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Penny Pepper has been a writer and activist within the disability arts movement for 20 years. She has written articles for dao, Arts Disability Culture Magazine, Disability Now and Ouch! She has also written short stories for DAO and is the author of Desires (2003), a controversially unique collection of explicit fiction focusing on disabled people, relationships and sex.

A short Stay in Switzerland

5 February 2009

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Julie Walters starred in a one-off drama on BBC One on 25 January, inspired by the true story of Dr Anne Turner, who in 2006 took her own life in a Zurich clinic having developed an incurable degenerative disease. It's a cliched beginning. Moving, moody, pity-inducing music. Man in wheelchair, eyes sad. Immobility. Comments fly - he's suffering, he's 'reduced to this'.  This is Dr Anne Turner's husband. He dies after the first 5 minutes of some 'neurological' issue. When Anne gets PSP, we're...

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Fighting the Faceless Them: disabled people and powerlessness

8 March 2009

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I remain creative and really pleased with my progress on many projects. But over the last month all efforts and actions have more or less been consigned to the bin of wasted effort. I'm fighting Them. The faceless indifferent Them. It is horrible, undermining, and frightening to be in this battle. At this point They come in the form of ILF. Independent Living Funds. Some of you will know about ILF, many will not. In essence, ILF contribute to the costs, shared with my local authority, that...

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Busy and busy again

24 June 2009

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Oh how does time manage to do that thing of flying by so fast? Is it really over a month since my last blog? I am naughty but my reasons are sound. Since then, I've been to the Shape disability arts debate, organised by the lovely Michele Taylor, the BBC to yak about casting, and to the launch of Hibiscus Red at the BFI. There's also been exciting developments with a new PC, though sadly I am now immersed in playing with a toy - Music Maker, which takes me back to my days as a singer...

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Penny Pepper blogs her Edinburgh fringe experience

28 August 2009

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photo female wheelchair-user in a room

Oh bum. Big bums. Double big bums. I wrote a fantastic blog, I really did and guess what? I clicked back by mistake and it vanished. As I sit here crying and laughing simultaneously, there's a lesson for you all. For fuck sake always save. I should know better. But I guess I never will. Anyhow, not long back from a four day frenzy in Edinburgh. At Fringe universe, which is a parallel universe where there is no time, it's not even relative, except as to whether it's drinking time or eating time....

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Penny Pepper talks about Liberty, Edinburgh and those many manic moments

3 September 2009

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I know I said there'd be more Edinburgh and there will be before this blog is done and dusted but you see Liberty rushes closer and I still haven't 100% decided on my set. But I am very excited, like a kitten who keeps running up the curtains, sort of, and falls off but doesn't care and does it again. And again. Honestly it's best I stay in and don't scare the Norms when I'm like this but not this weekend!  I'm doing 25 minutes with my lovely cello player Jo Cox and I do hope the crowd will...

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Penny Pepper reflects on Liberty 09 and the state of spoken word events

21 September 2009

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photo of writer

The Penny who needs Nine Lives to Do Everything I don't need the Nine Lives as do cats because I am reckless and have close shaves - well only a little - but because I always make a point, indeed a practice of biting off much more than I can chew. And I only have tiny cripple's jaws you understand! Liberty on Sept 5th was amazing and a little peculiar at times. I love to speculate on what the random tourists make of all these disabled people strutting their luvvie stuff in various ways. I won't...

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Bonfires, bugs and being creative

1 December 2009

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two artists sitting chatting

I look at my last blog and wonder if there's a conspiracy against me concerning time. It really is relative. Ok I don't know what that means exactly, but I have a twinge in my guts that it's related to um, what you are doing. So, I suppose I must be happy that time is hurtling by because I've been very creative when not doing great impersonations of a Victorian In-valid with a porcelain sick bowl. Yeah, the bugs have been at me and in me, urgh, but I'm fighting the good fight. I'm juggling the...

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Disabled labelled or not. With or without toothache.

8 January 2010

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Happy new year and all that. But without snow, please. Yes it's pretty. But, of course, not accessible. It makes me apathetic. I have so many projects on the go, and I feel frustrated many are stuck because there's this freeze up of the UK. Last month I was here there and everywhere inbetween being ill. I went and modelled for Tanya Raabe and we were on Paul Darke's radio show. I managed not to swear - I don't do that generally, but radio can make naughtiness pop out. Going up to Wolves again...

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Sex and Drugs and Baby Punk Me: memories of Ian Dury

10 January 2010

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I've just left a comment on the editor's blog concerning the new Ian Dury film. and it made me feel a wave of nostalgia for Ian and my baby years as a punk. It was hard being a punk when so few venues had any hint of access and actually it makes me realise that some of our battles have had a real effect on waking society up to removing some barriers. This can be seen in the hard environment, more than anywhere else and attitudes remain especially slippery if not entrenched. If things were...

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Penny Pepper blogs a chaotic world, sudden crisis, and some creative struggle

10 March 2010

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Tonight I am doing an Open Mic slot with Jo on cello at the Apples and Snakes for women. I believe the lovely Liz Bentley is MC-ing too. Liz is a joy to watch and experience if you ever get the chance. I hope we can spin a little magic for the audience too. If you're in the area do come long. I know I'm rubbish at letting people know in advance but sometimes these things spring up. It's in Brick Lane, East London - in the trendy Vibe Bar - ooo get us. Come along if you can. Meanwhile in daily...

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Penny Pepper is looking forward to sunny days and hopefulness

21 March 2010

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drawing of woman wearing glasses

This is going to be a quick blog. I hope, I intend. I shrugged off the suit of blues, for a bit, as the sun appeared. The Up has to come, doesn't it?. I want to mention now that I am performing on 21 April at Rich Mix, in Shoreditch, at Jawdance - an Apples and Snakes event. I've been booked as one of the featured performance poets, so PLEASE put in your diaries and come along. Likely to be debuting new material, with the ever magnificent Jo Cox.  These events are fabulous and I'm chuffed to...

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Penny Pepper is looking for an actor - super fast

14 April 2010

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photo of writer

This is an attempt at a fast blog, haha. I can be pithy when I want. Poetry and film demand that especially. Tight precision I mean. So right now I am fighting as per, and feeling like Drowning not Waving (see Stevie Smith poem) but we have to pootle on, don't we? I fear there'll be more Prozac soon, but sometimes it helps. I'm all over the place and it gets messy, so we'll see. A performance next Weds, more on that soon. I'm booked for a featured slot, hurray! I am working on the film for a...

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Penny Pepper urges you see her next Wednesday at Rich Mix, Hackney, London

14 April 2010

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Super fast blog! I am manic, manic, manic, today and feeling like the whole world, or maybe dao world at least should come and see me do my spoken word stuff as a featured act, next Wedsnesday. It will be a grand evening of words and thoughts, upbeat, slowbeat and everything in between. It's for Jawdance, an Apples and Snakes event and the details are: Richmix 35-37 Bethnal Green Road London E1 6LA www.richmix.org.uk/aandc_swapples.htm** and here's there link to Jawdance on Facebook Hope to see...

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Penny Pepper urges people to go to the Islington Film Festival

21 June 2010

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I've been away. Not sure where. Wandering inside my head I suppose. Best to save details of that for another day. I'm trying to come to terms with 'major depressive illness'. That's the label now, more are coming. I want to pour it into creativity. I can't help myself...... My short film is being shown this Sunday June 27th at the Islington Film Festival, Holloway Odeon. Do come... it helps and it's appreciated. I know it's a good thing, though I feel a bit distant from it... Who has some...

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Penny Pepper is surviving and sunning

6 July 2010

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photo of two wheelchair-users on a seaside prom

It's a very strange place I find myself in this week. An uncertain placing in the world. They, the faceless, have given me hints of another diagnosis - borderline personality disorder. I've 'probably' had it all my life. Not sure what to think, but then that thinking stuff is all a bit scrambled right now anyhow. My wise therapist of 12 years on and off (sadly not able to guide me officially now) is urging me to resist identifying deeply with any label, but using it if it helps with finding...

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Penny Pepper on the dawn of her half century

10 August 2010

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It leaves me incredulous every passing day now, as the big event hurtles closer. That is, on 16 August I am 50. Oh my. It's as unreal as the recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. I'm 50 and disordered? Maybe I'll simply be proud. I know I can pass as younger if I want. Vain, moi? Always.... As for BPD - that's me. Extreme and emotional and a happy drama queen. Mostly. Apparently my death was predicted to be at around the age of 20 years (and almost occurred at 10...

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My Happy-Sad See-Sawing Life, part 97

8 September 2010

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I survived the big 5-0 drama remarkably intact and with a beautiful party organised by lovely friends. I am not so sure about the outcome of my traumas with my council as detailed desperately in my last blog. It seems to move forward, and some help has been given, but then it gets rather sticky and slows down again. One pushes on as one must. I attempt to look forward and on that note I must thank you all for the encouraging comments left on my last blog, which made me feel less isolated....

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Fancy Nancy, the novel, is finished!

11 October 2010

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Amid painful chaos and the world falling in I did a wonderful if tortuous thing. My thoughts still go through a cruel mangle and bits of me come out the other side in jagged fragments. A lot still hangs in a rather precarious balance – housing benefit issues, the benefit trap, lack of regular work, poor mental and physical health.   But then….? I don’t know whether it’s the meds – which were increased recently. I am less raw, but also less motivated and...

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Penny Pepper blogs her ups, downs and creative urges

19 October 2010

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photo of author reading in front of a microphone at radio station

  There is a lot going on for me at the moment and I can hardly dare whisper that much of it seems positive. Not only is the novel ‘Fancy Nancy’ Out There now, at least being read by someone, but I managed to submit a radio play to the BBC and tie up several loose ends on several creative possibilities. I'm immersed now in DadaFest preparations. There's the burlesque event, I am a roving poet and I am also in bed at the John and Yoko Bed-In celebration. I intend to do...

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Penny Pepper on leading a jigsaw life

7 November 2010

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I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling life is a series of often poorly fitting pieces which have to jog along with each other somehow. Of late it's been a massive balls-in-the-air act of creative work, PA recruitment, health issues, legal battles and assorted duties that can't be left. Oh, not forgetting I am now about 11 in the queue for my BDP treatment assessment and have to keep chasing that. Thanks goodness for supportive friends and the crisis team - well, sometimes they rise to the mark. I'm...

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Penny Pepper's DadaFest Part One: Fun, Frantic, Provocative

10 December 2010

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I'm pulling my guilty face as I write this because I didn't manage to blog while I was working at DadaFest, and I really wanted to share this amazing experience. I've read the blog by Tanya, the reviews, and comments by Colin and echo the sentiments. This felt historic and it was a huge privileged to be there. Yet what a whirlwind, what an awesome frenzy. I loved every minute, even the exhausting ones. My participation in DadaFest happened despite the odds. Earlier in the year my...

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New Year, New Hopes, Old Battles

2 January 2011

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woman wearing a purple jumper lying ona bed

I doubt any of my pals are surprised I didn't manage to post a DadaFest write-up part two. Distraction, distraction... That's my problem. Sometimes I fire so many simultaneous thoughts that they lead me around in exhausting circles, and leave me in a woeful state bemoaning that I haven’t completed any project. I hope this will change this New Year. If you are ever on the end of my distraction issue – apologies. OK, I have had a weight of annoying health issues too, but the...

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Penny on protests... then and now!

23 January 2011

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Penny and Gabriel, Liz Crow in background at  protest a few years ago

It’s Sunday, late evening as I write this. I’m preparing myself for the protest in London tomorrow, as we take to the streets to show our anger at the savage cuts about to hack us hard. Cuts that slice our human rights to bloody ribbons too. I haven’t been on an action for some time. From a personal perspective they have always made me nervous and even insecure, as though I was not really up to it, not made of hard protestor fibre. I’m fragile, I break mentally and...

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Penny blogs. There's a little sunshine and lots going on

10 March 2011

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In the foreground a woman plays a cello. Behind her a woman sits in front of a sheet on a music stand

The sun licks across my window and lures the blossom to bloom. At last! I’m bouncing off the walls, full of seesaw moods, happy-sad, melancholy-joyful, and dripping with creative sap. Mustn’t fall off the tightrope mind you. But isn’t it lovely to see some sunshine? The last week or so has been a cram of activity. A new story ‘Nippy Days’, only written about 4 weeks ago, was selected to be read at ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably?’ - a story telling event...

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Films, moods, protest.

14 April 2011

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Life is busy at Penny towers with much planning – and worrying – going on since I heard I had been successful with my Grant for the Arts. Of course I am excited and bouncing off the walls too. But where to start? Who to work with? I’m developing a one-woman cabaret called Adventures in the Dark and Light. Please feel free to join my Facebook page of that name if you’re interested in my work. I try to keep it up to date – latest gigs, activities and news in general....

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