Today was the first experiment for me going to London, by train in my wheelchair. The last visit by train I think was in May last year when I fell off and broke my leg. I have been to London once or twice since, but was travelling all the way by car with Barry.’ My lovely” went to great deal of trouble yesterday in telephoning the rail company to organise the ramps for specific trains. Apparently you can no longer do it by informing the local station. Obviously they have to have someone available to put the ramp in place to get the wheelchair on and off the train and, no doubt, inform the driver what is going on so that he/she does not attempt to close the doors or pull away before we have safely disembarked. Of course, it would be possible to seek out a sturdy looking passenger to assist the person travelling with me, in this case Keith Kirkwood, just to lift the chair up from platform onto the train but as so many people seem to suffer from bad backs Â it may not be entirely fair to ask just any stranger. For that reason we through the official process of organising the ramps. The slightly irritating factor is that they insist that you get to the station 50 min before the train is due. I really cannot see the logic in this as the only thing police station staff have to do is to put down the ramp once with the train is actually in the station. However, like all things, when you are disabled, yours not to question why but just to show infinite patience.
In the event, the journey to and from, Herbert Smith’s offices in Exchange House, Primrose Street, just behind Liverpool Street station, went very smoothly. The station staff who were standing by as the trains came in with the ramps which then only took a moment or two to put down. We quickly found the lifts for the disabled, both at the station and Herbert Smith’s offices. The only slight fly in the ointment was that my reason for going was to attend the AGM, which I have been told would follow the lunch. In the event, on arrival we were told it had been Â cancelled, or rather postponed, until the May meeting, which was a little irritating.
Barry and Keith were magnificent throughout. Barry, having a disabled daughter, understands completely how to lift me out of the car onto the wheelchair, locking my legs with his own knee where necessary. Keith, managed everything else without any fuss, including taking me into the disabled Â loo a couple of times. I was very encouraged by the whole performance and would certainly do it again before I weaken too much further.