The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

A Trip Down Memory Lane (7 yrs old)

Posted by BigWords on July 27, 2009

It is time once more for me to take a little walk down memory lane. This is a fairly brisk run, rather than a leisurely stroll, ’cause I have a destination in mind. There isn’t time to look down the seedy side alleys or stop off at one of my lost weekends. I might drop back in on the events of 1992 when I can remember the details, but today is a little farther back.

I was maybe seven or eight years old, and in Broadstairs, in the South of England. The sun always seemed to shine slightly brighter down there, and the ice cream was always soft and sugary sweet. The small cinema on the street leading down to the beach smelled of piss and roll-ups, and the amusements weren’t going to close down for a good few years.

This was before the area lost a little of its’ sparkle, and I was young enough to blissfully ignore the worse aspects of the area.

It began as most days over that long hot summer began, with my demands that I get to wander aimlessly around the few shops the town held. There wasn’t a high street as such, rather a few streets of shops congregated around the streets behind the boardwalk, but that was enough for me.

Somehow, for reasons that are no longer apparent to me, I found myself wandering from the shops to the beach. I’m not a beach person, and sand has never held the allure of a good book store. In all honesty, I would have rather spent time in the library than take time to see what the hell was going on at the beach.

I haven’t been back in years, so I don’t know if the giant (and redundant) bouncy castle is still a fixture of the beach, but it always bothered me. Why the hell would a sane person willingly make themselves sick by bouncing aimlessly on the spot, especially when Charles Dickens’ house was so close?

Or they could take five minutes to get to the Ramsgate motor museum, with an array of vehicles which would give Jeremy Clarkson an erection? The Calcott alone was worth the interminable and mind-numbingly awful train journey South. But the fucking beach?

And I was on the beach.

The morning was probably giving way to afternoon, because the it was crowded. In the following years it became less crowded, and shops closed, buildings began looking tired… Back then the place was a giant playground, built for my enjoyment, where I could run around unseen amongst the throngs of Italian, French, Spanish and German students. The locals didn’t care who I was, as long as I spoke perfect English.

It was where I cultivated my Kentish accent, which I still use when needed.

But back to the beach…

There was a van parked on the small brick pier, next to a diffused mine which had been converted into a charity box. There were people milling around, and children being helped out the back of the van. A ramp which raised and lowered at the press of a button was used to move those who remained seated through the process. I waited until they had disembarked before approaching.

It didn’t occur to me until later that the few who remained seated did so because they had no option other than to do so. I don’t see disabilities. Same as I don’t see color. Well… Apart from all the fucking crackers who pretend to be black, and I only notice those assholes because they have no style. Seriously people, shellsuits and gold chains? Gimme a break.

The locals didn’t seem too happy at the kids being brought to their beach, and mostly they looked away, or stared, or glared with the same intensity they would use if someone had dropped trowel and shat on the beach. But not me, and my ignorant-of-social-convention mind. I walked up and said ‘Hi’ to the kids.

Fuck it, they were just like me. So what if they weren’t as smart? Or couldn’t walk? Or had a difficult time talking. Kids are kids. The adults sitting on the benches smoked, talked amongst themselves and did their damnedest to ignore the fact that there were disabled people in their midst, as if pretending they weren’t there would somehow – magically – make them disappear.

I’m taking this time-out to remind people that yes, shock-horror, disabled people do exist. The smart folks already know this, of course, but the world likes to ignore the problems it can’t solve with drugs, or therapy or some other fix. Some people are going out of their way to make a small difference in the lives of these people. I’m afraid to say that I, much as I would like to, can’t join in the more strenuous activities. The AW’s own Kitty Pryde (Sarah Heacox) is riding the Peak-To-Peak Pedal again: 335 miles by bike to raise money for outdoor recreation for people with disabilities! Christ, that would be the death of me…

You don’t want to see me turn blue after a couple of hours of walking or riding a bicycle. With the nicotine and alcohol consumption of a true writer, there is no way I could get to the finish line of a sponsored walk. I salute everyone who is making the effort, and always (gladly) fish in my pockets for any spare change when a bucket is thrust in my direction by someone in a comedy outfit. A walk, on the other hand, is beyond by ability.

If you want to give to charities, there are plenty who need your (our) support.

The United States Adaptive Recreation Center is one you should help; there is a list of charities for the benefit of disabled children here; Disabled Charity is a doorway site with links to many worthwhile charities, both in the UK and worldwide, somewhat similar to Disability UK; and not forgetting Action For Kids or Mencap.

Feel free to link to other worthwhile charities benefiting disabled individuals in your comments, as well as any other good causes which deserve more attention. The more the merrier.

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