You may have already seen this one on Facebook. As soon as it happened I failed miserably to save it for the blog. I'd had a few beers at the time and so resisting the temptation to share it on Facebook was always going to be a big ask. So this one is for those of you who have me on Twitter and not Facebook. Curiously, that is pretty much everyone who follows me on Twitter. For some reason the people who see fit to befriend me on Facebook are a totally different set of people from those who follow me on Twitter. I don't really get that but we're not going to waste time and effort trying to figure it out. What I can tell you is that the only reason I didn't share it on Twitter is that I couldn't do it justice with 140 characters. It's a common problem and why I tweet very rarely except for links to nonsense like this and my work on redvee.net.
On Friday night I was out with a couple of my mates. Now that we're quite old nights out are genuinely uneventful and so not normally worth writing about. I could have written several novels on the events of nights out ten years or so ago. I didn't because firstly I am exceptionally lazy (as evidenced by the fact that this is the first entry in Memoirs Of A Fire Hazard since April 2, some 33 days ago) and secondly because what happens on a night out when you are young and foolish stays on a night out. You really, really wouldn't have wanted to know.
So we'd just watched the rugby (that's league, not union obviously) in the latest incarnation of The Market when we decided upon a change of scenery. Consensus was that we are now too uncool for the likes of Zoo Bar and Bar 44 (as if cool people go there) so we headed to The Sefton instead. It was my round, so I headed to the bar and ordered the drinks. There were only three of us. Three bottles of beer, then. After I had paid for the drinks and put my change away I picked up the first bottle from the bar and began to pass it over to where my two friends were sitting. Literally about three yards from the bar. We're all wheelchair users but still this was not a task which seemed beyond the realms. As I started to pass the beer a man offered me his help.
"I'll take that for you, mate." he said.
"Oh no, thanks mate. It's ok, I've got it." I replied.
He asked again. I declined again. Politely. Every bit as politely as I had the first time. I passed the other two beers over to my friends and we got on with the business of intoxication by alcohol. It must have been ten minutes later that the man who had offered to carry the drinks for me tapped me on the shoulder. For an awful moment I thought he was going to tell me about how he knew 'someone like me' (someone drunk, then?) or about how he works with 'people like us' (St.Helliners? rugby fans? What? Who do they mean?). He didn't say either of these things, but instead introduced me to a new way in which the general public can get their attitude to disability so staggeringly wrong.
"I just offered to help you with your drinks and you fucked me off." He complained. In no other world but his had I 'fucked him off'. I'd just politely told him that I could pass the drinks the short distance to my friends myself. Thanks very much. I promise you that this is the absolute truth. It's not that I'm incapable of being rude to able bodied people desperately trying to save me from my awful affliction. I've said some things to able bodied do-gooders that are right up there with the rudest things you can say to anyone. Once, on a rain-soaked night out in Liverpool I responded to a man's declaration that he had a brother 'just like me' by asking whether the brother in question was piss wet through. Sometimes I'm rude, impatient, obnoxious and a bit of an arsehole. But not on this occasion. I'd just said no thanks. I tried to explain this again to the man. No dice;
"You did, you spat on my help!" he announced. Another attempt on my behalf to deny not only rudeness but now the allegation that I had 'spat on' his help fell on deaf ears. No, not deaf ears. Stupid ears. He heard and understood what I had said alright, he just couldn't get his head around why anyone with a disability would want to refuse help and go to the trouble of passing their own beer to their mates. Then he hit me with a withering bombshell;
"Well that's it now. I'm not going to be offering my help to any disabled people, and that's because of you."
With a theatrical wave of his arm he stormed off before I could respond. I didn't mind that because he was embarrassing everyone and I really couldn't be arsed having the debate with him any further. But I must apologise to all my disabled brethren at this point. Never again will you receive the help of a half-cut, self righteous inspiration porn addict in the watering holes of St.Helens. I'm sure you will agree that this is a monumental loss to the disabled community on Merseyside. I'm not sure how we are going to cope, really. Until now, we have all been going out of our houses only on the basis that someone will help pass the beer or, in some cases, get us from A to B. I remember once pushing up the ramp at Thatto Heath train station when one of these help for the disabled crusaders actually put his hands on my back and began pushing me forwards to the summit. I was a good deal ruder to him on that occasion, and may possibly have taken a swing. If I put my hands on an able bodied person in such a manner, even if I claim I'm trying to help, I'm very likely to be prosecuted.
So now all that help we receive has gone, and it is all down to me. I can only again apologise and express my deep regret. Our lives may never be the same again....