This particular episode of Clunk Click is very special, and not just because it's guest pop group was a fave of mine at the time. But because it featured people like this !
Michael Rogers crippled from the neck down but more able than most able bodied folk anywhere !
Then there's these two 'gangsters' from Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Dennis and Steven
Dennis the gangster as Jimmy calls him, had been a naughty, and had drawn a cartoon like picture of Jimmy. Jimmy kids around with the two of them and they are clearly delighted he's there.
And then there's this man, someone I am ashamed to admit, I'd never heard of prior to watching this. Alfred Morris MP and first ever Minister For the Disabled
Here's most of the discussion between him and Jimmy, starting with the latter's introduction
"In this country we have something that no other country has, a Minister for the Disabled"
"What I hope to do is to serve disabled people, making them a part of society, instead of treating them as if they were apart from society. Disabled people don't want anything more than to live as normally as possible"
This guy is not just saying these words he means them. As he speaks Jimmy is thumbing through a book that Alf had written two years before. Here are some of the photos and people in it
This woman is not on her knees because she wanted to be, she had to crawl along the floor because she only has one leg
There's also Bobby Baker's mam a widow with 8 other children who's waited THREE YEARS to get the two adaptions to enable her son to get around, a ramp and some grab rails. When she finally got them, she was asked to pay towards them.
This is how disabled people(if they were lucky) were transported by some kind folk back then, in removal lorries
Jimmy is particulary interested in the issue of accessiblity. He's had lots of experience of the difficulties faced by the wheelchair bound, getting into public buildings and across roads. Alfred had lots of great ideas and relates the story of someone who designed a building suitable for the disabled by spending nine months in a wheelchair whilst he drew up the plans.
Alfred is sincere, you can see it in his face
"At least our attitude is right. We are determined to make the best possible job we can of the challenge that's been given us"
Jimmy "The spirit of people that live in wheelchairs, puts mobile people like you and me to shame doesn't it ? ..They've got twenty as much fight as we've got"
And then the part of the conversation that touched me most when Jimmy asks Alfred about his book
"This book you wrote 'No feet to drag'. Why did you call it 'no feet to drag' ?"
"Well, I was asked how my Act of Parliament for disabled people, I'd piloted through Parliament (the Chronic Sick and Disabled Persons Act) to help all disabled people"
"That was a private bill ?"
"Yes, a private members bill in 1970. And a lady in Lancashire . Now then, this lady had no feet, she was heavily disabled and she said, 'Well, you can tell them that they very lucky to have any feet to drag'. Which I thought was a very eloquent statement from a very dear person to me, so I thought I'd call it, No feet to drag"
How lucky we had Alfred in 1970 and what a lovely episode of a great show that YOU are now NOT allowed to see. But, as any follower of this blog will know, where there's a will ...
Oh, and here's another thing for the hopeful ! I started writing this last night, the 11th November, armistice day ! The very first page of Alfred's book in the prologue, he starts with the words
My father died as one of the tubercular poor before I was eight years old. He was forty-four at his death on 11th November 1935.
Alfred, Lord Morris of Manchester, died himself before the hideous Exposure was broadcast. Just a few months before, so I hope he never heard the gossip. Not that he would have taken any notice I'm sure. But whatever, who cares, let's remember the good that good men do. Because only the good really deserve to be remembered.
Thank you Alf
Thank you Jimmy