21 April 2004

Despite the fact that I've spent what seems like the best part of the last two days being pushed, prodded and poked (and quoting from commercials) by "helpful" people, I'm actually feeling quite cheerful.

The one long term reader of my blog might remember that in one of my first posts, I mentioned about how my wheelchair conducts vibrations rather well, and people who pass me in the street think (hope) I'm rehearsing for a role in such a play as When Harry Met Sally or The Vagina Monologues. Well, on Saturday, when passing over a particularly mini-orgasm inducing doormat thingy in a shopping centre (in The Grafton Centre in Cambridge if any wheelchair users reading want to try it out for themselves. Go on. Give the cleaners something to do), and my friend who I was with at the time mentioned I might like to give The Millenium Bridge a try sometime, as he thought it appeared as if they were of a similar surface.

Oh for the public cheap thrills. And most people think being disabled is just about discrimination, oppression, and patronising old ladies.

Anyway... this afternoon, I was at a loose end (perhaps a poor choice of phrase in this context) and decided to give The Millenium Bridge a try.

As I approached the bridge, the first thing I thought was "Fuck that's steep. I think I'm far too fat and lazy to push up that."

Upon close inspection I decided it was within the realms of my lethargy, so I gave it a try. On the way up to the top all I could think was "It's not wobbly, but Spiderman could have so much fun up here." It was only when I got to the top I thought "huh, no cheap thrills."

I decided on the way down it might be worth trying to see if any more fun was to be had at speed. So I let go of my wheels.

No cheap sexual thrills, but the noise was so cool... it sounded like I was going to take off. I could've pushed up and rolled down for the rest of the afternoon. Except, I do have a smigden of sanity. So I went home instead. But it was fun. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.


And as for the pushed, prodded and poked... I've been wondering if someone's stuck a sign on my back saying "'Help' me please. Even if I say no. I want you to break my wheelchair by not listening to me when I say 'don't lift that bit' because standing on the street putting my chair back together is really what I want to be doing for 5 minutes when I'm in a lot of pain and really can't deal with being upright. And I also really want you to grab my arm/the back of my chair and pull me about. You're not going to hamper my progress/endanger my safety at all."

I must learn to shout at these people and not be so bloody English. I'm too soft, and constantly at war with myself for not standing up for myself. A couple of weeks ago I had three parking spaces stolen from right in front of my face when, for what ever reason, they were ethically mine in the space of 24 hours.

I must learn to not take things lying down.

Especially when I've learnt from my excursions that there are so many more interesting positions. But I'll end here before I get onto those rumours about me having sex in my wheelchair and breaking it (which, if you've heard them, are untrue).

19 April 2004

"All good things must come to an end."


"Most good things must come to an end" is a statement that makes sense. For instance, the FOCUS residential I went on last week was good - I have the bruises to support that statement. But it had to come to an end. It's not humanly possible to maintain that level of intensity for more than nine days before you collapse from exhaustion.

A good thing that had to come to an end. Granted.

But - a few weeks ago I discovered while channel flicking that I had Film Four and the associated channels.

I felt a bit like when Chandler and Joey found out they had free porn.

It had gone downhill in quality since I last had Film Four. Where have all the good films gone? And why had they been replaced with My Best Friends Wedding?

I think I felt a bit like Chandler and Joey would've done if they discovered they had free gay male porn.

Though, there is always that undertone that Chandler might actually like that.

Is there a loophole in my metaphor as it would appear to infer that I also secretly like sappy Julia Roberts romcoms?

No. Apart from Pretty Woman. But that's in a romcom league of it's own.

Despite the poor quality of films being shown - there was no need for my free Film Four to cease. It wasn't hurting anyone, it wasn't exhausting, and it had some potential for entertainment. It was, in fact, a good thing that didn't have to come to an end. But yet, upon returning home at the weekend, I discovered that it had.

There are other good things that don't have to come to an end, but for some reason do. Today I went out to buy moisturiser. Simple thing, surely?

After years of trying to find a product that agreed with my skin, I finally found one. Which I've been using now for probably about 6 or 7 years.

Neutrogena's Clear Pore Multi-Vitamin Moisturiser has been the god of facial skincare products to me. Not only is it spot clearing, but it's multi-vitamin... which leaves me thinking "Hmmm... I might not look like Dot Cotton by the time I'm 40 after all."

That is shite of bull, of course. It's in my genes to go on alright until I'm about 52 - and then to just age rapidly. And no facially applied vitamins will do anything to stop that. One night last week, 3 other female volunteers and myself stayed up quite late. One was armed with a roll of masking tape, just because that was her obsession of the day. The conversation went along the lines of "if you had plastic surgery, what would you have done?" and ended up with all of us so covered in masking tape to demonstrate that we were all weeping where our tearducts got over active after we all rendered ourselves unable to blink. It was quite worrying that the masking tape actually gave one person wonky boobs by her waist and a wrinkly chin. Surgery (or even tape) is perhaps not the way forward for her. Though the rest of us could probably get away with it if we used enough make-up to mask the masking tape.

But, alas, it now appears my moisturiser - which would without doubt of saved me from growing old, not just facially, oh no - is no more.

They seem to of replaced it with Neutrogena Visibly Clear Oil-Free Moisturiser. It apparently contains Aloe and Camomile. Why? Where have my multi-vitamins gone? And why Camomile? If I wanted Camomile on my face, I'd rub tea into it, rather than spending a fortune on expensive moisturisers.

It also claims to be oil-free so as not to block pores - but it doesn't say anything about unblocking them. Oh no. It's predecessor had its pore clearing promise right there in the title.

But Neutrogena's Clear Pore Treatment - the staple product of the Clear Pore range is still being stocked by the Boots in Brent Cross. But why? The Clear Pore Treatment is supposed to be a night cream. The Multi-Vitamin Moisturiser being the related day time product promoted. Now what are you supposed to do? Sleep all the time as you're left with just a night cream? Actually... that sounds quite good.

Product ranges - another good thing that doesn't need to come to an end.

Maybe I should just resort to making a mask out of plaster of paris one FOCUS project (this time actually for my face, rather than my left boob) and hiding behind that for all eternity. I could even write "Damn Neutrogena to hell!" across the forehead as justification of my necessity to hide.

09 April 2004

There now follows a public service announcement

There will be no blog entries for the next 10 days (or so) as I'm going to be volunteering on a FOCUS residential, and I will not have access to a computer.

That is all.

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.

05 April 2004

What could be so dangerous in the Swiss Cottage area that it necessitates the attention of an Austrian huntsman with full hunting kit and excessive body odour?

On Saturday night, I was on a bus on my way to meet some friends in the West End. I looked around and spotted a man, dressed like an oversized Boy Scout, with a bag on his back his back that looked heavy enough to be concealing a celebrity curled up into a ball trying to avoid photographers. He was also carrying another bag with a couple of huge poles sticking out of it.

The "space designated for wheelchair user" on a bus also serves as standing room, and for a while I found myself sitting there with his oversized duffle bag in my face, praying that the driver wouldn't brake sharply, as the bag looked quite weighty, and I was fairly confident that one hit with that would have most, if not all, of my facial bones broken. I was quite frightened.

I then became afraid of slightly more than just the weightyness of his equipment when a woman tried to alight the bus, and he just randomly chose at that moment that he'd had enough of standing and physically ploughed her out of the way shouting with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice "Excuse me, I'm trying to sit down!"

After he had moved seats several times, a woman boarded and said to him "That looks like quite an expedition..."

"It is necessary. I am a huntsman from Austria" he responded sounding as mechanical as The Terminator

By this point I was really feeling quite nervous and wishing he wasn't sitting behind me. Why is it necessary? What needs hunting in Swiss Cottage? Is there a deadly Werewolf terrorising North London that has somehow evaded the press? Or has there been a big public story about how they've had to seek the help of Austrian huntsmen to control wild animals plaguing North London, and I've just missed it in my lethargic avoidance of news?

"Really, wow, that's interesting. So, what do you hunt?" the lady continued

"Wild goats. Mostly" said The Scoutinator in a tone so sinister it actually made me shiver as I wondered what he meant by "mostly." Especially as I'm unaware of a wild goat problem inside the M25.

They then proceed to have a conversation about the origins of language, but every now and then he'd say something that sounded like it came straight of a horror movie. I was quite glad to get off the bus and away from the scary person armed with murdering equipment.

It would appear I was travelling on the Oddity Express. Aside from my own bizarre mental and physical features, and The Scoutinator, there was also an elderly bearded gentleman, in full waterproof clothing sitting near me with a hairy nose. By this I don't mean he had unkempt hair protruding from his nostrils, I mean he actually had hair growing on his nose. I've seen countless men and women with hirsutism of varying severity... but I have never, ever seen anyone with a hairy nose before. I would've loved to of seen the palms of his hands.

Don't werewolves grow hair in strange places? Huh...

01 April 2004

Pampering should be good for insomnia, shouldn't it?

So, last night I had a manicure. Should be relaxing and soothing, yes?

Soaking my hands in a bowl of water... fine. Having my nails gently filed... fine. Then it comes to the cuticles.

"I used to have immaculate cuticles when I was a student. Playing with them in lectures was much more interesting than listening" said I, as the manicurist used an implement to push skin off my fingernails.

Then there was stepping up of a level. She pulled what was effectively a scapel out of her box of magic tricks, and started carving away. I was flinching on a grand scale.

"This is a very weird thing to allow someone else to do to you"


"Letting a stranger carve skin off your hands"

"Yes, I suppose it is. It's my favourite part though"

After the scalpel, there was the buffer. The buffer was rough stuff, on a sponge. I flinched even more than when she was peeling skin off with a sharp tool.

"Sorry. I just really don't like sponge. It freaks me out"

"Really? I suppose we all have weird things like that..."

"When I was at school, I was only ever allowed to do the normal PE about three times ever. And it would inevitably be rounders. I couldn't field, cos wheelchairs and sports fields just don't go, so I always ended up batting, and I always got hit in the face by the ball..."

"... a sponge ball?"

"No, I'm slowly getting to the sponge part"

"Right, you got hit in the face with a hard, leather ball?"

"Yes. But the next time I was allowed to do the normal PE, I'd always be quite chirpy and happy to be joining in - until I once more ended up with a bloody nose. But I'd still come back for more. But, then when I was made to do the "special" PE, which was basically just throwing a sponge ball back and forth for an hour, I'd be cowering in the corner with my sweatshirt pulled over my head screaming. I don't like sponge."

I thought the manicurist was going to wet herself. It must be the way I tell them in person.

"I always got injured in PE in school too. I'm so clumsy. My two-year old godson puts me to shame - he's so much more co-ordinated than me."

"I'm so glad you told me that after you moved the sharp instrument away from my hands"

Yes. Very relaxing. Not as frightening as the haircut I had today though, but I haven't had sufficient chance to deal with that internally yet. I'm not yet up to sharing the details of that with the group.
Dearest reader of Lisy Babe's Blog. (yes, both of you);

Calm your fears - I am not dead. Not that anyone seems to of noted my two week absence. Hmmm.

I have found myself unable to write anything of late. The cause - insomnia. My sharp wit, and excellent story telling skills have gone on holiday. Along with my ability to sleep.

I am hoping all will return soon - I'm getting rather bored of spending my nights rocking back and forth in front of the telly, watching episodes of Dangermouse approximately as old as me, and thus spending my days... rocking back and forth in front of the telly, watching episodes of Dangermouse approximately as old as me.

Will post again once I've had a proper nights sleep - or I've just gone into that state of insanity and come here to wiffle.