A crumby thing happened on the way to The Project: The post script

Previously on Inner Musings of a Funny Looking Kid…

I wrote of a run-in I had with a taxi driver in Melbourne, who refused me entry into his cab (for full details see “A crumby thing happened on the way to The Project”).

I do not really like to make formal complaints (I prefer to whinge about my issues on my blog) because, regardless of what the circumstances I always feel bad about possibly getting someone into trouble. In addition, the attention I get from whinging is usually enough to placate me.

As usual I considered letting it slip, “what if I miss-understood him?” I thought to myself. Was it that big of a deal?

Apparently it was. This blog has been the most interacted-with blog I have ever done. For whatever reason it struck a chord with so many.

So, I went to the website and made a complaint, giving all the detail I had, but not expecting much (as I did not have his number), and feeling very guilty.

After three weeks, I had started to lose hope of ever hearing back, and as the dust had settled by now, I was a bit relieved. But eventually they did get back to me.

As it turnsout, this is a very serious issue which they take very seriously. The driver has broken the company’s code of conduct and (I think) the law. Yet another lesson not to doubt myself.

The driver in question has been appropriately dealt with and I have been promised compensation, funded by a fine he will have to pay.

Despite my dislike of getting people into trouble, I did get a little giggle from this. Is that bad?

Let this be a lesson to him, and to me.


Musings of Melbourne


Damion and I have just returned from our first-ever holiday together, a weekend away in Melbourne Victoria.

I am not sure how Melbournians do it, living in that cold. I froze my arse off. Ironic, given how much I ate.

“They” are not wrong when they say there is good food to be eaten in Melbourne.

My favourite meal to go out for is breakfast and knowing this, I was told that whilst in Melbourne I had to try a meal of smashed avocado and feta. Apparently, it is what all the trendy people eat for brekky there. I did so, and I have to say I cannot see why it is so exciting.

On the subject of trendy dining, is it normal to have to eat your $35 meal on your lap?

For our last supper, we went to a very cute, very old Irish pub. The place smelt of wooden furniture and had a roaring open fire (always a highlight for me). Our “table” was knee high and nestled within a booth that made me think of my Catholic school days and giving confession. When our enormous plates arrived with servings to match, we had to pull them up on our laps to eat. This meant I wore a lot of it, but it was the yummiest Moroccan Lamb Salad I have ever had. Even Damion had nothing but praise for his rack of lamb. My only criticism (if it is one), is that due to the huge serving of salad, I could not finish eating the chips (French fries) I really did not need, but had to have anyway. This was tragic, as they were amazing!

For the record, I consider myself to be something of a hot chip connoisseur. They are quite often the only thing I can eat on a menu, so I have them everywhere. I am thinking of starting a blog just reviewing hot chips…

I am not a big pub person, although in Melbourne I made an exception. They are different to the ones in Perth. Full of character and quiet enough to have a conversation. Even when they are full. I also settled on my drink of choice in Melbourne. Raspberry Vodka and lemonade. I took great delight in ordering “the usual” everywhere we went.

For a modern city, Melbourne has a lot of horses pulling carts (for the tourists I assume). Although there are plenty of cars about, the carts and the constant “ding ding” of the trams made me feel as though I had stepped back in time. Until I got on an actual tram, that is.

I was expecting to see Judy Garland gleefully singing about how jolly it is to ride on the trolley. That is not what I found. Instead, there were bored looking commuters, carrying their shopping and trying not to catch each other’s eye. Shame not all the trams are wheelchair accessible.

St Kilda is my favourite spot in Melbourne. Mostly because it was warmer there than in the CBD, but also because St Kilda beach is amongst the nicest I have seen. So easy to get around and really wheelchair accessible. We originally only went there to see “the clown “ at Luna Park but we ended up spending hours eating and drinking while overlooking the beach. Bliss!

I still have not seen the famed “beach boxes” though, which is disappointing.

Of course, we had to watch an Australian Football League game while in Melbourne, seeing as how it is the home of football.

They are not my team, but we went to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (AKA the MCG or the Holy Grail) to see Damion’s beloved West Coast Eagles play the Collingwood Magpies. To my surprise, there were many Eagles supporters there. Even more surprising was the amount of people sporting merchandise of my team, the Fremantle Dockers. Many of them were wearing Collingwood jumpers and Dockers hats which was odd.

That day, West Coast beat the “Pies” at the MCG for the first time. I was unsure how the very passionate Collingwood supporters would react to us, given that Damion was now wearing an Eagles shirt that he bought at the ground. I need not have worried though as everyone (Pies and Eagles supporters alike) joined in on celebrating what was a very good game. This too was unlike anything I had experienced at the footy in Perth.

On a side note: Is there anyone in Melbourne who isn’t obsessed with the football? People seemed to want to stop and chat about it everywhere we went. What do people talk about in the off-season?

I hardly did any shopping whilst in Melbourne, but Damion (who loves to shop) did convince me to buy a Harvard Alumni jumper. I wore it on our journey back to Perth and, while at the airport, I kept trying to catch people’s eye, hoping they would ask me what I had studied. No one did. Oh well.

But then, Damion had a West Coast Eagles shirt on and no-one asked him if he was a player.

Thanks Melbourne. Until we meet again…


Niina at the Pub

A crumby thing happened on the way to The Project

I thought I was used to discrimination. It often seems as though I go about wearing an invisibility cloak, which is ironic considering the amount of people who stare at me. But never have I been so blatantly discriminated against as I was on my journey to the Channel Ten studios in Melbourne to watch The Project.

I was super excited about this and thrilled to have scored free tickets to be in the studio audience on the weekend we just happened to be in Melbourne.

We had been asked to get to the studio on Chapel Street in South Yarra by 5:30 PM to allow us time to check in and be seated before the live broadcast began at 6:30.

By 4:30 PM we, (myself, Damion and my collapsible wheelchair) were waiting outside our hotel for the taxi that the hotel receptionist kindly called for us.

About 20 minutes later, a taxi in the form of a station wagon finally pulled up.

As we approach the vehicle and made to get in, the taxi driver wound down his window and with a look of disgust in my direction said to Damion, “I’m not taking her she’s in a wheelchair!”

Now, we were both prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he thought the wheelchair would not be able to fold down, and that we were planning to somehow squeeze in anyway.

However, when we explained that the chair was collapsible and could fit easily into the boot of his car, he continued to refuse me entry.

Still only addressing Damion but looking at me with absolute incredulity through the passenger side window, he told us that we would have to ring the taxi company again and asked for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Even though I was perfectly capable of getting into the taxi that was already there.

We tried pleading with him. Explaining that we had an appointment that we simply couldn’t miss. At this he seemed to reconsider, asking (very rudely I might add) “well, where are you going?”

We gave him the address, which as we were currently in the centre of the city and it was peak hour, meant that the fare ended up being more than $40. This however must not have been tempting enough though. He simply said, “nope, you’ll have to call the taxi company.” Then, he wound up the window and drove away.

I totally get that A taxi driver has the right to refuse to take a passenger if they feel that the passenger in question could be a threat to them or their vehicle.

I was neither of those things. I had absolutely no intention of causing trouble, especially as I had on my favourite skirt and causing trouble would risk it getting dirty. He just didn’t want to take me because of my disability.

Not happy Jan!!!!

Following a call from a very I rate Damion to the dispatcher, we eventually did get a taxi.

Ironically, it too was a station wagon. But, it did not have an oaf for a driver.

We made it in the end. We were half an hour late, but we did make it in time for the broadcast. Phew.

Sadly, in all the fuss we were unable to get the taxi drivers number. However, I still plan to make a complaint.

Is it any wonder that Uber is so popular?


TV or not TV? My visit to The Project

I was in the studio audience for one of my favourite TV shows the other night and it was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had…

For those who don’t know, The Project is a news– comedy show that broadcasts live six nights a week. It is filmed at the Channel Ten studios in Melbourne.

Before we went into the actual studio we got a lesson in audience participation. We learned handy skills such as how to clap and make the appropriate noises. “Ooh and ahh” etc.

I have been in a studio audience once before. That time was at the ABC studios in Sydney where I saw the taping of Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. Afterwards, I got to meet the man himself, and because I am a groupie, naturally I asked him for a photo. He agreed, adding “ you can have anything you want because you make me look tall.” Cheeky bugger!

But I digress…

This was just like stepping inside the TV. There was the set just as I had seen it from my lounge room. Although it seems so much smaller in real life.

There were the four hosts, just as I remembered, The only difference is that if you talk to them they will talk back. This is what happens during the ad breaks.

For the record yes, co-host Waleed Ali is that intimidatingly handsome in real life.

Speaking of the ad breaks, although the show its self seemed to slide past so much faster in real life, The ad breaks seems so much longer than when you have to sit through the actual ads. I found this curious, but on reflection, it’s probably because when the ads are on I’m usually in the loo…

The show only had one live guest on this night. Blogger, writer and super cool chick Constance Hall. I was beside myself with excitement. For a while now I have been convinced that Constance and I are destined to be besties. As it turns out it is Damion who was destined to be her bestie though. I found out later that he had been chatting to her and her hubby when he ran into them and their gorgeous brand-new baby in the car park outside the studio. I was MIA. Dammit!

Having a vision impairment can sometimes be a vexation to the spirit. After the broadcast, Damion and I were heading down in the lift with two of the crew members. While the three of them were chatting I was gazing around the lift and my eyes fell upon a “photo” of co-host Joe Stanley that was hanging on the wall. In order to focus on it properly I stared at it probably way too long.

Then, A new voice asked me, “did you enjoy the show?” I was in my wheelchair facing the back of the lift so I craned my neck to see who had made the query. Possibly realising I couldn’t see her, the owner of the Voice bent down beside me and put her hand on my shoulder. It was co-host Carrie Bickmore. OMG! She too is tiny. I’m sure if I stood up we would’ve been the same height.

It was only then that I realised the “photo” I had been staring atfrom mere centimetres away was in fact Jo herself. So embarrassing.

Sadly I have no photos from my visit to The Project. Cameras and mobile phones are not allowed in the studio.

I do however have yet another story to add to my faux par file.


When 5 year-olds raid your photos

I am called a “Super Hero” a lot. Not just when I am doing highbrow things such as skydiving or abseiling down skyscrapers (which I do for my own enjoyment not to save the world from evil-doers), but when I brush my own teeth or wipe my own bum as well.

I hate it because it is patronizing, ye of little faith.

Or do I…

I was chatting with my favourite 5-year-old twins on the weekend. The girl and I have always gotten on well (once I had answered her 1000 questions along the lines of “what are your intentions with my friend Damion?” at our first meeting that is). We both share a love for unicorns, Barbie and all things pink. But, as I am a girl (a highly infectious carrier of girl germs) and a very non-athletic girl at that, the boy and I have never really bonded. Until now.

While my fellow pink-lover and I were catching up, I mentioned the word “poncho”. When she did not know what a poncho was, I got out my phone and showed her a photo of me wearing one in the rain. She knew that I have a very cute photo of us together and so, she asked if she could look at it again. Of course, I said yes.

This lead to her investigating what else “cool” I had in my photo album (fear not, this is not going where you think it is). She found the animation my friend Neil sent me of my face super imposed onto the body of a unicorn which I thought was dancing, but which miss 5 informs me is actually farting (thanks Neil) and showed it to her brother. He was not very impressed.

She then found a photo of me and Batman. Suddenly his interest was piqued. “Do you know Batman?” He asked.

I am all for kids being kids and using their imagination as much as possible, but I had no idea what to say. So I told him the truth, I met Batman and the Hulk (they had found that photo by now too) while I was out walking one day. They were both very impressed.

He then sat really close to me, almost on my lap and asked in amazement “Nina, are you Wonder Woman?” he had just seen me dressed in her costume)

I know I should not have but I was flattered that he thought I could be (especially when he has seen me use both a wheelchair and a walking frame), and I was so chuffed that we were finally bonding. So naturally, I said that I was. Adding that they needed to keep it a secret, because superheros are not supposed to reveal their secret identity. He hugged me, which I took to mean that my secret was safe.

God help me if there is ever an emergency while I am around though…

Luckily, at that moment he noticed that I have no games on my phone and the subject was changed. I then spent the rest of my visit being instructed on which games I needed to download.


***all these photos/animation are on my Instagram @NinaMarieButler if you are interested.



Walking in the rain won’t make me grow taller, and other information that doesn’t help

Wet NinaIt is winter here in Perth. We are not very far into it but already this has been our rainiest start to winter in a long while.

When I was about five, my Uncle told me that if I walked in the rain it would make me grow taller.

Of course, he only told me this because he thought it would encourage me to go out to the car. Mum and Dad were waiting and I did not want to leave Grandma’s.

I think this is why I have always loved being in the rain.

Whenever anyone offers me an umbrella, I will usually refuse, saying, “no thanks, I’m hoping it will make me taller.” That, and I couldn’t hold an umbrella and manoeuvre Cecily or close the damn thing anyway.

I still say this and when I do, people laugh and I laugh with them, but there is always a tiny part of me that hopes that one day it might actually come true.

Walking like a handicapped turtle, I often am stuck in the rain. I have been caught in the rain so much that I should conceivably be 20 feet tall by now.

A few pairs of pants and a couple of skirts are tighter than they normally are. But I do not seem to have grown any taller.

It has been many years and I think if it has not happened by now it is probably not going to.

My Uncle may have told me a fib.

Speaking of useless information…

In case you were not aware, telling me that you always feel positive after we catch up is a nice thing to say. Except, if you follow that up with “it always makes me feel better about my life.”

Telling me that my new shorter hair suits me is very much appreciated. Unless you add, “it makes me realise how awful your hair look before.”

Introducing me to someone by saying, “she’ll probably really like you, she is disabled too” is not enough to guarantee a lasting friendship.

Commenting that I remind you of your favourite cousin because we are both very disfigured is not really an ideal icebreaker. Especially when you then insist on taking me over to your group and saying, “hey everyone, who does she remind you of?”

If you hear me giving someone a compliment or making a comment in response to a question, adding “yeah but, she’s blind,” is not only unnecessary, but also very unhelpful.

“You don’t mind if I ask (insert inappropriate assumption here)” is not a question. Even when your voice goes up at the end of the sentence.

Finally, I know it is a rite of passage for a disabled person to be asked, “Can you have sex?” But that does not make it appropriate!

Just saying…