This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

> > Richard Downes

We All Shot Pudsey Bear Press Release

Following requests from members of We All Shot Pudsey Bear attending Burn Pudsey Friday on Friday 16th November outside a BBC studio near you. Shooters and burners (Non Violent Activists) amongst us,opposed to the charity model of disability,  are invited to visit the brand new We All Shot Pudsey Bear Blog.
Here you will find a framework for an action - a new style action with no leaders.

Likeminded activists are simply required to take responsibility for their own involvement in any action in any part of the country they wish to initiate themselves.

The key is to talk to people and to get them involved.

The new blog does not prescribe any particular style of action but does make suggestions.

It provides materials and points to others. These are not exhaustive. You can make your own suggestions.

Activists taking part are invited to have their say, record their activities and contribute theirown materials to the We All Shot Pudsey Bear facebook group or blog.

Posted by Rich Downes, 30 October 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 31 October 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

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. The One Lovely Blog Award is an acknowledgement from one blogger to another saying I respect what you do, I like what you've done. Whilst monetary prizes would be gratefully received in some ways this award is a greater thing than that. It inspires, encourages, gives thanks. For someone who suffers the loneliness of writing that feels really important.

The One Lovely Blog Award like any other award has its own rules. Melissa wrote these down as being; a. thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog; b. tell others seven random things about yourself; and c. nominate 15 other bloggers for the award. So, thanks Melissa. If you are reading this you alrady know how thankful I am for the nomination.

7 random things about me:

1) I define as being a black country man. I define as a lot of other things too. Some not as polite, accepting and tolerant as the traits my regional inheritance bestowed upon me.
2) I'm a baggie boy. That means I support the best team by none in the black country and surrounding neighbourhood - West Bromwich Albion. I owe them a deep unpaid debt for the way they changed my life at a bad time by finding a way to make me feel included in a hostile environment. Should we ever meet ask me about it. I'll take you to places more important than football.
3) Whilst giving thanks I tip my hat to the naked poet wondering hotel corridors in ecstasy and confusion, the ever sprightly, Mr Leonard Cohen, for back in his day as a field commander fighting to be loved he gave a rhyme which quite literally saved and changed my life. Should we meet another time, ask and I will reveal tales of savagery, heartbreak and hallucination. If we should not meet maybe I'll make these things subject to a blog. Maybe this blog; maybe my own www.detrich.wordpress.com. Search and maybe one day you will find.
4) As a blogger and New Voices Writer at Disability Arts Online, there are things that I haven't done this year that I said I would. Whilst time waits for no one there is still time for me to do those things within 2012. But will I? Be not like time, wait, and you will see. Or not.
5) I am a photographer currently without a camera. See a monetary award would have come in most useful. There may have been enough left over for me to buy a piece of equipment that turns my old slides and negatives into a resource that gives interested people an opportunity to look at how we Disabled People have engaged in Direct Action. This would be a website and it would include all the things I am and all those things about me that are for sale. Writing, photography, disability equality training, advocacy, group facilitation. Buy me to build my dreams.
6) I've got an interview today. Wish me luck as I wave this house goodbye.
7) Once I had a past, today I have a present (its not socks), soon I will have a future. In the meantime I am mindful of the words of George Harrison; "Yesterday today is tomorrow. Tomorrow today will be yesterday". Imbibe on that wondrous elixir of truthful logic. Journey on its wings of speed and remember Que Sera Sera.
8) There isn't supposed to be an 8 but i wrote this yesterday and then lost it due to inanity which is but one character short of insanity. I didn't have the George thing in it. I said that i had created the We All Shot Pudsey Bear facebook page and The Burn Pudsey Friday event  where I am currently monitoring interest in direct action. Besides whilst lucky 7 might be 7, 8 is the completion of two cycles. Now for 15.

And that 15's lovely bloggers who deserve my recognition, appreciation and respect. Errrmmmm!!!!  Can I muster 15:

Lets start with this. I became a New Voices Writer this year by attending a course that other New Voices attended and they are all worth a pat on the back but not from me cause i'm big and brutal so can you give your softer hands up for Deborah Caulfield the one new voice I already knew from partnerships within the movement. Debs started off with great reflections on her special school experiences which i just had to respond to and then she got all geeky by applying her personal artistry to digital manipulations of image and she's done some very interesting stuff therein.
Then there is Nicole Fordham Hodges a generous, real poet who struggles to enliven every word she can find and who constantly wins out in the end. She generously sent me some of her poems and I read them from time to time as a means to learning the form she works in. I understand she has never spoken her work in public so visit her blog, appreciate it and campaign for the right to hear her voice.
Charlie Swinbourne is my darling, darling lovely man. Handsome beyond my jealousy. Talented. A playwright, a journalist. He doesn't blog for DAO. Boo Hiss!!! but he was inspired to start the Limping Chicken whilston the course and share it as a forum for other writers interested in deaf issues. You don't have to hobble to hear this gobble. You can find it here.
Obi Chiejina was on the course too. I can't find her blog. She contributes festures to DAO. She's sharp, analytical, interested in the point where science meets art. Obi ain't blogging for DAO. Why not? Another campaign to see more of this original thoughtful writer. Write to the editor, Colin Hambrook who seems to have diffferent blogs for different themes. Either way he exposes you to his experience as a thoughtful, incisive, artist, able to shift between forms, painter, drawer, poet, critic, developing forms as a means of survival.
3 more DAO bloggers who weren't on the course who deserve mention. Crippen, is just so prolific. A cartoonist bordering on being a cartoon himself. An Artist Activist. A one man campaign group. I really do suffer with such an inferiority complex in the face of this talent to the point i feel a need to lie and besmirch his good name with unwarranted, unfounded, scandalous, neo-libellous comments. The geezer disappears from time to time. He says someone has been hacking into his security system or plays for the sympathy vote by saying he's been ill. Aah!!! Diddums!! but its almost true to say his depiction of CaMoron and CaMoronic policies is so exact and precise because he gets up real close to the premier and it was only the other day I saw them kissing. My pants are starting to smoulder now. What is this evil he practices. By the way Crippen has a second blog but before you think i'm too infatuated with the man i'd best explain its as naff as the one on the DAO site.
I really like Gini, another multi-blogger. I like the way she looks at a theme, sticks with it,  explores it, dissects it and describes it, and then gets all poetic about it. Energies like this are at the very root of my envy but i still like Gini enough not to distort my view of her - unlike that blighter Crippen.
And then there is a real doyen of this form and many others Dolly Sen whose primary focus is mental health but whose real interest is in unpeeling the onion, revealing the layers, crying at it, exploring the issue, and taking a unique perspective as another leading artist activist with great wit and humour at her disposal. Her blogs tend to be short,incisive, and worth any time of day.
Finally from the DAO stable and this is a bit of a cheat because its not a blog. Its an invitation to become a DAO Blogger and you can all do it, you have the talent, you have the life experience, the skills you need, but please note with all seriousness the more bloggers who join the further my name slips down the page and i'm getting well sick of it so even if you are welcome to join in the fun and merriment just don't do it. OK????
Can we get a wee bit political now (ahem!!! all those bloggers above are political - you just don't know it). And can i start with DPAC - Disabled People Against Cuts. I like DPAC but i'm not always friends with them. I occassionally join in with what they are doing. We've done stuff together. We talk and stuff and i like a lot of the people involved. I just don't like their name. I always know what they are against. I don't always know what they are for. The name seems to say support the status quo, save jobs, its like a party political stance and it rankles with me because i'm for cuts. I want the institutions closed down. I want our people to be free. I'm not that greatly touched if social workers and care workers who have colluded in oppression lose their jobs, if it means we get a better deal. But having said that.... right now.... as of this time.... DPAC are the single greatest disabled people's direct action group. They have got energised, attracted interest and are still growing. They seem to be fairly inclusive but some people would say if they turn up for an action they need to feel a a part of it and they don't always feel this.
Ladies and gentlemen please bow and scrape because Miss Dennis Queen would just love you to do that. Well actually no she wouldn't. Dennis keeps calling me bro so she must be sis and what a supportive sis she is. We met on DAN actions. We fell in love but never kissed passionately. Dennis inspired We All Shot Pudsey Bear. She was at the root of it all. She sent me a picture which seems to survive largely intacto as our logo and which i just thought was funny. Dennis has a great capacity for fun but when it comes to sorting th mo'fo's out she's right there in the thick of it. A bro couldn't ask for a better sis.
From time to time I go to the karamel restaurant and music club from time to time, They have a blog which is very poor as no one ever updates it but everyone's favourite Milly says she's going to get into it. So this is a vote for potential and a welcome for a new voice that is worried about becoming a new voice because she thinks mom and dad have all the talent and as much as I love Phil and Rosely and appreciate their achievements i'm telling Milly her voice is just as valid. Actually I've just looked at the blog and it is very good already.
Anybody who suffered my blogs during this summer will know of my love for Yoko Ono. One of my first adventures in blogging was on her 100 Acorns blog where she planted 100 acorns as conceptual instructions over 100 days for you to think about and to respond to. It really empowered me to think about blogging and is well worth playing with if you have the time.
Well i make that 11. I'm going to add the other four at a later date when i get into blogging for real. In the meantime if you want to leave a comment why not recommend blogs that i should be looking at.

Posted by Rich Downes, 27 October 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 27 October 2012

Raising A Glass To The Next 50 Years of Jimmying

On October 13th 2012 I read that Penny Pepper was appearing at StorySLAM:Live on the
south bank. It's theme "your five-minute story around the theme of '50', as WE celebrate the 50th Koestler Trust Award anniversary". I imagined myself a slammer and this came out.

50 years of jimmy in the kids home
50 years more in special school
50 years again detained at her majesties pleasure
50 years pleasuring the unpleasant
A further 50 adding to all the 50's in all the world
Until old, battered and beaten with the old folks

Stoke Mandeville
Leeds General
Haute De La Gareene
Duncroft Approved School
Broadmoor
The names of places change

Disabled People
Sick People
Children
Vulnerable young adults
People with mental health issues
The range of people change

What stays the same over time
50 years of Jimmy
500 years of  Jimmies
5000 more
Abuse remains the same
Removal of rights remains the same
Indignities barely imagined, the same
The same
The same
The Shame

Whose shame?
The perpetuators?
The safe guarders?
The police
The moral guardians?
All these named

Whilst we suvivors
Hang our heads
Fret
Self harm
Die
through our shame
our hate
and disgust
at all those who did it
they who failed
who cried with crocodiles
too late
too bad
too harmful
too shamed

And yet we look outside
Inside on our tv screens
Listening to the radio
Reading papers and magazines
we know it happens
we wait for it to happen again
and stand idly by
leaving the institutions open
ineffective inspections
weak regulation
uncaring, not that greatly bothered
by all the old
all the young
sick
disabled
vulnerable

its not me
not my problem
read about it
talk about it
say wasn't he awful
that jimmy
this jimmy
those jimmies
its them
not me
not us

Posted by Rich Downes, 13 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 November 2012

Touched by the hand of Jimmy Savile

 A response from a member of the We All Shot Pudsey Bear facebook group invited to the Burn Pudsey Friday event suggested that we should target the beeb for direct action.

This has been done before and it is not the first call that i've heard for the same. I've never felt able to lead in this way but i've been thinking about things and I am wondering what the interest and commitment would be like.

My first thought was maybe we could add that sad olympic mascot Mandeville to the burning pyres. From this I wondered if we are missing a trick given the Savile outcry.

Some things seem clear to me:

  • Disabled Activists correctly promote the social model
  • In doing so we sometimes criticise the tragedy model

We make a link between having no equality and the involvement of charities of disabled people in preserving the status quo, presuming to speak for us when we can speak for ourselves, and the investment that is made in them at the expense of under funded Disabled People's Organisations (DPO's).

So it is that a part of our modern movement was made at telefon when we opposed the media and successfully closed it down.

In addition to this we are told that Jimmy Savile was saintly for raising funds for charities. We are hearing that he used his links with charity, the media and care institutions including Stoke Mandeville to perpetuate gross indecencies on our people and others. We hear that institutions were even complicit in this and provided rooms and accommodation where these venal acts were carried out. We are hearing of people in the employ of some institutions, particularly the beeb who knew or suspected that this was going on and they did nothing as this was just the way things were; the dominant culture that prevailed.

We know that abuse is fairly common in institutions regardless of the level of that abuse
We know that abusers actively target good works in the community as a means of reaching their targets and we may not be surprised to one day find out that this includes celebrities who embarrass themselves on the night of Burn Pudsey Friday which coincides with the Children In Need telefon.

We also know that the current economic climate is penalising disabled people. We feel that we are being driven back into the arms of the same charities that have let us down throughout our history. We know that the rights to independence that we fought so hard to achieve through our Free Our People and Civil Rights campaigns are retroactive and some local authorities are proposing institutionalised care as a solution. We instinctively believe it is only a matter of time before the next big abuse scandal hits.

So what do we do about it? Do we call for direct action? Are we capable of making the links between charities, institutionalised care and abusers? Should we still be speaking up for the social model, independent living and against cuts to services?

Should we pressurise celebs who are appearing not to do so until the beeb cleans up its act?
If so who can we rely on to man the barricades? Who is up for it and how are you going to organise?
Replies to this blog would be much appreciated
Given the presumed importance of this blog I have reprinted in my own blog to aid circulation

Posted by Rich Downes, 12 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 12 October 2012

EMPOWERMENT

Once upon a time on a wode tip at Shepherds Bush Empire, Arch Drude Julian Cope said; "The most empowering thing I ever heard was you know". And you know what? After a moments reflection - I did. I know. What? Everything. When? Now. Where? Everywhere. How so? Just so. There is no need for me to ask because I know.

Watching Magical Mystery Tour, the arena show, on BBC TV IPlayer I caught sight of the attached manipulated image. It has someone carrying a placard in front of a policeman and it reads "You Don't Know". But I do. So who doesn't? Someone doesn't and i'm fingering that someone as you, the public, and you, the establishment. And what you don't know is very important. I know it so; why don't you?

And what is that something that I know. I know what it is to be a disabled person. I know what its like to  live in a culture of your threats Mr Politician and your stupidity Mrs Public. It alarms me to the point of death that you don't know what is going on, that you haven't understood what your discrimination is all about,that you won't be responsible for  it, that you have ignored and reneged on our rights, that the lessons we have taught you in history haven't stuck and I know in the face of this long time cultural oppression that the paralympics have not made a jot of difference.

And so it is that i write this note called empowerment, because you're not giving it. You only give disempowerment and that is where my responsibility stops for now.

What are you going to do about it. I know. You don't Know. Think about it.

Posted by Rich Downes, 10 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 October 2012

My Bed - A Thought Provoked by Trish Wheatley's Description of Liz Crow's Forthcoming Exhibition

I always enjoyed my bed
The time that I spent there.
Ill or not
There was a time it was central
Located near everything
The Tea Pot
The records
The player
Adornments of a life
In Bedsit land
People would come visit
Sit around the bed
The bed that I would stay in
Two friends
Left me there one night
and let me sleep
before leaving
I felt blessed by their kindness
But my bed has
a longer history than that
For many years it was just
a staging post
between falling asleep
and working
Short hours spent there then
A place for different company
More than friends
Loves.
I love my bed again
now when not working
But the location is less central
Further away
from the tea pot and the records and the player
Adornments of a life
that has changed
taken on different significance
growth
and fall
My bed
keeps me warm
keeps me safe
enables care
and caring
for my love
who loves
my bed
we share

Posted by Rich Downes, 9 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 10 October 2012

Historical dates

UK Disability History Month logo

Tomorrow Tuesday: Nabil Shaban celebrates John Lennon's Birthday on 9th October by launching on Kindle the original first draft and performance draft of his play 'I am the Walrus'. Nabil introduces the event as: "The world believes Mark Chapman killed John Lennon... but Broadmoor psychiatric patient, Charlie Markham, a little man in a wheelchair, knows he, Charlie was the real killer, even though he was Lennon's 'Number One Fan'.

These drafts date back to 2001 when Nabil Shaban, disabled actor and writer, was commissioned by Robert Rae of Theatre Workshop Scotland to write and perform a one-person play for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival about the death of Lennon, called 'I am the Walrus'.

Fictitious character, Charlie really believes he was responsible for John Lennon’s death… i.e. he inhabited Mark Chapman’s body and made him go out and kill his former idol. However, this psychotic notion of Charlie’s is just a smokescreen for the awful truth that he had in fact murdered his mother, which he is unable to come to terms with and therefore is in denial.

At the end of the play, his idol, the ghost (or hallucination) of John Lennon arrives and tries to coax Charlie into admitting the matricide, as this will help to put him on the road to recovery. 'I am the Walrus' is a drama dealing with issues of disability, specifically, feeling victimized and persecuted for being a disabled child... thus the proposal will appeal to many disabled adults".

This Wednesday is World Mental Health Day. World Mental Health Day (10 October) is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It was first celebrated in 1992 at the initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health, a global mental health organization with members and contacts in more than 150 countries.

This day, each October thousands of supports come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to Mental Illness and its major effects on peoples' life worldwide.In some countries this day is part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness Week. An interesting highlight may be activist Lynn Harrison's radio slot from 6-7pm on West Craven Radiowhich you can hear live on westcravenradio.com. Enjoy.

 

Finally, the theme for this year’s Disability History Month will be 'Changing Lives, Changing Times: Challenging the ideas that lead to hate crime'. There are some interesting events planned, which will explore the considerable changes that disabled people have faced throughout history. They will also be looking at the origins of hate crime and the impact it has on people with disabilities today.

A pre-launch event is happening with Leeds University on *Wednesday 17 October*, 2-4pm at Cockburn School, Parkside, Gipsy Lane, Beeston, Leeds, LS11 5TT. This will showcase a groundbreaking project which uses musical theatre to take disability history into secondary schools.

They are also planning the official launch for UKDHM 2012 on evening of Thursday
22nd November in Central London at the Abbey Centre, Great Smith Street London SW1. More information will follow shortly, but expect thought provoking speakers, entertainment and a showcase of an exciting new UKDPC project of disability murals.

Disability History Month creates an excellent opportunity to raise the profile of disabled people’s struggles against discrimination and oppression in the wake of the highly successful Parlympics when public attitudes shifted. UKDHM allows the challenging of traditional stereotypes of disabled people and forms a strong platform to argue against discrimination and inequality for disabled people in the UK.

For more information www.ukdisabilityhistorymonth or 02073592855 or info@ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com

 

Posted by Rich Downes, 8 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 9 October 2012

Welcome To the 5th Annual Burn Pudsey Friday

cartoon of a yellow bear with a spotty bandage and a smile - with a gun pointing at its head

The We All Shot Pudsey Bear Facebook Group started its Burn Pudsey Friday Event five years ago. It always coincides with The Children In Need telefon event and so if nothing else saves us from watching crap tv with crap celebs doing crap things. So if you are looking for something to do on 16th Novemeber 2012.....

Historically the page started when Clare Lewis sent me a picture of Pudsey with a bullet wound, a gun and the slogan 'I Shot Pudsey Bear'.  I found this extremely funny - though its violent content has been much criticised. The picture was used on the page but one of our younger members decided that Pudsey should be feeling sad about this and his manipulation has been used ever since.

Clare and I had a shared experience of being Danners. One of my first actions with DAN, The Disabled People's Direct Action Network was outside the BBC Centre, White City. Some of us used tickets acquired by Nick Saunders to get into the studio and chant Rights Not Charity at Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslyn. I remember Sue Elsgood and Rachel Salmon being there. We were evicted. Burn Pudsey Friday came out of this event.

Marisha Bonar and Dave Lupton have been great supporters of this event, participating and cocntributing images to the facebook page. I have celebrated it myself with the aforementioned Nick and Adrian Wyatt helping me to burn what Marisha calls 'the little yellow bastard'.

What i really wanted to hear about was disabled people getting together, saving their fireworks and bonfires for this event. The idea of sociability and solidarity figured pretty big in my head at the time. I figured that the event could be celebrated individually too and just the idea of disabled people burning Pudsey across the country would conjure a sense of solidarity.

Don't buy a pudsey to burn. That would be to contribute to a cause I don't believe in. Previous burners have used other bears and put a sling across his unblind eye. I usually print the bear out on a piece of A4. I've found it doesn't burn well but, if you buy a newspaper that usually discriminates against minorities, that will usually help him to burn really well. Last year I bought the Express and tore out pages that showed discriminatory views or charity adverts or tragedy model messages and just burned them. The evidence is on the facebook page.

Did it have an impact. Well, DPAC became really direct in taking action this year putting law breaking above and beyond simple theatre so maybe the wishes that went up with that smoke meant something to someone.

Are there other ways to celebrate burn Pudsey Night. You bet there are. Some have suggested direct action. I wonder if any cinema franchises support Pudsey. What would happen if we all went to watch a film together. Its a case of choosing your targets i guess. But having said that doing anything, messing with your imagination, puttiung some art out there. Whatever, its your call. No pressure.

Posted by Rich Downes, 1 October 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 2 October 2012