Do you do things differently?

As some of you know, I record a couple of podcasts, one of which is called Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos.  I developed the podcast in conjunction with the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC). The RIDC aims to test and examine products and services from a disability point of view.  Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos talks to disabled people who use technology or other gadgets innovatively or differently . Sarah Kent, who gardens using her feet, Hazel Dudley, a blind photographer, Vivek Gohill, who  lives with the muscle-wasting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy  and has adapted gaming tech so he can use it. If you want to know. more about them, here's a link to the podcast website  Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos If you are a disabled person who uses "stuff" in a different and somewhat unusual way, drop me a line, and we can have a chat. Don't be shy! The podcast takes about 20 minutes to record, and it's all pretty straight forward. It's all done online, so you ca

Another Year Another Lock down.

To begin at the beginning, Happy New Year. How are you doing? Perhaps you're reading this standing in a long queue shopping for the last wet wipes, or maybe you've decided that everything's gone to pot and you're staying under your duvet with your smartphone. So Lockdown 3 is upon us but at least this time we are better prepared aren't we? We have plenty of toilet paper, PPE is everywhere, we are awash with hand sanitiser, and we can now personalise the logos on our face masks. Oh and galloping over the hill to rescue us comes the coronavirus vaccine. All great news, so why do you and I still feel dejected, hacked off and furious? Clearly, this pandemic was unexpected, and any government would have struggled to develop a coherent strategy for managing it. However, almost a year on, we still don't seem to have a plan other than relying on a vaccine with so many questions surrounding it: how long will it be effective, what happens if the virus mutates?   What we

My friend James Partridge – Born 30 October 1952; died 16 August 2020

I haven’t put my fingers to computer keys to write a blog post for a very long time but the death of my dear friend James Partridge has persuaded me to write so that I can share some memories of him. I think he would appreciate my efforts as he knew how difficult I find the act of writing. He always said in his typically encouraging way “Come on Mr Friend you can do this”. So here goes. What an extraordinary human being James Partridge was, he lit up every room he entered. Often arriving at meetings wearing bicycle clips, crash helmet slightly akimbo,  breathless, sweaty but always smiling. Once out of his cycling gear, he offered a big powerful handshake which was always accompanied by a brilliant smile and then the inevitable booming laugh. James Partridge is in the building and ready for the fray. He was an unforgettable human being and strangely it wasn’t his “memorable” appearance but rather the huge presence that made him stand out.  I watched him once climb onto a stage in front

Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos

Hello everyone just a quick note to let you know that I’m planning to develop a new podcast in which I interview disabled people about the things they use to overcome the barriers they face because of their disability. I’ll keep you posted as to when this will become available.

Unmasking the Pimpernel

We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere! Is he in heaven? Is he in hell? Where is that damned elusive Pimpernel! Many of you will recall these famous lines from the play and novel “The Scarlet Pimpernel”. You may remember the Scarlet Pimpernel worked in the dark; his identity was only known to a few loyal supporters under a cloak of secrecy. I’m struck by the similarities between the Pimpernel’s behaviour and the response of today’s senior business leaders towards disability. Business leaders who are themselves disabled keep quiet and this often leads to a feeling that it’s a taboo subject. Disability lurks in the shadows and those employees who have non-visible impairments only tell trusted colleagues or friends. Very Pimpernelesque! A recent report  Disability Confidence: The Business Leadership Imperative’  supported by EY (formerly Ernst & Young) has found that business leaders with disabilities are twice as likely to be underrepresented in comp

Aches, Pains and Appliances

 The other day as I was shaving I remembered my mother, this often happens. I’m not sure why the act of shaving invokes these memories, but it usually does. My mother died back in 2001; it was a good death. She was lying in bed and asked her devoted carer, Chrissie, for a cup of tea, and when Chrissie returned with it, she had departed this life. I recall that whenever I visited my mother particularly towards the end of her life, the first half-an-hour of our conversation was spent in cataloguing and discussing her ailments, aches, pains, and other trials and tribulations. She would sit in her velour covered armchair in her flannelette nightie with her nasal cannula in place and hold court. It was impossible to move her off health topics until she had exhausted every possible nook and cranny. These memories were in part awakened because of a recent weekend I spent in rural Yorkshire with some good friends all of whom are now in their 60s and 70s. We all arrived at our host’s lovely

To travel or not to travel that is the question.

 How many of you reading this think about the cutlery you might use when you go out for a meal? The chances are you’ll be much more interested in the menu, the prices, the people you’re eating with and the restaurant’s ambience. A similar situation arises when considering going to the seaside on a gloriously hot summer’s afternoon. If you’re fastidious, you’ll check your car tyres, the oil ,  you’ll fill up the windscreen washer bottle, and you’ll make a list of things to take that will make the trip more enjoyable. I doubt that you’ll  think to  check on the availability of toilet facilities at motorway services on route or at your destination!   For many disabled people, particularly those with severe  or complex  mobility impairments, the exact opposite applies. The availability of appropriate toilet facilities will be uppermost in their minds, and the lack of certainty about whether the necessary facilities are available may be enough to prevent the trip to the restaurant or  t