Barcelona…. Here We Come!

Mik at Derby Feste 2015Wow, what a month this has been. After spending an amazing weekend up in Derby enjoying their arts festival Derby Feste, it was off up to Stockton on Tees, to perform in Pauline Heath’s ground breaking play Occupation. I joined a truly talented ensemble cast and played to a packed house, as we challenged many stereotypes around disability trotted out by today’s right wing media. It was a joy to be a part of and has rekindled my love of stage acting. I want to do more!

Cast of Occupation

While rehearsing I was contacted by ITV’s This Morning to take part in one of their debates. So after a hard day’s fighting with my script I jumped on a train and shot off back to London. Then it was up early to appear on This Morning, meeting Phillip Schofield again after decades, to debate why non-disabled people park in Blue Badge bays. It wasn’t the hardest debate I taken part in to be honest, but it is a subject that needs airing. Especially if people really feel the other person on the sofa… speechless!

In the This Morning studio

Then back to Stockton for play time, with Occupation going live. The audience loved it, and I must admit I’ve fallen in love with the North East. Lovely place, lovely people. I will be back soon. Of course, I said this was a busy month, and so no sooner did I return to Camden and the wonderful Diane than I was up at 4am to shoot off to Sky News, for their Sunrise program. Yes, it was new review time again and I was on with Anne Diamond. I get so starstruck when I’m on with Anne, and she is one of the loveliest people in TV. But the Sky studio is a great set, and Stephen Doxon and Gillian Joseph are great too, so it’s a job I don’t mind getting up at stupid o’clock for. Even if I am a pinko liberal that annoys many Sky viewers…. or that’s how it seem thanks to Twitter!

Mik with Anne Diamond

With that all in the bag, you’d think it might be time for a rest… but no. Or no then yes. On Wednesday Diane and I jet off to Barcelona as I have been commissioned to write a story about the city. Of course as it is one of our favourite places on the planet, we have booked some extra time there for a holiday. Can’t wait, even if the weather forecast is for rain. Being wet in Barcelona is still fantastic. Then when we get back it’s off to London’s Forum for three nights of Gary Numan as he recreates his three hit LP’s from the 80s. I’m going to be in synth heaven!

During all this I recorded a voice over for a film I am in, but I can’t say too much about that. Top secret and all that!

Gonna need a rest in November… although it is our 10th wedding anniversary so better get planning eh?

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Derby Feste, Here We Come!

This weekend Diane and me are off to enjoy Derby Feste, the city’s annual arts festival. It’s always a thoroughly enjoyable weekend for us, as Derby is one of those places that gets access for disabled people and so allows the disabled visitor to switch off while they are there. When you combine this freedom with a fun filled itinerary of arts for all the family, from street theatre through to the music and firework extravaganza that ends the festival, which this year is courtesy of Les Commandos Percu and Deabru Beltzak, it’s one of those events that is a must see. Luckily I will be accompanied by my mate and local actor Emily Howlett, founding member of Deaf Arts company PAD Productions, who will be giving me the skinny on the secret side of Derby. I am planning a review for the Huff, both of the festival and of any key shows that grab my eye. So watch this space. And if you are knocking around Derby this weekend and see Di and me come and say Hi! Especially if you have something in mind that you think we just have to see!

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Too Busy To Post! Again!

Argh! August was a crazy busy month. It’s started with three days of training at the BBC weather department, as part of their weather presenting training scheme. It was an amazing three days and I learned loads. Being a weather presenter is one of the hardest jobs in TV, and I doff my cap to anyone who does it. You never know, one day it might be me!

BBCWT01aNext I spent a great afternoon scooting around Richmond Park in an amazing powered all terrain wheelchair, called a Boma 7. I had a blast as I think you can see by this video –

 

Another video clip that came out in August was my contribution to the Scope campaign. End The Awkward. I originally did one about always being asked if I could have sex, but they went with a less rude experience instead. See what you think…

Then I spent a week celebrating hitting my 50th birthday, ending in a humdinger of a birthday party. A huge thanks to everyone who came. Here’s to the next 50 eh?

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But I had no time to recover as I was then off to Brighton to act in a short film, directed by 90’s heart throb Toby Amies. I can’t say too much but I got to fire a gun… for the first time ever in my life. While it was a really long night shoot, I can’t wait to see the finished result as the film looks like a gore fest with a superb twist!Gun Mik

 

I’ve also just finished my regular column for PosAbility magazine, and an article exploring sex with a spinal injury. I also shot a film with Enhance the UK about the problem page I write for, The Love Lounge, alongside my partner Non-expert Sexpert Emily Rose Yates. I’ll keep you posted when that is ready to look at.

So as September begins it still looks just as busy. I have been asked to create an access guide to Camden by the owners of the market, have loads of Disability Equality Training coming up as well as a visit to Derby to review the up coming Derby Feste. If you are up that way for the festival maybe see you there?

Anyway, I will try to up date this website on a more regular basis. I did say try of course……

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What’s the weather like Mik?

Is the BBC ready for Mik?

Is the BBC ready for Mik?

I must admit I haven’t been updating my website as much as I should have recently. I’ve been really really busy, but I had to tell you all some amazing news. On Wednesday July 29th I am starting on a three day course at the BBC, training to be a weather presenter. The course got loads of publicity as it was especially looking for disabled people to take part, and the right wing press went a bit ape over this as they said it was positive discrimination. Well, yes it is and I think it’s about time. Disabled people are still pretty invisible from our TV screens, unless they are talking about being disabled, and this is course is part of drive from the BBC to change that. All I say is bravo Auntie Beeb. Now I’m not sure I will end up with a job at the end, as I don’t exactly look like an stereotypical weather presenter, but the new skills will be fantastic.

Presenting the weather is a real skill, and one that if you do it right makes it look much easier than it really is. You have to get across loads of information in a fun and entertaining way, in a really short space of time and all live.Doing my audition was scary but by Friday I will have the skills to be a weather presenter. So watch this apce for news. Fingers crossed eh?

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Getting Sexy

It never rains but it pours, and this month is nothing different. But I must never complain about being busy eh?

Today two videos what I wrote and presented went live online, and I must say I am rather proud of them. They are part of a special feature run by the Wellcome Trust’s online science magazine Mosaic on the subject of disability and sexuality, written by journalist Katherine Quarmby. I was interviewed by Katherine and this led me to meet the Mosaic team, which in turn led to recording the videos.

The first explodes the top ten myths around sex and disability. I really feel it is vital that society re-examines the way it thinks about disabled people and sex, if for no other reason than anyone can become disabled… but they don’t suddenly change how they feel about sex. It’s a normal part of life and pretty much everyone can enjoy a sex life, disabled or not. Society needs to move away from this freaky image of disability and sex. And I for one am doing something about that. So this what lies behind the first of the videos…

The second video came out of discussions during the filming of the first. I was explaining about a technique I helped develop that allows disabled people with loss of sensation or function in the sex organs to regain the ability to orgasm. The crew was intrigued and so we shot a quick clip explaining how to allow yourself to create orgasmic zones anywhere on your body…. enjoy!

I hope you agree that as well as being informative they are loads of fun. I would like to thanks Barry J Gibb and Chrissie Giles at Mosaic and Katherine Q for getting the ball rolling.

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The Theory of The Theory of Everything – My Review from this issue of PosAbility

This week Eddie Redmayne won yet another award for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the Theory of Everything. My review has just been published in this issue of PosAbility magazine, but as so many of you have been asking to read it I thought I would also put a scanned version up online. As well as my thoughts on the film I explore the wider issue of non-disabled actors playing disabled, and chat to disabled acting talent to find out their views.

I’d also love to know your thoughts on the issue, so please send me your comments.

Click on the thumbnails to enlarge the image.

If you are having trouble reading these images here is a PDF version. Theory-of-everything-review-posability

You can purchase a hard copy from PosAbility.

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Mik’s Tips Hits The Air

Recently I read an article about young disabled people using vlogging to highlight their experiences. I have been thinking about doing the same, despite not being anywhere near young anymore, but could never really nail down what to talk about. However as I now give advice on Enhance The UK‘s Love Lounge it occurred to me that this would be the perfect medium to dole out my pearls of wisdom around love, life and confidence. So Mik’s Tips was born.

After fighting with Adobe Premiere for a day, I finally got a product that fitted my hopes. Not a slick super professional job, but more a homage to late night TV from the 90’s like Get Stuffed. Without further ado, ladies and gentlemen… I give you the inaugural episode of Mik’s Tips. In this episode I explore my methods of turning rejection into a good thing… yes it can be done.

And remember, if you think I can help with a problem or issue you are having please drop me a line through the Love Lounge. You never know, your question might even end up on a future Mik’s Tips!

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Sky’s the Limit!

Recently I was asked to appear on Sky news, to talk about access for disabled people here in the UK. It was part of the press around the national Disabled Access Day, and I got roped in to do some of the press. I had met with the guys behind the day to do an interview for Disability Now, which should be out soon, but they needed a media type to tell the world. Hence I got voted that job.

Up at some unearthly hour, Diane and me were then whisked our to the wilds of West London, to the Sky Studios. Talk about security! Easier to get in to Buck Palace than this place. Once in, it was make up time… despite the fact I had already got make up on to hide a rather bad attack of zits. Before I knew it I was on. While I felt I had left a thousand things unsaid, I received loads of tweets saying well done. Scary how many people are up at that time on a Saturday!

Looking good while changing the world?

Looking good while changing the world?

What made my day was the fact that while I waited I got to meet Helen Lederer, a comedy hero of mine! Her dead pan style and acerbic wit always hit my funny bone, and she was just as funny in person. I also met Stuart Miles, Heart radio Breakfast show DJ. Of course, I’m not normally up at that time although I am now old enough to listen to Heart. All those 80s hits are a dream for me.

Mingling with the Stars

Mingling with the Stars

Anyway, something amazing came out my appearance. The lead reporter Stephen Dixon remembered me from my TV days and got the production team to get me in to do a news paper review. That’s coming up on Feburary 13th. So if you are up at 6.40am, 7.40am and 8.30am you can catch me telling it like it is about that days news. Must just remember not to swear or call Tory MP’s crooks. I did that on BBC News 24 many years back and they sacked me. Doh!

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Busy little Beaver!

Been rushed off my wheels recently. Been writing and appearing at events all over the country. Here’s a round up of events so far!

Proof we can still cut it and look cool!

Proof we can still cut it and look cool!

Things started off rather glamorously as Diane and me were invited to the launch of Firetrap’s Deadly Denim ad campaign in East London. It was a great night, and we even danced.

Sea Changers 02

The Sea Changers panel.

Next I was asked to appear at a literary event in Brighton, called Sea Changers. It was an amazing night, and a real honour to be involved with such talented writers, all of whom campaign to make the world a better place. However, it was a little marred by how inaccessible Brighton is as a town. I wrote an article for the Huffington Post exploring how inaccessibility leads to disabled people being seen as a problem and now part of the community which was then taken up by the local Brighton and Hove Independent.

A stormy faced Mik in keeping with the sky!

A stormy faced Mik in keeping with the sky!

Then I went to an event at Channel 4, which I covered for Disability Now. They announced the launch of the channel’s commitment to ensure inclusive casting of disabled actors in their future dramatic output. However, I won’t deny I have been to a few of these things, so I will believe it when I see it. I also met some talented actors, and smoozed as usual.

Posing with New Tricks Actor Storme Toolis

Posing with New Tricks Actor Storme Toolis

I also began running Disability Equality Training for Leonard Cheshire Disability in November. The plan is to roll it out next year, and if a business wants to hire us they will get a bespoke training course created for their business and sector. It means I have to dress rather smartly too.

Suited and Booted!

Suited and Booted!

Lastly it was off to the BBC, for the Xmas edition of the BBC Ouch podcast. It was a great show and as soon as it goes live I will post the link. I do like getting paid to have a laugh and eat mince pies. I just pity Damon Rose, BBC Ouch’s editor, as it will be a nightmare to cut.

Xmas Ouch fun

Xmas Ouch fun

This weekend I am off for a break in Cardiff. Two days of respite, with nothing to do but shop, rest and eat. Then it’s off to Roma Sports to collect my new Vida wheelchair. Can’t say too much until I collect it, but it is a totally bespoke wheelchair at the cost of the standard wheelchair. And it looks amazing too. I will be reviewing the chair for Disability Now very soon.

This is all you can see until next week!

This is all you can see until next week!

So that’s it for now. There was more but I have forgotten it right now. Well, it is nearly Christmas! Can’t wait!

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Brighton Performance 15th November

If anyone can make it to the Fishernman’s Vestry, St Pauls Church, Brighton this Saturday I will be performing as part of an event called Sea Changers. Four writer/campaigners will be discussing how their work is tied to the sea, and I shall be exploring my thoughts on the connection between the sea and disability. Each writer will be doing a 15 minute slot, and then there will bee questions from the audience. It’s free, on a first come first in basis, so get there early. Doors open 7.30pm

For more info visit – Sea Changers

To book tickets (to make sure you get in) – Evenbrite

If you are lucky I might be performing a couple of musical numbers, but that is if a keyboard I ordered online arrives in time….

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