One New Years Eve Many Years Ago

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I tell this story sometimes. I’m not sure I ever wrote it down. That I have now is because of this article in Disability Arts Online.

There was this pub on the corner of Stroud Green Road. I was to meet my mate Neale there.  Neale is arty and really committed to it. As such he knows arty people and he is always happy to introduce his friends to me.

That night he introduced to two people.

First a woman who introduced herself. By name first and then with this; “I am an artist. My art is informed by my experience of gender”.

I accepted what she said before turning to a black man who also introduced himself by name first before going on to say; “I am an artist. My art is informed by my experience of race.

I accepted what he said before saying; “Hi. I’m Rich. I too am an artist. My art is informed by my experience of disability.”

The artists looked at each other. Looked at me. And said; “Naaaaaarrrrrrhhhhhhh!!!!! you’re not disabled”

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Declaration 6: A view on the colour of law

Article 6.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

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In Haringey we have a law
In Crouch End we have a view
In Crouch End the view on law
Is that it has a special hue
And through that hue
It remains our view
That property owners, developers
Will do what they will do

And as for me a forlorn tree
There will be no representation
Only petitions and voices raised
By my beaten deputation
Made up of those who sat around
Kicked a ball or raised a song
Lawyers, barristers, none are found
I won’t be here too long

Summer’s gone the honeyed sun
Shone above my station
Whilst I stood to watch you run
We thought not of conservation
Here now with snow and cold dark nights
You sit in pubs wondering what to do
About the corrupt who have the law
Its green hue and our sodden view

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The Tree and the Apartment Block A.K.A. Cruelty and What It Gets

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The Tree and the Apartment Block
A.K.A. Cruelty and What It Gets

I live here

We live here

In this square

One storey Up

Embedded in the earth

Floating in concrete

Deep Communal Roots

In love with her

30 years

30 years and more

I live well

It’s been good

I feel strong

We have loved

I dig in

We sleep, we dream

For today they come

For tomorrow they threaten

To chop into my space

To demolish and destroy

To cut into the soil

3 Victorian Villas

Hack away with shovels

Drive in the heavy metal

Today they hurt

Today our lives are broken

Grab and grasp and grapple

Bulldoze beloved buildings

Tie me up with ropes

Swing the wrecking ball

And pull and yank and tear

Raising dirt and dust and debris

At my lodgings

Next to where we live

Tearing apart my tendrils

The noise that we are hearing

Scattering my children

The darkness we are facing

Away from the true branch

The light we are forsaking

They lift me away

We need to get away

Into the air without water

To leave our friends and neighbours

Hooded by tarpaulin

Our heads pushed into sand

A rope around my girth

The ties we have to break

Waiting for release

Await a brand new day

Cleaved into a new hole

Another place to live

A new place

A new town full of strangers

A ghetto of their choosing

A new place full of dangers

And yet I find

And yet we find

I find within

We find within

The will to sustain

Our lives carry on

And carry on

And carry on and on

And wish for those tendrils

And wish for those we knew

Left behind to grow

To always know us well

And burst and rupture through

And find a voice that grows

Concrete covering my former home

To speak up for their homes

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A New Line in Inaccessible Toilets


Went to East Ham Library today to review ‘prisong’, an exhibition by gobscure (see ‘usurprising’ now published by Disability Arts Online.

By now we all know tales of the accessible toilet being made inaccessible when used as a storage room.

So how does that relate to exhibitions by disabled people or anyone else come to that. It starts when the staff don’t know its there; ‘sorry i thought it was a store room’. Then it carries on when the exhibition wall is closed by a line of desk and chairs meaning you can’t get near it.

Mind you in the case of gobscure’s prisong this is no bad thing. Not that prisong is a bad thing. Its just that his work is about  disguise, the taking on or the rejection of new identities. Given this why shouldn’t an exhibition become something else, something not to be appreciated or or respected.

So the real question is this; praised or insulted.

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Half A Pound Of Freedom

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Article 4 states; No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Half A Pound Of Freedom

Charles asked
Can I get you anything from the shop?
Jo asked
for half a pound of freedom
Big Al said
What? In this country?
Charles laughed
Jo despaired
Where are we going to get our freedom from?

Not from the Centre over the hill
Where the draconian master still
Places planning
Above conservation
Squeezes people in rows
on top of people
on top of people
where there is no escape
No escape
from the bus queue
where the wait to leave
is eternal
by houses where prices multiply
causing blight
and deep sadness
for the homeless
surrounded by rotten fruit
and vegetables
as they look deep into
unlit rooms wondering
should they chance the squatting laws
as drunks stumble from bars
lost in a reverie
of days before legislation
ceasing music in the snug
ceasing fun
creating forms
monitoring statistics
and accreditation
New whips
New chains
New stupefaction
From the masters
in the big house
beyond the hill
controlled by bigger masters
in the palace
by the stagnating river
where we choose at last
to jump
and drown
defeated
beaten
lost
and lifeless
enslaved to new ways
created by the forever Maaaannnnn!!!

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Declaration 3 – Pronounced Resting

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Article 3 reads: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Do I feel safe today?
Not very
But neither am I over worried
By any pervasive threat

Do I feel free?
Not very
Because right there
Nagging in my mind

A threat that comes and goes
Depending on how I shake
The dice
Or deal the cards

And do I feel energised today?
Again not very
Because I have closed the table
Put down my shaker
And decided not to engage
With any sense of threat

Threat to my home
Threat to my relationship
Threat to my town
Today I’ve closed down

Today is my day
A day for my thoughts
My pleasures
My interests

I will take my time
I’ll dilly and I’ll dally
Walk around the old oak tree
There I’ll tarry

And recall…..
As memory calls
A time when I learned
Not to fight every battle

Save time for yourself
Save time for the war
Fold up your banner
Proud, Angry and Strong

Sustain
Time will come along
To find us once again
Engaged, protecting

Safe, Free, Energised
Security, Liberty, Life
There by the town hall tree
Life, Liberty, Security

The most pronounced of declarations

The most pronounced of declarations

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Declaration 2 – Distinction; What We Each Bring To The Table

 

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Inspired by a tree, stung by a comment…. the declarations continue

Article 2. reads; “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.   Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty”.

Disability is of cause missing from the equation but then too is everything else that makes up our diversity. Here is my case for inclusion in local and national campaigns regardless of my strengths and weaknesses. That which we all bring should be welcomed by all. Just put your bag upon the table.

Distinction

The cold winter blows Irenee
And i’ve an opinion too
To bring to the table
To share with you

Note the table
The knobbly knees
The varnished oval surface
Note it will sit eight
Note the crocks
How they were made
The knives and forks too
The steel that forged them
Could you do that?
Do you know how?
Does not knowing how
Diminish the work?

Like our tree
They started in the ground
And grew to mean something else
New forms lost in history
Predating law and rules
Policy, procedure or practice
Essential to the way we live
Lived then, lived now.
Because you know;
Code, Logic and Reason
Are these things inessential
To you now?

Yet all these things
I have not bought
They lie already upon the table
My gift is spice
You might call it magic
You might call it fantasy
But not I
For I call it love
I call it what I have
What I can give
I bring an army
A troop of 700
Named and signed To the cause
And I bring myself
My strength, distinction
So, may I take this seat
Sit around this table
Vocal, articulate and wise
And share in this feast
We squabble for

 

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