Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Second class citizen…

Just as I am racking my brains about what to write for my next post, the perfect subject for a blog lands on my lap last night. OK, it’s another moan but that is how life gets me sometimes. I get to the point where I’ve had enough with all the funny looks and patronising smiles. The woman in New Look asked if I was shopping. I mean, what else would I be doing buying clothes? Then, I mentioned the Craig David concert I was attending to which she replied “Awwwww, that will be good’. Wait people. What part of me going to a music concert is cute or adorable? It gets to the point where I want to scream ‘I’M AN ADULT’ but that would only confirm peoples belief that I am a mere child.

If I didn’t feel like total rubbish already, the concert would only help to cement that idea. Nothing to do with Craig David because, just like the show at Wembley over 10 years ago, he was amazing and put on an incredible live performance. The problem was that although there was a viewing platform for wheelchair users, this was wholly inadequate. My first objection was the position of the platform. It was at the very back so someone with poor vision like myself wouldn’t be able to see the stage. Secondly, it was far too small and would only fit 3 wheelchairs at a push, yet I counted 6 people in chairs, including Craig’s uncle. Thirdly, the structure wasn’t designed well because a black bar was in the way, again showing that these things are  ot though through from a disabled perspective.

When we arrived to see where disabled people were expected to sit, I began to get angry and spoke to a security guard, demanding to meet with the manager. She fobbed me off with some spiel about Health and Safety. I understand that the Southampton Guildhall is an old building but that doesn’t mean that the treatment of disabled people should be archaic. It felt as if disabled people were being put in the back corner, out of sight and out of mind. They didn’t care one about them or if they would be able to enjoy the show.

I’m not asking for the platform to be bang in front of the stage, but just nearer and at the side with a bit more room than what was provided. It’s like that at the Brixton Academy, a similar sized venue. Even at a large arena where wheelchairs are quite a way back from the stage, they have a TV screen showing the stage. The platform was on wheels and smacked of a last minute idea which wasn’t thought through properly. They were hoping disabled people would just sit back and not complain about the clear discrimination. But, they didn’t know ‘Wheelchair Boy’ was coming, just like they didn’t know how many wheelchair users had brought tickets.

My suggestion to move the platform nearer to the stage at the side was dismissed as “it may block other people”. This is a ridiculous argument because if they can’t see, they have working legs (unlike me) so can move freely to somewhere better. Even when I got down to the front, I still didn’t have a great view because I’m sitting down so obviously struggle to see over people.

I don’t want to get the violins out but it is bad enough having a disability without the added fact that I am treated as a second-class citizen everywhere I go. And I mean everywhere!

Sorry to be depressing but at times like yesterday, I don’t feel like a real person which is actually quite good because I am a bit ashamed of my ‘fellow’ human beings.

Bye for now!

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