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> > Richard Downes

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.

Today from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)

6 November 2012

Blog

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

One Lovely Blog Award

27 October 2012

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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

Signs: Discrepancy

22 May 2016

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Standing by your locked gate My inner core is iron My outer shell is tin Hit me with a hammer To let my past times in I turn to drink As I try zinc To get my red corpuscles moving For being here Beside you As left me totally still I return to the institution. It's different. Still for kids. Kids lost in activity. It feels right and pleases me as much as anything ever will. The gate is iron. Visitors press 0 for reception. Code words are not needed, no special numbers, no secret signs. Just...

Comments: 0

Signs: Shrinkage

1 May 2016

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The Old Garden is fixed in my mind forever. There is no getting away from the system. Out there its inside too - internalised. The work house is industrial red brick; portioned out in millions with millions separated by cement but morticed tight together as if a full soul lock in of lost, forgotten names.   Though we spent our lives together behind the walls we never learned each other's names. In fact the number ruled.  I was 21 as I've said before. 21 cotton stuck to...

Comments: 0

A Special Residential School Experience

25 February 2016

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Illustration by Paolo Veronese of Jesus healing a woman with a flow of blood

Independence is an attitude If Jesus don't want ya Fuck im And your parents too You don't want no one That don't want you Well, that's what I think anyway. it all came back to me today. Independence ain't got nothing to do with life skills. Life skills they can teach you in schools and centres. It's how they tie you up. Life lessons happen outside the classroom. They come to you in the dark, day or night, like blinding flashes of light. You don't need to go to school...

Comments: 5

Berghaus. Karrimor. North Face.

18 January 2016

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Berghaus. Karrimor. North Face. A rambling Forecast Lumiere will leave you cold Poor. Variable. There is something special about London's new Lumiere Festival, imported from County Durham. But it’s not in the art work, the reason to be walking. Its elsewhere. London doesn't need Lumiere. It’s always alight anyhow. Road signs, street lights, late revellers and the tat on the local trattoria. But it does need that which is special and this is best seen at Kings Cross. Wide...

Comments: 2

Speak Up Sooty - That's Representation

2 October 2015

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Two charidee boxes on a coffee counter asking for support on the Isle Of WIght for Scope and in Sooty's case support for RNIB

Posted this on my work facebook page the other day: "I'm really looking forward to having some little monkeys visit at the end of next month. But something has got my goat today and its a pig of an advert in the Times for Debra in support of Butterfly Children, kids 'living with Epidermolysis Bullosa - a painful genetic skin blistering condition which makes... skin as fragile as a butterfly's wing. To find out more about butterfly children.....' Should be used to it by...

Comments: 0

New Project - Would Love Some Opinions

12 December 2014

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I met Neale a good 30 years ago, I was runing a community darkroom. He came in and said he wanted to be the best photographer in the world and he wanted me to teach him all I knew. That took about 6 weeks and he was soon better than me. I continued to give him space and time. He became stylised and constantly went in search of beauty. Our ideas on that were very different. A tory recession hit the country and the darkroom closed. We went our separate ways but we stayed in touch and...

Comments: 9

Mother and Wheelchair User Reunion

8 December 2014

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photo of a wheelchair-user getting on a bus

 Following on from today’s ruling (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leeds-30376446 ) I was moved to do something arty, but nothing would come and then I remembered Paul Simon’s 'Mother and Child Reunion' and wondered what it said. Seemed to me if I changed very few words I could come up with something portentous. No I would not give you false hope On this strange and mournful day But the mother and wheelchair user reunion Is only a bus stop away Oh, little crippie...

Comments: 2

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

28 July 2014

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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

He Was - I Was

1 July 2014

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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

To Dan, An open letter of love

25 May 2014

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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

On Entering the Save the ILF Postcard Campaign Photo Gallery

10 May 2014

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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

Hurray for the Festivities

7 January 2014

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"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

DPAC meet the Mother's Union

14 June 2013

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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

Stimulants

17 March 2013

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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

The Theatre Crowd

5 December 2012

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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

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

20 November 2012

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  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 Thoughts of Frida Kahlo Today

4 November 2012

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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

The Paralympics - Reinforcing Attitudes Towards Disability

30 August 2012

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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

More Yoko No. 4 - Votive Offering

28 June 2012

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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

More Yoko No 3 - Move It

26 June 2012

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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 2 - Yoko v We All Shot Pudsey Bear

25 June 2012

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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 1 - Sketches from my notebook

24 June 2012

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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

What could the Southbank's 'Festival Of the World' be to me and you and us and them?

6 June 2012

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photo of an installation as part of Southbank Centre's Festival of the World. The installation consists of a series of extra large alphabet cubes.

I am here. You are there. Different, diverse, separate, apart. Can I share your world? Can you get into mine? I cannot speak for you. Except for those things we share. I cannot tell you what unless, in making this approach, I give you clues about what things I have myself. Clues. Games. Treasure Hunts. Learning. Sometimes in leaving my world I find other worlds I think I could make my world if I would give it a try. Snowdon. I look at the mountain range through a camera lens. I see it change...

Comments: 4

Comments

Rich Downes

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26 January 2012

Kev self organising, self advocating, putting ourselves forward to be counted should always be important whether we are within or without a movement. your point certainly picks up on Deborah's point that to be heard we need to speak and be received appropriately.

Imelda i love your QUIM and will remember it. Its very funny. I only asked one question whilst outside the Lords but carried it and the criticism that was made with me all day. The reply led to the other questions. I did resolve for 2012 to return to questions. I gave them up as irrelevant in 1983 but recognise that if i am to understand i have to ask.

Thanks for the support Bib.

John i didn't see the Francesca Martin interview but others have commented on it and claim to be alarmed and concerned because of how she was treated (is it on you tube?. Was this just another part of what i call the current media conspiracy to attack disabled people. Can we prove there is one?

I like Bob's idea of an organic movement. It chimes with what Kev was saying. I also like common aims, shared agendas, different styles of getting a message over, and think that's why we achieved what we did over 20 years.

I'd like to say Mighty Villa has a point but i'm with Bob as a Baggie but, unlike Bob i'm real black country so who care what the higher strata says.

So..... YES.... continue with our model, build on it, positively promote rights and opposition. Hang the thought that we can't say what is ours and continue asking questions

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