side by side

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 The metropolis now seems a place to explore; still huge, but fear has been replaced by fascination.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.

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