‘Dear John’

Something happened yesterday afternoon which I thought briefly about recording, then decided not to. However, after just coming across this, I think I will. It’s a letter from a disabled man to the anonymous person who called him a ‘window licker’. Opening it ‘Dear John’, he writes about how deeply hurtful it was, and how insulted he and his wife felt. Sadly, though, it’s something ‘we’ have to put up with.

Yesterday afternoon, Lyn and I were out for a walk. We weren’t going far – just enjoying a stroll before dinner. We were going past the hospital when a car came by and the guy in the passenger seat rolled down the window and shouted something like ‘oi, spastics!’ at us. I don’t think Lyn heard it, but I turned and shouted back. The guy saw I was insulted, and drove away, as if surprised I could feel his insult. Like the guy writing the letter, I’m a proud person; like his wife, I have a degree and a Masters. Lyn is an accomplished musician, capable of playing before the world. Yet this is the type of thing we are increasingly having to put up with.

Perhaps the most troubling thing is, had I not come across this letter this morning, I would probably have let it slide. After all, there wasn’t much to write about. The letter gave me a context to put it in. Such incidents are small, fleeting and easily brushed aside; yet, put together, they form an increasingly alarming picture of discrimination and abuse directed towards people with disabilities. The guy in the car yesterday might have thought he was just having a laugh, but I fail to see why people like Lyn, myself, or the guy who wrote that letter, should have to put up with being the butt of other people’s jokes.

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