An unexpected, incredible treat

Last night I had an amazing yet wholly unexpected treat. Lyn had been sent tickets by a man at the Southbank centre, whom we hope she’ll be able to work with. It was for a concert, and she invited me along. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect – it could have been any type of music, any type of concert. Yet, as it turned out, it was just as much a treat for me as it was for Lyn: fate had sent us to a screening of Carl Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) set to live music. This is a classic bit of cinema, one of the cornerstones of early film, and to get to see it on the big screen was incredible. Some of the shots were absolutely beautiful: Dreyer kept using close-ups of Joan’s face, which, to begin with, I found faintly irritating, but then I realised how emotive her face was: he used it as a refrain – a piece of text to keep coming back to. I was intrigued.

Even more intriguing was that the live orchestra did not use the score of the original film, but had composed new music for it. I think it fitted the film quite well, although, as a film buff, I must raise my eyebrow at it. It sort of shifts authorship away from the original director, which raises all kinds of interesting questions. Is it right to tamper with such a classic text? It is probably best to describe a concert like the one last night as post-modern, which allows such fusions of old and new. Indeed, I think the performance last night was very post-modern indeed, as it was the fusion of three texts: the medieval court records of the original trial of Joan of arc, mentioned in the opening film; the 1928 movie based on those records; and the contemporary score, complete with awesome-sounding electric guitars. I must say I find such a convergence fascinating to reflect on.

I think I got a lot out of last night. It gave me a lot to think about. On top of that, I got very excited when I noticed they were using an ancient reel-to-reel projector. All told, it was an incredible night for me – I can’t believe my luck sometimes.

two disability-related articles

I think I will just be a lazy blogger today and direct you to two articles I stumbled across this morning. This first one concerns quite a furore stirred up online: apparently, according to one Tory MP, we crips spend too much time on twitter when we should be out finding work. Conservative MP Nadine Dorries said: ” If you Twitter all day, every day, about claiming disability benefit in one tweet whilst arranging a night out in the pub in the next […] don’t expect someone like me not to a) inform the authorities and b) tell you to get of [sic] your Twitter and get a job.” If you ask me, this is typical of the Tories – the internet is a godsend for many disabled people, allowing us to communicate far more efficiently; it lets us conduct our lives. Yet the Tories just think we’re wastrels hanging around facebook.

The second article I want to direct you to, here, concerns something just as stupid. Disabled people below the age of seventeen are being denied the wheelchairs that best suit them because of some quirk in the law which prevents them from driving class three vehicles. Many disabled kids need quite a bit of kit, such as electric wheelchairs with seat-raisers, chair-mounted communication aids, and so on. But this means their chairs have to be sturdy and heavy, and ”the 1988 Road Traffic Act not only bans children under 14 from using very technologically advanced wheelchairs – a ‘class three vehicle’ weighing up to 150kg – but it classes wheelchairs heavier than 150kg as cars, which can only be driven legally by over 17s who hold a driving licence.” This means that charities are prevented by law from giving kids the chairs that best fit their needs. How obscenely stupid is that?

Here you have two pertinent disability related articles, both examples of the type of stupidity we crips have to put up with. It seems I can still do the ”link and comment” type entry after all.

dribbling

It is funny how such a corny old joke can amuse someone so much. We were talking in the garden yesterday with chopper, and the subject of sport came up. Lyn said we were very good at football. This took chopper aback: ”how do you mean?” He asked. Lyn replied that we were both good at dribbling. Now, I have known this joke since I was little; since my grandma took me and my brother Mark to thee park to play football, when I was still in my pram. Yet chopper howled with laughter upon hearing it, and today hasn’t stopped repeating it to almost everyone we meet. He seems to think it’s one of the funniest things he’s ever heard. I just think its odd to reflect on how, to those new to the disability community, such jokes can act as a release, helping them to realise that, sometimes, perfectly fine bad to laugh at disability. Chopper has become used to me, and we both poke fun at each other, yet the way he guffawed so heartily made me think he’d kind of realised something: I reckon that sometimes it needs such a corny old pun to let others know it’s okay to laugh.

A happy easter, and a bit of sociology

We went to my grandmother’s house in Harlesden yesterday for Easter Sunday. Just like at Christmas, it felt wonderful to see everyone; although the place wasn’t quite as full as then, I always relish seeing my family. My cousin Cyril was there, whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time, and it was interesting to hear that he’s thinking about developing things for people with disabilities using his background in neuroscience.

We al had a great time, and it was good to see Lyn fast becoming a member of the family. An odd thought occurred to me though: I was struck by the contrast between the type of conversation held by my family and the type of conversation people hold down here in south London. It’s like my family live on a totally different sphere of existence to where I now live. They were talking about stuff like the housing market and the value of modern art, things which would, by and large, probably be of absolutely no consequence to most of the people I meet around Charlton. I guess this is hard to explain without sounding patronising or judgemental: I’m not trying to imply quality or worth here; it just struck me how vast the social, cultural and economic differences between some people are. I need to think this through before I write more about it, but I must say the contrast really did hit me yesterday.

Lyn’s laugh

This is my blog and I should be able to record what I whish on it, so tonight I want to record Lyn’s laugh. We were out in the garden again this afternoon, sitting and talking with friends. We were cracking the occasional joke, as you do. Suddenly, although it was at my expense, someone made a joke which sent my fianc into hysterics. Lyn creased up – it seemed to render her incapable. I just want to say how truly brilliant seeing her like that felt: Lyn is a bit of an old soul, and she’s been through a lot, but seeing her laugh like that – as uncontrollably as a child – felt wonderful tonight. It gave me a moment of pure joy. I know blogs are meant for political commentary or social observation, but it occurs to me that recording something so ephemeral as the joy one gets from hearing your partner laugh is just as important, for that is where our humanity lies.

Summerish

If anyone is reading this, in the next few days, and you’re in England, you must be mad. Why aren’t you outside enjoying the sun? It was lovely out there earlier – Lyn and I spent the afternoon in the garden, bright sunshine streaming down. In fact it was so hot I had to put on my distinctly unstylish straw hat. I know I shouldn’t just blog about the weather – it must be the brit in me. There are far more compelling things to blog about, but I just can’t get over how summerish it feels, especially given it’s a bank holiday. Anyway stop reading second-rate weblogs and go outside for zark’s sake!

april barbeque

Last night saw one of the coolest evenings we have had in a good while, although it was the warmest. We decided to have a barbeque – the sun was out, the sky was clear, and I think we were in the mood for a party. Truth be told, though, I think it was chopper’s idea mostly. We decided to have one Tuesday evening, so yesterday afternoon, Chopper and I went to Asda to get some supplies. I think, though, he had slightly grander ideas than I did – I had envisaged just cooking some sausages and chicken and eating them outside with a few beers, but, thanks to chopper, last night saw us cooking a mountain of food on his whacking great barbeque with a few other friends in our back garden.

That we can have a barbeque this early in the year still strikes me as slightly worrying, but I can’t worry too much after such a great night. There was talking and music and laughter, and, best of all, the tastiest burgers I’ve had in a long while. There’s so much left over that we might have another, smaller one tonight – I can’t wait.

Emma’s birthday and the human condition

Facebook has informed me that today is Emma’s birthday. I know that just writing blog entries to notify the world of my friends’ birthdays is fairly dull blogging, which is why, save perhaps for charlotte’s, I don’t usually do it. Yet something today struck me: it has been a good two or three years since I saw the majority of my friends from university. As I’ve written on here before, I know this to be a natural part of the human condition; people who go to places like university or school together tend to drift apart. It’s just a fact of life. Yet Emma Avery and I were once reasonably close, and shared many cool adventures. I remember vividly the day we went bowling together. Now we both have partners, of course, and she has a small son, but it strikes me as, well, not quite sad but regrettable that we have not seen each other in such a long time, and might not do so for quite some time. With that in mind, though, I better just whish her a great birthday, and say that I hope she has a great night tonight.

the marathon goes through charlton

No doubt most people will know that the London marathon was today. I hadn’t realised it ran straight through Charlton. I only noticed this when, a few weeks ago, big yellow signs started appearing in the village saying the road will be closed. I turned on the TV this morning and saw images of Blackheath and Woolwich; places I know very well now. I was disappointed that I didn’t catch any pictures of Charlton, although they did show the Valley football ground, which is just down the hill. I was tempted to get dressed and go watch, but I needed a shower, although later when we went to the co-op for some groceries we saw the road had been fenced off. This is, of course, just by-the-by, but I find it amazing to realise I was so close to such a huge event.