On a recent trip to The Gambia we spent a day travelling inland so that I could show my sixteen-year-old daughter the real Africa that I know and love. Our gentle taxi driver, Fansu, had, without complaint, managed to stuff my mobility scooter into the back of his Jeep and it was not long before we were off the tarmac and on dirt roads. We stopped in a village which was too sandy for my scooter so Fansu kindly offered me his arm, quickly understanding my instructions on the best way to keep me upright. I laughingly apologised for being such a liability and he wisely said, “It is what it is.”
It is what it is (cerebral palsy and, more recently, spinal stenosis) and has helped form who I am today. Having trained as a social worker (sshh, don’t tell anyone!) in my twenties I have spent most of working life in the third sector supporting disabled children and their families and promoting inclusion.
I am very excited to be contributing to Liability and love its sassiness. As a parent of two teenagers I am constantly amazed by how coy other parents are about discussing sexuality with their offspring, and that’s without adding disability into the equation! I passionately believe that everybody should enjoy sex – regardless of disability – or age (I’m 50 soon) and I am not afraid to say so.
As you might have already gathered, I love travelling and am fascinated by how different cultures respond to me as a traveller. I frequently find that the fact I am a tourist – with money to spend – outweighs the fact I am disabled, which is very refreshing. The lack of any regard for health and safety is also invigorating and I particularly like the ‘can do’ attitudes I have come across in parts of Africa.
When I am not working or reloading the dishwasher for the umpteenth time after my son has ‘hit’ the kitchen I am out on my scooter walking my two dogs.
In fact, if you asked anybody in the neighborhood about me they’d probably describe me as mad and mean. Mad because I feel the cold and in the Winter and have to dress as if I’m on an expedition to the North Pole. And mean because one of my dogs is a very stubborn dachshund that needs chivying, or even dragging, along for the first five minutes and it looks like I’m forcing her to walk (she actually loves her walk once into the groove).
I am really excited about being a contributor to Liability – I’ve certainly got a big mouth and believe where there’s a will, there’s always a way.