I think it was the first Christmas that I was in my powered wheelchair that we had fun when we went to the pantomime in Sheffield.
It had become somewhat of a family and friends tradition that a whole pile of us went to the pantomime on Boxing Day. It had started when all the Mums had got together and decided rather than buying each other’s offspring presents at Christmas, it made more sense to all go to the pantomime and spend the money that way. Afterwards we always went to one of our homes for roast pork sandwiches. It always was really good and we young ones and the old ones loved it. Actually I’m not sure who enjoyed going more, us or the wrinklies!
Anyway the first year I was in my big chair Mum and Claire rang up the theatre to let them know that someone would be coming in a wheelchair and would want to sit with his friends, which of course I did!
‘That’s fine’ was the reply
‘ He can park it at the end of the row where all his friends will be sitting’
Brill no problem then.
However when we arrived on the Boxing Day all twenty odd of us, we were told that I couldn’t park my wheelchair at the end of the row, but I would have to sit on my own up at the back of the theatre in the ‘wheelchair designated spaces’
The OSO and Claire said they had rung previously and got it sorted. The bossy manager was however adamant that I couldn’t sit in my chair at the end of my friend’s row she said my chair was
‘A fire hazard’
To which I replied
‘Well it’s never spontaneously combusted before and I should know ‘cause I’m always either sat in it or it’s parked in my room’
The manager was not amused.
In the end to save time and more arguments, Mum lifted me out of my wheelchair and put me in an ordinary seat next to my friends. She was then told to move the chair out of the way. To do this she had to sit in the chair to drive it safely (those of you who know anything about powered wheelchairs know that it’s pretty much impossible to drive one unless you are in it!).
Guess where the theatre manager told Mum to park my chair?
In front of the fire doors effectively blocking any way out for anyone else!
To add insult to injury, when Dad came to lift me out of my seat and put me back in my chair at the end of the show, he did his back in and was in agony for the next month! Hey ho!