Author, Scrabbler, Traveler

Watching the US Democratic Convention this week, I was overwhelmed with the sugary, syrupy speeches praising Biden and the hell fire condemnation of Trump. They were presented by world class speakers, including former President Obama. The sweet and sticky paeons of praise for Biden left me with chronic toothache.

Expecting more of the same on Thursday, I wasn’t disappointed… until that boy Brad Harrington came onto the screen. He started so clearly but eventually succumbed to his nemesis of stuttering. The pain he inflicted on me as I waited and prayed  with my heart and soul for him to get his words out took me back to a primary school in the heart of a low-rent council estate in Maidenhead, England.

It was 1960 and I had just arrived “fresh off the boat” from Africa – the first person of colour in a staunch working class neighbourhood, barely able to put two words together in English. I was five  years old and attending North Town primary School for the first time.

In that boy on the screen-Brad Harrington- I saw myself standing among my peers trying to introduce myself, encumbered on all sides, carrying the greatest impediment of all – losing the battle to speak. I was struck dumb and forced to sit down, defeated in silence .

But Brad wouldn’t stand down. He continued.  What he wove into his simplistic speech was an indisputable testament to Biden’s  genuine compassion for the unfortunate and down-trodden. You see, Biden had also stuttered as a boy. On encountering Brad on a school tour, Biden built a personal relationship with the boy, handing out his tips to conquer their shared impediment.

At his speech end, there was no doubt left of the courage and fortitude within Brad and the stark humanitarian contrast between his idol Biden and that perceived bully Trump.