The Sunday papers often have sad stories. People with cancer, children needing transplants. Tug-at-the-heart-strings-over-your-tea-and-Cornflakes stuff.
This Sunday’s Observer was different, though. The story of Noel Martin doesn’t tug at your heartstrings — it rips them out of your body, shreds them and stuffs them in your face as you bawl steaming hot tears of pain and anguish.
Titled “Why I just can’t go on living“, it tells how Martin, a Jamaican-born Brit, was chased by neo-Nazis shouting “nigger piss off” as he was driving through Mahlow, a small town south of Berlin. They threw a 44-lb concrete block through the window of his car, forcing him to crash into a tree. He went into a coma, and when he woke up he discovered he was paralysed from the neck down.
This was ten years ago. After a decade of living in what he describes as a “prison”, needing round-the-clock care, taking four hours to get up every morning, and also watching his wife die of cancer, he now plans to travel to Switzerland, which has liberal suicide laws, drink a cocktail of drugs and “shut my eyes and wake up in another world.”
The response of a neo-Nazi interviewed on German TV? ‘It’s fine by us if he goes and buries his carcass in Switzerland.’
If you’re not bawling yet, go and read the article. Then, if you still have any heart-strings left, buy Noel Martin’s book, “Call it my Life” (although I can’t find it on Amazon or anywhere, except in German). This story is so horrific it’s taken me days to write about it, and even now I don’t think I’ve done it justice. The way life has treated him I’m not surprised he wants to kill himself — I probably would have done it a lot sooner. I hope he finds something to live for before he gets that cocktail down his throat though.