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Penny Pepper's Blog - disability arts online
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Penny Pepper blogs her ups, downs and creative urges / 19 October 2010

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

Penny at Xtreme East Radio 2010

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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 a piece called Bed Ridden - say each word slowly and precisely, it creates a whole new emphasis.

As the theme is world peace and non-violent action, I am intrigued to think about the powerful women who have spent time in bed through impairment of all kinds, creating alternative interpretations of action and change. I hope to make the piece entertaining and subversive while keeping to the remit.

I've also finished my creative response to the recent focus groups run by the Royal College of Physicians held at Shape. I became fascinated with the story of Sarah Hawkes, an 11 year old who experienced an injury that caused her body to bend into a painful twisted horseshoe shape by the age of 14.

A early 19th century doctor took up her case and straightened her out with physio and stretching... but history neither records her voice directly, or what tells us what happened to her post 'cure'. I've gone on a journey with this, seeing parallels to my own life at that age, and written The Imaginary Ballad of Sarah Hawkes which exists in both a folk song idiom, and a rap. I intend to discover more about Sarah and have longer term hopes to make a documentary about my efforts to give her the life outside of the medical profession which history has cruelly denied her.

Now I reckon I should pause for breath and fuss my cat who keeps sitting in front of the pc monitor. Is this a hyperactive phase? Will I be cautioned by my MH team - as I often am - to slooooow down? After all that's happened, that simply will not compute as I enjoy riding the wave.

 

Keywords: access issues,history of disabled people,mental health,subversion,