Writing to Heal

“You’re an idealist, Jenny,” someone said the other day, citing my blog posts about the NHS, peaceful warriors, etc., as evidence.

I’m not a fan of labels, but if fighting for what I believe in makes me an idealist, so be it.

Come to think of it, I’ve been fighting for something or other ever since I was an angry little girl defending my right to be seen and heard. It’s what keeps me alive and sane. Continue reading

Daydreams and Nightmares

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a prolific dreamer.

As a child, daydreaming became my escape from the pain I experienced in the real world, where medical intervention, insensitive doctors and school bullies posed a constant threat to my sense of self.


Every summer we packed ourselves into my parents’ red Volvo and drove south to our holiday house, a six-hour drive. It was a long and tedious journey accompanied by leg cramp and the occasional sibling squabble. Mostly, however, I sat quietly in the backseat, looking out of the window and daydreaming. That was my entertainment. Continue reading

To Be or To Have

If you read the blog I posted last week, you may have noticed (with some irritation) that I repeatedly used the rather clunky phrase ‘people with a disability.’

Why not just say ‘disabled people’ you might think. Well, my choice of wording was deliberate.

When we refer to someone as being ‘disabled’ or ‘disfigured’, we are effectively defining them by their condition, when in fact it is only one part of a complex, multidimensional being.

That is why I insist on saying that someone (such as myself) has a disability or a disfigurement. In fact, I have both a disability (hearing loss) and a disfigurement (cleft), but neither condition defines me.

My hearing disability, for example, presents a challenge only in some aspects of my life, while being completely irrelevant in others.

Similarly, my disfigurement (a concept that I take issue with, by the way, and which I will address at length in a future blog post) is limited to just a part of me. I am more than my cleft.

As I’ve said before, words have power; they can enable and disable people, which is why it matters a great deal how we choose or words.


London: a City for All?

city-hall-668189_640Today Londoners go to the polls to elect the next mayor who will take over from Boris Johnson’s eight underwhelming years in office.

Although several candidates are competing for the job, only two are considered serious contenders: the Conservative Zac Goldsmith, yet another posh boy from the British upper classes, and Labour’s Sadiq Khan, the son of Pakistani immigrants, who wears his council estate past as a badge of honour.

What do they each stand for? Sadly the mayoral campaign has been mired in nastiness, personal attacks and pandering to people’s fears – so much so, that issues of real concern have been neglected. Continue reading