Close up of ju90

You live your life surrounded by technology. Do you feel less than human because you no longer catch and skin your rabbit before cooking it over an open fire? Do you feel less than human because you use machines to do your washing, cooking and cleaning? Do you feel less than human because you extend your abilities with calculators, computers and telephones?

No, I thought not. In fact, the more technology you have access to, the more powerful you feel. So why do you see me as less than human, as powerless, because I use a wheelchair?

Why do you cherish your mobile, but shrink in horror from my chair? Why do you see my use of it as a tragedy? Why do you declare that you would rather die than be like me? Is that why you describe my powered chair as an electric chair, because you see it as an instrument of death?

Perhaps I shouldn’t blame you. Perhaps I should look to your role models. The Queen Mother wouldn’t be seen dead in a wheelchair. The Pope won’t be seen alive in one. They’d rather hide inside than appear on wheels. That’s a great message for the kids, isn’t it?

The funny thing is, you still don’t choose to walk. No, you sit down in your car and drive to work, then you sit down at your desk all day, and then you sit down and drive home again before you sit down in front of the tv for the evening.

In fact, the more you walk, the lower your status. If you can’t afford a car and have to walk to the bus stop, you feel inferior. If you can’t afford the bus and have to walk everywhere, you despair. But if you see me rolling along happily in my chair, you think it’s a tragedy.

Maybe that’s why you think it’s normal to build roads, but not ramps. Normal to ban all of us from getting anywhere unless we can walk - in which case you build roads so you don’t have to. Oh, don’t get me started . .


.Brightly coloured photograph of two armchair-type wheelchairs

Dr Ju Gosling aka ju90's ABNORMAL: How Britain became body dysphoric and the key to a cure is available now for just 3.09 for the Kindle or in a limited-edition hardback with full-colour art plates for 20 inc UK postage and packing. Book cover