Sunday, 1 May 2011

Oh Boris, where art thou?

AKA Why I deserve a free Tesla Roadster

BADD 2011

I must warn you all, I am going to get a little car geeky during this post. Sadly there is no Blogging Against Boring Nerds day, so I will accept your yawns as best I can...but I have a point. And it starts with Mayor Boris Johnson.

Earlier in the year (13th of February to be exact), Mayor Johnson wrote a post entitled 'The blue badge of the disabled fails those who need it most'. Not the most catchy of titles, true. I must admit here and now that I am more than just a Boris fan. He is my secret love child. It happened on a quiet day in 1996 - a brief tryst between myself and a peroxide over-dosed Gena Davis. I've done my best to leave behind those heady, hormone addled days (I was only 14 after all), but through a series of events so simple and straightforward I cannot even begin to explain them, Boris overtook his father's age and became Mayor of London. I was very proud.

Proof, you ask? Well just look at this

[Image showing the rather lovely Gena Davis sporting blonde locks and a semi-automatic, myself with wayward locks and a look of extreme fatigue, and the Great Boris in all his glory]

Pretty conclusive, I think you'll agree. But more than the physical similarity, we both share a love of the classics. In almost every article he writes, he manages to bring in the wisdom of the Greeks. But not on the 13th February 2011. This was his first mistake.

Sadly the dear old fruit of my teenage loins made other, more serious errors. The piece is riddled with poorly constructed thought process. At one point he says;

There is talk of new independent medical tests, after auditors revealed a few years ago that about 16,000 blue-badge holders were shamelessly using the entitlements of dead relatives.

Independent medical tests? To do what? Confirm that the people using the badges aren't dead? The criminal act of abusing the system by using the badges of the deceased is transformed into an act of fraud by the claimant themselves (you know, the dead ones. Workshy corpses...when the zombie plague comes they won't have things so cushie...).

The ability to park on a single or double yellow line with the badge will, we are told, cause London to seize to a standstill. I think it's important here to note that it's only legal to do this if parking does not cause an obstruction. It says so in the rules. Honestly. I read them and everything. So how will London seize to a halt if people are parking on double yellow lines whilst not causing an obstruction?

What's more - why should there be a need to park on a double yellow line? Does this mean that there's a lack of legal parking? Well, it would seem so. I have travelled to London once whilst being ill, and because I wouldn't have coped with the act of trying to find roadside parking and then the journey through the crowded streets, we parked in a privately managed carpark. And it cost a flipping fortune. Blue badge didn't lower the cost at all. But what it did make sure that there was plenty of space around the car so that a wheelchair could be removed easily.

Then we get to the idea that there are only a very small number of 'genuinely severely disabled people who drive cars'. Oh where to start?

Genuinely severely disabled? What an horrific phrase. I say some stupid things some times, but if I were Frank Gardner, whom Boris is quoting, I'd be looking for a distant ski-lodge in which to hide my shame.

OK so ignoring the horrible phrasing and the horrible idea behind it - the blue badge can be used by a 'genuinely severely disabled person' WHO DOESN'T DRIVE! They could get a taxi to take them somewhere and get the driver to pop it in the window while they went to, say, visit the doctor. Or they could be driven by a partner. Or a friend. Or a family member. Just because no one wants to share a ride with Mr Gardner* does not mean that the only people who deserve the ability to park in an appropriate parking space are those who are driving themselves.

I think they're probably right, though. Not about severely disabled drivers, but a new system would help that catagorises disabled badge holders in such a way that appropriate parking is available for all, whether they are able to move on two legs for a limited distance or on wheels. This way all people are valued and looked after. And there are no loopholes in my thought or writing that can be exploited by ignorant, hateful monsters as has happened on the telegraph website. Just look at the comments. Honestly, I felt I had to report one that went on about Muslim doctors getting people onto benefits without any real health issues. There's still plenty to get angry about, including some that, if it were followed through, might see me assaulted or murdered, but I'll leave that for you to read.

That's why days like today are so important. Why we all need to be aware of disablist attitudes and guard against them and be careful in the things we say. Clearly Boris was having an off day and will make up for it by encouraging the building of plenty of well laid out and cheap to access carparks in London, as well as setting out a new and clear blue badge system giving the right help to all. He will decry the criminal acts of people using blue badges illegally, and make people see that when someone with a heart condition or MS or some other invisible disability uses a space, it should make the world proud that we're looking after our citizens, rather that inciting violence.

So where does the Tesla come in? Well, it occurred to me that as well as reforming the blue badge system, the government could make another change.

For those of you who actually have a life, the Tesla Roadster is an electric sportscar based on the Lotus Elise and converted in California to run on battery power. It can be charged on a normal power supply and will do 0-60 in 3.7 seconds. It maxes out at 125mph and has a range on a single charge of 245 miles.

It also costs £100k+ but don't worry about that, because the government should buy each and every member of the crippled masses one. And here's why;

1 - It's green. Heaven knows we consume a lot of resources being disabled. I mean, we've all been told recently that disability benefit fraud is why we can't afford, well, pretty much anything any more, right? So do we really want such a wasteful lot consuming any more of the precious go-juice that's left hidden in the crevices of this planet we call earth? No we don't! I say leave the petroleum products to the deserving abled. We'll make do with electric motors.

2 - We need the speed. Until Boris gets the parking situation sorted, we'll be left trawling the carparks and streets looking for spaces. And Boris even admits, in this world where fraud is everywhere;

At last, you see a haven, a blue-badge zone, and you start to make towards it; and just as you are about to indicate to begin the parking manoeuvre, a car shoots past you — blue badge in the window — and then, with all the insolent grace of a Las Vegas valet parker, the driver reverses into your spot and bounds out, whistling, remote-locking with a backwards squirt of electrons, and leaving you to get on with your search.

Aha! But this is where the Tesla comes into its own. 0-60mph in 3.7 seconds? Do you think anyone will ever pinch a parking space from us ever again?? No chance!

3 - It's only a two seater. As we've seen, it's hard enough for dear old Frank to get anyone to sit in the car with him. And we know that even the merest mention of disabled sex is enough to make even the most hard-working normal go all sickly and wan. So if you give us a two seater car, you need never worry about disabled procreation ever again! We simply won't be able to fit a baby in the car with us! Plus, with a car this beautiful, what need is there for the physical act of love?

4 - It's tech we're used to. I already own an American EV. It was produced by Pride. It is taxed and insured. And at the flip of a switch it goes from road speed down to a maximum limited 4mph. This makes it legal to use on the pavement and even in shops.

Now I must admit that the Tesla is a little lacking in boot space. If you've ever tried to get a wheelchair into the boot of a Lotus Elise (and who hasn't?) you'll know it's not a straight forward matter, and this applies still to the Tesla upon which it's based. But never fear! If Tesla will just put a little button on the dash (you know the kind of thing - turtle on one side, cheetah on the other), we'll be able to limit it to 4mph and go around M&S without ever getting out!

5 - We need to boost our street cred. It's been a tough year for the Disability PR people. In the popularity rankings we are somewhere between Bubonic Plague and Nick Clegg. We are the workshy. The fraudsters. We waste the money of the deserving and even dare to have a feeling of entitlement (fancy feeling entitled to a national insurance which covers every British citizen? We're just a bit inadequate like that). And I for one am fed up of it. I was never particularly popular, but this is silly! The disabled are a diverse bunch of people full of interest and spark and wonder, just like any bunch of people. But we've been painted in a way that makes us pathetic jobs to be pitied, or schemers who should be beaten and discarded.

The only way I can see to improve my street cred after all that rubbish is if David Cameron puts his hand in his pocket and buys me a Tesla Roadster Sport. I'll take mine in green.

*I have never met Frank Gardner. As a war hero and extreme sportie type, I am sure there are all manner of people queueing up to drive him places just to share in the glow of his amazingness. I'm simply being silly for comedic effect. Which is better for everyone than getting genuinely angry at a divisive and damaging statement. Possibly.


  1. This post is made of awesome. Rock on, BADD! Love the blog and all that...

  2. Nice! And just to add to the point of Frank (and Boris) just not getting it, I'm not a wheelie, but as a wobblie I still need the door flung full open to get into or out of the car; try doing that in the six inches a non-disabled space allows!

  3. This is made of so much win. Can I have mine in purple? Granted, I'm so very undeserving as I can't even drive so how dare I have a car or any mobility type thing to get me around? I'd have to bribe some bloke with it in exchange for that disabled sex no one wants to talk about....

    So I guess make mine in Purple and Norwegian-Thor-Masseuse-Quality-Named-Sven.

  4. ummm. spent many hours thinking about this.

    manual chair in the passengerseat -- tie wheels on the hood attachment or headrests?

    write angry letters to tesla about needing a hitch/lift? -- can you imagine towing your powerchair/mobility scooter? your sexy date would have to take care of securing it.... Crutches stashed in the foot wells...



  5. @Selene - No one has ever said 'Rock on' to me before. I think I may cry in happiness :)

    @DavidG - That is absolute genius. I will be pinching it from you and using it as often as possible. Not a wheelie but a wobblie. Bumper stickers must be produced.

    @Oya's Daughter - I'm not sure they do a purple, but there is a rather fetching orange? But then, would that still go with Sven?

    @WCD - aha! I'm already there. I was thinking about the design of the rear and how there's a flat space. Seems like bike racks have already been produced...

    So that must be a possibility...especially if utilising some sort of electric lift. It can be done! Or at least, I hope if I say that enough, someone will give in and buy me one....