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July 20, 2012

Have you ever been on the wrong side of discrimination? As a woman, it happens infrequently these days, but often enough for me to remember certain situations. Just recently, as a sufferer of sciatica I am increasingly aware of discrimination towards the disabled. My case is by no means the most debilitating in the spectrum of back pain sufferers, but enough for me to be unable to attend events where a lot of walking is involved (for instance, I was unable to take part in the Race or Life this year) or standing. Queuing is a nightmare, but a necessary evil if you don’t want to incur the wrath of the great British public. Besides, I was always brought up to have good manners and obey the rules. At museums and galleries I always have to pre-book for shows, as the thought of queuing for hours can bring on the pain in seconds! But at least when you get there you can borrow collapsible seats, free of charge. Great!

We booked tickets for a Somerset House concert on Sunday, knowing that there is no seating, but thinking that we could bring picnic blankets and low seats to watch the concert sponsored by BT as part of the Cultural Olympiad – as has been the case for many other concerts at that venue. Sadly, I will not be able to go. An email received yesterday has confirmed that it is a ‘strictly standing only’ event. There will be a platform with space for either 6 wheelchairs or seats for people who have trouble standing. These spaces cannot be pre-booked, and will be allocated ‘on the night’ at the discretion of the front of house manager, according to need. So, having travelled all the way from Hitchin to central London, I could find myself with nowhere to sit and face either going home or standing in agony. It’s not worth taking the chance is it?

Now, I call this discrimination. If I could pre-book a space/seat then that would be wonderful. But it seems customer service does not extend to those of us with mobility problems. Thumbs down to Somerset House!!!

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