Thursday, 18 February 2010

Some useful links

I used the following resources in preparing my appeal:-

Benefits and Work

Action for ME

ME Association

There's a lot of helpful material available from these sources. I'm sure there are others - pointers would be welcome.

Shock late result 18 - 0

I was one of the first to be ensnared in the thickets of the new Employment Support Allowance, the benefit that is replacing Incapacity Benefit. This is paid at a reduced rate until a medical opinion has been obtained by the DSS. I attended this medical in Dundee in May of last year.

There is a list of criteria the doctor has to consider, and he submits a report. This, along with a personal submission is considered by the DSS, who award a point score based on the information before them. The magic number is 15 points - match or beat this, and the benefit is payable. I, in the finest Eurovision tradition was awarded "null points,no points, keine Punkte". This felt very much like an insult being added to my injury, and I appealed the decision, albeit with zero faith in the process.

Time passed.

I received notification of the tribunal to consider my appeal, to be held in Dunfermline, a mere 60 mile round trip from home.

I half-heartedly prepared a few arguments, wrote some notes, and set off to D'line with Mrs Lucas driving.

I was grilled for 40 minutes in an austere church hall building, and then sent to await my fate in the company of a tremulous individual awaiting his audience with these modern Guardians of the Poor Law. My mood was abyssal at this point.

I was summoned back into the presence, and a certain lightness of the tone raised some hope. I was given the decision - I had been awarded 18 points, and was clean through the qualification barrier!

Despite my utter cynicism, the system had worked, admittedly only after months of stress, but hey! I will receive at least £25 per week additional benefit, and I think it will be back-dated. Additionally, I think I can now try my luck with Disability Living Allowance, which is the gateway to eligibility for many other payments.

If anyone reading this has one of ghastly events in their future, I'm happy to discuss my experience. I think the trick is to be clear, concise, 100% truthful and assertive. I'm used to Court type settings - I used to work in the Court system, and have often had to address a Court. If this isn't one of your skills - get a representive to speak for you. The doctor on my panel was a feisty old party, and I did have to (politely) take her on a couple of times.

It's nice to know the good guys win sometimes though, and I'm delighted.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Don't mention the Election

I do try to avoid politics, but I can't resist passing along this:

Monday, 15 February 2010

ME/CFS Awareness 2010

There will be a month of Blogging for ME/CFS in May - you can read about it here

I have found a lot of strength and encouragement through forging links with a network of fellow people with ME through the net, and I'm keen to support any venture that helps the community grow in numbers, influence and effectiveness. We need a voice.

So you'll be seeing this badge on my blog for the next while

Amy Henhouse

A couple of photos, one of my bantam, one of a singer. Can you tell the difference?

Don't Mess with Yorkshireman

Sent to me by a good friend (Thanks Alec). Tells you all you need to know about us Tykes.

A London lawyer and a Yorkshireman are sitting next to each other on a long flight to Leeds .
The lawyer is thinking that Yorkshire men are all 'cloth cap and clogs' and that he can fool them easily...

So the lawyer asks if the Yorkshireman would like to play a fun game. 
The Yorkshireman is tired and just wants to take a nap, so he politely declines and tries to catch a few winks. 
The lawyer persists and says that the game is a lot of fun. 
'I ask you a question, and if you don't know the answer, you pay me only £5; you ask me one, and if I don't know the answer, I will pay you £500.' 

As may be expected, this catches the Yorkshireman's attention and to keep the lawyer quiet, he agrees to play the game. 
The lawyer asks the first question. 'What's the distance from The Earth to the moon?' 
The Yorkshireman doesn't say a word, reaches in his pocket, pulls out a five-pound note, and hands it to the lawyer. 

Now, it's the Yorkshireman's turn. He asks the lawyer,
'What goes up a hill with three legs, and comes down with four?' 
The lawyer uses his laptop, searches all the references he knows. 
He uses the air-phone; he searches the Net and even the British Library. 
He sends e-mails to all the smart friends he knows, all to no avail. 
After over an hour of searching, he finally gives up. 
He wakes up the Yorkshireman and hands him £500. 
The Yorkshireman pockets the £500 and goes straight back to sleep. 
The lawyer is going crazy not knowing the answer. He wakes the Yorkshireman up and asks, 
'Well! What goes up a hill with three legs and comes down with four?' 
The Yorkshireman reaches in his pocket, hands the lawyer £5 and goes back to sleep. 

Don't mess with Yorkshiremen; we only talk different. 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Blue Egg

I have a little black Auracana bantam that I raised from an egg hatched by a broody hen last year.

My little Auracana is called Amy, named for another famous Amy with a black beehive hairdo. She has a photocall tomorrow, meanwhile - here is her first egg, with others laid by her companions for contrast.

Ancient Monument

Back in 1968, as we listened to "Pictures of Matchstick Men", who could have guessed we were listening to future Officers of the British Empire? Status Quo are now officially National Treasures, and surely soon they should be declared to be an Ancient Monument.

Well done Messrs Parfitt and Rossi. They have quietly done much over the years for charity, and given lots of ham-fisted guitarists hope - learn three chords and achieve world domination! For "Rockin All over the World" the three chords are C, F and G, by the way. If you want to be really poncy, you can chuck in a F#dim as well.

The whole rock star/titles/Buck House thing is so Spinal Tap as to be almost beyond parody. Surely it's time for ST 2 in which Nigel, Derek and David are called to the Palace for enoblement? When we we see Sir Ozzy, Lord Rotten, or the Earl of Bragg?

The Quo have their detractors, but how could anyone listen to this without a smile and a tapping foot?

Friday, 12 February 2010

RIP Mr Frisbee

Walter Morrison, the inventor of the frisbee, has passed away. I've had a lot of fun with his invention over the years.

I'd recommend a round of the frisbee golf course in St Andrews to visitors to the town - it's part of the University's sports facilities.

There's a great sport called "Ultimate" that uses frisbees, details here. My eldest son was captain of the University of Dundee's Ultimate team.

Thank you, Mr Morrison.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Better late than never

Shamelessly pinched from nmj, to whom great thanks must be given: