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  • Writer's pictureBest Wheels Forward


Updated: Aug 12, 2021

My friends have been telling me recently that they miss the spontaneity of being able to go out for an unplanned meal or drinks.

I have to agree, the unplanned social events tend to be the most enjoyable but a pandemic isn't the reason that I'm no longer a spontaneous socialiser.

A Christmas party is a generous term for going out for lunch with two friends but both are accurate portrayals of the last time I had a spontaneous visit to a pub. The choice of venue had been left up to one of my friends / colleagues who knew the area and selected one where the menu sounded tasty and the beer selection was vast, the perfect combination for the perfect place to eat, drink and celebrate the end of the year As soon as we opened the door it became obvious that this pub was not known for it's wheelchair accessibility. I had been practicing my wheelchair skills so descending a step was becoming achievable but the big, uneven stone steps and unforgiving floor below them was daunting.

As with so many things in life the problem I faced was an absence of confidence. Had I boldly wheelied down the step I might have made it. If I'd taken the step at speed using it as a ramp I might have landed with grace just before I hit the wall but I did neither and with an effort that frankly lacked commitment I tumbled through the door leaving my wheelchair behind me like a show jumping horse that had refused a jump. I landed in what must have looked like a poor man's version of the pose Kate Winslet took when Leo painted her in Titanic. Sprawled out sideways propping my head on my hand I watched as the barmen peeped around the corner. He looked at me and then the step then back at me before saying:

"impressive landing"

After I had awkwardly made my way back into the chair with only slightly more finesse then when I'd left it we made our way to the table and realised it wasn't just the entrance that was not accessible here. Stairs spread out everywhere in the building. Up to the toilets, down to the garden, some seemingly going to nowhere, the place was like an optical illusion. Wherever you looked there were more stairs. The only way I was going that day was back out the front door and even that would take some planning and a group effort.

Spontaneity is great but I've found planning ahead to be better.

I'll take prior knowledge of the venue and a normal entrance over unknown steps every time.

I'm no ones Kate Winslet.

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