Posts Tagged ‘wheelchair’

What would she be like?

September 3, 2011

What would she be like? The girl born on the twenty-third of the third month of the year that is the year I was born.

 Do her legs slot into drain pipe jeans with shape and dignity?

Do her feet melt into high heels?

 Is her back as smooth as a back should be?

Maybe her skin is marked with the time people tried to repair her; maybe not.

Would her life be all that different? I’m not sure how deep the damage goes. Maybe her favourite colour would be purple and she would enjoy the smell of rain.

She’d be a dancer, one that trains for hours on end, although I’m not sure that she would pursue it. You see, she always excelled in math and English, perhaps a degree in English literature in Edinburgh or maybe she would become a business women, in a black pencil skirt and jacket with killer high heels to match.

She would settle down early but keep her head above water in the business department. A wedding dress down to her ankles, showing off simple white heels, decorated with lace.  Her children would be healthy and she would run with them as they battled each other in a game of cowboys and Indians. She would be a cow girl. She would work abroad and eventually move there for several months however she’d return to be with her family.

Later on in life she would retire, spend years with friends going to fitness classes and wasting time at spas in dressing gowns. Her children would grow into musicians who speak at least two different languages. They’d be successful at work and take their parents to dinner to celebrate birthdays.

Eventually she would grow old with her husband and whilst putting out the rubbish they would wonder how it got so good.

She’d look back at her life; the parties, the shoes, the work and she’d be proud.

The truth is, she would probably hate her freckley skin and straighten her hair to cover the curls. She would regret not going onto become a professional dancer.

Her friend would give birth in Holland to a girl with a ‘defect’ and she would write a ‘thinking of you’ card enclosed with the ‘Congratulations’ card. She wouldn’t know what to say to her so simply write “To Ben and Caroline, Love Amy and the family”. The scar on the inside of her foot, where she trod on glass as a child would bother her, she would use bio oil to cover the pink patch and would wear shoes to cover the unholy blemish. She would have gone to hospital on many occasions, her birth, her child’s birth, her second child’s birth and her husband’s death. On top of these would be the odd visits to a relative or friend, she would skip the canteen for fear of hospital food and leave.

She’s a good person, a nice person. She cares for others and many care for her. She gives to charities and is a shoulder to cry on. She’s different to me. We’re not really the same person at all.

I wonder if we had the chance to cross one another in the street, who would stare at who? The jealous or the curious; which is better?

Avatar: Wheelchair Bound Worthington

June 14, 2010

I watched Avatar the other night. What a fantastic film!

I’d heard a lot about the film, especially regarding the casting of Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, who uses a wheelchair due to a spine injury he acquired whilst serving for the military. Worthington however is not a wheelchair user.

The character of Sully is strong, opinionated and clumsy at times. The film highlights the fact that Sully is not a disabled character; he is a character who has a disability. I love the fact that James Cameron has created a lead, in this epic film, who challenges peoples views on people with disabilities. From the moment we see Jake, grieving the loss of his brother and going on a trip which many would say is out of reach for him, the audience loves him. His quiet nature and good looks win over the other character in the film as well.

Camerons reasons for not casting a disabled actor in this part was that he did not feel that disabled actors were up to standard. Another reason, this one being a bit more understandable, is that when Jake is in his Avatar body, he is able to walk. Cameron used CGI to create Pandora (the planet on which the film is set) and the Avatars. He would not have been able to film these CGI sections with an actor playing Sully who is unable to walk. This, I feel, justifies his casting.

I understand peoples feelings towards the casting of yet another able bodied actor as a disabled character however I think Worthington did a fantastic job and Cameron made the correct decision. Neither of them overplayed the disability and Worthington seemed natural and at ease in his chair. This is not to say that they glamorised his disability, in fact Worthingtons legs did not look like the legs of an able bodied man, they were thin and pale, the way my legs look; although mine aren’t as hairy as Worthingtons .

I am, however, against people saying that action figurines created, of Worthingtons character, with his wheelchair included should not be called an action hero as the wheelchair makes the character look weak. This is a load of crap. Jake Sully is a good role model, wheelchair included. If that offends people so much then I suggest that they buy an alternate action figure.

Hopefully the incorporation of disabled characters in lead roles will lead to casting of disabled actors in the future. I hope that this character and amazing film changes at least a few peoples views on disability.

Ali x

P.S. I love Sam Worthington, he’s Australian, enough said.

It’s Safe To Dance, Right?

May 31, 2010

Last week’s episode of Glee featured a dream sequence in which Artie (aka ‘Glee kid in the wheelchair’) gets out of his wheelchair and does a dance routine which most everyday pedestrians could only dream of doing. The director of the episode (who also directed ‘Dr Horribles Sing along blog’ which is fantastic – youtube it!) said that he thought Kevin McHale, who plays Artie, is one of the best dancers in the Glee cast and if that dance routine is anything to go by, he’s right!

A lot of people have disagreed with this dance sequence and I must admit that when I first started watching it I immediately thought “WTF?” However at the end of the number Artie is dropped back into his chair and the camera zooms out to show him alone again in the shopping centre, no trace of the dozens of dancers who surrounded him just seconds before. Quite touching, I thought!

I know that maybe a disabled actor should have been cast in the role and I know that some people who use wheelchairs might be offended but honestly, I see why they did it.

It showed exactly how I feel in the space of five minutes. When I dream, I dream that I walk, I make references to my invisible wheelchair, but it’s not there. Just like Artie, if I could go back and repeat my life out of my chair, I would be dancing on the ceiling. Sometimes it gets me down; sometimes I look for cures, like Artie, but most of the time I just carry on dancing.

The episode finished with a touching rendition of ‘Dream a Little Dream of me’ which was sung by Artie. It summed up the episode perfectly and displayed what the writers were really trying to get across; Artie has dreams, some dreams are there to grab and others are too far out of reach, but that doesn’t make them any less of a dream.

Kevin McHale is a brilliant actor, a fantastic singer and arguably the best dancer in Glee…even in his chair! In a recent episode of Glee, “Bad Reputation”, in which Artie and a few other Glee kids performed ‘Can’t Touch This’ in the school library, my Mum commented on how he used his whole body to move, even in his chair. Amen! As a performer who uses a wheelchair I can only ask the Glee writers to get McHale dancing more in his wheelchair in the show and stick two fingers up at the kids in my dance class two years ago who said “Why are you here? You can’t dance, you’re in a wheelchair!”

Ali x

Casting: Ready For The Outcasts?

April 4, 2010

I was asked to answer a few questions about inclusivity in mainstream musical theatre for a friend of a friends dissertation. The questions I was asked made me sit up and think  so I decided to write a blog about the topic in hand!

I understand that musical theatre is starting to become more inclusive (at least the critics say it is!) however there is a definite lack of it at the moment! I can’t think of a single mainstream show I have been to see where an actor on stage has a physical disability. I know that dyslexia can come under this category and that this is more accepted in theatre but I think it’s wrong that the musical theatre industry feel that they can claim that they are inclusive when in fact they are putting hidden disabilities on stage, not visible ones. I know that some characters are simply wrong for actors with certain disabilities, for instance I don’t think I will ever be cast as Baby in ‘Dirty Dancing’! Maybe if some West End theatres were more wheelchair friendly backstage then the casting would follow. It is very sad that the big wigs behind the industry feel that audiences are too fickle to accept a wheelchair bound performer.

Theatre companies such as GRAEAE are fantastic as they incorporate people with AND without disabilities into their productions and do not make a big showcase out of disabled performers. It is wrong for a theatre company to make a big fuss about having a performer with a disability in a cast; what mainstream musical theatre needs is an actor with a disability to take on a role which is not actually written to have a disability, to me that is real inclusivity.

If you haven’t been living under a rock for the last few months you will have heard of Glee and their character Artie, who is a wheelchair user, but that’s not the issue, the issue is that the actor, Kevin McHale, who plays Artie, is not a wheelchair user. I think that what Glee are trying to do with the character of Artie is very positive. The whole show is so tongue in cheek when handling minorities that they can get away with making a big deal out of Artie being in a wheelchair BUT and that’s a big but, the fact that the director has blatantly turned around and said that  actors in wheelchairs are not good enough at the moment is just plain ridiculous. I’m pretty sure that they could get an actor to play that part who is actually a wheelchair user. Kevin McHale is really good in the role and I like the fact that he plays him as Artie, not ‘Artie, the boy in the chair’ and it’s not his fault that he was cast in that role but it annoys me that they had to get a double in for some of the close ups on his wheelchair moves…I’m guessing the wheelchair double wasn’t disabled either! Also: why is it that every time there is a storyline involving him it has to be linked back to him being in a wheelchair, even his love interest story line was based around his wheels! Another point: has anyone noticed that many of the songs which he performs in, all concentrate on his wheelchair “Dancing with myself”, “Proud Mary” and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat” are all prime examples. It seems that when the director or choreographer don’t know what to do with him, they stick him on guitar! I reckon if they had an actor in a wheelchair playing that role they could play about with the physicality of the character more. The one episode which did really click; and I think other actors in wheelchairs will agree with me on this, was the one in which the group had to fundraise to take Artie on a ‘special’ bus. The writers managed to hit the nail on the head and tackle problems with empathy and humour. Many people ask me if I watch Glee because of Artie, the truth is no, I watch it because I think it’s a positive show, yes it would be nice is the actor playing Artie was actually in a wheelchair but fingers crossed the character will open up the minds of young people and maybe next time when there is a part like Artie up for grabs an amazing guy will come along in his wheelchair and the casting directors will actually take notice.

I feel strongly that any characters with disabilities (and there is such a shortage of them!) should be played by people with disabilities. The bottom line is, the general public and theatre big wigs would not let me get up and play an able bodied role, so why should able bodied people be able to play characters with disabilities? Sometimes there will not be any actors with disabilities right for the part, like in ‘Inside I’m Dancing’ I think James McAvoy was perfect for the role of Rory O’Shea however we are now in 2010, we’re meant to be changing. The Paralympics are being supported right now so why shouldn’t the arts get the same attention? ‘Don’t Play Me, Pay Me’ is doing a brilliant job at broadcasting this message across Britain at the moment and other programmes like ‘Britains Missing Top Model’ have been similar ambassadors but the concentration needs to be on getting more people with disabilities involved in the arts, professional arts.

At first when I heard that the reason for the director of Avatar not casting a wheelchair user in the lead role was that due to the character having to walk in the CGI sections it was essential that the actor could walk. In another interview he admitted that disabled actors weren’t up to the standard for Hollywood films. It makes you wander that if CGI can turn actors into blue aliens then I’m pretty sure that they could pull a few tricks to enable the use of a disabled actor. It seems to be that blockbusters are not ready to put a wheelchair user into a serious role just yet, obviously they feel there has to be some humour behind it, goodness knows why! It would be brilliant to see a wheelchair user in that kind of role, it’s an opportunity missed and I can only hope that soon there will be another opportunity for an actor in a wheelchair…although I’m pretty convinced that producers will still find reasons not to cast them.

One of the only mainstream musicals I can think of which has a disabled character written into the storyline is ‘A Little Night Music’ yet even in the recent west end revival the part was played by an able bodied actor. It is also interesting that this character is an older character; I don’t think writers understand how to write a young character with a disability because it gives them boundaries. Another part is Nessa from ‘Wicked’ however this has never been played by an actor actually in a wheelchair. It is debatable whether Nessa is actually disabled as she ‘walks’ a little in Act two however I’m sure there must be some actresses with disabilities able to play the role. One part which is definitely for a young disabled actor is a character in Jason Robert Browns ‘13’, however I am under the impression that the actor who played this part in the original Broadway production was able bodied, it is shocking at how few characters there are in mainstream musical theatre with disabilities.

I would love it if there were more plays and musicals written with disabled performers in mind. It would be even more impressive if in revivals of plays and musicals, characters previously seen to be played by able bodied actors  are instead played by disabled performers. It would certainly make it less daunting to go into the industry as a performer with a disability. At the moment I see little possibility of me ‘making it’ in the West End or Broadway because the audiences are not used to seeing disabilities flaunted on stage. Ali Stroker will hopefully change audience’s views in America and I hope that England will follow their lead. Playwrights should be encouraged to write disabled characters into plays and make it accessible for disabled performers to take on these roles however I have little hope of this happening over night. Hopefully once there are more roles written for disabled performers; directors, agents and training establishments will be more appealing for young disabled actors.

Ali x

For more informtation:

www.graeae.org 

www.don’tplaymepayme.com

Girl + Boy + Wheelchair = Hmm.

January 26, 2010

I just read a Yahoo question; a boy was telling yahoo that a while ago he met a beautiful girl and became friends with her, however now he has started ‘liking her a lot more then friends’. The thing is, she’s in a wheelchair and he’s not sure if he could cope with it- her disability that is. Most of the answers tell him that if he’s even thinking about that then he is not the man for her, others tell him to gain some confidence and tell her how he feels, that way he could ask the questions he needs to.

I don’t know what I think.

If I was the ‘girl’ in this situation and I found out my ‘friend’ had posted this on yahoo, I would probably be rather upset. Here’s this guy that I might have feelings for and he’s worried about my wheelchair. However on the other hand I think: “Sure, that’s a fair enough question; I might be that way if I was in his shoes”. I just can’t get my head round it. For years I’ve wondered if boys think that way about me, it’d explain a lot, trust me. In fact only one person, yes a boy, has ever asked me out right: “Can you have children?” I didn’t know what to say at the time! I asked my Mum because obviously she has all the answers but it just made me worry about my future and I’m only 17!!

If other people are thinking that way about my future now, what am I going to be like when I actually have to deal with it?

I went to a new clinic the other day, it specialises in people with Spina bifida (wheey!) and whilst I was there I actually felt like I could be cared for in the right way, they can give me the independence I need but also give me the answers for the questions I have, or other people have that I don’t even think of!

I’m going to answer him as if a boy friend of mine had asked me the same question:

People with disabilities can win gold medals, get on the catwalk and climb mountains. Now why would we not be able to be in a relationship? P.W.D.’s get married all the time, sometimes to other P.W.D.’s but often to people without them. If you want to love me, you love all of me, that’s wheels included.

Ali

X

P.W.D.’s = People With ‘Dis’abilities (We should have t-shirts, I know!)

Eskimo Ali

January 9, 2010

I love snow as much as the next person; snow men, snow fights and snow angels are you know…cool. However this week has been a snow overload!

Tuesday, the first day college was cancelled due to the white blanket, my friend came round. She appeared at my door looking like a lost Eskimo; it was a sorry sight so I let her in. That afternoon we drove, yes drove, down to our local Costa. Oh dear lord. Firstly I got stuck just getting up my driveway, whoever decided to build a house on a steep driveway was insane and clearly has thighs of steel; so after I had called the AA and got towed away we set off on our long treacherous journey.  I had driven in snow and stuff before but it was like someone had just iced the roads, giggled then told every other driver to drive like pratts!  So there I am casually driving along, then I see that the bus in front of me has stopped, so I put on my breaks, I didn’t slow down, I pushed on my breaks harder, crap, the bus is really close now; ‘SLAM’ on my breaks but nope; I had to pull out my best James Bond moves and swerve around the bus. I came out feeling like a superhero. So basically, I’m like a snow driving legend now; I wish I could say the same thing for wheeling in snow…

Trying to get round my little town in my four wheels and six inches of snow was like putting a fish in a  bowl of jelly and telling it to swim to the other side; cruel, funny and down right wrong. The worst part was the snow fight. I was such an easy target that I may as well have had a flashing arrow above my head and a scoreboard on my lap. After that snow fight I made my way home, it was that or go into ANOTHER coffee shop and I think they were sick of us going in and getting snow everywhere, especially me because my wheels actually have the capacity to hold enough snow in their rims to build a small snow city. It’s at this point I would like to point out how useless leather gloves are in snow, my hands were very wet and very red, it was a good look!

The following day we headed over to our friends house, they all made an igloo…I stayed indoors with mince pies and heat; it was a very wise decision on my part.

So here are my top tips for wheeling in snow:

-Get good gloves

-Don’t be friends with people who will pelt you like you feel no pain.

-Wear good socks.

-Stay indoors.

Have fun amigos!

Ali x

Wheelchair raving and lumps in the road.

October 20, 2009

Inside I'm DancingThis year is officially the year of the eighteenths…so many of my friends are having wild parties, fancy dress, formal, Hawaiian, you name it, I’ve now got the costume.  So last weekend was no different, I went from one birthday meal (Nandos, which by the way do amazing veggie burgers, seriously, who knew?!) to a birthday party at the local rugby club. We all had a great time; I caught up with some friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while. Not many people were dancing when I got there so I grabbed one of my friends Mams and started the dance craze. That’s the great thing about being in a wheelchair, when you start dancing, people tend to feel that they should join in! It reminds me of a scene from one of my favourite films “Inside I’m Dancing” in which Rory and Michael go to a nightclub and Rory starts to dance. Now, before I get asked, yes, I’m a terrible dancer, I make Ricky Gervais look like Michael Jackson. There I said it, it is something I have to face up to, I’m an awful dancer HOWEVER I was the first person in a wheelchair to pass/take dance GCSE, oh yeah, check out my alloys.

After sweating off my Nandos meal in what can only be described as incoherent, completely sober and slightly deranged raving I went and sat in the bar with my orange juice (I was driving!) I was bent over across the table (sat in my chair) when one of my friends asked me quietly “What’s that?” whilst pointing at my lump on my back, which shows through my clothes like a great big bulge. I asked “What?” and he pointed again so I said “Oh, that’s my lump.”

“Why do you have a lump Ali?” he asked and for some reason I didn’t give him an answer, I distracted myself with another conversation, I was in a party spirit, I didn’t want to talk about how my nerves, bone and fat have mangled into a stupid ball at the bottom of my spine which makes clothes shopping unbearable. I felt bad after, I haven’t spoken to him about it since, it hasn’t come up but I can’t help wandering “why didn’t I just tell him?” and I think I know: It’s the part of my body I can’t cover up, it’s behind me so I pretend it isn’t there, I haven’t accepted it myself yet because I hide it therefore I don’t expect other people to understand it. Feel free to say what you think.

I went clothes shopping today and every time I tried a dress on I turned sideways and saw how my lump looked in it, fat and ugly I thought. I can’t wear pleats because they bunch up when I’m sat down, I can’t where puffy dresses for the same reason, I don’t like to show off my weak legs, I can’t wear drainpipe jeans because of my splints and now I’m obsessed with how my back looks…my back?! Bloomin’ heck, I need a personal shopper now!

Ali x

P.S. I’ve got a fancy dress party to attend next week, any ideas would be great, shopping for normal clothes is a big enough task, a fancy dress one…? ARGH!

My Poker Face

August 27, 2009

Lady-Gaga11For the last month or so I have been having a rest from performing, I act you see. I do local am dram shows and shows with my college as well as the odd favour for a friend. I sing as well, mostly just musical theatre but you’ll find me in a band or a solo concert every now and then. The thing is; I hate performing as myself. I find it much easier to immerse myself into a character…it’s such a cliché but I really do believe it’s what gives me the confidence to get up on stage and loose myself.

Many people turn to me and ask how I can fully get into character whilst in a wheelchair but I just don’t think of it like that, it just disappears and a lot of people say that they don’t notice the wheelchair whilst I’m performing anyway…whether this is just them being nice is another story!

The reason I started acting in the first place was because I used to act differently in everyday life. I would be in the car with my parents and start talking in an American accent, or be sitting in my bedroom talking to myself, making up scenes on the spot to an invisible audience, for no particular reason. When I was in year eight at school I enrolled in drama classes. It was a massive release for me and really changed me as a person…I went from having no friends to making plenty, most of whom I still see to this day. I was quiet and reserved before I started acting and now, although I’m still naturally shy as a person, I feel I have gained an inner confidence… or is it an inner acceptance?

My Gaga (Grandad-long story) asked me today “What do the audience want from a show?” and I replied “They want to be engaged and immersed in a form of make believe” It made me realise that maybe this is what I do every day. I changed when I started acting, I made new friends and cut my hair but the question which keeps eating me up inside is: Is the ‘new’ me just another character in my pocket? Or did I actually become myself by pretending to be other people? I don’t know, I really don’t and I worry sometimes that one day, my mask will be knocked down and the real me will come out again. Will my friends still love me then? Bloody hell, this is deep eh?!

I’m still talking to myself by the way, although I’ve graduated from the mirror in my bedroom to talking to myself whilst driving late at night through abandoned towns….I swear to god one day someone will see me and report me and I won’t be allowed to drive anymore; it’s bad enough that I tend to sing Lady Gaga at the top of my voice whilst driving, god knows what people will think when they realise I talk to myself as well. Hopefully they will understand that it is my way of working things out and understanding how people think.

My Mum thinks I’m quiet at the moment, that I’m not telling her things, the truth is that I’m just trying to work things out in my head, I’ve suddenly realised that I’m in a wheelchair; that I can’t just go and sleep round my friends house’s, that I can’t go out and get drunk every night and it hurts; it really does. It feels like someone’s chipping into my well crafted character and telling me I’m interpreting it in the wrong way.

I’m constantly telling people to be themselves but I’m so frightened that I’m the one I should be telling that to…and I’m not listening.

Ali x

P.S. For those of you who are interested: Yes I love Lady Gaga, she’s the only chart music I listen to, the reason I love her is because everything she does is a stunning performance….and yes another reason is the fact that she is someone else when she’s on stage, watch her perform, it’s a beautiful example of some ones Poker Face (see what I did there?!).

Sugar Puffs Climb

August 16, 2009

cerealboxFor the last week I have been making an effort to eat healthily. The thing is, I like chocolate, I like bread…I like a lot of unhealthy food, put that together with not being very mobile and I think you’ll understand when I say I’m not stick thin. So now I’m making a conscious effort to have cereal in the morning, a yoghurt for lunch and something like tofu and rice for dinner…I know, it sounds as good as it is. Ahem.

This morning when I woke up my family were still tucked up in bed except for my mother, who seemed to be spending her entire day in the shower. I went straight to the fridge, got my (rice) milk out and placed it on the counter, time for sugar puffs! I opened the medium/high cereal cupboard to find that the sugar puffs had been placed ON TOP of the pasta and rice on the high shelf. I sighed and pulled myself out of my wheelchair, using all 4 foot 11 of me to reach for the cereal box, no luck, I was still two feet away.  With great distain I raised one leg and placed it sideways onto the counter, next to the (rice) milk, grabbing onto the handles of said cereal cupboard, I pulled myself onto the work surface; bloody hell it hurt. “All this for sugar puffs” I thought. I pulled the box down and placed it next to the (rice) milk. HORRAH! Mission accomplished.

Oh wait, no, you see now we have the issue of someone who has little/no strength in their lower body stuck on a high work top. I turned my body slowly, holding onto the toaster as I did and with a great plonk I was now sat on my bottom with my legs dangling off the side. “Great, I’ll just jump off!”. I lowered myself slowly, could I feel the floor? Well no because a) I have no feeling in my lower body and b) I was still 2 feet above floor level. I sat on the worktop thinking about my options, I could:

a) Jump and risk broken bones.

b) Use my dressing gown rope to lower myself down or

c) Eat my cereal on the worktop and wait for help.

C it was!

I quite happily sat there for ten minutes, slowly eating my cereal in the still silent kitchen…and I waited… and waited. The shower was still making that ‘rumming’ noise from the downstairs bathroom.  Seriously, how long did the woman want to take shampooing?! Finally, after a grand THIRTY FIVE minutes my mother emerged from the bathroom in her dressing gown (yes, thirty five minutes and she had yet to get dressed) “What you doing up there?” she asked as she breezed past her stranded daughter.

“I couldn’t reach the sugar puffs” I said slowly.

“I put them in the soup cupboard” she replied

“No you didn’t”

“Yes I did.” She argued as she pulled a new pack of sugar puffs from the soup cupboard, which had pride of place on floor level.

Bugger.

Ali x

P.S. Anyone else who has also been stranded whilst on the hunt for Sugar Puffs due to lack of strength in their lower body, please contact me. It’s better if we work together on this one!

Piano Lifts

August 16, 2009

wheelchairliftblogLast week I went piano shopping. I don’t actually play the piano but my Mother does and my brother and I can play a mean “Heart and Soul” (known as the tune from the Tom Hanks film: ‘Big’)…we intend to learn something which doesn’t drive our neighbours up the wall very soon!

Anyway, for those of you who are not aware of what pianos are, they tend to be:

a) Big

b) Heavy and

c) Very awkward

So you’d think that they’d be stored on the ground floor of most music shops…well not my local one! Seriously, who puts a bloody piano shop on the first floor? What’s even more confusing is that on the ground floor they keep; books, guitars, percussion instruments and picks. I’m pretty sure a few books are easier to carry up and down a flight of stairs then a bloomin’ great piano BUT it’s ok, because they have a crane-type-hoist-thing to carry them up and down the stairs…so you’d think they have a lift, right? Nope.

I think I should add in at this point that I foolishly chose not to wear my shoes and splints on this particular shopping trip, instead I wore my crocs, leaving my feet virtually useless. I pondered for a moment about asking to use the piano-crane-type-hoist-thing to ‘raise me up’ whilst I sung West Life at full volume…I didn’t. My brother, thank goodness, had tagged along and told me to just crawl up the steps, so, ever so elegantly I threw myself upon the steps and started to drag myself, very slowly, to the top. Once I’d got halfway I was out of breath, bruised and a little light headed to be honest, so I had a bit of a rest. It was at this point that my brother and I turned to find that we had a little audience. Two sisters, around the age of fourteen had quite literally plonked themselves right in front of the steps to stare at the apparently amusing sight of a cripple trying and failing to walk up a flight of stairs. If you’d given them some popcorn and nachos I’m pretty sure they would have switched off their mobile phones and told the people in the front row to quieten down!

“Can you two just go away and stop staring?” My brother asked/told them in his ever so ‘subtle’ way. They finally left the attraction, slightly red faced, I felt kind of bad, I thought maybe my brother had been a bit rude….until they came back a mere two minutes later for seconds.

It surprised me how annoyed my brother got, he’s a star really; he has carried my chair (Violet) up many stairs in his time. He’s very understanding but will be quite abrupt if people stare at me and make comments. The thing is; I’ve grown used to it; I just take it as the norm to have people stare at my limp. That’s half the reason I stopped walking altogether really, my limp drew so much attention (as well as being incredibly painful!) that it became very hard for me to cope with and to this day I still feel uncomfortable walking in front of people.

So this is my official plea to the government:

STOP WASTING MONEY ON PACKETS OF CRISPS AND KIT KATS AND GET MORE PLACES WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE!

Otherwise, supply some popcorn for the ‘cripple’ audience.

Ali x

P.S. I got a ‘Yamaha U3’ in the end from a shop in a village nearby ON THE GROUND FLOOR! Shocker.

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