William Aston Hall

If It Doesn’t Challenge You, It Won’t Change You

It has been a busy old week that has included hospital visit to the cardiologist and physiotherapist, as well as stressful meetings with the Wrexham Supporters Trust board and illuminating emails from Welsh Labour bureaucrats  that clearly show that the Welsh Government have something to hide over the WILG debacle.

HEALTH 

It has been a mixed week health wise. Depending on where you stand, my visit to the cardiologist revealed good/bad news that my heart is in good working order and I don’t have to return to the cardiologist for another twelve months.

I have also been to see the physiotherapist who raised concerns about my posture in my wheelchair. This echoed concerns raised by the wheelchair assessment team who I visited a few weeks ago. While I was with the physiotherapist she showed me, on a skeleton, the extent of my scoliosis. It was upsetting to watch her bend the spine of the skeleton in to a disfigured position. I guess this is life with ataxia – constantly trying to come to terms with a disability that is forever stressing.

MEETING WITH WREXHAM SUPPORTERS TRUST 

On Wednesday night I was at a meeting with some familiar faces who I have mingled with for over thirty years, as a Wrexham AFC supporter. However, the majority of people at this meeting between the board of Wrexham Supporters Trust and the Disabled Supporters Association Committee did not seem to show any understanding of consideration to the plight of disabled supporters in general.

This is neither the time, nor place to go into a deep discussion of everything that was said at the meeting – I will save that for another day, but it should be noted that I was hugely disgruntled by the attitudes shown by a so-called ‘community club’.

SUSPICIOUS MINDS

I will be writing a separate blog dedicated to the highly suspicious actions of the Welsh Government in the latest communication as the battle to #SaveWILG continues and intensifies.

I am being put under an intense amount of pressure as my body deteriorates and being forced to fight for the right of disabled people against the Welsh Government, Wrexham Council and Wrexham AFC. Luckily I have been fighting all of my life and I have the strength and stamina to carry on standing up for what is right thanks to my amazing circle of friends and comrades…

TOM ALLEN 

36634891_10155554936421846_1430258593860419584_On Thursday evening [26/7/2018] I went to watch the supremely funny Tom Allen in action at William Aston Hall at Glyndwr University.

I have watched this comedian performing before, when he starred alongside Suzi Ruffell at the Catrin Finch Centre, which is also part of Glyndwr University.

When I heard that Allen was performing at the Catrin Finch Centre again, I quickly snapped up tickets. This was some time last year I think. Earlier this year I received a phone call saying that due to the high demand for tickets, the show would be moved to the larger William Aston Hall. I was disappointed by this as the Catrin Finch Centre is a more intimate venue, where comedians do not need to rely on the use of a microphone. This is good for me and my hearing, which struggles to fully grasp what is being said when a voice is projected through a microphone.

Last night proved that this is indeed the case. I was frustrated beyond belief as Allen energetically pranced around the stage in front of me, and came out with classic quips judging by the roars of laughter around me. Alas, I could not decipher any of the jokes and could only pick up on certain words such as ‘party rings’, ‘ham sandwiches’ and   ‘Phil Spencer’.

Subsequently, I decided to leave at the interval. This was no judgement on Tom Allen, but just another frustrating sign that my progressive condition is accelerating and stopping me from doing things that I enjoy. What I really needed was subtitles and this got me thinking. Last week, I attended a Disability Wales conference on Direct Payments in Newtown, Mid Wales. Disability Wales had organised for  Palyntype support to be available.

This is basically a machine for typing in shorthand, now often used in transcribing speech to text for deaf people.This transcription was projected on to a large screen so those that are hard of hearing can follow everything that is being said. I found this to be extremely useful and beneficial, and would have appreciated it last night. If I ever #SaveWILG this is something that I would like to campaign for being used in may more locations across the country, as we strive to make events accessible to all.

I am hoping for a quieter weekend…

Game for a Laugh

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?