London …

londonIΒ β™₯ London.

The Teenager was born in London and the city always holds a very special place in my heart.

So to travel down there for the MS Society Awards as a finalist in the Campaigner category was wonderful.

Sadly, The Teenager was studying, so I took my Boss and best friend, Tony, as my companion and human walking stick.

The event was to take place in County Hall, overlooking Parliament and right next to the London Eye. The location could not be more perfect – our hotel was just a few metres from the venue. We travelled down the night before and wandered around the banks of the Thames, ending up in a little Turkish restaurant.

The next day we had coffee at the South Bank Centre and then got ready for the ceremony. Or, I did. The Boss went for a walk, I panicked about my outfit, my weight, my balance, my eyelashes.

Anyway, when we got there, nothing else mattered except for meeting the most incredible people. Truly, the Awards are amazing. There was a chance to catch up with most people beforehand but there just wasn’t enough time until we were called in to lunch, and the Awards.

Reader, I didn’t win, but to be a Finalist is a prize in itself. I felt as if I was floating on air and to make it even more special, Lord Dubs was on my table. The Lord Dubs.

Back in the hotel, I changed in to jeans and comfortable shoes and made a wibbly beeline for Foyles, the bookstore. I bought a couple of books and literary magazines (half of which are waaaay beyond me), and snaffled a few of the free bookmarks. We had a drink at the theatre and wandered back to the hotel before collapsing from exhaustion.

I love London. I love the buzz, the energy, the thrill. But, when I could barely walk down the South Bank without help, I knew times had changed. It seems like only a few short years ago that I would take my newborn/toddler on endless walks down the same streets. Miles and miles and miles. And now, it’s metres before I grasp the nearest arm (usually The Boss, sometimes a complete stranger).

And now I am back home, exhausted, thrilled and filled to the brim with emotion. The Awards may showcase the finalists, but there are so many of us living day to day with MS. We are all finalists, winners, whatever you want to call it.

I may not be a winner, but I will still speak up, speak out and speak loud about the inequalities we face on a daily basis. The most heartening story I heard was that when I was speaking about employment discrimination last year on the radio, someone called in to say their employer was brilliant. That same employer won an MS Society award on Friday…

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16 thoughts on “London …

  1. Joan (Wales) says:

    Congratulations Barbara, you did very well, even if you didn’t win. Getting nomnated was a major achievement in itself.
    It must have been lovely to be back on your own turf even if it brought back painful memories of how you were then compared to now. I was going through some old MS booklets I have and in them they say that you mustn’t compare your life now with how it was before. I think that’s easy to say, but absolutely impossible to simply forget.
    It’s silly, but I see people doing ordinary things like walking and, do you know, I have forgotten how being able to walk was like.
    Take care and enjoy your week.

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you!
      That does seem like good advice and I try very hard not to compare now to then, but just being on the South Bank brought it all back!
      Hope you have a great week too. I’m off for my usual monthly blood test this morning πŸ™

  2. Annie says:

    Hey that sounds amazing!! You should be so proud of yourself ☺️ Isn’t London fab. I just love the buzz of it. Treated my 2 girls for a night during Easter hols and we were in our element … I just pottered around while they hung out in Topshop and Niketown?( they’re so cultured lol) and then we went to see Dreamgirls in the theatre! Amazing?! Would love to do it on a regular basis but it’s a crazy expensive place? Anyway enough of my ramblings, hope you are rested up for the week ahead… we are having a heatwave on Northern Ireland (probs our summer ) and I don’t want to go to work tomorrow but I must ?Congrats again to you x

    • stumbling in flats says:

      It’s definitely the buzz!! I adore London but I’m always happy to be boarding the train at Paddington back home again πŸ™‚ I think two days is about my limit now. Sounds like you guys had an amazing time!
      I know exactly what you mean about your Northern Irish heatwave. When I was a kid in Glasgow, we would all rush to the playground at the merest hint of sun, lie down and try to get a suntan on our legs and faces. Then it rained the rest of the summer!

      • Annie says:

        Yup… the tourist visitors are in their puffas and ugg boots and we are in flip flops and vests…. many of us burnt to a crisp ?X

        • stumbling in flats says:

          Sounds about right!!
          Every time I go back home to Glasgow, I’m shocked about how cold it is. I’m a Southern Softie now, lol. I bundle on the sweaters and my family laugh at me!

          • Joan (Wales) says:

            You wouldn’t think just a few miles could make such a difference would you. When we lived in Northampton and visited my relatives in Yorkshire we always took thicker clothing as it was definitely a couple of degrees colder.

          • stumbling in flats says:

            Absolutely! I’m not a fan of the heat (MS heat intolerance), but the cold feels just as bad to me now πŸ™

  3. Tamara says:

    Well done you – what an honour. You do so much for awareness of this condition and in a very nice way, without any aggression or anger, which often goes hand in hand with ‘campaigning’. And then your honest, brilliantly articulated blog posts keep us other Ms warriors sane. Thank you!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Aw, that’s really lovely, thank you!! You’ve made me smile on a Monday morning πŸ™‚

  4. Mark Webb says:

    One day you’ll win there. What category next do you think?

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Could take a while :-). I would love to win the Digital Media category, for my blog. You never know!

  5. Carina says:

    I was born in London and regularly go back, even though I have lived in Berlin for over 28 years! I love meeting up with friends and former colleagues. I love the buzz and excitement there, and the people are always so friendly. The shops are super but I miss good old M&S the most! My husband, who has MS, can never join me in London because it would just be too tiring for him. However, we have found a compromise – once a year we travel to Brighton for a two-week stay at the Marina – he loves the sea air and the fish&chips! Take care Carina

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Totally agree – it’s the buzz!
      I like your compromise; two weeks in Brighton sounds fantastic! I’ve never been to Brighton before but have heard it’s a brilliant place and I’ll definitely go one day. I’m a bit like your husband, I’m beginning to find London too tiring. Even a couple of years back when I went for the day, it took me two days to recover πŸ™

  6. Carina says:

    I forgot to mention that Brighton is a very mobility scooter friendly place – you can hire a scooter for the day for just 5 pounds and go around the city centre. Also the large taxis can accommodate scooters and wheelchairs.

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