I’ve just had a lovely visit from a friend, who was explaining that she recently visited a podiatrist. Ok, chiropodist. We were animatedly discussing how our feet, and the way we walk, affects our whole body, our calves, our back, our necks…which set me thinking about my routinely dreadful posture, my shambling and all the compromises I muddle through. These days, I walk so seldom that I can feel my whole body stiffening up, in places I didn’t know could be stiff. So, just to keep me a bit flexible, I think I shall be going swimming more often. So far, this year, my resolution to swim every day – or, at least five times a week, timetables permitting – seems to be holding. Monday, Tuesday and today, three in a row.
Apparently, I have one leg which is an inch or so shorter than the other. That might make anyone lope a bit, I suppose. I use an elbow crutch outside to help with balance. I also wear a certain brand of shoes which make me wobble. But these shoes, which are expensive, top-of-the-range types, are so comfortable for my back, my hips and my knees (except when I wobble too far and fall, in which case, everything hurts) that I persist with them. My legs, feet and knees have endured years of unusual wear and tear, so these soft, sturdy shoes are valuable shock absorbers.
I was wondering what would happen if I telephoned the chiropodist and asked to make an appointment. Would she say there was nothing she could do to help me, that my problems were too complex? I suspect so, though I have rarely had the luxury of an independent or sympathetic assessment of my compromises. There is the chance that another, careful professional look-see would yield a handful of helpful answers, even if the outcome was a fresh list of problems that I might need to watch out for. I don’t mind being made aware, so long as I can keep my body active. On the other hand, I have sort of worked out what works and what causes real problems. I am also reluctant to tell the whole story, again, to yet another professional. Should I just phone up and see how far I get, or would a dignified silence be best? Only time will tell.
January 27, 2014
Innocence is Precious
Fran Macilvey benefits, guilt, innocence, lateness cerebral palsy, Fran's School of Hard Knocks 4 Comments
Innocence is precious.
“Hundreds of Benefits Claimants are fined every day” is the headline in a recent paper, revealing a dramatic increase in the number of sanctions issued to those who fail to turn up for DWP interviews or to attend to the other requirements of finding a job. You had no money to phone the jobcentre because your mobile phone ran out of credit because you were sanctioned last week? Too bad, here is another sanction to reward you for your efforts….. Sanctions appear to be levied for the strangest reasons, including, not being able to attend two appointments at the same time, and waiting to start a new job.
The current belief that underpins the increase in sanctions and the general tightening of belts is one that screams, “Scroungers, wasters, the lot of them” and so, with that assumption firmly in place, automatically the collective mind charged with administering benefits goes on the lookout for evidence to support that belief. Subconsciously, evidence is found which bolsters that assumption, as well as a whole raft of other assumptions, which are naturally filtered and selective.
The same process happens when we go around saying to ourselves, “I feel sick”. We look for any evidence that vindicates our belief; and the difficulty or discomfort we create in passing is thus not seen as regrettable, but as inevitable.
In that sense, the fact that there has been a huge increase in the number of sanctions being levied against the poorest and most desperate merely bolsters the underlying belief that there are lots of chancers out there, who will do anything to fiddle the system. This is just the tip of the ice-berg, we are just beginning to uncover the scale of the deception…. The presumption of innocence is very precious, yet seems to be under attack in all quarters. The Scottish Parliament seems bent on abolishing the doctrine of corroboration in Scotland too, so that more guilty people will get the justice they deserve.
Innocent people deserve a break too.