I thought that just in case anyone missed the articles I wrote for Time Out last week I would up load them. So here you go…
It’s a quick guide to places I like in Camden, so if you are planning a day out round these parts take a look.
I am also writing a series of three pieces around the Paralympics and this is the first of them. I will up load the rest a week after they are out.
It’s been a fantastic opportunity to discuss some of the issues that the games bring up, and well done to Time Out for allowing me to do so.
© Mik Scarlet. First published in The Independent as ‘I don’t want a normal life. Why does that shock you?’ on 14th November 2000.
I don’t normally get asked to write articles on such a sensible topic as social rights. I usually get asked to write about sex, clubbing, partying, fashion, and sex again. But then I think that’s what social rights are really. The right to do what everyone else does, what everyone else takes for granted. I have always felt that during the fight for civil rights, those at the front line sometimes forgot that there is more to equality than just having access to public transport or the right to work. I must admit I have always been more interested in the fight to make nightclubs accessible than public transport. (From the horror stories I hear about train crashes, faulty train lines, and overcrowded tubes and buses, I think I’ll stick to my little blue sports car). In the past I have been condemned for being too interested in having fun, but this once very unpopular view is now becoming more accepted, even trendy. With the event of campaigns like “Attitude is Everything”(the new drive to make live music venues and clubs accessible to us disabled types), the right to entertainment and enjoyment is being acknowledged. I see the fight for equality as the fight to do what you want to do, to live your life your way.
© Mik Scarlet. First published in Best For Music magazine vol.2 April 2001
Now I know I’m getting old. Soft Cell playing live! One of THE bands of my teenage years, back together! Yippee.
So with full make up on I drive, with “Non-Stop Erotica Cabaret” pumping out of my little blue sports car, to Ocean, Hackney’s new music venue. Being a blaggy bastard it’s the opening night. Invite only and free drink all night… yes I drove… duh. I sit through speeches by Hackney council types, all patting each other on the back (well it’s not often they can do that, so I’ll let them off) and then it’s the opening night fireworks… lovely. At last all the hoopla is over and we are allowed into the arena. I find myself rushing to the front, like a mad teenage fan. It’s all coming back to me…. “Marc, we love you!”
Edited by John Brockman Book Review by Mik Scarlet
From the moment I learnt to read, I devoured anything science based. By the time I was 12 I saw the future as a place populated intelligent robots, biomechanical engineering, interstellar spaceships, aliens, and ray guns. A fantastic future that would resemble a mixture of Star Trek, Star Wars, and 2000AD comic.
Yet here we are 25 years later in a world that is pretty much the same as the one I lived in as a pre-teenager. In fact instead of conquering space, we are only just building our first real major space station, and that’s in near Earth orbit. This is where anyone who tries to predict what the future holds; they are too unrealistic.
© Mik Scarlet. First published in The Independent
So it’s that time of year again. The BBC’s Children In Need campaign. A whole night of stars begging us to give money to help the “poor little things”. Terry and Gabby front this all night-er and we give. Or should I say you give. As someone who comes from one of the groups portrayed as IN Need then I won’t be. Yes I used to be a disabled child.
© Mik Scarlet. First published in Best For Music magazine vol.2 April 2001
It wasn’t planned, it kind of just happened. This weekend I did something that I haven’t tried since I was about 18. I STAYED IN ALL WEEKEND. My girlfriend Diane and myself spent 48 hours in our flat, broken only by a quick lunch time jaunt to our local pub with her friend Veronica. Other than that we didn’t go clubbing, gigging, to a cinema, or even back to a pub. We spent two days IN!!! Ok, we were in bed for most of it (tee hee) but what shocked me was not the fact that we stayed in but the fact I didn’t miss going out. And what’s more I know it’s not because I’m getting old (the main subject of my last London Calling). It’s because clubs are changing. Dance music is becoming a parody of it’s self or it’s turning into garage hell (garage music is without doubt total shit – anyone who says other wise should remember we have garage to blame for Craig “Ego” David), in London most rock clubs are held in some dive that smells of piss, pubs seem to have forgotten they are not clubs and have turned up the music to a Ministry of Sound volume and gigs seem to be full of crap bands doing the same old same old. But the main reason why going out is losing its appeal is Cocaine!
© Mik Scarlet. First published in Pure magazine, issue 1, 1999
As the world became brighter, I began to become aware of a strange damp feeling. My eyes peeled open and I focused on a figure in clad in green, their face hidden by a white surgical mask. The room was very bright; it hurt my new borne eyes, with its white walls, white ceiling and electric lights that burnt into every surface, allowing no shadows. The figure began to make sounds … it all came rushing back to me “Michael, can you hear me? Do you know where you are? “. Now, I had no idea if I could speak, my mouth being so dry, but before I even tried, I noticed the figure had red fluid over most of the green garment she was wearing. Ah, a woman yes, a nurse, hospital, operation…. my second. I lifted my arm to touch her and…God it was blood on her dress, it was all over my arm. That was why I felt damp…the bed was soaked with blood! “Don’t worry Michael, it’s all over now. Your Mums outside to see you” SO MUCH BLOOD. “We’ve just got to roll you over to change the sheets, Michael” Another green angel assisted my nurse/butcher in rolling me onto my side, and it hit me. It was MY BLOOD. “This must be what a horror film would look like” my fifteen-year-old mind enthused as it saw just how blood soaked my bed was. “I thought you only had eight pints? ” “Nurse… could I…” No way I was going to finish that sentence, another had just begun… the pain had kicked in.
First published in The Independent as ‘Do you have to hate people to become a doctor?’ on 20th January 2001
What a bad start to 2001 the medical profession in this country has had. It started with the revelation that Dr. Harold Shipman may have murdered over 300 people, making him the world’s most prolific serial killer. Then the shock news that doctors regularly take organs and body parts from the deceased for medical research with out asking or informing the relatives. Next Bedford Hospital is storing corpses on the floor of a Chapel of Rest, although personally I feel that printing photos of the diseased on the front cover of news papers with out a thought for the relatives is much more of a scandal, and now Sir Donald Irving, the president of the GMC, has complained that the medical profession has “cultural flaws” manifesting themselves as problems with “…excessive paternalism, lack of respect for patients and their right to make decisions about their care, secrecy and complacency about poor practice.” He is worried that these problems will make patience believe “that a lot of doctors put their interests before that of their patients’.”
Well I don’t know about that but I do think that we are gradually waking up to the fact that doctors are not miracle workers or gods, much to their annoyance. My personal experience of the medical profession is one littered with blunders, arrogance and secrecy. I was born with cancer, but the doctor who performed the postnatal check missed a tumour the size of a tennis ball in my newborn body. I cried in agony for eight weeks, my mother being labelled as a “hysterical mother” by any visiting midwives and doctors, and it was only when I stopped crying and became limp and lifeless that my Aunt, who was a nurse, declared “This baby is very sick”. The cancer was cured, (OK they get it right sometimes) at which point my mother was informed I would never sit up, walk, or be able to even feed myself.
I was walking by the age of three, and by the age of five I started at a normal school. During this time my father had started complaining of chest pains and went to the doctor, who informed him he had indigestion. A month later my father died of a massive heart attack. During my teens my spine started to bend and a surgeon informed me that at the age of sixteen I might need to have an operation to fuse my spine. At the age of fifteen my spine collapsed. After two major operations, during which time a staff nurse wrongly informed me I had cancer again and was going to die, I left hospital and began years of physiotherapy to try and walk again. I gave up and felt I had failed. By now I had lost my faith in doctors and avoided them at all costs.
However two years ago I began having terrible pain in my back and legs. It was so bad that my GP prescribed me a Morphine based pain killer (which I became addicted to… that was fun kicking that!) and I became so worried I made an appointment to see a specialist. The day of the appointment I was nervous, I feared that I had another serious problem with my spine, the pain was that bad. I had been for an MRI scan previously and today the doctor was going to tell me if anything was wrong. Once in the consulting room a junior doctor looked at my scans. He studied them, looking stunned and rushed out of the room. I began to get scared. The surgeon came in, briefly glanced at the scans and left the room. Then a nurse came in and began to fuss around me and could hear the surgeon on the phone in the room next door. Now with my previous experience of medical procedure, it appeared to me that my worse fear were coming true. I obviously had something wrong and a bed was being found for me. My girlfriend, who had come in with me, gripped my hand, sensing how scared I was. At this point the surgeon came in, announced “there’s nothing wrong with you”, and turned to leave. My girlfriend, stunned by his arrogance, asked, “ So what is causing his pain?” “No idea” the surgeon replied. My girlfriend snapped, and in a reflex response grabbed him by the throat and subtlety insisted he find out what was wrong (add expletives as you wish). I must point out I hadn’t actually been talked to yet and the surgeon hadn’t even touched me. So it was arranged to send me for tests, which took so long to arrange the pain had all but cleared up… by itself! During my brief stay, I thumbed through my notes and I discovered an operation report on my first operation I had when I was fifteen. On reading it I discovered the line “ the L1 nerve root had unfortunately been separated during dissection”. This meant that during my operation a nerve root had been severed, which meant that the years of physiotherapy to get me to walk again was a total waste. It had no chance of working; the nerve damage was such that I couldn’t control my legs enough. To think of all that pain and anguish I went through at MY failure to walk.
So with this as history with the medical profession, I think you may understand why I agree with Sir Donald. If the whole profession do not start trying to change, they are in danger of living up to the old joke “Doctors-they’re just under trained vets!” If I had received the level of care I received from doctors from a car mechanic, I’d be suing his arse BIG time… that is if I hadn’t been killed in car crash.
It amazes me when I come into contact with doctors who have no interpersonal skills. It almost feels sometimes like they hate people. Why become a healer if you can’t stand the thing you’re healing. Surely they must know how scared we are at the thought of being ill, of being powerless, of being totally in their hands. Of course they do. That’s why suicide and addiction is rife among doctors. They know when they are ill, and worst that that, they know that if they do ever become ill they will fall into the hands of people who will treat them as if their feelings don’t count. Doctors!
Now I know that not all doctors are like this. My old GP from Luton, Dr Spiro, and my current GP are great, and thank God for them. Otherwise every time I felt ill, I’d be going to a fancy dress shop, buying a dog suit and go woof, woofing my way down to my local vet.