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Disability Bitch isn't angry at Colin Firth

13th January 2011

• Disability Bitch is published every Thursday.

Readers, I must be ill. This week, I went to the cinema and saw a film where a non-disabled man played a disabled monarch, and I didn't find myself overcome with hatred.
Colin Firth
The film in question was The King's Speech. Colin Firth plays George VI, who had a severe stammer and feared public speaking, but managed to become a glorious orator with the assistance of an eccentric Australian speech therapist.

Usually I'd hate such sentimental pap, except it's supposed to be historically accurate and was scripted by a bloke who stammers himself and it was, y'know, kinda quite good, actually.

Everyone knows that a big name actor playing a disabled character may as well just tattoo the word 'Oscar' on his forehead - can you say Forrest Gump? - and it's no surprise that Firth has already won some big awards for this performance.

It's become a boring cliché. Yet again a Normal actor's going to win big prizes for playing Abnormal.

I'm Disability Bitch, I'm supposed to be throwing popcorn at the screen in protest, I think. Instead, I merely shrugged and noted that there are informative articles about stammering in every single newspaper in the world this week. And I'm only slightly exaggerating.
Pop sensation, Gareth Gates
I'm mainly just happy that there's now a good portrayal in popular entertainment that doesn't use stammering as a comedic device, and that it doesn't involve sometime teen pop sensation Gareth Gates.

Maybe the evenness of my temper has to do with the fact that I'm not very well at the moment. I've got the flu, if coughing a lot and feeling sorry for yourself counts as flu. I've got aching limbs and joints but that's a normal symptom for me, it's difficult to work out how badly I've got it, if I've got it. Did that make sense?

I didn't have a flu vaccine this year. Like many disabled people I'm in the 'at risk' group and was offered one but I couldn't be bothered to go to the GP, and now I'm paying the price. There's a lesson there readers.

If I did want a health-preserving jab now, I'd need to cross my fingers. Amid reports that there is a national shortage of the vaccine, a leading medic has stepped forward to say that those not in 'at risk' groups should be banned from paying for the vaccine privately because it takes it away from those who need it most. It reminds me of those signs on public transport: "Please give up your seat to someone who needs it more than you."
Leftover stocks of last year's swine flu vaccine are being released to help pick up the slack, which is all very age-of-austerity and waste-not-want-not. Marvellous. And yet, just as I was considering making an appointment to find out if the lurgy I've got is actual flu or a melodramatic cough, I discovered that, if I do get a dose of The Swine, I could become a stronger person.

How so? New research suggests that if you recover from swine flu, you make antibodies that kill other types of flu as well; at least this was the case in the nine patients they studied.

It sounds like a top deal to me. I wish they'd discover positives about other infirmities: what if having glaucoma prevented you from getting the common cold, or multiple sclerosis were protection against dandruff. I think these possibilities should be thoroughly investigated.

I'm very excited. Or maybe just unwell. I'm going to curl up with the DVD player and watch a good film. Any recommendations?

Facebook / Twitter

I've said hardly anything on any social networks this week. I've been ill. Did I mention that? I'm sure I'll perk up at some point so feel free to compare symptoms by becoming my fan on Facebook or following me on Twitter.


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