When Theresa gave me a call...
Well, I said back in December that I would probably not be blogging until April when I have handed my dissertation in and I have finished at Uni. But, I have unexpectedly got a bit of a gap in the schedule this evening - I'm waiting for my data to come in for my dissertation, it is too early in modules to do any assessment work & training has been cancelled tonight! So, blogging it is. And, I've got some funny stories to tell!
So, I'll probably start with the 'small' fact that Theresa May phoned the other day (well, someone on her behalf, I think she was busy socialising with Trump!). I won't go into detail about the award as I'd much rather tell you about my hilarious encounters following the award, but Theresa May (yes, Theresa May, i.e. the Prime Minister!) gave me a 'Point Of Light' Award for CP Teens UK! If you google it, you'll find out all about it, and before I move onto all my hilarious incidents surrounding the award, I just want to say a massive thank you to you all as without you, CP Teens UK wouldn't be what it is and I hope all of you feel a part of this award in some way. A special mention to my Mum & Chloe Tear.
I will start from the beginning, where I first found out about the award. So, where was I? I was at the back of a lecture at Uni and I had already had the giggles twice - once was because I leaned sideways to see the board and nearly flopped horizontally onto the floor, never a dull moment when you have balance & coordination issues! My phone buzzed (startle reflex kicked in of course!) and it was my Mum - I thought it was going to either be, a) I had done something wrong(!), or b) she had left a key for me somewhere, which thinking about it would have been pretty pointless as it takes me about 700 attempts to successfully use keys anyway! So, as I read the first line of the text, which read "Hi Ellie. Just to let you know before your email comes up, the Cabinet Office has just been on the phone..."!
Sorry, what is the date, April 1st?! I hit Lorna, my Notetaker/Uni PA, perhaps not as gently as your average person, and she read it too ... we both just burst out laughing! The whole room started looking and the lecturer stopped what she was saying mid sentence, oops! Unfortunately for me, it was a brand new and mixed (students from other courses) module, and I had never met the lecturer before. So it wasn't as if I could have gone "Sorry guys, but I've just won the Prime Minister's Award for CP Teens UK!". For starters, they would have probably all been like "What is CP Teens UK?!". If I had have been in one of my 'own' lectures with one of my lecturers, everyone would have got it straight away. However, it did say it was 'confidential' until the official release, so I suppose I couldn't have said anyway.
The lecturer said, "I don't know what's going on at the back, but I don't find it funny!" - owp! This, of course, just made the noises coming out of me 10 times worse and I actually thought I might have been sent out - I was sat there like, I didn't even ever get sent out at school (I was renowned for my giggling fits at school, I even had my form tutor on the floor in hysterics one day!) I can't get sent out in final year, final semester at Uni, that is just shocking! I somehow managed to whisper to Lorna "Bet she'd find it funny if Theresa phoned her house!", which of course set me off again.
I have now got to know the lecturer and she now knows what all the commotion was about, and she finds it funny! She was like "you should have just said!".
I had a week and one day before the news was 'released to the world', haha. The day it was released was my day off Uni, so all that was on my agenda was a lie in. Well, this was quickly ruined! My phone was going insane - my initial reaction was "Who has died?!". My twitter was going mental and so many people were asking for interviews - I was like, "God, is this how Beyonce feels everyday?!"
My next funny encounter was my interview on BBC Radio Sheffield. To my embarrassment, the whole 2 hour show was 'inspired' by me - as I've said before, the only inspiring things about me are a) the number of Malibu & cokes I can glug in one sitting, and b) the length of time I can lie in bed at the weekend! Just before my main bit came on, they played Bridget Jones's main tune, "I'm Every Woman" - how fitting, they clearly know the only men in my life are Ben & Jerry, that I get myself into highly awkward and amusing situations, and that I entered my first ever music festival by going face first into a pile of mud!
In the interview, without even trying to, I just seemed to give amusing answers. My Mum was sat giggling in the corner of the studio, which I saw as good encouragement - I spent the whole interview glancing at her face just in case she gave me 'the look' as I was convinced I was going to say something ridiculous, which I quite often do!
Some people don't like the questions that Rony (the interviewer) asked, but personally I don't give a dam and I wish people asked them more often as it puts things 'straight' and shows people I am a 'normal' person who actually just wants 'normal' things out of life - whatever 'normal' is.
Rony asked, "So, how does Cerebral Palsy effect you?". I could have spluttered words out like 'asymmetrical', 'athetoid' and 'ataxia', but this would have meant that 90% of listeners would have had no idea what I was going on about! People like simple things that they can relate to, and people like humour. So I said how it really was. I said that I wobble about and I actually just look drunk! Because this is actually how it is, I'm not going to be all politically correct about my own disability - I think I'd go mad! It made Rony howl and someone said on Facebook "bloody brilliant!".
Following this hilarity, Rony asked "So, do you find your disability funny?". Absolutely yes, and those who don't like the question, or my answer, can go away. There has been, and I'm sure there'll be lots more, times that are serious and I've been the last person to crack a laugh, so why not laugh about things wherever possible? I am always taking the mick out of myself, and Cerebral Palsy is always the butt of the joke. Only yesterday my Grandma was talking about her 75th birthday party and how she wants it doing. She has 4 grandchildren - myself, my sister and my 2 cousins. She said to my Mum, "I want the 4 grandchildren to hand out the canapés". My response? "HAHAHA, okay then, the dog will get a good deal out of me!". Life is far too short not to laugh.
Rony also asked if I had a boyfriend. So many people got uptight about this. Why? I'm a Uni student, he'd probably have asked any Uni student who he was interviewing about their life. And, of course, it provided me with the chance to tell the local area that I am single with my response of "Always looking Rony, always looking!", haha!
At the end of the interview, Rony asked "If you could be able-bodied, would you?". Again, lots of people saw this as an 'ableist question'. Er, what? If I was able-bodied, I'd be dying to ask a disabled person this, so don't pretend you're not dying to know the answer! I gave the most to the point answer - "No.". Why would I remove probably the biggest part of me? Cerebral Palsy has shaped my life and sent me down a certain path. I am who I am because of that different path that I've had to take, and what a path it has been so far. I am totally with Sophie Christiansen (Paralympian) on this one - acquiring a brain injury at birth as a result of doctors not knowing their right from their left was seen as a total tragedy at the time, but it is anything but a tragedy today. I am a great believer in the saying that 'everything happens for a reason' - I struggled to find that reason for a period, hence why I set up CP Teens UK towards the end of this period, but I feel as if I now understand that reason. Cerebral Palsy makes things just that little bit harder, but it also makes the feeling of accomplishment that little bit better. I love being 'me' and Cerebral Palsy is a part of 'me' - it doesn't change my personality, but it has shaped me as a person and I am thankful for the lessons it has given me, and continues to give me, along the way.
I have met some truly wonderful people and made some amazing friends through having Cerebral Palsy, and CP Teens UK is a brilliant example of this. My involvement in disability sport has also given me incredible friendships. I would say that now, 95% of my friends have Cerebral Palsy or a similar disability. i wouldn't have had the privilege of being able to call some of the wonderful people I can call my friends if I hadn't have had Cerebral Palsy, and the thought of that actually makes me feel quite sad!