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Memories Surface Very Slowly

Advocacy awareness class. Something is missing from everyone's learning. I could save them. Tell them how the circle of oppression goes on and what it does to you but its not my call so I spend time with memories of special school surfacing....

Mrs Mack
She’s on smack
She is very nasty

Childhood peeps by in rhyme attacking teachers.
I am alone here.

Thank U Very Much for Mrs Cheetham
Thank U Very Much
Thank U very very much

One more day to go
One more day in sorrow

Skool songs bleed thru the memory
With new ones surfacing

Mr Muz
Call the fuzz
He is not so nasty

Some are shared
Some are lonely

I sit here in advocacy class
Feeling very, very, lonely

Mrs Mack abased me
That’s why she’s on crack
And I was oh so lonely

Discrimination across the nation
Internalised and bleeding

Mr Muz
He could have saved me
Proved there were ears to listen
Voices that spoke

But he didn’t
There weren’t
There was none
A zero
With which to surround me
When I was very lonely

Posted by Rich Downes, 31 July 2014

Last modified by Rich Downes, 3 August 2014

Picture From A Not Dead Yet Movement - To That Which We Do Not Have

I hadn't planned to put this picture up as a part of the series but something nagged away at me and I couldn't think what it was. Then I saw him and something else nagged at me. I couldn't remember his name. I slept badly last night. How could I not remember his name. There are people in these photos whose name I don't know and it worries me not a jot but something bugged me out here.

I woke up. I've got it. He shares my name. He died. We went to his funeral to see off a DAN warrior. DAN for unitiatives stands for the Disabled People's Direct Action Network. Warrior, Wheelchair Warrior. Common parlance back in the day. We took to the streets, built the barricades, forced through revolution and helped bring down a government. All in the name of rights. Civil Rights. The Right to Live. Accessible Transport, Free Our People. Independent Living.

Richard was a warrior. One of the very best. Well loved. The room in the crem was packed. His eulogy mentioned something of the warrior he was but he was more than this. Other things were discussed. Later at his reception held the Bald Faced Stag, Finchley, we circled the pool table he played at, appreciated his social life, his leagues, his talents, his interests.

Richard was in and out of hospital. His illnesses where serious. Caused a lot of pain and grief. It would always last a moment and more before he would be back out, getting fit to return to the street. One day it got him. But as far as I know he never asked for it, wanted it. The fight for life was always bigger. The way he lived always mean't more. The lessons he left for others to learn, the improvements we bought about together, as a movement, for others - that's what counted.

And now he's gone, barely remembered by me, surely forgotten by others. He's a symbol of that which we do not have. Austerity bought about many changes. It bought about an attack on disabled people. We have lost many more during this time. Remember we told the governemetn they had blood on their hands. Well, they are up to their armpits now and the head is yelling for more. Each one gone, each one to leave us.To that which we do not have.

Posted by Rich Downes, 30 July 2014

Last modified by Rich Downes, 30 July 2014

Picture from A Not Dead Yet Movement - A Penultimate Shot

A wheelchair user sits by a poster reading ‘Dignity Not Death’

Beneath the headline there is a list. Only a part of it can be seen. It reads:

‘My home is inaccessible
I do not get the support I need
I have no form of transport
I have no aid to communication
I have no aids to daily living’

What does the rest of the poster say? Add what you lack. Complete the poster by saying where your dignity is put at risk. Tell me what you want.

Charlie Farley Falconer thought you wanted death. Some of us do sometimes. He heard those that do cry out loudly, sob the loudest. Did we lose the battle, if not the war, because we returned to passive speaking? Did our quietness allow welfare reform? How does a government get away with genocide through the hands of paid agents?

Is it really a case of first they came for the single mothers and I did not speak out because I am not a single mother, before they came for the mentally distressed and i remained without a voice because I am not mentally distressed all  of the time, before they wrote a bill for the aged, ill and disabled that put them all away quietly by the passing of a pill, a silent swallow of a medicine, a pain free prick into an artery....

So write your list and write it now.

Posted by Rich Downes, 29 July 2014

Last modified by Rich Downes, 29 July 2014

Picture from a Not Dead Yet Movement 3 / 28 July 2014

Posting this picture reminds me of a story someone once told me. I do not swear to its exactness. It's an old tale. Relates to a working man, a stong, silent, family type. Leaving home one morning he just collapsed on the doorstep of his home. HIs wife heard him fall and rushed to him. He was struggling that much was clear and things looked bleak so she left him at once, went inside and dialled 999, before returning to his side.

The paramedics turned up first by bike and then an ambulance into which he was bundled inside On his way to the hospital he died. We could end it there of cause but the professionals were already on the case and they resusitated him quickly. There was no question that they would try. It was their job and they made it work for the man.

The next thing the man remembers is waking up with a pain in his chest. Her felt weak but he touched it and found a scar. Someone had opened him up. He felt queasy. With a bit more energy he could have thrown up but he didn't. He just held it there, wondering what would happen, wheere his life would take him, was he finished. He thought of his family. He was glad he had worked hard, contributed, made them safe. He could die happy with that thought in his mind.

It would take him some time to get up again, to move around, to be a part of something but he decided in time to live. He found he could volunteer somewhere at a place that respected the slowed pace he now lived at. In fact, whenever he found the time he celebrated the newness that surrounded him. He was no longer tied down to the chains that bind - the cash nexus. Indeed he had even put aside a little nest egg and he was pleased by that too. He could get around more now, see more people, more places, new streets. He now had time to be more of the person he always wanted to be - a celebrant who lived the good times

That was the story anyhow. I'm not sure how useful it is here or if i've even remembered it well. But it feels right so i'll tell it here. Some how it makes me think a fight for life may be worth it... even in these trying times.

Posted by Rich Downes, 28 July 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 28 July 2014

Building A List Of Songs with which to Beat the Assisted Dying Bill

Song Number 1

Heard today under a slightly different lens John Grant's Glacier

Please leave Song Number 2 et al in the comment lists below

Posted by Rich Downes, 22 July 2014

Last modified by Rich Downes, 22 July 2014

Picture from a Not Dead Yet Movement 2

Thanks to Dennis Queen for telling me where I could the picture I was looking for in Picture from a Not Dead Yet Movement

Again this comes from the action against Lord Joffe's bill not Lord Falconer's. I suppose if you replace a spade with a spade it still goes by the same name - 'Lord Of Death'. Great title sir.

Back in the day, we all knew the Lords of Death would be back. Flocking rook like in a parliamentree, espousing blinkered wisdom like owls caught in daylight. Birds of prey hooting, cawing, calling for you and me.

We knew it was coming. The war was fought on the claw of a bloodthirsty media that finds it easier to promote death and dying than it does life and living. Man wants to live. Some dud headline that one. Woman becomes one year older and parties like all the best of all of our yesterdays. Try spotting that one in an editorial. Its nothing compared with say; 'Putin Killed My Son', a brief holiday in the Sun with your favourrite lying Mail. Aye!!! We're having a heatwave.

Posted by Rich Downes, 22 July 2014

Last modified by Rich Downes, 22 July 2014

Picture from a Not Dead Yet Movement

Way back in time  a fellow named Lord Joffe tried to get the Assisted Dying Bill through parliament.

The Disabled People's Direct Action Network (DAN) mobilised and put on a show which the majority of the Lords supported.

I remember taking a shot of an activist from Birmingham (Paul? if memory serves). He was holding a placard reading 'Lords of Death'. I looked for it. It felt apposite. Timely and with shades of Doctor Who. A science fiction skit perhaps wherein the elderly, wizened Lords sought to fuck us all up.

Couldn't find the picture. It wasn't one of my favourites from the day. I like the one on my facebook page with Terry Hutt holding one end of a Not Dead Yet coffin. I might present that one later but the one i really like is of Clair Lewis, AKA Dennis Queen, kitted out in this shot as a Nurse of Death - a nurse of death with an improbably sized needle sticking in her neck.

I can't remember if i took it this way or if Clair or myself turned it over. Certainly you can read the words upside down words Not Dead Yet. The picture has this disorientating effect - possibly because it is presented upside down. And the decision of the lords to legalise death  is also disorientating so I just feel it is important to remember that this is a long battle. We won under Joffe, lost under Falconer but the war is a long way from over. If you are still breathing and are in fact Not Dead Yet you can still fight it

Posted by Rich Downes, 21 July 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 21 July 2014

He Was - I Was

Image - he_was_i_was.jpg

Saturday Night, Peter's Bistro in Devizes and an unlikely meeting across tables forming a friendship. I retained these details in my head as it seemed to say something about engagement (my current area of work at Merton Centre for Independent Living). I didn't realise it would take this form. Neither did i realise i would be experiencing this on the day the Battle of Westminster raged.

He Was - I Was

He was a Royal Marine, fought in the Falklands
I was into peace and love, didn’t like my country
He became a police man, long arm of the law
I was a disabled activist, prepared to right the wrong
He joined the NHS, big on institutions
I preached independent living, big on freedom

There was nothing about this man that I could like was there?

So, why did we spend three hours laughing over dinner

Maybe it has nothing to do with labels
Nothing to do with chalk nor cheese
N’owt to do with He Was – I Was

Everything to do with the people we are
Everything to do with the words we say
Everything to do with where and how we meet

The soldier will meet with the hippy again
The rozzer will meet the committed criminal
The anaesthetist with the conscious

A date has been set

Posted by Rich Downes, 1 July 2014

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 July 2014