‘It’s the end of an era!’ I’ve heard it said a number of times in my lifetime. It was one of the last things my friend Brendan said to me before he went back home to die. I heard it again recently at a Creative Arts East event to say farewell to a key figure in the arts in Norfolk. Meeting old friends felt like putting on some long lost, well loved gloves. The warmth was still there.
Writing has been slow over the summer, too many children in the house. I lost my Great Aunty Annie in June and although she was a good age, it was a shock. Strong women like her just seem to last forever.
She had lived with her impairment all her life yet it didn’t seem to stop her at all. I hope that’s where I get my strength from because I really need it right now.
A new era has started for me, as I shake off the past and move towards the future… September has always been a my month for new beginnings…..
In doing research for my next story, ‘Smoke’ I discovered that people with Cerebral Palsy are more likely to be born into disadvantaged families, as this report illustrates, Unhealthy lives: Links between Child Poverty and Poor Health. We all know this but I have never linked it to my own childhood experiences:
Poverty is in my blood, like smoke from the endless roll-ups my family consumed; I still smell it sometimes oozing from my skin. Somehow, I find it comforting; I’m proud of my family and our Working Class roots.
The Recession is an excuse!
Society hasn’t addressed the causes of poverty in relation to Disabled People and the recession is a convenient excuse to do even less. This ‘blame culture’ that the Tory government has adopted around benefits and unemployment is a smoke screen for their own inability to understand the real causes of poverty; society’s inability to imagine and create a world that allows us to live equal lives.
It’s no good trying to break the glass ceiling if the accessible bus to work only goes one way or the boss demands 100% all the time when you know you’re only able to give 50% sometimes but then a 150% when you need to.
Who’s Problem is It, Anyway?
In the trailer for his film, The Beaten, Simon Mckeown, reflects back at us, our very real fears in Liz Carr’s brilliant performance of total imprisonment. It conjures up nightmarish scenes in my own imagination. How will society deal with the perceived problem of disability? A problem largely created by social policy made by the rich and powerful?
Writing can be a very solitary process which is probably what attracted me to it in the first place. Living in a residential school with 50 other kids meant that privacy was rarely possible whilst escapism into thought and imagination became a mechanism that allowed me to survive and even flourish. My own speech impairment drew me to the written word and even now, in my 40s I prefer text to the spoken word, as a way of communicating with the world outside my front door.
Although I have been writing for many years, I have been reluctant to share my work or call myself a writer; that accolade always felt too high for my own clumsy journeys into fiction and poetry which, even now, feel unrefined and bare-boned compared to those who are successful and published. So, what has changed and why have I signed up to write this blog for DAO when I am so afraid that after a few months I will have nothing to say?
Well. I guess I have had a Eureka moment similar perhaps to the one I had over twenty years ago when I discovered Disability Arts and Politics. There are thousands of writers out there and even some very successful ones who can’t write at all but tell great stories so why should I hide away?
Disabled people’s lives are amazing and my everyday experiences as a disabled woman, wife, mother, daughter and friend should be shared because we need to remember. If I remain silent and afraid then my life and our history will be written by others and that, my friend is a strong motivation for writing. Well, what else can it be… there’s no money in it!
See you next month.