>Comedians and Disablist Jokes

>At the gig I went to tonight the headline comedian (Milton Jones) made a joke about people faking disabilities to get benefits. Which as you might imagine ruined my enjoyable of the rest of the show. I’m not going to share the joke here because I don’t want to give it “air time”. However I’ve since found an e-mail address for him and have let him know my thoughts on the matter. As it’s a subject which I don’t think gets the attention it should (Ricky Gervais, Frankie Boyle and Jim Davidson all being well known for doing the same but still popular) I thought I would share the e-mail here.

I was at your show in [place] tonight. I am a full time wheelchair user as I have a lifelong disability. I was very very disgusted by your joke about crutches and benefits. Completely unnecessary and you clearly haven’t researched it – DWP figures show that less than 1% of all claims for Disability Living Allowance are fraudulent. In fact, more people who apply are turned down but then appeal and receive it then receive it first time.

People such as yourself have an influence over the way people are treated. Last week a friend was the victim of a disability related hate crime by someone who assumed she was faking her disability (you can read this on her blog http://incurable-hippie.blogspot.com/2011/02/hate-from-government-hate-on-street.html) we live in different areas of the country and yet less than 24 hours later I also had abuse screamed at me in the street (details on my blog http://writerinawheelchair.blogspot.com/2011/02/you-can-hate-me-but-you-wont-break-me.html)

It might just be a cheap way to get a laugh and make some money to you but to people like me perpetuating that stereotype is causing a lot of hurt and making us feel unsafe to go out in the areas around our own homes.

Living on benefits I don’t have much money and a night out like that is an occasional special treat. It’s upsetting to hear something so hurtful to people like me used for laughs. I won’t come to one of your shows again, there are other comedians out there who manage to be just as funny without using disabled people as a subject for ridicule.

I’m sure you won’t read this and even if you do you won’t listen but can I please ask you to think long and hard about the power and influence you wield when speaking to large audiences. And consider whether your jokes are appropriate and in good taste before going ahead.


>Since November time last year I’ve been using Swagbucks.  It’s a great site where you can earn reward points for doing basic stuff like searching the web, playing games, taking surveys and watching videos.  You can also earn them using certain other websites if you go through Swagbucks first.  These reward points or swagbucks can be cashed in for free stuff including £5 Amazon vouchers.  Since I’ve been using Swagbucks I’ve had two £5 giftcards and almost have enough to order a third – hopefully by the end of the weekend.  It’s a great treat for those of us who are on benefits or who are trying to make the pennies stretch.  Or even if you just love free stuff – and who doesn’t

Monday is the 3rd Birthday of Swagbucks and I’m one of a group of bloggers who’ve been asked to promote the site on our blogs as a part of the very big birthday celebration they have planned!  When you sign up to Swagbucks, you get given 30 SB.  However I’ve been given a code to share with my readers which will earn them an additional 50 SB on top of that.  Simply sign up using this link (this is a referral link which shows you came from me and I get a bonus for people who sign up using it) and then use the code 3rdBirthday50 exactly as it’s written here to get that extra 50!  That code expires at the end of Monday 28th Feb (midnight US time)

Swagbucks is an American site but it’s great because it has prizes in all sorts of currencies and for different places so please don’t think it’s not for you without looking into it first.

My username is FunkyFairy22 on Swagbucks the same as it is on Twitter and a lot of other places.  Let me know if you sign up.

>I’m going to be hosting the 75th Disability Blog Carnival

>I’m going to be hosting the next edition of the Disability Blog Carnival.  That will be the 75th one and so I’ve chosen the theme of Milestones.  I am especially pleased to have the 75th as I also hosted the 50th!

Entries can be left in the comments here or sent to me via e-mail ejcrees AT googlemail DOT com please put DBC or some such in the subject so I know you’re not spamming me!

The carnival will take place on 25th March and it would be great if people could get entries to me by the 23rd although I’ll try and include ones received after that date.

If you don’t know what the DBC is all about, this is the current edition “Participation”.  The official home of the DBC is Disability Studies, Temple U.

>I am A Writer In A Wheelchair and In Print (Again)

>I have an article in this months Disability Now!

It’s called Triumph Over Cuts Tragedy and it’s about the One Month Before Heartbreak campaign.  Mostly about the sense of friendship and community we managed to build.  To me that’s probably more important that what we did fighting the cuts.

Please comment and let me know what you think of it – I love getting feedback and it’s all really useful.

Finally, I’d just like to take this opportunity one more time to send huge huge thanks to everyone who took time to write, tweet, video, comment, facebook and so many other things as a part of One Month Before Heartbreak.  It might have been my idea but you are all part of the reason why it was so successful!

>My submission to the consultation on DLA reform


I am lifelong disabled. Always have been and always will be.  Specifically I have cerebral palsy (CP) and use a wheelchair 95% of the time.  I’m able to stand and take a couple of steps, enough solely to move between bed, wheelchair, toilet, powerchair etc.  I also have clinical depression and anxiety.  This was not caused by my physical disability but is made much worse by it.  I was diagnosed with this in 2003 and have been on treatment for it almost continually since then.  I have many concerns about DLA reform.
As someone who is lifelong disabled I’ve been in receipt of DLA at the rate of Middle rate care and Higher rate mobility since DLA came into being.  There is no cure for my CP which means I’ll never improve to a state where lower levels or no DLA is needed by myself.  CP being a static condition also means that there is little chance of my condition becoming such I require higher levels of DLA.  As such I have an indefinite award.  That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent award, it just means that they recognise my circumstances are such they need not be reviewed regularly.
I am concerned the greater impact of these proposed changes hasn’t been assessed correctly.  I live in Oxfordshire and in 2007 my support from Social Services was withdrawn as I wasn’t considered to have high enough needs.  Since then the criteria have become even stricter.  My DLA has enabled me to continue living alone.  It means that I can pay for a cleaner to come once a fortnight and mop my floors, change my bed and clean the kitchen/bathroom.  The rest of the time I live in a very messy house I have no choice.  It pays for extra washing because I’m incontinent and also because sometimes my clothes catch on my wheelchair and get dirty quickly (and sometimes for extra clothes because they rip).  It pays for new batteries for my powerchair as I have no other form of out the house independent mobility but don’t qualify for one of the NHS.  For heating as I get cold easily.  Slightly more expensive foods that come in packets I can open without help and things which are low effort to prepare.  If I was to lose my DLA I would have to go back to social services and they would need to find that help for me, something which would likely cost more than the DLA I receive each week.
My family (parents and younger brother and sister) all work full time.  They’d have to find a way to help me out much more than they already do.  I’m not being melodramatic when I say they would likely end up having to do all of the support that DLA allows me to arrange for myself.  Doing that on top of full time work would be very difficult.  My mother runs her own business which would likely suffer if we found ourselves in that situation.  Surely that isn’t good for the economy? 
Then there would be the increased cost to the NHS.  My family wouldn’t want me to feel guilty or like a burden but it’s how I would feel.  I’m 29 and I’m independent, but I’m really scared I’ll lose that.  That’s making my mental health problems worse – I had a panic attack yesterday about the possibility.  If the situation becomes a reality it’s very possible my medications will need to be increased at a higher cost to the NHS.  I’d also no longer be able to afford repairs and maintenance on my powerchair so would have to go back to the NHS for reassessment there.  Parent and other family carers also have a high level of health problems due to their caring responsibilities, again another possibly increasing and likely high cost to the NHS.
Currently I live in a fully adapted flat which I rent from a housing association.  It was designed for a wheelchair user as it was built.  Without my benefits and the support they provide I could face having to give up my flat and move back with my parents.  I’ve never lived in the house they currently live in and it’s not suitable for my needs.  A disabled facilities grant or similar would be needed to adapt it, another cost which DLA helps avoid in my case and I’m sure in many others.
Emma Crees
17th February 2011

>You Can Hate Me But You Won’t Break Me

>First of all, I am only sharing this story because I think it needs to be shared.  I don’t want you to feel sorry for me and I don’t want to blow it out of proportion.

As I was coming along the main road (on the path, obviously) this afternoon in my powerchair a guy in a van leaned out of his fully open window, looked right at me and yelled something at me.  The only word I heard clearly was “chair” But I think it was “walk not wheelchair.”

Not very nice.  At all.  And yet I’m luckier than Incurable Hippie who had a much more scary experience last night.

He wasn’t trying to tell me something was wrong with my chair, I checked and it was fine. Plus, I’ve had people driving past me do that before and they’ve always stopped to be sure I heard them.  “oh you’re bag’s fallen off the back” that sort of thing

I’m bothered about shouting at about that but I didn’t want to make a big fuss and having it recorded as a disability hate crime (although, technically, that’s what it is.)  However at the beginning of this year I promised myself I wasn’t going to be a doormat and was going to stand up for myself as much as possible with all those people who I don’t know but who demand to know why I’m in a wheelchair or when I’ll be “better” or all those sorts of ridiculous non of their business questions.  And so far this year I’ve done it twice with limited success. And once when maybe I should have (when someone laughed at me in the doctors waiting room) I wasn’t able too as I was too upset.

I was under the impression that the big disability charities had all agreed to monitor this sort of thing.  So I called the Scope helpline.  It is very important to me that this gets included in the statistics about this sort of thing.To be fair to them, thanks to the power of Twitter, I’ve since had an apology (or “we’re sorry the service wasn’t what you expected”) but I really wasn’t very happy with the way the call was handled.  I felt like the person I spoke with was dismissive and her basic response was that a lot of people get shouted at in the street for various reasons like race or disability. It’s not right but “it happens”.  And there was nothing Scope could do.  The person I spoke to didn’t even ask if I was OK.

Someone on twitter has since passed me a link to a site about hate crime and it included Scope as an organisation you could go to for help with this sort of thing (and I’ve used their anonymous online tool to have the details recorded).  BendyGirl called to check on me and she said she thought the same about the big charities.

I don’t want to make a big fuss about this but I wanted to share it because it’s something that happens when you’re disabled.  So saying “it happens” is fair enough.  But it’s not good enough.  Because it shouldn’t happen.  No one would expect someone who is gay or Asian or in any other minority to put up with that sort of thing or deal with those sort of questions.  And I don’t know why I, as a disabled person, should have to.

I’m used to people not understanding disability but truly the level of hate and the scrounger stereotypes are getting much much worse.

I’ve had apology from Scope for the lack of help from their response helpline but I remain disappointed that someone working for an organisation whose whole purpose is to support people with CP was so unfeeling.  I considered them one of the big disability charities but obviously I got that wrong.

I’ll never get an apology from the man in the van, I don’t know who he is and frankly he’s just an idiot.  I doubt he’ll read this and if he does he probably won’t realise it’s him I’m talking about.  Chances are, however, that one day he’ll have the same experience I did.  Because lives change in an instant and people become disabled in a blink of an eye.  Don’t castigate those of us who wheel through life instead of walking or have other forms of disability.  Because chances are one day you’ll be one of us as well.

>The Accident Man by Tom Cain


(image description) it says “The Great Transworld Crime Caper” The T in transworld is bigger and blue, the rest of the text is black.  There is a magnifying glass over the T, yellow “crime scene do not cross” tape across the entire logo and a gun with blood splatters in the top right of the image.

I was given a copy of The Accident Man by Tom Cain to review by Transworld as a part of their Great Crime Caper

The Accident Man is a “what if?” tale based around the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.  This is what Amazon has to say about it

12.19am A Mercedes leaves the Ritz hotel.
12.25am A car loses control in a Paris underpass.
3.57am Three people are pronounced dead.
3.58am Samuel Carver realizes he’s been set up . . . 

Ex-marine Samuel Carver makes bad things happen to worse people. But now he wants out. He takes on one last hit – the target, they say, is a high-ranking terrorist. When Carver discovers his victim’s true identity, he becomes the next target. He knows too much. Unless he can track down the mystery men behind his murderous mission, his life is over…

‘The most audacious and timely thriller in years’ Daily Mirror ‘Like the Bourne movies meets Frederick Forsyth’ Guardian ‘This is the best first thriller I have read since The Day of the Jackal’ Wilbur Smith

Carver and the rest of the characters are believable.  The characters you’re supposed to like are likeable and realistic.   The ones you’re supposed to hate… are nasty and horrible and totally right for the book without being over the top or ridiculous.
I took this book with me on Saturday when I met a friend from uni. I was on the train for an hour and a half ish each way.  I’d thought I might just read a little because I like to people watch and often get distracted on trains by things going on around me.  I read for pretty much the entire time.  And I read more when I got home.  By the time I turned my light out that night I’d read just over half the book (it’s over 500 pages long).
I liked the way it kept you guessing and was difficult to put down.  I’d wondered if being based around real events it would focus too much on those.  However they were only in occasionally as a sort of seasoning rather than a major aspect of the plot.  I didn’t guess any of the twists which is something I really like in a book, particularly when they are believable twists as in this case.  The ending took me somewhat by surprise and was lower key than I expected but worked for the plot.  It also made the crip in me happy but for fear of spoilers I won’t tell you why!
I’d highly reccommend this book, I’ve seen two sequels to it on Amazon and the only reason I’ve not ordered them already is my attempt at saving money – I’m definitely looking forward to reading them!

>Things that have…

>Annoyed me lately (a like incomplete list)

Burning my tongue on hot lasagne at the CAB social last night. Oww it’s still kinda sore now

Driving my powerchair into a lamppost earlier today.  I’m fine.  So is my chair.  But seriously, WTF?! I never do that!

People who put a capital A in the words disabled, disability, disablism etc.  So very annoying and patronising.  I’m disabled, it is what is is and lets not pretend otherwise or try to put an unnecessary PC twist on it.

Likewise, those who use the terms, “different abled” or “less able”  I’ve never heard anyone outside of Glee use the term “handi-capable” or otherwise that would be on there as well.

People telling me they feel for me.

Or calling me a “good girl”

Being asked why I’m in a wheelchair and the person not getting why I made a joke as opposed to answering (I said “because it’s fun.” They said “I’m sorry?” and I repeated it then they stared at me blankly before I said I have CP.)

The question/suggestion that exercise might help my disability.

Getting up in a panic because I slept in when I thought I’d need to sign for a parcel.  Then having it arrive an hour later and just put through my door with no signature.

The fact that assisted travel are saying that yes my travel went wrong but wasn’t bad enough for me to be entitled to the automatic compensation.

And most especially the fact that they didn’t apologise either in the letter.

been enjoyable lately

The fact that the assisted travel major fuck up happened on a trip to meet a researcher to discuss what it’s like to be disabled and travel by train!  The guys at my home station were killing themselves laughing when I got back and told them that.

A member of staff at Center Parcs pushing me up the most ridiculously hill whilst running(!) and us overtaking my friends whilst doing so.  He then commented that he wasn’t very fit.  If that wasn’t very fit I want to know what is!!

One of mine and Bendy Girl’s trademark very long chats this afternoon – our longest yet I think (this time on Skype)

The CAB social last night

Yummy chicken wings and lasagne at the social.  I consider lasagne something I like but am not overly keen on and it was gorgeous – a nice surprise.

Losing 4 and a half pounds after one week without coke and chocolate

A new Star Trek book to read – especially as its a Next Generation one.

Cranberry and Raspberry squash.  Although I might have been drinking a little bit too much of it over the weekend.

The Apprentice USA – for some reason it cracks me up.

>Accessibility at Center Parcs Part 1 – The Villa

>I spent last weekend (Friday – Monday) at Center Parcs, Longleat Forest.  I’ve been to Center Parcs loads of times but it had been about 12 years since I last went to Longleat.  Center Parcs are great at access.  They don’t get it all right and there were some very obvious frustrations and places where I thought they could do better. They provide some very detailed accessibility information (in a series of PDFs) on their website and I thought I would blog (with photos) about how I found it.  I’m splitting this into more than one entry for length.

We stayed in a 2 bedroom “Comfort Plus” villa.  This is where the first problem came into being.  We booked a 2 bedroom villa as 2 of us were going to go. When we got given our villa number we looked on the accessibility statement and saw it was 3 bedroom.  So we assumed it was a free upgrade, because these things happen when you’re disabled!  And my friend called Center Parcs and added her mum to our booking.  We arrived to find our villa was, indeed, a two bedroom villa.  I spoke to two different people about this. One of them (on the phone) blatantly didn’t believe what I was saying but the other (in person) said that some of the villas had originally been unadapted and had bedrooms taken out to make adapted bathrooms and that was what had happened here and they’d missed it on the website.  I’m not convinced I believed them mostly because I thought the location of the adapted bathroom would have been strange for a bedroom!  It wasn’t a problem for us, luckily, because as we’d booked a 2 bedroom villa what we had was all we were entitled too.  I was assured, however, that they will fix the mistake on the website.

Outside of the adapted villas there is a disabled parking space and you get a lovely neon orange sign to go with your blue badge so you can keep your car onsite.  So that along with the ID sticker they give everyone makes for a positively colourful dashboard.  Normally people must move their cars to the car park, the only exceptions being people staying in adapted villas and anyone staying in an unadapted villa where the driver is the disabled person (this did cause some confusion when we first arrived as the person checking us in didn’t realise that if your in an adapted villa it doesn’t matter who the disabled person is or who the driver is).  Unfortunately one of the lights outside our villa was broken so there was a mobile lighting gantry and it had been put in the disabled space.  A source of much amusement when I called security and told them and asked them to move it. At that time it wasn’t working anyway.  So the tech guys came and fixed the light and didn’t move it.  Eventually it was decided it couldn’t be moved as light was more important but said basically find a spot and leave it, we know.  Everyone was very apologetic about it and they really kept us informed.

The adapted villas have a regular bathroom and an adapted one.  This was part of the reason I wasn’t convinced the villa had ever been “normal”, the regular bathroom didn’t have a loo!  I don’t think I could have got my chair in the regular bathroom, it was tiny.

Shower set up.  Those arm rests attached to the seat (one on which is covered by my flannel) are all there were for grab rails by the shower.  The position of the seat along the wall was adjustable but if you could adjust the height of it we couldn’t figure it out!  I can’t stand up straight but we think I’m around five foot three, five foot four height wise and my feet couldn’t touch the ground on that seat.

Shelf thing on the right of the shower seat as you sat on it. Useful for putting stuff on and also moveable I think.

Sink set up.  The position and I think height were adjustable which led to some middle of the night amusement when people were half asleep and forgot it moved (I think you should be able to adjust it so it only moves when you want it to but it wasn’t set like that).  The area was well lit with a light each side of the mirror.  Unfortunately the mirror was a little bit too high for me in my wheelchair.  I think you can just see the top of my head in this photo.  Good job I didn’t want to do my make up whilst we were away!  I’d have liked one of the shelf things like in the shower by the sink for putting my toothbrush etc on.

The loo.  One drop down grab rail each side, height adjustable.  Given the way they were on the wall they were in their lowest position here.

Overall this was a very functional bathroom and I managed well with it. Probably one of the better adapted bathrooms I’ve seen in a holiday place and with loads of space.  The loo and sink are next to each other and then there is a big space before the shower meaning you have lots of room to turn, manoeuvre and for carers to assist..  It was clean, the door was a sliding one so didn’t take up space (although it was heavy and didn’t have a lock).  There was a red cord but it was tied up.  The alarm only sounded within the villa however (which is fine in my opinion) so I left it tied up on the grounds I could shout if I needed something.  I would have liked a few more grab rails, especially in the shower area as the lack of them meant I needed help transferring in and out of the shower when I don’t normally.  It was lacking a privacy curtain but what disabled  bathroom isn’t?!  My only tiny complaint I’ve not covered is the fact there were complimentary toiletries in the regular bathroom but not in the adapted one.  Crips like freebies too!

I didn’t take pictures of the hall but it was huge.  Plenty of room in there to get round and also if you only use a chair outdoors you could easily leave it there fully set up and not have it be in the way.

The kitchen I could get my wheelchair in but it wasn’t adapted at all so it’s a good job we ate out mostly!  I did just about manage to make toast one morning but someone had to reach plate and cup down for me.  Both the fridge and freezer were accessible.  There wasn’t room to turn but the kitchen is small and I could have reached all sides without moving (and at once probably!).  You wouldn’t get more than one person in there if one was a wheelchair user!

The dining area/table, kitchen and lounge are all open plan.  There was room to get my wheelchair round the lounge but only just.  The sofa was very very comfy and lovely but low and a pain to get up of off.  I ended up having to roll off the sofa onto the floor and then crawl to my wheelchair to get up.  There is a high back more supportive chair in the bedroom which you could move but it would be a very tight fit in the lounge!

Very low wall mounted TV in the lounge.  We didn’t watch any TV really but it didn’t feel comfortable watching it there, it was a bit low!  I suspect all the villas have their TVs there as there was a hole in the unit below it with a DVD player in it.  But I can’t help feeling that’s a stupid place in a wheelchair accessible villa.  With the TV one side and the coffee table the over it was tight and I did knock it once or twice.

Two pictures of the accessible bedroom, both taken from the door.  The top shows the electric bed (this was a twin room with one electric bed) and gives a rough idea of how much space.  The second shows the high back chair, wardrobe and part of the other bed and basically is just to give more of an idea of space.  You could easily have two wheelchair users staying in that room and fit two carers assisting in at the same time (although not to sleep, obviously!) there is absolutely buckets of space in there.  You would, obviously, have to fight over the electric bed though!

The other bedroom in the villa is a double and isn’t accessible as such.  You could just about get a wheelchair in there (although I didn’t try) but you’d not get round.

Overall I was pleased with the accessibility of the villa although you certainly couldn’t manage there in an all disabled group if you were all (or the majority) wheelchair users.

>I’m an accessory in The Great Transworld Crime Caper!

>Transworld are currently running A Crime Caper.  They will give you three crime books of your choice (from a set list) for free and all you have to do is read them, hopefully enjoy them and then review them (either on your blog or on amazon).  As soon as you finish one, let them know and they’ll send you the next.  More information on Transworld’s Crime Caper is on their blog.  I believe they are still accepting entrants, just comment on that linked blog entry.

(image description) it says “The Great Transworld Crime Caper” The T in transworld is bigger and blue, the rest of the text is black.  There is a magnifying glass over the T, yellow “crime scene do not cross” tape across the entire logo and a gun with blood splatters in the top right of the image.

I really enjoyed taking part in Transworld Summer Reading Challenge and I’m looking forward to getting back into reading crime fiction