Hope you’ve all survived the Jubilee weekend without too many hangovers, overexposure to bunting and wavy people on balconies etc. I’m sure her Maj is a lovely lady and so on, but the novelty of jubilees wore off for me sometime in 2012 – the golden one – and it seems overkill now to be up to four. Leave the poor woman alone – let her stop in with series 4 of Stranger Things or a few episodes of Midsomer Murders on catch-up, maybe order in an Indian and have a nice quiet weekend with the corgis. I also feel strongly that the conspicuous expenditure on entertainment, people marching about, flyovers by the Red Arrows and suchlike is nothing short of crass at a time when food banks are being asked for items that can be eaten cold as people can’t afford to cook them, when inflation is predicted to go over 10% and when people on average incomes are terrified of the next hike in fuel prices that we know is coming. But hey, she does a lot for tourism or something, which apparently justifies this sort of thing. And I did like having an extra day off, so thanks for that at least.
Something else that has annoyed me this week is the outpouring of hate for Amber Heard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of hers and other than Aquaman I couldn’t name a single film she’s been in. Some of Johnny Depp’s films – Benny and Joon, for example – will always remain on my all-time favourites list. However, this whole fiasco should never have been live-streamed, should never have become a media circus, should never have been allowed to become entertainment in the most public of ways. There’s no way the jury could have avoided all media, no matter what they were told to do by the judge, and the Depp PR machine has steamrollered across Twitter and the rest, casting Heard as a figure of ridicule and hate. Well-timed public appearances this week by Depp, extremely public support from Paul McCartney and so on: Heard never stood a chance at coming out of this anything but badly. Neither of them were perfect, and what people seem to be ignoring is that he has been cleared of the charges of defamation and ‘won’ in that respect, but was not cleared of domestic violence. People also seem to forget that both of them are actors – and he is vastly more experienced than her- and that both are more than capable of playing the parts they want the public to see. It’s their job, after all.
But the thing that most annoyed me – I know, I know, all this rage can’t be good for me – was the absolute fiasco my friend E and I experienced trying to get to the Emirates stadium on Friday night to see the Killers. She uses a wheelchair, and public transport in London is not terribly accessible in many cases – especially in the case of the older lines and stations. So, wisely, she had pre-booked parking at the stadium. Arsenal’s disability liaison person had put her on the list, she had confirmation in email form, the postcode of where she needed to get to and a street address. When she had followed up with a phone call as no parking permit had arrived, she was told that she was definitely on the list but was advised to be there early as the roads would be closed. Doors for the event were at 6.30.
Bearing this in mind, we left Debden just after 3.30, which – for a 40-50 minute drive – should have left us with enough time to park, have a catch up, get something to eat and be in our seats with plenty of time.
We arrived within sight of the stadium at 4.30, and explained to the chap manning the road barriers that we had disabled parking booked at the stadium. He told us that the access was via Drayton Park, and how to get there, so off we went. The chap manning the access at Drayton Park – to whom we explained once again that we had disabled parking booked, and that his colleague had told us to come here – gave us a set of directions involved road closures, bags over signs, turned off cameras and so on, which would definitely get us to the stadium parking. So off we went.
Half an hour later, having seen pretty much every residential street in a half mile radius (including a one-way street we should not have gone down) we had established that there was no access to the stadium thanks to bollards, strategically placed planters, brick walls and so on. We went back to the Drayton Park man, compounded the traffic offences by pulling a U-turn across a box junction, and when we told him there was no access to the stadium following his instructions, he gave us another set of similar ones, assuring us once more that it was correct.
Readers, he lied.
Half an hour later, having seen all the same streets again, asked advice from some residents and a local park warden, seriously considered abandoning the car and walking, we decided to go back to the original man and demand assistance. It was either that or kidnap Mr Drayton Park man and insist he piloted us to the stadium.
Original man, to whom I was speaking very calmly and politely and definitely not shoving an email in his face while E and several other drivers added helpful details, got on the phone to Drayton Park man, gave him the licence plate number, said we had an email and told him we were coming back round and to let us through. So we went round and he let us through. E queried (tactfully, honestly) why he couldn’t have just let us through in the first place and he gave us some utter rubbish about it being to do with ‘the capacity of the car’. Five minutes later we were in the queue to access the underground parking, and discovering that all the other people with disabled parking booked had been given the same run-around. Ninety wasted minutes, when all he had needed to do was move a bollard.
A few weeks ago I heard a talk by the wonderful Miss Jacqui who spoke eloquently about the Social Model of Disability, which expresses that the problem of accessibility does not lie with the disabled person but with the way society is run and organised, and provides a way of explaining how society goes about disabling people with impairments. It was eye-opening then, and watching it in action on Friday – with the addition of incredibly unhelpful people manning actual physical barriers – was appalling.
However, once we got into the stadium the staff could not have been more helpful and a brilliant show by the Killers and Sam Fender in support more than made up for the hassle. Brandon Flowers looked ridiculously hot in his rather 70s, disco-style suit, the sound was great and confetti cannons and fireworks are always a hit. E would have preferred to have the Manic Street Preachers in support but you can’t have everything!
Things making me happy this week:
- gorgeous swims surrounded by wildlife this week: coots and chicks, grebes, parakeets, heron, cormorants, and actually seeing a cuckoo for the first time
- helping a colleague at an early years stay and play event
- same-day delivery from Asda
- the new Phil Rickman novel, set around Whitchurch and the Doward in placed I know
- dinner out for a friend’s birthday
- being proud of my eldest stepdaughter for bringing her local community together
- blocking the shawl I made
See you next week!
What I’ve been reading:
The Pure in Heart/The Risk of Darkness – Susan Hill
The Fever of the World – Phil Rickman
The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman