Steady on Sterling Moss


Richmond – Teddington and back

Major bridge replacement works at Twickenham mean a trip to the pub at Teddington Lock is not going to go well. To be fair to South West Trains they did give lots of notice and if I pitched up at Richmond station I feel confident that they’d sort out a Taxi replacement for their rail replacement bus service.

But it’s wet, very wet. However wet you get walking is nothing compared to being in a wheelchair. In a wheelchair you have more horizontal surfaces to get wet, and all water runs downwards, not onto the floor but into your lap, and the seat. In a wheelchair, in anything but light rain, you get soaked to your underwear and if you’re really lucky end up sitting in a cold, squishy puddle. Turning to waterproofs doesn’t help. First you’ve got to get them on, to cover your entire body, because otherwise they just channel ALL the water to one very special place of wetness inside the waterproofs. Taking off wet waterproofs, if by some miracle you’ve managed to stay dry, undoes all the good as you discover all the water has gathered in the seat creating a paddling pool on wheels which you’re now sitting in and soaking up like a sponge.

The answer therefore is one of those all covering capes, only it isn’t. Apart from making you feel like a slow cooked steamed chicken they have two other effects. If they’re long enough they get caught in the wheels which hinders progress (a long story ending in me causing gridlock in a medium sized UK city) or if they’re not that long they direct all the water on a “Do not pass go, Do not collect $200” journey straight into the electrics. (note for the unscientific, water and electrics don’t mix, go look it up, it might save your life)

A Dalek. What I really need is a Dalek, but as I don’t have one I called a taxi.

I’ve mentioned the Fiat Doblo before. It is my least favourite vehicle in existence (to be fair I’ve not tried them all, a Soyuz rocket may be worse.) They don’t have great suspension and in a wheelchair you are both over the rear axle and raised quite high so sensations of left and right are amplified, as are the bumps. There is also nothing between the wheelchair and the windscreen which leaves me at least feeling very vulnerable to being propelled through the glass at every traffic light and roundabout. The only mitigation  is to be well strapped down and drive steadily.

The journey out was as good as can be expected, but with clear roads the journey back felt like a race. This wasn’t helped by the driver insisting on asking questions about me to my companion for the evening. Despite me answering every question this persisted for the entire journey. If someone has a solution for this that doesn’t involve being rude then please let me know. Sometimes I don’t want to be rude.

For reference the cost of the journey was £3.75 per mile, including ‘large vehicle charge’.

About Alan

I'm an Economist, Geek, Campaigner & wheelchair user who's been using all forms of public transport for 20+ years.
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