|Single by Ian Dury|
|from the album Lord Upminster|
|Recorded||April/May 1981, Compass Point Studios, Bahamas|
|Writer(s)||Ian Dury / Chas Jankel|
"Spasticus Autisticus" was written in 1981 as a protest against the International Year of Disabled Persons, which Dury considered to be patronising. Dury was himself disabled by polio contracted in his youth. Fed up with repeated requests to get involved with charitable causes, Dury wrote an "anti-charity" song.
The song was a cross between a battle cry and an appeal for understanding: "Hello to you out there in normal land. You may not comprehend my tale or understand." The repeated refrain "I'm Spasticus, I'm Spasticus, I'm Spasticus Autisticus" made explicit reference to the line "I'm Spartacus" from the 1960 film Spartacus. Dury was considering touring under the name "Spastic and the Autistics" for the record, playing on his disabilty and the term "blockhead", but his friend Ed Speight suggested that the song should be about the freed slave of the disabled.
The title and lyrics were deliberately provocative, as the word spastic, a name for sufferers of cerebral palsy and then used as the title for the charitable Spastics Society (now known as Scope), was becoming taboo in Britain due to its use as a derogatory term. The BBC deemed the song offensive to polite sensibilities ("I wibble when I piddle 'cos my middle is a riddle") and they along with other radio stations denied it airplay, although Dury heard no complaints from other disabled people. The record also received little promotion from the record company.
- A Summer Plague: Polio and Its Survivors, Tony Gould, p.253
- Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of Culture, Marc Shell, p.103
- Smashed Hits 2.0: Music Under Pressure, edited by Jo Glanville, Index on Censorship, p.31
- Ian Dury, Will Birch, p.234-236
- Paralympics 2012: Ian Dury's Spasticus Autisticus was electrifying, The Telegraph, 30 August 2012
- Terence Blacker: 'Spasticus' and the crime of condescension, The Independent, 31 August 2012