On being called a ‘window licker’ and what to do about it

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Fran and I were coming home from a great day at the Cambridge Folk Festival yesterday. It’s our second visit here. We came last year and found it to be really disability friendly. It’s a compact site with good access and it’s quite easy to get around. We also found the staff to be brilliant and the atmosphere really chilled.

Last night however, we were coming home and called into the festival tent to get a programme. As we were walking away there was a reference made to us being ‘window lickers.’ Luckily at the time I didn’t realise what was going on but Fran most certainly did and was shaking with rage. She finally explained to me and I was livid.

Thankfully, situations like this are still relatively rare. We’re used to being stared at when we go out and about. Human nature is that we focus on difference and that is fine. However, the incident described isn’t. 

Situations like this though always make me feel conflicted. I hope by now dear readers you’ll have read a few blogs and realise that we try to get on with life and make the best (and most!) of it.  I have a worry about not being a person with a chip on his shoulders and sometimes you just have to rise above it.

Posting what happened on Facebook drew an instant reaction of shock and empathy from my friends. So do I report it? It’s also important to emphasise that the festival as a whole is brilliant, as are the staff. Do I just put this down as a rogue individual?

Is this ignorance on the part of the individual? Were they trying to be malicious, funny…? Is this ignorance (if that is what this is) so ingrained that reporting it won’t change anything?

I raise all of this to help highlight the issues that sometimes are faced, and the questions raised. I’m still not sure what the answers are.

Two things are for sure though. We won’t let it spoil the festival, and we still have our heads held high.

N.B. This is a much shorter blog than normal as I typed it on my phone! Apologies for any poor spelling or grammar!!:)

Update: Since this blog I have spoken directly with Folk Festival staff. They were v apologetic. I have also offered to engage with the festival longer term on disability related issues, which is a positive outcome:)

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About the Author

Chris Whitaker was born and grew up in Cheshire, arriving in the world with cerebral palsy after a complex childbirth. Apparently, he was lucky to be here at all and has tried to make the most of life ever since! Chris has worked in the third sector for a few years now and is also a charity trustee. Making a positive difference every day is what drives him and he gets to see the impact the third sector makes. Chris has also been able to use his own lived experience as a disabled person to make an input into his working life.

Leave a Reply 5 comments

Rosa - July 30, 2016 Reply

You should report it, it’s not acceptable. If you heard someone say the N word to a person of colour I think you would say something. Hate crime and incidents have multiplied recently people think they can call people what they like, if you do nothing they will carry on and others will join in.

Linda - July 30, 2016 Reply

If it was a staff member, I think you should report it. Unacceptable

Duncan Williamson - July 30, 2016 Reply

You’ve done the best you can in the circumstances and made people aware, including festival staff. If you report it formally what do you report, who do you report and to whom?

I agree with Linda, though, if a staff member said it, report it with no hesitation.

When Fran was much smaller, she attracted attention now and again. Often from well meaning people. Sometimes attention from people who didn’t know any better. Most times I would put myself between Fran and whatever was going on and everything resolved itself.

There was a time though when two boys were in danger of taking things too far so I found their mother and, again, all sorted.

No one has to tolerate such rubbish but there are stupid around who won’t let go.

Gilbert Aldous - August 1, 2016 Reply

My paraplegic wheelchair-using partner is insulted sometimes by people in the street, but there’s seemingly nothing you can do about it if they’re just passing by. If like in your case, they were professionals working somewhere, then you can obviously report it & hope something is done about it. There’s never a police officer around when you need one! We recently went to a chain restaurant in Norwich. This was fairly recently built & is popular, but when we went in, found that there are wooden barriers built around the tables, leaving space only for the staff to walk around, once their able-bodied customers are seated. They told us that a wheelchair isn’t allowed to be placed next to a table, as that contravenes health & safety rules!! We take that as an official insult from the whole company, yet they can get away with it legally, as they’ve built their restaurants to keep disabled people away on purpose. They did say we could sit outside & use the tables out there, but this was in February! We find there is still a lot of prejudice towards disabled people in many areas of life, sometimes on purpose, but mostly due to people not understanding or catering for your needs, or by accident.

2016: The Year I found my voice – Personally Speaking Out - December 23, 2016 Reply

[…] then I’ve written on a number of things, with the blog hitting the headlines after events at the Cambridge Folk Festival and a subsequent open letter.  Surprisingly, I’ve not bought tickets to the Folk Festival […]

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