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

Disability Arts Online

> > Richard Downes

The Train Seat - A Problem with Access - A Tory Guide to Budgeting.

Image - traintrax.jpg

 

The Train Seat is embroidered with a pregnant woman, a woman with a baby and a man with a stick. What if the man with the stick sat on the seat with a pregnant woman who then had a baby? Wouldn't the man with the stick feel squashed. Who should stand up first? Who should give the seat up to whom? Surely as the baby came last it should have no right to the seat. I do get sick of babies. I do get sick of the coo coo ca choo. Out of the window with it. Save my taxes. Down with babies.

On the seat reading left to right as I do, not accustomed to reading Arabic text, the pregnant woman appears first. Should primary positioning mean that the seat should go to the pregnant woman. I look at her with interest. Somehow the lump or the bump looks out of proportion. Not that I would know but surely women don't carry like that. Is she a faker. "Ooh! Give me the seat. I am a pregnant woman". Or so, she would have me believe. I can't stand this lie. Out of the window with her. Save my taxes.

Second in line is the woman with the baby. Except there is no baby. We already threw that one out of the window so that woman shouldn't get a seat. Is she working? Then she pays taxes. Is she on work fare? That's a contribution to the fat capitalist pot. We won't throw her out of the window. She can jolly well stand and look sexy. Then she might have a baby. But we don't like babies. Out of the window with her too.

Which leaves the man with the stick. Well that could be me but isn't. Must ask if he's on benefits. Well are you? Yes you are. You damned despicable, lying scrounger. Out of the window with you it is then. Save my taxes.

I am left sitting, at last, in a quiet railway carriage. In front of me is a beautiful, empty seat, embroidered with all the people I wanted to get rid of. They've all gone now and I am not worried by this dilemma any more. The world seems so much better. All is calm. But the seat worries me. It nags at me. Surely if it serves no purpose all it does is serve as an historical artefact and would be best placed in some old, musty, transport museum. The problem with that however, is these museums; they consume my blathering taxes. Burn the seat. Out of the window with it.

I arrive at my destination. Police are scouring the platform (tax thieves) looking for some murderous villain who burned a seat and threw it out of a window. I consider myself an honest, upright fellow and I know that I should tell them it was me but then I’d be off to prison and you know what pays for them. Yes! Taxes!! I want to cry burn all those lousy jail houses and all the prisoners with them. But I don't. I just save my counsel for some time later.

 

Posted by Rich Downes, 20 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 20 November 2012

Cutting up the Lucinda Williams Experience

Image - lucinda_williams.jpg

Lucinda Williams performed old songs, new songs, covers, her songs, herstory at the London Jazz Festival in the Royal Festival Hall on 11 November

Take the image, steal the vocal, remove the backing band. All that is left are the songs and moments captured from the lives they reflect on. It is the easiest thing to tell you how much the words of Lucinda Williams mean to me, how real they seem, but that just leaves hagiography. So take the lines that spoke loudest to me - the ones that crashed into the times I'm living, cut them up like Burroughs, change only tense and pronouns and reconstruct an edited Lucinda Williams experience.

Paradise is lost to a place where the wild things grow. Times are harder than they've been before. I wanna see what it feels like to be without you. Blessed, we slept together. I got what I deserve. Kissed your tears through the gloom. Kissed you hard. Why do you have to be a source of misery. You weren't born to be a slave, to be mistreated, to be misguided. Now every day your memory grows 'til branches bend and fruit falls to the ground. I may never see your face. How does misery know which door to walk through. I can't find my joy. I want it back.

I heard a rumour you were born to be a friend of mine, baby, sweet baby, shot your love into my veins. How does trouble know which mind to live inside when I can't find heaven and you can't see me any more nor see where I go. Bitter memory knows not how to forgive. I don't think I'll miss you much. I'm glad you stung me, honey bee, showed no mercy. We were blessed by the neglected child. I wanna know she's there but I wanna be alone. I pick up a handful of dust and don't get right with god. Well it's over I know it. Go away. I can't let go.

On my front door, essences to beloved.  She was cast out of heaven. Do I want too much. Am I  Born to be forsaken. Don't bother me. I won't cry a tear. You can't trace my past when I loved you and stood for you by the moss on stone. How this sorrow found a home. We were blessed, before each reaped the pain I don't know what all right means. I don't fight for the prize. You changed the locks I don't know how you live, waiting for your essence, let it fall on my grave. I 'm scared.

There are days I remember well, a place where I always used to go. Everything has changed and I  can't let go. When daddy told me people collect door to door. I can't feel his love. It's been displaced We made quite a pair on the side of the road. By a  tombstone? You can't find me anywhere sweet baby. I was wrong you're so strong. You had no right to take my joy It is my right to feel your breath Real lives, broken fingers and broken guitar strings I don't want you any more. You got a sense of humour though and I wonder if you're happy and content, To hear that would be hard.

I've tried to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Your gift. You weren't born to suffer. Even if you like to flirt with death; stay on the rock for something wicked this way comes. Ghosts in the wind. I took a bus, I had to go back to our house again as if trying to get to heaven before the door closed. I don't want to talk to anyone. Born to be loved, I'm working at the bar. I've got your sweetness, Joy, passionate kisses, waiting for your essence. They tell me everything is gonna be all right. Fruits Of my Labour.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 14 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 15 November 2012

Today from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)

Today at the Indigo Bridge project, having travelled past Paralympic Park, Haseeb is mocking the cost of the tower ride. He tells me about a part time cabbie on LBC, fallen Afghan hero, failing his Work Capacity Assessment and talks up his grand pap who was never fond of bonfire night, having fought for his country decades back he still cowers at every banger - every rocket sees him looking for his helmet. Most days he's ok though - just grand dad. Later i find myself at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG).

Today from the NPG
I see
Nelson
standing tall
Looking over Parliament
heroically
protectively

Today, I look again
I see
Nelson
standing tall
Looking down on Parliament
sneeringly
damningly
Cursing ATOS
his one, one, one, stature
fails his WCA
Chanting
Benefits are PROTECTION
Not me
Not now
Not here

Posted by Rich Downes, 6 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 November 2012

The Thoughts of Frida Kahlo Today

Frida Kahlo is a dead disabled woman. Frida Kahlo may also be a living woman of colour. I am reading some of the latters recent thoughts. Whilst the name survives the grave Frida Kahlo seems to be very much alive. These initial thoughts come from An Interview.

Frida Kahlo: "... the most influential galleries and museums exhibited almost no women artists. When we showed the figures around, some said it was an issue of quality, not prejudice. Others admitted there was discrimination, but considered the situation hopeless. Everyone in positions of power curators, critics, collectors, the artists themselves passed the buck. The artists blamed the dealers, the dealers blamed the collectors, the collectors blamed the critics, and so on. We decided to embarrass each group by showing their records in public. Those were the first posters we put up in the streets of SoHo in New York". But what of disabled women artists?

Frida Kahlo: "Calling a grown woman a girl can imply she's not complete, mature, or grown-up. But we decided to reclaim the word “girl”, so it couldn't be used against us. Gay activists did the same thing with the epithet 'queer'.” As did crips.

Frida Kahlo: "We'd love to be inclusive, but it's not easy to find men willing to work without getting paid or getting credit for it". Pay remains important for Disabled Artists too.

Frida Kahlo: "The next time art critic Michael Kimmelman pans a show that actually includes a fair number of women and artists of color like his hysterical rant against the Whitney Biennial of 1993 we're going to send him a year's supply of Midol". Nice to see you prescribing medication for menstruation. The norm here is to go for diazepam as if the ranters out there are all mad and want quietening down. I find this insulting to the mad amongst us but beneficial for the ranters.

Frida Kahlo: "If a masterpiece can only be made by a master and a master is defined as “a man having control or authority,” you can see what we're up against. Considering the history of slavery, we suggest changing the words to 'massa' and 'massa's piece'. Alan Holdsworth said care homes are Plantations. Workfare aims to make disabled people the new slaves.

Frida Kahlo: "Just last year, Robert Hughes, who in the mid-80's claimed that gender was no longer a limiting factor in the art world, reviewed a show of American art in London for Time and said 'You don't have to be a Guerrilla Girl to know that there weren't enough women in the show'. That's progress, even though Hughes reneged on a promise to apologize in this book for his past insensitivity". You have to keep your enemies close to you. take David Cameron and his talk on disability based on having a disabled son and then look at his policies. Not that I would want to be too close to that man.

Today I discovered the Guerrilla Girls. I immediately fell for their work, messsage, energy, attitude and activism. It rang a bell with me as someone who defines as a disabled artist and a disabled activist. Unlike the Guerrilla Girls i'm yet to reconcile these parts of me. I recommend checking out the Guerilla Girls for Inspiration.

Posted by Rich Downes, 4 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 5 November 2012