Mike, one of my South London left-wing friends, invited me round for dinner at his Clapham residence. A few of our other political pals were round there too.
Mike and his wife Sheila liked to do things properly. The food and wine were sumptuous, Sheila gave us a few bars on their new grand piano, and we then retreated to a clematis-strewn garden terrace for coffee and more wine.
I know not whether it was the MS or the wine (I suspect the latter) that made my fingers turn to butter, but I tipped my glass all over the terrace. It was a perfect opportunity anyway to tell them about the MS.
Funnily enough, the news did not change the dinner party. There was no equivalent of a freeze frame, or transformation into a surreal mad-hatters’ gathering. But we had gone through another rite of passage. We were no longer starting life as student revolutionaries or young parents.
Disability makes us aware that we’re not all perfectly formed children with the world at our feet to mould as we would like. Instead, we had become flawed adult citizens of an imperfect world.
Mike and Sheila had already been woken from their youthful dreams by the birth of a disabled daughter. Now, fallibility had been cemented into our group consciousness.