Happy Sunday, Written Wheelies – I hope your week has been fabulous. I thought I’d give you an overview of my week’s experiences and the conclusions I’ve drawn from them. You might agree with me, you might not, but you’re about to enter my brain which consists of jumbled thoughts and random stories. So, hold onto your hats.
Last Friday, my friend and I went to see Luca Rutherford’s Political Party at Lincoln Drill Hall. There were balloons, raw eggs, party poppers and chocolate. It’s hard to explain what it was about because the whole point of it was that as individuals our perspectives on life are different. We’re not all going to see eye to eye; we all have struggles, we all feel like a fraud and a fake sometimes, and nobody quite knows how the hell to get through life. But within all of that, there’s a huge sense of unity. For an hour, a bunch of strangers sat in a room and felt comfortable in their own skin, in the knowledge that nobody feels 100% comfortable in their own skin. It was rather liberating.
Fast-forward to Sunday, and I auditioned to be the host of a new show on BBC Radio Lincolnshire. I’m not gonna go into too much detail with this because I’ve already filled you in, but if you don’t know what happened then go back and read the blog. It was an epic tale. The long and short of it is that 144 people turned up to Lincoln Drill Hall (yes, it is my second home) to try their luck at becoming the voice of Lincolnshire by telling a story that lasted 60 seconds. The judges heard everything from the lessons one gentleman has learnt from his suicide attempt, and why he now embraces life to the fullest, to my saga about the time I needed the loo whilst I was on the train to London.
I got four yesses but didn’t get through into the next round. If I was a different person, I could have played the disability card and said the BBC was discriminating against me. But I’m not that person, and frankly, my failure to make the cut had nothing to do with my wheels. We were all in the same boat despite the fact that everyone had come from various walks of life. We were all nervous, and nobody quite knew what they had to do to get through the round. Simply put, the reason I didn’t get to the interview stage was because there’s someone who’s better suited for the job.
Tuesday. Guess what folks? I met a friend for lunch at the Drill Hall. You know what it’s like when you’re catching up with girlfriends, the conversation spans from the weather to world domination. I’m not entirely sure how we got on to the topic, but we ended up talking about how disabled people can often lack maturity because it’s a societal expectation that we can’t do anything for ourselves, so it’s automatically done for us. From there we spoke about how some of those who outwardly appear to have a learning disability are suffering from a lack of exposure to the real world. Now, please don’t hunt us down; we weren’t in any way saying that learning difficulties shouldn’t be recognised conditions, just that stereotypes can impact on, or create issues as opposed to solving them.
Friday came around and I was London bound. I took someone on the train with me this time in case I needed the loo. No catastrophes occurred and we made it to our destination in one piece. We went to see a play called Blasted performed by Graeae Theatre Company. By its very nature Graeae is disability integrative meaning that cast members aren’t all ‘normal’ able-bodied actors. In essence, this brings diversity and inclusion to the stage, especially as the performance had audio description and British Sign Language seamlessly incorporated.
You know those horror movies when you sit on the edge of your seat with one eye glued to the screen whilst the other is cowering behind a cushion? Well, that was me for the duration of Blasted, minus the cushion. It was amazingly intense and something that I simultaneously would love and hate to see again. I’m not gonna tell you exactly what the plot was because I urge you to go and see for yourselves. But there was violence and cruelty, rape and nudity, cannibalism and war. Overriding it all though, was the struggle of humanity.
Somewhere towards the end of the eighty minutes of torture and amidst my sensory overload, the thought popped into my head that if this play wasn’t labelled as a Graeae production; in other words, if audiences weren’t overtly aware that it was disability integrative, would it be as well received? Don’t get me wrong, I know the dark themes above aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but are we, as a society, in a place where everyone can accept that disabled people are capable of both portraying, and carrying out such darkness? Or do some people still think we should be wrapped up in cotton wool?
So, I guess what my stream of consciousness is trying to say is that we all have a long way to go. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to solve world peace until we understand that everyone is in the same boat and that no one’s perfect. When that happens ‘diversity’ will come into its own, making it acceptable for everyone to tell their story without judgement or expectation. Then, we can individually and collectively be brilliant.
Does any of that make sense?