“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 disability and the term “blockhead”, but his friend Ed Speight suggested that the song should be about the freed slave of the disabled.
In his conversation with Dury and music correspondent Mal Reding he elaborates on his reasons for recording he song and the reaction that he got from the press and public.