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Wednesday 29th September 2004

I was at a bar in Spitalfields market (The Spitz) doing a gig to promote SCOPE's Free2Pee campaign tonight. Check out their website at http://www.free2pee.org.uk/ and do anything you can to encourage your local bars, restaurants and clubs to provide disabled access and toilet facilities. As I wittily say on that website, “ No-one should be allowed to miss out on the inch-deep puddles of dubious liquids, the missing toilet seats, the homophobic graffiti and the non-existent or inefficient panoply of hand drying equipment.Come on landlords, do not rest until your disgusting facilities are accessible to all.” Ha ha, I am funny.
I think this is a great campaign as not only does it deal with a very important issue, but also by focusing on something as basic and universal as the need to go to the toilet brings the reality home to non-disabled people. I had drunk a litre of water on the tube on the way to the gig and was busting for the loo. It would have been an inconceivable disaster to get to the club to find out that they didn't have a toilet I could use. There's no way anyone should have to put up with that in a civilised society. Even if you don't agree that this is a basic human right it's worth remembering that any of us could end up in a wheelchair, either temporarily or permanently and so it is in all our interests to persuade restaurants and bars to provide a ramp and a bog. So please support venues that have these amenities, so that businessmen begin to see that the financial outlay is rewarded.
Incidentally "non-disabled" is the term that the SCOPE literature (which was given to me the other week, doubltess because of the recent events in Edinburgh) says is the correct one to use. Personally I find the double negative a bit comic and think they should come up with something better than that, but it's hard to think of what. I have a slight hankering for the idea of using "abled", just because it sounds so ridiculous (and it's essentially what non disabled boils down to). Especially given that most of us have so few abilities that it begins to sound sarcastic. "Hi, yes, I'm abled."
"Wow, well can you run 100 metres for me in 10 seconds then?"
"Er, no, I am not abled in that area."
Perhaps if we did it for a bit it would make people think about what the word disabled implies - a sort of blanket term of non-ability, which is just as stupid in itself. We all have abilities whoever we are and we also all have things that we have no ability for. It a bit like the awkward term "differently abled"
which was in vogue for a while a few years back. Surely we're all differently abled. Which is why I still haven't got round to mending my kitchen wall, because I need someone who knows what they are doing to come round and look at it.

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