Choose Life - or the Alternative

'Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life . . . But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life: I chose something else. And the reasons?' - Trainspotting

The answer, of course, is 'because I use heroin' - you'll know that if you ever watched the movie Trainspotting.

But it could just as easily been 'because I have a disability' - only it's not a choice.

I'm editing a disability magazine called 'Starecase', and working through the policy areas of the National Disability Strategy as inspiration. And watching Trainspotting out of the corner of my eye, which is what made me think of this quote.

I'm struck by the number of things that you might not be able to choose if you have a disability. A job, a career, sometimes a family. A 'fucking big television', or anything on hire purchase, because you don't have a job. Junk food, because you can't afford it. If you're lucky enough to be disabled enough, you might meet the Trainspotting objective of pissing your last in a miserable nursing home - and you don't even need to be old. There are plenty of younger people in nursing homes.

My friend is currently in a fight with his provider over provision of a support worker to take him shopping. The agency argues that he can order meals online - why wouldn't he?

Well, some of us like to CHOOSE the food we eat. We like to smell and touch and make decisions based on what is on special, or even sometimes go to more than two stores.

There's a big buzz-phrase in the disability sector, 'choice and control'. It's often used in a game we call 'wank word bingo' - along with phrases like 'flexible and responsive'. But looking at the policy areas of the Strategy - areas around accessible communities, justice, jobs and money, support, education and health - I realise just how disadvantaged many people with disability are when it comes to choice.

Choose life. Hell, we'd like to. And the reasons we can't?

I'm not quite sure.


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