Transcript of Wheelchair Ettiquette:
The Opinions Expressed in this Piece are the Author’s Own
and Do Not reflect the views of the Entire Disabled Population
for no matter what may be thought by the Current Fucking Tory Government
we are Not an Homogenised Mass to be Shat Upon
Wheels are freedom.
A rite of passage,
a right to passage.
- Provisional licence and a driving instructor who spent most lessons placing little magnetic cars on a map.
- The man from the Red Cross dumps off a beast of a rusty monster – says “I’m sorry.”
- The need is permanent and, God Bless the NHS, I have lightweight folding wheels
and a steep learning curve, because people can be dicks.
I am not wheelchair bound.
I am wheelchair transported, wheelchair free
to museums, gigs and galleries
or I would be, if people weren’t dicks.
Yeah we’ve got an accessible toilet, just over there!
I mean it’s full of all our cleaning products, Lenny’s drumkit and all the booze we couldn’t fit behind the bar, but I’m sure you’ll manage.
Yeah, we’ve got an accessible toilet, just up the stairs!
No of course we don’t have a fucking lift! What do you think we are? Minted?
Yeah, we’ve got an accessible toilet, just over there!
I mean it’s out of order at the moment and no we can’t stop the train, it’s not a human right, just piss yourself.
See, still with legalities on my side, people can be dicks.
Fed up of living life via tv my dad and me
we go the football and we pay a FORTUNE for accessible parking on top of the ticket price
which entitles him and I to sit one behind the other
He’s called my carer – I’m not entitled to a father, a friend or a lover.
I will sit next to strangers and fat men will dangle over the barrier in front of me
and my view of a goal
will be the arsehole’s arseholes
as their bum cracks jive in celebratory writhing
see, accessibility doesn’t work without thought and care, and if people are dicks
I park my car,
because wheelchair users are allowed to drive you know,
in a space where there are hashed lines for extra room, but just down one side,
because wheelchair users aren’t allowed a wheelchair using friend you know.
That’s if I get a space at all because it’s raining
and that row there means three seconds more from here to the door of that shop over there with steps up to it,
so I’ll just park in that blue badge space because I want to keep my hair nice.
And if she dares to holler and get angry at my laziness
I’ll call her a fucking ugly crippled cunt.
See, people can be dicks.
And Marks and Spencers, Claire’s Accessories and Glenwoods Paints
it’s all very well and good
having aisles legally wide enough for me to traverse to spend my purple pound on your goods
but then, if you fill them with discount racks and piles of the tat you want to rid yourself of
then you also rid yourself of
and my cash
and when I get outside the shop and find a pair of pants and a bra dangling on the back of my wheels
because I had to make it through a jungle of sale underwear
Then I will take them home and wear them with stolen pride
see, there are rules there that are just
made to be broken, when people are dicks.
And, talking of underwear, let’s get to sex. I know you’re dying to ask.
Hello, complete stranger, who I have never met before, but deems it highly appropriate to dive straight in without any foreplay –
Yes, I have sex.
Fucking good sex.
It’s fucking amazing.
you can’t have a go, nor sit on my knee and take a photo
see, people can be dicks.
And excessive kindness without thinking first, well sometimes that’s the worst
Because it’s just taken me so many spoons
and fighting through elbows to forehead and bums in my face
and I just get to where I want to be and the
‘Can I help you?’ doesn’t come,
but there are hands on my handles and I’m being pushed back to where I started from.
And they smile and leave in a haze of smug pride
and I need gin
from the bar that’s so high that I can’t be seen.
Please; offer, ask! Just don’t be a dick.
And when I smile at the child at my eye level and she smiles shyly back and whispers to me;
“Why are you sitting down?”
and I think this is a beautiful learning opportunity
and the father swoops in and plucks her by her elbow and drags her away yelling
Then that shh makes me small, and sad.
Makes me the half size that the sitting hadn’t.
Makes me less, makes me monstrous.
Shh makes strong invincible me’s bottom lip begin to tremble and I want to go home.
Because uneducated, embarrassed people can be dicks.
I am not wheelchair bound.
I am wheelchair transported, wheelchair free
To museums, gigs and galleries
where the bouncers say; sorry about the steps love, can we give you a hand?
And they’ve asked
and I say yes
and they transport me upon burly arms,
laughing, joking with me,
treating me like the woman I am
with as much respect and dignity as the shitty situation can muster
and they place me down next to a table with my mates;
any issues pet, you just call me.
And that’s what I choose to hold on to.
Amongst the inequality, the austerity, the indignity
is the quiet kindness and solidarity,
that’s when I feel free.
Transcript of Don’t Make a Fuss:
Don’t Make A Fuss
I walk past the Turkish delight,
from sink to hallway
it sits on the table and calls to me.
I’m not very good at refusing the song of empty calories.
If I pick wisely and stack the pack back in jenga fashion
no one need know about the
extra stolen inch on my hips.
It touches my lips and gives me no warning.
No bee sting to make me drop
so I chew and there is no flavour
just an unfamiliar
which as I chomp and saliva carries those
lumpy bits down throat to tummy
a warning sounds a clarion call across the decades,
from a dungareed me
who’s too small to see the mirror above the sink.
And that unfamiliar crunch is in a toffee which swirled invitingly
I plucked it.
I crunched it.
don’t make a fuss,
chew and chew and spit
and bathroom and toilet and shit and…
Maybe I’ll be okay?
I’ll phone my dad, because he’s the one who’ll make me safe,
though I have my own home, a husband and
wrinkles around my eyes,
Dad will rescue me, he always does.
Epi-pen. Do I use it now?
Don’t want to use it and make a fuss.
I’ll be fine. It’s nothing.
Vibrating ears shaking,
Throat is cotton wool,
Soggy, the edges are mouldy,
My breath is edgy and my heart is poundy.
Husband’s at work, don’t want to interrupt
but my eyes, they’re not mine and through the blur I dial
“Sorry to interrupt, I don’t want to make a fuss, but
I think I might be dying.”
Queueing in A&E, he drags me to the front
“It’s not my turn yet,”
I am mortified by the stares and the tuts,
don’t make a fuss!
The old man behind the desk can’t hear above my wheeze.
trolleys and speed
adrenaline stabbed in my arse and the
little hidden room with all the beepy machines
where they put the people
who may die.
“Why did you not use your epi-pen?” says the nurse
“Why did you wait so long?
Why didn’t you call an ambulance?
Why did you fucking queue?”
“Because I don’t like to make a fuss.”
They keep you in until your heart rate is stable for more than an hour.
Just in case you relapse.
Just in case the adrenaline wears off and you try to die again.
Just in case you don’t want to make a fuss
they rig you up to all manner of instruments that
make the fuss for you.
I am a feminist. I respect the brain not the body.
But those instruments don’t lie and I stay there an extra 4 hours until the hot doctor finishes his shift and my heart rate is stable once more.