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  • Writer's picturePeta

The Exploding Wheelchair Tyres Chronicles

Wait, wait! I know what you're thinking but this is not some depressing story about when Peta experienced disability discrimination. Nope. It's about the day that she ruined her close friends' 21st birthday.

Connect with Peta:

Instagram: @petahooke

Episode transcript:

Peta [00:00:03] Hello and welcome to The I Can't Stand Podcast, the podcast, answering your questions on what it's like to live with a disability. This week I got a question about what my worst moment is ever that I've had with my disability. Well, I'm going to tell you a cracker of a story of my worst day with a disability. If you'd like to ask me a question, there are three ways you can get in contact with me. One by Instagram at @icantstandpodcast. Two, by email at or three, through my website OK, let's get into it.

Peta [00:00:54] This week, I had a question from a couple, which is very nice, Nicole and John asked me, what's my worst moment regarding having a disability?

Peta [00:01:06] Hold your horses, guys, this is not going to be some depressing story about when I got discriminated against. No, no, no. The worst moment in my life ever is when I ruined one of my best friend's 21st birthdays. And yes, it's to do with my disability, but, oh, my God, it's a cracker of a story.

Peta [00:01:28] So let me set the scene. My friend Emma and I went to Europe for our 21st. We were going on the train from Paris to London that day, the day Emma turned 21. We'd had a lovely morning getting on the train really early. She'd opened her birthday present for me on the train. I had a cake hidden in my luggage. Will get to that in a minute. And we got to a lovely hotel overlooking the river in London.

The London Eye, the River Thames and the British Parliament
My old digital camera coming up with the goods, 2011.

Peta [00:02:00] Let's get a viewpoint of the city and try and get our bearings. Let's go to the London Eye! So we get on the London Eye, somehow or another, we're all by ourselves in the capsule.

Peta [00:02:11] We're having a lovely time taking photos and then all of a sudden I hear. [Hissing sound] I think oh that's weird. What's that? I looked down, my left-hand front tire, I can visualize it, sitting here now talking to you, was going flat.

Peta [00:02:36] I didn't understand what I'd done wrong. I found out later that the capsules on the London Eye pressurized.

Peta [00:02:43] So when they closed the door, my tires full-on, exploded. I mean, what do you do when your tires explode on the London Eye? I hadn't really read that bit in the tourist handbook.

Peta [00:02:58] Frantically, I think, oh, my God. Okay, calm down. Don't say anything to Emma. This is her day.

Peta [00:03:04] So I, like, casually tried to call my dad while I'm, you know, leaving Emma to look at the view. And I say, Dad, I need help!

Peta's dad [00:03:15] Why? Where are you?

Peta [00:03:16] I said, oh, I think my tires have exploded. Of course, a few expletives later, my dad was on his way.

Peta [00:03:26] We pushed the emergency button inside, and after explaining to Emma what happened, she spoke to the lady, like it was literally like we were in a lift, you know, like those emergency buttons that you get somebody on an intercom. So we explain what happened.

Peta [00:03:44] The people at the London Eye were a little panicked because this had never happened before. Of course, I'm the one that popped their cherry on this area of things. Great.

Peta [00:03:54] They stopped the whole London Eye, I guess we're up there, I reckon, for good, like 45 minutes, just waiting to see what the hell was going to happen. By that stage, my dad was waiting at the bottom. This was before you really had Google at your disposal like there was a business lounge in the hotel, but it's not like I could quickly Google on my phone to see a wheelchair repair was around the corner in London. I had no idea what to do. So Dad put my wheelchair in manual and my wheelchair is so heavy, plus me, I mean, I know I was 21, but I've always sort of been curvy.

Peta [00:04:36] Poor Emma and dad were pushing me to a cab, you know, luckily in the UK, all cabs are wheelchair accessible. Dad like, lifted me and I'm like a bag of spuds. I can't hold myself at all. He, like, lifted me and said, I'm sorry, Peta, but you're going to have to lay down on the seat because we need to get the wheelchair next to you to fit the wheelchair in. So poor Emma is like, I'm lying on the seat of this taxi, almost crying, saying to her, oh my God, I've ruined your 21st birthday.

Peta [00:05:11] Oh, my God, what are we going to do? We've only just got here. How are we going to fix the wheelchair? And I was looking up at the taxi ceiling going, this is all too hard. Why is this happening? I just wanted a really nice day with my best friend and now ruined her birthday and Em was really good.

Peta [00:05:29] She said, oh, well, you know, we need help lifting you out of the taxi. Maybe the universe is, you know, doing this on purpose and you're going to find the love of your life when he pulls you out of the taxi. She's very good in that way. I felt better. So I was sort of giggling, trying to imagine, you know, what this man is going to look like when he helps my dad pull me out of the cab.

Peta [00:05:55] We get back to the hotel. Open the door and my heart sinks, I mean, a lovely, lovely man, but he must have been, I don't know, 65, 70? They get me back in my wheelchair. Dad pushes my heavy over 100 kilos wheelchair to the lift. We get in the lift, we get to the hotel room and dad says, I have to take your wheelchair to go get it fixed. You're going to have to go lie on the bed.

Peta [00:06:24] Mum's with me, Emma is with me, and I'm trying to, like, make light conversation and not be too down about it because it is Emma's birthday. So I didn't want to be a sad sack. So I'm trying to lighten it up, saying, oh, well, when we get the wheelchair fixed, what do we want to do? Where do we want to go? You know this is still going to be an amazing trip.

Peta [00:06:43] Unfortunately, my dad was sort of gone for a while and then he came back with the wheelchair and he said.

Peta's dad [00:06:54] The concierge has googled, but the wheelchair, the place to get the wheelchair fixed, is like 190 miles away, which is like 300 kilometers.

Peta [00:07:07] So, clearly, the wheelchair wasn't going to get fixed today. It was now four o'clock in the afternoon. It would have to get fixed tomorrow. Right. Okay, so I had planned to go to a fancy restaurant for Emma birthday like a trendy, fancy restaurant for Em's birthday, so we cancelled that booking.

Peta [00:07:28] I got the cake out, finally out of the fridge and looked in the box and it looked like somebody had sat on the cake. It had a big indent in it. So it no longer said Emma, it said MMA. OK, so we need to do something. I refuse to have, you know, room service in our room it's Emma's birthday. We need to do something.

Peta [00:07:53] You know, that weird little office section in the side of most hotel rooms? My parents both lifted me on there and neither of them should be lifting me, but they both lifted me on there and dad pushed me on the little shitty office chair all the way down to the restaurant, in the hotel.

A hotel room in London with the desk and the same office chair
We didn't stay here but it is the same office chair. I will never forget that chair.

In the same outfit that I've been dragged and laid on the back of a London cab in, hadn't wash my hair because we're up early that morning. Looking amazing, smelling amazing, trying to make the most of Emma's birthday. We had a nice dinner and that was all fine but we still had the problem of how the hell do we get this wheelchair fixed?

Peta [00:08:36] My dad woke up at like five-thirty the next morning and literally just had to hail a cab and said to the cab driver, Look. I need to go like two counties away, 300 kilometres away, because it's the only place to get a wheelchair fixed here in the UK to get new tires.

Peta [00:08:58] So that was very expensive. It was like, I don't know, I think the guy charged had like 300 quid or something, plus getting the wheelchair fixed. So, it was a very, very expensive day in London.

Peta [00:09:12] I hope that answered the question of my worst day with a disability.

Peta [00:09:16] It's probably not what you would think, but when you're reliant on equipment, things happen that are out of my control. You just have to sort of be MacGyver and either solve the situation yourself or just problem solve on the hop. That was the day that we did that to the extreme. So I hope that gave you a giggle, everyone.

Peta [00:09:41] I want to take this moment to formally apologize to Emma. We are still friends to this day. I don't know how you put up with me, Em. But it was, it was memorable. It's never boring when you're friends with me.

Two women (one standing, one in a wheelchair) in front of a lake
Enjoying London after the wheelchair got fixed, 2011

Peta [00:09:58] Well, I hope you enjoyed that story as much as I enjoyed telling it to you. Can I ask you a favour? Would you mind rating and reviewing the podcast on whatever platform you're listening on?

Peta [00:10:11] It really helps me grow and let other people find the podcast. Also, don't forget, follow me on Instagram. I post information about the podcast, what to expect and I post some Reels up there, too. Thanks so much and I'll see you next week.


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