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Page last updated at 16:02 GMT, Tuesday, 18 November 2008

'I cannot forget what life was like before'

Noel Martin

Noel Martin, paralysed after being attacked by neo-Nazis, is planning a trip to Switzerland to commit assisted suicide. On Monday, we carried an open letter from disabled broadcaster Liz Carr, urging Noel to think again (see link, below). Here is Noel's response.

Dear Liz,

I think you misunderstood when I say I can't touch or feel, I will try and put it in a different way for you. When my horse won at Ascot I couldn't touch it because I have no feelings in my hands. I couldn't get close to it because horses can react in different ways.

Every owner normally pats and strokes their winning horse, to say well done. My horse may have thought I didn't appreciate what it had just done because I didn't show emotion or give it a pat.

Noel Martin and Liz Carr

Also my disability is different from yours. You became disabled from the age of seven, without having experience or enjoyment of life. I became disabled at 36 and by then I'd got a taste for life.

I knew the enjoyments of being a person who could walk and knew I could get further in life. That makes it harder for me to accept what has happened because someone threw a concrete block through my car windscreen.

Unfortunately in your life you didn't have a choice, or a chance, to taste the sweetness and fruit of life as a walking person. You had to just go the disabled way and adapt to life the best way you could.

I mean no disrespect to you or anybody else, but you haven't known or felt what it is to live life any other way, or had the privilege to live it any other way.

Take the example of Stevie Wonder. He was born blind and cannot tell you what beauty looks like because he has never seen it. He cannot tell you what the colour green looks like or his children's faces. He can only interpret it in his own way.

No control

But Ray Charles was born with his sight, even though he went blind very early in his life. He could still tell you what beauty looks like, to a certain degree, and know the colours of the world. But he could not explain many of things after because he was too young to know.

To me these are two disabled people who have two different ways. They've both done, or did, so well in life, but what about other things? I'm sure they would give up all their wealth and musical talent to see the faces of their children.

Concerning my feelings for my wife and shedding tears, those are things that are trapped inside of me. I have no control over tears, for me every day is Groundhog Day.

Liz Carr
Liz Carr became disabled aged seven
The laws about assisted suicide in this country are made by educated people, but that counts for little when it comes to commonsense. If these are the type of people that make decisions for me, I would rather die. An English man's home is supposed to be his castle, but I cannot shut my castle doors and keep people out.

Just think what I could feel if I was walking. My wife always used to imagine the heights I would have reached if I had not been cut down. Should I settle for second best? No!

Again, you insist in your letter that I can touch the world, but when I speak nobody seems to be listening or understanding. A sane person can jump off a roof and nobody makes a fuss because it's their freedom of choice.

I am not condemning anyone, it's just that it's not within their power to share the pain another individual goes through. You cannot split pain in half and give it to someone else to lighten your load.

You cannot say I would not have touched so many people if I hadn't been paralysed - you didn't know me before my accident. You said I have become a celebrity campaigner against racism? Well, I've campaigned against racism since I came to England aged 10 and the world is still an ugly place.

You mention the cultural exchanges I organised between Germany and Britain to understanding. They are no different from organising a game of football in the playground. And writing an autobiography is equivalent to drinking a cup of tea for me. I know where my mouth is and I know what life I lived before I was paralysed, so it's easy to put it on paper. What I don't know is the life I would have lived if I was not paralysed.

Destiny is a strange thing, fear is an experience that nobody can live by. You cannot share pain and freedom of choice from God is mine.

Yours truly,



Noel Martin meets Liz Carr

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