Touch

“Well I guess it would be nice if I could touch your body” ~ George Michael

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Touch (n): the act or state of touching; state or fact of being touched

 

Recently my mum was in hospital. She’s in her late 70s, has severe MS, and was suffering due to other illness. And there’s only so much you can do in that position, as a visitor, as a daughter, as there are only so many crossword clues or conversations you can have about the outcome of the General Election.

But on being tasked with removing her nail polish, I decided to focus on the physical. I cleansed and moisturised her face as best I knew how, using massage techniques gleaned from Caroline Hirons YouTube videos, I brushed and detangled her hair, and I spent time rubbing in hand cream, each finger, each fingernail, along her forearms. Anything that could help form a different connection, anything that might detract from the grim awfulness of being ill and debilitated in a hospital ward.

Because touch is such a very special thing. The physical closeness of one body next to another. I live on my own and I cherish the hugs I get from my friends, as the warmth of another person in your presence is so hard to go without.

And so, with all these thoughts of caring for my mother, of physical closeness, of human compassion, swirling in my head, I went to my first yoga class in about 15 years.

It was a tiny class, just the 4 of us including the instructor. It felt a safe space, a warm and caring space. And as I tried to work through my Downward Dogs and my Warrior poses there was a moment when the instructor, in her soft and direct voice, asked if she could touch me. I have been touched plenty of times in my life where my consent was not considered relevant and this gentle respectful approach moved me. And of course I said yes, I was in her yoga class after all.

What followed was the softest yet insistent touch that moved my body into a much better position, aligning my head, my spine, my hips, my feet. Unlike a privileged man passing me on the pavement, this touch demanded nothing of my body. Rather, it was supporting me, supporting my body, helping me move and be the best me I could be. I don’t think I have been touched liked that since perhaps when I was learning to walk or learning to swim.

Plato said that at the touch of a love everyone becomes a poet. I think at the touch of a yoga teacher I have realised I am more loved, more supported, than ever I knew.

Such a simple thing, to touch another person, yet I doubt many of us ever realise the impact we have on one another.

If you want to talk I’m curious about what touch moves you? Contactable, as always, on a comment box-shaped postcard.

 

Princess

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Clutter

“Got no imagination to clutter up my head” ~ Blondie

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Clutter (n): an untidy heap or mess of objects, a state of untidiness

 

There’s been a lot of things written about decluttering recently; only keeping things that bring you joy and folding your socks. Even my mother used to say “a tidy bedroom equals a tidy mind” when she wanted to get me to tidy my room. But I think life can be made too pristine, too sterile.

I own a lot of stuff. That band t-shirt that would be a barely legal crop top on me now may delight me and horrify me to a degree but it was the first one I ever bought and I don’t want to get rid of it. The mismatched mugs, the piles of books in no particular order except what pleases me, the postcards arranged haphazardly around the the laptop and cluttering most of the table. This is my life, this is a part of what defines me. Why should I tidy it all away?

And I’ve also got stuff in my head and in my heart.  Good stuff, bad stuff, brightly coloured amazing stuff. Just sometimes I don’t know where to put it all. No amount of neatly folded socks is going to change that.

If I were wrapped up as a present the bow would be shiny but coming untied, the contents bursting out from the paper, and when you’d studied the instructions you’d see you’d have to send off to the manufacturer for some missing parts.

This is me. I am not a clean surface. My life is not neatly folded. Nor do I ever want it to be. Don’t declutter me, don’t make me sterile, I’m fine as I am.

Princess

Our Police

“Call the cops” ~ Happy Mondays

Or, as defined by my dictionary

Cops (n) slang: police

 

This blog is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I publish it knowing that, if tendered evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything in it which I know to be false, or do not believe to be true.

Ok, it’s about time I confessed. For the majority of my life, I never liked the police. I thought they were sneaky, underhand, duplicitous gits. And that, coming from a law-abiding girl, from a law-abiding, well to-do, nice middleclass family, without any brushes with the law, is, I believe, unusual. So I’ll explain…

About 25 years ago, I was about 11 or 12, I ran away from home. I didn’t slope off to the local park for a few hours; I got a bus then a train and travelled about 100 miles. There were reasons for going and for my destination that I won’t go into, suffice to say that I was not an abused child by any means.

Anyway, the police were called. A very nice policeman found me. To this day I remember what he looked like and what he said to me. Then, a day or so later, another policeman visited us at home. Eagle-eyed readers will notice I have dropped the word ‘nice’. This officer was there to find out why I had done it and if I was genuinely ok. To this end, at some point my mother left the room and he asked if everything was ok at home. To my confused and unhappy young brain, this seemed sneaky and underhand and I detested the police from that moment on.

Fast forward to my early thirties and, in a moment of random thinking, I realised that poor guy was just doing his job. My mother leaving the room was prearranged. He wasn’t being sneaky at all, he was trying to establish if a crime had been committed, if this messed up child was actually ok. And I felt a great deal of sympathy for him cos I imagine he left completely baffled and thinking I was a spoilt brat. And that realisation turned my entire thinking on police round completely.

I stress, this was about 25 years ago. I’m sure practises are different now. But this was the past and they do things differently there.

However the fact remains that the police aren’t popular. As someone once put in a blog on policing, “the day most people meet a police officer is the worst day of their life”. This is in the sense that you’re either being nicked, reporting a crime, or they are on your doorstep about to tell you some news you are not going to want to hear about a loved one. How grim is that? How hard is that? Could you? Cos I don’t think I could.

However, they matter to me hugely. I like to see our police on our streets. I like knowing that dialling 999, however awful the reasons are, gets you in touch with the police. And, as we need them, they answer our call.

Aside from the running away malarkey, I’ve had dealings with the police as a result of interactions in my job and as a victim of crime. I want to tell you, briefly, about one of these incidents. Last year, two days before my birthday as it happens, I was burgled. I discovered this when I returned from work about 6pm on a Wednesday evening. It took the police 7 hours to attend. That’s 7 hours to attend a break-in with a lone female in an unsecured ground floor flat. I don’t for one minute think they were sitting around, drinking tea & chatting about the football. They were too busy to attend. They didn’t have enough officers. And that was March 2011.

So that brings me to the point of this blog. The British police service is facing massive cuts and privatisation. In addition to a raft of cuts and changes being introduced under two reviews by Tom Winsor. Some of you may recognise the name as part of the hashtag on Twitter #AntiWinsorNetwork. The origins of this group are much better explained in this blog by @cynicalbobby. Now, as much as anything, it is a useful link for police and police supporters to communicate with each other. Having conducted some research of my own, I’m aware it means very little to others so I hope this blog goes some way to explaining.

Our police service is:

  • facing cuts to pay and conditions
  • seeing vital services, that serve us, the public, diminished
  • G4S, a private company, are being brought in to do jobs previously always done by officers

The buck does not stop there, by any means. there are many other things afoot with British policing. But I’m aware there’s only so much anyone can take in at any one time. So please, I ask you this, would you like to keep an independent police service sworn to be independent and impartial? Or are you more interested in the legalisation of currently illegal drugs? Because one online petition to Parliament has more signatures than others. And I find that a shaming statement on our society today.

Please look at this petition. I’m not asking you to sign, you’re a grown up, you can make your own decisions. You decide if our police service is worth supporting. Ditto, please, consider this pledge of support.

One final thing, we are to get things called Police and Crime Commissioners. People will get to vote on this. You may think this doesn’t affect you, that your vote doesn’t count. To anyone who says a vote doesn’t count I say ‘look at X-Factor’. Don’t you dare look at me with a straight face and say that show, with voting, has not changed the lives of many who have been on it, many who have watched, and not least, lined the pockets of Simon Cowell.

Further, admirable, reading on what our police do for us can be found here:

Worth Every Penny ~ ResponseBobby

The Real CID ~ PoliceManMusing

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby ~ Bruce2990

A Service For The Public ~ SteelyRiverBoy

I have not asked permission of any of the officers quoted for permission to refer their work. I include it as I feel it shows what our police do for us. And I hold them, and their colleagues, in the highest of esteem.

I have written this blog to bridge a gap that I am aware of in social media terms between those that understand what our police are about to undergo, those that care but do not understand, and those that don’t care but I hope will after reading. I am not a police officer. I have no affiliation to the police in my personal or professional life. If you want to know more on anything this blog touches on then contact me and I will do my best to put you in touch with people more knowledgeable than I.

Thank you for reading.

 

Princess