Unlimited Festival 2018

On Wednesday, a friend and I went to London to visit Unlimited Festival at The Southbank Centre. Unlimited is a festival of disability arts.

We saw a variety of different art exhibits. One was a messy house, meant to represent how the artist’s disability means she struggles with cleaning. The different fabrics and wallpapers had bright patterns, inspired by the dirt in her own home.

Another was pictures by two people with learning disabilities who had spent a year exploring London and based the pictures on that. One, Ian Wornast, had drawn map like layouts in what appeared to be felt tip. I think they were my favourite.

The big thing we went for was The British Paraorchestra’s The Nature of Why show. This was a music/dance show. I will try to do it justice but a big part of it’s power is in how it made you feel. I am tired today and struggling to put it into words but I suspect I would even if I was more awake.

We knew when we booked that there would be limited seating available. It was actually a promenade show which I’m glad we didn’t know in advance as I think we might not have gone if we had. Promenade is when the audience are on the stage and turn/move/walk around as they choose while the show goes on around them.

The Nature of Why was a really immersive show. The skill shown by the dancers and musicians made for a spectacle more that worth the trip. It was on twice yesterday and if we could have got home after the evening one we’d have stayed.

But the creativity in taking the disabilities and support needs of performers and including those was what I loved. A blind musician was guided by someone dancing at floor level using her hands on his feet to tell him when/where to move or stop. The wheelchair user playing the French Horn was wheeling himself when not playing. One of the times he was playing a dancer crouched back to back with him, supported him in a tipped back position and turned him slowly as she moved.

That inclusion applied to the audience as well. There was a child watching it with what appeared to be a learning disability. He was loving it but couldn’t stay still. That was captured by the cast and included. When they were doing a stamping move and took his hand and encouraged him to stamp too. Later in the show all the performers were dancing in a line. I was in the area they wanted to dance so they broke the line so some dance in front of me and others behind. I didn’t know what to do with myself!

At the end, one of the dancers came and took my hand, danced with me. I thanked her once the show ended and she said “no, thank you for dancing with me.” The fact audience and performers were so mixed meant we could talk together afterwards which was nice.

I could say so much more about The Nature of Why. I think I’ll be talking about it for a long time. It was mind blowing, amazing and just lovely.

A book that blew my mind #fridayreads #amreading

I have a copy of a book called 1001 books you must read before you die. There have been several editions of this book so at various times different books have been put on the list and taken off again (and in the case of Memoirs of a Geisha I believe returned to the most recent edition of the list).

I have the 2010 edition but I also have an app on my iPad and a spreadsheet both of which list every single book that have ever appeared on an edition of the 1001 books you must read before you die list. I believe the total number of books is 1300 some odd. I’ve read about 133 of those.

I have no intention of reading every single book on the list (although the app tells me I could with time to spare based on my age and the average UK lifespan for a female). I do use it for inspiration for reading material and a way of finding new things to read. Because of the list I’ve discovered some authors I love – Haruki Murakami is one of those and I think Muriel Spark is shaping up to be another but I probably need to read another of hers (I’ve read two) to be definite.

Earlier this week I requested a bunch of titles from the library. All ones that are on the list. One of the ones I requested was The Wonderful O by James Thurber. I knew very little about the book. Mostly just it was one of the shortest books on the list (it’s 80 pages). I’d looked it up in the library catalogue before but every time I did it said it was in the store. But on Monday I figured it was worth requesting.

Thursday it was at my local library for me to collect along with some of my other requests. I’d assumed it was in the store because it wasn’t popular or because it’d been released so long ago (1958).

I enjoyed the story. It’s the perfect length for sitting and reading in one go on a lazy Friday afternoon after a busy week. It’s a really sweet kids one with gorgeous illustrations. The basic premise is an evil man takes over a town and bans the letter O because he doesn’t like it.

What really blew me away was the book itself. Oxfordshire library service doesn’t stamp the date books are due back in books anymore. That’s a no-no in this age of Internet and self service. And I think in a way that’s a shame.

But this still had its ticket of date stamps in it. I could tell looking at it, it was an old book.

But I didn’t expect was to see the first time it was issued was in 1958. It’s not a first edition but it is from the year of publication.

It’s got the old book feel. It’s got the old book smell that’s so nice. New books smell good but not like this. And it’s got pages so thick and sturdy I kept stopping to check page numbers because turning them I thought I must have turned more than one by accident. They don’t make books like that any more.

Being that the reservations are kept right by the desk, I got them to check them out for me. I thought they would say there was a problem and I couldn’t take it. When I was all checked out and she was handing them to me I expected her to tell me to be careful with it. She didn’t.

Part of me wanted to go “this is so old and so nice. It’s practically a piece of history and a work of art. I’m clearly not to be trusted with something like that. It’s too precious, what are you doing letting me take it?!”

Because never mind the fact that books been part of the library service since before I was born. It was actually first issued the year before my Mum was born.

That really blows me mind.

The cover and spine of the book. It’s an old fashioned, faded red hardback with a plain cover and no dust jacket
The inside title page of the book
The very first page inside with the ticket showing the stamped return by dates ranging between 1958, 1990 which appears to be the last time it was out and 1996 when it went to the store.
20131025-212203.jpgtwo inside pages with text and illustration (not every page has illustrations)

Party Memories (part one)

Small bullet point memories of my 30th birthday party.  I’ve been putting off writing this until I feel less depressed.  I do feel like things are moving forward from that point of view but they’re still bad.  It occurred to me however that I might feel better for thinking and writing about something very cheerful so here goes…

  • It was really, really good fun. I danced so much that my back hurt most of the next day.  That was totally worth it.
  • I’d really agonised over the venue because the party room and bar are on one floor and the two disabled loos are on another (right next to each other which I’m sure made sense to someone…).  There is a lift but I’d worried with the number of wheelchair users we might end up with there could be a big hassles with that. But unfortunately we couldn’t find another venue.  I think I invited seven other wheelchair users but actually the only other wheelie there was <a href=”http://stickmancommunications.blogspot.com”>Hannah</a>. So it worked really great from that point of view.
  • My birthday is actually Christmas Day so this was a very late party (due to Christmas being a rubbish time for any other form of party).  I never expected presents and if anyone asked me what I wanted I told them they didn’t need to bring me presents.  I got loads and loads of presents actually which I didn’t expect.  Some really great stuff too.
  • In terms of who was there I’ve been using the term weird to describe it.  Which probably isn’t the right one. Unexpected, probably is. Basically when I did the invites there were people I thought probably wouldn’t be able to come and others I thought for sure would come. There were also people who I thought wouldn’t stay long and others who I thought would be there until the bitter end.  But it felt like I was wrong on all of those. It was almost like if you were one of the ones I’d suspected (or in some cases they had said)  were coming for an hour or so only you stayed for way longer and one or two I’d figured would be first in last out were anything but.
  • Of my three cousins on my Mum’s side I’d been told two (plus partners) were coming but one couldn’t make it. What actually happened was the two I was expected both didn’t due to illness but the one I wasn’t expecting and his partner turned up and surprised me. Fun stuff and a very nice surprise!
  • Several other people who had said they were coming then didn’t come.  Some let me know not to expect them in advance and others didn’t. In one particular case I found out from another friend that they’d decided not to come which I was absolutely livid about (this was a few days before the party).
  • One of my besties wasn’t well and didn’t come but then popped round the following morning bringing (yet another) unexpected birthday present and an “unbirthday” card. Apparently her husband was very confused by the unbirthday bit as he didn’t know you could buy those. Somehow he missed that fact that card making is her hobby and she’d made it! She then stayed for a while to hear all about the party which was fun. I must admit when she rang however I was all “you can come so long as I don’t have to get dressed.” and I just threw some jama bottoms on while I waited for her.
  • My mum and sister made a massive chocolate marble cake in the shape of a 30.  They made two big roasting tins full of cake and cut it out freehand (using a template). 75 eggs went into the making of said cake bits of which I believe are still in my parents freezer.
  • Everyone gathered round in a big circle with me in the middle to sing happy birthday and for me to blow out the candles.  I think my brother had difficulty holding the cake for that… he certainly said it was heavy at the time.
  • They then did three cheers for me which was embarrassing but sort of fun and everyone danced to Chesney Hawkes One and Only which is my absolute favourite song.  Brilliant and the only time we had absolutely everyone dancing.

Wow actually I’ve gone into way more detail and said much more than I planned about the party. I’m really tired and I think I’ll save the rest of this for tomorrow to save writing a total dissertation in one blog entry.  Writing this has cheered me up and made me smile though… 😉

>Yay Soph!

>I just tweeted this but what the hell, I’ll blog it too.

Soph completed the half marathon today in 2:56:52!!!  FANTASTIC for the girl who couldn’t run a mile when she signed up.

I’ll get photos up soon but for now, some more stats

Runner No.: 3371
Position (Overall): 6534
Position (Gender): 2045
Position (Age group): 1218

>The Vagina Monologues

>My mum and I went to see The Vagina Monologues in Oxford tonight.  I absolutely loved it.

It was funny, it was graphic.  It was sad, it was thought provoking. It was happy, it was insightful.  It was educational, it was freeing.  Empowering actually might be a better word than freeing, but I’ll leave that in too.

It was great.

I think Mum enjoyed it too although she did say it was more graphic than she’d expected.  It was pretty much what I expected although for some reason I had thought that the woman in it would share some of their own personal stories.  But maybe that’s something that happens more when they have one off guest stars.

The questions which were asked in the interviews which form the monologues include what would your vagina wear? and what would it say if it could talk?  They took it in turns to read out one sentence answers to those questions.

One of the answers was “M&S” and the older cast member who sort of reminded me of Zoe Wannamaker went 

“This is not just a vagina, this is an M&S vagina.”

At one point they were talking about reclaiming words which is something I really believe in but had never thought about in that context.  They had us all yelling out “CUNT!!” which was fun.

They also told us some facts and had us yelling out certain parts of one of them with them (the bits I bolded).  They also said if we wanted to repeat that at any point to yell “clit fact!” and they’d do it again.  And, later in the show, someone did.

“The clitoris has 8000 nerve endings in it which is more than any other part of the male or female body including the finger tips, the lips and the tongue.  It also has twice, that’s twice, count them, twice the number of nerve endings as the penis.”

As someone sat near me put it after that bit “women rock.”

>Should have done it sooner

>I did something this afternoon that I’ve wanted to do for a long time but didn’t have the nerve to do.  I literally had a list of about five reasons why I shouldn’t do it.  I wasn’t actually going to do it but then I heard something that I wasn’t expecting and it made me introspective and thoughtful.  And I just thought “fuck it do it”  So I did.

I had my hair cut properly, properly short.

I’m very pleased with it and will share some photos later – I need to look for the leads to my camera first.

 Sophie, my hairdresser, said afterwards that we should have done it much sooner.  And she’s right about that 🙂


>I spent an hour and forty minutes in the hairdressers earlier today.

Got myself all primped with £54.20 worth of cut and colour (yay colour sale!)

Love the cut, mostly love the colour.  The colour came out very different to what I expected but it is cool and very me.  I asked for vibrant and obvious and that’s what I got.

Then we went sailing this evening and for the second week running I didn’t sail but was hanging around on the beach and in the club house when it got colder.  And this random windsurfer came up to me.

“I love the colour of your hair!  It’s very carroty.”

Yeah, the jury’s still out on that one!

>Blogosphere, a Sucky Day, Postcards and Screw Bronze

>I’ve been reading a few posts lately on other blogs where they share links to other blogs they love. And for the last few days I’ve been meaning to mention this so here goes.

If you’ve not been over to Screw Bronze! and read the writings of Elizabeth McClung, you really really should.

I had a really sucky day on Wednesday. But I also had a lovely surprise the knowledge of which (it was waiting for me at home) helped me through the suck and also most importantly made my day. It came as I was leaving the house but I didn’t get a chance to look at it properly till I was home later in the day.

A postcard from Elizabeth complete with stickers and a crane stamped on it. Yay for fun post and a cute postcard covered in fun stuff and chatty stuff. I love the blogosphere, I really do. I meet some great people.

And on the postcard she said she saw the photos of me doing the 5K and that I looked great. Elizabeth, who does a 10K after days of being really ill, goes on oxygen in the middle of the race and still manages to finish it in less than an hour, thinks I looked great doing a 5K really slowly and with much difficulty? Yup really not sure here whats more impressive.

And when I e-mailed her to say thank you for the card, she replied (part of it at least):

Each race is hard but if I space them out then it sounds pretty impressive (to me at least) to say I have done X race and Y race this year. So I am like an athlete or something, or out there doing it at least. And you are too.

Yup, Screw Bronze rocks. And so does it’s blogger.

>Go, Go, Go, Joseph

>I went to see Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat last Friday (week yesterday). It was amazing.

I’ve seen it before, my parents gave me tickets for me and two friends to go for my birthday when I was 14 or maybe 15. Philip Schofield played Joseph then. Craig from Any Dream Will Do played Joseph this time and Anthony from the same show played the Pharoh. Anthony’s a local lad and it was very obvious there was a big crowd from here that had gone to Oxford (20 minutes by train away although we drove) to see it. That’s not why we went though, we went because I love musicals especially that one.

And Tara Bethan, one of the Nancy’s from I’d Do Anything who was eliminated in the third live show, played the narrator. She was really good, they all were.

At the end of the show they had a meet and greet with Anthony and Craig and if you bought a CD they signed it. I couldn’t get there as it was upstairs but I bought a CD and they got them to come down at the end of the signing and leave the theatre that way so I could get autographs. They both literally just appeared next to me and signed and I never realised who they were in their street clothes, until Sam went “God you look different with your hat on” to Craig who was stood to my right. I wanted to get photos but that didn’t happen as they signed and left straight away. I think Anthony would have let me though.

It was fun.