An amazing day indeed – Liberty Festival 2014

Yesterday was an awesome day indeed, just as I thought it would be. We had to get up very early (for us) at 6am, to be there before the festival started, despite Lyn not being scheduled to go on stage until 4.45. However, that gave us the day to look around the Liberty Festival and Queen Elisabeth Olympic park, which are both wonderful. While the stadium itself is still closed for it’s conversion, there was more than enough to see and do. The place is so vast, in fact, that as I did not have my electric chair we decided to borrow a mobility scooter – probably the one and only time I ever use such a thing, as I much prefer powerchairs, and yesterday confirmed I was right in my preference.

The afternoon was spent in the park, then: we had a snack and a drink at quite a nice bar there, before Lyn went on. She was wonderful! Lyn had been given a 25 minute set, so she chose to play a few of her compositions, over which she added improvisations using an app called Thumbjam. It sounded amazing, and went down well with the sizeable audience. I was sat out front, having met a couple of associates of mine; we really got into the groove. L is getting really awesome at her new performance technique, and I really want to see more

After Lyn’s slot we decided to come home – I think we were all getting tired. As I had predicted, it had indeed been an amazing day. Most importantly, Lyn seemed thrilled with how it went – at such times, it’s great to see her in her element.

A video of lyn’s set can be viewed here

Another amazing day beckons

Every now and again – albeit with alarming frequency – life with Lyn leads me to something truly awesome. I have seen her play at the paralympics and at buckingham palace. With her, I have seem monty python play live, and hawking run over cox, and experienced many more incredible things with her. It amazes me how often they occur, and how historic and earth shattering the usually are: events at which I can look back and say, with everlasting pride and glee, ‘I was there’.

In fact, while I better not go into too much detail I can announce that another awesome event will happen tomorrow. Lyn is scheduled to play at the Liberty festival up in stratford tomorrow afternoon. I don’t know many of the specifics, but it promises to be another awesome day; an event that I suspect will demand to be included on my growing list of truly phenomenal occasions. I really am excited about it: as I listen to L practice in the living room, given all the amazing things which have happened in our life together so far, I cannot help wondering what fun tomorrow stands to bring.

not skeptics, but phobics

I do not think Euroskepticism is a very good word, as if one is skeptical about something, one does not believe it exists. Europe and the european union obviously exists. Rather, the term I think we should all be using is Europhobia, which, alluding to xenophobia, is much more akin to what those opposed to european cooperation feel. For theirs is a hatred, fear and intolerance: they want to shut britain off from the rest of the world, just as salmond wants to shut Scotland off from the rest of britain. Both may talk of democracy and ‘the will of the people’; both frame their arguments in all sorts of pleasant-sounding ways. But at a time when greater cooperation between the people of the world is needed, the both want to put up borders.

I heard today that tory mp Douglas Carswell has defected to ukip: a guy has moved from one collection of idiots to a collection of even bigger idiots. It’s not that surprising, and, now it comes to it, I find there is not much I can write, except that it adds a veneer of respectability to a party who, by rights, deserve only to be laughed at. At the press conference, carswell even referenced disability rights, forgetting to mention that, should the party he had just joined come to power, the welfare state would be decimated and we’d all be going begging to charity. Thus such men will say anything to appear nice, modern and tolerant, but scratch the surface and you find the oppressive out-dated attitude beneath. So let the jackass join ukip; I just hope people can see beyond the nice words to the bigots beneath. They’re not skeptics, but phobics.

Ice bucket challenge

On monday my old friend from uni, chris, nominated me to do the ice bucket challenge. While some might think it rather ridiculous, it’s all for a good cause and a bit of fun, although it did not seem so at the moment of drenching. Thus I can now direct you here. My charity of choice is muscular dystrophy research. In turn I nominate Luke my bro, Paula my neighbour and my friend Charlotte.

A major contribution to disability history

My voluntary work with the RIX centre at UEL is looking online for stories/narratives about independent living by people with disabilities. It’s interesting work, if not very taxing at this stage as I’m just data-gathering for now. However, I just found this – a british library site with hundreds upon hundreds of oral recordings by disabled people, telling their life stories. I’m not sure how useful it will be for our project – I’ve barely started to go through the collection – but it is certainly blog worthy as a major and fascinating contribution to the history of disabled people.

Richard Attenborough dies at 90

I just checked the headlines, and I am suddenly deeply, deeply sad. The bbc reports that Richard Attenborough has died, aged 90. Like his brother David, Richard Attenborough was a great man: when I first saw Gandhi ten years away, it blew me away, opening my eyes to a part of history, a man and a way of thinking I knew nothing of. Brighton Rock and In which We Serve are classics, and of course I adore Attenborough in Jurassic Park, touching upon the last scene from it in my thesis. Today is a very sad day indeed, for British cinema and world cinema as a whole, has lost one of it’s greatest.

‘an ignorant idiot sitting in an ivory tower’

Further to the row started by Richard Dawkins the other day, which I note here, I just came across this Mirror article. It reports how a young lady with downs has just passed six GCSEs, albeit at grade E. Her parents are obviously very proud, and call Dawkins an ignorant idiot sitting in an ivory tower. E or A, that is quite an achievement, and, given the girl in question is obviously enjoying life, I think it certainly puts pay to Dawkins’ attitude.

‘Ok, I may get a massive hangover but I have already had to miss out on so many normal things’

I had not been to ouch in ages, but this afternoon being a slow, lazy saturday afternoon, I thought I’d give the beeb’s old disability website a look over. It has changed quite radically from the Ouch I often frequented a decade ago – it’s now a blog. While there. I came across this diary, written by Charlotte documenting her first days at university. She has cp, and also studied film and cultural studies. I only scanned it, but I could see a lot of myself in those words, especially in the words ”Ok, I may get a massive hangover but I have already had to miss out on so many normal things that teenagers do and this would be yet something else to add to the list. Screw personal safety that’s what I say, well that’s how I feel sometimes!” Although we differ in some aspects – I think she is more conscientious about work than I was, and she is religious – I was reminded of that chap ten years ago, fining his way in the brave new world of university, hoping he would fit in. I wonder, too, where this young woman is now; I hope she got as much out of university as I did.

Which is cooler?

I was struck by an interesting idea or a blog entry yesterday afternoon. Which is cooler: 007 escorting the queen to the Olympics, or Professor hawking singing the galaxy song. I adore both, and thought it might be fun to compare the two. I could not decide anything firm, though, so I decided to sleep on it. This morning, however, I still did not know how I could type such an entry: the central issue is, of course, how one could define ‘cool’. Like awesome, it is a term everyone uses yet is highly subjective. In fact, when I consulted Lyn about this last night, she simply clicked her fingers, which struck me as very astute! So trying to evaluate the relative coolness of two very cool things is no easy task. On the one hand we have the most suave, sophisticated spy ever alongside the queen doing something nobody could ever have expected her to do; on the other we have the king of physics running his fellow physicist over, then singing a song bout the galaxy. Both play with our expectations and our conception of roles – who could have predicted either, but there they are. Yet at the same time they both seem in character, given that bond is indeed one of her majesty’s agents and that Hawking is known for his expertise in cosmology and the galaxy. While the Bond film has higher production values, and perhaps breaks convention to a greater extent – it was the queen entering into the world of James Bond, after all – both films excite me, make me laugh and thrill me. They are both examples of a type of play with convention and expectation I love, although I’m not sure I can say why. They are both irreverent; they both break the mould. While there is more I can get my analytical teeth into with the bond film, the Hawking film adds another connection to my spiderweb of awesomeness. The former unambiguously alludes to the parachute jump at the opening of The Spy Who Loved Me, one of my cinephiliac moments I write about in my masters thesis; the latter occurred on possibly the most fantastic night of my life. While some may view this as a silly question, I find it interesting to examine the motives behind my adoration, and to speculate about which of these short films makes me squeal with glee more.

Which is cooler? Who knows! to me they both just rule.

Any life is worth living if it is a happy one.

Long ago, I decided to stay away from debates such as those over abortion on my blog. That was primarily because I could not decide who was right: Is a foetus alive? when does life begin? right of foetus vs right of baby, and so on. I turned my computer on this morning, though, and found a link to this article in the independent: Richard Dawkins as advised the abortion of foetuses with down syndrome, saying ‘Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world’.

Oh smeg…and so it begins!

The guy is, of course, entitled to his opinion; and as I said, I ca’t fully decide who is right myself. Yet I instantly think of the guys I know from school, with all sorts of conditions, who may have been aborted using this ‘moral’ logic. Indeed, using it, others may have called for my euthinisation after my birth: Dawkins says that he draws the line between DS and other conditions such as autism because people with autism can make a contribution to society. But when I was small it was not clear how intelligent I was, or how much I’d be able to contribute; the same, I assume, goes for Lyn, and now look at the pair of us – a master’s degree and a record producer. Moreover, people with ds certainly can contribute, albeit in their own way: I’ve seen people with downs syndrome make music, create art, sing beautifully. It would have been a great shame if they had not lived.

Life is precious. I don’t mean that in any religious sense, but that it is hugely varied and beautiful. Any human being contributes to the world in his or her own way, be it with a Masters thesis or smiling at a carer as she feeds you. Any life is worth living if it is a happy one. Thus Dawkins is wrong, and deserves the shitstorm which is now no doubt coming his way.