Kicking The Bucket

Content Note: This post mentions death. More so in the post linked at the end of this post then in this post.

I’ve written before about the fact that I’ve been doing the NCTJ Foundation Certificate in Journalism.  And as a part of that there’s a unit of blogging and our tutor arranged for each of us to have the oppportunity to guest blog on a site called Kicking the Bucket.

Kicking the Bucket is an Oxford based festival which will happen for the third time in October/November this year.  It’s a festival about living and dying. It looks like they have some interesting events planned.  I probably won’t go to any as they all seem to be at times I’m likely to find tricky or places that would be a struggle to get to.  I have however found the blogs that are being posted (by many people not just my fellow journalism students) thought provoking.

We were asked to write about any aspect of death we wanted to and it was suggested that it should be somewhat personal.  The topic caused a lot of discussion and I thought of many things I could have written about – disability issues (I decided that wasn’t suited to that site) and language around death being two of them.  I actually decided to write about how social media influences our dealings with death.

My post is Death in the Facebook Age.


The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon

I’m never quite sure how much to write in these reviews. I want to make them long enough that people can get a feel for the book but not too long that they can’t be bothered to read them. So just in case I’ve got it wrong I’ll start with the most important part of this review: I fully expect this book to feature in my Best Books of 2016 blog when December comes and it’s time to write it. It will take a lot to beat this.

Phoebe is caught between a rock and a hard place. Settle down and get married, or return to the French Alps to pursue her passion?
Eliza is in love with someone who is no longer hers. In fact, he probably never was… And her dream of becoming a successful musician seems to be vanishing before her eyes.

Rose is out of a job and out of a boyfriend. To make matters worse, she’s been forced to move back in with her mother…
But these very different girls have one thing in common. Angus. The one they fell in love with…

Paige Toon was one of the authors at the Books and the City blogger event I went to in March. She read an extract from The One We Fell In Love With and talked about it.  We also received copies and it was the first of those books I read as I was really intrigued.

I’ve read several of Paige Toon’s previous books and I think this may be her besst yet.  It’s certainly the one I enjoyed the most.

Phoebe, Eliza and Rose are identical triplets and the minute I heard that I was sure I knew what was going to happen in this book. I was wrong. In fact I was kept guessing all the way through as The One We Fell In Love With is a complex book full of moments that took my breath away and made me stop and think “what just happened?  But that’s not to say it’s a tricky read.

This was one of those books that I didn’t want to end and it’s one I’d love to read again but also don’t want to because I know what happens.  I’m a little bit jealous of everyone who gets to read it for the first time once it’s published this Thursday.  It made me laugh and it made me smile.  If I was one for crying at books it would definitely have made me cry.

It took me several minutes after I finished reading this to move on and do something else because I was thinking so much about what I’d just read.  That’s unusual for me. And I’ve kept thinking about it in the weeks since which is even more unusual for me.  I can’t recommend The One We Fell In Love With highly enough.



The Love of a Book

Over the past five or six weeks I’ve not read anything.  I’ve been listening to audiobooks in the background whilst working on a knitting projects – and old favourite series that I know well and don’t need to concentrate on (Swallows and Amazons). But the last time I actually read something was on Good Friday when I managed the first garden reading session of the year and finished The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon.  For the week or two before that I wasn’t reading much either.

It’s not like me not to be at least reading something.  I even did three train journeys without a book (although 1 I was with Mum so probably wouldn’t have read but I would have taken one) which is really unusual. No matter how little I’m reading, if I’m on a train I’ve got a book.

I don’t know why I wasn’t reading but it was irritating me that all I could read was fanfic online. I love fanfic, I really do, but it’s not the same and I missed reading.  I just couldn’t do it.  I even dropped my Goodreads challenge from my usual 100+ books to 52 as that felt much more realistic and reduced my stress about not reading.

I don’t really want to admit to it but I suspect my mental health was slipping a bit and that played a part.  The Internet (and fanfic in particular) is always a comfortable thing for me when I’m struggling.  But not being able to read a book is a bad sign.  A long time ago I moaned to a counsellor that all I could manage to do was lose myself in a book. She pointed out that being able to concentrate on a book and do that is a great sign because many people with mental health problems can’t do that. So it’s always been a case of “I’m reading, I’m OK.”

And actually judging by how much and how fast I was mainlining fanfic I probably could have concentrated on a book but I didn’t have the motivation or inclination.

Until on Tuesday I picked up my Kindle. I had about twenty minutes before my Dad was coming to take my sailing and my cleaners were here. They clean either the lounge or the bedroom and I sit in the other then we switch. And when I switched from on my PC in my bedroom to in my lounge I had a little poke at my Kindle and started reading Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain.

I didn’t get far with it before I ran out of time. And then I didn’t read anything on Wednesday.  But on Thursday I took my kindle on the train not wanting yet another journey without the option of reading.  And suddenly it clicked.

I finished that book that evening.  And since then I’ve read a novella (Summer at the Star and Sixpence by Holly Hepburn) and the entirity of another novel (Out of Practice by Penny Parkes)

Maybe it was the fact enough time had passed to get it out my system.

Maybe it’s the sunny weather meaning I can get out in the garden again and sit there.

Maybe it’s finishing my knitting and a few other things and no longer having quite so many things I feel I should be doing instead of reading.

Maybe it was just having a short period of time before I had to put my kindle down and go sailing.

Or maybe it was just a case of finding the right book.

But whatever it was I’m reading again and I’m really loving it.


It’s Not Disablism (But Really It Is)

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD). I’ve taken part since the beginning which I think was 2005. And I’ve written all sorts of things about different aspects of being disabled, different experiences I’ve had. Even a poem.

I don’t have anything major to say today.  I don’t feel like I’ve experienced any real disablism for the last few weeks.

If you asked my friend Angela she’d tell you different. She’d say I should write about a couple of weeks ago and people I know relatively well assuming I would do something and completely ignoring that several months before I’d said maybe and what I’d said to them about reasonable adjustments I’d need and the level of effort it would take for me to travel to the middle of nowhere village where that would take place.  She was annoyed on my behalf when I told her what had happened. The whole thing did really piss me off but it’s mostly resolved now.

If I asked my journalism tutor, Sarah, she’d probably suggest I should write about the lift at London Waterloo down into the tube station being broken when I went in March. She was horrified when I told her about my having to use a goods lift that was usually used to move food. And more so that it was still broken when I went back more than 24 hours later. The words “you are not freight, goods inward or food” were used when she was talking to me about it.  I find it hard to get worked up about the odd occasionally broken lift (ones that are long term broken are a different matter) but the level of faff involved in sorting that was ridiculous. Because nobody knew when I went back that it was still broken.

A friend and I were stopped when we were in London by someone random woman who wanted to tell us about god and how we wouldn’t be disabled if we believed. She told me that god loves me and she loves me. I told her she doesn’t know me and I am, in fact, quite a bitch. That might be the story my friend would suggest I wrote if I asked her. And is reason number 743 why I’m an atheist.

Mum and I are going to visit an Andy Warhol exhibition in Oxford tomorrow. If I asked her about disability experiences the difficulties in finding out how I get the free carer ticket the website promised I could have might be her suggestion. I booked my ticket but no where did it say how to book for a carer and email went unanswered. Twitter, eventually, came to the rescue but the promised response on there took longer than it might have.

All of those things (and many more) are niggles that I face on a daily or weekly basis because of my disability.  Many of them are outright disablism.

But I don’t often think of them that way.  Because they’re just my normal. Little things that have become expected and “just how things are.” and worn me down until I can’t acknowledge the shock and frustration they bring until a friend or family member does. It’s just not on my radar.