Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Writing partner WANTED...

I was going to simply put 'Partner WANTED...' but I realised that would suggest this post was about my (non-existent) love life when in actual fact it's about getting all my ideas down on paper. Basically, I have a bunch of cool ideas for potential TV shows but struggle to turn the initial thoughts into scripts. Take this comedy I have been working on intermittently for two years. I have all the plot lines mapped out in my head but when it comes to sitting down at the computer and opening the document, something comes over me. I thought it was just me being stupid but then I thought of great comedies I love such as The Inbetweeners and Extras; both had two writers and it makes perfect sense. You can bounce ideas off a co-writer and run things past them so that you don't end up going insane or with a script that no one else likes.

So if you fancy doing some writing with me, please get in touch. We could be the next Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. You'll need to wear glasses and be tall as I'm obviously the slightly chubby one in this analogy. But seriously, I am looking for someone with a similar writing style to me (surely I can't be that unique) otherwise we will want to take the script off in completely different directions. Like I said, I think my ideas are genius but I struggle to convert what is in my head into a decent screenplay. I've not just got this sitcom in mind, I also have thought about doing a few dramas. On my 'to do' list, I have a few potential programme names but I really do not think I will ever get around to ticking them off on my own.

I know this post has been like some weird lonely hearts advert where instead of looking for romance, I have put the feelers out for an intelligent person who is interested in writing and has a GSOH. However, I haven't really done much lately apart from the football because the weather has been horrible and I do not like going out in the courtesy car (as I mentioned in last week's post). Hopefully though, my Venga will be back tomorrow.

Please pass this post on to anyone who might be interested in winning a BAFTA ;)

Bye for now!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Platform lifts...

The majority of people do not realise that nowadays putting in a lift is not difficult. Gone are the days where a shop could argue a building is too old for an elevator to be installed. I understood that companies used to not be able to install a standard lift in listed buildings because the law means that you cannot change the structure of those particular places.

However, platform lifts are readily available nowadays from sites such as They are not complicated and can be fitted anywhere (even in a basement nightclub in Benedorm) so the argument that it will involve a lot of building work no longer stacks up. The Jones Bootmaker store in St. Albans is a great example to illustrate this very point. Next used to say the building is listed and a lift can’t be put in.  Shortly after the premises changed hands, a lift suddenly appeared. Thus making the ‘listed’ argument defunct and one 'Wheelchair Boy' no longer accepts.

There are countless shops I have been in where the men's section is only up or down a few steps; not completely on a different level. I have taken my custom elsewhere but it would be simply overcome by a platform lift. It's not an unreasonable request because they can be installed on existing stairs and do not require a building to completely change. These 'mini elevators' are similar to portable ramps in that they are simple add-ons but improve accessibility tenfold.

So if you do own or manage a shop/pub/restaurant, I hope that I have encouraged you to buy a platform lift ( Not only is it the right thing to do but it totally makes sense from a business point of view. The purple pound (name given to the spending power of disabled people) is estimated to be worth £212 Billion but is often overlooked by businesses. A small investment in making your premises' accesible to customers in wheelchairs will be so worth it in the end.

At the same time, if you know of any buildings that could do with improving their access, please get them to read this post (as well as the rest of my blog of course).

Bye for now!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Added stress..

The ongoing fight for a fence to be erected outside my flat has been causing me a fair deal of stress of late (hence why I have posted about it a few times because writing seems to be a release) so I forgot to mention that I was involved in a collision last week. Thankfully, my carer and I were not hurt but it did shake me up as it was my first accident. The same cannot be said for my Kia Venga, which is currently off for repair. I just hope it is returned soon because the courtesy car I have is awful. To be fair, it didn't appear that bad. Just a new bonnet and light but saying that, I'm not a mechanic so there might be hidden problems that I could not see on the outside.

Obviously courtesy cars are not fitted with the Carony Classic so when my mum explained that I cannot transfer, Motability agreed that they would give me £50 a week for taxis. However, what with my busy schedule following The Arsenal, that would soon run out. I then agreed that, although I hated them with a passion, I would get a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for the short period my Venga was being fixed. On Saturday, a Peugeot Partner Tepee arrived from Scotland. Since then, I have only been out in it on a needs must basis because it has done something that I never thought was possible. I now dislike WAV's even more than I did before.

The ride is so uncomfortable in the back. Even-though I am strapped in securely with clamps, I still end up feeling every little bump in the road. As I've mentioned before, another problem with WAV's in general is that because the wheelchair position is at the rear, you feel out of the loop like a child and unable to join in with conversations. Particularly with my hearing and speech problems, I end up thinking that I may as well not be in the car. Then there are design faults with this Peugeot such as the seat belt, which is difficult to get on and once it is, it doesn't go across my shoulder properly like a  standard one. Also when the vehicle reverses, it makes a ridiculously loud noise (luckily I do not have epilepsy).

They are just a few reasons why I was right to get the Carony Classic over a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.

I cannot wait to get my Kia back (preferably before our trip up to Newcastle next Friday) so that I can re-take my rightful place riding shotgun in the front passenger seat next to the driver and more importantly, be back in control of the radio.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

I'm serious...

I think I've mentioned before how much I hate my voice and the speech part of my condition is far worse in my opinion than the fact I cannot walk. Being wheelchair bound obviously is far from ideal but it's not the end of the world. I complain a lot (as you may have noticed) about accessibility but in  the main, things are improving. Disability aside, I can still do a lot of simple activities such as going out to restaurants or to the cinema like able-bodied people. However, communication is a key part of what makes us human and having the ability to do that gradually removed is truly awful. I just feel degraded and less of a person.

People will either read them last couple of sentences and reassure me that my voice is fine (thank you but I know that it's getting worse by the day) or think that I'm being pathetic because at least I'm not a mute. That is normally how I deal with my condition. I usually think to myself that I could easily have a worse disability than Friedreich's Ataxia and while I am grateful that I can still speak, I am starting to feel like I might as well be non-verbal. A ridiculous statement I know but that is how various people including the council are making me feel of late. A worthless 'Wheelchair Boy' who should be ignored and forgotten until I die  (everyone would have a much easier life if disabled people were not around).

Some might say that I am being melodramatic but my life has been put on hold for nearly three months with this whole fence situation and I've had enough. My points make a lot of sense such as the fact my tenancy agreement states that the property is 'an exclusive flat with an exclusive garden' but still they will not listen. I went into the council offices today to get a few things off my chest but all they do is pay lip service and pretend to be concerned. I have another meeting on Monday but it seems so pointless at the moment. I know exactly how it will play out. They will patronise me by repeating points I already know and not take a single word I say on board.

What makes it worse is that I am the stereotypical bloke. I bottle up all my stress and worries, which I realise is not good for my heart. This saga HAS to be resolved amicably soon for the sake of my health.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

God and disability...

After yesterday's post about human morality in relation to people using disabled parking bays when they should not, I have decided to tackle an even more serious subject and that is the question of God (I'm certainly putting my Philosophy & Ethics A-Level to good use this week). I know religion is quite controversial and provocative but everyone is entitled to an opinion. It is totally fine to disagree with me. I just thought my readers would be interested to find out a bit more about my belief system and the reasons behind it.

I think I have mentioned in the past that I am a staunch atheist (although I have realised that I am more of an 'agnostic' because I cannot be 100% certain that there is no God.) and it does not take a genius to work out why that is. Being disabled and believing in a God just do not go together; a bit like the way a physicist cannot, in my opinion, be devoutly religious. Most people who feel God does not exist point to science and use theories such as The Big Bang or evolution to disprove an almighty creator. They also cite the lack of empirical evidence as showing God does not exist.

While I agree with the points and use them whenever I am discussing this subject, the fact that I have Friedreich's Ataxia is what wrangles with me the most when I am contemplating the existence of God. How am I meant to believe in a higher being if illnesses like mine litter the human race? The same applies to natural disasters. Surely a God would not allow earthquakes or hurricanes? A common response from believers is that God is testing humanity like that makes it acceptable. Bringing illness and suffering upon someone is a pretty callous examination so I cannot envisage a God doing that.

However, perhaps I am wrongly giving the idea of God the attributes of a Christian one (after all, I was indoctrinated with the religion from an early age as I attended a Church of England primary school). Maybe God does not have to be all powerful, full of love and able to see/hear everything. There could be a God out there that is evil and gets a kick out of seeing humans suffer...

I guess I will never know for sure but I am 99% convinced that God does not exist.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

No need for thanks...

I have always been aware ever since I was diagnosed with a disability that in car parks (particularly in private ones where there are no wardens around to give tickets), some motorists will try their luck and park in the spaces reserved for those with mobility issues. I remember when I could still walk but not very far, I would get out normally and people would be angrily staring at me thinking I was able bodied. My mum would soon get out my Blue Badge and flash it at everyone as if to say "Look! He is disabled!". At the time, it used to frustrate my family and I that people would jump to the wrong conclusions. However, I am glad that the public are self-policing these bays and making sure inconsiderate people do not use them.

You have probably seen this video as it went viral a couple of months ago but this is my favourite example of the general public taking action into their own hands:
The Brazilian people are certainly more creative and thoughtful than 'Wheelchair Boy', who wanted to urinate in a bottle and throw it over a soft top convertable that I have noticed parked illegally on a few occasions down at my gym (obviously I would never actually do that).

I just think those who do abuse disabled bays are so ignorant. The spaces exist for a reason. They are the ones closest to the shops; not as a kind gesture for customers with mobility issues, but because Blue Badge holders need them.  Either they can only walk a short distance or for wheelchair users like me, it would be a struggle for my carer to push me and the shopping all the way to the back of the car park. Also, I need room at the side and back to get my seat in the car and to put the wheelbase in the boot. That's why I got slightly annoyed when I saw this sign at Sainsbury's:

You don't need to thank people for doing the right thing. What next? A sign near an ATM machine that reads:
'Thank you for not mugging people as they withdraw cash.'

It's not necessary as most people (hopefully) have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Bye for now!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Need a fence...

It seems like years ago that I was given this flat by the council yet I still haven't moved in yet. When I first looked around the flat, I mentioned a few concerns I had with the property such as the fact that the toilet was just a standard one, doors were inaccessible and the lack of fencing issue. I was assured by everyone I spoke to they were only minor and should be resolved soon. Sure enough, the threshold on the front door and the relevant bathroom adaptions were done immediately but once I had signed for the keys, the council started putting the responsibility of getting a fence on me. If they had informed me that the gardens would remain fence-less, I would not have signed the contract. I simply do not have the excess funds to cover fencing especially when you take into account the monthly bills I’ve now got to pay such as gas, water and electricity.

The predominant reason I must have fences before I move in is for my safety (and carers) above all else. As it stands at the moment, absolutely anyone can access my garden and therefore my back door/windows.Talk about being exposed. It's not that my neighbours pose a threat but unfortunately we do not live in a safe world so therefore you need fences to keep out, or at least deter, criminals. By definition, it is 'designed to restrict or prevent movement across a boundary'  so I don't know why the council cannot seem to fathom that the main function of perimeter fencing is to 'prevent trespassing'. I should probably man up but I would like to feel secure in my own home. I would hazard a guess and say that pretty much all of my readers have a fence.

To top it all off and put a cherry on the whole situation I now find myself in arrears because housing benefits refuse to pay my rent as I haven't moved in yet. I have explained why this is on numerous occasions but the council do not see my point of view at all and think I should back down. I refuse to give in though because no where in writing does it state that this property does not come with fences. The tenancy agreement is very ambiguous but does state that 'tenants must maintain fences' and that is fine but the fact is I do not have one to begin with. I would maintain it if I did.

Yet again, 'Wheelchair Boy' is not going to go quietly and will fight for his rights until the bitter end.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The letter...

Regular readers will be all too aware that I'm a massive Arsenal fan and during the season (which thankfully kicks-off again this weekend), I follow my beloved team around the country. I've even been lucky enough to attend matches in Dortmund and Brussels in the recent past. Away days are brilliant but I have realised that the majority of grounds treat disabled supporters as second-class citizens and something needs to be done. This prompted me to take notes of every stadium I visited last season and compile a strongly worded letter, which I sent to the Premier League back in early June. If you would like to read the letter in full, please read this edition of FCBusiness and turn to page 35.

I have had a couple of replies from the Premier League; one asking if it was OK to forward the letter to the relevant clubs and hear what they have to say (it was a pointless exercise though as only Arsenal responded directly to me) and a more detailed e-mail speaking about how the Premier  League run training programmes about inclusivity and have Access Visits where staff are told how to improve the match-day experience for impaired visitors. They also mentioned an Access App that tells you what facilities are available at each stadium. Basically a load of PR guff aimed to shut me up and show that the PL do care about disabled fans. However,  I do not give up that easily.

That's why I have replied demanding that the Premier League step up and show the 20 clubs under their jurisdiction who's in charge. I feel they should force teams to improve facilities for disabled supporters and punish those who don't comply; instead of politely requesting a better service for the disabled. I have also been in conversation with the office for Shadow Secretary of Culture, Media and Sport who seem very interested by my findings and are going to be running a story on the subject later in the week. They also said some media outlets might be interested so watch this space.

Bye for now! 

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Personal Assistants...

I know it's a Tuesday but here is a bonus post because I feel guilty that I did not do one on Friday:

BBC Three has done what it does best by scratching beneath the surface and showing that disabled people are not special nor are we an inspiration to all. The 'Defying The Label' season alone proves why the channel will be sorely missed because it provides an entertaining yet highly informative view on a subject that the main channel wouldn't touch with a barge pole. It's just a shame that these kind of programmes, which illustrate that we are all human regardless of our physical condition will be seen by less people when the channel closes. I have found/am still finding all the shows very interesting but the two-parter about hiring PA's particularly resonated with me as I have had similar experiences to those in the documentary.

Probably the worst part of being disabled is living with the fact that you cannot do everyday tasks for yourself. For me, mundane activities that able-bodied people take for granted such as getting dressed are impossible and I need Personal Assistant's to help. My mum used to be my main carer when I was growing up and that was fine but as I entered adulthood, I no longer wanted to depend on my mother. I first got outside carers in shortly after my second spinal operation (aged 18) and have never looked back. I was obviously very nervous about getting strangers to care for me but having PA's has definitely improved my life and I couldn't imagine going back to relying on my parents.

Two of my current Personal Assistant's have been with me since the very start back in 2012 (my brief Sabbatical at University aside) but so many others have come and gone. Some have moved on to another job or have gone traveling but I've parted ways with some purely because I'm very picky about who provides my care. As the name of the job suggests, it is personal and can be quite intimate so I've got to click with that person immediately or else it's safe to say, we're never going to work. It's like a relationship without any of the romance or sex. When it feels right, a true friendship blossoms. There are times when you are annoyed at them but you soon make up.

Click these two links if you want to watch both episodes: 

As they say in the show, there are no where near enough carers (particularly young people) so it's a job worth thinking about. If you stay clear of care agencies who stifle all the money for profit, the pay is very competitive (way better than minimum wage jobs for massive corporations). Also, where else do you get paid to go to the cinema, out clubbing or even on holiday? OK- not every aspect of the job is fun and games but the good times outweigh the bad times. It definitely might be something worth considering for your next job.

Bye for now!

Monday, 3 August 2015

Maintaining independence…

When you go from being a regular, able-bodied person to being disabled, there is a difficult transition period where you have to realise that you can no longer do the same things as you could before. I was lucky (my buzz word of the moment) in that my deterioration was gradual so I had years to come to terms with my condition. I can only begin to imagine what it feels like if you have an accident/get struck down with illness and face problems with your mobility overnight. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old; accepting that your body has changed is not easy.

However, there are companies out there such as Pride Mobility who supply devices designed specifically to help improve independence. They manufacture a number of useful products to overcome some mobility issues, ranging from electric scooters to powered wheelchairs; foldaway ramps to lift chairs. I have said before how shops and restaurants should get ramps that they get out when there is disabled customer, particularly if (for whatever reason) a permanent one cannot be built. I also know from first hand experience that owning a motorised wheelchair gives you a sense of freedom and greatly improves quality of life.

The other two products that I mentioned are not aimed at someone who cannot walk (like myself) and more for those who can walk but not far. Scooters are ideal if you want to save energy so that you are able to get out and go inside the shop. The Pride lift chairs are also great for those who can walk but find it extremely difficult to stand up from a seated position.  The reason I’m speaking about these aids is because sometimes you have to think about long-term care i.e. when loved ones get old and struggle with their mobility.

As the title of this post suggests, the way to feel at one if you like and not get bogged down by the fact you are disabled is to hold onto as much independence as possible. Even if your condition means that you have to use mobility devices to assist you in this.

Bye for now!