- 30 Jun 07, 10:01 PM
I like to buy stuff; shiny stuff, indulgent stuff, deeply unnecessary stuff, occasionally useful stuff, all of it good. Yesterday I ventured into town having heard that a boxset of a US TV series involving a British comedian pretending to be an American cripple was on sale at a considerably discounted price. I’ll give you a clue, it rhymes with Mouse. Less than a year ago if you’d asked me which of Laurie and Fry was disabled I would have said “Why, it’s my second favourite manic depressive in the whole wide world, Stephen Fry.” It still is. Hugh Laurie, as his character Dr House, is only pretending. Even in my walking days I was never one for the straightforward limp, limping was accompanied by flailing arms and the inability to stop. Hence I am not the one to comment on the authenticity of Laurie’s chosen brand of crippledness, although I would like to know how the hell he can ride a motorbike. Answers in the comments section please. I would be one of those women simpering to Heat magazine that I had a ‘weird crush’ on House but then I would have to admit that crush actually started when I saw him in Blackadder when I was 11. And that just ain’t right. Nor is it remotely to do with disability. I digress…
I’ve recently borrowed my boyfriend’s old powerchair, it is several leagues above my own. Never have I spent an impulsive shopping trip gliding so smoothly over the cobbles, paving stones, tram lines and loitering Goths. But steering through a busy shopping street still requires concentration, whatever your turning circle.
On my way back to the bus station I realised I had to lower my seat. Knowing that if I stopped dead I risked some innocent soul crashing into me, possibly a goth with many delicate peircings, I had to pick my spot. A stall selling scarves was one possibility, but what if he thought I wanted to buy a scarf? I don’t want a scarf. Or do I? I might, I didn’t really like the shape of my neck that day. After much deliberation I stopped, lowered the seat and eventually emerged from the bus station subway, bewildered and scarf-less. Worse was to come, because when I go to the bus station it’s mostly because I want to catch a bus. In a wheelchair I had driven for less than a week. The bus company could combat sexism and disablism combined if they would just design a wheelchair space that was a. easy to steer into b. therefore didn’t invite quite so many ‘woman driver’ jokes. I know I should be happy accessible buses exist at all. For a freakishly long time I was, I still get the adrenaline rush and the beaming smile to this day, but that could just be exhaust fumes. But as it was, on this bus I got the back wheel caught on the helpfully placed yellow pole, nearly crippling an old woman wearing a headscarf and a terrified expression. If I'd hit her she could always get tips from Hugh Laurie. Like I said, it’s all about concentration.