Liz is a crip activist and actor, now trying to gain experience as a stand-up comedian. Originally from the North West, she recently moved to London, lured by the bright lights and the promise of fame and fortune. She's still waiting.
The Staring Stalemate
19th November 2009
I used to think that having been the victim, I’d never be a staring perpetrator. How wrong I was. whilst I may get uppity or upset sometimes when I am stared at, the truth is, I am as guilty of ogling at other people as they are of ogling at me. In reality therefore, I confess that I am both a stare-ee and a stare-er.
Being a short arse, when in the car, only my big brown eyes and mop of greying black curls are visible above the dashboard. When another car pulls up beside us, it’s a race against time to see who will clock who first. If they stare my way, their responses range from polite smiles to embarrassment and sniggers. I pretend not to notice.
If I spy them first, I’ll make the most of it, staring as they sing along to the radio, pick their noses or flick a V to the car in front - blissfully unaware of their audience. Once we catch each others eye though, the game is up and there's no more ogling action until we reach our destination.
I pretend to read a recipe for the perfect mince pie as I stare at the other patients. I want to know what’s wrong with everyone, why they’re here and most importantly, if anyone appears as crippled as me ... perish the thought.
An older woman with a walking stick and a knee bandage is doing a Sudoku. A first timer keeps bringing his urine sample back to the receptionist despite clear directions to the sluice. And then there’s the small child who, bored with the play area, has turned all her attention on me.
Standing in front of my chair, she screams out, “Why are your hands all twisted and ugly?” The waiting room falls silent as everyone stares at us. The little brat had voiced the unspoken curiosity of every single person in that room. I could have replied with a responsible answer about not eating my vegetables as a child. I considered a scary retort about being an evil old witch. But in the end, I wanted to give her a mature and truthful response. I made sure that all eyes were still on me before replying. “It is mainly due to calcinosis of the joints caused by my impairment and long term steroid use.” That shut her up.
More articles about
Live community panel
Listen to our regular razor sharp talk show online, or subscribe to it as a podcast. Spread the word: it's where disability and reality almost collide.