Disability

Full transcript: Passionately kissing your 'mum' to prove a point

This is a full transcript of Passionately kissing your 'mum' to prove a point as first broadcast on 30 August 2018. It's a recording from the BBC Ouch: Storytelling Live show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, hosted by Lost Voice Guy. Ouch Talk Show 30th August 2018

LEE - Thank you for downloading this podcast which is the first of two we're releasing from our live event, BBC Ouch Storytelling Live. You'll be hearing stories from disabled people and people with mental health difficulties on the subject of going out, recorded live in front of an audience at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe hosted by me, Lost voice Guy. Let's start with me.

[Jingle] Ladies and gentleman, welcome to BBC Ouch Storytelling Live. Please put your hands together and make some noise for your host tonight, Lost Voice Guy. [Applause and cheering]

LEE - Hello ladies and gentlemen. Are you all very well?

AUDIENCE - Yes!

LEE - Welcome to BBC Ouch Storytelling Live. Tonight you'll be hearing stories from disabled people and people with mental health difficulties on the subject of going out. Some of the people here have never performed live before so be nice. I'm Lost Voice Guy and I'm your host for the evening.

AUDIENCE - Woo!

LEE - It's great to be here. No really. [Laughter] It's a miracle I made it up all the hills in one piece. [Laughter] I do realise that it is pretty ironic that a disabled comedian is playing one of the most inaccessible cities in the world. [Laughter] I'm not sure who booked me as the host for this show but they should be sacked [laughter] because it is my job to interact with the audience, and obviously I'm rubbish at that. [Laughter] So, please don't heckle me or we'll be here all night. [Laughter] But you seem like a nice audience so I might as well try anyway. You look nice and friendly, what is your name? Yes you, the one I'm pointing directly at with my finger. [Laughter]

SONIA - Sonia.

LEE - Are you sure your name isn't Boris? Because that is the name I have stored in here. [Laughter] Okay, Boris. And are you having a nice time in this generic town or city? [Laughter]

SONIA - I am.

LEE - Well, it's either very good and I'm pleased, or very bad and I'm sorry [laughter] depending on your previous answer. Who are you here with tonight?

SONIA - Myself.

AUDIENCE - Ah!

LEE - I'm sorry to hear that. [Laughter] And what do you do for a living Boris? [Laughter]

SONIA - I work in sales.

LEE - Once again that is not what I have got stored on here [laughter] so let's just pretend that you said you were a stripper and I'll see you after the show. [Laughter] I hope I get a discount because I am disabled though.

I might as well get this out of the way now while you are all trying to figure out what is going on. Believe it or not no, I can't speak at all, so please don't ask me after the gig if I can really talk. A ridiculous amount of people already have in the past, because obviously it's socially acceptable to pretend to be disabled for the sake of entertainment. [Laughter] If I was going to lie about being disabled I doubt I would have chosen this one. As a comedian not being able to speak is probably the worst disability to pretend to have. It's far more likely that I would pretend I couldn't walk so I could perform whilst sitting down. Or maybe I would say that I was blind then I would be able to let my dog poo on people who didn't laugh at my jokes. [Laughter] In fact I have been asked if I can really talk so many times now that I simply refuse to speak to the person who asked it. [Laughter] I just nod and wink simply to confuse them even more. I mean, they must think I'm a better method actor than Daniel Day Lewis in My Left Foot if they think I can put this on for hours at a time. Let me tell you it's really hard work looking this special. [Laughter]

Let me tell you you get asked some really strange questions when you are disabled though. My disability is called cerebral palsy. Recently I was asked what sort of cerebral palsy I had. I wasn't even aware that there were different brands of it. [Laughter] I have definitely not got any designer brand of cerebral palsy. I think I picked mine up from George at Asda. [Laughter] Whenever I'm asked what sort of cerebral palsy I have I always want to say I've got the bad kind. [Laughter] I don't know what they expect me to say. Next they will be asking me to rate my cerebral palsy on a scale from one to ten, ten being really bad and one being a benefit cheat appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show. [Laughter and applause] Fortunately I have a kind of cerebral palsy that means I can't speak. This act would be a bit rubbish otherwise.

I have been called many different names in the past. Just last week someone called me physically challenged, which I always thought was a game on the Krystal Maze. [Laughter] Of course other names have not been as nice. In fact I'm sick of getting pointed at, laughed at, looked at strangely, treated as if I am stupid and called names just because I am different. It's not even my fault that I'm from Newcastle. [Laughter]

It's at this point in my set when I like to remind people that I'm not related to Stephen Hawking in any way. However I was asked by a taxi driver if I was as clever as him once. I'm clearly not as clever as him or I wouldn't be in this generic town or city talking a load of rubbish. [Laughter] In fact the closest I have ever come to being Hawking is when I went to see The Theory of Everything at the cinema. It's the movie about Stephen Hawking and his life. I didn't go to watch it though; I just went so that I could sit at the back, say random sentences on my iPad and mess with the rest of the audience. [Laughter] Hawking would say something on screen and then I would speak up at the back and explain that I didn't say that at all, and that the movie was putting words into my machine. One guy in front of me seemed to be really impressed that it was being shown in surround sound. [Laughter]

I can see that some of you are trying to figure out where you know me from. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those comedians who brags about being on the television a lot. But just so you know, I have been on television a lot. [Laughter] You probably don't recognise me from the television though. I think my voice is more well-known than my face. Maybe it would help if I started saying phrases such as: the next train to arrive on platform four is the 12:52 service to London King's Cross. And from my time at the Post Office: please go to cashier number four please. [Laughter and applause]

People have often asked me why I want to put myself in a position where everyone can stare and laugh at me. The truth is that it happens to me every day anyway; at least this way there's a scheduled time and place for it. [Laughter] I like to think I'm providing a public service, which is more than the government is doing at the moment. [Applause] Of course I do it because I want to be famous too. I think everyone does really. I started off in a disabled Steps tribute band. [Laughter] We were called Ramps. [Laughter] That was a bit of an uphill struggle. [Laughter]

Anyway I think it's time to get the night started. If I pronounce any of the acts' names wrong tonight it's not actually my fault; you can just blame Steve Jobs. Where is he when you need him most? Are you ready to welcome your first act?

AUDIENCE - Yes!

LEE - You can do better than that. I said, are you ready to welcome your first act?

AUDIENCE - Yes.

LEE - Even if that was amazing this is all pre-programmed [laughter] so let's try once more. Are you ready for your first act?

AUDIENCE - Yes!

LEE - Please welcome to the stage Aaron Simmons.

AUDIENCE - Woo!

AARON - Hello. I'm Aaron. We're going to talk about a lot of important issues tonight and I'm going to do the same: I'm mainly going to talk about Harry Potter. [Laughter] Do we have any Harry Potter fans in?

AUDIENCE - Yes!

AUDIENCE - Great. so, some of you may know that in Harry Potter that all the wizards they call the non-wizards muggles, right? But what you may not know is that disabled people do that with non-disabled people as well. [Laughter] We call able-bodied people incredibly patronising. [Laughter] Every time I am on a train someone offers me a seat. [Laughter]

I'll give you another example. What is your name lovely lady? Jane. And can I ask you two easy questions Jane?

JANE - Yeah.

AUDIENCE - Okay. Firstly, have you ever been on an escalator?

JANE - Yes.

AUDIENCE - Of course you have. Everybody has. Answer me this: last time you were on an escalator, Jane, did anybody clap? [Laughter] They do with me. And I was running a little bit late tonight, Jane, so I was pushing as fast as I can just down the Royal Mile and some guy came up with the most original line I've ever heard. He went, 'slow down mate or you'll get a speeding ticket'. So, I ran him over. [Laughter and applause] Please don't clap it reminds me of going up escalators.

But I think the time I felt most patronised was when I went out to the cinema with my girlfriend. What happened is we went inside and the girl who worked there said, 'would you like any snacks for your movie?' And I said, 'yeah, I'll have some Skittles please'. And she looked at me and then she looked at my girlfriend and went, 'is he allowed Skittles?' [Laughter] In case you guys are wondering, that night I was allowed Skittles. It was great. She went and got them for me and then she turned to my girlfriend and said, 'and what would you like, mum?'

AUDIENCE - Ooh!

AUDIENCE - Okay, I will be honest, I found that funnier than you guys did. [Laughter] My girlfriend not so much, but we paid for everything and we went inside. We came out of the cinema and this same girl is just cleaning up and she sees me going towards the exit so she goes to open up the door for me. Now, usually that is not a patronising thing. It is if it is an automatic door. [Laughter] That is the most patronised I have ever felt, because I might be half machine but I'm not a ghost. [Laughter]

So, I want to do something to get back at this girl, so what I did was I got my girlfriend and I bought her nice and close to me and then I started making out with her. Now, it is awkward. I know that. But I do have to be honest with you guys, it is going to get worse [laughter] because after 30 seconds I took it too far. What happened is after half a minute of passionately kissing my girlfriend I then said, 'I know it's wrong but I can't help it any longer… mummy'. [Laughter] I am not proud of that. But the reason why I said it I wanted to create an image in this girl's head of me making out with my mum. But what made it even better was my girlfriend straightaway went, 'well, you're a far better kisser than your dad'. [Laughter and applause]

I love being with my girlfriend. It's way better than being single. I was terrible at being single. I hated dating. I once went on a date with an American girl and we went to a restaurant and just when we went in she said, 'would you like a drink?' and I said, 'no, I'm driving' and she said, 'that doesn't count', whilst nodding at my wheelchair. [Laughter] I said, 'no, I'm driving my car'. And she said, 'how does that work?' Now, the answer to that is I have a lever on the side of my steering wheel that I control with my right hand. That is not what I told the girl. [Laughter] I told her that my car was voice activated. [Laughter] She wanted to see this so I said I'd give her a lift home. And so what happened is we got in the car and I said go and the car began to move, and she went, [American accent] 'oh my god this is amazing!' Because she was very shy. And then I shouted stop and I slammed on the brake and she went, 'oh my god this is the best thing ever! Can I get this in my car?' and I thought, no [laughter] I don't even have this in my car! [Laughter]

But we carried on for a little while and then she said, 'can I try?' No - is what I should have said. But I said, 'why not?' 'Why not?' is what I said. I'll give you two reasons why not: one is that I think we've established that this is not how my car works. And two, even if it was if I gave her control of my car and she crashed I could end up in a wheelchair and that would be rubbish, right? [Laughter] But I said, 'sure, why not? All you need to do is say the word go'. So, she went, 'go'. And to this day I still do not know what made me say the following sentence, 'oh, the car doesn't understand your American accent'. [Laughter] I made her do an English accent, guys. She went, [fake British accent] 'go', I let go of the brake and she went absolutely bonkers, having the time of her life. She's loving it, but I start to feel really guilty. So, I decide by the time we get to her flat that I've got to show her where the lever is. And outside her flat that's exactly what I do, and she said, 'I completely believed you because my front door is voice activated. [Laughter] I tell you what, I'm going to go inside and slip into something more comfortable, and you just go up to the front door and say open.' [Laughter] I learned a very valuable lesson that day, guys. I'll share it with you so you can learn from my mistakes. Why not? There is nothing so sad as a guy in a wheelchair shouting open at a door in an American accent.

Guys you've been absolutely lovely. I've been Aaron Simmons. Enjoy the rest of your night.

LEE - Let's hear it once again for the brilliant Aaron Simmons. [Applause]

Now please welcome your next storyteller for the evening, Fran Aitkin.

FRAN - Hi everyone. This is my first time; I'm not as funny as him. Yeah, my name is Fran Aitkin, I'm from New Zealand, and the reason I'm here tonight is because I am a space cadet. [Laughter] You guys all know what that means, right? And I'm sure you guys all know someone who's a space cadet: they're super dreamy and their head's always in the clouds and they're constantly late. Me personally, you can probably see, I'm covered in bruises from shin to toe because I always miss things below my eye level like small children or lazy boy florists. It's just part of being a space cadet.

And there are advantages to knowing us. For example I am so good at picking out the perfect birthday present for my friends and they will get it two months after the actual birthday because I would have forgotten it, but it's a nice little surprise for both us. If my friends are running late I will never, ever, ever be mad at them because I'm almost definitely late as well. It actually takes a lot of pressure off me when they're late.

Being a space cadet probably doesn't sound like a disability but there are disadvantages. Personally I really struggled when I was at university because secondary school was just a breeze for me because it was so structured and I had my parents and my teachers kicking me up the arse, telling me when to go to school, when to eat, when to come home, when to sleep. University is not like that; you are meant to be disciplined and self-motivated, you're meant to read what they tell you to read and show up on time to lectures and listen for an hour. I could not do that. I'm not self-disciplined, I had no control and things were not going well for me. I would miss my lectures because I would have been up late; well, late as in all night. I would have been up all night watching fail videos. And then the lectures I did go to I would just be zoned out through them so I wouldn't remember what I was meant to have heard. And I would never submit my essays because I would have forgotten my password to my online account. I would forget to wash my clothes, and then when I remembered I would forget to dry them, so I would be walking round smelling like an old sock. [Laughter] It was a dark time.

The university I was at they placed me on academic probation and they told me to get my act together. How do you do that? How, how? It's like asking someone mid trampoline bounce to stay still. I couldn't do it. It was like I bounced so high I was just flying away from Earth in space, my little limbs flying around, shouting for help. And no one really knew how to help me and I didn't really know what was wrong either. But that was my life circa 2015.

And then my friend Anna from primary school came to visit, and she was a space cadet as well, well she used to be - she betrayed me by going to university and starting to wear leisure wear and Nike shoes and getting As. [Laughter] But she came to my really grotty disgusting student flat and we hugged, she was like hey, and I was like, hey. And she came to my room which was just piles of pizza boxes and dirty clothes just strewn everywhere, and then we just started getting drunk so it was fine. [Laughter]

So, we were about five drinks in and then Anna starts rummaging about in her bag and then she pulls out this little tray of pills, and I go, 'what's that?' She goes, 'oh my god, this guy at my dorm gave them to me, they're amazing. You take them if you need to pull an all-nighter, but if you take them before you go out they give you this huge burst of energy and it's incredible. Do you want one?'

Yeah, drugs are illegal, don't do them, this is horrible, this is a terrible thing to do. But I was in a very, very, very bad place: I was on academic probation, I also had an essay due next morning that I had not started nor intended to start. And academic probation one slip up you're out, you're expelled. So, I had kind of made my peace with that that I was going to be expelled, so I really didn't want to think about that. So, I took the pill. And then we worked down the road to this night club in Wellington, where I'm from, and we started getting a crunk on, started grinding, [laughter] and I'm just head in the clouds, as per norm, dancing away, not thinking about anything, and I'm just waiting for something to happen. And then suddenly it happened and I was down on Earth. And it's hard to describe. Basically my mind is always like smeared across the sky or whatever available surface, and then suddenly it had been picked up, gathered, alphabetised, handed back to me in this nightclub about 1am and I just did not know what to do.

And I knew that something was up because I was noticing little details, and I never, never, ever noticed details - I'm not going to remember any of this. [Laughter] There was this guy across from me and I was like, he's wearing running shoes in a nightclub, who does that? And he was wearing a tie with like little kiwi birds on it. And his nose, he had blackheads; he needed to deep clean his nose. And I was like, what's happening to me? I was looking around - and I've been coming to this place for about a couple of years - and I just saw it clearly for the first time and it was a shit hole. [Laughter] There was beer all over the floor, there were condom wrappers, lights were broken, there was like this mural of this woman holding a snake and it was peeling, and the bar tender had a silver tooth and the disco ball was basically missing all its tiles. And I was like, what am I doing in this disgusting place?

And I can't explain just how much it sucks when you're in a night club and the drunken guy across from you having a great time and all you can think about is this little bit of lamb kebab on the collar of his shirt that you would normally never notice, but suddenly you're noticing things. and this lamb kebab you can smell it as well, it's right there. What was he thinking? And I wasn't even drunk anymore. Normally I lose minutes, I lose hours, just drifting away, and suddenly time was going slowly. And I didn't want it to go slowly; I wanted to be having fun.

So, for the first time in my young life I made a sensible decision and I put Anna in a taxi and I walked on home. And I went to my room and I saw just how disgusting it was for the first time in detail. So, I picked up all the pizza boxes, chucked them out, picked up all the dirty clothes, put on a load of washing. And then I sat down, started, completed and submitted my essay and effectively saved my academic career. [Laughter] It wasn't really a career; it was more like a part-time job at that point. [Laughter]

And then the sun rose and I was like, okay, I have to know what this thing is that I took. So, I googled the name. Does everyone know what Ritalin is? [Laughter] So, Ritalin is a prescription drug for ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. What I had experienced had been something I had never experienced before in my life, it was something I desperately needed: it was focus. [Laughter]

So, I went to the doctor and he diagnosed me with type 2 ADHD, which is predominantly inattentive and not hyperactive. And a lot of women actually are under-diagnosed for that reason, because just like me, are quiet and struggling in silence, not making a lot of noise, so it's very easy for women to be under-diagnosed with ADHD. And I ended up graduating with the help of my disability advisor, which I got after I was diagnosed. That was three years ago and I have a job now, which I love, and I have a routine, which is something I thought I would never, ever be capable of doing. I can get up, I can go to work, I can come home and wash my clothes and dry them and cook dinner. I'm very proud of that.

And so if you're really, really relating to this story you might want to go to the doctor. Do not take a pill that your friend from primary school gave you. [Laughter] It's illegal and it's bad and more than that it's dangerous. It could have ended so badly for me but thank god it didn't because without my diagnosis I don't know where I would be.

And I'm still a space cadet, maybe even more so now, because I take a pill wrapped in foil once a day and that's the food of the future - and this time it's prescription. Thank you. [Applause]

LEE - That was the wonderful Fran Aitkin. Let's hear it once again for Fran. Let's keep the stories coming. Let me introduce your next storyteller, Jessica Donohue.

JESSICA - I'm Jessica and this is Katrina. The BBC think I have a slight speech impediment. I swear too much apparently. [Laughter] So, Katrina's here to tell my story.

KATRINA - Hello there. I'm a fluffy-haired university drop-out that just so happens to have a body that doesn't work as well as the average Joe's. I'm Jess, I sit down a lot and my wheels stand in for my inoperable legs - pun intended. [Laughter] But unfortunately this is not down to being a lazy cyborg; although a child once asked if I was a transformer, so maybe I'm more of an android than I first thought.

I have a muscle-wasting condition called spinal muscular atrophy, SMA. SMA is a genetic condition which basically means my parents are probably related. [Laughter] Because of my lack of muscle my arms and legs are slightly fatter and really not much longer than a French fry. I can guarantee that I'm not much longer than a Subway sandwich, and being sat in my chair makes me even shorter. My head, funnily enough, is the only normal size on my body. I basically have a similar physique to that of a Charlie Brown, and the head control of a bobble head. You should see me go in the car. [Laughter]

Another thing affected is my jaw muscles. And luckily for anyone that spends excessive amounts of time with me it means I can't talk for long without my voice slowly becoming an indistinguishable mumble, hence the voice that's Scottish, not my own. I'm from Manchester. [Laughter]

I'm not inspirational, unless there are freebies involved. But there are more pros to my disability, aside from my unique aesthetic and the pity presents. Take front-row parking for instance. I also have a greater chance of meeting some of the more interesting characters in society. Contrary to popular belief we are not all miserable and do occasionally leave the house. Permitted, it's not high [30:26?] season of course. Have you ever noticed during the colder months there is a significant decline in the number of wheelchair folk roaming about the streets? Fun fact: those of us with already crap muscles have even crapper muscles in the colder weather. Global warming is our best friend. The Earth could be on fire and I would still be relishing in my new-found mobility. So, those of you who live in colder climates you are as inspirational to me as I apparently am to complete strangers. [Laughter]

Alcohol is the only cure to my frozen body and I will stick by that reasoning the way only a true alcoholic could. [Laughter]

Let me explain how hard it is for me to go out. Whilst I was at university my halls of residence was just off the busiest road in Manchester. Handy, you might think. With everything so close to hand the idea of changing out of pyjamas that could easily pass as real-life clothes was at the very bottom of my list. There was no time before my next scheduled nap anyway. And besides us disabled girls don't dress to impress. [Laughter]

I set out to collect a friend from the train station only five minutes away. Shortly into my ride I started receiving more and more empathetic smiles. Now, I'm not adverse to the odd stare, and whenever I'm out in public it's pretty much a guarantee that several people will make it completely obvious that they have never seen a [carton 31:55?] carried in a wheelchair before. But this particular day the number of people eyeing me up had drastically increased. I had come to the conclusion that it was either A, I was looking extra sexy or B, looking extra disabled. [Laughter] Unsurprisingly enough it was the latter, but not for the reason you might expect. After passing a large group of homeless people that had set up camp under the motorway bridge it became apparent where the surge in unusual looks had stemmed. With a single and very polite comment from one of the men, 'oh my god, she's got her tit out!' [Laughter] Obviously he hadn't got the 'she's clearly mentally disabled and can't be advised' memo, like every other passer-by.

Due to my crooked spine my whole boob had fallen out of the arm opening of my vest and my hot dog arms weren't fat enough to hide it, not strong enough to solve my issue. Debating whether to turn back and flash myself to passing cars instead I took an executive decision: to continue on hopping, I can manoeuvre close enough to buildings along the pavement to hide my nipple and my growing embarrassment. That's where a road crossing became my worst fear. Worse than the unexpected steps in the middle of a darkened club - who thought those were a good idea? Drunk people and steps aren't compatible, even in an able-bodied world that's just not on.

As I approached the next crossing I sat questioning if the street would ever become quiet enough to cross without being noticed. It wouldn't. But before I had built up the courage to peel myself from the wall I was approached by a woman I had passed earlier under the bridge. She was carrying a bunch of cigarette ends, and evidently not the most hygienic. 'Babe, your tit is right out, can I…?' I didn't let her finish. Bearing in mind pneumonia preys on SMA, colds are our kryptonite. New personal assistants go through rigorous sterilising training. For the first time in my life antibacterial was not my first thought, like it had been for every encounter before. This cigarette end lady popped me back in. And I am still eternally grateful, although not enough to engage in any further conversation. [Laughter]

On my way back I crossed to avoid further interaction, but to my surprise it's pretty difficult to go undercover when you're riding a hefty metal machine. I got a very enthusiastic wave from the opposite side and a roared loud ovation 'that's the boob girl!' [laughter]

JESSICA - And I've avoided that bridge ever since. [Laughter] Thank you very much, you've been amazing.

LEE - Thank you for downloading this podcast. You heard from Aaron Simmons, Fran Aitkin, Jessica Donohue and me, Lost Voice Guy. The producer was Ed Morrish.

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