The Way We Roll

One giant leap for disabled people and two steps back.

March 26, 2021 Simon Minty & Phil Friend
The Way We Roll
One giant leap for disabled people and two steps back.
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This month we explore outer space or more specifically the opportunity that some disabled people might get to become an astronaut. Clearly, the European Space Agency see disability as a positive in their quest for new talent. However, when it comes to vaccines and ‘do not resuscitate’ notices and learning disabled people, there’s evidence that they are not a priority or perhaps worse. 

Would you date a physically disabled person? It seems The Disability Unit want to know why. But we can’t work out why they need to know. As Phil and Simon are both physically impaired people, we explore our thoughts when it came to dating.  

However, we start with Simon’s exciting shopping spree in Walthamstow and how a Pound Shop, Aldi and Asda can be heaven.  Geoff Adam-Spinks gives us two cultural recommendations - a book and TV series.   Wrapping up Listeners Corners has Mik Scarlett drop in with his thoughts on the ‘affirmative model' of disability.


Astronaut with a disability

Frances and Jo Whiley 

Guardian changed headline

UK disability questionnaire

Disability Unit

Dating a Disabled person is great 

How to Date When you have a disability

BBC Ouch speak with Lucy Webster, who tried to sign up with the dating agency 

Buzz Aldrin on depression 

Mik Scarlett

Cultural corner recommends No One Is Talking About This – Patricia Lockwood. 



TV show Rake

Guardian review of Rake 2016 (spoilers) 

Announcer  0:00  
Welcome to The Way We Roll with Simon Minty and Phil Friend.

Simon Minty  0:15  
Hello and welcome to The Way We Roll with me Simon Minty

Phil Friend  0:18  
and me, Phil Friend.

Simon Minty  0:20  
It's the one to one show where we chat about various things that have been cropping up recently. I feel this is going to be a mixed show where we're going to talk about progress and going backwards because there's a real mixed bag here. I feel a bit underprepared because I've had surgery recently, a hernia repair.

Phil Friend  0:39  
Very brave.Very brave indeed,

Simon Minty  0:42  
I was quite plucky. 

Phil Friend  0:43  
Very plucky, 

Simon Minty  0:45  
As well as terrified. It's been a week, a couple of friends have had them, they talked me through it. You know, I'm not good with anaesthetic because of my dwarfism. And my absolute fear. I'm glad to be here a week later.

Phil Friend  0:58  
Well, that's a serious point, actually. I mean, for most of us, I think surgery is a bit daunting, but for someone with your situation, and I've known you a long time the anaesthetic side of it, it's not the actual operation itself. Is it really it's the other bits when you had your hip done for example, that was, but yes, you've been a brave soldier. I've been full of admiration for the way you've managed this.

Simon Minty  1:20  
Yeah. It's good also that I've had a jab now. I don't think I had one last time I recorded and that made me go a bit hot and feverish. But I've had a jab. And then I've had the surgery. I feel I'm kind of getting everything ready for when the world starts again.

Phil Friend  1:38  
Yeah, this is we've kicked off with sort of medical bulletins, haven't we really but yeah, I'm gonna rush around. I miss your lunches. When are we doing it?

Simon Minty  1:47  
Well, when we're allowed to you're a little bit too keen, I did have a COVID test my first ever pre-surgery is part of the deal. You have to self isolate for 10 days beforehand. The test everyone told me was horrible, but it was really quick. It was touch your tonsils. Then that swab they put up your nose? the bit that is curious when I because they needed my bottom and apparently not everyone else has had that. (Laughter)

Phil Friend  2:15  
I've never seen that on BBC News. The nose and throat one, but not the botty.

Simon Minty  2:20  
 I just think he's very thorough. How is your health? Because you've had a few 

Phil Friend  2:25  
Oh I'm bimbling along too numerous to match my biggest issues sleeping. I'm not sleeping properly. And I haven't been for a while. So as I shared with you before we came on. But I seem fine during the day. If any listeners out there who is 103 and finding in difficult to sleep. Perhaps we can have a chat.

Simon Minty  2:45  
I will clarify from the conversation. You have difficulty staying asleep. You fall asleep quickly. Yeah, but you keep waking up all the time

Phil Friend  2:53  
My mind is racing. It's full of I don't know what it is. But I think it might be just because I'm getting older. And I know, there are these things about them. What's that book? You mentioned a book about sleep that may be listeners don't know about either? What was it called?

Simon Minty  3:08  
A friend of mine, Ian said, "Why we sleep" and it helps you understand and it finally gives credence to people like me who goes to bed late and get up late. That is how I've always operated. So I've struggled with how the world is and this book sort of says it's okay. That's how you're wired.

Phil Friend  3:28  
Yeah. And well, I'd like perhaps to post the link and I'll have a look at it. update you and I when I've read it,

Simon Minty  3:36  
I'm pushing you here, but you've got a new disability. 

Phil Friend  3:40  
Yeah, I've got a new disability. I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. But before people go, (sharp intake of breath)  like I did when they told me it's low-level stuff, and it's been just being watched. So I'm having a regular blood test to make sure it stays as it is. And there are treatments available if I need them. But at the moment I don't so like many men, I would certainly urge any man to take seriously. I know everyone who's got prostate cancer says this, but it is an important thing. It's a very simple test to do a blood test and just keep an eye on yourself.

Simon Minty  4:18  
I always assume we've all got sort of cancerous cells swirling about it's just when they sort of grab hold or when the immune system doesn't squash them. Is that kind of what's happening.

Phil Friend  4:29  
I think it's something like that. I mean, I think my oncologist, I've now got an oncologist. I always wanted one of those that's I've got Orthopaedic Surgeons coming out my ears, but an oncologist now that's new. But he did say to me, if I went out with a butterfly net and stopped every third man, I'd find cancerous cells in their prostate probably. You know, it's very common, but it's not life-threatening for most and most men don't even know they've got it. So it's It's no big deal. But in my case, the MRI and the biopsy I had showed that this is cancer, but it's not. It's not a whatever level it needs to be worrying really.

Simon Minty  5:12  
Although you are waking up a lot.

Phil Friend  5:15  
Yeah. Where's this leading, you're smiling. And that's always a bad sign!

Simon Minty  5:19  
I only just thought, you know, you must. They can say, Yeah, I totally agree. And I do get this. Look, this is back to one for 1/3 of us. And don't worry about it. But I can also imagine just the phrase, and I've seen your Twitter that's changed to battling cancer. That's your profile. Now. You got your pledge page. (Laughter)

Phil Friend  5:40  
I'll tell you what I am now because of the change in the law recently, as we both know, I am now officially a disabled person without question. The dispute before about whether the wheelchair and all that kind of stuff, but now it's official.

Simon Minty  5:58  
Yeah. Well, no, I yeah, you are because you've got a diagnosis. Yeah, I'm, I'm pleased that it is where it's at. I'm also pleased that you're, what's the word staying on top of it and getting all the right attention. That's the main thing. 

Phil Friend  6:11  
Yeah. Yeah. You know, there are worse things. As he said to me, you know, if you're going to have a cancer, this is not a bad one to have. 

Simon Minty  6:20  
Right. Okay.

Phil Friend  6:21  
And in that sense, and yeah, let's not mock too much. I mean, there are people clearly we know some who've had to deal with this situation and it's horrible. In my case, I've just got to watch what goes on. And as you just said, you know, do what I'm told really.

Simon Minty  6:37  
And one quickie completely changing it, I had to get my car serviced meant I had a couple of hours to kill because they do it while you wait. I was in Walthamstow. I started wandering around and I found this sort of pound store for want of a better word best shop in the world loved it.

Phil Friend  6:56  
Aladdin's Cave!

Simon Minty  6:58  
Cheap tap that I could have bought everything. I loved it all. And now my windows are slightly high. If you're watching the video of this, you can see just where my thumb is, as a window handle. I can reach it but it's always a stretch in this shop. Can you see that little stool?

Phil Friend  7:14  
Ah, a little stool a small little orangey coloured plastic stool?

Simon Minty  7:18  
I call it peach. (Laughter) It's about 10 centimetres, four inches. And I mean, all the colours were hideous. They didn't have anything that was attractive. So I thought if you're going to go bad, you know go full-on. I bought them there's one in my bedroom one here in my living room. Oh man, it's the best thing ever. 

Phil Friend  7:38  
And the cost? 

Simon Minty  7:41  
You know what, I'd paid 50 quid each. I think they were £1.99 it might be more than a quid but I bought so much other tat. I can't actually remember I bought two bags for 16 quid the whole lot. So oh it's fabulous. Short people do not deny

Phil Friend  7:59  
You've got proper footstools that you use in the kitchen you know they get you up to quite a height what are these things for just so it's a step up on something.

Simon Minty  8:09  
That's the point these are very small little tiny little rise you know your regular IKEA footstools that you lots of people have a kick about stool and they've got various heights. Yeah, but this one is just enough because it's it was made the window for window ever got stuck. I didn't have the leverage to pull back. Because I was right at full stretch. Now I've got this extra few inches few centimetres. I can pull it open.

Phil Friend  8:36  
I think it's brilliant. it so it wasn't a proper pound shop. It was just a shop that was selling.

Simon Minty  8:42  
It was just the best shop ever. aisles of stuff. They kept it clear. So if you're a wheelchair user, there's no loads of stuff in the way it had more weird stuff. But cheap!  give

Phil Friend  8:55  
Can you give us an example of what else was in the bags that you came on with the 16 quids worth?

Simon Minty  9:03  
That's a great question. And that is the other problem it's a bit like the IKEA run I can't remember what I bought things that you think would be really useful then you don't actually quite use. What else did I buy? I bought the two stools. The things they had were tray, you know where you put your knives and forks they'd have lots of different

Phil Friend  9:22  
Yeh drawer inserts.

Simon Minty  9:24  
Oh, I bought seven Tupperware plastic containers because I've always had a mishmash, none of them fit. Now I have a really good set and they all fit in with each other. You know my fresh fruit is lasting for days now. And my leftovers are fresh and happy. So I bought a ton of them. I don't know what else I mean. The shop is just a bit strange, but I loved it. And also you don't know what the name of the shop is. And then you look at your credit card bill and it's got some weird name of a shop I think it was Everything for U and that was based in Portsmouth and you're like what is going on? It's like a shell company or something 

Phil Friend  10:09  
Perhaps this is the there's been a lot of talk hasn't they're very topically talking about john lewis and losses and shops shutting and stores closing this place could take over our high street

Simon Minty  10:23  
So okay we're going to is quite a lot now. I left the garage I went into Pret a Manger and they gave me a free coffee based on a short person on a mobility scooter I suspect straight away charity model. And I thought I'll have that and I said actually I want a bag of coffee as well. He said I can't give you that for free. I said I didn't want the coffee for free it was you. You made the rules up. So I had my free coffee. I found the shop after this pound shop that had everything. I went to Lidl because I don't have a Lidl locally.

Phil Friend  10:54  
 You had a really upmarket day. 

Simon Minty  10:56  
Lidl and Asda. Ah, man. The best days shopping I've ever had.

Phil Friend  11:02  
Well, I'm impressed. You must tell me more about the place. I must go and go to visit it.

Announcer  11:07  
This is The Way We Roll hosted by Simon Minty and Phil Friend.

Simon Minty  11:12  
Um, we have some proper subjects. And let's kick off with one that both of us spotted but you had mentioned it specifically This is about being an astronaut.

Phil Friend  11:24  
Yeah. And it started off as a joke really. I saw like I'm sure lots of other people did. The European Space Agency is now looking for disabled astronauts. And they mentioned specifically people with lower limb issues or missing lower limbs, amputations, or small people short people. And of course, I thought of you immediately and then my mind went all over the place as I imagined Simon Minty in a capsule singing sort of Bowie-esque songs and then when I got over that what was a joke? I began to think more seriously about it. And the idea that what would be I do remember Do you remember Stephen Hawking's did two things that I remember being impressed by one was he went weightless in the back of a jet. He was taken up. You know, the astronaut training. Apparently, they take them up in jumbos or whatever it is. And they simulate no gravity.

Simon Minty  12:32  
Just to say Obviously, I'm on the programme. I've done this already. 

Phil Friend  12:34  
But yeah, okay you kept that very quiet. I didn't know. Anyway, Stephen Hawkins was filmed doing that. And I remember thinking to myself, this guy's tetraplegia. He's got you know, he can't move anything. And there he is floating. And I wonder what that must have felt like for him. And then, of course, he featured in the British Telecom adverts, we you know, in his powered chair, going through space with his voice selling communication stuff is a brilliant idea by BT. Anyway, I then began to think quite seriously about what would be the disadvantages or advantages of a disabled astronaut, because obviously a small person, there's not a lot of room in these things. So that would be a massive, massive advantage. (Laughter)  You're laughing, but I'm being serious, you know, you take up less room. So that would help but floating and that kind of thing. I didn't see that as a disadvantage for disabled people in any way, shape, or form. And I wonder why the lower leg amputations seemed to be is that again a space saver? If you'll pardon the pun, I just mean, on the serious side equality recruiting from as diverse a population as possible. They made it absolutely clear. Of course, they did that if you were going to be an astronaut, you had to satisfy all sorts of other criteria, particularly science and stuff like that have had backgrounds in sort of physics or chemistry or whatever. So it's not just "Oh excuse me. I'm small. Can I get on your programme, please?" What was your take on it?

Simon Minty  14:13  
I like the fact that it is all about saving space. saving space in space. I don't think I'd need peach step stools all dotted around 

Phil Friend  14:22  
You wouldn't you'd just float. 

Simon Minty  14:25  
Okay, let's jump back a bit. Why are they doing this? Why is it such as it is a very specific targeted advert mentioning limb, I think they use the word deficiency? And I even use the word restricted growth, which is a kind of real classical term for people like me.

Phil Friend  14:45  
I think what I read into the articles I saw about this, there was an interesting angle where they said that the European taxpayer is paying for this programme. So, therefore, we should you know, give as much opportunity to disabled people like anybody else women, there's only one woman astronauts on this programme. So there, they seem to be concerned about having a more diverse recruitment programme, which is to be admired, I mean to be applauded, but

Simon Minty  15:16  
I mean, the diversity will be limited in that as you say, you're going to have to have quite a few qualifications popping out your ears because you need this knowledge and the skill. 

Phil Friend  15:28  
I haven't seen it posted in jobcentre plus have you? Astronauts required for deep space.

Simon Minty  15:35  
So I tweeted and said I've had I couldn't work out why I've been invited to have my COVID vaccination. But then I saw this job ad and I thought, oh, they're getting me ready. That's what's happening. And so I am a little bit humorous with it, too. But I am flipping it around. And without sounding twee and romantic. If I was a 14-year-old person who had restricted growth, and I loved space. always thought one day, I'd love to be an astronaut, but I've never thought about it never seen anyone couldn't believe it. And suddenly, they're specifically mentioning, they are interested in people like me, does that make me think? Okay, I could do this, and I just need to get the right qualifications. That's remarkable.

Phil Friend  16:20  
Yeah. I mean, I think if you've got the brains, you know, the ability to master the intellectual requirements or academic requirements that will be required of an astronaut, to carry out experiments in space, and so on. And you were that 15 16 17 year old who was doing physics and maths, and thinking about University and stuff. Why, you know, that would be an interesting way of proceeding, wouldn't it?

Simon Minty  16:45  
Do you think there's any advantage besides your space-saving? Onboard? Is there any advantage of the disability bit? So this isn't just proactive? We welcome everyone, there is a specific advantage as well.

Phil Friend  16:57  
You know, I can't think of anything off the top of my head, that would be an advantage other than my flippant comment, which about being small, for example. There would be less you take up less room. And I don't mean that in a jokey way. I just mean, (Giggling and laughter)

Simon Minty  17:19  
When I used to do the training for the social model, and I want to change the world, in my image, I always get aeroplanes, trains, cars, they're all smaller for me because environmentally they sound they now it's, it's happening.

Phil Friend  17:31  
It's for real. But I, I can't think of any other, please help us. If anybody knows come up with some cunning reasons why being disabled in space is an advantage. That's because that's the thing.

Simon Minty  17:45  
Let's use the cliche, which has some truth in it as disabled people who are resourceful find different ways of doing things that we've always had to do. Maybe they're going to make an inaccessible spaceship, and we've got to learn how to remove those barriers while we're up there. I believe Well, I mean, obviously, pain wouldn't be an issue in the sense of mobility pain, because we're just floating all the time. That would be great. I understand. You get a couple of inches taller when you're in space because no longer does gravity. pull you down. As soon as you come back within a week, you've gone back to your regular height. So maybe this is a way of making short people taller.

Phil Friend  18:25  
Yeah. Saves on surgery. Yeah, it could be to try and save money for the NHS, perhaps

Simon Minty  18:31  
You've reminded me I found some old footage from the BBC archive that was tweeted with Buzz Aldrin talking about getting depression I think this is maybe the 80s and I really loved the way he said it because it's the early days of depression over kind of a move from a medical to a reality thing. His language is really smart and the way he says it was I just couldn't get out of bed I lost interest he talks about it so beautifully. And so naturally, I was quite struck

Phil Friend  19:01  
I mean, for those early they were mean pioneers the word, isn't it? What is there to do after you've been in space or been around the moon or been on the moon for example? What what does ordinary life feel like? I've just thought of something by the way, which is that would there have to be adjustments? There wouldn't there that have to be adjustments? Would the act cover because it's a manufactured good? Isn't it a spaceship so I'm just wondering if there are any legal angles that we could use to get the spaceship made accessible so I could go Why just small people? Well, I've got both my legs so I'm excluded minus is outrageous. 

Simon Minty  19:42  
Listen inclusion can only so far, I think you really get made to measure spacesuits, which would be cool. 

Phil Friend  19:49  
That would be very cool. Yeah, I'd like one of those. 

Simon Minty  19:53  
Well done. European Space Agency. We like it. A new subject. Mr Friend, I haven't thought this one through I'm blaming my surgery again. But it's something that struck me, which was how people who are neurodiverse or learning disabled, I don't know the correct term right now have been approached during COVID. And I'll put the big picture up, this might be a 30-second conversation or it could be longer. I remember in the early days, there was a big concern about Do Not Resuscitate notices being put. So they were almost implying that people were certain learning disabilities would be signed up to do not resuscitate if they went into the hospital with COVID. And then we've had this sort of revolution in the last month or two, Jo Wiley, if you're international, she's a UK radio broadcaster, DJ. She's great. She campaigned hugely for her sister who has a quite big learning disability because you say, Look, I'm being offered Jo Wiley, they're not disabled human being was being offered the vaccine ahead of her learning disabled human being sister saying this is madness. She needs it. And I don't and yet, this is the wrong way around. So she did a big campaign and the public are involved the press got involved and she's got it. The Guardian, then did the cockup of all cockups, they put a headline saying, "How do you now feel that learning disabled people are getting in the vaccine ahead of you?" Now, I slightly paraphrase that, but they were taken to task and had to rephrase it. But even then people were thinking, this is a divisive question. This is, and it is, I know, we can get into nationalism and the vaccines and all these horrible things. If I try and bring it back to the learning disability, bit the neurodiverse but I feel we've gone from we don't mind if a few of them die, too all right, we should give them the vaccines now and they should get protection. What's going on, Mr Friend? 

Phil Friend  21:55  
Well, just to add a little I just want to read a little clip

Simon Minty  22:03  
It is missing that I thank you

Phil Friend  22:06  
This is from Public Health England. A study they did in November found that people with learning disabilities were dying at six times the rate of the general population. With those in the 18 to 34 age group 30 times that's three zero times more likely to die with the virus than their counterparts in the wider population. Now that is staggering. And no wonder Jo Wiley was concerned. I've also found that Ian Rankin the famous writer, has a son who's in residential care in Scotland, with a learning disability very severely affected. And he's raised the issue north of the border with the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and they've agreed, a bit like reluctantly, England have to raise you know, bring learning disabled people forward quicker than perhaps they were. And the argument he puts is quite interesting to say how come fit and active, healthy 65-year-olds are being vaccinated before my son who has got all sorts of health conditions as well as a learning disability. What's going on here? So I suppose the question, the other question we're asking is, why does it take someone like Jo Wiley or Ian Rankin, for example, to get anyone to notice the same was true with food bags, and Marcus Rashford, you know, this has been known for blooming ages. And yet, nothing's done about it.

Simon Minty  23:42  
I remember, it wasn't that long ago, where the government had to reinforce their position, which was we are basing this on age because age is the biggest, biggest predeterminant of someone dying from COVID. I think the Jo Wiley one is different. I'm guessing how old Jo Wiley is. I think she's like, late 40s, early 50s. So, you know, she got to her, because that's where we're at now. But she was saying this is madness because there are people much in greater need. And her sister wasn't, you know,  wasn't 12. she's an adult are we saying age is the biggest determinant, but you've just read something to me about six times more likely. So should that have been a priority? Should we get this from all the way around? Is it back to the insidious business of the Do Not Resuscitate that we're like, well, they're not as worthy,

Phil Friend  24:30  
Do we place a lower value on the life of a learning disabled person than we do of an 80-year-old? That's a question. And the government to be fair to any government, would be a nightmare for anybody to try and work out. The fact is that one of the reasons that we went for the 80, 70 and 60-year-olds was because the NHS was completely inundated. It couldn't cope. So one of the arguments was we vaccinate people that are most likely to need hospital care. Now learning disabled people from what I'm understanding are also likely to require hospital care. But there are less of them. than there are 80-year-olds, I don't know your 70-year-olds or 60 years old. But there is an issue here for me. It's insidious. It's about the value we place on human beings and the DNR notices crop up where people are making decisions. We know this from a disability point of view, we have a very, very severe disability, people will be looking at your quality of life and making negative judgments about it.

Simon Minty  25:36  
When we do the big review and the big wash-up of this, that we'll find the problems. We have care homes and people who are older, and it wasn't seen as a priority. It wasn't done properly. I'm generalising because I know we've got to get the evidence, but there's quite a lot of kicking about. I did love the man, the vox pop, who was interviewed and I quote him a lot. And he said, "How do you feel, you know, you haven't had your vaccine yet? And he said "well, someone's got to be last". And there is a truth, you know, we're not everyone at the same time can all have this and there is going to be a pecking order there's going to be a system. What we're alluding to, I think, well, what I'm alluding to by this is, I can get the 80-year-old, and the person with a learning disability and I can see why 80-year-old might. But I do when we get to Jo Wiley being a 50-year-old, as far as we know, genuinely healthy and not predisposed to this her getting above her sister is where that line is that processes, the order has gone wrong. 

Phil Friend  26:38  
There's something else which is that we have in this country, a Minister for Disabled People. And we have what used to be called the Office of Disability Issues now called the Disability Unit, which is responsible for removing barriers in government departments and so on and so forth. Promoting the needs of disabled people, the Minister for Disabled People and the Disability Unit are there to promote the needs of disabled people. I have not seen a single quote from the Minister of disabled people on this issue. Not one doesn't mean that Mr Tomlinson isn't making comments, but I'm not seeing them. I didn't see them in The Guardian article. The Disability Unit is strangely silent. The stats I just readout for from Public Health England. Why wasn't the strategy unit on that like a rash saying what's going on in the health department? Why aren't we doing something about the individual and the unit that I would look to for some kind of response about policy when it comes to vaccination of disabled people? No sign of them totally silent. As far as I can see, for me, the Minister for Disabled People should be raising this issue as part of his role. And Jo Wiley, in a sense, is secondary to him. He should be the person that saying loudly. Disabled people and people with disabilities in general should not be ignored in this crisis.

Simon Minty  28:20  
And this is why I'm very confused because we have the European Space Agency saying give us your disabled people, we're going to send them to space. And then we got Do Not Resuscitate for learning disabled people or they're going to be low down the order in terms of vaccinations. So we're going one step forward, one giant step forward and three steps backwards.

Phil Friend  28:43  
Yeah. And what's worrying is that that staggering statistic that if you've got a learning disability, you're likely 30 times more likely to die of Coronavirus than your peers. That's something to I mean, we jested a bit about the European Space Agency. This isn't a joke what's going on with learning disabled people. And being that many of them are Ian Rankin's point about his son was that many of the residents of the care home where he lives and himself have frequent visitors to hospitals, they have all sorts of other conditions which need treatment and care. And they're more vulnerable because they might catch it from that whole process. So why that you know, care homes, older people in older people's care homes were being vaccinated. Why weren't learning disabled?

Announcer  29:31  
This is The Way We Roll hosted by Simon Minty and Phil Friend.

Simon Minty  29:34  
Can I smoothly move us on to one? You mentioned the Disability Unit and the National Disability Strategy. Yes, it is a new topic, Abby. And there's some concern around the phrasing that was used in the questionnaire

Phil Friend  29:52  
Is that right? Now what Sam is just referring to is the Disability Unit has put out a survey to help develop His new disability strategy. And in it more than 14,000 people who've so far completed the survey, which led to a series of disabled-led letters to ministers, criticising it for being rushed, inaccessible, overlong and poorly planned. But the point was that one of the questions in the survey was about whether or not a disabled you would have a relationship with a disabled person. And the question is being asked, well, what's that got to do with anything? The surveys about transport and employment and all sorts of other things. This is about would you have a relationship with a disabled person,

Simon Minty  30:41  
There was a woman who a youngish woman joined a dating agency, she was a wheelchair user, I believe. And the dating agency wrote back and said, You can join, you can pay. But we have found that not many people will match with you. And we feel you'll be wasting your money with us. We wonder whether you want to hang on until we get a disabled only service. Now, of course, the balloon went up. As described, it is infuriating, is insulting. It's really difficult. They were, weirdly, the agency we're trying to help, but they did it so badly. But I did wonder for the young woman, whether this was I don't know, if you are physically disabled, there's a point in your life. Whether you're 12,14,18, 25, you go, oh, there aren't a lot of fish in the sea. Or it's a bit different for me, people will reject me based on my physical appearance, or whatever it might be. So I didn't know whether there was this mishmash of her being insulted by the agency, turning her down, and then being told for the first time that there will be 80% of people made that up 80% of people that might not data. I've made it into another area of

Phil Friend  32:07  
Yeah, but just to reinforce something you said earlier, it's true that this question was asked of non-disabled people about physically disabled people. So that's, that's true. I just have another look at the article. And it's absolutely right. I still have a bit of a question around why that question is being asked of non-disabled people. And this is about a disability strategy. But anyway, park that for the moment. The uproar has been, what does that question got to do with anything, we're looking at employment, transport, housing, and all the issues that affect ordinary people and affect disabled people. Your point about the relationships and loving somebody who's disabled or not, or having a relationship with somebody who's disabled or not. And the agency issue, which I also remember seeing. It's a very sensitive area, but I remember, as a young, 14-year-old, being terribly worried about whether or not I was attractive, I'm heterosexual so was I attractive to women. I can also remember feeling very scared about the actual physical act of lovemaking. Could I do that, you know, I'm a wheelchair user and stuff. And the only person I might have had a conversation with about that would have been another wheelchair user who had had polio like me because otherwise there'd be no point it is no good asking a non-disabled man, whether I can have physical sex or not. So the relationship questions, the sex questions are really important. I'm not undermining that. But why are you asking non-disabled people that question we already as disabled people we've got enough to worry about.

Simon Minty  33:53  
Scope did that a few years ago and they came up with a stat or 80% wouldn't date someone I kind of want to totally agree is I don't quite get where this fits with the strategy.

Phil Friend  34:03  
I have no idea.

Simon Minty  34:04  
I defended them by saying Well, listen, help us inform what other people think of disabled people, but I don't know whether so is the plan. So say 80% again, say I wouldn't date someone who's physically disabled. Will the government's next strategy be giving you and me and a whole bundle of physically disabled people a makeover to be more attractive to people? Are we going to be on Tinder and get more likes?

Phil Friend  34:30  
For free for free? 

Simon Minty  34:33  
Yeah. Okay, we get a discount. 

Phil Friend  34:34  
Yeah, we get a green card for Tinder.

Simon Minty  34:37  
And for every four matches that they go, they've got to match at least one disabled person, otherwise, they're thrown off. Where is it they going? I totally agree with you.

Phil Friend  34:49  
If it's informing discrimination, if it's informing them about the prejudice, then maybe the law gets strengthened or or education. You know, Tinder must be accessible

Simon Minty  35:04  
But when I went to my last interview, I don't remember the chairman saying just before you go, I quite fancy you. I don't remember getting on a train and the guy we can get your scooter on, but we might have to park it there. How about a quickie (laughter) that isn't relevant to anything else, you had that gorgeous line. I have quoted it a few times, and people get quite upset. But I think there's some truism, you are allowed to discriminate, you're allowed to be the most horrible discriminating person when it comes to the person that you choose to spend the rest of your life with. So you can actually be disabled or ablest you can be racist, you can be whatever. Because that's, there's no law against that. And you may lose a massive opportunity, you've been pretty narrow-minded, you loads of other issues. And anyway, that person you're with could join the disability gang and what you're going to do reject them. Sadly, we know that happens, too. So this is an area where discrimination can happen. And we know it. And then I think I want to be 25 again because I don't think they accept it. I think there's a group of young people go no way. I'm not accepting this as a truth. But if we go back to the specific issue about the Disability News Service about the Disability Unit, we can't work out why this was put in there. And I don't feel that the disability unit has actually come back with a strong enough response. It's almost a kind of curious question. Yeah. Or do something separately do something about relationships and disability if you want to, but why is it here is this

Phil Friend  36:40  
I don't have a problem with a survey that looks at attitudes, you know, towards disability and non-disabled people and stuff like that. But this is sort of parachuted into something somehow that feels anyway, we'd love to hear from the Disability Unit or the Minister for Disabled People. If they're available. We did offer them an invite, but no one was available apparently.

Simon Minty  37:01  
But if they want to crack on with learning disability vaccines first that's okay. 

Announcer  37:07  
This is The Way We Roll hosted by Simon Minty and Phil Friend,

Simon Minty  37:11  
we are very pleased to have our friend and colleague Geoff Adams-Spink, back for Geoff's cultural corner. You remember last month we introduced this, Geoff comes up with a couple of recommendations of things you might want to read, see here, consume in some shape, or form. So welcome, Geoff, what have you got for us this month?

Geoff Adams-Spink  37:32  
I'm still happily sitting in my corner, marginalised and excluded. But I'm fine. Don't worry about me. Yes, a couple of very good recommendations, I have to say, the first of which is an absolute treasure of a find, it's a book called "No One is talking About This". And it's by Patricia Lockwood, who has become something of a Twitter sensation, largely because she has mastered the medium. And her tweets are like exquisite little pearls of, of well-crafted words. When you read her stuff, it puts you in mind of reading Dylan Thomas, or Charles Dickens when you you know, you're in the hands of somebody who is a master or mistress of their craft. And it is just an absolute pleasure and this book that she's written, it's really about the madness of social media, particularly Twitter. It's in the book, it's called the portal but you know, for the portal, read Twitter, and then halfway through reality intervenes, she gets a message from her mum, saying, you know, I know you're on a tour, I think she was in Vienna or whatever she is American, how soon can you get home? And the reason for how soon can you get home is her sister is pregnant. She's got a child with a birth, or a congenital abnormality or anomaly. And it goes into the whole how she feels about that, how her sister feels about that how the state laws in Ohio are around termination of pregnancy, and then in inducing labour, and all of that, and just how she feels about this lovely child who is born. I don't want to spoil the whole thing for people who haven't read it, but it does, you know, it's a heart-wrenching book really

Got a disability twist, which you don't have to have, but I can see something there. What do you think and Phil?

Phil Friend  39:33  
I'm thinking sounds very intriguing. Actually. We'll obviously post the link but unusual, an unusual topic and what I didn't quite understand Geo ff is, are they tweeting this information backwards and forwards?

Geoff Adams-Spink  39:47  
Yes they are 

Phil Friend  39:48  
Oh they are, right.

Simon Minty  39:49  
That's what the bit I didn't understand. Is it about the portal or is it about the baby?

Geoff Adams-Spink  39:53  
It's about both. The book is not divided into chapters. It's divided into sort of like short posts. So you get you got a couple of paragraphs, which could be like a Twitter thread, I guess. And it's got part one, which is mainly about the portal, as they call it. And part two, which is about the portal, and about the baby and how she feels about the baby and how the baby feels about them and, and how they deal with this thing, which is called Proteus syndrome, which I didn't know existed before. But it's a, it causes overgrowth in various types of body tissue. And while the baby is still in the womb, it's becoming too big for the host womb. But there is a law in Ohio that forbids anybody to induce labour at less than 37 weeks. So you've got all of that sort of politics of pro-life, and, and all that swirling around as well. I want to give you just a little taste of the book, if I may, Oh, you want to give read you a couple of lines from it. This is a sort of typical run of the mill thing that way, none of it is run of the mill. But this is typical of the kind of material that's in the first half of the book. Here she says. "Every day, attention must turn like the shine on a school of fish all at once, towards a new person to hate. Sometimes the subject was a war criminal. But other times, it was someone who made a heinous substitution in guacamole". (Laughter)

Simon Minty  41:28  
I'm liking the sound of this. Partly, I suppose really, because the portal, bit there was a book called The Circle by Dave Eggers A few years ago, and this is a future set about how he was assumed Google may become so embedded with the government about all our lives. And then if you work for this organisation, if you go to the shops, or if you make guacamole, or if you go kayaking, you must put it up there to share people because if you don't, that's being very selfish, that you're not sharing good information, and how this becomes insidious, and takes over and so on. But this is got two levels your book. I really like that. That's a great recommendation. Thank you, Geoff. 

Geoff Adams-Spink  42:08  
The audiobook, I have to say isn't read by the author, but it's read extremely professionally by an American actor. And she does it very, very nicely as well. So I'll give you links to the to hardcopy, and to the audiobook. 

Phil Friend  42:22  
Brilliant, what's next? What's your next piece, then, Geoff?

Geoff Adams-Spink  42:27  
The next thing is on Australian legal drama called Rake, which I found on Netflix, it's not that new, I have to say, there are about four seasons of it. And it's about a barrister who's a bit of a loser. But not only is he a loser, he's also incredibly intelligent. He wins most of his cases. And he takes on people to defend who you'd kind of most barristers would think, Oh my goodness, how on earth? Am I going to turn this around and get the guy off? So for example, he defends a consultant paediatrician, who is accused of having sex with a prostitute and his dog. And he, at some point proves that the dog was actually a willing participant and wasn't coerced. There's another episode in which a man is charged with cannibalism. And he said, Well, there's actually no law against cannibalism in this state meaning New South Wales, and I can prove that, that the person who was cooked wasn't murdered by my client, therefore, he's committed no offence, and he got him off as well. And at the same time, you know, his personal life is a mess. He's a bit of a lousy father. He's got he leaves a trail of women behind him, he, he falls in love with a sex worker in a local brothel. He's snorting lines of cocaine all the time and getting drunk and waking up underneath his desk. I mean, it's just, it's good knockabout stuff. I mean, it's also if you'd know anything about Australian politics, you don't have to but if you do know anywho Australian politics, it takes a swipe at some of the big hitters in the on the Australian political scene and sort of pokes fun at the institutions.

Phil Friend  44:15  
You have a sense of what you said was not new? What age are we talking then Geoff, do you know

Geoff Adams-Spink  44:20  
i think that i think the most recent season came out in about 2016 2017.

Simon Minty  44:26  
And it's, it's the flawed genius its the one who can do these amazing cases and you can't believe it with and yet there's a complete mess in the back ground of their lives. And there's that so you get the discrete episode. That is a perfect story in itself, but you've invested in this individual all the way through as well.

Geoff Adams-Spink  44:43  
You absolutely are. And you know, he, you know, you meet his ex-girlfriends and ex-wives and you know, at one point his son comes to him he's 15 and says, look, you know, I fall in love with a girl. We've got nowhere to stay. We've got nowhere to be can we use your flat? And he said, Well, you know, okay, is it a girl in your class? And he said, Yeah, yeah, it turns out that it was his English teacher. So, of course, then he gets in trouble with the ex-wife for allowing this inappropriate relationship to blossom under his own roof and all of that kind of thing. But it is great fun. I would say if you if you're looking for something to lighten the mood a bit, it's it's a great watch. 

Phil Friend  45:24  
Well, Geoff, thank you. That's really good. I'm, I hadn't heard of either of those things. So I'm gonna look into those.

Simon Minty  45:31  
Yeah, we will put links as you said, I want to pursue both of them. Thank you always for your time and your insight and your recommendations. 

Geoff Adams-Spink  45:40  
Bye, guys.

Phil Friend  45:41  
Take it easy, Geoff. See you soon.

Simon Minty  45:43  
We have a slightly different Listeners Corner. We got a voice message. 

Phil Friend  45:49  
We did indeed. And that that's the first for The Way We Roll the very first

Simon Minty  45:56  
We welcome it because it's from a person with a studio. The sound quality is great. Mick Scarlett dropped us a line. A lot of you will know Mick Scarlett he has been a prominent actor and campaigner around disability and presenter a big TV presenter and a musician. Anyway, because we talked about the affirmative model, he very kindly dropped us a line with some of his thoughts and we will let you have a listen to that right now.

Mick Scarlett  46:23  
The thing about the Affirmative Model is its kind of pointless. It's a bit like saying, Look, I've iced this cake differently, that makes it a different cake. You know, the social model is the cake. And the affirmative model is just a different kind of look. But it's the same thing. It comes from the fact I think when we describe the social model, we tend to use physical analogies because we're trying to get the concept across. So Oh, well, the person in a wheelchair comes up to a flight of stairs, they can't get up the stairs. So that's the social model. Because if we put a ramp or a lift in, they would be able to get up the stairs. Do you see what I mean? Oh, it's great. But then people go, Oh, it's all about stairs. No, it's no, it's about the attitude that put the steps in the first place. It's about saying that the way we used to do things is great. And so we'll carry on doing that. And part of that is the concept that being disabled is a tragedy because that's what the medical model says, you know, oh, well, we're waiting to be cured. And it's all a very sad thing. And the only answer is being fixed. Because otherwise, it's all our fault. Because that's part of being disabled. It's just having a bum horrible time. No, again, the social model comes along and says, No, it's not a terrible thing. being disabled, it's a terrible thing being discriminated against, which is what disability actually is. So I don't think you can say, Oh, it's positive, being disabled, there are positives to being a disabled person. But being disabled itself is not a positive thing, because it's basically being treated like less of a person. So yes, I am a very proud disabled person. I'm very happy to be disabled, but I still don't want to be disabled. I want to be me. And I want those barriers to be got rid of including the attitude that my life is less that my life is worthless that trying to solve the solutions that aim to implement the solutions that I need are expensive or difficult or troublesome. So that needs to go. And that's the social model. I don't need another model to tell me that I can be proud of who I am. Thank you. And there you go. That's what I think about the affirmative model. Thank you very much.

Simon Minty  48:37  
Thank you, Mick. It's great to hear your thoughts and as ever, no punches pulled. And I think that's great. And appreciate that. And I know it came from a conversation I saw that you and Sam Renke were having on Twitter. Sam, always happy to hear from you. Doesn't matter if you don't want to either your call. But any Listeners Corner you can send us audio messages. 

Phil Friend  49:01  
Happy to use that. I mean, I did have one response to the last show from Jess Bool. who was over the moon that she got a mention so now she's got another one.

Simon Minty  49:16  
Yes, she did. We are both very fond of Jess.  I'm jumping back. If you do record something, do try and do it in a quiet area because we want to be able to use it.

Phil Friend  49:26  
Yeah, Don't test my audio skills. For goodness sake. They're not very good.

Simon Minty  49:31  
That's quite a light Listeners Corner. And are we done? Is that the show done?

Phil Friend  49:35  
I think we are. I think you've got to go and have a lie-down. Now haven't you after the week you just had me to recuperate Mr Minty.

Simon Minty  49:42  
I'm doing all right. I got a quiet weekend ahead. So that's excellent news. Very Good to see you. Thank you, everyone, for listening.

Phil Friend  49:50  
Yeah, good to see you too. Simon. Uh, keep taking it steady. See you very soon.

Simon Minty  49:55  
Thanks, everybody. Take care. Bye.

Phil Friend  49:57  

Announcer  49:59  
This is The Way We Roll presented by Simon Minty and Phil Friend. You can email us at or just search for Minty and Friend on social media. We're on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

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