I was pleased because it was a very long push from where we had finished shopping and, because the store wasn’t really busy, I got up a real head of steam. It felt good to have a bit of a run.
I got to when I had to make a sharp turn and I spun round with precision. It was perfect and I felt great.
I went down down the much narrower hallway to the toilets and turned to the accessible loo. I’d been there before so moved with confidence to the exact doorway. The door was open and I began to roll in. A woman, walking with her husband, said, “I’ll close the door for you.”
I didn’t want her help, I found it an intrusion, I’m an adult man going into a toilet, there is a degree of privacy that I expect in regards to certain bodily functions. And, of course, I didn’t need help. I said, “It’s okay,” and before I could say more she stated, “I don’t mind.”
And that’s supposed to be it, she doesn’t mind, the idea that I might doesn’t enter the equation. I said, then firmly, “No, I don’t need help.”
Her face hardened and she turned from me saying to her husband, “He’s one of those kind.”
I get it, I’m one of those kind of disabled people who want to determine when, where and by whom I receive help.
I want to say to those of ‘my kind’ here in Great Britain, “I’m proud to join your number, and there must be a lot of you.
You who demand respect, who say ‘no’ when you don’t want help, who operate in the word with the expectation of equal treatment and a degree of dignity. You’ve entered the consciousness of some of your non-disabled peers … that is a victory because it is, in my mind, the beginning of real change.