I had intended to just post a picture on here today to keep things simple, but something just happened in my local Tesco which I think ought to be noted. I was just there getting a few bits and pieces: when I need more than two or three bits of shopping, when I enter the shop I roll up to the counter and wait for a member of staff to become free. They know me in there now, and are used to the routine. Most staff members there seem happy enough to give me a hand, following me around the shop so I can select what I need. However, this afternoon something happened which I felt was quite hurtful: as usual, I rolled up to the check-outs and waited. I wasn’t in a hurry so that wasn’t a problem. Yet when one of the staff became free, she began talking to one of her colleagues in a language which wasn’t english, clearly trying to get someone else to assist me. I don’t know why, but she obviously didn’t want to help. Of course, I realise helping disabled customers might not be in their job description, but it felt like I was being shunned; like I was something dirty which she didn’t want to go near. In the end, another member of staff helped me get my shopping; yet in front of four or five other customers the incident was hurtful nonetheless, and I’m seriously considering taking it up with the shop’s manager.
ADDENDUM: I better add that, a short while after posting this entry, I needed to go back to the shop having realised I’d forgotten to buy cheese. The person who assisted me to pay then was the lady who had apparently refused to help me the first time, oddly enough. It could have just been a misunderstanding on my part, although this afternoon wasn’t the first time the member of staff in question has acted so abrasively.
I’m seriously considering starting a campaign to make all lifts on the London Underground legally wheelchair only. I’m fed up of having to wait for people who are perfectly able use the escalators, using the lifts. It pisses me off almost as much as prams taking up the wheelchair space on busses, and the mums refusing to move them. Of course there will have to be exceptions such as crutch users (actual crutch users mind, not people who just carry a single crutch around for show while being perfectly ambulant), but people who can use stairs or escalators should be made to do so. Now, I don’t want to generalise or resort to stereotype, but certain types of people seem more likely to use lifts – doing so as if they owned them – than others. How such a law would be enforced is another question, although personally I think fitting wheelchairs with tasers might be the way forward.
Rather cooly, today I got wind of a drama to be shown on BBC2 over christmas which will tell the story of how disabled people campaigned for and won their rights in the UK, culminating in the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act. As described here, the film will be “based on the remarkable true story of the people behind an irrepressible campaign of direct action that lead to significant steps forward in the battle for disabled civil rights in Britain”. I better not say how I came to learn about it, other than that it involved coffee, but I certainly think this hour long drama, whose working title is ‘Independence Day? How Disabled Rights Were Won’, is something to look out for.
I couple of days ago, coming back from my usual trundle, I bumped into someone I knew in Charlton. We hadn’t seen one another in a while, but we used to hang around quite a bit, especially in the early days when I was still settling in to life in London. Back then, he addressed me as The Northerner. It was kind of his nickname for me, and having moved down from Cheshire so recently, I suppose it suited me. The other day, though, he referred to me as a northerner again, yet this time something about it didn’t feel quite right: I’ve now lived in London for well over a decade, and I know London, particularly South-East London, far better than I ever knew any northern city or town. I now feel at home here, among the red busses and black cabs, skyscrapers and intoxicating cultural vibrancy of the metropolis, so if anything I’d call myself more of a Londoner than a Northerner these days. Mind you, that is not to say that I don’t still occasionally yearn for the fields, streams and oatcakes of the place where I was born.
If anyone can somehow still be in any doubt over how catastrophic Brexit will be for the UK economy, just direct them here. “The impact of Brexit on the UK economy will be worse in the long run compared to the coronavirus pandemic, the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility has said.” It was the first thing to greet my eyes when I turned my computer on just now, and really puts the bullshit spewed by Rishi Sunak and the Tories yesterday into perspective. Apparently, inflation could hit almost 5% and the cost of living could be at it’s highest point in thirty years. I’m no economist, but things certainly aren’t looking good: institutions are starting to tell the truth about Brexit; reality is beginning to bite. The sooner we stop this stupidity the Tories are making us go through and rejoin our neighbours in Europe, the better.
I couldn’t watch Sunak deliver his budget today. Any time I try to watch him or any other Tory speak these days, I fly into a white hot fury. Whatever comes out of their mouths can be assumed to be a tract of self-serving, self-congratulatory bullshit which I simply can’t watch. To listen to them would mean respecting them, and I simply cannot respect a group of people whose policies I know have intentionally caused so much suffering, inequality and division. However, I just turned on the beeb’s six o’clock news, and I think I need to point out the first thing I noticed: after all the furore over that arrogant scumbag Jacob Rees-Mogg trying to tell us that the Tories didn’t need to wear masks, almost everyone sitting on the Tory benches had a mask on their face. Obviously someone had given the hypocritical scumbags a speaking to and decreed that it would be better for the party’s image if everyone wore a mask. The one exception to this, of course, was Rees-Mogg, who still thinks himself too superior to the rest of us to wear a mask; why should he care if everyone else has to breathe in his contaminated breath? Does not his life take precedence over everyone else’s? Thus, instead of having to listen to all the lies and guff, all the misleading half truths about a recovering economy and fiscal responsibility, all you had to do was take one look at the tory front bench to grasp the depths of the hypocritical vermin currently governing the country,
Before today I knew next to nothing about Dune. I vaguely remember, when I was very little, a VHS video marked Dune on the family video shelf next to the Disney ones. It was Dad’s: I think he put it on for me and my brother’s once, and I remember finding it scary and not liking it at all. However, a few days ago I came across Mark Kermode’s review of the new Dune adaptation: Kermode seemed so enthusiastic about it, saying it was the type of film which simply has to be viewed in a cinema, that I resolved to go watch it as soon as I could.
Kermode wasn’t wrong by any means. I just got back from my local cinema, and I was simply blown away. Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s novel is incredible. As I say, I know nothing about the original text, but this is the type of film which really draws you in. I couldn’t help becoming engrossed in the politics and drama of what was going on, even from the start. And, as Kermode says, the film looks incredible, from it’s desert landscapes to it’s huge, majestic space ships. It really felt as if there was a totally new fictional universe before me all of a sudden, waiting for me to explore. I left the cinema thinking ”Giant worms and mechanical insects which people fly around in rule!”
I don’t wan’t to say much more: I want to get on with exploring this fictional universe I just came across, so fresh and enticing. I can’t wait for the next instalment of this trilogy. I will say, though, that now I know where George Lucas got so many of his ideas from, including the idea for the Force. Seriously, watching Dune this afternoon, I could see so much Lucas blatantly ripped off: galactic empires, imperial politics, rebellions, controlling people with your voice. Frankly, Dune makes Star Wars look like a cheap, childish rip-off. What I saw this afternoon was far more engrossing, textured and enticing.
As a powerchair user so keen on travel and flying, I really need to send everyone here today. Someone has, at last, designed a wheelchair accessible aeroplane. “Last month, a report released by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the securement of wheelchairs on commercial aircraft is technically feasible, and that many wheelchairs already meet or exceed the minimum horizontal crash standards used by the FAA to certify airplane seats….The system is designed so that different powered wheelchair types can be certified for flying and will be able to interface with a wide range of airline seats.” Until now, of course, I’ve only been able to take my manual wheelchair abroad with me, and needed to get out and walk onto the plane, but this development means that I’ll be able to roll onto planes without getting out, and take my chair all over the world with me. Mind you, rather strangely, the article says the adaptation is currently only for powerchairs, not manual wheelchairs, but assures us that that will follow soon. Nonetheless, this is a great step forward in making travel accessible for all.
I have a serious issue with street preachers. For the second time this weekend, this afternoon I encountered some in Eltham high street. I’ve blogged about my problems with religion before, but to me it seems perversely arrogant to stand in a street, disrupting everyone’s day demanding we all believe what they do. Were these people shouting so loudly about anything else – some other fictional narrative perhaps, rather than one recognised as an organised religion – no doubt they would be sectioned or at least told to move on for disturbing the peace. Yet because they are ‘preaching’, and they have the correct license, they stand there insisting that the only way to be ‘saved’ – whatever that means – is to believe what they believe. Frankly I find that perverse: the concept of a loving, omnipotent god is laughable enough, without having it hurled at me on my way to the shops.