My parents friends went home earlier. To be honest, I think I was too pessimistic yesterday; after I blogged, I got changed and went downstairs. Rather than being sidelined, I felt as much as part of the conversation as anyone else. In fact, at one point last night, nick, lez and Pete were all up here looking through all my crazy shit. I showed them my blog, all my photos, my videos (including this one). they seemed very impressed with my draft thesis, and I told them a bit about film theory.
The conversation often got political at meal times. We’re all educated, thinking liberals, and there was a sort of consensus that the Tories willl get in next year. This prospect really upsets me: whenever the Tories get in, the less fortunate in society suffer. CaMoron is loaded – do you really think he gives a shit about the likes of me? The conservatives simply care about themselves and what is best for them; theirs is a selfish, childish philosophy. As soon as they get in, they’ll just lurch to the right: say goodbye to stuff like the benefit system and the NHS.
In all, then, I really liked this weekend. I feel stimulated. Today we had a top-notch lunch up at the Swettenham Arms. I think mum and dad should have their friends over more often.
I suppose it was over-optimistic to hope for anything resembling a house party last night. We ended up having a quiet night, just talking, although I did have three or four drinks. My parents friends are quite nice blokes, although I think they’re not quite sure how to interact with me. Mostly I just sit there, listening to the conversation, contributing here and there (mostly witty comments). They’re my parents’ friends after all, so I don’t want to take centre stage. At the same time, I don’t want to hide myself away up here and withdraw from the action. What can I do, though? I feel rather out of place down there, yet rather antisocial if I stay up here. I think I’ll go back downstairs soon: I came up to check the cricket, blog, and talk to Lyn. Lyn has gone out, rain has stopped play, and this blog is almost done. But when I go downstairs I won’t be able to help feeling like a little kid who needs to keep quiet while the adults talk.
We have guests coming this afternoon. A few of my father’s university friends are coming to stay for the bank holiday, which is cool. It’s quite a rare event; I can hardly remember the last time it happened. I’m rather looking forward to it – the place is too quiet, especially without mark and Luke.
I’m not going back to alsager. For now I’m stuck here, then, in this big old house. It’s comfortable and safe, and food here is definitely better than in the Wes, but after the mad-cap days of uni, the place seems awfully sleepy. I’m looking forward to more people being here; hopefully there will be a little more noise. Mind you, I suppose a Steve and Chris style house party would be a little too much to expect. On the other hand, we have plenty of beer and vodka and other good things, and we have plenty of music to play, so who knows.
Oh well. I guess the days of dressing up and drinking till I fall asleep are over. Part of me thinks they’re gone forever, and that it’ll never be as good as it was at uni. But I still have my friends, just as my parents have theirs from Southampton. Who knows, maybe in 30 years, I’ll be the one out shopping for supplies before folk like Steve and charlotte and Emma come, while Lyn prepares the cake and fruit salad in the kitchen and our son writes self-pitying crap on his blog.
I suppose I had better admit this. I realised today that I have a prejudice: I hate boys. Not all boys, mind. Half my friends are male, after all. I mean a certain type of male, between twelve and twenty, who cuts his hair short and wears football shirts and hangs around on park benches with his mates. I don’t know why, but the sight of such people just makes me angry – I automatically think ‘scum’. I know, of course, that I’m resorting to stereotype; there’s no such thing as ‘scum’. But the way they look at me, as if I was some piece of shit; the way they snikker and talk about me; the way they seem to think they’re ‘hard’ and own the place, makes me want to shout at them. I’d like to tell them that I’m older than they are, that I have a degree, which is probably more than they’ll ever have. I’d tell them to stop looking at me, and to fuck off back to their mothers. I guess I’d just like a little respect, which, I guess, is what they want too, but unlike them I don’t feel I need to pretend to be ‘hard’.
In all my years in going there, I’m only just getting to know London properly. My parents took us down regularly as kids, but that was only to see our grandparents in Harlesden. Except for trips to see father Christmas in selfriges, we rarely went into the city centre. It would have been very difficult – my parents would have to cope with three extremely excitable young boys, one of whom was in a pram, then a wheelchair. Plus, these were the days before the busses with ramps and the tube station with lifts.
London, then, remained alien, and a little scary. It was a place of big houses, cars, and street lights which kept you awake at night. Truth be told, I didn’t like going there, for many years. Yet now, London has changed. The metropolis now seems a place to explore; still huge, but fear has been replaced by fascination. Last week, I saw London as I saw Paris; I fell in love with the south bank; I went over that cool new bridge; I saw Shakespeare’s globe. I saw a throbbing city full of history. The underground, I decided, ruled. The new busses are brilliant: accessible, yet red and double-decked as London busses should be.
However, these things aren’t perfect. There’s only one wheelchair space, meaning me and Lyn had to travel in convoy. I took the first bus, she took the second. Fortunately, the bus we needed came every 5 minutes or so. Yet I’d have much preferred to travel on the same bus, side by side, as a boyfriend should travel with his girlfriend. It seems as if nobody thinks us crips fall in love. It’s funny that, even so much progress has been made, I find myself longing for such little improvements.
Despite the fact Lyn uses macs, which for me constitute a terra incognita, I was able to check my email most days last week. On Thursday or thereabouts I received rather a cool one from a girl called Eva, in the states. She writes: ” I am a 26-year-old female with cerebral palsy and I have a video blog where I tape videos of people treating me bizarrely. My video camera is mounted to my wheelchair (very discreetly) and I basically just press record whenever I go out and then edit the good stuff. Then I write about the encounter. Its meant to show society’s views and treatment of disabled people. At times it can be quite funny and at other times very infuriating.” She asked me if I could post a link. Of course, this struck me as sub-zero; I mean, what a cool idea. She only has two such videos posted, but I really hope she makes more. This type of work really highlights the sort of stuff we crips face – stuff which most people I daresay just don’t notice.
I am back from London and I have much to blog about. My week in the capital really ruled; I haven’t felt that alive since Paris. It was truly exhilarating. Yesterday, for example, we went up the Thames on boat (the tube was shut). We caught it at the O2 (which I finally saw the point of) and got off near parliament. Tuesday we went to Buckingham palace, saw big ben, zoomed past parliament. From there we went to soho, which was interesting. As usual, there’s too much to write about. Weeks lie this make m feel alive though. The normal, everyday stuff, like eating breakfast in the park, or having the barbeques. I didn’t want to leave/
I’m shattered, and need to rest. I need to mention something which happened on my way home: I was about to get off in Crewe; thee train stopped and I went to the door, but nobody came with the ramp. I thought they were just being slow, but suddenly the door shut and the train started to move. I’d been forgotten. ‘Oh fuck’, I thought ‘Dad’s gonna kill me’. Luckily, a member of staff came, and she got the train manager. I was let off at Wilmslow, and put on the next train back to Crewe. This time, I was able to get off. Scary though. All in all, a great week. Plus the Ashes are again ours!
I am off to London for the next week or so. I probably won’t be able to blog down there, so if there’s no activity on my site, don’t worry. I’ll be staying with my girlfriend – I’m very excited at the prospect o f getting to spend an entire week with Lyn! I only hope that she doesn’t get too fed up with me lying around her house causing a mess. Well, if you’re in the capital, drop me or Lyn a line on facebook or something!
It all goes back to things like the sculpture of David by Michelangelo, or other classical images of bodily perfection. Art has been, by and large, obsessed with the idealised human form – blond hair, blue eyes, muscular men and slender women. It has, for many centuries, held these up to be ideal examples of the human form. Even Christ on his cross was always painted as somehow handsome.
Yet, slowly, I think this is changing. In this post-modern era, there is no such thing as thee perfect human, so art is no longer concerned with producing images of bodily perfection. And that’s where people like me come in. my body is not perfect or beautiful; it moves in unusual ways, arms and wrists jutting out at odd angles. Yet I am just as much a human as anyone else. Hence, mine is, in a sense, a post-modern body.
Just as postmodernism is being embraced, just as old values are being torn down, so other forms of beauty are coming forth. My girlfriends body is the perfect example – in previous times, people like Lyn and I would have been thought of as sub-human; her body was masculine, but now is feminine; it transgresses ideals of gender and disability. Lyn does not conform to any classical, modernist ideal of beauty, yet she is beautiful. Hers is a post-modern body, an exemplar of this brave new world; it is astonishing, fascinating, and to me utterly insepiring.
The subject of the disabled body and postmodernism could be deallt with over several thick volumes. I’ve only just started to think about it. I’ll probably return to this subject soon.
He may be currently in southern France, but today I’d just like to whish my big brother Mark a very happy birthday. Right now he’s with Kat and their friends, hopefully getting drunk in a seafront bar. Love you, bro; have a great day and a great holiday!