Digital friends, electronic social life, podcast entertainment, filmed performance: all good, but no substitute for the real live thing.
Not living in London, access (including financial access) to the phenomenon known simply as 2012, was problematic. Knowing no local people with any real interest in experiencing the Cultural Olympiad, I actually felt far more isolated than involved.
I was at the mercy of the media, and misleading statements like The Best Disability Arts practitioners are at the Southbank. Arguably some of the best were; some of the best were not, I found it important to remind myself as I struggled to negotiate the London Trap.
I had friends who were doing the Oparalympics, and it was interesting to observe how they reacted to all the media hype about the New Attitude to disability and disabled people.
I'm planning to make a record during the coming months, of the progress of my personal legacy from the Oparalympiad, and since I won't be taking up any new sports, we are talking cultural legacy here and my expectations have been raised.
To ensure fair measurement I am working on a lympiometer.
Areas to be measured include inspiration, motivation, productivity, heritage happiness and sense of integration.
Keen to get some numbers into the lympiometer as soon as possible, I actually started before the Oparalympiad was over:
Inspiration? Emotional Oparalympiad exhaustion was draining any personal hopes of inspiration, so not much to record here. I'm working hard at maintaining the sparks already lit, and currently relying heavily on the Blue Peter strategy.
Motivation? Mmmh. Another zero score. The overwhelming (tantalising and mostly out of reach), offer of so unbelievably much packed into such a short period of time, seemed to function more as a deterrent. I'm having to exert a lot of pressure on myself to battle doubts and keep going.
Productivity? Ooops a minus score here. I am still working, but slowing. Things are bound to improve if I can just hang on in there.
Heritage happiness? Too soon to tell. I'm feeling very mixed up right now. I feel a bit like my artist has creative indigestion; nothing serious, just an uncomfortable lack of happiness and reasons to persevere.
Integration? A section of the population is more aware and more openly curious.
The blanket shade of pity has nuances; the Lexi-effect has people speculating on my capabilities, none of this feels very inclusive - yet.
Disability? How do I feel about being disabled? Confused, inadequate, defensive - all those supercrips are kind of overwhelming.
Do I have expectation of improvement? Yes definitely! My 2012 Day needs time to sink in, and that New Attitude is surely going to have a positive effect on paralife
Fleeing corridors of dark paperwork, out into a sandy grey void, I am tossed in the silence of confused noise, into a maelstrom of tumbling toupees, wigs, and teeth torn from their roots.
The conjuring of the wind exceeds all expectation; toothless heroes of confused origin live and die in its breath. The dirty old man snogs scantily clad fantasies with mouthfuls of sandblasted chips. Cold whistles into motionless bones, and the void consumes fleeting distractions. The lost are torn apart. Wild mocks the words of cluttered mouths.
Tantrum stalks empty promise as stone roses churn in their grave, aching to rise and rehabilitate futile, soulless waves whose sound races to oblivion. The tethered Muse vomits neglect; while power presumes to be torn asunder, eternity and the myth wait: raised are their dripping oars.
Fire falls like a rain-curtain between me and the sea-edge of my nightmare; and one flame for every year of the lord wades into the black lap of the empty bay.
I want to enjoy
these moments of art.
that would speak to me
if I were not so
obsessed with detail.
If I didn't crave
some kind of perfection.
If I didn't need
Arts to be more,
and to be better.
Busy coping with the stress of getting there; the stress of feeling trapped and exposed on a viewing platform; the stress of chilled-to-the-bone induced pain and the frustration of Battle for the Winds apparent lack of professional polish,; the actual live performance of Breathe almost passed me by. But Battle for the Winds came back to haunt my sleep after revisiting Weymouth for 'Creating the Spectacle!' and discovering it's virtual return to grey normality - already.
I hope eventually to appreciate Breathe, with it's brilliant costumes and wild characters, through Diverse City's filmed documentation being presented as part of the London 2012 Festival,
30 August - 9 September
How does it make you feel?
The wheelless man with the microphone nods to his cameraman and leans towards me. I hesitate.
The freedom... he prompts. And I eventually respond.
What I really want to do is commandeer the microphone and turn the tables. You see I already know about the freedom. Being wheelborne is my freedom.
'Creating the Spectacle,' is not to be confined to inspiring the wheelborne, it is very much aimed at changing the attitudes of the wheelless.
It is not about turning the spotlight on 'the brave and inspirational disabled', although having such a splendid role model does me no harm at all.
You are missing the point, I want to shout, the point is how does it make you feel?
And if your gut reaction is to descend on the wheelless because you do not see yourself or other wheelless as 'concerned parties' then you really are missing the point.
And if you do not allow yourself to change, to respond enlightened, then you are denying a great deal of what 'Creating the 'Spectacle!' is about. You are throwing away all that fantastic inspiration, dismissing all that courage and bravery, wasting all that effort and determination.
I am infuriated when you praise me for doing the easy and trivial things on my wheelborne adventure; but your failure to engage with real courage, stunning determination and this brilliantly creative artwork is more than insulting.
And the freedom? 'Creating the Spectacle!' doesn't just allow me to dream, it allows you to dream with me; to open the cage of your imagination and set me free.
oh! I arrive my wheels, I arrive.
I come with the heartbeat, bringing life.
Bringing life, you come with the motion.
We have the energy for laughter.
I arrive my wheels, I arrive
with a slow humiliation.
The elegance I crave, a figment
of my hot imagination
until I rest in your embrace.
until we are one. and we glide.
oh! I arrive my wheels, I arrive
and we are reborn in the morning.
I ease from the upright agony of fire
into your enveloping embrace.
I arrive my wheels, I arrive
with a keen anticipation
to be rescued from the primitive
to our shared configuration.
oh my wheels, I am handicapped
until we are one. And we glide.
The next pool performance is on Friday, on Portland. www.wearefreewheeling.org.uk/freewheeling-performances
This is the last in the series. The timing is deliberate - this is my contingency bowl.
In case time and tide conspired against 'Creating the Spectacle!' In case the event was cancelled; in case the worst case scenario swallowed up the adventure and the underwater wheelchair disappeared into oblivion.
But actually it also makes a rather splendid trophy to present, with a fanfare, to all the successful participants of the most carefully prepared and choreographed adventure - the journey across the Fleet.
Sue and the underwater wheelchair, the undeniable stars of the occasion, were backed up, supported, carried, by the skills, knowledge and talents of dedicated teams all totally inspired by her wild idea and persistent enthusiasm.
Like the legend of history, 'Creating the Spectacle!' had no power over the tide; yet forever undaunted, the team completed their mission and this new legend was fact for a day.
And like the red carnations that bloomed over the water and sailed out on the tide, the story will travel, the myth of the chairborne aquanaut will spread and grow as the journey continues.
Lapping relentlessly against
prejudice and preconceptions,
the tide of enthusiasm
rebrands the stereotype,
the metaphor that presents all
and every disability
as cheat or hero, scrounger or
object of pity. Introducing
Individuals, people with
real lives, real hearts, real connections
that link us all into one world;
one people. The diverse glory
of the human race, Homo Sapiens