… The Tiga FX wheelchair

I have used a rigid-frame wheelchair ever since I left my almer mater, Stoke Mandeville, in 1986. They are lighter, less ‘wobbly’ to steer over rough ground, cheaper (usually), and  they fulfill my prejudice that the less equipment you need, the less disabled you feel. I know,  who cares? I do.

The only problem is, they take up a lot of space in the car and they usually need to go in an airliner’s hold. I went through more than 20 years of uncertainty, every time I flew, as to whether my chair would turn up where I had left it, outside the main door. Quite often, my £2,500-worth of titanium would head off to the carousel like the rest of the baggage, leaving me to feel like shit as I faced being pushed to Arrivals like a cripple. I always flatly refused to experience that ride and once waited 90 minutes after ‘doors open’ for my chair to be retrieved. It really pisses off the oncoming crews trying to make a pushback slot.

Nowadays airlines, dispatchers and flight crews seem to have their act together and appear to know what we expect. Recent trips have been trouble-free. But if it can happen to Frank Gardner in 2018, then it can still happpen to any of us. So it’s still true to say, there’s no substitute for having it in the cabin with you.

RGK Tiga fx2.jpgIf you fly Business Class in a Boeing 747-400, a rigid frame will fit in the cabin wardrobe. Otherwise, you might consider the RGK Tiga FX chair, which fits in a standard overhead locker. Like most chairs this clever device has a folding back, but it also has a folding front frame that reduces it to — in the manufacturer’s words — the size of a briefcase. Well it would have to be a pretty damn full briefcase, to be sure, but I get their point.

There’s a dreadful demo video here.

I asked for a quote. Fellow raspberries will not be surprised to learn that a basic TIga FX – minus cushion, minus scissor brakes and so on, costs over £3,000 of your English pounds. I shouldn’t be surprised. I can’t afford that right now (I’m a pensioner since Saturday!) so am investigating funding options.

RGK Tiga fx1

… to Churt village fete

My village. Well, the nearest village; we live in the middle of nowhere. But the infants’ school is important; all three of our kids went there and Linda teaches the Reception Class. The village hall is important; God knows how many plays, pantos and PTA quiz-nights I have attended over the past 25 years. The Crossways is important; a proper beer-drinker’s pub that I would frequent more often if only, Teresa, I could open the bloody door and get up that bloody ramp without yelling for help. And then there’s the ‘Rec’.

Behind the village hall, the Spar, the Pipasha Tandoori restaurant and the lawn-mower shop is the vast green Recreation Ground, lined by trees, tennis courts, the pavilion and a playground. For most of the summer it’s given over to cricket (I wish I could have convinced my boys to play cricket) and on the second Saturday each June, it’s the venue for the village fete. We held it last Saturday and it went pretty well, I thought.

Games1There was a brass band, a BBQ, a dance display by the St John’s School-kids, a Pimms stall, a free surfing simulator, a dog-show, food and drink stands, the local Honda dealer, Cub Scouts and the WI — dozens of stalls encircled the cricket square. We ran a set of family games. You know the sort of thing; three-legged race, scarecrow relay and so on. Anarchy ruled for a full 40 minutes. And if you hung around until the final medal had been handed out, Tom Viveash (chair of t’fete commitee) drew the winners of the various raffles.

Not bad prizes either. The one I cPimms1.jpegrossed my fingers for was the wheelbarrow-full of booze, offered by Ros who manned a fundraising stall for local students planning a trip to Ghana. You got the wheelbarrow too and watching the two delighted winners manoeuvring the loaded barrow through the exit was, for me, the high-point of the afternoon.

And then, on cue, it started spitting with rain. Looks like we had a great turnout though, if the activity in the carpark was anything to go by. Many of the local villages hold fetes, on specific weekend days to avoid clashes. So Churt is always on the second Saturday in June — mark your diaries for 2019!

Many more terrific photos like these right here. Thanks Rob. And the suddenly redundant fete site is here.