STILETTO – a high pointed HEEL on a woman’s shoe or a small dagger.
WHEELS – a medieval instrument of torture or a vehicle for personal mobility.
We had to shoot across to The Purcell Room to hear a series of readings from Ted Hughes work – time was tight. Surprisingly, we got there with twenty minutes to spare and pulled into the slip road at the back of the QEH to park in the disabled spaces. The barrier was down…but there were spaces. We waited. A security guard strolled out and refused us entry. We didn’t argue. We backed up and used the adjacent car park, with lift up to the Hayward Gallery, allowing us to walk across to the Purcell Room. The lift lobby was locked. We pressed the call button. We were told the lift could not be used and to use the lift in the QEH. It was broken down. 'You can use the Hayward Gallery lift.' We said, ‘not in use.’ We, plus lift key holder, walked back across. We waited. Attendants argued. We went up in the Hayward Gallery lift.
Now, we had to run: all our time was gone and we still had to use the stair-lift up to the Purcell Room. We made it…just! The readings were fine. We exited the Purcell Room. OK, how to get back to our car?
We walked across to the Hayward Gallery. Locked. Back to the QEH; we spoke to a gaggle of attendants. 'Use the QEH lift.' Broken down. 'Use the Festival Hall lift.' Broken down. Someone said, in that ‘let’s give the poor thing a treat voice’: ‘There is an open walkway around the gallery, down to the roundabout. It has great views. Wouldn’t that be lovely for you?’
‘Er, no! I have spent enough time freezing my butt off wandering around here tonight. I really do not need to waste any more time. I do not want a scenic route. I just want to get to my car and back to my warm home as quickly as possible. Is there ANY working lift here?!’
They all looked at me, indignant that I had refused their kindness. I glared back – total sense of humour failure apparent! When will people get that going out is a regular activity and not some kind of treat for a wheelchair user? Five minutes later, the Hayward Gallery lift was opened and we went down to our car. Aaaagh!