Once the boys had accepted this explanation, I began to wonder at my original response. What does it mean when someone who identifies herself as 'blind', someone who is working hard to be proud of her blindness, uses this word as a term of abuse? I'd like to think that the years I've spent listening to football commentary have left me with a stock of easy and un-thought-through phrases to trot out on such occasions. Perhaps I also talk about 'games of two halves' and 'tired legs' without even noticing.
But I worry that my response reveals something more sinister. What if society is so ready to accept the negativity of blindness that even the blind find themselves using it as an insult? How can I hope to celebrate my blindness, let alone encourage others to do the same, when the emotion of a football match triggers this kind of mindless comment? Football fans are not known for the subtlety of their insults. Indeed this particular tournament has already been marred by accusations of racist language. I am delighted that racism at football matches has at last been identified as an issue and is being addressed. I wonder when (or rather, if) the misuse of the language of disability will be subjected to the same kind of scrutiny. I for one am now going to be paying a lot more attention to the kind of language I use when watching football.