07 February, 2009

The difference words can make

This photo accompanies Mark Willis’s compelling piece on culture and accessibility at A Blind Flaneur

Such a bleak image from another time brought to mind a story told me by Graham Lancaster, leading communications professional and author of several novels, to illustrate the difference words can make.

A blind man at a street corner was shaking a tin cup into which few people were dropping coins. On a slate board around his neck, he had chalked, Blind. One passer-by asked if he might add something to his sign. The blind man agreed and handed over his chalk. The passer-by wrote on the slate and left.

He returned later to ask how things had gone. The blind man told him that they had gone marvellously and that he had trebled his normal takings. Asked what he had written, the passer-by said that he had added just three words. The message now read:

... and it’s Spring

Photo: Paul Strand. Blind. 1916. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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