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Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Crip on a Trip

Yesterday I said I would write a little bit about "Crip On A Trip", a TV programme shown on Channel 4 last week. It was the story of Dominic (Dom in the, a young disabled guy travelling around Europe with five non-disabled mates before they all split up and went off to university.

On the whole I really like this programme. It was perhaps a truer picture of disability than some other docs that I switch off as soon as I hear the orchestra lament. It had good elements of humour and honesty and it was a 8/10 on the positive portrayal scale (I've just made that scale idea up, it doesn't officially exist, but to give you a contrast, Daniel Day Lewis would probably get a minus/10 on the positive portrayal disabled actors need apply...doh!).

I particularly identified with the various "toilet experiences and stories"! Glad they blurred his doins though..dignity and all that. Dom and his mates came across as very genuine and with a pretty good attitude. I know what you're thinking "there's a but coming along"......... And there is!

I suppose I look at these documentaries a little bit closer, as it's kinda my job and my passion. So what was the problem with this documentary, well it continued to contribute to three very subtle cliches that are made about disability and disabled people. Although overall I think the programme was good rather than bad (100% better than last night's " smallest people" programme with mood piano music to accompany), I think it is right to share my disappointments here.

the first subtle cliche, perhaps more an observation, is around the need to quell curiosity about "whats wrong with you, how did you get it, were you born like that, I suppose you read a lot" stuff. The majority of documentaries have to spend at least the introduction (often the whole programme, detailing the medical condition and its impact on the body. Now although I strongly don't want to deny the existence or impact of impairment, quite the opposite and this doc didn't spend lots of time there, but it still did. I would argue that it is not always necessary to go into the nitty gritty medical details and comparison with the "normal body". It turns the whole experience into some kind of science story and emphasises our difference in a negative way and also subconsciously creates value judgements based on the idea of a normal body (thank god that's not me..or poor thing). I think someone once said "curiosity killed the cat". It'll be nice to see a documentary that acknowledges impairment without the need to go down the medical science and value judgements about normality, with the exception of perhaps Quincey!

the second assumption, and probably my biggest "damn it moment" with the whole programme was the "in my dreams" bit. Now we all know disabled people are all different individuals with a collective experience of discrimination and abuse of parking privilege.... don't we...(lol) and so automatically we all think differently. A lot of TV programmes and documentaries miss this difference bit out by portraying some kind of assumption that disabled people would wish to jump out the chairs and run the 100 m in under 10 seconds or throw away their cane or turn off their hearing aid to turn off the feedback (analogy not working now, but you know what I'm getting at...getting rid of impairment for some kind of normality) . I except that some disabled people do wish to be different from that which they are, but then again there aren't a lot of alternatives shown to challenge that feeling and say "you can be okay the way you are, look and live". This is part of the makeover obsession that dominates television at the moment, but that's another blog.

In my dreams, my chair breaks down and suddenly it can fly, I'm stuck on a desert island and a giant Guinness appears but in the glass there also appears a giant straw. It would be really nice to see a documentary where the disabled person is on the whole fairly happy with themselves, not perfect, but just okay about themselves. I suppose the editing team would argue that's not quite as interesting. I just want to see a documentary with that "in my dreams" sequence a little less cliched. You know that "in a bowl of jelly" one perhaps.... or is that just one of my weird dreams?

the final assumption was the "sex thing" cliche. Now actually, if you listened really carefully, Dom dealt with this one really well and actually challenged the myths. Again documentaries have this thing about making disabled people out to be non-sexual and/or desperate (delete as appropriate). Yes I know, we are all different and there are some lonely people out there desperate for a bit of whooopie..... But again, there are also people who are happily off (literally) in relationships, or successfully flourishing, as my Uni lecture might say, in the downstairs department.

Now I just ripped apart a programme which actually on the whole I was pretty happy with. I enjoyed it, it made me laugh and I liked the way the people in it came across. But it was tainted by the three cliches and it would be nice to see a documentary take a fresh approach. And I'm practicing my journalistic/writing skills along the way.

In context, talking about any of the three cliches: impairment, dreams and sex is fine, but at least portray them in different ways, with different outcomes, that really do reflect the we are all different. Not that we are medical curiosity freaks (good name for a band!), who sleep a lot dreaming of athletics whilst longing for a bit of downstairs action(referring to docs in general here, Not Dom who came over well and should be able to say those things without it contributing to assumptions generally made, if that makes sense)...... Now my blogs getting going!

Or am I just a bit over sensitive and needing a lie down!

Be lucky


Monday, 29 January 2007

Flu Blues

I've been curious about my for a little while now, so today I set up my own my space. I know nothing about HTML so I gave up pretty quickly!

Getting over the flu does make you feel a little blue so the html just brought me down even further. Hopefully tomorrow I will be sorted and back to my normal ways.

Later on in the day and out of complete boredom, I downloaded Channel 4's latest online offering which resulted in the need to update my media player and net passport. What another computer-based nightmare!

One bright note is that I have successfuly added a counter to this blog site as I'm curious to see if anybody visits.

I watched Channel 4's 'crip on a trip' and I thought it was pretty good. I'll write about it a little bit more tomorrow, once I've watched it for a second time.

Be Lucky,


Saturday, 27 January 2007

2000 Hits! (and 54 to be precise)

Just a quick one to say my Flick'r site has passed the 2000 hits mark! Hooray.

I went to bed and it was on 1982 and just now it had hit 2054, so 60 hits in 24hrs pushed it over.

Thanks to all that visit. Not sure if 2000 is huge in the big scale of things, but I'm happy.

Be Lucky!


Bird Watch

This weekend the RSPB are doing a national bird watch. I don't know why I felt interested in joining in. So over the past hour, I have been sitting by my window overlooking the garden and filling in my little full. Believe it or not, it was really peaceful and kind of nice. I got a bit mixed up between my chaffinch and wren, but apart from that I think I did okay.

There has been quite a few television programmes over the past few days, particularly on the history Channel, about our environment. One documentary was about Mount St Helens erupting in 1980 and the other was about the heatwave in August 2006. For such a major event I could not remember the 1980 volcano eruption and an hour-long documentary on the heatwave of last year amazed me. I couldn't remember it being that bad.

I do care about the environment and have tried different ways to be better but on a big scale of things I'm not very good. I drive a diesel van, I do recycle but could do better, I leave nearly all my plugs and appliances on and I don't have a compost heap. With the exception of the compost heap and the recycling the other things are all necessities and limited by my access needs. When it came to my van I did not have the same kind of choices about what type of vehicle I could have and that was 10 years ago and more environmentally friendly vehicles has certainly developed in that time. The reason I leave my electrical appliances on is so that I can be independent and not reliant on my PAs. If the switches are off I need somebody to get them back on. If they are on I can live independently for long periods of time. My chair, hoist bed, front door and other gadgets all require the electricity to be left on. so you can see I feel pretty guilty about my contribution to global warming.

The other thing that I am conscious of is that a lot of the food that I can manage to cook for myself are highly packaged. When I have a PA to cook for me, I usually cook all my fresh vegetables but on my own it tends to be the more easy to cook foods. I am getting better at this by preparing ahead but still, when on my own, I still tend to cook the easier foods I can manage alone.

Apart from my van, electrical consumption and use of packaging material I'm very conscious about our environment. my family has a farming background, Mum and Jerry have small herd of cows. In Abbeyfeale we are surrounded by farmland and my uncle Patsy is a well-educated farmer who knows his stuff. Whilst working at Felbury we were surrounded by hillsides, Woods and beautiful scenery. Whilst working at Orpheus we did one or two projects to develop environmental awareness even taking the group on a day out composting.

For a crazed rock 'n' roller like me you might be surprised that I think or care about the environment, but I do. So perhaps one hours birdwatching is not such madness after all!

Be lucky!


Friday, 26 January 2007

The thaw sets in

The thaw sets in
Originally uploaded by rockinpaddy.

I'm just testing the link between my Flick'r & my blog. The two will work hand in hand if this works.

Who am I writing too. Then again, who am I?

Dear ?,
I haven't been able to get the excitement of my new blog site out of my mind. I've currently got the flu and am feeling a bit rough. The creation of this site is keeping me from a) going a bit mad and b) daytime television.

I've been thinking thatI want to personalise who I write my blogs to. You know the type of thing, dear diary or dear whoever. There are two names in contention and that come to mind. First there is 'Dear Valerie', inspired by Derek and Clive. Second there is 'Dear Bernard', inspired by Julian and Sandy's great ode to "our darling GBS". Bernard, is also inspired by Steve Cogan's sketch which has stuck with me for years, where he cries out randomly in the middle of a scene "I love you Bernard".

both Valerie and Bernard are valid and I could write happily to either, but are they original enough? In reality, who ever I write to, the name is going to be my way of personalising you, the reader. A way of imagining who I am writing to and giving me a focus or purpose to write.

But there is another idea.

In the 18th century a guy called Rousseau wrote a book about an imaginary child called "Emile". It's a very thick book to read but the idea behind it was Rousseau's theory on education. By using Emile, he wrote about the ideal situation of how child should be brought up and educated. I have had a few ideas, based on a few discussions in my old job about using this kind of narrative to help people understand disability issues or perhaps to explore an alternative way in which disabled people could experience a more accepting, supportive society. so I could use this idea to write about an imaginary character instead of writing to an imaginary character.

The third strand to this strange entry is me, or is it Rockinpaddy? Rockinpaddy was a spur of the moment name that I created after listening to a Shane MacGowan & the Popes CD. Rockinpaddy is a way of me and a few friends still being able to play when one of the band is missing. You see my other band, "The Big Red Bambino Band", has a definite membership of four of us, and when one is missing it doesn't feel right to play as BRBB. So Rockinpaddy, is a mishmash of various musicians and today nine musicians have been Rockinpaddy.

I guess the only constant in the idea has been I have played throughout. Some people think that I am rockinpaddy and certainly my mates down at AFC Wimbledon all call me rockinpaddy. so I guess in some ways I am Rockinpaddy, but because in my head Rockinpaddy is more a concept, a bit of a mad creature, up for the craic and crazed on Guinness, Rockinpaddy gives me an opportunity to explore a different part of being me. I'm sure Freud would have something to say about this!

Perhaps the key to this blog is Rockinpaddy. He knows how to have a good time, he knows his stuff about music and he has views on the world in which he lives. Combined with my Flickr website Rockinpaddy has a pretty rounded existence.

Let's think on it for a day or two, reflect. I certainly didn't think today's entry would take us on this journey.

Be lucky,


Thursday, 25 January 2007

Testing, Testing, Testing

well I thought it was time I tried out the technologies of a blog site. As it is the beginning of 2007 it seemed like a good time. I'm not sure who is going to read this. In fact I'm not sure why I'm doing this? It just felt like a good idea. I have a flickr website and have had great fun with it, but as I have been writing a lot recently, a blog seemed like a natural progression.

I guess its traditional with the first entry to tell people about yerself but I guess anyone interested probably already knows me, or if not, will do by the time I've done a few entries.

My old university lecturer at Goldsmiths, London told me "when I'm training others, always find out the purpose? Why? So what will I explore in my blog, what is the purpose?

Well, I think it will be a place where I will let off a little bit of steam! Fairly regularly I get very annoyed with different news articles and the way media portrays or makes assumptions about disabled people, so this seems like the perfect place to vent that fury.

I have also got a lot going on in my life this year. I'm in the final stages of an education degree, so no doubt that will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster. I should hopefully be getting a new adapted van so this will provide a few adventures. And finally the band is planning a few gigs, so this should provide one or two humerus entries. I guess everybody says that their blog will be a mixture of funny and serious but I'm not too sure about mine. I'm just going to see where it takes me.

Do you fancy coming along for the ride?

Be lucky,