Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tilting at a Windmill

I'm lecturing in Glasgow in the Royal Concert Hall, how cool is that? I am on a small riser in front of an audience of nearly two hundred. Yesterday, my first day of two there, I was a little intimidated. For some reason I kept thinking of that old joke, 'How do you get to Carnagie Hall? Practice!' We were assisted by, get this, stage hands. Really. Joe had the books brought in through the Stage Door.

After the day was over we headed straight back to the hotel. We'd planned to go shopping for groceries but I'm fighting a cold and wanted just to tuck in to the room and rest. Just inside the door of the hotel is a small gift shop. We went in because the urge to shop is the urge to shop. The woman working the gift shop had a Scottish accent that was just this side of understandable. She spoke a mile a minute, if you put a fan in front of her mouth, you could power the lights in the building.

She started in on me with great good humour. Her Gran had been in a wheelchair and she knew that all a wheelchair was was a way to get around and a means to getting ahead in line ups, a sympathy beer from a pub and a discount at the butchers. And I'd better not be thinking about sneaking things into my wheelchair bag because she had her eye on me. The flow of words just didn't stop the whole time we were in there. She joked about my wheels, my driving ... everything was fair game.

At first I found myself annoyed. Over the three years of being in the chair, no one, that's NO ONE, talks about my disability. Certainly no one jokes about it ... but me. It's a subject approached somewhat reverantly. In a few seconds she blew the cobwebs out of that particular temple. I went from annoyed to refreshed. I knew that she teased and cajoled everyone who came into her domaine ... and rightly so, that's who she was ... And damn it, that's who I am too.

She took me aback because she confronted disability as an equal cause for good humour and bonhomie.

I'd go back and take her on, but I think I'd lose.


Uniqueisfab said...

I love the description of the lady in the shop. that was a real "weegie" moment. (glaswegian)
Scotland is full of people who use humour with everyone its one of the things i love about it and especially when i go to Glasgow people have a really open attitude to everything.

I was at the concert hall yesterday and have to say thanks Dave. I was shocked, upset, laughing and grateful you and others are highlighting the abuse of those most vulnerable but also letting us see how we can help stop more happening to the people we know and love.

It is indeed an honour to have a son with disabilities in my life and i was privilaged to hear you yesterday. Unforgettable

I wish you a speedy r4ecovery so you can enjoy your visit to the UK.

Safe journey

Anonymous said...

Its great to have you in the UK.

Are you coming anywhere near London?

It's good to know too that you realise when you're beaten by a greater wit. Retreat to fight another day.

Welcome and get well soon


Heike said...

You saw that well, Dave. See teased and cajoled everyone who came into her domaine. It woudld have been wrong if she had treated you differently. The fact that she treated you like everyone else is wonderful, and hey, she blew away some of your cobwebs while she was at it. An all round brilliant experience.

Susan said...

Sounds like a classic case of British humour to me! Gotta love 'em. :)

Susan said...

Whoops, I should have said "Scottish humour". (Especially with surname like Stewart!)

Belinda said...

Susan, you were right first time! :) The British sense of humour that I grew up with, understands the unspoken: reads between the lines, catches the wit of an apparent insult that is anything but, and is irreverant by definition!

lina said...

Ha, someone who was a challenge for you...she sounds great - wish I could have been there to see that!

Shan said...

Nice to be treated like everybody else, eh?

It reminds me of this Bible verse in Acts which says something like "God is no respecter of persons", and means that there is no specialness, or unspecialness, about any of us in his eyes. I like that.

Anonymous said...

I started to cringe as I read through your blog, not everyone appreciates weegie humour. Careful of those Glaswegians though Dave, a veritable funny bunch with a very dry wit.

Myr. said...

" In a few seconds she blew the cobwebs out of that particular temple."

That made me laugh outloud!

You have such a gift of communicating feelings while at the same time highlighting them for what they are.

purple_kangaroo said...

LOL, thanks. I should keep this in mine when people make cracks about my service dog in training. That same old joke, "But that's what your kids are for--why do you need a dog to help you?" gets old pretty fast. :)