Wednesday, July 30, 2008


This is definitely summer. It is scorching hot out there. I have never missed the sea breeze so much.

Going to get a little bit of sea breeze when Steve and I head for the coast at the end of August for Jiva and Munkt0n's wedding. We're really looking forward to that, with extra added squee because the first time we met in real life was when we went to their engagement bash.

That'll just be a weekender though, as Steve can't book any time off work at present. But, Pip and I have been looking into the idea of car hire (Pip took his car off the road after I left town) to enable me to have a proper week's holiday and see everyone. The idea is that Steve could take me part of the way, and hand me and my suitcase over to Pip at a halfway services station. We're thinking probably September would be best, once the kids are back at school. Littlun will be doing half-days, so we'll be able to Do Stuff for half a day without all the local facilities being overrun by Bigger Kids, and then I can rest properly while he's at school.

Until I get some seafront, though, my life has been made that bit more comfortable by work having invested in an air-conditioning unit. The room was getting really quite unbearably hot, what with the combination of (1) thousands of CD cases, flat-pack corrugated cardboard boxes, and other packing materials, also known as insulation; (2) a single barred window which only opens a few inches; (3) a computer on the go the whole time; and (4) up to three adults constantly moving around the room doing work which, while it could not be described as physically demanding, works up considerably more of a sweat than sitting around typing. I don't care that my carbon footprint probably makes the baby Jesus cry. It was getting hard to breathe in there!

And now, I think, I will get my eye-mask out of the fridge, and go upstairs to lie very very still in the hope that sleep will come.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Things are going well

It's been a great week.

First of all, those persistent Unbloggables that have been filling up large parts of my headspace are now mostly resolved, and I wish I could explain better, but it's Someone Else's Business really.

Secondly, Steve's been paid, and while we're not buying a house/going on holiday/planning a wedding/bathing in Cristal just yet, the light at the end of the tunnel has proved to be sunshine rather than the oncoming train we feared. We have finally been able to make some headway on long-overdue essential expenses as well as a couple of little treats.

So thirdly, I finally have the Panda Silk I have been lusting after since Christmas. I wasn't going to get it yet - at £6.45 per 50g ball it's expensive and technically there are more important things we should be spending money on - but Steve knew I was after it, so when he knew he'd been paid, he got on the phone to Anna at Web of Wool and arranged with her that he would pay for four balls of Panda Silk, for me to choose the colours I wanted when I came in for knitting group. And lo, for Mary did SQUEEE quite a lot before choosing two balls of blue-ey "denim tones" which I think will become socks, and two balls of green-ey "fern tones" which might become a shawl - I'm feeling brave enough to make a careful attempt at lace knitting and I've found an allegedly simple pattern.

Fourthly, and still in the knitting theme, I have finished the knitting for my jumper. I plan to start sewing it up as soon as I've been able to run Bloop around a bit, which I can't do just yet because it's still a bit antisocially early for a Sunday morning.

Fifthly, although you just know I'm going to lose count soon... Remember Georgette the Courgette? Well, she grew and grew and grew some more until she was festooned with very definitely identifiable yellow courgette fruits. And at this point things went runny, because although 101 people have offered 101 recipes for courgette, my kitchen skills for things like safely peeling and chopping and dealing with hot pans and so on are HIGHLY limited, and Steve is suspicious of vegetables in general, and in particular, vegetables that don't even have the courtesy to be green (tomatoes are apparently excused on the basis of being a core component of ketchup).

Not wanting the courgettes to go to waste, I asked our next-door neighbour if she wanted them and invited her to help herself at any time. She seemed very pleased about this, and I was happy too because I like it when I feel like I live in a community, next thing I knew, she offered to put some into a lasagne for us! Which she did, and Steve and I ate it last night with some nice ciabatta bread, and it was delicious and we ate every bit.


Nextly, I've had the paperwork for my DLA appeal through. This means I've seen the GP's report (short but supportive) and feel confident that yes, the DWP have ignored vast chunks of evidence and the appeal has a good chance.

There is a slight question-mark over getting to the appeal though. It's in a large building (too large for walking, I'd need to be pushed in the wheelchair) in Birmingham (which is too far away for a taxi and community transport has to be pre-booked which wouldn't work for the way home as I don't know how long it will take). I'm not sure, but I really doubt that my representative from the Welfare Rights place is also going to be able to drive me there and back, not to mention sit with me, push the wheelchair, and be a shoulder to cry on if it all goes horribly wrong. Even if she could, it's not her job. Steve should be able to take me and if he can, it's all good, but we have this horror that he might not be able to - you only get 14 days notice of the Appeal date which might not be enough for him to get a day off work - and we don't know if we could find anyone else to help. So on Monday I'm calling the Welfare Rights organisation to see if they have any ideas. They must have experienced this before. Still, at least that'll be an end of it one way or another. Which is a Good Thing.

And Finally, it looks like we might be getting some help from Social Services. No word yet on what you might call Daily help, but apparently as Steve is my sole carer, we're eligible for an emergency scheme whereby if he's suddenly hospitalised or something, an emergency carer will come and "live-in" with me to fulfil his role for up to 72 hours until something more sustainable, such as a short stay in a residential home or additional visiting care, can be arranged. Certain amount of paperwork, but isn't there always.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bloggers 1, MP 0

Two weeks on from the latest episode of the Remploy saga. Several thousand people have read that post, mostly thanks to links from prominent bloggers including Wat Tyler and NHS Blog Doctor.

As well as writing about the issue on my blog, I contacted my MP via the incredibly useful and informative They Work For You website. And the ball rolled...

The result of writing to my MP so far has been a pale yellow letter which arrived this morning, three lines thanking me for my correspondence and telling me that the matter is being raised with a "ministerial colleague" at DWP.

The result of blogging, however... the "Quality Matters" team at Remploy have seen my blog. They then did enough detective work to find my email address (not difficult given the amount of information they hold about me, but slightly more complicated than just clicking an 'email me' link) and sent me a nice email telling me that they are taking it seriously and starting an investigation. The investigation will be led by "a senior manager" from outside the department with whom the issues originated. They've given a timescale and provided me with a Service Level Agreement. They also replied immediately to my request that I be contacted by letter or email rather than by telephone. Even despite my usually high levels of cynicism, I'm feeling quite hopeful that the issue will be noted and taken seriously and maybe even avoided in future.

I also found out this morning that my MP is actually (sort of) connected to the DWP. He's one of the MPs who appears in this BBC News story which does a sterling job of confusing suspected or "potential" fraud, and overpayments due to cockups by the DWP, with actual Criminal Benefit Fraud as wilfully and successfully perpetrated by Very Bad People. Sigh.