an unintended adventure (slash pub visit

Ye gads what a day it has been. What started as a to hour trip to Woolwich and back turned into a five hour adventure, resulting in my being late for tea and the drinking of rather too much beer. I needed o pop down to the local social services today in order to sort something out at Riverside house. On my way through the town centre, though, I mistook a curb for flat ground, and flew out of my chair. I was fine, and could easily have just dusted myself off and got on my way. But the people around me saw, and, thinking I might need help, called an ambulance. ”Oh lord” I thought ”this is all I need.”

To cut a long story short, and after several attempts to explain I was perfectly fine, I got someone to call chopper. I know I should not have: ideally I should have called our PA, Mitchell. I rely too much on chopper, and calling Mitchell would have been the proper course of action. Yet, not having Mitchell’s number on me, an hoping that Chopper would be able to get there quicker and get me out of that mess more swiftly, I resorted to friend rather than PA.

My hunch worked, and my friend – an older, uglier version of Charlie if ever I saw one – was with us within twenty minutes. He explained everything I couldn’t to the ambulance ladies, sorted out the paperwork, and we were on our way. He even then helped me sort out my business t the council (although I still need to write a letter – a fact which I would not have found out had Chopper not helped). Well, what else could I do than buy him a pint or three for his troubles? I had intended to have an alcohol free day – to sort out my stuff, then come home. I wanted to pop out and then spend some quality time with Lyn. But if a guy asks only for you to buy him a pint in return for such services, what else can one do? Now though, being shattered after today’s misadventures, and having changed for bed early, it’s time gave Lyn the hug I intended to hours ago.

Beaten by a grannymobile dammit!

I am not too happy about this, although otherwise it has so far been a good day. I had to go to the hospital earlier to pick up my new shoes. It isn’t too far away so I just drove there in my chair. On the way, I had to cross the road at a pedestrian crossing, where a guy in a mobility scooter pulled up beside me. Now, I have this thing against scooters: I think they’re for old fogies, and no serious, self-respecting crip would be seen dead in one. They’re unpractical, unmanoeuvrable, and anyone who grew up around wheelchair and wheelchair users knows not to take them seriously. Thus, when I saw him beside me, I had visions of the race scenes in the Back to the Future films: if I could have revved my engine, I would have. I was gonna show this scooter man what real crips ride!

Only, things did not go as I had intended. To my horror, the scooter pulled away from me, and beat me across the road. ”God dammit!” I thought. ”Beaten by a grannymobile!” I was not at all happy, although I must say my chair is quite old, and thanks to it’s manoeuvrability I reached the hospital before the guy. But even so: beaten by a scooter! I need a beer.

Fry’s Planet Word

Last night I watched ‘Fry’s Planet Word’ on Iplayer, having missed it when it first aired on Sunday night. I thought it was an amazing programme, all about language and it’s importance for humanity. I have long thought that people often forget how important language is; after all, as this programme pointed out, the development of complex systems of communication was one of the main factors behind the development of human civilisation. However, this morning a friend on Facebook pointed out to me that this programme could also function as a vital tool for VOCA users and their allies: there is often a problem that people are denied the equipment they need by so-called professionals, unaware of how vital the ability to communicate is, so their language is effectively ‘stolen’. As Terry put it: ” Stephen Fry’s Planet Word – new series on BBC 2 Sundays 9 pm GMT- this is the first one. absolutely brilliant program on Language! will massively help our fight against The Language Stealers by helping our lawyers understand just what it is his speech therapists, teachers and social care workers are stealing from my son and countless others like him, highly recommended to all our AAC friends and anyone who would support Michael’s right to language. Thank you Stephen Fry!” what I think we need to do now is contact Mr. Fry himself and make him aware of this aspect of his programme – maybe he could mention it on future series. In the meantime, if you haven’t already seen it, I urge you to go watch this fascinating programme.

Beter stick to the busses

Yesterday I came across this website for a wheelchair-accessible motorbike, and began to wonder whether I could drive such a thing. To be honest, I think it would be useful: we rely on public transport to get around town, which is fine most of the time, but it has it’s drawbacks. Busses only go to certain places, and you often wait ages for one only to find the wheelchair space is occupied by a pram. Being able on get about on a bike would certainly make getting about easier, not to mention cooler. However, when you consider he idea seriously, it’s probably not a good idea for me. Traffic in London is fairly hellish: my brother Luke has a motorbike, and even he won’t risk driving it in the city, so the mess I’d probably cause if I was let loose on he roads doesn’t bear thinking about. Besides, there only appears to be enough space for one chair, so I couldn’t lake Lyn with me, let alone our PA. it looks like I better stick to the good old busses and trains.

exploring London as a lover rather than as a son

I just want to briefly address something which cropped up in the comments to this entry. It is, of course, not the case that my parents did not take us anywhere on our trips to London. In fact, we went all over the place. One of my favourite family traditions was to go to see father Christmas in Selfridges department store every autumn half term. They also took me to places like the science museum, and to the many royal parks. The thing is, I can now explore these places under my own steam; with Lyn, I have to plan out how to get there myself. And, as dad said in his comment, I’m now seeing all these places through more educated eyes, so it’s like looking at them afresh. The love I have now for this city is the love of a native, or the love of the flaneur: there is so much I want to (re-) explore, this time as a lover rather than as a son. I can’t wait to go to the science museum or the natural history museum with Lyn; I’m especially eager to go to Kew with her. However, I’m not sure we’ll be too fussed about seeing father Christmas in Selfridges.

I failed

I suppose I better admit that I failed in my ambition not to drink until tomorrow, and therefore deserve punching. Chopper and I went to the pub this afternoon, so I’m currently pretty angry at myself. I suppose that, to be fair, it was not totally my fault: I needed money today, so I went to ask chopper if he wanted to accompany me on the ride down to Bexley. While I was outside his house, talking to him, one of his new neighbours popped up with a bottle of cheap champagne. He was new to the area, and I didn’t want to seem rude by turning down his offer of a cup. So that is how I broke my vow of abstinence, and once it was broken, I thought I might as well have a pint or two with my friend on my way home.

Given I was one day out I’m rather angry with myself, as I was sort of challenging myself. That makes me sound like a complete alcoholic, but I don’t really drink that much – I jut like a pint or two every couple of nights. I suppose, too, that I hadn’t drank since Saturday, and I seem to get quite anal about things like this, so there’s no need to beat myself up too much. I do need to cut down, and I have been feeling better this week for it, but I guess there is no point in flogging myself too much for missing an essentially arbitrary target. I guess my lapse today wasn’t the end of the world, but you are still free to punch me in the face.

those who mistake id impulses for a political stance

My dads comment in reply to my last entry really touched me, and my eyes fill up with tears each time I read it, so I think a complete change of subject is in order. It has been ages since I attacked anyone personally on my blog, and I try to avoid ranting about people, but the truth is it can be fun. A couple of days ago I came across this article by Peter Hitchens. It is a perfect example off why I loathe those on the right so much, and why I am increasingly coming to think that their point on view is nothing more than a set of id impulses which they mistake for a political stance. It is about the victimization of disabled people, and ordinarily I’d support any such article, but the way in which Hitchens blames such victimization on the liberalization of society, by claiming that, because of political correctness, the perpetrator now feel as if they can get away with it, has me up in arms. This seems to me incredibly simplistic; I also think Hitchens is hijacking this case to forward his own agenda, when in fact he has no right to do so.

I hate the way that those on the right attack political correctness by claiming it to be some kind of repressive force, or that it prevents freedom of speech. Do they not understand that it is designed to be a system of ensuring equality, and to ensure that minorities are represented fairly? The PC ethos is, for me, born of the same principles as liberalism; they both understand that there are reasons why people act how they act. It is also founded upon the principle on which that of the freedom of speech is founded, so to somehow claim the PC agenda somehow infringes freedom of speech is truly ironic, and surely evidence of the right’s lack of understanding. Moreover, disabled people can be victimized for a number of reasons – economic, sociological, psychological – which we must understand in order to deal with the problem. This is not to absolve people of personal responsibility, but to realize that things are far more complex than to say some people are just evil and need to be punished. The irony is that Hitchens tries to pin the problem of disabled people’s victimization on the very ethos whose principles can remedy it. That’s why I find his argument very, very simplistic, and also why I feel insulted by his patronizing use of ‘poor, defenseless disabled people’ to further his mindless rightist arguments. It is not simply a case of bad people being allowed to get away with things by a system whose hands are tied by a reluctance to blame people for their actions, but the realization by civilization that things are far more complex than black and white, and that in order to solve a problem we need to first understand the reasons behind it. This is a realization that people like Hitchens seem yet to have, which is why I view their politics with such scorn and derision. In short, I think they’re morons.

falling in love with the london of he river

I think I am falling more and more deeply in love with London. As with any major city, I suppose, it can be seen as a microcosm for the entire world, with most of humanity in all it’s diversity represented in one geographical space. But the thing with this microcosm is that it’s not that micro: London is vast, and it takes time to get around it; because of this, the landscape is also quite varied, and I think that is what I really like about London – it just begs you to go exploring.

The area that begs the most is the centre of London – the city of London, down by the river. We were there yesterday, on foot. Dom said he wanted to take us to a cafe he had found. As with all the best trips, I didn’t know where we were going, but when we got there I was amazed. He had taken to an old hydraulic pumping station which hey had turned into a restaurant. It was a truly fascinating place: church- like in size and shape, yet still very recognizable as a factory where some great industry had once taken place. The pumping machines were still there, candles flickering from them. Between these were the white tables and chairs for the customers, as well as televisions showing fashion shows. Thus there was a great juxtaposition of light and dark, old and new, industrial and human in the space; it would make, as Lyn said, a great space to perform in, and indeed she intends to look into the possibility of doing so. As for myself, I would just relish the chance to go back there.

We decided not to eat there, however, and after a coffee walked on along the river. The London of my youth was a London of the car: I think I’ve described on here before how my parents used to drive us down here to spend weekends with my grandparents. I did not usually get to see much of London then, apart from the roads and houses of Harlesden and Kilburn. These days, however, London for me is a London of the river. I get to see Thames quite often; it’s southern banks are easily within walking distance. I see London as a much more watery place these days, with the river a much more prominent geographical feature in my life. We were strolling along it’s north shore yesterday afternoon, when I caught a glimpse of tower bridge, and rarely have I seen a more beautiful site. Aye, I have fallen in love with this city.

We walked for a few minutes, then came to a kind of dock for yachts. It was st. Kathrin’s dock, and we went in. again, I found it fascinating – it was so different to anywhere else in London I knew of. It reminded me of Amsterdam. I could tell, too, that there was a hell of a lot of money about. There were a few nice looking restaurants down there, but we found a pub, The Dickens Inn, and went in.

I think it’s fair to say I have eaten a lot of pizza in my life. Back at university, coming back from late lecturers, it was just something quick and easy I could buy and feed myself. These days, I guess I eat one a week, so,, like life in London itself, pizza has just become normal, run of the mill. Yet the pizza we ate last night was outstanding, and one of the best I’ve ever tasted. Pizza, like London, can vary hugely, and there’s always something new to try; and like London, it still has the ability to excite me, captivate me, take my breath away, even if it sometimes feels humdrum.

the harmonettes and crewdson

I just have a couple of musical links to direct you to today. I’m not sure whether I’ve posted lins to them on here before, but, as both artists are related, they’re worth linking to in one blog entry. First, let me direct you here , where you can hear the melodic, relaxing and incredibly impressive vocal Harmonies of te harmonettes. Charlie is in this group, and their new site looks awesome. Second, I only found out about Hugh’s new site last night. It’s very different to the first, but then it’s rather different to any other genre of music know. Although he does look slightly geeky in his picture (he should never have cut off his dreads) his site is well worth a look. Both, in my opinion, are well worth a gander.