It’s a subject I’ve touched on a few times. Apologies for the inappropriate picture but it does rather highlight some of my own thinking.
For clarity, I walk with a stick. My cancer has eaten away at hips and pelvis turning a fit man into a slow moving chap with a limp. It’s not a disaster, but it does highlight a different world to me that I’d never envisaged previously.
The recent weekend away was perfect at highlighting a number of failings in the world.
The good news is I have a blue disabled badge. No wheelchair, just a slow moving man who takes a little time to get out of his car and needs a little space to avoid swinging his door into the neighbouring car as he struggles out of the comfort of the seat.
Service station one on our travels kicked off the issues. Car park spaces for the disabled should have additional room on both sides of the car. Who knows which side the disabled person will be sat on. Planners keen to save space had decided to only create extra space on one side of each car. The only available space for me meant little room to exit from the driver side. A real threat to the bodywork of the nice shiny car next to me.
Still, I can work my way over to the disabled loo in the service station. It’s on the ground floor right at the back. An irritatingly long walk. The door is locked and a sign says go to WH Smith to get access. The idea of saying to a young member of staff that I need a wee wee and would like to borrow a key fob to unlock the lav door wasn’t appealing. Even less so when it became clear that I’d have to push in to a long queue and demand attention quite publicly.
I chose to head upstairs to the main toilets. Two flights of stairs. Numerous cublicles available. None with handles to help me steady myself. I’ll manage, just, but others might not. Interesting that the communal sink that is common in many service stations seemed good at throwing water all over the floor. Don’t mind me if I slip and break my pelvis!
Back downstairs. Stick in one hand. Clinging onto the handrail with the other. Somebody coming the other way stops and stares at me. I look at my stick, look at them and, eventually, they walk round me. Hope I wasn’t too much trouble for them.
Hotel one. A single disabled parking space. Taken. An unimaginably difficult area to manoeuvre in. Twisting round to check for plant pots and stone walls that seemed to litter the area is not as easy as it once was. Petrol fumes pumped into the atmosphere as we turned around and headed back to the main parking area 150 yards away.
A bathroom with a walk in shower. Excellent you’d think? Pretty much so, except for a lack of handles to keep me secure and a lack of shower mat. Serious extra care needed to ensure I don’t slip. Still, hotel two forced me to climb into the bath tub to shower. My right leg just about managed to lift itself in, but it was tough. A handle, but low down at bath level. Nothing to cling onto when stood up.
Lets get a bottle of wine at Morrisons. Who make sure their parent and child spaces are right next to the front door. Disabled? Great, you guys go and park in that section over there and walk the length of the store back to the entrance. You’re welcome. You can see their store designers really gave some thought to it. Not.
Granted, I’m not in a wheelchair and life would be much more of a struggle if I was. But the more I see, the more it becomes obvious that those employed to “see the journey through the eyes of the disabled” really don’t have a clue.