THE Disability Hate Crime Network’s online motto is “Silence is acceptance. SPEAK LOUDLY.”

So here I shall speak loudly.

While I’ve met and thanked numerous likeable, considerate people from all walks of life, the rest disgust me.

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Walking stick-assisted, I cross Durham City’s cathedral-view bridge, up to the Market Place, on the paving slabs.

One pleasant young mother smiled/moved her pram, but her female friend admonished: “He doesn’t have priority – he’s just disabled!”

Recently, an able-bodied (non-arthritic) elderly woman – I won’t call her a lady – barred my way.

Politely, I smiled: “I’m disabled. I can’t manage the cobbles.”

She condescended: “Are you now?”

I retorted: “Maybe you should be – it might make you more human!”

For all she knew, I could have been a tourist, bringing much needed revenue.

For all I know, she could be one of those pseudo-Christian, sanctimonious hypocrites – who don’t practice what they preach.

Same day, same city: a young lad on crutches thanked me for helping him. I’m a white middle-aged, disabled man, and he’s a black (temporarily) disabled fellow human being.

I hope he gets well soon. He is a credit to his parents, and this shallow, modern society is improved by his presence.

Steve Lawson, Tow Law