I believe

On Saturday I wrote about our attempts to go see Dirty Dancing in December.

I was going to write about it but then I had another story to share (this story) and I needed to mention in passing the Dirty Dancing disaster. And I ended up writing so much that it took over the entry.

So we tried and failed to go see Dirty Dancing. And then there was much discussion about whether we would try and go see it somewhere else. It had already been to Milton Keynes so that was out.  It’s still to go to Birmingham Hippodrome however. But some of the group point blank couldn’t afford to pay for train all the way to Birmingham and a theatre ticket. And others weren’t bothered about going particularly if it involved the trek into Birmingham (just about an hour and ten minutes from Oxford, roughly two hours from here by the time you’ve waited the twenty ish minutes it usually is between the trains).  Looked like this wasn’t going to happen.

“Arse.” thinks I.

Disappointing but not much I could do.

Then I went to Birmingham and met up with my friend Rachel.  We’ve been friends since my first year at uni and used to meet up regularly. It had been about three years since we last saw each other. One of the things we’ve done there before is go to the theatre.  And Dirty Dancing is one of her favourite films.

“Hmmm… I wonder.” I thought as I remembered that fact while sat on the train..

And after discussion whilst wandering The Bullring and emails once we were back in our respective homes a plan was born.  Eventually the “Get Emma to Dirty Dancing” plan was back on in a very different form.

So I found myself phoning Birmingham Hippodrome.

It took a while to negotiate their various press this for whatever and 2 for that menus and then I found myself on hold.

The hold music was the soundtrack to Shrek the Musical.  I went to see that in Oxford in November otherwise I’d have suggested Rach and I try for that as well as Dirty Dancing.

I love singing along to music.  And I was really excited about the possibility that I really would not only go but actually see Dirty Dancing this time – the Hippodrome has two lifts so broken lifts shouldn’t be a problem there. So I wasn’t really paying too much attention but I was enjoying the Shrek soundtrack as it’s one one I own and sort of vaguely quietly singing/humming along without really thinking about it.  “I believe! I! Believe!” and the like.

Then the call answered and I stopped before they heard.  Tickets booked and an email winging it’s way to Rachel then on with my day.

Until I remembered that at CAB it always used to be the case (and may still be but I haven’t done phone advice in several years since they changed the system and it became a specific skill) that when we put the phone on hold the person on the other end couldn’t hear us but we could still hear them.

Yes. That might not have been my finest moment.

I’ve decided to not care and just focus on the “yay! going to see Dirty Dancing.”

But it’s not a mistake I’ll be repeating.

(and for the record the many times since then I’ve had various songs from Shrek blasting out via YouTube and sung along were not mistakes. Even though my upstairs neighbour is probably now well aware of the fact that I’m a believer).

 

Hate isn’t Funny Part Three

It’s not really appropriate to call this post Hate Isn’t Funny part three because I don’t think it was really about hate just about clueless people not thinking things through properly.  But the two posts I wrote on the same subject in February were about hate and I called them Hate isn’t Funny so it feels right to use that title for this and continue the series even if it probably isn’t the best title for this particular anecdote. /end nonsensical ramble about blog titles.

Back in February I went to see Omid Djalili and his show was quite ableist and frankly in a couple of places full of hate.  I wrote about that in Hate isn’t Funny and then had some discussion with him via twitter which I wrote about in Hate isn’t Funny part two. That saga didn’t have the ending I wanted it to have but it had the best ending it was probably possible for it to have if that makes sense.

I’ve been to a couple of musicals since then and one comedy show which was funny and generally not noteworthy at all in terms of disability.

On Sunday my friend Angela and I went to see Showstopper – the improvised musical.  Generally I liked it.  For me personally it could have been better simply because they asked the audience to list several musicals which would influence the show.  The ones chosen by the audience were all older ones – none of which I’d seen and only one or two I’d heard of.  So several of the references went over my head which was a shame.  Angela said to me afterwards that one of the musicals she thought the cast didn’t know either. But the singing was good and I liked the improvised plot they came up with and how it ended up.

Every so often they would stop and ask how they should show they’d been influenced by  a particular musical and for one of the musicals (Tommy) someone shouted out a character should be blind.  So for the rest of the show one of the characters was pretending to be blind and frankly overkilling it and coming across and pretty damn ableist.  Amongst other things frequently nearly walking into the audience or props or whatever and having to be grabbed.  For about the first couple of minutes it was OK and then it got to be inappropriate and ridiculous.

Then it was the interval and they asked that people tweet them with suggestions of how the show should continue.  I tweeted:

 

This is somewhat made worse by the fact that a lady I didn’t know followed me and Angela into the lift to go down to the bar and heard me comment about the inappropriateness of the blind bit. She commented that she has a visual impairment and felt like she was being mocked. It’s not my disability so I didn’t feel I was being mocked personally but I thought it was a good description for what it seemed they were doing. We talked to her for a bit and did general interval stuff.

And then we went back in the show and they read various tweets out and continued on and it was mostly good but they really needed to kill the cripping up going on it the blind bit and kill it dead.

As we left and wandered out Angela’s route to her car and my route to my flat both taking us the same way for a couple of minutes I shared with her that I should probably blog about the incident and do something about it (more of a complaint) but I really couldn’t be bothered to. Because it felt like once again something I could fight and wouldn’t get anywhere and I’d waste energy on something unnecessary. Better to just decide that I didn’t want to see them again if they were going to be ableist was my thinking.

Then Monday afternoon I went on twitter and found this tweet in my mentions:

I tweeted them back to say thank you and I appreciated it. I included my email and a day or two later (I forget which day) I got an email from one of their team admitting that when they looked back at the show could see they got it wrong. They’re going to work on it in rehearsal I understand. I thanked them and made various comments including that it would have helped to just stopped the whole blind bit after a few minutes if they couldn’t include it in a more appropriate way.

This was never as bad as the situation I blogged about with Omid Djalili, it was always about someone working in a high pressure situation and getting it wrong and hurting people. And I’m more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome. I wouldn’t go and see The Showstoppers again anytime soon but I’ve taken them off my list of inappropriate shows and my list of shows I don’t want to see again – if they were back here in a year or two I might well go back.

There have been many times I’ve flagged up ableism in various circumstances and not got a good response or been fobbed off by token gestures after long complaints and huge effort. I’m really glad to see one small thing – one tweet – have a positive outcome. And even more glad to hear someone admit that yeah actually they did get it wrong.

But it also pisses me off.

Because why can’t more people do that?

Hate isn’t Funny, part two

To recap: On Wednesday I went to see Omid Djalili do a warm up gig.  I really wish I hadn’t because not only did he used the R word in one of his jokes he also did another which was the most horrendously ableist joke I’ve ever heard.  On Friday I posted a blog about that – Hate Isn’t Funny. This is the last I’m going to say on the matter.

That blog post got a lot of attention on twitter and facebook (and in comments here).  It’s also had the most hits of any of my posts on this blog in a very long time (I’ve not seen the stats but in terms of shares etc I think actually my recent post over on Bea Magazine has had more of an impact but not by much). And I’m glad because it means that people are hearing the point about disability and hate and how it isn’t funny.

It also received one negative tweet but that was just #nosenseofhumour (hashtag no sense of humour) and frankly if people can’t put more substance into their disagreeing with me than a hashtag then they aren’t worth bothering with, I ignored it and made judicious use of the “block” button.

Following a suggestion from a friend of mine and encouragement from my mum I also tweeted Omid Djalili the link to my blog. And to give him his due he did reply and there was some discussion between us.

His response isn’t what I’d like. But that’s mostly because I’d have liked an apology and that was never going to happen.  Frankly some of it was victim blaming. He claims he said, clearly, both nights “I’m not saying all disabled people are….” before making his horrific joke about a disability stereotype. I wasn’t in there both nights but neither my mum or I remember it happening on the night we went. I tweeted back to him that I felt like he was blaming me for being upset by it and he responded “not at all. Entitled to your feelings 100%”

And “obviously” the thing about not choosing venues with wheelchair access was a joke.  That might have been a bit more obvious if there wasn’t precendent of other comedians cancelling gigs at venues that had wheelchair users in obvious places.

On the whole I’d like to think my blog and our conversation on twitter has made several people think about what is and isn’t appropriate when it comes to disability in comedy. And more importantly I’d like to think that it’s made Omid Djalili think and he might reconsider using the jokes.  I really, really doubt I’ve achieved that because I’m too cynical and hardened by too many broken promises about access and equality for my disability. I respect his taking the time to respond but I don’t think he really respects disabled people any more than it seemed he did at his gig on Wednesay night.

Maybe someday someone else will tell me they went to one of his gigs and he didn’t use disability hate speech or ableist jokes.  But it sure as hell won’t be a gig I’m at because I’m not going to waste my money going to see him again.

You Know You’re a Book Blogger When…

…You choose books over alcohol

So. I’ve been invited to the theatre on Friday night by my lovely friend Angela. She’s organising the tickets and I’m in charge of figuring out the train.

And really, the train times kinda suck. The best way I can figure it out gets us there an hour and a half before. There is another train that gets in an hour before but I’m thinking it’ll take probably twenty minutes to get to the theatre walking/powerchairing and if we do end up doing that it’ll be after having an argument with some idiotic taxi driver which’ll you know take a while. Plus I’ll want a wee before we go into the theatre and most of all WHAT IF THE TRAIN IS LATE?! This part of the equation of what time train to get comes from the fact that I usually go to shows with my Mum and she leaves for things really early. Seriously this blog is scheduled to post at 9:30 Thursday morning. The joke in our family is that she’d be chivvying us out the door at that point if she had her way, even though the show isn’t until Friday night

Anyway I was weighing up the times. Deciding between the two trains and then figuring that as much as it feels too early I prefer the earlier train. If we end up with masses of time to kill we can always go for a drink.

Until a better idea for killing time came to me: we could go to the bookshop.

And then I got a little disappointed because we’ll definitely have time to kill coming home and the book shop will be closed.

>101 in 1001 – Item 75…

>

Go on a random day out

…has been completed!

I wasn’t really sure what would constitute a random day out and was thinking about ticking that one off after my day out in London yesterday (went to the Tate Modern with Mum) which is something we were talking about on the train home.  My mum reckoned as that was planned it shouldn’t count and she suggested the day before was a better one as it was more spur of the moment.  I wasn’t convinced it counted as a “day out”as it was very in and out darting around different places.  So then I suggested that maybe what I should do was ask her or one of my friends to plan a day out for us and not tell me anything about it – that would certainly be random.  However she said if I asked her to do that she’d just take me to her house!

So anyway I think I will go with this being ticked off.  And go with Tuesday.

Tuesday I was supposed to go out with a friend but she wasn’t well and cancelled.  I knew Mum was heading over to the next town which is somewhere I haven’t been in a few years, so I called her and invited myself along.  To be honest there isn’t much there and I’d forgotten how bad the paths etc are.  But I did wheel myself all the time either solo or with help.  And we parked miles from town.  Coming back I spotted a few spaces a bit closer and sat and waited for mum to bring the car there.  I also ended up getting blisters on each of my thumbs, making my need for new wheelchair gloves even more definite.  We also bumped into an old friend’s mum (my mum is friends with her mum too) and chatted a bit as well whilst walking into town.

I had a bit of a wander around about two shops and then bumped back into mum sooner then planned.  We sat on a bench while she had a snack and I had a drink.  All I bought was my drink and some plasters to cover the blister like holes in my thumbs.  I took photos of them but I won’t share them.  Then we went into two more shops where mum bought two books for herself and one for me as a treat (although the only reason she got two was they had a “buy two get this for 99p” and we both thought the second sounded good).  Then we came home.

I pretty much transferred straight into my powerchair and went back out.  I went down to the arts centre to book priority tickets for a few shows as the booking opened that day for member.  I got tickets for Mitch Benn and The Distractions, Chris Addison and Alun Cochrane.  I also took my netbook with me and sat in their cafe bar with some chips and a j2o and did some writing.  I wrote 600 some odd words.

Popped into Sainsburys very briefly for three things (and came back with just those!) then came home and went sailing a bit later.  Ended up as there was a spare boat and light conditions that instead of going out with his usual buddy one of my friends went by himself (as I do now) and his buddy also took a boat out.  We randomly all ended up sailing around together like we were sailing in company.  It was a lot of fun, especially when I overtook them both!

We ended up getting home a lot later than usual but that was fine.  It was a good night – and a good day as a whole too.

>Showstoppers!

>
I am so behind on writing about things I’ve been doing that this is going to be a very quick catch up.

Shows what I have seen lately

Leicester Comedy Festival on Tour.


  I particularly liked Pippa Evans although all the comedians were good.  I love going to big name shows but the ones where there are a few people are great too.  Especially as the comedy club at uni was how I got into live comedy originally and it reminds me of that.

This video is of Pippa Evans (AKA Loretta Maine) singing I’m Fine.  Totally cracks me up.

Dara O’Briain. 


 Love love love love his live show.  It’s the second time we’ve been and I was hard pressed to decide if I thought the first one (a couple of years ago) was better or this one.  I think the general feeling between all four of us was the first one was better but personally it was hard to say.  If you’ve ever seen him on Mock The Week you’ll know he’s a funny guy – well, his live show is much funnier.

His bit about how a tour works is hilarious (tried to embed a video but couldn’t).  And he did a bit about the NCT which was great but also had every woman in the room cringing, that totally just added to it.  I will so be buying tickets to his next show.

Jason Manford.

He did a warm up, pre tour gig at the arts centre.  I think the best thing about that was that he was also supposed to go to Oxford soon but the very day we had tickets for it was annouced that as he’s got the One Show job his tour is delayed a year.  So loads of local people have been bemoaning that fact but I got to see him!!  He’s a really funny guy and I predict he’s gonna get bigger soon.  The stories about his little brother were really funny.

They were playing the best CD ever in the auditorium but couldn’t tell me what it is because it was his CD and I tweeted him but he didn’t reply.

Rocky Horror

I absolutely adore Rocky Horror.  This was the third time I’ve seen it and I really hope there’s a fourth before too long.  In fact, the week it was on was half term and the usher mentioned that the tickets hadn’t sold well – and that there were loads left for the next (last) day.  At that I was so tempted to see if they had a wheelchair space and go back but in the end I didn’t.
This was also the dirtiest AP version of it I’ve seen I think.  Although if I’m honest I can’t remember much about the AP from the first time I saw it in 2004.  Definitely much dirtier that the one Mum and I saw in 2006.  It made me very glad I was sat behind Mum not next to her as last time she kept not hearing the AP and asking me to repeat it.

It was also the most dressed up I’ve ever been.  I was finding glitter all over my wheelchair and everything else for days afterwards despite all the showers I had!

In this picture I’m wearing a bright pink feather boa, pink hairband with fluffy bopper things on (deely boppers?) and pink fishnet armlets (a bit like long gloves but without any finger bits at all).  And when I saw these things were pink I mean really really HOT pink.  I also had on a black strappy top and shorts although you can’t see those in the photo.

Tonight we’re going to see Joseph!  Woop Woop!

>Shivering in antici………………………………….PATION!

>I’m going to see Rocky Horror tonight!

Will try to find my camera to take some pictures as I’m sort of dressing up for it but yay I’m very excited.  This is the 3rd time I’ve been to see it which should give you some idea of how much I love that show.  I think everyone I’m going with has seen the show before too so that should make it even better.  Christopher Biggins is the narrator I think.  Hopefully he’ll actually be in it because last time it should have been Michael Aspel but we ended up with the understudy and we booed him every time he came on.

I’ve been to see loads of shows lately and not blogged about them, will try to do a show related catch up on Sunday most likely.

But really if I’m completely honest the main point of this post is being able to use this blog title.  Because it makes me happy.

I had better go blast out the soundtrack (downloaded from iTunes this morning specially) and jump in the shower.

>The Hairy Bikers Big Night Out (AKA After 10 Days, Emma Goes Out!)

>The Hairy Bikers last night was sooo much fun!  Absolutely hilarious.  My friend was going to drive but then my Dad offered as his car has 4 wheel drive which was cool as it meant we could have a few drinks.

The arts centre has two very cool dedicated wheelchair spaces at the back which me and my friend have dubbed the Royal Box and they can put you in the front row – the seats are fold down and they reserve you two to make a wheelchair space as a chair is bigger than one of the seats.  But they don’t put two seat numbers on the tickets.  I tend to prefer the back spaces because you can spread out a bit and especially for comedy (after sitting at the front for a comedy thing and having the comedian asking me questions one times).    For Hairy Bikers however we were at the front so we could be close for any food they might be dishing out.  It’s a bit strange as the stage area isn’t raised at all so you literally are right by the performers and vice versa.

So first there was a bit of confusion when I asked the ushers which was our “extra seat” and they didn’t know anything about the whole extra seat for a wheelchair user thing and we had to explain it about three times (the ushers are volunteers but at least one of them had been doing it for a long time so I was surprised he wasn’t aware of the policy) but then he went and found out for me.  Previously I’ve just taken one of the seats next to ours as my extra and figured if I’ve guessed wrong I’ll shift along.  But that’s been proven not to work so well a couple of times so…

Anyway the Hairy Bikers talked a bit about their history and how they met and what they’ve done.  They also did a load of cooking (it was described as Cooking and Comedy) and in the first half they made a prawn curry.  They had a table set for two up with them and got two people out of the audience who they basicallyt gave a whole dinner too and some tiger beer.  Some poppadoms where given those in the front of the audience which they made and fried as we watched – there was a “camera fairy” up with them putting close ups on a screen of the cooking so you could see  The Poppadoms were nice and they also gave kitchen roll as “you don’t want cacky hands”

After the interval they got two more people up and blindfolded them and did a taste test.  They gave the woman a glass of wine and said “is it white or red?” it was red but she said it was white.  They also fed her something and said “which root vegetable is this?” and she was all “broccoli” which is amusing because that isn’t a root vegetable – it was swede.  In other news, swede and turnip are the same thing – I didn’t know that.  Then they gave her husband some meat to taste which he got right – pork – but he also said was dry.  Finally they said they were going to give them a savoury snack (that went to both of them) which they thought was pork scratchings but it was fried cricket!

The Hairy Bikers then cooked an Italian steak dish which they gave to the same couple to try but they’d been for dinner first so didn’t have much of it.  They also had a bottle of red wine (Chianti?) and water on the table for them.

When they were chatting to that couple Si went to kiss the lady on the cheek but she shied away a bit and everyone was laughing at his antics.  So he then walks over to me and leans down and puts an arm on my shoulder and kisses me on the cheek, a long exaggerated kiss on the cheek – or so it felt to me.  I was laughing so hard I was shaking while he was there.  Then he went back on stage and went “I love girls I do!”

They also cooked a vegetarian pasta thing – with linguini and ribbons of courgette I think.  They gave some bowls to about three people in the audience but they didn’t have forks for them so they gave them tongs and other kitchen implements which they managed pretty well with and was funny to watch.  The ushers brought them forks from the bar though.  I think they should have made them keep using the tongs etc though.  I think the most amusing cooking tip they gave was using a Ped Egg to do parmasan – although they did say it should be one just used for the cheese, LOL.

So then for the finale, Dave stripped all his clothes off to reveal he was wearing a blue and silver shiny leotard thing underneath and Si was playing a kids drum kit then  Dave got a big bunch of yellow flowers (Freesias I think but don’t quote me!), stuck one between Si’s teeth and shared the rest out.  He gave one to my friend and one to me – we were the last I think and then he knelt down on one knee in front our seats and started singing “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”  They put the words on the screen and people sang along and they they did “Dancing Queen” and that was that for the night.

It was such a great night – absolutely hilarious and completely different from what I expected!

>We Will Rock You

>I went to Birmingham to see We Will Rock You for a second time yesterday.

This time I met up with two of my other uni friends – ones I hadn’t seen since June 2006! It really was much too long but thankfully it wasn’t arkward as it can be with old friends after a long break. I really am very lucky that I have several very good friends I can go months or years without seeing and then have it be as if no time at all has passed. We’ve agreed not to leave it so long this time and will probably meet up for a days shopping in a few months.
When I was at uni I never had a powerchair and still now I prefer my manual for a lot of things. But I still don’t have my new manual wheelchair so comfort would have been an issue and whilst the theatre is very close to the station it’s straight down a steep hill. So I went for the powerchair.
For both of my friends it was the first time I’d been with them in my powerchair and they both commented how it “didn’t seem right” that I was independant and they didn’t need to push me. I was very amused by that because my powerchair is so much of my normal now that I forget that I still have a few friends from uni who’ve never seen me use it or been out with me in it so their picture of me is of the manual wheelchairing girl wheeling around but needed help with some distances. It’s actually how I prefer to see myself too – love my manual loads (or at least one that fits and works right) and like my powerchair for the independance but hate how reliant I am on it now and how much my manual wheelchairing stamina has gone.
We Will Rock You was just as great a second time as the first. I think actually I enjoyed it more. But that might have just been because the day went more according to plan so it was a bit more leisurely and I wasn’t feeling frazzled when we arrived at the theatre! Not a nice feeling.
There was a different actress playing Killer Queen this time and a couple of the jokes/lines were done slightly differently. I was also surprised by how many of the little bits I had forgotten about – and it’d only been two months since I saw it the first time!
It was a really long day out but a very good one. Hopefully now I’m back in touch/contact with my friends we will see each other a bit more regularly from now on.

>Amazing Day

>I’m having an amazing day… and it’s not over yet!

Yesterday there was much discussion between me and a few others and many e-mails sent about going to see various different things at the theatre.

The end result being that it was decided that me and Sam would book tickets to go and see Joseph and The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat in Oxford in May. We’d also decided we’d go see a show in London and after much e-mailing settled on the Lion King. And when I looked up the dates online I saw that Dara O’Briain who is a rocking comedian is coming to Oxford. Ben and Geri wanted to come to that with me.

I’ve been busy on the phone booking tickets for the lot today. Spent a shitload of money but the others will pay me back. And.

Sunday 3rd Feb sees me and Sam in London seeing The LION KING which I’ve wanted to see for YEARS and which is on my 101 in 1001 list.

5th May is Dara O’Briain

And in June we go to Joseph!

And if that didn’t make my day great enough I then went swimming. And set a new personal best for walking.

And my great friend Lucille was in the coffee shop when I got there. She was like “Emma!!!” when she saw me. She got part of the way to me, abandoned her walker and literally ran the rest of the way before literally throwing herself onto me in a huge way and giving me the hugest and best and longest and tightest hug. like ever.

She went “I really missed you…. NOT!!” and cracked up, hugging me again.