byfa

Last night I went to the roughcut screening of ‘The school that Roared’, a film currently being made by the British Youth Film Academy (BYFA) which is based here at mmu. It is a kid’s movie, and it frankly showed, yet it was enough to get me excited: if I can somehow get myself involved with these people, who knows where it might lead. They gave a short talk after the screening, and I was impressed to learn that BYFA has already one several awards. I got myself an application form, which I’ll fill in shortly. How exciting.

keeping cool

The thesis is getting to a stage where I use expletives to refer to it, so I think I need a break. Although its unfinished, I’m frankly tired, and would like nothing more that to sit on the sofa at home, and listen to my father reading. I have been staying at university for god knows how long – must be about five or six weeks – and its starting to irritate me. I find myself getting pissed off at the smallest of things, like the busses. I was supposed to go to a meeting yesterday in Crewe with Alan, but in their wisdom the bus comp any which operates the intersite transport sent the wrong type of bus. Meeting cancelled. Now I still don’t know what to do with my zarking thesis. Ahh!

I know ii must keep my cool, but it’s hard sometimes. I’m just looking forward to Paris.

the core of one’s being

Today I would like to examine the subject of identity, and how it might relate to disability. There are folk out there who describe it as complex, but when you actually think about it, it is remarkably simple. A very wise woman recently told me that ‘it’s not what you are, it’s who you are’. That is to say, you can be given any label under the sun, but what matters are your actions and personality. I can be described as a person with quite severe cerebral palsy; a man; a cross dresser; a person with brown hair; whatever. These are just labels – constructions in the Lacanian symbolic – what matters is that I am me.

This is what I base my identity on. To have my disability at the core of my being would be to see myself as different from everyone else, like an adolescent Goth moaning ‘nobody knows the pain I feel’ as he listens to depressing music. We are who we are: okay, I happen to use a lightwriter to speak and a chair to get around, but I can communicate with anyone and go anywhere, so it does not matter. I am, quite simply, a person, and label myself as such. To define myself on the basis of my disability would be to set up divisions which need not be there – if I were to define myself as ‘white’, for example, I would automatically create a division between myself and people with different skin colour, implying separateness. Just as it should not matter what skin tone you have, or your gender, why does it matter that I have cp? To base the core of one’s identity on the fact that one may belong to a particular social or ethnic group to my mind betrays a particular kind of parochial attitude; the same surely applies to one’s disability. What matters is that we all strive to be the best person we can be.

This is not to say that I want everyone to act the same way, but the very opposite. Why should we restrict ourselves to one pre-set social group? Different groups produce different things, and have different ways to look at things. I don’t want to destroy that, or for everyone to be the same, but to mix, to try other things. Simply to define myself as one thing – a person with c.p – would imply that I intend to follow a pre-determined path, to act in certain ways. This is not my aim. I will always have cp, just as I will always be white, but at the core such things are not who I am. My father, for example, endowed me with a particular liking for cricket and real ale: I will probably always like them, but this is not to say I cannot also love football and larger, or sumo and sake. In the years to come, all being well, you will find my tyre tracks from Tokyo to los Angeles. The fact that I have cerebral palsy is irrelevant to this.

very worrying but not surprising

There is no denying that labour deserved to lose the Crewe by-election, and badly at that. This is not to imply I feel that the Tories deserved to win it – anyone with any memory of the position they left the country in in 1997 will think twice about voting Tory – but it is nevertheless true that labour, under brown, is a bit of a sham.

There is certainly a lot of bad feeling around about Mr brown. He’s acting more like the Tories than…well…the goddamn Tories! And what the devil were they thinking having Tamsin Dunwoody as their candidate and relying solely on a family name to win the election? How naive can you get? Is it any surprise the Tories won?

Frankly, and worryingly, it isn’t.

i’m still here

Its been a busy weekend, almost to insane levels. In time I’ll tell you all about it, but tonight I’m knackered. I’m just posting this to assure my reader(s) I am not dead and that the Crewe-bi-election has, let us say, given me pause for thought. Much more detailed blogging soon (after I mull it over).

Perhaps it was necessarry…

good friends, good wine, and the prospect of adventure

Charlie came to visit last night. Initially she was only going to stay for the evening. But about mid-afternoon she emailed to ask me if she could stay the night and could I lend her a sleeping bag and a bottle of Rose from somewhere. So I ventured out, buying a sleeping bag and a good Zimphandel.

She arrived just before seven. Our plan was to book a trip to Paris and then go for a drink somewhere. We soon discovered that neither of us were any good at booking holidays; I got bored and dropped a hint by handing C the bottle opener. We changed the plan – Charlie will pop into Going Places later today. At that, Ricardio and Burien appeared at my window and we all spent a while on the grass mound next to the Astroturf. After the wine was dead, me and C headed back inside to switch everything off before heading into the village. We went to The Bank Corner – the new place in town, I mentioned it yesterday, and we shared a Chianti as we talked about old times. Our three years here were great and we had some good times. Charlie told me how everyone misses it. I suppose pretty soon I’ll be in that position and I suppose too that I’ve been putting it off. University life offers security, you get a sense of belonging here and of community. C rightly pointed out that I must leave it soon, and that sense of uncertainty I felt is something everyone feels. Seeing her last night reassured me, I guess. This friendships built here over the last three years will never fade, and will be like homely ports as I venture out into the world. Interestingly, charlie suggested her hometown of chester as a place to live after I finish my masters – an idea that I rather like and will certainly consider. Chester is suitably cosmopolitain, yet not as hectic or as dangerous as a big city.

We ate breakfast together this morning, and went to Crewe together. I had a meeting there and Charlie needed the train. Her visit was brief, but it served to reassure me that there are still constants in life, and things to look forward to. Paris here we come.

thoughts on the way home

It rather pisses me off tat the talk over breakfast in the wes this morning wholly concerned last night’s match and not the political events much closer to home. Granted, it was a very interesting match, but I am far more interested in the Crewe bi-election, for it seems to me that today truly is make or break day for both brown and CaMoron. I mean, don’t these people care?

As for the football, after finding brandies empty last night I headed into the village. There is a pretty smart bar which has just opened inalsager; it was, surprisingly, only a quarter full, so I went in and asked for a real ale before finding a spot in front of the TV. I told myself I didn’t care who won, but as usual I found myself supporting united as the evening wore on. The match, as you guys probably know, lasted longer than expected, but the right team eventually one. as I drove home, though, I found myself mulling over this disability thing.

I once saw the fact that I had c.p as the core of my identity. This leads one to make some logical deductions – for instance, one internalises the idea that one is wholly different, separated from the mainstream. One internalises the concept that one is ‘a freak’. But I no longer see this as either logical or healthy. I see myself as just a normal jo, as normal as anyone else. I just happen to use a few pieces of equipment to perform certain activities, but given that mankind is a tool-using species, I find nothing freaky about that. Why, then, should I take the position that I am anything other than normal? From this it follows that ‘freakism’ is a self-forfilling prophecy to define oneself as a freak is to let others do so, and hence become the freak. This to me seems the very antithesis of inclusion; to propagate actively the idea that disabled people are freaks is not a celebration of difference but it’s very opposite. To define oneself as normal does not mean trying to conform to ‘normal’ behaviours, like trying to use a knife and fork, but to encourage the idea that the use of a neater-eater is ‘normal’. The only way we can stop people from thinking that we are different tis to encourage the idea that we are normal. This means getting rid of this ”look at how different I am” type behaviour. Frankly, it’s very adolescent. It also means re-evaluating that contradiction, as we cannot have it both ways. To want to be seen as both different and normal is to want ones cake and eat it.

I guess I have rambled a bit today. I just wanted to jot a few things down. Seems driving home from bars is good for thinking.

hbd lyn

Today I will just whish my good friend lyn a happy birthday. We have been talking online for a while, and have met once or twice. She’s also a fellow lightwriter user. I won’t divulge her age here, as, the truth is, I’ve forgotten it, but I’ll just say that I’m attracted to older women…

meeting with the enemy

It has been quite a day. Crewe has become a microcosm for Britain, and I get to watch events as they happen. This morning, having failed to get to the bank early enough on Saturday, I set off for Crewe to withdraw some money, intending to meet Mayer for coffee and return by one. however, I found the place abuzz with politicians and cameramen. Naturally I was fascinated; it’s amazing to see so much attention on Crewe, so suddenly. I thought it worth hanging around.

In the square the bbc had their outside broadcast team. I watched Jon sopel doing pieces to camera, apparently to go on Newsnight. He had to say the same piece several times.

Of course I was in my flaneur mode. All the major parties were there. I talked a bit to Mr. opik, who is a very nice man. Yet I had one objective in mind…

CaMoron!

I must admit I was about to give up. I had been watching the bbc correspondents do their thing for a while, when I mustered up the courage to go chat with Mr sopel. I said how fascinating it was to see Crewe become a microcosm. He agreed, and we chatted a bit. I eventually said I really wanted to talk to CaMoron.

”Oh, he’s here” he said. ”apparently in asda – wherever that is”

I knew where asda was, and after thanking Mr s I was off like a shot…this was going to rule. Asda was just around the corner, and I saw a crowd in there, and then him. My own white whale.

I pointed at him, shaking with rage and excitement. This, of course, got his attention; he came to me. Shivering, I inputted the following into my lightwriter: ”I must beg you to reconsider your attitude to inclusive education.”

He replied politely that he believes in parental choice, and that inclusion is not suitable for everyone. I disagreed, saying that with the right support everyone could be included, at which he brought up his own son. I said that all children could benefit from inclusion.

The conversation was too short, and I know I should have put more points to him, but I couldn’t hog his attention. He gave me over to one of his minions too quickly, but I didn’t want to appear too pushy.

I told her of my grievances with special school; how I spent 13 years in one. I think she understood, as did CaMoron, but I rather doubt I changed their minds. But at least I lodged my complaint directly, however ineffective it may have been. They both reassured me that they don’t believe in total segregation, just for those who need it – I didn’t get chance to say that wasn’t good enough. Oh well.

Needless to say I’m quite pleased with myself. Okay, I could have said more – I wanted to; I wanted to press home my hatred of segregation – but you can’t have everything. I was, of course, polite at all times At least I got to make the basic pointy

stupid blue baloons were everywhere

I was out in Crewe yesterday. I got back late so I didn’t have time to blog. Tory campaigners were all over the place – they really think they can win the Crewe and Nantwich bi-election. I went up to them a couple of times and stated my opinion – politely, of course. I was told I was wrong, and that David CaMoron cares for disabled people – he has a disabled son, didn’t I know. Basically, they just spewed platitudinous, substance less crap – rather typically of the Tory party.

In the end, I put it to them that CaMoron threatens everything I hold dear, at which they politely whished me luck and I went back to the more pressing issue of finding dinner.