Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Chick, Chick, Chick, Chick, Chicken.....

Today's made me think about community. Bugger. I sound like David Cameron already. Unforgivable. It could only be worse if I started to sound like Brown the great disability denier. Not a good start.

Still, back to community. My neighbour just knocked on my door. She brought back my ironing, all
neatly hung ready to go in my wardrobe. Another neighbour knocked at the back gate earlier today, she said she wanted to check if I was still alive, and could I take some freshly laid eggs off her hands. She works from home so we took advantage of the sunshine and sat in her back garden to drink a quick cup of coffee whilst the chickens ate bugs and one in particular demanded cuddles. (Chickens get to be eccentric too!)


The postman's called Phil. He's a nice guy, knows that its not easy for me to get around, so if he ever has to deliver a parcel he'll wait the amount of time he knows it takes for me to get to the door. So will the older gentleman who supplements his pension working as a courier for the home delivery companies. The one who was in the RAF. Ok, so being really honest, he knows me well enough to allow enough time not just for me to get to the front door, but to get out of bed as well. So does Phil. I was just being coy.

My window cleaner's called Darren. Lovely guy. Prison record, probable benefit fraud and all. He's his mum's primary carer and she's not been too well lately. She doesn't want anyone else in to help, and Darren doesn't want to try for any equipment that might help since it took 7 weeks for the continence service to come and see them, and, although they've helped, Darren's got to find the money for a new bed now. His mum's was ruined by the time the specialist nurse came out. It's a good job she doesn't mind, he tells me, but it was alot to get used to at first, having to lift her in and out of the bath, and change her. All I can find to say to him is that his mum must be very proud.

I know my butcher by name too, and all the people that work in his shop. It's a modern business, like any other, typical for my town in that it has no physical adaptations for people with disabilities and so is tricky to access. Physically that is. You just have to ask, and someone will assist you inside, or for those whom that's not possible they'll come out to the car to serve. Hands starting to play up? No problem, they'll prepare your meat into bite sized chunks for you, even deliver very small amounts of food for free in the winter to those people they know can't get about.

Next door is the chemist, and down the road my GP. It's a similar story there. When I was at my most poorly my GP would abandon his consulting room and see me in a disused office. It made life a bit tricky for him and the computer system really didn't like it, but it was less distance for me to attempt to walk so that's what he did. Along with all sorts of other vital, impossible to quantify adjustments.

I don't live in some sort of '50's style Utopia, just a small town with its problems the same as any other. All these things are things that help to build the town and its community. None of them can be measured on a form. I wonder, is it the change in my physical health that has shown me these things, or is it that this is a small town just like small towns all over England, a secret known only to those who stay at home all day?


15 comments:

Casdok said...

How lovley your community. Very heart warming to hear.
C cant cope with me talking to people (he will self injure)so my community are not so friendly.

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Casdok: It is lovely, but still got it's fair share of wetherspoons type guys and others like him!

Poor C, I can only try and comprehend the level of insecurity and vulnerability he must feel in such situations. I'm sorry to hear your community are not so friendly.
x x x x

Mary said...

Part of it is being local for the services. Before I was ill, I would get most of my shopping, even the odd bread and milk type stuff, on my way home from work from the big supermarket in town. I'm not sure I was ever served by the same person twice, and if I was, I was in too much of a hurry to notice. Once I was ill, and shuffling along to the little local shop with only about a dozen (mostly part-time) employees, and there wasn't a queue behind me, and I wasn't risking running late by starting a conversation... then it became a lot easier to be part of "the community" with all the perks that entails.

Same for the postman. When I was out most of the time, I never saw my postman. If a package arrived, there would be a card for me to take to the big depot and pick up the parcel myself. Once I was ill, and therefore *at home* when the postman called, all of a sudden I was able to have a conversation with him.

wordsmith_for_hire said...

I live in a small city (basically a mid-sized town with a large cathedral so we have city status). I know my postie by name. I know most of my shopkeepers by name along the parade in my neighbourhood. And I’ve been here only four years. I made the effort to interact. I don’t do the supermarket run. For one thing, my disability (epilepsy) means I’m not allowed to drive but also I really hate fluorescent strip lighting. It makes me feel disoriented and unwell. I don’t have photo-sensitivity so I know it won’t trigger a seizure, but I still end up feeling like I might have one. So my OH does the supermarket.

Somehow, I get by. My meds mean my seizures are mostly controlled but still, I never know when one will strike. And I worry about being alone. My OH travels a lot on business. But what if we were to split? Then what? My risk level would increase a lot. As I get older I become more aware that I could die from SUDEP. This is why community matters – having people around you who know you and care enough. There are always ways to give back to the community. I’m old enough to remember Thatcher and I nearly spat blood the day she said there’s no such thing as society, only individuals. Because it’s patently untrue.

cogidubnus said...

I do think to a large extent it's the community, but I do see your, (very apposite), point about being home all day too...to an awful lot of working folk, the supermarket is nowdays the only outside of work point of contact...being home during the day personalises, whilst being at work all day (particularly if there's a commute) tends to prevent this process...

Jim said...

What a brilliant post. I hadn't really thought about community in that way at all.

Scarred4life said...

I think it is wonderful you live in that kind of community!
Around here,there are very few friendly people,nevermind those that will help you out with anything...there just isnt the right kind of mentality for that,which is a shame,because I used to think that where I lived was one of the best places on earth.
How things change :/

Vi said...

That's exactly what our town is like. I know just about at least one person in every shop by name. I do like it.

Oh, I've finally had a chance to invite you to my private blog about chief. Enjoy!

LceeL said...

There's something about the pace of life in a small town that is so comforting. All of life will swirl around you like a tornado but the town is an eye of calm in the midst of chaos.

Maddy said...

I could do with a dose of that myself.
Best wishes and Happy Valentines day

Girl, Dislocated said...

I've never lived in a small town, and I think if I ever moved to one, I would find that sort of tight-knit community, and the general friendliness and good-will people have towards each other to be a little disconcerting. Partly because I'm not use to seeing it, and partly because of my cynical tendencies. That said, whether your town is a special case or is just another small town in England, I'm glad that a number of people you have contact with are caring and understanding!

steph said...

BG - The best Christmas I ever had was one when I came home from hospital after fairly major surgery, to a house where the cupboards were bare. We had great fun picking up the basics from the few shops in our village and I'll never forget the fun 'picnics' we had that year with the kids in the bed as well. It really opened my eyes to the amount of brain washing we're subjected to from the multiple chain stores. Now I shop locally by preference and enjoy good 'craic' within a friendly community!

having my cake said...

It's things like tipping at Xmas. When I was young, my dad always gave something to the postman, the milkman and the dustman for a drink. These days, people never see those who work in service industries. And if they do they dont look. They treat them as that - grey personnel who get paid to do stuff to make their lives run more smoothly rather than people. When I first got my big car, the guys in the garage fell over themselves to be the one to come and pick it up and deliver it back when it needed servicing. They said I was the only person who owned one who actually knew their names and took the time to say good morning and ask how they were. It was a valuable lesson and one which I have tried to learn from. If people help you on a regular basis, it costs nothing to learn their name and go through all those old fashioned pleasantries which made Britain Great. It was those people, with their spirit of community and friendship, who fought off the threat from two World Wars. Im not sure the selfish 'me' generation of today would ever be able to accomplish such a feat. They'd be too busy wondering what was in it for 'me'.

cogidubnus said...

By the by, do you really remember hearing someone singing "chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken...lay a little egg for me" ?

Gawd my grandmother used to sing that to me....think it occasionally used to be on the 1950s/1960s Saturday kids radio show with Uncle Mack...(I believe it originates back in the 1920s or 1930s)

But you of course are far, far, too young to remember it in either incarnation, so....?

BenefitScroungingScum said...

Wordsmith: like you say it's all about making that effort to interact.

Cogi: I think that like Wordsmith says it's about making the effort which perhaps is much easier when you're at home all day and have the time
I am too young to remember either incarnation of that song, thank you btw as I had no idea where it came from. I just remember my grandmother singing it to me when I was very young.

Jim: TY. I think if more attention were paid to this kind of community we'd probably have less crime/social problems.

Scarred: it's funny isn't it how places change so much. I hope all's well with you

Vi: I thought of you when writing the post

lceel: that's very true

Cake: That's very true. In fairness though I find that many of the 'young selfish' generation are kind, generous and helpful if spoken to politely and given a chance to help.I think people are intimidated by big groups of teens (I am) and so judge them as up to no good as a whole.



Maddy: ty

Girl: TY. It is a small town, but not so tiny that everyone knows each other or is nice to each other.

Steph: that sounds like a very special christmas