Friday hit hard. After giving 15 lectures in 12 cities, I was just plain exhausted. Joe and I headed for Manchester for a weekend in Manchester. I got up on Saturday with no energy and dreading the next days drive of nearly 300 miles. We made plans, then said, 'nah' and just stayed in the room. At around three o'clock I announced to Joe that we had to go to the goose. Even if it was for just one beer, we had to go.
We discovered Paddy's Goose a number of years ago and now make it a Manchester must. It's kind of like the Rovers Return on acid. (Only Corination Street fans will get that!) We've never been over here without going over there. Tradition! We got me into the wheelchair and walked two blocks and then realized it was uphill for the next three or four blocks. I was tired but determined. I got out of the chair, Joe pushed the chair, I held on to his shoulder for balance, and we slowly walked to the Goose.
I was shaky but proud on arrival. I plonked down in my wheelchair and Joe went to get us each a beer. It was the afternoon so Paddy wasn't at her height. This is a neighbourhood bar. Some would call it a 'gay bar' because gay people go there. But using that as a descriptor you'd also have to call it a cripple bar ... because I've never gone to the Goose and been the only one with a disability there ... or you'd have to call it a prostitute bar because a few of those wander through ... or a shoppers bar because many stop in for a beer after shopping downtown ... or a couples bar because young couples pop in to people watch and relax ... or a drag bar because there are often men in eyepopping clothing.
Are you getting my drift, I like it because it manages to welcome pretty much anyone who's willing to behave. The bouncer outside, who helped us in with the chair, is there to remind everyone that you can go in on your own but you will be 'helped out' if you behave disrespectfully or aggressively.
The sign on the bar says 'The Famous Paddy's Goose'. And it is in its own way. We once chatted with a flight attendant who told us about some of her fun nights in the Goose. Once a year, the Goose gets lots of visits from people with intellectual disabilities as the Paradigm conference happens just down the street. They don't seem to notice that the band that collects diversity together stretches a little wider during those days.
But it's two beer and I'm done. I'm tired and the smoke is bothering me. But I was there. For two beer, I sat amongst people who moved aside for the chair, but without noticing it, who spoke to me to find out where I'm from - not how much I weigh, who were interested in the deeper differences insider me not the shallow ones you can see.
I went to Manchester and all I got was a couple beer at the Goose. And it was enough.