Marmiteboy - Urbane Warrior.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Predictive Text - Bane Of My Life.

If like me you have dreadful hand eye co-ordination (not because of any impairment you understand, I'm just crap), predictive text on mobile phones is a bloody nightmare. Let me explain.

I cannot text without looking at my thumb tapping away on the phone buttons. If I did what most people did i.e. look at the screen, I'd be in a right old muddle. It would next to impossible for me to hit the right letters. Predictive text, unfortunately, makes things even more difficult. You see predictive text is actually pretty unpredictable. Often I find on checking the screen after typing my message (and Lady Bracknell's secretary companion will tell you I don't always check) I find that what I thought I'd typed is not actually what is in the message. So in the interests of nothing in particular I've been collecting words than when typed in predictive text magically turn into other words entirely.

awake - cycle
him - gin
he - if
socks - rocks
queer - steep
mine - mind
stay - ruby
cat - act
bell - cell
fuck - eval (which isn't even a word!!)
ham - gan (neither is this!!)
three - tired
nine - mind
me - of
good - gone
crips - crisp
tricks - trials

As we can see predictive text is a load of bollocks or in predictive text language colloaks (look that up in the dictionary, you won't find it).

Thursday, September 29, 2005

What if you're were not a crip?

Having been disabled for over 26 of my 40 years I have been wondering lately what it would be like to be non-disabled. As someone who trains disabled people in positive action and disability awareness it's an important question for me to answer.

I'm forever championing the positive aspects of being disabled. I couldn't go into the classroom on a positive action course bemoaning my terrible luck over the last twenty years and how countless operations hadn't worked and how shite it was being a crip. It wouldn't generate the right atmosphere for a start.But what do really think? But I'm being professionally hypocritical?

Well if you'd asked me 10 years ago I would have given you a very different answer to what I will give you today. I hadn't accepted what I was at that time and was still going through the grieving process. I think many of us who acquire a disablity grieve for the things we can no longer do. It would take a a very pragmatic person indeed to be accepting of an acquired disablility.There are exceptions of course. Alessandro Zinardi the racing driver who lost both legs in a horrific crash was planning his come back within weeks of his accident.

My answer today would be if you could take away the pain I wouldn't change a thing. My stick is an extension of my personality. It's part of who I am. Being a disabled person has given me so many opportunities that I wouldn't have had if I wasn't a crip. The training that I do, which is probably the most fulfilling thing I do, would never have happened if I hadn't had my accident. I have met so many fabulous people that wouildn't have come into my life. I'm a better person for being disabled. To me being disabled is something to celebrate and Rod Liddle can stick it where the sun don't shine.

There is another issue here though. Much of the subject matter I cover when training disbaled people who have acquired a disability is about loss. Many disabled people, when they acquire their disability lose a great deal, be it sporting ability, sight, hearing, mobility etc. I could go on for ages, but I have been wondering what it would be like to be a disabled person with a congenital condition who were suddenly 'cured'. Now I have only one person to go on here,my great friend and mentor Alan Counsell who is CP. He has told me that he would hate it if he wasn't disabled because he has never known anything else. It's a very important point. How scary would it be for a person born blind to gain sight after 30 years or so. They would have to adjust their whole world as much as someone who lost their sight at 30. Likewise a person who has used a wheelchair all their life would find it hard to adjust if they could suddenly walk unaided. Their life would change completely.

This is only a theory, and maybe completely wrong about this but loss can work both ways in my opinion. I have accepted myself completely as a disabled person (sure get bad days when I'm pissed off cos I'm hurting like a bastard). I have been disabled for more than half my life and it would take a lot of adjusting to get used to being non-disabled. It's something I'd rather not go through.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Strange Goings On In Bracknell Towers.

I received an odd text last night form her Ladyship which has left me wondering about if she is as well brought up as she makes out. The text said and I quote "Blimey, that Pot Noodle was hot"...

Now we all know that The Pot Noodle is one of the most singularly disgusting 'foods' on the face of the earth and as a Lady of some standing I find it hard to believe she has even heard of Pot Noodles let alone tasted one.

The are several explanations therefore;

  1. Lady Bracknell has been kidnapped by aliens and a Lady Bracknell clone has substituted her. The clone is unaware of Lady B's true standing and has made a fatal mistake in trying to fit in to UK society by eating what they think is the UK's staple diet.
  2. Lady B's phone has been stolen by a young gentleman in a 'tracky' and trainees' and he was texting his 'La's'
  3. Lady B hasn't been shopping for several years and that's all that was left in the cupboard (although this doesn't account for the word 'blimey').
  4. Lady Bracknell is not a 'Lady' after all and is in fact common as muck and lives on a council estate in Litherland.

I think we should be told. My money's on number 4.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Crip Culture.

I'm sitting here listening to Neil Young's 'Weld' ruminating upon my forthcoming training course next week. I do a bit of Positive Action training for disabled people from time to time. I really enjoy it. To see the change in people over the period of the course is a real boost and from experience the delegates get a hell of a lot out of it.

We tackle the whole social model/medical model thing which can be really a struggle to get across at times. It's not an easy concept for everyone, mainly because the disabled people who we get through the door only ever see a negative image of disability. They've never thought about how society and the environment disables them. When it clicks it's wonderful to behold. There's nothing like a room full of brand new uppity crips to warm the heart.

Then it's on to the big stuff. Disability Culture. Now over the years this been a revelation to many people, myself included when I went through the course some 10 years ago. If we can get across the concept of a disability culture then we're nearly there.

So what is it? Well my rather ancient copy of the Pocket Oxford Dictionary (Fifth Edition) defines it thus; "trained and refined state of the understanding and manners and tastes..." What the fuck does that mean? Well I think Mr E Macntosh was talking about a way of life. If you put it those terms then a disabled person cannot escape having a disabled culture. Everything they do is defined by being a disabled person, their mobility, the way they eat, the way they sleep, the way they interact with others and so on.

On the last course I met some real hostility to the concept of disability culture from disabled people of long standing so it's not something that everyone agrees with. I can't see how it's something you can disagree with though. If you're disabled person you have a disabled culture just as if you a black you have a black culture and if you are a Deaf you have a Deaf culture.

Still Thursday will be a new challenge. Maybe they'll come round. Disability is a journey, with many twists and turns in the road and sometimes it takes some people longer to get there.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Lizzie - A Top Cat.

I phoned my parents last night just to say hello and my Mum answered in tears. Her oldest cat Lizzie was close to death and she thought she'd had a fit. She said she'd phone me back.

The next hour or so wasn't very pleasent as I sat worrying. She rang back and told me she had died peacefully while she was holding her.

She'd had kidney problems over the last year or so and was on a new diet which she wasn't keen on. She liked her biscuits did Liz and wasn't allowed to have them anymore. I'm glad my Mum was there at the end and didn't have to make a decision to have her put down.

Lizzie was a stray 4 month old kitten when she found my Mum and Dad 16 years ago. She just turned up on the doorstep for about a week. When they asked around the village nobody knew anything about her. She was named Lizzie because she was found on the Lizard in Cornwall.

I've not met such a chilled out sweet natured cat. She chirrupped whenever she saw you and came running up the path to meet you. Even to me who visits my Mum and Dad about three times a year. She loved to lie on the back of the sofa in the morning soaking up the sun and then she would move to the other side of the lounge to lie on the chair when the sun moved round.

Until recently she was a little barrel, all fat in the middle and short little legs, she wasn't really overweight just a funny shape. She was a 'voler' right up until the end and was always bringing in presents for my Mum.

She demanded to be brushed at least half a dozen times a day. Usually when you were sitting on the loo, her comb was kept in the bathroom and she would walk into the kitchen and just stare at you, meouw and turn round and waalk into the bathroom. You HAD to follow her, there was no argument, she wanted a comb and you had to drop everything and comb her. She was tolerant of her 3 step brothers and sisiters and took on the dowager role in the house. She would sometimes deem to talk to them but only if she felt like it.

She was one cool cat and I'm gonna miss her.

Cheers Lizzer you were fab. xx

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

You're Not A Proper Bloke.....

Thus were the words of Lady Bracknell's secretary companion during a conversation I had with her on the telephone on Sunday night.

The problem is she's right. I fear I'm not a proper bloke. These immortal words sprung forth from her learned lips during a discussion on how I was doing with Lady B's Guide to Flirting. Now I admit that I am trying to put it to good use and I have spoken to random people, real live random people quite a bit. Only last night I had a brief converstaion with a young women at a booking reading/signing event in Chelmsford. Whether it is officially classed as flirting or not is open to interpretation, but I did speak to her rather than shyly stand there like a twat.

Lady B's Secretary Companion (henceforth known as LBSC for brevity) pointed out that my inability to be a lad and 'chat birds up' (that's not exactly what she said but I read between the lines) was a sign of my non blokeness. I'm sure some of my non bloke attributes has a lot to do with lack of self esteem blah, blah, blah, but it did get me thinking. I decided to look at the evidence of my non-blokeness.

Marmiteboy's Non Blokenes Evidence.

1. I'm totally rubbish at DIY, so rubbish in fact that I have no interest in it whatsoever.

2. I know fuck-all about how cars work. I can fill it up with petrol and that's it. I have never changed a wheel. Ever. What's the AA for anyway?

3. I'd rather have a cup of tea and a ginger nut than ten pints of lager and a kebab.

4. I have never fancied Pamela Anderson, Jordan, Carman Electra or Page Three girls. I'm a committed Girl Next Door (GND) man. Glamour models are NOT sexy!!

5. I have over 20 pairs of footwear. (Surely a clincher).

6. I like, no make that love, shopping. Even at supermarkets.

7. I can colour co-ordinate my clothes without female intervention.

8. I'm afraid of spiders.

9. And creepy crawlies.

10. I have never chatted up a woman in a pub. (or any where else for that matter).

11. I do not understand the male wish to indulge in contact sports. Contact sports hurt. Watching doesn't.

12. I don't know, nor do I care, how things work.

13. I do lunch.

14. I prefer the company of women to men.

15. My favourite tv station is UK TV Food.

16. I cry at happy bits in films. Especially when the boy gets the girl.

17. I have never had a fight, not even at school. I run away from fights.

18. I like going to IKEA. (You get really good cheap candles there for a start).

19 I'm a bugger for "buy two get one free" offers in Sainsbury's.

20. I have never had 'the flu'. I have colds, not that mystery illness that lasts 24-hours that blokes get in the winter.

Well that's the evidence. Full and comprehensive. If I was as clever as The Goldfish I would insert voting buttons at this point and you could vote on if you thought I was a bloke or not. One button would say 'You're a bloke' and one would say 'You're a non-bloke' and I could publish the results. I'm not as clever as Goldfish though. And I haven't the patience to learn how to do it. Maybe I might just be a bloke after all.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tired and Sleepy

I'm so tired at the moment and it's getting me down. I am, as some of my friends would attest, my own worst enemy. Being a crip is tiring work. I'm in pain all the time which is wearing and I use up more energy getting about. The thing is though I have no capacity to relax. I've no idea how to do it.

Over the last 18 months or so I have been treated for depression and anxiety, which on it's own is enough to flake you out, the problem I have is if I'm resting I tend to start dwelling on the stuff which made me feel so shit in the first place, it's all a bit Catch-22. As a result of this I tend to overdo it somewhat. It helps me not to feel sorry for myself,. granted, but it ain't half bloody knackering.

This is the first weekend in ages that I don't have anything to do, but instead of sitting at home watching dvd's and doing nowt I'm off out later to buy flooring for the kitchen and tomorrow I'm off to IKEA to buy cd storage. I really shouldn't be doing either of these things. I need to rest up. My leg and hip are hurting like a bastard and I find myself fighting to stay awake in the afternoons at the moment. I actually dropped off on the train yesterday, only for ten minutes, but I've never done this sober.

I get home from work and find I really need a kip, which is fine, it's my body telling me to rest, but then I wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back off and end up knackered again. It may well be down to pain medication of course and I intend to go down the quacks and talk to him about it. Or it be down to the anti-depressants, they are meant to slow you down a bit, but just lately, although not feeling depressed, I am feeling more anxious than I have done for a while. Maybe it's time for a change in mad drugs!!

Still I do make time for myself to read in the evening and stay away from the box so I suppose that is a form of relaxing in itself.

On to other things.

Just in case she hasn't mentioned it on her blog (she may have done I haven't looked today) our Turtle was 21 on Wednesday. Happy Birthday Nic. xx Go visit Turtle's Page of Joy and wish her happy birthday.

Wot I have been mostly listening too of late;

Martha Wainwright Martha Wainwright
El Corazon Steve Earle
You're a woman, I'm a machine Death From Above 1979
Modulate Bob Mould
Body of Song Bob Mould
Nocturama Nick Cave and the Badseeds
Post to Wire Richmond Fontaine
Gemstones Adam Green
Surfer Rosa The Pixies
Alligator The National
Either/Or Elliot Smith
Arcade Fire Arcade Fire

I do heartily recommend the Martha Wainwright cd. It's bloody fab, so it is.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Book Group

You may be surprised to learn that Southend on Sea is not a cultural oasis. Not unless driving a crappy Vauxhall Nova with a stereo system that is worth more than your car and wearing Burberry is deemed as culture where you live. So the arrival of a reading group at Southend library was a major event at chez Marmite.

You see I LOVE books, so a chance to talk about books wot I've read seemed too good an opportunity to miss. And it's a safe activity for a crip and doesn't require any kind of physical exertion. A fine hobby for a mobility impaired crip is reading.

I wondered who would turn up at the first meeting last November and was pleasently surprised at the numbers. There are about 12 of us who go regularly. I'm ashamed to say that I'm the only bloke who goes. Whether this is because all the other blokes in Southend can't read (a distinct possibility) or they see a reading group as a bit girlie don't know. All I'm sure of is that it's really rather pleasant. We turn up get given tea and chocco biscuits and talk about the book we were given to read the previous month.

And that's the best bit, the books.I've read loads of books by authors I would never have contemplated before. As it's a group of almost exclusively women I have discovered some great female authors.I am now a huge fan of Jodi Picoult, whose 'My Sister's Keeper' is superb. (I expect Lady Bracknell's secretary companion to vehmently disagree.) I've since gone on to read several of her novels. We were given 'The Jane Austen Bookclub' to read after Richard and Judy bigged it up on their show. To a woman (and 1 man) we all thought it was shite. Several other 'Summer Reads' were given the same critical analysis.

I think what I'm trying to get here is, give reading groups a go.If you don't want to join a formal one set one up with a few mates. Books, for me, are essential to the well being and talking about them and discussing them is nearly as good as reading them.

Oh, I finished a short book I picked up at the library yesterday on the train on the way home tonight. It's called 'Let Me Go' by Helga Scheneider. It's well worth a read.

Monday, September 12, 2005

This lovely image of the Boy Marmite was taken at his 4oth birthday celebrations recently. I was not as it may seem singing or taking part in Punk Rock Karaoke. I was in fact thanking the very nice people that turned up at the do.

It was then sent to Lady Bracknell's secretary companion as she was unable to attend this glittering social event.

Lady B's soon to be axed companion then forwarded it to someone with the unlikely moniker of 'mentalas' (AKA as The Geezer with the Meezer). He did wonders with it as you can see. Thanks very much Pete. It's bloody marvellous so it is.

Links loaded

Thanks to my mate Rob for helping me set up links to everyones blogs. I'd have been fucked without him and no mistake. Cheers to Militant Crip too for providing the info, thanks Luke. It was not an easy task and it wasn't made any easier by Lady Bracknell's rather common secretary bating me by text. I shall write to the good lady and complain in the strongest terms. I'm sure Lady B being the fine upstanding member of society will not look kindly on such behaviour and I can expect a new secretary to be in residence at Bracknell Castle before the week is out.

In the end the wedding was okay. It took place in a dead posh country hotel in deepest Surrey. I as you know was not looking forward to it at all, mainly cos of the single bloke thing. In the end though I had a good laugh. My cousin Abbe who I've met about three times in the last 30 years (and those three times have all been in the last year or so) was also in attendance. She was also there on her own so we spent the best part of the evening hanging out together. It was really good to catch up.

Friday, September 09, 2005


My Mum and Dad arrive later from Cornwall in preparation of this wedding we've got to go to tomorrow. Now I'm looking forward to this as I don't get to see 'em that much. It does mean however that I've got to do...HOUSEWORK!!!!

I quick flick round with the Dyson isn't really good enough I'm afraid, so it'll require the full works. Housework is that thing that I always mean to do but I'm nearly always too knackered to actually complete. And when I'm not to knackered or sore I can't be arsed because the housework will make me knackered and sore.

But it's got to to be done. It means cleaning the bathroom (it's not dirty but there is my clean and my Mum's clean), dusting, hoovering, changing the bed clothes so they can sleep in my bed, chucking all the accumalated shite that I've meant to chuck out for ages blah, blah, blah...

Being a crip and doing housework is not something that goes hand in hand really is it? I know my Mum will be in the kitchen tidying up before you can say 'cream cleanser' as well. So is it really worth doing...?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Wedding Blues

Feeling a bit pissed off today. We've got a family wedding coming up and as usual I'll find myself as the 'sad single bloke tm' standing in the corner no doubt.

It's a bit of a catch 22 situation when it comes to wedding invites. I either get them asking me to bring a guest, which means when I turn up without one it makes it so obvious I'm single, or they just ask me to go on my own which means they know I'm a 'sad single bloke tm' and think that I've got no chance of getting a girlfriend anytime soon. i'm not entirely sure what is worse.

I know this is all being a bit over sensitive but all my peers seem coupled up and some are even with child and I'm starting to feel left out of the loop.

Still off to a gig tonight to see the wonderful Bob Mould (ex-Husker Du and Sugar pop-pickers) so that should be a blast.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The Liberty Festival

Had a great time at the Liberty Festival on Saturday. It was my second stint at stewarding within a week, only this time I was fitted out like a proper steward with a radio and earpiece so I looked like a member of the CIA (except I was rather conspicuous in a lovely bright yellow tee-shirt).

Liberty is the London Disability Rights festival which is put on by the Mayor of London. London used to enjoy this kind of free festival all the time when there was a GLC until Thatcher disbanded the council in what was a fantastic piece of democracy.

Still we had the last laugh and this kind of event is back.

Loads of disabled singers, dancers, ariel acrobats and comedians took part in the 6 hour festival in Trafalgar Square. The weather was fantastic all day and the crowds of disabled and non-disabled people had a great time.

This was the third Liberty Festival and we had assurances from Ken Livingstone that it would be continuing for the foreseeable future.

Hurrah for that.

I managed to meet up with Pete (aka mentalas) a poster on the Ouch messageboard. It was lovely to see him and sit and have a chat. Hopefully we'll catch up again in the future.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Reading Festival.

I'm just back in work after recovering from the rigours of the Reading Festival 2005. Here is a look at what happened.


When I arrived on site at last after a 5 and ½ hour journey (it normally takes under 2!!!) it decided to thunderstorm. Hurrah I thought, four days under canvass in the pouring rain. It was only then that I discovered that I'd forgot to pack my sleeping bag, which in all fairness is a schoolboy error!! I managed to buy an extortionately expensive "blanket" which was as thin as a very thin thing. After successfully erecting my new tent (which for a cack handed bloke like me was a bit of a personal success) I went to check in at the Oxbox (Oxfam portacabin for the uninitiated) to pick up my stewarding wristbands and my tabbard. Then it was off for a wander around the site. To say it was muddy is an understatement. The only place that did not have metal walkways laid down to easy access was, you guessed it the disabled camping site. This is a ridiculous state of affairs. It was truely dangerous trying to get about. Thankfully by about 4:30 the rain stopped and it started to dry out a bit. I was back at the tent very early as there was not a lot to do on site as the festival hadn't officially started. Big day tomorrow though.


I had been allocated to the disabled viewing platform at the NME/Radio 1 stage which in effect is a massive big top that holds about 3-4 thousand people. I met my Supervisor Yasser and other members of the stewarding team and we waited for the gates to open.

The biggest problem about festivals, or any music events for that matter, is access. Music venues have been notoriously crap at catering for crip cutomers. It isn't much to ask to be treated the same as non-crips. At the Reading site each stage had a disabled viewing platform, which although some of them were a bit small, was good to see. However, the ramp to the NME/Radio 1 stage was as steep as a very steep thing. And wheelchair users were having difficulty getting up it. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed as a result of the feed back that I received from punters and was able to pass on to Attitude Is Everything.

I saw some great music on Friday including the awesome Death From Above 1979 who are from Canada and for a duo make a wonerful racket. The Subways were also pretty good too. There has been a lot of hype about these youngsters and although I like the album I wondered if they could carry it off live. Well I wasn't disappointed. They were full of energy and provided a very tight little set. Oh and Charlotte is sooo cute!!! Swoon, swoon, swoon.

After my shift I went over to The Carling Tent and saw another Canadian band called The National, who were very good and then Charlotte Hatherley (guitarist with Ash). I had inetended to go and see The Pixies but I was tired and I just couldn't be arsed to move form my comfy seat. Ms Hatherley was excellent though and Graham Coxan joined her on stage for a good ole dose of feedback.


I actually got about 6 hours sleep which surprised me. Apart from some twat stamping on my head halfway through the night as him and his mates were chasing about the camp site.

I'll remember Saturday as toilet day as all the arena bogs broke down in the early afternoon apart from the disabled loos. So my supervisor Ruth, Cat, Emma (sigh) and me spent most of theday fending off drunk non-crips from trying to use the loo. It is funny how people fail to grasp the simple concept that disabled toilets are for disabled people and that we can't make an exception for them and when they get abusive it will only make us more determined not to let them use it. And oh how I laughed when people then pretended to limp about saying "I've got a bad leg can I use the loo now". Tossers!!

I was a bit disappointed in the bands on the NME stage during my stint. The Editors were fab and a bit shocked at just how many people were there to see them but that was about it. I was quite happy to sit outside and guard the loo.

In the evening it was back to the NME tent to see The Arcade Fire. Another blogger, Turtle, had recommended this band to me and having bought the album I was determined to see them. They were quite frankly magnificent. Great swirling crescendos of wonderful noise. The tent was packed out and they went down a storm.

I then went on to the punk tent and caught the end of Anti-Flag and then Bad Religion. I think the punk tent had one of the best atmospheres I encountered over the whole weekend. And Bad Religion played to that and got everybody leaping about.


I abandonded the tent about about 4 o'clock as the two tents next door were playing a very drunken game of strip pontoon. It was very funny to hear them arguing if glasses were to be classed as an item of clothing or not!! The girls present were definately cheating too, to start with anyway, but by the sound of it they all ended up naked and very, very pissed.

So by the time I got to the NME stage for my shift I'd been up 6 ½ hours. Still we were quiet early on so we were able to relax. I wasn't sure about some of the bands that seemed to be getting a lot of attention that morning. Art Brut for example were to my aging ears a load of old toss. As for The Towers of London well they may want to be young punk rockers with an attitude problem but they were unfortunatley just a load of bollocks.

HAL were good though, as were Maximo Park.

The evening saw me back in the Carling tent where I saw Engineers. I have bought there album as a result of the performance but it lacks the rawness of seeing them live. Mad bloke Adam Green was next up ex of The Moldy Peaches. He was great fun the highlight of his show was when he enticed to young women up on stage to do the bunny dance with him. (if you've seen the Moldy Peaches you'll know what I mean).

Last up was my favourite thing of the whole festival (and this was a surprise), Echo and the Bunnymen. I last saw this band in 1984 and they are still great. They did a greatest hits package with Lips Like Sugar being the standout track for me.

I had packed my tent up prior to seeing the Sunday night bands so after the last strains of the Bunnymen drifted off into the Reading night sky I was in the Marmitemobile and off home to Essex.

I had a great time, met some lovely people and came home completely bloody knackered. Can't wait until next year.