Purple pound day

Although, to my knowledge, none of the money in my wallet is purple or any other colour apart from the usual grey, green and brown, I think this is definitely worth flagging up. Today is apparently Purple Pound Day, which is intended to draw attention to consumers with disabilities. “Shopping can be frustrating at the best of times, but for many disabled people it comes with even more unnecessary challenges – narrow aisles, no step-free access, rushed shop assistants. But one businessman and wheelchair user has turned his frustrations into a national event – Purple Tuesday – in a bid to get hundreds of retailers to improve their customer experience and tap into the £249bn disabled customers spend each year.” A step in the right direction – albeit a modest one – if you ask me, although as the bbc article itself points out towards the end, it is not enough to just have one day to acknowledge consumers with disabilities. Surely ‘we’ should be included and accommodated all year round.

What is Professional Wrestling?

Something rather cool happened this morning.

My friend Lee Donnelly  was a big WWE fan. I hadn’t really thought about wrestling since I was about ten or eleven, but it was  mentioned at donno’s funeral and I’d been thinking about it since then. Wrestling is very strange,  when you look at it: it’s obviously theatrical, yet it claims to be real, and the pretence of reality  is taken far further than any  other form of theatre. To any other person, it looks  pantomimic, yet it takes itself so seriously. It seemed very odd to me.

When  I turned my computer on this morning, I found this article about Wrestling on the BBC website.  I read it, and came across the name of an academic I didn’t then recognise Dr. Ben Litherland. Deciding it was time to look a bit further into this  bizarre phenomenon,  I plugged the name into google expecting to find a musty old academic, but the strangest thing happened: it turned out that I already knew the guy, and he was a school friend of my brother Luke.  We had chatted before, six  years ago, having come across each other not through Luke but  a mutual friend, James C. I love  how the web works sometimes.

We got chatting (again) and I told ben of my newfound interest.  Apparently, there is a growing literature on the subject, but Litherland said he was against the idea of a  ‘wrestling studies’. That seemed curious to me: if wrestling is an art, shouldn’t it be studied  like  any other (narrative) art form in terms of it’s characters and storylines? But he seemed to be suggesting it was something else; not just a weird panto about men hitting eachother or a type of soap opera. It has a real world, political dimension, especially when you consider that Trump has  appeared on it, and Vince McMahon was one of the biggest backers of the Trump campaign. That which I once dismissed as childish and puerile now seems worth looking into deeply.

Something very, very strange is going on with professional wrestling. It’s obviously fake, but claims to be real. It is presented rather like a soap opera, but disbelief is suspended and the illusion of reality is kept to the extreme. Ben even introduced me to their word for it: Kayfabe.  Something which might appear childish does in  fact take itself deadly seriously, and to it’s fans is  as real as any other sport. These people cannot actually be hitting one another or they would be seriously injured;  and the way in which the camera captures events outside the ring suggests the action is somehow planned and choreographed; yet, as in sport, events are shown live and the audience seem  to think they are watching events which have not been rehearsed. Thus I am baffled – what is it? Theatre? Sport? artform, or something else? How  can something which appears so silly have so much cultural impact? When I read a book or watch a film, I know I’m dealing  with a created artefact – something designed or created by someone to tell me a story or convey a message to me. Wrestling is obviously a similar kind of creation, yet it refuses to admit it is anything other than real (undertones of Lacan there, maybe?) I must admit I’m intrigued.

Spot on, Mr. Macron

The world being as dangerous as it currently is, with nationalism dangerously  on the rise, I think I ought to flag  this article up.  ”French President Emmanuel Macron has urged world leaders marking the centenary of the World War One Armistice to reject nationalism. Addressing leaders in Paris – including US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin – he described it as a “betrayal of patriotism”.” A truer  word has never been spoken. To love one’s country is to love the things which makes it unique. By extension, that means one loves  how your country contrasts with others, which means engaging with other countries and cultures. To me, then, to just love your own country is folly; one must relish the whole of humanity in all it’s diversity,  working together across petty, arbitrary borders. We need to work as one, not compete. That is the only way we can avoid repeating the type of barbaric stupidity which ended a century ago today.

Problem solved

Just to update yesterday’s entry, late last night my good friend Debbie sent me  a link to an Ipad  troubleshooting forum. I just checked it out and  tried  one of the fixes I found there, and it worked. I suddenly have a  voice again. Hearing that  mechanised voice was such a  relief! I owe debbie a hug, and  a coffee! The trip all the way to the Apple shop in Stratford was pointless; it just goes to show how much  those so-called experts actually know, or rather, how  much they want to pressure you into buying new merchandise rather than giving you the solution to your problem.

Ipad issues

I’m afraid to say that it has been a long, rather annoying day. Ipads are fantastic, useful machines – until they go wrong. Late yesterday afternoon I suddenly lost all sound output from my Ipad. That’s quite a problem for me  as I use mine as a communication aid. I had a look at it but couldn’t get it talking again, so today I took it back to the guys in Woolwich I mentioned  a couple of entries ago. This  time, though, they couldn’t do anything, and suggested  I take it to an Apple shop. After I’d returned home for a coffee, I set off for stratford – after all, I still rather like it up there. After I’d found the Apple shop, I told the young assistant what the problem was, and he kindly fastracked me to see a technician. The guy looked at it but couldn’t do anything: it turns out  that the headphone mode had somehow been locked on, even though there are no headphones connected. I was told I either had to reset my Ipad, losing all my data and specialist apps, or buy  a new Ipad. Needless to say, I came home feeling very frustrated indeed. Does anyone have any other suggestions?

The British Museum

I went up  to the British Museum yesterday. My friend John suggested meeting up there, having first proposed a trip to Oxford, and I thought it was an awesome idea. Seeing Oxford again would have been lovely, but we’d left  it too  late. Getting there was easy enough – just two busses – and once I was in there I was instantly fascinated.  They currently have an exhibition on on Syria, so  there were many ancient stone tablets from the middle east on display.  The Rosetta stone, of course, took pride of place, but there were many more around it. I couldn’t help feeling, though, that it was all decontextualised: taken out of their original places and transported several thousand miles to a rainy city in northern  Europe, these objects inevitably lose some of their original meaning. Wouldn’t it be better to see these fascinating pieces of art where they were made? And isn’t having them in the british museum in the first place all essentially an act of imperialist theft? Then again, you might say it is  better to house these artefacts here, where they can be correctly preserved, than leaving them in the war-torn Middle East; and leaving them in the countries where they were created would mean people like me would never be able to see them. I couldn’t make up my mind  either way, and came  home vowing to go  back there to see more when I can.

An unnecessary trip to Woolwich

It worries me how dense I can be sometimes. A week or so ago, I was going down a steep slope in Maryon-Wilson park when I slipped out of my powerchair. I was fine,  as was the chair,  but a while later I noticed what appeared to be  quite a big crack in my Ipad screen. I tried to ignore it at first but as the crack got bigger I thought I better get the  screen replaced. Yesterday, then, I went down to Woolwich  to get it sorted. I asked in a couple of shops whether they do Ipad screen repairs, before being directed to a shop on General Gordon Square.

I handed the guy in there my Ipad, having first asked  him how much a  new screen would cost. Almost immediately, though, he smiled: the screen was fine, he said; I’d just  kinked the screen protector! I had completely forgotten we had put one on a few weeks ago.

The  guy replaced the protector, cleaned up my ipad, charged me a tenner for it (a bargain compared to the seventy quid a new screen would have cost) and  sent me on my way, feeling rather silly.