20 January, 2011


Reasons to be cheerful

I've seen her before. She is a dwarf and appears to have either vestigial legs or no legs at all. I dunno — letting one's curious gaze rest too long would be impolite; casually up-ending her to examine her undercarriage would be downright rude. She was sitting on a modified powered wheelchair, the modification consisting of a platform to raise her small body up to a more normal sitting height.

And she was teararsing along the pavement of the Charing Cross Road at the full permitted 8mph. I didn't actually have to leap out of the way, but I did have to put faith in her driving skills.

At the Gate Clock — the Wetherspoon in Greenwich — the other week I saw a number of people in wheelchairs. The atmosphere was of a normal social gathering rather than a tick-the-box take the raspberry ripples out for a spin session, though there were a couple of carers in attendance, including one for a woman whose mobility was so limited that she was compelled to operate her power wheelchair using her chin to push at a pair of paddles. And very skilled she was. I wouldn't say she was quite doing wheelies, but it was most impressive.

And of course you can barely move a dozen yards down the street these days without being menaced by some re-energized semi-ambulant senile delinquent attempting to mow you down with his mobility scooter.

Good luck to them, say I. I don't think those of us who are lucky enough to be independently ambulant using the legs and muscles that came with the original package appreciate quite how liberating these technological developments have been. And I for one am prepared to cut them a bit a lot of slack. Provided they don't drive over my foot, in which circumstance the darker recesses of my vocabulary may come into play.

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