I think we are supposed to be high-fiving but we look more like a weird chorus line. Every Wednesday evening for more than a decade I’ve been in either the pool or the gym at University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff along with a dedicated band of exercisers. What unites us is a particular type of arthritic condition called Ankylosing Spondylitis. Without exercise we’d all seize up and our posture would resemble the curve of a palm tree.
On World Arthritis Day I’d like to say a big thank you to all of my fellow sufferers in the Cardiff group of the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society. When I joined the group I could just about walk. I will always remember how, during my first session, one of them had to pull me to my feet from the floor where we were doing exercises. He was so understanding. I realised I was with people who knew what I was going through and it was the example of their cheerfulness as much as their practical advice that helped me to improve. Without the group I wouldn’t have known about various resources and possibilities.
As the years have gone by, we’ve shared symptoms, set-backs and progress. And tragedy. One of the group died needlessly because of a chain of circumstances and lack of understanding of the condition. Basically, in someone who is badly afflicted, the spine can fuse into a single ‘stem’, hence the palm tree analogy. Movement between the vertebrae is extremely limited. Our poor friend was roughly handled by public servants who should have known better and he died of a broken back. His case contributed to a raising of awareness of the condition but was too heavy a price to pay.
Another group member died this summer, Chris Thorkelson. He lived in my street and I admired his indomitable courage as, despite progressive challenges, he tried ever new ways of getting around and doing his bit.
We have fun in our weekly exercise sessions which are led by a rota of dedicated physiotherapists and now and then we fund raise for the charity, the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society. Our sponsored walks are never the fastest race around the park but they’re very good humoured!
Thanks also to the Rheumatology Department at UHW and to the specialist AS physios there who keep us moving. It’s the NHS at its best. We are patients who will seldom be ‘cured’ but we respond very well to ‘management training’. At least AS is a condition in which one can influence the impact of the symptoms by appropriate regular exercise and understanding of potential treatments.
It can be a frightening condition. One of the possible facets is iritis, inflammation of the iris, which is excruciatingly painful and can cause blindness if not treated promptly; also psoriatric symptoms and intense fatigue.
For these reasons also the camaraderie of a NASS group such as ours is enormously helpful.
British, Bold, Creative: a catchy, punchy title for the BBC’s statement of its plans for the next decade and beyond but, read from the point of view of the Welsh bit of ‘British’, the contents are something of a curate’s egg.
One sees the effort to engage with the Nations and Regions. There are suggestions about reconfiguring the delivery of news and about opening up platforms for a wider sharing of materials. The aspirations are right, as in section 7.3 Entertaining the whole UK:
Firstly, we will improve how we portray and represent the different Nations of the UK on our pan-UK network services. Secondly, we will strengthen the services for each Nation.
If a thing is repeated often enough it begins to be as persuasive as though it were true.
We’ve never had it so good, apparently. We live in a televisual Age of Plenty with digital wares piled high in the marketplace and so it’s time for the BBC to withdraw from universality and to stop disadvantaging the commercial sector by its scale and success; the level of public funding gives the BBC an unfair advantage over its competitors and the BBC should become more ‘distinctive’, confining itself to things the market can’t or won’t provide.
We all remember Leveson. And we still hear late rumblings from that consideration of corruption in the UK press as well as continuing debate as to how best to deal with it. A need for regulation was generally acknowledged but what system should be used? The compromise reached was the creation of self-regulators overseen by a Recognition Panel established by Royal Charter and the Panel came to Cardiff on 14th July.
It’s not just S4C that is threatened by potential changes. It is television for Wales as a whole, if the latest BBC Wales Annual Review 2014-15 by Audience Council Wales is anything to go by.
This Review, for 2014 – 15, makes alarming reading, particularly as it comes hot on the heels of Ofcom’s recent special additional report on PSB in the internet age: The Nations of the UK and their regions and the bombshell about funding burdens for the BBC lobbed by the Chancellor while no one was looking. It appears the day before the Green Paper on BBC Charter Renewal is expected but it shouldn’t get lost in the sturm und drang that that is likely to produce because it has significant things to say about television in Wales. Continue reading TV for Wales – in both languages→
On New Year’s Day this year the Western Mail published an article by the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, Saleem Kidwai. He claimed that a precious achievement in Welsh cultural life is in jeopardy and that a generation have felt ‘rejected by their fellow Welshmen’.
Welsh-Muslim youth who thought themselves like any other Welsh person got a rude awakening post-9/11— a sort of cultural shock that they were not like any other Welsh person. Overnight, they were the other, the enemy…
As Mr Kidwai set out the traumatic ramifications of this tragic dissociation I felt the force of his appeal that, “As a society… We have to reject any attempts to marginalize Muslims as second-class citizens” but I was perplexed as to how to go about that.
Until I perceived a potential response from the world of journalism itself – from journalism in Wales.
On Friday 29th May Documentary Wales/ Dogfen Cymru is holding a symposium in Cardiff:
to discuss the future of documentary film in Wales. Drawing together a range of talent from Wales and beyond, the day will be an opportunity to meet a diverse collection of individuals who share your passion for documentary. The focus of the day will be on:
Strengthening the community of documentary film makers currently working in Wales
Exploring ways of building the audience for documentary film in Wales
Discussing future plans for supporting documentary film within the Welsh production sector
Without good policy no social endeavour flourishes as it might. Structures start from policy. Policies are not made by machines but by people and people have beliefs and values and prejudices, all of which can be discussed, debated and shaped into principles on which actions are based. Those actions influence both what is possible in the social sphere and what becomes impossible.
Some municipes at work on a Green Bay Media documentary shoot!
In the previous post I outlined the first half of an hour’s class I gave to students of Communications from Michigan State University as part of their British Mass Media Programme visit to the UK. Having considered how the ‘I’ of the film-maker interacts with the ‘You’ of other people, who are the subjects of the film, to create the ‘Us’ of the viewing community, we moved on to reflect on what Communication is, and what it is for, and furthermore what the role of a professional communicator might be – all in 20 minutes! Continue reading Munificent Documentary→
At the conclusion of the summit an invitation was issued to anyone keen to contribute to the debate on broadcasting in Wales to attend a meeting at the offices of Ofcom, 2 Caspian Point, Cardiff at 9.30am on 15th January.