It is all to easy these days to get the impression that everyone in this country and maybe in the entire western world has gone mad. I know values change and so does technology and expectations, but when I heard lately that one of the items now in the list of essential items, used to determine if you lived in poverty or not, was a mobile phone, I couldn’t help wondering if the word poverty in the UK had actually lost it true meaning completely. I used to laugh when I heard my mother always harping on about how lucky I was with everything that I had in my life, but now I find myself saying just the same thing. I guess without knowing it I must have had several points in my life when I was living in true poverty, as one of the other things that was classed as essential were disposable nappies if there was a baby in the family. When Teressa was born in 1980 and I didn’t even have a washing machine for the first month and yes that meant I had to wash her nappies by hand, when I did get a machine it was a twin-tub. The nearest phone was a good 10 minute walk from the house and she had to sleep in my bedroom as the spare room had water you could sweep across the floor with your hand, but the Navy said it was condensation. I have lost count of the number of times in my life where I have spent the last week of the month living on porridge as it was all I could afford, but not once in my life did I ever feel I was living in poverty, as not once have I ever had to sleep rough.

I suppose we all have our own views of what poverty or wealth real is in our own worlds, to me poverty is more a feeling than just a counting of the money available. The closest I have been to feeling poor was when I first moved to Glasgow and I was living in a bedsit, with no real heating, shared everything outside my room and very few friends, as I knew very few people. Looking back at that time, my health was bad and I went through another of those Doctors who saw me as a pest with nothing wrong with me. Just sitting here thinking back over that time I know now that that was really what was behind my view of life at that time, as always my health. It is strange how you see things differently when you understand what was happening, and how it changes the whole period in time from really quite awful, to now I know I was ill.

I suppose that is the key thing about growing older, you can see clearly what the reasons where for all those strange things you did, that at the time you thought were for very different reasons. As they say hindsight is a wonderful thing, I probably would have done a million things differently if I had just known I had MS and wasn’t a weak waste of space. But even with all that said I still can’t say that I have ever lived in poverty.

Try as hard as I can I have never been able to look back on my life and see the horrors that other do, when I tell them about it. I have tried many time to find out what it is about me that sees the world in such a different way from others. I can’t explain it and I don’t understand it, but all of my life has been to me a rich mix of many things, all have shaped me and all have taught me more often hard lessons about life, but not one that I am angry about, or one that I can say has made me hate anyone. I really want to understand, but this I guess may be something I never will understand, what made me the way I am? I guess I will always be the person who smiles to themselves and can say with honesty and warmth in my heart that I love my life from the start to now, and I would never change any of it, as without it, well who would I be?

‘Why?’don’t forget to ask

If there is one thing that has amazed me about being housebound is that you find the time to do the things you have always put off. For as long as I remember I had avoided the burden of watching programmers that demanded thought. When I worked I wanted my TV to take me away from reality and provide a gentle escape route. I noticed not long before I was forced to stay at home that I have moved away from the bubble gum side of the TV world to the brain engaged and thoughtful programming. I still enjoy the odd program for the Eastenders and Star Trek genre but more and more I have a desire to understand and discover the world around me. I suppose with the mixed up way I have lived my life waiting to learn until I was older isn’t really surprising, but I just wish it had been something I discovered long ago. More than any other I am drawn to programs which examine people and most of all those who have committed crime of any kind. As a child I had no direction for the type of work I wanted to do, now I wish I had either been a Criminal Psychologist or a Pathologist, there are a couple of BBC dramas that I am sure partly sparked this, yet it really is the documentaries that I love. Some will think this is morbid but it isn’t.

A couple of times I have mentioned that I like to be able to understand both sides in anything and be able to argue both sides even if I totally hate what it stands for. On top of this I strongly believe we should try to never condemn any ones actions until we understand them. We all have gut reactions to things, these can be good if you are answering question on a TV game show, but not so good when looking at someones life. I also now believe strongly that we also need to understand history make sense of today. Without understanding how our world got to this point and what effect it has on society, then we can’t understand the people in out society. The childhood question that bugs all parent is ‘Why?’ well I think it is the most important word in our language, without ‘Why’ we know nothing.

I am so impressed with the justice system we are seeing in Norway this week and the trial of Anders Breivik. I want like everyone else to see this guy sent to jail with no possible release, but I also want to understand ‘Why’. All of us unfortunately have seen trials of such people before, but there is something different, something more human to his treatment that is refreshing. He deserves no pity and no mercy but when we stop treating criminals as human we degrade our enter species. The phrase, ‘Human Rights’ is heard all over the place these days and I think has somehow become twisted, to me my human rights are to be given food and water, clothing and warmth, not to be manhandled without reason or to be abused and to be treated with respect. That is were they end, anything after that are privileges we earn by our actions in life.

I urge all of you to ask the question ‘Why?’, more often. Don’t accept what is pouring out at you from newspaper, twitter or the TV soap land, don’t wait until your excuses for the TV you watch run out. Look at everything and question everything, return to the curiosity you were born with, because life without that word is the life of a puppet.