First blog post

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Why I Voted Leave.

Hello again.  Is anyone here, sick and tired of hearing about Brexit?  I certainly am.  When we went to the polls in June 2016, we never realized what a fiasco it would become.

But yes, I voted to leave the EU.  I had reasons for doing this.  Basically, we were fed a load of eyewash by the leave campaigners.  Mainly Boris Johnson.  Promising that money which was paid to Europe, would be paid in to the NHS.  I also hoped that there would be money for social care, and to right the injustice which has been done to the disabled.

When David Cameron and Nick Clegg came into power, they decided to overhaul the benefits system.  A good idea, it seemed, because there were a lot of people claiming benefits, that should not have been.  they would claim to have bad backs, but would be seen out dancing.  One man even went on television, as a dancer, but he was on sickness benefit, so some overhauling needed to be done.

But what happened, went to the other extreme.  people genuinely unable to work, have been kicked off benefits, myself included, and expected to find work.

I’m going to digress here to tell you about something that happened recently.  I like to write stories.  It can take me a while to do it, but it gives me something to think about.  I had written an updated version of Cinderella, which I use for my storytelling, but was persuaded to enter a competition, by the writing group I attend fortnightly.  I was reluctant to enter, as I don’t find computer skills easy.  You will notice that this is just a basic blog.  It was hard for me to figure out how to use this WordPress site.  I am positively phobic about trying new things on a computer.

My excellent neurologist said, in his report about my condition, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Syndrome, that, he believes, in my case, that it is hard for me to process information.  I have to say, I agree with him.  This would also explain my face-blindness (prosopagnosia) which is, for me, the inability to retain and process the memory of a face, which is why a facial image is never stored in my brain.

similarly, certain physical tasks are like mountains to climb for me.  They are also difficult to retain in my memory.  Computer skills are a case in point.  I knew, if I entered the competition, I would have to present the manuscript, double spaced, numbered, Times New Roman font.  I hadn’t got a clue about any of this.  But a friend of mine promised to show me what to do.  Unfortunately, she became ill and couldn’t help me.

So there I was.  I had to look up instructions for double-spacing a manuscript.  Then look up numbering.  I wrote everything down because I would not have been able to remember it all.  I did the tasks, but my head was splitting and I felt really dizzy.  I had to sit down with painkillers, before I could even think of sending the story off.  Now, if you asked me what I did, I couldn’t tell you.  I would have to refer to my written notes and even then, the journey from my brain, to my eyes, hands and fingers, is sluggish at best.

Yes, I am typing this blog, but I don’t attempt to change the layout, font, or anything else.  It has taken me a long time to learn how to set an image, or post a link.  I am also, not a quick typist.  I could never keep up in an office.  My Chronic Fatigue symptoms, added to all of this, mean that I would never have the stamina for professional work.  For the same reasons I have explained above, I could never use a till in a shop.  I have tried, and I even forgot which coins were which, I was so confused and dizzy after working for one hour in a charity shop.

So, to get back to the original subject.  I was refused benefits, even though I explained in detail, to the medical assessors, what my problems were and even though my doctors backed me up.  So the welfare reforms, rather than targeting people who do not want to work, are, instead, targeting those who cannot.  It is worse for those of us with invisible conditions.  I can suddenly forget how to use the microwave, the vacuum cleaner, or the TV, even though I have used them for years.  It’s going to seem terrible, I know, but I have often wished that I was in a wheelchair, with an illness that could be seen and taken seriously.  I sometimes hate the fact that I look perfectly well, but have a brain which won’t co-operate with me, and because that can’t be seen, I am dismissed as able to do a job, which I cannot do.

When I voted leave, I mistakenly thought that some of the money saved would help people with invisible, but still chronic disabilities, to get the help they needed, but of course, that is not going to be the case.  Now the country is in a mess.  However, not every change in the country should be blamed on Brexit.  High Street shops are closing because of a change in consumer spending.  Not because we are leaving Europe.  The only thing we can really do now, is try not to panic.  If there was another referendum, I would vote to stay, now that I’ve seen what a mess the government have made of Brexit, but since we are probably still going to go, we should just make the best of it, and look to trade with other countries, not in Europe.

I’d like to end on a high note.  Last month at See, I don’t know how to do a link to it, but the address is there if you want to look at the site, I won the audience vote for my storytelling and got another trophy.  I would love to add a picture, but I only know how to set the featured image.  I don’t know how to put one in the middle of the text.  So please forgive me for not posting it, but it looks like a ship.  It is really lovely.

That’s all for now.  I will post again soon.


Two Things: My Scan, and My Schooldays

Hello again.  Well, the biggest news I have to share, is that I had my brain scan last week, at Wythenshawe Hospital.

I last had an MRI scan, just before my ill-fated stay in the David Lewis Centre (see last post for details) and that was quite a while ago, so I was a bit nervous about it.  But it was fine.  I know some people find the MRI scanner claustrophobic, but I found it okay.

The scanner was located in a portable building, outside the main hospital.  It was compact, but organised very well, with the Scanner itself, just beyond the place where all the work-stuff happens.  I had remembered that there had been a mirror, in the last scanner I entered, but I was informed that  there was no mirror in the one they put me in this time.  At first, I wasn’t keen on having to lie there with nothing to look at, but when I slid into the thing, it was okay.  There were lights inside, so it wasn’t dark, and there was air blowing into it, so no one could think there was no oxygen to breath, in the confined space.

The worst part for me, was when I had finished the scan and I had to sit up.  The room began to spin, and since one of my problems is light-headdedness and balance problems, I felt quite unwell for a while.  But I knew the feeling would pass, and the gentleman with me was very kind.  He got my husband so that I wouldn’t have to descend the steps from the cabin, on my own.  I was very grateful for the help I received.

So now, I just have to wait for the results, and see if they have found a reason for my new symptoms.

In my last post, I told of how I had been on sedation, in the form of tranquilizers, all of my life, even when I was a child.

At this time of year, when the schools go back, I sometimes remember my schooldays.  Do not think, for a moment, they are happy memories, they are absolutely not.

Many bad things happened at school, ranging from me being forced to write with my right hand, when I had been left-handed, to being forced to run  in the sports days, when I could not run, and having the whole school laughing at me when I came last.  The problem was, if I tried to run, I looked like King Kong, staggering home after a drunken night out and I was very slow also, so of course the whole school laughed at me.  Then, because I had been singled out as “different from other kids”, inevitably I was bullied.

I used to suffer from “absences”, which were put down to Epilepsy, even though the EEG tests never showed I had it (see previous post for more details) and because there was no proof of Epilepsy, my mum did not know what to say to the teachers, in order for them to help me.  I think many teachers thought I was lazy, in fact one of them actually said that to my face, and I was so upset.

Maybe the absences were more to do with the fact that I was zonked out on tranquilizers, but I was given the nickname, “Dozy”, and people would call me that, and maybe even worse, even when the teachers were present.  The teachers, of course, did NOT put a stop to it.

I am talking about this now, because bullying is still going on.  Children are still suffering.  Some even kill themselves.  I never got that desperate, because my faith in God and Jesus, helped me to cope.  In those days, we prayed in the morning, in assembly, and that used to help me to get through the day.  My Mum used to say.  “She who laughs last, laughs the longest”, and I think that this is true.

But when I hear of bullying still going on, I wonder why the teachers are not stopping it.  At times they must see it happening, as they did with me, and just like they did in my case, they must simply ignore it, or put it down to “teasing”. “Nothing to be concerned about”.  But it IS something to be concerned about, when you are the child it is happening to!

So I ask any teachers who might read this, to be on the look out for any withdrawn child who seems nervous all the time, or if you see or hear any name-calling, or several children, ganging up on one child in the playground, for God’s sake put a stop to it.  Don’t just think of it as normal childhood behavior, because, trust me, it isn’t.

Another message to teachers.  If there is a child in the school who cannot do the things other children can, don’t force them to do what they are unable to do, so that they show themselves up, in front of the whole school.  I think my teachers imagined that it would do me good, to get off my backside and compete, but what child would pretend to be unable to do the things his/her classmates could do, if, by pretending, the child would be subjecting his/herself to the ridicule of the whole school?  No child would do that.  I certainly didn’t

I did win a race, when I was five, but later, got a very high fever, which Mum said, might have been Rheumatic Fever, but the doctor wasn’t sure if it was.  After that, I could not run.  If I could have still run races like I did at the start of my school days, I would have enjoyed myself at every sports day, instead of dreading it, because I knew the humiliation that was coming to me.

I share my story, to help others who have gone through, or are going through, similar problems.  I hope it helps the victims, and makes others think about the way they treat people, especially in a school, or workplace.  I don’t think of myself as a victim, now.  I grew up, and I have a good life..  I don’t dwell on the past, but it is something that I can draw upon, in order to let others know they are not alone.  This is the main reason I started this blog, because I can share my experiences in life, so that I can help people who are going through similar difficulties.

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post.  I will post again soon.

Medical Mishap

It’s Bank Holiday Monday and I’m updating my blog.  So what has been going on recently?

Well on the health front, I’ve had a few symptoms which have worried me, so my doctor sent me to see a neurologist.  I have not been seen by a neurologist for several years, not, in fact, since 2006.  I will tell you the reason for this.

The fact is, that in 2005, I was told, by my neurologist at the time, that I must be admitted to a place called, The Davis Lewis Centre, at Alderley Edge, in Cheshire.  This was because, since the 1980s, I had been taking tablets for epilepsy.  A common symptom of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, is epilepsy, and not long after my son was born, I had some strange episodes, which were diagnosed as epilepsy, and I was given medication.

Over the years, however, I had several EEGs (electrodes on my head to monitor my brain activity)I was even hospitalised so that I could be  monitored over several days at a time, and there was no sign of epilepsy.  So it was decided that I should go into the specialized centre in Cheshire, to, once and for all, be diagnosed with epilepsy, or be cleared of the diagnosis.

I was against this idea from the start.  Here’s why.  First of all, I would have no visitors, as my family don’t have a car and the place is impossible to get to without transport of your own.  I would be completely alone in there.

Second, I was convinced I did not have epilepsy.  The EEGs had all been negative and I believed that my strange symptoms were the effects of acute anxiety, which I have always had.  I was on tranquilizers when I was just a child, I must have had every single kind there was.  In those days, acute anxiety was known, by the masses as, “Bad Nerves”, I always knew I had bad nerves.  I believe that when my son was born, it affected my nerves, as births can tend to do, especially if a woman has a history of mental instability, going back to childhood.  To me, this was the explanation…  I knew, that if I went into the centre, where they would take me off my medication completely, I would be in a terrible state.  The tablets might not have been controlling epilepsy, but they were controlling my anxiety.  I could not be taken off them all, overnight.  It could be dangerous to do so  But my neurologist would not listen to me.  I had to go into the David Lewis Centre, or I could not continue having treatment from him.

Reluctantly, I went in.  It was as I had feared.  It wasn’t a proper hospital and I did not feel safe.  The anxiety erupted when my tablets were removed and I began to have difficulty falling asleep at night.  It was like I was experiencing the abrupt removal of an addictive substance, which actually, was the truth.  I’d been on sedation since I was a child.  I couldn’t cope without it at night.  I was also in a terrible state during the day.  I did not even know the way to my room in the end.  I did not find the staff sympathetic to my plight, but that could have been because of the effects of my uncontrolled anxiety, not because of any fault with them.

Before my two weeks was up, I discharged myself.  The person who had taken me to the centre, came and took me home.  But I was unable to sleep, and afraid to go back on my medication in case I couldn’t get any more when the tablets had run out.  I was not thinking straight.  I realize now that I would have been weaned off the drugs slowly, by my GP, but I didn’t think of that at the time.  I couldn’t think of anything at all, except that I could not sleep.

When I next saw my neurologist, he was angry that I had discharged myself, but said that he believed I did not have epilepsy.  So why did he send me in the first place?  This particular doctor had, also, never taken my face blindness (Prosopagnosia) seriously either.  I had told him that I could only recognize him by the distinctive tie he always wore, but he said nothing about it.  It was not him, that told me there was a condition called Prosopagnosia, and that it could come from a problem in the brain like Tuberous Sclerosis.  No…  I learned about it from a TV show, a few years later.  He could have told me about it long before that.

So once again, I discharged myself, this time, from his incompetent lack of care.  I was placed on Anti-depressants, which helped me to sleep, and I’m still on them.  I will never be able to sleep, without help, as I had been on sedation too long, to be able to manage without it.  This is what the neurologist, and The David Lewis Centre, had failed to understand.  I was basically, a drug addict, through no fault of my own, but because of the old fashioned way that tranquilizers were dealt out like sweets, in the 60s and 70s, when I was growing up.  Then when, it was thought thatI had epilepsy, I went from tranquilizers, to epilepsy drugs, once again, a kind of tranquilizer.  Then, overnight, they were taken from me.  Who wouldn’t have had a terrible experience when that happened?  How could my neurologist have expected me to be okay?

So I haven’t seen a neurologist since, but the one I’m seeing now, seems like a decent guy, and he understands Prosopagnosia too.  I’m having another brain scan next week, to see how things are.

On the storytelling and performing front.  I’ve been performing at the club I go to, also at some open mic nights in Chorlton.  I’m trying to get myself known, so that I have more chances of doing more performing, whether or not I am paid for it.  I really love it, and I hope I will be able to continue with it.

So that is my latest blog post.  I hope you like it.  I will post again soon

It’s Good To Be Back!

Hello there.  It’s been a while since I blogged.  I’ve been waiting until I could post something that would help readers to get to know me better.  I am hopeless at technology, so I couldn’t do a video and post it myself.  I absolutely don’t know how to do it, and if I tried, it would probably look really unprofessional.

In March of this year, I had the chance to make a podcast.  I was interviewed by my wonderful friend and my mentor in the world of storytelling, Sharon Richards.  In the podcast, she interviewed me about how I got into storytelling, and we also touched on my health issues, especially Prosopagnosia.  I have blogged about Prosopagnosia before, on here, to raise awareness of the condition, since it is still not widely known about, even in medical circles.  You can read my earlier blogs in order to find out more, but briefly, it’s the inability to recognize faces.  People can go their whole lives, trying to recognize people, even their friends and family, by their hairstyles, glasses, body-build, voice, or something else, like a mole or some other unique thing, because they can’t recognize them by their faces.  It was the same for me, and I thought I was the only one with a problem.  Then I learned that the condition has a name, so I try now to spread the word, so people don’t have to go through their lives not knowing that they do have a real medical condition called Prosopagnosia.

The reason I wanted to be able to post something which, at least, lets you hear my voice, is that I wan’t to become a professional storyteller and singer.

If you have read my earlier blogs you will know that I was kicked of benefits by the cruel and inhuman medical assessment system.  I get nothing at all now, so need to find something that will give me, even a small income.  I cannot get my pension until I am 66 years old, so that is just over two years from now.  I would also, love to be able to have money that I earned myself.  There is nothing like having some money in your hand that you went out and earned, so I am trying to get myself some professional work, now that I have some proof of what I can do, so if people hire me, they know I can actually deliver a good story.  I have already performed two professional gigs, and I enjoyed them very much.  If I could continue with this small career, I would never need to worry about the benefit system again.  I would be self employed.

The medical assessments that determine who gets benefits, are beyond wicked! My husband had to go for one recently.  You never saw such a fiasco.  They had called him up, to tell him go on a certain day at 2pm, then when we got there, they told us we might not be seen that day, as they were running very late.  they said they had called us to tell us not to come, but if they did call on the landline, they must have called after 1pm, because we were in the taxi then.  Other people came in for their appointments and were told the same thing.  they should reschedule their appointment for another day, as they were not guaranteed to be seen.  My husband and I opted to stay, and were eventually seen, but it all added to the stress of the occasion.  I think this is a disgrace.  It is bad enough having to go for these assessments, which are unbelievably harsh and no one usually passes first time, without them saying you have to go away and come back another day.

If this was a one-off, I would say that it was just bad luck to go on a day when they were short-staffed, but the same thing happened when I went for my assessment last year.  They phoned me when I was already in the taxi.  They asked if I would turn around and go home, but I was nearly there!  Because I was already near the building they said I could come, but I’d have to wait a long time.  I waited, had my assessment, and lost, because I can take a mobile phone out of my bag, and raise my arms above my head.  Really serious conditions, including mental health issues, were completely ignored and I couldn’t face an appeal, because if you go to an appeal, you are treated like a criminal, although you have done nothing wrong.

So I am trying to find a bit of a career doing something that comes easy to me, because I can’t do a physical job.  Performance always has come easy to me.  I just seem to be able to do it.  If you want to hear my podcast, I’ve posted the link to it.  There are also other podcasts, by other members of The Success Stories club, on the page, so enjoy.

I will post again soon

My Storytelling Dream

If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that I love to tell stories.  I began a year ago, when I joined a brilliant storytelling club called, ‘The Success Stories Club’.  There is a page for it, right here, on WordPress The Success Stories Club

Last weekend, I performed at a fundraiser, for ‘Maggie’s Place’, which is a wonderful venue in Manchester, situated near the famous Christie Hospital, that is dedicated to helping, and supporting, people with Cancer, and their families and friends.  The picture I’ve posted, taken at Maggie’s, doesn’t show me, very well, but I am the third lady on the left.  The other people are members of our storytelling club.  The lady who is first on the left, is the club’s founder, Sharon Richards.

I really enjoyed performing at the fundraiser, and it reinforced a dream I have been having, about becoming a professional storyteller.

Once again, if you have been reading my blog, you will know that I have medical conditions which restrict me in many ways.  I cannot recognize faces and the reason I know who Sharon is, in the picture, is because she wears glasses, and I know that she posed for the picture.  I have all kinds of ways of recognizing people, but they are not foolproof, and it is always a strain for me, when I am interracting with other people.

In my last blog post, I told you of other medical problems I have, because of my Tuberous Sclerosis and Fibromyalgia.  Including confusion, memory-lapses, short term memory problems and Chronic Fatigue, so a conventional job is impossible for me.  I could not man a shop’s till all day (or even half a day) take money, give change, and talk to the customer.  I have tried, and it’s impossible.  I also, couldn’t type on a computer all day.  It would be too exhausting

A few years ago, I thought of setting up a jewellery business.  I make jewellery as a hobby and thought that I could sell it online.  Needless to say, it did not work out.  Some websites are free, but they are not good ones.  To have a website which people can find out about, you need to advertise it, and have a good domain name.  To set up a suitable site was all too expensive, for someone who doesn’t have much money in the first place, and no one visited my pathetic free site.

I tried hiring stalls, at various events, but did not make the money back that I had paid out.  So although I tried to become self-employed, so that I could come off the benefits, I could not succeed.  Hosting jewellery workshops is not an option, because I experimented, by holding a free one once, to see if I could manage to do it.  About 15 women showed up and I tried to show the clients what to do, answer them when they shouted to me for help.  Then go and help them.  The brain-fog descended within half an hour.  Workshops are a no no for me, I’m afraid.

But I am good at storytelling!  I can also sing.  I was trained to sing by an opera singer, when I was a teenager.  When I was young, I performed in armature operatic societies, and when I atended church, I always itched to perform.  It is something that seems to be in my blood.  People have always said that I am good at it, and I know I come to life on a stage.  My sister called me an attention seeker because I love to perform, but she didn’t realize that when I am on a stage, I am living.  Otherwise, I am just existing.

I think that, one reason I can tell stories, or sing, to an audience, is that the interaction is not the same, as talking to them directly.  I look into the audience, I make eye contact, but while I am talking to them, I do not have to answer questions, or perform a complex physical task, while I am talking.  I am just standing there, telling my tale.

So, I am now dreaming of becoming a professional storyteller.  Once I can get a story into my long-term memory, it stays put.  The difficulty, is getting it there.  But since I write my own stories (I never look up something online, or perform one that someone else has told) I have an advantage.  It is my tale.  I can practice it in the peace and quiet of my own home, until I know it by heart.

A few weeks ago, I told a story round a campfire.   I wasn’t paid as it was a club event.  But it showed me that I can perform to different audiences.  While I was telling my story, there were motorbikes outside the venue, and I carried on telling, even though I almost lost my place.  I was really proud of myself and it gave me such confidence.  At Maggie’s Place, I told the same story twice, in two rooms.  One lady complimented me, and others said they liked my story about a pregnant woman, her unsympathetic hubby, and a hypnotist.

Soon, our club will begin making videos.  When I have videos of myself, I will post them on here, and you can hear me tell stories.  Including the one mentioned above.  Hopefully, the YouTube videos will get some exposure and hits.  It’s one way I can get myself promoted and (hopefully) begin getting bookings.  It would be wonderful if, someday, I can call myself a professional storyteller, and no longer be classed as a sick woman on benefits.  That is my dream.

I will post again soon.

Love to all my followers, from Marilyn











Invisible Disabilities

When I began this blog, I mentioned that I am disabled.  But it’s not the kind of disability you can see.  It is the kind that people can’t tell you have, so it causes all sorts of problems.

The biggest problem for me, is that I can’t work, much as I would like to, but when you are relying on the benefit system, for your financial security, it is a tentative situation, to say the least.

My husband also became disabled, after working hard for 40 years, and destroying his body with heavy lifting.  Recently, because we don’t have much money coming in, he contacted The Works and Pensions, because we had been advised, by Welfare Rights, that I could be included on his claim and that we might get a bit more money than the £109 per week we were getting.  But when we contacted the DWP, I bet none of you would guess what they asked us to do!  They insisted that we send bank statements, dating back to 2014, with an itemized listing of what we had spent our cash withdrawals on.  This is because, since 2014, our savings had dipped, well below £16,000, and they wanted to know why that was?

It is obvious to anyone who isn’t a moron (so what does that say about the DWP) that our savings had decreased, because, the small amount of savings we had when Alan came off work, were accrued while Alan was working.  Since he’s been ill, we have never been able to add any money to the two ISAs, but we have had to replace broken items in the house, also, we have gradually replaced our single-glazed windows with double-glazing, and we have had to spend money on anything else that crops up in a normal household, like repairs to the house etc.

We feel that The Works And Pensions have behaved diabolically, for even asking us to account for money that they never gave us in the first place, and we did not spend everything at once.  We still have some savings left, because have been careful with our spending over the years, knowing that there is no way to re-replenish our money and that the savings have to last us all of our lives.

If things had stayed the way they used to be, before David Cameron and Nick Clegg made things so hard for disabled people, I would have been on my old age pension now, as I am 63 years old.  Because of their meddling, which seems even worse under Theresa May, I can’t get it until I am 66 years old.  Alan will actually get his pension before I do.

“So why not just go to work”.  That’s what people might say to me.  My answer is, ‘Chronic Fatigue Syndrome’.  Now this doesn’t sound like much when you say it, but it is one of the most debilitating things you can have, and the problem is, no one can see it.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is not a condition in it’s own right.  It is a symptom of many other conditions.  The ones I know of are:  Fibromyalgia (which is, itself, a misunderstood condition) M.E. (another misunderstood condition)  Lupus and Tuberous Sclerosis Complex.  I am sure there are other illnesses, which have this condition as a problematic symptom.

Anyone with Chronic Fatigue will recognise the metaphoric analogy, of the daily cup of liquid, which runs out during the day as we drink from it, and can never be refilled until the next day.  First of all, we wake up exhausted, despite the amount of sleep we have had the night before.  During the day, as we attempt to do our normal things, we get even more exhausted.  We have to sit down regularly because dizziness and feeling faint, overtakes us.  We feel like we have just built a motorway, even after just a short walk.

We have very bad memory and concentration problems, because our brains are working, as though through thick sludge.  Speaking for myself, I even forget how things work, like the oven or the microwave.  Even typing out this blog, I have had to plan it in my day, because when I have finished, I will be spent and will have to rest.

The other thing I have to mention to you is, we can not get used to a busier schedule, as people without Chronic Fatigue can do.  It is not a case of, getting used to going out to work, so that you get better at it.  Believe me, I have tried.  I even undertook volunteer work to test how I would be.  I really gave it my all, but I started to get bad tempered with the customers at the charity shop where I worked.  There was one particular time, when I had tilled up a lady’s items, she suddenly went away and grabbed something else.  She took me off my train of thought.  I had to re-adjust and till up another item.  This doesn’t sound hard to most people, but anyone with concentration problems will understand how I felt.  I am completely unable to multi-task, or deal with unexpected situations.  I just become so confused.  That day, I just panicked and had to finally admit that I could not do a normal job.

I love to go out and perform and tell stories.  It is something that I do, occasionally, and it gives my life meaning.  It means that I can achieve something despite my limitations.  However, on the days when I tell a story, or sing a song, I have to do nothing else for the whole of that day, otherwise I would just become confused and would be unable to think straight when I am performing.  I have to save my daily cup of liquid, for that moment.  I have to practice during the times I feel able to do so, and it can take me a month to learn something off-by-heart.  so you can plainly see, I could not go to work every day.  I would not even last the week.  Believe me, I only wish that I could.  As well as Chronic Fatigue, I have problems with my balance now. It’s not good, but at least it is something that people can see.

This blog today, is dedicated to all of those with invisible disabilities, whom others dismiss as hypochondriacs, or simply, do not believe.  I have Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, which I have had all of my life, and when I was about 50, I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.  If you have an invisible disability, I know precisely how you feel.  I know you are not “putting it on”.  I wish to tell you, you are not alone.




Watch Your Step, At Sale Water Park

Hello again!

I want you to know that I am usually a pleasant person.  I don’t always complain about things.  I know a woman who complains at the slightest little thing.  For example, she ordered tea in a cafe, and complained that it didn’t come in a china cup!  Me…  I don’t care what kind of cup the tea is in, as long as the cup is clean, and has no cracks.

But I have, very recently, had cause to complain, and my complaint is about the tourist attraction, Sale Water Park.

It is a beautiful place.  There is a lake, a Visitors Centre with a cafe, and a nice restaurant halfway down the side of the lake, called The Boathouse.

Anyway, the Manchester Metrolink Trams, now run to the Water Park, so yesterday, because the writing group I attend (Sale Scribblers) was cancelled, I suggested to my husband, that we go on the tram to the park, for a day out in the sunshine.

Well, the first bad thing that happened was that the toilet at the Visitors Centre, was blocked up.  The woman in the cafe was apologetic, but, even though I have a walking stick, she refused to let me use the staff toilet.

“We’re not allowed to let customers through the kitchen, because of the hot pans.”

but who was to know? I certainly wouldn’t have said anything to anyone, and her boss wasn’t there to object! Besides, there should not be just one toilet in a busy tourist place!  She could have just let me use the loo, instead of telling me to walk down to the restaurant, and use the one in the water sports centre, attached to the restaurant.  But that was just what she told me to do!

So I had to walk to the next loo.  It’s actually not that far.  I followed the path to the lake and into the wooded area.  It’s the only footpath there is, and then… I came upon the stepping-stones!

Just as I said, there is no other way to go.  In order to proceed towards the restaurant area, you are forced to go across the stepping-stones.  Now I know that many people do not have a problem, but I do, because my balance is bad and that’s the main reason I always use a walking stick.  I managed the first two steps, with some difficulty, but the third was a step too far.  The space between the stones was too much.  I lost my nerve and was truly afraid.  My husband tried to help me, and a passer by did too, but I couldn’t cross the water.  I managed to get back the way I had come.  Then, the only way to get to the toilet, was to re-trace my steps to the Visitors Centre, and then walk along the road.

The road is dangerous!  It has no footpath, and the cars are coming along all the time, both ways.  So that was another nerve wracking moment in time.  But I got to the toilets eventually, although my day was ruined.

The Water Park is not ‘disabled friendly’.  Because it is a country place, it’s not flat, but there are no ramps anywhere, only steps, that is bad enough.  But the stepping-stones are lethal.  They are often wet, and anyone who is bad on their legs could not cross them, neither could anyone with a pram or pushchair, and if you were in a wheelchair…  Forget it!

This is not good enough, in this day and age.  I am no carpenter, yet even I can see that you only need a thick plank of wood, placed across the existing stones and secured at either end, then you would have a bridge, which would be much safer than those stones!

Where there are steps in the park, there also needs to be ramps, to allow access for wheelchairs and people pushing babies in prams or buggies.

And before anyone says, you can drive along the road, to the restaurant and toilets, let me remind people that not everyone is fortunate enough, to posses a car.  Alan and I don’t have one.  We have to walk or use public transport, so when we used the road to get to the restaurant, we had no choice, but to walk along it, and hope that the cars would not hit us.

Once again.  This is not good enough.  The Water Park could be a great place to visit, if it was accessible to everyone, but it is not.  The problem is, that people just do not speak out, when there is a problem facing people with disability, or people with young children who need to be pushed in prams or pushchairs.  If more people did, I am sure something would be done.  It is a shame that the park is not a better place, for those of us who are physically disabled.

So I have complained, and am trying to get the word out there.  I know this blog is a bit more downbeat today, but I hope you all understand why.

I wish you all a lovely day

I will post again soon

Best wishes from Mari



Nana Mary’s Story

Hello again!  I’ve got something badly wrong with the bottom of my back!  I had an x ray last Friday and they told me I would have to wait 7-10 days for the result, but the Surgery called me this morning (Tuesday) to get me to make an appointment, so I have done.  They must have got a result.

I’m writing a new blog post, to take my mind off my pain.  I promised to tell the story of my Irish Nana.  I shared that story, last time I was at the Storytellers Club, but for people who haven’t heard it.  here it is.

My Nana’s name was Mary.  When I was born, she was already bedridden, and it was she, who taught me my prayers, and told me about God.  I always think of her as my first Christian influence.

she was Roman Catholic.  I was also brought up in that faith, but did not remain a Roman Catholic.  I think of myself as a Christian, but of no particular denomination.  Previous posts, explain my views.

But the Church was Nana’s life.  Even when she was unable to leave the house, the priest used to come once a week, and she would make confession, and receive Holy Communion.  I remember her, with her rosary beads in her slim fingers, mouthing her prayers, with the relics of her faith, all around her.

Nana came to England, from Dublin, in 1902, and within weeks of arriving in Manchester, she had met the man she was to marry.

Granddad’s name was Samuel Bradshaw.  He was crippled, because of a fall from a tree, when he was a child.  His broken leg did not set right, and never grew, so one of his legs was just half the size of an adult leg.

When he was 21 years old, he met Nana, who was walking down the street.  Because he was carrying crutches, she was not afraid, when he spoke to her.  They talked, and he asked to see her again.  She agreed, and they began to meet regularly.

It wasn’t long before they fell in-love and wanted to get married, but Nana’s parents didn’t approve.  He was disabled, he was English, and he was a Protestant, so she was forbidden to marry him, or even see him again.

Nana wasn’t having any of that!  she disobeyed her parents, and eloped with Sam.  Her future husband was a bespoke tailor, and he actually made the lovely two-piece suite, which she got married in.  He also married her in the R.C. Church, as he knew how much her faith meant to her.

He also knew that she would need her family around her, so he made the decision to convert to Catholicism, for her.  He also proved to be a good provider, so eventually, her family came round, and got to love her new husband.

Mary and Sam Bradshaw, had eight children.  The eldest boy was also named Sam.  When he grew up, he met a wonderful, down-to-Earth woman named Vera Warrington.  They married, and three years later, their eldest daughter was born.  Because Vera liked the actress, Marilyn Monroe, she called her eldest daughter Marilyn.

And here I am.  Now aged 62, writing about my family, on by blog.

There is something good, on the radio tonight, to take my mind off my bad back.  My wonderful Mika.  My favorite singer-songwriter, has another episode of his occasional radio show, The Art of Song, broadcasting tonight on BBC Radio 2.  My ears cannot wait.  The episode is about the work of Carole King.  It should be wonderful.

But I love Mika’s own work!  I think he is peerless.  Here’s one of his songs.  I sang this at a previous Storytellers night.  It’s a beautiful song called ‘Hurts’

I will post again soon



Girl On Film!

It was a brilliant night, last night at The Success Stories Club  There were cameras in the room, because a group from Altrincham were filming us, for a documentary.  Sharon, who runs the club, did ask if anyone would prefer not to be filmed.  I don’t know how many put their hands up, but I certainly didn’t.  All my life I have wanted be on film.

I really enjoyed the experience of having a mic, and knowing the cameras were rolling.  Norma Desmond has nothing on me.

Actually, a few years ago, when I was looking into, perhaps, being able to work again, I was volunteering at an organisation in Altrincham, called, The Family Contact Line.  I was working as a receptionist/admin.  They wanted a commercial made for their organisation, which would be shown on a local TV station (not one of the big stations unfortunately) anyway, I jumped at the chance to be in the advert.  I played a client, who was going for their counselling service.  I had to meet the counselor, and then pretend to be having therapy (not much acting needed for that, in my case, ha ha)

The ad was made, and shown in places like, hospitals and libraries.  Several people recognized me and mentioned to me that they had seen me on TV.  I was made-up.  I also saw the ad, one day, when I was waiting in a hospital waiting room.

Sadly, I never did get a job from my volunteering efforts.   It was not to be.  I tried for two years and was rejected by employers, every time, but looking back, I doubt I’d have been able to do a job successfully.  Then, when the government started to clamp down on the benefits, they picked on the disabled, and I lost my benefit, so Alan and I exist on very little money.  My husband Alan worked hard as a binman.  It wrecked his body in the end and he developed Asthma from all of the dust he breathed in, yet he hardly gets anything for us to live on.  We think it is grossly unfair.

This is one reason why I will take any opportunity I can get, to put myself out there as a performer.  I am a trained singer and actress, not only that, I am bloody good at both those things.  I don’t say that to be boastful.  Someone who has taken the knock-backs I have, is not able to be boastful, but I hope that, maybe, just maybe, even at my age, there may be chances for me to be a professional, and earn some money.  Therefore, bring-it-on.  I’ll put myself out there, with any chance I can get in the hopes that opportunities might come my way.

However, having said that, there is another difficulty I face, if I want a professional career.  I have no transport.  Last night, to go to the club, Alan and I got a taxi.  That was okay, but we couldn’t make a habit of it, for the reasons mentioned above.  So if I did work professionally, I would have to earn enough to pay for the taxis to where I needed to go.  It’s such a pain in the butt!

Last night, the winner of the evening was a lady called Sue.  She writes the most lovely poetry and was a worthy winner.  I took a picture of her on my phone, but I don’t know how to transfer images from my phone, to the computer.  If I had taken the picture on my tablet I could have transferred it, but for some reason, my phone won’t allow me to use a USB, and I don’t know how to use Bluetooth.  My phone is capable of accessing the internet, but it’s only on a PAYG card, because I can’t afford a contract, so I can’t share photos by the internet.

I will take any advice I can get.  I am better with technology than I used to be.  For the first time I have figured out how to add a link to this blog.  All hail Marilyn!  So I am capable of learning new things, even at my age.

The next story night is about a tricky situation.  I think I know what I am going to do.  I think it will be another song.  More on that in another post.

I did promise to write the story of my grandparents on this blog.  It is the story I shared last night, but I got side-tracked today because of the filming, so I’ll share it in a later blog.  For now, I’ll sign off.  Enjoy the post and I will post again soon.  Love from Mari


Spring Is Nearly Sprung!

I really like this time of year.  It is still the Winter, but the nights are drawing out and everything starts to look brighter.  The snowdrops and crocuses begin to appear, and we start to think that Spring is just around the corner.

This Winter, I have been so glad I live in Manchester.  We have had much better weather than many areas of the UK.  We have had only had a slight dusting of snow, which didn’t last long, and no ice.  I hate the ice, because I don’t have good balance at the best of times, and the ice makes me too afraid to venture outside.

I had an Auntie, named Betty, who I always remember at this time of year.  Auntie Betty loved the sunshine.  I think if she could have lived in a hot country, she would have.  When February came along, she would go out to her garden and look for buds on the hedge.  When she spotted them, she would be so happy.  But Betty could not go and live in the sunshine, because she looked after her aged mother.  Her mother was an Irish woman whom we all called Nana.  Nana died in 1974, aged 91, and she had never lost her Irish accent, or her love of that green isle.

This brings me neatly onto the storyteller’s club which I go to.  We meet again on the 13th of February, and the theme will be “Tales From The Emerald Isle”.  I don’t know any Irish folk tales, or anything like that, but my Nana’s story, of being a young Irish immigrant and what happened to her after she came England, is a fascinating story, and I will share that story on the night.  It’s actually very romantic.  I will write the story on here, after I have told it at storytellers.

One aspect of the story, which I will share on here today, is about my Nana’s father, William Wright.  He was a sailor, until he decided to give up the sea for the sake of his family.  That is when he moved them all to England, as there were better job prospects here, for him.  However, when he was a merchant sailor, he actually served on the famous clipper ship, ‘The Cutty Sark’, so there is important history in my family of which I am very proud.  In the house where I grew up, we actually had Great Granddad’s old sea chest in our spare room.  My mum used to hide, mine and my sister’s Christmas Presents in it when we were children.

So I hope you have found this interesting.  I will post again soon.  Love from Marilyn (I call myself by my full name, Marilyn Mastin, as a storyteller)