Hi folks/legions of loyal followers/Dad(!)
I wrote this monologue just before Christmas. It’s called ‘Cripple for Sale’. The rationale behind this monologue is that in Ireland, disabled people are afforded neither rights nor dignity owing to our government’s failure to make significant investment into Personal Assistant Services. The HSE has pledged money for home help and home care services in 2018, but it’s unclear whether there’s been any extra investment into Personal Assistant Services.
Many of us, including myself, want to be seen as equal in Irish society. Paradoxically, however, we need certain supports – human, technological, accessibility and financial (to name a few) in order for this to happen. Sometimes I find, as a person with a disability, that it works against you if you portray yourself to be too ‘capable’ or ‘able’ as the powers that be don’t take a holistic approach to service provision and instead provide services based on absolute ‘need’. Consequently, people with disabilities are becoming institutionalised in their own homes and failing to reach their true potentials.
Every October, come budget day, the Center for Independent Living and the Irish Wheelchair Association make ‘Pre-Budget Submissions’ outlining why substantial investment is needed in the disability sector. We are at higher risk of poverty owing to being stuck in a benefit trap. The Disability Allowance is means tested and doesn’t take into account the extra costs of having a disability – the cost of equipment, extra heating, durable shoes, pre-prepared veg – little things that make a huge difference in the lives of many.
We don’t want to be charity cases. As I said before, charity is too unreliable. We need our human rights to be protected. And with rumours that the ratification of the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities has been postponed until 2019, disabled people remain dependent on the goodwill of the State.
Anyway, here’s my monologue ‘Cripple for Sale’. Enjoy!
A young woman sits in a wheelchair with a tartan blanket on her lap, shaking a bucket.
Cripple for sale! Cripple for sale!
A cripple’s soul is for sale!
I ain’t too fussy about the price; any old coppers will do!
Come on now, dig deep, it’s for a good cause!
Hey you – yes, you- oi – ! walking with your head down
Avoiding eye contact with me –
What do you think will happen if you look at me?
Do you think I will try and manipulate you with my sad eyes,
Remind you that it could be you sitting here
Catching trails of your own saliva on the back of your hand
Hands and legs jerking like a woman – possessed!
What’s that you say…? … you’re frightened? Frightened of me…?
How the hell do you think I feel?
I’m sitting here naked, cut open, on full display
Every spasm, every jerk, every bloomin’ thing I have offered up in some sacrifice…
…oh, I’m sorry, have I made you uncomfortable? Oh dear!
I didn’t mean to… that’s why I thought it best to sit in this wheelchair… even though I can walk…
Well, you may not call it walking… I suppose it’s more… ambling…crawling on foot…stumbling one foot after another…
Something like that ‘freaky’ creature in Lord of the Rings…
A cripple falling over would not be a good look
…but I’m sorry, I haven’t tried hard enough…
Maybe if I had spent more time doing that physio like you said… or if I had gone for that life-changing operation when I was six… Maybe if I had been a good little girl and done what I was told I wouldn’t be sitting here, in the freezing cold…
In a country where the only right I have is the right to be a defensive little cripple… alive only for the mercy of this wonderful, merciful government…
Oh, sorry I’m moaning again! aren’t I so lucky to be so far removed from that barbaric regime that defined Nazi Germany… that story that everyone knows and no-one talks about –
a place where cripples went in to be rehabilitated and came out…
What am I talking about now?
We don’t want to be upsetting people… after all…
Things are so much different now, aren’t they…?
People like me are even allowed out now… well… of course a couple of minor preparations need to be made…
You need to pass that pesky risk assessment, you know, the one that determines whether you’re at risk of falling, or choking, or drawing attention to yourself by being your wobbly self – phew!
…but yes, we are so much more free now, I mean, can you actually imagine how depressing it would be to be holed away in some ancient grey-bricked hospital, living life like a well-programmed robot, so well trained that it never occurred to you to feel unhappy… or to feel anything…
Oh of course I feel, but not what you want me to feel…
I suppose you want me to feel lucky and grateful
That you took the five seconds out of your day to throw the loose change from the bottom of your handbag into my bucket
To help the cripples have a better life
So you can go home to your family and tell them that you’ve made a difference to ‘those people’ –
You’re definite about this – we’re the same really (but not quite)
You want to help me, but you want to keep me at arms’ length – lest I infect you with my imperfections
Don’t think I haven’t noticed that disinfectant gel you keep in your handbag
To protect yourself from those ‘cripple germs’ –
And I suppose me being offended is a complete waste of time –
Just like us both pretending that you’ll ever really see me as your equal…
You haven’t really been listening, have you…?
So I suppose there’s only one thing I can do…
CRIPPLE FOR SALE!
Any old coppers will do.