I'm due a monthly visit to my 88-year-old mother to do chores for her - the usual gardening and odd-jobbing, big food shop etc. I should have gone a few days ago, but the bad snap of Siberian weather we have been experiencing in the Southeast made me nervous about leaving. I don't like the idea of driving in snow unless I really have to. I also worry about pipes freezing in the house while I am away and worry even more so about the cat freezing into a lollipop. She has her own front door (ie a catflap) but will insist on waiting at the back door for hours on end so that I can let her in and out again. When I am home, she does not have to wait long, but when I am away, she'd sit outside there all day, hence my worry. Now the temperatures are rising again, hopefully she'll not come to any harm while I am away. My neighbour checks on her twice a day, so she'll get fed and my neighbour always like to sit with her for a half-hour or walk around the garden with her, so she will not be starved of company.
One of the jobs I am doing for my mother is to update her disabled blue badge for her. She has scoliosis (severe curvature of the spine) and these days can barely stand unaided and hangs on to furniture when she walks across a room. Any walking outside the house(when we go shopping or to appointments together) is very slow and extremely painful. (She is even afraid to go into her own garden alone in case she falls and nobody knows she is there.) Having the blue badge means she can park on double yellow lines or in special disabled parking bays close to where she needs to be. It cuts down time and pain. Sometimes it can be quite galling when, say, at supermarkets, we have trouble finding a disabled bay to park and we then see someone returning to their car so obviously NOT disabled, in fact they positively have a spring in their step. It reminds me of a Michael McIntyre sketch about what we expect when we see someone parking in a disabled parking space. I attach the only link to the sketch I can find, although the sound quality is poor. Do we expect them to open the car door, fall out and crawl to their destination? All joking aside, we certainly don't expect them to be wearing 4-inch killer heels (as I have often seen happen) or walking at great speed with no apparant physical disbility. Unfortunately the system is often abused by healthy relatives who "borrow" the passes to nip to the shops. My mother's pass is due for renewal and this time the application is more stringent - she has to supply signed photocopies of her passport, utility bills, her latest prescription and have two recent photographs signed and confirmed by a non-relative of some professional rank that it is a truelikeness of her, plus the usual questions about how far she can walk without pain or difficulty. All by a certain deadline which has already passed. I am all for stamping out fraudsters who abuse the system, but tell me, how is an 88-year old woman, housebound by her disability, who never goes out unless I drive her somewhere once a month, supposed to get photocopies and signatures from strangers? She's disabled. Hello! That's why she needs the badge. You would think the authorities could offer to make personal visits home in extreme circumstances, but that looks out of the question. I think I'll get my mum to deliver the application to the local authorities personally on all fours - the way she always goes up stairs - she's bound to get her badge with no problem.