Takeaways

I’m not sure if this is really blog-worthy, given it’s something anyone else might do fairly regularly, but I’m just pleased how it turned out. Yesterday I had a nice little ride to Greenwich. It isn’t far, and I can easily make it in my powerchair. Coming back, it was getting dark and I knew I needed to buy something to eat. I thought I would have to go all the way up to Tesco, but, passing a friendly looking takeaway, I popped in.

Using my Ipad of course, I asked for two portions of fish and chips. This, I was told, they didn’t sell – would chicken be okay instead? That sounded fine, so I agreed. But then I asked for them to deliver it to my place at seven, about two hours later, when I knew Serkan would be here. The guy said that would be fine, so with that I set off home.

By seven, Serkan was here and I was watching television. I was starting to eye the clock apprehensively, wondering if my idea to take the initiative and sort out my own dinner was such a great one after all: had I told the guy the right address? A few minutes later though, halfway through Countryfile, to my great relief the doorbell rang – dinner had arrived.

I know it’s not much in the grand scheme of things, but it’s another of those small achievements which let me know what I’m capable of. Now I know it works, I can do it again; and it only cost four quid. The only problem was, I forgot fried chicken has bones in, making it a pain to eat. Next time I’ll get fish.

Festival UK 2022: Fiddling While Rome Burns

While I might have got slightly excited about the queen’s platinum jubilee in two years time, I’m not so keen about the fact it coincides with the much-derided Festival UK 2022. Artists and comedians are apparently distancing theirselves from it left, right and centre, on the grounds that it’ll essentially be an orgy of jingoistic nationalism. It’s blatantly obvious that the Tories just want to set the clock back to the golden summer of 2012, to a time when everyone felt good about the country and weren’t irreparably divided into two bitterly opposed camps. They’re using the platinum jubilee, combined with the ten year anniversary of the London Olympics, to try to paper over the horrendous damage they’ve done to the country over the last decade.

The tories have got Martin Green, former Head of Ceremonies for London 2012, to organise this charade, giving him a budget of £120m. He said it will be about ‘bringing people together’ and celebrating our nation’s diversity and talent, and that details of the ten planned events will be announced in a few months time. But you have to ask: what sort of perverse mentality thinks about organising a festival like that in the midst of a global pandemic, massive recession, and when the country is about to commit economic and geopolitical suicide? The UK is suffering, and rather than healing wounds this ‘Festival of Brexit’ will add insult to injury.

The country is being governed by bullies

It should be quite obvious to anyone even vaguely interested in politics that the country is now being governed by arrogant bullies. I have just watched the lunchtime news: Who the smeg does Boris Johnson think he is? His Home Secretary was indicted for bullying in a report by the civil service, and he just lets her off as though he believes that, as Tories and members of the supposed upper class, they have the right to look down upon and bully everyone else. Patel was found to have broken the ministerial code; she should be out of a job, but to Johnson that doesn’t matter. It’s as if he thinks he and his government have a right to look trample over the rest of us like some eighteenth century plantation owner, born to rule over slaves kidnapped from Africa. For all his pretence to be affable, roguish and likeable, it ought to be quite clear that Johnson is nothing but a bully who defends bullies. He doesn’t care what anyone else, including the civil service, thinks. Are we really going to let this bastard or Patel, get away with it?

There is no Disability Paradox

For the second time this week, I find myself incandescent with rage. This time, though, it’s not with my local supermarket but the BBC. I usually like the documentaries the Beeb airs, but last night they screened something I found utterly, utterly disgraceful. It is my honest opinion that, in terms of the representation of disability in the media, The Disability Paradox by Chris Lynch sent us back decades.

For a long time I have known that I am capable of anything I put my mind to. I may have a disability, but with the right equipment and support, I’m just as capable as anyone else. Let’s put it this way: I may use a special contraption to feed myself, but the food tastes just as good. Most of my friends with disabilities, including and especially Lyn, had the same attitude. Yet to hear Lynch talk, I should be feeling sorry for myself, bemoaning the fact I can’t do things others can; and the fact that I don’t wallow in my own self pity was some kind of paradox.

Why should I feel so sorry for myself? Here I am, living independently in one of the greatest cities on earth. So what if I need a bit more assistance to do things others may find easy? Other people may be unable to climb mountains, so they use a bloody helicopter! I also know that there are people who need far more support than I do. Thus what right have I to be any more happy or sad than anyone else, just because I have a disability? Further, my friends with Muscular Dystrophy, for instance, had a condition which slowly sapped all the strength out of their bodies, leaving them paralysed and eventually suffocating them, in most cases before they reached twenty. I never heard them spew the type of cloying, whiny bullshit we were treated to last night; they just got on with their lives. That’s why to hear it coming from someone so relatively capable pisses me off so much.

I fear that for the BBC to allow this program to be aired, to frame disability as something one could feel miserable about and to problematise how someone like me could feel happy, does a great disservice to the representation of disability. Granted, lynch could well have body dysmorphia, depression or other psychological issues, but truth be told part of me wants to find the lachrymose twat and slap him. In presenting disability so negatively, he invites others to feel sorry for us. For zark’s sake the dude was shown driving, bombing around in an awesome new powerchair, and doing things I can only dream of; yet he gives himself the right to pity himself because he can’t, or thinks he can’t, do everything others can. There’s no denying that we sometimes need to fight for the support and equipment we need, or to stand up for ourselves against discrimination; yet that is no reason not to be proud of yourself or question your right to ever be happy – indeed, it’s quite the opposite. My fear is, people might see this bald fool and assume all of us crips think like he does.

Issue closed

Just to update everyone about my entry a couple of days ago, after posting a formal complaint to the Tesco website, and after getting Dad to phone their customer services (Dad’s good at that sort of thing), I have now received an apology and an assurance from Tesco that the matter will be addressed. I now consider the issue more or less closed. Of course, one or two of my friends have suggested that I find another store to shop at, but given that that particular shop is my nearest and most convenient moderately sized source of daily essentials, I’m reluctant to change my shopping habits just yet. Mind you, that could change if I get any more trouble there.

Scottish Questions

The subject of Scottish independence is in the news again, and once again I find myself torn in two. I suppose it’s a question of which is more noble: is it better for a fixed group of people to govern theirselves and decide their own fate, or for everyone to work together as one? If everyone united we risk becoming one big grey homogenous whole; divided we risk separating into smaller and smaller groups forever bickering over fewer and fewer resources. Unification would eventually lead to the erosion of diversity and probably democracy, as states become too big and unwieldy to properly represent all it’s citizens; yet separation would lead to nationalism, animosity and xenophobia.

Which, then, is the more noble aim? As a liberal socialist, which should I support? In the case of Scotland, should I see the independence movement as the understandable urge of the Scots to free theirselves from a UK sinking under a catastrophic Brexit; or read in the SNP’s calls for a second independence referendum the same petty, power-hungry nationalism that I see in the Outists I despise? I could dismiss Sturgeon’s call for a second Scottish referendum as childish pettiness provoked simply because she didn’t like the result of the first; but would that not render my own desire for a second Brexit referendum hypocritical?

Don’t both Scottish Nationalism and Brexit boil down to the same basic nationalist drive? If the scots have a right to free theirselves from the UK because the Tories do not represent them, could the same be said of London, which is more left leaning and pro-European, with an even bigger population. If Scotland wants to be it’s own state, shouldn’t London? Why is one idea absurd and not the other? At the end of the day, isn’t it better to remain as one? Then again, where would that leave democracy?

Oh what a mess.

Disgraceful treatment at Tesco

Something happened just now which has me fuming. Yesterday on the bus home we passed a shop not far from Eltham I liked the look of, so this morning I decided that a trundle was in order. In the end it turned out to be a wild goose chase, but I enjoyed the roll anyway. Coming back though, I decided to pick up some lunch at my local Tesco, where I usually shop. Everything was going well until I got to the check-out.

One of the women who works in there really doesn’t like me. She always treats me like an idiot and talks as though I’m not there. This afternoon it was worse than ever: in front of all the other customers, she told her colleagues how she didn’t like helping me, and thought she shouldn’t have to do it. When I then tried to speak to her, she then totally ignored me. I have never felt so insulted. Given that this wasn’t the first time this particular member of staff has treated me like this, I now intend to take this further and possibly lodge a formal complaint.

This cannot be allowed to stand.

An afternoon out

I just got back from a bit of an adventure. I had heard a lot about the Bluewater shopping centre, being the biggest mall in Europe, but in over a decade of living in London, I had never actually been. Today though, thirsty for a change of scenery, curiosity got the better of me. I know the current advice is not to go five miles away from home, but I haven’t been outside east London all year. Checking the TFL website, getting there would only take two bus rides, so I didn’t think it would be too bad for an excursion on a gloomy Sunday afternoon.

As it turned out, it only took an hour or so to get there. Once there, I spent an hour or so whizzing about the massive shopping arcade: it was deathly quiet with half the shops shut. Of course I wasn’t there to buy anything, but to see what it was like for future reference; and I must say I was quite impressed. The architecture was fairly stunning, and it absolutely dwarfs The Trafford Centre. Built in a former quarry, it even has a small boating lake. Possibly the highlight, though, was bumping into and having a short conversation with a fellow powerchair user with CP who had quite a cool transparent cover completely enveloping his chair like a tent, presumably to guard against both viruses and weather. I assume he was just enjoying an afternoon out, like me, but if I’m going to enjoy many more outings like this I probably ought to look into getting a covering like his.

Diwali

I heard on the news today that it is the Hindu festival Diwali. Of course, my attitude to it is the same as my attitude to all organised religion, but thinking about it earlier, the word pricked my curiosity. It obviously comes from India, but could the word ‘Diwali’ share an etymology with the English word Devote or Devout? Wiktionary says that the latter two stem from Old French and before that Latin, but they sound so similar that it makes me curious enough to note it here. It could just be a coincidence, but the similarities in both sound and meaning strike me as rather uncanny. If they do share a root, that would suggest some form of ancient protoindoeuropean.

Anyway, to anybody reading this celebrating today, stay safe and have a good day. Namaste.