31 December 2004
Q: There's a lesbian in a wheelchair, a bisexual and a trans lesbian dancing together in your usual clubby group dancing formation. What do you get?
A: 75% of the dancefloor.
Now, if I was cynical...
Happy New Year and all that.
26 December 2004
My favourite thing about spending time with my family is the things you learn. My father loves to tell stories of his exploits. Yesterday he began a story with "Ooo, you should have been shopping with us in Morrisons the other day. You could've got an article out of that..."
This statement was then followed by a moments silence, as if to mourn for the braincell I lost as I banged my head against the back of the chair and rolled my eyes skyward.
He eventually broke the silence with "And then your cousin turned on this woman and started shouting at her saying "What about people in wheelchairs!?!"
Knowing my cousin, so finding it slightly hard to believe she'd just attacked a random stranger without provocation, I was slightly at a loss.
"You know what I love Dad? They way you tell your stories with such clarity, and you always remember to leave in that vital sentence where all becomes clear."
He accepted this as a compliment and carried on washing up.
My Mother was fortunately present for the incident, and she enlightened me as to what happened. Apparently they all overheard someone making disparaging remarks about wheelchair users. My (non-disabled) cousin turned to the woman whom she thought had made the remark, only to discover that the woman she'd been about to shout at was in fact in the middle of pointing out to the real culprit "Wheelchair users have as much right to shop as anyone else!"
The thing I love most about this story is that the two wheelchair users present remained silent. It reminds me of the time someone asked my Dad's PA "Is he OK there?" to which my mother replied "He can speak for himself, you know!"
Sniff that irony. And have a Happy Boxing Day.
24 December 2004
Actually, I've been on my festive break since I finally left the office at 10pm on Tuesday.
My holidays didn't get off to a very holiday-esque feel. Considering that my entire plan of action from 10pm on Tuesday past to 10am on Jan 5th is to sleep, watch telly and, well, sleep... getting up at 6:40am on Wednesday felt a bit laborious.
LBC wanted to talk to me on their breakfast show about access around London. The usual. Unlike the last time I was on the radio at such a ridiculous hour of the morning (I find the am offensive, in case you hadn't already worked that out. Oh to live in California where everything is 9 hours later and therefore more in tune with my body clock) I didn't have to be in the studio, and I in fact talked from the comfort of my bed, warmly snuggled under the cover of my duvet.
Nick Ferrari's opening words to me were "So... you're confined to a wheelchair..."
Now, I'm sure I don't need to point out to anyone reading that they only need to look back two paragraphs to be reminded that I was at the time of listening to that not in my wheelchair, but, in fact, in my bed. I managed to feel simultaneously both annoyed and incredibly smug. Annoyed at the ignorance, but smug because it did give me a public platform on which to point out "well, actually, there's nothing confining about a wheelchair - it's a tool of mobility." May sound like an obvious statement, but I'm impressed I managed to talk that clearly at ungodly O'Clock and after just the one caffeinated drink.
But, ah. My one early morning of the whole holiday's was over. I could relax... yes. Sleeeeeeep. Until 5am today when the mouse in the house decided to make a racket. He's obviously getting quite desperate not being able to get out from the cupboard under my kitchen sink and, in his quest for food has decided that the bright pink plastic lid of a tub of Vanish Oxi Action is highly delicious. Well, I'm guessing it was tasty considering he managed to eat so much of the damn thing.
All I have to do now is hope that the plastic is toxic, and then maybe one day this holiday I'll be able to look forward to a Silent Night (while my Vanish Oxi Action gets to enjoy a series of holey nights).
Actually, I'm at my parents house at the moment to be fed full of fake meat and potatoes roasted in non-meaty fat for the seasonal festivities. Or something like that. Maybe I'll get that Silent Night here, as I suspect if my parents had rodents they'd have told me (you know what parents are like. I know the health problems of all my relatives, even the ones I only met the once at my Christening). I have it on good authority that the squeaking noise I could hear in the car all the way here was in fact my accelerator pedal and not a rodent trying to smuggle itself to Clacton On Sea (cos, lets face it, why would anything want to come to Clacton?)
My other holiday resolution - to watch telly is going all together more successfully. Though, I'm finding it more tiring than I thought I would. I was looking forward to being able to remain flopped, semi-conscious and to enjoy watching endless sitcoms. But no. I've bought a TV guide. That's right, I know what's on and when. So rather than just flopping in front of one channel and watching it constantly, I'm having to plan a schedule for each day as it comes. It's almost as tiring as devising an action plan for a days work. Instead of being relaxed, I'm finding myself stressing over the fact that there's a five minute overlap between the episode of Ellen on Paramount Comedy finishing at 1:55pm and the episode of Ellen starting on abc1 at 1:50pm. What is a girl to do? And what about the fact that there's another episode of Ellen on at 5:10pm on abc1 which overlaps with Charmed being on five from 5pm until 6! Still, being stressed over my TV planning schedule is perhaps better for the mental health than just sticking to the one channel.
After all, while that may be the easy option, it does also have it's occupational hazards. On Wednesday after the radio thang, I ended up sitting down to watch Friends on Channel 4 and fell asleep. Next thing I know, I'm having nightmares about having sex with Kitten because Channel 4 is still on, it's penetrated into my sleep (thank god that in reality that was the only kind of penetration going on) and they're showing that stupid Big Brother Panto.
The other hazard about too much TV is all those adverts for that fucking Crazy Frog. My plan is to tape a succession of them, stick the recording of it in the cupboard which the mice are accessing and hope that it'll make the mice want to kill themselves, just like it does me.
Merry Christmas everyone. May it be Crazy Frog and rodent free.
19 December 2004
And she now has a fully working computer too (well, apart from the dead broadband bit. This dial-up is making her want to bang her head against the desk). Which she is very grateful for because she had been going slightly insane. Especially as she has sort of become a proper grown-up writer and she had a deadline and a computer that crashed every ten minutes. She didn't enjoy that combination. She also appears to have begun referring to herself in the third person. She is slightly confused by this and doesn't know where it came from. So now she will stop.
The other day I got asked for the first time this year that question I dread every December, though of course, some years it comes around as early as September. That question that's on a par with elderly relatives saying "So, when are you going to settle down and get married then?", yes, I was asked:
"What are you doing for New Years Eve then?"
"Um, nothing." Was of course my answer. Because, contrary to popular belief; I don't actually have a life.
New Years Eve has to be the most depressing night of the year. And the months of anxiety leading up to it. I've given up on the whole "I must have someone to kiss at midnight" idea, because, like me spending Valentine's Day with anyone's company other than my own - it's never going to happen. But, still, the pressure of having to find something to do and not be sitting alone in front of the TV is unbearable.
Of course, New Years Eve isn't without it's joys. I'd especially like to congratulate those who were driving along Golders Green Road on December 31st last year at about 10pm as they got to see one of my best friends jumping up and down on a traffic island wearing just her underwear. Those congratulation aren't particularly because they got to see her in her underwear, no. They were just lucky that I'd simply not had enough wine by that point to go and join her. In fact, last year I managed to keep my clothes on for the whole of the New Years Celebrations which I was very proud of (I still don't know what I'd been up to that year I woke up on a friends kitchen floor on Jan 1st without my attire).
It's been a month of social pressure. Not only do I have to dread spending New Years Eve with just Jaffa Cakes and my rodent roomie (yes, he's still here. He did get caught in a trap, but unlike Elvis, he could walk out. Apparently using his own faeces as lubrication to free himself) for company; I went to An Engagment Party. It was a lovely evening and I saw loads of amazing people that I don't see that often (either because they live somewhere random like Singapore, or they live in Kentish Town and I'm just rubbish at keeping in touch with people). I couldn't help but feel like the least grown-up and least accomplished person there though. Champagne soon brightened my mood though. God bless alcohol for removing my social inadequacy.
The evening did also provide me with an opportunity for momentary smugness, before I'd even entered the pub (and crashed straight into a chair in front of me courtesy of immediate steaming up of the specs). I popped into Paperchase in Waterloo station to pick up an engagement card for the newly promised couple. I tried to enter via both available doors, but from neither could I spot a route via which I could access the card section at the back of the store.
"Excuse me. Which way is your wheelchair accessible route to the cards at the back?" I said to the girl behind the counter.
"What?" She replied, looking at me as if I'd just asked 'On which platform is the train to Mars?'
"Which way is your wheelchair accessible route to the cards at the back of the shop? I've tried coming in through both doors and can't see a gangway wide enough to get through." I said.
"Erm..." She answered, making herself seem less attractive by the second.
"There isn't one..." interupted the man standing behind me. A look of relief flooded over the girl at the counter as she realised she was no longer going to have to deal with the lady in the wheelchair who had the audacity to assume she should be able to shop there - because her colleague had taken over.
"... but I'll help you with anything you need," he continued.
"Are you going to bring me your entire engagement card selection?"
"OK, sure." I probably looked a bit disappointed by how unflustered he was at my request. He brought me cards, and I chose my preferred one.
"Do you need any stamps?"
"No. But I do need a pen." I suddenly remembered that someone had borrowed the one I used to carry in my bag, and they'd never returned it. I didn't really want to fill in a card with a pink, barely working, highlighter.
"What kind? Black? Blue?"
"Gel ink. Purple preferably..."
Again, to my disappointment, he bought me a choice of three. And even a note pad to try them out on.
Inaccessible shops just aren't the fun they used to be. And, I've still got nothing to do on New Years Eve. Talk about disappointing.
24 November 2004
Ramps are suddenly springing up all over the place...
OK, by "all over the place" I mean, outside the Costa Coffee in West Hampstead... but, hey... that wasn't there last week (OK, so, technically they were in breach of the law for almost 2 months, but, I'm in "optimist mode", we'll just gloss over the so called "facts").
I like Costa Coffee. They sell coffee with a Flake stuck in it, thus combining two of my passions; chocolate and caffeine. I've never bothered attempting to get in to the one in West Hampstead - there's a Starbucks without a step right next door. Not that I've ever gone in there either; Starbucks are evil, nasty and corporate. And when I lived in Cambridge I used to drink in Starbucks all the time. The staff in the one in Waterstones (which is now no longer a Waterstones but a clothes store) obviously never cleaned the espresso machine. Unclean water boiling device + the hardness of Cambridge's water = actual lumps of limescale in the bottom of your coffee. Kinda puts you off for life. But West Hampstead has plenty of other cafes to choose from. Even if I haven't found one which serves coffee with chocolate in it.
I wonder who complained? For a change, it wasn't me.
17 November 2004
What was it I saw? Saw? No. Though I want to, but I think it's vanished from all the cinemas near me now. When posters started springing up all over West Hampstead advertising the film simply saying "Dare you see saw?" I thought that it was some kind of juvenile challenge and that the playground had gotten nasty. Of course, having bones that tended to break when I did things like eating my dinner, I never did dare see-saw as a child. The challenge offered by these posters made me wonder what I may have been missing out on. Until I realised they were talking about a film.
So, what was it I saw on Sunday then that had me incapacitated with fear?
A mouse sitting on top of my fridge.
Apparently, not only is there a hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard giving them access up from beneath the floorboards... they can also get out of the cupboard via a hole in the side of the cupboard, leading them to a nice landing perch - the fridge.
Maybe it could smell the fact that my fridge currently contains 7 different types of cheese (hey - I'm a vegetarian. I need to get my protein from somewhere), and was on a mission to break in?
A couple of weeks ago, I reported the mice to my housing caseworker at the council. He reported it to the landlord's agent who accordingly sent their handyman round (who had been round before the call from the council but just did bugger all and left). He laid a "glue trap" by the hole at the back of my kitchen cupboard.
If you've never seen one of these 'traps' before - they look like oversized self-adhesive surgical dressings, and I guess work on the hypothetical prinicpal that they're fly paper for mice. I just had visions of a mouse running round underneath the floorboards looking like he'd just gotten in from A&E (or the ER for any American-English speaking readers). I however couldn't for a second envisage it actually "trapping" anything.
On Monday I called the landlord's agents again saying "There's still mice! I saw one yesterday!", so this morning I was again woken by a tattooed man clutching more of these dressings. He opened my cupboard to see if anything was trapped in the, well, 'trap', and...
"The trap's gone!" He exclaimed with a certain amount of surprise.
"Oh?" I said far more calmly, knowing immediately that my vision had come true, and a mouse was somewhere under my floor alive and running round, but with a sheet of sticky stuff covering his back and thus mildly impairing his movement.
The handyman laid another trap. If that one goes too, then it shall be certain that one of my rodent room-mates has an entrepreneurial flair, and has decided to launch his own rodent back-waxing business. I can understand it, I mean, would you want to shag someone with a back *that* hairy?
14 November 2004
The reason I'm thinking this today isn't anything sexual. I just have this overwhelming urge to show off the most unbelievable collection of bruises that I'm currently sporting.
Most of the bruises on my legs turned two weeks old yesterday. I almost felt compelled to get them a celebratory cake. The combination of having an impairment which makes me bruise easily and having a propensity to drunkenly fall over perhaps isn't the greatest combination, unless you like that rainbow coloured complexion look that is.
The cluster of bruises running most of the length of my inner right thigh happened on Wednesday evening. I was standing up in a desperate attempt to get noticed by the staff behind the bar, with one foot on either side of the footrest-bar-thingy on the front of my wheelchair. Suddenly I felt this sharp pain between my legs (not *there* between my legs, lower down, about halfway between my hips and my knees). I looked around and a wasted wankstain had tried to sit on the backrest of my wheelchair. He of course had immediately been flung to the floor (ha ha) but where my chair flipped backwards, the hard metal footbar neatly ran itself along my inner thigh, with the force of someone's bodyweight behind it. The wasted wankstain in question picked himself up off the floor, and then had the audacity to tell me to "Chill the fuck out, man".
On Thursday my inner thigh was an aesthetically pleasing shade of bluey purple. Sadly it's now turned yellow, and combined with the rest of the bruises on my legs, I look quite jaundiced. Add to all this the really deep greeny/browny bruise on my left upper arm (if anyone knows where I got that one, answers on a postcard would be much appreciated) I think I could take my clothes off in public and look like I was wearing a military camouflage uniform.
Returning to the tale of my inner thigh... Let's not forget that I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. The angle at which, and the force with which my wheelchair hit me on Wednesday, I was very lucky not to break my femur. The BBC is currently loving telling us that we're a Fat Nation and that we need to lose weight. To be honest, I'm pleased to be sporting a layer of padding as right now I'm sitting at home, in my pyjama's in front of a computer - had I not had a layer of lard on my thighs, protecting my bones from projectile wheelchairs I'd be laying in a hospital bed right now with a collection of weights dangled from my foot.
You know what, I think my bruises do deserve that celebratory cake after all.
11 November 2004
I didn't even turn my head. I was determined to not start screaming at him for being a disablist cunt. Mainly because he was a skinhead and about twice my size.
"OK, well, fuck you then!" He felt the need to follow up with.
I dared to turn and give him evils.
"Yeah, you heard that, didn't you!"
I didn't feel it was appropriate to explain my personal policy on dealing with rude people. I felt it might get me a black eye. I could perhaps have explained my auditory processing difficulties, but that might have made the cogs in his brain turn, which also may have proved dangerous.
I considered my revenge. I was about to find myself on a stage, with a microphone in front of about 100 people. Why don't I tell them all to go downstairs and kick the skinhead with the light blue polo shirt. Put him in a wheelchair and see if he still finds himself hilarious. Yeah.
No. My "You have 15 seconds left" vibrating watch alarm went off when I was halfway through the last part of my Big Brother stuff (and seeing as how I was in front of a crowd, I didn't think it polite to place my wrist between my thighs). Shit. No time for picking on the disablist bloke.
It's a shame. I had a suprising number of allies. Particularly the non-disabled woman who, when I suggested they should put a disabled person in the Big Brother house, gasped, threw her arms up in the air and said "Oh, yes!" But, I suspect that rather than liking my joke, she had a vibrating watch too.
03 November 2004
OK, so last night I went to see the Scissor Sisters. Kiki & Herb opened for them, and they were fantastically hilarious. Though my friend didn't look too impressed, I thought they were hilarious and darn nearly wet myself when they performed their cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity. With hindsight it's perhaps a shame that I didn't.
Scissor Sisters know how to put on a fantastic show. Well, almost. At one point they did 5 unknown/non-album songs in a row. They shouldn't have done more than two without breaking it up with something familiar in my opinion - but, it's hardly the end of the world, and other than that, the gig was fantastic. They even made the audience pray for Kerry to win the US Election. If there is a god he wasn't listening and the world has to be terrorised for another four years. If you're American you have my condolences, especially if you belong to a minority group.
I think for a significant proportion of last nights audience however, the main show came once the band had finished, at around 10:45pm when everyone departing got to see my fanny. Yes, you did read that correctly. And, yes, I mean the British English version of the word fanny.
For those of you not familiar with the layout of most disabled toilets, I'll explain. If you were to use the ladies toilets, you would be protected by one door separating the toilet areas off from a main area, and then a cubicle door, keeping you in utmost privacy (well, except for your ankles, or should you be unfortunate enough to have someone stand on the top of the toilet next door and peer over). Disabled toilets are never afforded that double door protection, and a door straight into the toilet cubicle usually leads off a main area. In the case of Brixton Academy, this is a bar/entrance&exit concourse.
Also, many disabled toilets around the country are locked with a "Radar Lock". The lock works on two levels, obviously. If the toilet is not engaged, you can turn your key and the door will open. If the toilet is engaged, you can't. On the inside of the door it usually says "Lift handle to lock". Which last night was exactly what I did.
However, what I didn't realise was - the lock was broken.
I was mid-stream when the door opened.
As soon as the door opened just a crack, I actually screamed. I was impressed I could do this as my voice had given up sometime during Take Your Mama and I'd returned to being in a state where coughing was the only noise I could make.
Despite the fact that the toilet was obviously engaged, the member of venue staff could see with her own eyes someone sitting on the toilet, and she was standing in a crowd of people trying to exit the venue, she still proceeded to open the door, and continue gawping. What a decent woman.
She did eventually shut the door. Funnily enough, that toilet suddenly became the last place I wanted to be.
What concerned me most of course was the queue of wheelchair users waiting for the toilet that didn't seem at all bothered by the fact the whilst they weed there would be outside the door a crazy cow with a fetish for watching women pee.
I suppose I should be grateful that at least someone wanted to see my genitals.
31 October 2004
I'm not surprised that someone would think the idea of crippled lezza sex would be hilarious - when non-disabled people can envisage disabled people "doing it", it usually has hilarious connotations. I saw Billy Connolly live on Thursday, and he brought the whole of the Hammersmith Apollo into a hysterical state simply using the sentence "I shagged a dwarf!" He didn't even need to elaborate and build a joke of any kind, just the simple thought of sleeping with someone disabled will make 3719 people howl.
Surely, if this is the case, why bother writing comedy? Surely I can just go on stage and say "I'm not a virgin" and the rumbles of laughter from that one sentence should fill a whole spot. Especially of course as the audience tries to imagine just "how".
But the rest of this evening is not to be spent writing stand-up/sit-down comedy/porn. No. I'm going to return to my sickbed where I've been most of the week and resume coughing. Goodnight.
19 October 2004
Unfortunately, I live alone, am single, and have no friends living close by. All I needed was someone to fetch me soup, and put more blankets over my poorly, cold feet. The only company I got of course was my rodent room-mate, who I thought had been banished, but it appears it was only temporary. He's now found his way into the cupboard beneath my kitchen sink. My kitchen sink is made of metal. On Saturday morning, my rodent roomie woke me up by trying to gnaw his way through it. It was one of the loudest things I have ever heard, and as a result, I'm now developing a slight phobia of my kitchen sink. Or, at least, that's my excuse for not washing up, and I'm sticking to it.
It'd be nice for a change to have a phobia which stopped me from doing something I hate doing anyway. I've now twice had therapy to get me over a phobia. When I was a child, I wouldn't go to bed until my mum had strip searched my room incase there were any spiders in there. Of course, they'd be in hiding until after I'd gone to bed, when they'd come out to show off. Because they're evil little fuckers. In the end my mother decided she'd had enough of this and dragged me kicking and screaming into the therapists office. And kicking and screaming is literally what I did, as she kept holding jars with spiders in in front of my face.
My other phobia was lifts. Yes, you are allowed to laugh, many people have. Of course, being a wheelchair user who couldn't go in a lift at all made my life very difficult. At 16 I decided it was just ridiculous, so I went to see my GP who referred me to the psychotherapy dept at the hospital. I was feeling like a very big girl that day - I also asked if she'd refer me to the hospital so I could get my BCG vaccination - I'd never had it done in school because I was so scared of the needle that I couldn't stop flinching. In the end I had the vaccination done at the chest clinic at Addenbrookes. A friend of mine was a nurse in that clinic at the time. She was rather a large lady - as the needle came in my direction, she just sat on me. Funnily enough, no flinching - but then I couldn't move so that might've had something to do with it. All those requests in one day - and did I did a sweetie for my bravery? Did I fuck...
Of course, with NHS waiting lists being what they are, it was two years before I saw anyone, so in total I spent about 5 years of my life stuck on the ground floor. Last Tuesday I had a reminder of why I was so scared of lifts when I used the one in The Plaza Shopping Centre on Oxford Street. For some reason they'd decided to deck the walls with padded lining (that could make an interesting Christmas carol) making the lift resemble Renfield's cell in Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Yes, um, er, phobia of kitchen sink. Did I mention I was ill last week?
Well, I think whatever virus had me convinced on Friday morning that my limbs weighed 7 stone each has had some kind of long-term effect on me, as I've started behaving quite out of character.
I'm terrified of confrontation. When aggressive people start yelling and screaming at me, I just let them abuse me rather than yelling back and letting it turn into a fight. I just can't deal with it. So, imagine my surprise at myself yesterday when I found myself going up to a man in the car park of Brent Cross Shopping Centre and calling him a "cunt".
I admit it. I'd fallen victim to car park rage. The crip car park at Brent Cross is probably the most competitive environment I've ever been in - remember I've swum for my country. I was the first in the car park. I'd positioned myself in a suitable position to start a queue should anyone feel like pulling up behind me. Some elderly twat in a Honda was not playing by those rules. He was having the next car parking space which became available, no matter how many little old ladies he had to rev his engine at. Of course, he managed to block me from getting into the first empty space, negated to acknowledge my horn blowing and stole a space from right in front of my face.
Another bay became available about a minute later (I'd only been queueing for about 20. That's fine. I wasn't in a hurry to shop anyway). So I got out of my car and put my wheelchair together. He was still sitting in his car, and he had his window rolled down. I'd never done anything like it before, but wheeling up to his car, stopping at his window and swearing at him was incredibly theraputic.
Isn't that odd? But my out of character behaviour continued...
I hate Christmas. I've never had a happy one. I'm always ill, there was that year when both my parents were in hospital over Christmas and New Year (though pity for the poor child in that situation got me my first CD player), my Nana died just before Christmas a few years ago - it's just always a nightmare. I want stripey sweets that make noises like sheep.
I'm also a horrifically disorganised person. Most people get their Crimbo pressies from me in January. Or even February if I decide that January sales are too traumatic for my low tolerance with Bargain Hunters (it's the colour of David Dickinson, he reminds me of my A'level theatre studies teacher). But, yesterday I started buying my Christmas presents. WE'RE IN FUCKING OCTOBER! What is wrong with me? This is not right. This virus must've caused some kind of brain damage.
Deck the lifts with padded lining
Tra la la la la, la la la la.
Has the watershed been lifted? Are you now allowed to say "pissshitwankbollockscuntfucktwat" before 9pm? No. But regular readers should know that those words don't bother me anyway, and are in fact a regular part of my vocabulary.
So what happened? Well... Christopher Reeve, the world's most famous cripple, passed away. This of course gave newsreaders nationwide a chance to flex their offensive language muscles, and they took great advantage of the opportunity. During the news before Home & Away I was subjected to the phrase "wheelchair bound" and in the five hourly news bulletin straight afterwards they really outdid themselves bringing "confined to a wheelchair" into play.
As if his departure wasn't enough for one week, Inside I'm Dancing hit cinema screens nationwide on Friday. If you've failed to hear the controversy surrounding this film you must've been living under a rock. Or repeatedly clicking "refresh" on my blog page hoping I'd write something, which of course I failed to do for 9 days.
If you haven't heard all about it and feel the need to do some background reading, here are some worthwhile articles:
A blog entry by Emma Kennedy
An article from bbc.co.uk/ouch
An article from BBC News Online
Of course, whenever disability becomes noteworthy, there'll always be someone like those pricks responsible for the news on five that think terms derogatory to disabled people are acceptable. In relation to Inside I'm Dancing, the big offender has to be The Evening Standard with their review. The headline "Wheelchair rebels at large" could've been meant as an ironic take on how the world views disabled people wanting to lives their own lives as being "difficult" - but having read on, I doubt that was the case. Not a paragraph goes by without the words "brave", "sufferer", "carer", etc. being liberally used.
Oh, if only I had the power to edit that list of words that shouldn't be broadcast/published. You'd be hearing "cunt" on the Six O'Clock news, but never again would you be subjected to the sound of the word "brave". Oh yes.
I saw the film this evening. I have to confess that I've never been a fan of the "do as I say, not as I do" attitude. Or at least not since my learning support assistant in primary school would repeatedly tell me I should be nice to everyone all the time, whilst she was stabbing me in the back with her fingernails and bollocking me for having crap handwriting. "Do as I say, not as I do" basically sums up the film.
"Give disabled people rights. Let them live independently. Look - they even experience lust. What, give them a role in a film about them? Are you mad? They're only fucking cripples!"
I have to confess, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the story. Shame about the acting. Neither of the main characters had me believing they might actually be disabled. Especially James McAvoy, who was supposed to be playing someone with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, yet visibly every muscle in his body was operating at full strength and clenched tightly. It just reminded me of bullies and their piss-poor impairment mimicking in the playground, accompanied by shouts of "handicapped spastic baby!"
The film was sold out, and it was quite distressing to notice the prejudice of the entire audience. For instance I was the only person in the room to laugh at Carrigmore's subtitle "A special place for special people". The one truly funny joke in the film. Yet bring on the suggestion that a crip likes looking at pictures of naked women - that's a hilarious notion! The simple act of driving an electric chair as fast as it will go and stopping suddenly was even enough to make this audience howl. If that's a hilarious act, howcome my childhood was so bloody miserable? Surely my Turbo should've kept me amused until puberty... And then there was that scene where the woman in the pub cringes at the thought of having to kiss a "spaz" - I thought the woman sitting next to me in the cinema might piss herself.
I said I was surprised by how much enjoyed the film - remember my expectations going into the auditorium were incredibly low. Needless to say I wasn't surprised with the scene in which the supermarket-shelf-stacker-turned-PA is giving Michael an impromptu speech therapy session in the kitchen. Because, of course, all disabled people could be normal if they just tried a bit harder. I nearly vomited into my empty popcorn bucket. Nor was I surprised by the outcome of the "who'll get the girl?" subplot.
Still, at least no-one threw spare change at me as I was leaving the cinema. Nor commended me on going out by myself. And, unlike when I left the cinema after Unbreakable, no-one looked like they wanted to kill me either. All of which I suppose are silver linings.
09 October 2004
No, this morning I got my revenge on my cycling twat of a neighbour, in such a suitable manner that it could only have happened 100% by chance.
I was on my way to have a shower this morning, as one does first thing. When of course, I had to try and squeeze my way past an inconsiderately parked bike trying to not rip off the towel which was covering my person on a protruding pedal therefore winding up standing naked in a communal corridor... as one does when one has a shared bathroom and an inconsiderate neighbour.
I got quite annoyed when I did end up colliding with the bike, though fortunately, it was only my elbow and not my towel that got hooked on the handlebars. What happened next made me chuckle for about half an hour...
The bike rolled down the steps leading to the bathroom and Mr Inconsiderate's door, pausing with the rear wheel resting on the edge of the bottom step, giving the bike the momentum to just be waiting for a bit more room to roll forward. While the front wheel lodged itself just in the join between the door frame and the door opening.
Basically, I'd gotten the bike primed into a position so that as soon as he opened his door, it would roll straight into him. I'm far too crap at physics to set up the bike in such a position, and it could only happen by accident. But how smug did I feel knowing that justice had been done. Well, almost... I still think I should've shoved that rodent corpse under his door too.
I seem to be surrounded by inconsiderate people. There's not just people in my building that don't understand reasonable social behaviour. The people that live next door to my "house" (which has been turned into six bedsits) also don't seem to be too neighbourly. They have a proper house, all to themselves (in London! That's just not fair!) and seem to be somewhat obsessed with D-I-Y [insert your own masturbation joke here]. While a few months ago I may have hypothesised about what I might do if I had a hammer... my neighbours do seem to hammer in the morning and hammer in the evening. Sadly, they don't hammer all over this land, but tend to focus their hammering attention on the other side of the wall which runs directly behind my bed [suggest that it might be a headboard banging against the wall here].
The noise is so regular now that I can only imagine what the other side of the wall must look like. Needless to say, I'm waiting to hear the wall itself boom "WE WILL TEAR YOUR SOUL APART!"
The other morning I was laying in bed, half asleep, and I could hear that sound of metal being sawed coming from their house that makes you clench your teeth, buttocks and anything else clenchable. Now, remember that I don't only have inconsiderate neighbours, but I live next to a train track too. The sound of screeching metal, combined with not being fully conscious had me convinced that I was about to be joined in bed by the 08:34 to St Pancras.
I suppose at least it would've been some company for a change...
06 October 2004
As one of the friends I was with last night I've known to fight with other people about which one gets to help me, therefore show off who's the butchest; we decided to check out the cheap cocktails (I know ethically I shouldn't support inaccessible business. But I also shouldn't pay full price for cocktails when there's an alternative, right?). She definitely picked the nicest with her choice of West Hampstead Iced Tea.
Quite surprisingly I managed to survive the descent down the steep staircase with an appalling handrail to get to the toilet - and I didn't even wind up in an ambulance! Despite the fact that their external advertising failed to catch my eye, they seem to do most of their promotion internally anyway - most specifically, blown up exerpts from Time Out stuck on the back of the bog doors. Why? You're already in the bar... what's the fucking point of preaching to the converted?
From there we went for dinner. We ate in a restaurant I've mentioned in my blog before - the yummy Italian restaurant in West Hampstead with the The Best Toilet Graffitti In The World... Ever! I'd talked about the graffitti so much that my friends couldn't wait to go to the toilet to have a read. (I know, my life is very dull. I don't have much interesting to say.) I was the first one to go - and horror of horrors! They'd put a new toilet door on since the last time I went in there! It would appear that some establishment's don't share the same view on toilet door advertising as (s)wanky cocktail bars. Which is a shame as the toilet door in the restaurant served as something of a feedback book with comments like "The best pizza and pasta in London"
Another odd form of advertising I've noticed this week is actually quite alarming. You see, the entrance to my house is quite slippery, especially as at the moment there's the autumnal decomposition of leaves going on right outside me front door. If the shiny tiles and slippery leaves weren't enough of a recipe for a 999 call, there has been for the last few days a moist flyer laying on the step, in a prime position to be slipped over on. And what is the flyer advertising? 'Northwest Physiotherapy'. Perhaps if business is so slow that they need to recruit so proactively, I'll give them a miss.
Another advertising based observation I've made in the last few days is that health food shops really don't seem to tap in to the word of mouth format to the extent that they could. After all, people always seem to want to talk about vitamin supplements. Or at least they do as soon as they realise that the person they're talking to has an impairment that affects their bones.
"But can't you just take calcium tablets?"
"What for? I have Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Calcium would do me no good whatsoever."
"OK, well, isn't Vitamin C involved in making collagen? Can't you take loads of that?"
"It's not that my body produces too little collagen, my body just doesn't make it properly."
"Well can't you get collagen injections then?"
"Only if I want to look like Leslie Ash. And I don't think I need that, do you? After all, the slightly creepy guy that rammed a bit of metal through my bottom lip felt the need to point out (while he had my lip squished in a clamp) that 'oh, your lips are so beautiful... so big and soft'."
The latest one I've been told I should take is Glucosamine. Apparently it lubes up your joints. Like I need that, seeing as how all my joints that haven't been smashed are already hyperlax.
And then another issue on that is, how am I supposed to explain the Glucosamine to my completely shattered, no longer functional left ankle joint?
I'll now leave you with that mental image of me talking to my own foot.
04 October 2004
1) The manager of my local Sainsbury's is possibly reading my blog, as feta cheese has come down three feet in height (psst. It should be 50p cheaper).
2) Nando's hate vegetarians. Or maybe they just decided I was fat, which was why all my meat eating friends got a full plate of food, while I got a plate of the same size - with one burger on it, and three quarters of a plate just supporting air.
3) I don't chew my food sufficiently.
4) As a result of number 3, I should not drunkenly throw up in my kitchen sink - because the chunks won't go down the plug hole.
5) Noticing poo on the floor of a bus really adds something to a journey, especially when you're already feeling slightly nauseous due to excessive alcohol consumption. The flip side of the coin though is noticing poo on the floor of the bus can be quite a relief, especially after the incident the other day... until the noticing point I had been paranoid that the smell may have been coming from my wheels.
6) I'm surprisingly fond of Vanilla Ice, even if I'm not sure I'd want to share a farmhouse with him.
7) I can still remember all the words to Ice Ice Baby.
8) Going to the zoo on a rainy day is a big mistake. You get wet. Though, the amount of money it costs to get in, I understand why the catchphrase says that rainy days are what you need to save your money for. But in future what little money I have will be spent on doing something beneath a roof.
9) I had been so impressed with my lighting up wheels on my wheelchair - until yesterday someone pointed out they were probably invented by a sadistic bastard who thought "Hmmm, you know what those people with mobility impairments need? Upper body exercise. Lets put lights in the front wheels that light up in more colours the faster they push!"
30 September 2004
Recently I've been doing quite a bit of media stuff for the Disability Rights Commission in promoting the implementation of new rights under the Disability Discrimination Act. You may have seen me on the 6 O'Clock News on BBC1 on Monday.
On Tuesday I was doing more of the similar, and I was on the breakfast show on Radio Five Live. This of course meant getting up and leaving the house at Offensive O'Clock. Being in a radio studio and being live on air was one of those experiences in life that you're glad to have had. Even if it would've been nicer had it been a few hours later in the day.
After a taxi came and whisked me from Television Centre to work, the day was fairly normal. Even down to the fact that I was supposed to meet a friend at 5pm and she once again demostrated her ability to be the only person in the world with the capacity to run even later than me.
As we wandered along Euston Road trying to decide in which direction to head for a curry (the best cure for a cold/blocked nose in the world) I was describing something simple and inane, in my typically over-animated style. So busy was I with gesticulating and trying to maintain eye-contact with my friend, I failed to noticed the giant turd on the pavement (despite the fact that my friend clearly wasn't as keen on maintaining eye-contact with me as she noticed and scremed "WATCH OUT!" just as my wheels bisected the steaming pile of a size which would denote it had been deposited by nothing other than a wolf).
I was less than happy. Especially as I not only had to clean poo off my rear wheel, but even my poor little flashy castors (which I had fitted last week) got such a coating that no-one would've noticed the lights inside. In some ways that may have been a good thing, as tonight when I went circuit training the instructor was so impressed with them that he felt the need to turn off the lights in the gym while everyone was running round to warm up. "How Lisy can cause a human pile up; method 16."
The only thing was, I couldn't have lived with the smell. And I like the flashy wheels.
Why was the incident curious? I don't know. I just thought it was quite a clever title. I guess "Did Camden council sue the dog's owner?" and "how can one being produce that much poo?" do bring in an element of curiosity.
The other odd thing was after my friend and I had had our curry, had a pint, and I was making my way home, I had someone come up to me and ask me if I need any help as I was pushing along the main road through West Hampstead.
"Why is that odd? We've been reading your blog for ages, we know that people offer you help in situations where you're in no distress at all because when they spot someone in a wheelchair, most people's notions of common sense are lost immediately."
Well, there were two odd things about the experience. Firstly, when she spotted me and felt compelled to cross the street to approach me, she didn't know how to use a Zebra crossing without angering all passing motorists. I suppose at least her opening line wasn't "Do you need any help to cross the road?" Secondly, she actually effectively stalked me for about a minute, following me close behind, not speaking to me and not being distracted from her self appointed task of following me up the road. Naturally I sped up, both hoping to avoid her, and I was trying to make my wheels light up in red, green and blue.
She finally spoke. "Can I help you, please?" It was the intonation of the 'please' that bothered me. It took any possible "Do you need help?" connotations out of the questions, and instead loaded the question with "It's 10pm, I've not yet helped a poor and needy person yet today. Don't make me lose sleep tonight."
And yes, I know I was on my way home from the pub a whole hour before closing time. But I got up at 5am. Deal with it.
24 September 2004
Seeing them next to each other though... they were pretty much the same colour.
So why would I look at one and think "purple" and then look at the other and think "blue" when in fact when you compare them directly, they're the same.
The pants colour question got more interesting just now. Someone said to me "Is your skin really that white?" I touched my back and realised my huge pants had ridden up above the level of my trousers. Being so huge they managed to ride up that far and not even give me a hint of a wedgie. As a frame of reference, they're a bit like my Dad's trouser's now he's reached that age where his elasticated waist band doubles up as a training bra.
"Oh, no, it's my pants."
"Good, because no-one wants skin that colour."
She thought my pants were white. Or she could think I was so ill that my skin had gone beyond white into blue.
I'm tempted to photograph my pants and put them on the internet to let others make up their own mind.
20 September 2004
While I was enjoying the delights of Edinburgh last month, the guy who lived in the room next door to mine moved out of hell, and was immediately replace by someone whom I'd not had this misfortune of meeting until this evening.
Though I had not met him until today, I had concluded that:
a) he was a he.
b) he was a twat.
I'll begin with point b.
He's a cyclist. I'm imagining one of those god awful ones that constantly run red traffic lights, and then try and sue the driver of the vehicle proceeding rightly through the green light that smashes into them.
Want to know why I'm imagining this? Because of his complete lack of consideration for his neighbours when he's not got his buttocks bisected by a saddle that looks more like a dildo. Most specifically, the fact that he consistently leaves his bike parked right outside my bedroom door, so I end up covered in crap off the chain trying to get past to go to the bog. Or there was the time he blocked the access to the washing machine. And the time he parked it on the steps leading down to the toilet (I'd mentioned that my shithole was also impossibly inaccessible in another post) so I couldn't get to cling on to the wall to get up/down them.
As if this inconsiderate behaviour wasn't enough to lead me to point a (sorry to any nice men reading this, I hate to gender stereotype. But it's true) I then the other day noticed boxer shorts hanging on the washing line in the back garden (OK, I know that also doesn't definitely denote gender, but it's a reasonably good indicator).
You may be wondering "Why is Lisy so hard on him? He's living in a shit bedsit too. It's not his fault if there's nowhere out the front of the house to safely leave a bike, and the corridor isn't suitably wide enough to accommodate it."
If you are, then think back to two paragraphs ago. I mentioned that he had hung his boxer shorts on the washing line in the back garden. Yes ladies and gentlemen, he and me are the only two people in the building with access to the back garden. He could push his bike straight through his room, out into the garden. Voila, it's in no-ones way (it'd also be safer as only 2 of us have access to the garden, whereas 6 people live in the building. And it's not like I could steal it even if I wanted to!)
But no. He's a twat. He's also stealing my toilet paper.
This evening I was returning to my room, from the bathroom, when who should walk through the front door, clutching a wheeled vehicle designed to roam in the great outdoors, and not be confined to a hallway in hell? Mr cycley man.
Was he polite and apologetic about blocking up the hallway with his bike? No. He ran it straight into me. Did he say sorry? No. Did he then just leave it on the steps so I couldn't get up them? Oh, yes.
This morning in a state of hungoverness I was laying awake in bed trying to not disturb the lady laying next to me (don't worry, it was perfectly innocent. I couldn't have you thinking I was interesting now could I? I am quite blatantly the world’s least likely gossip topic). My building being as horrifically unsoundproofed as it is, I could hear the girly whinging of 2 women passing my door to go up the stairs. Apparently they'd just seen a mouse corpse. I do so hope it was the one that stole my crackers. That would be justice.
I now have a feeling of vengeance creeping over me. I plan to find that former rodent and shove it under my neighbour’s door. Wrapped in toilet paper of course, before I remove my roll of blue Tesco's luxury soft from the bathroom and proceed to live a life like someone on an eternal camping holiday and take my paper with me on every journey.
Well, I would. If I didn't find the thought of touching dead mice scarier than knowing they're running around, uninhibited behind my TV.
16 September 2004
1. Sun tan or sun block?
I know this is a naughty confession, but I am a bit partial to the tanning. Not to the extent that I'd use a sunbed, but I do try and make the most of the sun. I'd never want one of those horrible tans where people look all wizened and like they've been baked though. The reason for liking the sun is because, like glasses, I also think freckles are sexy. When I catch the sun I get freckles across my nose/cheeks and on my shoulders. I know I'm the most repulsive looking being on the planet, and I'd like to not be. And, as Tesco's say, "Every Little Helps!"
2. what is your bigegst tip for finding time to blog?
Given the sporadicness of my updating, I doubt I'm qualified to answer that. The reason I blog so rarely is because I'm far too busy watching TV and vacantly staring into space.
3. Spain or Kenya?
I've been to Spain a few times, but never Kenya. And, Kenya... coffee... what with my caffeine addiction and all... mmmm.
4. have you had that tea with the lass from upstairs?
No, I haven't. I still experience a lot of inner turmoil about that though.
What one thing would you like to invent that doesn't already exist ?
A levitator. I'd love to be able to be able to just lay back and float into work. And think of all the access advantages... there'd be nowhere I couldn't go cos I could just hover. I'm aware that politically that is highly unacceptable to me, as it's returning to the notion that my impairment is my problem, and it'd be letting society off without having to change and rethink. But it would be kinda cool. I'd never get anything done though just cos when I'm laying in bed and night, picturing myself hovering off I imagine it feels incredibly soothing. So I suspect I'd spend even more time "napping" than I do now.
neil h asked:
- why do you blog?
Because I like to talk about myself. A lot.
- what is your favourite pizza?
I don't really have one. I'm not an overly fussy eater, but I do hate mushrooms more than any other food stuff on this planet (they're vile, evil and the food of the devil), and sadly they seem to be the staple component of most vegetarian pizzas. So quite often I just end up with a Margherita. If I go down the create your own route, I'll usually opt for onions, peppers, jalapeño's and extra cheese. When I lived in Uxbridge, there was a local pizza place that did a hot veggie pizza with chilli's, red kidney beans, etc on top, and then the sauce spread on the base was chilli sauce rather than the standard tomato sauce used in pizza production. It tasted nice, but the next morning I wished I'd had the foresight to put a toilet roll in the freezer.
- what was the last cd/book/dvd that you heard/read/watched?
Keane's "Hopes and Fears"/"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" by Mark Haddon and Shaun of the Dead. Clearly I should not be allowed to interact with humans as I have no independent thought seeing as how I only read/hear/watch things which are currently trendy/highly promoted/discussed.
- what advice would you give yourself if you could go back in time?
I'd probably tell a 15 year old me to stop being such a fucking stubborn cow in my refusal to ever go see my GP. That and "stop fooling around with boys. You know you're going to be a lesbian when you grow up." I did have a bizarre dream a couple of weeks ago about going back in time - I saved loads of children by using my time travelling skills to go back and set off the fire alarm just before a school exploded.
- what makes you smile?
Imagining Sharleen Spiteri naked?
1) What's the most embarassing thing that has ever happened to you?
I think probably being on the TV show We Are The Champions. Just because I ultimately ended up being quite a successful swimmer, and it's probably the only thing I've ever been any good at. Of course, on the show the camera zoomed in on my swimming, and at the age of 12, my technique for all strokes was so appalling, I'm utterly shamed by it. Sorry, no stories about public nudity - getting my tits out in pubs is somthing I used to do all the time, and never really bothered me.
2) What is your ideal career?
When I grow up, I think I'd like to be a comic (I don't mean I'd wanna be Spiderman - I'd frighten myself). Admin for a living isn't exactly what I had in mind when I applied to do that Film Studies & Drama degree. But, hey-ho. Yes, one day I'd like to sit on a stage and tell people funny stories (a bit like stand-up, but I don't have the knees for that). However, Gabrielle may of once claimed that "dreams can come true," but she is a liar. She is also the anti-role model for anyone with any impairment or disfigurement. But that's enough of my opinionatedness. The idea of writing also appeals to me, and one of my many dreams is to write a newspaper/magazine column.
3) Do you think you'll ever be happy?
Of course! Sharleen and I, making love by an open fire in the winter, wine, candles etc. Living in our lovely house, knowing that the children are tucked up safely in bed...
I think that never being satisfied with your lot is part of the human condition. It makes us strive to achieve better and more. But, satisfied is different to happy, even though the two intermingle so closely, and unless you're at least quite satisfied with your life, you can't be truly happy. I know that if I was living somewhere I felt safe that I could at the very least come off the anti-depressants, and I'm fairly sure that if I was working towards a proper career that I loved that I'd start coming closer towards being happy. I'm also a hopeless romantic and have a strong maternal instinct, and I think a family will be key to me achieving true happiness.
ever had your bra up your arse?
No. But did I ever mention that time that I met Ellen DeGeneres?
What is the square root of 246546512645432?
Now, while I may never of had a bra in my arse... the next time Rute is in London she will be asking medical staff to surgically extract undergarments. Underwired.
07 September 2004
I'd like you, dear readers, (yes, both of you) to interview me.
I'd like you to Email me questions about stuff. Anything at all that you want to know about me, or think I might have an interesting answer for (please, no maths problems, you're likely to end up with an inbox full of obscenities in return).
I'm accepting questions by Email... until the time you see the question answering post appear (probably over the weekend, because I have nothing better to do with my Friday and Saturday nights than sit home alone).
I may or may not answer all questions, it depends on how many I get asked. And if no-one asks me anything, well... there'll be an exciting bit of blank space to look forward to.
06 September 2004
03 September 2004
Like leaf blowers. Who thought that would be a good idea? They're as efficient as a rake. They use a lot of electricity, unlike a rake. I've never picked one up, but from seeing them carried by others, they look like they weigh more than a rake. They cost more to buy than a rake, and at the end of the day, all they do is scatter leaves across a wider area! At least with a rake you can scooch all the leaves into one big pile. Try blowing leaves into a big pile sometime, how do you think that'll work?
The only advantage leaf blowers have over rake's is if you're a vindictive bastard, they make noise. I think that's why they issue them in the autumn to the people who spend their summers mowing the grass right underneath windows of people living in student halls.
Today I was shopping for a (belated) birthday present and I came across some posh scented candles in tins, promising to smell like nice smells. For instance, one was Coffee. To be pedantic it smelled like a mocha, as there was definitely some chocolateyness in the aroma. It smelled alarmingly sexy actually and I'm now worried I might have some previously undiscovered fetish for coffee and coffee scented goods.
One of the candles was supposed to smell of freshly cut grass. I lifted off the lid, and it surely did. The coffee candle to me seemed slightly pointless, after all, if you want you room to smell of coffee - you make some. Why go for the fake when the authentic is so easily obtainable? Things like "Ocean breeze" candles make sense... if you live in London, it's not a smell you can acquire easily. And, to be fair... they don't really smell of a genuine British ocean breeze. I know. My parents live in Clacton on Sea. Real breezes coming off the ocean smell of salt water and faeces. Not an easily marketable scent. But candles smelling of real coffee... why? If you can't be bothered to make it, there's a Starbucks on every street now-a-days.
Why would I want to buy a candle that smelled of freshly cut grass? I spend my springs and summers locked up indoors frantically snorting Beconase trying to avoid death by high pollen count, do I want to bring inside smells that remind me of how ill I'd feel if I went outside?
I suppose there is a marketable potential for them. Gifts for the ones you hate and all that. "Candles to evoke feelings of illness and misery in the ones you don't love." In addition to freshly cut grass, you could have "Hospital Smell - to bring back memories of that week you spent on the paediatric orthopaedic ward with two limbs in plaster after your learning support assistant confiscated your wheelchair," or "Dog shit - to remind you of what you landed in when you tripped over as you were running away from the love of your life when they dumped you and you didn't want them to see you cry."
02 September 2004
I think the anti-depressants that stop me from spending my life curled up in bed saying "no, I can't do that" may actually just confuse me straight into a therapists office instead.
I may of mentioned on one or two occasions that I live in a fairly horrid, inaccessible, overpriced bedsit with no window. I applied to my local council to be rehoused, and they gave me a grand total of 55 points. This basically means I'm sentenced to spending the rest of my life living somewhere so inaccessible that I can't even cook a proper meal, and I break my bones doing simple things like having a shower.
Things got less pleasant a few days before I went on holiday. I was chatting with the guy who lived in the bedsit next door to me (he moved out a couple of days later), and he said;
"I saw a mouse in my room this morning. I chased it and it ran straight out underneath the front door, didn't even need it opened."
Now, I'm the woman from Tom & Jerry. Well, I would be if I could climb up on chairs... or if I even wore skirts, not to mention ones with 50 layers. My immediate response was getting a friend round to block up the gaps under my doors with draught excluder's. I need no rodent friends, thank you.
So, I went on holiday and spent a week in Edinburgh. One of the many (and one of the better) shows I took in whilst up there was The Elephant Woman. But that I shall return to.
Staying in a youth hostel, I took some food up to Scotland with me (who knew they had supermarkets outside London?) Being ill for the first couple of days, I only ate crackers. And then being so busy for the rest of the time... I only ate fast food. So, I brought all the food I'd dragged up there back to London with me.
Being one of the worlds most lethargic people it obviously took me a few days to unpack my bag when I got home (OK, I admit it. It was 8 to be precise). In with all my clean clothes that I hadn't worn, and all the programmes, free papers etc, I'd picked up was this carrier bag of food, with the handles tied. Now, when I say "food", I mean Batchelors "Pasta 'n' Sauce" and two Pot Noodles. And a couple of unopened packs of crackers I picked up whilst up there.
Yesterday I was hoovering the cupboard in which I live, and I found some detritus on the floor by my bookcase. At a glance it looked like the little specs of paint that fall off if you bang a nail in badly and you make the plaster crack a bit. This detritus wasn't close enough to the wall to of been little flaky paint chips, and while it may also be next to my bed (my room is so small that there are no gaps between items of furniture) it was certainly not damaged caused to the wall by any practices I've been engaging in in my bed. I just wrote it off as random detritus and hoovered it up.
And then I finally unpacked my bag. I "folded" (read: scrunched) up my clothes and put them in the wardrobe, stuffed all the copies of fest I'd acquired into my magazine rack, and went to try and find space for the food in my kitchen cupboard.
"What's that? That cracker packet is empty. Where are the crackers? They're nowhere in the bag. Where've they gone? And why does the packet look like it's been nibbled open?"
The detritus by the bed suddenly made sense. As did those scratchy noises I'd been hearing in the night and trying to write them off as coming from outside somewhere.
My immediate reaction was to go back to Homebase and buy a plug in rodent repeller that I'd seen in there. It's all glamour for me.
I'd not heard the scratchy noises at all during the day. My new roommate appears to be more nocturnal than I. Until I plugged in the repeller. Suddenly there were frantic scratchy noises coming from behind the TV. That didn't cease. All night.
So while I sat up all night in fear of a cracker nibbling member of the order of Rodentia, trying to watch TV and ignore the ludicrously loud scratchy noises, I was contemplating my happiness. I had nowhere else I could go at 2am to avoid something that was scaring that shit out of me, and it was one more thing wrong with the hole I'm living in that I can't get out of. I should've been sad, but apart from the fear of the beast in the corner, I actually felt OK. Quite a good thing really seeing as it was a long night of awakeness waiting to be able to do something to eradicate that sodding noise.
This evening things have hopefully been sorted. The same friend that excluded my draughts came round and found the hole the mice have been crawling into my room through. We went to Homebase together again. This time we bought poison and squirty expanding stuff to plug up the hole with. It would appear that this stuff doesn't cease expanding though and I fear that by morning I may of been engulfed by something resembling a giant, ever-increasing meringue. If I never update again, someone might want to report that to the authorities.
I'm frustrated by the fact that the plug in "repeller" seems to piss rodents off to the point of agitation, but not to the point of making them leave me the fuck alone. I'm also worried that it's supposed to be inaudible to humans. Huh. Now, my hearing is far from perfect, and earlier this year I was diagnosed with having Auditory Processing Difficulties (I'm just a wheeling catalogue of conditions, aren't I? I'm just looking forward to the diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cataracts, glaucoma, heart disease, compulsion to cook roast dinners, and cancer than I'm genetically predisposed to). But I can hear the thing.
Now, The Elephant Woman (oddly enough, a spoof of The Elephant Man) was about a woman whose mother was a human, and whose father was an elephant (to me that just sounds painful. I tried doing some research into just how painful by typing "elephant cock size" into google and just found a lot of sites not suitable for innocent eyes like mine). I've often wondered about my parentage. After all, I have two blue-eyed parents and my eyes are green. According to my GCSE science teacher, this should not be possible.
Let's examine the evidence: I'm short, I'm unusually hairy for a human female, and I can hear the repeller, I seem to have the same natural waking hours as my new flatmate. Lets face it, apparently mice and I share the same taste in crackers, and many people find my appearance scary.
Surely if I were half mouse, I should feel some kinship and not be pouring poison down mouse holes? Well, that's the human in me, and our murderous behaviour towards those who aren't identical in beliefs, appearance, personality or ability to ourselves.
It's late, and I think I should trim my whiskers. I also need cheese. Just remember kids, I won't have nightmares.
30 August 2004
Oh London, it's good to be home.
The aforementioned friend is the only person I went to school with that I'm still in touch with (I do actually hear from two people I went to school with, but the other I didn't "keep" in touch with... we ran into each other at a GLAD conference last year. The pedant in me needed to make that clear). He has a far better memory than me.
A few weeks ago we were chatting on the phone and he pointed out that when he first started at my school he came up to me and said "Are you free?"
To which I apparently replied with something to the effect of "Honey, I'm always available..."
Fairly typical comment of me at 13, really.
As my life is speeding by, and my teens have blurred into my twenties, have I changed at all?
Well, a few weeks ago, a youth worker friend of mine was flicking through her... youth... work... magazine. She came across an article accompanied by a photo of me, which she kindly scanned in and Emailed to me. The article was nothing to do with me, but the photo was from when I did some modelling for the Disability Rights Commission. In the photo I'm sitting next to a placard, proudly bearing the statement:
"Open 4 All"
I'll take that as a "no" then.
There is a spectacular irony in the fact that I've been paid to work as a model. I am quite possibly the least attractive person on the planet. My face has cropped up in several places, and I've even been stopped in the street by a man with a newspaper stand who recognised me from seeing my picture in Disability Now. That was a surreal experience.
Does this degree of exceedingly minor celebrity help me be more successful with the ladies? Does it fuck. Perhaps that's a poor choice of word of course, as fucking is an activity I'd like to be engaging in... but sadly haven't for far too long. So maybe it was the right choice of word, I don't know. Perhaps I should let thoughts make their way through my head, rather than just carrying on typing out what's going through my brain at the second I'm thinking it?
But, what comes next? As my life passes me by, and I become a thirtysomething still living alone in a bedsit doing admin to earn a living, will I of resorted to leaving my number in phone boxes around the capital? And more to the point, how many random strangers will offer to help me to do so?
26 August 2004
I've always owned cars which seem to give off some "hit me" vibe. When I was at university, I would often go back to my car to find another dent which hadn't been there when I'd parked.
This incident was slightly different though. When I say "someone ran into the side of my car..." I literally mean that. An overexcited Primrose Hill jogger failed to stop when he came to the end of the pavement.
He then had the audacity to slap my car... as if by being on the road, I was somehow in the wrong for being in his path.
It was one of the more surreal moments of my life. And not an unscary one if I'm honest, even though he was jogging faster than I was driving.
After slapping my car for being in his way he carried on jogging in a straight line regardless of any moving vehicles. I somehow suspect that it won't be long before the Darwin Award comes knocking.
It's been a week for odd things that you wouldn't think would happen. Last night a friend and I found a cubicle in some ladies toilets in a pub, with two toilets in the same cubicle. When I say "my friend and I found" I don't mean we went in there together... she is just a friend... and that's not my kind of thing. But who would? It was a chainy pub, not some underground perve club. To add more bizarreness to it all of course, the floor in the toilet vibrated.
What is becoming of Wetherspoons?
22 August 2004
I have abrasions on my right breast.
I bet you're wondering how those sentences are connected, aren't you?
I've been subjected to all manner of stares etc, over the last week. One guy was so desperate to not have to walk along the street anywhere near me that he took an almighty jump to the left (or maybe it was nothing to do with me and he was just warming up to go and see The Rocky Horror Picture Show later on). Irony upon irony of course he suddenly found himself face-to-face with a woman on an electric scooter. Cripples on all sides, the bloke looked like he was having a panic attack.
I have of course seen plenty of wheelchair users about over the last week. But given that all of them have been gravitating around fringe venues, I can only assume that they are all tourists like me, or performers.
Especially given the novelty alue I seem to hold. I've seen countless people fail to cross the road this week because they've been so busy watching how it is that I do it, that they've forgotten that the green man means that they can go.
Of course, some people will walk out into the street despite being so distracted by the lady in the wheelchair. This brings me onto Accident I Nearly Caused Number 1. Quite simply, a couple were so busy staring at me whilst they crossed the road, that they failed to noticed the two cyclists coming at them until they were only centimetres apart.
Accident I Nearly Caused Number Two: I was pushing up The Pleasance. As anyone familiar with Edinburgh will know, it's a pretty steep hill. A child of about 2 and a half, possibly three at a strech was walking up the road in front of me, his gandparents dragging him along, one by each wrist. He apparently had the neck of an owl, and had rotated to watch me pushing up the hill. He was literally staring like he'd *never* seen a wheelchair before. How does a child get to that old and have never met someone disabled? Oh, that's right, I forgot about all the segregation and discrimination that goes on. All the "special" children from his area are probably forced into their own special playgroup, and not allowed to play with the normal kids. Eventually of course, he came to a kerb. He wasn't watching where he was going, I was far more of a novelty. He didn't land flat on his face (or on the back of his head in his case, the owl-child) as his grandparents were still clutching him by both wrists. In my "I've been awake for three days" state I found myself slightly evilly thinking that it was a shame he was being propped up - he could've learned so many valuable lessons.
But, of course, the accident finally did occur this evening. A local woman was so busy staring at me that she failed to notice the step she was about to trip over. She landed on me, fingernails out. Hence the abrasions on my right breast.
It's OK. I can live without my right breast. That's the less important one. I'm "Lisa 'Left Boob'". Though, I do have that plaster of paris model of my left boob somewhere which I could use for extra support until the injuries heal, had it been the left she'd gotten of course.
18 August 2004
Seems to of been the cry of my holiday so far.
Fair enough, Edinburgh is far from flat... but the I lived in Cambridge for 7 years, so I think mole hills should have a road sign denoting their gradient.
I'm rediscovering muscles that haven't been used since... I came to Edinburgh for the fringe this time last year.
It's quite reassuring that people in Edinburgh are so willing to be helpful. Unfortunately when 4 people say "do you need a hand?" within the space of 5 yards, you do start to get a little terse. Especially when three of them don't quite seem to understand the meaning of the word "no" until you've gripped your wheels with all you might so you ain't going nowhere (the screaming "GET OFF ME!" also seems to work fairly well) which isn't what you need when trying to push up hills so steep that you thought they only existed in your nightmares... kind of robs you of any momentum you might of had going.
Why do these offers of help only come along when I'm fine? Why do supermarkets only put feta cheese on the top shelf? And why does no-one ever say "Do you need a hand?" when I'm attempting to mount a chiller cabinet in Sainsbury's just to reach the damn stuff?
I would like to apologise to the unusually polite woman who asked me if I needed any help while I was on my way back to the youth hostel this evening. I'm sure she's not going to read this... but, at least I've made my peace with myself. Unfortunately, what you probably wouldn't of understood was that you were the fourth person to ask me if I needed any help on that flat stretch of road today, which was why I was incredibly terse to you. Secondly, that stretch of road is cobbled. I was quite enjoying the sensation. Thirdly, that stretch of road was cobbled. You'd of got my front wheels caught in a gap between some, had me out of my wheelchair and onto my chin within seconds, as your pushing would've 99% certainly been less attentive than mine. I really don't think a fun ride in an ambulance would add anything to my holiday. Fourthly and finally, yes, I'd paused. That wasn't because I needed help, but because I wasn't using the pavement, I was sitting on the road, and I could see the headlights of a car, about to come around the corner. No-one wants a Lisy shaped dent in their bonnet, and again, back to point three - I really don't want to stay in Edinburgh beyond Sunday, especially not on the orthopaedic ward of the local hospital.
My favourite sight in Edinburgh so far has to of been the casino with a sign outside saying "Chinese customers welcome" - isn't that great social consciousness... showing concern that this time next year, Gamblers Anonymous might not have socially reflective ethnic monitoring statistics?
16 August 2004
Yes, I'm in a city which many people remark as being one of the most beautiful cities in the world. When I look out across Edinburgh, I generally just see cobblestones. I may not be one for appreciating amazing architecture, but a cheap sexual thrill will always bring a smile to my face.
Again, I've found myself in a city where by comparison I start thinking that London's cold, unfriendliness where no-one looks at anyone in the eye is actually rather pleasant. On Saturday night, I was on my way to see a show at the Assembly Rooms and while I was waiting to cross the road, a coach load of tourists passed me. You could almost imagine that the tour guide up the front had announced "And in front of us, you will see a tall... gothicy... um, building. And if you look out the left hand side of the bus, you will see a lady in a wheelchair waiting to cross the road!" as every single person turned to stare at me as they passed. The coach was part of a fleet, as two further coaches also passed by, again, with every passenger turning to have a quick gawp. You can almost imagine mobile phones going off along the second and third buses as their mates on the first bus phoned to say "Look out to the left quick... a cripple!"
I'm staying in a youth hostel which, for the other 11 months of the year when there's no major festival going on is a university hall of residence. This means that rather than having to share a bedroom with 7 strangers, I actually get a room all to myself (depressingly it's about twice the size of the bedsit I live in). I get to share a kitchen and bathroom with the other three inhabitants of the "apartment". I'm worried that at some point, someone's got the purpose of those two rooms mixed up, as the stench of wee in the kitchen is unbelieveable.
In the bathroom, someone has left a can of deodorant by the sink. It's the Spanish version of "Sure", and despite all the logo's, fonts, and other brand tradmarks being identical, it's not called "Sure". It's called "Rexona". Interesting bit of trivia. The thing I found most interesting about my "something to read on the toilet" Spanish lesson was that Spanish for "anti-perspirant" is "anti-transpirante". At least know I know what'll be an effective weapon should I ever end up in a fight with the invisible man.
12 August 2004
I wheeled over a red carpet.
Sadly, I've not been sneaking off and making groundbreaking, fascinating, hilarious, insightful movies. But you can still half smile when you cross the red carpet of someone else's movie.
Was the experience as exciting and glamourous as one would imagine? No. Actually. The best adjective to describe the evening is probably "sweaty."
You see, I'd misread and thought that the "event" was at the Curzon Soho. But, my friend who I was meeting called and said "I think it's at the Curzon Mayfair." - she went to investigate while I was still somewhere around Baker Street, being the punctually challenged little thing that I am. She called me back a few minutes later having seen the sign outside the Curzon Soho "No, you were right, it is here."
Phew. Though I could possibly of done with it being in Mayfair, I may of been all of about two minutes less late.
I arrive, 5 minutes before the "event" is due to start.
"AfterLife is showing at the Curzon Mayfair." said Mr Box Office Man.
I may of missed going circuit training (OK, that's a confession for another post. It's really not so bad now my muscles are getting a bit more used to being... used) and my friend may of missed kick boxing, but we certainly got our exercise on the, well, less than gentle jog from the one cinema to the other. Hmmm. Sweaty. How glamourous.
Fortunately things were running even later than me, and we didn't even miss Donal McIntyre's introduction to the film. Hows that for... um.... something...???
The film is about the relationship between brother (Kenny, non-disabled, journalist, determined) and sister (Roberta, artist, has Downs Syndrome, sarcastic) and how it develops when their mother (May, terminally ill, Roberta's full time assistant, dangerously over-protective) is dying.
While the writer, director, etc, were all present and gave their speeches, in addition to representatives of various disability organisations, there were only two members of the cast in attendance; Paula Sage (Roberta) and Shirley Henderson (Kenny's girlfriend Ruby). When they were called to the stage, Paula Sage went to the microphone to speak, and could barely even see over the podium, never mind get close enough to the mic to be heard.
That's disability equality for you.
One of the speakers was from "Disability Equality in Education" - perhaps "Disability Equality in Public Speaking," is the next step for them.
I think that's possibly the best access faux pas since the BBC gave Tanni Grey-Thompson one of the sports personality of the year awards but forgot to get a ramp so she could get on the stage to collect it.
Of course, the dream for me is still alive. Not only do I want the Empire to have to red carpet their "accessible entrance" (sounds like something you might find written on a T-shirt in Essex with an arrow pointing down) down the piss-stinking back alley. I now want to get on the stage and talk too. Yes.
We can all dream, can't we? Or maybe not in my case, as the shortage of shut-eye I'm getting is still preventing me from doing so. Maybe I should sabbotage my own wind-screen wipers or something?
08 August 2004
OK, maybe not - considering I always had my own line when I lived in Golders Green and still rarely wrote.
But it's all exciting - I'm internet enabled! From the comfort of my very own room. Hurrah for Telewest finally telling me that they're not coming round so I could get a BT line. And my band will be broadened in a couple of weeks. There'll be nothing stopping me. Except for my own laziness, which I always find to be a barrier.
I'm again not sleeping properly, so during the day I can't usually keep my eyes open long enough to try and write. And at night I'm being good and disciplined and not turning my computer on. Instead I'm spending my nights watching the same episode of The Smoking Room repeated every night for a week on BBC Three. That and old episodes of Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned on ITV2. See - I also bought a Freeview box too.
I think I may have found a cure for my insomnia though - all I need to do is move into my local Peugeot dealership, and all my problems will be sorted. You don't think they mind me sleeping on the comfy blue sofas they've got, do you? It's not like I've never done it before...
I don't quite know what it is about the place that acts like a sedative, maybe it's the New Car Smell? If it is, all I need to do is find friends as generous during the festive season as Chandler and Joey, then I can make my room smell like a shiny 206 and my sleeping's sorted.
Three times I've had to make use of their waiting facilities while they've serviced/MOTed/repaired my car, and every time I've found keeping my eyes open to be impossible. The first twice I did actually fall asleep. It's quite a good job I have no shame about sleeping in public places.
On Thursday morning while I was waiting for them to fix my defective screen washer - the second I went through the door I could feel my eyelids getting heavy. I decided I was going to be good. I wasn't going to lay across the seats and start snoring. No! I was going to be "cool" (could partly have something to do with the pretty lady with the funky hair working there). I was going to sit and read my book. Yes. Reading.
"I will read. My eyes will stay open. I am not going to fall asleep here...
"OK, I'm not going to read. I can't focus on the page. I'll just look at the shiny cars around the room. Yes. Pretty, shiny colours. My eyes will stay open..."
While my brain was having a fight with my eyelids about their insistance to close, I could sense someone staring at me. It was the pretty lady with the funky hair giving me evils!
Why? I wasn't even snoring!
She kept perodically glaring at me until my keys were returned to me. Like she knew about my secret plans to sneak in with my duvet just as they were locking up every night.
This morning I got a letter from them reminding me that the metallic blue Peugeot 206 of mine that they MOTed last year was due for it's new MOT. They should know I don't have that car anymore - seeing as it was that garage from which I got my new car an all.
Still, reckon I could pass my new car off as my old one so I've got an excuse to go and sit in their wating room for a couple of hours kip?
27 July 2004
I'm not talking about slightly tedious daytime TV.
I also don't quite know why I feel it appropriate to proclaim the fact now, since I suppose the countdown technically began last Tuesday, when I made the phone call. But last week it all seemed too abstract. This week, the imminence makes it all seem more real.
There are two more days to go.
I'm quite tempted to end this post here. Leave you wondering what's happening in two days time. Much like the adverts when they launched Always sanitary towels.
Except I can't. I'm far too excited.
In two days time, I shall have my very own telephone line once more! Internet access at home! No more sneaking internet access at work when I've got the office to myself, no more seedy internet cafes with sticky keys that make you worry what it is that people have been looking up. Who knows, I may even manage to start to write in my blog regularly.
I will leave you to murmur "yeah, right," to yourself.
19 July 2004
Yesterday I decided I have a new ambition in my life. Well, it was more the rediscovery of a childhood ambition. Are you sitting comfortably, then I'll begin...
Yesterday a friend and I had a veritable film fest. We started the day before lunchtime (which as far as I'm concerned is a kind of sin... getting out of bed before 1pm on a Sunday) at the Curzon Soho where we saw a double bill of But I'm A Cheerleader and Gazon Maudit. Anyone who knows me knows about my deep love of both the film But I'm A Cheerleader and the gorgeous Clea DuVall. It's a true testament to how hungry I was towards the end of the film that during the scene where Megan is rubbing Rock's shoulders and Graham gives Joel some cake, that rather than thinking "Hmmmm.... Clea..." that I found myself thinking "Hmmmm.... Cake..." Despite my passion for the film, I'd never seen it on the big screen before. I'm glad I did, especially as seeing it on something larger than a portable TV made me notice the cute little freckles on Clea's shoulders. Ahhh. Bless.
Ahem, anyway. Following the films, we decided to go and get some lunch. By the time we'd finished it was 6pm, and my friend said "You know, I really quite fancy going to see another film." As I'd just been thinking exactly the same thing, we ended up going to see Shrek 2 at the Empire, Leicester Square.
This my friends is where I become ambitious. You see, the Empire is quite famous for often hosting movie premieres etc. I discovered that their wheelchair access into the building is up a vertical drop, through a fire exit that smells of piss off one of the streets leading off of the square (and I have to pay despite the fact that they let my "carer" in free). So, of course, I now want to be a hugely rich and famous movie star to see them have to red carpet that.
Of course, I never will be. I blame careers advisors. I could've been a film star! I could! (OK, maybe not) If only I'd had the right advice!
As a child, you get "advised" in school - even if hearing "Oooo, you can't do that, you're in a wheelchair"... "Oooo, you'll never be able to do that, you're disabled"... "Have you thought about being a secretary, because no-one is going to want to employ you to do anything else 'cos you can't walk proper" isn't particularly helpful.
At sixth form college they're not so bad (even if they do suggest they arrange a meeting with the "special" careers advisor - they listen when you refuse rather than forcing it on you like schools do).
Then you go to university. There you get the joy of seeing the careers advisor who "specialises" in advising people studying performing arts. When you tell her you want to do something funny, she suggests contacting your NHS HR department and asking to join their bank of temp secretaries. I hear that's how Billy Connolly started out. She offered me no more constructive suggestions than that.
As an adult, no-one advises you on your career paths/options. The Job Centre. They don't advise. If you're signing on they say:
"Got a job yet?"
"Well, I'm sure something will turn up. Even though you are disabled."
And if you're not currently unemployed: "Well, what you doing 'ere then?"
I fear this internet cafe is closing, and I have to depart. While I may never roll over a red carpet, I can enjoy the works of people who have. I'm off to see Farenheit 9/11.