I never pre-write posts, but this one needed such careful attention that I didn’t just want to gush and press publish without thinking through exactly how to say what I want to say.
Ok, so this morning, on my way to a early meeting, I took a different train. When I reached London Bridge I had to change trains and ended up having to wait while someone in a wheelchair was given a ramp by the guards to get on the train. The man in the wheelchair – very young, maybe early twenties – was one of the most physically disabled people I’ve ever seen. He was excruciatingly twisted even in the chair and permanently poised in a position where his body fell foward; almost doubling him up. His neck sent his head slightly back, exacerbating the forward position. I’m afraid to say that I burst into (quiet) tears.
Not only because of his disability, but more because he was one of the most exquisitely dressed and presented men I’ve seen in a long, long while. He wore an immaculate, and obviously specially made, pin stripe suit, his hair was perfectly groomed with a little bit of gel to give it some fashion spikes. He was completely and perfectly cleanly shaven and had skin to die for. In another life, he’d probably be editor of GQ.
I just found the effort it must have taken to even get into that suit, never mind get into work in a wheelchair, independently, and looking so dapper, beyond moving. In fact, while I didn’t look past the disability as such, I found myself admiring the things I’m programmed to look at after years in beauty – skin, hair, clothes – that must have taken such extreme effort and care. I was full of awe that despite how hard it all must have been, he’d bothered. He was clearly on his way to work and was tapping out texts one handed on his mobile phone, so while I was discretely dabbing my eyes he was probably off to trade millions in the city. I don’t know. I hope so. I just felt a kind of overwhelming pride in him I suppose, without knowing him at all and thought what an amazing ambassador for people with severe disabilities he is.
It’s really hard to write this without sounding patronising or overly sentimental; it isn’t meant to be either but there was something about him that touched me and bowled me over at the same time. The experience gave me a salutary reminder that people do notice and appreciate great presentation and pride in appearance, and that beauty really does come in all formats.
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Please don’t take this post down… It’s an honest post and I’m sure there are others out there, like me, who completely agree with everything you’ve written.x
I agree with Amrita, keep this post up xxx
Same here – you haven’t come across patronising or offensive, in my opinion. I bet the guy would have been pleased that you saw and appreciated his sense of style, rather than just seeing the chair.
Some folks spirit just shines through and makes the disability seem irrelevant. An inspiration to the rest of us.
It’s also a rather endearing insight into your own personality too, and your feelings towards disability. It was probably just another day for him, but he has touched you and taught you something invaluable which you will never forget.
This is a beautiful post. It brought me to tears. Thank you for writing it.
Beautiful post. It brought me to tears. Your experience proves that beauty can be found in every single person in this life.
I agree – you don’t sound patronising at all! It takes moments like that to remind us how lucky we are & give us inspiration & I’m really glad you chose to write about it
This was a lovely post and a joy to read.
Dignity is what you were fortunate to witness; and you described it with great dignity as well.
I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now.I feel,this is THE best post you have written till date.Some REAL food for thought!
Keep writing !
A wonderful post BBB, well done for having the courage to write it. I can understand how it would be hard to phrase this right, but you did so perfectly.
I have to say I know exactly how you feel too. When my mother was ill she had a 4 stone tumour in her stomach which made life horribly difficult for her. It took her more than an exhausting hour to wash, moisturise and do her makeup but she did it every morning up until 3 days before she died. My sister and I thought this was such a mark of her determination that we mentioned this in her eulogy.
It shows true strength of character.
Sorry to get all emotional on you, but this is a very moving post.
Such an eloquent post.
I often feel exactly the same way – its very hard to explain those quiet tears of pride without coming off like a complete twat (which I do, often)!
This is a great post, it’s not that common for people to be able to see beauty in everybody.
Wonderful post, I bet the gentleman in question would have been delighted had he realised the impact he had had.
wow! what a post, iknown exactly what you mean.It gave me goosebumps reading it,he would probably been so made up to think all his efforts were noticed for the right reasons.
That was a lovely piece to read. I have tears in my eyes now. He sounds like a bloody hero to me.
Thanks everyone for your comments on this: once again, saying it better than I ever did in the post! xxx
Beautifully written. It would be nice if someone recognises him so that he can read the post too.
Beautiful, well-written post. Now I know why I love and read your blog everyday. Great presentation should be honored and celebrated.
I just wanted to applaud you for writing this! I’m in a wheelchair myself, and i just wanted to tell you that i am proud of you for noticing that beauty do come in all formats, and that your perception of him, went beyond the wheelchair!
Jane in Norway
If I may quote Dr Stephen Hawking re; dealing with a disability;
“No one wants anything to do with you if your always angry and complaining.”
More able bodied people could learn from your young man’s example.
how the hell am i going to write something intelligent to this. i can’t but i just wanted to say that:
1. i read it
2. it was lovely to read and it touched me so much and it brought a tear in my eye xx
keep writing jane x
Loved this post Jane, written from the heart. I completely empathise with the feelings behind the post too xx