I’m less steady on my feet than I used to be.  Some days are worse than others.  Some moments are fine, others I worry about.  Suddenly I have an insight into the life of the partially disabled that I never really considered before.

My hotel bath nightmare on Wimbledon finals weekend was a reminder of how little standard facilities account for infirmity in the elderly and younger disabled.

The picture above shows a modern football stand.  Granted, the orange seats are a bit garish, but this is a facility built in recent years, presumably taking into account the most up to date regulations to support the disabled.  Blackpool FC.

The away stand behind the goal is called the Mortensen Stand.  Named after the only player to score a hat trick in an FA Cup Final.  So impressed were the people with his achievement they named the final “The Matthews Final”.  Presumably Sir Stanley laid on the goals that Mortensen scored that say in 1953.

My gripe with the stand design is simple.  You enter at the bottom and have to walk up the steps to get a decent view of the game.  In my case, height was particularly important to get my right eye out of direct sunlight.  I wasn’t too bad heading up the stairs and we had a great view of the rather depressing afternoon’s action.

But as the final whistle blew time on yet another Oldham defeat I lifted myself out of the seat (which had provided excellent leg room) and commenced the walk down the stairs to the exit.

The stairway is not particularly steep.  But a mix of my instability and decent sized Oldham following crowded around me made me feel very uncomfortable about my safety.  There’s no handrail.  A simple concept.  As we slowly shuffled down to the exit Chris realised my discomfort and stood in front of me, in part to clear the way.  Had there been a handrail I’d have felt a whole lot safer and a whole lot happier.

A year or so ago I wouldn’t have given the slightest consideration to this.  I’m not sure I’d have cared about the discomfort I felt yesterday being inflicted on others.  It just wasn’t an issue I could understand.

My world has changed a bit.  And suddenly I see the practical help for helping the infirm but willing to get around under their own steam.  I think society, and building regulations, need to give more thought to the issue.  My quality of life would become less tolerable if I found myself unable to watch my football because of silly things like a lack of railings to support me on a two minute descent to/from an exit.

A Day at the Seaside, Memories of Cantona and 1,000 Avios