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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.

Many Many Penny Adventures

4 July 2011

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It’s all go. Go, go, go. Where to begin? Ok, firstly, on Wednesday, you can hear me do my bit on Radio Four, for Four Thought. This was recorded two weeks ago at the splendid RSA off the Strand, in front of a live audience. They were responsive, laughed in the right places – including at the sanctioned word ‘tits’ – and looked suitably solemn at the serious moments. I’ll be intrigued to see what you all think, though please be gentle with me....

Comments: 2

New York, Old London, Same Battles

4 August 2011

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I did it. Amazed myself and survived to tell the tale, crammed with feverish stories and kaleidoscope  memories. All roasted and shaken in the rich, brash, varied flavours of New York. I say roasted with meaning because it was hot. Blistering and humid, and when up the Empire State Building, I could see the thick smog arc hanging over and into the city. One day hit 39c - I don't believe I have known it that hot before in my whole life. Thank the gods for air con. Yet nothing could ruin...

Comments: 1

Splitting Penny: the ups, the downs and Ruby Wax.

5 October 2011

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I've been poorly and bogged down. Staring at the walls and wondering why I painted them like I did. One is red.   Looking at the news and thinking this is all so crazy. This is a big brew of hate bubbling to a head. Feral gangs? Criminal immigrants? Disabled scroungers? When will people rebel against this?   I know we're battling. I showed my jittery face at an ATOS demo in London, but I could not stay long. The heat and the crowds, too much.    My life is split into many...

Comments: 0

Do Not Go Gentle.... to where ConDems want us

28 May 2012

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photo of Penny Pepper at a protest

The sun is out, I have a new garden to play with (huh, for now) and my mood is a tad better. I’ve been in the wilderness of serious ill health and dealing with the consequences of that. But I’m coming back into the throng, slowly. The Abnormally Funny People gig was good, though laid me low for awhile. I am maybe a little more scarred at the edges that’s all. Scars inside and out, and ones I wear with honour. I feel many of us will be battle scarred by the end... Today I...

Comments: 4

A rousing call to action - Gabriel Pepper guests on my blog

16 July 2012

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As I am in the tower of word, to half steal a line from Leonard Cohen, I am letting my good friend Gabriel Pepper have his say here today, in the form of a speech he did for his local DPO, where he is Campaigns Officer. Gabriel is a powerhouse of political activism, from going on actions, to constant online work. It is central to his life now as he sees what we are fighting for. I politicised Gabriel over the years we were together. I am very proud of him, and hope you will take heart from his...

Comments: 0

Writing, Ruby, madness - and those pesky Olympics.

4 August 2012

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This week my love-hate affair with writing has me in its thrilling and painful grip.  Writing is like an old friend who sometimes annoys the fuck out of me, and sometimes wraps me in arms of pure co-operative elation. Recently it’s been a see-saw between both and admittedly the ole Borderline has a role in this. But, it helps as much as it hinders. Exquisite highs bring great bursts of creativity as much as the pits of anguish that lead me to unfortunate behaviour and the whole...

Comments: 4

Desires Reborn, Dizzy-Crazy life.

5 September 2012

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photo of Penny Pepper's book 'Desires Reborn'

A short blog by my standards. Everything is crazy. Me, the world, my cat. Dizzy crazy, implode-explode crazy. The roller coaster up-down and a bombardment of thoughts and wishes and actions. Because? Coming to you now, my ebook Desires Reborn. This is a revision of  ‘Desires’ which came out in hard copy as part of the Innovate award almost 10 years ago. I was passionate about the stories not being lost in the turbulent sea of Paralympic furore. Not merely because they are...

Comments: 6

Margaret and Me: reflections from my Thatcher years

17 April 2013

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The Thatcher funeral pontificates in the background as I write. I feel a weary resignation to a day of eulogy, of history revised, though if nothing else, this event provokes me to be reflective on my own past. I was in my late teens when Thatcher came to power. I remember those years with an emotional resonance, the deja vu feeling that comes with recalling tough times. I had a passing interest that she was a woman. I was new to feminism and embraced it into my strange, sheltered life as I...

Comments: 3

Journals and scrapings: the reappearance of Penny

26 June 2013

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Inspired now by my darling friend Jo Cox to write some DAO blog. I’m sad that my energy levels restrict me; sad too that DAO has no funds for us bloggers so I end up shuffling it down my pile. And Jo understands. Borderline thoughts swing you to the highs and lows in extremis, and somewhere, in the middle, you clasp onto any breather that allows you to Do Stuff. Sometimes I roll with the highs. A manic mood can mean completion, inspiration and even letting my babies go into the dark...

Comments: 0

Poems, performance and other good medicine

5 February 2014

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Flyer for Penny Pepper's event on Saturday February 8th.

Over the last few days, a small robin has sat on my garden fence, stubbornly holding his own against the wind. I feel a bit like this robin, as life has battered me along on its usual rollercoaster but I’ve hung in there. New Year’s Eve, I was in hospital, hearing the fireworks along the embankment from my bed, a poignant sound that flushed me with sadness and conflicting thoughts of frustration to get on with life, or to rest and slip into the labels of fraility imposed on me....

Comments: 3

Lost in Spaces: my one-woman memoir show is slowly born

29 April 2014

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I’m in a quiet long room that to my wayward imagination looks like a nuclear bunker. The false ceiling is gone. Red pipes angle mysteriously, and occasionally a low rushing sounds fills the space. Maybe a deep dragon of Stratford rising from his disturbed liar, as tourists and shoppers trample and wheel above. I’m at Westfields – and the biggest shopping mall in Europe may not seem like a good place to rehearse a show, but thanks to Shape Arts, I am borrowing their back room...

Comments: 4

Lost in Spaces: Harold Pinter and the happy slog of rehearsals.

28 May 2014

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For the last few weeks I’ve been closer to home in the Harold Pinter Studio at Hackney Empire for rehearsals of Lost in Spaces. Mare Street, where the Empire is situated, is a vibrant and diverse place in Hackney, East London. From the studio’s large windows, I can look down towards Hackney Town Hall. Once, I was a Rhinestone Roller down there in the square. Bethany, my director, takes me through some vocal exercises and one in particular really strikes a chord with me. Vowel...

Comments: 1

Spaces defined, memories sifted: the final development of Lost in Spaces.

21 August 2014

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Penny holds a potato and a masher during her rehearsal of her poem Mash Up.

In the theatre space at Richmix, Bethnal Green, I hold my teddy. He is as old as me; tatty and dirty-white. He smells of my childhood, a dusty blend of home and babies. I hold him close as I go through my poem Hymn to Daddy, a piece that John O’Donoghue added much to during our mentoring sessions. There’s less than three weeks ahead before my show goes to Soho Theatre for one night. It will tour next spring, and meanwhile, there will be a date in Liverpool. I’m in the...

Comments: 0

Lost in Spaces: with mash, memoir and Pepwatch!

13 October 2015

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I'm bad and weary and old and overworked. I'm sad my DAO blog cries out for fulfillment but hey, a crip has to choose her battles. But I'm back, and with the help of my all round fabulous manager, director and organiser Beth Pitts, I hope to be laying down more Pep news over the coming months. DAO is a mighty precious thing too, and I continue in my heart if not with my presence, to support it. Here’s October, and isn’t it starting to get chilly? Hopefully the cold...

Comments: 0

Lost in Spaces - the final lift off!

16 November 2015

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Award winning writer, poet, performer and activist Penny Pepper presents her highly anticipated, unique one woman show Lost in Spaces at the Old Town Hall Stratford as part of Together Festival / Disability History Month. Saturday 21st November at 3.30pm.

Despite the broken shoulder, the crushed ankle and the dodgy eyes (brave crip, hey?!) the show must go on. This Saturday 21st November is the last tour date of Lost in Spaces at the Old Town Hall in Stratford as part of the Together Festival and Disability History Month. It is a matinee performance at 3.30pm, it is BSL interpreted and it is FREE! I'd love to see you there for this final airing of this spoken word memoir piece, my journey from childhood to the present, touching on key issues...

Comments: 1

Exciting times, exhausting times

14 December 2015

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Times, they are exciting! Despite a broken shoulder and the gloom of winter zapping my stamina. I told you in my previous blog that I'd signed a contract with the publishers Unbound, who crowdfund the first edition of their books. There have been slow times and then flurries of activity.  First of all, a big THANK YOU to those of you who've joined the journey and pledged for my  memoir First in the World Somewhere. I'm pleased to say that today it’s hit 32% of...

Comments: 1

Words, Talks and Belly Rubs

14 April 2016

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The sun is shining again as I write this, as it was in chilly January when I wrote my last newsletter.  It actually looks and feels like spring. Hurrah for that. Life continues in waves of intense writing, frustrating illness, and sudden peaks of activity in which I manage to get outside and meet people. Gasp in shock! I’ve been in the garret working on First in the World Somewhere, and have completed the first draft. Yippee! It’s meant three months of solid commitment to a...

Comments: 0

Fancy Nancy

1 January 2009

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I woke up really late (no, not a hang over) and forgot it was New Year's day. Anyone else have those moments? My cat was, as usual, trying to sleep on my head and had made a bed in my hair. But I sprung into action quickly when I saw the sunshine and remembered I had a novel called Fancy Nancy in my front room. As in MY novel, in manuscript form, neatly arranged in chapters on my sofa. It's embarrassing to tell you that Fancy Nancy first appeared in my head and on paper - 1st draft –...

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Literary Agents

4 January 2009

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I cold called some literary agents. This is a very scary thing to do. The hope is that you can slip into a natural cheeky charm and they will remember who you are when your manuscript plops through their letterbox. I say, 'there is no one like me and no novel like Fancy Nancy'. I believe it. You have to. A few agents get excited but point out they are receiving up to 300 novels a week. I tell myself quietly mine will be at the top of the pile and there will be a bidding war over it.

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High

7 January 2009

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My lovely therapist is worried I am reeling into an extreme high. I am sometimes exhausted and need post-it notes to remind me when meal times are, but I can't say I hate it. I love it. The creativity tap is on full and my bath of ideas has over flown and streams into the world. Oooh, a soggy metaphor, but I'm keeping it.

There is so much to write. So much to do, so much to Be. I don't want to think about downers.

Comments: 0

Spoken word

8 January 2009

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Photograph of Penny Pepper with cello player Jo Cox at a spoken word event at Battersea Arts Centre

I hope our charming editor will allow me to plug my latest baby, which is my spoken word set. 'Pains and Pleasures' – An adaptable portmanteau of spoken word performance and readings by Penny Pepper – reflective – provocative – witty – passionate – burlesque'. I can send the flyer around to anyone interested? I am super keen to GET OUT THERE again, and remind people I am here and wanting to connect, amuse and provoke. Come on, ask, book me, I am friendly and...

Comments: 0

Bus stories!

23 December 2008

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A cold and frosty morning, I've just got in after a trip on the bus. Oh my God. The world is strange and dark at the moment. The reaction of other passengers is starting to make me paranoid that herds of Dignitas death squads are lurking on every corner - and every seat of the no 19. It's not just about grumpy Londoners doing what they love (moaning), it's bordering on a serious hatred of 'the disabled'. How often of late have I heard mutterings about 'shouldn't let 'em on, it's a nuisance,...

Comments: 0

Special needs pets!

24 November 2008

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Did anyone see Special Needs Pets on Channel 4s Cutting Edge the other day? We can usually expect reasonable quality from Cutting Edge documentaries, but this had that snide sniggering quality that infects a lot of TV these days. It's all so, so funny; look at the wobbly dog falling over, the cat having his bowel's squeezed empty, the bunny with dodgy back legs, and the obsessive behaviour of a sexually confused parrot. And never mind the pets, let's laugh at the oddball, saddo owners, more...

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Euphenasia anyone!

17 November 2008

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Earlier I listened to Liz Carr on Radio 5 Live, fighting the corner for our right to live, gamely, in the face of an arrogant paralysed Noel Martin insisting he will do the deathly deed on himself before he's 50. (Great publicity though, especially as he keeps postponing it). If society goes much further down this line of argument, can we look to the day when there's a campaign to put down Prof Steven Hawking? Poor waste of space, clearly a tragedy, he can't have much quality of life. I mean,...

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Hello world, is anyone there?

16 November 2008

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Photograph of Penny Pepper

It's hard to believe that three weeks ago I was setting off in the happy Autumn sunshine to film a pitch in Hoxton Square. Oh look, another TV documentary about sex and disability. And they want me to be the gravitas. Dearie, dearie me, how things do not change. A shame the TV company managed to send an ambulance (yes, ambulance) to whisk me to the shoot. I sat, cardboard bed pans inches from my bigged up hair and reflected on how I could explain to my mum that this was not glamourous in the...

Comments: 0