The Air Conditioning at the Manchester Holiday Inn

Yesterday, the #LBBill roadshow took in two gigs at Manchester Metropolitan University. In the afternoon, Sara, George, Steve and I met the Big Society’s research group. The group were asked to look at each of the Bill’s eight clauses and give their input from their own lived and professional experience. By the end of the afternoon, the walls were awash with post it notes and the energy and commitment was wonderful.

In the evening, we were asked to give a presentation of the Bill to an audience of about 120 as part of the University’s Human Troubles programme. I felt quite overwhelmed by the number of people from Twitter and the #LBBill Facebook group who turned up. Like the afternoon, the event felt very buzzy. There was a lot of constructive input, and without sounding like an old hippy, a lot of love in the air as well.

Next Monday we’re meeting up to discuss all the feedback we’ve received on Draft 1, in preparation for the second draft of the Bill. The ideas from the Facebook group alone already runs to 100 pages of a word document. Goodness only knows, how many more pages will come out of the Manchester Events!

One thing that is always there for me as the #LBBill journey progresses is how much I don’t understand about disability politics. There are hierarchies that I didn’t appreciate. There are groups within groups that I didn’t realise are there. There are fights upon fights that I find bewildering. I can see that the way the Bill has formed and some of the content of the Bill has cheesed some people off. But just as I plunge into a self doubt void, along comes George Julian with a part from her speech last night: “This isn’t just about disability – this isn’t just about parents – this isn’t just about kids – this isn’t just about carers – this is about humans and human rights”. And then I feel it’s all okay again.

I’m knackered. We went out for a meal after the meeting  and it was about 11 o’clock before we got back to the hotel. I couldn’t switch off – a kaleidoscope of images and words from the day started zooming around every time I shut my eyes. Then at half past three this morning, I was awoken by the clunking air conditioning system. It sounded like someone was trying to force the room door open. This soundtrack played out every five minutes until at 5.30, I decided to get up and give up on sleep. When we got down to breakfast, we found that we’d all had the same problem.

It felt quite symbolic. Most of the people at the meeting are caught up in the clunking system in some way and the noise it exudes keeps most of us awake at nights.

We need some fresh air.

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