30 January 2004


Why, when you buy your food from a supermarket online and have it delivered, must they make substitutions?

Why can't they just say "Oh, sorry... we didn't have that".

All I wanted was a squeezy tube of fresh(ish) Basil. Is that so hard?

The guy gets here with my shopping and they've substituted basil for coriander! Does coriander taste great with tomatoes to make a pasta sauce? I don't think so.... (but if you know otherwise, please let me know). Why? Why coriander? A jar of dried basil or even a basil plant would be a more appropriate substitution than coriander. Just, why?

So, while I'm busy fuming about the fact that I have very little basil in the kitchen and now enough coriander to see me through into the next millenium, I start unpacking my shopping. What do I find... a tube of basil! All my anger was for nothing. They made an error... they thought they'd substituted basil for coriander, but they hadn't.

So I carry on unpacking feeling slightly smug about the fact that I got my basil after all. But wait.... what's that? A tube of coriander? I checked my receipt... I've not been billed for both. But yet, I've somehow still got a tube of bloody coriander!


I don't need coriander! I've already got an unopened tube of coriander in the fridge! I don't need another one!

What am I going to do with a lifetime supply of coriander? It seems like a frustrating waste. I didn't want coriander. It's like a Christmas present that you really don't want. You should be grateful because you didn't have to pay for it... but, still, why?

I would say I'd cook myself some lemon and coriander cous cous... but, oh, wait. They didn't give me any free lemon juice to go with the free coriander. That should be a policy they adopt from now on.

Unlike the Christmas present you didn't want, you can't sell a tube of coriander on eBay, can you?

29 January 2004

It's that time of year again when I forget that I'm only in my twenties.

Is it my birthday, and I suddenly have become concious of how life is passing me by and I'm achieving nothing?


It's all snowy and icy outside. And like a true 85-year-old, I'm terrified that if I put one foot outside my front door that I'll break my hip. The fact that I probably actually would makes my fear less irrational and makes me seem less crazy. Though, if I did have an irrational fear of going outside because the temperature has dropped below zero, I'm sure I'd justify it by saying "but, it probably would really happen" just to make myself sound less crazy. But these things do always happen to the people who are most phobic. Like Mr Play-It-Safe. He was afraid to fly. He packed his suitcase, and kissed his kids goodbye. He waited his whole damn life, to take that flight. And as the plane crashed down he thought "well, isn't this nice."

I once had a grand debate in Cambridge's least classy nightclub, Route 66 (I don't think it exists anymore, which is no great loss to those who inhabit the city), with a gentleman in a similar state of drunkenness to myself about whether Mr Play-It-Safe survived or not. I was seventeen and optimistic about the world. Still, people can survive plane crashes. I was reminded of this three years later when I was on a flight back from LA which flew through a hurricane over the east coast of America when the guy sitting next to me said "I've been in a plane crash before, it wasn't so bad". I think he was trying to get revenge for the fact that I'd dug my fingernails into his arm. Total stranger that he was....

I do have justification for having a fear of snapping a part of my skeleton if I step on the ice. Like most elderly people, my bones also have the tendency of breaking with the greatest of ease. For different reasons of course, but, the same end result of having had more broken bones than most rugby players (fortunately my ears don't look like vegetables though).

When the blizzard hit London yesterday tea-time I found myself having to push through it for half an hour to get to Westminster station so I could get on the tube to get to Hammersmith. Times like that the fact that I can only use a tiny percentage of tube stations bothers me most. And, of course, sitting in a wheelchair your knees are at the perfect angle to catch every drop of rain that falls. So, the snow was hitting me and melting on contact, despite the fact that it was freezing. So, my lap was so wet and then cold that someone could quite easily of used my knees as a skating rink.

To add insult to injury (if frozen trousers counts as injury), I had to talk a wheelie-jump off a kerb at Cambridge Circus and land in what was effectively a Slush Puppie. The impact of my four wheels landing in the slightly brown (must've been a cola Slush Puppie) sludge sent it splashing up and hit me right in the arse. So not only was my lap wet, but now my bum was too. And it's hard to be happy when you've got a wet bum. I'm sure babies would be happy to tell you that... if they could. I now understand why they cry so.

And it got worse, Trafalgar Square is on a hill... yup, I had to try and stop in sludgy snow despite the fact that my hands were so cold, the only thing I could feel was pain. That was exciting. Fortunately the green man was flashing when I shot across The Strand like.... someone in a wheelchair going down a hill through ice and snow who can't stop.

By the time I actually got to Hammersmith I was in a vile mood. I got to Riverside Studios and immediately headed straight for the toilets to individually dry all my clothes (including socks) under the hand-dryer (until it decided it had overheated and stopped working). Life is better when your bum is dry.

After seeing Die I proceeded to head back home. It took me two and a half hours, I could no longer feel my feet, and after pushing up Golders Green Road I'm very surprised I had any skin left on my hands after having to push over smashed ice like that. Finally I came to the bit of the evening I'd been dreading ever since the snow fell... having to stand up out of my wheelchair to get up my front door step. I was convinced that this would be the moment that my hip was going to be snapped. For the first time since I saw the builders butt crack of an ageing Sex Pistol while I was trying to eat my breakfast on Tuesday morning, fate smiled kindly on me. We have a thingy over the front door! The door step was snow free! (If anyone has any kind of vocabulary, I'd appreciate being told what the name of one of those thingies that shelters front door steps is). And, most importantly, I managed to get through yesterday without breaking myself.

And, I'm not leaving the house until Golders Green defrosts. I do hope whatever supreme being is responsible for weather gets his/her microwave fixed soon. I'm having to get food shipped in by Sainsburys because I can't get out to buy milk. Still, better than last year when I was living in student halls so couldn't get supermarkets to deliver and had to get someone to post me toilet paper.

Last night my friend and I were discussing "Weather. Why?" over a paper cup of tea in a theatre bar (oh yes, we are trendy). She has this theory about "the circle of life" and so we have to have winter so we can have summer. I don't get it, why can't we just have one level of blandness all the time? After all... a circle is symetrical, if it was different on both sides then it wouldn't be a circle, it'd just be like a blob.

I quite like this being housebound thing. You get the perks of being ill, like not having to do anything except watch daytime TV, but you're not actually ill. Entertain me while I can't get out. Your essay topic is "Weather. Why?". You may Email essays, or post them as comments. Anything overly scientific will be immediately discarded. I failed A'level biology don't you know.

26 January 2004

Today I found myself quite sitting opposite a most spectacular character.

He was tall, rugged, and dressed all in black, with the exception of the bright red scarf, which looked like he'd spent 10 minutes in front of the mirror trying to position it perfectly so there was not a crease where one shouldn't be, and the ends were perfectly positioned as if he'd just come from modelling it for a catalogue photo shoot.

I would imagine he was aged around 40.

I was immediately struck by his eyes and mouth. Despite his height and broad shoulders, the aforementioned facial features looked so delicate and soft, almost feminine.

This is all irrelevant to the story, but I thought I'd give you a physical description. Just cos.

It's not unusual in London to see people talking to themselves. It's also not unusual to see people who you think are talking to themselves, but actually it transpires that they're just a posh nonce with a hands free kit (slight tangent, but I love seeing people in public having arguements on the telephone using a hands free kit. It always makes my day, and I can't help laughing hysterically at them).

This man wasn't talking to himself. He was clearly having a conversation in his head, but his lips weren't moving.

There were sympathetic gestures, raised eyebrows, shocked gestures, nodding, the "I'm listening" head tilt to the side, even though he didn't make a single utterance.

I confess, I do occasionally chatter away to myself when I'm alone (or at least I think I am), most particularly when I'm driving. Or when I'm hungover and I know I've behaved particularly appalingly the night before, I'll have an extravagant conversation with myself to try and distract my brain from remembering throwing up in the Belsize Park region. I do sincerely hope everyone reading this concurs, or I may have overshared, and I'm at the point of a pending laymans diagnosis of "nut."

I will even occasionally go to the point of such elaborate facial gesturisation as I witnessed today. Especially if my imagination is running wild and I'm fantasising about such things as accepting the oscar, receiving my honours from the Queen for my outstanding services to... well, just being an amazing human being and the day that Sharleen Spiteri and I get married (she will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine).

However, I'd like to think that in public I can maintain an inner monologue (I haven't just been defrosted you know) and keep my facial expressions to ones that befit my current situation (which living in London is pretty much a permanently fixed scowl). If anyone notices that I behave otherwise, please notify me.

It leads me to wonder what was going on inside his head that would make him produce such clear and distinctive facial expressions in public, while not moving his lips? Had he just come from a listening skills course and was practising his "I'm listening, honestly" faces? Was he re-enacting his scarf modelling photo shoot in his head, and feeling particularly sympathetic towards the state of his over-talkative scarf-positioners life? Or had he just got twatted last night and puked in Belsize Park and couldn't deal with the embarrasment in his head?

Or was he simply trying to give me a straw to clutch at so I could try and write something at his expense?

25 January 2004

Last night I came second in a game of musical statues. I don't understand how, or quite why. All I know is by the end of it I was in so much pain that I couldn't move. Slight self-fulfilling prophecy, and thus surprising that I came second. And I was dancing my socks off just because the DJ promised to buy the winner a drink (the delightful DJ Fatboy and DJ Slim. Yes, I was in Essex).

Not that I needed to bother trying to win a drink. I was surrounded by 'The Family' (yes, I was born into Colchester's Mafia) and thus didn't actually open my wallet all night.

I also heard a 60-something aunt use the phrase "You need some lubrication to get it down your throat."

Last night was the 40th birthday party of one of my many cousins. My parents nearly forgot to pick up her birthday card to take with them.

"I was on my way to the toilet when I suddenly remembered and shouted "Val, have you got the card?" said my father... three times until someone responded to him.

I replied "It's amazing the things you think about when you're on your way to have a poo." with a hint of exasperation.

"It is" said my father getting worryingly excited by the fact that people were listening to him "The other day I was on the loo when I shouted out to your mother 'Weren't you supposed to phone the doctor at one?' and this was about 6!" and then laughed and seemed disappointed by the fact that no-one else viewed this as a particularly hilarious anecdote.

Though, when parents don't act like that, it's just disappointing. When you arrive at your parents house and aren't greeted with the obligatory "What was the traffic like on the way up?" you notice something missing.

Of course, the day they don't ask is the one time you actually have a story to tell. I found myself telling the story about the 10 miles of solid traffic on the southbound carriageway of the A12 unprompted. And no-one listened to me. So, like a chip off the old block, I felt compelled to keep telling the story until someone graced me with a response.

If I ever start shouting reminders to a significant other from the least fragrant room in the house. Shoot me. Please.

22 January 2004

Yesterday I was simply sitting at the computer in my office when I was overcome by the strangest feeling.

There I was just reading the mundane Emails, and I felt so cutesy.

I guess the closest way of describing the feeling would be "in love".

That feeling of holding someone amazingly special close and just feeling all amazing and wonderful, because you're with someone amazing and wonderful.

Except - I was in my office by myself, I wasn't thinking of anything romantic, and my romantic life is completely non-existant (apart from a deep seated obsession with Sharleen Spiteri and one day she will be mine, oh yes, she will be mine).

Psychologists suggest that emotions are just a physical response to a stimulation that your brain interprets in a certain way. Their theory to back this up is that people who've had broken necks report that they feel emotionless, or less emotional than they felt before their injuries.

I was once in the diner in the students union when I was at university, and a woman came up to me and said "I'm a psychology student, and I couldn't help noticing that you're in a wheelchair. I wondered if you had any opinions on [the whole theory]?"

"I'm sorry, I have no idea. I have no paralysis at all"

"I hope you didn't think I was judging you because you're in a wheelchair. You see, I understand discrimination because I'm a lesbian."

"So am I. What's your point?"

I think the whole idea is silly. If it were so, you could end up spending your whole life with someone because of the way your brain interpretted some physical reaction in your body. Just think, you could get to 70 and your therapist could pry it out of you that after all this time, your bodily reaction was just indigestion. Can you imagine that?

Though, maybe they are right. I'm a deeply romantic person. Maybe I'm just clutching at romantic straws (pink novelty ones with a swirly bit in the middle in the shape of a heart which just looks disgustingly grungy when the interior is stained with brown cola). Perhaps my overwhelming feeling of fuzziness yesterday was merely my brain's interpretation of my body's reaction to eating a bagette from the Upper Crust too quickly?

And on the subject of bagettes. Why are the large ones called "Frech Sticks"? Surely it would be more linguistically correct if they were called "bags"...

18 January 2004

Last night I attended a party in the wonderous city of Cambridge.

I stayed with some friends overnight, and spent all of today trying to catch up with people I haven't seen for months, even years.

This afternoon, a friend and I went for a lunchy/dinnery type meal (at 4pm). During the course of the conversation, she used the following quotes on the subject of my romantic life:

"I think you're stuck in a rut. You need to go out and actively seek a girlfriend."

"You should take up golf. Then you could meet lots of other lesbians."

"Oh, so you're getting around a bit then. Was she any good?"

I have a very sore hand. Pussy injuries. This morning over breakfast I kept just finding more scratches on my left hand/arm where I got attacked in the night. Patchy knew she was in trouble. Everytime I found another scratch, Morag spoke Patchy's name in a tone which would instill fear into the most hardened being.

Everything's changed. Even my most favouritest pub has closed down. I miss Cambridge. I drove past my old house. I miss my old house.

17 January 2004

Today I was having a coffee with a friend in the Costa Coffee on Golders Green road. While in there I made use of the bathroom. On the back of the door of the cubicle I selected, someone had graffittied "Charmer is so buff!".

I now want to know who Charmer is and what s/he did to deserve such unfortunate colouration.

16 January 2004

I am currently being given the most intense "I'm cute, love me" stare. I can feel the eyes burning into the back of my neck as I type. Is it someone new, sexy and mysterious? Is it the woman of my dreams? No. It's the cat. I don't know why he's staring at me so intently. He's not my cat, and it's not me that forgot to buy food for him. But he's so beautiful. I don't know how anyone could resist that face. Bless his cottons.

The other day I was on a bus and I noticed a man staring at me. I accepted it, because, being the true freak of nature that I am, I get stared at on a regular basis. And not just by beings wanting to be fed.

Then, he came up to me and spoke.

"Were you at the Royal Free today?" he asked.


"Oh, I saw a woman who looked like the spitting image of you at the Royal Free today!"


And then he alighted the bus.

But this made me think. Even if I had been at the hospital that afternoon, what kind of conversation was he hoping to elicit? With hindsight my response should've been:

"Yes, I was. But it was good news, the gynaecologist said I'm recovering nicely following the vaginal prolapse."

I'd also be very surprised if this woman who was supposedly the spitting image of me actually looked anything like me. When I was in my teens, because there was only one wheelchair accessible secondary school in South Cambridgeshire, I did know pretty much every wheelchair user under the age of 20 in the area, thus, I knew everyone I was getting confused for.

I was once waiting for the lift in Addenbrookes, and someone came out of the lift and shouted "Sam!" at me. I just gave her a questioning and slightly evil look. But she persisted "Sam King!"

"I know her, but I'm not her."


"I said... I know her, I went to school with her. But I'm not her."

This woman just gave me a look which suggested that she strongly suspected that I didn't even know my own name or who I was and walked off. The only similarities between Sam and I are that we're both wheelchair using brunettes.

People often think I'm someone else. I recently had someone come up to me outside Kings Cross Station and tell (not 'ask' but 'tell') me that I went to Stirling University. Still. It's not as worrying as the woman that came up to me at a pelican crossing outside Kings Cross Station and offered me a tissue. This obviously made me paranoid enough to check that I didn't have snot streaming down my face in some childlike fashion. I didn't, and then I worried even more about what this woman thought I might of been doing in the Kings Cross area that I might need a tissue to clean up after.

But, I've strayed from the point. What kind of conversation would an elderly man hope to get out of a twenty-something on a bus, by using "Were you at the hospital?" as an opener? What kind of conversation would anyone expect to get from that?

"Yes, but, once I've applied the cream, my skin should really clear up. I'd stand further away if I were you sir."

"No. I figured I stood a better chance of a cure if I went to church instead."

"Yes, and I'm now on my way home to insert the pessary."

And, on the subject of yeast... I've decided I'm going to bake my own bread. I bought strong flour, yeast and a loaf baking tin thingy. I am however lacking a recipe. If anyone knows a good bread recipe or can point me in the direction of one on the web, then please Email me.

15 January 2004

This evening as I wandered through Central London I felt like I was stuck in the aftermath of some nasty, violent film.

I went with a friend to see The Wicker Woman at the Jermyn Street Theatre. I saw the show in Edinburgh last year, and enjoyed it muchly, so decided to go see it again. Until about 5 minutes before the show started, Kim and I must've been the youngest people in the audience by at least a decade. I also heard a disproportionate number of audience members talking to their friends and starting sentences with "I'm doing a show...." or "when I was in this performance" etc. Mind you, I was just as guilty... I turned to Kim and said "Do you remember when we took all that stuff to that gig to make emergency, last minute comedy props? Well, do you know what we did with it, because I can't find my safety pins, so tonight I've had to staple a bandage to my knee" (at which point I tried to roll my jeans up to demonstrate and ripped one of the staples out).

Afterwards we went for a drink in the pub me and some other friends ended up in after going to see The Rocky Horror Show when it was on in the West End in the summer. It felt weird going in there fully clothed, as last time I was dressed as Columbia, wearing shorts and an overly revealing sparkly top, and the landlord insisted on taking a photo of me surrounded by men in lab coats who were all excited about the fact the Jonathan Wilkes had signed them.

I walked with my friend to Piccadilly Circus station, and she pointed out that the statue of Eros had boardings around it in a similar fashion to in the film 28 Days Later (which I confess I haven't seen. Quite how I managed to pass a degree which was half Film Studies despite the fact that I've never seen anything is a miracle). On my way up Regent Street I noticed that there was a trail of blood along the pavement. I'm guessing from the large-ish puddle of blood not far from Cheers, the injured person had been walking in the opposite direction to me, and then finally stopped and/or collapsed.

This however wasn't isolated, as I saw another trail of dripped blood on Oxford Street, and some smatterings on the floor of the 82 bus I caught.

I was starting to wonder where these trails were leading me... would I find wild dogs devouring people when I alighted the bus in Golders Green? Was Christopher Lee trying to lure me somewhere? Was it some physicalised premonition and I'm going to accidentally cut my hand off this evening? (Maybe I'll leave the washing up, including sharp knives, until the morning).

If only I'd seen 28 Days Later, I'm sure it would've given me some inspiration for something vaguely humourous to say to finish this entry.

13 January 2004

I haven't written anything over the last few days. I've been too busy wallowing in a combination of self-loathing, self-pity and feeling sick.

But, despite going to bed tonight at 11pm, it's now 1am (despite what the time linked to this entry actually says... blogger doesn't seem to understand that we're not all American) and I'm still awake. My attempts at sleep even prevented me from taking advantage of Ryanair's 52p sale, which apparently finished at midnight.

So, I thought I'd share some of my, erm, thoughts (I really must invest in a thesaurus. I wrote something somewhere else the other day and was reduced to using the word "though" about 5 times in one paragraph).

* In the TV advert for "Mr Bean's Amazing A to Z" the animated Mr Bean has a goatie-beardy type thing, not dissimilar to the one sported by Homer Simpson. The animator has used exactly the same colour shading to do Mr Bean's eyelids, which just makes him look like he's sporting (again, need the thesaurus) facial hair in very strange places.

* On the north most bit of the M25, as you're heading into Essex (why?) there is a McDonald's billboard kind enough to remind the driving public of laws that have recently taken effect. It informs people bound for the M11 (which isn't so bad, it might go through Essex, but at least you end up in Cambridge):

McDonalds - next exit

Remember: Don't phone and drive

As if to imply that the prospect of a McDonalds within five minutes is so exciting that you might have to phone someone and tell them. Again with the "why?"

* Everyday on my way home from work I sit at a bus stop opposite 'Secrets International Table Dancing'. I'm often tempted to go in there and check it out, because I'm intrigued. I have these visions of a Scottish table modelling a rather attractive tartan tablecloth, attempting a Highland Fling, while the Swedish tables keep falling over because they've got one leg not screwed on properly where bracket P was missing and therefore wasn't correctly inserted into screw hole V (I may be in my mid-twenties, but I still snigger every time I read the phrase "screw hole" on flat-packed furniture instructions. Probably goes a long way to explaining why I'm still single)

08 January 2004

I've been thinking a lot about sleep today. I've been doing a fair to of it too.

I've so far today seen Shattered for about 10 minutes (about 5 minutes at 2am and about 5 minutes at 2pm) and sat and watched A Nightmare On Elm Street this evening.

I find Shattered fascinating. I don't mean the show - I couldn't give a toss about a bunch of people staying awake for a week.

I mean the effect the show, and other similar shows (Big Brother etc) have on me. But with Shattered it seems particularly relevant.

Almost as soon as I see people sitting around in a house doing nothing except being lazy and chatting I just want to fall asleep.

I generally avoid most shows like that. I didn't watch either the first or second Big Brother's at all. But sometimes when you're channel flicking, or if you only have 4 channels you just can't avoid it. It's like that unflushed turd - you don't want to see it, but can't look away when pushing the flush handle.

I do however almost always watch these "celebrity" things (I watch a fair amount of TV, but the only one of those where I've known who all the "contestants" were before the start of the show was the Celebrity Big Brother in November 2002).

I think I saw almost all of that Celebrity Big Brother with the exception of the first and last nights, because I went out and forgot to set my video. The evening shows were slightly exciting, because it was a compilation of all the funniest and most interesting moments of the past 24 hours. But the "live" bits on Channel 4 at 5pm were what immediately sent me into the land of snooze.

Being a live(ish) broadcast of people just sitting in a house, cooking dinner, reading magazines, chatting and napping, I just found it so relaxing to watch. I don't think I was ever still awake when the show ended an hour later. I do wish I'd videoed some, because as soon as the 9 days were over I found myself being destroyed by insomnia. In the 48 hours following the final broadcast (which I of course didn't see anyway, I went to the theatre and yawned all the way through The Vagina Monologues despite loving that play because I'd watched the live show just before going out) I got less than 4 hours sleep. And the next few nights I didn't get much more sleep than that either.

Which is why the irony of Shattered entertains me so. Watching these people deprived of sleep sends me straight into the land of nod. After 5 minutes this afternoon, the cat and I were both passed out in front of the TV.

Despite my inability to stay awake while watching TV, I think I'd find trying to stay awake for a week quite fun, as long as staying awake and doing bizarre tasks was all I had to focus on, and I didn't have to worry about not drooling all over the computer at work. I quite like being deprived of sleep, and have probably done more strange things tired than I have while drunk. I certainly hadn't been drinking that time I crawled across a road in a small Devon town on my hands and knees while wearing a pink nighty and snorkling mask - and I also hadn't been drinking the night I did the obligatory coming home at 5am with a traffic cone.

In other news: Russian teeny faux-lesbians t.A.T.u are apparently planning on running for Russian presidency. If they were successful they could prove to be even more irresponsible leaders than Bush. Actually, that's highly unlikely. Though, we could end up realistically facing the situation me and some friends once jokingly came up with while sleep deprived one night about 4:30am: All the lesbians of the world invading Russia. Though maybe not. The climate isn't too condusive to running around in schoolgirl outfits snogging your mates, is it?

06 January 2004

All the world's a wankstain rant coming up. You have been warned. It's long, and I'm sure most people will find it very boring. You should therefore view reading this next entry as your challenge of the day.

I remember reading something Tanni Grey-Thompson wrote in Disability Now shortly after she had her baby girl in which she remarked that she had never felt more disabled. I'm not surprised... when my Mum went into hospital to have me she wasn't even allowed to take her own wheelchair with her. That was 24 years ago, but some things will never change.

I'm not writing about childbirth though. I'm neither pregnant nor likely to be at any point in the forseeable future. Sorry Mum.

I've felt more disabled in the last couple of weeks than I have done in a very long time.

Here is where I feel the need to point out the difference between disability and impairment. My impairment is Osteogenesis Imperfecta. My disability is the world we live in. For example - the reason I can't get on the tube has nothing to do with me having Osteogenesis Imperfecta, the reason I can't get on the tube is because stairs and escalators are put in my way. This outlook is called 'The Social Model Of Disability'. The alternative is the Medical Model which is bad and wrong and is the idea that an impairment is the disabled person's problem that they need to get over. This is the outlook held by those mean, physiotherapists that would make me walk, despite me howling in pain when I was at school.

Anyway... yes, in the last couple of weeks, my impairment has not been any worse than usual (though if someone could explain the pain in my left hip to me I would be eternally grateful), but I've been more disabled.

It seems that very nearly every new person I've met has been obsessed with the fact that I use a wheelchair. Even people who've known me in the past have suddenly become flustered about me being in a wheelchair before finally going "oh, well, you know what you're doing." Funny that.

I've had people try to open conversations with wonderfully exciting phrases like "I didn't realise you could stand up! I thought you were confined to [pointing to my empty wheelchair] that." (At which point I have to interject that there is nothing confining about a wheelchair. It is a tool of enablement).

Other sentences that stick out in my memory:

"You drive a car? Oh, well done!"

"You have a job too? Oh, aren't you good."

"I've never seen anyone in a wheelchair volunteering before."

"You went to university?"

"You're temping? Oh, they should find you a permanent job." (If anyone knows who "they" are can you let me know, because I want to tell them that I want a permanent job where I can surf the internet and watch TV all day, and yet earn enough to pay the rent of Nice Flat and still be rich enough to get ridiculously drunk every night, and to be able to think of Harrods Food Hall as a reasonably priced supermarket)

Plus, the usual barrage of "Did you have an accident?" that I get all the time ("Plenty. Thank you. I once broke my arm simply eating my dinner. Which accident would you like me to tell you about?"), and all the "aren't you wonderful"'s. No, actually, I'm not wonderful. I'm a fat, foul-mouthed lazy cow.

Of course, these people that think I'm wonderful for going out to work, or driving a car are making a value judgement about my existance. I once had someone come up to me in a club and inform me that I was so brave and wonderful for going clubbing even though I'm in a wheelchair.

"There's nothing brave and wonderful about wanting to get pissed and stick your tongue down someone elses throat, is there?" was my reply.

I'm a cripple, therefore my life is supposed to be so appalling that I can't even face getting out of bed in the morning. I do have trouble with the thought of getting out of bed every morning, but that has nothing to do with being disabled... I'm a fucking lazy cow, I'm in love with my duvet and upon waking up I've gone without caffeine for a whole 8 hours. How is getting out of bed supposed to be easy? I wonder if it's possible to set up an IV drip of Red Bull on a timer, because I think that would be the most satisfying and encouraging alarm clock imaginable.

While these people think I'm so brave, as they are clearly making assumptions about the quality and value of my life, I'm sure that they'd be the first to want to switch off my life support machine if I had an accident "to end my suffering." News stories like this constantly serve to remind me of that. For all the respect The Guardian recieves in our society, they can't report on disability to save their lives. They can't even write a paragraph without throwing in the word "handicapped" just to offend, and they wrote The Most Patronising Story In The World... Ever! on the subject of "the most handicapped [sic] girl ever to get into Oxford". It was written like it had been taken straight out of the pages of The Sun. I read it on the web, so there wasn't a picture of her that they could airbrush out and just show the non-disabled people around her though.

While I was volunteering at the Crisis shelter last week, I had another volunteer wanting to come home with me one evening. Not because she wanted to get into my knickers (people very rarely do... I'm what would be described by Essex folk as 'a minger'), but because she assumed that I lived upstairs and therefore was unable to get into my own house without assistance. Despite the fact that during her probing I'd mentioned that I've been impaired all my life, and that I've only lived in this area for 6 months. She actually thought I didn't have the common sense to select to live somewhere that I could get in and out of independently. (Before any pedants feel the need to Email me about this, yes, I am aware of the statistics of people with mobility impairments that are forced live in inaccessible housing. My father once had to go without a shower for a year because his local social services wouldn't get their finger out to refit my parents bathroom).

This woman is someone that has had a taste of disability. She was telling me that she was mobility impaired for a while following illness. But, she had "physiotherapists to teach me to walk again and uses buses and trains and things," and her comments and things other people have said to me has reinforced my belief that people who have had temporary impairments have had the medical model, that it's "their fault" and "their problem" drummed into them even more than most members of society. Maybe my life calling is running sociology lessons in rehabilitation units to teach people about the social model?

This is all the way people perceive me, of course. I did in addition last week find myself physically barriered by ignorance. My local wheelchair service recently insisted on buying me a new wheelchair (very long story), and the supplier insisted that it had inflatable tyres "to provide a more comfortable ride" (this chair certainly does provide an interesting 'ride' and I've finally found out why tactile paving slabs were really invented. I think people think I'm a really big When Harry Met Sally fan, or rehearsing to do "The Woman Who Loved To Make Vaginas Happy" in The Vagina Monologues). I'd pointed out that it's not practical for anyone to have inflatable tyres in London with all the glass and other detritus of London life on the pavements. Sure enough, on New Years Eve Eve, I found myself having to make my way from Battersea to Golders Green at 1am with a flat tyre. Comfortable ride my arse.

I did warn you that this was a "All the world's a wankstain" rant.

People always want to think that someone has a worse life than them. Which is why I will always remember the man who tried to teach me to cross the road a couple of weeks ago (I've only been driving a car for 8 years. I think if I didn't know the rules of the road by now...). Not only did he feel a compulsion to tell me it was safe to cross, he also felt the need to cheer me with "go on girl, go on, that's it, you can do it, you're nearly there... yes!". He clearly uses road crossing as a sex substitute which may well make him the most socially impaired person on the planet.

05 January 2004

I just sent a message which read:

Have you even seen the photo's yet?

Did I send you the ones of you with the lampshade on your head as well, or just the ones of you naked?

I was skeptical as to the point of phones with digital cameras built in, and the whole photo messaging thing. The only reason I could possibly think it might be handy is when you know someone has been looking for a number plate for 4 weeks (see this to understand why) you could just repeatedly torment them with photo's of every (for example) 31 that you spot. Not that I'm cruel or anything.

As someone that never carries a camera with them, but almost always has their mobile phone I have been discovering it's uses. Like when you're in a pub just off Trafalgar Square and one of your friends puts a lampshade on their head, for no explicable reason other than that they've been drinking alcohol solidly for about 24 hours by this point.

Similarly it can be useful to have a photo phone to hand on New Years Eve. Just for when aforementioned friend takes off their clothes. And in all photo's it looks like I'm being molested by her. Which I actually wasn't at all.

New Years Eve was one of those interesting nights. I was repeatedly thrown down onto the bed, pulled down onto the bed, pushed down onto the bed, and at one point I was just standing there when naked person decided to crawl between my legs, arch her back to lift me up, and attempt to crawl forward... resulting in me falling onto the bed. Once on the bed, no-one did anything to me besides make me laugh on any occasion. It was all just one big anticlimax. In perhaps a more literal sense than that word is ever usually used.

I was informed that my lip piercing hasn't affected my ability to kiss.

"No, your technique is still the same. You're aware that the piercing is there, but it doesn't make it any different."

Nice to know.

Clothesless lady moved out today. It's quite surprising how many bags of clothes she took with her when she left. Reminds me of all the Friends remarking on how when Ugly Naked Guy moved out that most of his boxes seemed to be labelled "clothes". Though, she's not ugly. And not naked all the time. And not a guy.

She decided to leave us her sticky bathroom wall letters. They're quite fun I suppose, but they don't stick to the wall very well, and just fall into the bath. Last night while having a nice soak I found myself sharing the tub with a multicoloured alphabet. There are some places you just don't want to find a "K", no matter how special it is.

04 January 2004

Today I've seen television ad's for both Lost In Translation and Cold Mountain.

The advert for Lost In Translation described it as "one of the best films of 2004". Cold Mountain was similarly described as "a film of the year".

The year is 4 days old.

Considering about the only alternative to those films showing at the cinema is Elf, it's not going to be difficult to obtain such raving reviews.

Saying Lost In Translation is the best film of 2004 is like saying I'm the most intellectual person to hail from Clacton On Sea. I'm as thick as pigshit, there's just no competition.