There is a quote that I like a lot, that has brought me comfort in many times of despair. It is usually attributed to the Talmud, which isn’t quite true, but a mixed provenance does not have to rob a piece of writing of its beauty:
Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.
Yet there are times, and for many of us the present time is one of them, when just…
Today is the 6th of June 2020.
Today is a day when, all over the world, thousands of people will come onto the streets in hundreds of protests, despite coronavirus, despite the risks to themselves, to shout that Black Lives Matter.
Today is also the 76th anniversary of D-Day.
Today is a day when we remember that we have to fight to defend the vulnerable. That appeasement often fails. That asking politely isn’t enough. That taking a knee is all too easily ignored by those in power. That sometimes, we have to plant our feet square on the ground and…
Soon after Donald Trump was sworn in as US President, I wrote a piece entitled No, I Won’t Help You Build A Bridge, explaining my exact feelings on calls for creating unity with those who would stand aside and watch the deaths of people I love. To summarise — I won’t be building any bridges between myself and fascists.
Part of me is tempted just to re-post that piece and have done with the tricky task of putting today’s feelings down in words. …
Right now is a scary time to be a disabled person in the UK. After an election campaign which allowed many of us to cling to hope, however precarious, we have been left reeling by the result; despairing and furious by turns.
I have allowed myself a precious few days to grieve. Now it is time to stop grieving and make a promise.
I will fight this.
If, like me, you are afraid:
You are braver than you know. Already you have faced so much, and you have pulled through. You are strong enough to face this, too.
If, like me, you are overwhelmed:
Breathe. Just breathe. Be present in this moment. This is the only moment that matters, right here, right now.
If, like me, you don’t know where to go next:
Take one step. Only one. Wait until that one is completed before you worry about the next.
If, like me, you feel like an imposter:
You have a right to be here. You have…
Hello, you. Hello, me.
You are 6,360 days old. If I were to stand before you now, you would tell me that you know all there is to know about yourself. You are wrong.
I am 12,720 days old. Exactly as much time has passed between your ‘now’ and my ‘now’ as you have lived. I’ve learned a few things.
Here’s what you know. You are sitting in a hospital bed. It is night. It is dark, but not dark enough for you to sleep. You can hear nurses talking in the corridor outside, but you can’t make out what…
First came the elite runners, tall, lean and barely out of breath. I applauded them, because what they were achieving was truly impressive.
Then the serious amateurs, their faces set in concentration. I applauded them, because they were doing the best they could, pushing themselves to their limits, and their best was far better than mine.
Then the main pack came. The ones running for the joy of it, not because they were necessarily any good. Parents pushing children in buggies, with the children grinning and clutching race numbers of their own. Runners with selfie sticks, taking photos of the…
On the 21st of October 1966, there was a disaster which shocked the nation. A colliery spoil tip, situated precariously on a hillside above the Welsh village of Aberfan, collapsed. The resulting landslide engulfed a primary school and 20 houses. 116 children and 28 adults died.
In the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster, some things became clear. The spoil tip had been allowed to grow to the size it had for cost-saving reasons. Concerns had been raised about its safety. These concerns had been ignored. In short:
Those who cared did not have the means to prevent the tragedy, and…
At midnight the weather breaks,
The sky tears apart at the seams,
Ripping beneath a knife-slash of light.
(inside, beneath a white sheet
for the humidity of the summer night,
This is the witching hour;
This is when cats sniff the air with wide eyes
And twine their tails around kitchen brooms.
This is when the sky is a cauldron
Fit to weave any black art,
The rain to carry any vicious charm.
(in the sudden cool,
sweat prickles on her bare arm.
This is how the world will end;
Four horses wheel among the fighting clouds,
I failed your test.
I didn’t do anything the way you planned out for me.
To pass your test, I was supposed to value wealth above happiness.
To pass your test, I was supposed to place my career above my friends.
To pass your test, I was supposed to care about what you thought of me.
I tried to pass; I really did. But I couldn’t do it. And when I failed you, I lost myself.
I froze, unable to move forward, because the shame was too great.
And when I could move again, I set…