Going for gold……..without Henry Kelly

Me, my family and my good friend and Paralympic athlete, Stephen Miller

First things first, I apologise for being a little bit slow with writing this blog post. It’s been in draft form for weeks, I just haven’t had time to finish it. This is mainly because I’ve had a busy few weeks. First of all, my lovely best friend Emily moved into my flat. I’m pleased to report that I’m so glad that she’s moved in! Then I had the little matter of supporting Ross Noble at his gig at The Stand in Newcastle to concentrate on. As if that wasn’t enough, I then went to gig in Aberdeen and ended up taking EIGHT hours to get home thanks to massive train fails.

If you’re interested, Emily has blogged both about the Ross Noble gig and the mammoth trip to Aberdeen and back. Both posts are well worth a read.

Anyway, back to the original point of this blog post. I had the pleasure of going to the Paralympic Games in London the other week as I had managed to get tickets to watch my mate, Stephen Miller, in the athletics. Ironically, they cost me an arm and a leg. I didn’t really know what to expect really. For some reason, I’d never been to the Paralympic Games before. Possibly because they haven’t been in Britain in my lifetime. Lazy I know!

I certainly wasn’t expecting someone to welcome us to the Olympic Park by shouting ‘roll up, roll up, these are the greatest games on earth.’ A bit insensitive, no?! Worse was to come inside though when I heard three old ladies discussing the athletes. ‘It’s nice to see they don’t just let them rot….’ said one of them to the others. I don’t think they were quite ready to embrace the Paralympic spirit.

After hearing all the horror stories on the news, I thought getting to the Olympic Park would be a nightmare too but it was easy in the end. Public transport wasn’t that busy and the queues were OK too. Obviously I still tried to jump to the front (not literally of course, they would have taken away my benefits there and then if I had!) by playing the disabled card. In hindsight, this was probably a bad move at the Paralympics. In fact, it’s the only time that able bodied people have got in quicker. I saw it as payback for all the queues I’ve jumped at Alton Towers.

I did consider putting a tracksuit on and pretending to be an athlete to get in quicker too. Based on the assumption that no one would dare question me. If you’ve seen me, you’d know why this wasn’t a good idea. I do not look athletic in any way. The closest I’ve come to doing anything remotely sporty is when I used to go horse riding when I was little. And, even then, I was given a horse with only one eye to ride. It’s almost as if they thought that I wasn’t disabled enough already so they thought they’d make it worse by giving me a blind horse! I couldn’t tell it where to go and it couldn’t see where it was going. All we needed was a deaf guy to be leading us around and we’d have won disability bingo.Needless to say, I never really got into horse riding after that. The only other sport I’ve played is football at school. Given I can hardly walk never mind run, this was a bad idea too. I ended up falling down more than Ronaldo.

My visit to the Paralympic Games did raise quite a few questions though, such as ‘if the goalkeeper in blind football can see, doesn’t that make penalty shoot outs really hard for the others?’

You also have to ask whether it was wise to have that many people in wheelchairs next to a naked flame?! Risk assessment anyone?

And then you had to wonder if the deaf athletes counted themselves lucky when Coldplay performed at the closing ceremony. And why didn’t they finish with ‘Fix You’. If they had I would have almost found it in my heart to forgive Chris Martin for musically abusing my ears for all these years. Almost.

I didn’t have much luck putting a bet on the Paralympics while I was there though. The bookie just wouldn’t accept that they were all winners.

I have to say that watching the Paralympics has taught me so much about acceptance of other people’s different abilities. However, if they can lift more, throw further and run faster than the rest of you, how come they still get to park closer to Tesco?

Last but not least, while I was there I discovered that if you hire a wheelchair to go places (which I did because the Olympic Park was so big) then more people seem to smile at you. I’m presuming this is because people in wheelchairs are more disabled than the rest of us. Obviously! I did think about suddenly rising from the wheelchair, taking a few awkward steps, have my friend shout ‘it’s a fucking miracle’ and then promptly crash down onto the floor in a heap. I didn’t though. Those old ladies might have taken me away to rot….

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