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

> > Richard Downes


Today I’m going to see Dolly Sen’s film, a part of 'Wonder; Art and Science on the Brain'. I’m hoping to see friends there. I feel good but not all that good. I travel and write a travelogue of the present that takes me to the past en route to a future better than this, better than my changing mood.


Making it
not making it
in a mood travelogue
wet with rain
Always outside
of the inside
or on the inside
looking out
Car wipers grate
scratch like chalk
on the Board
Turn It Off
make CD Sound
Reel Life
John Barry
Vampyros Lesbos
Park Up
trudge On
tube closed
trudge back
wet socks
head streams
windows steam
CD ends
Radio 4
from local scene
Ally Pally
The Alexandra Palace
Train Lines
Parkland Walk
new knowledge
Drive On
Gyrate round
Highbury Corner
getting later
letting cars in
blocking them out
I almost
did Dolly Sen’s
voice over
Talked myself
out of being in
not of deep resonance
Practice deep talk
Consider control
of strong women
A controlling vocal
A do this stance
Remember timbre
of voice
that visited
saying masturbate
on town hall steps
disrespect authority
despise councillors
prophesy of action
Dead Rock Star
I took his word
I scrapped it
He never came again
Visual Hallucinations only
from good drugs
Hashish cut on opiates
I came here once
in sunshine
the drizzle changes
Arrows point the wrong way
I walk here
I walk back
Then walk here again
On ushers vocal instruction
I use lifts
I want to go down
I’m going up
Take me down
I’m going up
Down. I get down
But free admittance
To the unwaged
Its sold out
Dolly Sen as sold out
A good thing
Not a bad thing
Not a sell out
Take lift
To roof garden
One floor below the roof
Some doors are locked
Some are open
I find the locked ones.
Going down
I’m down
Some doors are locked
Some are open
Trust me to find the locked ones
Ally Pally
Alexander’s Palace
The People’s Palace
Talked of palms
50 degrees in Saudi
Palms in the roof garden
Not a roof garden
I sit
I write
I feel cold
Amongst the tropical
Colourful Birds
Colourful Fish
I love the still ones
I could have been a voice
The one that Dolly listened to
Someone’s voice
I am down
I could have had a part
Been a contender
Down on the waterfront
John Lee’s or Marlon’s
A coffee
Takes me up again

By the way, if you couldn’t tell I didn’t get to see the film but listened to cd’s and the radio

Posted by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Punch Psalm

Image - face_punch2_1.jpg

Had a very confusing day today. Wrote a lot about my journey to nowhere. Will edit it and maybe poetise the prose more. In the meantime here's something that may happened or something that may not have happened. Certainly parts of it did.

Punch Psalm

Wet Sunday Afternoon
Church closed
Doors Locked
Bars open
In the eternal
Blue Light Cops
Speed to hospital
Scene of conflict
Between Drunks
And Demonstrators
Who both want
It open
In Service


Posted by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 17 March 2013

Sleep - A Thought Provoked by Liz Crow Continuing Bedding Out

Image - bedding_in_03.jpg

When I used to practice writing with a passion, strong and heavy into the night I would wake up with sentences being formed in front of my eyes rather than dream in sound or in vision. It still happens sometimes. It happened again recently. The words appeared. They took poetic form. I woke up and they were gone. I let them run away, escape me. Then that Dawn Willis started a facebook page, Bedding Out Live  a promotion of a Liz Crow performance. I began to contribute and as I did remembrance of the lost words returned. I was sleeping. I was waking. Words instead of dreams. What were they? I cannot even now remember and perhaps I never will but in searching Sleep appeared and formed as follows:
My bed takes me
these days
cold and shivery
returning me
hot and sweaty
with life

trying to type
a poem in my head
that I haven’t
as yet learned
to capture
on waking

in days
at night
a ghostlike repetition
and me (again)

What was it that you said?
What was it that you felt?
What could I do to help you?
Why do I walk away?

Memory finds
whilst sleeping
imprisoned in the snuggle safe
chain of duvet
remorse behind bars
in Pillowdown Town

Posted by Rich Downes, 10 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 10 March 2013

The Art Of The ILF Campaign

I have spent many a minute this afternoon listening to the wit and wisdom of Sophie Partridge, Kevin Caulfield and Gabriel and Penny Pepper – all of whom appear on you tube videos (find all four videos here) in defence of the soon to be closed Independent Living Fund.

Each video touches on principles of independent living that became very important to me growing up as a disabled activist, ie. Ideas around choice, control, independence and empowerment wherein we become contributors, participants, people with a voice, people who grew through investment in resources and intellectual concepts, like freedom, liberty, equality.

Each of our video stars make these ideas resonate, Here are the people who prove what can be done, what could be achieved. Icons with value in their communities and in our wider disability community. ILF resources produced artists, writers, students, workers, campaigners. ILF Funding gave meaning to life. 

Penny Pepper draws the parallel with the Disability Living Allowance which was known as the equalising benefit. I am a disabled person. I have these costs that non disabled people do not have, which must be met if I am to survive. I need more meds, more heating, a different diet, different transport needs, etc. Well that has gone too and we move towards the PIP. The ILF is to become un-ring fenced monies left at the disposal of local authorities. Are they to be trusted? Will they insist that care is provided in a different way, at a cheaper price, by less reliable workers. Isn’t this the way LA’s have been acting for years. Quantity not quality. Will it mean the return of the institutions?

In raising these matters it was not my intention to become political or even to comment on the successes we wrought in bringing around cultural change which is now oh so retrograde but to comment on the style of the campaign, the importance of using our stories and bringing our real life experieince to bear and as activists to realise the risks in this, in telling toomuch about ourselves, in letting others get the wrong end of the stick - this is not about a sick pathetic crip, this is about life. . Following the campaign I am becoming ever more aware of other peoples stories too – some others will be recorded on video – but most are text heavy. We see people standing up to be counted, giving their names and their situations, allowing themselves to be identified by face, voice or situation. None are claiming to be tragic nor brave but, some tell of the whiff of fascism which takes away life options, which lead to houses on the hill which may or may not have life sized ovens and there is a courage in this.

This campaign also centres around a legal challenge and will include a vigil to save the ILF and our right to Independent Living at the Royal Courts Of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL on March 13th from 12.30

Posted by Rich Downes, 6 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 6 March 2013