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Archive for the ‘The serious stuff’ Category

Susan Curran, current.com

Susan Curran, current.com

This is such a sad story and is emblematic of something very wrong in Britain. Susan Curran, 58, who suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was banned from every branch of Marks & Spencers after she used the emergency bell in the disabled toilet to alert staff that she was having difficulties. Apparently, staff would be put at risk under some tenuous health and safety claim if they were asked to assist her, and so handing her a ‘trespass order’ was deemed a better way to handle the situation. Subsequently, no doubt due to the leaking of this story to the press, M&S revoked the order and said that it had been made in error. But this was not the phone bill with the misplaced decimal point that was accidentally posted to Granny Smith and made her think she’d have to remortgage her flat. This was a rationalised, premeditated event; the manageress waited for Miss Curran to return to the store before handing her the note. A spokeswoman has subsequently claimed, ‘It was never our intention for Miss Curran to feel she was not welcome in the store.’ Of course it was the intention. That’s just a cop-out because you got caught. When will ‘disabed’ people be treated like normal citizens? And what is the point in having an emergency bell designed to offer them assistance, if that cannot be provided? Okay, so it is a difficult and embarrassing situation if someone needs help at the toilet, and no doubt with our pervasive rape anxiety, the manageress was worried that Miss Curran would sue the helper on some tenuous claim of sexual harrassment. But just do it and don’t make the woman feel even worse about it. When I used to work at a charity shop, people with all manner of mental and physical ‘disabilities’ would come in, and on more than one occasion get naked in the shop. When you don’t have health and safety rule #7897 to refer to, common sense tends to prevail. Of course, health and safety regulations are a necessity, because apparently without having every possible rule written down in a pamphlet, we will send children up chimneys and cut off our hands in terrible industrial accidents. But seriously, sometimes you just have to use a little bit of logic, sense, and compassion. And because when it comes to jobsworths like these I am an incompassionate misanthrope, this story makes me entertain fantasies about the manageress being immobilised by the sheer terrifying force of the flush in one of those Virgin train toilets and having to be yanked out in a shitty pool of chemical goop.

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I read with interest today (in the Daily Mail online, but don’t judge me on that, I don’t normally read it… honestly) the story of Craig Matthews, who was murdered four years ago after a night out after confronting a man who was urinating in a neighbour’s garden. His family have been seeking financial compensation for his death, but until recently this has been refused due to claims by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority that by confronting the man who was urinating in the garden, Matthews ‘contributed to his own death’. Well… seeking compensation for a murder seems a little strange, but then in a country where hundreds of thousands of pounds are awarded for hurt feelings and broken fingernails, it’s understandable. It has also been suggested in other reports that Matthews did more than just verbally confront this man; not that anything would merit his murder, but the story is dubious. However, regardless of the specifics of this particular story, it does bring to mind other instances of the negative consequences of intervening in crime in Britain. In August 2007, Gary Newlove was murdered in front of his family by youths whom he attempted to prevent from vandalising his car. During the same month, Evren Anil was killed after he protested that youths had thrown a sweet wrapper through the window of his sister’s car. In December 2007, Richard Whelan was killed by a criminal mistakenly released from a young offenders’ institution, after complaining that the man had been throwing food at his girlfriend. These are isolated instances, but there are many more. There is such aggression and fear, not only on the streets of British cities, but in the suburbs and estates, that it seems understandable that citizens disregard crime in the interests of self-preservation. This is a terrible shame and should be addressed as a matter of priority by the politicians who ignore Britain’s vast social problems.

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… most of the population of Europe wanted to be there voting alongside you. And thank you very much for making the right choice. You scared us for a moment there, what with Melted Action Figure and the Succubus, but we knew you’d see sense.

More good news: Colorado and South Dakota voters rejected stringent anti-abortion measures; penalties for the use of marijuana have been reduced; dog-racing was banned in Massachusetts and improved conditions for farmed chickens demanded in California.

But: Proposition 8 is still being debated in California…

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