Phew! I have never in my life been so glad to be back in my village, not even after Slovenia and despite having spent very rare quality time with my family. I can’t start to explain to you what a relief it is to feel I belong, speak the language and, more importantly, practice the right customs. There have been laughs but the title says it all. With my CFS I feel like I’ve been through Heaven and Hell to get home again.
In London I saw the very best and worst of people. You can do this if you like – just hire a wheelchair and try getting around a big city by public
transport and unbelievable access-unfriendly pavements. The best – even when I wasn’t really having too much of a problem, friendly folks would offer to give me an extra shove up a ramp, which was incredibly kind of them. When I was in real trouble trying to get onto a Tube train with a step up, a young lady leapt out of her seat to tug me into the carriage. Bless all those people from the bottom of my heart.
The worst? Where do I start? In general it was the infantile attitude of the general public who seem to have reverted to toddler attitude that if they have their fingers in their ears going “la la la” the rest of the world ceases to exist. Wrong! Those earphones might make you feel isolated but don’t excuse total ignorance. You can still see the sign on the lift indicating that it is for people encumbered by wheelchairs or pushchairs who can’t use the escalator or stairs. So don’t be surprised when you able-bodied idlers are called out by the woman who can’t get her wheelchair in.
Nor do the earphones make you inaudible even if you can’t hear your own voice very well. A young man learned that when he called me a swear-word, had his earphones ripped out and a lesson in manners shouted down his ear’ole.
I do understand that sometimes people don’t want to offer help in case it isn’t needed but I beg you all – disabled folk, accept that help graciously because when you ARE in difficulty it might no longer be there. If you are tempted to offer someone in obvious difficulty – do it. The worst that can happen is a polite refusal (I hope).
My time at Mozfest was great except that I was too knackered to keep bombing around so I missed the last day. Made new friends including a charming young lady with some gorgeous tattoos which she had designed herself. I would love to work with her illustrating my otter stories.
One of the funniest incidents was coming home. We had an old-fashioned corridor carriage which were going out of fashion when I was a student. The whole train was chock-full of Korean tourists and boy, can they chatter! Breaking out a full chopstick meal was only one of the distractions. I assume it was Sushi because at least it didn’t smell too bad. Our idea of pay for a seat and occupy that one seemed foreign to them as they immediately spread all their belongings and bodies around until my American co-traveller and I were scrunched up with our suitcases between our knees as the racks were full.
Auntie Mu is as energetic as ever and I struggled to keep up with her. I so want to bring her over here and was begging her to catch the Eurostar to Paris so I can come up and meet her to escort her home to the village. I just know that she would get on so well with Marie-Louise, my adopted Granny….and Auntie Mu’s French is pretty good too!