07 April 2004

This evening I saw the absolutely amazing The Station Agent. It's about a trainspotter, and the unusual group of friends he attracts. It's incredibly funny, and if you're a bit of a geeky "spotter" type (i.e. those playing CNPS) it will reassure you, that actually, you are (or at least could potentially be) incredibly cool. Or at least it's nice to imagine I could be incredibly cool.

The most impressive thing about the film is they have an actual, genuine, disabled person billed above such "stars" as Michelle Williams, and that bloke who plays the press officer on Spin City. None of your Daniel Day Lewis or Samuel L Jackson crap (is it a pre-requisite for being a faux-cripple to have too many names? Actually, it can't be. Look at Tom Hanks and Dustin Hoffman. Maybe it's just "desired criteria" rather than "essential"). Oh no. This is a good film.

This is where irony starts to creep in. I saw this hilarious, brilliant film, in which one of the topics covered is disability at The Screen On The Hill in Belsize Park. Why Ironic? It's an evil, cripple-hating cinema, and you're not actually allowed to take your wheelchair into the auditorium. How's that for inclusive programming?

It's an incredibly well crafted film, and I did grin almost all the way through (apart from when Fin drunkenly falls over, obviously. I shall leave my remarks on that moment at that to avoid providing "spoilers"). I think being disabled, I got a lot more of the jokes than most of the audience... but, ask any comedian who recognises me... I'm sure they'll tell you that I just laugh randomly anyway.

One of the main points in the film is that people either ignore Fin because he's disabled, or they go out of their way to be nice to him. No-one just accepts him as an equal. He does forge a strong group of friends, but these were all under the latter group of people who were extra nice to him. It's an incredibly beautiful film (so are the two lead males, if that is the gender you prefer to lust after), very warm and funny, and I'd highly recommend it.

After leaving The Fascists On The Hill, my friend and I decided to make our way into the nearest pub. Until we realised all the patrons in it were white, male, in Adidas T-shirts, shouting and cheering at a TV screen, so we guessed they were either watching football, or there was another Jim Davidson repeat on TV. Either way, we chose to walk straight past, and find the second nearest pub.

As soon as we went in the door, a guy said to me "Those are excellent wheels. I know a lot about wheels, I'm into BMX's"

"Right....." said the outer me, while my inner monologue nearly wet herself, not only at him on a face value level, but also with the irony of the film we'd just come from in mind. I also loved the fact that in the film there was the following exchange:

Fin: Horses are good, too
Joe: OK, pass me the joint.

And there was a big sign on the wall in the pub saying "No horseriding on the grass."

I tried to ignore the wheel obsessive, but he did persist, such as encouraging us to join in with his and his wife's game of "Name That Tune" - as performed by the jazz pianist. I was the first one to recognise the jazz piano cover of Stairway to Heaven. Yes - sounds as odd as it, well, sounds.

So I caved. I listened to him babbling on about how great my wheels are ("I'm afraid I have to get the repairers out to them far too often to be able to concur").

"Didn't I see you walking when you first came in here?"

"Yes. I can walk a bit. There's a flight of steps to get into the pub, and I can't fly."

"You should drink some Red Bull!" said he, clearly thinking he was a genius.

"Riiiiight.... now why didn't *I* think of that. All my access problems would be solved!"

All those companies (e.g. *cough* Screen Cinemas *cough*) who are resistant to making changes in advance of October 2004 should work in conjunction with Red Bull's advertising agents. Make disabled individuals adapt to the world, rather than bringing about needed social change and equality. Yes. Let's take a step back into the Medical Model days.

"How long have you been in that thing?"

"Didn't you see me sit down about fifteen minutes ago?"

"Yeah, but you know what I mean, how did you get into that thing?"

"With a sitting motion?"

"You're not just lazy are you?"

"Yes, that's exactly it."

But, then of course, I had to explain exactly what Osteogenesis Imperfecta is.

He then went for a piss. It was his wife's turn:

"I am so sorry about him."

"That's alright. I'm used to it. I'm just finding the irony hilarious, cos we've just been to see this film...."

"Really? Wow. But, I know exactly how you feel, right, cos when I was a kid I had really bad eczema."


As I was pondering on the frequency with which I've heard that: "Yeah, no, I know exactly how you feel to of spent a large part of your childhood in plaster cos you used to break your arms doing things like eating your dinner, and you can no longer move several of your joints where they've been completely shattered and destroyed, because, right, I once broke my little finger, and it was really painful, and for three weeks I had to have it strapped to the next one, and I couldn't wank because the plaster kept getting caught in my hair." - her husband returned. He caught the tail end of the conversation and told us the tale about how he got his torso covered in allergic eczema after trimming his grandmother's bush while topless in Spain.

Fortunately, my friend and I were able to break away from the conversation when we starting discussing the taxidermised animals adorning the walls, creating the overall effect of the house inhabited by Norman Bates and his mother.

Yes - it was a quirky pub. I think we fitted in quite well. A fitting end to an interesting day.

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