This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit

Disability Arts Online

> > Deborah Caulfield

Sick child. Scene One. Seen them all.

Imaginary interview taking place sometime around now.

Interviewer: Doreen, tell us about this picture.

Doreen: Hang on, I’ll just get a fag.

Interviewer: Take your time. No rush. Make yourself comfortable.

Doreen: Right, monkey. Now then. When we took photographs, back then, in the 1950s we used to pose people and make them stand properly. We’d tell them to watch the birdie.

Interviewer: Is that what you did? Why was that, I wonder.

Doreen: Well dear, the birdie was the camera shutter. You know, the little opening and closing thing. It lets the light in.

Interviewer: Oh, yes. I see. I think…

Doreen: Yes, you know. You’d say ‘watch the birdie’ cos the shutter opening and closing looked like a bird flapping its wings.  It got people to look straight into the camera and not off to the side somewhere.

Interviewer: That sounds absolutely marvellous. Do go on.

Doreen: We’d all shout ‘c-h-e-e-s-e’, you see, and it made everyone laugh, which was the whole point. Who wants to see photographs of miserable-looking sods?

Interviewer: Who indeed…

Doreen: Don’t you be so cheeky, you.

Interviewer: Sorry.

Doreen: Right. Well. Think on, lad.

Interviewer: Indeed… Please continue.

Doreen: Oh I shall, lad. (coughs) Well, we’d all say C-H-E-E-S-E and it’d make your mouth wide so it looked like you were smiling even if you weren’t. Try it yourself. Say C-H-E-E-S-E. Go on.

Interviewer: … I don’t like to … I feel … silly.

Doreen: Don’t be so bloody stupid. Say cheese.

Interviewer: Cheese.

Doreen: Better than nothing, I suppose. Can we hurry up, dear? Only I need another fag. I’m dying here.

Interviewer: Yes. Well. Tell me about this picture. Not everyone looks happy, do they? The two women on each side… They look fairly pleased with themselves. They’re… who are they?

Doreen: They’re nurses, dear. You can see that. I can’t remember their names, obviously.

Interviewer: Ah, this was taken in a hospital, was it?

Doreen: It was, lad, more’s the pity.

Interviewer: And the little chap in the middle, he doesn’t look too happy. Not smiling. Not saying cheese.

Doreen:That he is, or was, a she. My daughter. Silly bitch.

Interviewer: You sound rather annoyed, if I may say so.

Doreen: Annoyed? I’m not now but at the time I were bloody fuming! Ungrateful little bugger, after all we did for her.

Interviewer: Really? I’m not sure I quite understand…

Doreen: What’s not to understand? That little sod wouldn’t stop bloody crying and moaning. Wah wah wah. I’d smack her and tell her. I’d say, I’m warning you,  if you don’t shut your noise, stop showing me up, I’ll tell your father and he’ll have something to say to his daddy’s little girl, won’t he, eh?

Interviewer: Did she stop crying?

Doreen: Did she heck as like.

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 21 January 2014

Last modified by Deborah Caulfield, 21 January 2014

Cheer up! It's only death.

I probably shouldn't be here. 

The world is a mess, despicable things are happening and people are dying sadly, horribly and needlessly. It seems likely to me that these deaths are being deliberately caused in order to reduce the population.

Floods and storms are caused by nature and are beyond human control (though I wouldn't put it past them to manipulate the weather).

On the other hand, taking benefits from disabled and sick people, making them destitute and suicidal, is deliberate cruelty.

And this is not even the half of it.

I'm doing what I can to resist and challenge. I manage an organisation of disabled people, enabling people to have their say and get the support they need. I network, tweet, sign petitions and occasionally email my MP.

But art... For me this is pleasure and escapism. I enjoy making pictures, even when the subject or content are rooted in sad experiences.

Making pictures is fun. I can't help it.

Posted by Deborah Caulfield, 5 January 2014

Last modified by Deborah Caulfield, 6 January 2014