Complaint to The Independent

Good morning

I am writing to you to complain about an article I read in your online edition on levels of exercise in four-year olds.

The article, once in its body and once in a photo caption, states that “dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD – conditions which can be improved with the correct levels of physical activities”.

I’m afraid that this statement (which is not backed up with any evidence – and the only study to “prove” it has been rubbished by experts) is highly dangerous to people like me who are dyslexic.

Dyslexia is often an inherited condition, it effects the wiring of the brain.  It cannot be corrected or cured.  Most improvements dyslexic people achieve come from extremely hard work on their part, and trial and error.  However dyslexia does not go away.  Certain situations, like being under stress or having a bad night sleep means that the dyslexic persons coping mechanism can break down.

As an employee I have been discriminated against at work due to my dyslexia. In one PR company in which I worked I was told dyslexia wasn’t a disability, that my dyslexia didn’t count, I was criticised for the results of a report from a dyslexia test they sent me on – which found me dyselxic, just like the three times before in my life when I’ve been tested.  Directors refused to make reasonable adjustments and my line manager presented me with a list of “mistakes” I had made with the monetary costs to the company of each one. 

All this happened while the Director who refused to make adjustments kept on telling me what a great place it was to work.  Funnily enough after I brought my union in on the dispute the company made me redundant.

This bullying, based on my disability – a protect characteristic – had a severe impact on my mental health. Of course the stress meant I could not effectively apply coping mechanisms and it made my dyslexia worse while I worked there.

The reason I am telling you this is to demonstrate how employers who would bend over backwards to assist an employee with a visible disability, will see nothing wrong with with discriminating against hidden disability.

This position has happened because of decades of dyslexia “jokes” (jokes my own family members made), myths and misconceptions. These are “jokes” which we still see on TV – we’re the only disabled group who it is socially acceptable to poke fun at because of their disability.

Unfortunately your article will feed those myths and misconceptions. There will be another dyslexic out there who when they ask for reasonable adjustments, will have them refused and be told to exercise more by another clueless and ill equipped boss.  This will impact on their ability to do their job, their mental health and self confidence.

While I understand that The Independent generally champions the causes of disabled people, with this article you’ve added another brick to the considerable wall we have to climb.

Could you please, please write about dyslexia with more thought and consideration of the damage you can cause people.

Many thanks


Not cool, Picturehouse Cinema, not cool.

Many of you will remember my blog about Picturehouse Cinema’s and the poor choice they offer for families when it comes to tickets and/or membership.  This was sparked of initially by my wanting to attend their Studio Ghibli season with my daughter, but finding it very expensive.

Despite the staff member I was in contact with telling me she would let me know the outcomes of my suggestion I heard nothing back, so today I decided to enquire.  After several emails with a staff member who could give me very little information I was finally contact by their Head of Customer Services with the following email.


Of course, this wasn’t the response I had hoped for.  The most disappointing part of it is the “so we have gone with the norm” phrase, which negates the earlier reassurance that they understanding that family units are “ever evolving.”  Or rather that they understand but are mistakenly still using language which describes some families as normal, which implies others are abnormal.  My reply to them is below.

I wonder how many other companies stick to the two adults/two kids family ticket, just because everyone else does, and what do we really need to change the culture that there is a “normal family”?  I’m going to start writing to other companies and organisations around Edinburgh to find out who is willing to go the extra mile for parents and children, and embrace different families and who does not, as well as what the barriers for companies are.



You don’t deserve love, or happiness.

Deserve is a word I hear a lot now-a-days, and one I’ve come to actively dislike.  My theory is that it’s come into such common usage through self-help and core beliefs work.  Core beliefs are little, simple things that we hold to be true at the centre of our being. Often they have been there since childhood.  Most of the time we are unaware of them.  Because of our unawareness they are often what drives self-sabotage and unhealthy behaviours.  No surprise that for those on the path of personal growth or spiritual improvement core beliefs become a focus.

Of course, what they are can vary from person to person but there are some common ones that have negatives effects on those who hold them.  I’m broken.  I’m not enough.  I’m not lovable.  I don’t deserve good things/love/success etc…  For many people the negative belief has to do with deserving.  So to counter this other people have started to talk about what you do deserve.  You deserve to see the reward of your hard work.  You deserves love.  You deserves happiness.  Kind of like a poorly thought through cheer leading squad.  They’re well meaning, but essentially superficial comments.

The problem with deserve is that it is a wholly and utterly judgemental word.  If you behave in a way or are the sort of person who “deserves” love, then it is logical that you can behave or become the sort of person who does not deserve love.  Someone from whom love can be taken away.  This gives the person who tells you you “deserve” whatever, way too much power in your life.  It’s rarely their decision.

Deserve also feeds into a poverty mindset.  If you deserve love, but you don’t have it as you’d like it yet, maybe that’s because someone else has taken your fair share.  How dare other people steal your love!  What have they done to deserve that love!  If you still don’t have it maybe your still inadequate, or they are just greedy!

When human beings get into that scarcity mindset they stop sharing, they become closed off, ego flourishes like bacteria in a petri dish and they people into themselves – they do the exact things that stop them getting whatever it is they want, love, happiness, success.

There is a better word to use, at least where love is concerned.  Birthright.  When born it is everyone’s birthright to be loved and cherished.  If that is taken from you before you understand it, it is something you can find again, because it has always been yours.  You can’t do anything that means another person can take it from you.  Although you can make sure you make it as hard as possible for yourself.  You can block it, abuse it, shame it, distance yourself from it, ignore it, and try to do the same to others – but if you chose to claim it, it will always be there patiently waiting for you.  You are the only person standing in your way.  It’s a typical human arrogance to think that we ourselves influence the ebb and flow of love in our lives.  It just is.  If you let it.

Let’s not be friends

There are lots and lots of advice columns about if you should stay friends with someone you’ve been dating if one or both of you have decided not to take things further romantically.  They go through all kinds of scenario’s where it is/isn’t the right thing to do, and ask all sorts of question which can have you sieving through the minutia of every interaction.  One thing I am yet to read through is an in depth analysis of what is really the most important part of the “Should I be friends with them?” question.  What friendship really is, and what it means.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me friendship is something that in the right package can come close to the sacred and can be very profound.  Five years ago I was introduced to a woman twenty years my senior and with quite a different personality to mine.  She’s now become one of my closest confidants, has guided me through several life events and at no point has made me feel anything less than utterly worthwhile and incredibly interesting.  This is what real friendship feels like.

Friends are not the same as acquaintances.  Acquaintances are people who you know, who you occasionally spend time with, but with whom you have not yet formed (and may never) the sort of close emotional bond that you need for a real and true friendship to take place. That’s the thing, friendship is a close emotional bond, not just happenstance or the culmination of a handful of good dates and physical encounters.

Like any bond it needs time, respect, empathy, forgiveness, sense of humour, kindness, and a desire from both of you to make it work.  There will be some added extra’s that are individual for each person, but these are the basics.  Kinda like a relationship really, and you wouldn’t get into it with just anyone who comes along.

Often in a dating scenario when someone is saying “Let’s be friends” there are three things they can mean.  1. I’d like to feel less guilty about giving you bad news.  2. I’m more interested in someone else, but I’d like to keep you as an option in case it falls through.  3.  I really like you, let’s be friends.  If the real motivation behind the request for friendship is one or two, it’s worth noting that none of those statements include anyone other than the person making the request.

True friend is an important role in your life.  There are loads and loads of people out there who are possible fits, and no limit to how many you can have.  Not everyone who makes the grade will become your true friend, there is time, children, studies, carers, ill health, ill family and many other things that mean some friendships never quite come to fruition.  But that never means it was a waste of time, you’ll both have enjoyed each others company, and who knows, one day circumstances may change and make it easier for you to carry on that building work.  Friendships can be built in fit’s and starts, the work abandoned and then come back to.  Relationships however can’t, they need consistent attention and dedication.

We all need friends in our life.  We don’t need bad friends, false friends, toxic friends, ignoring friends, superior friends, negative friends, energy sucking friends, friends with hidden agendas or pretend friends.  If someone is showing signs of being one of those types of friend by say, offering friendship as a way to make themselves feel less guilty, or suggesting friendship as a way of still keeping you in reserve while they give it a shot with someone else, they are never going to make the leap into the true friend category.  No one ever got in the true friend category by doing anything other than treating the other person with respect.

If your trying to decided if you want to carry on a friendship with someone you’ve dated you need to ask yourself some questions.  “Does this person meet my criteria for friendship?” and most importantly “Have they treated me with the respect I expect my friends to treat me with?”  Once those two questions have been answered you will know what to do.

These decisions are best made with:  My chocolate lime coconut milk ice-cream.  Because handled badly it can come across as bitter and acidic.  Handled well it’s self love.