Exploring the Bypass

I was just messing around on Google Earth Streetview, which I do fairly often as a way to explore without leaving the house. My old hometown has just had a big new bypass built around it’s north. I’ve only been ‘home’ three or four times in the last decade, and even then it was just for short visits, so I haven’t seen anything of the new road. I’m quite curious about it though, because it goes over the old lanes I used to trundle along in my powerchair, and I want to know what they, as well as the new bypass now look like. I thus keep checking to see whether Google has sent it’s Streetview car along the new bypass. It hasn’t yet, possibly due to the pandemic, but I’ll keep checking. I suppose that’ll have to do until I can head up north and look for myself.

Trying to Buy Boccia balls

This afternoon I decided to do a little experiment. I managed to watch some of the boccia from Tokyo. The truth is, I vaguely remember playing it a couple of times at school, but that’s about it. Seeing it played so well by Team GB in Tokyo, however, including by Beth Moulam, aroused my curiosity: would I be any good at it? More to the point, how easily could I get hold of a set of boccia balls? That seemed to me a good way to see how popular or mainstream disability sport is becoming.

There are a couple of fairly large sports shops in Woolwich and Greenwich. I was curious to see whether any of them would sell Boccia balls, or indeed would have heard of the sport. To find the answer, I trundled that way this afternoon. To be honest I didn’t hold out much hope, but thought it worth the outing.

First I tried in Sports Direct in Woolwich, only to find it mainly sold fashionable menswear, with nothing to do with sports. Then, after a brief look around, I caught the bus to Greenwich. There are a few large shops on the peninsular, including a larger Sports Direct shop, which I thought would have a good chance of stocking the specialist equipment I was looking for. Predictably though, I didn’t have any luck there either. I asked one of the assistants, who suggested I look in Argos – frankly I don’t think she had even heard of Boccia.

In the end I returned home empty handed. Still, I think it was worth looking. Hopefully, disability sport will continue to become more and more mainstream and popular, so that soon high street shops will sell things like boccia balls. In a way, then, I think this is quite a good litmus test of the status of disability sport, and with it disability culture in general.

Season or Series

This might be a slightly random subject for a blog entry, but when did Americans start saying ‘Season’ instead of ‘Series’ to mean a sequence of episodes of a television program? In the UK we say series, but Americans seem to prefer season, eg ”Season Three of Deep Space Nine”. I was watching The Joy of Painting a few days ago though, and Bob Ross used the word season. It kind of caught my ears: JOP was made and first aired in the eighties and early nineties, so it made me wonder when they adopted the new term and why? And why have we continued to say Series in the UK after Americans switched to Season? Of course, Americans use series to mean an entire program, as in Deep Space Nine or any of the incarnations of Star Trek are separate series, but they stopped using it to refer to a sequence of episodes made at the same time. Just one of those odd little details I wonder about.

Could This Be a Good Film?

Having just come across this bbc article reporting that the musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is being adapted for film by Amazon, I just had a bit of an idea: someone should make a film about a guy with CP starting university, who begins to experiment by going to the weekly campus disco in drag. What a film that could be. It would be a story about inclusion and tolerance, as well as one about experimentation, friendship and finding who you are. Sounds pretty awesome to me, if only someone would write it.

Oxleas Woods Cafe

I had my first proper cupaccino in months this afternoon, possibly my first since the halcyon days as a regular at Charlton Park Cafe. I was just out for my usual trundle: today I chose to stay a bit closer to home and explore a part of the local area I hadn’t really seen, over by Shooters Hill Road. That area is quite hilly and dense with forrest, so I had avoided it until now, but today I thought I’d give it an explore. Eltham Park was split into two in the 1920s by the building of Rochester way: I had seen Eltham Park South before, but had never explored it’s northern counterpart.

The truth is I was beginning to head back to Eltham along Rochester Way, when to my right and above me, I caught sight of a bright building in the park. Naturally this automatically pricked my interest, so I changed course to investigate. The paths were fairly steep and not as well maintained as they might be, but soon enough I was approaching an interesting looking building at the top of a tall hill, set in a park. It instantly reminded me of the cafe in Charlton Park, only, due to its altitude, you must have been able to see for at least fifteen kilometres across south London and beyond.

Automatically taken with the place, and fancying a coffee anyway, I decided to go in. While there were tables and chairs outside, from what I glimpsed through the door, the inside of the place looked interesting. Mind you, the problem was the front entrance to the place had a large step up to it and the side entrance was too narrow for my powerchair, so I had to stand up and walk in. It was worth it though, as on the walls of the place were all sorts of posters about the park’s history: it had been an airfield during World War Two, and is a monthly meeting place for bikers. My kind of place, then.

I only stayed for one cuppaccino before starting to head home. I resolved to go back there before long though. Access issues aside, I was quite taken with it. It isn’t that far away, and the view it enjoys really is incredible. While it might not become my regular haunt like the Cafe in Charlton Park once was, I can certainly see myself going there quite frequently.

Rats Deserting a Sinking Ship

Just for the record, I’ve never watched GB News, nor do I ever intend to. I may be ever so slightly curious about it, but being curious about the taste of shit is no reason to put it in your mouth. I want nothing to do with a channel which gives the scumbag Farage a platform. I was, however, pretty amused to read that it is already collapsing. “Andrew Neil has resigned as chairman and lead presenter of GB News, just three months after helping to launch the channel. Neil, 72, was on air for less than two weeks before announcing he was taking a break.” After so much fanfare and hype, this self-proclaimed champion of right-wing speech and challenger to the liberal mainstream has already lost it’s main anchor. Well, that didn’t last long, did it? As Owen Jones points out here, it’s hard not to feel a certain amount of schadenfreude, but frankly, given how much channels like this stand to pollute our political discourse, I say good riddance to Neil, and let’s hope the whole channel goes down with him.

Cap Shopping

For quite some time I have worn a baseball cap on a daily basis. Putting it on has become a bit of a habit, so my cap is almost as much as my daily costume as my shoes or glasses. A couple of days ago, though, I noticed my cap was getting a bit tatty: it was time to buy a new one.

This morning, then, I looked in Eltham, but couldn’t find anything. I didn’t just want any old cap, but preferably something fun and ironic which I could clip my anti-Brexit badges onto. This afternoon I set upon the idea of getting the bus to lewisham and looking in the fairly large shopping centre there. At first I didn’t have much luck, but then, in TK Max, I found what I needed. Among their adequate range of hats and caps, I noticed a blue one: it had a distorted yellow emoticon on the front, ink appearing to dribble down; under that there were a pair of crossed bones, and under that the words ‘Don’t Even Trip’. It instantly struck me as very appropriate for wobbly old me to wear as I roll around town in my powerchair.

Twenty Years

I had intended to write a sequel to this entry yesterday. On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, back in Charlton, I wrote a pretty long entry about how that tragic date had become a marker in time for me, and about how dramatically my life had changed since then. I thought it would be a good idea to do the same yesterday, summarising the last decade. The problem was, though, when I began to think about it, I couldn’t even decide where to begin. If anything, the last decade was even more awesome than the one before it: a decade which saw me do so many incredible things after moving to London it blows my mind. The bigger problem, though, was how to sum up my relationship with Lyn. I spent most of the decade living with her, so I wouldn’t have been able to avoid reopening wounds which still feel quite fresh.

In the end, then, I obviously dropped the idea. It was still an incredible decade filled with so much joy yet now tinged with so much sorrow; begun after a moment in time, now two decades ago, embedded with so much horror.

Screening Crip Camp

I’m thrilled to report that last night’s screening was a great, great success. Ever since I first watched it last year, I knew I had to have Crip Camp screened at the Charlton and Woolwich Free Film Festival. It is the type of important film everyone should watch, as it traces the history of the Disability Rights Movement in America. While it is freely available to watch on Netflix though, I felt it important to get it screened properly in front of a live audience in a darkened room: political films like this should be social, communal events. Watching it with other people, discussing it both before and afterwards adds something to the event.

With that said, I’m happy to say that we got an audience of fifteen to twenty people last night, which was pretty sizeable given the venue and circumstances. I had prepared a short introduction to give before the screening started just to contextualise it and give a bit of background. It was in five paragraphs on my Ipad, which we plugged into the room’s speakers. I was quite nervous that I’d hit the wrong button at the wrong time and screw up the order of my speech, but thankfully it went well and seemed to be well received.

The screening itself went well too: at almost two hours long, Crip Camp isn’t a short film, but it’s the kind of film which draws you in. You become fascinated by the history and the people involved; by the fact that an entire civil rights movement could have started at a small summer camp for disabled people in upstate New York. You want to keep watching to see what will happen. This, after all, is the story of the largest, arguably most oppressed minority in America fighting for their rights. And, as I said in my introduction last night, there are lessons we can learn from this film, things we can take from it and apply them to our own time.