Category Archives: dancing

Return of the Dancing Queen.

“I like attractive people who aren’t so terribly aware that they are attractive… people who aren’t afraid to roll on the floor and make fools out of themselves.”

Bob Fosse

Watch out world! The Dancing Queen is back.

Tonight, my dance class kicked off again for the New Year, and I was there with bells on. Well, I was actually still wearing my pink satin ballet slippers, pink ballet tights and a new addition…the black “tutu” I picked up from Vinnies (charity shop) last weekend.

While this might all sound pretty “normal”, it was a contemporary/jazz/lyrical class. For the uninitiated that means you DO NOT WEAR BALLET ATTIRE!!! However, I’ve created my own space with my pink satin slippers and they’ve sort of become “me”. Besides, they really are too pretty to hide away in my cupboard, now that we’ve changed codes. By the way, I’m not the only one who’s turned up to class with a certain je ne sais quoi either. Our adult dance class has a few subversive elements.

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While you might find someone with limited mobility is an unlikely dancer, perhaps that’s why dancing has suddenly become so important to me. That when something gets snatched away, you realize how precious it is and you want to grasp it with both hands and swing from the chandelier. Moreover, I’ve also found a safe and accepting place to dance and we’re a great bunch of people!! That has certainly made a world of difference! I can simply have a go. Do my best and hold onto that sense of sheer exhilaration for as long as I can.

I’ve also realized, now that I’m nearing 50, that I’m finally stepped out of my metaphorical cage. Indeed,  I’ve finally found my wings.It’s such a shame, in a way because I’ve lost a lot of time and they were always there waiting for me. However, I guess that’s why you have to earn your wings. They need to be appreciated, valued, treasured and used. They’re not just pretty ornaments.

Like so many, my reluctance to dance and my paralyzing self-consciousness,  wasn’t self-imposed. The cage came from outside. That constricting peer pressure, which decreed that only the cool girls could dance. That anyone as “unco” as me, shouldn’t be seen dead on the dance floor. Rather, you had to hide yourself away.

Yet, dancing is for everyone and by denying people the opportunity to dance and set themselves free in the physical realm, you’re cutting them off from their soul.

That’s not just rhetoric either.

While the context is a bit different, I still remember that dreadful scene in Dead Poet’s Society where Neil’s Dad wouldn’t let him perform in the play and pursue a career in the theatre, and he took his life. He couldn’t live being so estranged from himself.

That’s an important scene to keep in mind as a parent for a multitude of reasons.

Anyway, I digress. Getting back to tonight’s class…

Tonight’s class was inspired by the choreography of Bob Fosse. Fosse was born in 1927 to a performing family and hit the vaudeville stage at a young age. In addition to his more traditional dance education, Fosse had first-hand experience with the burlesque style of dance, and this informed much of his choreography. One of his earliest dance creations, choreographed at the age of 15, was a suggestive nightclub number featuring girls wearing ostrich feathers. This early moment hints at the larger thread of sensuality that would run through all of his work. However, his work isn’t purely burlesque. It is its own unique amalgamation that results in cool jazz movements.

“Live like you’ll die tomorrow, work like you don’t need the money, and dance like nobody’s watching.”

Bob Fosse

However, Bob Fosse was another world away tonight, and my eyes were glued to my teacher, Miss Karina Russell, who translates professional dance into something I can almost follow. By that, I mean something I can almost write about. The actual doing needs a lot more work. My  arms and legs were all over the place, which is to be somewhat expected with a new routine but I’m still trying to take in what I see  and am a long way of translating that into my own movements. Yet, not to be too hard on myself, I am on the way and it was only the first take.

Moreover, despite my struggles, I received nothing but encouragement. We had fun, laughed and I stretched myself beyond my comfort zone and also extended my body and mind beyond the width of my laptop. That’s important in itself. I spend hours writing, researching and not stretching my body beyond my chair.

Have you ever attended an adult dance class? Why or why not? How did you feel about it? I’d love to hear from you!

xx Rowena

 

Goodbye 2016…The Words They Left Behind.

Make yourself a cup of tea, pour a glass of wine, grab a snack and absorb the words of wisdom left behind by some of the very inspirational souls who passed away this year. True wisdom to eat, savour, swallow and absorb into our deepest selves . Who knows where living these words could take us? Indeed, who needs champagne when you could be touched by even a sprinkle of  Ziggy’s star dust?!!

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Last night, I was thinking about putting something together for New Year’s Eve. At my stage in life, this means writing something for the blog and the family rather than organizing a raging party. Not only do we have the kids to consider, but also a dog who’s allergic to fireworks. She is guaranteed to be trembling on Geoff’s lap and I just remembered we didn’t get any medication…for her, or us!

While I’ve read advice and wisdom for the New Year, my mind was blank. If anything, I only had questions. At the top of that list was: “Do you really think you’re going to get it together next year when you specialize in chaotic thinking and travelling through life with no road map whatsoever?”

As we all know, NYE is an important night and it’s critical to get our affairs in order. More important than dying, NYE is that magical night when our old self dies and our new self is born. Indeed, at the tick of 12.01 AM, there’s an entirely new you with no commonality with your past self whatsoever. What? You didn’t know your entire DNA changes every New Years Eve on the stroke of midnight? Oh! Happy Days!

As I said, I get new DNA at midnight and I just hope I don’t come back as an accountant at 12.01, although I’ve vowed to manage my “what the?” finances better in 2017.

Anyway, since so many inspirational people left this world during 2016, I decided to put together a compilation of inspirational quotes.

Of course, my selection of quotes says as much about me, as it does about them. I haven’t included every famous person who passed away. Moreover, I won’t be calling these people “celebrities”. Rather, they were people of substance who inspired the world, not a candle flames fart-arsing in the wind.

These are “my people”.

So, I ask you to join me in my writer’s chair. We’re parked in front of huge screen basking in flashbacks of Carol Brady, Laverne & Shirley, Pretty Woman, Kingswood Country, Ziggy Stardust and my friends cutting out pictures of WHAM! and pasting them in their school diaries. All of these memories, images, words and music all swirled together into a dazzling kaleidoscope and I’d love to invite you along for the journey. Alleluia!

Who knows? You might even be inspired!

The Words They Left Behind

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David Bowie

David Bowie 1947 – 2016

“There, in the chords and melodies, is everything I want to say. The words just jolly it along. It’s always been my way of expressing what, for me, is inexpressible by any other means.”

“As an adolescent, I was painfully shy, withdrawn. I didn’t really have the nerve to sing my songs on stage, and nobody else was doing them. I decided to do them in disguise so that I didn’t have to actually go through the humiliation of going on stage and being myself.”

Prince 1958 – 2016

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“Compassion is an action word with no boundaries.”

“There’s always a rainbow at the end of every rain.”

“When I’m writing [songs], some days the pen just goes. I’m not in charge and I’m almost listening outside of it. That’s when I realize that we all have to start looking at life as a gift. It’s like listening to a color and believing that these colors have soul mates and once you get them all together the painting is complete.”

Muhammad Ali 1942 – 2016muhammad_ali_nywts

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.’”

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was.”

“Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.”

“I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but if I have changed even one life for the better, I haven’t lived in vain.”

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

Harper Lee 1926 – 2016

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.”

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

“The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

“It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”

“Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”

“Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”

“Many receive advice, only the wise profit from it.”

Nancy Reagan 1921 – 2016

nancy-reagan“To my young friends out there: Life can be great, but not when you can’t see it. So, open your eyes to life: to see it in the vivid colors that God gave us as a precious gift to His children, to enjoy life to the fullest, and to make it count. Say yes to your life.”

“For eight years, I was sleeping with the president, and if that doesn’t give you special access, I don’t know what does!”

“A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.”

Leonard Cohen 1934-2016

leonard-cohen“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

~ lyrics from Anthem, off the 1992 record ‘The Future’

“Out of the thousands who are known or who want to be known as poets, maybe one or two are genuine and the rest are fakes, hanging around the sacred precincts, trying to look like the real thing.”

“Act the way you’d like to be and soon you’ll be the way you act.”

“Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.”

“I did my best, it wasn’t much. I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch. I told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah…” ~ lyrics from his 1984 masterpiece, Hallelujah

“I don’t really understand that process called reincarnation but if there is such a thing I’d like to come back as my daughter’s dog.”

Carrie Fisher 1956-2016

carrie-fisher “One of the great things to pretend is that you’re not only alright, you’re in great shape. Now to have that come true – I’ve actually gone on stage depressed and that’s worked its magic on me, ’cause if I can convince you that I’m alright, then maybe I can convince me.”

“I always wrote. I wrote from when I was 12. That was therapeutic for me in those days. I wrote things to get them out of feeling them, and onto paper. So writing in a way saved me, kept me company. I did the traditional thing with falling in love with words, reading books and underlining lines I liked and words I didn’t know.”

Debbie Reynolds 1932 – 2016

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“If you’re a dancer, study singing. You have to do everything and do it well. You have to study acting. You have to study all of it. You have to find workshops, get out on the stage…and fail.”

“You have to keep practicing, if you’re really going to be good.”

“Anything worthwhile is hard, and dancing is very hard, and if you’ve ever studied dancing of any kind you’d know that to be in precision, three people dancing together.”

George Michael 1963-2016

wham“You’ll never find peace of mind until you listen to your heart.”

“Because of the media, the way the world is perceived is as a place where resources and time are running out. We’re taught that you have to grab what you can before it’s gone. It’s almost as if there isn’t time for compassion.”

Ronnie Corbett 1930-2016

“Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac.”

“We’ll be talking to a car designer who’s crossed a Toyota with Quasimodo and come up with the Hatchback of Notre Dame.”

Florence Henderon 1934-2016 (AKA Carol Brady from The Brady Bunch)

Florence Henderson.jpg“I had four children … and sometimes my kids would say to me, you know, how come you don’t scream at those kids on television like you do us?”

“A lot of women say to me, ‘You know, I really hated you because my kids wanted you to be their mother.'”

“I firmly believe […] you have to cherish your past. If you did it, it’s a part of you. I would be foolish to ignore that or go, I wish I’d never done it, i hate it.'” (on playing Carol Brady).

Zsa Zsa Gabor  1917-2016  (for a bit of humour. She was incredibly funny!!)

zsa-zsa-gabor-240I never hated a man enough to give him his diamonds back.”

“I am a marvelous housekeeper. Every time I leave a man, I keep his house.”

“I want a man who’s kind and understanding. Is that too much to ask of a millionaire?”

“I don’t remember anybody’s name. How do you think the ‘dahling’ thing got started?”

“To be loved is a strength. To love is a weakness.”

“One of my theories is that men love with their eyes; women love with their ears.”

“If you’ve got the comedy eye, you can look at any situation and see the humor in it while others don’t.”

“The only way to learn a language properly, in fact, is to marry a man of that nationality. You get what they call in Europe a ‘sleeping dictionary.’ Of course, I have only been married five times, and I speak seven languages. I’m still trying to remember where I picked up the other two.”

Garry Marshall 1934-2016 , Director

garry-marshall“Learn to work with people you wouldn’t go to lunch with.”

“One of my thrills of the business is to find young people, there’s a window. I like young people who are in that brief window between on their-way-up and rehab. In that window I can make stars. It’s not really true but it’s not so far off.”

“I think a lot of creative people have no sense of numbers and economics.”

“I’m basically a writer, it’s who I am. I direct and I like theatre directing very much. But I’ve done 17 movies, they don’t say ‘Let’s get Garry, he’ll make a helicopter shot,’ they say ‘Get Garry, he’ll fix the script.'”

“When I edit, I’m not from the school of Hello, I’m a genius, so everybody shut up. I’m from the school of Let’s play it once in front of an audience, and then I’ll tell you where it is going.”

“I think men should go see Beaches too. I think they’ll understand women better.”

“I’m a little older and I’m gonna do a bunch more movies and then they’re gonna put me in a home for old directors.”

“My mother worked all of her life, she was a dance teacher and I also noticed, to be honest, that most of the male directors wanted to blow things up so there was like an open area for somebody who wanted to direct women movies, chick flicks, whatever you… I don’t call them chick flicks.” www.movieweb.com

“I don’t know about immortal, but I must say that to me to touch more women and to have them understand friendships, is important. I’ve had girls come up to me who said, “Yeah, after I saw ‘Beaches’ I called up my friend Denise who I was really mad at. She got me so aggravated and I called her and we made up.” So if I could do that with this new release, yes, that would be very pleasing to me because, hey, it’s a tough world. You need friends out there.” www.movieweb.com

Ross Higgins AKA Ted Bulpitt from Kingswood Country

ted-bullpittFor those of you who are heading out to party tonight, I’ll leave you with two quotes from Kingswood Country‘s Ted Bulpitt, Australia’s version of Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers. This show couldn’t appear on modern TV yet it was viewed in every loungeroom round Australia. RIP Ted.
Ted Bullpitt: You’re not taking the Kingswood…

Ted Bullpitt: Leave your money on the fridge!

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I’ve decided to print these quotes out for the family tonight and we’re going to pluck them out like a lucky dip.

Which quotes appeal to you? I’d love you to share your thoughts!

Thank you for reading through to the end. After taking in all that wisdom, who knows who or what we’ll become when the clock strikes 12.01?!!

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share December 11, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

Not quite sure how many sleeps there are before Christmas, but there’s no sign of Christmas at our place yet. There’s only a tub containing my daughter’s dance costumes after Saturday night’s concert and some stray camping gear. The kids are under tent tonight at the scout Christmas camp. Fortunately, we live in Australia or they’d be hooking up some generators and a sneaking in a few heaters.

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Our daughter after the dance concert.

Our Christmas tree will be arriving tomorrow. We have a real tree each year and I simply can’t bring myself to buy a fake one. I blame my Dad for that after hearing him wax lyrically about the wonders of fresh pine scent all my life. Christmas isn’t Christmas without the smell of Christmas tree in the house…along with the debris and mess! That said, I hate seeing Christmas trees standing upside down in people’s wheely bins waiting for the garbage truck. Such an ignoble end for a magnificent tree!

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On what has suddenly become yesterday, we went to our daughter’s dance concert. Of course, it wasn’t her dance concert as such but she was in three items…jazz, modern and ballet. A friend drove her to the dress rehearsal beforehand and she did her own hair, so it was quite different to the past where I was fretting over her hair slapping on lashings of gel and almost asphyxiating in clouds of hair spray. It’s liberating. Yet, the more independent they become, the less involved you are…for better or worse. Today, I was more of a spectator something was missing as well.

It’s been a busy week for my daughter and I. She attends a selective Opportunity Class and will be sitting for the selective high school exam in March next year. On Friday, students of the two local selective primary school classes were invited to an enrichment day at the selective high school. As a parent, this was obviously a great opportunity, but my daughter was refusing to go. Her teacher wasn’t going and she didn’t want to be with strangers, even though she knew most of the kids that were going. Although I’m an extroverted extrovert and love talking to strangers, I do get where she’s coming from but trying to convey that was hellish. Trying to explain that it’s more about anxiety than the trigger. I have been an incredibly anxious driver but the more I drive, the less anxious I’ve become and most of the time, I now jump in the car without a second thought. Life is a constant learning experience.
Anyway, she went along and loved it. They made biscuits and she told me they have a fantastic kitchen and she wants to go to school there.

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Meanwhile, I had my son home from school for the morning on Wednesday while the teachers had a student-free pow wow. He loves playing Risk, a board game using loads of strategy. Anyway, he was particularly thrilled that he completely wiped me out. I didn’t mind. I was playing to spend time together and we had a lot of laughs along the way. (Note to self: Laugh more. Life doesn’t always have to be serious!)

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting stuck into my memoir about my time in Paris in the Summer of 1992. I’ve been typing up diary notes and have deviated into writing a bit of fiction as well. My time in Paris was, as Charles Dickens so aptly put it: “the best of times and the worst of times.” I could easily turn this time into a terrifying horror story yet there were also the best of times and it’s weaving these two paradoxical threads together which is going to give the story quite a lot of punch. At least, that’s the aim! Light doesn’t always triumph over darkness. It depends where you start and finish the story. So, I’ll be looking into all of that.

Anyway, I’ve posted a few poems about this time during the last week:

Welcome to the Yellow House.

Slide Night…Dumped In Paris.

I also participated in Friday Fictioneers again. My contribution this week Dancing For Life. This looks at the choices we have to make between love and success.

How was your week? I hope it’s been great. All the best for your preparations for Christmas, Hanukah, the Holidays. One more coffee share to go!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Dancing for Life…Friday Fictioneers.

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PHOTO PROMPT © Lucy Fridkin

“It’s now or never. All or nothing. You’re a dancer, Elle. No room for two loves.”

Dancing even extracted her marrow.

“Eloise, you must go! Sydney’s too small for your talent. Next stop…New York. A dancer is like a butterfly. Blink and it’s over.” Jack was too supportive. He should’ve stopped her.

“Focus, Elle. An audition with Twyla Tharp…you’ve almost made it.”

Yet, as the plane broke through the clouds, the dam burst. She couldn’t breathe. She had to go back.”

Eyes and nose running everywhere, she was hallucinating:

“Excuse me, Ma’am. You left something behind.”

“Jack!”

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This story was inspired by my grandmother, Eunice Gardiner. She was an Australian concert pianist.

In 1948, my grandmother left Australia to make her American debut, leaving behind her husband and three young boys. My Dad was only 3 years old at the time. The older boys went to boarding school and her mother looked after my dad. My grandmother was away for a year and during this time, she made her debut at Carnegie Hall.

Throughout my grandmother’s life, there was always a very strong tension between her career and her family. She went on to have seven children and after performing, she went on to teach at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and also worked as a music critic. She was one of those rare individuals who manage to squeeze multiple lives into one lifetime.

 

 

Friday Fictioneers is brought to you by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields . You can check out the link-up here.

xx Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share December 4, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Would you prefer coffee, tea or something else?

Can you believe it’s December already? I sure can’t. Well I sort of can because all that end of year madness is already in full swing. Aside from buying presents, I haven’t even thought about Christmas.

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Rather, the end of the year is also concert season. Last week, our daughter performed at NSW Schools Spectacular in Sydney and next weekend, is the dance concert. Miss does jazz, modern and ballet so that’s three costume changes. Today, there was a rehearsal and tomorrow is photo call. Well, there’s photo call after she does a guest appearance at her friend’s birthday party. I know she’s doing too much and it is exhausting, but I want her to have a balanced life. Friends are important.

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I have some exciting news this week. I’m finally making progress on the book writing front. For many, many years now I’ve been reworking and reworking books in my head and I can see the words cascading like a fountain without sticking to the page. For me, the trouble has been knowing where to start. How to start. Moreover, just when I’ve got in the groove and the flow is well and truly flowing, there’s been some significant catastrophe which at the very least, has blocked the flow or redirected it. Finishing a book is not that easy, especially when you can’t get started.

So, I’m thrilled to have a plan and even though I’m back to my usual “research mode”, I’m making headway. I can see a structure, a plan, a purpose.  Even better, I can feel it all coming together.

That’s why I’m fessing up here. I need to make myself accountable. Commit to this course of action in paper and ink…even if it is more a case of tapping away on my laptop.

Anyway, I’ve spent much of this week trying to immerse myself in Paris to reawaken all those slumbering brain cells of mine. I need the to take me back to the past to lead me into the future. Fortunately, I have photos, diaries, letters from the trip as well as the world wide web at my disposal. I guess you could say it’s now been redefined as “material”.

You might like to check out some of my Paris posts:

Poem: Amnesia Paris 92.

Writing Memoir: Paris Encore.

Virtual Cafe Crawl Through Paris.

I am continuing to read  Tim Harford’s:  Messy: How to be Creative in A Tidy-Minded World. I’m now about halfway through and am going to try to keep going with it while throwing myself into Paris and that writing. I find it hard to split myself up like that, especially when I’m already juggling the family and the house. Well, I’m not exactly juggling the house. I think I dropped it on its head awhile back and it’s never recovered. Besides, I’d much rather write.

I’ve had another go at Friday Fictioneers. The prompt this week depicted a camping scene. My effort is called The Camping Virgins. I should point out that the title refers to first time campers…nothing more, nothing less.

The rest of the week feels like a blur. I’m sure it’s there somewhere.

How was your week? Good, I hope.

This has been another contribution to Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at Part-Time Monster.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

Accessing Schools Spectacular.

Last Saturday night, our family attended the NSW Schools Spectacular held at Qudos Bank Arena, at Sydney’s Olympic Park. Schools Spectacular is the largest variety show in the world and features students from NSW Public Schools and guest artists. Our daughter was performing in the 3,500 strong mass choir and I was really looking forward to a fantastic night out.

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However, as a someone living with disability and chronic illness, I naturally had some reservations. Large crowds throw up all sorts of unpredictablities  for me. It doesn’t take much for a simple fall to have major consequences…a broken foot a few years ago being case in point.

However, despite these hazards, I carpe diem and seize the day. I get out and about and I would move heaven and earth to see our daughter perform.

There were simply concerns about THE HOW and that meant reducing all the unpredictabilities. It’s not rocket science. It’s just like making sure you pack a water bottle on a hot day. However, I usually have a lot more variables to consider and most of them are unpredictable. We have to think on our feet.

That’s also because I’m on my feet using a walking stick, not in a wheelchair. I thought I’d better point that out because it makes quite a difference to the types of accessibility problems I face.

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The Finale.You can feel he electricity, can’t you!!

As much as we all loved and enjoyed the performance and can’t wait to see it all over again on TV next weekend, we did experience some difficulties accessing and leaving the venue.  After trying unsuccessfully to have my needs accommodated at the time, I’m sharing my experiences with a view to implementing change through greater community awareness. After all, people living with disability and chronic illness are entitled to a fun night out, without needing to advocate for disability access rights!

To give you an idea of what it is like for a disabled person with a walking stick to attend a big concert, I thought I’d hobble you through the highs and lows of our evening.

Starting out with the positive, I have a companion card. This entitles me to a free carer to accompany me to a huge range of venues. This meant that as my companion, my husband’s ticket for School Spectacular was in a sense free. However, it also meant that he was also his wife’s keeper and he was on duty  (Confirmation that there’s no such thing as a free lunch!).

Secondly, we were able to get subsidised disabled parking a short walk from the venue. I can’t overstate how having a Disabled Parking Permit opens places up for me. Of course, it’s great to be close to the venue. However, that proximity also reduces unpredictabilties, producing something of a protective bubble. There’s still that element of risk, but it’s much reduced. This allows me to lead something close to a “normal” life.

However, on the down side, despite having the Companion Card and disabled parking permit, I was deemed capable of queuing up with the crowded throngs to get through the security check. Given that the show had 5,000 performers, the crowds were phenomenal. So, we’re not talking about a trickle. Such crowds pose a genuine risk to my physical safety and my concerns have nothing to do with being “anxious”!.

I politely asked the ticket office about disabled access and was told that everyone had to go through the security checks. But I wasn’t asking to by-pass the security checks. Nor would I want anyone to by-pass them. Obviously, they’re critical. However, there should have been a way for people with disabilities to by-pass the queue and go straight through the checks. I was using a walking stick, had a Companion Card and a Disabled Parking Permit.  So, these people at the ticket office knew I wasn’t well. They could’ve walked me to the front of the queue and helped, but instead they stuck to their officialese.

That’s when I donned my political hat. Not because I couldn’t wait for the queue to die down or take my chances in the crowd. I did it because there should have been decent disability access. Somebody needed to speak up for those who can’t or struggle to speak up. I clearly expressed my right to disabled access and was bluntly told the queue was the only way. I spoke to the supervisor and received the same rule-driven response.

Of course, I was the problem!

We were naturally unimpressed (read understatement!!)

However, very soon our experience dramatically improved.

Having made it through the security check, I confronted a metal turnstile and wasn’t feeling comfortable. This time the staff member asked me if I could get through and guided me around the turnstile. My husband and I almost hugged him, thanking him profusely for his attitude. It was such a welcome contrast to the people at the ticket office who had their rules, which clearly made no allowance for disabled people.

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So far so good. We made it to our seats and really enjoyed the performance. It was superlatively sensational and we want to thank and acknowledge all those beautiful performers, the teachers, and everybody who put so much into this incredible event. In no way do I want my concerns about disability access to lessen what was a truly unforgettable experience.

Naturally, after the performance was over, we had to get home.

As I said, we had a very convenient Disabled Parking spot. However, we hadn’t anticipated that being on level 1 would make it incredibly difficult to exit the car park with all the cars pushing down from upper levels. While there is a sign warning that it takes an hour for a full car park to empty, for many people living with disability or chronic illness, that’s a very long time…especially if you’re stuck in the queue for an extended period.  There are seriously disabled and chronically ill people who can’t wait around in a car park for an hour to exit. These families live on a very short piece of string and need to get home like a bat out of hell.

As we were parked right next to the toilets, my husband decided we were better off waiting and staying put rather than getting stuck in the stationary traffic stampede. This gave me a chance to watch the panicked pandemonium. It was like someone had yelled “FIRE” and everyone had to get out immediately, right now and the thinking part of their brains was definitely switched off. At one point, we saw people converge on one exit point from five different directions, which clearly wasn’t “legal”. Drivers behaved like crazed maniacs in a case of:  “Just get me out of here. I don’t care about anyone else.”

While I was watching all of this, I came up with an idea.

What about if the people with Disabled Parking Permits were allowed to leave first and other motorists had to give way?  It would probably cause an outrage, but it wouldn’t hurt most people to wait an extra 15 minutes or even half an hour. However, knowing we could exit a venue quickly would provide seriously disabled and chronically ill people with much greater community participation.

What do you think?

For our family these recommendations also have further application. My Mum had bought a ticket to the lunchtime matinee concert but seriously put her back out and couldn’t attend. I’d actually encouraged her to have a go, because I thought the venue would help us find a way. However, I’m glad she stayed home because it would’ve been too much. She would’ve needed a lot of extra support and as much as catering for one little girl’s Grandma isn’t much to ask, that crowd was brutal and to be fair, she’s nowhere near well enough.

My intentions here are not to criticise or throw stones but to raise awareness. Let you travel in our shoes for a night and open your eyes to our struggles. Before I became aware of my own disabilities, I never thought about such difficulties either. I was young and only thought about number one too. However, all I ask is that you open your eyes and respond from your heart, instead of your rule book. Have compassion.

I am not talking about making huge changes, but together we can move mountains. Not just these mountains, but all sorts of mountains which make it harder for anyone to fully participate in the seemingly simple things of life.

Okay. So where’s your shovel? Let’s start digging!

xx Rowena

Further Reading
Here are some other posts about living with disability:

Beyond the Flow: A Wheely Good Night at the Opera House

Beyond the Flow: Forgiving the Unforgivable (your chronic illness).

Living in a limited world: NHS Cruelty

The Poet Muse…a mostly magnetic poem.

Gorgeous Goddess

sleeping,

delirious in a chocolate forest.

Mother moon whispers

sweet symphonies.

 

Your hair is a rose garden

and I swim in your beauty.

Who are you?

What is your song?

 

I hear your music

Yet, can not dance.

Awestruck,

An inner silence

fills my heart.

 

Intoxicated,

I stare at you

as still as a pond,

though my heart beats

faster than time’s

tick-tock clock accelerating

fast beyond my dreams.

 

I feel such love.

Yet, have no words.

Only rusty strings,

an imperfect bow

and half-forgotten notes.

 

So, I’ll let you sleep,

and you’ll remain a dream.

Nothing compares with make believe.

Rowena Curtin  23rd November, 2016.