Since childhood i've been a sleep walker, night wanderer, phantom flyer. on several occasions when young i was found crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, bruised and bemused after acting out a dream in which i could soar from the top to the bottom.... hands free. even back then i had an inkling that walking was always going to be a challenge and perhaps flying would be the simpler option. it would undoubtedly be more efficient than my usual hop along, loping, limp if only the technique could be perfected. school was several miles from home and there was no convoy style school run in the 50's, the choice was to walk, walk or walk no matter the weather, distance or ability. after extensive and repeated surgery on the legs a concession was made so i could use a scooter and park it with the teacher's cars. Later, roller skates became the default mode of movement, wheels might not be as satisfying as wings but a definite improvement on malfunctioning feet.
These days as decrepitude creeps inexorably into senescence a seat on top of the wheels is a much appreciated indulgence. do you think i could persuade the NHS that the David Pompa designed, Eames wheelchair below is a good use of resources? have you noticed how utilitarian most disability equipment looks? it's as though chic shoots out the window as disability slithers in, or is it based on conjecture that only the very elderly need aids and the old don't care about fashion? how many incorrect assumptions can you cram into a Mini? should function trump style or style out-vie function or are they of equal importance to those of us doomed to use them? perhaps it's vanity but i want my chair to be an extension of my personality just as it's an extension of my body. in the same way i wouldn't go out with laddered tights and hairy legs i don't want to be seen with an ugly lump of black metal attached to the backside.
Twelve years ago when i was given my current made to measure jalopy it was the first Northumberland NHS, adult, active user chair to be made in pink. it had been assumed until then that only children would want a bright colour, adults it was believed, wanted something discrete, sensible, BORING!!! Now some NHS trusts offer purple, orange, lime green and GLITTER, though i haven't yet found anything as elegantly futuristic as the image below. It seems regressive that 21st century invalidity conveyances look and perform not greatly differently from those of our grandparent's time. you wouldn't accept a car modelled on an early era, mass produced Ford so why must i accept an antediluvian means of transport.
These midnight jaunts give a momentary illusion of freedom and the semblance of keeping up with a world in too much of a hurry to wait for the slowcoach wheeling along at the back. for a night the plodder, the straggler, the also-ran can be ahead of the pack, leading the way across the tundra of life, arms stretched wide, hair flowing in the slipstream, soaring into a phantasm devoid of disability.