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Richard Downes - disability arts online
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I once wrote for life now I write in life. I'm looking forward to developing a blog presence with personality for DAO whilst delivering comment, reviews, photos and views on disability and how it's represented.

Shaping Up Another Entry

23 January 2012

Blog

Colour photograph of a stray glove placed on a steel traffic bollard in a car park in Lacock.

About an enjoyable day, the thoughts it caused, about past, current and future work that may or may not happen. A tale about a work completed with this blog entry - which may go further. Synchronicity. Does it work? It's Saturday. I'm reading the Guardian magazine. I like the Your Photos page. Always look at it but have never entered a photo. The next theme for entry is 'missing'. I remember a photo I took in Lacock. What is missing? A second glove? A person? This glove? A person's hand? I did...

Comments: 0

Sad Americana

3 May 2012

Blog

A couple of years ago just around christmas time I lost in quick succession and no longer in any order Vic Chesnutt, Mark Linkous and Jack Rose - 3 musicians that constantly delighted me.   Vic and Mark went through suicide. Jack a heart attack.   I was reminded of this listening to Lambchop's Mr M, their latest album, dedicated to the memory of Vic. Some at DAO will remember Vic has a wheelchair user. I remember, reading an unsympathetic review of one of his albums in DAIL...

Comments: 0

A Cracking Carol

1 February 2012

Blog

photo of a man standing behind a big book

Richard Downes takes a family day out to share a favourite club with others and to make lasting relationships in the arts Scene 1: The Past. A room in Tottenham. Summer. A long, long time ago. Franz Shealey, then a lip reader is watching Phil Sherman speak. He asks; "What is your favourite story?" Fran replies' "A Christmas Carol". "Wow!!!! That's mine too", reposts Phil. Immediately, Fran and Phil; the clown and mime artist respectively behind children's theatre...

Comments: 1

About Our Special Powers

10 February 2012

Blog

 Richard Downes has a grouse at Tempo House and wonders what your powers are. "Winston Churchill had a speech imp-p-p-pediment And look what he did He razed half of London" Currently my favourite lyric. I've caught it every time its come round on the The Fall's 'Perverted By Language' LP. I've actually got it on CD, but if i say LP you'll get more of an understanding about how ancient i remain. The small i too - that's a dead give away. Let us talk more of the small i one day....

Comments: 6

Chatting to A Chugger 3 - An Occasional Series

21 February 2012

Blog

photo of a man with a charity collecting bucket dressed in clown or harlequin outfit

For me the biggest word that comes out of the social model is responsibility. We all need to be responsible for change. In what ways can we be responsible? This is for you to answer for yourself but one way I do it is to chat with chuggers. A chugger is someone who collects for charity out on the street. The word is a composite of charity and mugger. I think it works well. The more time you spend talking to them the less they collect. The less they collect the less they work, the less they work...

Comments: 7

Keys To The Karamel’s Sweet Konnektions

1 March 2012

Blog

Up early, yesterday, sitting at the PC, marvelling at an early youtube clip sent by Chris Sheehan of Robert Plant getting up to sing a rollicking rock blues with Charlie Wood .. Late last night going home having seen Chris compere for Charlie’s chilled out jazz grooves at the Karamel Music Club, Wood Green, London, I thought I need to tell my readers about this place. This story reflects on Keys to the Karamel Club’s Sweet Konnektions. Chris Sheehan, Creative Director of Karamel...

Comments: 1

Struggling to Record the Action of the Hardest Hit

20 April 2012

Blog

I have a photo journal on flickr which i would like to contribute to DAO for safe keeping, debate and discussion. If anyone can advise me how to do this it would be much appreciated. I have tried Slideshare but my Power Point is too big. I've tried attaching it and mailing it to the Editor. Again its too big. The Power Point is an editted down version of the flickr set. Its about 3,100kb. Particpation in the first hardest hit march was a fun day out for us as participants. Much more fun...

Comments: 0

Another Song In the Key Of Strife - The Misanthrope

22 May 2012

Blog

My World View Seriously Sucks

I have no idea what the word misanthrope means - not what it actually means. It sounds like a combination of misery and strop. I think it describes someone who looks at humanity through a prism of misery, is unhappy with their world view, to the point that they go away and strop about it. Driving through Somerset the other day, the car cd played 'Regeneration' (surely a positive word) by The Divine Comedy (does not sound misanthropic at all). Led by songwriter Neil Hannon who (my memory might...

Comments: 0

More Yoko No 1 - Sketches from my notebook

24 June 2012

Blog

Black and White photograph of Jan Pollock attending an ATOS action

The thought of meeting Yoko Ono - as a New Voices Writer excited me. If it came to be - and it did not - what would my interest be? Positive Activism. The Tragedy Model How to commit simple instructions as a way of overcoming personal tragedy The experience of exclusion The nature of segregation Participation and inclusivity  I will say more about Positive Activism in More Yoko No 2 - Yoko Versus We All Shot Pudsey Bear. The Tragedy Model. "Depicts disabled people as victims of...

Comments: 4

More Yoko No 2 - Yoko v We All Shot Pudsey Bear

25 June 2012

Blog

Yoko Ono, Planting Acorns, Bagism, Bed Ins, We All Shot Pudsey Bear, We Are Spartacus, DPAC, direct action

Walking down Oxford Street en route to the Serpentine it struck me that two things I respect may be incompatible.   Yoko's great campaign is for peace. She loves you. Single equality issues such as racism, feminism, ageism can be mollified through observance of the greater cause. Her tactic's have included planting acorns, bagism (against prejudice and stereotyping) bed in's for peace (protesting war, promoting peace). Her work is best seen as an opportunity to be included, involved. She...

Comments: 0

More Yoko No 3 - Move It

26 June 2012

Blog

It is a long walk from Tottenham Court Road Tube to the Serpentine Gallery. Made harder by an unusually hot summer's day. I wander whilst I wonder and wonder whilst I wander. Mostly I'm wondering am I going the right way. I've passed the Serpentine before. It's over there somewhere. It does seem a long way and a long time wandering. The new building surrounded by workmen's boundaries confuses further. I plod on wondering why I never depend on maps when I should and why it always comes good in...

Comments: 0

More Yoko No. 4 - Votive Offering

28 June 2012

Blog

I have an instinctive love and understanding of wish trees. I am drawn to them. They make me think. According to my old mate Wiki; “A wish tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint or goddess fulfillment of a wish”....

Comments: 5

The Paralympics - Reinforcing Attitudes Towards Disability

30 August 2012

Blog

I boycotted the Olympics because of the involvementof ATOS. I was going to boycott the Paras for the same reason only listening to friends and adding my own prejudices I added Dow, McDonalds and Coca Cola to the mix. Then I started to change my mind. Someone said the fourth principle of the Paras is equality. I can support that. Then articles on access started to appear in the press and media. Even Disabled People Against Cuts and other activists groups began to get a mention. I can go with all...

Comments: 8

One Lovely Blog Award

27 October 2012

Blog

I've just revisited an old blog entry Raising A Glass To The next 50 Years Of Jimmying, a poem reflecting on the SaVILE scandal. I visit old blogs to make sure I'm listening to the people who are responding to me. And blow me down, Melissa Mostyn Thomas  said she liked it so much she's nominated me for The One Lovely Blog Award. For a moment I dream't of other people reading Raising A Glass, liking it and coughing up lots of lovely spondies to me, its creator. Then the pale penny dropped....

Comments: 0

The Thoughts of Frida Kahlo Today

4 November 2012

Blog

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...

Comments: 0

Today from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)

6 November 2012

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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...

Comments: 1

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

20 November 2012

Blog

  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...

Comments: 0

The Theatre Crowd

5 December 2012

Blog

theold, the young and the pompous

Yeah!!! Three DAO pages achieved by my last entry. This entry was put together on a reporters pad, one day when tramping the streets. I was between appointments. I had been in and out of galleries, done a little bit of work here and there, composed a poem for DAO on seeing Lord Nelson from the National Portrait gallery. Later i went to a favourite cafe and watched the theatre crowd unfold. In the cafe, as shops close, the theatre crowd gather to eat and chat. What a wondrous show. three...

Comments: 0

Stimulants

17 March 2013

Blog

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. Stimulants 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...

Comments: 2

DPAC meet the Mother's Union

14 June 2013

Blog

A funny thing happened the day we rested 20 or so disabled activists camped in Deans Yard, Westminster, to hear statements about the abolition of the Independent Living Fund (ILF) on the occasion of its 25th birthday. Then we made our way to the Department of Work and Pensions to sing Happy Birthday to the ILF, chant 'Free Our People', share cake and watch socialist magician, Ian Saville, make the letters ILF disappear in front of our very eyes. According to Ian, I is for Independence...

Comments: 0

Hurray for the Festivities

7 January 2014

Blog

"You are too single minded about this disability stuff. You have a life outside of it. You need to leave it at work and appreciate all those other things that you have". This is a criticism I have to put up with from time to time. There is some truth in it. But, i'm not so bad as people make out. I can put my work away. I can distinguish between my work and my life. I see where they meet, interact, and where I can find peaceful seclusion. Its also an interesting question because...

Comments: 1

On Entering the Save the ILF Postcard Campaign Photo Gallery

10 May 2014

Blog

I have barely taken to the streets to Save The ILF. I’ve done a little but maybe not enough. It’s not apathy. I always had something else to do.  I campaigned for independent living before I even knew a fund that supports independent living was at risk. I chanted Free Our People with the best of them. It was more a case of redirecting my energies. I advocated for direct payments. I found employment with Merton Centre for Independent Living. I was committed but further away from...

Comments: 6

To Dan, An open letter of love

25 May 2014

Blog

Dear Dan I'm home now, sorting through some old photos. I come across several from the time i knew you. I loved you for the good and bad things that you were to me. I adored the conceit of spelling your name in capitals and the statements that you said it made about you. You said you were Direct, that you took Action and that you Network. You could have been any old DAN but you weren't. You said you were the Disabled People's DAN and they were  like you. They were direct,...

Comments: 2

He Was - I Was

1 July 2014

Blog

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...

Comments: 1

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

28 July 2014

Blog

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...

Comments: 3