You can let something go once, but when it happens twice it becomes a trend. Or if not a trend, then at the very least it becomes blog-worthy.
Actually I didn't let it go last time. I wrote it on my Facebook. But there didn't seem any way that it would stretch to an entire blog entry. Until now. Until it has happened again. A few months ago I was getting off the train at Thatto Heath station. This is something I do around 100-150 times a year (when I am in one of my sporadic gym phases in any event). It is important to remember just how routine this is for me. As I pushed up the admittedly large and fairly steep ramp towards the main road leading home, I felt a hand on my back. Then another. I actually took a push up the ramp with two as yet unidentified mits upon my personage. A little startled, I turned around to find a middle-aged man nodding at me and continuing to push his hands into my back in a hopeful attempt to propel me up the ramp;
"No thanks, mate. I'm alright." I said.
His hands did not move. I took another push, still with his hands upon me. I turned around again, only this time I didn't say anything. I just gave him a look. A look that said everything I needed to convey. A look that said 'take your frigging hands off me now, you moron. Do you really imagine that I only make this journey home from work this way in the hope that someone like you will kindly offer to push me up this fucking ramp?'. He got the message and shot me back a look that said 'I was only trying to help, God, chip on your shoulder or what?
Yeah mate, deep fat fryer, now fuck off.
And so to today. I have had an appointment at the doctors. I have been having regular appointments at my surgery for reasons which, while they would make hysterical blog material I am sure, are too personal to discuss here. It went well anyway, thanks for asking, but just as there is a large ramp between me and the exit to my local train station, so there is a similarly whopping great hill on the road between the surgery and my house.
I had almost reached the top of said hill when I heard a car engine behind me. This hapens a lot because I tend to forget that I am not in possession of an engine, and only take into account the fact that it is easier to push on the road than it is to push on the pavement, which is often uneven, sloped or, horror of all horrors, cobbled. So I moved sideways wearily, further towards the unfavoured terrain of the pavement to allow the car to pass me. Only it didn't. Instead the driver, another ageing man who looked no more capable of running up a hill than I, actually got out of his car and asked whether I might like a push up the hill. Now I know he might mean well, but again I must enquire as to whether people really believe that a person who needs a push up a bloody great hill would be out on his own trying to conquer a bloody great hill?
I have already commented elsewhere that the man offering me a push today is likely to need a push up a hill himself before I do. He was not exactly young and not exactly in the peak of his physical fitness. Yet he took one look at my wheelchair and decided that he was the best man for the job of lugging my arse up to the top of the hill. That there were only around ten yards remaining to the summit at that point in any case seems a moot point now.
The Paralympics start next week. You will see disabled people performing physical and mental acts which make pushing up a steep hill near a local park look like rolling over in bed. I just hope that the man I encountered today, and his predecessor from the train station a few months ago, actually witness some of Channel 4's coverage and adapt their perceptions of what disabled people can and can't do for themselves.
My hope is very probably a forlorn one.