I am currently in a pub full of men of either Jamaican or African ancestry. It's fairly brusque; the rap music, which I do not recognise, is loud. The atmosphere is very male, very competitve. Yet, as I sit here in this south London pub, I cannot help wondering what would happen if these highly masculine men ever found out that the guy in the wheelchair is wearing a pair of knickers with read heart-shaped polka dots. Oh how I love this irony.
Today is a very good day for disability and comedy - I have some great news. Lost Voice Guy, a comedian who uses a communication aid, lat night won the prestigious BBC Radio Two New Comedy Award. To my knowledge, this is the first time a VOCA user has won an award for stand up comedy. I have been aware, albeit fairly vaguely, of Lost Voice Guy for quite a while, having seen bits of his act on Youtube and so on, but now I really want to go see him live. It's great to see one of 'us' being so prominent. The good thing is, his material is genuinely funny; this is not about tokenism but true comic talent. His star is rising, too, so with any luck we will be seeing a lot more of Lee Ridley from now on. Who knows - in a few years, maybe Lyn and I will go see him at the o2. For now, though, it's great to see voca users being taken seriously.
Is it me, or is this article just a string of disability-related cliches tagged on to one another? By RJ Mitte, who plays a character with CP in Breaking Bad, no doubt it is intended to sound inspirational: I just scanned through it, an was struck by how little it actually says. While I of course think it's terrific that through him we at last have a character with a disability on mainstream tv - albeit american - I think he could do better than trot out such pukeworthy phrases as ''It's time to show people that disability has ability in it. People look at a disability as a weakness but it should be seen as a strength''. Oh well - on the whole I suppose it's a step in the right direction. Mind you, even more concerning is that the article mentions that, in an upcoming program, Mitte will be playing a character with Muscular Dystrophy. Do they not realise that cp and md are two very different conditions, or do they just think physically disabled people are all the same?
Dominik just sent me this fascinating short Polish film. Teija Gumilar comes from Indonesia, as a country that touts several thousand islands. He has lived in Poland for thirteen years. Teija teaches advanced equipment designs at the Adam Mickiewicz University . To understand the world of people with disabilities, decided to adopt our point of view by using a wheelchair for extended periods. Frankly, I think that is an experience any architecture or design student should have: even these days, far too often I come across things and spaces obviously designed by people with absolutely no idea what life is like on four wheels. Thus this great, uplifting film is worth a watch.
My thoughts today go back to Sydney, to that wonderful bright city I visited seven years ago. Of course, I know as much about this as anyone else, but it appears that the siege there has now come to an end. I was shocked to learn of it when I turned the computer on this morning - I immediately contacted my friend Darryl, who lives in Adelaide: naturally he knew about as much as I did. This is a very worrying event, and what it means I know not; but given that this gunman, lone though he seems to have been, appears to have aligned himself to so-called Islamic State, this may be a sign of something much wider and more violent. That is truly worrying, yet that aside, tonight my memories go back to a city I love - it is truly heartbreaking to see such horrific violence there.