‘Dear John’

Something happened yesterday afternoon which I thought briefly about recording, then decided not to. However, after just coming across this, I think I will. It’s a letter from a disabled man to the anonymous person who called him a ‘window licker’. Opening it ‘Dear John’, he writes about how deeply hurtful it was, and how insulted he and his wife felt. Sadly, though, it’s something ‘we’ have to put up with.

Yesterday afternoon, Lyn and I were out for a walk. We weren’t going far – just enjoying a stroll before dinner. We were going past the hospital when a car came by and the guy in the passenger seat rolled down the window and shouted something like ‘oi, spastics!’ at us. I don’t think Lyn heard it, but I turned and shouted back. The guy saw I was insulted, and drove away, as if surprised I could feel his insult. Like the guy writing the letter, I’m a proud person; like his wife, I have a degree and a Masters. Lyn is an accomplished musician, capable of playing before the world. Yet this is the type of thing we are increasingly having to put up with.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is, had I not come across this letter this morning, I would probably have let it slide. After all, there wasn’t much to write about. The letter gave me a context to put it in. Such incidents are small, fleeting and easily brushed aside; yet, put together, they form an increasingly alarming picture of discrimination and abuse directed towards people with disabilities. The guy in the car yesterday might have thought he was just having a laugh, but I fail to see why people like Lyn, myself, or the guy who wrote that letter, should have to put up with being the butt of other people’s jokes.

Happy fifth anniversary mark and kat

Today I would just like to wish my brother Mark and his wife Kat a very happy fifth wedding anniversary. Can it really be six years since I wrote this entry? Time has flown, but I still remember that being a great day. I’m still rather proud of my best man speech, too. Of course, much has happened since then, not least the birth of Oliver. I hope all three of them have a great day, and that oliver gets lots of treats.

No matter who Hilary is married to, she is vastly more suited to be president.

The final competitors have now been established for the American presidential race. Of course, it practically goes without saying that I’m backing Hilary Clinton for President; the last thing the world needs is a megalomaniac like Trump in charge of it’s most powerful nation. And yet, one must raise an eyebrow at Hilary’s selection: out of such a vast nation of so many millions of people, isn’t it rather dubious that the new presidential candidate is the wife of a former president? The same question applied to George W. Bush becoming president after his dad. In a so-called land of opportunity, where in theory everyone should have an equal chance of becoming president, isn’t it rather dubious that power seems to run in families? Nonetheless, I’m hoping – as I’m sure most thinking people are – that Clinton wins the election. The world can ill afford a person like Donald Trump in charge of it’s most powerful country; and, as pointed out here, Clinton is unafraid to ask the questions America needs asking. It is more patriotic to point out a country’s problems than to just fall back on jingoistic rhetoric. I just hope americans realise this, and aren’t fooled by a sweet-talking con-artist. No matter who Hilary is married to, she is vastly more suited to be president.

Why commemorate choosing to remain normal?

Sad git that I am, I still follow news about Olympic bids, and google alerted me to this story this morning. The boston globe is patting the city on the back for ‘dodging the bullet’ of the olympics a year ago today. I must say that strikes me as odd: if you opposed hosting the olympics in your city, fair enough, but why mark the anniversary? Why point out that a year ago you chose not to do something, instead of just forgetting about it? The article makes it out to be some kind of great victory, a slap in the face to the olympics; but I still think, as I wrote here, that in turning down the olympics boston chose to remain normal. It’s as if boston’s still justifying the decision to itself – why else bring it up, and why be so dismissive of an event other cities around the world are fighting tooth and claw to host? I think this is quite telling of the bostonian – and American – mentality.

Lyn on the busses

Lyn made another quite monumental step yesterday. While I was in Woolwich, she took herself all the way to Lewisham, bought a top, and got the bus back. It is the first time she has made such a solo trip, at least while I’ve been living with her. Lewisham is quite a way; I haven’t been there by chair alone yet – I take the bus. Thus I think what L did yesterday was quite incredible. As I wrote here, she is fast becoming very independent and outgoing. Before she got her powerchair, she rarely went out unless she had to, as she had to rely on a PA to push her. Now she’s discovering the joy of exploring for it’s own sake, you can barely keep her in; that’s bound to be even more pronounced after finding she can get on the busses unaided. It truly is wonderful to see her independence and sense of freedom blossoming like this.

A great afternoon of networking and potential

I just got in from a very promising afternoon. The centre in Woolwich I got in touch with about my drinking habits runs sessions about film making. When I mentioned to the guy there about my Masters, he invited me to come along. I was somewhat skeptical, but went anyway, and I’m now glad I did. It’s only a small group of two people other than me, but the guy running it knows what he’s doing. This afternoon he took us through the basics of photography – most of which I remember from uni – but the things he said we will move on to have me quite excited. He also said he runs a production company, so I’m hoping I can segway from this into other, bigger things. He showed us his website, 1000 Londoners, a collection of films about London Life. I was very impressed, and would now love to contribute my own. A great afternoon of networking and potential, then; together with the film festival stuff, things really are looking up.

Presentation progress

I’m really pleased with how today has turned out. You might recall me mentioning I am currently working on a presentation for this autumns Charlton and woolwich film festival. Until today, the presentation had been written, as well as the words I intend to say alongside it, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to deliver the speech. Today, though, Kathryn emailed me from school, calling me in. She put a new app on my iPad, and dropboxeed over my speech. All I have to do now is press the corresponding buttons for each of my slides, and hey presto I’m presenting. Kathryn couldn’t have made it easier. All I have to do now is practice.

Star trek Beyond

After writing my entry earlier I was in a very Trekkie mood, so I decided to go see the new film, Star Trek Beyond. Until now, I must admit I’ve been rather resistant to the reboots; the change of style and the creation of a new timeline put me off. Like many fans, I wanted Trek to continue as I knew it. Yet having seen many videos arguing for the validity of the new films, and pointing out the ties between them and the original series, I thought I’d go give it a watch.

I’m glad I did. I should not have been so dismissive. It may not have been the Trek of my childhood, but as others have pointed out it wasn’t supposed to be. These films do not try to compete with or replace what went before; they pay homage to it, play with it, and explore it. I had thought Abrams was hijacking Star Trek, but he is just taking it in a new direction, and in so doing he breathes new life into it. Rejecting the new films because they differ from the old is like rejecting Moore’s Bond because he differ’s from Connery’s. There is room for both. At the same time, this new film is tied intimately to the old trek: there are countless references, countless tributes, including one towards the end, involving a photo found in Ambassador Spock’s belongings, which brought a tear to my eye.

This is not, then, the trek I grew up with, but it is trek. It’s makers clearly know and love what went before, but they clearly realised the franchise would stagnate if it was just allowed to continue in the same vein. In creating this alternative timeline, they have given themselves room to explore new paths, to go back and reexamine old characters, without blotting out what went before. Kirk, Spock and McCoy may be played by different actors, for example, but there is still the dynamic we love between them; to see that once more, not replaced but echoed and commemorated, is truly touching, especially given two of the three original actors are no longer with us. This film, then, is a wonderful revival which both takes one back to a franchise I love and also extends and refreshes it. I might be glad that the new series will be based in the original timeline (the one where Vulcan was not destroyed) but if these films continue down their own path, that’s cool too; there’s room for both. Star Trek is far from dead: it has now been expanded upon and refreshed, but it remains the same group of characters and stories, the same optimistic vision of the future, that I, like so many others, fell in love with.

Star Trek Discovery

The trekkie in me just got very, very excited. To update you on this entry, I just came across this news from startrek dot com. Executive Producer Bryan Fuller recently announced to a convention in San Diego that the title of the new series will be Star Trek Discovery. Fuller was rather unforthcoming on detail, but he apparently confirmed that the series takes place in the prime timeline, which is quite a relief. While we still don’t know anything about the captain or crew, nor indeed when it is set (I’m still hoping for post DS9) at least it’s a start. Mind you, the CGI in the trailer still looks rather computer game-ish for my liking; and the title is bound to raise a few eyebrows: as one comment put it: ”Also…. Star Trek: Discovery…. STD?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!

No more drinking

Yesterday I had the first proper meeting about my drinking problem. A guy came from a centre in Woolwich, and we began discussing my relationship to alcohol. It was a necessary, indeed vital step: since uni, I’ve used beer as a wind-down or relaxant; I feel the urge to drink to have a good time. The guy began to suggest how I can avoid these urges. The problem is, one drink always lead to me wanting two, and two to three, and so on. It was becoming an uncontrollable urge, and Lyn was clearly getting fed up of me getting drunk. The last time I came home drunk out of my head, she insisted I went and got help.

It was a good meeting yesterday, and a lot was discussed. The guy will come back next Friday to continue the process. He also recommended I stop drinking alcohol altogether, at least for the time being. I cannot disagree that that is a very good suggestion, yet, at the same time, part of me feels bitter about it, and I must admit I had quite a short temper for a while yesterday afternoon. You see, while I know full well the dangers of drinking too much and the problems it can cause – I have a nasty scar on my forehead to attest to that – I also associate it with freedom. I cherish the ability to go into a pub and have a couple of beers. Everyone else can do it, so to have that right removed from me fees like a freedom has been taken away, and like I’m being treated like a child.

I suppose it’s analogous to smoking. People know smoking is bad for them, but if a government tried to ban it completely, there would be an outcry. People would say that their freedoms were being taken away, and that they have a right to decide what they did with their body. The very fact they were being controlled and limited, even if they knew the health risks, would cause huge resentment. Similarly, part of me feels resentment towards this; even though I know full well the wisdom of it, I no longer feel totally free. I may be safer and more cooperative, I may sleep a lot better, yet part of me feels like I’m being treated like a child by overprotective parents. As a disabled man, perhaps I value such freedoms even more, given I know how precious they are. Of course I have no intention of breaking this ban – after all, in this city there are so many better things to do than drinking beer – but I just wanted to get this side of the story off my chest.