When you live with facial disfigurement having to put up with constant staring and the occasional hurtful comment, or even people pointing at you while they sneer or laugh is part of your life. You don’t have to like it – in fact it’s very unpleasant for many of us – but it’s not unusual and we try and adjust, pretend it doesn’t hurt us and move on.

Occasionally, something happens that’s a little beyond the normal indignities you suffer. I’m a fairly placid individual, so I don’t get too flustered when someone stares. I just let it go. When my wife or children are there to witness it, then they become involved, and it’s natural for them to react, and to want to protect me. Often I would say to my family it doesn’t really bother me so they shouldn’t let the incidents get to them. Easy to say, of course.

We were in Maspalomas one Christmas, our first time away in the sun together for a festive holiday. We had finished our meal, and thankfully the children had left the table to play. I heard a loud voice coming from a nearby table and naturally looked around and wondered what the commotion was about. A guy in his late thirties/early forties was gesturing wildly, apparently in our direction, so I looked behind me to see who he was abusing only to discover there was no one there – his target was me.

It took a few seconds before I began to hear clearly what he was saying. He started screaming I was an ‘ugly bastard’, and words to the effect that I should be kicked out of the restaurant/bar. I was bewildered because I knew I hadn’t seen him before, nor even exchanged  a word with him. Of course, it was my face – he simply didn’t like it. It offended him.

And then he got up, still shouting expletives, and attempted to move in my direction but was restrained by his embarrassed partner. I could see Trish was stunned, and since this guy, whatever his problem, clearly had an issue with me, I just took her hand, left the room, gathered our children and left the building.

I can only presume he was the worse for drink, but I can’t be certain. While the incident lasted about 30 seconds the ferocity of his words and his threatening behaviour left us shaken for a time. 

Another incident occurred some years ago at a dinner dance. We didn’t know many of those present, but had a good night nonetheless. But just before the end Trish told me of an encounter she had had with a woman who came up to her and said she’d love to meet her for a cup of coffee some time. Trish wondered why, since she didn’t know her, but the woman, giving her name, said she was the only….. living in ……. and Trish could look her number up in the phone book.

And before Trish could say a word the woman added: “I want to know what a lovely young woman like you is doing married to the likes of him”, pointing in my direction. Thanks very much madam.

Trish said she was so stunned by the woman’s affrontery she couldn’t reply. We know her name and where she lives, but Trish never met her for that coffee. Sometimes it’s hard to understand people’s brazenness and rudeness. Why did she imagine her comment wouldn’t offend the woman who had married me? People can be so strange.