Briefly Disabled

Posted: December 1, 2012 in As If I Actually Ended Up Going To Uni


I am at Christian Union, not listening to a bible study and watching three breakdancers rub their breakdash-erie in our faces. I am surprisingly happy to have my face rubbed when I get a text suggesting pub-erty. I smile.


Anyone fancy the pub after this?”


I realise that I have just spoken without paying attention to what is happening. Mr President looks disheartened by my interruption of his highlight of the night comment. “Oh, now I want the pub!” CU Helen chimes in, and the mood has died. I go back to watching the breakdancers.


Until CU finishes. And we go to the pub, with great banter as we walk. It’s a great introduction for CU newbie Sam.


Hey Dan, I’ll give you a go in my wheelchair if you go quiet for a bit.”


I go quiet for a bit.

“Hang on, how long do I have to be quiet for?”


You just lost it.”


Oh no!”


We arrive at the pub, and open the intentionally shut doors blocking the disabled access. I feel like a lawbreaker, and it feels good. I buy a tap water, and discover Sam on a pub chair, next to a shiny, empty wheelchair. I sit as close to it as possible, and look at it quite a lot. Sam sighs.


Go on then, Dan.”


Yes! Cheers!”


I get in, and wheel around the pub. It’s amazing, like an ache-y Mariokart, only without invincibility. That would be risky in a pub. Hang on… Invincibility is exactly what pubs need! They could sell all the beer without any cirrhosis! I’ve discovered a niche in the market! I could go on Dragon’s Den! I could nick a tenner off one of those piles when they’re not looking! I could be a lawbreaker! And it could feel good!


Dan! Do a wheelie!”


I can’t wait to see you fall over.” Sam interjects.


How would you fall over in this, Sam?”




I try to fall over.


And fail.


Sam helps. And I fall backwards, but quickly regain my poise, and attempt a more realistic chair challenge. They could do a whole Saturday night TV show out of chair challenges! Call it Chairlenges! No! Chair Olympics! Sam Fryatt would love it. And Housemate That Never Was Dan Mac would be owed royalties, but it’d be fine, because I’d be a tenner up. I decide to wheel upstairs, so Ross-Geller-pivot to face the two minimal mezzanine steps of misery. An elderly Indian couple are watching with bemusement. I wheel forward and backward but smack into the bottom step every time. I look up at Mr & Mrs Indian. There’s a mixture of horror, laughter and Bill Bailey in their eyes. I smile, and hope it relieves the tension, but there are many cultural differences between Brits and Indians. Perhaps smiling means something offensive in India. I decide to stop smiling, and instead give them a hearty glance. It has a definite response, which I decide probably means something lovely in Indian. I am about to give up and accept that you just can’t climb stairs in a wheelchair when CU Helen chimes in. She does sign language, and is fluent in disabled. I listen. And try going up backwards.


It didn’t work.


I give CU Helen a Jonathan Frakes look and she laughs.


No, lean backwards, and then go forwards.”


Ah. I am a blonde-ish leggie, and unused to the ways of the wheels. It took me ages to book my test, while I had to watch warm Big Boots leading the way. I try leaning backwards, and then wheeling forwards. It works! And I get my feet-tray onto the edge of the first step. I am Wheelchair Spiderman! I do whatever a…




I look up. The Indian couple are still staring. I still have all their attention. Maybe I can bring elements of this to my live music show! I try a few more times, before giving up, and driving back to my space at the table, dejected. When Wynneston suggests going to the bar and ordering a drink. I finish my tap water, and smile. His suggestion is timely. Hang on… tap water? The barman has seen me walk to the bar! So if I wheel over he’ll be hilariously confused! I’ll be like Derren Brown! But without the frisbees.


Genius, Wynneston! Would you mind, Sam?”


I have no idea why she’d mind, but I’m very polite.




She smiles.


I smile.


If you buy me a drink.”


Oh. Well, not a problem. She wouldn’t ask for a real drink. We’re students, and she knows that that would cost money.


A WKD please.”




I hesitate. And it is immediately obvious that I don’t want to buy her a drink. I’ve been poor for so long that the thought of buying someone a drink would be living a life of Roman Abramovich luxury. But without the frisbees. Or the guilt.


But NO more!


I point my finger in the air. Wynneston looks confused. I am no longer JSA-tastic! I am a student! A man of riches! I can afford to buy McDonald’s for three friends! But oh no! If I buy a drink now it’ll be clear that I’m only doing it out of guilt, which would be very Roman; and if I don’t, I’ll feel bad. I decide to pretend to be John Terry’s boss, and buy a drink. And sack John Terry. And the entire team. And play myself. And make myself captain! Good things can happen when you buy a girl a drink. Until you realise you’re playing for Chelsea.


I resign.


I wheel over to the bar and struggle to get the barman’s attention. This is strange. Like he can’t see me… I am seen by all people at all times!


Finally he comes over, and looks at me blazé-ly. I order and pull my card out, but can’t see the card machine on the bar! I can barely see the bar! The heck?! Barman hands the machine down to me, and I pay. He places the drinks down on the bar. Hang on, am I alright with those? How am I going to carry them and drive back?


Are you alright with those?”


Yeah I’m fine, thanks.”


Oh no! Hoistered by my own automatic-default-nacho-man-settings petard! I look over at the gang, who are watching in hysterics; but remember CU President’s highlight of the night comment, and decide that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! I take the drinks in one hand and use my other to wheel forward on alternating wheels. I drive curvaciously, much to Wynneston’s obvious delight, before arriving back at the space by the table. And drinking some WKD. And wheeling about. Hang on…


I’m drinking and driving!


I’m a lawbreaker! And it feels awful! I have some quick pictures taken, but stop before Terry Tate or Sting arrive.


Can I have my chair back now, Dan?”


I climb out, and immediately miss the impeccable lumbar support. But remember something.


I have legs.


I smile.


And walk home.




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