Category Archives: Events

Time for a rest.

Well .. 2 plays, a comedy club and the cinema… in less than 48 hours… I reckon that’s stamina that got me through.

Prima Facie was very good. One woman show about the (in )justice of sexual assault trials..
fantastic performance by Jodie Comer.

Comedy club was excellent too. A pub in Chiswick with really big stars performing. What’s not to like? Paul Zerdin, the comedy ventriloquist was fantastic.

Recommend seeing Wild Men at the cinema too – dead funny! Subtitles don’t diminish.

Thanks to JJ for coming to all 3. We had a fun time!

Invariably when I try to subtly find a drain or tree to water… someone IMMEDIATELY appears by my side. It’s almost spooky. If ever I was lost in the wilderness then I’d just have to try and ‘ Pee ‘ and someone would miraculously appear right in my face.
Yesterday as I found somewhere, I looked up to see a coach driver and a black cab both seemingly needing me to urgently move from where I was. No idea why actually, they could have easily passed me… but no, I had about 50 people all looking at me out of a coach window and Black Cab as I peed.
It’s as though some drivers think they need 100 feet of space to pass me. Very odd and actually irritating!!! 😂

And also!

Got my refugee buddy back.
He’s been moved to Kingston … in no small part due to the letter I wrote to the Home Office on his behalf.
See, I’m useful, me.
♿️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

Busy

Blimey. Too much on.
This week I’m actually out every night, Monday to Saturday… it’s not really by design, honest Guv.

Great to see Marky P at our Pint of Science night – presentations by academics to peeps in a pub. Great idea – and I try to understand what they’re on about.. which last night was all about radiotherapy, and medicine delivery influenced by the presence of iron ( rust ) nanoparticules… using magnets.
When you go along for your radiotherapy, you’ve no idea that the room you get it in is actually at the end of a kinda very long particle accelerator… that may be a hundred metres long. All very clever!

Tonight I see a lady called Fletcher in Shepherds
Bush Academy – postponed about 3 times until tonight.

My friend Gaynor and I went to see a play called Jerusalem on Friday … what a load of rubbish.. made worse by the loss of my wallet and all contents.. thus my coming home by road rather than the Tube – no money or cards.. see 🤦‍♂️

Thanks to JJ for dinner on Saturday.. yum. Not often I actually go to restaurants.. let alone be treated to dinner. Thank you! X

Lovely to see my folks last week, with lunch in the sun outside.. again treated by my Old Dear.
And thanks to my legal side for their brilliant job last week. Also Kerry and I saw To kill a Mockingbird… just brilliant. Thats a must see.
( actually she bought me a bag of crisps as well ) And we saw the mighty Brentford thrash Southampton 3-0. Cmon you Bees ( that’s what I’m supposed to say )

It’s all going on, that’s for sure!

🤦‍♂️

I went to a comedy club last night – very funny.
In my previous life I actually got banned by Jongleurs comedy chain from going to any of their clubs. 🤦‍♂️

Last night was a cracker though.

Unbelievably both my hoist and my electric bed both stopped working/ broke upon my return home.
In all the kerfuffle I forgot the valve on my catheter was turned the wrong way, and so I completely pissed my pants.

What a cracking triple that was.

And another train let down.

Dear Sirs,
I’m writing to report my extraordinarily poor experience at Kew Gardens station.
Having booked assistance, because I’m paralysed and in a wheelchair, on the Passenger Assist app ( which has worked impressively well every other time I’ve used it ) I arrived at Kew Gardens 15 minutes early.
Every previous time I’ve booked assistance, a staff member is not only waiting for me, but even knows my name!
Tonight however it wasn’t at all like that. It started when I politely interrupted your only visible staff member to inform her I had assistance booked. A black lady ( in her 40’s I would say ) she was clearly somewhat put out that I’d spoken to her, and then further irritated when the entry barrier wouldn’t open for me and I had to ask her to help. She glared at me and said ‘ there’s only one of me, you know’. She was still helping another passenger with a machine ticket purchase I believe, but I’m sure staff are trained to be aware of disabled passengers who can’t get through the ticket barrier, and occasional need to assist them.

With 5 minutes to go, having seen no sign of a ramp appearing, I went back to the barrier and reminded her that I had booked assistance.
Clearly she had no idea what I was talking about. I said that the station would have received an email, I’m sure.
She said that she’d have to ask her supervisor, and maybe he had the email.
Clearly at this point I realised that if I wasn’t ‘ pushing ‘ for help, I wouldn’t be getting any.

Her colleague arrived, looking stressed, with a ramp. The black lady then said I’d been rude to her.. ! What, by asking her to assist me, as booked? There followed an exchange where I absolutely denied being rude to her, at which point she declared that she’d be reporting me to the police for abuse.
Is her definition of abuse being asked to assist a disabled person to enter the station and then board a train?
I felt offended and saddened by her attitude.
I’m sure she wouldn’t speak to someone able bodied in this manner, making her behaviour discrimination.
She needs proper training in customer service, and assistance to passengers who through disability are unable to be independent in boarding trains.
She declined to give me her name. I asked several times, and then also her colleague declined to give her name to me.
I can’t believe it’s TfL policy for staff to be unidentifiable? She’s in all likelihood lying to me, and breaking another rule.

My assistance was for Kew Gardens to Camden Road, on the 19.34 overground train.

See below

This e-mail has been sent by an automatic system – please do not reply.
Customer Name: Russell Dawkin 
Booking Reference: PA-87NXC0FP 

Kew Gardens to Camden Road 
Outbound Saturday 23 April, 19:34 BST 
Return Saturday 23 April, 23:22 BST
Your request for assistance has been amended and confirmed by London Overground. Please head to the designated assistance meeting point or make yourself known to rail staff when you arrive at the station and use your assistance booking confirmation at the time of travel. 

If you have any questions, need to make any changes or are unable to make this journey, then please contact London Overground on 0343 222 1234.


Please check the summary of your journey and assistance required, which is detailed below

I’m now feeling very distrustful reference train assistance, thanks to this example of disabled discrimination.

I await your comments.

Russell Dawkins

Alfonso at Camden Rd hadn’t answered the phone call from Passenger Assist at 16.48.
He’d clearly not bothered to listen to a message, or call the number back.
Now how can your system have this big gaping hole in it – if your call hasn’t been acknowledged then how on earth do you know if the message to get the person in the wheelchair off the arriving train..has got through? What exactly is the person in the wheelchair going to do if no ramp turns up ? They can’t just get off the train !
Presumably they just have to stay on the train until the train stops running, or hope that someone will attend to the 999 call the stranded person has made?

FURTHERMORE when I asked about my booked return assistance, I was told no one was going to be there! Well how would I have known if I hadn’t asked about it? I’d have got there at 23.10 and then been totally stuck!
You couldn’t make this up to be honest. I’m appalled.
I’m in north london and having to stress about my travel. Your system is supposed to take this discrimination away.
The only staff member at the station told me his boss, Alfonso, had clocked off at 5pm.
Well if the phone call had come before then, which it clearly had ( because the staff member showed me the ‘ missed call ‘ from the clearly labelled Passenger Assist ) then why didn’t he pass the information on to the person he was leaving in charge? There’s clearly a complete lack of care at work here, and you need to take action to stamp this out.

I eventually had to ask some passengers to lift my wheelchair and myself off the train.
I’d wedged myself into the door so that it wouldn’t close. No one came. No alarm went off. I could have been a person collapsed and blocking the door, and no one would have come. It’s just mind boggling.

Ffs

Another you couldn’t make it up.

My Freedom Pass isn’t working. It’s a replacement for the card issued a few years ago that I was given by Transport for London after my registration following paralysis.

I phoned the appropriate helpline about a week ago to explain that the issued card doesn’t work – when I tap it the barrier doesn’t open.

Since then I’ve been on the Tube several times. Each time I’ve politely explained to the TfL staff member that I’ve got a replacement card in order because the issued one is faulty.

So tonight I’m coming back from Westminster. I explain my card situation to the 45 year old ( guessing ) lady attendant. She said ‘ well you’ll just have to pay then ‘ Now this is after maybe 10 of her colleagues have waved me through in an instant.
I politely pointed that out.
She looked unmoved.

At that point someone came through the barrier the other way ( towards me ). Whilst the barrier was briefly open I charged through.
The lady staff person SCREAMED ‘ what a horrible person you are !’

Tbh I’m not really sure her reaction was in any way fair, given the situation.

What do you reckon?

Happy Easter

Fun times at The Wombats at the O2 on Friday
It’s not the best venue – too big ! – but obviously they can sell more tickets… and it was pretty packed.
The wheelchair areas are either about a 120 metres away from the stage, or just about 10 yards. Friday was the close one. They were good tbh. J doesnt really drink, so it’s me ‘ partying ‘ by myself to a degree. Not that I’m promoting alcohol…. but generally it adds to anything social. I blame my parents! Why not?

Met with Lily beforehand. She’s doing well, having almost secured a job post Oxford in a top law firm. Gulp – another lawyer in my ‘ family’ Her mum is one, of course, and I wasn’t really expecting another. Obviously it’s a good career though, and Lily is such a lovely girl/ woman that she’d add to any business that was fortunate enough to have her.

Tonight it’s Groove Armada in Brixton. Blimey it’s been a bit much of late and I’m tired!
Not as tiring as the DW canoe race which has taken place this weekend… that were it not for injury I’m sure I’d have been doing – tho it’s ending 17 miles short this year, at Teddington! Apparently the finish line ‘ camp ‘ – showers and medics etc, wasn’t allowed this year.
Jeez… why on Earth not..?! You can’t just mess with this stuff- some things are sacred.

Now my tyres are injected with Slime ( that’s the stuff that instantly fills any small holes you might get ) I’m ok to go resume my normal ( but abnormal ) life. Fear of puncture is very real when you don’t have the option of non wheeled travel.

Anyway, I’ve seen yet more gigs, and yet more theatre… most of it postponed from ages ago. Sometimes it’s a struggle to get someone to come with me tbh, as most people aren’t that spontaneous ( or they don’t like me ).

So I’ve seen Supergrass and The Fratellis, and a play called Scandaltown, and also War of the Worlds. Oh and thé Stereophonics yet again…and also Nitin Sawhney.
Thanks to my various friends who have come along for the ride… tho Kerry did actually buy tickets for once… and Chris invited me to a gig ( much appreciated both !)

After Brentford thrashed Chelsea ( well who’d have thunk ?! ) 4-1 last week , we now have West Ham tomorrow. A win might guarantee Premiership status next year – and I reckon 2 more wins in total will assure it… so fingers crossed for that!

Thanks to Toby for fixing a hoist that I wanted to use ( but because I hadn’t for a year fell victim to the modern problem of the lithium ion batteries then being buggered…. requiring new blimmin batteries. Thankfully online you can get them fairly cheaply if you know what to buy. If you don’t and you call the disabled hoist company, you get totally stiffed for cheaply sourced readily available batteries- scandalous how the disabled are so often f***ed over.

Sad I couldn’t attend my dad’s 80th party! Travel and overnight stays are not straightforward at all to stuff like that, unless you have an ‘ available partner’ that is willing to help me a shitload. Currently I don’t, so I couldn’t go. Never mind, I’ll make it up to him In London soon.

My refugee buddy has been moved to bloody Luton – with a few hours notice. That’s too far to go to reach him… so that’s made anything other than texting/ calling a bit impossible on a regular basis. For sure it’s led to a real downturn in his mental well-being. As he’s overweight and with a subsequent heart condition, I’ve told him to use his time exercising and eating less. If he can manage to lose a few stones while he’s ‘ interred’ then it will have been a productive period.
Look to the positives… always.

Yikes

I met up with my lovely ex colleagues the other day.

Big love to Frank, that I’ve known for 30 years, and was quite influential on my career and life direction, though I’ve probably never told him that.
Frank gave up optics and for some years has volunteered at a hospice as a Welfare Officer.
Given that most of the people there aren’t going to live much longer… it’s an odd title really. His job is to talk to people there, about anything and everything, which he does in his kind and lovely manner, and also to just help them with things they have to do. As he’s a very smart guy, he’s almost certainly the go to guy for the patients when they need something done.
I have to say, I’m very fond of Frank. He’s also the very first gay person I met, and I remember it being quite a shock when he talked about his boyfriend. Im not sure anyone in Pontypool had ‘ come out ‘ up to 1990. They wouldn’t have had it easy if they had to be honest.

The other friend was Irfan, who arranged the little reunion. Lovely, gentle fella, also very kind.
He’s not gay, for clarity.

( Im not either )

We had a great few hours in the sun outside.
That was last week, when Britain basked in sun.
At the moment it’s snowing in Brentford, and I’ve got to get to the O2.. if this isn’t climate change weather… my parents were in the French Alps last week and it was 15 degrees, with all the snow melting. My ex girlfriend is In Mauritius where it’s rained for the last 3 days.

I’m wearing more clothes and have turned my heating down… and the water is on less now.
I can afford the bills, but I do feel for the millions who were just about managing before, but now will have to make choices between heat and eating.
Post pandemic there was bound to be a payback for world populations, but Mr Putin has REALLY made it much worse again
🤷