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A favourite some what cruel joke

I wouldn't normally tell jokes on my blog here but i wrote this one and its a favourite that's pulled out from appropriate time time to appropriate time - like only this morning someone was telling me what they had to eat last night which was very opportune as my reply quickly came:

Linda McCartney Pies. I'd have thought they'd have gone off by now

I am a proud vegetarian myself but i don't wallow in its promotion and i do believe in convenience so if you ever do invite me around for tea and don't know how to accommodate veggies yet (it used to be so problematic back in the day; one friend thoght i'd settle for a steak and to be honest to save embarrassment and humiliation i'd often accept (but that was way back when) a Linda McCartney Pie will do fine by me.

Now why am I sitting her on a DAO Blog considering joes about vegetables. I really do need to get out of this garden.

I guess its because i was riffing with a disabled friend on the theme of Margaret Thatcher and She Was Only A Grocer's Daughter but she couldn't give a fig. She was only a grocer's daughter i'm going for a pea. etc.

I guess I never got over puns and other language jokes.    



Posted by Rich Downes, 2 May 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 2 May 2013

Guess Where. Riddle Me Riddle Me

The Farmer and The Shepherd

I'm giving serious consideration to applying for a job.

See if you can guess where:


"Deviant sibilants hiss into my ear

calling to the core of a paradise

where I never believed fairy stories

nor in a planet cultivated full of Cains".

Posted by Rich Downes, 1 May 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 2 May 2013


Today I’m going to see Dolly Sen’s film, a part of 'Wonder; Art and Science on the Brain'. I’m hoping to see friends there. I feel good but not all that good. I travel and write a travelogue of the present that takes me to the past en route to a future better than this, better than my changing mood.


Making it
not making it
in a mood travelogue
wet with rain
Always outside
of the inside
or on the inside
looking out
Car wipers grate
scratch like chalk
on the Board
Turn It Off
make CD Sound
Reel Life
John Barry
Vampyros Lesbos
Park Up
trudge On
tube closed
trudge back
wet socks
head streams
windows steam
CD ends
Radio 4
from local scene
Ally Pally
The Alexandra Palace
Train Lines
Parkland Walk
new knowledge
Drive On
Gyrate round
Highbury Corner
getting later
letting cars in
blocking them out
I almost
did Dolly Sen’s
voice over
Talked myself
out of being in
not of deep resonance
Practice deep talk
Consider control
of strong women
A controlling vocal
A do this stance
Remember timbre
of voice
that visited
saying masturbate
on town hall steps
disrespect authority
despise councillors
prophesy of action
Dead Rock Star
I took his word
I scrapped it
He never came again
Visual Hallucinations only
from good drugs
Hashish cut on opiates
I came here once
in sunshine
the drizzle changes
Arrows point the wrong way
I walk here
I walk back
Then walk here again
On ushers vocal instruction
I use lifts
I want to go down
I’m going up
Take me down
I’m going up
Down. I get down
But free admittance
To the unwaged
Its sold out
Dolly Sen as sold out
A good thing
Not a bad thing
Not a sell out
Take lift
To roof garden
One floor below the roof
Some doors are locked
Some are open
I find the locked ones.
Going down
I’m down
Some doors are locked
Some are open
Trust me to find the locked ones
Ally Pally
Alexander’s Palace
The People’s Palace
Talked of palms
50 degrees in Saudi
Palms in the roof garden
Not a roof garden
I sit
I write
I feel cold
Amongst the tropical
Colourful Birds
Colourful Fish
I love the still ones
I could have been a voice
The one that Dolly listened to
Someone’s voice
I am down
I could have had a part
Been a contender
Down on the waterfront
John Lee’s or Marlon’s
A coffee
Takes me up again

By the way, if you couldn’t tell I didn’t get to see the film but listened to cd’s and the radio

Posted by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Punch Psalm

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Had a very confusing day today. Wrote a lot about my journey to nowhere. Will edit it and maybe poetise the prose more. In the meantime here's something that may happened or something that may not have happened. Certainly parts of it did.

Punch Psalm

Wet Sunday Afternoon
Church closed
Doors Locked
Bars open
In the eternal
Blue Light Cops
Speed to hospital
Scene of conflict
Between Drunks
And Demonstrators
Who both want
It open
In Service


Posted by Rich Downes, 17 March 2013

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 17 March 2013

Sleep - A Thought Provoked by Liz Crow Continuing Bedding Out

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When I used to practice writing with a passion, strong and heavy into the night I would wake up with sentences being formed in front of my eyes rather than dream in sound or in vision. It still happens sometimes. It happened again recently. The words appeared. They took poetic form. I woke up and they were gone. I let them run away, escape me. Then that Dawn Willis started a facebook page, Bedding Out Live  a promotion of a Liz Crow performance. I began to contribute and as I did remembrance of the lost words returned. I was sleeping. I was waking. Words instead of dreams. What were they? I cannot even now remember and perhaps I never will but in searching Sleep appeared and formed as follows:
My bed takes me
these days
cold and shivery
returning me
hot and sweaty
with life

trying to type
a poem in my head
that I haven’t
as yet learned
to capture
on waking

in days
at night
a ghostlike repetition
and me (again)

What was it that you said?
What was it that you felt?
What could I do to help you?
Why do I walk away?

Memory finds
whilst sleeping
imprisoned in the snuggle safe
chain of duvet
remorse behind bars
in Pillowdown Town

Posted by Rich Downes, 10 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 10 March 2013

The Art Of The ILF Campaign

I have spent many a minute this afternoon listening to the wit and wisdom of Sophie Partridge, Kevin Caulfield and Gabriel and Penny Pepper – all of whom appear on you tube videos (find all four videos here) in defence of the soon to be closed Independent Living Fund.

Each video touches on principles of independent living that became very important to me growing up as a disabled activist, ie. Ideas around choice, control, independence and empowerment wherein we become contributors, participants, people with a voice, people who grew through investment in resources and intellectual concepts, like freedom, liberty, equality.

Each of our video stars make these ideas resonate, Here are the people who prove what can be done, what could be achieved. Icons with value in their communities and in our wider disability community. ILF resources produced artists, writers, students, workers, campaigners. ILF Funding gave meaning to life. 

Penny Pepper draws the parallel with the Disability Living Allowance which was known as the equalising benefit. I am a disabled person. I have these costs that non disabled people do not have, which must be met if I am to survive. I need more meds, more heating, a different diet, different transport needs, etc. Well that has gone too and we move towards the PIP. The ILF is to become un-ring fenced monies left at the disposal of local authorities. Are they to be trusted? Will they insist that care is provided in a different way, at a cheaper price, by less reliable workers. Isn’t this the way LA’s have been acting for years. Quantity not quality. Will it mean the return of the institutions?

In raising these matters it was not my intention to become political or even to comment on the successes we wrought in bringing around cultural change which is now oh so retrograde but to comment on the style of the campaign, the importance of using our stories and bringing our real life experieince to bear and as activists to realise the risks in this, in telling toomuch about ourselves, in letting others get the wrong end of the stick - this is not about a sick pathetic crip, this is about life. . Following the campaign I am becoming ever more aware of other peoples stories too – some others will be recorded on video – but most are text heavy. We see people standing up to be counted, giving their names and their situations, allowing themselves to be identified by face, voice or situation. None are claiming to be tragic nor brave but, some tell of the whiff of fascism which takes away life options, which lead to houses on the hill which may or may not have life sized ovens and there is a courage in this.

This campaign also centres around a legal challenge and will include a vigil to save the ILF and our right to Independent Living at the Royal Courts Of Justice, The Strand, London, WC2A 2LL on March 13th from 12.30

Posted by Rich Downes, 6 March 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 6 March 2013

More About Writing

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I’m desperate to find my way into the new blog set up of DAO but can’t find my login. This will give me time to think, to consider what it is that I might have to say. For in truth there is nothing there that’s long enough to be a blog entry and one day the login key may appear and I will still be left vacant, with nothing left to say. I am aware of a theme that has been building, found in the simple, long term rush of writing. I have learned something old afresh. It is not solitary. It never was. I was never the boho type sitting lone and suffering in a garret, in a house, in a town, dark and full of blackness. It was never thus for me. There was always someone there. Granddad pinning stories to the shit house door. Mom and Dad receiving letters from Kingswood and Corley, schools hidden in the country. A chance to juxtapose red, and green and gold and brown in front of classmates whilst playing with autumn imagery. Arty endeavours, shared with friends and smoke and brandy, the scrabble board giving out the next word to use or draw whilst some of us consider sex. Always someone there. An enabler, an encourager, an appreciator, a grateful soul. A college chum, a co-op member, a competing writer, a scourge, a jealous type, a lover, a loser, a winner and a fighter. All gathered before the sheet. Expectant. Agog at its magic to fill itself with word. And the thing that hangs there, most brightly, takes our interest, holds us there forever in the ether of the phrase or sentence…. The thing….. Can only be described as happiness. And happiness broke through again last night when you said I was your friend. I had done something for you and now it must be returned. When all I thought I’d ever done was write those things that came simply and truly from the heart and if this were to be a gift it would always be a gift given freely - with joy. Just something I could do. I never even thought it was done for you and here you are now saying thank you, I see a drawing on the wall. It was done with pastels. Unreal colours. Inviting landscape. I stand on the road, heading for the mountains, wind blowing in my hair. Like I and it always did. Thrilled by escape. Imagination. I take a ride. I take my time. The fields roll by. Lazy hills. High grass. Brighter than summertime. The room is full of your odour. The scent you use. I leave you there. Goodbye. I leave at last with, only… words on the page I started out with. Turning it over. It is there again. Another page. Blank. Waiting to be fulfilled. And so it will be.

Posted by Rich Downes, 28 February 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 28 February 2013

Finding My Words Everywhere

Just the other day I was doing some browsing on the net, looking for a disabled artist someone else had told me about. I didn’t have her name. I had some connections, some concepts, some sites to visit. I was on one of the latter, just scrolling as the sun came through the window of the carriage I travelled in, when suddenly there I was looking back at me. A mirror, reflecting my lovely visage. I was shocked. Horrified. It was like I’d caught an eel at the riverbank. A whole review stolen; hook, line and sinker. I had sent a link to Bass (it was about them after all) but, I’d written it for Anchovy, and now here it was again on Carp. I felt mortally wounded. As far as I know Bass, hadn’t asked Anchovy. Maybe they were a bigger fish. They’d just gone and given it to Carp who were probably a size or two up on Bass as well. And I guess ultimately, once the shock had subsided, I love Anchovy, Bass and Carp equally.

Later…. catching up on unread emails. The one’s I hadn’t been in a hurry to read but the ones that may contain some useful information that may or may not be worth reading when I followed a link and blow me down. There I was again. Only this time, more gloriously. Someone….. an arts company had read a review I had written about them and had taken a chunk – the biggest phrase that ever carried my name. I didn’t mind. I felt happy. They hadn’t taken everything. Only a few bits that they felt would be good for them. It was a blessing.

I’d previously had little snippets taken. A phrase like ‘this truly is the Dogfish Eel’ which I’d recognise as being uniquely mine regardless of whether it had carried my name and I’d felt honoured. Someone loved that little bit and felt they could use it to promote themselves. Let it be.

It was just the act of taking the whole wang dang doodle that had got to me. Still does. Because in truth I had written this a whole lot better, whilst on that train, with Aubergine, Broccoli, and Cabbage being a lot tastier than Anchovy, Bass and Carp, a lot more succinct and in touch with the feelings of the time, when we went through a tunnel and all that steam just disappeared into internet space. Teach me to write online and not in word.

Posted by Rich Downes, 21 February 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 21 February 2013

Mike Gripe

Don'cha just hate it when you go to one of these disability arts panels or disabled activists meetings and they just won't use the mike or the megaphone.

You'd think they have something to say but don't want to be heard.

Went to such an event yesterday. Tiny room, packed with bodies that increasingly shuffled and shifted as they couldn't hear nor barely see due to overcrowding and it took four speakers before one of them had the grace to use the mike.

I know.... I should have spoken up. Given it a bit of gob shite and shouted at them to use the facilities they had available but you know if they can't be arsed why should I and besides after a minute or two of trying to listen and failing you get lulled and think, I just can't be bothered with this.

So, four speakers in and the mike is in use, and its getting passed around and its like a new toy. I can hear my voice. Wonder if I can make it go away. So you get the head turns, or the reader who drops their chin into their chest, brings the paper forward and moves the mike away from them. I mean its like that comedian fellow who played first you hear me, now you don't. At least he knew what he was doing and was only taking the mickey - it was his job.

A new classic of the genre debuted last night. Avoiding the bad taste jokes now a woman holds the thing in between her knees. I'm sorry but the knees don't speak. That's not what they're there for. They help your legs bend and that's about it. They're called joints. They're a long way disconnected from the thorax so its no good singing my thigh bone's connected to my hip bone, all the way up until the jaw bone cos I can't hear ya.

Anyway, she's prattling on about something that I can't be bothered to strain to hear when she passes the toy to my hero - the buddy who i'd come to hear and what does he do - open with the old chestnut; "I don't need this do I? You can hear me can't you? I'm a right gobby northerner me and they can all hear me up in t' pool". For goodness sake.

Listen up Peeps. Must admit, I missed most of the chat. It may have ben good, bad or indifferent. I don't know but I swear to Christ they were whinging about access and wanting more inclusion. Hello!!! I'm the guy at the back, under the droning fan, next to the crisp eater and the man who fell asleep before he started the snoring, right net to the gangway where the disinteresting crowd are leaving. I'm not deaf, I can't understand the signers, I'm not partially deaf, I don't use the induction loop, but I'm gaining a little bit of empathy for their situation from this experience and really most of you delectable panellists should know a lot better.

Hi there. My name's Mike Gripe. Signing Off.

Posted by Rich Downes, 25 January 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 25 January 2013

Beware Words Written Here

Words are mine. I use them. Here in the willy nilly. Spontaneous and free. Careless. Far from frank but mostly honest. Committed to an idea of truth - what ever that might mean. As someone important said its only what you see, how you see it, not how it is. Not how someone else might view it.

That will serve as an introduction. Now, two adventures to relay. Wouln't it be great if critics could be embedded into festivals. That's Colin's idea. I think there's some merit in it. I spent hours travelling to, from and into Newham's Together 2012 Festival. I was delighted by the welcome they gave me. I would be introduced with words being thrown at me. Press. Journalist. Not my word. Writer. They were delighted I was there. Faces lit up. Someone is taking notice of us. Someone is writing about us. We are going to be heard. I hope I contributed something and I think I did. Both the organisers and our Ed starting using words and phrases i'd cobbled together to promote the fest themselves. It was a thrill for me to see that. Something coming back.

0There's a club i'm embedded into too. I love it. It gives me great nights out. They've recently expanded - opened another home for 'in-firm' songwriters. I took up residence in the front row. Unusual for me and sat with my pen and notebook. Tonight, some place else, people thanked me for the words that came out in that review but even better a short story. The musos saw me sitting there and it had made them nervous. They thought I might be from the NME or some such lesser light than DAO, and they troubled themselves over how they might be and how I might record them.

In the first of these adventures I had felt happy. It was good to be a part, to have a role, to feel a responsibility and in truth I felt just as fine in the second scene but the latter feedback whilst told with humour ("they we're shitting themselves") also spoke to me of being a part, having a role, responsibilities.

It made me think. Made me ponder. I reflected. Together 2012 was great as is the Karamel Club. They both gave me something to write about and I beefed them both up without undue flattery. Simply commenting on what I saw and how I felt. And the words we're mine, came from me, my pen, my style, my approach. But what if I hadn't liked it. Is it true I could have destroyed it? Caused someone to hit a bum note on the string I strung along with.

The stories made me consider what I do. Words remain mine. I wrote them. But what can they do. On the page, in life, in love and Anger. Its a pretty potent brew. Beware Words written here.

Posted by Rich Downes, 24 January 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 24 January 2013

Reason To Believe

It is 2013. Happy new year. Back in the old year I reported much on the Karamel Music Club – a favourite haunt. Free music, cheap food, good company, accessible premises. Well in this age of austerity, the collective’s masterful leader, Chris Sheehan, has only gone and opened another club night ‘The Northern Embassy’, dedicated to northern songwriters in the heart of Soho, which access aside retains much the same endearing qualities. And so it was, on a cold, wintry, snow laden day that I made my way to central London from the frozen wastes of Potters Bar.

Sansa had put more miles in. Flying to meet us from Helsinki. A strong, natural performer with expressive hands that stave off diva hell. She leads with her own songs. Her lyrics real; “I didn’t mean to make you cry. I’m sorry my love”, and what about this advice in the season of economical hell; “Create your own vision, let it set you free. Follow a path of your own. Be true to yourself.” Something’s Got Me Started, she re-arranges Simply Red, into a stately folky gauze wherein the lyric is given prominence over glossy, pop production. I never knew Hucknall wrote so well. Learn here Mick. Bring back the Stars to your eye.

Blair Dunlop is my main draw tonight. Scion of the revolutionary folkie Ashley Hutchings, Blair is on the crest of having his debut solo album released on vinyl this very day. It’s on sale by the bar and seems worth a peddle. Blair seems to have all bases covered. He has depth and lighter edges, covering all required bases. It seems sons of famous fathers shiver in the shadow of paternal achievement. Blair could yet prove the exception and may soar above the Thompson’s and the Wainwrights. A song about Christopher Marlowe sees him admitting, “I’ve seen a trick or two in my life”. Blight and Blossom takes you through a year in a relationship ending in the hopeful phrase; “My thirst is greater than it was at the start of the year”.

And then came the young, exuberant Dunwells all the way from Leeds. Certainly the crowd’s favourites, they “don’t need safety anymore”. This may not come over from the video presented here but tonight they are Mumfords without sham rock and Eagles who soar above the wasted scene. Their break up song; ‘Oh Lord’ speaks to me with its line “Oh lord, I’m calling out your name, oh lord, I feel so ashamed” – the guitar lines bringing spirit to the powerful sense of rhythm that rattles out tonight with enthusiasm and energy – as do lines given elsewhere; “Find your feet my friend, just go forward. Shit goes down just carry on regardless”.

Each and every highlighted lyric gives me a reason to believe in a better year a coming. They relate to true feelings and empower. The Northern Embassy adds to the creed being spoken. It’s too good to believe that this night will be repeated at the Karamel Club whose members show up in force to give their support to Chris and it’s hard to believe that Chris Sheehan will host a better line up this year but talking to the faithful Kevin, Sound Engineer, you know….. I think he will.

With respect to Tim Hardin

Posted by Rich Downes, 22 January 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 22 January 2013

Disability Arts Qualification Anyone?

There is an idea that disability arts is being swallowed up and not being given the opportunity to prosper as disabled artists move towards inclusion in the main stream.

One possible solution to this would be to develop a disability arts qualification (which of itself rings of mainstreaming). But i beleive it is an idea that is worthy of consideration especially as Dolly Sen puts disability arts and disability theory onto the agenda whilst discussing the importance of DAO.

A problem with inclusion into the mainstream is theory is lost to the pursuit of art. Can this be balanced? Is it important?

Your comments would be appreciated?

Posted by Rich Downes, 2 January 2013

Last modified by Rich Downes, 2 January 2013

Austerity Signs (AKA The Three Bastards)

This is one of my last great ideas. Note, not one of my last great poems.

Perusing papers, looking for placed pledges
There are none
Charities have stopped pleading in the press
Spoiling my anti tragedy model stance

No chugger has stopped me in the street
To pounce the unwanted penny
The homeless man a yard away could use
I've missed our chats
Admin, Chief Executive Feeding Bastards
Spoiling my anti-tragedy model stance

Even the wee yellow Pudsey bastard
can barely stir my screen.
Bastard, bastard, bastards three
Spoiling my anti-tragedy model stance

But, wait till the geese in the country
Get fat again. Bastards
The bastards will be back
You just wait and bastard see
Fuelling my anti-tragedy model stance

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

The Theatre Crowd

theold, the young and the pompous

Yeah!!! Three DAO pages achieved by my last entry. This entry was put together on a reporters pad, one day when tramping the streets. I was between appointments. I had been in and out of galleries, done a little bit of work here and there, composed a poem for DAO on seeing Lord Nelson from the National Portrait gallery. Later i went to a favourite cafe and watched the theatre crowd unfold.

In the cafe, as shops close, the theatre crowd gather to eat and chat. What a wondrous show. three men, eacah closer to a final tragedythan the other enact their roles with hands at rest in different places, demarcating non equitable status. the Young Man's hands - the younger man's hands - are onhis neck, closing in on his ears. He is notprepared to share the bill. He tells the waitress so, whilst straining to hear the oldest forget stars that have already gone out.

This second character sits with his elbows set square to the table, his fingers interlocked in fron ofhis mouth (he's forgotten his manners too). It is as if he prays not to be remembered as the one who couldn't hold onto things. the fat, flaccid, superior onerests his hands across his ample stomach. His possessions, rows of unused tickets, stretch out in front of him. He is the onnly one to efever utter the word we but he is not talking about the people beside him. this stage is being set to blank out collective loneliness.

The scene will be re-enacted next tuesday. Same day, same time, same actors.

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

A True Story for Georgina - Otherwise titled; 'Boring'.

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Early September. Sun beats down and burns my arms. I sit in a public space with pigeons by a fountain. I'm not doing much. I'm reading a paper. Something she never wanted me to do. To pass the time its being read from cover to cover, back to front and front to back. I'm occupying myself - passing time.

An older woman with dyed red hair appraoches my bench. She sits away from me and eats an ice cream. Sheis the fourth co-occupant not to acknowledge me. Her anme is Maria. I know this because she is followed by Georgina, a 38 year old from Cyprus who is covered top to tail, head to toe in Black. Georgina and i talk. nice day, nice here. Small talk. we compare our ize and accents, talk about our birth places. nothing much is said. I can barely be bothered with the scenario. Idle gossip is not my kind of gossip. She asks me what I do.

I'm a writer. I prevciew, review, interview around the arts. Bu tmorethan this i have political ideas and sometimes express these too.

Geogina doesn't like politics. Its boring and in truth a lot of party political shananigans are filled with dread ennui but political ideas might exite me sometimes. Given this response to my interests I would like to go back to being quiet. Yet i yawningly return the compliment and ask georgy girl what she does.

She's a support worker. She takes people out of their houses into the community if they are isolated by loneliness or impairment. She likes to see a smile. I could go on now into a diatribe about how it came to pass that a world of Support Workers like Georgina came to lead more exciting lives through the actions that disabled people took and why the idea is, in fact, exciting but I am concerned that poor Georgie would find that boring. instead I tell her that i will write a story about her.

Maria leaves and Georgina follows, led dociley away by someone leading an independent life. I go tot  the library. It sells cheap coffee and is quiet. I pick up a post card. It shows a man and a woman holdingpapers and reads; 'Mary loved interacting with her favourite magazines. it certainly beat interacting with Harold'. Harold's magazines have art in their titles. Boring.


Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

Chatting to A Chugger - Quite possibly the last in the series

The language in this one is not consistent with my the language I would normally use as a disabled person committed to the social model and i apologisein advance for any offence caused. It was not meant butit was inthe story as it unfolded.

A vision in purple with an aerial on his head stands outside marks and Sparks rattling a tin.
Who are you?
Tinky Winky
Why dress like that?
It gives people something to remember
I think you are lal lah
No he's the yellow one
I still think you're lahlah i say as I walk away


Clap hands children if you ever thought your needs wold bebest met by tinky winky

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Self Indulgence

I am sitting in a car in winter time. Its good. I've got writing and can indulge in a poem or two.

Love as you know it

Is nothing
To write home about
A far too easy word to say
A bitter pill to swallow
I felt it once
A passing fancy
Relegated like a team
To lesser delights
Smaller achievements
A football
To be kicked around
With spite, with venom
In a never ending circle
Of oppression
Be warm you say
Be nice wouldn't it
Swallow Bile
In failure
The nothing
Nowhere Man
Returns to Urban Cosmonaut
Loving the final syllable
Of naut
That sounds like nought
A big fat Zero
We know who invented the zero
What ahppened to them
Bruiosed, battered on battlefields
But rejoice
For a return to nothing
Is full of something

Poem 2/ Temp -3 degrees

Temp -3 degrees
Am I keeping warm
With the salt spreaders
Am I sleeping well
In consideration

Of Pros and Cons

Of hitchhiking
Whilst touring
favoured roads
In search of:
Hare, Owl, dear Deer
Doe, Buck, Stag
I spent some time here
Shorn Antlers here
Horns scattered

In bloodshed
A Fox
In the road
I heard
Its back break
I feel stale coffee
Intreated by
Your Appeal
Temp -3 degrees
Fleece half open
Window open
Fag burning
Listening to Waters
Rogering banks
Softened by a
Cconstant rain
Aware now that
Only the rabbit


Poem 3 / Joe Knows

Joe knows
The child crying in the rain
Joe knows how
He got there
Wet and Crying
Stronger waters
The child is still there
Joe Knows
He asked him to come in
To Shelter
Give himself a chance
But the child knows
What Joe doesn't know
That he was scared
Rescued for nothing
By those who told the lies
To the child
Which is why he cries
Should you want
to know more
Ask Joe
Joe Knows

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

Delta Grumptoktapus 2 - A Children's Story

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Jim welcomed me in through his door. It was great to see him. He showed me the children's stories that his brother had published. Some of them were very good. They inspired me to do something with Delta Grumptoktapus. Write my version of a children's story.

Delta Grumptoktapus lived in a river. Saddened byhis wetness, Wondering as to his purpose. From time to time he would rise to the surface to check the flotsam, check the jetsam, feed on debris, rubbish thrown away to findits way to the sea.

Grumptoktapus liked the place in the river he took his first name from other than its wetness of course for this would make him shiver. He liked that it was tidal, flowed in and out and constantly changed.

He knew thatpeople watched its flow and liked to see it changing too. He was confident that his greyness could not be seen inthe water save on sunny days when he would stay at the bottom and just let ecological wreckage just float by.

Delta Grumptoktapus dreamt bigger than the dustman status he appreciated, mildly. He liked the boxes he collected, the words perfumed and scented, though he couldn't smell himself. Not with his constant wetness and permanent cold. Oh the sneezes he had to stifle so he could go abouthis business, unseen, unknown.

Delta Grumptoktapus knew not to aspire for dry land. He tried it once. Pulled himself tentacle over tentacle onto the beach. He felt like he was suffocating there. Phew!! How he sweated as he sweltered. Drying out he felt death approaching. A child saw him and did nothing but say yuk!! the the tide turned and the sea came in and fed the river so that it grew again. Sands gave way and Delta Grumptoktapus was saved. Rescued by that wet water. "Thank goodness ", said Delta Grumptoctapus. "I will love this river and live gladly, forever, with my stifled sneeze".

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

Delta Grumptoktapus 1

Image - delta_1.jpg

I have discovered the joys of radio 4. Listening in one day, a report came from China, read by Damian Grammaticas. No one in the world could be so named I thought and had to check him out on the internet. He's there. He exists. So maybe Delta Grumptoktapus does too.

Delta Grumptoktapus
Named in response
To Damian Grammaticas
Are you real?
Delta Grumptoktapus
Of the waters
Reaching Out
And Consuming
And Taking
No mere taker
Fat and fabulous
Delta Grumptoktapus
Keeps words
Selected for Armpits
Delta Grumptoktapus
Tucks In
Swallows verbs
Delta Grumptoktapus
Wrapped in his own arms
Delta Grumptoktapus
7 pronged
Feeds the earth
Silts himself
Builds strata
Why Grumpt
With the Oktapus
Life giver
Celebrated here

Posted by Rich Downes, 5 December 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 12 December 2012

The Train Seat - A Problem with Access - A Tory Guide to Budgeting.

Image - traintrax.jpg


The Train Seat is embroidered with a pregnant woman, a woman with a baby and a man with a stick. What if the man with the stick sat on the seat with a pregnant woman who then had a baby? Wouldn't the man with the stick feel squashed. Who should stand up first? Who should give the seat up to whom? Surely as the baby came last it should have no right to the seat. I do get sick of babies. I do get sick of the coo coo ca choo. Out of the window with it. Save my taxes. Down with babies.

On the seat reading left to right as I do, not accustomed to reading Arabic text, the pregnant woman appears first. Should primary positioning mean that the seat should go to the pregnant woman. I look at her with interest. Somehow the lump or the bump looks out of proportion. Not that I would know but surely women don't carry like that. Is she a faker. "Ooh! Give me the seat. I am a pregnant woman". Or so, she would have me believe. I can't stand this lie. Out of the window with her. Save my taxes.

Second in line is the woman with the baby. Except there is no baby. We already threw that one out of the window so that woman shouldn't get a seat. Is she working? Then she pays taxes. Is she on work fare? That's a contribution to the fat capitalist pot. We won't throw her out of the window. She can jolly well stand and look sexy. Then she might have a baby. But we don't like babies. Out of the window with her too.

Which leaves the man with the stick. Well that could be me but isn't. Must ask if he's on benefits. Well are you? Yes you are. You damned despicable, lying scrounger. Out of the window with you it is then. Save my taxes.

I am left sitting, at last, in a quiet railway carriage. In front of me is a beautiful, empty seat, embroidered with all the people I wanted to get rid of. They've all gone now and I am not worried by this dilemma any more. The world seems so much better. All is calm. But the seat worries me. It nags at me. Surely if it serves no purpose all it does is serve as an historical artefact and would be best placed in some old, musty, transport museum. The problem with that however, is these museums; they consume my blathering taxes. Burn the seat. Out of the window with it.

I arrive at my destination. Police are scouring the platform (tax thieves) looking for some murderous villain who burned a seat and threw it out of a window. I consider myself an honest, upright fellow and I know that I should tell them it was me but then I’d be off to prison and you know what pays for them. Yes! Taxes!! I want to cry burn all those lousy jail houses and all the prisoners with them. But I don't. I just save my counsel for some time later.


Posted by Rich Downes, 20 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 20 November 2012

Cutting up the Lucinda Williams Experience

Image - lucinda_williams.jpg

Lucinda Williams performed old songs, new songs, covers, her songs, herstory at the London Jazz Festival in the Royal Festival Hall on 11 November

Take the image, steal the vocal, remove the backing band. All that is left are the songs and moments captured from the lives they reflect on. It is the easiest thing to tell you how much the words of Lucinda Williams mean to me, how real they seem, but that just leaves hagiography. So take the lines that spoke loudest to me - the ones that crashed into the times I'm living, cut them up like Burroughs, change only tense and pronouns and reconstruct an edited Lucinda Williams experience.

Paradise is lost to a place where the wild things grow. Times are harder than they've been before. I wanna see what it feels like to be without you. Blessed, we slept together. I got what I deserve. Kissed your tears through the gloom. Kissed you hard. Why do you have to be a source of misery. You weren't born to be a slave, to be mistreated, to be misguided. Now every day your memory grows 'til branches bend and fruit falls to the ground. I may never see your face. How does misery know which door to walk through. I can't find my joy. I want it back.

I heard a rumour you were born to be a friend of mine, baby, sweet baby, shot your love into my veins. How does trouble know which mind to live inside when I can't find heaven and you can't see me any more nor see where I go. Bitter memory knows not how to forgive. I don't think I'll miss you much. I'm glad you stung me, honey bee, showed no mercy. We were blessed by the neglected child. I wanna know she's there but I wanna be alone. I pick up a handful of dust and don't get right with god. Well it's over I know it. Go away. I can't let go.

On my front door, essences to beloved.  She was cast out of heaven. Do I want too much. Am I  Born to be forsaken. Don't bother me. I won't cry a tear. You can't trace my past when I loved you and stood for you by the moss on stone. How this sorrow found a home. We were blessed, before each reaped the pain I don't know what all right means. I don't fight for the prize. You changed the locks I don't know how you live, waiting for your essence, let it fall on my grave. I 'm scared.

There are days I remember well, a place where I always used to go. Everything has changed and I  can't let go. When daddy told me people collect door to door. I can't feel his love. It's been displaced We made quite a pair on the side of the road. By a  tombstone? You can't find me anywhere sweet baby. I was wrong you're so strong. You had no right to take my joy It is my right to feel your breath Real lives, broken fingers and broken guitar strings I don't want you any more. You got a sense of humour though and I wonder if you're happy and content, To hear that would be hard.

I've tried to enjoy the fruits of my labour. Your gift. You weren't born to suffer. Even if you like to flirt with death; stay on the rock for something wicked this way comes. Ghosts in the wind. I took a bus, I had to go back to our house again as if trying to get to heaven before the door closed. I don't want to talk to anyone. Born to be loved, I'm working at the bar. I've got your sweetness, Joy, passionate kisses, waiting for your essence. They tell me everything is gonna be all right. Fruits Of my Labour.

Posted by Colin Hambrook, 14 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 15 November 2012

Today from the National Portrait Gallery (NPG)

Today at the Indigo Bridge project, having travelled past Paralympic Park, Haseeb is mocking the cost of the tower ride. He tells me about a part time cabbie on LBC, fallen Afghan hero, failing his Work Capacity Assessment and talks up his grand pap who was never fond of bonfire night, having fought for his country decades back he still cowers at every banger - every rocket sees him looking for his helmet. Most days he's ok though - just grand dad. Later i find myself at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG).

Today from the NPG
I see
standing tall
Looking over Parliament

Today, I look again
I see
standing tall
Looking down on Parliament
Cursing ATOS
his one, one, one, stature
fails his WCA
Benefits are PROTECTION
Not me
Not now
Not here

Posted by Rich Downes, 6 November 2012

Last modified by Colin Hambrook, 15 November 2012

The Thoughts of Frida Kahlo Today

Frida Kahlo is a dead disabled woman. Frida Kahlo may also be a living woman of colour. I am reading some of the latters recent thoughts. Whilst the name survives the grave Frida Kahlo seems to be very much alive. These initial thoughts come from An Interview.

Frida Kahlo: "... the most influential galleries and museums exhibited almost no women artists. When we showed the figures around, some said it was an issue of quality, not prejudice. Others admitted there was discrimination, but considered the situation hopeless. Everyone in positions of power curators, critics, collectors, the artists themselves passed the buck. The artists blamed the dealers, the dealers blamed the collectors, the collectors blamed the critics, and so on. We decided to embarrass each group by showing their records in public. Those were the first posters we put up in the streets of SoHo in New York". But what of disabled women artists?

Frida Kahlo: "Calling a grown woman a girl can imply she's not complete, mature, or grown-up. But we decided to reclaim the word “girl”, so it couldn't be used against us. Gay activists did the same thing with the epithet 'queer'.” As did crips.

Frida Kahlo: "We'd love to be inclusive, but it's not easy to find men willing to work without getting paid or getting credit for it". Pay remains important for Disabled Artists too.

Frida Kahlo: "The next time art critic Michael Kimmelman pans a show that actually includes a fair number of women and artists of color like his hysterical rant against the Whitney Biennial of 1993 we're going to send him a year's supply of Midol". Nice to see you prescribing medication for menstruation. The norm here is to go for diazepam as if the ranters out there are all mad and want quietening down. I find this insulting to the mad amongst us but beneficial for the ranters.

Frida Kahlo: "If a masterpiece can only be made by a master and a master is defined as “a man having control or authority,” you can see what we're up against. Considering the history of slavery, we suggest changing the words to 'massa' and 'massa's piece'. Alan Holdsworth said care homes are Plantations. Workfare aims to make disabled people the new slaves.

Frida Kahlo: "Just last year, Robert Hughes, who in the mid-80's claimed that gender was no longer a limiting factor in the art world, reviewed a show of American art in London for Time and said 'You don't have to be a Guerrilla Girl to know that there weren't enough women in the show'. That's progress, even though Hughes reneged on a promise to apologize in this book for his past insensitivity". You have to keep your enemies close to you. take David Cameron and his talk on disability based on having a disabled son and then look at his policies. Not that I would want to be too close to that man.

Today I discovered the Guerrilla Girls. I immediately fell for their work, messsage, energy, attitude and activism. It rang a bell with me as someone who defines as a disabled artist and a disabled activist. Unlike the Guerrilla Girls i'm yet to reconcile these parts of me. I recommend checking out the Guerilla Girls for Inspiration.

Posted by Rich Downes, 4 November 2012

Last modified by Rich Downes, 5 November 2012

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 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