On Thursday 12th Nov I was sitting in my bedroom watching my PC screen avidly. My top half was smartly dressed. The webcam could only see my top half, for all my fellow Zoom participants knew I could have forgotten my trousers; I hadn’t.
It could all have been so different if it wasn’t for this pesky virus. The Zoom meeting, I was attending; do you attend a Zoom meeting or just watch it? Anyway, the Zoom meeting was replacing a very auspicious affair at The Palace of Westminster. Habinteg’s 50th birthday celebration. Obviously they couldn’t celebrate their birthday without my presence. Well actually for anyone who has read my previous blogs you will know that I was there because I was a finalist of the 2020 essay writing competition. I could have been at a very swanky meeting, instead I was sitting in my bedroom. Still, it saved me having to excuse what I was wearing. Do you think they would have let me in wearing a T shirt? Or my PJ’s?
There I was sitting, as I may have already mentioned, expectant, almost with bated breath. I had a while to wait till the winner of the competition was announced. There were speeches by staff of Habinteg, honorary guests, a comedian and even a group of lockdown angels. Then came the moment we had all been waiting for; I like to think the main focus of the event. Who had won the essay writing contest? It was introduced by Lord Borwick of Hawshead, neither had I. He rather gave the game away about whether I had won, being one of the judging panel he had obviously discussed at length the winner and runners up. So, when he listed the seven finalists and came to my name, he said Mike umm…. Nevin; I knew then I had not won. Then Baroness Thomas of Winchester, had the job of opening the envelope. I was no longer on the edge of my wheelchair seat; just as well because I could have fallen out. Three architects won first prize and runners up. I think I may have been the only non-architect in the finals.
There goes the money I thought and the fame and fortune. Actually, I was disappointed, but not surprised when I realised that I was up against architects. What hope had I? I wrote about the socio-political big picture view of accessible housing; oooo, listen at me. They wrote about and even did drawings of practical detail ideas. If that was the requirement, I had no chance. It’s as if we were entering two different contests. I know who I would have chosen to win; just saying.
After the event was over, sitting in my wheelchair in my bedroom, Mary at my side I was contemplative. We live in a very inaccessible house. The bedroom where I was sitting is so small, I can barely rotate my wheelchair. The doorways scrape the wheelchair sides. Only one room in our house can have a ceiling hoist, not the two rooms that really need them. The way outside from my bedroom involves navigating a tight door then a very complex route down a ramp that is at an angle, then through another tight door, 90 degrees left, though another tight door and out the front door via a portable metal ramp (Mary puts down) to a concrete ramp. Then down a very uneven alleyway that floods when it rains.
Accessible housing, the subject of the essay, is very close to my heart. I live with lack of easy access every day. It makes my life harder than it needs be. It wears me down. It affects the quality of my life and the freedom I have or rather don’t have. But I do not just moan, anyone who reads my blogs will know that. I am a positive and upbeat person. Anyone who meets me comments on my smile and how positive and well I look. I don’t believe in being miserable. It is hard to be happy, because happiness is related to what ‘happens’ to you, hence happiness. But I can be at peace even joyous. I can be upbeat and full of fun. I have a good sense of humour and I’m quirky. So, I hope and pray for an accessible house to be available for us soon. We do look and try to find one. They are just not very readily available.
Back to where I began, all dressed up; well, half anyway. But nowhere to go. No Palace of Westminster, no winners podium, no accessible house… yet, and nothing to do but contemplate the event.
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