My first 5k race

Damien Clarkson

Last night I took part in my first ever timed 5k race. It was as part of the GoodGym Race Series, which combined 45 mins of volunteering helping out a fantastic new social enterprise called Makeversity who are going to be offering affordable working spaces to people who ‘make things’, both digital and physical things with the hope of matching the talents within their building with teaching programmes for young people.

The 5k race was my first target on my recovery from injury. In fact I have pretty much exclusively been running 5k(ish) 3/4 times a week since the first week of August. The race took place in the evening and started on the Embankment outside Somerset House and the route would see us run along the embankment over Westminster bridge then down to Lambeth bridge before running back to Somerset House.

I decided to run in the sub 24 min group, my practice runs had been around 24 to 25 mins. But I thought despite constant dodging the tourists and steps we had to walk and down I could make it under 24 mins, because after all it was a race and I have always enjoyed competition.

I have to say I really enjoyed the race, I just went at my steady running pace until what I thought was a mile from the finish (it turns out it was 0.7 miles) then I decided to run hard to the finish. I came through at a respectable 23.35 which given the conditions, steps, tourists etc was respectable. It placed me 3rd overall which I was really happy with.  A youth spent playing cricket and football meant I was used to competing on a regular basis and it is something I think I have missed.

I have written a blog for GoodGym about my injury and my recovery was published, I think anyone who has ever had an injury will take something from reading it.

I would also recommend reading this blog by Nikki who has had a similar experience with injury and her recovery.

So, if anyone wants to do a park run or a 5k in the near future let me know. Running feels really exciting to me at the moment.


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Life

Well life has been busy and we have had an actual British Summer, these factors combined has led to me not blogging for far too long. However the past month has been packed full of some amazing experiences, life changes, struggles and exciting challenges. But have no fear, I am back on the blogging bandwagon 🙂 undoubtedly this will probably mean a flurry of blogs followed by my usual month of silence. But I promise I will try to be more consistent and anyway it is raining now.

At the end of June, I took my first holiday in 2 years and went to Berlin. I stayed in the district of Kreuzberg at a great backpackers for people under 40 called Jetpack Alternative.

On the day I arrived in Berlin the weather was 35 degrees and immediately I settled into the hostel and had a night out with a bunch of other backpackers. Althrough throughout the break I spent most of my time hanging out with Diana, who I met through CouchSurfing. She and her friends made me feel incredibly welcome and we checked out lots of bands, ate great vegan food and generally just had a great time relaxing.

Me and Diana

I was struck by how many people were vegan in Berlin, they have a huge vegan supermarket in Friedrichshain although it was deemed to be stupidly over priced by my new friends. Berlin really felt like a city I could see myself living in one day, I think Berlin has a culture which makes it easy to be an artist. Because of state support for education, and affordable housing and strong laws protecting tenants mean that creative young people can live in the most amazing accommodation for prices Londoners would only dream of.

So, on my return from Berlin, I decided I would go vegan, this is something I have been thinking of doing for quite awhile. I was already vegetarian and had been phasing out dairy for awhile.  Going vegan has been surprisingly easy, the only times it has been difficult has been when out of London and eating out. This has resulted in a few items being sent back.

Vegan times

As a result of going vegan, I feel full of energy and happy about how I am reducing my carbon footprint and not participating in a system which is cruel to animals. I have also read ultramarathon champion Scott Jurek’s new book ‘Eat and Run’, he believes a vegan diet is one of the key components which turned him into a champion. So vegan ultramarathon greatness here I come :-). Ok well perhaps I will crawl round a marathon next year before I turn 30.

Speaking of running, I have been receiving physio from Helen at Fix, which is a new sports physio practice near me in Hackney. I have learnt so much about how I run, what I need to change and my overall body and how it behaves. I have discovered that  I have been shielding the left hand side of my body for the last 8 years. This has led to me regularly getting injured as a result of putting too much pressure through my right hand side. My lazy left side is now shaping up and I am redeveloping my running to run in an increasingly front foot running style better known as ‘barefoot running’. So far the early signs are good, I haven’t had any side affects and after 3 months of injury I can run for 20 mins of a 30 min (10 mins rest for my ankle).

I have just recently returned from 4 days in Cambridge with some of my wonderful friends. My friend Tamsin took us to Trinity College,  at Cambridge University where I saw one of only 4 remaining copies of Shakespeare’s first folio and went punting. which turns out is loads of fun if not slightly hard work.

Punting in Cambridge

Tamsin and me at Trinity

We did plenty of cycling, walking and I led the cooking for 12 people, which was fun but exhausting. We did lots of discussing our future plans and the world we live in. I feel really blessed to know these amazing people who care so much about everything happening around them. All in all, beautiful people and beautiful times.

Walking with friends
So that was kinda the last month; I also saw ‘The Breeders’ and ‘Dinosaur Pile Up’, play which were amazing, I am trying to see more gigs, so if people fancy checking out bands let me know. I have tickets for Drenge in September, hopefully I won’t bump into Ed Miliband there after Tom Watson’s resignation letter suggestion.

Dinosaur Pileup

Next month I turn 29 (I can’t believe it) and the social enterprise ‘CookHoods’ I am trying to set up with my friend Bex is gathering momentum. I will update everyone on this soon but if you like good homemade food and supporting local communities, I think you will love it.

Until the next time. Big Love, Damien xx

GoodGym and super healthy

Running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 2010

For past month or so I have been slowly embarking on a health kick. Historically I have always been a pretty fit person, my childhood was filled with back to back games of football, cricket, tennis. Then in my late teens/ early twenties I developed a pretty full on gym habit. All of which came to a sudden end when I went travelling in January 2008 and realised I didn’t miss spending half my life in the gym.

Then like most people when they move to London I invariably became busy making lots of new friends and enjoying this amazing city. Recognising that I hadn’t been doing any exercise I decided to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2010 and ended up stumbling around in a pretty slow 2.17 (I was injured). The aftermath of not quite enough pre training and some poor trainers which ripped my feet to shreds meant that I found it really hard to pick the running back up. There have been a few abortive attempts in the couple of years since but during this time I have increased my cycling and this has kept me in some sort of reasonable condition.

However as I approach my 29th birthday (August) I have started to feel like I need to look after myself a bit better. I have always found that when I exercise regularly I have increased energy levels, feel more confident and I have a better work productivity level. Probably as a result of participating in team games like football and cricket I have always found running on my own incredibly hard which leads to me cutting corners.

Since starting on my health kick I have been on a couple of runs with my friend Lauren and these have really helped. Lauren recently ran the Brighton marathon for a great charity called GoodGym which essentially is a running club with volunteering on a community project sandwiched in the middle. I went to my first GoodGym run on Tuesday, I was actually pretty nervous that I wouldn’t be able to run the 8km and that I would be slower than everyone else. I was really pleased to discover that I actually wasn’t that bad and the other running volunteers were lovely. Our volunteering task was to help shift pallets and scaffolding planks to a new community permaculture garden in Shoreditch, which being me I was thrilled to discover. Then before we knew it we were on the way back to our meeting point in London Fields.

I think GoodGym might be the social running solution for me, next week we’re running 10km (gulp) and if I am last in the group, I will have to swallow my pride and deal with it. But the great thing with GoodGym is that someone will always run with you. GoodGym currently operate in East London, Camden and Liverpool. If you’re looking to get fit and do good you should definitely check it out.

I have also been inspired by a number of my friends have recently ran the marathon or have been living healthy lives and look great as a result. A number of these people are vegan and  have lots of energy to achieve impressive fitness feats.  Vegan fitness inspirations include, Laura Scott, Milly Banana Anselmo- Oldfield, Cat Turner, James Proctor. Non vegan inspirations are totally Hannah McQuarrie and Juliet Chard, Natasha Lees, Lauren Garland, Ree Ree, Amy Cooper and Tom Mustill and Luke Chaput– ‘ Luke- my knees aren’t springy anymore mate’. P.S: If you don’t already follow each other you should start 🙂

All of the people above are incredibly smart and motivating people to be around, I don’t think it is a coincidence that they all exercise regularly.

My getting fitter strategy will include:

  • Running more often and going to GoodGym when possible
  • Eating more vegan meals
  • No milk in coffee
  • Press-ups and sit-ups most days
  • Swimming
  • Getting a new bike for long cycle rides
  • More raw food

I am thinking that perhaps I will run a half marathon at the end of the summer. I did always say I wanted to do an marathon by the time I am 30 and the clock is ticking.

This land was made for you and me

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Firstly I am not a fan of attacking others on the left, god knows there are enough right wing austerity nuts lining up to attack anyone who dares to dream of alternative ways living.

However after reading Suzanne Moore’s blog today in the Guardian ‘Food is now the ultimate class signifier’, I felt compelled to add my view. I agree that food stamps are damaging.  I have heard they can only be spent in approved government suppliers like Tesco, Sainsbury’s or other homogenous corporations, not your independent corner shop or local veg box scheme. And yes as a nation we’re becoming more interested in baking bread and cooking from scratch, especially in the aftermath of the horse food scandal people are starting to want accountability in the food chain and to develop a better understanding of where our food comes from.

However what is very clear is that with every passing year we are stuck with this government the gap between the rich and the poor becomes wider. And Suzanne is right food probably is the ultimate class signifier. I know this as I am sitting in a Hackney café drinking my £3.50 pear, apple, ginger, lemon fruit juice. No joke! And I am not kidding myself I know places like this are not the solution for people struggling to feed their family with healthy tasty food.

This government continues to strip away choice in almost all aspects of life and I can see why people struggling and feel like they have no food choice. You don’t see government funded adverts telling people to support local retailers or to head to a website which will direct you to your nearest co-operative food growing scheme. Instead we’re fed a diet of advertising that tells us to rush to our nearest Tesco’s and shove Pringles down our neck. ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’.

In her article Suzanne points out that choice and eating seasonally costs. Sorry Suzanne but this is what the government want you say, they want us to think we have no choice and keep us at the mercy of big business, giving them our money in exchange for packaged junk.

Visibility costs and for businesses to gain that invariably they have to charge a certain price for their produce especially in London. This food visibility and access is the problem. I am lucky to live in Hackney and have access to lots of locally grown vegetables from veg schemes. For a veg box of £10 I can feed myself for 5 days. Yes I have to be a bit creative and yes sometimes I have to eat cabbage but it doesn’t break the bank.

If you’re unable to afford this some schemes offer free food in return for volunteering with the growing. Not only does this give people a hobby and new skills, it is also a great way to meet new friends and reconnect people with the food they eat.

Now for the big elephant in the room MEAT! I just searched the cheapest chicken fillets Tesco offer and they come up at £3.79. No wonder people can’t afford to eat if they are paying nearly £4.00 for the cheapest genetically modified product. Once you start adding Tesco’s packaging saturated vegetables and a sauce of some kind you’re staring at £10.00 just for dinner.

As Food Banks continue to open at an alarming rate we need to address food poverty in the UK. Food stamps are definitely not the solution they limit choice and must surely create a feeling of low morale in those who receive them.

What we need are for the government to really support the local food growing solutions that are happening all across the country.  Instead of sending the unemployed off to Pound land for a spell of slave labour, why not help train a new army of chefs that specialise in seasonal food? Or reclaim land and create community food growing co-ops? After all we live on a planet with finite resources, the solutions exist but the government just don’t want the majority to look in the right place.

Eating local food from scratch has been giving the marketing treatment and is viewed by many as something for the elite. But the actually this couldn’t be further from the truth, our great grandparents would be horrified to think that we are so deprived of basic food skills. I dream of everyone getting back to growing our own food, making bread, making chutneys and preserving food. These are skills passed on from generation to generation they don’t belong to Nigella or any of the celebrity chefs they belong to us all.

These are a few projects that give me hope for the future of food and more broadly the planet.

The Secret Seed Society) Teaching young children about food growing through story telling.

The New Dawn Traders) Inspiring a new generation of sail cargo ships to wean our shipping industry off fossil fuels

Foodcycle) Turning food waste into delicious affordable meals and creating volunteering and retraining opportunities for people in the community.

Growing Communities) A Hackney based local affordable food growing co-op

Made in Hackney) Workshops teaching Londoners a sustainable food future

Get Growing) Working with children and adults teaching them how to grow food using permaculture design and organic methods.

NHS please be a bit better next time.

I need to blow off steam and I am sorry blog with my housemates away I am going to take it out on you.

So today, I visited the hospital with my Nan who is very dear to me. We were seeing a neurology specialist about a rare brain tumour  called a Cavernous Angioma which we had been vaguely told she has.

As we sat down to see the neurology specialist and very quickly we were told that Queen Elizabeth Hospital had lost her MRI and CT scan which originally alerted medical staff to the tumour. So this means my frail Nan may have to come from her care home in Dartford to Holborn in London to have another scan.

My Nan as we suspected previously and had pretty much confirmed to us today has some form of dementia. Now this is where things get really frustrating. Since losing the ability to look after herself and spending a spell in hospital last year, I have been constantly trying to get her diagnosed with dementia by the local memory clinic in Dartford at Darent Valley. But they refuse to see her citing her Cavernous Angioma and saying is causing her hallunciations and confusion.

The neurology surgeon today was able to tell us that unless the tumour is huge, it would be incredibly rare for it alone to cause the confusion. And that in all likeliness dementia is the key factor contributing her illness.

When I was pressing the Doctor to ensure she can now finally see the dementia specialist and get the therapy and medication she needs. He said he can’t necessarily make that happen as different trusts have different approaches to this. I asked him to include this suggestion in his letter which seemed like the only thing I could do.

I just feel so frustrated all we want is clear communication and diagnosis about her conditions. But 8 months later we still haven’t got there.

I feel sorry for my Nan she is a kind wonderful person and although she doesn’t say the same things she used to I still love her very much and she deserves respect and the best care the NHS can provide.

I still believe the NHS is an amazing institution full of hard working talented people. But I feel like because my Nan is in a care home and doesn’t fall into a pre defined box the health service isn’t doing enough for her.

Sorry blog and the NHS I do still love you and respect the work you do. But can you please just try and be a little less rubbish next time we meet.

Big oil schools

Get BP out of schools
Let me start with an obvious but true statement: “young people are impressionable”. If you think back to your own childhood, I am sure a whole wave of questionable life choices come flooding back to you. Luckily for most of us we managed to get over the bad girlfriend or boyfriend and realised Kickers shoes aren’t the coolest thing in the world. However some choices we make at that age are not so easy to forget, especially when it comes career choices and education.

Therefore I was incredibly alarmed to learn about BP’s extensive work in schools in the UK. In particularly one project whereby BP have been going into schools and conducting interactive sessions teaching children to be oil traders. I watched the promotional video which has now been removed by BP, where one BP employees was telling students: ” The trick is to buy oil low and sell it high”. And although their main schools roadshow which has already visited 700 schools has finished they are still operating their similar ‘Enterprise Trading Challenge

Let us remember BP are leaders in an industry that has ruthlessly exploited the worlds natural resources and people in the pursuit of huge profits over the past 100 years. BP irresponsible attitude towards our energy future has contributed to the climate change crisis facing us and future generations. And it was only 2 years ago that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill poured 200m gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico sea. This caused huge environmental damage which has led to BP already paying out $7.8 billion in compensation for the damage caused.

So to me it feels ludicrous to give BP the chance to greenwash their brand in the eyes of children. Is financial speculation with one of the worlds most precious but destructive resources something we want our kids to think is a future career? We need to remember the financial crisis was caused in part by reckless speculation by traders.

Companies like BP who exploit the planets resource in order to make huge profits with no regard for future generations have no place in our schools trying to make a career in destroying the planet seem glamourous.

However worryingly the oil industry in schools isn’t just limited to BP. Cuadrilla the company pursuing the highly controversial form of extreme energy extraction known as Fracking in Blackpool have started running competitions and giving away money to schools in the local area they are trying to destroy. Fracking has been highly condemned by most of the EU with the exception of Poland. In the US Fracking has been shown to cause water contamination, air pollution, cancer and is carbon intensive form of energy production. For a lowdown on Fracking and whether it is planned in your area check out ‘Frack Off‘.

I have heard stories from parents about Exxon Mobil sponsoring kids school bags and books. It appears the fossil fuel industry is following the example of Coca Cola, Mcdonalds and other ethically dubious brands in funding community based activities in order to encourage parents and children to turn a blind eye to the destructive activities of their industry.

If you’re a parent do you want your child to grow up to be an oil trader? Do you want them to live in a world with no summer Arctic Ice, where flooding and extreme weather are the norm and millions of climate refugees roam the globe? Well this is the future we have in store if oil companies like BP, Shell, Exxon Mobil continue in their ruthless pursuit of fossil fuels and profit with no regard for the future generations.

No matter what financial pressures are facing our schools, we need to stand up and say no to these dangerous organisations infiltrating our education system. Fossil fuel companies would have us believe their is no alternative to drilling in the Arctic or fracking for coal bed methane or exploiting tar sands. Allowing them into schools to promote this ideology to children is dangerous. Our generation has a great responsibility but also a great opportunity to harness the natural assets our planet is blessed with. Hydro, wind, solar and Carbon Capture Storage all offer great hope if we invest in the technologies instead of continuing to subsidise the fossil fuel industry. As the CBI reported last year green growth is  creating jobs and offers viable alternative future for the UK.

I would be really interested to hear from parents especially about whether oil companies have been to your children’s schools? If so, what did they do in the school? Do they sponsor sports teams, competitions, or are they teaching kids to trade oil? Please leave a comment or tweet me with your stories. Also there is a fledgling petition on 38 degrees which I urge you to sign to get oil companies out of our schools.

Boris Johnson- no fracking clue

“Who’s bad?” in the British political scene of 2012 it has to be Boris Johnson. The publicity-loving Mayor has been showing his dangerous neo-liberal tendencies again; this time by using his column in the Telegraph to support of the pursuit of shale gas, better known as Fracking.

This article was lazy even by his slap dash standards, throughout he manages to ignore any empirical evidence about fracking and uses what I would describe as cold war style rhetoric to make his points. This little snippet used when talking about the Kyoto treaty stopping us building new coal stations sums the language used throughout the article perfectly: “We are therefore increasingly and humiliatingly dependent on Vladimir Putin’s gas or on the atomic power of the French state”.

We all know Boris isn’t one to follow rules, however it would appear this extends to following scientific reports. Although Boris did correctly identify that gas omits less CO2 than burning coal. Well-done Boris. Although studies commissioned by the EC have found Shale gas is likely to have higher emission levels than conventional gas extraction methods. So not much, much, cleaner Boris but still probably the second most destructive form of fossil fuel consumption available to us at the moment in Europe.

Boris also claims there hasn’t been one single complaint the Environmental Protection Agency in the US where fracking has been widespread. Sadly it appears Boris hasn’t heard of the infamous ‘Hallburton Loophole’. In 2005 Congress passed the Energy Policy Act. This act included a clause which exempted nearly everything used in fracking from being regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. So if you live in the United States and your drinking water now has shale gas mixed in with it because of leaking fracking wells, you can’t complain. If the fracking rigs cause poisonous air quality, you can’t complain about that either. Instead artists led by Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono have united against fracking to stop it happening in the New York area.

This kind of de-regulation and reckless pursuit of fossil fuels to benefit the already rich fossil fuel industry is ludicrous. Boris should really be careful as he is already responsible for over 4000 early deaths in London due to poor air quality. So yes Boris, I am a green campaigner and I take the further poisoning of our air, water and increased carbon emission’s very seriously.  And my next point is where I find him incredibly frustrating; whenever I see him on TV he endlessly talks about the need for investment. Renewable energy is an area where we have the expertise and the opportunity to be word leaders however Boris continues to call for investment in dangerous fossil fuel technology.

And I am not alone in calling for this urgent investment in green growth the CBI (The UK’s top business lobbying organisation) recently released figures showing that one third of British growth last year came from the green economy. The figures are stacking up in favour of investment in the ‘green ecomony’. The CBI believes if we get the right level of investment from the government and investors the ‘green economy’ could deliver £20 billion in 2014/2015. I certainly wouldn’t call that ‘chicken feed’.

Again in regards to employment he really misses the point. In sectors such as wind power and energy efficiency close to one million people are already employed in the UK. Expertise in energy efficency and renewable technologies are things we can export. We can’t sell the toxic carbon emissions created by fracking that is for sure.

Boris Johnson is now widely viewed to be the future leader of the Conservative party. Members of his party would do well to remember the bumbling backbencher that couldn’t punch his way out of a political paper bag. Essentially Boris hasn’t changed he still spouts the pro business, anti environment, de-regulation nonsense, which led to the financial crisis. His ideology of neo-liberalism has been discredited; it’s heroes, Thatcher, Bush, Cheney, Blair, are widely derided figures. This article reaffirmed Boris desire to destroy our countryside and ignore the climate change crisis in the favour of short-term profits for the fossil fuel companies.

This is the man who in the wake of the Libor scandal told us “Barclays is and remains a great British brand,” a “proud” and an “historic” one no less. And he remains a champion of Rupert Murdoch despite the phone hacking scandal. The question is; do you really trust Boris on the environment? I know I don’t.

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My Dad and Motor Neurone Disease

This blog is about my Dad and his battle with Motor Neurone Disease. It is the hardest thing I have ever written and I have shared photos I find tough to look at. The reason for the blog is i want to tell you about a new campaign by The Motor Neurone Disease Association to get you and your MP to sign the Motor Neurone Disease Charter. The charter calls for those suffering with the disease and their families to be provided with the support they need.

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On the February the 6th 2011 my Dad, Keith Clarkson died from MND he was aged 56.

I have seen close up how devastating MND is; for anyone who doesn’t know MND is a muscle wasting condition which robs people of the ability to walk, talk, eat and finally breathe, there is no known cause or cure. The experience of watching my Dad trying desperately to cling onto his dignity was heart breaking for my Mum, brother and I.  On the day before he died we got him a small whiteboard to write down what he wanted to say; as we were no longer able to understand his speech. Losing that last scrap of dignity probably was why he finally gave in and never woke up.

This blog is from the heart and my honestly my Dad was a complicated person and he certainly wasn’t one of life’s natural communicators. Like many people with a high IQ he had a borderline obsessive personality and could be relentless in his pursuit to make you share his passions. This coupled with an inability to listen to your concerns at times made him difficult. And growing up I found talking to my Dad incredibly hard, he often seemed aloof and uninterested, however as we grew older we both learnt to understand each other and formed a strong relationship.

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But despite all of his complicated personality traits he was a kind and caring person who would always go miles out of his way to help his friends. He was also a perfectionist who took incredible pride in his appearance and his work. Undoubtedly partly borne out of growing up in a poor family and his short spell in the army. I can still remember him constantly commenting on dirty state of my school shoes and football boots.

I suppose what I am trying to say is my Dad was a proud person. And MND tried desperately to take away his dignity.  My Dad received a late diagnosis in October 2009, MND is notoriously hard to detect and half of people diagnosed die within 14 months of being told they have the disease; as was to be the case with my Dad. We had known that something was wrong with him for a little while. In the years leading to his diagnosis he had lots of small muscle operations in his shoulder and wrists. We believed these were the result of motorcycle accidents or RSI from working on computers.  And when he gradually started losing weight and his speech had become less clear, I started to think he may have Parkinson’s disease.

From the moment of his diagnosis my Dad was never the same person, he wore what I would describe as a veil of death. Getting him to laugh or smile became a near impossible task as he quickly became frail and weak from the disease. On our last holiday to Greece in Thassos a place my Dad visited over 10 times in the last decade of his life. He suffered terrible sickness and immediately after our return had a 6-week spell in hospital and a food tube being fitted to his stomach.

The following 6 months of his life were unbearable for us to watch, so god know how he felt. He was still working doing IT consultancy from home in a desperate attempt to make money to look after my Mum once he had gone. I remember sitting there as he repeated a word 5 times desperately trying to get the person on the other end of the phone to understand him. I sat there watching him knowing how much it was killing him inside. He refused my offer to translate for him.  It turns out that my Dad had probably been suffering with MND for perhaps as long as 10 years before he was finally diagnosed with the illness.

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My Dad regularly talked about selling up and moving to Greece, I often think what the last decade of his life could have looked like if he only knew he had MND and was dying. He could have been in Greece doing the things he loved, swimming, riding bikes and drinking Ouzo. But instead I will forever remember the last months of my Dads life in a different way, just slowly fading away.

This is why I urge you to sign the MND charter only 5000 people have so far in the whole of UK which is tiny amount. And the MNDA have created a letter you can simply email to MP urging them to support the Charter. If enough people sign the charter hopefully in the future those diagnosed with MND can get the information and support they need to ensure their last days are the best they possibly can be.

Take care Dad and wherever you are I hope the sun is shining.

Lots of love,

Damien

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Last picture taken of my Dad

Here is the five point MND Charter:

1. People with MND have the right to an early diagnosis and information

2. People with MND have the right to access quality care and treatments

3. People with MND have the right to be treated as individuals and with dignity and respect

4. People with MND have the right to maximise their quality of life

5. Carers of people with MND have the right to be valued, respected, listened to and well-supported.

Reactions

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After receiving an email from the wonderful Annie over at Mammasarus blog talking about linky initiatives, I decided I would join in with the Ranty Friday linky. So the following is a bit of a rant on a couple of issues I really have a bee in bonnet about at the moment.

Innocent until proven guilty

First off let me be clear; the allegations of child abuse by MP’s and media figures are disgusting. As someone who worked at the NSPCC I am fully aware of the horrors of abuse and the lasting impact the vile actions of abusers leave on survivors. But this week has seen the internet awash with the names of MP’s accused of abuse.  These people haven’t been found guilty yet and although I am really glad these allegations are being taken seriously and the people accused are being arrested or spoken to by the police. In this country we have a proud tradition of being innocent until proven guilty. The reputation of the accused will never recover even if they are found to be innocent. These accusations are of the most serious nature and I think we would be all better off if they were treated like the serious crime they are and not a tool to sell newspapers or grab TV ratings.

Disaster Politics 

Well thank god Obama got re-elected and we have been spared the crazy neo-liberal extremism and anti women policies of Romney. In his victory speech Obama said; One of his dreams is that the nation’s children would live in an America “that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.”

Sadly it has taken the devastating consequences of climate change in the form of Hurricane Sandy to come knocking on door of one of the richest and most powerful cities in the western world to put the issue back on the US political agenda. When hurricane Katrina destroyed the poor area of New Orleans barely a fingers was lifted, the poor were left destitute, whilst the rich rebuilt privatised towns with security guards to keep the deemed undesirable out.  The US should be leading on tackling climate change and investing in renewable technologies, such as wind, solar, carbon capture storage and introducing a carbon tax on business. Instead they continue to not commit to legally binding carbon targets and invest in the environmentally reckless practice of shale gas extraction better known as ‘fracking‘. If President Obama wants to create a future where our children don’t live with regular extreme weather events he better act fast.