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.