Over the last few weeks several people - ordinary people that can walk - have very carefully explained to me (sat in a wheelchair) how difficult it is to get around in a wheelchair! The first time this happened I was so surprised that I didn't say a thing - I was gob-smacked to be honest..
Again on Friday when I was in Bath - a woman with a perfectly serious face said, and I quote 'It is very difficult to get around Bath in a wheelchair', not is it? but It is - really I'd never have known if she hadn' told me! Actually I do know I have tried to get around the centre of Bath and believe me it isn't easy! But do I need a complete stranger to tell me this? No I don't! Mr S says that she didn't really mean it that way, but that's exactly what she said and it riled me. Just like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall did when he became a vegetarian for six months and spent several programmes telling everyone how it was possible to have a meal without meat and then rather condenscendingly showed a lifelong veggie how to make a veggie meal...... how we all managed before Hugh I don't know.....
I digress - back to the shabby way that the disabled are treated. For example in Wells (Somerset) (Again this is an old city and definitely built before wheelchairs, not an easy place to get around - lack of drop kerbs is a major factor and shops with steps and no ramp is a bug-bear.) I went into a wool shop to be confronted with a sets of steps to main shop - the assistant ask me what I wanted -(not can I help you?)! Well I had gone in there to possibly buy some wool - in a wool shop what a surprise! When I said that I was looking for yarn and pointed out that I couldn't actually get into the main part of the shop she shrugged her shoulders and turned away! What a way to treat a potential customer - but then people in wheelchairs shouldn't go shopping on their own - now should they?
Re-reading this is does sound a bit of a rant, but consider the last time steps in a shop stopped you getting from getting around. I don't expect to get everywhere that an able body person can - but I do expect to be treated with the same courtesy. Life in a wheelchair does require a lot more organisation - you don't just pop out on a whim - some forward planning is needed to avoid wasted journeys, especially if think the venue might have a problem - so you check before you go - get me a mantra - not 'try before you buy', but 'check before you go' - this could catch on!
For example on Easter Saturday I have a table at a Craft Fair - but before I booked I checked out the venue - was accessable - yes it was and so Mr S and I will be there selling - this is a first and a bit scary, but it will be an experience and that's what life is all about!