Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Access Most Areas

Tonight's post brought to you by an inability to sleep (I knew I shouldn't have had that cup of tea directly before going to bed). Why do lava lamps take half an hour to warm up? Quite apart from the colossal waste of energy (when I die and go to heaven, God will send me away because I single-handedly killed off the planet with my love of 1970s-style molten meditation), it means I can't have it lull me to sleep without waiting around for it to start.

Anyway, enough of the pointless rambling, as we return to the slightly more pointed rambling. I'm just back from the ever-fabulous Greenbelt, a very open-minded Christian arts festival that I go to most years. And I have to say that, despite a few problems, provisions for wheelchair users were really very good (although I wouldn't mind joining their Access Team and helping them find ways to keep the accessible toilets free of idiots who can't be bothered to queue and the lifts free of bored teenagers just along for the ride). It was an odd weekend. Not like most Greenbelts, where I usually pack six seminars, two worship sessions, a lot of hanging out at the campsite, and something artsy and alternative into each day. In total over the three-and-a-half day weekend, I went to four talks - two by the same speaker, because he was funny and awesome and talked about love and made me cry (in a good way) - and I just didn't DO a lot, really. Partly that was because there was a feeling of 'this has all been said before' this year. I was hoping for more of the new, edgy, challenging, justice-focused, forward-thinking theology and spirituality that I usually associate with the festival. I wonder whether it was just a less-inspiring year than usual, or whether Greenbelt is losing its edge. We shall see. But it was also because we weren't camping. With Marvin in tow, and the necessity of charging him up regularly, plus my need for a decent's night sleep every now and then, we stayed in a local B&B. This was comfortable and accessible, but I won't be doing that again - I missed too much of the festival atmosphere, just by not being there after 9 or 10 most nights. That said, I accessed it all in the best way I could, and it went OK. Marvin ('leccy wheelchair) was my saving grace, although I did have to take a deep breath each morning before driving out into the crowds and hoping for the best (responses to me ranged from the usual stares as I got out and left my wheelchair behind while I went to the loo, to glares from the dozens of people who kicked my foot-rests while I was stationary but still seemed to think it was my fault). All-in-all, not bad. There are more spiritual-type thoughts going on in response to a few things that I heard/took part in while there, but those will have to wait until I've formed slightly more coherent responses to them than someone said something, it was in a tent, it was nice, it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, also it was sunny, also I ate potato wedges, other pleasant but ultimately meaningless post-festival hippy thoughts. In other related news, thanks to the sunshine all weekend, I am a quite impressive shade of brown. Not impressive in the general sense, you understand, but more in a 'I didn't think people of Irish origin could tan at all' sense. It's made me happy, anyway.

And now we're back to reality: writing letters in which I threaten to sue my local council (just as soon as my printer can be persuaded to start working), interviewing prospective PAs (at least one of whom I dearly hope will be able to make it into work more than once a week), panicking over Access to Work applications gone wrong (but it's all good, because even though they can't buy me a shiny new wheelchair right now, they're hiring one for me in the meantime, and would I like to choose it myself? Ah, if only all government organizations could be this lovely). Holidays can't last forever, people - there are whole hordes of people just queueing up to get a chance to make my life difficult. What fun that must be for them. And I start work on Thursday. Argh.

2 comments:

DanielThomas said...
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Elizabeth McClung said...

I always wanted to get to greenbelt - simply to go to the Goth church service they held if nothing else - but I never managed it - alas. Your experiences sounded good except the porta potty - I have to admit that when it comes to having to use a wheelchair porta potty, I get really, really vocal (as in "Who is that screaming over there" kind of vocal) so I emphathize.

As for Lava Lamps, my brother had one which probably gave me a life long fear of burning to death since he bought it at a garage sale when I was 12 and he would turn it on in his room. Only I am pretty sure lava lamps are not supposed to get so hot they sort of glow red (the metal) and you burn yourself if you touch them. It was both groovy and terrifying (a bad "trip" as they would say).