Celebrating The Best Of Our Year

Signs Of The Times

Signs Of The Times


I was put out a wee bit two weeks ago. A Community Champion expressed the view that there are good things going on and we should realise and celebrate it. I thought to myself well if that is your approach as a watchdog of health and social care then we are in trouble. I think he was referring to campaigning voices expressing discontent at a community event. We need to continue to voice our anger and dissatisfaction but maybe he has just a little bit of a point. So what was the best ting that happened to you this year?

Mine is such a simple pleasure that is built into a much bigger thing.

I got a new job this year at the Merton Centre for Independent Living and that’s well exciting. Travelling to work necessitates going through Kings Cross on the underground and every time I do I hear an announcement; “This station has step free access”. It fills me with pride. I think to myself, I was a part of that.

Back in the day, I campaigned with the Disabled People’s Direct Action Network (DAN) for accessible transport. We said it would be the first part of our drive for Independent Living. Today, we have more access on the underground, London Docklands Railway and London Buses. It’s not right yet but we’re getting there – ‘to boldly go where everyone went before’. We built an infrastructure for inclusion and its still going on around us. So, every time I hear “this station has step free access”, I smile.

I didn’t hear it last night but I travelled from Prince Regent to London Bridge with disabled poets; John O’Donoghue and Allan Sutherland and his partner, Vicky. They travelled on after I got off. The last time I travelled with so many disabled activists on the underground we took a circle line tube prisoner at St James’s, one stop before Victoria and faced down so much hostility from people going to work, shopping, heading to Gatwick for a holiday. They we’re so angry to be denied their independent lives. We we’re so smug and satisfied at handing out our lesson. So, on leaving these worthy, wordy friends I smiled again; replete with knowledge of secret histories.

What was best about 2013 for you.    



  1. Yes indeed Rich, you should feel proud. It’s great to hear you sounding positive but I wonder that our sense of pride in the disability movement has been so undermined by the current government. So much of our rhetoric – “piss on pity” – has been taken and used against us as an excuse for removing access to benefits, goods and services. Our anti-charity stance has been taken as an excuse to remove rights. And I wonder where we go from here.

    • detrich said

      Good to know you still read me Col.
      For me this tale of accessible transport is something of a parable or fable wherein the lesson or adage to be learned is ‘Getting there, not there yet’. Progress is being made in the face of a millennia where no change happened fast. Its true we are in hard times and that the mealy mouth espouse our words with insincerity, aiming at the same time to return us to the terminal we started from. Are we going to let them. Our culture is indelibly stained with the progress we have made. In ‘getting there, not there yet’ we expect straight lines but our oppressors are cunning and the lines oscillate as if on the front cover of a Joy Division album – but we are getting closer (though not for Christmas).

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