TwitwatchUK – Week Three (24th Jan)

Welcome to this week’s TwitWatch UK..  as usual we have a load of old crap some great stories from the past week to share with you.

Weather-wise, it was reported that 2010 was the coldest UK winter on record,  whilst  being the 2nd warmest year Globally. Do you think someone has it in for us? Maybe it’s a conspiracy along the lines of “why can’t we ever win the Eurovision Song Contest” despite cheating our way into the final’s every year donating towards the contest costs?
 

Yay!  Top Gear came back!  Clarkson heroically had a helicopter land on the roof of a car he was driving.. it was like watching James Bond, only well, you know.. Clarkson is really scruffy, annoying and not in the least bit fanciable. APART from that.. it was awesome : ) Another Yay! Richard Hammond finally cut his hair, I think Mummy must have put her foot down although he is still wearing his 18-30s necklace..  Best of all though, they introduced a new Stig, who says women cant’ drive? ; )

A new comedy show was launched on TV this week with a live format.. The 10 O’Clock Show.. it was good but a bit like watching a Twitter stream that’s already three days old.

The best news of the week for me was that Ed Balls was finally appointed as Shadow Chancellor, sadly at the expense of Alan Johnson’s resignation but hey, the HOC will be a much livelier place from now on! Hopefully he is the man to kick Ed Miliband up the jacksy and we will see some proper opposition at last.

Andy Coulson also resigned this week so Twitter has de-twibboned from  “Sack Coulson”  and re-twibboned “Arrest Coulson” instead.. 

Mama Mia, here she goes again..  Meryl Streep was spotted at PMQs last week, swatting up for her imminent role as Margaret Thatcher in the film “The Iron Lady”. Humphrey just hopes it’s not a singing role, although “Money Money Money” would be rather appropriate.

Lastly and Ghastly.. my favourite tweeter stopped tweeting :*(   This post (sorry it’s crap) is dedicated to the much missed @Gaijinsan21, we hope you come back soon, Humphrey Twitter just isn’t the same without you x

Plates of meat… part one.

Blugh, I SO do not want to write this post..  Why?  Because I don’t want to think about my feet and in particular, my forthcoming – longed for, way-overdue operation.  However, I think it is important to document my feelings/pain/recovery/experience in this way as it may help others in the future.

My name is Humphrey, I am brave and strong! I am not afraid of ANYTHING!  (with the exception of nasty stuff happening to my family) Always the first to enter into dangerous situations, memories of derelict Spanish houses come immediately to mind! I’ve had three children “the old-fashioned way” with just gas, air and ridiculous panting to get me through. So why, oh why am I so nervous about my operation?  It’s ridiculous, I can’t even read the literature the Surgeon gave me. I have made very vague plans for transport, after-care etc, I have pretty much blocked the whole event from my terrified mind.

OK, focus.. the operation itself is to correct deformity in my right foot.  My foot first started troubling me when I lived in Kent in 2009, it was just a sore toe, didn’t think much of it.  I had to have a full body scan for suspected arthritis that year, it showed up in the big toe on my right foot.  It has been a long, hard slog getting a date for this operation, originally a much less invasive on which was scheduled for May 2010.  Following the removal of accountability to the 18 week waiting lists, my operation was abandoned and I was left hanging on the list..  My foot has deteriorated a lot since then through usage (although I’ve been very careful not to walk/stand much since last June) and it now requires different, more serious surgery.

*breathes*… the surgeon is taking a piece of bone out of my big toe, just before the big joint which has bone over-growth on it, preventing it from moving.  He will also remove the overgrowth and possibly the joint, depending on how eroded it is.  There will be a metal plate put in to stabilise the foot and maybe some fake cartilage.  This is all designed to force the foot to perform properly and prevent it “rolling” to the right.  In time my left foot will need the same treatment. 

It is really odd, nobody else in my family has had problems with their mobility, save for my little niece who has a form of cerebal palsy.  I am certain that my condition has been brought on by Rheumatiod Arthritis, this has yet to be confirmed although my hands have been diagnosed with mild arthritis and my neck has “wear and tear”.  I am due back with the Rheumatoligist in March, hopefully he will test me for RA and take new X-Rays of my neck, I have been in severe pain with it for almost a year!

Back to the feet…  Today I collected my post-surgery painkillers and received my hospital “check-in” letter.  Sunday I will go shopping, topping up all the essential items and buying lots of pro-biotic yogurts.. I will be on anti-biotics for a week or so and they always seem to wipe me out completely, due I am sure to lack of good bacteria.  That’s my theory anyway : )

I’ll write more about feet in general and post some pics of pre and post surgery as the week goes by but enough for now.. *puts operation thoughts back on a floaty cloud and blows it skywards*

Big following comes with much responsibility.. #ff

Friday is yet again upon us, my how the week has flown!  Yet again Twitter is abuzz with the latest scandal, today it is the resignation of Andy Coulson (hurrah!) and the inevitable #ff ‘s – Follow Friday’s. Today I feel compelled again to write about #ff’s and warn you about the consequences of getting what you wish for..

If you are on Twitter to plug a blog or raise an issue, great..but if you are there to escape from “real life” for a while, have a bit of fun, chat with friends and play hashtag games then why look for more followers?

Follow Friday is lovely, it’s a way of sharing your thoughts about other’s with your own followers, paying tribute if you like.. To be “ff’d” not only sounds really smutty 😉  but also feels really good.  It doesn’t always lead to more followers though, bizarrely many people lose followers on a Friday.  Unfollowing often causes hurt and bewilderment, you think it’s personal, often it isn’t. My advice is DONT check with the likes of “www.whichbastardunfollowedme.paranoid”  Definitely never  EVER tweet the result, “shaming” the unfollowee…!  Remember that following more than 300 people is REALLY hard, sometimes people just fancy a change or struggle to keep up.  That’s why I put people in lists, so I can follow the lists rather than everyone all at once in some kind of Amazonial Twitter stream.

Once upon a time there was a girl called Humphrey who would say good morning to Twitter every day, often scattering toast or fairy dust around.. She would wish everyone a good night and sometimes invite Twitter #inbedwithHumph.. her days were spent laughing and playing with a bit of flirting dropped in..

Nowadays I am too overwhelmed by replies and scared of repercussions to “play Humph” like I used to. I’ve written before about the so-called “Twitterati”, it was back in August, following my birthday.  I had around 1000 followers at the time I think and it was “pre-Dorries-law” days.  Throughout the day I was inundated by birthday greetings, which was both lovely and shocking. It opened my eyes a little to what the “Twitterati” face every time they tweet…

Now at almost 2000 followers, I sometimes find myself hesitating before making a tweet for fear of a big response.. I still want to answer everyone who tweets me, I find it rude not to and I really enjoy having conversations.  However, I haven’t always the time it takes to do so and often get really abusive replies, particularly if I have tweeted on a political issue.  (I am also excruciatingly aware of how many tweets I stack up in a single day, although they are mostly replies)

More than once I have considered deleting my account over the past few months, I have even started a new one in order to rant a little without fear of reprisals.  These days I tend to just tweet about disability issues with the odd moan about the telly or politicians thrown in.  But by deleting my account I would lose the little influence I have built up and I truly believe I use it for good and want to continue to do so.  I love my followers, I am really proud of the “work” I do on Twitter and this blog and would hate for that to go to waste.

Thanks to my lovely noisy neighbours, I now have a borrowed computer so have Tweetdeck back.  Tweeting is SO much easier with it!  What do you mean, you don’t use it?  You MUST! It is FANTASTIC !  It has come just at the right time for me, with my first foot operation being next Tuesday..*gulp* There is a long recovery and I expect to spend most of my waking hours stuck in a chair in front of the computer with my foot elevated. I can blog, read, watch TV and listen to the radio but hope I get my Twitter “mojo” back and spend time laughing and playing on Tweetdeck again.  I don’t know if “Humphrey” will properly return though, she seems to have lost her flirting ability lately 😦 #whatswrongwithHumph #thinkshesinlove

“Entonces” as they say in Spain.. like the Mugwai..with big following comes much responsibility, or in other words.. be careful what you wish for!

The Winner Takes It All.. too far?

Wikipedia statistics show that 15% of alcoholics commit suicide. Fact.  As many as 25% of alcoholics suffer from severe psychiatric disturbances.  The most prevalent psychiatric symptoms are anxiety and depression disorders. What leads an individual to take his/her own life is a subject for another day, this post is about one alcoholic in particular. Her name is Rachel Butler.

Rachel Butler is an alcoholic.  She is also a woman whose husband left her just after Christmas (just 2 weeks ago).  She has not only lost her husband which, although the marriage was (in her own words) long dead, she has lost her dignity to boot.   

For most people, a relationship breaking down is painful and stressful enough. Add to that alcoholism, betrayal and mistrust (regarding dates) and what have you got?  A terribly vulnerable woman who, rightfully or wrongly gave an interview to the press…

A former friend is now openly having a relationship with the available husband John (but only SINCE he left the family home we are told ). Upon being informed that Rachel had given an interview to The Mail, this friend posted press releases on her blog-page which state that Rachel is an “abusive alcoholic”.  Amongst these is one from Rachel Butler’s daughter Lucy in support of her father’s new relationship, denouncing her mother. Heartbreaking.

The statements were then published in full, in The Daily Mail and many other national newspapers since.  In response, the distressed Rachel has admitted she is an alcoholic, declared that she would name her former friend on the divorce petition and labelled her a “marriage wrecker”.  The Daily Mail again acting as host.

It’s all gone a bit Jeremy Kyle with this publication (but without the patient doctor waiting in the wings to offer his help). Nor are there bouncers at hand to prevent the parties from further blackening not eyes but reputations on all sides.

Time for our media to grow up and take some responsibility, this is not a side-show, these are real people, one of whom at least is extremely vulnerable.  They should not allow or encourage even more damage to be done to an already damaged woman, in the name of readership figures and “entertainment”.  Why not? I refer you back to my first paragraph.

I truly hope that the rest of this sorry tale can be played out in private, with all sides finding the help and happiness they deserve.

If you would like to speak in confidence about an alcohol problem you can contact Alcoholics Anonymous here.  The NHS also offer advice on their “Live Well” page, which has links for your local area.

* Since finishing the post I have discovered this Daily Mail article..  “on and on it goes, where it stops, nobody knows”: Willy Wonker.

** This post has been edited since first publication as it contained my personal media experiences which I have since decided to delete.

Crisis? What Crisis? #LHA

Thought I should write about today.. Today we had our application for a Social Fund Crisis Loan turned down. It seems that as we are not “at serious risk” we do not qualify. Even if we had, they would have disallowed the rent deposit and referencing costs anyway, only paying removal expenses and one month’s rent in advance…

If you want to rent a house through a Letting agent, they always ask for referencing costs and 1.5 months rent to be held by a third party incase of damage to the property.  When you vacate, should there be damage they will take the repair costs from your deposit, returning the difference.

Letting Agents are reluctant to rent properties to Local Housing Allowance (formally known as Housing Benefit) recipients.  They blame the landlords and insurance companies for this. Although Letting Agents are prevented by law to discriminate against disibility, race, gender etc, there is no such law in place to protect other LHA claimants.  Nor does the current legislation go far enough, the onus is on the claimant to prove the discrimination is down to their personal status. This is very difficult to prove and the Agent can merely blame the landlord/insurance company anyway…

Another problem that was highlighted by the Agents I spoke to is that LHA is now paid to the tenant, not the landlord/agent – except in certain circumstances.  This has put a great deal of landlords off from renting to LHA tenants, the result of this change in policy having serious affects on the rental market.

So the problem is.. I have a large deposit tied up on my current house. I have no money, having been made redundant in November. We have overstayed our tenancy and our landlord has applied to the court for an eviciton order. Our local housing association have no vacant properties within 15 miles of my childrens schools. It is GCSE year for my eldest so moving out of the area is out of the question.  In three weeks time I will be physically incapable of moving house myself, following my foot operation.

I am not looking for sympathy nor help by writing this blog, I am writing it as a record of the problems faced by people in my situation.  It was suggested to me that I take this up with my MP. That is out of the question so I will ask another about a possible change to the law, preventing Letting Agents from discriminating against LHA recipients in this way.  Perhaps the Government could offer it’s own insurance for LHA claimants?  Also, I suggest an urgent return to LHA being paid directly to the agent/landlord, this policy (introduced in 2008) is NOT working and although the idea behind it was to give tenants more financial responsibility, it has served to create chaos within the housing market.

I’ll keep you posted.. in the meantime I am praying for a HA property to become available in our area.

More Ms Cushion For The Pushin…

An idiot who goes by the name of Kenneth Tong has set Twitter on fire this week with his tweets about size Zero.  His outrageous comments include telling women to either slim or they may as well die.. He is planning to launch a “Size Zero Slimming Pill”… that sounds extremely dangerous and I sincerely hope the government steps in to ban it. 

To my horror and disgust he has managed to make me dislike my body again. After years of dieting I had finally got to a place in my mind where I accepted the way I am and even quite like some bits of it ( * )( * )  😉  Now the little troll in my head is saying “Oooh, Size Zero pills..”

We’ve all tried to put on or lose weight in our life, yes some people do try to put on weight!  Size Zero isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.. I personally prefer to look at curvy women, I grew up with Marilyn Monroe posters all over my room, Nigella is a favourite role model of mine 🙂  .

I first tried to lose weight for my wedding.  I remember standing in the bridal shop wearing “the dress”, it was beautiful. Simple but with a fishtail skirt, I had the perfect hour glass figure, I really felt like Marilyn  🙂   I told the fitter that to order a smaller size as I was going to lose weight for the wedding. She snorted. Honestly, she actually snorted!  She didnt order the smaller dress and I didnt lose any weight… bugger it.

Next came post-baby dieting, after my third child I had gone up 2 dress sizes so off to the gym I went.. I also started writing a book about my “journey from fat to slim” in the form of a diary, following my experiences, I called it The Pillsbury Dough Girl. I started it in 1998 but still havent finished writing it!

Losing weight is SO hard for me. I was always “the fat one” in the family, I had a big tummy and a big “hooter” (nose).  I was also the one who craved the Mothership’s praise and so finished all my meals. I still crave her approval FFS, at 40 you’d think I would have escaped her powers by now!

I gradually learned to accept that I will never be a size 8 – 10 like my sisters and cousins (hate them all)  unless something drastic happens, like a coma..  Like so many others, I don’t overeat, nor do I eat junk food or drink much. I “under-do”.. I can blame the Chronic FATigue Syndrome or my mobility problems but the (ample) bottom line is, as I can’t exercise atm, I have to eat less. End of. Smaller portions, simples..  

I am like Ma Larkin though, I love cooking, I love feeding people and I’m good at it.. I’m not *quite* up to her proportions, nor do I serve up anything like her portion sizes and I certainly don’t take whole chickens and champagne into the bath!  That said, I rather like taking a fella in with me ; )

So I need to re-train myself, but  how to break the habits of a lifetime?  I’ve bought smaller plates, always put left-overs straight into the fridge so we can’t have seconds and I dont eat breakfast and hardly ever have lunch.  Something’s got to give right? (Hopefully not my waistband!)

Or maybe I should get a grip, look in the mirror and shake my booty whilst sticking two fingers up at Kenneth Tong?

(More Cushion For The Pushin in the Urban Dictionary)

2010 in a coconut-shell…

2010 was weird and wonderful in equal measure.  As I lost my mobility and personal freedom, I gained Twitter and blogging.  Twitter gave me company and self-esteem through a horrible year, I have even made real-life friends through it, “tweeting up” locally and in Derby. Blogging kept me sane and allowed me to explore writing styles and share my sense of humour in bigger doses than I could do on Twitter (sorry about that 🙂 ).

The Eurovision and World Cup gave me the best laughs of the year as I was inspired to make avatar pictures to represent each country. Eurovison night itself was a massive challenge as I had to change profile picture 25 times! 

Eurovision Avatars!

 

World Cup Avatars

 

Throughout the year I raised awareness for many different causes.  I got myself into a LOT of trouble with my local MP who “outed” my real name, much to my dismay. I really like being Humphrey!  Then, in November I won two Twitter awards, which I am incredibly proud of.

I also cried a lot, more than I have done since I lost my father to cancer.  I cried through sheer self-pity, pain, frustration, anger and loss. Coming to terms with a disability is one of the hardest battles I have ever had to face. I am still dealing with it, every time I look at my feet in the bath I imagine how they will look with their scars and shorter big toes ( first operation is 25th January *shudder*) .  I love my feet!  Always so proud of them, with their elegantly sloping toes and dainty nails.  I think I will have them tattooed with flowers when the surgeon has worked his magic, to cover the scars and make them pretty again : )

Not much else happened through the year, I had a couple of dates, annoyed some people, lost two cats, gained another who is my darling : ) 

Jasmine & Pickles

So, yup!  That’s just about it..

Here’s to 2011, may it be filled with knowledge, wonder, laughter, moustaches, love, excitement and joy!

What starts with “E” and ends in homelessness?

Eviction is one of those words that you’ve heard your whole life, like bankruptcy or jail but never in your darkest, cheese-induced dreams did you ever think you might face yourself.  It’s a “grown-up” word, a word whispered in corners or highlighted in a seedy documentary.

I certainly never considered for a moment that it would ever be a word to cause ME sleepless nights and heart-thumping panic.  That was until I lost my job. Many of you are aware that I’ve had on-going medical issues over the past year, you may not know that I was “let-go” in November.  It was very quick and painless, without  fuss or ceremony, just a P45 dropping quietly onto my doormat.

Nothing to be alarmed about, we have systems in place to help the unemployed of Britain don’t we?  Yes we do and I am so grateful for them, I am a lot worse off financially now than when I was receiving the minimum sick pay from my employer but I knew that with adjustments we had enough money to live on and a roof over our heads.

Then my Landlord gave me notice.  Not a worry, I began looking for another house and found one in my village almost immediately.  Then came the bombshell that made the “Eviction” word a part of my world.  Since the government announced their planned Welfare Reforms, Letting agents will no longer rent properties to Housing Benefits claimants.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Who claims Housing Benefit ?  Single parents, lower-paid workers, mature students, pensioners, unemployed and the disabled.

Putting aside the others as this post is for the Broken Of  Britain, Housing Benefit is claimed by the disabled who are unable to work due to their disabilities or who are in poorly paid employment.  Not only are they already under a lot of financial strain and living in fear of the benefit changes being implemented but now they risk  homelessness as well.

There is a way around the letting problem though, you provide a guarantor for the letting agency.. at double the usual referencing cost and at huge cost to your pride and self-esteem. 

But what if you can’t provide or afford a guarantor?  What will happen to these people? Local Housing Association lists in many areas are already so strained they can only allot houses to homeless people.  My dream is to have a LHA house, to be able to afford the rent which would be half (yes HALF) what I am paying now to my private landlord.  The money I am saving in rent would remain in the public purse, rather than filling the fat wallet of my landlord..

One suggestion I have to address Letting Agent’s concerns is for the government to return to the policy of paying Housing Benefit directly to the Landlord, rather than the claimant. Another would be to reassure claimants and Letting Agencies that HB will always be paid to the low-income disabled and ill people of Great Britain and, if it isn’t already, to make it illegal to discriminate against them in this way.

As for me, I lost the village house to a working family but am now in the “referencing” stage of renting another.. My Landlord has filed papers to commence the process but I am keeping EVERYTHING crossed that the “E” word doesn’t soon become my reality.

Merry Christmas Twitter : )

Sorry I can’t say Merry Christmas to you all individually, you know I would if I could!  Here’s the Christmas cards I made for you, hope you like them : ) Have a great day, love Humph xx

Serious one first..

And a bit of silliness… well, what else did you expect from me? ; )

Dear Santa.. a lonely little girl’s Christmas wish

Dear Santa,

I havent written to you for a long time, I think the last time was when I was around 10.  Mr Frosty was the object of my Christmas desire that year, every TV advert seemed to show his cheeky white face, he was my Dream Guy.  I wrote a note, put it in the glitter-covered match-box that was hanging from our tree and went to bed.  I hid under the covers, heart thumping as I heard you come in my room and place a heavy, crackling stocking on the end of my bed.

Although I was spoilt rotten, Mr Frosty didnt come 😦 

Santa, I have been a REALLY good girl this year, much to my disappointment.. ; )  Every year my kids ask me what I want for Christmas and, martyr-like, I ask for just one thing. . a happy day. A day free of grumbles, tears, pain and strife.  This year I say, fuck it..! I really, really want Mr Frosty!  My Dream Guy has changed a lot since I was little though, now he is flesh and blood.. he walks and talks, lives and breathes and when he smiles at me, he takes my breath away… 

Maybe I am too fussy, I have met some really lovely fellas this year but something always whispers “not this one, wait a little longer”.. and so I wait, ever hopeful and dream that, as Snow White sang “one day my prince will come”.. Well, I’ve dressed as Snow White ( and all the dwarfs *cough* ) so, if I havent completly terrified him….

This Friday night I shall make mince pies with my kids, watch a film or two and wait until they finally fall asleep before I pinch the pie and Tia Maria we left for you earlier (yes, I still make them leave a tray for you Santa!), relax and dream a little before bed. 

I’ll lay awake, my head under the covers – ears pricked up to hear your tinkly bells, your tread on the stairs.  As sleep takes me slowly away, I will gently move my feet, hoping not to hear a rustling stocking but to feel the warmth of a human foot and then stretch my hand out across the bed to finally embrace my Mr Frosty..

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 57 other followers

  • My PNB