Archive for June, 2010

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES — FOREVER THE BRIDESMAID

June 27, 2010

Have you ever had a Bridesmaid moment?  The dreaded “BM”.  I’m not talking pink fluffy gowns that make you look like an oversized meringue but rather those moments when you (even for just a fleeting moment) felt it should have been me !!

History is littered with BM’s … think Kruschez to Kennedy; McEnroe to Borg; Brown to Blair; Clinton to Obama.  If you sit back and think, the list is almost endless.

I’m not immune to the odd Bridesmaid moment either, after all, it’s part and parcel of life’s rich tapestry in making us who we are.

And so to my most recent BM.

A few blogs ago, I recounted the chaotic scenes in our house as I struggled to prepare for a rather important interview.  For those of you who chat with me on Facebook and listen to my tweeting on Twitter, you will know that a couple of weeks ago I attended the Inspire Wales Awards as a finalist in the Active Citizen category.

Now I am now able to spill the beans on the evening.  Think of it as being a bit like The Xtra Factor, or Britain’s Got More Talent, but without the clever use of video footage edited to make the viewer cringe !!

The day started reasonably well.  My alarm went off, and my PA arrived on time.  My hair went into rollers and stayed like that for most of the day. I did a little work looking rather like Hilda Ogden on a night out in a drag club … and patiently waited for the make-up lady to arrive.  In anticipation of the night of glamour that I was to enjoy, I had cleverly decided to engage a make-up lady to help me apply the correct supple tones and highlights to make me look good under the glare of the spot lights.  This was going to be Cardiff’s answer to the Bafta’s but for the movers and shakers in the professional world of Wales.

However, the BM was fast looming when the make-up artist failed to appear.  I made a couple of phone calls, left messages on those irritating automated voicemails, and had a momentary lapse of despair as I considered whether my foundation would ever be able to hold the weight of make-up that I had planned for the night.  I shouldn’t have worried, my Knight in shining armour emerged from his office to announce that Cinderella would go to the Ball with a full face of make-up.  We would make it a combined effort – Steve would help me with the foundation and I would progress to the “smokey” eyes look.  Then we would jointly put the finishing touches to what could only be described as a masterpiece that the Grand Masters of the art world would be proud to call their own.

Now, as all you fashionistas will know, foundation for a regular day is one thing, but for a special event it is completely different.  So, tentatively I sat in the bathroom whilst “Bob the Builder” started slapping on the foundation.  By the time Steve had finished, my face could have shored up even the most wobbly home from Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and it was then down to me to create that Cheryl Cole look.  Cheryl Cole I’m not, and an hour later, with an array of tissue and other bits of mascara (or was it massacre), eye liner and Kohl pencil surrounding me, I managed to create on my face, an image of what Cheryl will look like when she too is in her 49th year !!

A short while later after blusher, lippy and loo, it was out into the garden, for the obligatory photograph before everything started moving south.  Then my trusted taxi driver Howard arrived with my sister Deborah, who was travelling with me to meet the rest of my guests at the City Hall.

Rosie all dolled up for the Awards

So far so good, the Bridesmaid moment over the make-up lady’s mysterious non-arrival was by this time a dim and distant memory.

But of course, there is always something that has to burst your bubble.  And in my case it is technology.  The technology in question was a rather antiquated lift at the entrance to a decidedly inaccessible early 20th century civic building.  Being the organised person that I am, I had already advised the event organisers that they needed to make sure the lift access was working for the day, and I was assured it would be.  However, those technical gremlins conspired against me.  Yes, you guessed it, the lift wasn’t working.  Like Cinderella, I just needed a carriage to get me to the ball, well rather a lift, but my fairy Godmother in the shape of the Event Manager, was far too interested in quaffing champagne in the pre-dinner reception, taking place just a few metres away at the top of the stairs.

And so there I was, at the bottom of a flight of steps, surrounded by very disinterested security guards who would have been quite happy to see me catching bread rolls thrown from the dining room, rather than going out of their way to help me into the building.  Eventually, after much huffing and puffing by my guests, somebody managed to find the key to an alternative entrance and lift. So, some fifty minutes later, after a trek around the outside of the building (just as well it was sunny and not too windy), up the alternative left, along some dark corridors, into a second lift (the tradesman’s lift of course!), I sort of breezed into the function room to meet all my girlfriend guests – emerging (blue satin dress and all) from behind the bar – clanking against all those empty bottles of champagne as I went — just as everyone else was already taking their seats!

But there was an Oasis on the horizon, the wine on the table was chilled and Cinders had eventually got to the ball.  All I now needed was my Prince Charming.  Sadly Steve had to stay at home and make sure James did his revision for a GCSE exam the following day.  So, I had to make do with waiting for the Sponsor of the Active Citizen category to open the envelope and announce with aplomb that “the Winner is …”

And the winner was … well, most of you already know the ending.  I wasn’t presented with an Active Citizen trophy or a glass slipper for that matter.  Not that it would have been much good – there aren’t many pairs of glass slippers that accommodate thirteen toes  !!!

At the end of the evening, we cracked open a bottle of champagne to toast another Bridesmaid moment.  Then, some of my more resilient guests dragged me to a nightclub where I met a number of colourful characters, and I have the dubious photographs to prove that even a Bridesmaid moment can have a fun ending.

However, all is not lost.  Next week, I’m off to see many of my seventies pop idols attempting to rediscover the elixir of life on the “Once in a lifetime” concert tour.  Watch out Gerry and Dawn, I’m in first in the queue for those loving Osmond glances.  The only problem is there will be three thousand other active citizens vying for first place.   Ah well, c’est la vie.

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – Rosie’s Story – Sky Real Lives

June 13, 2010

EXCLUSIVE ONLINE PREVIEW – Short Stories – Thalidomide: Rosie’s Story – Sky Real Lives. It is a six minute story which includes many photographs from my family album. My book ‘Four Fingers and Thirteen Toes’, features prominently throughout the short film and gets a great mention.
http://reallives.sky.com/short-stories-thalidomide-rosies-story

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES — A SAD COINCIDENCE

June 7, 2010

Today’s early morning regional news on BBC Wales television was marked with the usual mix of political and human interest stories – some with a sad vein – but ended (like all good news bulletins) with a lighter story … Tom Jones, or should I say Sir Tom, he of hip-wiggling fame, was celebrating a significant birthday.  I had no doubt that during the news bulletins throughout the day this milestone of a 70th Birthday would be reported upon with aplomb.

During the morning drive-time, the radio played classic Tom Jones hits, and all, it seemed, was positive on the popular music front in Wales.

Then it all changed.  News was received that Stuart Cable, former drummer with the Welsh rock band the Stereophonics had been found dead at his home in Aberdare.  There was no longer a celebration of one of the greatest icons of welsh music, but the mourning of the passing of an equally iconic welsh star – albeit from a different generation.

For me, the news was particularly poignant.  During the latter part of the year 2000, when Welsh rock bands were storming the world stage, I had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Cable, along with Tom Jones and Cerys Matthews (former lead singer with Catatonia).

It was very much a chance meeting.  The Stereophonics, Catatonia and Tom Jones were headlining a concert at Cardiff’s Prestigious International Arena, and after the show they all returned to their tour hotel, The St. David’s Hotel and Spa in Cardiff’s Waterfront development – Cardiff Bay.  We were at the hotel celebrating my fortieth birthday.  As we were rounding off the evening, a raucous group arrived at the bar, and were intent on marking the success of the evening’s gig in true celebrity fashion.

Not being a “shrinking violet” I decided to gate-crash the party and have a chat to these Rock Stars.  Tom Jones, Cerys Matthews and Stuart Cable were kind and generous with their time, and the photograph (lifted from my book) that you will find with this blog are testament to this.  These international superstars were quite happy to talk with me – and Cerys even had a ride on the back of my wheelchair!!

Stuart Cable, Rosaleen Moriarty-Simmonds & Cerys Matthews

My meeting with Tom Jones and Stuart Cable was a brief one.  However, I feel honoured to be able to say that I have met two very different icons of Welsh music when they fused two very different styles of music in one of the most successful combinations of musical talent that was seen during the late 1990’s.

I hope that Tom Jones will continue to delight audiences around the world with his unique style and presentation.  And, for those of us in the wider community who are saddened by Stuart Cable’s untimely passing, we can take comfort from the pleasure he gave to so many during his all too short life.

FOUR FINGERS AND THIRTEEN TOES – Revise, Revision and Repeat and, Oh yes, the case of the clear pencil case !!

June 2, 2010

Picture the scene, it’s about 9.30pm on a sultry Tuesday evening, and the events unfolding in our house are not uncommon in houses throughout the world at this time of year … Yes it’s exam time.

Slightly frayed tempers, a teenager bordering on brain overload, and the first GCSE examination due to take place the following day, created a rather interesting image of domestic, or perhaps not such domestic bliss in the Moriarty-Simmonds household.

The day had started reasonably well, despite having been told, just before school, that a clear pencil case was required for the next day.  Consequently, chargeable hours worked in the RMS Disability Issues Consultancy went out of the window, in favour of a marathon dash around all stationary outlets in Cardiff, to find something that would pass for a clear pencil case.  The route taken across the city centre in an attempt to find such a receptacle, looked rather like a game of noughts and crosses – Staples to Smiths, Morrisons to the Market, Asda to Argos.  Yes, we visited them all.  At the end of this marathon, Steve arrived home triumphant with a pencil case that had a clear front with a solid black back.  Now, by any stretch of the imagination that is not a clear pencil case.  But as he explained, the whole of the parental population of Cardiff, and the surrounding areas, appeared to have gone into meltdown to find clear pencil cases over the preceding weekend.  Apparently, the rather disinterested shop assistant in Staples, said that was all they had, and they weren’t expecting any more stock in before the beginning of the following week.  I expressed some concern about the colour of the pencil case, but we decided to leave it until James came home, before resorting to “Plan B” being a good old fashioned plastic freezer bag … Recycled of course, in the spirit of the Design and Technology exam that was due to take place the following day !!

And so, after our evening meal the final process of revision commenced.  After a reluctant trudge into the other room, the rustle of papers could be heard for the final slog through the range of topics that formed the basis of the DT syllabus of Resistant Material.  By my reckoning the only resistant material in the other room was the resisting “grey” matter that is supposed to pass for a teenage brain.  However, a couple of hours later, James emerged well pleased that he had managed to reconcile his laminates with his linear lines, his screws to his rivets and more importantly how Ross Lovegrove and James Dyson could be “compared and contrasted” should the need arise.  I have to say, that we are now experts in the field of cyclonic vacuuming and DNA staircases.  However, if I have to listen to one more fact about the bagless cleaner or the ergonomics of plastic seating, then I shall expect an Honorary GCSE in Resistant Materials all to myself !!

Now, the process of revision for the evening should have been finished at that point, when concepts of recycling had moved up a notch, from what goes in our green bin, to how designers consider that using “less is more”.  Remember however, we don’t do thing by half in our house.  Not only did the following day herald James’s first GCSE exam, but it was also the day that I was due to attend a particularly important interview.  So, having given up all hope of watching TV that evening, Steve switched from DT guru, to being an expert on democratic enhancement in Wales – all in the time it took to make a cup of tea.

Foolishly, I had forgotten how important it was to prepare for an interview.  After all, for the last fifteen years, I have been my own boss, and having no-one but myself to answer to.  Granted you have to pitch for work, but somehow that is different.  So I decided that Steve should do a mock interview.  Now, coming from a teaching family, he does like to wield the odd bit of power.  “Please explain to me how you have enhanced democratic engagement through your work?” I paused and then launched into my reply.  Thirty minutes later the mock interview was over.  “You weren’t supposed to make it that hard” I snapped, as the wannabe teacher on the other side of the table, closed my file of papers in that dictatorial manner employed by the teaching profession, which says “I told you so …!!”

I should have realised that just like revision, it is important to stretch your abilities – in whatever you are doing as far as you can.  I did it when I finished my own education, when I learnt to drive, and when I wrote my book.  I guess, like so many others that I know, we will continue to do just that, to show what disabled people are able to do.

And then it was time for bed, for both James and I the next day was a very important one.  But there was spanner lurking in the wings … “Dad have you managed to fix up my work experience?”  Well, we now have a third skylight in the bathroom, the RMS chargeable hours will be down again … but would we change anything?  Not for a million dollars.  And so, my next blog may well be about the aftermath of the interview and exams … Will James Dyson win the battle over Ross Lovegrove in the recycling stakes?  Will I have finally enhanced democracy in Wales?  We will just have to wait and see.