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 which the government don't want us to have, L is for the life the same monsters don't want us to have and F is for the funds they are causing to disappear. He added his house keys, his symbol of independence. A puff of smoke wafted over from the birthday candles and lo there was the IL and F gone.
Later we wondered the streets debating shall we stop the traffic or find somewhere to go for coffee. A weary body stopped and sat on a step. As good comrades we stopped with him. A vision in black, the embodiment of evil if such an apparition exists, bounced out from the behind a door. She did not say to the weary body "why are you sitting on my step". Rather she wanted to know what he was protesting about. The abolition of the ILF. "Well that's nothing to do with me", quoteth the vision. "You're right", I said "its nothing to do with you", though in truth what governments do has something to do with everyone - past and future beneficiaries of their munificence. The dialogue carried on:
So why are you protesting here
We are not protesting here
Do you have a permit to protest here
We are not protesting. We are resting.
I am calling the police to find out where your permit is
We do not have a permit and neither do we need one to rest
And with that she was gone without a puff of smoke leaving us to wonder amongst ourselves
If we weren't protesting should we be now? Do I feel angry and if so what should I be angry about?
We thought we where in the shadow of a church that called itself ecumenical but we were not. We were in fact outside the:
24 Mary Sumner House
Apparently a christian organisation that now in tandem with their threat to call the police, on tired people at rest, (the weary body had now removed himself from the step and did not seek to cause offence) were now busy slamming the door, very loudly, in our faces.
I took the time to start reading signs. I had been reading signs all days. What where the portents? A brass plaque, read, 'Associated Country of Women of the World'. I announced this. Liz Carr claimed to be a woman of the world but no one in attendance were sure which one. This one, the next one, the one on this side of the door or that side. Maybe these women had reclaimed the streets and now we wondered if they would reclaim the pavement and anyway, where were the police?
Mary Sumner House received some guests. They went in. The door slammed again. They now seemed to have a man on the door with special responsibility for slamming. Wonder if they paid him. A collection of soft drinks arrived. They couldn't get in. So they went away ignoring pleas for refreshment and contributions to the party. How sad it is to be tired and thirsty in front of those who contribute to the cloth.
Another sign read... A
... and beneath it a picture of a wheelchair user scaling a ramp. This may evidence their commitment to taking disabled people into their midst. Just not our kind of disabled people. Was it because we did not stand to ATTENTION.
We went for that cup of coffee. I noticed a blue plaque across the road on Tufton Court dedicated to Eleanore Rathbone, a pioneer of family allowances. Someone said, could this portend accessible actions, where any of us could just stop in front of a building anywhere we wanted to and just wait to see what happened. Maybe we could take a placard reading Save the ILF or Embodiment of Evil in the Mother's Union Misrepresents Disabled People. As Robert Punton said; "We don't know who you are but you know who we are"