The minibus screeched to a halt outside our Eastbourne Hotel. I was shaken but as far as I could tell my wheelchair was still in one piece. The hotel occupied a prime seafront site overlooking the promenade gardens, the beach-huts and a flock of screeching seagulls.
Checking in we were shown our room which had been described as disabled friendly. This basically means that the bedroom part is the size of a broom-cupboard while the en-suite shower room is the size of the banqueting hall at Hogwarts. It has to be said that I didn’t know whether to shower, play water polo or quidditch .
During previous visits to the town I had become accustomed to the well positioned dropped kerbs enabling a reasonably safe transition from pavement to crossing the road. Unfortunately, due to financial cutbacks or global warming such provision is no longer guaranteed to be safe or indeed in place at all. As the pavement or road crumbles the resulting trench can produce a health and safety hazard of alarming proportions.
Crumbling pavements and roads are by no means the only problems I encountered. By far the most exciting challenge was avoiding trees which grew out of the pavement with such vigour that the roots had lifted the paving which now had seriously lifted cracks in it.
Having pressed the button and seen the green man I launched myself off the kerb onto the zebra crossing by an impressive shifting of bodyweight I embarked on this near death experience. Instead of hearing continual bleeping while crossing the road it would be far more fun to listen to the theme tune of ‘High Noon’ and a great deal more apt as one becomes a moving target.
While casually trundling along the promenade I turned around to see that speeding along and threatening to overtake me was an elderly lady on a mobility scooter. Her long white hair trailing behind her this demon of disability must have been doing about 80mph.
As she overtook me her scooter contraption was beyond description. It looked as if she had built it from meccano and balsa wood. It wobbled as it wound its weaving way along the promenade and out of sight.
Another great feature of wheel-chairing is the unbelievable joy of having people walking in front of you or stopping dead ahead and looking at you as if wondering why you were occupying their space. You feel like shouting to them “Go round !” which shouldn’t be necessary but apparently it is. My jet-propelled Tesco trolley does have a pathetic sounding hooter but it comes nowhere near the sound of an industrial strength two tone siren which I would like but have been banned from getting.
Copyright ©IanmAllan 2017