Monday 15 August 2011
Personal Responsibility: The IDS Way - "Someone Told Me I Could"
A lovely 'you-couldn't make-it-up' incident presented itself to me tonight. Earlier on this evening I took part in Channel 4's 'Street Riots: The Live Debate' over in a studio in Endell Street, Covent Garden. It's nice being picked up by a chauffeur driven car; deposited into the heart of the West End; and, by-passing queues to be admitted into the green room for free nosh and drinks.
But, I deviate.
Anyway, back on track. Eventually we're herded into the studio and the warm-up guy does his warm-up stuff, and we gingerly laugh at his not-so-funny patter. Krishan Guru-Murthy, a lot smaller in real life (wears Cuban heels), then gives the SP of the show and introduces us to Iain Duncan-Smith,Hilary Benn MP, Adrian Mills an Ealing restaurateur (his restaurant was ransacked and looted), Paul Gladstone Reid a composer, pianist, singer-songwriter and producer, and a rather taciturn policeman who referred to all explanations and views contrary to his as 'excuses'.
The debate went fairly well. Duncan-Smith and the businessman holding the old law-and-order line; people-have-to-take-personal-responsibility-for-their-own-actions was intimated several times by Duncan-Smith in relation to cutting benefits and evicting, even, parents of children convicted of looting.
The Tory line when confronted with problems is always to fall back on the old chestnut of family values and personal responsibility. And Duncan-Smith ensured that nobody, whether they agreed with him or not, left the studio without his message messing around with more pleasant thoughts, such as those ice cold bottles of Peroni waiting for me when I get home.
The show ended and the floor manager wanted us, wheelchair users, to wait until the studio was cleared. No way Pedro! I'd sat for an-hour-and-a-half in a lot of pain, and I needed to pee, quite quickly. So, I got out first, or so I thought, and headed for the lift to take me to the ground floor and the adapted toilet.
Up we went. Out of the lift, throw a right. Bob's your uncle, there's the 'special' loo waiting to accept yours truly.
A young geezer all skinny jeans, Loake's brogues and Ralph Lauren cardy looked at me as I reached for the door."Sorry sir, there's someone in there. He won't be a minute" instructs this trendy clothes horse, probably a TV researcher. "Ok mate" I say; relief, hopefully, a minute or two away.
Three minutes later the door to the disabled toilet, the one with the big sign announcing in pictogram the universal symbol of disability, and out strolls Iain Duncan-Smith!
Oh glory! Hallelujah! My peeing need seemed to vanish from my mind as I mentally uncrossed my legs and said to Duncan-Smith: "This is an adapted toilet, see the sign?" Which he acknowledged uncomfortably. "Why are you abusing this facility? I've had to wait in extreme pain and discomfort because you think you're above the rules that everyone else accepts!"
Duncan-Smith, is somewhat trapped, because I've placed my wheelchair between him and the door, and my PA is standing by my legs, so the trapped rat can't vault over me and do a runner.
Then I have him on the ropes, just waiting to deliver my coup de grace down drop his gloves his guard is gone as he splutters out "I'm sorry, but somebody told me I could use it".
And, in true Sun headline grabbing thought...GOTCHA!
"So, if someone told you to pick up that TV because it was going begging. You'd pick up the TV?" I asked. "What's happened to your sense of personal responsibility for your own actions?" I pressed. "Are you exempt from the rules and regulations you spent the past hour telling us we must adhere to because that's how we maintain an orderly society?" I finished pushing my way into the loo.
Duncan-Smith, thinking he could do a runner took full advantage of the cessation in my harangue and just as he thought he'd escaped the loony wheely, I looked into the bowl and spotted he hadn't flushed the loo.
"Oy!" I shouted, arresting IDS's flight: "Do you know it's customary to flush the khazy after use?"
I can still picture his look, a mixture of abject contempt and 'beam-me-up-Scotty', as he drew an embarrassed grin across his Chevy while abruptly turning a corner to the safety of the street.