When I heard this news, in the week cuts to benefits started to bite, my only thought was: ‘He parked in a disabled bay to buy a burger?’
Because that was the crime. Not parking in a bay expressly designed for people with no arms or legs or eyes (why are they driving?). Because I do it all the time. I make a point of doing it.
This is me, outside Costa Coffee at a service station at 7am. Straight into the disabled bay.
This is me, outside the cinema at Richmond, North Yorkshire, late to see Argo, straight into a disabled bay by the door.
In Richmond there are hundreds of the damn things, as though it were Lourdes.
I have become inured to the stares, to the smug tut-tuts from couples as I spring, gazelle-fashion, from my vehicle, disapproving mews from the sort of people who took their toddlers to the V&A last Thursday, screaming infants who lay on the flagstones to be dragged along by their safety harnesses like upended turtles.
Surely taking your infant to the world’s best museum is a worse crime than what George and I do?
It makes no difference to small children precisely where they are in the world, so why take them into my personal space (or on planes, for that matter)?
Why not take them to their natural environment, the place you normally take them were it not for the guilt? You know, like, Tesco. Or your living room.
But you would not believe the stares I get from these inconsiderate parents when I emerge from my Land Rover having parked, at a crazy angle, in one of those oblongs with a yellow wheelchair drawn in the centre.
It’s almost as bad as when I emerge with a Prada handbag, having parked in a bay marked ‘Mothers with small children’.
To hell with that. People with small children have a tiny fist in theirs, a purpose, a reason to keep in touch with their exes.
The least you can give the single barren woman is a few less dirty feet of stained, damp concrete to hobble across before she gets to her Mecca: The Village, Westfield London.
Given IVF is now on the NHS, being childless is an illness, non?
But back to me and George. Why do I park in disabled spaces? Well, first of all, it’s a dirty protest against the red tape inflicted by local authorities to get a disabled sticker in the first place.
My mum, who could not drive, nor did she own a car, once had a disabled sticker so I could take her to her GP without having to walk 60 miles from the nearest multi-storey car park.
The red tape required to get the sticker required a PhD, beaten only by the fact it had to be renewed every year, just in case she was miraculously able to walk again.
The second reason is that there are just far too many of these squares, a PC PR move by local authorities to prove they are nice people, when they’re not.
Have you ever seen seven paraplegics, all at once, at your local cinema? No.
And, thirdly, as I have been heard to mutter as I activate my central locking, ‘I am disabled.’
I’m deaf, a disability which so far has earned me no special treatment at all. I’m sick and tired, actually, of the way deaf people are treated.
People become angry that I cannot hear them, notably the ‘barista’ serving in a Costa Coffee at a service station on the A1, who said to his slow-moving colleague, when I failed to answer the inevitable, ‘Have you got a Nectar card?’ and ‘Do you want two Galaxy bars for the price of one?’, and I swear this is true: ‘She’s either deaf or on a diet.’
Take TV subtitles. On The One Show last week, a discussion on The Four Seasons had Vivaldi translated for those of us who are hard of hearing as ‘Vulvae’.
We weren’t even allowed to enter the Paralympics.
So, I’ve become a bit of a deaf person/single, barren, super-busy person terrorist. I would have thrown myself under a Grand National contestant yesterday, only I was worried I’d harm the horse.
I did achieve a small victory the other day.
I was after a bottle of champagne, and I had my small border collie, Mini Puppy, with me. I entered the Co-op.
You’d have thought I’d boarded a plane to New York with half a ton of dynamite strapped to my waist.
‘Hang on,’ said the woman behind the till. ‘You can’t bring a dog in here.
‘She’s a hearing dog,’ I said. I could see her brain computing, and then she said: ‘Oh, that’s OK then.’
A small step for me, a big step for being non-conformist, for refusing to play by the rules, for wanting to be heard.