Tag Archives: disability

Ideas changed my life – Francesca Martinez

9 May

Looking at Francesca Martinez’s book, Swindon Festival of Literature director Matt Holland said, ‘Let’s talk about the end.’ Francesca laughed – ‘Don’t give away the end!’ Then turned to the audience, ‘It’s alright – I don’t die!’ Matt grinned – ‘I really like you.’ And she replied, ’I really like you too, but I’ve got a boyfriend.’

This is the tone for Francesca’s event. She made her name firstly in BBC school-based drama, Grange Hill, back in the 1990s, before embarking on a career as a comedian and then as a social commentator and campaigner. Her appearance at the Festival is belly-laugh funny but also profound.

But (*whispers*) there’s something I have to tell you. She’s disabled!!!

Of course, I’m not mocking her. I’m too afraid of a hilarious (for everyone else) putdown (and also, FYI, not a dick). I’m emulating her teenage self before she had a life-changing conversation with Hot Dylan – Francesca was so desperate to be normal that she would make friends then share that she was disabled, like they wouldn’t have noticed she was ‘wobbly’. Continue reading

Birds, wheelchairs and bamboo sticks

3 May

Benedict Allen’s first meeting with BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner was inauspicious. Ben Fogle! He said (or something like it), I’m a huge fan!

Despite this, Benedict and Frank became big friends, with Benedict sharing his stories of the birds of paradise in the untouched jungles of Papua New Guinea of the 1980s. Turns out, Frank is a massive fan of bird watching, and his dream was to see those very birds.

Benedict was a semi-retired solo-adventurer. After three decades of exploring, he lost a husky on the Arctic ice and felt his luck had finally run out. So back he went home and began to raise a family.

But Benedict was inspired by Frank’s dream to see the birds. Especially so as the journalist’s mobility was reliant on a wheelchair after being shot in Saudi Arabia by terrorists. And, no doubt, excited by the extreme challenge of taking a wheelchair user to a remote, humid forest decidedly not accessible. Continue reading