Thursday, 9 March 2017

Living with disability - Changing Perspectives 2

2. Changes 

So when you’re living in a body different to before, then the way you do things is very often different to before too. This is true whether you have a visible disability, or a hidden one (more about that later). 

Even simple things you took for granted aren’t as simple as before. 

It might change the way you get out of bed in the morning, how you wash and dress yourself, how you feed yourself and how you hydrate yourself, how you get ANYWHERE, and come to think of it how you sleep when you finally get into bed again. And on top of this, it changes how other people see you (more about that later too).

Here are a few little things I took for granted before. Imagine you’re on crutches, if you've never used them before they are exciting looking, but in reality are actually hell sticks.

My favourite carrier, with my favourite drink

Cheers! Getting drinks has changed. If you’re on crutches you can’t carry things unless they are in a bag, as you’re busy carrying yourself. Getting a coffee changes significantly, how is THAT going to work exactly. Hot substances and a balancing act always go well together. Water bottles become your friend. Your friends become your carriers. 

Hangry. Same goes with plates. When you’re hungry and you can’t carry your food then you end up angry. Hangry.

Shoplifter! If you’re getting a few bits, you can’t carry a basket…but you can carry a bag. So you go round with your rucksack on the front putting things in your rucksack because that’s easier. Normally the best looks are in the wine aisle. Definite shoplifter. Never been stopped yet, but then I have always paid…

Going out for the day. Well didn’t that change. If you have mobility issues then a day out becomes more like planning a two week foreign holiday, the only bonus being no luggage (because you can’t carry it anyway) and no possibility of an airport cavity search. It’s not just a day out anymore. Oh no. You have to know where you’re going  exactly, where you can park, if there is uneven ground, if there are stairs, if there are seats if you need one, what your transport options are, how you get to those. Even if you are driving and you have a blue badge you need to hope there is a place you can park. And hope its close enough so you don’t wipe yourself out for the next few days. 

Holding hands. You can only do that sitting down. The days of strolling hand in hand with your loved ones are over. Unless you let them touch your crutch… #awkward

Not being a trip hazard. On crutches you have to think about where you put them when you do sit down. Often in a restaurant or cafĂ© people try and put them out of the way, which is fine until you want to move. So you’ll prop them up somewhere, and invariably someone will trip over them. I try and get a corner table these days.

Taking photos. It had to be on here, being a photographer. "How do you take photos?" I hear you say. From a very stationary position is the answer - and depending on the day, with quite some balance and adjustment. Or a lean. Sometimes seated. Sometimes flat out on the floor with some fun getting up again. Sometimes from my car with the window open. Never on the run. And never with all of my heavy lenses on one trip. Luckily, it's all about the perspective and as mine has changed it's opened up my photography horizons.

Laying down photo - getting down with the frogs.

An out the window photo...

Until the next time. 

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Living with Disability -- Changing Perspectives

I've been thinking about whether I should be posting this for quite a while. Today is the day I've decided to introduce my new photographic series "Living with disability - Changing Perspectives".

Often I have heard people talking about whether they should let their personal life cross over into their professional life. I too have thought a lot about this, preferring to keep them separate. But this subject is one that affects my personal and professional life hugely, I can't separate the two.

I am disabled and in the last 3 years I have gradually lost my mobility. My perspective has changed, and being a photographer, perspective is what it is all about. How can I possibly separate the two?

I don't want to bore you, to tell you tales of woe. What I do want to do is show you how it is living with disability. Every disability is different, but there are some common themes. If this series of photos makes you think, it has done what I hoped it would do.

Over the last few years, there have been changes that affect everyone with a disability. It's not imagined, it's real, and it's happening now.

Attitudes towards anyone claiming a benefit have changed, it's becoming more difficult to get help in a system that has been altered and makes it difficult even for the most able to navigate.

1. Living with disability

Having a disability is a huge thing to live with, whether you have been born with it, or have become disabled during the course of your life. The range of emotions you may feel is huge. For me it was, and is, like this.

Some days you may be thankful for what you can do.
Other days you may hate your entire existence.
You feel anger.
You feel guilt.
You feel massive, massive frustration.
You may feel like nothing is in your control.
You may feel totally overwhelmed.
You may feel joy at something you took entirely for granted previously.
You may notice things you didn't before.
You may appreciate things in a totally different way.
You may become more self aware.
You may become more compassionate.
You may become more isolated and lonely.
You may feel a total freak.
You may find strength you didn't even realise you had.
You will learn a lot about yourself.

I felt love. I felt hate. For a long time.
Tattoo art courtesy of Luffly Stuff

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Scenes from South Denes

It's a still, cool January morning with a murky mist bearing down. Where better place to head in such weather than to Great Yarmouth...

Yes Great Yarmouth. Yarco. Yarmouth Town.

I actually love this place. It has a reputation now for amusements, deprivation, greyhound racing, cheap seaside holidays and cruising along the sea front - but there is so very much more to this place. Yes it has all those aforementioned things, but it also has a very rich history.

Great Yarmouth was a hugely important fishing port, the biggest herring fishing port in the world in fact. It was a prosperous place to be and people travelled from all over the country to work catching, landing and processing the herring during the season. South Denes was where a lot of the herring were cured and packed. Alas the herring fishing industry saw massive decline during and after the war, and has today all but ceased. The popularity of white fish saw a huge drop in consumption of smoked and pickled bloaters (that's where GYFC's nickname The Bloaters comes from).

And so now the South Denes is a quieter place, with oil, gas and energy companies now operating here, interspersed with local businesses. The place is weathered, untidy and in some places practically falling down. But in amongst all this is a beautiful example of a gas tower, some fantastic buildings and the grade 1 listed Nelson's Monument, with Britannia on the top looking out across towards Nelson's birth place (rather than out to sea).

As you head past the historic South Quay towards the South Denes there are two places that always catch my eye. The first is the alloy and wheel shop with brightly coloured wheel decorations, and the second is Ivy's Noted Tea Shop. I have no idea if it is still open, and really should stop for a cup of tea there sometime. It's good apparently.

This wonderful gas tower marks the divide between housing and industry down on South Denes. There are some great alleyways providing interesting viewpoints of this prominent landmark.

There are still some signs of fishing in South Denes.

And plenty of offshore companies. Grass was growing in the roof of this one.

If you don't want to go to Ivy's noted tea rooms, then you could try Bernie's Bites. It's not going anywhere fast judging by the state of the wheels!

G.Y.C Electricity Dept. With any vandal drain cover.

South Denes is home to another kind of refreshment too. The still thriving and successful Lacons Brewery. Lovely.

The largest collection of NO PARKING notices can be found on South Denes. Some have been playfully adjusted at some point... er NO... what?

Yep that too.

Ah. No Parking!

If you're interested in the history of Great Yarmouth then a great place to start is the Time and Tide Museum.

To see the full set of photos from my trip to South Denes, visit Flickr