You Know You Have CP When…

Getting ready for a party includes pimping your wheelchair.

(the back of me and my wheelchair. There is a helium balloon tied to each handle. One says “happy 30th birthday” and the other “birthday girl” there is also a big 30th badge and various ribbon / decorations like you put on a present. The decorations were glued on black card which was then tapped in place on my chair)

Bullet Points of Life

++ I gave up on my 100 days of writing project with a bit more than two weeks before day 100. I didn’t have time to post what I wrote for a day or three and then my iPad had to be replaced and I lost the files. I then lost my motivation.

++ My Dad and I are going to see Avenue Q tomorrow night. I’m looking forward to it but I’m not convinced he’ll like it!

++ My party is Saturday night. I am really really looking forward to that! I have over 40 people coming including a few I’ve not seen for months or even a year.

++ My new cleaners started last Monday. The flat us looking all sparkly now. I like it.

++ In 12 years out on my own I’ve never had to claim on insurance. In the past couple of months I’ve had to claim on both my home and powerchair insurance policies.

Things That I’ve Been Reading

Another installment of things that I’ve been reading. Obviously with the readathon I’ve mentioned a lot of it in passing but this is the official entry if you will

Five Red Herrings by Dorothy L Sayers

This was the fourth Sayers book I’ve read this year and it was good but I Would have preferred a better ending than X did it, the end. I had intended to have a break before reading more Sayers but then I was on the train with my kindle and nothing else appealed. Not the best Lord Peter book but a welcome addition to the series.

Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling

I actually started off listening to the audiobook of these which makes for great listening. The copy I got from Audible claims to be unabridged but skips one entire story (the one about how the alphabet was made). I found a copy on Gutenberg and read that one. Then I did go back to the audiobook but when my iPad was replaced I lost where I was in it and I couldn’t be doing with hunting through five hours of audio to find where I was. So I went back to Gutenberg to finish off. I don’t remember reading these as a child but that surprises me because they strike me as the sort of thing my Gran would have shared with us. A happy read.

Possessing the Secret of Joy by Alice Walker

It almost feels wrong to say I really enjoyed this book given it’s subject matter (it’s the fictional story of a woman who has undergone female genital mutilation, basically female circumcision). But it is such a powerful and compelling story it hooked me in big style. The theme of family and love and power pervades the story without overwhelming it and the mental illness of a character is well handled. I can’t recommend this highly enough and really must read more by Alice Walker.

The Hermit and The Bear by John Yeoman

I was given this book at 7 or 8. It was a gift from the staff at my school and brought to me in hospital by the headmaster (I’d had my last surgery which I believe was tendon releases in my ankles and hamstrings). It’s a really cute story which is wonderfully illustrated by Quentin Blake. And it still has the ability to make me laugh out loud all these years later. I’m glad I reread it.

Lightning Fred by Dick King Smith

Another reread of a book I’ve had since childhood. I won his one in some form of competition to do with school but I can’t remember more than that! I’d forgotten how talented Dick King Smith was. Although there were one or two bits in the book I though might not be allowed now.

Have His Carcass by Dorothy L Sayers

I read this in huge chunks over the last few days and I have to say as good as it is that really helped add to my enjoyment. And it’s got Harriet Vane in it! She is one of my favourite of the characters who doesn’t appear in every book so that was a yay moment when she appeared as a key player. This book must have been complicated to plot which adds to my appreciation thinking that nowadays we have spreadsheets and the like we can use to keep track of things (with which I’d still have tied myself in knots plotting this I’m sure)but at the point it was written the tools were pen, paper, head and typewriter. I’d worked out this really complicated solution to the age old question of whodunit. And gotten it completely wrong.

You Know You’ve Got CP When…

… You go to a group meeting for a new NHS service and when the person sees you they comment “we’ve got two wheelchairs coming.” And you have to bite your tongue hard to prevent saying something totally flippant they probably wouldn’t understand.

Because my first thought on hearing that (other than Grrr) was to say “oh, sorry, I didn’t realise I was supposed to send my wheelchair by itself.”*

I’m not a wheelchair. I thought that was obvious but just in case it’s not. I am a fat, mouthy, messy, glassses wearing girl who needs to dye her hair. My wheelchairs have wheels, solid backrests, lateral supports and usually have mud splatters from going places convention would suggest I probably shouldn’t. The manual is black and nameless, my powerchair is red and I’m leaning towards calling it Gadget.

What I am is a wheelchair user.** You can call me that. Or, alternatively, you could call me Emma. It is my name after all.

* I told someone else this story (I can’t remember who) and they went “oh so you weren’t invited then. Bet your chair liked being the expected one for a change.” Major laughter at that point,

** I am not wheelchair bound because I’m not tied down in my chair and can get out of my chair. I’m not into bondage personally but should you meet a wheelie who is I would consider them the only type of wheelie for who wheelchair bound is appropriate.

A super fast readathon update!

A super fast readathon update before bed. This is the second update i’ve written or third if you count the book review I wrote this morning.

It appears I’ve read 689 pages today. Which completely boggles my mind.

Since last update I am now on page 260 something of Have His Carcass by Dorothy L Sayers. And am totally hooked into it. I plan to finish that tomorrow.

I listened to more of the Kafka on the Shore audio book while having my tea and sorting out the washing. In total I’ve listened to 1 hour 10 minutes of that.

And I read two old favourite books I kept from my childhood. The Hermit and The Bear by John Yeoman (112 pages) and Lightning Fred by Dick King Smith (48 pages). Both were as good as I remembered and The Hermit and The Bear still has the ability to make me laugh out loud.

Thanks for all the comments. They’re very useful and I hope to get round them properly tomorrow.

A readathon update

So as I said in my previous entry I’m taking part in the readathon today.

I’ve read the book I reviewed in that entry which had about 213 pages
I then tried to start reading Deliver Me From Evil by Alloma Gilbert but I gave up after 25 or so pages.

Next on my list was Have His Carcasse by Dorothy L Sayers. I’m really enjoying that and am on page 107 (but about to read some more)

I read a couple of chapters of what’s tha up to? By Martyn Johnson too. Picked that up when I went outside because my Sayers books are ebooks and iPad reading in sunlight is a pain. That didn’t last long as it chucked it down with rain very shortly.

And I listened to the first 30 minutes of Kafka on the shore by an author whose name I can’t remember, say or spell. It’s very intriguing. Shall listen to some more when my dinner is ready.

I was feeling a bit down about things but actually looking at this I don’t know why! I reckon I’ve probably read 375+ pages which when you add in the fact that I read a fair bit yesterday (finishing two books I’d been in the middle of) is a dent into the TBR mountain which is slowly taking over my flat

26 by Stuart Maloney

Today is Dewey’s 24 hour readathon. So I am doing lots of reading!

Stuart Maloney introduced himself to me on twitter and I saw from his profile he’s written a book called 26 a behind the scenes tour of life with cerebral palsy ( amazon link) so being that I 1) love to read disability memoirs and particularly those by other CPers 2) really enjoy reviewing books and 3) am the cheeky sort the very first thing I said to him on twitter was to ask if I could have a freebie to review. And he very kindly said yes.

Here’s the synopsis
Stuart Maloney was dead for twenty-six minutes when he was born, which led to brain damage and cerebral palsy. Stuart pulls back the curtains on disability and describes his triumphs and tribulations as a disabled person in his memoir 26. Stuart takes you on an in-depth tour of his life with cerebral palsy. He blends touching honesty and humour as he leads you along his life’s pathway. A deeply introspective and moving tale, 26 will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. Stuart provides an insight into the everyday life of a disabled person and the obstacles he has to negotiate. Stuart will show you that little achievements mean just as much as bigger ones as he lets you look at his life through his eyes. His memoir is an inspiring story of courage, determination, and a will to live.

Stuart’s book is self published through Authorhouse but you should overlook that fact. It’s one of the better self published books I’ve read and definitely the best Authorhouse one (generally I am not an Authorhouse fan). It’s really well written and easy to read. I did notice one or two errors but they were so minor they were easy to skip over.

I thought he did a really good job of explaining what his life was like both with and without CP (which is my all too clumsy way of meaning the bits it affected and those it didn’t). It was really interesting because Stuart is only a year or so younger than me, if that, and we had some similar experiences but also some very different ones. For example he went to a mainstream school with a special needs unit whereas I was fully mainstreamed. Which is something I occasionally wonder if I’d have done better if it were different. Not academically but from a social point of view.

I’m always on the hunt for a good disability memoir and it’s been a while since I read one that I could say I liked. Just that with no buts or ifs or warnings. Of the last two I hated one (badly written and frustrating) and the other was an its good but… (it was good but I thought the guy was a bit extreme in treatment choices so was wary of recommending it). This book I liked. No clarification needed and I have absolutely no worries about recommending it as worth the read. That makes me happy.

The only bit I didn’t like was Stuart’s use of the term “stillborn” to describe himself and the fact it took 26 minutes for the resuscitation team to be successful. It struck me as the wrong term and I’m wondering what the reason behind it was.

My own CP was caused by my being born 6 weeks early and my lungs not being properly developed. I don’t know the exact details but reading this has made me think whether I want to know the exact ins and outs. I’m not sure yet.

This has about 215 pages and I found it an enjoyable and relatively quick read. I rather suspect that a couple of my family members will want to read it and I think they’ll enjoy it.

I’m in the Oxford Mail!

Ever since I joined Oxford Sailability in 2006 I heard about the brilliant accessible pontoon they planned to build. Just as soon as the raised the money. I helped with several fundraising events when I could. And on Tuesday after raising £500,000 over ten years thanks to dedicated volunteers who never gave up and months of building work the finished product was officially opened.

I was interviewed by the Oxford Mail about what it means to me.

Pontoon makes it plain sailing

I’m pleased with the article but wish I’d had more notice than having a mobile thrust at me with a reporter on the other end. I may have done it more justice than!