04 May 2007

Whispering Grass

It's not a criticism of the Twickenham Rugby Club groundsman when I observe that the grass on the Colts pitch is too long for wheelchairs.

It's also bumpy.

Not that the groundsman doesn't do a good job with his scythe, paint-bucket and roller; He does, he does; It's just not..... accessible

Last Sunday afternoon, for instance, when the end of season 7s festival had all finished, the BBQ was winding down and scores of multi-coloured rugby players were making their way home, I was walking from the U10s pitch back to car carrying the tent, the kit-bag, my rucksack, my boots and the remains of the picnic.

On my right a crowd had gathered around the control caravan watching the prize giving. On my left, some 50m away in the middle of the pitch, was a small boy, about my son's age, in a wheelchair. All alone. As I watched him he struggled forward a few yards, he stopped, he tried to turn, stopped again, went a few more yards forward, hit a bump and threw his hands in the air in frustration.

I looked around very carefully to see if anyone was watching him - parents, siblings? Dom Jolly and a Channel Four camera crew? So far as I could tell there was absolutely noone at all... so I heaved a sigh of relief and hurried on my way.

But when I came trudging back three minutes later he was still there. Well, he had moved about 10 metres. I cursed and I diverted to speak to him

"Hello. Are you all right, mate?"
"It must be hard work wheeling that through the grass. Would you like a push?"
"No problem. Where do want to go then?"

He pointed. He pointed at the public footpath in the far corner of the field. The path that leads past the railway bridge to the reservoir.

I considered this very carefully for a moment.

"Tell you what" (brightly) "are your Mum and Dad here?"
"Great! So where are they then?"

He tossed his head - indicating the crowd around the caravan.
"So, shall I take you over there?"
"No!" fiercely, "there!" He pointed again.

I considered my options and I began to sweat:
  • I imagined myself pushing him off into the distance, down the footpath past the railway bridge to the reservoir
  • I carefully visualised myself pushing him in the direction he didn't want to go, perhaps shouting at me, towards his father. Who would turn out be a tight-head prop, no doubt about it. Evidently with a medal-winning elder son.
  • I imagined myself leaving him on his own, in the middle of the field, unable to follow me Momentarily heartened, I imagined breaking into a run as I neared the car...
No good deed ever goes unpunished.

The sun beat down.
I moved my weight from one leg to the other

At least, I thought to myself, desperately; at least I'll be able to blog about it later....


Unknown said...

What did you do?

outside-jane said...

I am not sure why my comment came up as from Vitor... who is Vitor? the ghost of this internet cafe I presume. But I don't want you to get all excited, thinking you've picked up a new reader... sadly no! It's me!