought a book review would be apt given that today is World Book Day
(image description) it says “The Great Transworld Crime Caper” The T in transworld is bigger and blue, the rest of the text is black.  There is a magnifying glass over the T, yellow “crime scene do not cross” tape across the entire logo and a gun with blood splatters in the top right of the image.

I was given a copy of The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett to review by Transworld as a part of their Great Crime Caper

This is the blurb from the back cover (helpfully provided from Amazon)

Three years ago, forensics expert David Hunter abandoned his old life after a tragedy nearly destroyed him. Now working as a doctor in a remote Norfolk village, he believes he’s left his past behind.


But then they find what’s left of Sally Palmer…


The body has been savagely mutilated. The police need Hunter’s expertise to find the killer, but he is desperate to remain uninvolved. Then a second woman disappears and the close-knit community that had been Hunter’s refuge becomes a maelstrom of fear and paranoia. No one is exempt from suspicion. Suddenly, there is no place to hide…


When I got this book I was a bit concerned that it might be a bit too gruesome for me.  Not sure why considering I chose it!  But anyway I kept putting off starting it as a result.  I was wrong.  The first page or so were a bit gruesome for my tastes but that eased off very quickly and you were left with a very readable book.There were one or two other slightly graphic parts but nothing as gruesome and they weren’t overdone or milked.  Overall I’m glad I read this – it’s a good book.  In fact I have two of the sequels – Written in Bone and Whispers of the Dead – sat on my desk next to me, that’s how much I enjoyed it.

I didn’t manage to guess who the bad guy was.  At one point I briefly wondered if it could be the guy it turned out to be but dismissed it.  The book is full of twists and you keep thinking you know who done it or what’s going to happen next and then it turns out that no, you don’t.

Also this book manages to be disability positive with one of the characters who plays a frequent role in the book being a wheelchair user.  And a realistic wheelchair user at that.  No super human crips in this book!

Comparing this book to The Accident Man which was the first book I reviewed for the Crime Caper is difficult because they are so different in scope and writing style.  Both are great books and I enjoyed them in very different ways – The Accident Man being more of a “what if” to The Chemistry of Death’s straight thriller.  But I think I enjoyed this one a little more.