Finally, an Award!

I have a zero-tolerance policy on chain letters, but being nominated for this award feels slightly different because it comes from a fellow blogger. It is a pat on the back saying ‘you’re doing well, keep going’. I get to pass this on to blogger friends of mine; they get to write a blog post and say they have ‘Award Winning’ blog! Of course, as it is extra work, it is ok if you don’t accept.

However, to accept the Sunshine Blogger Award, there are a few simple requirements:

  • Thank the person who nominated you & link back to their blog.
  • Display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo.
  • Answer their 11 questions.
  • Nominate up to 11 others for the award.
  • Provide 11 questions for your nominees to answer.

So, without further ado:

Thanks to Dax from Diary of a Disabled Person for the nomination. I was a virtual guest at their wedding reception and although we have never met, I count them as a friend.

Sunshine Blogger Logo

Answering 11 Questions:

I find answering questions to be quite difficult as I tend to overthink things. If asked yes/no question, I have trained myself to answer yes or no before waffling on about the question, but that’s the best I can do!

What made you want to start blogging?

Through the ‘90s, I had a website with information about my hobbies, likes and dislikes. Somehow, sharing myself with other people fulfilled a deep need. Over the years, I developed my long-standing interest in creative writing and wanted to ‘keep my hand in’. Keeping busy in retirement is not a problem, but the blog helps. As a Trustee of AtaxiaUK, I wanted to share the stories I had written about my life with Ataxia with a wider audience. It’s therapeutic too.

I had content, but Diary of a Disabled Person was the first blog I signed up to follow on twitter and really inspired me to start my own. Thanks to Dax’s fiery personality, this was the first time I had heard of ‘ableism’. It really started the journey for me. Today, I post on quite an eclectic mix of topics from disability, politics, and sociology. I also find it a good way to work through thoughts I have about books I read.

Tell me about an interaction you had with a stranger that was really positive.

A recent post, ‘Talking to Tenants’ is about the difficulty we have talking to and understanding strangers. Generally, I have positive interactions with strangers and was reminded of my Dad who is famously always talking to listening to strangers. He is Irish, so I put it down to him having the ‘gift of the gab’. I asked him about it, he says that if other people can sense that you are open and friendly, they are drawn to you. I have found this too. I used to read my meeting papers on train journeys to London, but as I usually spend the entire journey in conversation with random people, I now have to make sure I read my papers before I set off.

My favourite interaction with a stranger was when my Wife and I were doing a spooky Halloween experience in a haunted house with live actors to add an extra level of scariness. As we trundled around, a witch broke character and leant down to whisper to me “Mind out dear, there are some steps over here.”

What has been your biggest blogging achievement?

It’s lots of little things. It is nearly 2 years since I started my blog. I have managed to stick to my target of writing 1000 words or so once a month and the numbers of visitors and viewers from around the world have been rising. I’m proud that my blog has slowly developed, taking up a professional membership of WordPress, its own domain name and starting a page for my blog on Facebook. I wrote ‘A Year on Twitter’ on my first anniversary about how writing a blog had influenced me.

In ‘Deeper Into the Wild’, I explored a true story I have always found to be very powerful. I did quite a bit of research and suggested that the protagonist may have been autistic. As far as I know, this was an original observation, but I didn’t make a big deal about it. I was very happy when a fellow blogger from an autism collective read and liked the post. I think that is what we bloggers want; a stranger to understand and agree with something we have written.

What’s the furthest you’ve ever been from home?

The furthest physically I have been from home was when I went on an exchange to The University of Rhode Island in September 2001. Helen came as my PA and notetaker. A week after we arrived, we witnessed the terrorist attack just 162 miles away in New York. As we left the dining hall through the silent kitchen after breakfast, the staff had gathered around a tv. “There’s going to be a war,” predicted one as we left. As we watched the tv coverage in our common room, the footage repeated, and then mixed with new material, it became difficult to follow exactly what was happening. Understandably, everything seemed to change overnight and flags appeared everywhere. I felt very aware that I wasn’t an American. We were asked to stay on the campus while the FBI examined the records of foreign students studying politics, I assumed this included mine. As all planes were grounded and war loomed, it was the furthest from home I’d ever felt.

What’s your favourite quote?

Hell is Other Robots

I have two. The first, I claim to have made-up myself. ‘Disability is other people’. It is a link to philosopher René Descartes who said “L’inferne, c’est les autres” or ‘Hell is other people’. It is a frequent conclusion of many of my posts about how I have come to peace with my own disability. It is also a link the title of an episode of Futurama (Hell is Other Robots), so is exactly the kind of layered wordplay that appeals to me.

The other was said by Kyle Bryant, a speaker at the AtaxiaUK annual conference in 2020, reflecting on his fundraising work: “By making yourself small, can make all the other people around you big.” I’m going to use it every chance I get!

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction?

Easy, a binary question. I like a mixture of both but probably read 70% fiction and 30% non-fiction. I write mostly all fiction, but so far, my blog is nearly all non-fiction. Maybe I should add some short stories to my blog?

What’s your favourite genre of fiction movies/TV/video games/books/comics)?

Oh no, I have to choose one? I love films, books and TV, and could write entire blog posts about them. Maybe not so much about comics, or do they count as books? But as a child of the ‘80s, none of those have changed so quickly or had such a massive impact on me as video games. I wrote a post about my deep relationship with ‘Gaming’ and how being able to interact anonymously in an expansive world is incredibly important for disabled people.

If you could visit any fictional world & characters, where would you go?

Cartoon drawing of a police officer in a wheelchair. He is holding a gun and looks ready to  use it.
Joe Swanson – My New Best Friend!

I like the safety and predictability of the sit-com. The way that everything happens to set characters in a few set locations, and there are no consequences. The one that I would like to visit would be animated comedy, Family Guy. Set in the fictional town of Quahog, Rhode Island. It revolves around a family, their friends and neighbours. It deals with important social issues in such a funny way. It reminds me of my time in Rhode Island and there is a regular wheelchair-using character, Joe Swanson. I would join the group as his new sidekick. Within this universe, absolutely anything can happen and does, but everything is back to normal by the end, ready for the next episode.

What’s your guilty pleasure song?

Music is very important to me. I like all kinds. It annoys me when someone says that, without committing themselves. But I do like all kinds of music, but only good music. I think the secret to good music is a balance between tune, rhythm and lyrics. Lyrics are not essential, but they need to be meaningful, clever and/or funny if used. Like with Rap, but I need it to speak to me as a middle-class middle-aged white man for it to feel good. I really like music by comedians such as Flight of the Conchords, Tenacious D, Monty Python and Bill Bailey. I’m waffling again.

The most embarrassing song that stays in my favourites because I love it, but I would feel a little embarrassed if it came on would be “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. It is a guilty pleasure because I know it’s objectifying women, but it’s also a clever, empowering critique of negative body image promoted by the media. Art is meant to challenge us – so just smile and turn it up!

What made you laugh most recently?

I love comedy and to laugh out loud. Bill Bailey laughed me out of my wheelchair once! Like music, comedy for me is the delicate inter-play between situation, movement, words and timing. I especially enjoy dark comedy and highly recommend Inside Number 9. Most recently, I was laughing at the new series of Taskmaster.

If you had the Infinity Gauntlet from the Avengers, & could change anything with just the snap of your fingers, what would you change?

I feel a bit like a contestant in a Miss world contest. I should say something cool like “I’d choose world peace” or “I’d end poverty.” I also don’t know enough about the Avengers franchise or the Infinity Gauntlet to know if my answer is ok, but here it is.

I would push the human race into the next stage of evolution by making the human body significantly better at regenerating for a much longer lifespan, but at the same time, make it more difficult to have children. Think about it. How great would humans be if we had our lives lengthened by 100 years? Not only would this diminish pain and help people recover from many most illnesses or disabilities, but it would redefine the family unit and make us all kind, patient and caring. We would heal the planet and use our new understanding to establish new colonies in the space or under the oceans. There would be no more poverty, discrimination, religion or war because of the great wisdom we would all have – you can’t possibly be ignorant for 200 years. However, I don’t doubt that humanity would very quickly find a way to ruin this!

Well done for making it this far! My nominations for the ‘Sunshine Blogger’ Award. They are in no particular order and I always enjoy reading their latest posts. Check them out.

TheAngChronicles – A personal friend. This ‘stream of consciousness’ style of blogging is very appealing. Also, anything science fiction is a winner with me.

Adventures of Pom: My life with my disability – Emma has FA and shares her thoughts on life with a disability.         

Live. Love. Learn. Lead. – A teacher I used to work with is passionate about delivering an ethical curriculum within schools. Her Co-Headship arrangement inspired me to lead AtaxiaUK in the same way.

Head Over Wheels – Dan (FA) and Emma blog about their lives together as a young couple, an important aspect of living with a disability.

Ivy’s Two Cents – I started following Ivy last month. Although Ivy lives in America, we have a lot in common.

Little Victories by Matthew LaFleur – Matthew lives in America and also has FA. He writes about his own experiences in such an honest, warm, and friendly way.

Here are my questions for them. They’re based around topics I covered in my blog. Top 3’s, top 10’s and/or rambling answers are acceptable.

  1. What makes a good blog post?
  2. What one thing or person has changed your life?
  3. Do you have any pets?
  4. Have you done any voluntary work?
  5. What is your big passion in life?
  6. What have you rediscovered in lockdown?
  7. What is your favourite film and why?
  8. Have you ever done anything to raise money for charity?
  9. Are you a gamer?
  10. Do you believe in ghosts?
  11. Where and when in History would you visit?

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