John Ward – Opinion : The Peculiar World In Which Kiruna Stamell Becomes A Heroine – 14 December 2014

JohnWEastenders soap porg Kiruna Stamell sued the Post Office because the chip and pin machines are too high for her to reach. Much as the thought of privatised troughers having their backsides caned is a thrilling thought, Stamell bullied the company into settling out of Court…and they’re now fitting flexible wires in all branches.

When she originally complained instore, staff tried to make steps from cardboard boxes, which she says caused her embarrassment. I find that an incredibly self-absorbed response to an act of kindness.

It has taken poor Kiruna all 22 years of her entire adult life to discover she had dwarfism, and thus couldn’t reach things on the counters: but perhaps things have been a bit sparse in her profession of late, so she decided now was the right time to shame the Post Office for its woeful inability to recognise her entitlement. I’m offering odds of 3-1 on that her next outing will be to name and shame all the paedophiles who have mistaken her for a child during her tragic existence.

I suppose if one can’t reach things above a certain height, then the only alternative is to plumb the depths of lucrative self-pity. Only last week I suddenly became aware after 66 years that I am traumatised by using open public urinals, and so my solicitors Tryle & Errah are launching the largest mutli-Council action in British history in order to bring these thoughtless swine to justice. I was too harshly potty-trained and someone must pay. I know my rights, and they can’t do that to me you just see, in today’s multicultural neoliberal society it’s all about choice and I demand more privies, it’s just not fair.

The time has come for Armstrong & Miller’s Two Airmen sketch to adopt a harder edge, and have one of the pilots lose his legs à la Douglas Bader. Then he could say:

“Look here, the Wingco is refusing to adapt every Spitfire in the RAF so I can fly it I mean they can’t do that to me…”

and the other airman would say:

“Quite right too. I mean isn’t this what we’re fighting for? I think you should give the Ombudsman some aggro and shit”.

Stamell was able to bring her action under the Disability Discrimination Act of 2010. Approving unequivocally of her ridiculous campaign, in frighteningly muddled terms and strangulated English, the Guardian writes:

‘An audit of 30,000 premises in Britain conducted by accessibility information provider DisabledGo this week found that 20% of shops had no wheelchair access, only 15% of restaurants and shops had hearing loops, and three-quarters of restaurants made no provision for those with visual impairments.’

Just to throw the other interpretation of that data into the ring here, that leaves 80% of shops with wheelchair access (a remarkable achievement reflecting the era when Britain was a civilised society) and speaking as a chap who doesn’t hear too well any more, I have not the foggiest blithering idea what a hearing loop is. Equally, if your sight is impaired to the point of near-blindness, then you are highly unlikely to enter any establishment on your own. Other people can read the menu to you. You know, nice people with feelings.

Don’t misinterpret my words. Never seeing your grandchildren or hearing them laugh is an appalling disability, and delivers a horribly low quality of life to the sufferer. Similarly, a life of reduced mobility is a tragedy to which we all pay lip service, but rarely help in any real sense. The trouble with things being done in places outside the home of an invalid is that it is indeed lip service – and serves to make we, the fit, feel better. It is also hugely expensive, for both government and business alike. The trouble with people like Kiruna Stimell is that she is taking the piss and, like all celebs, in constant pursuit of publicity.

I am on the record going back many years in terms of my belief that the whole basis of health provision in the UK is misguided. First of all it is far too ‘one size fits all’, and far too big per se. But equally, it is unfocused in its research into things that wind up being done ‘because we can’. To spend vast sums on prolonging life is idiotic in the face of our overpopulation – and all the evidence screaming at the authorities in relation to chronic ailments and quality of life. The NHS is a marvel to behold on many dimensions, but it is absolutely crap at life-quality enhancement.

We are far too spineless about litigious nuisance in Britain. Our legal system is already crumbling back to dust thanks to a lawless society (for which I lay more blame at Labour’s door) and neoliberal vandals perverting justice (for which I blame the Tories 80% for creating it, and Labour 20% for failing to oppose it more volubly). Dwarfism in our country occurs at the rate of roughly 0.05%. To put flexible chip and pin wires into every Post Office in order to cater for 1 person in 2,200 is the tyranny of the minority gone mad.

I think I may be getting more G&S as I age, but this episode definitely gives me dark thoughts about the punishment fitting the crime. Much as I have met Adam Crozier socially, and quite like the bloke, I think it would be just great if he personally had to dig into all the money he trousered as a result of the Post Office privatisation, and then personally go round fitting one flexibly-wired chip and pin machine into every third branch of his much damaged creation. This would, for me anyway, be a far wiser and more measured response to this appalling case of chasing the munnneeee.

Being disabled does not in and of itself make people nice. Little Britain perceived this with a touch of comic genius. If satire and justice are about anything, they are about skewering undeserved privilege at all times – be the recipient Little Lord Draper or Kiruna Stamell.

Earlier at The Slog: Time for the Charts & Farts parties. / link to original article


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