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Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Deaf or just weak?

Yesterday I listened with disbelief to play by Katie Hims on Radio 4, Dragonfly. Good writing and fine acting, and it kept me listening. However, if listeners were supposed to feel sympathy for the lead character, I didn’t. Expectant father Cal, who was deaf, acted oddly; we found out that 20 years ago he had walked out on his pregnant girlfriend just before the wedding. His excuse was that his future father-in-law had called him a ‘fucking cripple’ and the epithet rankled. Dearie me, what a spineless, self-pitying wimp.

Yes, people who live with any sort of disability have to run a marathon every day and don’t get the support and understanding they deserve. Yes, the world can be a callous, ill-bred, hurtful place. But the real victim was Gabriel, the baby he abandoned, put up for adoption by his despairing mother.

If you bring new life into the world, you have to be prepared to put your child first and your own concerns second. Children need love and care every day of their lives. As any parent knows, that is unremitting hard labour. The play’s ending, when Cal writes his son a letter offering to make contact 20 years too late seemed to me another maudlin gesture rather than a genuine attempt to right a wrong done to a defenceless child.

Thanks to the author and actors for a thought-provoking play. I still feel its sympathies were misguided.