Thursday, April 29, 2010

Plans for Sunflower Day :D

If you want to meet up to plant the sunflowers, we will be meeting at 12 midday outside the Blue Moon cafe in Sheffield city centre, by the Cathedral. Please be prompt!

Alternatively, you can plant some seeds wherever you are in your locality.

There is also now a flickr group for this event. And there will be an indymedia article up when it publishes!

Check the posts below for other info and link regarding this event.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sheffield Sunflower Day Approaching!

Plans are afoot for International Sunflower Guerrilla Day in Sheffield.

Some people will be meeting in the city centre at 12 to take a walk and plant some blooms, others will be doing it individually or with friends in their areas.

Keep an eye on the facebook group, or on for the latest.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Election Is A Comin'

I'm not recruiting for votes. I haven't even conclusively decided who I'm voting for. So I thought I'd share some of the tools and sites I've been looking at to help me to decide who will get a cross on my ballot paper, and who will definitely not!

There are quizzes like Who Should You Vote For? online, where you tell them your attitudes to policies, and they tell you at the end which parties your views seem to coincide with the most.

Abortion Rights are doing an election campaign. You can download a factsheet, and lobby your candidates via the site. You just type in your postcode and it lets you email all your local candidates. It then requests that you let them know your candidates' responses to their questions on abortion rights, so that others who enter their postcode can see where everyone stands.

I have only had a response from one candidate (Green, and she answered the way I hoped she would), but hopefully the others will be forthcoming too.

Similarly, the UK Disabled People's Council have put together a list of questions which you may want to question your prospective MPs about. has pie charts showing how the different parties have fared in terms of their past votes on LGBT issues.

Planet Mouret Films is "a blog designed for learning disabled adults and those who are involved in the LD community", with lots of straight forward information about the general election, links to easy-read information about voting, easy-read manifestos and the rights of learning disabled adults to vote.

And Scope are urging "local authorities to act immediately to make sure polling stations are more accessible. They have warned that some people may find it difficult to vote in next month’s elections but said it was not too late for councils to make a difference."

(Cross-posted at The F Word)

Sheffield Sunflowers: Domain Name!

We have a domain name! From now on, will lead to the latest updates on International Sunflower Guerrilla Day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sheffield: International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day

May 1st is International Sunflower Guerrilla Day, where people all over the world (well, probably the northern hemisphere) go out and plant sunflower seeds in places around where they live.

Having just read On Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook for Gardening without Boundaries, I am feeling totally inspired and have started to organise an event for this magical day here in Sheffield.

There is a thread on the forums, and a facebook group for the event. Sign up for either of those to keep up to date with the plans, or keep an eye open here for news.

What you will need:

Sunflower seeds.
A bottle of water.
Something to make holes with (pencil, screwdriver, trowel, or in my case, a crutch!).

What to do:
Dig a small hole about 2cm deep, drop in a seed. Cover with soil. Water.

That's it! As many times as you like, in as many places as you feel will be cheered up by a glorious sunflower in a couple of months.

I've been stocking up on sunflower seeds at various bargain shops, if you grab a pack or two each time you see them, you should have plenty by the date.

There will be people meeting somewhere central to go and garden together, and others individually planting seeds where they are. Wherever you are, Sheffield or not, join in. Just imagine how happy you, and others, will be when there are unexpected sunflowers around!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

12 Reasons I Won't Follow You Back on Twitter

You are unlikely to get a refollow if...

1. You post about diets.

2. Your posts are in a language I don't speak.

3. You post about gaining thousands of followers in a night, and you have a total of 34 followers.

4. You are following more than 10x the number of people who are following you.

5. You follow, unfollow, refollow, unfollow and refollow me so that I get notifications about you in my email several times a day.

6. You are any kind of spammer or bot.

7. Your posts are hidden. I don't want to request permission when I don't know what it's for.

8. You have no profile information.

9. Your profile information is inane.

10. You are sharing the love of Jesus.

11. Hate speech. Pretty much any.

12. You like Jeremy Clarkson.

Otherwise, go for it! So, follow me if you dare!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Supertram Problem Exists Worldwide.

Following my post yesterday about people not giving up 'priority seats' on Sheffield Supertram for disabled people, I have found some interesting links online.

I was reading Man on Crutches on Train with Camera and, about 2/3 of the way down, some words sounded familiar - I realised they were linking to a comment I made on the subject last April!

That article actually has some really interesting thoughts and information, which I want to look at in more detail when I have the chance. And it is talking about this blog, named People Who Sit In The Disability Seats When I'm Standing On My Crutches, where the creator took photos of those very people. This blog has not been posted on for nearly a year now, sadly. Though I could create my own alternative for Sheffield trams!

Another article I've found is The iPhone Vigilante, about the blog mentioned above. And I also found a discussion board message on the same issue, but in Singapore. This thread is another that I will havfe to read in better detail some other time, but one new idea I got from it is to suggest to Stagecoach that the messages announced through the tram system could include one about giving up your seat for someone who needs it more.

There is a discussion here, a yahoo discussion and a Facebook group, for those of you so inclined!

There will definitely be more happening on this issue, watch this space! (well, this blog at least).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Disabled Access to Stagecoach Supertram in Sheffield

Something has bewildered me for some time. It's that normally, when I'm on a bus in Sheffield, if none of the Priority seats are free, other passengers usually offer me a seat when they see my walking stick or crutches. However, when I take the tram, this virtually never happens. I have no idea why tram passengers don't do this when bus passengers do.

Offering me a seat is immensely helpful. Standing up for any period of time, even short periods, causes me pain. Balancing on a moving vehicle with only one free hand, or no free hands (depending on whether I'm using one or two crutches) is really difficult, when my balance is already bad. And being able to sit down, even for a short journey, helps to delay the inevitable exhaustion, which means I can hopefully get a bit more done, wherever I'm going.

Since I had surgery a month ago, I have needed to sit down more. Standing up causes me much more pain, and even the slightest things tire me out.

So, this morning, I emailed Supertram about this, saying:
Dear Supertram,

I use the buses and trams regularly in Sheffield, and whenever I take a bus, if there are no free seats, I am nearly always offered a seat when someone sees that I am using crutches or a walking stick. However, when I take the tram, I am virtually never offered a seat.

I do not know why this is the case, but people on buses seem to have a lot more respect for the 'Please give up this seat if a disabled person needs it' type signs than they do on trams.

It makes my tram journeys very difficult and painful, and is putting me off using them at all.

I was wondering if there is anything you feel you could do to help with this situation. I am obviously aware that there are people with invisible disabilities who would have every right to keep their seat, but that cannot be the case for everybody who stays in the 'disabled priority' seats when there are disabled people clearly struggling with standing.

The first things that come to my mind in terms of what you can do, are awareness raising campaigns on the trams themselves, and more proactive action from the conductors in this area.

I would appreciate your thoughts on the situation,

The response I received was, frankly, awful. They are taking no responsibility for their role and show no acknowledgement at all of my concerns.

They say:
I was concerned to hear that you find it difficult to use the priority seating if another passenger is already there. In the first instance I would suggest that you politely asked the passenger if they would leave the seat to enable you to use it . I agree with your point that some passengers may have an invisable inpairement [sic] but the seats are clearly marked and there should be no problem in the majority of cases. Experience has shown that not all passengers who warrant the use of the priority seats wish to do so and although I would expect conductors to assist when requested they will not always do so automatically. I will pass on your comments re awareness training but feel that the best way to "educate" able bodied passengers to give up the seats is if they are asked to do so by other passengers.

It's a cop-out. I feel, more strongly than ever, that they need to look at the 'Priority seats for disabled people' signs and see that whatever they currently have up is not doing the job, as people are paying no attention. There are only a few available seats which don't involve going up steps, so these need to be seriously prioritised. In addition, training the ticket inspectors in assisting disabled passengers to find a seat could be an effective way of combating the problems.

Interestingly, I was sent the link to this government consultation on Improving Bus Passenger Services today, and learned that:
7.9 We are seeking views on further ways to ensure stricter enforcement of the duties of drivers, inspectors and conductors with regard to disabled people. Conduct Regulations set out the duties of drivers/ conductors of regulated public service vehicles with respect to passengers in wheelchairs and other disabled persons. DfT’s guidance specifies that passengers who are not disabled but are occupying the wheelchair space could be asked to move to allow a passenger in a wheelchair to board, provided that there is room for the passenger to move elsewhere on the bus and the seating and standing capacity will not be exceeded. Drivers are also required to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their passengers.

7.10 The Public Service Vehicles Accessibility Regulations stipulate that there should be clear signage for the priority seat and the wheelchair space on the bus. The Department is committed to delivering transport that works for everyone. We have therefore been considering how enforcement of these regulations can be improved. Stricter compliance with the Conduct Regulations would go a long way in ensuring that the wheelchair space is available for a passenger in a wheelchair.

7.11 We therefore seek views on measures to ensure stricter compliance with the regulations in general, particularly on whether introduction of financial sanctions against operators who persistently breach any aspect of the regulations, would be useful.

Now, while this regulation is regarding buses, the trams in Sheffield provide a very similar service, and should take account of the current regulation and proposed changes. My safety is certainly compromised when I have to stand on their vehicles.

I don't know what steps to take next. I was hoping that a response from Stagecoach would be helpful and open to looking at improvements. However, their huge failure to take what I have requested into account has really disappointed me.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We Are Women Too

This video is of Eleanor Lisney and Michelle Daley, talking at Million Women Rise at the weekend, about disabled women's lives. About the reality of domestic violence committed against disabled women, including individual women's accounts, and about Fiona Pilkington who killed herself and her disabled daughter after being unable to get help against the abuse and intimidation they were suffering. About refuge provision - scarce at the best of times, and accessible provision being almost non-existent. About the particular vulnerability of disabled women when it comes to sexual assault and brutality in care homes or by carers, and the difficulties in reporting and being heard, as well as barriers to accessing services. And about multiple identities, and how disabled women can experience multiple discrimination from within the disability movement, other women, the community and society.
"It is about raising the voices of our disabled sisters. It is also about ensuring our recognition within this struggle for human rights. [...] We all have a responsibility to ensure that disabled women are recognised, and respected, as equals within this struggle, and all our voices to be heard. We are women too."

[Edited to add - There are transcripts of these speeches here, thank you so much to Eleanor, one of the speakers, for letting us know, and to Felix Gonzalez for making the videos and doing the transcription. More transcripts of speeches of the day will be published at in due course.]

Monday, March 08, 2010

Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum

Asylum Aid has created a Charter of Rights of Women Seeking Asylum.

The way that we are treating these women is appalling. Completely ignoring the trauma they have suffered, we are locking them up or forcing them to beg and sleep rough, without support, healthcare or money.

Asylum Aid have created this video.

Every single woman from Asylum Aid on Vimeo.

They say,
We believe a change of culture designed to produce a genuinely gender sensitive asylum system is urgently needed to ensure that women seeking asylum receive a comparable standard of treatment to women in similar situations who are settled here already.

There is also a campaign briefing available, and they are campaigning so that all member states of the European Union to adopt gender guidance so that women's asylum claims will be dealt with consistently.

(cross-posted at The F Word)

Sunday, March 07, 2010


I've had a headache for a week. Constant. I've been taking painkillers following surgery, then I've had a horrendous mouth infection, so taking more painkillers for that. So I couldn't understand why I still had a headache!

So I read about painkiller headaches. That sounded right. Taking painkillers can cause headaches. So I read, you're supposed to stop taking the painkillers to make the headache go away. But I'm not taking the painkillers for the headache, so what to do? I can't stop taking them or my mouth may explode and my foot fall off (not that I'm prone to exaggeration).

But then I read that you only get painkiller headaches if you are taking the painkillers for the headache. If you are taking them for some other reason, they don't happen. And I am, I'm taking them for my leg and my mouth.

So, I still have a headache and no idea why. I initially thought it was a pre-menstrual one, then it carried on post-menstrually. Then I thought it was the toothache causing it. It could still be I suppose.

I don't know. I'm just moaning.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


One of my problems is that I ignore things my body and mind are telling me to such a degree that they have to pretty much knock me on the floor before I pay attention.

I had surgery on my leg last Thursday, and as today there was slightly less pain than yesterday, and as I could walk 3 steps without crutches, I spent a lot of the day determined to be HAPPY dammit. It was only when I found myself sobbing, and this carried on for a good half hour, that I realised how much I'd been kidding myself all day.

Things might be marginally better than yesterday, but I'm still tired, in pain, traumatised by surgery while awake, wondering what on earth is going to happen next, feeling seriously let down and scared.

But when I don't want to see it, I don't see it. Until I'm forced to.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blame the Victims... Again!

I had the misfortune of watching Carol Malone on TV this morning. She said that if women get drunk or dance provocatively, it's really their own fault if they get raped.

She also said that men can't be blamed for raping women when they (the men) are drunk, because they don't really know what they're doing.

Double standards much?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Who is Most Committed?

This awesome woman shows the madness of gay marriage bans.

Friday, February 12, 2010


Pharmacies seem to have a new policy of doing medication reviews with patients, and as I use whichever pharmacy is most handy at any given time, I keep using different ones and thus having more and more medication reviews.

Today's was interesting. It turns out that two of my meds cancel out the action of one other, and that that one other cancels out the action of the other two. Interesting! All three prescribed by the same person, incidentally.

Also, the pharmacist made an assumption about my mental health diagnosis on the basis of the meds I'm on. It is a diagnosis I have had in the past, and his guess seems as arbitrary as the numerous guesses I've had from numerous psychiatrists I have seen, so no harm done.

He was impressed that I knew what each of my medications was for. It's worrying, he said, how many people don't. I'm the kind of person who always wants lots and lots of information. I can't imagine swallowing stuff daily without having researched it thoroughly, never mind not knowing what it was even prescribed for.

Someone in my family has been on antidepressants for 21 years, and she still has no idea that that's what they are. She obediently swallows them every night. I haven't had the heart to tell her, but I don't know if I should or not. She knows I looked it up, and she hasn't asked me for details. If she asked, I would definitely tell her, but as she hasn't... I dunno. The doctor tells her that they help her to feel better, and that she would feel much worse without them, so she should keep taking them. She's of a generation to not really challenge doctors.

As for me, I keep taking the pills. I'm reducing the odd one slowly, but I seem stuck on them for the time being at least.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Sheffield Cake Weirdness

One of my favourite blogs, when I want a giggle, is Cake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes go Horribly, Hilariously Wrong. So today, when I spotted these two gems in the same bakery window in Sheffield city centre, I had to sneak a couple of phone pics and share them.

First of all, is a penis cake. It's a cake of some boxer shorts, with a huge penis pointing upwards. Well, I can't think of anything else it could be. The blobby things on top of the penis are buttons, which backs up my theory. As a penis cake, it's very good I suppose. But is this the way to advertise your cake decorating expertise in the window of a shop on a main road?!



Who is Rachel? Did she really want a big penis cake??

Then, I looked down. Right below it, their sole other example of their skill, was a cake with a spelling mistake.

"Happy birthday Mummy Abiola, Elegance PersonifEId"


Perfect completion to the display, I think you'll agree!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI

The Catholic Church has contributed more than most to the oppression of women. Whether it's the deaths of women in childbirth and of HIV / AIDS due to their commitment to preventing safer sex, or covering up the abuse of girl and boy children and protecting the abusers, they have consistently chosen paths which keep women controlled and 'in their place'.

This is the church that ordered the excommunication of everyone involved in helping a 9 year old girl, who was pregnant with twins after being raped by her stepfather, to have an abortion. The church actively tried to prevent the termination, and when it failed it ordered that the child's mother and the doctors involved be excommunicated. (Not the step-father, tellingly).
"If the B52 bombers flying over Vietnam were dropping contraceptives, the American Catholic hierarchy would have condemned that in a minute, but they were dropping napalm"
-- James Carroll

The Pope has also been in the news this week for speaking out against the UK government's equality policies, which would have required churches to stop discriminating against LGBT people. This is a man who, when he speaks, people listen. Just think what he could use his voice for. He could protest poverty, he could condemn domestic violence. But no, he speaks out against equality.

Later this year, the Pope is planning a visit to Britain. Not only do I not want him here, I was really disgusted to hear that the £20 million cost of his visit will be paid for by public money. Just think how many Rape Crisis centres could be funded by that money!

The National Secular Society have started a petition to ask the Catholic Church itself to pay for the visit. As I write, it has 17,457 signatures, one of which is mine.

The Catholic Church, contrary to the guidance of many passages of the Bible, is a very rich institution. If this man, who played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, wants to come here, let him pay for it himself.

(cross-posted at the f word)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Rape Victims Blamed Again

Virginia Wood has a really interesting post on her blog about yet another form of blaming women for being raped.

This time it isn't what she was wearing, what she had drunk, or her fantasies, but is actually her own history of trauma and her lack of awareness of her surroundings.

Many women have a history of trauma, and I can't imagine there are any who are constantly aware of everything that's going on around her. Neither of these make it her own fault if she is raped.

Similarly, even if you are aware of your surroundings and don't 'freeze' when attacked, that is not necessarily enough to prevent rape. Virginia gives certain examples,
Maybe it was a "blitz attack", which of course by definition would mean she wouldn't have known she was even being attacked until she was already down. Or maybe her rapist had a weapon: I have to ask--do men really believe that a martial artist can kick a gun out of an attacker's hand like good ol' Chuck Norris on the teevee? And then there's the rapist who comes in through the bathroom window in the middle of the night and has you under his control before you even wake up. Now how you gonna karate-kick his ass outta bed with your legs all tangled up in the kivvers? And then there was the woman I knew whose attacker told her if she cooperated, he wouldn't harm the children sleeping in the next room: All the martial arts training in the world won't trump that one.


Let us note that one in every six women in the U.S. will be assaulted in her lifetime. Maybe it's just me, but I think that's frequent enough to suggest that we are not, in fact, in control of our own destinies--at least not when it comes to rape. Indeed, that kind of thinking sounds to me like a form of privilege: The not-raped can believe they did/do something to earn/deserve that status ("I kicked the shit out of him!" or "I'm always aware of my surroundings." Always? Really?). That kind of thinking allows the not-raped to feel safe and secure in the fantasy that "it will never happen to me" and to look down on victim/survivors as people who screwed up somehow.

Victim-blaming, even in this guise of scientific research, is rife. Somebody, somewhere is missing the fact that the person to blame for a woman being raped is the rapist. Always.

When I was at sixth-form college, two police officers came in to give us a talk about safety. The boys were sent to one room with a male police officer, to receive a talk about driving safely. The girls were sent to another room with a woman officer, to receive a talk about rape prevention.

Quite why the girls didn't need to be given the same advice about safe driving was bewildering, but the weirdest thing was it was the girls being told how to prevent rape rather than the boys.

In that talk, we were told that 2 out of 3 rapes could have been prevented (by the victim). How's that for victim-blaming? Imagine how that felt for rape survivors in that room! Being told by a cop that really they should have been able to do something about it was humiliating and vicious.

And what's more, 3 out of 3 rapes could have been prevented - BY THE RAPIST NOT RAPING THEM. That is where the blame needs to be laid. Every rape that ever occurs could have not happened, if the perpetrator chose not to do it.

That is the point. Men can stop rape. They have to.

(cross-posted at The F Word)