A mate of mine, I’ll call him Ken, who usually has problems when he goes into pubs because of his small stature, has recently joined the ranks of us ‘wheelies’ and now experiences a different form of discrimination. money cartoon
Before, all Ken had to do was bring out his passport or driving licence, which clearly showed that he was over 18, and that was that. He’d get his drink and sit down somewhere to enjoy it (don’t get him started on the height of bar stools what ever you do!). In short (no pun intended!), once he’s got through the age screening, he’s treated just like any other guy out for a drink on a Saturday night.
So, the wheelchair … due to increased problems around his arthritic hips and knees, Ken’s decided that the time has come to start using a wheelchair. No problem there you might think. Pubs and clubs are getting more accessible, and if you can’t get into the local, there’s usually an accessible alternative down the road. So off he goes one Saturday night, duly armed with passport and driving licence, money in his pocket and his cleanest pair of jeans on.
‘You on your own then?’ asks the bouncer on the door. ‘Yeh. Why is that a problem?’. ‘Er, no mate … in you go then’. Ken wheels to the bar. ‘Pint of best please mate’. The barman looks down at him, and then slowly looks to either side of him. ‘You on your own then?’. Ken suddenly gets this feeling that he’s wandered into some kind of Groundhog Day scenario. ‘Er, yes. Why, is that a problem?’. ‘Not at all mate, no. It’s just that we don’t usually see you lot in here on your own’.
It still hadn’t occurred to Ken at this stage that he’d now joined the ranks of the ‘cared for’, a race of people who couldn’t go anywhere on their own unless it was part of a supervised group or with at least one support worker in tow. Being of short stature hadn’t qualified him as being Disabled in the eyes of the Joe Public, so he’d not encountered this particular attitude before. Being in a wheelchair, however, changed everything.
The penny finally dropped when he came to pay for the drinks and the meal he’s had. He’d meant to drop off at the cash machine on his way their, but had forgotten, so pulled out one of his credit cards. The barman took the card, looked at it and then at Ken, several times. Then finally said ‘Hang on a minute’ and promptly disappeared through a door behind the bar. Another man, presumably the Manager stuck his head through the door and gave Ken a quick look before disappearing. A few minutes later a women stuck her head through the door and did the same thing. Ken could hear a muttered conversation taking place and picked up the phrase ‘on his own?’ several times. The two heads did a repeat appearance/disappearance routine before the barman eventually returned and said to Ken: ‘You got any identification then?’. Now firmly back on home ground, Ken reached into his pocket and grabbed his passport!
Enlarged image - If you want to see an enlarged image, or want to access a description of the cartoon accompanying this blog, then just click on the cartoon itself and it will open as a much bigger version along with a description of the cartoon.
The organisers of London 2012 have announced plans for the largest ever celebration of disability arts as part of a Cultural Olympiad (what is it about that term that makes me shudder?!). Originally called ‘Extraordinary Abilities’ (I know!), they’ve now decided to call the event ‘Unlimited’, although this clearly doesn’t relate to the amount of funding that’s being pledged. compete cartoon
To date, only £600,000 has been offered for a series of commissions for Disabled artists and arts organisations over the next four years, leading up to the 2012 Games. Put into perspective by comparing this amount to the six billion already spent on the 2012 games, you may be forgiven for beginning to see another agenda emerging here.
It’s surely no coincidence that the London Disability Art Forum (LDAF), who would have been one of the more credible Disabled people’s organisation ideally placed to manage this event, were forced to shut down several months ago due to lack of funding. Or perhaps that’s just me being paranoid again?!
In reality £600,000 is a tiny drop in the ocean for Disability Arts, and to expect this amount to be enough to make an impact over the next four years is ludicrous. For Jude Kelly, who is the culture chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) to state that this would ‘influencing the future of culture’ makes it clear that she has no understanding of Disability Art, or where we as Disabled artists are coming from.
Perhaps they should appoint a Disabled artist to manage this event, and we could really show her what ‘unlimited’ really means!
Clair’s Songs - And talking about Disabled artists, have you seen what Disabled singer/songwriter Clair Lewis has been up to lately? As well as appearing at the recent Liberty event in London, she’s been creating some new and powerful songs about our struggle, several of which are now up on her MY Space site. Here is the link for her page.
You do disappoint me. Not one response to last week’s paralympics cartoon! Doesn’t anybody else have any thoughts on the subject?
This week’s cartoon follows an article I read about a Disabled woman in the UK who’d had to pull into the side of the road for a rest. While she was sitting in her car she was given a fine by one of the new community wardens that have taken over the role of some traffic wardens and the police. drunk cartoon
Her crime? Was it that she was illegally parked? No, she’s used her blue badge on a single yellow line which is permissible. Was it that her tax disc was out of date? No, her insurance, MOT and tax disc were all up to date. Give up?! It was that her blue badge was upside down in the car window!
So rather than tap on the window and tell her, as one human being to another, he’d dug through his little book of rules and regulations and discovered that she’d committed this outrageous infringement of ... ignoring one of the recommendations made by the DVLA in respect of displaying a blue disabled parking badge.
Thank heavens he caught her, that’s all I can say. Who knows where this could have lead! We’ll all sleep safer in our beds knowing that these brave upholders of the … er, recommendations, are patrolling our streets.
Now you know why I’ve opted to move to Spain to live! See you next week.
I was drawn to the controversial area of the Paralympics for this weeks blog entry when I spotted a headline that was a cartoon in itself really. Apparently it concerned the Chinese and their decision to keep the Paralympics torch flame inside the borders of mainland China (apparently the protests in other countries about their treatment of Tibet didn’t go down too well). The headline? ‘China drops the Paralympic's international leg …’ ! (well it made me laugh anyway!). paralympics cartoon
Then I just got to thinking. Do the Disabled athletes attending this major sporting event really believe that sport transcends politics; that keeping all mention of China’s human rights atrocities out of the sports arena is the right way to go? After all the Olympic Charter states that the Olympics should seek to foster ‘respect for universal and fundamental ethical principles’ doesn’t it?
As Disabled people, perhaps if we don’t speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet (and even amongst its own peoples), we may compromise our moral authority to speak out on behalf of our own human rights.
And, whilst we’re on the subject, at the same time as acknowledging the undoubted talent of Olympic athletes, both Disabled and non-disabled, why do I still feel uneasy about this blatant display of physical prowess? What about an Olympiad that celebrates different areas of skills, not just physical ones?
Dolly's blog - As a fan of Dolly Sen I just have to point you at her blog this week. She just gets better and better! Just to make it easier for you, here's the link for the blog. Or alternatively, you can click on the 'blogs' link (top right) and find her that way.