clean glasses

I think I really must be getting old. I reckon it is a sure sign that you are getting older when become less tolerant of your glasses being dirty. I’ve been wearing specs since I was nine or so, and, growing up, I always had dirty glasses. Unless they were absolutely filthy, I didn’t seem to mind. My grandma always wanted to clean them, and, often without warning, used to rip them off my face and take them to the sink. Needless to say, this used to irritate the life out of me. Yet, these days, I’m the opposite: I can’t stand dirty glasses. The thing is, I can’t clean them myself, and whenever I try they always seem to end up dirtier than when I started, so I usually hand them to my PA to do. Ironically, though, this has become such a regular occurrence that I’m sure soon they’ll be the ones getting irritated. In fact, I think I might go ask for them to be cleaned right now.

the C word 1

I still need to write that entry about the word cripple. It’s not as simple as it seems: the thing is, it’s what I call a reclaimed word – a word once used as a term of offence but is now used sort of as a badge of membership. My friends in the disability community use it, for the most part ironically, to refer to themselves. The thing is, as Ricardio points out in his comments, it’s like the word nigger; it’s used by black people to refer to themselves, but should anyone else use it, it is seen as extremely offensive. It might be more complicated than that, though, because I let some of my non-disabled friends use it to refer to me, and it’s sort of funny. Mind you, it all depends on when and where it’s used, and how it’s meant. In this way, I don’t think it can fully be explained: as with the N word, there are still instances when the word cripple can be highly offensive. Yet I still find it okay to use it to refer to myself. I suppose this is a case where Ferdinand de Sesseur’s observation that, in language, the relationship between sign and signified is arbitrary holds most sharply and takes on a new dimension.

More on this intriguing subject soon.

stop the so- called ”rally against debt’

I fully intend to respond to Ricardio’s request for an explanation of my use of the word cripple, and I have been thinking about it all day. It’s an interesting debate he raises, and one which deserves a fairly long entry. However, I hope my good friend will understand when I say it’ll have to wait for another day, as today I have something even more controversial on my mind.

I find myself, tonight, questioning a person’s right to protest. Even typing those words feels faintly ridiculous: everyone has an inalienable right to express their point of view, whatever it is. But earlier I came across something which boiled my blood: something proclaiming itself a ”rally against debt” – a counter-protest to the recent anti-cuts march in London. It was on facebook so I told them exactly what I thought of them. Frankly I told them I felt that I thought they had no right to hold any such protest.

They do, of course, but I have a right to raise my objections to it. If this thing goes ahead, it strikes me as a childish act, deliberately inflammatory to those concerned about the cuts. It’s almost hateful in the way it presents itself. I guess I’m opening up myself up to accusations of holding my right to protest up while denying other people theirs, and the irony of my use of the word ‘fascist’ is not lost on me, but if you saw someone intending to protest against your way of life, your livelihood, would you knot object? We all realise what these cuts will do; I’m very concerned indeed about the impact they will have on me and Lyn, and all disabled people. So I think my objection to this puerile act is justifiable; I see it as a march against the wealth fare state, the NHS, and pretty much all I hold dear, just as Osbourne’s cuts are manifestly an attack on those things. Thus I have a right to try to stop this insipid rally from happening.

a cool few days

All in all it has been quite an amazing few days. As I said, on Thursday we had the surprise of our lives; to suddenly hear a camera crew and quite a famous and prolific reporter were coming was quite a shock. Then on Friday we had all the excitement and anticipation of seeing ourselves on the news, and then the subsequent mild disappointment of our piece not being shown. It turns out that the reporters were still working on it, and it’ll probably be shown at a later date. On Saturday, of course, there was all the sound and fury of the protests in central London. It isn’t every day that you get to march alongside about a quarter of a million people. Yesterday was somewhat tamer, in comparison, although we got to go to quite a cool music night in a small restaurant we know around the corner. It was intimate and friendly, and I now know where I can get a decent martini.

It is now, however, Monday morning, and we have the real world to contend with again. Life in London does, though, seem to throw up these odd stints of excitement – maybe there’s something in the water. I wonder what this lunatic of a city will throw up next.

not the revolutionary I want myself to be

I once wrote on here that I felt a riot is no place for a cripple. I stand by that. A protest is another matter, of course: anyone can and should be able to attend a peaceful protest and have their voice heard. I went to the protest in central London today, together with Lyn and Adrian, where I saw a great many people using wheelchairs. They were all, I assume, as worried as I am about what this government is doing. Like last time, there was a carnival atmosphere at the protest for most of today. We walked along, listening to the drums and whistles. I was eager to get up to hyde park, where I knew a rally was being held, and where I suspected some of my friends to be. I also suspected there would be less chance of trouble there.

But it wasn’t to be: we were following the crowd past fortnum and mason when trouble started. Some protesters – mostly masked – were on the roof. Suddenly a bunch of riot police rushed past. I decided it was time to press on, when a woman told us to get out of there, as the police were about to kettle.

We got out just in time. I felt the same sense of fear I felt last time, and told Adrian we needed to go somewhere safe. We decided this was home, and about ninety minutes later we were back here, pizza in the oven and beer open on the table. I guess I’m not the revolutionary I want myself to be, but at least it seems a great many others who are feel as strongly as I do about the cuts.

the news

How the smeg am I going to even start explaining this one? I better start at the beginning. Yesterday morning I popped over to see chopper; I think we like each other, and I find him interesting on a number of levels. I often pop over to his place for a cup of coffee and a natter. At about half twelve or one, I decided to come home to see what Lyn was up to. Our PA, Adrian, opened the door.

”You’re gonna be on television” he said. I was dumbfounded. It turns out that my friend Becca, to whom I am now profoundly and forever indebted, had reposted the film Lyn made about the theft of her computer onto a site called Pistonheads, where it had been seen by someone who knew someone at Channel Four. They were interested in the story, and decided to come and investigate. Even when I write it that seems incredible, but that’s what happened. At about half five last night, after a flurry of emails on Lyn’s part and much worrying and squealing on mine, a camera man and a reporter came.

I think it went well. I had promised Becca I wouldn’t let them turn it into a cripsploitation story, and, although I cannot be sure, I don’t think it will be. The reporter, Carl Dennon, was obviously very used to disabled people; they included us in the choice of shots, which, as a film student, I loved. I suppose we can only be sure when we see it on channel four, tonight, between seven and eight.

I better go warn my parents.

Appeal

If you can do so, I’d ask anyone reading this to go to Lyn’s facebook page. There she has posted a short film about recent events. Without wanting to be too blunt about it, in janurary we were burgled; the video is her appeal for infomation and help. It hasn’t appeared on Youtube yet, but I’ll post a link to it as and when it does. Edit: the film can be found here

Welfare bill ignores reality (of disability)

I know that yesterday I stated that I wanted to blog about subjects other than disability and politics, but last night this guardian article got my attention. It’s about the reforms to the wealth fare system the coalition government propose to push through, and, quite frankly, they are fucking stupid. The system we have at the moment isn’t perfect, but it works. Why, then, does disability living allowance need to become personal independence payment? How, exactly, do the Tories want to cut the claimant number by twenty percent? And where is the logic in saying ”you already have a wheelchair, therefore you don’t need the mobility component”? It is totally and utterly stupid – a cost-cutting scam from a narrow-minded government.

pretty good going for a lazy little cripple

I was thinking earlier, and I reckon that I have good reason to be rather pleased with my blog – even proud. Granted, it may not be as incisive the main blogs, and hardly gets any traffic (in fact I doubt it’s read by anyone other than family and friends), but I’ve kept it up for eight years, and I think that’s something to be proud of. I was thinking the other day, if I blog every two days, at about 100 to 200 words an entry, that’s 500 words a week, 26000 a year; in fact I reckon I’ve written over a hundred thousand words on my website over the years, which is pretty good going for a lazy little cripple.

With that in mind, I think a change is in order. I’ve been trying to keep on the subject of disability, but while presenting the perspective of a disabled person in the current political climate is incredibly important, I don’t want to define myself just by my disability. I think I’ve earned the right to expand into other areas: There are other sides to me too, I’ll have you know, and it’s important people realise that we crips are well-rounded individuals. This occurred to me last night, when I saw that the cast of The Hobbit films had been announced; I was highly tempted to make a blog entry simply linking to the appropriate website with some short yet highly enthusiastic message. But this would have been a poor excuse for a blog entry, and would have had nothing to do with the purpose of my blog.

And yet the fact is I adore Tolkien, and I can’t wait to see these films. As with my interest in star trek and james bond, this obsession is part of who I am. As a student of film, I find myself wanting to wax lyrical about what I think if this film, how glad I am that Peter Jackson is helming it, or about how I almost wet my pants when I heard that Brian Blessed might be in it, playing one of the dwarfs*. But this would have had nothing whatsoever to do with disability, so I kind of censor myself, trying to keep on subject.

However, I think from now on a new blogging philosophy is in order. Trying to keep to a fixed set of subjects** – disability, politics or world affairs – has given rise to a load of lacklustre entries recently, and I think that has to stop. From now on I’ll be broadening out: I’ll try to give a disability slant if I can, but as long as I don’t go back to simply making one-line entries linking to youtube videos, as I did in the early days of my blogging career, I think it’s all good.

So, how about that English cricket team…?

*unfortunately, this turned out only to be a rumour it seems, but had Blessed been cast as, say, Balin, it would have been up there with other pieces of casting genius, such as Sean Bean as Boromir, Alan Rickman as Marvin the paranoid android, and so on.

**I know I often strayed from this, but it was what I tried to do.

turning on the news with trepidation

We were just watching the news. Like most people, I suppose, I like to keep up to date with what is going on in the world. Yet increasingly these days I turn the bbc news channel on reluctantly. I cannot remember ever seeing two such big stories break at the same time: we are currently seeing a major world economy crippled by the most terrible natural disaster, and simultaneously allied forces are in action over Libya. I am worried about what horrifying images will appear on our screens next. I should say that, while I’m in two minds about the UNs involvement in Libya, I think, on the whole, going in was the right thing to do: gadaffi is a lunatic despot unafraid to kill his own people. we can see how fragile his grip on reality is from the speeches he makes. The UN needed to intervene,. At the same time, as I was saying to dad on Friday, since when was it our role to decide the course of history. Mind you, if we decided to keep out of this conflict, it might mean sitting idly by while Gadaffi’s thugs slaughter thousands, and I doubt any off us could stomach that.