Deborah Caulfield trawled the internet in search of disabled people to laugh with. It was like coming home. Her playlist contains few jokes, just oodles of humour about art, sport, access, and attitudes to disability. And friendship and love. And a bit of sex. (But not too much!)Read more »
Laughter was a perfect riposte to the oppressive horror of my institutionalised childhood at Chailey Heritage; an antidote to sadness; a means of subverting the inane hierarchy that underpinned a regime deeply rooted in the charity and medical models of disability.
But that wasn’t all. For the girls (I can’t speak for the boys) falling about laughing together was a great cementer of relationships, a way to bond with one another.
What else was there to do, stuck on a hill in the middle of nowhere, forever?
Laughing was how I stayed sane as a kid. If I did.
We mainly made our own entertainment, though occasionally it was provided. Such as when guided groups of oddly attired critters from the outside world were bussed in to gawp and gush at the tragically maimed and afflicted. Their presence provoked much mirth among their terminally ungrateful objects of curiosity.
The art class was the visitors’ top destination for inspiration and amazement. Without fail one of them would always ask: ‘Are you going to colour it in afterwards?’
Sports days were, of course, ripe for giggling. What could be funnier than coming last in the toss-the-beanbag final? Answer: coming first. I should know.
I hope you enjoy this small selection of disabled people being funny. And remember, when you see us smile, please don’t marvel, because it’s really nothing special. It’s what we were born to do.