First of all I have to again apologise for the lack of material on these pages. What time I have had for writing has been spent putting together a series of previews of the new Super League season which starts in early February. You may have seen a few of these springing up on Facebook. To be honest I didn't really intend to publish them on Facebook as they are pretty niche. They're far more popular on Twitter where most people who follow me do so because of my rugby league writings. Most of them don't even know me. But that's no barrier to us being friends. The reason these pieces appeared on Facebook had more to do with my inability to use Buffer correctly. I'm sorry Steve. You taught me far, far better than that.
I went for a Wetherspoons breakfast at the weekend. To my mind this is one of the greatest pleasures in life, but that could just be a reflection of the woeful tragedy that my life has become. But for less than £4 I get a wonderfully unhealthy meal that means I then have no need for food for about seven hours. What is not to like about that? The reason I tell you about my visit to Wetherspoons this particular weekend is that it provided the latest example of my being mistaken for someone else. Oddly, I'm always being recognised by people who don't actually recognise me. It's like being a celebrity with none of the perks. Only the regular hassle they must endure from the general public on a daily basis. Like being Robbie Williams without the sex and drugs.
So as we entered Wetherspoons a man was stood outside smoking a cigarette. He looked at me with a smile and said 'alright, George?'
George? This was a new one. Usually when this happens I'm Lee, Paul or Phil. That's because these are the names of wheelchair users who are friends of mine (the confusion on some faces when they see us together) and who might reasonably rock up at Wetherspoons in St Helens on a Sunday morning. However, not to state the obvious but none of these men look anything like me. They just happen to use wheelchairs which is enough to confuse certain members of the idiot population. After all we're all the same from the wheels up, right? The differences between us are not that difficult to spot but just to recap. All of Lee, Paul and Phil have hair. Lee is eight years younger than me. Paul is five years younger and half my weight. Phil is around 10 years older than me. So we're all different ages, sizes and only I have no hair. And get this. Lee has ONE leg!! ONE FUCKING LEG!! You idiot population. You see a wheelchair and you lose the ability to count legs!
As I passed the man on the way in he made a remark about how I must have been warm with such a big coat on. When he did he again called me George so I thought I'd try again to protest my innocence against the charge of being George. I told him I didn't know who George was but that I felt this cold January day warranted the use of the big coat. Or words to that effect. It didn't convince him. When Emma went up to the bar to order our breakfasts (I could go but it would involve the use of a lift which hardly ever works, often needs operating by staff and would probably evoke memories of that episode of Phoenix Nights where Brian Potter takes his new girlfriend upstairs) she overheard the man telling the friends he was there with that he had just seen George! What the Hell kind of wft-ery is this? Who is George?
To be fair to the man since I don't know George it may well be that he is my doppleganger. There's a fair chance he has no hair and two admittedly useless legs, at least. I hope for his sake that he isn't a dead ringer for me with the added complication of having my disability. Looking like me and having my disability is no fun, I can assure you. Yet the fact that it is possible that George is burdened in this fashion goes some way to explaining why I don't believe in God. Why would he do that to two people? And make them both live in St Helens? Preposterous. If this has happened then it is nothing other than a tragic accident of nature. I suspect and actually prefer to think that it has not happened quite like that. Somehow I prefer to believe in society's staggering ignorance than in the idea that there is anyone else out there who has to put up with being me.
Later that day, having posted a much more brief version of this misunderstanding on Facebook I came across a video there of a wheelchair user swinging and doing pull-ups from a set of high bars and walking along on his hands, all while still strapped to his wheelchair. Yes, he did use straps. Contrary to the belief of some intellectually challenged folk we're not surgically or anatomically attached to eight pounds of metal. I don't sleep in my chair nor do I shower or bathe in it. Heck, I don't even watch Homeland in it. I know, who knew? So anyway having seen this video I shared it (another mention for Steve here, thanks for that) and asked the question about why I never get mistaken for that bloke. I thought that was funnier than the original story of mistaken identity myself but the figures (or likes if you prefer) suggested otherwise. There's no accounting for taste.
Not that taste comes into it if we're all the same as George.