Monday, 9 November 2009


This is a triple thumbs up from Mum, Tom and me at my sister Amy's wedding last year. (Note how feeble Mum's thumbs up is, ladies of her type are not big ones for the trucker's favourite emblem of Happy)
At Amy's wedding, Tom made two speeches, one official and one unofficial. Always rounded off with plentiful "Cheers" action. Don't know what it is about Tom but he always manages to get the big thumb out of me, think it's something to do with his love of the Monster Raving Loony party, his preferred political party, even though he isn't qualified to vote by law.
My Mum's had a struggle with Tom, in some ways we all have. But Mums give so much of their soul and their abundant capacity to love and worry to parenting, and when Tom was born there was still a great tradition of mothers feeling guilty if they had a not normal kid. There's a lot of heavy emotional politics in this issue, that I don't think I am necessarily fit to mull, suffice to say it hasn't always been easy for my Mum, or my Dad and stepmum for that matter. My Mum has always been incredibly patient with Tom in a way none of us have.
But to talk like this negates what Tom has been through in his life, which, in some ways, none of us will ever know. Despite having poor speech and a low learning age, I know he has some insight into his 'difference'. He once grumbled that he didn't like any of his fellows at school because they were all 'mental' and I know that as his five siblings have raced through life, especially his brothers, he has felt the fact that he hasn't followed them. This is almost to painful to think about for my brother Will, we discuss it occasionally, I know that.
I recently interviewed some learning disabled people for a story in Sunday Times Style, all three, who were of a much higher learning level than Tom, knew they were learning disabled, and some of them were quite political about fighting for their human rights.
In an age when the immigration debate, women's rights and the right wing shame of the BNP fill us with angry, liberal despair, the learning disabled are the forgotten many.
Perhaps we should all vote Monster Raving Loony. Their manifesto includes a parliament on wheels, which would sort out devolution alright...

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