Monthly Archives: January 2018

Why am I a “Young Man” ?

Why am I a “Young Man” ?  I’m very old, at 61 I feel it a bit now, well a lot when the dodgy hip kicks off and the aching shoulder is added to man flu of the Aussie Flu strain. But somehow I recently managed to shake myself up enough to make a trip to York for an all day meeting in what is often described as an glorious historic city. Me? I think it’s ok but historic or not those bloody cracked pavements are a powerchair nightmare.

Anyway there I was on the train being very well looked after by a very warm and friendly ‘trolley host’ who throughout the journey insisted on calling me “young man”.

This has happened to me a lot since I became a full time wheelchair user seven years ago. Sometimes it’s accompanied by a gentle or not so gentle pat on my Everton FC baseball cap and even my shoulder. I’m very un-PC and rarely get upset by the Young Man thing. In fact it’s quite a boost as clearly my grey hair isn’t as prominent as I thought it was! I’m a bit less keen on the head patting and shoulder taps but still in my experience there is no harm meant tho, I am respectfully aware that for a variety of reasons some disabled people find the shoulder and head tapping thing very unacceptable.

But the Young Man thing is a real mystery to me ? What is it about the wheelchair that makes me appear young ? What’s the background ? I must re read ‘why are you pretending to be normal’ the brilliant book on managing your disability positively, by the equally brilliant Phil Friend OBE and Dave Rees and see if it was covered there. But it really is a strange one.

If you can add any light to the shade here please do ! Maybe it goes back to some dark Anglo Saxon rights of passage or slightly more like likely I guess relates to some deep rooted psychology that suggests if your in a wheelchair you are vulnerable therefore young ?

Find out more here about the brilliant book that is “Why are you pretending to be normal”

Cheers Mark,

Another tough year for disabled people in 2018?

Four pictures that in different, but linked ways, highlight the fact that 2018 may be another tough year for disabled people.

Pictures can be worth many words but in this case I urge you to click the links below and make the connections between apparently different stories that have huge impact for disabled people in 2018.

Esther McVey MP back at DWP but this time as Secretary of State. My guess is that this news will be greeted with huge concern by those whose lives have been or could be massively impacted by the changes that see Disability Living Allowance (DLA) becoming Personal Independence Payment (PIP) via a controversial assessment process. Esther is not exactly a unifying or reassuring force as far as many disabled people are concerned. A few years ago she was criticized for seeming to set out a very clear ‘end game’ for the DLA to PIP process. This despite the obvious observations which added how you can in one breath suggest an independent assessment system is fair and reasonable yet before it has even begun its work decide what the outcome will be in terms of lost benefits / savings ?

Next read the heartfelt and powerful story of how one of the most influential leaders in the disability community in the North West sees the ATOS and yes DWP led assessment process. It’s not a comfortable read from Dave Thompson MBE, CEO of Warrington Disability Partnership. His piece on Facebook is an essentially personal reflection of what being caught up in the DLA to PIP assessment process actually means in reality. There is desperation here, anger, dismay, disbelief, and above all a degree of stress and anxiety that is nothing short of cruelty.

Few really understand the way this appalling Government policy is destroying many lives. The sound byte world we live in has seen the Government successfully deflect intense criticism of the assessment process because, sadly, ten years of those sound bytes seem to have persuaded middle England that this isn’t about cruelty and inappropriate policy, but it is about benefit scroungers and cheats, also known by some newspapers as disabled people. It’s wrong. Of course it is. Reasonable people reject such nonsense. But read Dave’s piece again and ask yourself how? Really, how can this be in our society in 2018? But then remember that our society currently tut tuts at the news that we have more Foodbanks in the UK than most countries in Europe and farther afield, yet as long as it doesn’t impact the rest of us it can carry on being a sound byte headline along with others on Homelessness, Hate Crime, the destruction of the NHS and the way local community resources and social care have become issues too big to tackle.

Next read two links that are seemingly unconnected. Read again about the differing views on how a Supreme Court judgement has changed little for disabled people, mainly wheelchair users, trying to do a very simple thing. In this case use a public bus service to do that most basic of things, get out and about locally and nationally. Unless we better understand the impact of years of legal action that ultimately fails to address the core issues we will fail to see why the lack of legal clarity on who has priority to use a wheelchair space on a bus has massive impact for disabled people and their families. Doug Paulley’s case made headlines and we should be grateful for his efforts to explain why all this matters, but sadly I see no change here and that’s a terrible thing in 2018.

Finally, have a look at the link that reports on more strike action on the railways. This industrial action is not about pay it’s about safety and service. It is about fighting the move to remove train managers / conductors from most trains. For disabled people everywhere it is a hugely significant battle because for many that second person on a train is an absolute lifeline.

Taken together the two stories about travel and the two about the DLA to PIP transition seem unconnected. But they are actually one and the same. All four stories are about the same things. Independence, Dignity, Civil Rights, Diversity and Isolation. The sub plot is about work and enabling policies that mean disabled people can play their part in everyday life in their community, pay taxes and NI contributions and be respected alongside everyone else.

2018 hasn’t started well for disabled people. But then it hasn’t started well for the shamefully high number of people living on our streets, waiting for urgent treatment at an A&E, or putting aside dignity and asking for help from a Foodbank. How have we allowed ourselves as a nation to become so cruel, so utterly disconnected from the reality of real life for millions in our ‘prosperous’ country ? A simple question with I know a complex set of responses, but the real danger is that we fail to see the connection between a range of policy decisions which in isolation are bad enough, but when taken together spell the biggest backward step in the lives of disabled people in the UK for fifty years.

All this and I haven’t even mentioned Brexit which is about to impact disabled people in a wholly disproportionate way. Will someone or some Party finally join up the dots and successfully explain that being this cruel, this destructive, this cold and uncaring is not who we are as a country, a society and the communities in which we live ?

Four links, one story……

thrn scroll down this Facebook page to 6/7 Jan posts…..

Cheers, Mark, Rustyman

EFC Accountancy versus EFC football reality


“Amortisation”. It’s got a lot to answer for in my view. Brilliantly explained by the ‘Esk’ of The Blueroom fame, amortisation has helped us mere mortal blues understand that despite some fairly robust appearances to the contrary, Mr Moshiri really has piled in £150m of his own money to serve and protect our beloved club. Sorted. Clearly explained. Simples. Yes? Well no actually, not simples at all.

The theory and indeed practice of amortisation, even when coupled with clear ish interpretation of our often mystical, some might say whimsical, annual accounts does little for me when it appears to be discussed in isolation from the reality that is ‘football’. And by that I mean Everton football. The school of science. The People’s Club. Or ‘our club’ as most of us still like to call it, for reasons that will never ever have anything to do with accountancy.

There’s a serious point in all that preamble. The esteemed Esk is reasonably boosting the impression that Mr Moshiri is creating the massive change in Everton fortunes we all dreamt of when he acquired 49.99999% of EFC or as it’s also known, total control without actual total control.

The problem is that the accountancy is creating a dangerously skewed picture of our owners performance and priorities and in my view we should be really concerned because the very future of the club is every inch as tied to ‘football’ as it is to a new stadium, a neater balance sheet and support for the impact of ‘amortisation’ on a grand scale.

Of course the new stadium is a huge plus, if it ever happens and yes this time it looks at least 70% likely. New quality players mean bigger wages and when spread over four or five years that means a big increase in the guaranteed financial support for running costs and that ‘guarantee’ has risen steeply in the last two years. Getting rid of the loan burden ? Well it feels like the proverbial no brainer doesn’t it ? Saves us, crumbs, the £5m a year it costs in interest. That’s just a bit under three months of Wayne’s salary.

So here’s the thing. It’s all the wrong way around. It’s been said before but I don’t care I’m saying it again. Progress on the field was a better way to help than paying off a £50m loan and £6m in early repayment penalties. Progress on the field will mean that filling 60,000 seats in a new stadium is tinged with reality tho many of us still aren’t sure. Progress on the field, most notably right now staying the premiership, is way more important long term than a nicer balance sheet. It really, really is. This business genuinely isn’t like most others where amortisation is king. This business is genuinely different. You can have truly beautiful premises, with quality apparently built in to your delivery model, but if your sales are never in the top six products you are destined for a slow death where hope is occasionally raised but never produces real change, real progress. Such is Everton right now.

Gross mis Mgt has delivered two lost decades. Mr Moshiri is in the midst of quite deliberately, quite knowingly, accepting another three or four years of stuttering progress will be the reward for the Sammie’s saving our place in the league. Meanwhile he displays the business acumen off the field we expected. Not afraid to see a year already lost on the stadium project its steady eddy territory all the way. Liverpool Council seem bizarrely unconcerned that we are just 7 points off relegation even now and equally they don’t seem fussed that the last few years have re enforced the view that unless something changes dramatically on the pitch, we are going to keep having brushes with relegation that will put those ‘guarantees of re payment’ at serious risk of being deployed.

We are nowhere near earning ourselves a £500m stadium. The fans deserve it of course. But the clubs delivering on stadium promises are all in the business of securing on the field success, or at the very least the top six chance of competing for a CL spot each year.

I know it will drive the patient esk to distraction. But everything at the club is, as they say in certain parts, arse about face. We are NOT investing in the squad. I don’t care about the nonsense that suggests we spent all that money in the summer. We spent nothing. Or close to it. In terms of success on the field. Net transfer spend is the one true measure of investment of Mr Moshiri’s millions. Of his understanding of what matters here. A negative balance sheet of around £150m, now there’s a thing of beauty. There’s investment that helps build stadiums and gets 60,000 thru the gates. Of course I’m a simple fool and my logic is not, well, logical, as measured by the best accountancy standards and a few economic bibles thrown in for good measure. But you know what? If you get the balance wrong between accountancy and the business of football there is only one loser every time, and that’s why Sam is currently running the gauntlet of the ‘but we are Everton’ brigade, we are better than this football, like we’ve not been utter crap for 25 years and regularly find new ways to shame and humiliate the most loyal and honest supporters around.

Even now, as the AGM is about to happen, there is little sign of investing in the football side of the business beyond the importance of wages support. Tosun’s arrival, whilst very welcome, still will hardly take us much above incoming since 1st July 2017. There is no iconic signing, no arrival of four or five to make the difference and undo the abysmal misjudgements of Koeman, Walsh and yes, at times, Mr Moshiri himself whose dalliance with Jim White sums up his inexperience as to how the fans see PR and comms, and his ‘problem what problem’ approach after the summer window closed was shown to be inexperience in the raw when he was forced to sack Koeman or risk making amortisation matter even less than before.

We have to be bold. We have to push a few accountancy noses out of kilter. We have to rectify the disaster of the last two transfer windows and take some measured risks. A top quality centre back and left back, a strong and creative partner for Gueye, Not one, not two but three decent strikers to replace Rom’s 25 goals a season because they are just not arriving from our midfield.

This cry for help isn’t about rubbishing why the balance sheet, er balancing,  matters. We know it does. It’s about balancing that need with what I feel many blues urgently sense, which is that unless we invest capital in our future on the pitch all the financial strength off it will mean absolutely nothing. Because that’s why it’s important for football to beat accountancy at this point in our clubs future else we really, really, will be left behind and I suspect that shiny new stadium is much more dependent upon what happens on the field right now than many will realize when the ‘concept images are revealed at the Philharmonic.

Update at 9th January 2018, following the EFC AGM

Well, thats not yer average dull process orientated AGM we are so used to as blues. There were shocks, talk of “Voodoo”, an end to the Jim White expose phone exclusives, no images, concept or otherwise of the new stadium but, and I’m still struggling with this, news that Liverpool City Council will fund two thirds of the cost of our new home !!

Mr Moshiri showed us a video of an interview not with Sky Sports but EFC TV, in which he in my view made up for a bit of lost ground and frankly came acoss as the kindest of benefactors, a sort of Uncle that everyone would like to have, patient, understanding, hard to rattle, wise, and with as he said himself, deep pockets.

Im still waiting to see the detail behind this LCC funding. Our big mate Joe Anderson, aka the Mayor, seems to have surprised fans with a statement that leaves us smiling and asking many questions, whilst impressively driving the other lot into a twitter frenzy as “angry taxpayer of Anfield” realises that Big Stand club and it’s fans are not only seeing us plucky blues get closer to a truly iconic Mersey  waterfront location, but they are mainly paying for it ! Ta guys, nice one and all that.

Ok, calm down, it can’t be this good. It will surely be a bit of financing that clearly is great for LCC. Ownership ? Not clear. But heck this caught us by surprise and annoyed so many from the dark side that it quite made my night. Tho in essence Uncle Mosh creating the impression that Rom left us due to something his mum said and Voodoo influences…..that’s going down in AGM folklore, if AGM’s actually have folklore, Hey let’s create it if not as it’s just too good to lose.

For me, exciting tho the AGM feedback was, I heard little to remove my doubts about the way Uncle is spending his dosh. It’s still the wrong way around. It glossed over the disaterous summer window. There wasn’t reassurance that we are going to do more quality business in the window now, and there was a vaugue feeling that it’s all going to take another three or four years of squad building to get us into a place where we are worthy of that shiny new 60,000 seater stadium. Sam got a strange bit of support. Pleasure at recent defensive improvements, delight at his witty autobiography, but again, a vague impression that 18 months really does mean 18 months.

Still, it was all jolly interesting and I’m just sitting here praying that there are other surprises in store for us by 1st Feb.

Ronald McDonald House Liverpool launches new website


After a lot of hard work and some brilliant design and build by Cyberfrog Design Ltd Liverpool, Ronald McDonald House Liverpool have lsunched their brand new website. I’ve been pleased to have played a part in the content delivery and management and the charity is grateful to Cyberfrog Design who rescued us when a previous donor let us down. Cyberfrog donated all their work and what has been produced is a massive step forward for Mac House.

The new site is full of features and for the first time has a huge and comprehensive FAQ section for families staying at the House, plus superb sections covering Fundraising and Volunteering. There is what we hope will be a strong News and Blog Page with an important new area covering Events. By Match 2018 we hope to see the online Mac House Shop go live, a first for the charity.

Having an effective online presence is crucial for smaller charities and that is very true for Ronald McDonald House Liverpool in the grounds of Alder a Hey Hospital. There will be effective integration with our social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Please have a look at the new website here