Disabled or just differently abled?

Apologies for the long gap between this and my last post, life suddenly took over!  A bit out of date but I think still relevant.  An article I wrote for newspaper on whether the Paralympics will have any lasting impact on people’s perception of the disabled.  As always, feel free to comment!


“I do not deny that Paralympians have shown us all what can be achievable in the face of extreme adversity.

I do not deny that they have the potential to become heroes and an inspiration to us all.  But as the glamour of the games quickly fades away, the long entrenched prejudices and perceptions of the disabled remain.  This cannot be altered in just eleven days – fact.

One could argue perhaps callously that by holding the games at all only serves to widen the gap between the abled and the disabled.  Why?  We do not see the accomplishments of these Paralympians in terms of just achievement.  A fact of course which does not hold true for the Olympic games.  We see these athletes as amazing because of their disability – ‘oh look what he did even though he’s in a wheelchair’.  In my mind this does not alter perceptions, it merely reinforces the idea that these athletes are disabled. In order to make true leaps towards altering perceptions we must see people in terms of ability not disability.  The Paralympics while of course emphasising achievement in the face of adversity inadvertently emphasises achievement because of adversity.

An unfortunate irony of the London 2012 Paralympics is that London itself is not truly accessible to the disabled.  Try being a wheelchair user and attempting to use the tube for example.  This of course is one of many more pressing concerns for disabled people.  To broadcast eleven days of Paralympic sporting achievement, whilst I hope proves to be an inspiration to many, puts the interest of an elite minority above the concerns of the majority.  11 days of sporting achievement does not change the reality for many disabled people.  The Paralympics does not articulate the emotional effects of disability in its more negative forms, nor does it articulate the real concerns of many disabled people facing day to day tasks.

Disabled people are facing the terrifying prospect of 20% government cuts, should the coalition push ahead with plans to abolish the Independent Living Fund in 2015.  With this in mind I find it hard to believe becoming a Paralympian is top of the agenda for many. And in that respect, no the Paralympics will not, in my opinion having any lasting impact on people’s perception and approach to the disabled.”

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Making Life an Adventure …

Just a short post today about what inspires me.

What does inspiration mean?  According to the dictionary, inspiration is somewhat philosophical calling on areas of theology and grand ideas.

Dictionary Definition

Now I don’t agree with the complexity of that definition it fails to really get the message across.  Inspiration comes in many forms, it doesn’t have to be something grand, it can simply be the sun inspiring you to go outside or at the other end of the scale, a great politician inspiring you to want to change the world.  Regardless of what it is that inspires you, I think inspiration is what makes the world go round.  Without inspiration we wouldn’t want to get up in the morning, nothing would happen and nothing would change.  Today my inspiration was simply the example above – the sun.  Its just something simple but why let its simplicity get in the way of its being inspiring?





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Olympics vs Paralympics

Last week I was lucky enough to head over to the Olympic Park.  It was an amazing day and an amazing experience.  I have to say it really refuelled my excitement for London 2012 – Patriotism took hold once again with ferocious cheering for team GB.

Photosynth pan of basketball arena

Olympic Park

Trafalgar Square

The park is incredible and six times the size I had assumed it to be.  I have to admit it was quite the walk between venues.  I saw goal ball in the copper box followed by wheelchair basketball at the (what looks to be inflatable) basketball arena.  Both sports I found to be an inspiration – the basketball, well quite frankly it was terrifying!

Later on in the day having headed Trafalgar square-ward I sat watching the big screen (although it’s supposed to be summer, I would advise a thick coat at the very least).  An explanation of how different disabilities are ‘graded’ in events hit the screen, showing how events are grouped and how according to disability, more points or time concessions are awarded.  So forgive me, if the Paralympics is graded according to ability why then doesn’t everyone compete in the same games?

Ellie Simmonds wins Gold

Of course there is the argument that the media would automatically gravitate towards the likes of Usain Bolt and Jessica Ennis leaving those less able-bodied in the lurch.  Yet may I point out that in Beijing, team GB came second in the Paralympics yet 4th in the Olympics.  Is it then not true to say that these Paralympians would so too act as media magnets just as any able bodied Olympian?  The likes of Ellie Simmonds and David Weir spring to mind …

If this ‘grading’ system separates Paralympic athletes then why not have a 4 week games that includes people of all ability levels?  Why is the separation from ‘mainstream’ athletes necessary? Everyone would then contribute to the same medal table, competing for the same team.

At the end of the day I’m cheering for team GB – why that has to be team GB in two separate tournaments I am bemused by.  Olympian or Paralympian – they are both an inspiration, and both could thrash me!

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Exploits of a Less Than Adequate Chef …

Cooking is (usually) my worst nightmare!  I am certainly no Nigella! The fact that I can never find the utensils I’m looking for, the fact that measuring amounts takes precious time, the fact that I have no idea what the difference is between Chinese five spice and a cardamom pod; these are all reasons why usually, the very thought of cooking simply angers me.

Fine spices? As it stands I ca’t taste the difference!

However in the last six months or so I have found myself leaning more towards cooking and the creating of culinary masterpieces (well in my eyes at least).   This has come about for two reasons: Firstly cold baked beans out of can for three dinners on the trot became too much for me to bare.  Secondly after a hypochondriac moment and insisting the doctor check me for every illness under the sun (with all of these tests coming back clear) I decided that health is important – so don’t take it for granted.  Part of that for me is ‘being bothered’ to cook dinner and a healthy-ish dinner at that.

However of course being on a student budget I can’t pick a recipe book, close my eyes, open it on a page and simply have all the ingredients.  I haven’t got forty varieties of spice, and I certainly do not have the patience to marinate chicken for 48 hours – that would require planning! Having come to the conclusion that recipe books are not for me (too many ingredients and far too time consuming) I have come up with a few ‘recipes’ myself that are cheap and if I do say it myself quite tasty.

One of my surprising favourites is a lentil dahl.  Now I’m not vegetarian but I have found vegetarian meals on the whole to be so much CHEAPER!  Take chicken breasts for example – 4 for £4-ish: On the face of it not too expensive, but when my food budget stretches to no more than £10 per week you can see why meat is not number one on my shopping list.  Lentils on the other hand less than a pound for a whole bag – bargain!  But I will admit that bag of lentils, the one mother suggested were a staple for my food cupboard upon arrival at university nearly two years ago, have only been cracked into in the last few months or so.  Before my changed cooking habits I looked at them in the cupboard, thought to myself ‘dear god what the hell are you supposed to do with those?’ and swiftly closed the door on them.

And I have to admit even when cooking them for the first time I still was not convinced!  But if like me you haven’t thus far been a lentil fan, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

But enough rambling, onto how to cook that lentil sensation!

Lentil Dahl, cheap, easy and tasty!


  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • Some lentils (A few large handfuls should do it)
  • Chilli powder (I would say a spoonful – but do it to your own taste – you’ll soon know if you’ve over estimated)
  • Turmeric
  • Maybe if you’re feeling it a touch of salt and pepper


  1. Start cooking the lentils – boil for about 20 minutes or so
  2. While those lentils are boiling away fry the onions and tomato with the turmeric and chilli powder.
  3.  When those lentils are cooked drain them and then stir in the onion and tomato mix.

And basically that’s it I usually serve with spinach cooked or not and even I’m feeling swish, one of lidl’s finest nann bread.  And I have to say it is nice, cheap and simple – only takes about 20 minutes to cook (speed is of the essence for me) and of course it is actually quite healthy.  If only chocolate were so beneficial to one’s health!

But of course if I’m learning to cook dinner I have to learn the art of cake making!  And I think I’ve managed that, this is one I made earlier (well a few months ago, but it’s the best I’ve achieved so far) …

I have to say I’m proud of these!

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La Fleur Rose Vif!

Just a short post today and first I will explain the title.  We have had a rare glimpse of British summer time today, which I have to say I have greatly enjoyed. It has been increased only by the fact I have moved to a holiday destination (well close enough) – sunny Bournemouth!  It feels somewhat like holidaying in France, the odd french road sign keeps popping up, directing tourists away from the channel ferry ports.  For this reason I’ve found myself ‘frenching it up’ for a large proportion of the day, in my mind I am a Parisienne!  In any event ‘La Fleur Rose Vif’ sounds a lot better than it’s English translation, ‘The Bright Pink Flower’.  If anything I’m adding a touch of elegance to lucybarclay.wordpress.com!

But enough about my french day dream!  The sunshine lured me outside and having cut back the thigh high grass, I came across this beauty.  And I have to say I do like to photograph a good flower!

Hibiscus Flower

Bright Pink/ Rose Vif

Shot taken from below

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I will apologise in advance for my innumerable Olympics posts at the moment.  Like I have said previously, me the non-sports fan, in fact I would go so far as to say, as a rule of thumb, the sport hater (arguing non-stop about the immorality of footballers vast pay etc etc),  have become glued to the television, waiting eagerly for the next Team GB event.  I’m sitting on the edge of my seat, biting my nails down to the quick – This is what I have become!

Jess Ennis Gold Medal

But apology over, back to the Olympics …

The defining moment for me in Britain’s gold rush was seeing  Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in ruins having come second in the men’s lightweight double skulls.  What?! If that were me I would be jumping for joy, I’d be second best in the world at something  – especially when you consider Zac’s seat broke and the race had to be restarted.  I certainly wouldn’t have gone for it in fear of some horrific injury.  But nonetheless they were in pieces apologising for letting people down, which was certainly not the case.  These men showed their passion and desire and not least showed themselves to be true members of team GB.

Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter inconsolable having come second

If only I had that kind of passion for my history degree, it would make me the next David Starkey (or any other discreetly famous historian)!

These people are incredible; they have a passion for something and go for it.  It’s that single focus that makes them an inspiration.  Watching the reactions really sums it all up.  Jessica Ennis in tears receiving her gold medal, the mens heavy weight fours smiling uncontrollably, the ladies cycling team euphoric, Greg Rutherford flag clad, the rowing girls unable to speak and Mo Farrah doing the ‘Mo’.  That’s what it is all about for me; these are people achieving their life aim, what they have worked so hard for.

On the other hand, to see Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in pieces having come second and Rebbecca Adlington so disappointed with her 3rd place medal was nothing less than human.  This is a reality we are all going to have to face at some point during our lives; it’s just seems more extreme in sport.

Go Mo!

We are all going have gold moments.  But with gold inevitably comes silver or bronze or less.  That doesn’t mean stop trying, if anything those bronze, silver and medal-less moments are those from which you learn the most.  It is those instants that create the gold moments, which of course are the building blocks for success.   I will certainly be taking inspiration from these athletes.  I am no sports woman, I can assure you my passion in life is not going to become the 10,000m or rowing anytime soon!  However I am going to keep trying in what I am good at, find my passion and win my gold!

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Inspire and be Inspired …

If my previous posts haven’t been clear enough I have been watching quite a bit of the Olympic games so far.  And even though sport isn’t usually my thing it seems to keep inspiring me.  I then came across this little gem online …

Be inspired

Follow me on twitter: @LucyBarclay1