Category Archives: Uncategorised

Dad’s Place Website Launch 31.10.2015

It is my great pleasure to announce the imminent launch of Dad’s place, the soon to be no.1 destination for unique and memorable gifts for dads and loved ones.

It is a privilege to have a great dad. It is a privilege to have a role model you respect and perhaps even more importantly who respects you.  To have a dad who supports and guides you with unrelenting pride is a gift. It’s a gift that I had and a gift that I will cherish forever.

Dad’s place is launched in memory of my late father and will house an eclectic selection of his favourite things.  My dad was also a talented photographer and printer, supplying Morwenna Photography in Bude for many years.  Doubtless even I would be surprised by the number of people who have a piece of Dad’s work hanging on their wall.

It’s an honour to soon be able to share dad’s images with you through the dad’s place website and to be able to place them onto canvas and print for you so that his work can continue to be enjoyed.  Dad, like most great people was largely unaware of his talent and at times overwhelmed by peoples love of his work. It’s our mission to show people dad’s breath- taking images and to share his passion.  We will also be able to print personal images. Something we are incredibly excited about because that was the area of dad’s work which gave him most joy.

Thanks to dad’s love of life, adrenaline filled pass times and wicked, at times childish sense of humour, we are able to stock gifts which reflect our memories of a truly great dad.

As well as Dad’s images, we will stock motorbike memorabilia, mega mugs, unique greetings cards, old school music, t-shirts, personalised gifts and more. Whether it’s a gift for a birthday, father’s day, or a gift that says something your words cannot, dad’s place will have it all.

Dad's Place Logo

Dad’s Place – Perfect gifts for dad’s

Dad’s places launches on October 31st 2015 and we are confident that you will find a gift which reflects your dad or loved one.  We hope that your gift is received with the love and warmth with which it was purchased and that it creates treasured memories for all.

Here’s to memories….

Website Launch Competition

Dad’s place is running a competition through The Dad’s Place Facebook page, if you like our page and its post, leaving a comment of dad’s place, you can win the picture within the post, or a free 12*16 inch canvas print of a personal image. Sharing the post/page is not a prerequisite to winning our competition but they do say sharing is caring.

The competition’s winner will be announced on the 31st of October 2015.

If you’d like to ask any questions in the build up to our launch please contact us on any of the following e-mails. matt@dadsplace.co.uk or laura@dadsplace.co.uk .You can also send your images ready for print on October 31st 2015.

Keep an eye out for price listings and product updates in the coming days.

Thank you for your future support,

The Dad’s Place Team

An Interview With Me, Conducted By Him

The idea for this piece came from an interview on Miranda Hart, conducted by herself and published by the Daily Mail. I loved the interview because you got a real sense of the person behind the personality. Also despite her best efforts Miranda couldn’t hide her frustration at having to answer those most frequently asked questions, even though she was asking them.

So the role of interviewer will be played by Matt Emo and the role of interviewee will be played by ME 2. Note: do you like what I did there? I will play the role of both parties and the abbreviation also forms my initials – smooth!

ME 2: I don’t like the idea of this; Miranda Hart is fast on her way to becoming a national treasure and Hollywood star. You’re just some tool who thinks he’s funny.

Matt Emo:  Bit harsh, let’s begin…

ME 2: Okay, so I’ve compiled a list of the questions which you are asked most and hopefully the ones that annoy you the most too.

ME2: Did you know you have the word Quickie on your wheelchair, I mean it literally printed everywhere?

Matt Emo: No, in fact sometimes I don’t know I’m in a wheelchair at all. At times I just feel like a defunct Jetson, just hovering along.

You see the Jestons was a cartoon…  Don’t explain the joke, you tool, it’s not funny if you have to explain the joke.  

ME2: THAT’S GREAT though, just the start I was looking for! So have you ever, you know, jumped down a rabbit hole in your quickie?

Matt Emo: I’m not sure what you mean? I’ve fallen down a number of holes in my chair. Well what I mean is….  Let’s move on!

Me2: So, err why are you disabled?

Matt Emo:  err I’m not sure I didn’t really ask. It’s not like I said, hey big man, make me disabled and while you’re at it, make me partially sighted and throw in some ginger hair – Cracking!

No seriously, I like it when people ask that question because their showing an interest beyond my disability by trying to understand it which is exactly what I’m trying to achieve with my business. To answer the question though Cerebral Palsy, is generally caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain, subsequently causing messages sent to the brain from muscles around the body to be blocked.

Me2: Well I always knew there was something wrong with you Brain. So what’s the most frustrating part of being disabled?

Matt Emo: Your trouble is, you think that you’re funny!  That’s a good question though.

I think there are two things that really frustrate me, perceptions and relationships, allow me to elaborate? Hey whatever mate, it’s your show, I’m just a figment of your imagination and I think the readers would agree with me when I say, you need to get out more.

You see perceptions and relationships go hand in hand.  I don’t see my wheelchair as a problem. It simply allows me to do everything you can do. Well not you obviously but other people. You see, I have a persona that I want people to see every day. However, when you’re in a relationship you can’t hide behind it. A relationship strips you bare, Oooh hello, it throws all of your strengths and weakness together and says, okay here I am, come and have a look. Relationships are scary anyway but practically when you have a disability.

Wow, well that got serious! Honestly you may have got people laughing near the top of the page but now you’ve killed it. I see your point though, plus women have an advantage in the dating game because men have balls. It’s much harder for a man to get that natural intrigue from a woman.

 Well that was an informative statement, any more questions or can we end this torture?

Just a few more

Me2: Why did you set up Devilishly Disabled?

Matt Emo: I wanted to break down barriers and change the perception of disability. I think society has a skewed government led view of what disability is and how it affects people. The truth is everyone’s different and to see that, first you must see the personality of the individual. We, particularly those in the UK, love our boxes because they make life easier. Oh, he’s disabled, he’s gay, he’s black, he’s Christian. No no, he’s just him and I’m just me. My disability doesn’t define me, it’s simply part of me. Get to know the individual and you might just find their awesome.

Me2: Why in the way you have though? Why so risky, edgy and in your face?

Matt Emo: because I want people to be able to by unique gifts for their disabled brother, disabled father, mother or accident prone friend which actually get people thinking. As soon as you get people thinking and engaging, you can change perceptions. Also because a business is always a reflection of the individual who created it, much like a dog reflects it owner. If I was cute and cuddly, we may have used different designs. However, we would then be creating a very standardised perception of disability.

Me2:  And finally, the questions I know will end this interview – how’s the business going and where do you see yourself in five years?

Matt Emo: well, it’s been a tough 12 months both in regard to the business and personally.  The events of the past year have meant that the business hasn’t always been my top priority. However, we’re getting close to some defining deals, in both this business and our future endeavours. Meaning for the first time in a while, I am excited.

The second part of your question is borderline idiotic though. It’s a question which holds no regard for the complexities of life or the speed bumps which may appear.

Boom interview over, If you like Miranda Hart here is the aforementioned Interview 

Thanks for reading

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                          

 

Disability Vs Reading Festival

Ask any disabled person for a list of what they most desire in life and you will probably find that independence ranks highly.  As such I surprised myself and many others by opting to sleep in a boggy field for four nights, in search of an ‘experience’.  For however independent you are at some point over a festival weekend in particular, you will need to ask for help. People that know me know this is hard for me to do and I, in turn, know that I am not alone in having this particular weakness. In fact, it is this inbuilt stubbornness which makes many disabled people as independent as they are.

Did you know? Independence is something we’re all programmed to strive for. Just before we hit puberty, we can lose up to 50% of our Brain tissue, whilst our neural networks rewire. Removing all those environmental things, we know longer need to figure out i.e. if you touch that electric fence it will hurt and replacing it with fresh networks which enable us to make decisions based on past experiences. That mixed with a dose of hormones, is why teenagers and young adults can be a little tetchy

When I told my family that I was going to Reading Festival, it was the inevitable interruption to my perpetual quest for personal cleanliness which drew most comment. The looks of complete bewilderment and consternation were as amusing as they were concerning. “You are going to camp in a field, Mr OCD, you don’t like getting dirty, Matt you spend 45 minutes in a shower every day.” My nickname, amongst friends, is ‘Mr Crisp’, owing to my fondness for a long shower and the wearing of a fresh shirt and trousers on a night out.

So there I was, in a field, which when wet added a handy cap akin to trying to climb Everest in the dark, in search of an ‘experience’.  An experience I was told would be diminished by a poorer line up than in previous years. Diminished by Festival Republic’s desire to appeal to a younger age demographic – “Oh yeah, you should have come earlier mate, even last year you’d have enjoyed it more.” Cheers, the way it was sold to me, after I’d paid £205 for a ticket, was that I was going to be subjected to a list of One Direction support acts.

Reading Festival 2015 ticket

Reading Festival 2015 Ticket

The Experience

Despite failing to check the line-up,  the glowing references and the general consternation at how I choose to spend my August bank holiday, I arrived at the festival. I was as amped as an ant on Lucozade and ready for anything.

According to Attitude is Everything, who have devised a support guide, outlining how festivals can make their events more accessible, 14,000 accessible tickets were sold in 2014, compared to 67,000 in 2013 – an increase of 70% Part of that has to be because of their banding charter which over 90 events and venues have signed to.

I’d also like to state, that music unites and transcends barriers. It doesn’t matter if your black, white, disabled, gay, transgender or just plain weird, everyone enjoys music and everyone comes together because of it. The best part of this festival was the camp site, I met some truly awesome people, who I will keep in touch with. To highlight the lack of interest in you aesthetics, I saw a guy crowd surfing in a wheelchair. People would be too scared to do this in any other environment but at a festival people are united in their desire to have fun. Even if that does lead to trepidation and elation at the same time.  Crowd surfing is an extreme example but the point is people simply see other people having a good time.

Reading Festival

From left to right: Crocodile Dundee, The Lizard, My Shania Twain face and yes ladies I things he’s single

The Facilities

Now as much as the atmosphere defines the success of a festival , its facilities are important, particularly for those with impairments.  I write this section because I want others, who like me, might be sceptical about their ability to manage at a festival to give it a go. People, myself included will talk about the ‘experience’, it is something everyone should enjoy without fear of their bodies physical reprisals or limitations. To that end Reading Festival provide a free ticket so that a friend or carer can assist you during the event. Meaning you could also split the cost. To my surprise there were wheelchair accessible showers and toilets. The toilets, for the most part, were manned by festival staff to ensure they were used only by those who needed them. So despite my friends insistence that my need to perch whilst peeing would lead to me inevitably stirring shit with my wand, the toilets were in fact kept clean.

There is a slight caveat to these comments however. I was told by several campmates, that these facilities are diminishing year on year. Now I was chuffed to find two accessible showers on the disabled campsite, with I might add temperature control, yes people a warm shower at a festival. Thanks muchly! However, in previous years there have been more, four to six and it is these which aid the comfort and enjoyment of the festival. Continue to take these away and disabled people may well stop coming.

The Music

Best Band: Metallica.

This was a band I had no interest in seeing as it’s not really my genre of music. However, I was told they are exceptional live and wow, just wow. Everyone was captivated, spellbound. Usually you get people chatting, checking phones or clowning around during a performance. Not a bit of it, Metallica were exceptional, worth the ticket fee alone.

Other Highlights and Things Learned 

Limp Bizkit, Kwabs, Awolnation, Spector, Ghostpoet, Shura and mosh pitting with Neck Deep

Limp Bizkit failed to play ‘Behind blue eyes’ but they were exceptional. Awolnation have more than one hit and are a lot rockier than that hit (sail) suggests. Kwabena Adjepong can really sing, as can Shura and Obaro Ejimiwe of Ghostpoet. What voices, the most joyous part of a festival is to discover new bands and these guys were excellent.

Best Performance

Panic At The Disco Their cover of Bohemian Rhapsody was exceptional and engaged literally everyone.

Low Light- dropping a burger as I pushed up hill, causing me to use an unforgivable expletive, often used wrongly to describe a woman’s lady garden or a person you view with disdain. However, it hopefully says something to those considering a festival visit that my lowest point was dropping a burger.

I’d like to finish this blog by saying thank you to all the volunteers at the festival – sterling work folks.  Particularly in helping navigate to the toilets right at the start of the Metallica set. Seriously, I thought Noah was going to have to build another Ark.

The Festival Essentials

No sadly folks this is not where I list a tent. Quite frankly if you forget a tent then that’s your own fault. There are however, a few essential things that might make a first time festival goer’s experience more comfortable:

Tape- to secure that burger box

Toilet roll – we all use it and there’s never enough

Antibacterial wipes – it has nothing to do with OCD’s having clean hands is a basic human need.

Food – Festival food is expensive and not even that nice.

Water – I’m not tight but £2.50 is extreme

Sun block – for when that at times mythical yellow round thing makes an appearance.

Booze – it’s a festival

Condoms – it’s a festival

Thanks for reading – Glastonbury next year

Don’t Take My Baby – The Making of a Man

I have never been so compelled to write an article about a subject as I was with this one.  Nor have I ever felt so conflicted as to the message I wanted it to convey to its readers.  The clash of my internal thoughts on this subject has led to such inept focus that I have nearly been run over three times this week.

Seldom is there a program on television that forces you to access a whole range of emotions. Seldom is there a program on television that propels you into an unexpected period of reflection.  However, that’s exactly what BBC Three’s Don’t Take My Baby caused me to do.  Both of which were a surprise given that the program was broadcast by the BBC, a corporation that has aired such modern delights as Don’t Tell The Bride and Lee Nelson’s well good show.  Quick apologies also to anyone who thought that the title of this article meant there would be a little Matt wobbling about soon.

The range of emotions this show managed to unearth, was of particular surprise as this is a subject, the experiences of which have had no influence or impact on my life to date. The fact that I experienced every emotion from stomach churning rage to gut bursting laughter was as surprising to me as it was confusing.  Perhaps it was my recent experience of loss or the fact I am now 28 and finally in danger of maturing into a man which enabled this program to provide such a profound change in my personal perceptions. Whatever the personal outcome this program was truly captivating, it forms the basis for this article and if you have the chance I would advise you to watch it.

The program is centred around the true story of a disabled couple who have a baby. The father has serve sight impairment and the mother has a rare muscle wastage condition which doctors have been predicting would kill her since the age of two.  In essence the couple have to prove that they a capable of looking after their daughter.

Evidently 3000 children are removed from the care of their disabled parents every year and local authorities will have to preside over 11000 cases involving disabled parents within that same period.  I was outraged by these figures and was intending to research shocking cases of child negligence, in order to launch into a tirade about how 1 in 10 children suffer neglect in the UK. That neglect is still the most prevalent cause of intervention into a child’s care. That this neglect could be caused by poverty, addiction or a plain and simple heartlessness but that any neglect could never intentionally be caused by a person’s disability or any subsequent associated lack of love. So therefore, the act of removing children and in most cases babies from disabled parents by local authorities and any subsequent bodies is simply unjust.

However, when excluding my connection with disability it’s actually painfully easy to see that it is the basis of my argument so far which is in fact unjust. For the law is the same for able bodied parents, in that, if a health professional believes a child’s basic needs won’t be met, then they have a right to intervene in the best interests of the child.

I have never wanted children of my own because I’ve always questioned my ability to look after them. Whilst providing love maybe the most important part of   being a parent, it is naïve to think that’s all you need. Even though I am fiercely independent and more domesticated than many of my able bodied counterparts, there are rare days when my disability wins, leaving me as useful as a condom with holes in. I don’t think it’s acceptable to simply say I’d cope. You always have to do the right thing by someone more vulnerable than yourself and it is better that safeguards are in place. I found a particularly tough case in which the following important statement is made “If, with support, she can make up for any practical gaps in her ability to care, the local authority can’t permanently remove.”  Even though the statement has slight pompous undertones, the measures are often only temporary and adoption is an absolute final option.

As a disabled person you can ask your local authority to assess your abilities so that adaptions and assistance can be put in place before birth.  The following statement allayed some fears “Social services are not there to assume that you are unable to cope or that you will not be a good parent. Decisions about the support offered should focus on how to help you in your parenting role.”

Whilst I have been enraged by some of the comments I’ve read from health professionals, in relation to perspective disabled parents, I think it’s important to realise that their views are always twined by thoughts toward the safety of a child. I am not saying it’s right that social services need to show videos on how to cook to a disabled person, I mean how do they think we survive? I am simply saying that if I became a parent, I would jump through whatever hoops I needed to, in order to prove myself able. I may even find that the help and support is beneficial, just like the couple in this BBC program.

To find out more about the BBC’s ‘Defying the label’ season, click here, thanks for reading.

Observations of Life By A Disabled Fruitcake

The Author -The idea of this book is to take its readers through the path of life, detailing every major landmark that the fortunate among us will face, whilst exhausting that most underused of human assets, humour.

Whilst reading try to picture me, your author, for if you can, it may help you to comprehend the observations of life made through the one and a half eyes of a disabled fruitcake.  Imagine then, if you will a 28 year old man, with wildly overgrown strawberry blonde (to me its ginger) hair which makes me look worryingly like the honey monsters evil twin.  That look is complete with a wonky left eye, accompanied by a pair of bottle top glasses, ginger stubble and a white sports wheelchair with Quckie written on its back and sides.  Ladies that’s right, I am out there, come and get me.

Okay so now you have an idea as to the sort of halfwit who’s writing this, please read on if you will.

Birth

Well it seems that this is the most logical place to begin writing a book about the path of life. Let’s go back a bit though, to the act that enables us to be conceived in the first place. For the uneducated among you, this act is known as sex or making love, if your of a fairer persuasion.

Men take a second. No seriously take a second to consider the impact, the power, we have on the life cycle. I mean, literally in some cases, two minutes work and 9 months later, you’ve helped to create a life. There will be men reading this, thinking two minutes, he’s selling us short but think about it for a second, there will also be men thinking, blimey, I don’t feel so bad now.

Also gents, you are responsible for so many changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy. Not, despite what you have been told solely, it takes two to tango after all. 2 minutes work though, 50% of men reading this will be fuming now, there he goes again, on about 2 minutes, selling us short, the other 50%, yeah thanks for confirming that, it’s reassuring.  Seriously though, one act and you are responsible for so many changes.  A woman’s heart literally grows to cater for the being growing inside her. Her organs are literally squashed in her body, stomach, liver, lungs squashed together to make room for her expanding uterus, causing immense breathlessness. Her spine literally curves to counter the weight she has to carry, causing unrivalled back pain, a question from your author though gentlemen, do you ever hear about it? If you are reading this with your partner, the smart answer is no.

Now after 9 months of preparation, the best bit of which, for men is that it’s like a microwave meal, you did your bit by taking the foil off. Never actually use foil by the way, either during sex or for that matter in the microwave, in both cases it may cause bleeding.  In fact for those unfamiliar with condoms, they are also cheaper than foil too.  After nine months of preparation, though is it unreasonable to expect a battle ready being. A babies only defences in this harshest of worlds is to pee, puke or poo all over anyone that goes near them. Hahaa, go to pick me up will you, have that.  For a baby to arrive like little Spartans, with little shields might be asking a lot but a good defence is what you need in life. However, ladies you do as nature intended, the best part of which is that at the end of that 2 minute collaboration, you create a being so fragile, so in need of love, protection and guidance, that  you and your partner can shape and support to be whatever they want to be. All joking aside, how amazing is that? Ladies seriously though, the world could do with a decent batch of politicians so, if you could work on that, we’d all be grateful.

Death

We may as well join the circle of life before filling it up, right? This section will naturally be less humorous, sure the one liner’s are there but the reality of death is just not funny.

If you are fortunate enough to get good parents, they will prepare you everything you need to face in life and sadly for some this truly is a privilege and not a choice.  However, they cannot prepare you for death. It’s not the pain, people know what pain is and by default the love ones of those departed would expect it.  It is however, the emptiness you feel. Just how do you explain to your children what emptiness feels like? It is after all the one feeling you are programmed to protect your children from. How do you explain the void you feel when you stare into that empty chair or that prang of despair, when you burst through the door, egger to explain the story of your day, only  to realise they are no longer there to listen. How do you explain that the jobs, the money and the security you push your child so hard to gain, count for nothing because, you know within a moment that you would give yours away just to see their face once more.

Death is something we will all experience but until you do, in truth, you will remain clueless as to what to expect and despite the fact that death is all around us, you will never be ready for it.

Having experienced the void that loss leaves, we should not blame parents for not preparing us. How can they? Death  is something that’s too painful to talk about and too difficult to understand. The best we can hope for is that our love ones leave us with memories, good, bad or indifferent it doesn’t really matter. For you see, it is those memories that will shape how you manage without them. If you can remember the good times shared, if you can feel that warmth then you will heal, you will never forget but you will heal. If you can remember bad times then you will take strength, that should you find yourself in a similar situation, you will survive.  Memories are the only thing we truly spend a lifetime building and when all is said and done there all we leave behind.  Objects are nothing without memories and it’s our job to ensure that when we leave, those memories are ones that our loved ones to build on.

Modern Women

Summer has arrived and the captivating nature of the female form can take flight. For you see in summer a woman’s form becomes more spellbinding. In summer it appears exceptionally easy for a woman to create a seductive allure of elegance.  A single glance can enchant and a smile entrance.

Ladies that’s a posh way of saying you look good in dresses.  A man however, doesn’t have the luxury of a dress, for man has shorts. Now I for one have never heard a woman say oooh, I just love a hairy yet abnormally anaemic leg, I must speak to him.  Oh and then there’s the speedo! Now in summertime Bude,  a town spellbinding in its own right, it seems socially acceptable to prance around in speedo’s. I mean seriously gents, would you walk into your local supermarket with a pair of circulation cutting budgie smugglers on?

Disclaimers: before anyone says anything, I only break my Dame Edna out for charitable reasons.   I also firmly believe that bikini’s shouldn’t be worn in supermarkets either.

So we’ve established that women have an advantage in the game of attraction. They also have  an advantage in the art of seduction.  You see the definition of seduction is the process of enticing someone, not as most people think, any of the subsequent results. Women have a more captivating presence to a man, than a man does to a woman and therefore we will listen to you or at least do our very best to. Sadly though men have to do something more spectacular, find something you want to talk about and women have no idea how difficult it is for men to generate worthwhile conversation with someone they are attracted to, without coming across as grimy or cheesy.   I am aware that woman can go giddy over men but they are rarely dumbfounded by them. It is however how certain modern women choose to gain these powers of intoxication that irks me.

At this point friends would be urging me to stop writing. ‘You’ve done well, you’ve told woman that their beautiful, classy, elegant creatures, they love praise, now move on.’ ‘You’re in danger of uncovering yourself as an intolerant douche, woman don’t like those dude, move on.’  Well I think its okay, I don’t think many women would disagree with what I’m about to write. Besides I’m used to people being unsure about how to take me. I’m a ginger haired wheelchair user, I think the worst has already happened.

When I write I try to do so within a well-rounded context.  A context generated by a trigger, usually but not exclusively to do with disability. In this case the trigger was a post on a female friends Facebook page.  It can be seen below.

Empowering words

 

Now I know that the intention of this post was to guide individuals to mature in a respectful manner. However, I could not  help but feel the subtlety of the jab made toward the male population.  Now I know  that women could leave comments of posts with even less subtle implications made against them. I do however think that males are far too accepting of the jibs made against them and I simply wanted to put a perspective out there.

So let’s back up a second to this statement, its how certain modern women choose to gain these powers of intoxication that irks me.  Allow me to elaborate.  As a wheelchair user I have had multiple women ask me if I have feeling in my legs. The answer is yes but very little. At which point woman sit on my lap, safe in the knowledge, I guess, that they won’t hurt me by doing so. That’s acceptable, a little odd if uninvited but borderline ok. I am a guy after all. However, where do we draw the line? Is it when woman are grinding on my lap- their way of enquiring as to whether my male extremities work or if indeed, they are as inept as my legs. I have physically seen a woman place their hand in a man’s pocket, jiggle it a little and then ask him to buy her a drink. Now I’m as allured by the female form as any man, I guess you have to use what you have and if it works then more power to women. However, lets flip this round for a second, if my opening salvo was to caress a women breast, is that acceptable, is a bum squeeze too forward? What would be the result a slap or an arrest?

The Facebook post implies that men are unfaithful, women can be too.  It also implies that men are controlling and one might derive abusive.  Women can be that too. An estimated 700,000 men suffered domestic abuse in 2014. Yes when compared with the 1.4million domestic abuse cases reported against women, the disparity is disturbing but no less alarming.  In 2000  The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal),  concluded that -as they put it, 15% of men had overlapping relationships in comparison to 9% of Women. However, they stress that women are not as open about their relationship activities so figures could never be accurate.  Information on the  latest survey can be found here.

During my research for this piece I came across an article entitled 6 Signs She’s Thinking of Cheating, which I might add is written by a woman – Laura  Ongaro.,  In the article Laura writes

“ Faithfulness is hardwired into our female circuitry, like our need to cuddle and to buy shoes.  “

Now, is it me or is that a vaguely sexist statement?

However, Laura  then goes on to write an article which completely dispels  the statement above, the best bit of which is when she states that if you leave your partner alone on her birthday and she’s strays then its your own fault gentlemen.

The point of this article is not to state that Women are horrible untrustworthy sirens but merely to state that we all have our faults and make mistakes It would be nice though, if only for a short time, we could manage to put the magic back into seduction.

 

 

Bude – Paradise or Prison?

Our spectacular coastal paradise will soon be awash with swarms of holiday makers. Enthused by our captivating surroundings and intrigued by our menagerie of independent stores, albeit whilst moving with the carelessness of an abnormally lackadaisical horde of sloths.

People will ask me, almost a daily basis, when my favourite time of year in Bude is and I will say summer. The reason is simple, the town is buzzing. Whilst people stopping in the middle of Belle Vue, with a thoughtless that suggests they want to be run over frustrates, the town buzzes. Bude and its people have a rich history of innovation, of overcoming their geographical isolation and for refusing to be excluded when other wished it so. From projects such as the historic canal, to a community combining to ensure proposed rail links did not exclude this North Cornwall corner, Bude has succeed where others would see it fail.

Innovators of the past, such as Goldsworthy Gurney have been replaced by the thriving business of today, such as Gecko and Woolacotts. Better than its own history however, is the fact that Bude creates memories, memories for generations of families who have fallen in love with our mesmerising hideaway.

Such is my personal connection with Bude, where the memories it generates are more precious than ever, that I am also deeply saddened at this time of year.  Saddened because our seasonal high is followed by the autumn and winter low, where buildings like the derelict Strand hotel zone into view with renewed emphasis and yes I know about the Premier Inn. The point however, is that Bude should be flourishing all year round.

The definition of a menagerie is “a collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.”  If you’ll excuse the wild animals part- oh I’m going to get stick for this, that’s what Bude feels like, like its being opened up for an exhibition, where the work of its talented inhabitants is displayed to enthral the masses, only to then be shut away for another year.

Now I have to say the framework of this piece has been rebuilt following the discovery of this article , in which its author – Sarah Shuckburgh, someone who’s family has a historic connection with Bude states that Bude has been in decline since 1966. Now whilst I would politely disagree, it is true to say that core of the town has not altered much in the 22 years I remember.  Yet change is afoot, the Binhamy farm project, the development of new housing and of course Lidl. Change is something that needs to improve the town and indeed needs to happen if Bude is to thrive during the holiday maker hiatus. I have long stated that Bude needs to invite bigger companies into the town as these are the companies that create jobs, prevent talented individuals from leaving in order to survive and ensures Bude flourishes the year through.

Such is my affection for this town that this article has morphed from its intended form, detailing the difficulties of being disabled and living in Bude, to my concerns over its future. Indeed I was going to write that despite being on an energy sapping hill of monumental proportions and despite half the town being largely inaccessible to anyone with disabilities more harsh than my own, I forgave it. I forgave it due to the memories it has provided.  Instead however, I am here playing devil’s advocate. Questioning whether the actual development, in its current from will advance the town or weaken it.

So lets’ deal with the facts or the two that matter, Bude needs to create jobs and places for its community to live. No one can argue with that. The problem however, is that only a small percentage of the housing development is said to be going to the community and creating more minimum wage jobs will not stop people leaving. What the decision makes, who have for too long opposed change out of some deluded perception that it is more important to focus on the history of the town and not its future, must do now is allow changes that will keep people in the town. Currently I can get drunk in around a dozen different places, get my hair cut in almost as many, visit a variety of charity shops and I will soon be able to shop in four main supermarkets.  Yet I have had to continually rely on the graces of Sainsbury’s for work and entrepreneurial spirit to survive. Even Goldsworthy Gurney was almost bankrupt before he got the recognition his work deserved.

Disability, Unemployment and Token Gestures

Regardless of the fact that employment levels are up, there will be many people reading this article who understand the struggles faced when seeking employment. There will also be many reading this article who are currently unemployed and there will be those who have bravely stepped into the world of self- employment, in a desperate yet hope filled attempt at self-preservation.

It will not surprise you to discover, as if you needed to, that the Southwest has one of the largest ranks of self-employed people in the country. Indeed the Isles of Scilly and West Somerset were two of the top three local authorities with the most self-employed residents, according to a census gathered in 2011. If a census were produced per town, I imagine Bude and other rural locations would be near the top.  It would appear however, that the rest of the county are joining and staying in the ranks of the self-employed. 15% of the UK’s population are now self- employed, with just 886,000 people opting to change that status in the period between 2009 and 2014, compared with 1.3million in the period between 2004 and 2009.

The Maverick Masses

In October 2014 I joined the maverick masses of the self-employed, striving for a stability, so surely generated by taking control of my own destiny. No longer would I face the threat of redundancy or battle its debilitating impact. No longer would I threat about the longevity of my job prospects, given my constant battle against discrimination and the fear that my physical capabilities may diminish.  Despite currently working more hours for less money, than my previous job, the only person who can define whether I am a success or not is me.

However, if I look at the reasons for starting my business, self- preservation ranks highly.  After being made redundant from my lecturing role, I battled once again with the obstacles and barriers faced when searching for employment.  One of these obstacles is that, on average 30-50 people apply for every job vacancy.  Another obstacle is the location in which we live, exacerbated by a lack of incentive for bigger companies to form a presence locally, something which is hopefully now beginning to change.

Thirdly and most alarmingly from the perspective of a disabled person, is the huge disparity between the number of disabled people in employment when compared to the able bodied counterparts. Imagine in you will, having the desire and ability to work but being denied the opportunity by blatant discrimination, which I will add is against the law.

The  Response

I have the facts and regrettably first-hand experiences to support my strong statements. Facts and experiences I put forward to former North Cornwall MP Dan Rogerson. Here is an extract from my correspondence to Dan

“I simply wanted to state that people with disabilities have to submit 50% more job applications to receive an interview. There is a disparity of about 2 million people, between the number of able bodied voters in employment when compared to their disabled counterparts.”

“These figures still exist, despite studies showing that disabled people are more loyal to their employers and take fewer days off than their able bodied equals. Government schemes such as Access to Work even help to pay for any reasonable adjustments required for a disabled person to be successfully employed.”

I then went on to ask Dan if he seriously believed that the term equal opportunities employer meant exactly that, or whether he believed, as I do, that it is simply a banner behind which companies can hide.

I have sat interviews and got jobs only when I have excluded my disability from the application form. Why, because, employers can judge me on my abilities alone when they have no preconceived ideas about my disability. Time and again I have been adequately and at times over qualified for job roles, only to be overlooked because of my perceived limitations. Now, whilst I accept that everyone gets overlooked and at times ignored when applying for jobs, I will again reiterate that when I have omitted my disability from the application I have got the job. I have also had a manager bite and flick their nails whilst I was giving an interview because he believed that my disability inhibited my ability to fulfil the role. Yet this employer like many others is ‘seemingly’ a ‘self- proclaimed’ equal opportunities employer.

As a result of this correspondence, Dan Rogerson forwarded my concerns onto former minister for the disabled, Mark Harper. His response was disappointingly inept, merely a token gesture which received swift rebuke from Dan and left me with a distinct sense of frustration.

You see Mark felt the need to reassure me that my disability did indeed fall under the equality act of 2010, which he informs me guards against such discrimination. He went on to say that reasonable adjustments must be made to recruitment procedures, such that anyone who is “otherwise capable” can successfully apply for the position. Mark states that companies displaying the two ticks’ symbol offer guaranteed interviews to those with disabilities. I am sad to say that this is also a myth and simply another banner for companies can hide behind.

Now whilst it is true that those who feel discriminated against can complain to that rarest of creatures, a job centre disability advisor or to the Government Equalities office, proving discrimination is almost impossible.  It is also true that there was an increase of 141,000 disabled people in employment at the end of 2014. However, it is also true that it is hard to find work and harder still if you have a disability. As proven by the fact that over half of the current disabled working age population are unemployed as opposed to 20.6% of able bodied people. I hesitate to say that ploughing 15million into the Access to work scheme since 2012 is a token gesture, I would however, suggest that more needs to be done, irrespective of what this government plans for the future.

According to Dan the Lib Dems wanted to ‘encourage’ employers to shortlist suitable disabled candidates and provide advice on work place adaptions. Dan is right, in that not enough disabled people, let alone their potential employers know about the access to work scheme. It is pointless ploughing money into a scheme if people aren’t sure whether they can access it or indeed benefit from it. It would be like me throwing 15million at expanding Devilishly Disabled without marketing it. If anyone wishes to give me 15million with which to try though, I would gracefully accept.

As for the solution to the evident discrimination that exists within the current job market,  well disabled people are not silly so, let’s be honest, there are jobs roles I can’t fulfil, in which case I wouldn’t apply for them or be upset that I wasn’t considered for them, as such the solution is simple. Let’s remove the equal opportunities employer banner, remove the box that says ‘do you consider yourself disabled’ and give everyone a chance to shine based on their abilities, rather than diminish due to a perception of their disabilities.

Whilst I wait for my recommendations to once again be ignored, I will give the last word to Dan. “I find it worrying that the minister of state for disabled people can be this out of touch with the reality that those with disabilities face. It is often incredibly difficult to prove discrimination in all but the most blatant of cases”.

Entrepreneur or Mad Man?

My name is Matthew Emo, I have Cerebral Palsy and I am the founder of Devilishly Disabled Clothing.  When I was growing up the word entrepreneur was everywhere. The way in which the term was stylised led me to believe that all entrepreneurs are driving around in Bugatti Veyrons, have butlers and are surrounded by an endless entourage of beautiful people.

The reality for most however is very different. Here’s my business’ story so far.

I set my business up after being made redundant from my lecturing job. In honesty my redundancy provided a period of reflection along with a sharp injection of reality. I’d worked hard to get where I was, for me lecturing was my pinnacle. Yet, the only place I could now find work was Sainsbury’s, who are one of the few large companies who truly support those with disabilities.

Working however, provides me with such psychological strength and although it can be hard on my body, it also helps keep me active. My disability also limits my work choices significantly. So although setting up the business has been hard, I don’t regret it, because with an active mind I can control my disability.

Have a Driving Force

The bottom line is you won’t make much money for quite a while.  My advice is to have a driving force, something other than money that compels you to drive the business forward. Mine is that some of my friends have passed away at disrespectfully young ages, before they had the chance to make the impact that their characters would have undoubtedly enabled them too.  Secondly, as my condition deteriorates my ability to work within an organisation may diminish too.  I could quite legitimately stop working because of my condition but I won’t. That’s not to beat the rhetoric that disabled people are lazy but because working is a privilege that not everybody has. Self- employment and running my own business provides me with the best opportunity to work in the long term.

My Business

Devilishly Disabled Clothing aims to empower those with disabilities to show that their disability does not define them. Yes we use humour to depict those everyday situations faced by those with disabilities, but that’s because I have never met a disabled person without a sense of humour. It is that character and personality that I want everyone to see before the disability.  Hopefully this will help remove the uncertainties that surround disability, leading to increased social circles and equal opportunities.

The Mistakes

Ah the mistakes, I have made plenty and I will make plenty more.  You learn by doing though right? I won’t list all my mistakes as you won’t have time to read them.

My first and biggest mistake was starting the business after being made redundant.  Although I probably wouldn’t have had time to build the business whilst working, a new business will never replace a guaranteed income.

Do Your Research

I knew nothing about Kaleidoscope, Disabled Entrepreneurs or even the NEA scheme when I set up my business. I just dived right in there and set up the business with a bank loan and all of the enthusiasm you should have when setting up a business. The NEA Scheme offer loans with a 6% APR – which is better than mine! If however you write a good business plan and believe in your business venture, then there is help out there and you will succeed.

Watch Out

We have only been trading since the end of last year and in that time I have learnt a lot. The biggest of which is that you will get tonnes of people giving you advice and tonnes more telling you how their business can benefit yours. My advice- take all the advice you are given but drive the business in the direction that you choose. My business is developed from my vision and it is that which will help me succeed. Don’t get drawn into spending loads money on advertising, hoping that it will get you that big break. I’m learning that hard work gets you a foot hold and that things develop in time. Ineffective advertising provides peaks which will not sustain you in the long term.

The Dilemma

Do you start your own business or not? I’m sure it’s not just disabled people who fear what the DWP might do to existing benefits and assistance once a business is set up.  But if we are looking at this from a well-being perspective, then there is nothing that gets you motivated quite like your own business. The government are supposed to support working people and in my experience thus far they do that. They could do so much more for those with disabilities but I’m sure that’s the case for many.

The Future

I will continue to work hard, doing whatever I need to whilst Devilishly Disabled Clothing grows to support me. I want to expand the brand to be more inclusive. At the moment we are aiming at about 6% of the 12 million disabled people in the UK with our depictions of physical disability. I want my brand to depict those daily situations and frustrations faced by all disabilities and beyond that society at large. After all, disabled people aren’t the only people who face difficulties daily. Hopefully we will soon be empowering all to see the awesomeness of the individual.  Beyond that a Bugatti Veyron would be nice!

This piece was written in response to the BBC’s Ouch Blog entitled The ‘dragons’ who want to help disabled people start their own business which is available here.

Sex,Relationships and Disability

Yes

No

No

No

At Devilishly Disabled we have a, ‘sort of’, unofficial researcher who scours the internet looking for the more captivating stories involving disability for me to write about. To my surprise he found an article about the world’s first disabled orgy…  http://www.unilad.co.uk/articles/canada-to-host-worlds-first-orgy-for-disabled-people/. Apparently its organiser, Stella Palikarova became increasingly frustrated when people inquired as to whether she could have an active sex life and evidently able bodied orgies don’t cater for disabled people- who knew?

Stella is not the only disabled person to face this question and its overall perception.  However, doesn’t her method depict disabled people as sex deprived looney tunes? Still at least we’ll fit in with 90% of the world’s population.

Now I have no idea about the legitimacy of the event which apparently takes place in Toronto on August 14th, it does however, raise some interesting questions. Questions I feel obliged to answer in this article entitled Sex,Relationships and Disability.

Above are the answers to the four questions I am most commonly asked in relation to sex:

Can you have sex?

Yes, disabled people can have sex, I know a lot of them and from a disabled perspective we are often baffled that this question is asked.

Will it hurt you?

No, sex is a form of exercise and muscles relax during and after exercise, therefore, I will actually feel more comfortable than I am in my everyday life. I may not be the best company once the muscles tighten again but I’ve never claimed to be the best company anyway.

Have you/would you ever have sex in your wheelchair.

No and there are three reasons for this:

  1. As a disabled person I don’t particularly like my wheelchair and wouldn’t want to do something so intimate in it.
  2. As a friend of mine once said ‘my wheelchair is expensive, I don’t want to damage it
  3. Wheelchairs are actually incredibly unstable; I have to work ridiculously hard to keep it on the floor during day to day usage and there is nothing sexual about getting dropped on your head.

Can you only sleep with disabled people?

If you are able bodied you will not get arrested for sleeping with a disabled person, if it’s consensual is okay. Oh and unless there are stairs involved then most disabled people will manage just fine.

There is still such a taboo surrounding disability, even today, that this subject in particular rarely gets mentioned and it should because without sex none of us would exist. Enhance the UK have a brilliant article on this subject. http://enhancetheuk.org/enhance/sex-and-disability/

Relationships and Disability

This is an area that deserves a mention, because, this is an area where I’ll admit I struggle both from a friendship and romantic view point.

There are a number of reasons for this. The first is I have huge character flaws and a distinct lack of tolerance for other people. The second is that disabled people, like everybody else, have aspects of themselves that they don’t like and finally, perhaps most importantly there is a distinct lack of understanding regarding disability.

Now I don’t wake up every morning wishing I was different, richer yes, different no.  In fact perversely I quite like being disabled, for it is only part of who I am, it doesn’t define me but it is part of me. There are days however, when I’d prefer not to have 2.5k’s worth of metal attached to me. There are also days when I’m in discomfort and I simply want to shut the door to the outside world. That last statement means that any relationship is always on shaky ground. For you see, people that love you don’t care if you’re in pain, they simply want to be with you. However, it takes an awful lot of courage from a partner or family member’s perspective to see you in your worst days.  It also takes a lot of trust from our perspective too.  This is why disabled people are less likely to cheat, A, it’s a lot of effort and B, if we’re with you then we trust you.

But I have known people; myself included, destroy perfectly good relationships through the fear that their partner may see the good, the bad and at times the ugly and simply walk away.

A final thought is that if people’s perceptions on disabilities were changed at a younger age, then these friendships, relationships and the uncertainties within, would be a lot clearer for all. Scheme’s like Sainsbury’s  1million kids are perfect for creating a deeper appreciation and understanding.  As indeed do this truly brilliant video and this exceptional animation. We live in a multicultural society where we rightly have to learn about other people’s religion and culture; perhaps we should also spend time learning about everyone’s abilities.

 

 

 


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