Park Life.

If anyone ever tries to tell you that immigration is destroying Western civilisation, you might want to show them this blog post. I’m not just saying this because the extra publicity would be nice, although that is true. I’m saying it because I have solid evidence for the contrary.

Jarred and I were having a picnic in the local park, making the most of the rarely-seen sunshine, which was beginning to sink below the rooftops of the inner-city buildings. The warmth remained, however, broken only by the light breeze that fluttered past every few minutes. I was relaxed enough to find the old wooden bench we were perched on comfortable.

Park square

It being such a pleasant evening, the park was full of many people of different races and ages, the majority of which were enjoying a picnic similar to my own. There were even two girls with blonde pigtails and pink dresses running around with a puppy that is a Hollywood cliché for all that is good and innocent, although just the puppy would have been fine by me. There was also an elderly man walking alone, balancing precariously with two walking sticks, who settled himself on the freshly cut grass that was making my hay-fever go haywire.

We ate slowly, partly to relish in the summer sun, but also because we were having to keep the pigeons at bay, who seemed particularly interested in our picnic. Towards the end of our meal, I noticed that the elderly man was struggling to haul himself back to his feet, and I waited expectantly for the English family sat on the bench next to him to help. They continued to watch from the side lines, and just as I was about to nudge Jarred and ask him to go over and help instead, I saw that three teenagers were making their way over to the man, having already spotted his predicament. The two boys took an elbow each and lifted him gently to his feet, while the girl bent down to collect his walking sticks and picnic bag, hooking the bag over one handle so it could be carried with ease. The old man thanked them before hobbling slowly away, and the teenagers returned to their picnic bench, presumably discussing what had just taken place. I didn’t know exactly what they were talking about because I lack the ability to speak multiple languages, while these teenagers appeared to have a strong grasp of both English and their native Eastern European tongue, with only a mild accent distorting their exemplary English skills.

It struck me afterwards that the three teenagers had helped someone belonging to a generation that was stereotypically derogatory to immigrants, and not only had they had the compassion to help someone in need, but they had also put aside those differences to do the right thing. It’s quite possible that those differences didn’t even cross their minds, as they clearly wanted to help.

Immigrants are not bad people. I mean, what will become of those teenagers? Just think of the utter madness caused when they go on to obtain a good education or job, support community initiatives, and forge meaningful relationships with those around them. Immigrants face the same low level discrimination experienced by those with disabilities, whether intended or otherwise, and we both end-up facing similar setbacks on a daily basis. Perhaps that is why there is an unspoken, mutual respect between both groups, as has been my experience.

Pixelated Wheels: Another Short Story.

The hardest thing about being unemployed, other than the crippling financial pressures and the constant need to fend off a myriad of questions from various family members, is trying to find a way to meaningfully occupy time. As such, video games quickly became my preferred form of escapism. In video games I could run and jump as if my legs were perfectly normal, and the only things I had to fend off were whatever enemies were opposing me. I spent so long immersed in these fictional worlds that it almost seemed to be more real to me than reality itself. Then, one day, that was exactly what happened.

I had downloaded a retro game app onto my console, and had been playing on it for a few hours when a notification appeared in the corner of my screen saying that my controller needed to be charged. I moved around the coffee table towards the TV, picked up the charging cable, and leant forward to connect the wire to the console. As it slid into the port there was a spark, quickly followed by a blue flash of light, and then darkness.

Slowly my eyes became accustomed to the lack of light, and I looked around. On either side of me were two tall walls coloured dark blue, seemingly made in solid panels, not bricks or wood. I could see a break in the wall a few metres ahead of me on the left, and another on the right, and the passage I was in seemed to turn a corner after this junction. The floor was lined with small, white dots in single-file, like the reflective cats-eyes they use on roads.

Before I could take in any more of my surroundings, electronic sounding music filled the air. I recognised it instantly as the iconic Pac-man music, and now I realised that my setting was highly reminiscent of the Pac-man maze itself, but I continued to believe this was impossible until a giant, red ghost appeared around the corner ahead of me.

I turned my wheelchair on the spot, my feet scraping along the walls of the narrow corridor, and made sure that my wheelchair was set to the top speed. As I moved along the passage the white dots disappeared, as if consumed by Pac-man himself, accompanied by the traditional sound. Turning at right angles was difficult in the wheelchair, but I managed to stay just ahead of the red ghost. I had lost count of the number of corners I had fought my way around in an effort to escape my pursuer when a large, brightly shining dot appeared in front of me. I hurried towards it with renewed enthusiasm, followed closely by the red ghost. To my horror, the blue ghost appeared ahead of me at the other end of the passage, and started moving towards me. There were no breaks in the wall by which I could escape. Whichever way I turned I would encounter a ghost. My only hope was to reach the giant white spot before either ghost reached me. Wishing that my wheelchair would carry me faster, I glided towards the blue ghost.

The blue ghost was so close that I was sure I could not reach the special dot in time, and I closed my eyes in fear. The music changed. I opened my eyes. Ahead of me a dark blue ghost was moving away from me as fast as it could, and I set off in pursuit. Within a few seconds I had reached him, and one touch of my finger burst him like bubble. I turned around and did the same to the ghost behind me, presumably what had been the red one. Then the music returned to normal, and this time I was being chased by both the pink and orange ghosts.

I steered down passages still lined with dots, weaving in and out of each passageway in a desperate attempt to collect all the dots. Once again I reached a large, white dot, but this time I did not manage to catch any of the ghosts. I continued on my task, and soon I had found all four large dots, and was left to collect the remaining few small ones. With three ghosts hot on my tail I made it to the final dot, and everything went black.

I was hopeful that this would be enough to take me away from whatever had happened when I plugged in my controller, and back to the comfort of my home, but I was out of luck. I appeared in the same place where I had arrived, the map filled with dots as before. I was trapped.

I was so preoccupied with my pessimistic thoughts that I wasn’t aware of the approaching ghost. It was only as his pink glow illuminated my surroundings that I looked up. I tried to turn away but was stopped by a deep voice.

“Hello,” it said.

I looked around but could not see where the voice was coming from. It took me a moment to realise that the pink ghost had stopped in its tracks and was looking at me.

“Hello?” I uttered back.

“Don’t run away,” the ghost said.

“I’ve not done any running away in a long while, mate,” the ironic sentiment came out of my mouth automatically. The ghosts’ expression was extremely difficult to read, but it seemed to be upset by my sarcasm.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude,” I added.

“We just want to be your friend,” the pink ghost blurted out, “Pac-man always runs away too, and sometimes he eats us, but we just want to be friends.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” I uttered nervously as the other three ghosts came to join their companion.

“Why are you scared of us?” the blue one added.

“Well, I play a game where the instant you touch me, I die,” I replied.

“Is that why Pac-man is scared of us too?”

“Yes,” I answered.

“But we don’t want to kill you,” the orange ghost chipped in.

“I understand that now,” I replied.

“Why do you have wheels?” the red one blurted out.

“You can’t just ask that, Blinky!” the pink one retorted.

“No, no, it’s OK. I can’t walk so this wheelchair carries me around,” I tried to reassure them that I didn’t mind at all; I was as curious about them as they were about me. Without thinking it through, I reached out to give them a handshake and introduce myself, but the second I touched the pink ghost everything started to fade.

“Oh no, our new friend!” one of the ghosts shouted. It was the last thing I heard before being smothered by darkness once again.

I was no longer in the Pac-man maze. I was beneath a lime green arch, and ahead of me I could see some kind of gun moving back and forth in a line, firing white bullets into the black sky. I could hear music, electronic like in Pac-man, gradually getting faster. It was instantly recognisable; I was in Space Invaders.

Cautiously I moved out from beneath the shield and looked up, expecting to see the classic grid of pixelated aliens waddling across the sky. However, what I saw bore almost no resemblance to the aliens I was familiar with, and it took me longer than I would care to admit to realise that the white lines, lengthening and shortening in time with the music, were how the aliens looked from beneath.

As I gazed upwards a horrifying realisation crossed my mind. Being directly underneath the aliens meant I was in the perfect position to have a bomb dropped on my head. Upon realising this fact I immediately moved back underneath the shield, only to see the gun on the ground moving towards me at a fast pace. There was no way for it to get past me, and it barrelled into me, pushing me out into the open while it sheltered in relative safety. Almost immediately I heard a faint whistle crescendo into a scream, and I felt a wave of electrical static wash over me. Instinctively I raised my arms to protect my head, and screwed my eyes shut tightly. I couldn’t hear a sound.

I looked up as a warm light illuminated my new surroundings. I was in a large room with metal gangways spread across it all the way up to the ceiling. A bank of computers was tucked into one corner, but like everything else in the room they appeared to be damaged. There were shards of broken metal littering the floor, and everything was covered in a strange, orange dust.

In the far corner of the room was a glowing, red orb, balanced on a strange, lumpy mass. I started to make my way towards it, and heard something crunch beneath my wheels. I looked down to see a decaying, dismembered hand, with scaly skin clung to the brittle bones. It took a momentous effort not to vomit at the horrifying sight. This was no retro game; the graphics were too good.

Suddenly I heard an angry roar from behind the glowing orb, and the ground shook beneath me. A huge creature lumbered into my line of sight, at least 10 feet tall, it’s thick skin barely able to contain the bulging muscles beneath. It moved towards me with surprising speed for something so large, but I could see nowhere to hide.

I heard movement behind me before a stream of purple bubbles of energy rushed over my head, and within seconds the giant monster was dead. I turned around, and from the shadows someone in a battered, armoured spacesuit emerged.

The Monster Dies from Pixelated Wheels..jpg

“Jesus, I didn’t think there was anyone else down here. What the hell were you doing facing off with that monster without even a chainsaw?” a voice came from inside the suit.

“Are we on Mars? Sourcing renewable energy? Like in Doom?” I asked.

“We’re on Saturn, and this is a research plant into the afterlife, not energy. More like a nature reserve gone wrong,” the voice replied. I was too scared to smile.

“Listen, I’ll get you up to see Professor Hollister and he can sort you out, but we ain’t going nowhere until I’ve dealt with that nest,” a gun was waved in the direction of the orb, “because this area is on lockdown until I’ve done just that.”

The person inside the suit seemed to be looking around the room.

“I’m not gonna be able to get you to high ground; I’m strong but I ain’t lifting that wheelchair anytime soon. Right, shelter under those steps. I’ll build a barricade around you, and take this.”

A bulky machine gun and boxes of ammunition were placed on my knees.

“Anything gets too close, shoot it. I’ll hear and get to you as fast as I can. Anything big gets close, there’s the mini-rockets. Got it?”

I nodded mutely, and backed into the corner beneath the stairs while a barricade was built around me. After a few minutes my new companion disappeared, and I heard a loud screeching noise as the nest was destroyed. Almost immediately the room was filled with demons of all shapes and sizes. Some were not much bigger than the average human, and some dwarfed the first monster. They all seemed far more interested in my companion, and I could hear bullets flying around the room as demons fell. On the odd occasion I caught sight of my new friend, who seemed well practiced at handling guns, and was an excellent fighter.

I was so distracted with watching the fight that I hadn’t noticed one of the smaller demons running straight towards me, ugly teeth bared in a hideous grin. Reflexively I squeezed the trigger and the gun jumped around in my hands, so much so that it was impossible for me to maintain my grip on it, and to my horror it fell to the floor beside me. I ducked down, desperate to reach the gun, but as usual the side panels of my wheelchair prevented me from bending down far enough to reach the ground. I could brush the gun with my fingertips, but no more. My legs were tucked behind the barricade so tightly that I couldn’t even kick the gun around to where I could reach it.

There was a loud bang as a shotgun was fired, and I was splattered with the blood of the demon who had tried to attack me. The room had gone quiet.

“Done,” my companion said as if the task were a minor inconvenience. The barricade was moved, and I was given a pistol in place of the machine gun, “This way.”

We headed down metal passageways littered with bodies and broken weapons, the artificial atmosphere howling down the damaged air vents. We moved as quickly and as quietly as we could, although the electric whine of my wheelchair seemed to echo around the corridors at an unbearable volume. Finally, we reached a lift.

“Glad this place is accessible,” I said, awkwardly trying to make polite conversation.

“Considering some crazy scientist woman let a load of those demons escape and run riot around here, I suppose so,” came the reply. We remained in silence until reaching our destination; the office of Professor Hollister.

The professor was tall and gangly, with wire framed glasses perched on a thin nose, and what little hair he had left was plastered to his skull. Both of his arms appeared to have been amputated from the elbow down, but the false arms seemed to move just like normal hands, leaving him able to do things normally.

He seemed surprised to see my friend at his office, and even more so to have a companion in addition, as far as I could tell from his expressionless face. He ushered us towards his desk, closing the door firmly behind him. My companion pulled the chair in front of his desk to one side and sat down, allowing me to pull up next to them. They put down their weapons, reached up, and removed their helmet.

Brunette curls tumbled around a pale, thin face, with eyes so dark they appeared to be almost black. The surprise at seeing a woman within the suit must have shown on my face, because she tutted, and rolled her eyes.

“Now, I believe you owe me an explanation,” Professor Hollister sat down, robotic fingers clasped before him on the desk.

I took my time to explain what had happened in great deal, and I wasn’t interrupted once. When I had finished, Professor Hollister sat back in thought.

“So, are you suggesting that we are a video game like the others you mentioned?”

“I, well, I thought perhaps that this resembled a game I have on my console called Doom, but the details are all different. So, I guess I don’t really know,” I had to restrain myself from adding sir.

“Hmm, how interesting. This isn’t a recognisable game, but we are certainly not from the same world.”

“Not really,” I responded.

“Now, getting hit by this pink ghost, or an alien “bomb” caused you to transition between games?”

“Yes,” I nodded.

“If gently touching the ghost only took you to another retro game, but getting hit by the aliens caused you to transition to an entirely different genre, maybe the harder you are hit, the further you travel.”

“I suppose that would be logical,” I did not like the sound of where this was going.

“So maybe if you were hit really, really hard, you’d return to your home,” Professor Hollister seemed very pleased with himself for suggesting this solution.

“Maybe,” I said.

The professor stood up suddenly, and opened a cupboard behind his desk. Inside was a huge chunk of gleaming metal, with pipes and wires twisting around each other in intricate patterns.

“You’re going to shoot her with the Humongo Gun?” the woman in the suit said in disbelief.

“No,” the professor said, “You’re going to do it.” He held out the gun towards her. Slowly, with obvious reluctance, she took the weapon from him.

“What if it doesn’t work?” she asked.

“Then she’ll be stuck with us in this demon compound for the rest of her life. Even being dead is better than that,” Professor Hollister almost seemed to have no concept of the finality of death, “It’s the only chance she has.”

The woman walked behind the desk and levelled the gun at me. I could see down the barrel of the gun into a seemingly endless abyss.

“I truly hope this works,” she said. Before I had a chance to respond, or even to think about what was happening, the trigger was pulled. A bolt of bright, white energy flew towards me at an enormous speed, hurling itself into my chest with the force of a tsunami, overturning my wheelchair. When the residual image of the bright light had cleared from my eyes, I realised that I was lying on my back in front of the TV, with my controller on the floor next to me. There were no dark blue corridors, lime green arches, or strange glowing orbs. I was home.

I sat up slowly, and with great effort I righted my wheelchair. Once I had hauled myself back into it I grabbed my phone from the table to check my notifications. I noticed something about video games on my news feed, and with curiosity I clicked it.

“Retro games app recalled due to copyright issues over content; blocked on all major consoles,” screamed the headline. I couldn’t help thinking that there were more important issues that the app should be recalled for, but I doubted I would be believed. I decided it didn’t matter; I was home, and the app wasn’t in use any more.

That was when I heard a noise from my kitchen. I glided down the corridor and poked my head around the door frame, only to find a demon trying to climb into the snacks cupboard.

Worlds Apart: A Collaboration Between Aidan Bizony (The Disability Diaries) and Emma Steer (Diary of a Disabled Person).

There are a great many cultural divides between the UK and South Africa, and unsurprisingly this extends to disability. With two radically different systems of health care and financial support for the disabled, the lives of wheelchair users in either country greatly differs, as do the social perceptions and stigmas surrounding disability.

UK (Emma Steer, Diary of a Disabled Person).

One of the defining features of British culture, aside from an addiction to Gregg’s bakeries and a general disinterest in the royal family, is the National Health Service (NHS). The NHS allows UK citizens to receive medical aid whenever they need at no cost bar a portion of the tax they pay to the government. Of course, the average citizen has to pay for prescriptions, opticians, dentists, and doctors letters, costs which add up to a surprising total, but this system ensures that medicine usually reaches those who are ill regardless of what is in their bank account.

The NHS is under ever-increasing pressure to diagnose and treat more patients in a shorter time span, with less money and resources to support them, and it’s prominence as a topic on the news is growing every day. The fears that the NHS will either crumble under its own weight, or that it will financially ruin the government have lead the public to bemoan anyone who is deemed a strain upon the NHS, and on more than one occasion, I have been deemed one of those strains.

In addition to the cost of my medical care is the financial support from the government to cover the costs of using a wheelchair, as obtaining a suitable wheelchair on the NHS is a bit like trying to herd fifty cats into a bath at once. Since many assume that I am unemployed the moment they set eyes on me, or rather, my wheelchair, it is assumed that the cost of unemployment support can be added to that total. Even for those who cannot work, the stigma should not be bemoaning the cost of their financial support, but bemoaning the lack of suitable work for the disabled.

All-in-all, the bombardment of news articles depicting disability as a strain on the economy, rightfully or not, has led to a whole new set of stigmas about disability. Instead of being pitiful and patronised for our incapacities, we are despised for the effects of those incapacities. It has even been said by a prominent politician that disabled employees are problematic due to reduced productivity and increased costs of adapting the workspace to suit them, but of course he deems disability to be an inadequate excuse for unemployment, and condemns those that are forced to live that way.

The disabled are simply reduced to a number; the financial cost they inflict upon society.

South Africa (Aidan Bizony, The Disability Diaries).

While I can understand people’s frustration with the NHS because, yes, it has its flaws and we must be aware of those, I still marvel at the concept. Leave aside, for a moment, all the negatives that the NHS presents and look at the concept behind the structure: an attempt by the government to give its citizens a good, if somewhat tedious, medical scheme. South Africa doesn’t have the NHS.

Rather than having a government system that provides good, safe healthcare, South Africa’s public healthcare leaves a lot (I really mean “a lot”) to be desired. To expect South Africa, given her history, to have a medical system on par with the NHS – even in its current incarnation – is perhaps a little naïve and overly-critical but I do feel that we could be closer to the ideal of reliable, sustainable, safe healthcare than we are at present.

I know that the South African system is not necessarily the world’s worst healthcare system but, still, it leaves a lot to be desired. As bad as the public system is, I have to admit that the private system (if you can afford the high fees) is good. Luckily, we’re in a financial position to afford private medical care. As fortunate as it is that we can afford good, reliable medical care in South Africa is, it distresses me immensely to see that our premiums continue to increase with practically no rise in the benefits we receive. When you consider that inflation is a real thing, the fact that the benefits don’t grow in proportion to the premiums is all the more disturbing.

To be honest, the medical aid scheme in this country is increasingly becoming a ‘damned if you do; damned if you don’t’ thing.  But, yes, it costs a lot and it does continues to get worse but at least you get the payments you need, right? Nope. The plan that I’m on (which is one of the highest with the country’s ‘best’ medical aid) has had payments declined that I am legally entitled to. For instance: my plan allows for a certain amount to be made available to me each year for “external medical benefits” (e.g. wheelchairs) but I had an experience relatively recently whereby a chair I bought, which was within budget got declined because we didn’t file the correct paperwork. Since the reason the incorrect paperwork got filed was because Discovery, the Medical Aid Scheme, provided us with the wrong forms. To cut a long story short, we were on the verge of taking them to court when a letter from our lawyer to the CEO’s personal assistant lead to the payment we were entitled to six months earlier. The trouble aside, we at least got the wheelchair we ordered. That is until three years later when we had to repeat the process.

As bad as the NHS has gotten when compared to what it used to be; it’s still far better than the public system we have in South Africa. Hell, when I was in England in mid-2015 my parents and I decided to visit a local, NHS hospital in London and were surprised with what we saw. In retrospect, given the exposure we had of the public healthcare system, it is hardly surprising that we were shocked. We discovered that the NHS, public hospitals in England are better than the very expensive private hospitals that an elite of South African society can afford. Needless to say, the benefits of the NHS is a not-insignificant motivation to make the move to England as quickly as we can.

Stephen Hawking: A Brief Moment in Time.

In 1963, doctors gave Stephen Hawking two years to live. Little did they know that he would defy all odds, surviving for fifty-five years instead. Most people would have been content to be the medical miracle that proved the doctors wrong, but Stephen Hawking was not most people. He decided to use his time, however long or short, wisely.

Professor Hawking was a brilliant scientist, building on the work of Albert Einstein to send cosmological research in entirely new directions. He re-shaped the way we think about our very own universe, an exceptional feat. Alongside this, he also helped to make the incredibly complex research accessible to the general public by making public appearances to give lectures, help produce documentaries, and wrote the book “A Brief History of Time” which does an excellent job of laying out what his research was about, and what it means. Later in his career he also co-authored a series of children’s books where all the events in the stories were theoretically possible, helping to spark interest in the minds of the next generation of scientists. While not a physicist myself, I still feel that his contributions to the scientific community are immense and unforgettable.

For any human to achieve academically what Professor Hawking did would be worth celebration, but to do this in the face of an incurable and devastating illness that gradually stripped away his ability to communicate his ideas to others is equally as mind-blowing as any of his research. In doing so, he helped prove to the entirety of Western civilisation that disability does not mean that someone is unable to make valuable contributions to society. He helped to normalise disability in the eyes of the public, and to raise awareness for the equal treatment of the disabled. By making frequent cameo appearances in TV shows and adverts, often blatantly making fun of his own predicament, he made the rest of the world comfortable with the notion of disability. He humanised us all.

Usually the death of a celebrity might warrant a tweet or a short Facebook post, but Stephen Hawking deserves a whole lot more. As both a scientist and someone disabled, I want to recognise him as nothing short of an icon who changed the world. May he rest in peace.

Professor Hawking

Things Just Got Complicated.

Relationships are complicated. Relationships while one or both partners are chronically ill or disabled results in an explosion of chaos that equals filling a volcano with Coca-Cola and Mentos mints, and then making it angry by filming it with a phone rather than living (and probably dying) in the moment.

Finding wheelchair-friendly date venues is like looking for a needle in the worlds’ largest haystack while blindfolded, and only being allowed to search with your nose and mouth. Lots of places have steps in the door, and the members of staff at such establishments don’t seem to grasp the concept that no, I can’t take a bleeding run up. Sometimes, the rarest of all luxuries will be provided in a ramp, or even more special, a level entrance. Even then, the accessible entrance may require unlocking by a member of staff who is distinctly inside the building, and once inside, the tables may be so tightly packed together it’s impossible to get around. I have even known cases where the tables are very tall, and I need a periscope to see my drink. Best of all, the inaccessibility is usually put down to “well, no one in a wheelchair ever comes in here”, having failed to understand that we can’t get in. So, the same few cafes, bars, shops, and the cinema become second, third, fourth, and fifth homes, and I have loyalty cards for every single one. It’s got so bad, that the café usually has my order ready for me by the time I get to the counter, and they are on first name terms with me.

Once we’ve embarked on a date, the second complication rears it’s rather ugly head. No one thinks it’s a date, probably because going on a date is so complicated in the first place. Jarred is mistaken for my carer so frequently I’m considering buying a bell to summon him when I need his assistance. When he puts his arm around my shoulders, or pecks me on the cheek, the looks of shock and disapproval he receives is something quite extraordinary. They seem to think that he is taking advantage of an innocent disabled girl to get laid, and that I couldn’t possibly figure this out and defend myself if this was the case. It’s not possible for someone disabled to be in a relationship of their own accord is it? Spoiler alert – it is.

Eventually, the relationship progresses to the stage where the two families wish to inspect your partner and their family. Since trains don’t appear to know how wheelchair physics works, travelling any sort of distance is difficult, and sometimes the cost of travel or their work and family commitments prevents other family members from travelling up to see us. While to some couples, this would be music to their ears because Mother-in-law being an anagram of Woman Hitler wouldn’t be so funny without the Mother-in-law clichés, most members of each respective family are actually nice people. Quite a few of Jarreds’ family have managed to travel up to the north of England to see us, and we’ve managed to travel to London for a central meeting point on other occasions. Unfortunately, moving closer to them would distance ourselves from my family, and the problem would simply affect different people.

After a while, Jarred and I moved in together. The challenge here started when none of the letting agents that weren’t exclusively for student accommodation were accessible, so Jarred ended up doing the leg work there. Then we had to find an accessible home near the city centre within our budget, which was about as likely as an Oompa Loompa being elected for the US presidency. Oh… We found an apartment that was so central to the city that it confused Google Earth, and I could access it by entering the garage and going to the rear of the building. It came within mere pounds of our calculated budget, so I put the deposit down on the flat quicker than Usain Bolt after drinking 10 cans of Red Bull before anyone else tried to steal it, and it is now fully christened with tyre tracks on the floor.

Now I just have to organise an accessible wedding…

Donations.

Due to some technical issues the donations tab that I set up a few weeks ago has not been working. The issue is now resolved (and has been tested by my wonderful fiance).

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