The Devil Doesn’t Have All The Best Tunes

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January 25, 2016 | 2 Comments


  1. On reading the above interview etc., I have suddenly realised that I have never come across a person who is the result of the catastrophic thalidomide drug. Never even passed one in the street as far as I can recall. Obviously remember the breaking news of what had happened – after all, it was during the time of our teacher training and of relevance to our ‘health lectures’ inasmuch as we may come across these children during our careers.
    The nearest condition to it that I have come across is a child with a massively long-named condition which means ‘dwarfism’. I say ‘near’ in the sense of being physically different although the cause, of course, bears no resemblance whatsoever. Reading the above immediately reminded me of him. In the nursery class, he was more or less the same as the others but, as time went on, the difference became more and more apparent. Since I was the Sp. needs co-ordinator, my involvement with him remained throughout his 8 years at the Primary school. His needs involved stairlifts being installed, a ‘disabled facility’ toilet placed in a disused large cupboard, one on one carer facility for all ‘movement’ needs within the school etc. – enough to make anyone feel so different and to lack confident. But that was not the case – I cannot recall him ever without a smile on his face; he could charm the sourest into providing the ‘extra bits’ that he needed such as extra padding for his classroom wheelchair ( ” ‘cos I can’t quite do proper eye-contact when I’m low down!”) and there was always a grateful ‘thanks’ to adults and children alike for any help given. So, yes, I can certainly agree that such people take us beyond ourselves.
    It was also always pleasing to note how his presence improved the tolerance of others – the rest of the school would make allowances for his needs; the pushing and shoving that can be so characteristic of primary age was still there even with him around but never was he pushed – neither accidently nor otherwise.
    I definitely agree that meeting anyone who has ‘suffered’ so greatly does make us take stock of our lot – even shame us, when we think how easily we let little things cause us so much grief at times. Looking beyond the physical shell to the ‘real’ person is so important but so often forgotten – even, I hate to say it, by many teachers who dwell too much on the ‘grade possibilities’ of pupils and forget the charm and wit that they have missed in their pursuit of ‘good grades’. There isn’t a ‘grade’ higher than the smile of a satisfied, happy child/adult who has taken onboard , and overcome, everything that life has thrown at them.

  2. I met this lovely lady in Westminster when David Healy was doing a talk a few years back. She does indeed have a magical presence and I think we were all a bit humbled by her. I don’t think anyone meeting her for the first time would forget her in a hurry. Any visable iatrogenic effects were instantly forgotten once she fixes that smile on you. She’s a force to be reckoned with and much admired..

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