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Archives for September 2005

Adam Hills on tour

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Vaughan | 00:00 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2005

A huge number of this site's female readers will be delighted to hear that stand-up comic - and, most importantly of course, Ouch columnist - Adam Hills will be taking his show Go You Big Red Fire Engine 2: Judgement Day to London's Soho Theatre from 2 - 5 November. More details are available on the theatre's website.

The Ouch team had a night out a few months back to see this show, and can confirm that it's flippin' marvellous and that we laughed like drains. So if you're in the London area, get yourself along there.

Cherie Blair v Laurence Clark

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 28 September 2005

Ah, here's the disability news story of the week: comedian and Ouch regular Laurence Clark has been hobnobbing with royalty - well, Cherie Blair, the Prime Minister's wife, which is nearly the same thing (that's satire, by the way).

According to reports all around the media - we particularly liked The Scotsman's headline Cherie cracks 'crap joke' for disabled comic - Mrs Blair was introduced to the "31-year-old funnyman" at a Labour Party conference fringe meeting in Brighton yesterday, and asked him: "Are you a stand-up comedian or a sit-down comedian?"

Sorry, I'm just picking myself up off the floor and wiping the tears of laughter from my eyes.

Laurence's reply? "Everyone makes that joke." He then invited Mrs Blair to stick around and watch the ten-minute set he was performing as part of a discussion forum being staged by Scope, but she chose to give it a miss.

Later, Laurence is reported as having said: "I don't think she made a mistake in what she said. I think she was cracking a crap joke. I think she should stick to the law. I did not take offence at all. She was not embarrassed, but she did seem a little nervous around disabled people".

Reports that the sequel to Laurence's show The Jim Davidson Guide to Equality will be entitled The Cherie Blair Guide to Comedy could not be confirmed as this blog post went live. But I really hope it's true.

Be an Ouch blogger for a fortnight

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 27 September 2005

OK, so you can't have failed to notice - because it's up there at the top of the page and on Ouch's homepage - that I'm going on holiday. Yes, the team are finally going to let me take a well-earned break from blogging duties, and I'm jetting off to sunny Benidorm next week. I've been told that all the bars are fully accessible (and I almost believe them), so to be honest I'm not particularly fussed about whether I can get into the hotel or not. Who needs a room to stay in when there are cocktails to be drunk?

Anyway, the Ouch guys can't cope without me - sad, but true - so they're looking for three guest bloggers from amongst the devoted readership (that means you) to take my place. Think you could do it? If so, go and read up on how to apply. Please note that friends and relatives of the Monkey are not eligible to be considered (that means you, Mum), so I'll be checking all the emails very carefully . . .

It's a celeb mental health double (not)

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Monday, 26 September 2005

News has reached Crippled Monkey's corner of the Ouch office this morning that A-list Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise is to return to his rather controversial views on mental illness by delivering a series of four lectures in October, advocating Scientology's solutions to mental health problems. For those of you sadly not residing in the Los Angeles area, the lectures will be available to watch on the web. I certainly won't miss them - well, not unless they're showing Top Gun on Five, anyway.

But that's not all. Also in the news, it's reported that Dr Fox - best known as a DJ and a judge on ITV's Pop Stars: The Rivals, the show that brought us Girls Aloud - has said that treatment of mental health patients is a disgrace.

Oh, wait a minute . . .

Someone's just telling me that it's not Dr NEIL Fox - sorry, Foxy - but Dr LIAM Fox, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, who is currently bidding to become leader of the Conservative Party.

Easy mistake to make, though, innit? Er, I'll get me coat.

BBC doc on genetic disorders & pregnancy

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Vaughan | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2005

A producer from BBC Current Affairs has been in touch with Ouch about a forthcoming programme which is looking for contributors. Take a read, and if you think you can help, get in touch via the contact details at the end of the message:

"The BBC is making a documentary on genetic disorders. The 60-minute film follows the success of Radio 4's It's My Story: Future Imperfect, which looked at childbirth when there's a chance of passing on a genetic disorder.

"For the BBC FOUR documentary, we are searching for people with a serious inheritable condition who are at the early stages of pregnancy. We would follow them from home, where we would hear about their hopes and fears, through the screening process, and to the results. Filming is normally spread over a few days, with a small camera and crew. This enables us to be flexible and unobtrusive, and film in an observational style with minimum disruption.

"Candida Harris is a BBC journalist who has Popliteal syndrome. She has a young family, and has recently had to decide about trying for another child. Through her story, and through the stories of the family she meets, we will be able to highlight the very important and often neglected issues concerning genetic disorders.

"If you have any questions, or are interested in taking part, please contact the producer of the programme, Dickon Le Marchant, on 020 8752 7266, or email dickon.le.marchant@bbc.co.uk."

Are mobility scooters a new hip hop accessory?

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2005

A colleague here in BBC World Wide Web Towers went to see a gig by Super Furry Animals last night, and the support act were Welsh comedy prankster rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain. When they took to the stage, one of them was apparently riding round in a mobility scooter. Is this some sort of new rap fashion statement? Will it spread to the USA, as all the big name rappers trade in their huge blacked-out 4x4s for mobility scooters? And more to the point, have any of you young trendy Ouch'ers about town seen the Goldie Lookin' Chain mobility scooter phenomenon? Are they trying to make a point, or is it just some not particularly funny joke? Comments welcome.

Disabled bloggers round-up

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Looking for more blogs by disabled people? Try these!

The Perorations of Lady Bracknell is a blog by, er, Lady Bracknell (funny, that), a regular on Ouch's lively messageboard. She describes her site as "the collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days". Which is, frankly, a lot more words than Monkey is ever allowed to use in polite conversation.

Another frequent visitor to our messageboard is Marmiteboy - mmm, Marmite - and he can be found on the web via his blog Marmiteboy On Toast. He describes himself as "a fairly old git and a disabled person" (his words - I would never describe anyone as an old git). He supports Southend United FC (never mind, Marmiteboy).

Helen Garrod's blog contains "nothing but art, and politics, utilitarianism, psychology, disability . . . " which is actually quite a long list of things, when you think about it. But her art is particularly colourful, and I could imagine hanging one of her pictures in the Ouch office. Oh yes.

And finally, someone called 'shynesscanstopu' (Crippled Monkey can spot a Morrissey lyric from a mile off) sent us possibly the shortest ever email about her weblog, also called shynesscanstopu. It said: "I'm a crip. I have a blog". Right, got it.

And that's a good way for me to move seamlessly to: if you're a crip and you have a blog, why don't you email us and tell us about it?

OCD diary

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 21 September 2005

Regular Ouch writer Julia Kite has started a weblog specifically about her daily Obsessive Compulsive experiences and anxieties. It's called Kant Touch This.

My favourite entry so far is the one that starts: "Three mice are missing from a lab in Newark. This normally wouldn't be a problem, except these mice have been exposed to the bubonic plague.". I can only hope that Julia didn't spend the rest of the week on stilts.

If you have any more blogs with a disability theme, tell us about them by dropping us an email.

Asperger's: not a disability?

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 16 September 2005

And today's topic for discussion is: Asperger's Syndrome - 'gift' or disability?

Yesterday, Sheffield Hallam University launched its new Autism Centre, which will bring together experts in autistic spectrum disorders from in and outside the UK, and conduct research into homeopathic treatments for children with autism. Speaking at the event was Genevieve Edmonds, who was diagnosed with AS two years ago, when she was 22, and has since written three guides for adults with Asperger's.

Here's a taste of what Genevieve had to say:

"Society all too often 'disables' people with Asperger's Syndrome. Despite having Asperger's, many adults have great potential and capability. They are often of normal or above average intelligence, but need the right support to be accepted for who they are and allowed to integrate . . . Adults with AS can see the world very differently to the average person. That can mean different priorities or different sensory experiences which can be exciting, but also exhausting, isolating and confusing."

It's an argument that's been put forward before: that AS is a 'gift' rather than a disability. But what do you think? Keen to hear from Aspies and non-Aspies alike on this one.

Singapore Pop Idol is blind

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Singapore has chosen the winner of it's local equivalent of Pop Idol . . . and, god help him, he's blind!

Kelvin Tan (better known as Wei Lian), 24, beat his closest rival Kelly Poon in last Thursday's final of Project Superstar at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.

In a brilliant twist that'll probably find its way into the next ITV singy songy tears and laughter starmaker show (TM), the two finalists both had to perform a song specially written to play on their vocal weaknesses. So, Kelvin had even more of a challenge in his life that night, didn't he? Eh?

Tan (the blind one) won 64% to Poon's 36%. Both winners get recording contracts and are expected to become big selling stars in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Thanks to Sarah Bush for the following link to a story in the Electric New Paper, which is already comparing our star to Stevie Wonder. That's because he's blind, see. The paper prints the following:

Ideal image: Humble boy-next-door who inspires people.

Greatest strength: Ability to touch people's hearts.

Worst weakness: His blindness.

And it carries a beautiful quote from Mandarin language radio station UFM's vice-president, Anna Lim:

"He can't be an idol singer because of his disability, but he has the support of the masses."

So if you had thought about auditioning for next year's X-Factor, forget it. There ain't no X nowhere near you, unless we're talking about unusual chromosomes.

Venus de Milo disabled?

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Crippled Monkey's Quote of the Day Award (an irregular feature that will probably never return) goes to disabled artist Alison Lapper who, as you probably know by now, will be immortalised on the fourth plinth in London's Trafalgar Square when an 11.5 tonne white marble sculpture of her is unveiled on Thursday. In an interview in The Herald newspaper, Alison answers the critics who say that such a prominent place in the heart of London should not be given over to a statue of a disabled (shock!) naked (horror!) woman with the following comment:

"No-one ever thinks of the Venus de Milo as disabled . . . No-one ever looks at her and asks: 'What welfare benefit was she on?'"

Go Alison!

Ouch links:
• Pregnant Alison sculpture not art? by Victoria Lucas
• Child of our Time: Alison Lapper by Emma Bowler

Can you give a deaf doggy a home?

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Tuesday, 13 September 2005

OK, you know the drill by now. I am Crippled Monkey, and my sole aim in life is to bring you stories of cute and loveable disabled pets. Aw!

From The Sun comes the tale of Chance, a deaf boxer dog who is "desperately seeking a family to teach him sign language - so he can beat his handicap". (Oh no, they said the H-word!)

His previous owners couldn't give the time needed to give Chance some obedience training, because he needs to be communicated with via big hand gestures rather than conventional voice commands (cue pictures of an RSPCA trainer poses with the sort of big hand gestures required).

Chance looks like a nice pooch. I'd rather like him as an official Ouch office pet. Hmm, I wonder . . . ?

Footprints in the Snow: reviews

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Monday, 12 September 2005

So the big disability-related TV programme over the weekend (I said that like there were lots to choose from, didn't I?) was obviously the ITV drama Footprints in the Snow, starring Caroline Quentin as Julie Hill in, according to the publicity, "the true story of woman's fight to regain her life after a horrifying accident leaves her unable to move her legs".



Caroline Quentin

Now, I have a confession to make. This Monkey was a bit tired last night, and I couldn't possibly manage to stay awake to watch it. Plus, my new DVD recorder is still a mystery to me, so I couldn't record it either.

However, checking the few reviews in the press this morning, it sounds like I didn't miss too much. The free Metro paper, in a review written by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh that's unfortunately not available online, said:

"Two hours and my own legs were going numb. This was ho-hum stuff at best with just enough down-to-earth scenes about disability - awkward sex, patronising publicans - to justify the 'oooh, innit awful?' tear-pulling (I remained dry). The whole slightly-off tone is summed up by Quentin's own misjudged quote in the production notes: 'I've got enormous respect for people with spinal injuries.' Yes, well done them."

Think that's bad? Oh, that's nothing. It gets worse, as The Guardian makes clear in their review:

". . . why, instead of crying, do I feel like throwing up through most of it? It's just so saccharine, so mushy-gooey - the warm humour of the other paraplegics in the hospital, warm humour with just a hint of bitterness. The charming Irishman. The stoical young girl who's paralysed from the neck down, the lovely kids . . . I don't know, the whole thing shouted uplifting, life-enhancing ITV drama, and it made me a bit queasy."

That's what they thought, then. But what about you? Were you weeping buckets during Footprints in the Snow? Was it the best disability TV drama you've seen since the, er, last disability TV drama? Tell us in the comments. Go on, you know you want to.

Disability writes

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 9 September 2005

Here's an interesting online project for ya. Disability Writes comes to you from Just Services in Leicester, with funding from Arts Council England.

You know what they say - if you're disabled and can't do anything else, well, you could always write! But that isn't quite so easy if you don't have guidance or decent feedback from others.

This newly launched website is hoping to grow a community of disabled writers who can give real tips and real support. "Oh yes darling, that's a lovely poem" and other patronising non-help is banned here! This is for people who really want to get on and write with a purpose.

So if you have been planning to write a short story, a poem, or that novel that you just know is inside you, why not register today?

Outkast: "it's a real leg"

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 9 September 2005

Andre Benjamin, aka Andre 3000, one half of the successful hip hop band Outkast, has been attempting to put to bed some old rumours about him in a recent television interview.

Speaking on MTV's daily TRL show, he said: "That happened in '94 - somebody said the way I walk . . . one of my legs may be fake. But they're real, they're not wooden. I'm not Pinocchio boy!" (reported by Digital Spy)

So, prosthesis conoisseurs, why not check him out in forthcoming movie Four Brothers to see if his gait is consistent with that of a fleshy limbed fella, or indeed, if he is a disability bro fresh from the imagination of the worryingly broody fairy tale father, Gepetto.

Jet Set lottery show wants you

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Thursday, 8 September 2005

The Jet-Set telly people contacted us because they're keen to get some disabled contestants on their game show. Read on.

Eamonn Holmes returns to BBC1 on 22 October with The National Lottery Jet Set, and he's looking for contestants.

Fancy winning the trip of a lifetime, living in luxury in exotic locations and rubbing shoulders with your favourite celebrities?

If you're lively and outgoing and think YOU could join the Jet Set, call or email NOW for an application form.

Call: 0900 111 44 61 (calls cost a maximum of 60p)
Email: jet.set@bbc.co.uk

Applicants must be aged 18 or over.

A Blind does well at exams shocker

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 2 September 2005

In an article entitled Blind faith paying off for Gareth, the Salford Advertiser gets this week's award for 'a bit of a crappy story featuring a disabled person'.

In summary, Gareth is 16, he's blind and he did well at his exams at a mainstream school in Salford. Or as the North-West local paper put it: "With the help of teachers and friends, Gareth struggled and overcame the mobility difficulties of studying at a regular school and will now start a BTEC course in September".

As well as boring crappy rubbish 'this is not a story' journalism, note how it nicely plants a seed in the mind of the reader that disabled kids normally do badly at school. Also note how the 'blind faith' cliché doesn't work here.

How do these stories get in the paper? Gareth, mate, good luck for the future, nice exam results.

Despite the overwhelming odds, overcoming adversity and triumphing beyond all possibility whilst suffering disability, Cripppled Monkey is about to bog off home for the weekend, "even though".

Hurricane Katrina aftermath

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Vaughan | 00:00 UK time, Friday, 2 September 2005

Like just about everyone else, here in the Ouch office we've been watching the dreadful developments in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But we've also been wondering how disabled people in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are coping in the terrible floods and destruction that the hurricane left in its wake. Have you got disabled friends or relatives in the affected areas? Have you heard from them or know how they're doing?

The Independent Living USA website has posted an email that's been circulating, sent originally by their colleagues in the affected states. It says:

". . . the Centers for Independent Living in Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans have been gravely affected by the hurricane. In fact the Biloxi, MS center was totally destroyed."

The email goes on to list various addresses to which you can send money specifically to help the independent living centres that are dealing with the disaster. We're not sure quite how this will work if you're trying to donate from the UK, but the best place to start might be the British Red Cross website, which has information on how to donate to the American Red Cross hurricane appeal.

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by Hurricane Katrina.

London's Liberty Festival

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Crippled Monkey | 00:00 UK time, Thursday, 1 September 2005

Trafalgar Square is host to London's disability rights festival Liberty this Saturday 3 September. It's free and aimed at everyone.

Last year it drew a 15,000 strong crowd to the central London location. This year it promises an exciting mix of music, arts, dance and aerial performances, as well as family arts workshops, stalls, displays, and an organic café.

It all kicks off at 1.00pm with an introduction by disabled comedians Liz Carr and Steve Day.

Across the afternoon you can see: Caroline Parker's signed singing, Minika Green with songs from the musicals, Touch/Don't Touch ariel display, Heart 'n' Soul ft Mat Fraser, Dead Beat International and Susan Hedges amongst others.

At 3,15pm, Mayor Ken Livingstone addresses the crowd ... all signed, audio described, assistance dog friendly, lecky wheelchair charging points, loops, accessible, etc etc.

If you go, be sure to email us and tell us what you thought of it.

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