Tolkien with Tits

I know I’m late for the party, but I’ve got an excuse.

I’ve been aware of the phenomenal success of George R.R. Martin’s books, but haven’t got round to reading any of them. So many books, so little time! Neither had we watched the TV adaptations, largely due to not having a Sky subscription. (Other pay-to-view networks are available.) But I was tempted by a super-cheap offer on a boxset of Seasons 1 and 2 on DVD, so we settled down to watch it.

We were both impressed by the variety and depth of characters, the broad sweep of the intertwining plot threads and the sheer imagination that went into its creation. This is fantasy on a grand scale. But it’s still fantasy – and we all know that doesn’t sell unless it’s a well-established brand like Tolkien or Dr Who. Fantasy is for kids – so how has Game of Thrones become so popular with grown-ups?

In a word – sex. I don’t know how much is in the books, but the programmes are liberally strewn with naked boobs, buttocks and, um, bits. Then there’s the incest and other unsavoury practices. Is this what it takes to sell fantasy to a 21st Century audience? Do adults only tolerate fantasy if it has adult content?

Hubby and I discussed the nudity factor of the programmes. He suggested a lot of it wasn’t gratuitous because the sex was relevant to the plot – which I agree, it is. But if that’s the case, why so much more female nudity than male? I reckon there must be a dozen naked boobs for every shirtless chest seen onscreen. I have no doubt the skin on show is meant to appeal to the male audience. I don’t have a problem with this, I just like to be clear about it.

Having said all that, I enjoyed these series more than most drama broadcast on telly this year. It’s grown-up fantasy with all the ingredients of good TV storytelling. The top-flight cast sparkles, from known actors like Sean Bean, Aiden Gillen and Charles Dance to relative newcomers like Peter Dinklage and Emilia Clarke. It’s clear where the huge budget has been spent – on costumes, special effects and locations, as well as the cast; but there’s also some wonderfully written script and very black humour. If you’re not put off by the flesh and the strong language, then it’s entertaining, multi-layered entertainment. Characters to love and hate, scenery that makes me want to move to Northern Ireland and genuinely unexpected twists.

I might even get around to buying the books.

Malingering and Munchausen’s

My name is Meg and I have a disability.

A simple statement, but how do I prove it? Well, I can point at the medical evidence, which clearly shows that there are physical problems with my body that can be seen and measured. So there’s obviously “something wrong with me”. But there’s no test that can measure the amount of pain, fatigue or difficulty caused by those flaws. You just have to take my word for it that I’m as disabled as I say I am.

I think most people realise I’m honest about my symptoms. If anything, I tend to keep them to myself rather than inflict them on everyone else. One friend commented recently that he doesn’t associate me with hospitals. I was touched.

But with the current changes in the benefits system here in the UK, there are many accusations that the disabled are “faking it”, exaggerating their symptoms and generally malingering. Whilst their opposition point to individuals with clear disabilities who’ve been assessed as making it up. Both sides cite anecdotal evidence to make their case. In my opinion, both are correct. There are plenty of people with chronic illnesses that don’t show.

And there are also those who claim there’s something wrong when there isn’t.
I know I’m walking a tightrope here and this isn’t meant as a political statement. I’m not coming down on either side of the benefits debate, just commenting on my own observations.

Firstly, there are people who claim illness they don’t have or exaggerate symptoms for a specific gain. This can be as simple as phoning work to say you’ve got flu to get an extra few days off. Or saying you’ve got a migraine when it’s really a hangover. That’s malingering and there is documented evidence it’s been going on for thousands of years. The Romans knew that people would fake illness to get out of work! Nothing new here.

But there are also people who fake or exaggerate their symptoms for less obvious gains. Presumably for sympathy or attention from others.

One man I knew was openly jealous of what he perceived as the special treatment I got for my disability. He was fond of making statements that began “It’s alright for you, Meg…” when he’d had to walk 20 yards from the car park and I’d been able to park close to the door so I didn’t have to push myself so far in my wheelchair. He clearly thought I was lucky to have a disability because my life was so much easier as a result.

Then there are those who elicit details about medical problems and later claim the same symptoms. A relative asked for details of how my fatigue affects me in a way that didn’t feel like sympathy. A few months later she told me about her own problems – using my exact words about fatigue and then embellishing the problem in ways that sounded unlikely. I can only assume she’d been telling so many people about ”her” problems that she’d forgotten when she got the information from in the first place.

There have been many such incidents over the years – and I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m pleased to see this recent report: here which recognises Munchausen’s by internet – people who fake illness online because it’s easy to get away with lying. The full report here is a dry read, but there’s a list of characteristic behaviours which can give the game away.

Malingering is obviously part of the human psyche, whether we approve or not. People have been faking it for centuries and will keep doing so. But current patterns of individuals feigning illness for less tangible benefits are more worrying. It’s no wonder people and societies are suffering compassion fatigue when there are so many claiming sympathy they may not deserve.

Leaving those with genuine problems to take the “blame”.

Book Review: Stephen King – Guns

Kindle Singles are small, ebook only, publications. They may be a novella or a few poems. Or, as in this case, an essay on a particular subject. Unlike most Kindle publications, they go through a selection process which ansures a certain minimum standard. Stephen King chose to use this medium to publish his thoughts on the current debate in the US about gun ownership and responsibilities.

Title: Guns (Kindle Single)
Author: Stephen King
ASIN: B00B53IW9W (Kindle)

At last – a voice of reason in the Great American Gun Debate.

For those who didn’t study American history, the Second Amendment to their Constitution grants every American the right to bear arms. The Constitutional Amendments are sacred to US citizens in the way that most legal systems around the world are not. Many of these formalise basic human rights of people in America and they (especially the earlier ones) are viewed with a near-religious fervour.

And this Second Amendment is the one most often cited by supporters of the right to have any and all weapons available for private purchase. Their opponents point at mass shootings and statistics on deaths and injuries caused in part by the guns owned by Americans.

Stephen King walks the narrow divide between these two camps, arguing that it’s possible to keep the enshrined rule about bearing arms, but to ban certain categories of automatic weapons from private hands. What he’s saying is similar to the line taken by Barack Obama, but not identical. My own personal leanings are similar to both men, but differ in some details.
What this is is a calm discussion of certain historical and statistical facts that tend to get drowned in the shouting of the two opposing parties. King does make his own opinions clear, but he’s not trying to push anyone towards his conclusions. He’s more interested in being a calm voice that people will listen to in preference to some of the shouting.

A welcome summary of some of the key points in this debate, as well as a commentary on some aspects of American culture.

King will earn nothing from this essay as all his proceeds are being given to a related charity.

Personal read: 5 stars
Reading group read: 5 stars

Aging, Grey Hair and Personal Appeal

We live in a society infatuated with catchphrases and sound bites, which quickly makes truisms over-familiar. So the line about us all being obsessed with youth slides past our brains without consideration. But a few recent articles in the youth-fixated media got me thinking about the subject.

In 2011, TIME magazine published the findings of a large study on people’s perception of their own age. The headline conclusion was memorable for its mathematical neatness. They found that the average woman decides she’s getting old when she finds her first grey hair – at about the age of 29. Men on average start to believe they might not be young anymore at exactly twice that age – 58. When they notice decreasing performance in the bedroom department. And those are the reasons so much money is made from selling hair dye and little blue pills.

So why this inconsistency? The old adage that men are attracted to women who can potentially bear them children and women look for a successful mate who’ll be a good provider would have made sense for our distant ancestors and could well survive as a remnant from those days. And it’s so true. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the sight of firm young beefcake as much as the next gal – but there’s a lot to be said for a nicely-matured steak as well. If you want to know more, buy me a pint someday and start talking about favourite actors.

But are we really so polarised? And so unchanging? If we ladies are allowed to appreciate fit, twenty-year-old men and the concept of a puma (older woman who preys on young men) has entered the vocabulary, why can’t men admit to fancying a confident woman who is openly older than thirty? A male actor can expect to move from leading man into character roles as his looks mature and there are many who continue to find work throughout their adulthood. But their female counterparts vanish from our screens as soon as their first wrinkle can’t be hidden – apart from the occasional matriarchal role. Of course, there are always exceptions to any sweeping statement. There’s Helen Mirren and, um, Helen Mirren.

Women who try to break the ageist mould are targeted by press and public alike. Look at the furore over model Kristen McMenamy openly sporting her beautiful grey locks. And the latest brouhaha over classics scholar Mary Beard, routinely described as a witch for her long, grey tresses. I sport my few grey hairs without shame – I’ve earned them and I see no reason to try to hide them. Frankly, I’d love to see what my waist-length mane would look like in silver but the rest of it stays resolutely blond and I think I’m stuck with just that Mallen streak at the front.

Meanwhile the media lambasts women who dare to be proud of their maturer looks while pushing hair dyes and botox in the hope we’ll all become regular users and need ever-increasing doses. We are then meant to move on to the hard stuff of elective surgery and eventually become recluses, only venturing out with bags over our faces so we witches don’t scare the children.

After all, what’s so bad about getting old? It’s better than the alternative.

Crowdfunding: Secrets of Success

Hello. My name is Meg and I’m a successful Crowdfunder.

Yes, it is possible.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Crowdfunding is based on the idea that money can be raised by collecting small amounts from a large number of people. Instead of a lump sum from a single source like a bank loan, a publisher’s advance or Great-Aunt Ethel’s will.

But it isn’t a magical pot of gold just waiting for someone to find it. Raising money through crowdfunding takes planning, work and a touch of luck.

People are in the crowdfunding community because they want to raise money for their own project, not because they are looking for people to give it to. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But many have assumed I’m only involved because I’m looking for reasons to give money away. I suspect everyone is spamming everyone else – I wonder if anyone ever makes any dosh that way?

Mind you, I’ve been accused of spamming someone with my own campaign. I’d just sent out the third email of my crowdfunding project (a month into the two-month schedule) and I got a reply telling me I was spamming her and she had no interest in my {expletives deleted} writing. I checked that all my emails had included my polite message asking people to let me know if they didn’t wish to receive any more. I also checked the paper headed “Sign below for news of my books and other writing” to make sure that was where I’d got her email from. She continues to send emails trying to sell me her overpriced jewellery.

It’s worth remembering that even the politest form of communication will annoy someone who once told you they were interested in supporting you.

So if you can’t raise money from other crowdfunders or by asking for donations, how do you actually get money from your crowdfunding project?
The simple answer is, from people who are interested in buying your product.

So:
• Your fans,
• People who’ve bought from you in the past,
• Groups with an interest in your particular genre,
• Friends and family,
• Work colleagues,
• The occasional stranger who comes across your pitch online. (I had one!)
– and I’ll guarantee someone will complain about you asking.

So, straighten your shoulders and thicken your skin. Calculate your costs and prices. Prepare your list of emails and work out what you’re asking for and what you’re offering in return. Draft your first email and setup a system to track who you email and when. (I’ve just asked someone to take my email off their list, after their 5th email in 4 days.) Set a finish date for your fundraising and a delivery date for the product. (I’ve been left hanging over some items I crowdfunded. I paid my money, but haven’t received what I paid for and still don’t know when they may arrive.)

Next you need to choose a crowdfunding website (or design your own webpage to take donations). Look carefully at their charges – most state it’s 5% of money collected, they don’t tell you they’re going to add VAT and don’t all mention that the payment company (such as Paypal) takes another 3%-ish.

Revise your estimate of costs!

Write your pitch, record a begging video, whatever you want to use.

Load it all onto the website and start sending out your begging mails. Print posters / flyers / business cards.

Keep careful track of money as it goes into the website and encourage your supporters to let you know when they make a donation, just in case it goes missing between their ewallet and yours.

Above – play fair with your supporters. Give them what they’ve paid for and when you said you would deliver. (I always include a little extra with my books when I send them to crowdfunders.) If there’s a delay, let them know – and offer a refund. Better to lose a few quid than a valued supporter! Don’t spam people who haven’t expressed an interest (or me!) and don’t send too many emails to anyone.

I believe that 2013 will be the year of crowdfunding. And I wish you well in your own venture into this fast-growing arena.

(If anyone does want to pre-order my book, my own crowdfunding page is here: http://jaywalkerwriting.co.uk/chrystal.html or not. I’m not pushing!)

Carnivores, Vegetarians and Corporate Dishonesty

So the news this morning is full of scandal that a major supermarket chain has been selling beefburgers that contain non-beef meats. One frozen burger was found to consist of 29% horse meat. 10 of the 27 tested contained meat from pigs. The media aren’t forthcoming about what else was in there – they just comment on the ingredients that are likely to upset people.

Now I’m a carnivore – I do eat meat, although I prefer to be sure it’s been treated humanely throughout its life. That’s my choice and I don’t try to force it on other people. I respect the fact that many people are vegetarians, or pescetarians or avoid certain meats on religious grounds. That’s their choice as long as they don’t try to impose it on others. But if I buy beefburgers, I don’t expect them to contain other meats.

There are laws in the UK and many other countries regarding ingredient lists on food products and I’m quite certain the supermarkets don’t list “horse meat” as one of these. As someone who has food allergies, I have a problem with manufacturers who list ingredients as shellfish or spices as if we don’t have a right to know which ones are present, but at least they’re being honest. If they claimed it was scallops and my allergens reacted to the prawns they’d put in, I’d have a right to sue. I don’t think you’d get very far claiming compensation for being fed horse meat when you thought it was beef, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a lie!

It’s not common to eat horse meat in the UK, or guinea pigs or jellyfish. They’re all perfectly edible, but we either think the animal is too cute, or somehow disgusting. In other parts of the world, each of these would be acceptable table-fodder. As the human population grows, meat-eaters may need to broaden their horizons. The issue here shouldn’t be about what animals we should or shouldn’t eat – it’s about honesty. If we’re lied to, we no longer have a choice.

Supermarket chains have been criticised in the past for all kinds of rule-breaking. I don’t think a company that regularly builds stores that are significantly larger than they’ve got planning permission for will be worried about customers complaining they’ve been fed meat from the wrong animals. If it isn’t something they can be taken to court over, they aren’t going to worry. The publicity won’t hurt them in the long run and they’ve been making a good profit from their dishonesty for however long this has been going on.

Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Flogging a Dead Horse,” doesn’t it?

So That Was Christmas – And What Have We Done?

I woke this morning to the delicate (?) sound of a cat being sick and reflected that the Festive Season is over and I’m back in “normal life” mode. And that made me think back over the last month and wonder how different Christmas had been from usual, daily routine.

It’s something I’ve been noticing for a long time. Yes, I know Christmas is all about children and we don’t have any, but there used to be far more that was special about this time of year than there is now. We complain that the shops are force-feeding us Christmas purchases from August onwards. People have festive lights draped over their houses for months before The Big Day. The media keep reminding us how many shopping days we have left and comparing reported takings with the same day last year. And then there’s the mad scramble to take it all down again to make room for Valentine cards and Easter eggs (!) as soon as Boxing Day is over.

I remember when there were too many parties to fit them all into December. But this year there were hardly any. A group of us work-at-home writers had an online party, which was great fun. Our version of the office party, with guilt-free snacks, hangoverless drinks and an infinite number of stationery cupboards with virtual beefcake we could drag in there (I assume other people had other tastes, but most of the writers attending were women and the pictures posted were of tasty guys with no shirts on.) And we met up with people down the pub a couple of times, but that was all. Just like any other month, where I get invited to a book launch and meet with friends and my writing group. And maybe go to listen to a band or just pop into the pub for a quiet drink.

So, is it just my perception?

I don’t think it is.

I looked at things I could measure, to be more objective:

• I did some housekeeping on our Freeview hard-disk recorder a month ago, to make room for all those Christmas Specials and great films we’d want to record. So I checked the disk again today. There’s almost as much free space as there was when I deleted the stuff we’d recorded and never bothered to watch. What little we’ve added are some radio dramas, for when I’m doing chores at home. Admittedly, we’ve been watching stuff a few days after recording, but only when there was nothing we wanted to see live! So what was worth watching this year? I flicked back through the double-issue Radio Times and realised the only outstanding programmes were documentaries.

• So I stood on the bathroom scales and realised I hadn’t put any weight on over Christmas. A good thing, true – but what happened to the season of excess and overeating?

• Maybe it’s all because of the weather – we haven’t seen any “proper” winter cold this year. It’s just been grey, wet and miserable. No snow, not even a decent frost. Global warming isn’t helping to keep our Yuletide special!
Surely Christmas is the season of giving? Of receiving?
Well, not any more. There wasn’t much under our tree, to be honest. And while we’re being honest – we tend to buy things we want when we see them / can afford them / they’re on special offer at whatever time of year. So the few extra pressies at Christmas aren’t that big a deal.

Am I getting old and boring?

Good question. I don’t think I am – but feel free to disagree.

Maybe it’s all this austerity and economic crisis?

Possible, but I’m fairly sure things have been getting worse for longer than that. I remember thinking there were gaps in my December calendar in the last few years I was working in the office – so pre-2004. At a time when people seemed to have money to waste on frivolous things and certainly weren’t scrimping over Christmas. Yet I remember a bunch of the girls in the next office standing around the coffee machine complaining they hadn’t been invited to anything.

Nothing is Special.

My suspicion is that we’re spreading our celebrating more evenly over the year. Rather than having one big blow-out celebration at Christmas, we have frequent smaller ones. We drip-feed ourselves the “special” stuff all year so there’s nothing unusual about the so-called Festive Period. Just a lot of hype, obligations and profiteering. Very few people associate Christmas with anything religious, it’s no longer a big family festival and even the commercial aspects seem to be spread over the other eleven months.

We now have the Twelve Months of Christmas. We’re trying to make it Christmas every day and it’s turning out to be a lot less fun than we expected.

From Sir Patrick Moore to the Universe

With the passing this weekend of Sir Patrick Moore, one of UK television’s greatest stalwarts, I found myself pondering on the changes I’ve seen in telly during my lifetime. And feeling very old.

We first got a telly at home for the moon landing in 1969. I was very young, but understood enough of what was happening to realise how momentous an occasion this was. Not only was someone going to walk on the moon, but my parents had finally installed a telly in the lounge! I can’t remember which one impressed me more at the time.

There were just three channels back then and only one showed adverts. All three closed down at night and many houses didn’t have a telly at all. It was a long time before I heard of anyone getting even a second one! Being a bit of a geek from an early age, I quickly fell under the spell of certain presenters. I loved The Sky at Night, although I wasn’t meant to stay up that late. David Attenborough and Jacques Cousteau fed my early love of the natural world and Tomorrow’s World with its cast of experts, boffins and an ex-spitfire pilot provided my regular Thursday night technology fix.

Over the years, many changes have affected this most widespread of the media; hundreds of scientific programmes, dozens of experts and countless wow moments. Nowadays I tune in to Michio Kaku, Jim Al-Khalili, Jem Stansfield, Brian Cox, Chris Packham, Alain de Botton, Richard Dawkins and many other scientists. There are less technical people, including the wonderful Stephen Fry, Derren Brown and a dozen or more of my favourite authors who all produce thoughtful, intelligent TV.

Despite the ubiquity of cheap reality television and talent shows, there are enough channels that I can usually find programmes that will inform, educate and entertain me. But there will always be room in my heart for those men who fed my early love of this planet and the universe beyond.

Sir Patrick may have gone to join the stars he loved so much, but his spirit lives on. And may it long continue.

Remploy, Royalty and a Nurse

Remploy, the company that has an active policy of employing disabled people to manufacture equipment for use by the disabled community, is losing its government support. They employ people in areas where unemployment is a significant problem for everyone, providing much-needed income and self-belief for people whose disabilities make it doubly difficult for them to find another job. I have a Remploy-built wheelchair (if you see me on my electric buggy, it’s the one I carry on the back). It’s a great wheelchair, better designed and far better built than the NHS-type I had previously. I had a chat with one of their designers at a show at the NEC a couple of years ago, and he was the only representative of a wheelchair company I met who was interested in what I liked and what I’d improve in their product, rather than trying to sell me the latest model.

The Government is saying the money spent in supporting Remploy can be spent more effectively. I would like to believe that this means their budget for disabled employment services would be used to facilitate the employment of more disabled people by non-specialist companies. But I am not aware of any plans to do so. I’m not being party-political about this – successive governments of different colours have cut disabled services on many occasions. As someone who was still in full-time employment under the previous regime, I know from personal experience how little support was available, both from my employer and any official body. The accessibility changes that were promised by Transport for London as part of the Olympics bid didn’t happen either – they were conveniently forgotten long before 2012. The bottom line is that it’s expensive to offer disabled people the same facilities as our more able-bodied peers. And our elected representatives like to make promises before they look into the costings. Then they’re faced with the difficult decision of admitting that they’re making a U-turn on their promises, or trying to sweep the inconvenient truth under a handy rug. It’s a hard life being a politician.

Speaking of a hard life – is it common for healthy young women to be admitted to hospital for a few days for morning sickness? That’s a serious question – I’ve never heard of this before. I appreciate that pregnancy seems to be viewed as an illness more than it was when I was the Duchess of Cambridge’s age. But this is genuinely the first time I’ve been aware of morning sickness being so severe that the sufferer had to spend a couple of days under medical supervision. I’ve been sent home from hospital after an operation when I really don’t think I was well enough (and was advised that my GP felt that I should have been kept in for much longer), which I believe was due to the pressure on hospitals. Are we now freeing up NHS beds for women inflicted with the terrible illness of hyperemesis gravidarum?

And a couple of Australian DJs think it’s funny to make a prank phone call to the hospital and see what they can find out. I’m not going to name them, they’re getting plenty of publicity already from their irresponsible behaviour (which it would have been illegal to broadcast if the call had been to a number in their own country). But I will mention the nurse, Jacintha Saldanha, who took their phone call. It was 5:30 am here in the UK when the phone rang and she answered the call, putting the supposed members of our royal family through to another nurse to ask their questions about their patient’s condition.

And now she’s dead.

The Police are not treating Jacintha’s death as suspicious. So we assume they’re treating it as a suicide.

Meanwhile the press and bookies are taking bets on what the new royal baby will be named. Personally, I’m hoping it’s a girl and they name her Jacintha out of respect for an innocent victim of a cruel hoax.

Please note: Replies to this blog are moderated before they’re posted. I’m working hard to avoid getting party political or saying anything too offensive and comments will only be displayed if they show similar restraint. Please feel free to have your say if you’re happy with this condition.

When a Donation is Taken for Granted

Taking a break from talking about preparations for the new book today.

Warning: This chapter includes straight talk about death and subjects that we, as Brits, don’t like to talk about. I’m going to discuss donor cards (and explain why I have two) as well as the importance of discussing this taboo subject with your nearest and dearest.

“Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.” Benjamin Franklin.

Sorry to argue, Mr Franklin. But it’s possible to live without paying taxes. It’s even legal in the State of Alaska!

No-one can cheat death, though. And the Welsh Assembly Government are working towards a change in the law that will make it necessary to register your wish to opt-out of organ donation, rather than current opt-in system.

It isn’t a comfortable thought, but eventually each of us will die. In many Western cultures, we’ve become very squeamish about it. Death happens in hospitals and care homes; rarely at home, surrounded by family. We never see a dead body and we think they’re somehow disgusting; so we pay strangers to look after our loved ones’ remains. I’m not suggesting we revive the curious 19th Century custom of photographing our dead relatives seated in the parlour. But this reluctance to discuss death causes all sorts of problems.

Most of us never think about our own mortality until we’re confronted with it – which is one reason a terminal diagnosis comes as such a shock. A little forward planning can ease the blow for everyone.

As I mentioned above, I carry two donor cards. I used to give blood on a regular basis and received my silver award for 25 donations before I was diagnosed with MS. Although I’m no longer allowed to give blood, I‘m still registered on the UK Transplant donor database; so that my kidneys, heart, etc. can be used for transplant or research. More information is available here or ask your GP.

The second donor card is for the UK Multiple Sclerosis Tissue Bank. My registration with them states that they are welcome to use the parts of my body affected by MS (basically my central nervous system and a few other tissues) for research purposes after I’m dead. If research into neurological conditions like MS is to progress, it’s vital that scientists have these for research and I’m happy to think I can help in one last way. For anyone who’s interested, their website is: here  and they need non-MSers as well as MSers on the register.

Organ donation is a difficult subject and many people have concerns about registering. If this is the case, the organisations listed above will help, offering useful information and contact details for people you can speak to. For anyone who doesn’t like the idea of their organs being used in this way, I would ask a simple question: Would you accept a donated organ if you or someone you love needed it? If your answer is “Yes” – then shouldn’t you be on the donor register? I heartily support the changes proposed by the Welsh Assembly and hope that Wales’ lead is followed by the rest of the UK and other countries.

At the moment, once it’s certain that someone is not going to survive, say after a traffic accident, then their organs are available for donation ONLY if they have registered their wish to that effect AND their relatives agree. Not surprisingly, most people are unable to make a sensible decision when they are contacted with the news that their loved one is dying. It’s imperative that the decision is taken quickly, but many relatives react without thinking – and refuse. Meanwhile, medical research is slowed by a lack of useable tissue and people continue to die for want of transplanted organs.

I’m proud to carry two donor cards. When I’ve finished using this body, I like to think that at least some parts of it can be useful to someone else. I don’t mind if my organs are used for transplant or research – so long as I can still do something useful.

If you’re interested to find out more or register with either body, please click on the links above. The MS Tissue Bank need non-MS people, as well as MSers, so why not?

Personally, I’d go further than the proposed law. If someone isn’t prepared to donate their organs in the event of their death, I would say that disqualifies them from receiving a donated organ. Harsh? Perhaps. Feel free to comment if you don’t agree. Or if you think I’ve got the right idea.

There are never enough healthy organs for transplant. If you’d be prepared to accept one, shouldn’t you think about registering to donate your own? Shouldn’t you agree to organ donation and make sure your loved ones know about your decision? Put your heart where your mouth is.

I have.