A course of anti-biotics had been trying to kill me all week, whilst failing spectacularly to munch up the non-specific fluey fevers they were directed at. By Thursday, I was phoning my GP in tears and by Friday morning, it took indusrial strength tea and elephant tranquillisers to get me in the car at all. Dave made me a duvet bed on the back seat, and I moaned and grumbled my way up t'North.
I've learnt that Premier Inns are the way to go for disabled travellers. I've always been allocated a proper disabled rook near the lifts, the staff are friendly and helpful and the rooms are comfy. This one was linked to a TGI Fridays and arriving at 9pm, we had no choice but to venture into it's deafening, fake-American-cheerleader hospitality. Should you ever consider eating microwaved steak in a cocktail bar playing AC/DC at 130 decibels with a splitting headache and a fever, I'd give it a miss. When the miserably-cheerful staff arrived at the next table to sing happy birthday, massacre almost ensued.
It was International Women's Day and all the speakers were women. York TUC wanted to take pictures of us all before the march and somehow, I found myself at the front of the demo, bearing a banner and set to lead the way! Usually, I avoid such exertion at all costs, but with Dave pushing my wheelchair and those whotsit-zulas blaring along with the reggae band, I felt a wave of irresistible activism surge in past the infinite collection of symptoms and before I knew it, I was leading a crowd of hundreds through the streets of York.
I am as Southern as fried chicken, living as far South as it's possible to get without actually paddling. When I do venture beyond Watford Gap, I'm always taken by the difference. The UK feels more united up North. Friendlier. Braver.
But as the band of cheerfully fluttering union banners and patuli oil bobbed forward, it struck me that activism really is a dying art in 2014. York is an affluent looking city, but the he march also wove through a large, inner-city housing estate. This should be the heartlands of public solidarity, but curtains stayed drawn, doors, stayed shut. A few curious faces stared from windows and doorways, but in days gone by, the streets would have been lined with the very working people we were there to defend. As the tail of the march came into sight, public supporters would have joined the procession, cheering and chanting along.
I was there to give a speech, which is linked below. Burning to persuade people how the chaos unfolding at the DWP was ruining lives, I put everything I could into finding the very best weapon-words I could. Dave filmed me with his phone and immediately uploaded the video to YouTube.
As we started the monotonous, fluey, drive home, twitter came alive, RTing, begging, pleading and cajoling supporters, the great and the good to send the link viral. It seemed to touch hearts, articulte a great pain that grows daily unchecked.
Still today the link is being shared as hundreds desperately try to spread the word and as I write this post, over 1200 have watched the film. Wonderful though that is, it's far from viral, ironically underlining the very points I make in the speech about a group of sick and disabled people no-one can seem to hear or see any longer.
If you care about this country, whatever your politics, this speech is for you. I travelled for two days with a fever and raging crohn's disease to give it. I suffered an American chain that dares to use the name restaurant. I suffered AC/DC for goodness sake!!
So for all those people so desperate for you to watch it, share it and persuade others to watch it too, please decide that 9 minutes isn't too long to spare to right a great wrong unfolding before your very eyes.