Saturday, 2 June 2018

It was only a matter of time....

I haven't slept properly in days.

I'm exhausted, disorientated, depressed to high heaven and at the end of my tether.

After spending a few days in St. Alban's at a friends at the Bank Holiday I'd got accustomed to being in doors for while.

But when I was about to return a catalogue of events conspired for me to lose my Louis Vuitton Bag (including all it's content and Louis Vuitton toiletry bag).

It began when I spilt some Chinese food I'd bought at St. Alban's Street Market which I was eating outside in the grounds of the Cathedral. This meant I had to wash my jeans and ended wearing a pair of blue trousers instead.

I was residing in a friends car and she'd supplied me with a key fob (which unfortunately as the cars battery had run flat didn't work) and a manual emergency key. This key was not normal as it was incredibly thin, didn't have a plastic head and not attached to any key ring.  The change of clothes meant that unlike when it was in my jeans pocket it had no way of falling out but in my trousers it did... and it did!

Upon returning to London I had stayed with a friend for the evening (from where in the rush to leave in the morning I believe the key fell out) but the next day I discovered the key gone and I was unable to get back in the car. (Had I gone straight to the car rather than heading to his house the night before - I don't believe I would have lost it, as I would have changed back into my jeans).

This meant I was wondering around with my bag wherever I went since last Tuesday.  I'd been sleeping on buses.  And last night I'd attended S.O.U.L at the BFI. I'd had a few drinks and having barely slept all week was totally exhausted.

Ironically only the day before I asked another friend if I could leave my bag at his place but unfortunately his positive response some hours later was too late for me.  So I still had it on me when it disappeared last night.

I'm currently still fighting with the DWP and this is a direct consequence of their failures to pay what is rightfully mine.

Right now, I don't feel like continuing with life. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

I'm living in purgatory.... and I don't want to anymore...

As ever, writing is the hardest thing for me to do.

It takes massive amounts of energy, concentration levels that exhausts and requires hours of time, re-reading, correcting and trying to get complex ideas into simple sentences.

I'm writing this is in the Shakespeare's Head Weatherspoon Pub on Holborn. 

I'm using a Lenovo Computer (and that latter word I use in its losesest sense - because this is a Window's device I didn't want, rushing in to John Lewis to find something quickly as my Lenovo Tablet was playing up (being forced by extremely poor programming and design to require an Android Update that entirely scrubbed the device). I wanted a Lenovo Yoga Computer, but even though there was one on display, they didn't have it in stock - I ended up with this rubbish windows ideapad3205.

Windows makes no sense, neither does Google Android or Apple OS.  They force me to work in a way that works for them rather than being, as it should, a useful tool for me.

The entire popultation of the city of London have become moronic slaves to Facebook, Google, Apple  & Microsoft.

Rather than improving lives and making simple tasks more efficient. Everything now requires a work around.  Something as simple as making a diary entry now takes 3 - 5 minutes as opposed to 10 - 20 seconds 20 years ago, as nothing about the interface makes sense.

I'm laden with displays that don't work for my benefit, Wifi that keeps me requiring to log onto it (and since Sky took over the Cloud - one that barely ever works), nothing about modern living has improved anything.  It's ironic that my generation who learnt to code computer from our early teens are now battling with closed systems, that are only designed to give me adverts and make money for the company I purchased from.

This laptop for instance, clashes with all things Google, just getting Google to open in the Window I want it too, requires downloads and apps, that I just shouldn't need.

Since my last post, I lost the most wonderful woman I could have ever hoped to meet.  Became bed-ridden for nearly 3 months (losing the entire of December 17 & January 7 February 2018) staying with a dear friend who I'd only recently met..

All the plans I had for 50 Years of  |Trying came to naught.  Londoners are no longer interested in the quirky, history, fun, exciting vibrant city I can offer them.  Soho reflects that perfect, as there are ore chain stores there now than there are on Oxford Street (a light exageration to make a point).

Journalists are all too young and the scope of their knowledge too limited. They (with notable exceptions of |Dr. Francis Ryan at The Guardian & Ros Wynne Jones at the Mirror) believe the system works and the situation I find myself in must somehow be of my doing. Even though the overwhelming written evidence from the DWP, MP's and my own records could easily dispel this. I don't fit the idea of someone who is homeless (though very quickly getting to that point).

I'm back living on the streets again.  Last night, I took the Piccadilly Line Tube to Heathrow Terminal 5.  When I discovered the airport as a place to put my head down a few years ago, it was perfect.  Public Showers were available and the police were incredibly helpful.

The police are still pretty reasonable, but the pressure to control the homeless at the airport has hugely increased, so it becomes a cat & mouse struggle. The public showers have gone. Timings work on the basis of getting there just after the Police doe their rounds (that used to be around 1:30am but last night was 3am).

Look like a traveller you tend to be left alone (my Louis Vuitton holdall helps inordinately in that regards).

The constant fight just to get the basic things in the UK is literally killing me now.  I've just turned 50 and the last 10 years as been a constant battle between me and the DWP (as you'll know from my previous posts).

But Mark Field MP was the final straw.  I live in a country where the DWP are now above the law, constantly lying, cheating, attacking the very people they are paid to serve,  And how do you keep fighting the odds when most of your energies are focussed on getting people who are paid 10 times more than I receive in benefits to do their job.

I've been typing for 40 minutes now and my concentration is going all over the place.  I'm getting upset at the thought of the stupidity of the situation.

Why can't an MP weigh up the facts they have in front of them.  I've PROVEN through Appeals Courts, Policy Documents, Medical Evidence and the DWP's own correspondence that they are lying & cheating. Obfuscating.

I don't what else to do.  My health is in crazy decline, help is coming from nowhere, hope has been entirely extingusihed and my drive to fight, decimated.  What's the point of living, just to survive.'

When I started challenging the state when I was in care, it didn't make sense to me then, but at 16 I made the Civil Service staff look as stupid as they actually were. Now, I can do the same, but noboy is responsible.

When you look around you, you see just how simple everything is to fix, if only people thought differently, offered to help, said yes.  When I did a deal with the manager of the Tune Hotel in Waterloo it made sense to both of us.  I'd get a room for £20 after midnight - he earned money, I got protection when temperatures were too cold to sleep in my car.

When he offered me a couple of free nights for my birthday, it was one of the loveliest gestures.  But this was the General Manager of the company, and when some 20 something manager came in, she didn't see the value of doing the same thing.

For her, the relationship had to be one way, her making money, me paying money.  Why should I get preferential rates?  It didn't cross her mind, that I was giving her money she otherwise would not have coming in.

And that's what's made the past couple of years nigh on impossible to keep fighting.

I needed someone to say yes, to help.

I'm taking the DWP to Judicial Review through the Public Law Project who've already been paid £25,000 whilst I've recieved nothing. They get paid whether they win or lose, so there laughing to the bank either way.  This is coming out of Legal Aid.  They lost the compensation part of my claim, which means the most I can expect to get covered is around £10,000 - it would have been better just to have given me the Legal Aid money directly.

What would you do if you were in my situation?

The DWP, due to your disability is your only means of income.  They've been proven to have lied about your claim, saying they'd been in touch with your GP, but your GP has confirmed they haven't communicated with him in over 4 years.

You have no home, it's impossible to get home until you know you have a regular income.

So you have no money, even though you are legally entitled to it.

You have nowhere to live.

Your health means you have the sword of damocles constantly hanging over your head.

The only person you think has the authority to put things right is your MP Makr Field - but he does nothing.

How would you resolve the problem?  Who would you turn too?

How would you eat?  Where would you get the hope to keep going rather than simply taking your own life? Who would you speak too?

I've ran out of options - so would love to hear?

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

For my dearest Andrea.....

Two months ago, I met the person who changed my world....

Not wishing to embarrass her I won't publish her full name.  But she's the best thing to happen to me in years.

Warm, intelligent, compassionate, sexy, adventuress and caring.  The platitudes are endless in fact. If I were to have written a wish-list of what I would look for in a woman, she would have ticked every box and then required me to add a few more.

After 20 years of sticking to a mantra in regards to relationships she changed everything literally overnight.

So why, may you ask, am I publishing this here.

Well in truth, it's so that she knows that I'm thinking about her even when I'm not contacting her.  I would be in contact with her probably ten times a day if it was left to me. And I don't want to come across as being needy (which I'm not) or intrusive.

We were meant to meet on Sunday, but unfortunately she took ill and so this is fact the longest period we've had not seeing each other since we met each other back on September 11th 20017 (on average seeing each other every 2 to 3 days and recently at least once a week).

Today is Tuesday 14th November 2017 at 5:24pm and I so want to drop her a line to see how she is doing, but I won't.  Emotionally this has been the biggest roller-coaster of my life.  First she let her heart control things, and now it's her head.

Me, well I think our relationship is too precious to screw up, so I'm letting her lead, in terms of timing. But we became so close, so quick, it scared her, so she's stepping back to check it's real.

I get that and respect it, but equally, should she think, she was never not in my thoughts the whole time I want a record to prove otherwise and hence this post.

There's been 3 or 4 times I wanted to say hi, how's your day going today, but she's not been in touch, so I won't.  In fact to ensure it's things at her pace, with a daily exception, I'll only respond to her  contact.

I hope this is the right way... I was ten years old when I last felt like this (which is a wee while ago) so having to play everything by ear.

But it's here for her to find if she needs it and I'll add to it daily.

To the one who changed my life for the better and the one I hope to see it out with.

I LOVE YOU.

NEXT DAY

Wednesday 15th November 2017 09:59

It's 10am.  I'm totally exhausted.  It was so wonderful to have received your message last night when I got back at 1am.  It really does make such a difference to my mood and my disposition. I wrote back on FB messenger, I can see you've read it but have made no response. I want to write to you now.  I miss you so much.  I do hope we get to see each other this coming weekend, but there are lots of changes coming and it may not be possible.  The worst case scenario is we'll see each other next Tuesday.  I do hope you'll come to Amsterdam with me to celebrate our 3rd moniversary together at the beginning of December.  I hope you're having fun whatever you're doing and know I miss you with all my heart.

Wednesday 15th November 2017 17:20

So wanted to be holding you as I watched amazed as my friend Gemma Louise Doyle wowed an audience of thousands at the turning on of the Christmas Lights at Marylebone High Street by of all people my teenage crush, Barbara Windsor.

Wednesday 15th November 2017 21:00

You'd have loved the girls dancing provocatively on the bar at Dirty Harry's Soho for my friend Caroline Sinclairs Birthday.

So glad you messaged me when I returned back  - it always makes me smile.

THE DAY AFTER THAT

Thursday 16th November 2017 08:00

I always think about you when I first wake up wishing you were here.  But this morning I did have to share the genius tear I put in my jeans with you.

Thursday 16th November 2017 15:50 going to do something cultured (Taylor Wessing Probably) wish you were coming with me.  

Monday, 21 August 2017

It's the battle against technology that's the worst...

It's ironic, I'm in Islington Library writing this on one of their public computers.

The irony comes from the fact that I'd actually come here to update my Tweets (I'm days behind but we'll come back to that later) and because their system is so slow (I've managed to post one in 36 minutes although I can normally rattle one out in under 5 minutes), I've given up and reverted to writing this instead.

And this is the bain of 21st Century Living.  Unless you've spent a fortune on keeping all your devices utterly brand new about every 3 months, one of your apps updates, your OS, or simply your battery life diminishing will start having an impact on your real-life.

I needed a telephone to call the DWP, the public payphone is out of order and reaking of urine as most in London are.  There isn't a public pay phone in the Library. I'm not allowed to email the DWP to find out what is going on.

Being homeless, means you invariably don't won't to carry ludicrously expensive IT devices with you. I've had an Apple Mac Pro Laptop Computer stolen from my Bedside when I was in St. Thomas's Hospital, an iPhone stolen from me at the BFI on Southbank and an Asus Tablet swiped from me at Victoria Station when dealing with a crisis with my son.

I'm now sat in a Library, on a device that only gives me an hour usage, and displays the eroding time to side of the screen.  I've got 17 minutes left.

Much of my work is scuppered trying to do everything on the cloud or other people's devices.

For example some of the things I need to do today, are on a friends laptop a few doors away from the Library, but she's using it for her own work now, so I can't access it.  It has all the emails and evidence for a DWP appeal.  They refuse to take things by email, so I have to find computers to compile documents on, sourced from my webmail server, printers to print them out on (and at no cost, as the DWP have stopped all my money) and then find ways of posting them - via recorded mail.  ALL of which has cost, unlike email which is free.

Hubbard & Bell in the Hoxton Hotel where I used to do all these things, removed their computers across their 2 establishments in London a couple of months ago. I discovered a similar set up in Citizen M Hotels, but their appalling customer service means they attack anyone using their facilities without immediate purchases (and we're back to not having money again).

So then you try and access facilities in places like libraries (I'm being informed I have ten minutes left on this device as I type these words) which are ludicrously out of date, incredibly slow and invariably time wastingly useless, like today.

The only upside is I've got to write this.  Rushing against a ticking clock and I've finally got to post a blog.  Something I like to do every month as bare minimum (although preferably weekly) but technology just want permit it.

I need Wifi. I used to mock my home town of Cardiff when I went back there a decade ago and not a single cafe had Wifi.  Even Trafalgar Sqaure has it's own Wifi even the Thames I used to say.  And they did.

But not anymore.

Now everyone and his dog has Wifi so it's all useless. Now they get you to log on and waste time.  Their weak signals competing with each other and so nothing gets done.

A world where we are dependent on tech to live needs more (less than 3 minutes to go now) time an efficiency.

I'm losing the battle on every count... hope I've got enough time to publish this....

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It never rains, it pours.... even in a Heatwave...

I'm writing this today, because I need a record of what I'm going through in this exact moment.

I haven't slept for more than 3 hours in a night for the past 8 nights.  It's catching up with me.  My sight is blurry, my concentration levels all over the place and my determination drive at an all time low.

I have a very dear,  though very young friend, who has been influenced by the talk of those around her and decided that I've been exploiting her.  It was an odd conclusion to draw.  Odder still, was much of the talk was coming from people who've exploited my hospitality over the years.  Just turning up to parties, taking the free booze and not once ever offering anything in return... you know the type.

So I was extremely saddened, when I realised she was more interested in being right than investigating facts. Recalling events extremely interestingly to fit in with her world view. She recalled making a monetary contribution to a FREE meal which she saw as an example of my exploitation.

The meal of course wasn't FREE to me. I'd paid £180 for dinner for the 4 of us (with the total bill coming to £210 and the difference being split amongst the remaining guests).  Her recall of it being free, came from the fact, that I'd been give credit for a previous poor meal experience at the restaurant on an earlier occasion  But it was still my money.

We'd consistently helped each other out.  She using her credit cards to purchase things that I couldn't not having one. Me letting her off working all the placement hours she was required to do for the completion of her university work placement etc.

Even though I currently have not a penny coming in, having to once again pursue the DWP for what is rightfully mine through the courts system, I still manage to pay my way, by acquiring free tickets and lunches to pay back for any lunches and tickets bought for me.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Google Local Guides - When effort doesn't get rewarded....

As many of my friends know I am one of London's biggest fans.

I know every new club, would've tried every new restaurant, and if they've friends or relatives coming to visit, I'm the first port of call for planning their trips.  Getting the teenager into a Fashion Show, the Grandmother back-stage to meet her hero in a West End Theatre etc.

And as such, I've been pursuing for some time to be Tripadvisors top London Reviewer, and I'm currently in the top 1% .

A couple of months ago, it was brought to my attention that Google were offering a trip to San Francisco to meet other Local Google Guides but more importantly for me, the team behind Google Maps.

I only heard about Google Local Guides 10 weeks ago. I'd written one review on Google Maps over 5 years ago, but had made no more contributions to it since. The GLG programme seemingly launched 3 years later.

As such, I only had 6 weeks to go from 2 points to over 500 to reach the required level to enter.

As it was, with my total commitment to the goal, before the deadline for submission, I had managed to add over 1,000 new location photographs, submit 60 proper reviews, not just a couple of lines and a star rating and gone from 2 points to over  600.

It would appear my short time on Google Local Guides must have gone against me on this occasion though.

As I discovered today I wasn't selected, when Google confirmed, that all notifications had gone out on Friday.

In itself, a minor consideration, but the hours of labour (3 - 4 hours everyday for the past 2 months) required to reach the necessary means of entry, meant I have in essence wasted all this time.

One of the reason for the commitment came from the fact that I am, as they say, #UniquelyLondon and could find it difficult to see how anyone else could compete.

No other Londoner can make the claims I can to knowing this city, mainly because nobody has the first and only's I have.

I'm the only Londoners to have had his Video Diary taken into the Museum of London Permanent collection, making me a 21st Century Pepys.

I'm the only Londoner to have had a film shown on the Coca-Cola Billboard in Piccadilly Circus.

And I'm one of a few thousand Londoners to have performed in the Closing Ceremonies of The London 2012 Olympic Games.

But I didn't make it, and I'd be interested to see if anyone from London did.  I noticed quite a few people on Twitter saying they've made it back again, which means they were selected last year and this.

This maybe algorithmic, or simply to knowing what the judges were looking for in the Google submission Video.

Either way it's a great shame and has certainly taken me off track of how I pursue my current goals.

Such a pity.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Where did London's compassion go....

Over the last 37 hours, I've been trapped in my car due to a CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) "Crash" (Relapse).

Only 2 people were aware of this.  My solicitors at the Public Law Project and Robin Mauras-Cartier, Regional Spa Director (Akasha Wellbeing) - The Set Hotels.

Ironically, it was the latter, that was the main instigator of my relapse and being situated only 3 minutes away from where I was located, did nothing whatsoever to assist.

I'd been emailing both from the confines of my car on my Lenovo Tablet using Eat on Golden Square's WiFi being parked outside of it.

If you've been following my blogs and tweets, you'll know I've been living in a car since October 2016 to highlight the problems of the Homeless and the Vulnerable in the city I love, as part of Ken Loach's, I, Daniel Blake campaign.

The one key thing to achieving this, is an ability to store a few clothes somewhere dry and a place to shower and ablute every morning. 

Well, that was, until Wednesday April 5th 2017, Akasha, part of Hotel Cafe Royal on Piccadilly Circus, which is now managed by Mr. Mauras-Cartier, he being the third manager of the venue, since I joined last year.

I've held a Birthday Party at the members club of Hotel Cafe Royal because of my connection to the spa, and as one of London's number 1 Tripadvisor Reviewers, soon to be Google's top London Guide and about to launch one of London's biggest promotional apps in 2018 (Paul Atherton's UniquelyLondon), you'd think the venue would be keen to get the good press and the promotion, that their support would have given them.

But not for Mr. Mauras-Cartier.

The other staff here however, have all been amazing, the yoga & pilates instructors literally life-saving when it's come to my health condition and reception staff all welcoming and understanding, as my twitter feed about them will attest.

The issue, as far as I can tell, has as all been down to an administrative cock-up on the hotels' part, not logging a cash payment for membership on their system last year. 

I've got the receipt buried in my storage unit somewhere, but rather than giving me the time to retrieve it, Mr. Mauras-Cartier did the unthinkable and cleared my lockers leaving my possessions at reception.

As something similar mistakenly happened a few months ago, on a locker safety check, he knew exactly the impact on my health and my circumstances that would have. It put me in a spin for over a week with a crash the last time, which I had written to him about at the time and he'd also seen my Living In a Car campaign video a few weeks ago.

Suffering with CFS means memory and concentration are severely affected, so spacial awareness is key to knowing where things are.

Any disruption to things a CFS sufferer has left in a space is akin to anyone else having burglars in their home ransacking their stuff to an extent not to allow them to discern what's been taken or what's not, but at the same time leaving them devastated emotionally and physically exhausted.

I've only now managed to surface from the car and am still very uneasy on my feet (my stick previously held in my locker is at Akasha's reception with my other possession) and have yet to collect.

It's hard to understand why someone I barely know, would be so vindictive, unhelpful and intentionally hurtful.

My attendance at the Spa has no implicit cost whatsoever, it's fundamentally there for Hotel guests, though there are a few members there too, so it certainly couldn't be a money issue. So I flounder to see what the motivation of his actions were.

I've made friends with some of the other Akasha members and ironically, one I'm supporting on a pro-bono basis in my film making capacity with a health campaign his organisation is running.

So, I'm left in the unenviable position of either having to be out of pocket and finding somewhere else within budget for my campaign (£30 per day) or quitting the campaign entirely.

I've usually always found London incredibly supportive with my CFS.  Harvey Nichols organised a food delivery for me one year because I couldn't get there for my annual Christmas Eve tradition (a service they do not offer), local cafe's have delivered to my door (who don't deliver) and concierges regularly checked on me at The Whitehouse Apartments on Southbank, a thing which was done out of compassion not a job obligation.

So this has come as a devastating and severe blow to my campaign, my health and my love of London. 

I just hope it's a one off and not a trend we are seeing across London, because as a City we've always been at the cutting edge of compassion we founded the worlds 1st Registered Charity (The Foundling Hospital 1739), set up The Samaritans, The Salvation Army & The YMCA and our rich philanthropist have protected the weak on the streets from Barnardo's to Peabody.

I too am going to continue supporting those I've always done like Graeme Croton at the Aspie Project.

And hopefully I can find a more compassionate and considerate venue in the city I love, so I can continue my quest to help others.

I'll keep you informed!