Review and Reflection: Oh Jeremy Corbyn, the Big Lie

By Dawn M. Sanders

Narrated by Alexei Sayle, this Platform Films timely documentary, emerges on the cusp of local elections and a general election scheduled for next year, as Labour leader Keir Starmer has said nothing of his vision or manifesto for wins in either local council seats or a general election – preferring to fixate on a combative campaign against his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn won an overwhelming majority for Labour leader in 2015, where the chronicle of this former leader’s tenure unfolds with staunch hostility, not from the governing Tory party, but within Labour itself. After his mandate for Labour leader, Corbyn made his way to party HQ, receiving a Lukewarm, less-than-welcoming reception, as he was the furthest left, most Socialist of any Labour leader and the trouble began.

Jeremy Corbyn standing giving his final speech at the Labour Conference in Brighton in 2019.
Photo by Celeste Pearce taken at Labour party conference, Brighton, 2019.
This was the last speech before the devastating loss in Dec. 2019, who’d of thought…

A chorus of prominent voices, from Andrew Murray, Corbyn’s political adviser from 2017 to 2020, Jackie Walker formerly of Momentum (a grassroots campaign group within Labour) and Chris Williamson, former MP for Derby North, spoke of Corbyn reviving Labour. People who had never been bothered by politics, were inspired by his people-centred policies and advocacy for disenfranchised communities. With Corbyn as leader, Labour membership grew from 190,000 to 515,000 – an influx of 325,000 within the first year and a half of his leadership.   However, by 2016 with Brexit as our steady diet from mainstream media every day and government obsession preceding the referendum, a prominent figure within Labour’s shadow cabinet emerged – Keir Starmer. As Corbyn appointed Starmer as Shadow Brexit Secretary, the film snapshots him riding the wave of the Remain Movement. Yet, Brexit wasn’t the only thing Starmer and Corbyn clashed on, as Starmer’s team comprised Labour right-wingers. At this time, there were leadership challenges and a vote of no confidence against Corbyn, but nothing worked to oust him as the establishment so desired. ‘Nothing had gone to plan. Everything had gone into overdrive’ someone mused within the documentary. As the 2017 election brought Corbyn close to winning, it would prove too close for comfort for the right of the party, shocked and dismayed, who were countering Corbyn’s leadership with every step. As Theresa May’s snap election presented Corbyn’s Labour with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the popularity of his policies and manifesto, it also presented the perfect opportunity for forces within the party to stop Corbyn in his tracks, as the issue of antisemitism within Labour, hatched as the golden egg of scapegoating a Palestine-supporting Socialist leader. There had been complaints of antisemitism and Jews who felt ‘pushed out’ by Corbyn’s political position, but this was the trigger for the right within the party to snowball the situation. Dawn Butler stressed, it was the only important racism, as MPs of colour came under attack. Corbyn’s, who has stood against racism all his life, only defence was ‘sorry’ for offending, but didn’t change his convictions and was upset at the issue of antisemitism. However, the harder he tried to rectify the problem, the more hostile actors within the party exaggerated the issue – providing the mainstream media with the means to vilify Corbyn unscrupulously. From the BBC’s Panorama programme, the Guardian, Channel 4 and tabloids, personal/political attacks flew at Corbyn from all directions.

Despite his unwavering integrity and steadfast resilience, Corbyn’s biggest political blunder was riding the fence on Brexit – this, along with too many pledges to please everyone, dealt him the devastating loss of 2019’s general election. By 2020 with Keir Starmer taking over as leader of Labour, he not only suspended Corbyn for saying the truth of how antisemitism was exaggerated, Starmer and his new right-of-centre cabinet and party officials ruthlessly removed anyone left-wing for little or nothing at all. In a strategic bid to block Corbyn from standing for his long-held seat for Islington North, Starmer recently tabled a motion based on Corbyn losing in 2019 – the National Executive Committee (NEC) a power base within Labour, secured the vote in a done deal. Starting with Rebecca Long-bailey’s sacking, Mike Cowley’s blocked effort to run as an Edinburgh counsellor or Christine Tongue’s suspension simply for wishing Chris Williamson well on Facebook – the examples of exterminating the left are endless and undemocratic. In this article, Andrew Murray points out a depressing and dismal truth – particularly of how the left have failed to challenge Starmer’s ire within the party or mobilised beyond pinning all hopes and aspirations on one man – Corbyn standing as an independent. The Socialist Campaign Group (SCG) – a group of left-wing MPs within the party have delivered eloquent, impassioned speeches on Youtube at conference fringe, but where’s the revolt against the ‘hostile environment’ Starmer has created? Where are the lawsuits for preventing left-wing members from standing for council seats? If left-wing members haven’t been purged, thousands like me have left in disgust at Starmer’s visionless, uninspiring, absence of principle, Tory attributes or willingness to stoop to gutter level to prove himself. From the EHRC’s findings to the Forde report out in July of 2022, Starmer, together with the establishment, has bypassed revealing findings which prove the sabotaging of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.          

Reflecting on this travesty of one of the few decent politicians left, this story is one of the worst political injustices of our time. Corbyn has withstood multiple character assassinations and all but been exiled from the party he has represented since his teens, if these reports are anything to go by, as Labour implodes – the left might not have to do much, as Labour self-destructs before our eyes – inside the party and outside with the wider electorate. Voters might acquiesce to voting Labour in the locals or GE next year, simply to get the Tories out; other alternatives might be sought, such as the LibDems, Greens or smaller parties, as Labour could lose in their current trajectory – who can predict. As for the film, a collage of interviews and vox pops strung together at a jaunty pace, it was impossible to capture key quotes, not knowing who was speaking. As I sat taking notes and my tablet died, I wished I had someone next to me pointing out who was who. That said, the truths spoken were indisputable! This documentary, like every other hidden truth about Jeremy Corbyn, should be ‘out there’ – not shown to a room full of lefties in a preaching-to-the-converted exercise. Shown in alternative/independent cinemas for a modest ticket price, proceeds could go to homeless projects, food banks or other initiatives Corbyn cares passionately about as he is not yet to be consigned to the dustbin of history. 


Editor’s note: thanks go out to Norman Thomas for helping with background info and filling in the gaps.     

© 2023

Being Me First

By Dawn M. Sanders

When I sat down to read this article – I figured I would disagree with it, because I often do with people who write about disability and how it defines them. I mean, of course I didn’t know she would go on to write several paragraphs on it, as luckily, she wrote on what she does as a person and activist too, but of course her riding accident changed her life.

I get the stuff about having her needs met and filling up valued space – I feel the same and I too have done many demos where I publicly spoke against the austerity cuts or degradation to the environment – the fact I needed a guide with my obvious severe visual impairment wasn’t an issue. So, maybe that’s why I’m on the opposite side of the fence to her and many when it comes to my identity or the way I describe myself – that said, many with visible additional needs will still define themselves as ‘dis-abled first. I’m passionate and vehemently, a person, woman, mother or journalist first – end of story and my visual impairment is of course an integral  part of me, but absolutely ‘never’ first among equals. There are people who feel the way I do, so it’s not exactly me against the rest of the world with an identity crisis. That said, my identity wasn’t thrown into question until I immigrated to the UK, then all the sudden I had this huge label on my forehead, which is why being appreciated or recognised as a ‘person first’ is so important. What that has to do with capitalism makes no sense to me. For one thing, I’m Socialist and damn proud of it! Claiming to be Socialist/left-wing is problematic in itself in a capitalist society. The fact I don’t define myself as ‘dis-abled’ because society inherently labels me as such, along with all the connotations that come with it – pity, vulnerable, needy is my prerogative and has nothing to do with denial – especially as I was born with my visual impairment, so I’m more than comfortable and used to it. So when other people with additional needs start banging on about how they define themselves and how ‘dis-abled has been the preferred term for decades, to describe ‘people’ with disabilities or additional needs in the UK or anywhere else for that matter, a line taken by a guy I had a brief connection a few weeks ago – my response was, ‘if people of colour can be respected as ‘people first’ then why can’t I? Not everyone appreciates or subscribes to wearing the same uniform and when I wrote that in an e-mail I got no response. He had flagged the “social model of ‘dis-ability” as if it was some sort of prescription everyone had to adhere to, but when I responded with ‘yes of course I know of it and despise it’ – that’s where the connection went cold, as it was seemingly ‘un-heard of’ to despise the uniform and any preference challenging it was wrong. I once asked if someone could meet me off the train at Bristol to get to a demo, as I don’t know the place and wanted to try and avoid the expense of a taxi, the lass organising it, when I told her I’m visually impaired, said ‘how would you like to be identified’ and I thought ‘how cool and what a blast of fresh air, because there can be no ‘be-all-and-end-all for describing or identifying someone and what works for one person, won’t work for another.

To demand being appreciated as a ‘person first’ is anything but ablest, it’s simple self-respect and ensuring others respect me for who I am, not who or what their preconception or assumption dictates the second they set eyes on me. As I have a ‘very visible’ difference – I get the opposite to what someone with invisible additional needs has to contend with. I can’t count how many times I’ve been just about to open a door – whether to my local shop or walking through halls at my university and someone tried to step in front of me or nearly hits me in the face, trying to open the door. Or, walking down the aisle on a train, halfway to the toilet and what do I hear? – ‘can you manage’ – I could write volumes on the patronising things people say upon clapping eyes on me. Not only do a lot of people still think, if you’re visually impaired you can’t possibly know how to dial a phone, manage a home or enjoy a social/sexual life, the second someone sets eyes on the likes of me or other people with visible differences – they think they need to do something, say something derogatory, patronising or help. After nearly fifty-six years living in this body, doing things in the different way I do them, whether walking down the street with a rainbow coloured stick or cooking completely by touch alone, the steady diet of bullshit I have to endure the minute I step outside my door, doesn’t get any easier. Sometimes, I don’t get the bullshit and I can get to where I’m going or go about my business out in public without a single patronising word or statement, but that’s only sometimes, because I’m sure things are getting worse.

When I push someone off or tell someone off, as I often do while out, if someone is trying to physically ‘handle or grab’ me – I become a person, not an object of need who has no say in ‘being helped’ and yes, it’s forever to the tune of ‘just trying to help’ irrespective of whether or not I asked which, most of the time I haven’t. For those who ask ‘how can I help’ or would I like it in the first place, as I’m a ‘person’ with some additional needs and I respect them for asking first and not assuming anything. I’ve written extensively, on people with additional needs being acknowledged as sexual/social beings or liberating language and so have others, but the difference between someone describing/defining themselves as ‘dis-able ‘in my view’ and others have agreed with me, they’re placing a barrier in front of themselves and not doing any of us any favours. If people with visible or invisible additional needs want to join the conversation, gain access on protests or in employment – how the hell is that achieved by placing a label or barrier first. I’ve been to rallies with ‘dis-Abled People Against the Cuts and all they did is speak in victim terms of having benefits cut, not gaining ‘equal access to employment or even certain fields where it would be perfectly possible to contribute, such as politics, where it all starts and policies of inequality or stifling one’s agency are written by those making decisions who don’t get how it is to have say a degree or two, loads of skills, yet no chance of employment, because if one discloses a visual, hearing, walking impairment – let alone, a learning difficulty or autism – most employers would just a soon take on someone without the necessary skills, then a potential employee with additional needs. Point is, campaign groups like ‘Dis-abled People Against the Cuts perpetuate the whole assumption that, if you have additional needs or a disability – your life design will automatically be assigned to relying on benefits (and yes of course many people with additional needs have no choice) but why not flag up what/how people can contribute – even in a modest capacity – especially if they want to.    

Because I define myself as who I am, Dawn first, a mum, a journalist, American – makes it crystal clear I’m a person who should be valued (not admired) for my contribution, faults and human-ness first, but the additional needs that come with me; a guide in walking in unfamiliar places, help with certain aspects of the internet which aren’t access-friendly or crossing a tricky, busy road, are part-and-parcel. So, I’m equally fed up with those who want to be defined as ‘dis-abled accusing a ‘person first’ approach as being in denial or ablest. Ablism comes in many forms, in denying someone access to other things many take for granted – from employment right down to going for a walk along the beach; ablism is asking me if ‘can I manage’ walking down a train aisle to the bog, when I’ve just walked halfway there. Ablism is ‘not’ demanding to be appreciated for the person I am first and foremost – it’s not even anything to do with capitalism or individualism in fact, if it has to be an ism at all, call it egalitarianism. I tend to hesitate to even call out what is termed ablism, because it implies a stark contrast between perceptions of can do vs can not do; or the cringeworthy ‘able-bodied’ vs unabled. I question even the term ablism, because within the whole power dynamic of social structure, especially the pecking order here in the UK, it reinforced the whole ‘dis-abled discourse – hinging on what people can or can’t do, so I just tend to call it discrimination or, the other racism, the poor cousin and last bastion which warrants worthy attention.        

Yeah, I’m many things: Dawn, a founding editor, visually impaired, bi-sexual and an egalitarian – so what if my visual impairment isn’t first among equals within my identity – who the hell said it should be? If the world views me as needy, with pity or inherently vulnerable, why cloak myself in how the world views or preconceives me. To passively take that uniform and wear it, because someone or society hands it to me is, not only counter-productive in being treated/viewed as equal but different – it’s simply not my style. I don’t follow the herd, as there are many other things about me to trumpet.

© 2023

Just Trying to help: The Famous last Words No One Needs to hear

By Dawn M. Sanders

I’ve been debating on whether to write this blog/rant all week – it’s not the first time I’ve ranted about people’s reaction to me on first site – a woman with a visual impairment… In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised at all, if there’s another blog of the same title floating around out there – someone else sick and tired of exactly the same thing and I know there is, because I’ve read them. To hell with it, it’s bugging me, so here goes.

The other day it was a gorgeous sunny, slightly breezy autumn day and I needed to get out for fresh air and walk to my local One Stop shop. It was before the kids got out from the nearby primary school on the road down from where I live, so the shop wouldn’t be taken over by greedy young ones, buying sweets.

So, I got to the bottom of the hill and was about to cross the little side road that runs off the main road before I get to the shop and it started: “Are you going to the shop?” a guy asked and of course I knew what he meant, to say was, can you get there. “Yes, I’m going to the shop, I just walked down the road, so don’t you think I know where I’m going?” Oh of course, he mumbled, but that wasn’t going to be the end of it. Walking along, a guy was getting into his car or maybe getting out: “There’s a phone box in front of you.” “I know, that’s why I have a stick.” I said immediately back and then mumbled, idiot half under my breath! “Just trying to be helpful.” “helpful is when I need it/ask for it and I haven’t.” I went in, got what I went to the shop for and walked out, down the road up the gentle climb and crossed over to climb the steep hill where I live at the top. Just at the top of the hill from the car park of the flats where I live a guy next to a van said: “do you want me to walk you to your door?” “No, I walked out my front door, don’t you think I can get to it?” Now I was fully pissed off and thought to myself, for fuck sake! “I didn’t mean to upset you.” he said dimly. “Well, that’s a bit patronising, don’t you think?” he of course didn’t answer. I saw one more person doing some work of some kind, just before I got close to my flat. “It’s all cleared up and there’s no obstructions in your way.” That was fine. “Lovely day.” I said. It’s beautiful, Peter the site manager remarked and with that, I got to my front door, let myself in and closed the door on the many obstructive, patronising piss-offs I had just encountered three in fact – just walking to the shop, nothing complicated, nothing difficult or even mildly taxing. Yet, people still think, the second they set eyes on a lone female with a visual impairment it’s need, need, need, help help, pitty-pitty patronise. Of course men with a visual impairment get it, but not nearly as much, as society generously awards them, just that little bit more agency. I had a conversation with a past fellow entrepreneur some years ago about it and he said his partner was the one who always got the grabbing hand, when getting on a bus. Well, I am not one of those people who’ll just let it wash over them and ignore it, then complain about it later – just allowing it to happen without challenge or forthrightly making people think before they open their mouths whether they want to or not! People still view a visually impaired person as needy or clueless – forgetting or more-to-the-point, absent-mindedly, not realising the obvious – I just walked down a road, got up that morning, got dressed, spent years raising a kid (ooh uh, all on my own…) Oh of course they don’t know that, but if people actually talked to someone with a visible challenge, they actually might find out something like, I live, eat and function as they do, just with a rainbow coloured stick and without the all-prevailing, over-rated  eye contact.

I once took the advice of a mate and when sitting at a table outside a favourite music joint and a guy said to me, I’m just over here if you need anything. “Why do I have to need something – what if I need a line of coke.” He laughed good humouredly and alas, got it – no I don’t even do the stuff, but he got it and high fisted me for putting him right.

Thing is, if you’re reading this and are thinking, ‘but people just wonna help’ then, ahum, you don’t ‘get it’ either – there’s more to anyone, visible challenges or not, then needing, needing, help. If anyone, especially of the opposite sex, catches me in the wrong mood o or, maybe the right one, depending on his presentation – I might just, as the gutsy gab I am, let him know I ‘need some, cuz I haven’t had any in three years… Then again, being British and of a mostly conservative-minded persuasion, his jaw would drop, as he’d probably think, ‘but your ‘um visually impaired – do you even know how? Oh, my days, and yes, the day will come and, the reason so many still think people with a visible challenge of any kind are objects of need, care or pity, is because there’s not enough people correcting them, putting them in their place or getting them to shut up and think first. Yeah, it puts me right off even going out sometimes and I know the same goes for other people with additional challenges, I’ve read hundreds of accounts, but do I need to get angry? Hell yes, it’s not my job to have endless buckets of patience or a resilience of steel. In fact, the older I get, the more I feel the right to demand respect – the same respect we all deserve as equal citizens and, as an egalitarian, not a pacifist, that’s not going to change and no apologies for the sarcasm when I’m accosted or obstructed… Rant over, for now.

© 2022

Why I stay Unaligned

By Dawn M. Sanders

The thing right at the top of my to-do list for the week as I kicked myself into Monday morning motivation, was to cancel my membership direct debit payment to the Resist Movement and I’ve now done it. As far as I’m concerned it was an overdue obligation to myself and lingering dissatisfaction and disgruntlement of yet another fizzled left-wing effort.

Chris Williamson, after being suspended from Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, fought back against resuspension when accused of antisemitism and forged ahead as an independent MP for the Derby North constituency. He launched the Resist Movement in response to Labour’s lurch to the right under Keir Starmer and with last October’s conference debating on whether or not to become a political party – it had all the beginnings and potential for gathering the momentum that had faltered when Jeremy Corbyn so badly lost the 2019 election.

The conference saw speeches from national and international figures which I wrote of in Barriers to Bridges Magazine last December, but of course it wasn’t without the usual friction that mushrooms with differences of opinion. In the months following the conference and into the new year, it seemed Resist was on strong footing, asking membership for a suitable name and setting up regional branches which one would expect and seemingly focusing on a manifesto aligning with other small left efforts to come under the umbrella of TUSC (Trade Union Socialist Coalition) in building an alliance.

According to the UK Social Democratic Facebook page at the time, there were a few hundred fielded candidates running for councillor in the May local elections, but to date I haven’t heard of any successes.

After the elections, all Williamson said in a post to Resist members was, to the tune of, ‘Labour didn’t make significant gains outside London’ -yeah, okay and so your point was??? Instead of analysing the obvious or inevitable, why not focus on how TUSC candidates could have been more prominent or higher profile in the overwhelming dominance of the 2 main parties, the protest votes of the LibDems, the Green gains etc, but apart from one notable example of how a small left-wing group succeeded in East London – there seemed little else to speak of for the left and any aligned efforts- I could be wrong, but it seems one has to be within specific circles to find out otherwise.

Since then, what has come out of the perverse mess of the Tory party and the exiting of what could easily be defined as, the most corrupt leader the UK has seen in recent times – at the risk of sounding cliché or parroting the various incarnations of analysis by the broadsheets. So, Bozo will be replaced by yet another unelected, damaging, and disconnected leader – it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last… Zara Sultana and this one nailed it, in pointing out how the left should and could take this opportunity to galvanise and get it together, but no sound bites from movements themselves, no plan or no credible ‘we told you so’ from the left well, apart from the unions themselves who, are rightfully taking matters into their own hands. Who the hell can blame them? Centrist Starmer isn’t going to fight for workers in what has become the lighter shade of a tory party. More to this point, where’s the alternative to the lack of alternative – as I said, Labour isn’t necessarily wooing disgruntled tory voters into a watered-down version – the LibDems are proving only to be a tactical protest vote, as with the bi-elections. The political arena in the 21st century is a toxic snake pit and if one is too soft, honest sincere or a threat to the established nasty capitalist game, they will get eaten alive

Thing is, I’ve since got an e-mail from Resist asking for people to support a Rabbi Dovid Weiss – for a tour Resist has set aside 7 grant to fund. Of course, that is peanuts to any established political entity, but for a growing movement to not invest what small yet significant financial resources into either growing its membership or setting out on a tour to promote a left-wing manifesto – taking full advantage of the utter debauchery playing out before us is nothing short of stupid and squandering away yet another opportunity to fill a void. No, they’re hammering it into a tour of a rabbi speaking on something so divisive as, whether Israel has a right to exist, according to religious interpretations? What? So, I’ve made my feelings known in response to the appeal for accommodation being made available to the rabbi on his tour of the country. It would of course, be interesting to hear what he and his Palestinian colleague who will be joining him have to say, but against decades-long apartheid and brutality toward Palestinians – blatantly ignored by the West and Arab states – how is Weis’s tour going to make even a dent of an impact on the run up to the Labour conference – as the message suggests. Never mind the fact, Resist membership haven’t been consulted on whether we should support it – it’s already been decided by the steering committee, so I’m out. Whether or not the movement should be putting financial resources into this tour, should be a democratic decision – otherwise what are the membership, just the sideshow that funds the movement while a small exclusive committee make all the important decisions? What is the ‘actual point’ in a lingering will to pull at Labour’s apron strings?

Ironically and unbelievably, just as I typed up my response for the appeal for support of the rabbi’s tour and sent it – another message popped into my in-box. Apparently, Williamson has authored a book entitled “Ten Years Hard Labour” – well I commend him for his efforts, but the comment accompanying the promotion of the book was something like: “It’s time to analyse how and why things went so wrong under Miliband and Corbyn.” Oh, my days! The tedium! Really?  Hasn’t it been nearly three miserable years of doing just that? Wasn’t the fallout of the 2019 election and the months of grief that followed, coupled with the revelations of Labour’s in-house destruction and obstruction of Jeremy Corbyn enough? So, when does the funeral pyre of left Labour (whether exiled or still within) just get a grip, find its phoenix and reignite? I’m beginning to think it just doesn’t.

In the last 12 years, I’ve watched in horror and utter frustration, the left squander opportunity after opportunity, the in-fighting, the factionalism and of course how, unless you’re a part of a certain demographic, Socialism, and all it represents, just doesn’t come into the psyche of most.

People protest and then dutifully go home or suss out which pub they’re going to after the rally – I’ve done it myself, but then the kneejerk is a clamp down on our right to protest, so people get tired, intimidated or too apathetic to give a shit anymore – opting for armchair activism or just whingeing on social media – apologies I’m losing the plot

All this said, I don’t think Socialism is dead – many would profess to Socialist principles in one form or another, but when it comes to real organisation, mobilising and challenging the choking grip of a capitalist and increasing freakshow of demagoguery, the left just disintegrates.

Join a new political movement? Form a new alliance? Hahaha no! I’ll stay unaligned and do what I can, when I can. Solidarity and comradeship are of course important and what makes for a strong movement in the first place, but if efforts like Resist and others don’t get their act together and prioritise raising their voice above the noise, rising out of the ashes of defeat and stop the navel gazing – they’ll end up losing more members like me.

Chris Williamson I’m sure has all the right intentions and is one of the few politicians trying to make a difference in being a flawed human like the rest of us, but sadly as I have further learned since writing this, Resist is losing members, with a second resignation on the steering committee, as that all-too-familiar internal factionalism and quickly becoming disengaged with democratic processes or protocols – I can foresee a premature end to a great beginning.

As a marginalised woman, I’ll remain Socialist ‘til I die – following one’s convictions, especially as an individual, is hard and often incredibly lonely, but I’ll be damned if I join something that is just dithering – wasting precious time and opportunity, when time is of the essence for people, planet, and the next generation.

© 2022

No Picket Line or Paupers

By Dawn M. Sanders

When I decided to go down and join the picket line of RMT strikers, I wondered about the demographics and the level of actual enthusiasm that would, or maybe wouldn’t resonate here in Exeter, for striking union members and their demand for better pay or conditions. I’ve been down here for nearly 5 years and of course knew before I moved here, upon recommendation for the vocational opportunities for my son (who is hearing impaired/partially sighted) how middle-class it is and the element of snobbery too present to ignore – yet, until now I’ve stuck it out. I’ve had few opportunities since I’ve been here, to get involved in the things I care about – apart from when I was in the Labour party, but after Corbyn’s demise and the take over of an establishment stooge, I jumped ship like so many others and of course, nothing’s been the same. So, the more I read within alternative or social media, the more I knew I just had to be ‘out there.’ I’m not one who’s content with just armchair activism, signing online petitions or bemoaning the life circumstances we’ve been saddled with – at least when I lived in Sheffield, socialism was/is alive and well. Maybe stupidly, maybe naively, I just assumed most major stations up and down the country would have a picket line outside – after all, I did ring cross country rail network the day before I planned to join the last day of scheduled strikes and the chirpy lady I spoke to on the phone said, ‘oh, Exeter is a major station – they’ve been gathering outside, that’s where they’ll be. So, in anticipation, I needed a few things from the shop the night before, so bought several packs of croissants, doughnuts and bananas for the strikers I was planning to meet and show my solidarity for. I’ve been to so many demos and rallies of solidarity for workers, it just felt like first nature. Still, I kept waking up during the night – 4-something, 5-something, 6-ish – sod it, just get up…

It was a beautiful morning, but when I got off the bus at the train station – all was quiet and usual, just the same swish swish of the flow of traffic, but no crowds, whistles, or people around. I meandered into the train station and tried to ask a guy there with little English, where the picket line was, but he just kept trying the usual physically nudging me this way/that way, so I walked away telling him to keep his hands to himself, my patience being tested. I asked a woman at the window, ‘where’s the picket line, I’ve come to join it’. “There isn’t one” she said, walking to the door and glancing outside. “There not out there today, they have been the other day, but there’s no one there yet – they tend to get here for around 9.” I would have thought they’d be out there for early – didn’t pickets generally start early morning? – I felt bemused. So, I asked another guy, ‘are you staff’ “yes” ‘aren’t you striking? “No” ‘Is anyone at this station striking? “no” he said again curtly. ‘So, isn’t anyone from St David’s RMT? “no” He, like the first woman I spoke to, said they ‘had been there in previous days and could still turn up, so I told him I’d wait a while and, if he saw them to point someone in my direction, as I was there to support. He said he would, as I stood waiting with my bag full of breakfast snacks, I felt like a bit of a dope. I stood around for about half an hour, nothing but the usual passers-by. Unlike a lot of train stations, Exeter doesn’t have the poor odd sod hanging around asking for spare change I could have just given the bag to.  Sod this, I thought and heard the bus start up from its starting point, which was the right one for me to get home, but by the time I got near-ish, it pulled away. Luckily, I got on another in about 20 minutes. I thought, right, so what do I do with this bag of food? I knew roughly where the food bank in town was, but it wasn’t that near, and I didn’t know it well enough to get there and really just wanted rid of it. So, I thought, I’ll go up to Sidwell Street, synonymous for a lot of homeless people – I wasn’t going to see it go to waste.

Getting off at Sidwell Street, I walked toward the top of the street, where a lot of doorways often are home to someone with a sleeping bag or just sitting. It was all pretty clear and before I knew it, I was in front of the community centre – a lovely old church. So, I walked back finding someone sitting down and I offered her the bag: “no, not for me” she said decisively. So, I walked back up the direction of the church and the same lady was standing there who had spoken to me. She turned out to be a Jehovah’s witness, so I explained about needing to get rid of the bag of fresh croissants and stuff and thankfully she took it from me. Sigh.

Getting to the right bus stop on Sidwell Street to get home, I started talking to a friendly-sounding lass and told her of my conclusion – this place is just too middle-class and another sign I’m in the wrong town! There was no picket line on a Saturday morning on the last day of the biggest rail strikes for decades – she just laughed, agreeing, ‘Exeter is toryland’(even though, technically a Labour strong hold) and I told her how I had been in Labour with Jeremy Corbyn as leader, but how I resigned when this idiot took over. We chatted, seemingly making a cool connection and her bus came.

Finally marching up to my front door, the fiasco was finished. I made a cup of tea, opened the one plastic box of croissants I had kept from the bag I handed the Jehovah’s witness in Sidwell Street, tucking in – I reclaimed the karma, if there is such a thing, and reclaimed the morning.

© 2022


By Dawn M. Sanders

At the time of writing, it’s just another Sunday, while a lot of people are doing Easter and family things, I’m sitting solo – as I did yesterday on the beach, like when I sit in the same damn pub I have frequented for a good few years and in fact in most places where I venture.

Feeling alone and melancholy, got out my goddess cards, gave them a shuffle and chose Lakshmi, which says: BRIGHT FUTURE. Stop worrying. Everything is going to be fine.

Well, at a time when I’m feeling stuck, stagnant, unwelcome where I live, upset over my family situation and trying to relocate, it’s ironic and possibly synchronistic that, that card came up. These cards just have a magic and wisdom all their own and at the time of year representing hope and renewal – they couldn’t be more spot on and one of the emerging signs I have requested from the universe and all those looking out for me. Not saying I’m feeling positive or especially optimistic, not with my own microcosm uncivil war grinding on, not with worsening arthritis and yet another damn war raging out there – one which could take the world and humanity to the brink, but the cards have been speaking to me.

It’s a slightly cooler day than yesterday, but the sun is shining as I do today on my own terms – filling a couple of bags for the charity shop, trying to plan half-heartedly but a clear out of this place and minimalise on possessions. I’m doing the domestics when I get around to them but keeping more on top of it to minimalise on the cleaning when I leave here. I want to sell a few things – my massage table which, for the last 23 years or so has mainly just taken up space apart from the odd carting it to a festival or gathering to use my massage or Rei Ki skills. I want to just get rid of crap I’ve been toting along with me, in all the many moves, I’ve kept my bulky braille pages of massage syllabus, unwanted braille volumes of outdated computer programmes – just sitting atop my wardrobe taking up space and energy. I don’t know much about the whole feng shui thing but I’m sure there’s some truth in too much clutter stopping up a free flow of energy in someone’s home and headspace.

Back to the signs, I mean the signs I asked for about moving from Exeter back up to Chesterfield near my only son and family member in the whole of this country – a no-brainer, right? Well not entirely, not when I’m more in love with this place than the people here – the snobbery, the aloofness, the something I just can’t put a finger on that says, ‘you just don’t fucking belong here… Well, okay, it’s a hard pill to swallow – mainly because I came for a better quality of life – for both Jasper and me, but every effort I’ve made for his transition down here, the vultures clucking over him, wrecking our family life and making my life hell from afar, have prevailed in their power.  None of that will make sense if you don’t know me or my little family – just my son and I, but it doesn’t need to.

I had a mystery caller the other day who left a message I couldn’t work out – to hell with mobile phones. I kept trying to guess and on one hand thought, awe never mind maybe they’ll get in touch again after I responded with a message to whoever it was but sitting in the sunshine in the park the other day, solo of course on my walk back from the canal – I tried again, the saved message. The phone rang and, after a couple of minutes of her explaining how we had met, the penny dropped, because I just couldn’t place her voice, it was Liz from Sheffield. Wow! Liz, who I had gotten to know from her kid and Jasper going to the youth club all those years ago.  Her and I would eat dinner with our boys and other families, as the club would lay on curry buffets after the Saturday club.  I discovered she too had been singled out and picked on by the vultures – just for no other reason than having additional needs as a single mum, as both her and her son have autism, as I’m visually impaired and Jasper is partially sighted and hearing impaired.

So, sitting there in the park chatting away to her, we reconnected, and I told her of my plans to move back up, just not to Sheffield, because I hate the place, nothing has worked out here and I need to be close to my son. She is the second person I’ve reconnected with in as many weeks. I finally got hold of Gina, another old friend from Sheffield, now living half an hour away from Chesterfield.  She’s having some health problems but said I could stay for a few days next month to try and find a place to just get moved – now that I’ve finally decided to go, but with a little help from the universe and some unseen but crucial friends, ancestors, and wise ones. Yep, all the signs are neon and couldn’t be more crystal…

Editor’s note: Names of friends have been changed in line with journalistic integrity.

© 2022

MAY DAY, MAY DAY:Tyranny Is Here, But So Is the Voice of Descent

By Dawn M. Sanders

Picture showing a crowd of people protesting.
This is what democracy looks like.

“Absolutely we need the right to protest more than ever.  It’s good to see so many different activist groups out together sharing something in common and that is the freedom to express our voices in evermore challenging times.”
Stuart Walker
Yes, I was there – we were all there in our thousands…

The KILL THE BILL demonstration on 1st May was about challenging the policing bill which the Tory party has tried to rush through parliament, but so much more.

It was right on and amazing to see people have awakened to the encroaching control we are living under, often under the catalyst of covid for a tightening noose.

Of all the dozens of demos I’ve been to, I was simply compelled to get to this one, as my family’s human rights has been violated for several years now, as the judicial system and other powers-that-prevail, have grossly misused their powers, but I won’t go there for now.

With the onslaught of Brexit and our NHS over-stretched, yet under-funded and under-valued – whichever side of the fence you are on, there’s no denying the unprecedented, precarious atmosphere we are faced with.
At the demo all the usual groups and unions were out in force, as May day coincided as one rally to the call for worker’s rights, human rights, and the right to protest as we have done in the last couple of millennia, from the first suffragettes to the uprisings of the 1890s.
There were new unions that have cropped up in answer to the watering down of worker’s rights, such as the Independent Worker’s Union – I also met a woman with the Yoga Teachers Union.

This Tribune article treats us to an historical tapestry of the struggle for worker’s rights, celebratory religious and pagan commemorations of the changing season, but the added fight for our right to protest embodied in the worker’s movement was intrinsic to the day.

As my guide and marching partner and I along with his daughter, made our way toward Downing Street the air was permeated with the usual passions of mass demonstration, incense and unmistakable anger, as someone from behind us shouted into a megaphone: “Priti Patel, go to hell, Priti Patel, go to hell!” undoubtedly in response to the Home Secretary’s draconian approach to immigration and asylum seekers.

When those from non-western countries, such as Syria in the Arab spring of 2011protest for the basic right to democracy, what has resulted is a ten-year-war, further ravaging the already volatile Middle East.  However, for us, it seems the war on our freedoms, freedoms we have fought for, is underway in earnest. In discussing our right to protest, Rammy, a youngish man in the crowd said: “Without the freedom to protest, there is no other freedom to fight for.” He said of the Policing, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill: “I think it’s a response to a couple of things – the Extinction Rebellion stuff, Black Lives Matter, were on such a massive scale and didn’t really cooperate with the police in the way they would have liked, so they’re trying to criminalise the activity where people don’t pander to them and say, can we please do this.”
Stuart said:” It is really important to be down here at the moment specifically to stop Patel’s bill. Absolutely we need the right to protest more than ever.  It’s good to see so many different activist groups out together sharing something in common and that is the freedom to express our voices in evermore challenging times.”

With May local, mayoral, and Scottish parliament and Welsh Senedd elections upon the UK; facing economic uncertainty and an environmental tipping point, the craziness of the political arena is a definitive test to the human spirit and societal resilience, as life on earth changes as we know it.

© 2021

Epiphany on a Saturday Afternoon

By Dawn M. Sanders


I was folding and putting away clean clothes the other day in my bedroom when, the penny dropped and it hit me – man, what am I doing wasting my time, because that’s definitely what it feels like!


Lately as a freelance journalist, I’ve been thinking how sick and tired I am of writing pitches for editors for either written articles that have never seen the light of day from my portfolio page on my website, to original ideas that I could turn my hand to and create compelling articles, yet, after a year and a half, I’m losing patience with putting my hand out to thin air or barely acknowledged rejections and of course, not getting any younger…

Back in 2013/14 when my first business failed and I sat curled up on my sofa for 6 months thinking ‘what am I gonna do now’ – I knew I had always wanted to start Barriers to Bridges Magazine, which is why I went and got onto the journalism master’s degree course at Sheffield Hallam. The original idea was for the magazine to be an arm of my advocacy business which, as a social enterprise, just didn’t stand a chance .

Being the bull-in-the-china shop, I didn’t have a clue how I was going to fund my course at Hallam at the time, still long term unemployed during the years between my first degree and master’s as a single parent, but I got on the course and started it nonetheless.

So the latest epiphany, standing there putting a jumper onto a hanger, half looking at the soft, dull autumnal light from outside I thought: it’s time! It’s time to take the leap I imagined 7 years ago and just start the magazine which, would be for and about marginalised and disenfranchised groups and communities. It would address:  people of no fixed abode; people with additional needs; refugees, single parents (predominantly mums) poor/working-class communities or anyone facing societal, cultural and economic barriers – so my mind was suddenly racing ahead and I almost lost track of what I was doing. It would of course be ‘alternative media’ edgy/intelligent, progressive with a big P and push boundaries – tapping into no-go areas. That has been and still is, my vision for my journalism.

Writing pitches, however passionate and enthusiastic I am about an idea or want to sell an existing article after getting a distinction on my portfolio, has become such a chore and just a real drag – to the point I’m losing the will to do it. I’m not one for hanging around for too long, not when I’ve spent years and years trying trying and trying again – all it does is fan the flames of depression and despair – rendering me incapable of ‘doing anything’.

So as I enter the second trimester of my fifth decade, at least this coming year with all the uncertainties we now live under;   demons dancing in every shadow like hungry vampires coming to suck the life from desperate souls; scarecrows around every corner and clouds of tyranny threatening the horizon of humanity’s future – I’ll just have to plod on. I’ll start to put feelers out for like-minded would-be hopefuls to collaborate with. I need someone with more of a business head: in doing my journalism course, they didn’t talk about advertising and how it works with including particularly ethical adds in between the pages of a mag, revenues etc . The logistics of managing the overheads, well yet another learning curve. I would of course have to launch a campaign and ongoing drive for contributors but, I don’t mind drumming my energy into something that is likely to eventually yield fruit and take my journalism to a new dynamic. What I can’t keep doing is pissing-in-the-wind for lack of a better phrase when forever trying to woo the likes of arrogant editors who, can’t be bothered to spare a charitable, ‘no thank you’… How soul destroying is that? Oh of course I would always put out an idea or attempt to break the ice, but not without having more control over my own creativity or the flow of my output.


In applying for that course last week – intro to teaching further education at Exeter College, as a means of an eventual steady income for teaching national/international politics, political education or, a progressive brand of equality awareness – I figure a 12 week course will give me the opportunity to make good local connections and get a head start with it all. What I don’t want to do, is spend the rest of what working life I’ve got left waylaid within the padded cell or confines of academia, I could learn while I earn, but I’d rather learn first-hand, through the University of Life. Gathering content for Barriers to Bridges Magazine would mean getting content from homeless people on the street, a single mum stuck at home with the kids in poverty, figuring out how she’ll afford the school uniform for the next year or the ostracised guy caught in a web of isolation, too beaten back and afraid of the world to test his mental resolve any further – I’ve been all these places…



Opinion: Real Experience? Employers Should Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

By Dawn M. Sanders

All of this hot air from employers about not just encouraging diversity, but diverse experience is just that – a load of empty lip service.

My own experience is, I have been a single mum, raising my son single-handedly since day one, but during that time, did 2 degrees, qualifications in between – not to mention holistic alternative therapies.

Yet, nearly a year and a half as a freelance journalist and, all I get is thin air when pitching ideas for articles. I did the pitching course offered by my union and found it really useful – thing is, editors can rarely be bothered to give you 3 word rejection messages i.e. ‘sorry but no thanks’ – oh actually, that’s 4 words, but you get the gist.

Some time ago, I resolved to seek part time work as a top-up to my benefits on permitted work, as freelance journalism is clearly not a reliable enough income or more to the point, often a dead end game, no matter how passionate I am about my subject areas.

Problem is, in looking for part time something, that is just turning out to be yet another layer of dead end pursuits despite persistence.

I have multiple job alerts coming in every day – many of which are repeats of the same ones I’ve seen on other job alerts, many are supposedly under a certain category, such as campaigns or research, yet they’re not campaign or research jobs at all, such as something in hospitality.

Not only do I sport 2 degrees and certificates in between, such as a business qualification or my certificate in Community Development – I have the years of first-hand experience of homelessness, special educational needs and all of it’s limitations or rewards, as my son has additional needs, so I spent years navigating systems and fighting for equality for us both. Being a single mum with a visual impairment, renders  double stigma, double prejudice – guaranteed …

Yet, despite putting in an additional disclaimer explaining my lack of job experience and twice as much academia on applications but compensating with informal experience, such as with my political activism and campaigning – again it’s “sorry but on this occasion…”

And so it goes.

So, why isn’t the ‘real experience’ of actually being homeless, a single mum, informal political activism/campaigns, being at the forefront of discrimination for additional needs, considered real experience enough to work with others in similar circumstances?

At the end of the day, employers want that all-important so-called experience and they spell it out as ‘most haves’ on job applications: must have’ 3 years’ experience in an advisory role; must have experience of problem-solving; must have experience in a leadership position; must be passionate about making a difference to disadvantaged young people -etc etc.

Well, as it happens, I have most of those things – via the university of life!

Yet, when I’ve been a “service user” assuming the pecking order of ‘professional’ and client, inequality in the relationship is set by default.

It’s obvious for example, when someone is sitting opposite you when discussing your rehousing needs, they more-often-than-not have only gained their experience through either studying statistics, research/degree or any given avenue, but not necessarily having been homeless themselves. I would much prefer a more equal scenario where the person assisting me has actually “been there and done it” – replacing so-called professionalism with empathy. Imagine the shock if someone were to casually ask a housing officer or self-employment mentor, ‘have you ever slept rough in Regents Park or, did you opt for self-employment, because of a double whammy scenario of being frozen out of the job market? Chances are they would be ruffled by the challenging nature of the questions, let alone the audacity to ask in the first place. Of course not all situations are like this and it’s easy to tar with the same brush, but most of this henges on my wealth of life experience.

It is only apparent from their often calloused demeanour or slightly elevated position from which they converse or engage with you that says it all.

So when for example, I have applied for a job with Shelter, the leading homeless charity, for get it – being homeless first-hand just doesn’t cut it, the unspoken presumption being, if one has been homeless, they lack the professionalism required in today’s sterile environment of meritocracy – resulting in further inequality.

I’m not a big career head, but even getting a foot-in-the-door to be moderately successful as a journalist seems like trying to break into acting or something ultra-difficult along those lines. I also know I’m not alone – how many single parents, usually mothers, have not had the opportunity of the job market during their child’s formative years. Of course it’s possible, but much harder with a child who has additional needs and childcare is harder to come by or one has to be extra careful about who they trust to babysit. It is all coupled of course, with the fact I’m visually impaired and, upon entering a job interview, the interviewer recoils on first sight of you and is more concerned with how you’ll get home or make the stairs, rather than looking at your credentials.

Sticking my head in the sand of academia was a kind of coping mechanism, of course I had the desired aspiration for the outcome, but it was alright up until I completed my degree courses or whatever course I was doing at any given time, but going out into the world of ingrained scepticism, assumptions or preconceptions is not only harsh, but it pushes you into self-employment which, is hard enough work, but journalism?

Of course I don’t mind working hard and persevering and I think of all those people more easily discouraged or who have been at other disadvantages to me: a woman facing domestic violence and all its fallout; the veteran sitting in a doorway, because he hasn’t got enough priority points on the housing register or maybe just doesn’t have the resources, skills or confidence so has turned to drink.

So when people in those types of circumstances want to pick themselves up, gain some skills and then get to work and contribute to their own economic wellbeing, where does the ‘big break’ come?

Of course getting to work doesn’t always mean some high-flying job with top pay – a job at Tesco can be rewarding if you have been unemployable or unavailable for years, but for those of us who, after the kid has flown the nest and who aren’t getting any younger, the options are more limited all the time.

For employers who only want qualifications or formal experience and then trumpet equal opportunities, remember: equal opportunities is not just about employing people from minority groups, although that is definitely obligatory and challenges that employers walk the talk; but it should also apply to those of us who, not only have made the grade within the padded confines of academia, but who have graduated from the university of life, as in my case, my son is my credit as is my resilience.


By Dawn M. Sanders

It seems unyielding expectations are finding their way into the most feasible areas of our lives, even in adopting a cat, creating unnecessary conflict and complication.

For some time I have wanted a cat, as my landlord has okayed it in the last 6 months and I’ve had several for many years.  Staring down the barrel of possibly more stents of house arrest (or lockdown as the mainstream phrases it) with winter coming on, is almost too much to bare – living alone and working from home. I read countless stories of how people faced increased isolation and depression during the last 7 months and I know from experience, services addressing those issues are already almost impossible to access unless you’re desperate. So I’ve been trying with no success, to adopt a feline friend as an addition to my quiet semi-rural spot on the edge of Exeter, with fields surrounding, tucked away at the top of a hill – well away from a suburban road. With advice from my neighbourhood facebook group, I first tried the most obvious outlet, the RSPCA, after a cat was advertised available on their website. A young, fast-speaking woman took the call and, when I asked to fill in the form over the phone instead of online, due to not being great at forms online etc. she was hesitant and less than willing. After she initially took my details and asked some questions, her slightly edgy veneer gave way when I said I didn’t have a cat flap, but would have an open window for the cat to access going outside. “Oh well I don’t know about that – it’s best if you have a cat flap.” She carried on with how particular the cat was about other cats and asked how many there were in my area – like anyone is supposed to know something like that?  It’s like asking how many seagulls visit a specific rooftop in a day… She took my postcode, obviously with the view to looking at where I live on google maps and then kept me on hold for at least ten minutes at her leisure, instead of just saying she would ring back after talking to her line manager. When she came back she said: “Oh well it all sounds fine and, you can have a cat, but you can’t have boo, because you might forget to open the window.”  So that was that and there was little point in arguing, as the snobbery had been in her voice along with her natural pitch throughout our conversation and trying to convince her otherwise when her mind was made up, would have been futile.

So, back to the neighbourhood group, this time I asked for any independent rescue places.  Several people suggested the next obvious port-of-call, the Cats Protection League.  In looking at their website, I was immediately put off by the lengthy and bureaucratic process of paper work, getting it all approved, being sent back to sign, whether hardcopy or electronically and then something like the next phase of meeting the cat and I thought, ‘jesus, I’m adopting a cat, not a child!’  All the places I was trying were varying in their tightened, closed-to-the-public rules, due to the pandemic. The third place I tried was in earnest an independent rescue centre run by just a few cat lovers.  They had several reserved on their site, so I waited to see one which wasn’t yet taken.

After some weeks of being caught up with other things and drumming time and effort into my journalism, I looked again. There was a cat available on the first independent site and another Maine Coon advertised on their spin-off group. The one with the Maine Coon stressed specific experience with that type of larger cat, so I did a lot of research, as I was intrigued. There wasn’t much else to be experienced at with the Maine Coon, but as my son is wary of animals, I decided against something so big, as not to freak him out when he next visits.

The new arrival at the rescue place in Totnes was gorgeous, having been described to me.  I rang up and again described my setting and was directed to where he, the attractive male tabby, was being fostered. A slightly nervous-sounding older woman described him and his circumstances of where he was rescued from and I reassured her, he would be loved and looked after, as I live alone, with no other cats or kids. She then wanted to come and view my home – not something I was used to in simply taking on a cat as I had always gone to places, they choose me, a connection was made and I brought them home.  I however agreed and set a time and day for her to visit. When she walked into my flat, not surprisingly she said: “I gather you’re partially-sighted, are you going to be okay with a cat?”  I thought, ‘here we go’… “You don’t need to see to have a cat, as I say I’ve had several.” I said trying hard to contain my irritation. “Just wanted to make sure, if the cat was around your legs you would be safe.” She said, continuing to stand in the middle of my living room. When she made a comment that I’m not on the ground floor, I showed her the ledge I had built onto my outside window sill, where a cat could walk out onto and then jump to the suspension bridge that goes from my front door to the pavement – she seemed fine with that. After talking to her and her husband who, was seemingly there as a bystander, just having done the driving, sitting relaxed and laidback on my sofa, there seemed to be a mutual common ground reached as they liked my place and they went away saying they had to visit one more interested someone, really out of courtesy.

So, when I next spoke to her, let’s call her Martha, she said, ‘yes, we’re happy you can take the cat’ and she directed me to the cattery owner to arrange payment. However, just before she hung up the phone, she casually mentioned chipping.  Chipping? I asked. “Oh yes, you must get the cat micro-chipped, because if, if, if…” she said in a heightened and hurried voice. When I said I wasn’t really into doing that she said, ‘oh no’ I’d better hold it right there and talk to the manager. Less than a minute later, the manager of the cattery rang me to say the same, only more: “If the cat goes astray and isn’t found people become heart broken.  It could end up…” and she went on and on about – if it ends up in the back of a lorry, found dead somewhere, if someone takes it. We’re on your side, we like you, she insisted and I could hear it was an exercise in twisting my arm as far back as it would go and pressing all the right buttons.  I agreed to get the thing micro-chipped and finalised on her sending her bank details so I could make payment. The next day I waited in the midst of my busy day, for her to send me her bank details.  When by that evening she hadn’t, I rang her again. “Has Martha spoken to you today?” “Not today” I said and immediately knew something was up and, it was. She began by saying how “nervous” they were that I seemed a little resistant to their suggestions of coming for the home visit and then of the chipping thing.  I said, ‘yeah, but I did agree to it in the end didn’t I’? but then she was steadfast in her obvious change-of-mind.  The change-of-mind which, had obviously come from Martha, who had a steady stream of worries, despite my reassurances. So I had to insist on being listened to, as she was all too ready to just quickly spill out her misgivings and put the phone down. “You people seem to have these rigid expectations, and if a prospective cat owner doesn’t adhere to them down to the letter, you just flippantly hold it over someone, knowing how much someone wants to adopt a cat. Having different beliefs to you, doesn’t mean for a second I’m any less of a good prospective pet owner.” I interjected.  She insisted again on the issue of the chipping and I reminded her I agreed to it, yet was entitled to my beliefs, but it was to no avail.  Again, her mind was made up and the cat was going to the other interested party.

So, yet another slap-on-the-wrist for being a naughty little girl, too honest in having my own opinions and beliefs about how an animal is too denaturalised as it is in the name of human overly-zealous tenterhooks, as the natural world, or what’s left of it, gets on with it. I have a deep respect for animals and am all for animal welfare, in fact, just as much as anyone in the business of rescuing – even though I grew up in an urban setting, we always had pets. When I put the phone down from the manager of the cattery I thought, ‘fascists’!  Cat fascists! They’re obviously decent people, but they lose the plot when it comes to judging others on suitability to be pet owners. And, I was all-too-aware, the worrier at the other end of it all, had stopped short about further making my visual impairment an issue.  It would be completely naïve to think they had not discussed it, along with a thousand other reasons to change their minds.  Had they brought it up, I would have reminded them I’ve been a single mum – raising my son solo since he was a baby, so did they not think I could take on a damn cat? I could care less at this juncture, if it sounds paranoid to deface the façade masking the issue of my visual impairment, whether it is either the big white cat in the room or the rat you can smell from miles away, when you experience a steady diet of prejudiced preconceptions, it is more what they ‘didn’t say’, rather than what they did say in making their case. Given my experience, I have no qualms what-so-ever in mentioning Mitzie’s Kitty Corner as the latest culprit in denying someone to make informed choices, based on intelligent strongly held convictions. I would no more micro-chip a cat than I would my child!  I get why people do it and, that is their choice but, not only do I believe an animal should retain living in as natural environment and as natural a life as possible within our artificially constructed world of additives, microwaves and excessive conveniences; this is after all, the age of mass-surveillance and as an outspoken, opinionated left-wing journalist, yes, I have the sharpened awareness that, a micro-chipped cat would only provide yet another portal for big daddy.