Here’s my first report for 5 News, exploring the idea of a Paralympic Legacy and what it means to disabled people.
It was an amazing day working with great people, and fingers crossed they ask me back. Watch this space.
I did it! I went on The Wright Stuff! A show I’ve watched since it started way back when almost every day, and I’ve been in it! OK Mik, calm down dear. In fact way back when the show first stated I was in talks to come on, but as I was very ill with an undiagnosed spinal injury at the time so couldn’t make it. Since then I have watched jealously as different people appeared on the show, but now I am one of those faces who got the chance to air their views on the news of the day!
It went really well and allowed me to explain both my views on many of the issues facing disabled people today but highlight the Scope campaign End The Awkward, which I have written several blogs for and appeared in a couple of short films. More than that, I then proved that disabled people are more than their disability by having opinions on other subjects! Yes, I know.
It was real honour to appear on the show, especially with the panel of the amazing columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and poet Murray Lachlan-Young, who I worked with oh so long ago on Wham, Bam, Strawberry Jam. Matthew Wright is such a professional, as he was fighting a real pig of a cold, and he was a real joy to work with. Watching him work makes it look easy, but trust me his job is one of the hardest in TV. Live, every day, chatting with the public? All he needs is a load of kids and animals to put the cherry on the tough job cake. Of course I’d love to give it a try, hint hint! (If you ever need a stand, or sit, in Matthew I’m in!)
All I hope now is that they ask me back. Hint, hint… again!
OMG! This Monday, November 2nd, I will be appearing on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff as a panelist. Debating the stories of the day hosted by the amazing Matthew Wright, I have wanted to appear on this show ever since it started. During the first series I was in discussion with the production company but sadly I was too ill to make it when they wanted me. It later transpired I had broken my back again, so it was a good excuse. Anyway, I then underwent loads of treatment, my career did a tumble and ended up healthy but no longer well known enough to go on the show. Boo! I’m not sure I’m anywhere near the level of fame I was back then, but whatever the reason I am going on The Wright Stuff. (Mik now does a little dance). So tune in from 9.15am to 11.10am on Monday and see what happens! If you can’t see it in person then Channel 5 on demand or Sky+ it. Can’t wait! Wish me luck!
On Wednesday I took part in a phone in on the Channel 5 morning show The Wright Stuff. The topic for discussion was ” is a relationship between a disabled person and some who is able bodied different that one between two able bodied people?”, and so I felt I had to contact the show. Now I doubt anyone reading will be amazed to know that I wanted to make it clear that of course there is no difference, but I was also kind of amazed that anyone would think something so strange.
As I waited on my mobile for my turn speaking to Matthew Wright and his panel, I could hear the discussion in the studio. It transpired that the topic had been picked after an article in a magazine about a relationship between an able bodied woman and a disabled man who cannot speak. The reason why it had led the production team to pick the subject was the question of how love could blossom if you had never spoken to your partner or even heard their voice. One of the panel, the flamboyant Craig Revel Horwood, who is a favourite of my Mum (She seems to have been born with no gaydar at all – she fancied Freddie Mercury and still can’t believe he was gay!), told the story of a choreographer friend who feel in love with someone who was deaf and so obviously they were in relationship were at least one person had not heard the other speak. In fact the able bodied partner loved the signing so much they now include it in their dance shows.
As my turn came, I told the story if my relationship with my wife Diane, and how I see the prejudices that I have witnessed in the past as a kind of filter that allowed me to discover what kind of person I was with quickly. I must admit I was playing up to the panel and my stories caused much mirth and laughter in the studio. The people that also phoned in all had stories of love between disabled and non-disabled people that proved just how good it can be.
But I was left with a weird feeling about the fact that people are still put off by the idea of dating someone who is disabled. What is so strange to me is that surely everyone realises that able bodied people are just disabled people waiting to happen? So if you wake up one day in a hospital bed and discover you’ve joined the disabled gang why would the person you are and your wants and needs have changed? Us disabled types are just like anyone else. We can be great life partners and we can be total gits. We can be caring and generous lovers and we can be selfish “wham bam”ers. I just think it is sad that many non-disabled people still hold so many stereotypes around disability and especially around sex, relationships and disability. Even the panel trotted out the old clichés about only really caring people dating disabled people and how our sex lives were all about touching and stroking.
The truth is a disabled partner can be just like anyone else. They can be the love of your life, they can be a great one nighter or they could be a bloody nightmare. My only piece of advice to anyone who isn’t disabled is don’t be put off by disability. You won’t have to end up being a nurse or wiping our arses (unless you’re both into that kind of thing), but you may find the person of your dreams. Sure you might end up with yet another story of a crappy relationship, but if you don’t try… you won’t know. Oh, and even if you do find yourself with a dud, it’s not a sign that all disabled people are like that. You just picked badly. I mean Diane thinks I great but there are quite a few of my past lovers who would not describe me as anything other than a total pig. I leave it up to you all to decide which I am.
To Watch the episode go to – http://www.channel5.com/shows/the-wright-stuff/episodes/episode-218-15
I have just seen an advert for a new Channel 5 show featuring Tamara Ecclestone Billion Dollar Girl and find myself mystified as to who the hell watches this crap. At a time of recession, where the government is slashing the services and benefits of those at the bottom of the heap, who really wants to see a “reality” show about a spoilt little rich girl? Why would any TV company think that this is the right time to make such a show?
Last weekend I compared at the Hardest Hit Rally in Brighton, where a large number of disabled people came out to make their voices heard about how the government’s policy of cutting benefits is really effecting them and making their lives incredibly difficult. I heard many people talk about their worries and panic regarding how the cuts and changes will make it impossible continue to live independent and happy lives. Speaking to many of the people there I discovered facts about the proposed changes to those benefits awarded to disabled people and some of them made no sense. One shocking change is that the Mobility part of DLA, or the new PIP, will stop at the age of 64. Now what actually happens to people with mobility issues at the age of 64 that means they no longer need help with getting around is beyond me. I would have thought that many people, even non-disabled people, will end up becoming worse at getting around as they get older and so be entitled to more financial help not less… or none.
But then that is what is really behind these changes and cuts. It’s not making the benefits system fairer or target those who really need it, it’s just a way of saving money. As we now live in a society where the number of older people is growing massively, any payment that goes towards helping people who develop problems with mobility will end up being paid to more and more people who really are entitled to it. Oh dear, that will cost us more… what shall we do? Just get rid of the benefit, not caring if this means more and more people are left in real financial difficulty and loose their independence. (I feel at this point I should mention that many people who receive the mobility payment put it towards getting a Motability hire car. Motability is one of the biggest fleet car companies in the UK and plays a massive role in keeping the UK car industry afloat. With out it countless jobs will go, damaging our economy hugely) And that’s just one of the changes that will have a real effect on people who do not have much money to start with.
Now maybe that would be OK if we lived in a society where everyone was poor or at least feeling the effects of recession, but it is criminal that while some are living in fear about how they will be able to afford to live others are so rich they can throw money away. How can it be OK that billionaires are out buying massive yachts, ridiculous sports cars and house after house costing huge sums that they only live in for a few days a year when others are terrified about being able to heat their home this winter? Ms Ecclestone is currently redecorating a mansion in Kensington that is worth 45 million pounds, so she will never have to worry about making ends meet will she? Yes I know I’m a rabid lefty, and so obviously this huge disparity in wealth offends me but even if you don’t think there is something wrong with the rich being so rich while others freeze, surely you do see that making a TV show about the rich spoilt daughter of one the those billionaires is in bad taste?
As well as the timing and subject, the thing that really grinds my gears is that the star of this show is already super wealthy, yet she will be getting paid for the show and will earn even more money because of the publicity she will receive from it. We already have the awful Made In Chelsea on Channel 4, filled with vacuous rich kids hamming it up for our “entertainment” but Billion Dollar Girl is a step too far. I for one will not be watching this waste of time and have no idea who will.