Friday, 30 September 2016

Wheelchair or scooter?

Apologies for not posting in months. I have been quite busy but truth be told, I have fallen out of love with writing and no longer enjoy it. Hopefully my passion will return soon but at the moment, I feel I need this extended break to try and refresh myself (otherwise I would just write a lot of rubbish). So I just thought I would check in and say that I am doing well in case anyone is concerned about the lack of posts. Also I wanted to share this post about wheelchairs and mobility scooters as I thought it might interest some of my readers:

Do I need a wheelchair or a mobility scooter?

Are you ready to join the ranks of the wheeled wanderers?
Mobility difficulties, whether temporary or permanent, will affect us all at some stage. Many people discover that walking sticks aren’t enough, frames aren’t right and the best option is, actually, to get a wheelchair or a scooter.
Electric wheelchairs are a popular choice. Manual wheelchairs aren’t always as useful or convenient, though as a benefit they at least don’t need to be regularly charged.  Alternatively, you might think about getting a mobility scooter.
But is one better than another? Which do you need and why? Here are things to consider when you’re comparing and deciding which to buy?
How well do your arms work?
Mobility scooters work in a similar way to bikes. You’ll need to have strength to turn the handle, in order to go around a corner.
Electric wheelchairs often have their controls within easy reach, usually with a joystick or buttons for direction adjustment.
If you lack arm or hand strength, electric wheelchairs are going to be the most suitable for you.
If you struggle to walk but have full upper body strength then a mobility scooter may be more suitable.
How much space do you have in your car?
An electric wheelchair will fold down to a very convenient size. This makes it easy to transport in the back of most family cars.
It is possible to get a folding mobility scooter, but do bear in mind that most scooters don’t fold down. They’ll be a lot more difficult to take on your annual family camping trip.
How far do you want to travel?
Electric wheelchairs can handle some rough terrain, but they aren’t particularly quick. They’re also only suitable for indoor use and pavements – you cannot take your wheelchair on the road!
If you’re planning to travel long distances, and might need to go on the road, then you can find road-legal mobility scooters that you can use as you travel through your town.
How much do you need to customise your sitting position?
If your legs tend to ache when they’re kept in one place, then a mobility scooter may not be suitable. On a scooter, your legs will always need to be flat against the floor of the scooter’s body.
On electric wheelchairs there are footrests that can be easily adjusted. You can put the footrests in the position that is most comfortable for you, then easily change that position when you need to.
Where will you use your mobility aid?
Electric wheelchairs may not be the fastest, but they’re incredibly good at tight corners. The handling is smooth on most wheelchairs, meaning that you can easily turn around in small spaces.
Mobility scooters, on the other hand, are often big and bulky. They reverse at a slow pace and need to be turned much like a car, rather than spinning almost on the spot. Mobility scooters can have a wide turning circle, which may cause difficulty if you plan to use yours indoors or for supermarket shopping.
Which is right for you?
Answering the questions above will help you to build a better picture of the type of mobility aid that you’ll need. For short-term outdoor use, or travel on the roads, you’ll want a mobility scooter. If you’re more dependent on your mobility aid, indoors and outdoors, then an electric wheelchair may be the better choice.
Mobility Smart is an online retailer stocking a wide variety of mobility aids, and other products. Electric wheelchairs, manual wheelchairs and a varied selection of mobility scooters can be ordered online through their website.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Stay connected...

So remember back in April when I gave a brief summary of both sides of the EU referendum to try and explain what people who were undecided had to choose between on the 23rd June. I mentioned how I did not think this blog was the right place to air my views on the contentious subject and try to persuade my loyal readers to vote the same way as me. However I have changed my mind because I do not want the people of this great country to mis-place patriotism and do something they will probably regret in the future (I say probably because to be honest no one definitively knows what it will mean if we leave but it is highly unlikely it will be good news).

Yes, we are Great Britain and coped before we joined the EU (in 1973) but times have changed. No longer can a small island (please look at a map) such as ourselves prosper from going it alone. We cannot take back our colonies and reform the British empire as slogans such as 'We want OUR country back!' suggest. Thankfully, the world has moved on. Globalization now means although countries have not moved nearer to each other, they are a lot closer and better connected with the advent of the internet and air travel being the two main reasons why planet earth seems smaller.

Therefore it would be foolish and naive to turn your back on what is essentially a large network of friends/allies. It would most likely have a detrimental effect on the economy because we would lose trade links (or have to pay greater tariffs on imports) and also have a negative impact on international relations because if the UK votes to leave, we would  basically be sticking two fingers up to the rest of Europe. Not a good idea in my opinion because we live in a world where terrorism is a daily threat so we all need to stand together as one and do as Jo Cox's husband said following her murder; "unite to fight against the hatred that killed her."

I have to admit that although I was always going to vote remain because I believe if it is not broken, there is no need to change (it definitely needs improving but I do not think it is completely busted) I was not passionate and did not really mind if people voted the other way. However, I have recently thought what about the referendum in a new light. Speaking as someone who suffers from a rare disease and reads up regularly to see if there is any promising research, I have realised that staying in the EU is better from a scientific research point of view because having multiple brains from around Europe looking into conditions is better than just having research done in Britain. I am not saying that British scientists can not find cures for illnesses (I am not just talking about Friedreich's Ataxia) but isolating them is going to make it far more difficult and also will cost more because at the moment they can use pool funding from across Europe in order to pay for research. Additionally if a new drug is developed by a scientist in Europe, it will probably cost double or triple the price that other EU member states will pay.

Remaining is also better for creating and maintaining rights for various groups such as workers, women and the disabled. Since I published my post on Uber, a few of my family members have, as expected, had a go at me and have argued vehemently that Uber is not a good company at all because they are degrading workers rights and exploiting their drivers in order to make profit. This is probably right but these same London taxi drivers who are so concerned with workers rights are the ones (not all but most) who will vote to leave the EU on Thursday. The same EU who have introduced numerous laws to give workers rights and are still the last bastion who are preventing Tories such as Boris Johnson from ripping rights up and letting big business trample on the workers. As for what voting out would mean for disabled people, I urge you to read this article: Also please read this article about the relationship of women's rights and the EU: and then tell me that leaving Europe is not a massive step backwards.

Some of these next arguments to stay in the EU may seem trivial on the surface but they mean quite a lot unless you are planning on never going on holiday in Europe again. Firstly, there's the issue of freedom of movement. This does not just mean that immigrants are able to cross our borders, it also means that we can go on holiday or even simply pop over to France to buy some cheap alcohol without any issues. If we did leave, that would mean we would have to get visas every-time we wanted to travel overseas which is just a pain. Secondly, a Brexit would probably mean that the price of an average flight would go up again because we would no longer be able to freely move between countries so therefore certain ones might charge you an extra tax to enter their airspace.

Regular visitors to Europe who use mobile phones will be aware that the prices to use your handset in Europe are at an all time low and are set to fall again in the next few months. Again, if we were no longer in the EU we would not get these cheaper rates so I dread to think what our bills would look like when returning from holiday. Less important but still worth a mention is that the other day I heard that you will soon be able to use Netflix in the EU which could be quite handy if the weather is not as good as planned! Also the current exchange rate for the Euro is abysmal and it is no coincidence that it has been free-falling ever since a poll said more people wanted to leave than remain. It just leaves you wondering what the exchange rate will be like if we did actually leave.

The media mis-inform everyone on a daily basis when it comes to the EU (see the chart pictured below) so I thought I would do my own research and find statistics that are quite difficult to argue with. When I searched for 'how many EU migrants have entered the UK in the last years', I found quite a few results. The numbers varied greatly so I have gone for a figure that is slap bang in the middle. 333, 333 is not me taking a conservative estimate of the amount of EU migrants who entered Britain last year nor is it stretching the truth. The figure on its own along with posters such as the one below the next paragraph make a lot of people angry and I cannot blame anyone for feeling that way what with the media's hold over most of the public . However if you take the population of the United Kingdom (which is currently 65 Million) and do the maths, you will discover that only 0.52% of the population migrated over here last year. A laughable percentage when you consider that certain newspapers make out that millions upon millions are crossing the border.

I completely agree that the rate of immigration can not continue like this but I feel people should stop using immigrants as a scapegoat and instead focus your blame on the government. They are the People who are to blame for our housing shortage, they are the people to blame for problems in the NHS and they are the people who let big corporations avoid paying tax so that there is a shortage of money in the pot. They are also the ones who can put a cap on immigration so that it doesn't get out of hand (some would already argue that boat has sailed). All the rhetoric from Nigel Farage et al is synonomous of the way Jewish people were blamed for all the problems in Nazi Germany. I am just scared because more and more people are agreeing with a man who seems to be a watered down version of Adolf Hitler!

Contrary to popular belief, leaving the EU would not stop immigration, it would just push those migrants to go 'underground' and either illegally enter the country or overstay on visas. The obvious problem with this is then we would not be able to monitor the amount so then the government would have an excuse not to do anything about it. This referendum is not some magic wand that will stop migrants at Calais. If anything it is going to make the widely perceived problem even worse because immigrants would probably no longer come in through the usual routes. As I said earlier, no one really knows because obviously the UK have never left the EU before but the odds of an exit working in our favor are stacked against us and I am not willing to make a huge gamble with the future of this country just so it will make it a little bit more difficult for migrants to come over.

Now I am going to France today to watch a few Euro 2016 matches so I have already voted by post but most of you (well I hope so anyway) will be heading to your local Polling Station on Thursday to put that all-important cross on the ballot paper. All I hope is that the British public use their common sense and realise that our country is STRONGER IN the European Union. I do not want this to be the last time I can hop across the Channel without having to apply for a Visa.

Bye for now!

P.S. If Britain does come out of the European Union, I would like to be the first to suggest that we go the full hog in reclaiming our proud history and instead of deporting any foreigners (because that costs too much money) we should just keep them as our slaves! That way we will have our country back under our control and we would also get slavery back. So who is winning then rest of Europe?

DISCLAIMER: I was being 100% sarcastic with that last paragraph in case you had not realised.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

What's the big deal?

I went to see the highly controversial adaptation of the JoJo Moyes novel Me Before You last night and came away feeling quite confused as to why the film has received so much criticism. I get that euthanasia is a very thorny subject and brings out a lot of emotion but I personally thought both sides of the argument were presented well. I will not give any spoilers away but some of the people respect Will's (the leading man who happens to be a quadriplegic) decision and say that it is his choice. Whereas others believe it is plain wrong and selfish because of the hurt suicide leaves behind. I have mentioned before how I feel the government would happily kill off disabled people if they could avoid mass outrage but I strongly disagree that the message of this particular movie is if you are disabled, it is best to die as quickly as possible.

I am not afraid to stand up (not literally obviously) and say that as a disabled person, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I connected with the character's so much and saw myself in Will (minus the good looks) that I even found myself welling up at one part. Yes, certain parts were unrealistic to say the least such as when it cuts to him in her house. Are we supposed to believe an electric wheelchair can fit through the front door of an old, terraced house? However, I can overlook those lapses in realism because I feel the film does what I set out to do on a regular basis. Show people that underneath it all, disabled people are normal (actually I would say we are funnier, smarter and more self-assured than most).

Seriously though, I think the fact that the main protagonist is disabled is not important. Although the whole euthanasia question comes up a fair bit, Me Before You is predominantly a love story and that is what I enjoyed. I was not thinking about how disabled people are portrayed in the media, because yes that is a massive issue that needs addressing but it goes much further than onne movie. Nor was I sat in the cinema pondering the pro's and con's of assisted suicide. I simply fell in love... with the feeling of falling in love. I know that sounds cringe and I am not saying that I have not fallen for people before but to have that emotion reciprocated just seems perfect.

So I would recommenced you go and see the film so that you can decide whether I am right or wrong. Like I said, Me Before You is a book but who has time to read anything nowadays (oh the irony)? Also, in the screen version, you get to see the captivating Emilia Clarke who is just beautiful and I could not take my eyes off.

Bye for now!

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Team Uber...

As most of you will know, my dad (as well as his brothers) is a London taxi driver.  In fact, most Shorey men of a certain age are. You could say that black cabs are in the blood! So I am certainly running the risk of getting disowned by my family if they read this post... 

Famously, taxi drivers across the world (not just in London) have been in uproar since the emergence of an online app, which allows people to type in the route they want and then locate a car in the local area who is able to do it; all via a smartphone. The company only started in America four years ago but global expansion has meant that you can download Uber everywhere now. I have always towed the family line and urged other people to only use black cabs but my view changed last week for two reasons.

Firstly, Uber have recently launched their first ever Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) option, which disabled people in London will be able to request at the push of a button! I have spoke numerous times on this very blog about the fact London black cabs are poorly designed and do not cater well for the needs of wheelchair bound passengers. They're failure to adapt and improve accessibility has forced me to switch allegiance. Taxis are so out of date and have not really changed since the advent of automobiles. It's obvious how I will be traveling next time I need quick, accessible travel across our nation's capital.

The second reason I changed my mind and became a snake is all to do with prices.  I have heard many stories from people I know about how they have made trips that normally cost £15 but it only cost under £10 with Uber. On average, they are 30% cheaper than a black cab and I think that is the winning argument right there. Let's face it, no one in their right mind is going to pick the more expensive option when you are basically getting the same product; a journey from A to B.

So if you have read this post and would like to join the Uber revolution with me, I have secured all my loyal readers a free first ride up to £15. Just download the app and sign up using the code 'GLEN12'. Details below:
Bye for now!

Monday, 18 April 2016

EU referendum...

I have spoke about voting numerous times on here before and have shared why I think it's important to exercise your right. One of the points I made is that you do not really have a leg to stand on (no pun intended) if you abstain from the democratic process then do not like the way Britain is being run. This particular argument is even more valid when discussing the European question because if you do not go to the polls on June 23rd, you cannot complain whatever the outcome is. I mean there is no excuse not to vote in this important referendum. I am even making sure I have my say even though I will be out of the country on the day (I have sent in the application form so that I can vote by post).

With regards to the 'hokey cokey' that is Britain's membership of the EU, it is all very confusing if you are not sure how to vote. All the articles I have read on the subject are heavily laced in bias. They appear to be balanced as they give both sides of the debate but are pushing the reader to take one argument as fact and the other as pure lunacy. I know what way I will be voting in June but I would like this post to help any undecided voters without me imposing my views on them. I will happily tell people my opinion and relish a good-old debate but I do not think this is the best place.

Basically, the question is going to be a wordy version of 'Should the UK stay in the EU?'. Those who want us to stay (Yes) mainly argue that Britain's trade links would be compromised as a result of cutting ties with Europe. Remaining would be better for our wallets. Whereas the main argument for leaving the EU is that immigration is out of control because of  'freedom of movement'. Leaving would put an end to this. There are of course other arguments and counter claims for both sides but they are the main two. Both points seem very different but both are very important in the British public's minds. Immigration or money: you decide!

While I am on the subject of voting, please remember to register either if you have not bothered to vote before or if you have changed address in the last year (just like I did when I moved into my flat). The deadline to register for the referendum is June 7th so there is still a month and a half left to submit your details. However, the deadline so that you can vote in the upcoming local elections being held on May 5th is today so if you believe you need to, I urge you to stop what your doing and click the link: It only takes 5 minutes to register and by voting, you could stop the Tory dominance that is UK politics. No wonder 'Dodgy Dave' gets away with so much...

Bye for now

Wednesday, 6 April 2016


I am guessing you have all been eagerly awaiting my review of Barcelona following my short trip to Catalonia a few weeks ago? Not really. Hopefully you all have better things to be doing with your life than waiting for 'Wheelchair Boy' to pull his finger out and write a new post. I say that because if you have been sitting in anticipation to read my verdict of the grand old city, you will be bitterly disappointed to learn that I can sum up the place in two words. Not historic and beautiful as you might expect but instead that it is nothing special. That may sound harsh and people who have visited may strongly disagree with me but I was not overly impressed. I found Barcelona did not live up to the hype.

As you all know, I did not visit for the culture as I only live under an hour from the greatest city I have ever been to; London. The main purpose of my visit was to see the mighty Arsenal play against FC UEFA in the largest professional football stadium in the world, outside of North Korea. Again though, just like everything else on the trip, the Camp Nou was a big let down. From the outside, it did not have the 'WOW' factor and is just a boring, grey lump of concrete. This is in stark contrast to the Allianz Arena in Munich; the ground looks like a giant red balloon and is visible for miles. Inside was not much better. Visiting wheelchair supporters were positioned at the very back of the lower tier with the home fans, but you could not always tell. It was no Dortmund that is for sure.

Those who follow football (even Tottenham fans because they are obsessed with how Arsenal get on) will know that we lost 3-1 out there so will probably accuse me of sour grapes but that simply is not true. Like I said, I really liked Bayern Munich's stadium even though we were thrashed 5-1 so it's not bitterness behind the fact that I feel Reading have a nicer ground than Barcelona. I expected us to lose, given that they arguably have the best player ever in Lionel Messi and, as always, have an extra player in the shape of the referee. However, we put up a strong fight until the end and I came away feeling quite positive about my team.

I realise this post has been quite downbeat on my mini-break but I have to admit it was not all bad. It took us ages to find but the Cathedral was pretty impressive; certainly more breathtaking than the Camp Nou. Also, the Wheelchair Accessible Van we hired was mostly positive. In fact, I must give a shout out to the owner of Brec Auto, Miquel, who was very helpful even though his English was fairly limited. I urge all my readers to please like his Facebook page as it will make his day:\
I recommend this company if you are looking to hire a WAV in Barcelona but only if you're shorter

Bye for now!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Crash for cash...

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that in a post from October 2015, I mentioned that I was involved in a minor car crash a couple of months earlier. As soon as Motability heard about the accident, they grew deeply suspicious and suspected that I had been targeted for some sort of insurance scam. Now, I was never going to go into the nuts and bolts of what happened but a few things have made me want to share my story. Not least that I am very angry a) with myself for being royally mugged off and b) that these low-life criminals exist. I would like to get my grievances off my chest.

I shall begin by explaining exactly what took place on that Thursday afternoon in August. My carer and I were driving to a garage in Watford to look at a potential new car when the accident happened (quite ironic really when you think about it). For those familiar with the area, we had just left the M1 and were about to go on the dual carriage way heading towards the town centre when the collision took place. The car two in front seemed to suddenly change it's mind and dart off to the right, causing the driver in front of us to perform an emergency stop. You can imagine the rest...

Immediately after the accident, the car in front of us pulled to the side and put on it's hazard lights. Three men then proceeded to get out of the vehicle. My carer and I were obviously quite shook up from the crash and felt scared if honest. This next part was extremely naive of us as they could have been anyone (turns out they were crooks but luckily for us, not kidnappers). My carer got out of my car and went over to exchange details. She then returned drenched (it was pouring with rain by the way) and said they knew a car park nearby that we should follow them to so that we could safely speak away from traffic.

In hindsight, the fact that they knew about a small car park down the road is very suspect and suggests that they have staged other accidents in the area before. They cannot even claim they live local and are aware of the surroundings because the address they gave was Luton. There were other blatant giveaways that the whole thing was an insurance scam but we again only realised this later. For example when the driver discovered my Kia was a Motability car, he kept asking my carer if she was insured to drive the vehicle: obviously if she was not, it would have mucked up the scam.

The final clue that the crash was planned by these scammers came a few months after the accident. A letter (at least 50 pages long) was sent to me by a solicitor outlining everything that the other party claimed happened and that they were going to take me to court regarding the allegations. Obviously, they sent the document to my home address instead of my insurance company to try and intimidate me but it failed to have the desired effect. I was not scared of their blatant lies as history has taught me that the truth always prevails. Hopefully the CPS have seen through this transparent scam and have thrown the case out of court because I have not heard anything about it in months.
Please read this article if you would like to learn more on what to look for:

Also, if you get a spare half hour then watch this:
There is a very similar story to mine.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Seeing the whole game...

Back on December 3rd last year, I went to the Emirates Stadium for an event to celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities. I decided to accept the invitation because I thought it would give me something interesting to write about but look how that turned out (it has took me over two months to post). One of the reasons I have not mentioned the day until now is because, quite frankly, it was all a bit Tottenham*. That is probably harsh of me because I am sure a lot of hard-work went into organizing the event but for the first hour or so, I thought to myself "why am I here wasting valuable blogging time?". I especially thought that when someone tried to play catch with me. Needless to say, my hand-eye co-ordination is awful so that was a disaster.

The day did improve though as Arsenal & England's Jordan Nobbs made an appearance (I should not have to say this in 2016 but she plays football at the top level and is better than quite a lot of men) which, being an Arsenal Ladies season ticket holder, I was particularly pleased with. There was then a Kick It Out workshop fronted by the first British Asian to captain a professional football team in England Anwar Uddin. Although I am not a Chelsea fan and do not need to be told that racism is wrong, I found the talk very interesting as Uddin's story was pretty unique. It is certainly more inspiring than any of this Jamie Vardy nonsense.

I have spoke before about how my sight (long distance) has deteriorated in recent years and that glasses do not seem to help the situation. It is not really an issue in day-to-day life but at football matches, the problem does become noticeable. Normally, in the first half, Arsenal shoot away from the North Bank where I sit and I struggle to see where the ball is. I only know if we have scored because of the crowd reaction. However, I had accepted that I would always miss about 50% of the matches and would have to keep getting my brother to talk me through the goals.

That was until the third session of the day run by Arsenal's Disability Liaison Officer Alun Francis and veteran broadcaster Clive Tyldesley who had managed to shake off Andy Townsend for the day. They spoke about audio description and how it is a very important service for supporters who cannot see as it means they can still enjoy the match. Although I am not fully blind, I still have a Visual Impairment that affects my enjoyment of the whole game. So, at the next home match, I was given a radio set and I have been using it ever since. It's a shame they do not have them at away grounds I visit although I think I would get annoyed by the bias.

*just to clarify for any of my readers who are not Arsenal fans that I have substituted a word that rhymes with 'hit' for 'Tottenham'.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Lift ettiquette...

I went to see Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled being recorded last Thursday and came away feeling quite disappointed. Not because the show was bad or the guests were poor (it was my third time in the audience and I would definitely go again) It was completely the opposite actually. We were lucky enough to have the National Treasure that is Stephen Fry on our episode so he only added to the entertainment with interesting and witty anecdotes. Sandi Toksvig, Sara Pascoe and this is really awkward but I cannot remember the other comedians name were all very funny but no one can captivate and dominate a room quite like Stephen does.

Anyway, enough of the Fry love in. Back to my disappointment. It stems from the fact I quite like both Alan Davies and Sara Pascoe. Apart from being hilarious, they have always come across as decent well-mannered people. So, I felt slightly let down when they used the lift instead of unselfishly taking the stairs like most people do when there is a queue of disabled people waiting. It was almost as if their egos were telling them they were too important to walk upstairs. I am not saying able bodied people should never use elevators but it is only right that those who cannot walk are given priority.

They would probably say in their best Arséne Wenger impression "I did not see them" but I do not think that is acceptable. Fair enough, they might not have seen 'Wheelchair Boy' because the queue stretched out the door and I was at the back but the other people clearly had walking difficulties (indicated by sticks and frames). Yet Sara and Alan ignored this and got in the lift regardless. I just think no wonder there is so much ignorance and selfishness in the world if that is the example those in the public eye are setting... Also we were only in The Hospital Club, not The Shard!

It is commonly said that "You should never meet your heroes" because it will probably end in disappointment but I would like to change the phrase to "You should never see the lift protocol of your heroes".

Bye for now!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Planning ahead...

My last post was about how 2016 could be a very exciting year for disabled people in general with the media (just Channel 4 at the moment) stepping up coverage. Since Monday, it has emerged that LEGO are launching a figurine of a 'Wheelchair Boy' ( which again is extremely positive news because young kids are the main target audience and, as I have mentioned before, the only way society can change is if children are taught from an early age that disabled people are just like them. All this talk of what a promising year it could be has reminded me that I have quite a busy one lined up... although after researching flights to Barcelona, I probably will not be able to tick everything off my list.

First up on my 2016 itinerary is a couple of nights in Barcelona. Unlike most intellectual beings, my main reason for visiting Catalonia is not to soak up the culture. Some of you have probably guessed why I am looking to go there and it's for the Arsenal of course. Why else would I go away for a few days in March? I would probably enjoy looking around the Gothic architecture and other tourist attractions but it is the Nou Camp that excites me the most. We have got a Cathedral in St. Albans but not Europe's largest football stadium.

Before any bitter Tottenham Hotspur or Manchester United fans chirp up (by the way, they are not even in this prestigious tournament so it is just jealousy), I am 99% sure we will be sent home with our tails between our legs but the home of FC Barcelona is at the very top of my 'stadiums I want to visit before I die' list and I want to see first-hand what it is like. Also, anything is possible in football. Even if the inevitable does happen and we do lose, just like in Münich, I will not regret making the journey as it will no doubt be a once in a lifetime experience.

I was just looking through a list of the largest football stadia in Europe and as of writing, I have been to four of the top 10 (Signal Iduna Park, Allianz Arena, Old Trafford and Wembley). As I said earlier in the post, hopefully that number will rise to five in March. Then, all being well, I will be going to three other stadiums in France for the 2016 European Championships in the summer. I have had the tickets for almost a year but only discovered in December that the first match I will be attending in Paris is going to be the World Champions versus Northern Ireland. I was over the moon when I heard that draw because I desperately wanted a home nation and the fact it is against Germany makes the game an even more exciting prospect.

You are probably wondering why I have bought tickets for the Euros, especially when I have explicitly said that I do not enjoy International football as much compared to the club game. The truth is because France is not that far away and it is a better way to spend my life than sitting around, waiting for Arsenal to return. Also, ferries are cheap and we will definitely need the car during this trip. The other two matches are a few days later in Lille and Lens respectively (only twenty minutes between each other) so after watching the match in Paris, we can stay in the Capital for a couple of days before driving Northwest to the Lille area for the two remaining fixtures.The teams who will be playing are not clear as it depends on how the final group table looks.

Last on the list is a return to Cyprus for a family holiday (obviously it depends on how much I spend on the other two). We had such a brilliant vacation last year but hopefully my older brother and his girlfriend will be able to join us this time. I still want to go to California but I guess that will have wait for another year. I am not made of money and after those two football excursions, I will most definitely want a relaxing break; chilling by the pool and soaking up the sun. I envisage visiting the West Coast of the USA to be more of a sightseeing trip.

Bye for now!

Monday, 25 January 2016

Changing perceptions...

 2016 could be the year!!!

I realise I sound like a desperate Tottenham Hotspur fan who thinks that this season their team can achieve the impossible and finish above Arsenal but I am actually talking about 'Wheelchair Boy' reaching a larger audience. Well, not me personally but the message of my blog will be. I have always maintained that the public will soon become less ignorant when it comes to disabled people if the media were to constantly put disability in the spotlight. It's a step in the right direction to have shows such as The Last Leg (I have spoke highly of the programme on here before; you probably think that I work for the PR team) but it's only on for about 4/5 months a year so it's not enough coverage in my book.

Thankfully though Channel 4 have heard my 'call to arms' and have made a dedicated year of disability, which is a massive stride forward in the fight for equality and rights for disabled people. Read this article if you would like further information on their plans: 
The two announcements that excited me the most are that there is going to be a disabled character in Hollyoaks (not that I watch it but I would if they explored some of the real issues disabled people face in life) and someone with a disability is going to be on Gogglebox (hopefully the person will be hilarious yet modest like me).

C4 is all about innovation so I hope that focusing on disability becomes a trend and other broadcasters soon follow suit. Attitudes will only change if more disabled people are given access to enter the mainstream media bubble.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The call of nature...

Toileting is not the most elegant subject to discuss but after all, it's only natural and even 'Wheelchair Boy' has to go. You probably are thinking "what happens in the WC, stays in the WC" and you would normally be right. I quite like my privacy. However, I cannot think of anything better to write about. Not just that but I know some of my readers are interested by the modifications I have in place to help me out in ordinary life situations. Hopefully you read this post and think "I did not know that!" Others will no doubt think "Did I really just waste five minutes of my life reading that?"

Going for a wee is a simple act for able bodied people and requires little thought. However, it has always been that extra bit difficult for 'Wheelchair Boy'. There was no problem when I could stand because I would use the bars in the disabled toilet (they are not just there for decorative purposes)  to get to my feet, my carer would lower my trousers and then I would be able to do the rest using a bottle. As you all know, because it is the reason I had to get the Carony Classic system fitted in my car. I cannot stand anymore unless I have the standing hoist to support me. This is OK for toileting at home but I would be stuffed whenever I am out and get caught short.

Luckily I was looking at my jeans one day when this standing malarkey was starting to become an issue and suddenly a light bulb went off in my brain. I thought of a way that I could still go in a bottle without standing.  Cut a hole in the crotch and sew on Velcro strips so that it is easy to re-seal. Thanks to a family friend, most of my trousers are adapted but they just look normal. You can only notice they are different if you have a proper look (which would be weird; let us get to know each other first!) or if I point it out in a blog post...

I do not think any of you are that grossed out by what I have written up to this point so I am going to discuss the second call of nature. I have some decorum so I am not even going to mention the actual pooing (oops, I just did) but instead I would like to focus on the cleaning up after oneself. Obviously I cannot wipe after I have finished so when someone else has to, I feel so pathetic and useless. At home, I have a Clos-o-Mat wash and dry toilet so I can do it all myself at a touch of a button. I just wish they were more common in places I visit, particularly hotels.

Hopefully this post has been quite insightful and not just weird.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Fashion IZ Freedom...

The reason I appear stoned is because I am high...ON LIFE!

Before you all start reciting Justin Bieber lyrics at me ("What do you mean?"), let me explain what the title of this blog is going on about and why I have decided to upload a picture of 'Wheelchair Boy' wearing a t-shirt with the statement on. Basically, a Canadian designer called Izzy Camilleri has decided to launch a new campaign to raise funds and awareness for accessibility called 'Access10'. As the founder of IZ, a provider of sophisticated and functional clothing for people using wheelchairs, she will give 10% of total gross sales towards building ramps in communities across North America. One example is StopGap, a charity who organize teams to build brightly coloured ramps.

As for why I have took a 'seated selfie', it is because I really wanted to be part of this campaign. In previous posts, I have mentioned issues with accessibility at various places and that the only way for change to happen is to raise awareness.  I hope that by wearing the Fashion IZ Freedom’ t-shirt, 'Wheelchair Boy' will be able to help spread the message of what, I think you will agree, is a great initiative. It is really commendable that unlike most people in business, Camileri is giving back.

Buying clothes when you are in a wheelchair is extremely difficult, especially when you are a bit on the chunky side. Whether it is trying to buy shirts that are big enough at the back but not too baggy everywhere else or jackets that are easy to put on and take off, normal high street retailers do not consider disabled customers when designing a new clothing line. Dr. Alex Palmer, from the Royal Ontario Museum, agrees with my point; “For centuries and across the globe, fashion has been designed to hang off a standing figure.  IZ has revolutionized this history by making fashions that are designed for sitting. This is a truly innovative line that transforms lives and the history of pattern making.”

Obviously, is not the first adaptive clothing website but what makes it stand out in my mind is that the designs are stylish. Normally, clothes specifically made for disabled people look like they have come from a wardrobe in a retirement home. At the grand old age of 22, I do not want to dress like a pensioner (no offence if you are over 65). According to Izzy Camileri,“IZ was created to give people with disabilities access to beautiful fashion" and I think rightly so because being wheelchair bound does not mean you should not look your best.The editor-in-Chief of Zoomer magazine, Suzanne Boyd echoed my thoughts by admitting that “Fashion isn't the most inclusive world, but everyone should have the ability to look and therefore feel their best.”

This final part may come as a shock but the woman behind the collection and subsequent campaign is not actually disabled (which makes the work she is doing to help disabled people even more impressive). Izzy Camilleri, is one of Canada’s most celebrated fashion designers, and has dressed A-list stars like Angelina Jolie, David Bowie, Jennifer Lopez, and Meryl Streep. In 2004, a well-known journalist and wheelchair user contacted Izzy and asked her to design functional clothing that was also fashionable – something that certainly did not exist at the time. IZ started from there and now, 12 years on, she is still producing style-savvy adaptable clothing created purposefully for a seated frame.

This has got me thinking. Who is up for 'Wheelchair Boy' tees?

Bye for now!

Monday, 4 January 2016

Slowly does it...

I know I am a little bit late with the 'reflecting on the year that was 2015' post but it is OK as I am not looking back on the year that has passed. Although it was personally a very good one for me; moving into my flat was a particular highlight. Instead, I will be looking back between now and when I first started using a wheelchair part time (2004) to see if life is better in 2016 for disabled people.

Without question, there have been a lot of positive changes in recent history to improve the lives of disabled people including improved access to public transport and other daily activities that able-bodied people take for granted.

However, I decided to make the title of this blog post 'slowly does it' because any changes in the way disabled people are treated within society is gradual. I might go into one restaurant (via a ramp), take a lift upstairs to eat and use the disabled toilet before leaving. Then I might go into a shop next door (where my carer has to bump my wheelchair up a step), struggle to get around the tight layout just to be told that the men's section is upstairs and there's no lift. That is a true story and is just one example of how victory in the fight for equal access seems imminent yet is actually so far away.

The greatest challenge for the disabled is changing people's attitudes towards them. There has been a noticeable improvement over the past few years in my opinion. Whether that is because the media are beginning to use disabled talent (nowhere near enough but comedians like Alex Brooker are better than nothing) or young people are simply more educated and less ignorant as a result, I do not know. It just seems that there is now a 50/50 split between those who understand we are normal like them and those that see the disabled as scum of the earth whereas before, large swathes of society thought that way.

Last month, 14 people were killed in California following an attack on a disability centre ( Massacres are not uncommon in America but this was the first one that seems targeted on a specific group of people. Perhaps it is just me being paranoid that the world is out to get disabled people or maybe it is a metaphor (quite a strong one) to symbolise the disabled shall never be equal as there will always be people out there who want society to be cleansed of these imperfections.

On that somber and rather depressing note, I would like to wish a belated Happy New Year to all my wonderful readers. I plan to have a more productive 2016 when it comes to writing but how many times have I said that?

A: Just the once because it has never been 2016 before...

Bye for now!