My name is Paul Taylor, I am 48 years old and I live in London. I am married with four grown-up sons and I work for a children's charity managing a fostering service.
I have psoriatic arthritis throughout my body, Ankolysing Spondylitis of the spine, two prolapsed discs and Chrohn’s disease. My conditions started in my early 30's and have progressed over the last 15 years. The main impact they have on me, in respect of attending gigs and festivals, is that I cannot stand for any longer than 10 to 15 minutes and have to have back support when sitting and space to stretch my legs. For festivals I cannot carry anything heavy for any distance.
Throughout my life I have enjoyed a whole range of music: soul, reggae, the new romantics and rock and roll. For the last 5 years or so I have increasingly got into ‘indie’ music and the majority of gigs I go to are for indie bands. Favourites at the moment are Frank Turner, Vampire Weekend and Augustines.
My particular bug bears are not so much the access facilities, but rather the attitude of certain venues and festivals who make claims to be disability friendly or accessible but, when you turn up, have done the bare legal minimum to cover themselves. They’ve clearly put no thought into access issues or consulted with anybody. I would rather see an honest approach and have people say that they either can't do it, or don't want to do it!
But there are venues with a lot going for them, like The O2 and Wembley Arena. Both have very good facilities, accessibility throughout the venues and very helpful staff. Another venue I have been really impressed by is KOKO in Camden. It’s a very old building, so they are limited in what they can do, but they have made the best of what they have. The staff have a really positive and helpful attitude, and you just get the sense that they really do want to include disabled people.
In terms of festivals, the best have to be the Festival Republic ones like Latitude and Reading. Not everything is spot on, but they also have that attitude of wanting to make it accessible coupled with a lot of good facilities. They also listen. One year at Latitude I gave the promoters - and Attitude Is Everything - a lot of feedback over a number of issues, and the following year a number of changes had been made in response .
I think the work Attitude Is Everything does is great. I have started going to live music later in life after my kids have grown up, and being able to use accessible facilities has meant that I have been able to attend gigs and festivals. Without those facilities I simply never could have attended.