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Susan Curran, current.com

Susan Curran, current.com

This is such a sad story and is emblematic of something very wrong in Britain. Susan Curran, 58, who suffers from cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, was banned from every branch of Marks & Spencers after she used the emergency bell in the disabled toilet to alert staff that she was having difficulties. Apparently, staff would be put at risk under some tenuous health and safety claim if they were asked to assist her, and so handing her a ‘trespass order’ was deemed a better way to handle the situation. Subsequently, no doubt due to the leaking of this story to the press, M&S revoked the order and said that it had been made in error. But this was not the phone bill with the misplaced decimal point that was accidentally posted to Granny Smith and made her think she’d have to remortgage her flat. This was a rationalised, premeditated event; the manageress waited for Miss Curran to return to the store before handing her the note. A spokeswoman has subsequently claimed, ‘It was never our intention for Miss Curran to feel she was not welcome in the store.’ Of course it was the intention. That’s just a cop-out because you got caught. When will ‘disabed’ people be treated like normal citizens? And what is the point in having an emergency bell designed to offer them assistance, if that cannot be provided? Okay, so it is a difficult and embarrassing situation if someone needs help at the toilet, and no doubt with our pervasive rape anxiety, the manageress was worried that Miss Curran would sue the helper on some tenuous claim of sexual harrassment. But just do it and don’t make the woman feel even worse about it. When I used to work at a charity shop, people with all manner of mental and physical ‘disabilities’ would come in, and on more than one occasion get naked in the shop. When you don’t have health and safety rule #7897 to refer to, common sense tends to prevail. Of course, health and safety regulations are a necessity, because apparently without having every possible rule written down in a pamphlet, we will send children up chimneys and cut off our hands in terrible industrial accidents. But seriously, sometimes you just have to use a little bit of logic, sense, and compassion. And because when it comes to jobsworths like these I am an incompassionate misanthrope, this story makes me entertain fantasies about the manageress being immobilised by the sheer terrifying force of the flush in one of those Virgin train toilets and having to be yanked out in a shitty pool of chemical goop.

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