Monthly Archives: September 2017

Monday the 18th.

Today is the last chance to train ( indoors ) on my arm bike before it goes off in the van with Pistol Pete to Portugal, with all the other bikes, so I’ll do a couple of hours on it, and watch a film whilst arm pedalling.

This last week Ive actually been invited, and attended, 2 social occasions from ‘ my Old Life’, also attended by my Ex wife and Pringle. In the iBot I am at ‘ normal’ height and mobile, so it makes a massive difference to my ability to interact with other people. Thanks to Jo for coming with me to Larry’s birthday party, and thanks for the invite, and thanks to Clair and Charlie as well. As it was a surprise party for Clair and I was asked to find a curry house for 20 guests, I did phone around. Obviously my opening question was ‘ is it wheelchair accessible?’  Eventually I found one that apparently was.  I thought I’d just check by going past it on Saturday afternoon, and was a bit surprised to see a step, then a narrow door, then a right angled turn, then 2 very narrow steps up to the dining area. There was absolutely no way that the iBot would get past all that, so I went in my regular chair and was lifted up the steps, it being yet another premises to illegally not have any kind of ramp…. thanks to Jerry and Cliff for the lift up, and down again afterwards, and to Pia for helping me with loo doors a couple of times. The loo doors  were not actually  wide enough to get my chair through, but I just had to make do, as is so often the case.

Jo and I went to a great gig on Friday. A man called Marc Bolan from a band called T Rex crashed his car and died 40 years previously to the day, on Friday. They were a really good band from the era of Glam Rock, and his death was a fairly notable event at the time. I don’t remember it, as I was a kid and Glam Rock hadn’t reached Wales ( obviously ) Blokes in make up and spangly clothes would never have been allowed over the Severn Bridge, for a start.

Anyway, all sorts of famous musicians turned up to celebrate his life. His songs were sung by Marc Almond ( from Soft Cell ), Steve Harley ( from Cockney Rebel ) and Holly Johnson ( from Frankie goes to Hollywood ) – all really big stars from the past. For once, I was probably one of the youngest people at a gig, as most fans there were probably teenage fans of   T Rex when Marc Bolan died at just 29. Jo looked so underage that I’m surprised they even let her buy a drink at the bar.

The iBot seems to create such a stir sometimes, which is how it should be, and I had all sorts of people talking to me about it, some in almost complete wonder. I now go on buses in it too, so my radius of iBot travel has grown.  I can’t take it to Portugal, as it would almost certainly get damaged in transit in the hold of a plane, so not worth that risk. It’s too good to risk losing, having changed my life a fair bit these past few weeks.


I went to a school today to apply for the official forms that will allow me to visit/ help in schools, going forward.

Its a new school, and presumably built according to modern access regulations. There was a slope option up to the reception area.

The slightly tricky detail was that in order to access that slope, id need to go down 2 steps… a surprise finding?

The way I actually got in was around the back, through a building site, down into the underground car park, and then up in a small lift….

Hmmm… I think they need to address that bit? It’s hardly inconceivable that one day a pupil or another parent might arrive in a wheelchair ?

School visit.

So this morning I went to the primary school that both my daughters went to, and I talked ( twice ) in the assembly to the kids from the Upper School and the Lower.  The Head introduced it as a chat about ‘ life in a wheelchair ‘ which was about right.

The kids listened in fascination to the tale of my crash, and the serious injuries i sustained, and my explanation of paralysis and how it affects a person.

The ‘ best bit’ was when, after 5 minutes or so, I turned side on to them and, with a child and an adult teacher  stood next to me ( for height reference ) I took the iBot from low down on 4 wheels to upright balancing on just 2. THAT got a pretty big response…..  and i went from being the same height as the child, to taller than the adult.

I asked if anyone knew anybody in a wheelchair, and a lot of them did, mostly a grandparent. I talked about the fact that people in wheelchairs are still people, but they are often limited to just being sat down…. and how it would be a lovely thing if they were to smile or talk, or ask if they could be of any assistance to someone in a chair.

The older kids asked me quite relevant questions,  though the Lower School questions were a bit more random. I mentioned that dogs seemed to find the iBot quite fascinating, and then got told by at least 10 kids what pets they had…..

One little boy put his hand up and said ‘ My dad got lost at the airport ‘.  I said ‘ was he in a wheelchair ?’  He said ‘ no ‘. I enquiried as to whether he’d been found yet, and was told that he had…

So there you go then…

At the end I once again put the iBot into 2 wheel mode, to leave, but hadn’t realised how little room there was behind me. When it goes from 4 to 2 wheels it kicks back about a foot before going forward a foot again. The thing was that behind me were patio doors…. and i crashed back into them… thankfully (!) they weren’t locked so they sprang open rather than got obliterated by me, which might have been slightly awkward? Even more thankfully, there wasn’t a step down that I’m sure I’d have toppled off backwards, no doubt     spelling the end of the iBot, if not myself as well…

Thanks to Jem and Morwenna for the invite to speak to the children. I think it might be the first of many times that I do this kind of thing. I hope I made a good impression.