On my four year blogging anniversary celebration I announced that I’d be restarting the Twenty Questions series that I took a break from almost two years ago.
Twenty Questions is fairly explanatory from the title. I ask fellow bloggers a set of questions that give us a little peek into their lives and personality. If you’re new here, there are plenty to catch up on.
What better way to relaunch Twenty Questions than with one of my favourite humans. I knew Fleur in real life before I knew her as a writer, blogger and activist.
I always thought she was a smart one, but her answer to question 6 confirms this.
Creative, intuitive and always thinking outside the box. This interview needs no explanation.
Here she is…
My Questions/Fleur’s Answers
1. What made you decide to write a blog?
At first, it was a science blog! I love science, and I wanted to share that with the world, by talking about lesser known heroes like Colonel John Paul Stapp and Jakow Trachtenburg. But I knew nothing about how to promote it, and it became a place for me to write whatever was on my mind, and they all lay in the Drafts folder. Then I started to get involved more and more in promoting and defending disabled people’s rights, and so my blog became about that. I had things to say, and they needed somewhere to go.
2. What do you want your blog to achieve?
There’s a lot of change I’d like to see in the world, and if something I write makes a small change happen or gets people interested in knowing more about their rights and using that knowledge, then I’d consider that a win.
It sounds a bit too Miss Congeniality to say I’d like world peace, but wouldn’t that be great? Not just no war, but everyone allowed to live peacefully, without harassment, exclusion, and harm. We can tackle bits of this in the worlds around us, which we collectively build and shape every day, and every piece of peace counts.
So: one piece of peace.
3. What is the most difficult thing for you about having a disability?
Other people’s expectations.
There’s steps into your cafe? O great, you were expecting all of your customers to not use wheelchairs. Well done for excluding 1 in 50 of the population + all their friends [sarcastic applause].
You’re speaking to me for the first time, and you seem shocked that I don’t hate my entire life. Well done, now I know we’re not going to get along and you seem to feel it’s important to tell me how “inspirational” I am [sarcastic applause].
For anyone reading who doesn’t recognise inspirational as a burn, please watch this talk by the late great Stella Young.
The most annoying part is having to say everything three times. Disabled people aren’t universally expected to know stuff, or hold opinions of equal value, or sometimes even have feelings.
To the people who have treated me and my buddies like that and continue to do so: Even when we don’t have a sassy comeback to your regurgitated ableist comment, we’re secretly judging you.
4. What is the biggest positive about having a disability?
The people! There are some seriously kickass disabled people out there, some of whom I’ve been lucky enough to meet and campaign alongside. People support each other with basically everything at anytime, anywhere, without asking for anything. During the early days of the pandemic, the information exchange was fast paced and focused on getting us through this, solving problems as a team and getting stuff done.
Even outside of a historical event, there’s creative, passionate, and outspoken people doing things that need to be done, often unpaid.
5. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Pasta, especially AskItalian’s penne with meatballs. My local one is shut still, so it’s been too long.
6. An apocalypse is imminent, you have 30 minutes to prepare, what 3 items do you pack?
I’d pack my suitcase, my satchel, then my car.
7. When making tea would you pour the milk or water in first?
Water, then milk, usually almond.
8. What is your favourite way to relax?
Tea, hot, and music, loud.
9. If you could interview any human, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask?
Rosa May Billinghurst, who rammed police lines with her 3-wheeled, ribbon-covered wheelchair at protest after protest, asking for nothing more than the right to vote. She was beaten, imprisoned, force-fed, and carried on campaigning for suffrage and better living conditions. I’d interview her with my mouth unprofessionally open in awe, and do anything I could to aid her campaign. I’d want to answer her questions about the world I live in a century later, and would be glad to tell her that though there are still barriers to voting, my legal rights are not one of them.
I also would have liked to meet Vik Finkelstein. He was a key disabled people’s rights activist who framed discrimination against disabled people as a form of oppression. The ripples from his work can be seen today in the way that we talk about our rights and fight for them.
It would be interesting to talk to Pierre de Fermat, who Fermat’s Last Theorem is named for. He wrote in his own notes that he had proved it, but not how. It frustrated mathematicians for generations. 358 years later, a solution was finally found in 1994 by Prof. Andrew Wilkes. But did Fermat actually have a proof? What did it look like?
10. What would be your dream job?
Artist. I’d draw and paint and paint and draw all day long.
11. You’ve just won 10 million pounds (congratulations!), what 3 things would you do with the money?
1. Buy accessible houses for myself and all my friends.
2. Invest in green energy and carbon reduction schemes.
3. Support organisations that promote and enforce human rights in the UK and beyond, including for disabled people.
12. Where in the world would you most like to visit and why?
University of Berkeley, California. It was the birthplace of the Independent Living movement and home to the first CIL (Centre for Independent Living). A group of students demanded control of the money used to provide their care, and, having a much better knowledge of their own needs than anybody else, put together their own care packages that worked for them. We now have Direct Payments and Personal Health Budgets etc., and whilst not everyone has access to these yet, we have legal rights to be in charge of our care. I was handed at 18 as a matter of course what Ed Roberts, Hale Zukas, and Jan McEwan Brown fought for in the 1960s.
Someone I know went there last year, and sent me a picture of a University of Berkeley campus squirrel. I actually cried.
13. What one thing would you change about yourself?
Someday, I’d like to go vegan. We’ve only got one planet, and we’re not taking very good care of it. Meat and dairy production are one thing that we can cut down on for quick and relatively straightforward savings in carbon emissions, deforestation, and fresh water usage. Also, animal cruelty is not cool.
I’m not a confident foodie, and so I’m taking the slow path. I’ve now fully cut out dairy, which I’m pretty sure I’m intolerant to anyway. Eggs are also gone from my kitchen. I try growing and foraging different fruits and vegetables, and different cooking techniques, and different vegan products and recipes as I see them. Many of them are better than or as good as what I was using before, and so I switch, bit by bit. I cook a few vegan meals a week, and find Quorn mince in bolognaise superior to beef. Greggs vegan sausage rolls are goooooood!
Another bonus is that because some of the time I’m thinking more carefully about what I’m eating, my nutrition is better than it used to be. I still sometimes eat junk food, and I still sometimes eat meat, but I’m heading in the direction I want to go, at a pace that’s workable for me.
Other things like replacing cosmetics with vegan ones as they run out is pretty straightforward. There’s a lot of lifestyle articles and videos saying you have to throw everything out and replace it right now, but I think I’ll finish my moisturiser or lip balm first and then recycle their containers rather than chucking it all in landfill.
There’s more than one way to change, and we all do every day.
14. If you could play any part in a film, past or future, real or fiction, who would you be?
Hello, I’m the Doctor. Run!
15. If there was a pill that would freeze you at your current age and you could live forever as you are now, would you take it? And why?
Nah, I want to see what I look like with grey hair and wrinkles.
16. If you could trade lives with one person for an entire day who would it be and why?
An astronaut, as it’d be awesome to watch the sunrise from the International Space Station, float around and do science.
17. If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’d go and tell my favourite disaster-magnet that it’s a really, really bad idea to put lead in petrol and that it’s a really, really bad idea to use chloro-fluoro-carbons as a refrigerant. Yes, one guy’s inventions led to the destruction of the ozone layer and caused widespread lead poisoning: Thomas Midgely Jr. The most epic of epic fails.
18. If you were made Queen and allowed to pass one new law, what would it be, and why?
I don’t think the Queen gets to do this, but it’d be interesting to know her answer to this question.
We need an Independent Living Act, as quickly as possible, so if I could I’d do that. Too many people are nudged into unsuitable care and nursing homes or receive inadequate care and support. It’s not cheaper, it’s not better, and it’s not necessary.
19. What personal trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
My mouth. I will say what I’m thinking and answer exactly the question you asked. Say what you mean please people! And be prepared that I do!
20. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
I wanted to be an artist, and draw and paint and paint and draw all day long.
Fleur Perry is a student and activist who is passionate about the rights of disabled people, especially Independent Living.
Thank you to Fleur for saying yes and giving an open, honest, gritty and insightful interview.
Enjoyed this interview and are a bit nosey like me? Check out my Twenty Questions series.