I’m guessing most of you know that I’ve been active in the #SaveTheILF campaign and you may also know if you’ve been watching the news, that we surprisingly won our case against the government. I really will right it all up soon, but I seem to be bouncing like a pinball in a wizard stylie machine from one event to another at the moment and each is major or at least not something I can relax about.
As the headline suggests, even with all the political shenanigans going on, the band plays on and indeed has grown in number in the last few gigs, so welcome to Tom, Paula, Antonis, Simon & Helen who all join that illustrious band of fighters n lovers that is Rockinpaddy.
The main purpose of this quickie is to say, me weekend was rocked a bit with a bita bad news and so the last few days have been hard, i didn’t even get to my beloved Blockheads Album Launch (Good luck lads xx buy the album sausages and get bopping). Today, I am getting back to our winning ways and we grow stronger from the struggles we face.
So as you do, I’m going down to the ‘ole ‘ouse of commons to an event to generate further awareness and continue the momentum amongst MPs that Independent Living is a critical basic human right & that schemes like ILF are critical and need to be developed further by engaging with Disabled People at the helm of our destinies. Also that these opportunities need to be extended so more disabled people have the right to an independent life, autonomous and like any other person, with equality of opportunity. The court case and justice was won on 6th November, my Right Hon Ministers, but it is clear from your rather quiet mumbles since, that the battle certainly goes on……and so…..so do we!
At just after 4pm, today I read the following out in the House of Commons:
This poem was put forward by Stuart Bracking, one of the ILF claimants who cannot be with us today.
Stuart says “this poem by Simon Brisenden is about the demonstration on 28 July 1988 which was organised after the decision to set-up the ILF as a discretionary trust was made. This was the demonstration where the slogan ‘Rights Not Charity’ appeared for the first time, and where there was a sit-down protest with about 150 people.
I have added a fourth verse completely honoured, humbled and proud to celebrate and reflect the relevance of Simons poem today.
The Battle for the Elephant and Castle
By Simon Brisenden
We were sisters and brothers
and a whole bunch of others
not to mention a long line of blue
we were disabled, united
and completely incited
by an anger we knew to be true
we were 2000 strong
and half a mile long
as we marched to the Elephant and Castle
with no sight or hearing
a kaleidoscope careering
filling the sky with our voices
we marched down the street
to tell the elite
we demand a world with new choices
we had in our sights
a blow for our rights
as we marched to the Elephant and Castle
we were at the beginning
of a new way of winning
together we could not be denied
so we strolled up and down
in old London town
wearing our badges with pride
we fought the law
and we’ll fight it some more
at every other Elephant and Castle
Still here today
Still battling to say
We are fighting for those same rights and choices
To the highest held court
We won so we thought
The pride could be heard in our voices
We continue so strong
The battle goes on
As we march to the Elephant and Castle
By Simon Brisenden
** verse added for House of Commons Event on 26 November 2013 by John Kelly
Need to keep in balance me fighting wiv me loving sausages xx
Last night I returned from an event battling to raise awareness to save the Independent Living Fund (ILF) the hashtag for the nights a nasty cut #nastycuts.
I realised heading back home of the wider context in which this closure us placed. I took this picture and thought of my current freedoms at that very moment.
I then thought more and deeper on my journey hoe about the great freedom fighters and felt compelled to take possibly a last chance to thank a living hero of freedom for his inspiration. I wrote: My prayer to you Madiba, you inspired me to learn and understand freedom and as we now struggle to #savetheILF you give me strength to fight. Thank you. As I write he is still alive, bless ‘im xx
Also as I write today is spending review day and further cuts on the way. On Sunday Graeae’s new production The Limbless Knight asks what it means to be alive? And now im talking of freedoms. There are links to it all and I’m right on it in philosophical corner, these are fundamentals to what we want for what kind of society we wish to live in and what type of futures we want to build for.
One argument I heard at last nights event that the government is using for closing the ilf is that we are privileged in getting it. somehow equality is about dragging people down or backwards, brought back in line with other social care provision. I would argue dragging us back 30. Surely equality is increasing freedoms not taking them away is the sign of a progressive, democratic and socially just society. Once you know and experience a level of freedom, how beautiful the mountain is, you cant take that away, unless you’ve been bad of course? Freedom and education are things you build on, not subtract. They cant be made less once you know them to exist, you know them as a possibility and reality, but that is exactly what the government are attempting to do. So what does the closure of the ilf say about our progressive, democratic, socially just society?…..not a lot!
The evidence that the ilf works surely means it should be built on. Further evidence shows that since the powers that be closed ilf to new applicants those people have not been getting their rightful freedoms, to get out and about, work, participate, contribute and have that sense of value and purpose you get as a result.
So the #nastycuts event asked how do we move forward in this little battle with Esther and her gang? So heres my pennies worth. I do have a pre-requisite though, which is it would be nice to have a real minister FOR rather than AGAINST disabled people. One who talks to us (real bendy people, not those who think they know us), who listens, and does not ignore our voices and that will join our everyday battles.for freedom, inclusion and access to participate. Thats probably not going to happen.
So on we go without the pre-requisite and my penny, well 3 penny worth on a way forward:
1. Politically: a rigorous and robust clear manifesto based on unarguable evidence that isn’t just statistics but reflects our social values and beliefs of what is just and fair and one not based on speculation ifs and might have beens (cue for a song). I reckon it exists already with the clever bendies in the disability political world heard last night.
2. Socially: we need to engage and make relevant, tangible and draw links and comparisons to others awareness of our issues by showing them through our art and culture. Our issues can and do affect the kind of society we live in or want to live in. We do ave allies when people sense the wrongs that exist, but we can’t be victims…we need to be a bit risky cheeky naughty strong and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.
3. Within ourselves: we need to inflame disabled people and our true allies to dream more and further, push the possibilities of our realities however we can, and fundamentally feel we can all make a difference to this battle by getting involved in our struggles and be proud that this is a just fight for disabled people, for all people and for all our futures.
So my lully sausages…..freedom, being alive, ‘aving a life ‘n’ that, thats where its at, I’m off for a little lay-down, actually im off to a trustee meeting, hey-ho, then making a bita music about all this shenanigans!
Freedom sausages, breathe it in!
To top off an already magical trip, it seems appropriate that my last hours are spent with Julian Boal at the Centre of Theatre of The Oppressed. My guess is it might not mean much to some but you wouldn’t believe what it means to me. Brazil is the place where Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal were born.
It is the place where they both developed theories and practices which have influenced global policies, transformed education and liberated oppressed people and communities. On a personal level they helped me transform the way i practice my work around Disability Equality and indeed performance. Boal referred to Freire as his grandad creating liberation pedagogy, Pedogogy of the Oppressed.
Boal then took this into the theatre context (after being imprisoned and tortured that is) to use theatre to empower people to change and transform their own lives developing Theatre of The Oppressed, Forum Theatre and Legislative Theatre to name but a few. Now Julian carries on his work.
So here i am at CTO in Rio (there are CTOs around the world, but I guess this is home) and within ten minutes of chatting Ive been invited to a meeting happening at the CTO of “famous community and Favela leaders” as Julian put it, who find there communities being brushed away in time for the world cup and Olympics.
They are expecting 180 to turn up and I’m gutted I’ll be at the airport. We chatted about “legacy” in London and questioning the impact on disability and my experience of travel during and after the games have gone. I cant believe Julian wanted me to speak at the meeting.
These communities are being broken up and are already experiencing being forced into pacification and forced medicalisation “treatment” programmes. The meeting will brjng leaders together to have a unified voice around whats happening to them and no doubt tensions will be high as indigenous communities are literally being torn apart and the poor and homeless are being pushed out further all in order to create the perfect tourist picture.
We chat further about the olympics, legacy and disability and agreed translating “don’t believe all the hype” might be tricky. Julian asks about me, the show, note to self…send dvd!
I was trying to explain to Ginge and Dave the significance of this building and its so hidden and doesn’t bear any sign of its global significance, its shabby n simple but full if lovely friendly people working hard for others. the vatican could learn a thing or two about toning down its grand buildings and distributing its wealth.
Google Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, two amazing people. I was lucky enough to learn about Freire from Roz Norton whilst at Goldsmiths and I got to spend some time being around and learning directly from Augusto Boal about ten years ago. And now to spend a short time at cto in Rio with Julian is just an amazing moment in my time here and in my life.
Right sausages, on the plane.
Update sausages: 13.55 just landed safe at Heathrow. See you in Leatherhead sausages.
On the beach on our final day off and it all feels a bit of a dream. The body beautiful is strongly evident but i sit comfortably in my mankini home amongst the well tanned skins and rippling muscles and thats just my two pas’s.
The wether has been…hot
Breakfasts been…like a kids party table, lots of cake
The gigs…did we really just do them?
Lapa has been…Camden
The hotel has been…steep ramps, dodgy wifi, simple but fine, waiter like Dick Emery.
Dropped curbs…like ski slopes
The town…vibrant and exciting with a little fiestyness ere and there
The venue…was neither indoors nor outdoors.
The people were…warm n lovely (even Rafael)
The view from my taxi…non existent
The jesus on a hill…was indeed a huge big jesus on a hill, from the back anyway, couldn’t get round the front!
Ipanema was…nearly as beautiful as Ballybunion but beats bally for the sun and budgie-smugglers!
The Hosts…looked after us a delight, were lully and mainly in orange t-shirts
Graeae…is planting seeds
My PA’s …are top banana and after 7m, Joyce & Vickie
Thank you Rio, Peoples Palace Projects, British Council, Graeae and me knew dog Kiyikee!
So sausages, where next on this crazy journey…Leatherhead!
Reality check update…we lost our high court case against the government but now considering an appeal because “we’re not gonna take it” xx
Todays blog is a mish mash of events, a bit like Rio’s architecture which is stunning and shabbily beautiful, Extremes of wealth and poverty living right on top of each other. Our taxi driver indicated this notion by joining two fingers together saying it was a happy co existing side by side with no pretence but I’m not so sure about that, we experience, like anywhere in the world, a darker moment that shouldn’t ever happen to anyone, but it does… still we are stronger for having each other and we carry on stronger together to carry on finding and giving Reasons To Be Cheerful!
We got called early to soundcheck for gig two so we could sort out a couple of teccy issues, after sound check song of choice yesterday being Bob Marleys Stir It Up, today was a straight Blockheads swipe with Spasticus, Blockheads n Hit Me. sound check done, Shenanigans time to get into the right frame of mind.
The audiences have been a surprising mix of ages and once they are over the shock/fear of me sitting next to em screaming “rubbish n boo”, i see the foot tapping, then the hands going and before ya know it our gang has jumped off the stage and is pulling em up to ave a little blue jean bop. Encores all round and even some of the audience get passed the dancing security to join us onstage. It was just beautiful, and gratefully in the heat of it allI capture a brief moment in the anarchy to realise the gig in my heart is for Mr Dury, my folks, loved ones, friends and my beloved Lisa who is hopefully aving a blue jean bop with us up there in the stars xx
Party time was indeed a great party time, the bar owner was indeed happy to host us and it did indeed get messy from what i recall. all though to be honest this little Cockney paddy of yours wasn’t as wild as is sometimes known, on account of being jiggered from doing two gigs and giving it some right marge!
Day off and it was up the hill to see big Jesus! Just lost for words amazing. See the piccys when I get em up!
Last visit is off to Iponema for a little dance rude boy …i need to hear some decent Samba before heading home. That will be once Ginger gets off Mo Farrahs jogging machine n Daves finished his Ruth Rendall!
Apologise for grammaticals n typos this blogs being done on the roof n hoof!
I’ll probably get one more blog in and then its no stopping or resting, its all thoughts Leatherhead next, who’s up for Daisy fest sausages?
It was always going to be a long hard day, but the lovely smiling faces, beautiful sights and a few beers the night before….and a good sleep of course, meant i was right up for it. The venue is a cultural arts centre type place semi inside semi outside so the view from my mic is probably one of the most amazing I’ll ever have.
Oooh its hot, is probably the saying of the day, and after a three hour run through, I’m not gunna lie, my joints were right swollen up n a bit sore. We had a break, then another run, which finished me right off.
The organisers of the festival are just lovely, and bending over backwards to ensure our needs are being met so we had rooms to lay in, sit in, eat in…and anything else you’d like in! So green room and bags of ice were the order of our few hours off. I did feel a bit on the wonk for a while but the rest worked is magic and it was soon time for the cherry reds to pop out the bag.
Our show runs at about an hour, part gig, part play n lotsa a sweat! It was full on and although the crowd seemed a mile away from the stage, slowly they ‘ad it and by the end were right up on us and bopping the same as ‘ackney, Nottingham or anywhere else we’ve taken this dream job too. The band & gang rocked ‘em. I feel theres a little room to raise it a bit more but all in all it was a beautiful game as they say.
A few autographs later, apparently one lad recognised me off his Brazilian telly, which was a bit weird!? Scorchio! Back in the taxi (not alone) the drivers are very excited to point out the huge football stadiums tat we pass. From my view i just see the tops of these huge flying saucer like buildings. Rhinestone Cowboy was song of the moment on our return.
The bars in Lapa district are kicking, access is a bit ropey here and there but do-able with a bita force and with a cod one at the end of the journey its all worth the effort.
Daisy Fest not to far away now! Gigs Rio to Leatherhead is definitely rock n roll…..in a way?!