Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Guess Who?

I'm not famous. In no way, shape or form am I well known. I'm Not A Celebrity, So Leave Me Here. Very few people in St.Helens are famous. Probably only Johnny Vegas can say that he is well known outside of the M62 corridor. It's an injustice that some of the people who have played for Saints with such distinction down the years (and in particular Steve Prescott after his super-human achievements before his tragic death last week) are not well known in Tunbridge Wells or wherever but there you go. That's another blog.

I point out my lack of celebrity because I got recognised on Friday night. By a taxi driver. He came to my house to take me, along with Emma and her mum and dad, into the town centre. We were going to the Chinese Buffet in town. There was nobody famous in there either. Only I got recognised. By a taxi driver;

'Oh I remember you from Sindy's' he said.

There are a number of things about this. Firstly, 'Sindy's' as far as I can ascertain, has not been called 'Sindy's' since my mum and her mates went there before I was born. When I was in the building it was called 'Lowie's', but even that guise has long since suffered it's demise. It must be fully 15 years since I went to Lowie's, and even then it was probably only because they briefly reduced the price of a pint of beer to 50p in a desperate bid to get the punters back in. The world was changing beyond their control. Staying in was becoming the new going out, especially after the smoking ban came into force a few years later. Even the fiendishly brilliant marketing ploy that was changing its name to firstly, 'The Plaza' and latterly 'The Orange House' couldn't keep people in the building.

Anyway, like I say it was all a very long time ago, so how does this man know me after all these years? The awful truth is that he might know me, he might not. He's taken a blind punt that it was me because he can remember, through the fog in his small mind, picking up a very drunken disabled person from the premises. Whatever it might have been called at the time. There is every chance that it was me. I confess, I was there. But equally, there is every chance that it was my good friend Paul who sadly is no longer with us. Or it could have been any number of people who happened to frequent the premises and have the temerity to do so in a wheelchair. Either way, can any of you able bodied people really say that you have to endure people who have met you once in or outside of a nightclub 15 years ago recognsing you on your way out for a quiet meal with the in-laws? It's worse than having the fucking paparazzi hiding in the bushes in my back garden. Celebrities have to put up with that sort of thing but they are paid a gazillion bazillion pounds for their trouble. I have a grade four administration job in a University. It's not the same thing.

But it's the uncertainty that annoys me. It might not have been me, but I'm usually too polite to point this out to people. Quite often when I am recognised, it isn't me. Brilliantly, I was once recognised by my friend's brother's best mate on the way home from the pub;

'Alright, Phil? Shit result for United, wasn't it?'

I think you have spotted the flaw in all of this. I am not Phil. My friend Phil is Phil. Yes he has a wheelchair,but it is there that the similarities between us end. Ok, we are both miserable buggers but is it any wonder when we have to put up with bullshit like this? This man, who to be fair might have drunk half of Thatto Heath dry by then, continued to insist that not only was I Phil, but that I actually gave a flying fuck about Man Utd's result other than to take great joy in their misfortune. Several attempts on my behalf to deny being Phil or the much greater indignity of supporting Manchester United fell on deaf ears. Or insanely drunken ears at the very least. Can your ears get drunk?

No matter. This ambiguity can sometimes work in our favour. The inability of able bodied people to look above the wheels and identify someone could be all I need to commit the perfect murder. You could put me in a Usual Suspects-style line up with five other wheelchair users and there are able-bodied people out there who would not be able to pick me out had they witnessed the crime. Some of them couldn't narrow it down any if two of the five people in the line-up were women! Because to them there are no male and female wheelchair users, only people in wheelchairs. We are continually desexualised and dehumanised. The third gender. Whenever I go abroad I marvel at their ability to put a disabled toilet within the confines of either a gents or a ladies toilet area. Meanwhile Britain continues to be mysytifyingly unable to make this kind of scientific breakthrough. The third gender must have it's own room, and while it's about it, it must put it's hand up at the bar and ask Miss if it can have the key to get in. It's either that or wet yourself. You fucking choose.

If people aren't going to look above the wheels (and I don't think there is time to tell you about the occasion when some kids mistook me for another local man called Malcolm who not only cannot power his own wheelchair manually but can't actually verbalise due to the severity of his disability) then we might aswell just all have a great big game of Guess Who and then we'll just become whoever is on the card we end up with. Have you got glasses? Have you got blond hair? Are you wearing a hat? Are you fucking Albert or Morris or Ged?

Even I don't know now.

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