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Sheffield’s pollution charge – what are they thinking?

On my way home from Sheffield train station after going to the Put It To The People march in London this last weekend, my taxi driver told me about an upcoming scheme in Sheffield city centre which had me gasping.

The idea is to reduce inner city traffic pollution by levying a congestion charge on all commercial vehicles. The consequences of this seem pretty obvious to me. Given that there are no charges on private vehicles, this will raise taxi and public transport fares, and make commercial deliveries to the city centre more expensive, thus raising prices.

The city centre is by far the most well connected part of the city for public transport. There are park and ride facilities for people to be able to leave their cars on the outskirts of the city. I don’t know how below the radar this proposal has been, but I guess that’s why Sheffield City Council has chosen to levy this charge on commercial rather than private vehicles, to lessen the publicity and be able to charge, and therefore collect, more money.

Reducing pollution is obviously important, but this scheme doesn’t seem designed to do that, but rather to raise money for the Council with as little public protest as possible, and in the process get a couple of good headlines on climate action and score votes for the next local elections.

Allow me to suggest a better scheme: Ban private cars without a blue badge from the city centre altogether. Just ban them. Electric vehicles or not, ban them all and reduce congestion in the city centre. Don’t do this charge for commercial vehicles at all. We want a vibrant city centre with reduced air pollution, and we can have it without having to compromise accessibility. If necessary, build some multi-story car parks on the current park and ride sites, only one of which (Meadowhall) is currently more than one flat lot.

Taxi drivers, bus companies, and haulage firms are already aware of which way the wind is blowing, and charging them an access fee to the city centre will just mean they have less money to invest in actually purchasing the electric vehicles that will actually make a difference to air quality in the city centre. In addition, due to embedded carbon from manufacturing, it can often be “better to keep your old banger on the road than to upgrade to a greener model” and many commercial drivers will be doing this while saving up for a next generation electric vehicle.

I’m a disabled person and use a wheelchair, and I’m aware people have different access needs. A blue badge isn’t easy to get, but it is possible without having to go through the DWP, and black cabs are pretty good at accommodating mobility devices.

I can absolutely understand the impulse to do *something* about air pollution, but in my opinion, this ain’t it. It’ll make buses, taxis, and city centre shops more expensive, and end up encouraging more out of town shopping, in private cars, and less shopping in the pedestrianised city centre. And the only justifications I can see for it are a naked grab for money and good headlines.


New blog for new times

I’ve created a new blog for posts about disability and sex that don’t really feel like they fit here. I might well continue to post things here, but for the moment, my primary focus is Chronically Sexy. Please follow the new feed, and share it with those who will find it interesting or useful. See you there!

Chronically Sexy

I’ve been blogging at for 7 years, and have changed a lot in that time. Reading my earlier posts from my current perspective has become an exercise in personal archeology.

This isn’t to say that I want to forget or renounce the person I used to be, but it no longer feels like we belong under the same banner.

There’s also the fact that over the last year, I’ve been moving towards doing more disability and sexuality activism. Politics with a small p. I don’t know exactly what shape this will end up being, but I do know I have a lot to write about.

I’ve transferred over some posts from my fearlessknits blog that feel like they fit here, and I’m going to leave everything up there.

Being ill, disabled, and sexy is not always easy. And we face challenges in our sex lives and intimate relationships which…

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Pre-sorted meds by post to my door. What’s the catch? A PillTime review

As part of my continuing series of posts on How To Be A Disabled Badass, I decided to write something that isn’t even tangentially related to my sex life!

A while back, I saw an ad on Facebook for an alternative to a traditional pharmacy, that would not only home deliver my medications, but also pre-sort them into pouches printed with the date and time they’re to be taken. This is, for someone who typically spent 90 minutes a month mininum on organising medications, a hugely attractive prospect.

I’m always up for trying something out if it looks like it’ll make a positive change, and give me more time do things that aren’t just physical maintenance. The process of signing up was okay, and the team at PillTime held my hand through it. My GP surgery has an online system for requesting repeat prescriptions, and at first I was told that I would be able to continue to request my meds in this way. I also checked out about controlled drugs, as I have one prescription, my ADHD medication, which is controlled. I was told that it would be included in the pouches along with my other medications, and although the prescription would have to be posted, PillTime would send envelopes to my GP surgery and coordinate with them and it would all be fine.

At this point, I was pretty excited. I take some non-prescription stuff, vitamins and cod liver oil, and a couple of other things I heard might be good and thus far seem to have helped. If I could cut my meds organising down to just these, it would simplify things hugely. I can take these non-prescription items all in the evening, making organising them far less complex. In addition, only one of them comes in those hated blister packs! If I only have to pop 28 blisters once every 4 weeks, that is a significant reduction. It makes my meds organising something I can actually do for myself too. If all my important meds are measured out and checked by a pharmacist, and have the date and time printed on them, then even if I fuck up some of my supplements, the worst that’ll happen is a mild change to my toilet schedule.

All in all, this service sounded like a godsend.

Unfortunately, their claims pretty quickly fell apart. For starters, my first box ended up having to start several days after the date we first agreed on. I had thought this might happen, so I’d given an initial date which left me a week of medication in hand. I really didn’t appreciate having to go three days into that buffer, but I figured it was just a switch-over problem. Wouldn’t happen again, right?

The second issue, however, was that despite my checking, my controlled drug was NOT in the pouches with the rest of my meds. Apparently this is standard, and part of the rules on controlled drugs, but it made my mornings significantly more complicated than they could have been. In fact, because my previous system meant I could just empty a section of a pill organiser into my mouth, this actually made my mornings more work, not less.

The next thing which didn’t match the sales pitch was the process of ordering more medications. I got a notification when there were 10 days left of the month saying that it was time to request repeat prescriptions. I dutifully logged onto my surgery’s online system and requested my prescriptions. I knew that my surgery had prepaid envelopes from the previous month and the numerous phone calls back and forth which had been required to set me up with PillTime. I am, by the way, not supposed to make lots of phone calls, and had to take at least 30 minutes rest between each conversation.

When I got down to three days left and hadn’t heard anything about delivery, I called PillTime, and discovered they didn’t have my prescriptions, and that they hadn’t even been printed yet. I spent a lot of the next three days playing go-between for PillTime, my GP surgery, and the delivery company. I got my meds on time, but it took two weeks’ worth of energy, and I only just recovered back to baseline by the time I got my next text message that it was time to request prescriptions, and the process started all over again.

A word here about delivery. The default delivery option for PillTime is DX. They only tell you the day that they will deliver, not a time on that day. Which is astonishing for a service specifically for people who struggle to get to a pharmacy and who benefit from having their medications organised for them to avoid mistakes. With Boots pharmacy, they ask me when would be good for delivery, give me a 3-hour window, and if I’m having a really bad week, I can ask them to give me a call when they’re about half an hour out, to give me time to put on PJs and crawl downstairs, knowing I won’t have to wait around for hours. Getting any more precise delivery information out of DX was impossible, or only available for a fee. I don’t even reliably wake up before 11am, so this delivery set up was completely inadequate.

I was really hoping that these issues I was having would be just a bedding in problem, and that after a couple of months to get established, things would then run smoothly. I used the service in total for four months, to give them a chance to settle things down, and prove that the issues I was having were just teething problems. Unfortunately they never did, and I ended up going back to Boots after an awful weekend spent digging through drawers and bags and borrowing meds from my husband who has one prescription the same as mine. It was terrible.

The impression I get is of an organisation built around the innovation of the pouches, and the technology that makes them possible, but one that hasn’t managed to get the rest of the work of a pharmacy right. Medication isn’t something you can get wrong like this. I can’t just go without my medication and wait for them to get their delivery sorted. If they’ve requested a prescription, I shouldn’t be the one who has to figure out it hasn’t been posted. And it really is inexcusable for a company whose major selling point is the correct date printed on a disposable product to be delivering that product after the start date.

Every month I was with PillTime, the last week of the month, when I was expecting my next box, was filled with anxiety, and that got worse with time. Two of my prescriptions are medications to reduce anxiety. So I’m back with my local Boots pharmacy and their delivery service. It means I have more blister packs in my life again, and when I’m not feeling good, I once again need help to organise my medications. But at least I can trust they’re going to show up on time.

I’m in love – with a lipstick

Warning, I am about to talk a lot about sex and giving head, and also some of the less pleasant things about being disabled.

What do any of those have to do with a lipstick? Let me tell you!

One of the things that has happened to me since becoming disabled is that I sweat. A lot. It might be the meds I’m on. It might be the weight they’ve caused me to gain. It might just be one of those annoying little symptoms of CFS/ME that no one really understands, but still seems to happen to a whole lot of us. Anyway, it means that a lot of make up just slides off my face. And I really like make up, so this is annoying!

It’s meant that while obviously I spend too much time looking at and trying out make up, I also spend a lot of time figuring out how to make it stay where I put it. The Joker is definitely a Look, but it’s not what I’m going for on the regular, you know?

I don’t think I’ve ever said this on the blog, but almost everyone who knows me in real life knows – I LOVE SUCKING COCK. Like, so much. It’s one of my favourite things to do. Hands down. Or up. Or behind my back. Or joining in and making sure the balls don’t feel neglected. Just love it.

The combination of these things means that putting on make up for an orgy becomes an exercise in finding waterproof, longwear, transfer-proof items, and dousing the whole lot in fixing spray. I’ve tried a lot of different lip ideas, and recently managed to get fairly good time out of a lip stain with a tinted lip balm over to top.

But then, this baby entered my life. Rimmel Provocalips. I have 310 Little Minx, but I’m going to be getting more, because this shit is the shit.

I was at a sex party on Saturday. I put on my make up at 6pm. The lipstick was fully opaque in One Swipe, and so comfy I forgot I was wearing it. I had a busy night, including but not limited to giving a full half hour of sloppy head. At 2am, all but a tiny patch in the centre of my lips was still there. It hadn’t settled into the cracks or smeared around my lips at all. I had not reapplied the colour or the gloss at any point.

I don’t know who at Rimmel sold their soul for this formula, but it was a good trade, and in their place, I would have done the same. And if you are anticipating giving lots of oral sex, and you want your lipstick to look just as amazing afterwards as they do before, then get this stuff.

It doesn’t even smell bad!

Review : Quest in Leeds for wheelchair users

At the encouragement of a friend, I’m going to try blogging about my experiences as a very slutty disabled person, and how I make that work. I’ll be talking about online dating, sorting out dirty weekends when the wheelchair and the meds bag need to come along. But today I’m going to talk about the fetish event I went to at a swingers club last weekend.

The venue was Quest in Leeds. I went with three friends, two of whom were quite familiar with my disabilities and access needs, so I knew that even if the access was awful, I’d have back up and help.

But it was awesome! This club have really obviously thought about how to navigate the venue on wheels, and how to help people with less than awesome mobility have an amazing sexy time.

The car park outside isn’t massive, but it’s big enough, and is well hidden from the road, so you don’t feel overlooked while getting from cars into the venue. I got a lift, but it’s not too far from the train station, and easy to find on maps for taxis. I can’t comment on public transport, but if I use it in future, I’ll update this.

There’s a small lip from the car park into the building, but I took it backwards in my electric wheelchair without any problems. The doors are all a pretty standard width, but I didn’t notice any particularly awful things on the walls making things difficult. The staff let me know as soon as they saw my chair that they have an accessible loo. I actually didn’t end up using it, because I can walk for short distances, so I just left my chair outside the standard toilets and used them.

The changing rooms are spacious enough to change in a chair, and they have benches and stools in front of mirrors. There’s also enough space under the vanity bar that you can sit and use your own chair if you want. Lockers and towels are each available for a £5 deposit, and staff give newbies a tour of everything whenever you’re ready, and gave me absolutely no ableist bullshit at any point in the afternoon.

You will probably want a towel because THIS PLACE HAS A GODDAMNED MINI SPA IN THE BACK! For real, the wet area on it’s own would be enough to justify the entry cost for me. There’s a hot tub, hot and cold showers, a sauna, and although it wasn’t in use the day we were there, a steam room. The hot tub holds 8 and is not a sex pond, as no sex is allowed in it. (I’d like to try hot tub sex at some point, but definitely not in a communal tub that I can’t clean immediately afterwards, because, eww.)

Our party started out in the hot tub, chilling and getting affectionate. There may have been kisses. Kisses are awesome. I’m such a fan of kisses. There’s a bit of a step to get in and out the tub, and no hoist, so you do have to be able to stand and move a bit to get in and out. Also there’s nothing to sit on in the showers, which I might ask them about next time I visit, as it’d be really useful. There is, however, ample space around the tub, so I didn’t feel like my chair was in anyone’s way while I was soaking.

We then went into a private room to turn all that spa water into sweat. Which we did. Copiously. It was awesome, and I technically achieved a first I’ve been wanting for a while. Getting in and out of the rooms required a bit of help from my companions, and space was tight. But there was space, and the corridors were wide enough that turning around wasn’t difficult. It’s possible that there were other rooms that would have had more space, but there was only one private room free by the time we were looking, and fortunately, we were able to make it work.

We used the cleaning supplies provided to clean down the room. In retrospect, we should probably have done this before playing too, as I’ve been battling a rather nasty throat infection this week. I wouldn’t take this as a sign of poor hygiene on the part of Quest though – I get every infection going, and usually quite badly. But if you’ve got a crap immune system like me, it’s worth taking the time to wipe down before as well as after. Which is definitely something I will be doing next time I go (*coughs in a decidedly un-sexy manner*).

A quick shower to rinse off, and another soak in the hot tub. Got talking to a couple of the other people at the event. Everyone I ended up talking to was lovely. I made several trips through the bar area, and noticed that the surfaces and bar stools were far enough apart that people didn’t have to struggle to get out of my way, so I didn’t have to worry about rolling over toes, which was lovely. Apparently one of the staff, maybe one of the owners, is a wheelchair user, and in these little but essential details, it shows.

Two of our party then went to take advantage of the dungeon equipment, and R and I, who were all sexed out, found a sofa to curl up on. There were some snacks out in the middle of the room, and drinks were reasonably priced, although I don’t know how reasonably, because no one let me go to the bar, and I kinda like being waited on a little bit!

All in all, it was a really good experience and I will be going back! If you’ve got any questions about the club, put them in the comments, and I’ll try my best to answer them. I hope this is useful in helping you to plan debauchery. A healthy sex life is so important, no matter what form that sex life takes, or how much or how little your body is capable of doing.

Wishing you a wonderful and satisfying intimate life! Smooches (if you want them), Charlie xx

The wet wipes issue from my disabled perspective

The latest culprit in the environment war is wet wipes, and specifically scapegoating people who just Aren’t Trying Hard Enough to be sustainable. This article from The Pool goes into a lot of the issues around why people need to use disposable cleaning and hygiene products. And they’ve got a point. Wet wipes are really easy to carry, and don’t need you to have access to a washing machine. If you’re homeless or housed in overcrowded accommodation, that’s not nothing

But there are some of us who can switch to more sustainable methods, if we know what to switch to

This is a thing that I’ve figured out in the past couple of months for myself. I am a very disabled person. I don’t manage to brush my teeth every day. We had to move rooms in our house so that I could be closer to the loo, to avoid having to get me a commode

Given this, it’s not a surprise that my first thought for facial skin care was wet wipes. They don’t need any preparation. They don’t need a sink. I can clean my face (and pits and bits) in bed, without needing to ask for help from anyone else, which would be frankly embarrassing

And over the last few months, I’ve managed to switch to a more sustainable method! Yay!

It started with catching an ad for a no rinse cleanser on a YouTube make up video. I didn’t even know that was a thing, so I was really excited, and just straight up gave them my money

I started by using the cleanser with disposable cotton pads, but that’s also not the best. I’ve seen tutorials around for how to make yourself reusable cotton rounds, but although I do have a sewing machine, I would rather use the very rare occasions when I have enough energy to use it for making fun things, rather than a whole lot of identical daily necessities

Which is why when I heard the idea of using those pads you put in your bra when you’re nursing as reusable cotton rounds, I was, again, All Over That. I ordered two packs of 12 cheaply from, and a couple of mesh laundry bags to wash them in, just sticking them in with a normal load of clothes. I just keep a stack of cotton rounds and the cleanser on my bedside table, and voila! More sustainable, and I still have clean skin!

They’ve been through the washing machine a couple times now, and are still working just as well. Some of them have picked up a bit of colour from mascara, but they’re comfortable to use and just as easy as a wet wipe. In fact, they’re a bit softer than the L’Oreal wipes I was using before I switched

Being disabled is hard, and there are many ways in which I lead a waste heavy life, and just can’t change that. So when there are things that I can do and change, it feels a little bit like being able to be more of a person. Someone with agency, a stake in the future, and the ability to make a difference, however small

Disabled Person Self Driving Car Wish List

  • Call up a car like you call a cab, but also suitable for long distance journeys
  • Seats that face each other, not all facing forward, so everyone can hear each other when talking
  • Automatic ramps. Actually automatic ramps. Like the ones on London buses. And space between the seats to put wheelchairs
  • Able to navigate drive thru fast food. I don’t think I need to explain this one
  • Able to record if you have a blue badge so you can have pick up / drop off in disabled spaces
  • Windows with adjustable opacity so you can sleep while travelling
  • Also reclining comfy seats
  • A wake up alarm based on how many minutes to your destination
  • Button for ‘I need the next disabled loo we go past’
  • Cup holders
  • Power outlets
  • And I know this seems obvious, but, actually fully autonomous. I’m not allowed to drive cos of my disabilities. I don’t need a hybrid. Public transport doesn’t go everywhere. I need it to do every damn maneuver itself