I’ve been ill. Unexpectedly. I was in hospital for 8 days. Magnificent caring staff – amongst the best I have known in a 30+ years NHS experience.
I come out and need to recuperate. With this in mind, I book a break with my friend S for the end of May. A weekend in Exeter, a bit of history, a bit of West Country, charming little craft shops and a pretty river. All fine and dandy. I even manage to get a deal on a hotel, the Mercure in Exeter, via Trivago.
The hotel is opposite the cathedral and sounds in a perfect position. It states it has 7 accessible rooms and comes up as having facilities for disabled guests on all the usual hotel sites. I book in confidence, with a note to self to firm up the access details afterwards.
Booking secured, I call the Mercure, Exeter. A pleasant, helpful woman explains they don’t have accessible twin rooms. I remark that I do not sleep with my Personal Assistant so they need to sort it out. An extra camp bed perhaps? No, it won’t be allowed, she says.
Seeing as I’ve just had a heart problem this is not altogether good for me and I take deep slow breaths to stay calm. She says something about it being the type of building – the words reasonable adjustment flash across my thoughts and I persist.
She tells me she will talk to the manager about it. I sabre rattle politely about DDA as she suggests I may need to book another room for my carer. I suggest it should be complimentary. A comment is made that this ‘problem‘ is why ‘people‘ should call up before they book.
My question is why? No, really. This is a prime example of a disabling barrier. Lack of correct information before we even get to the hotel and then its inability to supply twin beds. These things are so simple. We have an ageing population and disabled people who are much more active. Why is it difficult?
It is about equality, or lack of it in this case. I cannot afford to pay double for my simple right to take a weekend break (PA in second room) and it is not safe at present for me to stay alone in a room anyhow. Quite frankly, why should I, when I booked a twin-bedded room?
The Mercure Exeter have yet to get back to me, despite a promise of a phone call. I’ve paid; as it stands now, I will be strolling into that hotel, with a ‘carer’ and saying – deal with this. But I don’t want to. I want a pleasant, peaceful break without having to get into activism. Please. I’m on holiday.
Incidentally, Wednesday. We know what is to happen. I wrote this on Facebook:
If I hear yet another Thatcher eulogy I may well end up back in hospital. Passing note: Thatcher’s government resisted any kind of civil rights based anti disability discrimination law – and so we ended up with the toothless apology that is the DDA. OK, et a family grieve privately; but let us not forget her foul and small-minded yet terrifying ideologies brought us to the point we are at now.
And I am cooking up a juicy blog to post on Wednesday. I’m of the Thatcher generation; the scars run deep, and are bleeding anew at the society we have today of individualism run amok. Thatcher started this-we have value if we ‘produce’, if we have money. Her spawn (including war-monger Blair) have certainly carried forward the stench from her flaming capitalist torch with grim success.
We have to remember what Thatcher started, what she changed that affects us now. Get ready…