Monthly Archives: August 2021

First gig!

And gigs have resumed!

I went with my lovely friend Sarah to a gig last night. Who’d have thunk?
It was in Kentish Town, and was a double header or Sleeper and The Bluetones. Both were great. To be honest, even if they hadn’t been, I’d have thought they were, just down to the sheer novelty factor!

Getting there wasn’t so bad. I got to Kew Gardens and expected to catch a train.
The train was cancelled…. 🤦‍♂️
I got the District Line and then gambled on changing at Earls Court onto the Piccadilly Line, because they now have lifts at Earls Court. That was pretty complicated though because the lifts aren’t clearly labelled… so it took a while.
I usually avoid the Piccadilly because those trains are smaller with an 18 inch difference between the trains and the platforms, either up or down.
This time I followed the Tube map and trusted it. Usually it’s with a pinch of salt, because it’s so often inaccurate.
Anyway I got to North London eventually without too much stress, and then wheeled the last 1.5 miles to the venue.
The gig went on til 11. Thé tubes stop at about 12.30. That gave me enough time to catch trains all the way home, in theory, rather than just Triride the 11 miles back in the dark. I have normally wheeled back…. but I’d kinda forgotten why, since there is available public transport.
I got to Cal Road and looked at the Tube Map. I can go all the way home on one train. I have a choice of Hounslow East and also West. They are both accessible stations. East is ‘ step free from platform to street ‘ and West is ‘ step free from TRAIN to street. A translation of that is that East is flat, but you can’t get out of the train unless someone helps you. … but who that someone is is a total gamble. Usually I have to ask other passengers, because the TfL staff don’t turn up.
So I get to Hounslow East. The train stops and it’s probably about a foot down to the platform. I consider asking people to help, but I don’t, I think I’ll just go on 2 stops ( further away from my home ). It’s now midnight. If i can’t get out at Hounslow West then my next option to get out is Heathrow Airport, and I really don’t want to end up there.
So I wheel off at Hounslow West and follow the lift sign. I get to the end of the platform. Well if there was a lift at some point in the past… there sure as hell isn’t now. Why are the signs there? Why do the Tube maps say it’s accessible? Why aren’t there automated announcements on the train? There are all sorts of other automated announcements about every other bloody thing…

Christ, it’s late now and I’m feeling nervous about being stuck. I see there’s another train so I cross the platform and go back in the other direction on the next train. It stops at Hounslow East. Going east there actually isn’t a drop down or step up from the train to the platform. Great, it’s going to be ok ! I get off and wheel along the platform to the proper lift.
I look above the lift.

No announcements/ no automated messages, nothing. It’s 12.40 and there are no more trains. I’m in a deserted station, and there are 40 odd steps down to street level. I’ve run out of options. At every turn there is an obstacle, yet none of it is publicised. There are not 4 fellas to carry me down the stairs.
I’m about to call 999 when a TFL staff guy wanders up. I said I’m stuck. He actually said ‘ well why did you get off here?’

Errrr because I should, because this station is level access, and there is no indication AT ALL that there will be an issue.

He mumbles something and wanders off. Well where does that bloody leave me? He then says ‘ do you think you could walk down the stairs?’

Jesus… if I could do that… why would I be in this wheelchair?

About 15 minutes later someone else arrives. It’s an engineer. He says he can switch the lift mechanism on… If it works… why is it switched off without it being publicised that the station is now NOT accessible? There would seem to be the notion that everyone in wheelchairs can actually manage the stairs if asked nicely. Well no, they can’t.

I get home at 1.20 because it’s about another 2 miles by Triride.
It’s taken me 2 and a half hours to get back. That’s 10 miles in 2 and a half hours. You could walk 10 miles in that time ( if you could walk ).

I remembered why I didn’t catch trains late at night. They are a disaster. When stuff goes wrong I’m at the mercy of TfL. Yes, I could book wheelchair taxis, but so often they let me down in the past that I stopped using them.

That’s why I use my Triride. It’s dangerous at night, for sure, but notwithstanding the risk of death on the roads, it’s on balance a far more guaranteed means of transportation.

But yeah, most people in my situation would just stay in.


Just now I could hear someone trying to get my front door open. It went on for some time – the sound of a key in my lock and I could hear the door handle being tried.

I went to the door and quickly unlocked it and pulled the door open.

There was a young black guy with a big Afro on his knees with a key in his hand. I said ‘ who the F are you ?! ‘
He looked VERY shocked to see me… and said ‘ sorry, wrong door’.

A likely story I thought… until I saw a baby in a large buggy right behind him.

Now I don’t know… but it seems to be a bit too much of a cover prop to take a baby out house burgling..? It’s certainly a new one… I suppose he might have had this job cased for weeks and then his Missus said ‘ I’m going round my sister’s and you’ve got Junior until 7 ‘ I mean that’s possible, right?

But unlikely….

I don’t know who was most shocked looking, me or him? I see a black robber with a baby in a pram, and he sees a bloke in a wheelchair suddenly open the door from the inside!

You couldn’t make it up! 😅

Better news

I have learned that it’s possible to ( often ) bring Lithium Ion Segway batteries back to life, by sending them off to certain companies and paying about £200.
I just spoke to a chap who does it. Apparently the Segway batteries are encoded and you need sophisticated kit to ‘ break the codes’ and reset them, but that’s what they do. This fella ( Welsh guy ) is currently building a seated ‘Segway copy ‘ for a friend who has MS … so he’s a good bloke!

Well that’s cheaper than replacing them altogether!

Except they are in Portugal and I’m back in London.
And no, I don’t think anyone is going to go to my apartment, turn the Segway over for me, remove the batteries and then send them off for me, and then go back and put them back under the Segway.


In bed by 1.50 am!

But they make it back… via the Gatwick Express, and then 10 miles through a dark London by Triride ( well me, anyway. G got a taxi from Victoria station ).
A lot of BMW’s driven by young Asian guys seemed to pass me tonight… all of them cheering me!


Coming back.

Prior to going to Portugal I/we had done all the necessary admin ref Covid.
The passenger locator form part was the most irritating, because error messages appeared about 50 times, for no obvious reason. It took ages, and seemed to be an essential part of the pre trip. We were surprised therefore, when on the plane out, they announced that you could just fill in a form on the plane if you wanted to. Well that would have saved me about 45 minutes 2 days prior.
So when coming back, from a country ( Portugal ) with relatively few cases, to a country ( GB ) with more cases than anyone else in the world, I assumed that the same option would be offered, and DIDNT fill in a form online. Doh, that was a mistake. At Faro airport we were told we couldn’t get on the plane unless we had done it.
That meant, at bag drop, we had to duly do it. You go to Gov.Uk and start the process. You fill in the same information again and again, and after about 10 minutes it asks you to confirm you have a day 2 test booked. Well no, we hadn’t ( either ) … so then it gives you a list of test providers, and you HAVE to book and pay for one. If you don’t, you can’t complete the passenger locator form.
I’m telling you, it’s not bloody easy on a mobile phone doing it, and I’m phone savvy. …
Without the email from the test company, and their booking reference, you can’t get on the flight. I did mine ( eventually ) and Gina did hers. Except I got a confirmation email, and she didn’t! So we did it again, for Gina, PAYING AGAIN for a test. Two tests now paid for she got no email, and couldn’t complete her form.
Jesus I’m feeling really f’d off by now ( having already had a really hard time locating the Uber that I’d booked for Gina an hour before, that didn’t turn up at my apartment, but instead stopped about 500 yards away, and couldn’t speak any English, meaning I had to triride around for 20 minutes trying to find him… before getting G in the car, and then tririding 10 miles on BIG roads to the airport ) … and felt really up against it.
At my wits end, and now doing hers for her ( but failing miserably ) I tried using MY test confirmation code on HER passenger locator form. Strictly speaking, that isn’t legal, I’m sure, but it worked … and her form was accepted, and we got through.
It took over an hour to get that far though, and it’s very difficult.

This trip has had huge ‘ drama’ every single day. Sh** has gone wrong big time, day in day out. I do wonder whether it’s anything near worth it, me leaving home, I really do.
As I’ve said before, often, it would be so ‘easy’
to just do nothing, ever… and sadly that’s pretty much what lots of paralysed people do, because the hurdles are just stacked up, stretching into the distance, always.

This flight was changed , and we now have the
extra complication of getting back from Gatwick after midnight. It’s really really hard for me to get into a normal car, and then you have to get my wheelchair in, plus my triride, so I get public transport, or wheelchair taxis, where I stay in my chair in the car, having gone in via a ramp. BUT …wheelchair taxis are very hard to get, outside London, so the most likely option if I can’t get one, is a train at 2.40 am, which eventually gets to central London. After that it’s 2 more changes and another 90 minutes, which means home at 5.30am.
Rather than do that, I’m hoping to get to central London, get a cab for G and triride myself home, meeting G in Brentford at say, 4 am.
I’m not selling this stuff, am I ? I honestly think that I’ve had more stressful days on this one trip, than I’d had in a lifetime pre injury, and I’m not kidding – and I’m supposed to be on holiday?
But this is my non stop reality. Do nothing, or lead an extremely complicated life.

I went by road to where my children are staying ( with their mum and Boyf ) yesterday.
It’s only 10 miles on the motorway… or apparently it’s less on the minor roads.
I opted for the latter – less chance of being squished, and surely more scenic!

Well you live and learn. Google maps doesn’t seem to work abroad, or at least not on my phone. It’s as though she thinks we are all driving clockwise around the roundabouts, rather than anti-clockwise as they do here.
So she’d say take the first exit, when I think she actually meant say the last one. As I can’t be looking at the map as well as ‘ driving ‘ I was doing what the voice said.
I must have gone wrong about 20 times. I had to reverse about 10 times down roads, as well as getting stuck in a lot of one way systems.
Honestly it was a shocker.
Eventually I ended up on a track that I recognised because I used to ride it often on my bike pre injury. Whilst I liked that familiarity, I also knew that 2 miles ahead I’d find it tricky to get past an obstacle.
True enough, when I got there, the obstacle was far more impassable than I thought. Well you do stuff on a bike and it looks one way, and then you see it from a wheelchair and it’s like a 6 foot wall that you can’t go over or under.
Two cyclists appeared and I pleaded with them to help. They did, and I then had to go above a mile on a golf course buggy track, which again completely confounded me. Buggies are wide and low, and don’t tip over easily. Me though, well I’ll tip easily and then I can’t get up again.
The poor cyclists had to push me for about 10 minutes. They were a Portuguese couple and very very kind. Without them I’d have been totally buggered.
I thought the trip would take 45 minutes. It took 2 and a half hours… and was horrendous to be honest.
BUT .. I got there and spent 3 hours with my daughter in a bar/ restaurant. She was her usual lovely self. It was sad to think that my other daughter was just a few hundred feet away, but didn’t come too… but I had to box up that thought and crack on, and it was great.
It was nostalgic, because I’d spent a lot of time in this place pre injury, doing all sorts of active stuff, and then lived there for 3 months ( 5 years after my injury when I had no other viable ‘ home’ option ).

The route back had to be on the BIG roads, because I’d used so much bloody battery getting there, that I had to go the ‘fast route’ back (despite having carried a spare battery )
It was touch and go battery wise returning on the big roads, but blimey it was a lot more straightforward, albeit slightly terrifying….

And I saw a friend in the bar too… lovely fella I know, called Bob.

So another kinda torrid event… but you know I just have to let these bad experiences go. Pre injury I’d have carried that with me at least all day… but now I can’t afford to. I get so many crap things happening to me, that I’d never go anywhere if I lived in dread.
So I don’t! 😅

And also..

I decided today, on waking, that we’d try to fire up my Segfree wheelchair so that I can go more places. It’s been dormant for 18 months, due to COVID and me having no chance of getting here.
Having plugged it in to charge 2 days ago, I was excited and nervous about being on it. It’s a Segway with a seat on it, and is pretty cool.

True to form, nothing seems to go too well though. It doesn’t start. … I’ve changed the remote batteries, tried everything I can think of, but it just won’t fire up.

Along with my iBot, COVID enforced inactivity has claimed another battery powered victim. Getting it to work again will need new batteries and also someone who understands what to do to get it working.

Gawd, I’d like stuff to go right for a change, tech wise. … everything seems to be NOT working.

Also I need a girlfriend who is a bloody mechanical genius as well as good looking, or just be sexually binary when I go on my holidays ! 🤦‍♂️

Dear God.

I found a pull up bar on the sea front, here. Well I obviously can’t just wheel on. I have to stay there for 15 minutes and do what I can.
As I have previously written tho, when I do pull ups, my Crown Jewels fall between my legs and when I come down to sitting again, I’m sat on them properly, crushing them. If I could feel it, im sure it would be very uncomfortable, but I can’t.

So I have to ‘ retrieve’ them by putting my hand down my trousers front and easing them out again from under myself.
They are well and truly wedged under me, and I’m really trying to release them ( and don’t forget I can’t consciously open my legs, or wriggle at all, so it’s really not easy ) and this 5/6 year old boy walks up and starts chatting away in Portuguese, whilst my hand is firmly down my trouser front. I give him a look which sort of says ‘ go away’ but he takes no notice.

Then his mum appears too.


I’m waiting for the police to arrive…

As well as the worst bit being the carrying on and off the airplane..
The other worst bit is trying to get into a taxi. I’m so stiff and immovable because of my metalwork that it’s just really bloody hard to get into a car.
The taxi drivers obviously rarely help much so it’s left to my help at the time. Because G is weaker than a kitten ( and she wouldn’t mind me saying it ) it’s actually not worth even trying to get into a taxi.
Therefore I explained to the cab driver that G would catch the cab, and I’d then Triride behind the car to the destination – about 8 miles away. As I explained, he nodded a lot. Then I realised that he hadn’t actually understood a word I said…

Another driver came to help, and translated… and we were off!
I’d asked that he drive slowly and go on minor roads. It was a surprise therefore to find myself on a road that resembled the M4 motorway, going uncomfortably fast. G was looking out of the back window, nervously, which wasn’t that encouraging either.

It really is a wonder I’m not dead. .. but instead I’m successfully in the town of Olhao, by the sea. My God, it’s properly hot here … unlike in the UK where it’s cold and wet… as it has been for about a year.

And tomorrow is my birthday- in the sun! I’m sure G has all sorts of treats planned.
Not. 🤦‍♂️