Something needs to change.
It was my 39th birthday a few days ago and my pathetically weak circle of friends is in dire need of attention. This is due to a number of different factors that have combined to turn a charming, sophisticated and popular young man into an isolated recluse, stranded on the fringes of society.
I live with a progressive, genetic disease known as Friedreichs Ataxia and use an electric wheelchair for mobility purposes. This is a challenging condition but I have come to terms with it and successfully adapted my life around it. However, it is not so easy to find myself living within a disabling society.
For example, I recently went out for a meal with a carer. I booked a table in advance at The Druid Inn – a venue that I’d not frequented before and I was looking forward to a tasty meal that I had already chosen from their online menu. I got spruced up – a big job – and arrived on time, but when I got there I found that there was no wheelchair access. This is 2016 for god’s sake. I’m not going to let this drop and believe the landlords should make it clear that they’re running a wheelchair unfriendly establishment. Better still they could avoid negative publicity by installing ramps, improving toilets and making their venue accessible to all.
Just as bad is the fact that I can’t buy tickets for Public Image Ltd at Glyndwr University. This is just around the corner from my house but as it is standing only the bloke on Ticketline said that there was no provision for wheelchairs. [I’ve just returned from Glyndwr University where they apologised for my experience with Ticketline and sold me two tickets for the designated wheelchair section in William Aston Hall for the post-punk gig]
Neither am I helped by the fact that we live in such technological times. I have over 200 Facebook friends, over 300 Twitter followers and regularly update this blog to a legion of empathetic readers. However, in real life I have few friends to interact with and often the only people that I see during a week are my personal assistants.
In addition, I can’t work due to my disability so miss out on the social side of the workplace and the great friends that I made at university are scattered around the country or abroad.
So what can I do to improve this situation? How do I integrate further into mainstream society? I am already doing all I can with my involvement with Disability Wales, Wrexham Football Club and Outside In at Glyndwr University. Still, more needs to be done as I am still suffocated by loneliness and can’t afford to waste any more time feeling sorry for myself…
I’m embarrassed to admit that lonely nights in my half-empty bed are often spent watching programmes that excite and titillate me. I’m old enough to know better but I think I’m addicted. I just can’t get enough of the nostalgic thrills and outdated tension of Challenge TV – from Bullseye to Catchphrase via Family Fortunes and the quasi-intellectual Going for Gold. Add modern day classics like The Chase and Pointless and you have a heady combination that appeals to my competitive side and love of trivia.
I’m not sure that I’d ever apply to be a contestant on such a game show as I wouldn’t enjoy the pressure or fear that I’d embarrass myself by getting an easy question wrong on national TV .
I’d also struggle to be first on the buzzer and the majority of shows do not cater for disabled contestants. I wouldn’t stand a chance with any of the games on The Cube. So much for equal opportunities…
However, this doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy board games based on some of my favourite shows. Indeed, classic board games in general, such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble et al, are just as entertaining and conducive to positive social interaction. This is just what I need. [I draw the line at role-playing games as life with a disability results in life on the fringes of society as it is without marginalising myself any further by joining a fantastical group of middle-aged geeks with a vocabulary as challenging to understand and learn as Chinese]
I am therefore proposing the establishment of some sort of board game league 🙂 Basically, I just need people to play games against at a venue to be decided. I currently have a cupboard full of games for two or more players but without anyone to compete against they are merely gathering dust.
I have given this idea much thought and we could even have trophies and certificates for champion contestants. Is anyone interested in developing such a club with me? Not only would this enable you to improve your social life, playing board games also helps to develop strategic thinking and basic common sense while having a laugh.
Is this a good idea or am I simply a nerd named Nathan?