Vax Live

I think the concert detailed here just might be worth watching when it airs this Saturday. Apparently a massive fundraising event has taken place in Los Angeles to promote the worldwide vaccination effort. Called Vax Live, hundreds of stars have taken part, including Joe Biden and prince Harry. People are already comparing it to Live Aid, so it looks like it will be a good show. At the very least, it’s for a good cause, and you know how interested I am in such mega-events. I’ll be keen to see how it is handled in the Covid era, or whether they attempt anything cool, like having Biden meet Batman.

Of Small Victories and New Friendships

Last night turned out to be quite a wonderful evening, although I had to be rather patient to get there. Soon after posting yesterday’s entry, I rolled up to the bistro. To be honest I didn’t know what to expect: I was hoping, of course, that everything would have been resolved, and that I would be able to buy a beer as everyone else can. That optimism, however, was not rewarded, and I was greeted with the same cold, nasty treatment that I received last week. I was stunned, and instantly decided that that simply could not stand.

I sat there for a while: who were these people to say whether I could or could not drink alcohol? I tried to talk to the staff, at one point asking to speak to the manager, but was ignored. A few minutes past, by which time some of the surrounding customers had began to notice. One bloke attempted to talk to the staff for me, but was told that they didn’t know whether I was taking any medication and didn’t want me to fall. I replied that that was surely my prerogative, but to no avail.

By then I was wondering what action would need to be taken to get the place shut down. A couple of people, around my age, was sat at a table nearby. They had noticed what had happened. They asked what the problem was, and I explained the situation, showing them last week’s blog entry. They sympathised, and we began to chat. It turned out that they don’t live far from me.

We talked for about half an hour, beginning to get to know one another. I didn’t want to give up and go home, as that would mean admitting defeat. The restaurant staff still wouldn’t serve me beer. I was told that I could have a soft drink, but I replied that that wasn’t the point. The situation, by then, was infuriating. My new friends, Amelia and Mike, sympathised, but didn’t know what they could do.

Then, all of a sudden, something quite incredible happened: half a Peroni was brought out for me – someone had apparently talked to the staff on my behalf, having read my blog entry. I was overjoyed. It may just have been a larger, but it was up there with the best drinks of my life for what it represented.

My mood instantly changed: it suddenly felt like a good evening for a party; after all, I had two new friends to get to know. By then, though, it was drawing towards my dinner time, and I needed to head home – Serkan would be waiting. Finishing our drinks, we decided to walk home together, at least part of the way; they seemed to like me. In the end, though, we came back here for a celebratory beer, covid temporarily slipping our minds. They were intelligent, jovial and energetic, reminding me of my university friends. They didn’t stay long, but we decided to certainly meet again. What had at one point started to look like a pretty miserable evening had turned out to be quite a glorious one of small yet significant victories and new friendships.

Time for an experiment

A week ago today, at around this time, I was heading up into Eltham to try to get a drink. Then, of course, the events I describe here happened. I’m still quite angry about it, especially given I didn’t get a response from my email. However, I think it’s time for an experiment: I’m about too head back to the same bistro to ask again for a beer, just to see if I get a different result. I’ll report the findings on here tomorrow, of course. Wish me luck.

Reconsidering the overground

After over eleven years of living in London, I feel I can use the tube pretty confidently: With the underground, it’s simply a case of checking which stations are accessible and taking things from there. Although, as explained here, nowhere near enough stations have wheelchair access, I find the tube network pretty easy to use unaided. However, the overground rail system is another matter. I have never got my head round London’s overground rail network. For starters, you need to ask for help with ramps when you’re getting both on and off the train, which means knowing precisely where you’re going. Another problem is the overground rail network seems far more complicated than the tube. However, Tuesday’s trip down to Richmond has made me think again: the journeys there and back were comfortable and quick, and organising ramps wasn’t that difficult. Like the tube and the bus, it was also free. With several train stations nearby, it might be time for me to start using the overground a bit more, mostly as an alternative means of getting about the city, but also to see whether I can.

Exploring Richmond Park

Yesterday was a lovely day for me, but rather long and tiring. A couple of days ago, my old PA and friend Dominik suggested meeting him and going out to explore Richmond Park. I had never visited that area of London before, so of course I said yes. We met up at Waterloo, then got the overground to the south-west of the city. Getting there, the first thing that struck me was how different it felt from the rest of London: Richmond seems like a small, well-maintained town; there, the Thames is much thinner and prettier, so it looks completely different to the one I know here in the east. We walked along it’s banks, past pretty little shops, pubs and cafes, until we reached Richmond Park. I think that was what Dom wanted to show me: it is massive – the biggest park I have ever seen, and surely the biggest within the M25. It is also, of course, stunningly beautiful; we walked around it for most of the afternoon, admiring the well-kept trees and deer. Most of the paths were well-maintained, although I did have a bit of fun in my powerchair following some of the routes Dom lead me down.

The park is so big that it took us several hours to walk around, and by about five I think we were both getting tired and hungry. Eventually finding our way back to Richmond Town Centre, we bought a sandwich to eat on a bench before making our way to the train station. It had been a lovely day. This metropolis never ceases to amaze me: no matter how long you live in London, there will always be a new part of it to explore. Yesterday I discovered another of its wonders: a gigantic, four-century old park I had known nothing about, only about an hour away by train. I was stunned by it’s beauty, serenity and size. It makes me wonder what other surprises London – and indeed the world beyond – could still have in store.

The coolest toy ever

I’m not going to suddenly claim to be a Transformers fan: I was never into them as a child, and the recent films don’t interest me now. I vaguely remember my brother Mark having a few of the toys though, one of which was Optimus prime: it was fairly unsophisticated, but even so the Ginger One never let me play with it. I had forgotten about it, but was reminded of it when I came across this video. A new Optimus Prime toy has been created, and it is so incredible that I had no choice but to flag it up here. To call it a toy doesn’t really do it justice: watch the video and you’ll see a highly sophisticated piece of engineering and computing. Essentially, it’s designers have taken a children’s cartoon character from the eighties and rendered it as a completely functional, seventeen inch high model, controllable by both speech and app. The result, I think you’ll agree, must surely be the most awesome toy ever (although the price tag is slightly less awesome).

A clear case of discrimination

Yesterday was a lovely, sunny day. It started quite well: I went out on my usual wanderings, and by mid-afternoon, having done all the sensible stuff I needed to do, I was beginning to think about having a beer somewhere. At first I tried at the Tudor Barn, a fine old place not far from here, but they were running on pre-bookings only. The staff know me there and tried to fit me in, but there wasn’t any space. I knew that was a long shot anyway, so I carried on up the hill to Eltham High Street. The Weatherspoons is still shut, but I found an Italian bistro serving drinks on a large square. There were several people there enjoying theirselves, but also several tables free.

I rolled up to one of the staff, and through my Ipad asked if I could have a beer. At first everything seemed fine, but then a person who I presume was the head waitress intervened, saying I wasn’t allowed alcohol: I could have coke or a soft drink, but not beer. She struck me as abrupt, stern and rude. Angered, I tried to ask why, but she refused to answer, stopping the other staff from speaking to me. I tried to ask to speak to the manager but was completely ignored; they were treating me like a child. I persevered for about ten minutes but then headed home, quite furious about what had just happened.

Back here I tapped the restaurant’s name into Google and, finding their website, emailed the manager to ask why I had been treated like that. I also messaged a friend of mine, Will, who normally works at the nearby ‘Spoons, to see if he could help. An hour or so later, Serkan got here for dinner. I was still furious and showed him the Email I had sent to explain why. He immediately became angry too and suggested going back to the restaurant together to talk to the staff.

I thought that was a great idea, and a short while later we got there. Of course the staff recognised me from earlier. Serkan asked them why they had treated me as they had, and they explained – talking to Serkan rather than myself – that they didn’t know whether I was on any medication or whether I was fully ‘up there’. The exchange didn’t last very long, but it was quite clear that they just hadn’t wanted me there.

We got back here still quite angry; I felt discriminated against, and still do. I’m still waiting for a reply to my email. It occurs to me that, had something like this happened to a member of any other minority, people wouldn’t put up with it, so why should I?

Sickening Self-Importance

How much longer do we have to put up with the utter charlatan Boris Johnson calling himself Prime Minister? It has been widely reported that he promised his mate James Dyson a tax cut in exchange for favours, but I just came across this. The bastard doesn’t have the authority to make such a promise: “Boris Johnson’s claim that he arranged a tax break for James Dyson was impossible because he doesn’t have the power, according to former Attorney-General (the government’s top lawyer) Dominic Grieve.” Just how privileged, self-important and arrogant can anyone get? Johnson obviously just assumed he had the authority to do what he liked, as if he was above the rules. How blatant does it have to be that this despicable, self-important scumbag shouldn’t be anywhere near government?