Sometimes it’s not about how fast you get there; its about getting there

I was woken by the sound of helicopters this morning. The London marathon passes through Charlton, of course, and I presume they were filming it from on high. I still have a liking or choppers ever since I had a ride in one in Australia. Anyway, about an hour later, being washed, dressed and watered, I headed to the end of the road to see if I could see anything interesting. I had never seen the village so quiet, so devoid of traffic, but by then most of the runners had already been through. It seemed that there wasn’t much left to see, but I decided to hang around a bit anyway. after a few minutes, and after an aborted attempt to get talking to one of the stewards (I gotta get my lightwriter fixed!) I was considering heading back in when I saw something which I think is quite brilliant.

I saw a young lady come around the corner in the distance, two men walking beside her. She was using a rolator – a walking frame of a kind I once used when I was small – and obviously had CP. I waited for her to pass me, and then applauded as vehemently as I could; frankly I felt myself filled with admiration for her. You could debate the politics of such things, and call it a symptom of medical model thinking or a piece of unnecessary crip heroics, but the fact remains this young woman, who I guess was in her early twenties, had set herself a task of competing alongside her peers and was determined to see it through. After all, lazy git that I am, I wouldn’t do such a thing; these days I find the short walk round the corner to the shop too far, and go in my chair.

I decided to ride beside them for a while. She was walking rather slowly. It turned out that their plan was to walk the course over four days, doing seven miles a day. The young woman, whose name is Nicole, was obviously quite tired but very determined. Her parents were walking beside her, supporting her. I would have liked to ask a few more questions, but my lightwriter was playing up, so I kept quiet. I turned and headed home at the edge of Charlton, not wishing to distract them too much. I truly hope that in four days Nicole will stride proudly up the Mall, head held high, having proven once more that us crips can do anything.

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