30 June 2004

On Monday I had an appointment at the Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in Kings Cross.

When I first received the letter summonsing me to attend, I didn't really read it... I just made a note in my diary "TNE hosp 1:30pm."

It was only on Monday when I actually arrived at the hospital and was trying to find where I needed to go that I read the letter properly. This was when I realised that the department I was supposed to be attending was called "ELECTROPHYSIO" (oh yes, too important for lower case to be used).

Electrophysio. All the images that word conjures up in my mind... and none of them have anything to do with my hearing.

It could be a promotional horror movie to show in special schools: "If you don't do your exercises, we'll be forced to unleash... Electrophysio."

I just have visions of Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Trish the school Physio. Face half ripped off, red eye flashing, in a starched clinical uniform with a hosptial name badge.

"Electrophysio. The new way round the problem of the NHS budget cuts. Stretches you over pointless, strange equipment for no explicable reason. Always has breath that smells of coffee. The only design floor is that being a cyberborg, it has a sense of compassion so stops pushing you when you start sweating blood. We are working to overcome this fault before putting them into mass production."

The first time I've ever giggled all the way through as hearing test.

28 June 2004

Welcome to M(e)anchester

Ah. The thrill of the Road Trip. There's nothing like driving 400 miles in one weekend to kill off the nerve endings in your buttocks. My friend summarised it well somewhere around Stafford after we'd been sitting in bolt upright positions for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon "It is quite worrying that I can no longer feel my bum because I think I might need a wee."

My friend and I weren't just partaking of a road trip for the hell of it, it was the birthday of an old friend of ours from when we were all doing our A Levels in Cambridge, who emigrated up north with his boyfriend in February.

In the past, the few times I've been to Manchester, I've been quite impressed with it as a city from what little I've seen of it. And it's where Cold Feet was set (god I love Helen Baxendale) which alone is enough to give a city some kudos. I'm now less enamored.

This was the first time I've visited the city for a "night out". Of course, us tourists were shown the delights of Canal Street. So far, so Queer As Folk (well, except for the higher lesbian presence, obviously).

Our first stop (following the cocktails in my friends flat) was Auto Bahn. According to Dictionary.com an Autobahn is "An expressway in Germany and German-speaking countries." Our visit was certainly express, but still lasted longer than I felt comfortable with. The gay scene is reknowned for it's refusal to accept that, yes, cripples can fancy someone of the same sex too. Imagine my surprise when on our way there my friend said "it's accessible." Before I'd even seen inside the place I was planning my move up to Manchester away from London and it's pure inaccessibility. I was going to live in a posh flat like my friend, possibly even the same building, I was going to get the tram to work everyday....

And then we actually got to the door: "The lift's not working" said the surly female bouncer.

"Oh, never mind" I volunteered, "my friends will help me" and in we went.

"Have you seen the toilets?" I shouted at my friend over the noise of cheesy, mid-nineties Europop.

"There!" he responded by pointing at a door bearing the universal symbol for cripple.

A disabled toilet? In a gay bar? Surely not! By the time a member of bar staff had actually found the key for the door, and I'd made the discovery that the door won't lock from the inside I realised that the "disabled toilet" was truly appropriately labeled. To add insult to a full bladder, the toilet had no seat either.

Sadly, this half-arsed attempt at access seemed symptomatic of the city as a whole, as on our shopping trip on Sunday I learnt that places like The Arndale Centre and Selfridges have a similarly dysfunctional approach to breaking down the barriers which prevent a significant proportion of customers from parting with cash in their bar, store, etc.

And so we left. My friends decided to show me Manchester's lesbian bar - Vanilla. This seemed more like the kind of homosexual venue I'm used to, awkward but doable doorstep and no accessible toilet.

I felt almost at home for at least a minute. Until I heard the heard the gaggle of haggard, wizened, elderly lesbians with the collective personality of a solitary ice-cube start uttering phrases such as "oh my god! Have you seen the wheelchair?" in a tone so bitchy that most screaming queens could only hope to achieve mid handbag fight. The staff were most friendly and apologetic for the behaviour of their clientele, but, still... it put me off ever wanting to go there again. What happened to good old London style staring and ignoring?

So we left there too and went to find somewhere else. Somehow though it was now about 2am and most places weren't letting anyone else in. While we stood in the street deliberating over the drunken dilemma of "what shall we do now?" I was approached by a man who was probably of a similar level of drunkenness as myself.

"Do you need any help?" he asked me.

"No, I'm fine thanks."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, really, I'm fine."

"Oh, it's just that I understand because I work for Otis lifts. I don't want to bother or offend you. I just wanted to check you were OK."

Oh joy. One of the "understanding" type.

"Right. OK. Well, I'm just going to get back to my friends."

At which point he turns to my friend...

"Does she need any help?" he enquired, pointing at me. Clearly he had no concept of things that are considered rude in British culture.

I piped up "I'm sorry. Did I not just tell you that I was fine?"

"Yes. But..."

While this was going on, my friends had managed to engage themselves in conversation with someone off Coronation Street. Despite my drunken earbashing Mr Lift Man still seemed to think that harassing me would somehow be of benefit to me. Perhaps I should be flattered that while my friends were harassing someone off the telly that I was similarly being harassed by a stranger.

Londoners may be thought of as rude for ignoring everyone. On Saturday afternoon whilst buying lunch for our road trip in M&S my friend and I actually got separated in the sandwich aisle because it was so crowded. After our reunion she said "Oh my god! People are so rude! Someone dropped his drink and I picked it up for him and he told me to fuck off!" in a way that it really shows that she doesn't live in London (she still resides in Cambridge). Still, give me that and a good old southern -

"I think you're so brave and wonderful for going clubbing even though you're in a wheelchair!"

"Really? There's nothing brave and wonderful about wanting to get pissed and stick your tongue down someone else throat, is there?"

- over a Mancunian night out anyday.

And for the record - the lift in my friends' building was an Otis one. I managed to refrain from spitting in it.

24 June 2004

Yesterday I had the pleasure of spending 45 minutes with a beautiful woman, gazing inquisitively into my eyes.

Sadly, twas not Sharleen Spiteri wanting to understand me as a person and what really makes me tick (although... she will be mine. Oh yes, she will be mine). It was an optician trying to prescribe me new glasses.

Still. Best looking optician I've ever met. Quite depressingly, I'd estimate that she's about my age too (I hate these people with careers that are achieving things).

Having not had my eyes tested at all for about 5 years, I was actually worrying that my eyes had got better (wouldn't be the first time they have) as I could see better without my glasses than with them.

Why should that be a cause for worry? Surely I should be happy to not need glasses any more? Well no, actually. Glasses are incredibly sexy. I am not at all sexy. Me + glasses = someone who could possibly pass as sexy in a darkened room, as long as you could only see my face therefore not how fat I am.

I also like the fact that glasses make me look clever. I am not at all clever. Therefore me + glasses = someone who could pass as clever as long as she's not left to talk for too long. When I was 15 I went through a phase of wearing full-time the glasses that I only actually needed to wear for reading and writing. Because I thought they made me look cute and clever (I should point at that at this age I also regularly wore patchwork dungarees and my hair in pigtails because I thought the overall look was "quirky").

It turns out that I need not of worried. The reason I couldn't see through my glasses wasn't because my eyes had gotten better, but because my left eye had gotten so much worse.

How could I of not noticed that I could hardly see anything out of my left eye? I guess it's because in life I generally go round with both my eyes open (I rarely have cause to wink at people. Though I do often close my left eye to check that my nose stud is still in the right hand side of my nose, I think leading people passing me in the street to think I'm winking at them, when I'm really not).

What perhaps worries me most is that I'm still perfectly legally safe to drive without my glasses on ("though you might be more comfortable wearing them"). How low is the standard for the driving sight test? But, then, I suppose I do drive with both eyes open.

I'm quite jealous of short-sighted people. "Myopia" is such a cool word. I, being so self-obsessed, love the fact that it begins with "My" for starters. I however have Hyperopia, which just sounds like the eye drops I have to apply twice daily should contain Ritalin rather than Rapitil. Not only can I not see things close to me because of Hyperopia, I generally can't see things wherever they are because I also have Astigmatism in both eyes. Another slightly misleading word as it sounds less like something that should affect the eyes, and more like I should have to wear bandages on my hands and feet over the Easter holidays.

So, yes. Yesterday turned out to be sexy new specs day (twas also sexy new hair day... until I got rained on on my way to The Comedy Cafe and my hair just went big). This was truly as relief as I can finally dispose of my glasses which I've had since my late teens which look like the result of an unfortunate and slightly messy collision between Harry Potter and Su Pollard. Though, of course, I don't think I could actually bring myself to throw them in a bin. If nothing else, they'll come in handy when I decide to launch a career as a clown catering to children's birthday parties. A friend and I once wrote some sketches about "Butwarts" after seeking inspiration from my optical attire. I wonder why those sketches were never staged...

22 June 2004

Fan Mail

I'm really starting to feel like starting to keep a blog was worthwhile. Even if I rarely write in the damn thing.

I'm starting to get some regular readers, and I've even had an endorsement by the BBC.

Today though, I received this, from a gentleman who shall be referred to as "Christopher" - because that, according to his Email, is his name.

wow! far out stuff. what the hell is a bedsit? just cruisin' gobs of blogs (mostly lesbo blogs) and whoa nellie, your's pops up like some psychic connection. Serendipitous. It's like we're destined to meet, fall in love, have a spat or two, fall back out of love, reconnect on some subliminal level and grow old together.
Then whoever (whomever, in case you're a grammar freak) passes on first will be visited by the other, graveside, where flowers will be left, tears will be shed in memory of the one true love.

whaddya think?

I think that, unlike you, I know where to find the "shift" key on my keyboard.

20 June 2004

Me? Neurotic? Never...

This afternoon I just left my room to get my stuff out of the washing machine when I ran into a girl (almost literally) who was surveying the washing machine, wondering if she stood more chance of being able to use that than the one upstairs (isn't living in a bedsit pure class? At least I can microwave a Linda McCartney lasagne without having to get out of bed... how many readers can say that?).

A human being! The first one I've seen in my building for a week! I had a vague idea that the other 11 bedsits in the two houses knocked together were occupied because I keep seeing the washing machine in use, and hearing the front door slam. But I've not encountered people. Which has been pleasantly peaceful, but also quite stressful as I needed to seek the advice of one of my neighbours, and I'm far too timid (read: neurotic) to knock on someone's door.

Where I'm living, the rent includes all bills except electricity. Electricity being provided by one of those meters with keys in the corner of my room that you have to get topped up. Pay As You Go electric. Great. I don't even have a pay as you go phone for fear of running out of credit mid phone-sex.... um, I mean, um, mid emergency phone call to my mother to tell her I've run out of money (and believe me I really do mean that. I'm so ugly that people don't even want to have non-sex with me, even if they can't see my face).

I've spent the last two weeks living in fear that I'll notice in the Radio Times that there's going to be on telly a documentary about Texas on tour, and my power is going to run out just as Sharleen gets down to her bikini to dive into the hotel pool. Because that is what my life is like.

Today the situation became truly urgent. I had less than £1 left on the meter. I had to get some electricity credit. I was starting to panic about the prospect of having to bother one of my neighbours to ask if they knew where the nearest place was that did electricity top ups following my unsuccessful outing on Thursday in which I popped into every shop on West End Lane, and the best I got was "well, there used to be a shop about 10 minutes away that did it, but it's closed down now."

But, luck shone upon me, I collided with someone! There was someone right there that I could ask without having to trouble!

"Oooo. I don't know. I always get mine in Belsize Park. There used to be a petrol station in Fortune Green that did it, but it's closed down now."

She was perfectly friendly. "You should come up for a cup of tea one day. There's a load of people that live in here, and no-one talks to anyone. Come up, and we'll have tea!"

"OK, that'd be lovely."


What have I comitted to? What if I remembered her number wrong and I knock on the door of someone who just scowls at me? What if I knock on her door and she's out? What if I knock on her door and she's indecent? What if I knock on her door and she's just cooked herself a meal so there's a really awkward situation where she doesn't want to invite me in, but she feels like she kind of has to? What if I knock on her door and she was having a nap? What if I knock on her door and suddenly have a mental block about her name? What if I knock on her door and she's with a boyfriend/girlfriend so it's not a good time? What if she's just got a friend round? What if I knock on her door and she's really upset and doesn't want to be sociable with strangers at that moment in time?

I could text her to ask if she's free, texting is so much less invasive... but I don't have her number. How would I get her number? I'd have to knock on her door to ask for it in the first place. I could wait until I run into her in the hall again, and ask her for her number... but what if she thinks that's really weird? She lives above me, why would I ever need to call her, I could just go upstairs and knock on her door. What if it's a couple of weeks before I run into her in the hall again and she thinks I'm really rude because I said I'd go upstairs for a cup of tea and I didn't?

It would be nice to make some local friends, as all mine seem to live south of the river. And it's not possible to get more local than right on top of you (oo er).

What (besides hibernating) is a girl to do?

I know what I'll do. I'll trek to Belsize Park to purchase electricity so I can cook tonight without being plunged into darkness.

18 June 2004

"You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" Joni Mitchell once sang.

I feel like my paradise has been paved, but the parking lot is still in the process of being put up so I have to live with constant construction noise.

I didn't realise just how important having internet access on demand was to me until I no longer had it.

I think I am going crazy. This whole not having internet at home thing is sending me round the bend quicker than a flushing action. Maybe I have an addiction?

Last night I desperately needed to indulge in some self-obsessed ("cathartic") whinging and I couldn't. I just had to sit there and watch TV. I have to admit that watching a DVD that I've seen about 30,000 times (I wish I was exaggerating, I don't get out much) offered little comfort. Neither did wondering what that strange smell was eminating from my sink.

Most importantly of all, why does my right nipple hurt so much today? Answers on a postcard please.

17 June 2004

As usual, there have been no blog updates for quite a considerable amount of time. This time my excuse is that I've just moved house, and currently have no internet access... what with not having a phoneline yet and all.

I don't know why I always apologise in my blog when I've not written anything for ages... I'm sure no-one except me is really that bothered by my absence. Maybe I am actually apologising to myself? Apologising for being more laid back than is healthy (I nearly negated to type the word "back" in that... excuse me while I wander off into a mental fantasy in which I am overly sexed...



... and I'm back)

Anyway, it's been a busy few weeks. Quite stressful.

There have even been elections! I had to vote at my old address, and my local polling station was truly "special". I got the joy of causing quite a stir, merely by showing my face, before I'd put any marks on my paper.

"But *gasp* we have no ramp!"

This, of course, neccessitated every member of polling station staff to drop what they were doing to come outside and squint at me for a moment.

What I loved the most was the ironically designed polling station. Fucking huge step at the door with no ramp (the building in it's normal guise is a fucking nursery... small children's legs aren't long enough to easily negotiate that step. What the hell?)... but once inside they had not one, but two lowered polling booths. And just to prove that they weren't installed to cater for the non-disabled person at the lower end of the height spectrum and to really drive home that irony, they'd stuck the international symbol for "cripple" above them.

Like they were suddenly expecting a mass influx of wheelchair users to levitate over that step?

The other major event that seems to have the nation up in arms at the moment is football.

Can I just say for the record:

I fucking hate football.

There. I feel better already.

I don't really understand the point. I've never really been into spectating sports. I used to be a swimmer, and that I enjoyed. I'll probably watch the Paralympic swimming coverage in the summer to see how people I used to know are getting on, but I don't really forsee myself watching any other sports on TV at all... ever.

Actually, I can kind of understand the point of watching women's football. Less to do with the fact of appreciating "the beautiful game", and more about appreciating fit, tomboyish women running round in shorts. Though, this is a hypothesis as I've never actually been to see a women's football match. But I'm sure I'd derive some level of enjoyment from it.

Actually... that makes a lot of things make sense to me... football fandom is something typically associated with heterosexual men. Often thought of as being homophobic too... but yet they derive pleasure from watching a bunch of pretty boys kicking a ball around a field. Huh. Can we say "repressed"???

On Sunday night a friend and I went out for dinner in my new local area (West Hampstead incase anyone cares to come and stalk me). There was the need to assess every restaurant along the main road before selecting one... just to find somewhere that wasn't showing that bloody football match. Eventually the restaurant we selected did have a portable TV inside, so we sat at one of the tables outside where we couldn't see it, and seemed to be in the company of similar football anti-fans.

It was a very nice restaurant with spectacular toilet graffitti. In addition to the usual "CJD ♥ STD" the toilet had clearly been visited by the Egon Ronay of graffitti artists and inscribed in the door were comments along the lines of "The best pizza and pasta in London" and "I shall definitely come back with my mates!" (I'm assuming the author didn't just mean to the toilet with a packet of condoms).

Whilst sitting outside the restaurant, we had the joy of seeing every car go past sporting an England flag from the aerial (tell me, does this improve reception? I now live next to a train line so I'm considering hanging one off the digital radio on my desk if it's a successful tactic). I'm not particularly patriotic, and feel no pride or joy about England or their football team.

What I do love about all these cars with England flags hanging off them are the cars that are owned by someone so doubly patriotic that they need to have a flagpole erected out of each side of the roof of their car. Why do I love this as a sight? Because it makes the car look so cute and girly, like it's wearing bunches or even better - deeleyboppers. I somehow suspect that this is not the image that football wankers were going for, but it does make me smile.

I have no idea when my next update will be... if anyone cares muchly about my blog, they can start a campaign of begging to Telewest to hurry and come round and install me a phoneline!

02 June 2004

I've just had to deal with the worst case of performance anxiety. And not in any kind of situation you would expect it.

Things are always much more complicated when you've got an audience. Removing clothes and getting into bed is usually the most simple thing in the world. When you have an audience you always manage to get tied up and stuck in your jumper (though perhaps an investment in suitable sex toys might help to save the jumpers from becoming so mis-shapen), or trip over your jeans. And don't get me started on the etiquette of discarding underwear.

Stepping away from the gutter, a sentence like "I was responsible for dealing with press enquiries" can flow freely from the mouth if your talking to a mate. Put yourself in a job interview situation when you've got a panel of four listening intently to every word you have to say; and suddenly it's like trying to say "I am not the pheasant plucker, I'm the pheasant plucker's mate. I am only plucking pheasants, Because the pheasant plucker's late."

I've just come home, and as I was about to enter the house, a crowd of neighbourhood kids gathered by our gate, to watch how the lady in the wheelchair gets in her front door.

Getting in my front door... not usually a problem. Give me an audience and suddenly my rucksack gets caught in my wheel, I run over my own foot and it's just a debacle.

It's that time of year when disabled people everywhere are saying "Why didn't they put a disabled person in the Big Brother house?" and it does seem slightly odd to me... after all, if me entering my front door can attract a crowd, can you just imagine the viewing figures? And voyeurs won't have to worry about the social shame of staring as they'll be safely concealed in their own living rooms.

"How does she get into bed?" "Will she wear a swimming costume so we can see how deformed her legs are?" "Does she need help getting into the shower? If so, will this be the scene for some hot lesbian action?" "Can disabled people have sex anyway?"

Most importantly of all, viewers could ascertain the answer to the question that has troubled non-crips since time began... "Does she take sugar?"

Endemol producers... take note.

(I'm sorry, 'Endemol' just doesn't work as a TV production company. It sounds like something that should be prescribed for tonsillitis at best, or more realistically some kind of procedure... "turn over Lisa dear, time for your Endemol." The name just gives me nightmares involving Hattie Jacques standing over me with a daffodil.)