Category: Society

World Refugee Day (by )

Aethelflaed Talking on World Refugee Day

Queen Aethelflaed the Puppet - Mother of England - talking about why she founded St Oswald's to a group of Scouts - she also mentions the fact that she would have been a political refugee as a child. Her father was on the run for a huge chunk of her childhood - she was probably safe living with family in a neighbouring Kingdom (the one she later ruled) but she would have been aware of what was going on and how precarious her position was.

Yesterday was World Refugee Day - a day it sickens me that we need, a day that highlights the plight and the wrong done to those in need around the world - and some of those doing the wrong are people who should be doing the protecting - people who have forgotten their own histories of persecution and fleeing in desperation. With the US lying to refugee families using rhetoric such as "you are going for a shower" to split up families - to rip children already scared and frightened from the only thing they have - their families - to use those words - that trickery... the ghosts of Auschwitz must surely stir. They are no doubt more moved than the power hungry bullies who are creating these inhumane policies.

We are all on a tiny little rock floating in space - life is so fragile, wars and war mongers create refugees - economic collapses occur due to power struggles that have nothing to do with the people who suffer - so why are they the ones punished?

And quiet frankly - it is a matter of luck and things can change so fast - you think your safe? Well so did a lot of the refugees not long ago. It could be you standing there in their place, it could be your family being torn apart.

And even if we were in an assured place - then why not help? For fear that they might use up some of our resources? One of the things I've had hurled at me over my stance on helping people is that I don't care about my children and my family - as if I am taking bread out of my own families mouths to feed the homeless/refugee. But apart from the absurdity of this - we are not struggling for food - we have done so in the past but not now and it seems to me that those with the most capacity to share are the ones that hold onto it, rigid and unrelenting.

My kids can go without ice-cream for some other kid to have a nutritious meal, my kids (though they would often argue) live in the lap of luxury - sure they have to do chores and we don't do lots of things they see their friends do - but they have food and cloths and toys and an xbox. They can go without a cinema trip to give clothing to those who need it.

From a selfish pragmatic point of view - I am protecting them - desperate people do desperate things and that leads to higher crime rates especially violent crime. A lot of the stuff I see being called a "gang", immigrant etc... problem comes down to poverty. The lesson should be that we need to care for others but people seem to take it to mean that we shut the door and well history hasn't been kind to those who did that in the second world war... but people seem to have forgotten or never known these things - those bought up in the shadow of the second world war (baby boomers) often see it as a glorious pulling together time against the damn enemy. They have often never looked at it as an actual piece of history.

I am truly scared by the uncaring, vindictive behaviour and out right hate I am seeing grow globally especially amongst the so called civilised countries ie America, Australia - Britain. But worse is the apathy and won't say that I haven't suffered from that also - so many bad things crushing down on you - demanding your attention - you kind of shut off. We don't do TV - when I go to my parents house I am horrified by the gut wrenching, emotional manipulation of the adverts that bombard most people at regular intervals through out the day - no wonder they are desensitised to it all - I'm not sure it registers as real hidden amongst all the day time dramas and things either.

Having said all this I am at a loss on how to help - a while ago now I was involved in a fundraising evening to provide clothing and things - but I became suspicious of where the money was actually going and so I am wary. If you deal with a charity and know they are doing good things - have seen what they have done - feel free to link to them in the comments.

This is an old film now but still relevant about the UN Refugee Agency.

As a writer, artist, communicator I feel it is my duty to NOT remain quiet whilst these atrocities are being performed and don't think I am being extreme here in what I am saying - the body count is mounting, and once more it is the most vulnerable who suffer - those who should most be protected.

Yes I wear my hear on my sleeve - I am a parent - I can not divide children into those to care for and those to make suffer - that is... an UNSPEAKABLE CRIME and yet I must speak it - I must highlight that that is exactly what is happening and I must fight against it. All decent people need to fight against it and too see it for what it is.

On a more positive note - many are standing and being counted - there is Harry who is in his 90's and is doing all he can.

My tweets and retweets on the matter:

Weekly Aethelflaed Twitter Round Up (by )

This year marks the 1100 yr anniversary of the death of Queen Aethelflaed Lady of Mercia and Mother of England - a Warrior Queen lost from much of our visible and accessible history in this country. Finding out that Gloucester is where she was buried and that there was going to be a festival in honour of her in June - I decided to undertake an Aethelflaed Quest and Search for All Things Anglo-Saxon. I have since ended up on board and doing things for the festival - I am having a lot of fun and there is a new puppet - Aethelflaed herself once more resides in Gloucester.

Here is the weekly tweets 🙂

The Festival is all over the city - I am doing family fun drove in stuff actually at the ruins of St Oswolds - you can find out more about the whole thing here.

Hats For Headway (by )

So this is a thing, I didn't know it was a thing - I probably did but then forgot :/ But get your fancy head gear out!

knitted brain hat

Today is #HatsforHeadway to raise awareness and cash for an absolutely brilliant charity who have helped so much with people like me who have sustained head injuries. This is the hat I knitted for the Science Showoff on Neurology and brainy things special that they did. It was a wonderful evening with Dr Carina Fearnley a fellow head injury sufferer and friend from my Geology undergraduate days. She has made a fantastic video about her experience:

The event was at the Star of Kings in London but I believe was raising money for the Bristol Headway and I made a paper mache brain and got gummy brain sweets. The hat has since appeared at various British Science Week Events, Cheltenham Science Festival and BBC Country File Live show/festival. It was an amazing night were I learnt about all sorts of things including the medical skeletons etc... lurking beneath London and what their skulls can tell us!

What I didn't say at the time was that I was struggling with knitting due to the damage to my left hand side so this whole thing was create out of loom knitting (French knitting or knitting nancy/spool knitting are all mini looms). Also for me to actually make it to the gig my dad had to come and meet me at the station - which in your 30's is pretty embarrassing, but I have only recently been able to attempt travel on my own on that sort of scale and I was still unable to cook anything other than a microwave meal safely on my own (I've set fire to pans and tried to pick up boiling pots with my bare hands...).

There is currently an Art Exhibit and series of talks etc... at Kings College about head injury including a pice on Identity after the fact. I myself had to basically learn to draw again - I always drew with both hands but now... the pictures come out distorted - I have a blind spot in my left eye, and hand coordination was hard. Add in the crisis of everyone else knowing more about me than I myself did and I ended up producing Love: A Stranger Dream. It started as distinct pictures which people asked for as colouring sheets so I put them up for free download here. Then I realised there was a kind of non-linear narrative or themes running through the works and it became a book of visual poetry. I took refuge in art - something that is quiet important in developing coping mechanisms and reducing the amount of depression that head injury victims feel - it is like having everything that is you stripped away.

I even made audio.

And video of it.

Art that started as a way to just express myself when speech and writing where hard graft ended up as something that has helped friends, it explores lots of different aspects of identity and so has ended up at GLBT+ events, dis/different-ability events, music and art installations, two different events for International Women's Day, comic book conventions, poetry events, story telling and maze festivals. I've even made a dress from the art work 0.o - ok yeah I got carried away!

(can't find the photo - if I came across it I'll add it later! but it got compared to the stuff worn by the Welsh Eisteddfod singer/bardic peeps)

As I've probably bored everyone with - I have not long been discharged from the head injury unit including physio at Gloucester Royal - still under neurology but the main chunk of it is done. Charities like Headway - the brain injury association are an absolute life line and they have local branches but head injury sufferers often struggle to get the help that's needed especially as most of the time they still look "normal". I was being mistaken for being drunk and struggling with lots of things. So yeah - hats for headway 🙂

Anglo-Saxon Music and Poetry (by )

Bryd One Brere - Anglo-Saxon are and Voice

So I have been investigating the oral traditions of the Anglo-Saxons, this includes song, poetry and story telling and really how the three were once one thing - no ones really quiet sure what the music sounded like or how much of the stories where sung or spoken - there were probably variations like we have today - after all they were people just like us.

Replicas of the instruments much such beautiful haunting sounds that I have fallen in love with them and found myself falling down a rabbit whole of music history and theory. I am now reading up on the general history of the lyre or harp which has taken me back into the old testament of the bible and also into listening to Pirate Thrash Metal!

Stories where not just entertainment they were the history and identity of people but they were also the media of the time. You wanted to be remembered then you needed the bards to sing of you! Aethelflaed, her father Alfred the Great and her brother all knew how important stories could be.

We are lucky in that some of these stories still exist today - some even got written down in contemporary times ie more than a millennium ago! But even written stories struggle at being static and alter with the copying and in some cases purging of the words. Aethelflaed herself appears to have been purposefully written out of the Wessex or primary version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle - by her brother for fear that the stories of her would encourage her Kingdom of Mercia to see itself as always distinct from Wessex. But she appears in later stories - romanticised and even turned into a virgin - though potentially that is due to exact meanings of words changing through time.

It is thought that the poem Judith is based on her - and maybe even commissioned by her - it casts parallels of the virtuous biblical female and the Lady of Mercia. I need to investigate it more - here's the [Wikipedia page](Anglo-Saxon poem Judith). I am struggling to find copies or it but I have found this 7 hr etc... video of another poem called The Wanderer - this is the one I have been quoting (in translation) at my poetry afternoons in Waterstones in Gloucester.

Of course the fact that I am having to read out translations is another fascinating warren of knowledge for me to investigate - I was taught in school about Old and Middle English but I kind of forgot about it all except when Alaric starts quoting Chuarcer at me. Due to character develop for my puppet of Aethelflaed I am also investigating the language - I love how languages split and merge and change and how you can trace human interactions along the lines of dialects and word exchange. But that shall be another blog post or two - back to Anglo-Saxon Music.

Youtube is filled with some brilliant pieces.

Anglo-Saxon poem "Deor" with Lyre

One of the reasons I have got myself a lyre is because they appear in the art works of Anglo-Saxon England and remnants have been found both in Britain on in Europe, culturally the Anglo-Saxons where from northern Europe including what is now Germany and those pesky Vikings they were fighting, they had once been themselves. So you can through Danes into the mix not to mention the "Celtic" and Britons who were lurking around since before Roman times, we always tend to think of history in simple A to B narratives but it very much isn't and there are influences from all over the place. The lyre itself is a very ancient instrument and may well have come to Europe from the Middle East - as in the harp that David plays in the bible.

But the lyre is not the only instrument that the Anglo-Saxons used - drums and flutes are featured in their artworks - I simply do not have the budget to explore these other instruments at the moment but it is on the to-do list. It is thought that they would often have been played in conjunction with each other - here is an example.

Anglo-Saxon Folk Music - "Wælheall"

Music isn't as clear cut a thing as I was initially taught at school with 8 notes and nothing in-between, musical tuning and what counts as a note has changed quiet drastically. I see this as an amazing diversity and am happy because having grown up with folk and gospel singing I also struggled with the classical definition of music. Rock and pop tend to mix it all up which I think is also fab! But this can mean that people perceive older types of music or say those from India etc... as being out of tune. This isn't the case but it is due to how the instruments are tuned. They are in tune with themselves and not necessarily with other surrounding instruments, you have to work at finding what fits together and as a vocalist adapt to the instruments you are singing along with. In choir I did a lot of singing without instrument backing - sometime the song sound fab - we were all in tune with each other and the music was full and vibrating the rafters but when the piano was dinged at the end to see if we had maintained our tuning - we... hadn't. We were off doing our own thing. I think that this is kind of how older music would have worked - you had natural materials which would affect what sounds the finished instrument would be suited too ie the grain of the wood and the shape in which it carved, the diet of the animal the sinue came from to string it... so many little factors. The classical music that we are taught as Music in schools has very specific parameters and if and instrument can't meet those it is considered defective - I think there is no coincidence that the emergence of such strict musicality came about as technology and science began to be a thing throughout Europe.

This is complete guess work on my part I can't even read music (well not with out looking the notes up and then pinging them on my guitar! I've always worked things out by watching or just playing around with the instrument), I am certainly no music theorist and I'm not even a historian! If I am wrong - tell me how I am wrong - I am investigating this stuff - searching and learning and others input is always appreciated!

What's that? I digressed? Yeah ok you have a point....

I will finish off with this video I found of The Classic - the first piece of European Literature (if you take the Mediterranean as not being Europe) - the Epic Poem of BeoWulf sung and played on the hardy-gurdy (now there's an instrument I would like to get my hands on! But I believe it was a later dated instrument - more high medieval than the low medieval of Saxon England - I could be wrong as I have a hell of a lot more reading to do!).

I think this is this guy - anyway I better get back to trying to work out how to play my lyre - twinkle twinkle little star.... ok so they are the tunes I knew the best ok!

Hospital – The Bad and The Good – med update (by )

After 3 yrs I am being discharged from the Head Injury Unit for Self-Care i.e. my quality of life is good and I am showing a positive trend in improvement and just need to keep on keeping on at my own pace - I am not back to 100% functionality but still have a good chance of reaching it! Neurology stuff for the seizure thingies needs to continue for now but this is still epic news - I was discharged from the physio a while back which ironically makes my time and fatigue management a lot easier as the hospital trips are the biggest drain!

Seizure stuff is a bit of a pain in the backside still - I haven't had anything major since the miscarriage but.... still getting muscle spasms, head pain/rushing noise - it's kind of both and I have no idea how to describe it but when it's happening my muscles are twitching worse than when the tens machine used to accidentally get switched up high! I also get colour drain in one eye and wet myself etc... I don't remember them but managed to have one when Al was laying next to me - it was mild but enough to observe the symptoms properly. My jaw also clamps down and I often bit the inside of my mouth or tongue.

Supermarkets... I still struggle with these damn shops - it's like they are designed to be maximum overload or something - but I can manage a half hour or so trip now with no problems - mainly I avoid peak times and being with the kids when shopping.

I am still having to have quiet breaks in order to get through the day - I can now skip rests but not for more than two days at a time and even then that is pushing it... but my speech is so much improved when I first went to the clinic it was still pretty slurry all the time and then it would get progressively worse the tireder I got - yesterday on 2 hrs sleep I managed an entire session being articulate and even laughing at the on going issues with face blindness (made a few booboos at the poetry festival with recognising or rather not recognising people!).

Mobility is in a little dip at the moment but that is not unusual - and is due to having had a little fall/slip whilst away on holiday and then walking all the ruins and castles and follies we could find regardless. The walking stick comes and goes and also is worse when I've had a seizure thingy - because it is something I have to use for pelvic pain, fatigue and sometimes just general managing to stand upright and not just tip straight over! Most of the time I don't have to use it at all! The last factor is the only one that the head injury has added the other two pre-date it!

The NHS have been fab with this but... getting head injuries picked up and dealt with is really hard, most people end up fending for themselves and here's the thing - if I hadn't had my family around to take care of me I am not sure what would have happened too me - I see some of our local homeless people and think about what I was like and... I still struggle with money and finding my way home - it would have been very easy for me and people like me to have ended up on the streets, in a very vulnerable position - but I have my family and they have made sure I was as safe as could be - I'm pretty sure others have not been so lucky, and I don't think there are the provisions in place to help them. I was being regularly mistaken for being drunk or drugged up and that kind of makes you invisible even within the A&E departments - something which I fear will get worse as funding cuts bite.

And back to that whole truma thing - hospitals.... I find them incredibly hard places to go into - they have saved my life - they have saved my babies and allowed them to be born, there has been care and compassion - there have also been sharp needles and knives, and pain and death and blood.. lots and lots of blood - most of the time my own but not always. Hospitals are places were I have been detained, places I couldn't leave (though I assume if I'd insisted I could have left), places where I have been strapped to beds or held down so that pipes and tubes could lit be rammed into me - emergency stuff is like this and for me I have sometimes been way more aware but unable to act on things. The idea that I might go in and not come out and that this will be surrounded by pain.... is always there - hovering with the smell of cleaning fluids, over cooked food and sickness that pervades.

Little side note here - the art works that are scattered around the hospitals became incredibly important to me at such times - sometimes they are the only things I truly remember from a hospital stay.

I had two hours sleep before the appointment because I had forgotten about it and then checked my calendar and there was the appointment large and bold and... in the block where I lost the baby and every time I tried to sleep all the stuff from before rushed back, for 18 months after I had Jean I had a reoccurring dream about being held down and crucified to keep her alive - I described it too Al and he was like, "that's a memory of them taking your deep arterial blood when you went into A&E" I don't really remember that happening, I do remember blood squirting up the cubical curtains and that it was my blood and I was pregnant but I can't recall which A&E trip it was but I know there was an old man screaming. Even things like my blood transfusion at 4 yrs old decides to come and haunt me on such nights.

If I know about the appointment I can prepare myself and sort my thoughts and write or draw the stuff away so I can sleep but if that doesn't happen we get what I had this time - dreams of machines where you feel like you are buried alive.

I gave up on sleep at 1:30 am and wondered down stairs to watch documentaries about Japan - there I marvelled about little old ladies that catch venomous water snakes that are 10x worse than rattle snakes - with their bare hands, wading into dark water caves in their flip flops - they reminded me of my nans - they way they chatted and got on with things etc... though obv. my nans only had adders and badgers to contend with but I do recall how they would chatter to each other! I watched deer being bowed too and bowing back at a temple and I rode my exercise bike with it's special seat to help when my pelvis is bad and managed to get myself physically exhausted enough to sleep from 4:30 until the 6 am school run start.

One of the dangers about feeling like this is that I don't want to go to the hospitals and clinics and drs so I avoid them as much as I can and sometimes my eagerness to be discharged is not because I am better but purely because it means I won't have to go to the hospital again so soon. Like wise I tend to put off going to the drs until something is really wrong.

So yeah - there we go - good thing head injury stuff is getting there and I know how to manage various things including the truma but things.... NHS is struggling and I am incredibly lucky to have physical stuff and not a mental health issue where the waiting lists and emergency provisions have all but crumbled.

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