I just finished reading I’m Only In It For The Parking by Lee Ridley. I admit it has taken me far longer to get through than it should have, but I’ve fallen out of the habit of sitting down and reading properly. I didn’t give it the attention it quite deserved. Now that I have read it, though, I can see how stupid it was to instantly shun it when I first heard Ridley had published a book. While it isn’t perfect, I’m Only In It For The Parking supplies the general reader with a rare insight into the world of disabled people, and communication aid users in particular.
There is a lot I could say about Ridley’s book. The stage name he has given himself now strikes me as rather ironic: Ridley’s voice is far from ‘lost’. In this book it comes through quite clearly: he uses a simple, approachable tone to explain what life is like for him as a man with cerebral palsy. The experiences he details apply specifically to him, of course, so some of the things he talk about, like having a job or using pens, wouldn’t apply to all of us spastics. I also think his tone can be a bit too lighthearted and jocular at times: Ridley writes as if he is talking to people or doing a comedy gig, which I felt does not really suit the quite weighty subjects he tries to deal with at times. On the other hand, Ridley could just be employing this tone to make issues which might be very foreign to some readers seem more understandable.
Nonetheless, I would go as far as calling Ridley’s book quite a seminal piece of writing on the subject of disability: here we have a first hand account of what life is like for a communication aid user with cerebral palsy, detailing experiences ranging from dating to having epileptic seizures in a way nobody else could. He may have been given an opportunity to write and publish this book on the back of winning an itv talent show, but Ridley has used it to give readers a rare, valuable insight into a subject they may have been totally oblivious to. Far from being lost, Ridley knows precisely where his voice is and uses it to great effect. More power to him, I say.