During the second break in the lecture day, Duncan came over and began chatting with me. He is a big man with a soft voice. At first we just chatted about some of the things he's been up to, but I had a feeling that he was there to tell me something, tell me more. So we kept chatting. Then he said, 'You know how you talked about saying no and keeping safe?'
I said that being safe was important.
He nodded, knowing.
Then, quietly, he told me the story of a walk home to his parents place. He spoke to me as if I was a local and knew the reference points for his walk. 'Up by Queen Street there ...' he'd say. My stomach was churning. These story never end well, they always involve pain. Before knowing what happened I looked at Duncan. A big man, a gentle demeanour, a ready smile, a friendly persona ... an easy guy. Don't tell me that someone hurt him too, don't tell me that in th minds of others his disability erased all that's good in him. Don't tell me, Duncan.
But he did tell me. Never losing pace. There were a group of kids, they took him on, one with a baseball bat. They terrorized him. That's the word he used, 'terrorized'. He understood that he was being attacked because of his disability. He understood that what was happening was wrong. More than that he knew that his treatment was criminal.
So. He sought justice. He put together a little team of support, his parents, a family friend, a key worker. And he told his story to the police. It was wrong. It needed to stop. Other people with disabilities needed to be protected.
Then he stopped. The story over.
I looked at him, he was calm. I was hanging over a cliff.
'They are still in jail,' he said. His smile wasn't one of revenge, it was a smile of a man who had a job to do and did it.
I asked him if I could tell his story to the audience, write it for you ... he said that I could. The audience, on hearing his story burst into applause for him. He grinned. Knowing he had the heart of a hero, I grinned back at him. And now you, whereever you are, tip a pint, raise a glass, or punch the sky ... for the big man in Helensburgh
Duncan. You are the man!
Inch by inch the community is reclaimed by people with disabilities. Duncan, he expected something from the heart of the community - justice. And by God. He got it.