Archive for April, 2017

Coat of Capacity

April 6, 2017

Coat of Capacity.
Wednesday April 5, 2017
: thinking about dead mums and legacy; well dead anyones actually, but mum’s in particular as it is a year today since mine died. By legacy, I don’t mean dosh, I mean what has made me different, stronger or whatever, because she was my mum and we spent sixty years in each other’s lives. Last night, or should I say, this morning, for it is one am, (about the time she died), I am wide awake and thinking about her, still alert after an evening of splendid choral music by my bro’s choir. Early this evening, as I wriggle uncomfortably on the hard pews at St Martin In The Field’s church, I drift into the depths of the music, I think about mum and how she would be following the notes with restless fingers, her throat shaping the vowels, a little hum escaping from time to time, under cover of the swelling voices, very much as I am doing. I have such a desire to get up and conduct, I often find myself engulfed in such urges, but resist, firmly pressing my rather sore bottom into the unyielding wood.
And at one in the morning, as I wander round the garden, my mind turns to the blog I put up yesterday about 3rd April being “Happy Blind Day”. I know she would appreciate the thought, for she was not someone who could be set back for long. Life was often hard, things did not always, even mostly go her way, after much loud protesting, agitating, arguing, persuading, goading and persistently going on about whatever it was that bothered her, her mood would swing round, her practical mind would bend itself to the problem, and she would as like as not, come up with a way of dealing with it. If she had the where-with-all, she’d roll up her sleeves and sort it. If it was too big for her to change, she’d think about who should, what the nature of that change would be, and how she was going to persuade whoever to do it, make it, legislate for it or grow it. In the end, there was always a way. “I’ll have some of that”, I think, stroking a drooping hyacinth, flopping over the garden path, … Hmm, perhaps, a handy twig propped just so, ah like this (I bend to tuck said stick under the tired flowers head) will help that little flower keep it’s chin up, … just like I should keep my chin up, no matter that I miss her; and our “this is how we change the world”, conversations.
Perhaps I’ll model that “finding a solution” coat she used to wear (K reaches out, picks it up & swings it across her shoulders, plunging hands into sleeves, wrapping it’s capaciousness around her, – ah yes it fits). So here I am in her coat of capacity, it’s a tattered white lab-coat btw, wearing it, I can put the world to rights in my own way, oh yes I can! “Happy mum’s legacy to me, happy mum’s legacy to me.” I hum, tapping a wind chime, “ping”, stroking a clump of damp sage, breathing it’s savoury sweetness in, and noticing how very still the garden is, not a breath of wind to be felt.


Happy Blind Day

April 4, 2017

Happy Blind Day! Monday April 3, 2017:
Today it is 45 years since “darkness fell upon me at the age of 16”. 45 years since I woke to find Bob Dylan’s face on the poster ON MY BEDROOM WALL, had melted into a smudge of many greys. It’s 45 years since other people seriously, purposefully, ignorantly, started limiting the things I was allow to do, aspire to, struggle to make happen.

Looking back, as a talented painter whose worst fear was of going blind, the worst as I thought of it then did happen, and I didn’t die. Heaven knows there have been times when I wished I had; but they have in the main been provoked by unhappy love affairs, harassment at work and despair brought on by the exhaustion of having to fight my way into the world of life.

Aged 16, I had already learned to argue loudly. I argued my way out of hospital, out of the day centre they dumped me in; lost the argument about having to go to a special school; (hijacked by my own fear of travelling to and from my mainstream school in the dark of the winter of 1972). I then argued my way into and through art school and post grad art school, (the first blind person to have done so in the UK.) I’m still arguing, after a long career in local government, an equally long career as a non-executive advisor, and now as a politician.

In all this time, fatigued though I was often by the struggle to live my life the way I wanted; I was very clear, as I am now: being blind is not in itself inherently painful. The restrictions I face are, because of other peoples decisions, others discrimination and negative actions. I am not pained because I can no longer feast my eyes on the blue spring sky, the freshness of the world slowly beginning to green, the pastel froth of tree blossoms, and all the other prettiness of today’s smiling weather. I am pained by how significant numbers of non-disabled people perpetuate their false limiting beliefs about who I am, what I can do and what I should be allowed to do. On what authority do they do this?

So, 45 years blind, I mark this milestone reflecting on the battles and the blocks so that I can count, celebrate and remember how I won, and am still winning. The proof of my victory is that I won’t shut up. No one can stop me singing! HAPPY BLIND DAY