Blog : Posts tagged with 'disability'

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Oversized and overpublicised

In which we get annoyed by the media and press releases


The other day, various news media carried the story that Ryanair, the world’s most controversial airline, was planning to charge fat people extra. Because that was, apparently, what its customers wanted. They’d been polling and everything.

Personally, I was surprised they hadn’t done it earlier. After all, they’ve already charged the physically disabled extra, so one more act of discrimination is hardly a surprise. It’s a small step, too, from charging per pound of luggage to charging per pound of flesh. I’ve never flown with them; and, because of policies like this, I’m never going to, so I don’t particularly care what they try to charge people. At least, until the day that other airlines start to think: “well, Ryanair can get away with it, why don’t we?”

What annoyed me, though, was the media’s reaction to what is, as yet, nothing more than a press release and a publicity stunt. The Guardian said as much in its article linked above; the rest of the media didn’t seem to care. BBC News was inviting people to phone in and text with their reactions; I wanted to say: “why are you giving them the publicity?” It’s nothing but cheap advertising for a firm who doesn’t really deserve it.

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I’ve no eye, dear

In which we keep well out of the way


News story of the week: a chap has been arrested in the West Midlands for driving whilst blind.* It wasn’t just that his sight was a bit fuzzy – to quote the police officer who stopped him:

I asked him if he could see me. He removed the dark-coloured sunglasses he was wearing and I could clearly see he was blind as he had no eyes.

To be fair, he did have a passenger telling him where to go. As he was on the wrong side of the road when stopped, though, the passenger can’t have been doing a particularly good job. On the other hand, as the driver was also partially deaf, maybe he just couldn’t hear what was going on.

* link via The Register.

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Uncharitable

In which FP is accosted by a beggar


Popping into town at lunchtime, ambling down a side street, I passed a dirty-looking one-legged man in a wheelchair.

“‘Scuse me, mate,” he said.

“Yes…?” I replied, warily. I couldn’t see this conversation going well.

“Are you from here?”

“Yes.”

“Have you got any ten-pees?”

“No,” I replied. I had no idea if I had or not, but I definitely couldn’t see this conversation getting any better.

“Have you got any money at all, mate?”

“Not much,” I answered. “Why?”

“I’m from Doncaster, and I need to get back home. I need another £4.50 for the train fare.”

“Really,” I said, trying my best to sound unbelieving. I’ve never had beggars try to pull this trick on me since I moved here, so it made a change to hear it again. I also noticed that his accent was nothing like a Doncaster one.

“I’m a diabetic,” he said, pulling a hypodermic from a pocket of his dirty cardigan. “Look. Diabetic. I need to get back to Doncaster.”

If I was quicker at thinking, I might have said something meaningful and concerned, like: isn’t it convenient for you that you can wheel straight off the train into the street when you get to Doncaster?* If I was more violent, I might have just grabbed the handles of his chair, kidnapped him, and wheeled him onto the next Doncaster-bound train, with instructions to the guard to definitely make sure he got off at the right stop. Being me, I just started walking onwards.

“I’VE GOT NO LEGS, MATE!” he shouted at me as I walked away. I felt like turning round and replying: look, I can at least count to one.

* For people lucky enough never to have to go there, or change trains there: if you are in a wheelchair, there are no public routes to, from or between the platforms at Doncaster station. The only thing you can do is to ask the staff to put you in the parcels-trolley lift.

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