Thursday, November 12, 2009

This Post Brought To You Courtesy of Pinot Grigio

...which will explain any spelling mistakes, 'k?

I have NO RESULTS. I have spent six effing months on research for a dissertation, and because of the physiotherapy teaching establishment's idiocy, obstinacy, protected privilege, and unwillingness to engage with disabled people and disability researchers, I have no results.

My very sweet tutor says it's all going to be OK, and that I have other things to talk about, including sociologically significant reasons for having no results. But I can't avoid the sinking feeling that says I'm going to get a 65 on this dissertation and miss out on my distinction (for which I need at least a 68), and not be able to get funding for a PhD, and generally end up with no sodding idea what I'm going to do with my life next.

Over on my lovely fandom posting board, we are talking etymology, words that offend everyone from feminists to disabled people, reclaiming terminology when you're in a minority group, and all that good stuff. Awesome. I love how disability-aware a lot of them are, on that random posting board that has nothing to do with disability at all. It gives me hope.

Hope: something this blog is sometimes lacking. Let us celebrate. More Pinot Grigio!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Customer Service

See that pot? That's not a pot of tea. That, m'dears, is what you get in Richoux - the world's snobbiest cafe - when you order a pot of coffee. The Girl paid several £s for that pot. She was expecting a cafetiere. She was, to say the least, not impressed. As you might be able to tell from the picture.

Talking of cafes, I've been trying to find out why the brand new Costa on Chalk Farm Road has a sodding enormous step at the entrance. This is a blatant breach of the DDA. (The Costa customer service department responded to my e-mail asking which branch I'm talking about, when I had given the exact address - which rather demonstrates how stupid they are.) It's one thing when a small, independent shop can't afford to ramp its entrance. It's quite another when a massive multi-national, with six branches in every town, refits a brand new cafe and builds a new step entirely from scratch. Wankers. If they have no answer to my complaint, I might ask Camden Council exactly why they keep giving planning permission to shops and cafes that stomp all over actual and/or potential disabled customers in their blatant disregard for the law.

This has been the Rant of the Day. You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day Ten - in which I cross-post from elsewhere, due to tiredness

Today mostly involved doctor crap. Which I don't feel like analysing today. Maybe tomorrow.

We're going with 'Susan' for the walker's name. We realised it covers three fandoms - with Ivanova, Sto-Helit and Pevensie. I look forward to giving a different answer every time someone asks why.

Today in my evening class, we were taught about feminism - very badly. I tried not to laugh or correct the teacher. I should have realised that taking a sociology class, even if not in my area of expertise, was inevitably going to involve occasional sniggering behind my laptop. I'd get angry, only I just don't care enough about the class, occasional fun though it is. (I do wish its essay deadline wasn't the day after my dissertation deadline, though. Guess which one will get prioritised? Clue: one of them will get me an MA and one won't...)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Day Nine - Short Memory

Between exhaustion from having spent hours on my dissertation today, and The Girl arriving at Heathrow earlier than anticipated, I forgot to post.

It's a good thing NaBloPoMo doesn't specify either post length or, well, quality.

Better stuff tomorrow, I promise...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Day Eight - Scraping The Barrel

Today I went to church. Before leaving the house, I noted (via twitter) that I was hoping to avoid too many comments about the new mobility aid, and offering advice to discerning readers that the way forward is not to say too much about such things.

Suffice it to say that with the number, weight and intensity of comments, you'd have been forgiven for thinking I'd walked in with a new baby.

(Although that would have been a lot less supportive for my knees.)

Have been discussing names for aforementioned walker on fandom forums. Continuing the sci-fi/fantasy theme (following Marvin the powerchair and Luna the manual), and given that the walker is geeky and a bit strange*, I'm thinking along the lines of Random or Susan. Messageboard posters are currently favouring Velma, but I am not a Scooby Doo fan so that's not happening.

I would say again that this wasn't the best month to choose to post every day, but I think you're getting the idea.

*You find these things out about mobility aids quite quickly.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Day Seven - Photoblog

The scene not far from my road which I encountered on returning from Camden this morning. I'd been working in a cafe for a couple of hours. Heading back home, I found the road blocked off in all directions, including the dropped kerbs, with no temporary ramps and no warning signs.

The workmen acted like I was entirely bonkers for suggesting that they might have wanted to make their roadworks accessible to disabled pedestrians. "But we're only going to be here for an hour or so."

Then one of the workmen instead on 'helping' me up and down the inaccessible kerbs, mainly by repeating "Keep going... keep going... keep going..." about six times. Because I can't push my wheelchair without such verbal encouragement, obviously.

FAIL, Camden Council.

Not that we expect any better than that from you, really.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Day Six

This post-a-day thing is quite hard work when you're spending up to 12 hours a day doing discourse analysis and editing research designs. Which reeeeeally don't make for interesting blog discussion material.

On the slightly more exciting side of things, I have a walker. This is not because I have given in to society's obsession with staying upright - Mike Oliver sums up how I feel about that, in his fantastic piece What's So Wonderful About Walking? But I'm just not that great at life in a wheelchair. I tip over. I fall out. I have to get out of the chair to do kerbs. I need powered wheels to get up hills. I'm in massive pain in my shoulders after a day of self-propelling (even with the aforementioned powered wheels). I can access nothing, because it hurts to lift the chair up steps (mainly because I need the aforementioned powered wheels, but not entirely). I tip over again. I fall out again. Yes, it's partly because I've only been using it about three years, but it's also because I'm dyspraxic, have crappy useless muscles thanks to FMS, and am generally a bit rubbish. I don't intend to stop using my wheelchair, by any means, but I like having a choice of mobility aids. One day, when I am very rich, I will have a garage full of them. I'm well on the way - I'm already getting on for a hallway full.

And that's the last time I *ever* give that explanation, because I don't have to explain my mobility-aid choices, and I'm tired of feeling like I do. Hurrah for self-determination and confidence in myself! (I give it a week.)

Anyway, I went for a (very) little walk in the rain. Which was probably rather dangerous, now that I think about it. But it was much fun, and I made it to the little cafe that's nearby, and had a cuppa before going home again.

Must go - Hamish the Little Girl Dwarf Hamster is running around very loudly in her mouse-sized wheel, and I'm taking every opportunity I can to persuade her that I am a non-scary person whose hand she can sit in. She hasn't yet decided whether I am Friend. She's been living with me for about three weeks. She'd better figure it out soon.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NaBloPoMo Day Five - Guy Fawkes' Night. Celebrating Stupid People.

Should I be forced to use a wheelchair, all the time, even when I'd prefer to use crutches, simply because people are too lazy to try to understand invisible (or less-visible) impairment?

Or is it the responsibility of service providers (of all kinds) to make services accessible to an entire disabled community, whether or not I'm there to provide them with a reminder that some people are disabled?

And what do I do with people who are basically too stupid, or at least too focused on other things, to understand - without a constant visual reminder? Do I give in to the section of society that needs me to use a wheelchair all the time - or is that a betrayal of people with invisible and less-visible impairments, who also need to be represented?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Nothing To Say

I have no interesting thoughts to express this evening.

Mainly because I have been talking theology in the pub with church friends. "Beer," my friend tells me, "is proof that God loves us." But we did also discuss real theology. Including humour and faith, church history, St Paul on women - and, um, the European Union. Not sure how that last one fitted in.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

YOU Are Responsible For Access

NaBloPoMo, day three. I am incredibly tired, so this is partly cross-posted from somewhere else. That's spoon-saving, baby.

I am so sick of people assuming I can always manage inaccessible venues - which gets them off the hook from having to arrange accessible ones - because I sometimes use crutches. My church is holding confirmation classes in a venue which has "a few shallow steps". This unwillingness to think about access means that the burden is conveniently shoved onto me - the burden of finding accessible parking near enough that I can walk in, the burden of coping with steps, the burden of sitting on unsuitable chairs in pain for an hour and a half so that the following day is a nightmare of agony for me...

And then there's the situations where friends organize informal things in inaccessible places. They tell me how awful it is that the place isn't accessible, and shouldn't society try harder? No. YOU should try harder. If you are organizing something, you are responsible for making sure your disabled friends can get in. Otherwise, they are left feeling like you don't want them there. As I feel this week about something that was organized in such a way that I couldn't get to it.

This isn't right. We are society. When society creates disabling situations, that's because, one at a time, individuals contribute to this creation of disability. People need to think about things like access - it's not all my responsibility. I've e-mailed someone important at church to say I'm 'worried' about access. I could have put that more strongly, but I'm British and passive-aggressive.

Damn, but I wish I'd inherited more Irish character for these situations.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Instant Access: Missing the Tangible

NaBloPoMo, Day Two - Monday thoughts...

The one and only reason why I would buy something like Amazon's Kindle would be instant access to books. I love books, and a big part of that is the feel of them turning down the pages I want to go back to until the whole book is a beautiful dog-eared mess, the look of them arranging the higgledy-piggledy multi-coloured rows when I walk past and wondering how they get so messy again so fast, the amazing sense of them they're spread out all over my desk and spilling onto the floor and I am clearly working on something awesome underneat all this literary mess. None of that complete experience of books is possible if they're all neatly organized in little tabs on an electronic screen, and I'd never exchange my life is books for my books are in this little reader and my house is tidy and empty and dull.

At the same time, sometimes I want books NOW. I wouldn't object to a bookshelf into which I could type in 'The Shining' (I want to see how it compares with the film, having been to see that on Saturday and remembered how odd it is) and have it appear, transported directly from Oxfam Books, pre-dog-eared and fully, deliciously tangible, at the end of the Fiction shelf.

I don't want to give up CDs for similar reasons. Unlike a lot of people, I still buy them - I have about 200 and counting, all on display in our new CD case. They're not as fast, as easy or as world-accessible as being able to bring up Spotify, select a song I've heard, listen once more to be sure I like it, go over to iTunes and buy it. But how can I sit in the dark for the first time with Tori Amos or Missy Higgins or Kristin Hersh if there's no effort involved in stumbling upon them and considering whether to buy them and that incredible moment when I first experience their latest musical triumphs? I'm fairly sure they wouldn't say that their life's work is to create background music for shopping malls, dinner parties or internet browsing.

And yet, it's so easy to bring Athlete's latest, conclude that 'Black Swan Song', while a work of genius, is the only good song they've written in years, and move on to the next thing.

I'm a devoted minion of the internet and everything it has to offer, but I still wonder. In our society of instant access, where we no longer remember how to postpone gratification for a better reward, are we sleepwalking into an entirely virtual, self-referential-with-nothing-to-refer-to, eerily empty postmodern world?

Still, I'm off to iTunes to buy 'Black Swan Song'. It may be an emo-inspired, easy-listening ditty for the instant gratification generation, but it's still really good.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


I can't remember whether it was last year or the year before that I participated in NaBloPoMo (or NaNoBloMo), the blog-based alternative to NaNoWriMo for those of us who are far too lazy and/or untalented to commit to writing 50,000 words in a month. I have neglected this blog appallingly during my MA year, but I really ought to rectify that oversight. A friend just posted on FB that she was doing NaNoWriMo, and it reminded me how much I enjoyed attempting to write something every day of the month last time. So here I go with trying.

However, my life is currently entirely overwhelmed by The Research Project From Hell (OK, it's not that bad, but it is taking over my life entirely and proving impossive to crawl out from underneath - let's call it The Research Project from Purgatory). So there isn't a great deal to say today.

Yesterday being Halloween, we went to the new ('largest screen in the world') drive-in at Pinewood Studios and watched The Shining. Not the greatest film ever. Visually stunning and effective, but not great in terms of plot or character development. We also noted Kubrick's huge debt to Hitchcock.

I am about to go to church to celebrate All Souls' Day (which is actually tomorrow, but we did All Saints last week), where the Mass will be said for many friends and family of the congregation who have gone ahead of us. Including my grandparents. Should be a good service. Happy All Hallows Day, people.

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed...

- 'For All The Saints', William Walsham How