A Christmas Letter to former UKiP Candidate
Mr Geoffrey Clark
I appreciate that you are probably rather snowed under at the moment, but feel that a few minutes spent reading my letter might change your life as you know it.
Yesterday I enjoyed a rare treat of a day. The sort of pre-Christmas busy, but joyous, day that many white middle class stay-at-home British Mums are having around this time of year. There was last minute shopping for stocking fillers for our children or quirky unusual presents for my husband, planning delicious homemade traditional fayre for the big day, and hand delivering small, exquisitely, yet hastily, wrapped gifts and cards to local friends and loved ones.
Our evening was rounded off beautifully with a simple school carol concert in the village church, attended my many of the tight-knit community. Tears pricked in our eyes as we proudly watched our beautiful daughters take part in the singing and the much-rehearsed nativity scenes with their closest friends.
The congregation at the ceremony was attended by a myriad of families. Age, size, marriage, divorce, colour, belief, background, upbringing, income. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, many of them over 80, carers, foster carers. We all differ, yet happily we are all there for each other, joined by a common desire for the best for our offspring, and creating a richly woven fabric of life.
We returned home, read stories and tucked the tired little ones up in their beds with warm milk, before opening the Christmas cards received that day. A beautiful one, sent with love from the children's Godmothers; two wise and wonderful women who live in a same sex partnership that is more stable and loving and more supportive to those around them than most heterosexual relationships I know.
Of course this simple snapshot tells you just one fraction of what we really value in life. It outlines one small part of one day. Not a typical day, one I had kept free for myself to enjoy these family activities. I had put my 'work' on hold, hoping to ease off until after the Christmas break. The 'work' that I do, all of it unpaid, is write, and write to change the world. I do it gently, from within hearts. I show the way, inspire, support, bring people together with beauty and a touch of humour. I am the author of a blog called Downs Side Up.
For you see, one of the little church mice in tonight's play, the smallest and arguably cutest one, the only one to remember her line as she dashed through the congregation, was our daughter Natty. And Natty has Down's Syndrome. My motivation to change the way the world views this extra chromosome is personal.
Natty is 6, an ambassador, a teacher and melts hearts wherever she goes. She puts back far more into society than she takes from it, as she entertains, laughs, sings, dances, jokes, even models professionally. For EQ cannot be measured finacially. She intuitively watches out for the emotional needs of her classmates, always there for the needy, the upset, the ones with the bumped knees. You see Geoffery, a person's worth can never be measured in pounds coins.
I'm sure she would make a beeline for you if she ever met you, for your lovelessness and lack of understanding of the world is as great a disability as any, even more tragic in one who should be old and wise enough to know better by now. She would feel sorry for what you are missing out on, as indeed I do, my hurt and anger aside. I was ignorant about disability before Natty was born, as tragically anyone who was different was segregated as I grew up in Thatcher's Britain. I have since made up for that, and it is not too late for you too, to learn that inclusion is a two-way street. The only burden I have on my shoulders is tackling the misinformed.
I have oft come across those who are ignorant or even purposely hurtful, the trolls of life. But my motto is to ignore them, not put air in their lungs by fuelling their hatred, to simply shine light on their darkness. You however, are not just very wrong and very bigotted in almost every opinion you voice, but you have a metaphorical microphone in your hand. That is dangerous, as dangerous as it was when Hilter stood and spewed his thoughts on eugenics. For that reason alone I am compelled to silence you in the only way I know how. So please Mr Clark, do not speak so hurtfully and nonsensically about matters on which you know absolutely nothing.
Instead take the time to remove the blinkers and enjoy the jigsaw of life around you. See what we can all learn from each other.
I wish you a Merry Christmas with your loved ones, although my mind's eye envisages an embarrassed brood of grown up children and a wife who wishes you had kept your mouth shut. And inbox full of hatred and your name smeared across every paper with an ounce of gumption. Bitterness fills the air. Unemployment looms. The turkey will taste very dry this year. The 'army' of people you have upset is far greater than the small collection of extremists 'fighters' you represent.
Do think of us, this family with a child with a disability, opening our stockings, scoffing mince pies for breakfast, giggling over a game of charades and singing along to Mary Poppins, breathing in beach air, sharing a drink with friends, tucking up on the sofa under a blanket, watching a fire and content in the knowledge that we have done the very best that we can for each other this year.
(My husband's father was Polish, his mother Italian. They met in the UK after being invited to work here after WWII)
Author of www.downssideup.com