Wednesday, 19 December 2012

So fresh and so clean

OK, so Maslow pretty much had this covered, but bear with me - sometimes the obvious just needs re-stating in a less eloquent and effective manner.

So tonight, I had a shower. Don't worry, this is not so infrequent an event as to warrant blogging, but...

I've been feeling pretty crap the past week or so - mainly physically, cold, sinus, insomnia and to top it off, food poisoning. Whoop! I also got some horrible news which kind of hit me hard at the time. There have been good bits, to be sure, but generally the past week has worn me out.

Today I was sat feeling a bit ill and a bit bogged down and a bit sorry for myself, so decided to have a quick shower. No big deal.

But as I did, and after, I was hit by a simple appreciation of being clean, and what a difference that made to how I felt.

And that's it - that's my big wow revelation right there - I was amazed by how much better I felt from taking a 5 minute shower.

(What can I say - I never claimed this would be a life-changing blog post... Have you not read my tweets?!)

Being able to turn on the tap, get hot water, wash away dirt and stress and mind fug and frustration, then get out and put on clean clothes and feel fresh.  Something so simple, and yet with the effect of making me feel physically better, emotionally comforted, and mentally more alert.

And I just got to thinking how unimaginable it would be for me to not have what is essentially that luxury - hot running water inside my own bathroom inside a flat that I'm neither at risk of being evicted from nor having to share with numerous others (human or vermin).  This is not some Christmas appeal, but really, it is something to stop and think about.

I guess it was kind of primed by hearing the figures for homelessness and poverty tonight on Novara, a radio show/discussion with Aaron Peters and James Butler that today was discussing prospects for 2013 given events of the past year (just listen to it). Also I saw this article about a man (retired painter, Malcolm Frost, 61) who died after being evicted and having to live in his shed, and this one about rising rent and homelessness in london.

As @piercepenniless says, these types of stories are just the tip of the iceberg - there are thousands of these cases that are the real face of austerity/cuts/the current global crises that don't make the papers or the news.

I think what struck me most about listening to the show was the comment that austerity and its outcomes are often presented in a very abstract manner, and the importance of also presenting the outcome to the real lives of real people.  Percentages and graphs are much more easily dismissed than stories such as those mentioned above.  So saying rough sleeping has risen by 43% this year may sound shocking but much more abstract than, say, a young homeless woman  (21 year old Michelle Conroy) living in a tent who was killed by a falling tree in the recent floods in Exeter.  

I was ranting earlier tonight that there are so many people, generally good, well-intentioned people, friends and family of mine definitely, and acquaintances etc who either just don't see what is happening around us, or who see it but don't feel compelled to actually do anything.  And as I ranted in my usual flailing and frantic, somewhat thoughtless manner, I kept talking about apathy - the world as we know it falling about our ears, and people sitting back tutting but doing nothing to change it, wondering 'what's the point?', propounding the old 'whoever you vote for, it's the government that get in' and feeling their work is done once they've visited the polls.  And someone wiser and calmer than me suggested the only way to go is to learn - arm ourselves with knowledge and educate others, so that actually, people might feel a little more compelled to take action - and then put that knowledge to good use.  

So, my new way of looking at things is this - I can't rant about people I know not doing anything or knowing about what's happening if I don't actually make any effort to tell them (sadly, inarticulate ranting doesn't count).  

I've always shied away from trying to share knowledge about anything vaguely political, because I'm acutely aware of how little I know, and for all my attempted way with words, I am not very good at hiding that.  And this is not an attempt at disingenuous charm - I know how much I don't know.  But I'm aiming to get to know a little more, and then share what I do know.  Even if that only comes down to blogging every now and then, with posts full of links and sources of information that I've found useful, or maybe local initiatives that people can get involved in, or petitions that need pushing.  It may not be much, but it'll hopefully be a little better than me standing on my twitter soapbox and shouting into the void. Or waxing lyrical about the amazingness of my shower...

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You can listen to Novara and other shows on Resonance FM live here or to the soundcloud after the shows are done.

A few alternative news sources to check out (definitely not exhaustive, nor necessarily all aligning with my own views, but somewhere to start for now):

 - Ceasefire

 - Open Democracy

 - Occupied Times

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Just to end, then - an awesome picture of people using the Mitchell Library in Glasgow.  Knowledge *can* be free - it's out there for the taking.  Definitely not as easy to teach yourself as it is to go to uni, but it's there.  I'm intending to get a bit better at using it.

(from Mitchell Library webiste: )