Ted Shiress

New Zealand – where bad food is good.

Posted on | April 10, 2015 | No Comments

My taste in food is close to an oxymoron, I like bad food that’s made well – treat me to a high quality burger, pie, curry or fry-up and I’ll do something very appreciative in your face. Perhaps with the exception of a curry it amazes me how hard you have to look to find a decent one of these over here. Breakfasts are the worst, you can either find a massive greasy job where the sausages contain less pork than a mosque or something caringly made with decent ingredients… but it’s tiny! What about those who like to cure their hangover with a pile of succulent crisp bacon, three flavoursome bangers, a couple of decent eggs and a load of butterfried fresh mushrooms? I’ve found very few places over here that satisfy this desire.

Having come back from a holiday in New Zealand I can say that like rugby, this is something the Kiwis do much better. I sampled some of the greatest breakfasts I had over there – making the daring combination of quality and quantity. Over there when you order bacon you get BACON! It’s fresh, crispy, often honey-cured, has less water content than the Sahara and there’s tonnes of it. Same with the other fry-up essentials, the sausages are big, fat and made of very little but pork; the eggs are fresh, usually local and massive and the tomatoes are plump, plentiful and sweet. Why can’t it be this way over here?

Me at the Par Homestead cafe, Auckland. OH YEAH!

Me at the Par Homestead cafe, Auckland. OH YEAH!

Pies too. Like the UK, NZ is pie mad – but Kiwis actually care about what goes in their pies. Even the ones you get from a standard cornershop (a ‘Dairy’ as their known) are seldom anything less than satisfying containing huge chunks of things that actually resemble meat. Although I have a soft spot for Cardiff’s ‘Clarkie’ there is no other cheap readily-available pie I’d go anywhere near over here. I have no doubt put on weight due to the amount of pies I ate over there, but I don’t care as it was worth it.

The slightly disappointing thing about this trip was the decline of the ‘NZ takeaway burger’ as the cult of American ‘Gourmet’ burgers is phasing them out, but I did find a few and they were definitely worth it! The pattie itself is homemade and often consists of little but beef and the other fillings are so generous that I don’t see how anyone could eat one tidily. And the proper NZ-style ones actually contain beetroot. Yes, beetroot! What more could you want along-side your parttie? It’s not just burgers, everything else on a standard chip-shop menu is just laughably better than here – and often cheaper!

So yeah, that’s why I’m larger than I was four weeks ago.

Masticating With Company

Posted on | March 16, 2015 | No Comments

Readers here know that if there’s two things I like it’s talking and food, but one thing I’m seeming to dislike with age is talking and food combined. As children we are taught not to speak with our mouthful but mothers woefully neglect to tell their young not to expect others to talk with their mouthful and it drives me mad. This may be a Cerebral Palsy thing or just a me-being-an-anti-social-pig thing but I adore masticating and I also adore doing it in public with others (it’s a perfectly good term, calm down); but I always find my enjoyment capped when I’m expected to answer illtimed questions.

Invariably I’ll be at a social gathering, I’ll locate what seems like an empty twenty-second window, take a nice big faceful and bang, I get asked a question! What is expected to happen in those twenty seconds? I’m not really expected to answer, am I? And, if so, do they know what this will entail? Perhaps, despite what mummy said, most able-bodied dudes have mastered juggling lexemes and foodstuffs simultaneously but expecting a dude with CP to do it is just a recipe for disaster. Instead I’ll be sitting there silent chomping and all the while I can see them wondering why the question has gone unanswered. I try to use a series of gestures including pointing to the mouth and a circling of the finger to denote a process being in place but these often fall on blind eyes. (Yes, it’s an idiom I just invented.)

I kicked off the year with a series of promising dates with someone but unfortunately both parties agreed the spark waned after repeated meetings. One of the most recordable signs of this was the amount of food she had projected in her face. On initial meets conversation flowed so easily that… well, so did other things from my mouth I could not find time to swallow. But after a while the conversation, while still good, wasn’t quite enough to retract any semi-digested food from my mouth. I’m just looking forward to finding the girl I’m still firing food at on Date 10.

Dining out alone this often happens with waiters, they’ll bring me a new pint just as I’m chewing thus leaving me the dilemma of how to thank them without sharing more than they’d wish. Most of the time I just settle for a series of appreciative grunts and a thumbs-up but even then I wonder if my appreciation has been registered.

My PA/carer/helper/whatever-the-term-is is great here, she understands fully that eating-time for Ted is no-talking-time for Ted. She doesn’t mind that I will probably load her up with a number of things I need doing before the plate hits the table. I do worry this is rude but feel more comfortable after realising the alternative involves a load of spitting, coughing and burping.

So what’s the conclusion? I guess it’s people with CP eat alone for a reason!

Why I Rant

Posted on | February 18, 2015 | No Comments

I like to rant, noticed? I shan’t bore you with the reasons you’re already expecting from me (eg, cp sucks, people suck, the world sucks, I, when against your mother’s nipples, suck etc) but there’s another reason why I favour ranting on stage: it’s more creative. Many times something will happen that seems just perfect to retell ‘as it is’ on stage but the trouble here lies you’re relying on fate to come up with something just as honed as your other material. For example, at my last few gigs I have tried retelling a stand-up-orientated version of The Empire tale, and it’s working ok but I can sense bits where it lacks pace due to my desire to tell the full tale.

The trouble with funny stories is that they are already funny (or you can easily tell them in a way that makes them funny), they are like a fillet steak to a chef – too expensive to mess around with. Therefore you will inevitably end up with sections of narrative that go on too long without a punchline but are essential for the tale to work; and yes, you can insert your own bits between the narrative but this feels like you’re breaking the tale up and if it’s not that funny why tell it? Perhaps when and if I build hour shows I’ll have one or two narrative bits in the middle to slow it down and bulk up the show but in a shorter set they still feel a distraction.

My bit on navigating my mobility scooter through a Tesco’s Metro is my favourite routine to perform and the one I’m most proud of, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that there was originally little funny in the premise. When I started creating this routine it came from a place of genuine rage, as navigating my mobility scooter through a Tesco’s Metro does genuinely do my nut, and there was nothing immediately funny to say. However I had found a great place to be funny, being so emotionally fused by the topic all I had to do was convert the reasons this makes me angry into a series of reasonably honed gags and I had the perfect routine. This bit even contains a borderline-hack joke about self-service checkouts and a shamefully obvious joke about confusing petit pois and a little bag of peas, however when wrapped up in rage they work perfectly.

Or perhaps I’m just a bad story-teller – or one whose stories aren’t best suited for his style of stand-up. I have once done a story-telling night where I talked about growing up at a specialist boarding school and enjoyed it, though being used to stand-up the decreased consistency of laugh breaks did make me feel uncomfortable. Either way I’ll mainly stick to ranting for now. RAH.

The Picky and Pointless

Posted on | February 15, 2015 | No Comments

As everyone knows I detest having people run around for me. OK, that was a lie – I love it, but I love it when it’s done due to worship of my undeniable superiority to every living thing; I don’t love it when it’s down to me requesting things that appear picky and pointless. However, when living with a significant disability sometimes your independence can rely on the seemingly picky and pointless.

Four words I use very often and despise myself for saying are “Drink on the left”. Both my arms move around more than the average pair but as my left moves a lot more it gets banished under the table away from any food and drink; therefore the left of my plate is a safe place for a glass and a straw I can just duck down to reach. This can’t be said for the right, with a haphazard arm flailing around trying pathetically to insert every scrap of food into my desperate fat face, therein lies the importance of my frequent request for the “Drink on the left”. The issue is, I tire of saying this and I’m sure many waiters who can’t think exactly like someone with my variety of CP find this a pain too. There are times I’ll be in a restaurant and a pint will arrive when I’m mid-mouthful meaning it won’t be until the waiter is almost back to the kitchen before he’ll get called back to put it on the left. I’m also sure my father often puts my pint on the right of my food when we’re eating together just so I have to annoy myself by repeating this request.

(The amount of times I’ve used the words ‘drink on the left’ above has caused an acute batch of self-loathing, excuse me while I apply an icepack to where my head has been banged into the wall.)

Similarly there’ll be times when I’m trying to attack something like pizza, naan or a steak and I have to request the waiter recut it as the cuts aren’t clean and the bloody thing is still joined up! I’m aware this makes me sound like a right arse but the truth is clean cuts are what determines my ability to insert it into my fat face.

Admittedly people are far too pc to ‘fess up to feeling annoyed at a disabled person’s requests but I bet they are sometimes especially if their importance isn’t obvious – I’m sure I’d be – and that’s especially after I ranted about people making their own mind up how to help you. However it is often the little things that make a big difference. There’s no real solution to this other than to feel comfortable in your requests and to hope people are more understanding than me!

Empire bridge-building

Posted on | February 5, 2015 | No Comments

As a cripple I find it hard to build literal bridges and as a bloke I find it hard to build metaphorical bridges, but last night a return to The Empire saw a huge amount of metaphorical bridge-building. Ever since my overtly-abrasive blog picked up a thousand times the media attention I thought it would (I mistakenly thought cranking up the language would keep off too much interest) a lot has been done at The Empire to make sure similar events never occur. I can safely say I had a lovely meal where I was treated incredibly well by the staff – if there was a bit of awkwardness it was purely down to us being men and how men struggle saying things like ‘it’s all fine now’ and ‘no, it’s totally forgiven’. But I do feel it is both ‘all fine now’ and ‘totally forgiven’.

Following the media spat, Chris, the PR manager, put out a statement saying all staff were being sent on a compulsory disability-awareness course and at the time I did not know if this was fact or just a statement put out for damage-limitation. However, it became evident that this was fact and last night I could feel (even compared to the time I went in ages ago – way before the spat) that they were far more comfortable around me, even factoring in all parties being on best behaviour as this was my ‘make-up visit’.

It was very nice to have a chat with the, errr errrm awkward, the man it was all about and I may have errr errrrm said some less than savoury things about originally. He greeted me with a lot of warmth, shaking my hand, telling me I was always welcome and he was sorry for the events. Even if this was a result of a stern talking to he clearly listened and seemed a highly hospitable welcoming man. So, cheers mate, I appreciate it!

The meal itself was just how I remembered it – the gourmet end of Anglo-Indian cuisine, and it very much hit the spot for my taste-buds. I started with a tandoori mixed grill, which again wasn’t unfamiliar to most takeaway menus but clearly was prepared with much more care and higher quality ingredients. For my main I had a ‘Captain Pathia’ – a unique and far more subtle take on a pathia, accompanied with rice, naan and a saag paneer. All I found highly enjoyable and easy to demolish despite a hefty fry-up only several hours prior.

So a very nice evening, I’ll definitely return when I want a high-end ‘Indian’.

Unhelpful Help

Posted on | January 28, 2015 | No Comments

One thing I ranted about when I gave more of a shit to keep this blog alive was crips who have a knack of getting everyone nearby to drop everything to help them – I don’t think it’s an acceptable way to behave and puts pressure on people who have no obligation to help. However I was recently reminded of the flip-side of this argument – the times when you unwillingly acquire the ‘help’ of everyone in the vicinity and it is frankly quite embarrassing.

I was driving past an inaccessible but favourable Polish bakery and being the sour sod I am I fancied a doughnut to sweeten me up. I went with my usual tactic of driving up to the door, poking my head around it, deciding what I want and asking to purchase said item. Previously this game-plan has proven fruitful: it’s not that much effort for them, makes it easier for me and they get a sale out of it (plus I may even tip!). However this time there was an added complication: a bloke standing in the doorway obstructing my view of the counter. So I did what I thought was best: asked the dude to move.

“Excuse me mate…”


“Excuse me mate, I’m trying to see the counter, could you move please?”

Still nothing. Then after ten seconds he bursts into life, “Oh you want help coming in?”

“No mate, I just want…”, but it was too late, before I could convince him that I just needed him to shift his arse both him and another customer were lifting me out of my scooter and marching me to the counter. It must have looked like we were a trio of best mates after a heavy night in the pub. It felt awkward and unnecessary, I did appreciate the gesture but I could tell they didn’t really want to be doing it but felt they had to – despite my attempts to convince them otherwise.

Admittedly there’s little to do in such a situation – I tried hard to state such ball-busting wasn’t necessary but still through a misunderstanding and a sense of awkwardness they decided it was. I guess this shows that people are still uncomfortable around disability and can find their awkward desire to help overcomes any sense of rationality and ability to assess what actually is best for all parties. The message here is just to more comfortable as it’s not like I’m going to do anything violently inappropriate…

No wait, it’s me.

The Comedy Drug

Posted on | January 19, 2015 | No Comments

So my love/hate relationship with stand-up comedy continues. I say that, but mainly it is love – having a room full of strangers wait on your every word and laugh when (and normally only when) you want them to is my ego’s idea of bliss, however the endless traveling can get on your tits. That coupled with the endless promoters that see you do well but deem you ‘too risky’ (whatever the fuck that means) to offer paid work; the more open-minded promoters who only show when you suck and the endless drunks that tell you you’re great without seeming to have understood a single joke. It was for those reasons plus using the excuse I was working on Cynic (hardly valid as the episodes really don’t take long to write at all) that I took a break. By that I just mean I lost the motivation to hunt down any gigs.

Stand-up comedy is a lot like a drug – it has its extreme highs and lows yet when you are off it almost completely getting back on it seems nothing short of moronic. However it is a legal drug and therefore one that is backed by a scarily successful marketing campaign that knows just how to strike. Last week I gave the stand-up version of the Empire saga (now with a happy ending as the young waiter Sammi has been made manager) a trial run at a friend’s open mic gig and perhaps unfortunately it went down pretty well. Being a brand-new bit I came on script-in-hand and still managed to forget the exact version (and therefore a good few gags), yet somehow it still came out as paced and as punctuated as I wanted it, with laughs in all the places I had hoped.

Call this a relapse in my rehabilitation if you like or report it to my Comedians’ Anonymous group if you deem necessary but it felt good, damn good and enough of a high to give the drug another try. I guess now it’s just a case of searching down some gigs in remote places, convincing myself that £40 on a train journey really isn’t that much and believing a drunk telling me that I should be on telly is all the feedback I need to make it worthwhile.

Wish me luck.

The Empire Strikes Back!

Posted on | December 19, 2014 | 9 Comments

I like Indian food – by that I mean I like genuine Indian nosh plus I have a soft spot for the Anglicised version of the cuisine we too often call ‘Indian’; if I can find somewhere that does me a good quality dansak and saag paneer I’m happy. Given that I was pleased to discover Empire on Albany Road (a stone’s throw from me) which serves the food we mistakenly call ‘Indian’ at a standard considerably higher than your average takeaway.

Before last Saturday I had been there three times with few issues – once with my parents and the other times on my own but when the manager (who’s about to come the villain of this tale) wasn’t working. It was this Saturday things started to go horrendously dick-shaped, it was about 9pm and I decided to chance it to see if I could get a table so I walked in to be greeted by the youngish waiter I get on with and the manager who was standing at the bar. Despite visible empty tables the manager just glared at me before I even entered insisting “We’re full, go please!” while shaking his head, and the waiter echoed this in slightly nicer terms. Although I did not like this I thought I’d give them the benefit of the doubt – the tables may have been booked and he may have been stressed so I just went on my relatively-merry spacky way.

Fast-forward to Tuesday, after a conversation with my mother about where we’ll eat when she comes down for a few days on Thursday I decided to book a table, so I popped along thankfully to be greeted by the reasonably cool young waiter. He let me book the table but then told me the manager (who conveniently was off duty) wants me to come in with a ‘caretaker’. At this I became fairly angry and informed the waiter (in just slightly more pc terms) that I go out by myself all the time and his manager is being an absolute waterhead; to which he kind of agreed and told me I just need to talk to the manager. So I went on my slightly less merry spacky way but hoped things would sort themselves out on Thursday.

Alas they did not, on arriving on Thursday mum and I decided I walk into the restaurant first – not an overly-provocative move but one enough to make a point we thought. On doing this the twattish glaring and head-shaking started again as he started to inform me they were, yet again, ‘full’. At this point I could sense my mother losing her rag as she popped out to remind the waiter I had booked. The sight of my mother then pleased the waiter as he said “Oh good, you have a responsible adult this time”. Reasonably my mother then inquired what this meant explaining that she may be my mother but she’s also my guest who lives in London and does not look after me. He clearly failed to process this information as he went on to insist “He” (yes, ‘he’!!) “needs a caretaker, what if he had an accident?”. Although she then tried suggesting anyone could have an accident I had had enough at this point and insisted we go, trying to say a fairly genuine goodbye to the friendly young waiter before leaving.

Just not acceptable.

Flirting with disablism

Posted on | August 13, 2014 | No Comments

One thing I remember from blogging is the posts that do the best are the times I get dangerously close to disablism, so with that in mind and no recent practice here I go again!

Obviously I have no issue with fellow disabled people nor do I have an issue befriending disabled people – that would be silly (and some of my best friends….). My issue starts when my disability is assumed to be the big starting block in a to-be significant friendship – or otherwise. A day or two ago I received a friend request from a girl I went to school with – not one I was close to or there was any mutual desire to be close to – but one I kinda knew to say hi to those 10+ years ago anyway. So due to being not quite as much of a phallus as I am in Cynic (seen the new site?)  I accepted it, and then came a series of seemingly empty questions which I answered with reciprocal interest…

Hi how r u [not even treating me to a question mark!]

are you busy [still no question mark!]

Ha a bit, yeah – hence my chat status being offline, but I hope all’s good with you

Several seconds later Yeah i’m good thanks i’ve moved [Should I have known where she lived first??] to a place called ‘X’ where do you live [yet still no question mark, c’mon treat me!]

I then leave the conversation for a day, not out of spite but as made clear I was otherwise occupied and profiles are made so basic information like that is just one click away.

Next day – and I’m still offline!

do you still speak to [my –ie Ted’s- ex of 12 years ago]

Of all the things to ask me about why instantly dig up the past? And the very far past at that!

We follow each other on Twitter but not much, she doesn’t follow my show’s account so she’s probably not keen on my new direction! Ha

ok cool do you have a gf ted

I didn’t reply straight away because a, the information is on my profile and implicit in nearly every rant I go on, b, I don’t like this sudden new direction and c, in case anyone has forgotten, I’m offline!!

10 minutes later do you have a girlfriend

Ha nope – as you can tell from the embittered tone of what I put online!

oh ok would u like a girlfriend

Ha you do ask strange questions! Well obviously I would but it’s been so long that I’m used to it, the embittered sexual frustration is mostly an act.
I’ll meet the right one someday, life’s awesome currently so I can’t complain.

so u don’t like me
i like you
— and so on

Seriously, she likes me and she can only think to ask me about my high-school ex? Yet she seems to have no desire to ask about the person I am now, for all she knows I might have turned into a massive bellend (no wait, I have!). It’s nice to be told you’re liked (it doesn’t happen very often for me), but on what basis? Asking someone out in such a way is creepy. I realise maybe, like me, she’s struggling to meet someone and feels her disability makes it harder, which I truly not just appreciate but feel also. However if randy I say see an escort, male as well! If lonely, why not join a club for people who share a mutual interest?

I’ve had countless other experiences of people who I hardly knew from school add me and then somehow assume some great mutual bond. I’ve had a guy that would repeatedly tell me personal and alarming ‘truths’ about his feelings for the girl he made out to everyone else he loved, when all I’d done to initiate such a connection is drunkenly coin him ‘Mr Textspeak’ and provide yes/no answers to his questions.

I’m concerned that behaving in this will lead to these people becoming hurt, for all I know I may just be flypaper for this type of thing and that’s fine, but if it’s considered standard behaviour for these individuals I could see it turning very ugly indeed. What if I had talked said guy to break up with the alleged love of his life or what if I took advantage of this girl wanting to be my girlfriend despite not being aware of what I’ve become?

Please, if you are a bit vulnerable be sure you really know who you’re talking to online, unlike me the ‘bellend’ thing may not be an act!

On Dying

Posted on | April 3, 2014 | 2 Comments

I should at least attempt to resurrect this blog not at least because posting gets me hits and every hit is a chance of someone viewing Cynic – did I mention I’ve got a new mini-sitcom?! (For those who don’t follow me on Twitter that was a joke as I’ve been plugging it a lot.) Another great gain I made from my last blog is it got me chatting to Gregg Judge which led to me being a part of his team Disability Activists for Assisted Dying – a cause which Serious Ted (the guy who you don’t see on stage and only tweets on my account occasionally) does believe in.

I understand that the right to die, even for people at a very end of their life, is a highly sensitive and emotive issue. Nonetheless it is one that must be discussed openly, explained thoroughly and not shoved under the carpet where it will rot and become the smelly offensive taboo it isn’t. It must not be confused with voluntary euthanasia – this bill is specifically for those who are very close to death and just want a speedy and dignified way to bring the process to its end. The bill is not about promoting judgements to whether a life is ‘unliveable’ and ‘worthless’ it’s simply about making the inevitable happen as effortlessly and painlessly as possible.

Currently the law encourages those in this situation to look at assisted dying as such a last resort it’s absurd. Fully mentally competent adults are forced to look for and consider (read: heavily encouraged to opt for) every other alternative before they are allowed to make the final decision and apart from anything else this is incredibly patronising. This is a decision no-one is ever going to take lightly and a law won’t make any difference to that, in many ways it’s quite laughable that some may think the only thing in between a person and their decision to take their own life is a sentence in a rulebook.

One factor that makes disability and the right to die such a delicate issue is just how broad the spectrum of disability is and that it encompasses individuals that perhaps shouldn’t make such decisions independently. However this is why there are numerous safeguards in place to protect such individuals, the bill states the patient has to be mentally competent and there will be tests to prove this. Therefore there is absolutely no chance of those who are not in a position to make such a decision being able to make it.

As usual the classic ‘slippery slope’ argument gets brought up against assisted dying which is ‘if you allow the terminally ill control over how they die the floodgates will open to all types of voluntary euthanasia’. This argument is really logically no better (and only just morally) to ‘If you allow homosexual people to marry people will then start marrying their dogs’, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest either and to do so is just as absurd.

This bill isn’t about judgement, it isn’t about lives being unliveable all it’s about is allowing people who are in the later stages of terminal illness to reach their destination in the most dignified and pain-free way, which is why I urge all people to support it.

To find out more please visit http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/

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