First Came the Moths

“Look, look, we have moths!” my husband called out, waving a pair of socks with clearly visible holes in front of me.

“We don’t have moths,” I answered, tired of hearing my husband repeat this fantasy claim again and again. “If we did, how come they don’t eat my clothes, only yours?”

Some weeks later, however, I discovered a hole in one of my socks and my husband was triumphant,

“Ha-ha, I told you we have moths!”

“No, my socks are just worn out, that’s all” I protested.

But eventually, the evidence of moths in the house became so overwhelming that I had to admit we had a problem, even though for some unknown reason, the little creatures were attracted almost exclusively to my husband’s clothes.

shutterstock_93341539At first, I was confident the problem would go away if we simply invested in some mothballs, but then the children started moaning about moths flying around in their bedrooms.

It was obvious by now that no amount of cedar wood balls or lavender sachets was going to fix the problem, so my husband phoned a pest control company for advice. A few days later a man showed up at our door, ready to spray our home with some hideously poisonous chemicals, which, he promised, would kill off the moths.

That was last Sunday, and so far, we’ve not seen a single moth in the house. Touch wood.

On Tuesday evening, my 7-year old complained that her head was itching, but I put it down to dry scalp and told her it would get better as long as she didn’t scratch.

By Wednesday afternoon she was scratching her head ferociously, and I said,

“It’s probably just dandruff,” having spotted a few white flakes in her hair.

But then her older sister also began to complain of an itchy scalp, and my husband said the unsayable – the one thing I had been in denial about ever since the itching began:

“Could it be nits?”

“No, it’s just dandruff” I insisted, and to prove it I brought out a nit comb to show him.

But it wasn’t dandruff, of course, it was nits – lots of them.

shutterstock_390106084It took several hours to complete the nit treatment for the girls, and it was a gruelling and painful process.

They both have very long, thick, curly hair that a nit comb can barely get through and each time I thought I’d removed the last nit, I found another and yet another.

It was almost midnight before the girls collapsed in bed exhausted, but hopefully nit free.

Now my scalp has started to itch. But it’s probably just dandruff.

I wasn’t made for this (weather)

All the windows are wide open and doors propped ajar in the hope that any gust of wind might pass through the house and offer some reprieve, for it is hot.

In the absence of anything as luxurious as an air conditioner, we’ve dug out a couple of battered old fans from the sauna-like storage room and invested in two state-of-the-art fans to make our home bearable. shutterstock_258135833

My husband doesn’t suffer as much from the heat as I do and gets tired of hearing my constant complaining.

“Don’t be so negative,” he says, “that will just make the heat feel even worse.”

For a moment I contemplate throttling him, but instead, I hide in the only cool place in the house – our guest toilet – visualising snow-capped mountains and icy polar winds blowing in my face. It doesn’t work.

The eldest daughter shows up for dinner stark naked.

“Can’t you put on a pair of knickers at least?” I ask.

“But mummy, I’m boiling!” she exclaims and sits down on a chair.

Meanwhile, her younger sister, drenched in sweat after a gruelling Kung Fu lesson, seems to have suffered a heat stroke. She rants and raves so loudly I am sure they whole street can hear her.

“You deal with her,” I say to my husband.

I’m too hot and bothered to be of any use, so I retreat to my study where a fan is blowing air straight at me, offering a smattering of relief.

Opening my laptop, I wonder what to blog about. Earlier in the week, before it got too hot, I’d thought of typing up a furious rant about all the reasons why the new Wonder Woman film is problematic. Critics and audience alike have lauded the film as feminist, but I can’t for the life of me see why.

My main gripe, however, is that it’s yet another film where lazy stereotyping gives us a villain with a facial disfigurement. The contrast between the good and beautiful Wonder Woman herself and Dr Maru, the hideously disfigured and evil female villain of the film is, if anything, a complete betrayal of feminism.

Yes, young girls need strong, independent role models in real life as well as on the screen, and that’s why Wonder Woman is being hailed as a feminist revelation. But what about positive role models for young girls with disfigurements or disabilities? Who represents them? Not Dr Maru, for sure.

But it’s just too darn hot. I can’t function in this weather, so I give up, posting a few angry rants about the British government on Facebook instead.

A short while later I hear laughter coming from the garden, and when I look out of the window I see my husband spraying our youngest offspring with the hose. She’s completely soaked in water and all the happier for it.

I might just join her.


Small Victories

With the Brexit referendum last year and the recent parliamentary election, there’s seemingly no way to escape politics in Britain today. Even my children, who until recently had no clue about, nor interest in, politics, now come home from school and tell me about fiery political conversations in the playground.

Whichever side of the political divide one is on, few (I hope) would dispute the benefits of a more diversely representative parliament, and that is what last week’s poll brought about.

2017-06-09-1497015103-7446923-SophieMorgan.Polling-thumbThe election saw the number of female MPs, ethnic minority MPs and LGBTQ MPs increase, which is all positive news, although white male MPs still far outnumber the rest.

Meanwhile, the number of openly disabled MPs rose from two to five in the 2017 election which is a small step in the right direction.

Labour’s Marsha de Cordova, who is registered blind, took Battersea, previously a Conservative seat.

In her victory speech, de Cordova spoke openly about her intention to use her MP seat to lobby for the rights of disabled people:

“Accessibility in our public places and on public transport still falls short of what is reasonable.”

James O’Mara, another newly elected MP who ousted none other than the former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, gave an emotional victory speech:

“Twenty years ago, there was a fifteen-year-old boy with cerebral palsy who went to his careers advisor at school. His careers advisors asked him, ‘What would you like to be when you grow up?’ And that fifteen-year-old boy with cerebral palsy said, ‘I’d like to be a politician.’

If you haven’t noticed already, that boy is me.

I do have cerebral palsy, and I want every single disabled person out there to know, everybody who’s got learning difficulties, everyone who has mental health issues, everybody who has a physical disability like me, or has any illness…I will be on your side.

I will be your ally and friend and champion in Westminster.”

Does it really matter if we have MPs with disabilities? It matters greatly because disabled people are profoundly under-represented in public life, and public attitudes towards disability remain largely negative.

Key to protecting the rights of people with disabilities, I believe, is the normalisation of disability in society, and a powerful way of doing that is by making people with disabilities more visible, in parliament, in government, in media, etc.

We need more MPs with disabilities who can hold the ruling elite to account for its disability policies, especially as the government has made life-altering cuts to disability benefits in recent years, depriving people of the means to live independent, fulfilling lives.

There are more than 11 million disabled people in the UK, and yet disability rights remains a niche issue. That needs to change. Disability rights must become everyday rights.






Petite Pleasures

As a tall and average built Swede, I’ve never had any reason to shop in the ‘petite’ section – until now.

Yesterday I went to see Nick, my friendly and extremely tech-savvy audiologist to discuss a replacement for the hearing aid I recently lost.

It turns out that things move fast in the hearing aid business and what was high-tech two years ago, is now practically antiquated.shutterstock_130400447

“Do you want to go down the path of connectivity or the path of comfort and aesthetics?” Nick asked me as we sat down in his office.

“Huh?” I had no idea what he was talking about. “What’s connectivity,” I asked, feeling rather stupid.

“I mean, do you want to be able to control your hearing aid remotely with your iPhone and use it for listening to music?”

“Wow, can it do that?” I replied, sounding more like a 20-something hipster than a mature and dignified 45-year old.

It is true I am a gadget junkie of the first degree and the idea of being able to use a mobile phone app to control my hearing aid thrilled me. Suddenly, my hearing loss appeared less a liability and more a convenient excuse for acquiring yet another fun gadget.

But in the end, the sensible part of me, as well as the overriding concern about comfort, overruled my desire for a cool gadget to play with and I opted for a small, invisible hearing aid with no added extras.

What sold it to me was the prospect of popping a tiny piece of technology into my ear and forget about it. No more poking my ear to readjust an ill-fitting hearing aid.


shutterstock_378008296Before I could be fitted with my new piece of equipment, Nick needed to make a cast of my ear canals. Examining my ears with an otoscope, he exclaimed:

“You have rather petite ear canals.”

I must confess to being ridiculously pleased to hear my ears complimented, although the size of them has no real bearing on the functioning of my ears.

To make a cast of said ear canals, Nick first put some foam in my ears, followed by a bright green play-dough-like substance. There was a brief moment when both ears were completely blocked by the moulds, and I could hear absolutely nothing.

“So, this is what it feels like to be deaf,” I thought.

I left Nick’s office feeling giddy with excitement about my new hearing aids and relieved that a hearing test had shown no further deterioration in my already mediocre hearing.

Being hard of hearing can be an isolating experience that affects confidence, interpersonal relations and one’s sense of security. Although I am rather partial to silence, I feel ready to welcome the new world of sounds that a pair of hearing aids make available.

Just as long as I can switch them off when my kids start arguing.

Disfigurement in the UK

Last week Changing Faces released its much-anticipated report, Disfigurement in the UK, based on a nationwide survey conducted between November 2016 and February 2017. The report makes for unsettling – yet necessary – reading. For despite British society’s claim to fairness and equality, the report shows that when it comes to society’s treatment of, and attitudes towards, people with disfigurement, fairness and equality are severely lacking. Continue reading