Monday, 1 June 2009

excellent hustings event!

What a hot, yet productive day its been!! Slept late and woke up late after furiously working on some way overdue stuff for the RMA conference last night, and slept in because I thought I didn’t have to be at work till the afternoon! My colleague however, text me all too late to tell me there was an event in the morning that I was needed for, so yours truly crawled out of bed, got ready at a snails pace and arrived at the venue an hour late!! I got away with it though; we were only manning a stall in the morning, and as most of the conference delegates were in workshops, seminars etc, no one particularly noticed my entrance!! (apart from a particularly annoying family friend, who insisted in blurting out that she’d not seen me during the 10 AM opening and registration!).

The event in Question, was the 3rd Annual Learning festival and AGM, organised by Glasgow Disability Alliance. The founder and Manager of GDA, Tressa Burke, is a director on our board, and is some one I’ve worked with in previous jobs too. She is highly motivated, passionate, committed and inspirational, and one of the few disability activists that I hold in high esteem. Her passion and dedication shone through each and every aspect of the event today, as always with GDA Events, it was organised with incredible efficiency and detail, excellent accessibility and support, great food and workshops/stalls and events to suit all tastes! The high point however, had to be the hustings event in the afternoon, chaired by Lesley Riddoch! (and boy did she rock!). In True Riddoch style, she rocked the audience in to a frenzy of questioning, hooting and debating, (If only the BBC had displayed wisdom/equality enough to record it!). Those who know me are bound to accuse me of bias at this juncture (I did work for Lesley after all!), but since MR. J shot to power in radio Scotland, Lesley was swept off the air along with the rest of their quality output, and she is a real loss in so many ways! During the questioning, I did (as any true nationalist should!), brought up the issue of Independence, and quizzed the SNP candidate, (who was not the MEP standing, but a representative for the man himself, who had to rush off owing to his son being ill). There was some debate over whether my question meant that I was asking for the SNP to promote real independence policies in Europe, or associate more power with the devolved regions (which, whether we like it or not, is what Scotland is right now!). In sudo political style, I diplomatically pointed out that the 2 are interlinked; i.e., (increased power for the regions can only mean 1 step closer to Independence in the grand scheme of things!). My tact seem to win me a few brownie points with ‘Grant Tom, (the stand-in). He came and spoke to me afterwards and thanked me for bringing up devolution, and I took the opportunity to remind him that active citizenship and awareness of the independence debate is at an all time low among disabled people. Media hype and fear of the unknown stops them from engaging, and the SNP seems too distant, almost utopian for the majority. He went on to tell me that they were planning to set up an Equality forum (tick a box!), which would be a mechanism that disabled people could use towards connecting with the party, but I carefully pointed out that an Equality forum will merely act as a way of proofing the party and showing access on paper, it will not create awareness, it won’t persuade people to vote and won’t create catalysts for dialogue. The SNP have made amazing inroads with the Ethnic communities in Scotland, through initiatives like ‘Asians for Independence, and the Scottish Islamic Foundation, and it seems to me that disabled people warrant a similar structure. I think he got my point, but we’ve agreed to meet up and establish some kind of working partnership, If I’m still at Inclusion Scotland we could think about using the contact 100 groups as a means to getting such a structure started, (I don’t Think that would be seen as lobbying as such; after all its something we’d open up to any political party who was interested!).

It took me hours to get home though (or it felt like hours), heat and traffic jams in Karachi never bothered me, but they seem like such a big deal when you are in Glasgow! Perhaps the kids selling milk shake and gajras on Tarik road made it all worthwhile! Its more than that though; the heat seems to melt folk’s brains out here, and so the maniacs are out in force, and you feel even more terrified of a freak accident on George Square than you ever did on ‘University road!
Have another hospital appointment tomorrow, (neurology), I’ve lost count of the number of hopeless visits and pill popping I’ve done over the last 3 years, each time I leave the place, my despair seems to increase that little bit more, just enough to leave me at rock bottom before the fatigue incurred by yet more drugs kicks in! Its been a long hall, and I can’t seem to get this through to them, so please; all get behind me and make dua that tomorrow might actually drown my cynicism and actually be leading me in the direction of a cure, (or at least a diagnosis!)

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