Still a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

We’ve heard things like this before, coming out of the BBC: as part of the international day for people with disabilities, it is now promising to increase it’s on-screen representation  of people with disabilities. To be fair, while I have noticed a few more disabled people  on the box, it is still nowhere near enough: a few more wheelchair users here and there, but  sill no real portrayals of what life is like for people like me. Where are the communication aid users? Where are the guys with Muscular Dystrophy?

As the article points out, one in five people have a disability, yet we get nowhere near that level of representation on television, or indeed across the media. I’ve been saying this for years, since I first started blogging: increased media representation, as well as accurate portrayal of people with disabilities is one of the most effective ways of breaking down the barriers ‘we’ face. Being disabled, having a disability of whatever kind, still has a social stigma associated with it; equal  and accurate portrayal in the media is one of the chief ways of breaking that stigma down. Thus, while this announcement from the BBC is to be welcomed, given we’ve heard such announcements before yet seen so little actual progress, it’s a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

A dangerous drinking game

I might have gone back to drinking the occasional beer, but I know I need to be sensible,  which includes staying well clear of the drinking game described here. ”Thousands of British have been admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning after playing a popular drinking game about Boris Johnson. The game, entitled ‘Drink When Boris Lies‘ has been sweeping the nation in the last few months, and it’s taken its toll on even the alcohol-obsessed Brits.’ That sounds a very dangerous game indeed, especially given virtually every sentence coming out of the scumbag’s mouth has been proven to be a lie. I think it’s best not to play it; or, better yet, just don’t listen to Johnson speak.

Another fascinating Saturday afternoon

Yesterday was another long, fascinating day with John. He messaged me at about noon, quite out of the  blue, proposing we  go up to  a  Palestinian film festival at SOAS. I said ‘why not’, and he suggested we meet at Waterloo  bridge at two. I headed up there (I’m now getting more and more confident about whizzing around the capital on my  own) but,  due to J not specifying which side of  the bridge we were going to meet on, it wasn’t until about three that we actually found one another.

Nonetheless, what followed was a fascinating afternoon, first popping in on a Masonry exhibition (the society, not the profession), before going up to the University of London, near Russel Square.  The event was a series of short films, played back  to back, about what life is like in Palestine.  As you can imagine most were very powerful indeed, but one which especially caught my  eye and which I now seriously want to watch  again was about a group of Palestinian wheelchair racers in training for the Paralympic games: the problems they were shown to face really put my life into perspective.

It was dark when the film screenings ended, but the day was far from over. John and I then caught a bus to Brick Lane: what a fantastic, funky area that is, full of clothes shops and music. We met a group of J’s skateboarding friends, and spent the evening talking, eating and exploring the area. I certainly want to go up there again soon, perhaps to explore it by  myself; yet the films I had just seen were still in my mind. Here I was in this vibrant, cosmopolitain metropolis, full of the rich variety of human life, while in other parts of the world people rather like myself were dodging bullets struggling to survive. Here, such realities are shown as arthouse films in university lecture theatres on Saturday afternoons, but there they are inescapable.

Staying clear of the debates

Apparently there was an election debate on tv last night involving a block of ice standing in for Bojo; there’s another tv debate tonight. There seem to be quite a few this time around, as if the politicians think they are a good way to appeal to the electorate directly. Well, I didn’t watch last nights and have no intention of watching tonights. In fact I’ve been staying well clear of all the ‘debates’ this  election: I have no interest in getting wound up,  watching the tories spout so much self-justifying bullshit that it makes me want to rip their head off. Far better to chill out, watch something else, and hope it all sorts itself out in the end. Mind you, the ice cube was probably more trustworthy than Johnson or any member of the current tory party.

Back to the bus

Thinking a bit more about the incident on the bus a couple of days ago, I suppose apologising to that mother was  a bit like my habit of waving in gratitude  to drivers as I cross a road at a zebra crossing. Of course, by law they have to stop, so strictly speaking I have nothing to thank them for. Yet we nonetheless live in  a community, so I like to acknowledge that they stopped for me; would not doing so not seem arrogant? Of course, the bus wheelchair spot was hard won by the disabled community, and I had a right to it. But surely not to have recognised that  mum’s effort in making space for me would have seemed similarly arrogant, as if the mum, the bus,  and the entire world owed me something?

Bus guilt

I just took the bus back from woolwich. I’d gone to see about renewing my passport, before taking a short walk along the Thames. Soon after I got on the crowded bus, a lady got on with a small girl in a pram. Seeing me in the wheelchair space, she immediately started to get the girl out of the pram and fold it up. The problem was, she had great difficulty handling both the child and pram, especially on the crowded bus. In the end another passenger had to help her, as the child could have fallen. I couldn’t help feeling guilty, and, a few stops later as they got off, I told her I was sorry. She replied  sympathetically that I shouldn’t feel bad, and I had nothing to apologise for. She was right of course, yet it’s odd: whether you can help it or not, when you know you’re the cause of such stress for somebody who, like you, is just trying to get home, you can’t help feeling bad.