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A Ninja Plays Powerball

April 13, 2017

I’ve been way out of my comfort zone for the last couple of weeks. I’m trying to write a novel and plotting, sub-plotting, devilish denouements aren’t my usual style. But I’m intrigued by the process and fascinated by the way the book keeps turning into something quite different than I originally planned.

I think several things have come together to prompt this book. I’ve been feeling a bleak despair over the lack of ATU action. I’m not sure what it is going to take for people with learning disabilities to be seen as human and for their human rights to be respected. Loud, emotional campaigning doesn’t seem to work. I’ve got grave doubts that polite, partnership working campaign’s can fare any better. Solitary petition led campaigns appear to play right into the Powerfuls’ hands. I keep thinking back to the suggestion from a couple of years ago that what is needed is a troop of Ninjas.

At the same time, I’m still doing my family history and have been reading a lot about the mid 1800s. One thing I keep finding is that there were an awful lot of philanthropists at that time. We don’t tend to hear about them anymore. But a Ninja philanthropist would be a godsend to all those people trapped in ATUs.

The other thing that keeps coming up to drive the book is a dream I had last week. I’ve never had a dream like this one before. I am with a group of people in a museum browsing the display cabinets. I am not engaged. A giant screen is showing footage from the 1800s. I am not engaged. Then the film on the screen changes to a match at Southall Football Club in 1979 and I remember that I was at the game. I move closer to the screen and I suddenly realise that I can climb into the screen. I am inside and do a circuit of the pitch, arriving behind the goal just as we score. I come face to face with 20 year old me. We can see each other but there is an invisible barrier between us. My 20 year old self isn’t the slightest bit interested in me and the footage evaporates as I hear the words, “You can’t go back”.

The book?

27 year old Ben is approaching his second anniversary in an ATU. He went away for a week as his father arranged his mother’s funeral. The father has tried several campaign’s to get Ben home but nothing has worked. On his way home from visiting Ben, the father stops at a motorway service station. There is one other customer, who the father recognises as Ben’s childhood hero – Spartacus from the TV programme, Gladiators. After the series finished, Spartacus became a multi millionaire building gyms across the Mediterranean but for the last ten years has become a recluse. The father tells his story and Spartacus decides to don his famous lycra costume, one last time and help get Ben out of the ATU.

I think I’d like it to be like an old road movie and the relationship of two middle aged men as they learn that they can’t go back and try to work out their place in 2017.

I’d like to think they’ll succeed but if nothing else, I’ll make my therapist earn her corn as she entangles a dream turned into a novel.

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From → Social Care

5 Comments
  1. My other child used to think up fantastic stories of our loved one escaping the ATU (the ATU that wasn’t doing any assessment or treatment, where even the psychiatrist said it was bad to be there for even 12 weeks). It made us laugh and cry. Instant moments of relief in the middle of it all.
    The good professionals kept me going with moral support, but used to say only you (the parent) can take action.
    We really do need a play, performing all over the country, to counteract the way things are.
    The videos on Sara Ryan’s site are a different kind of fantastic. This could be another sort.

  2. weary mother permalink

    For it to end, the people paid to be accountable,

    that is, the commissioners, and managers who knowingly sign off these lucrative contracts, and the social workers who all know very well the damage that will be done, but still transport and leave the most powerless of people and their families in these dungeons, for years…

    …must stop doing it.

  3. simone aspis permalink

    I really do not want to sound like a broken record – I understand you Mark are frustrated by the lack of campaigning around ATC and closure of such institutions. I share your frustration immensely – let’s do something about it – People 1st have been left a legacy – (great that a family recognised all the great work People 1st have done) and I am hoping that we can work with others to get the campaign off the ground – Why not contact People 1st – let’s get cracking! I was part of the Disabled People’s Action Network – we had a solid campaign “Free Our People” – this is different form DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts which focuses on campaigns against the cuts – At the moment I struggle with DPAC – because they do align themselves to much with unions – and would be against all cuts – for me there are some jolly good reasons why I want to see cuts – to all institutionalisation and ware housing of disabled people. Free Our People campaign – we are starting to see how we can reviligate the network that took direct action against attempts to insittutionalised disabled people – and the network also consisted of disabled people (like me) who are currently working with disabled people stuck in these institutions and want to be freed. Obviously because of confidentiality I can not say more here. So if you quite rightly are looking for a more aggressive stance against ATUs and other forms of institutionalisation that will include as you might expect residential special schools and colleges – then why not join us – it open for all!

  4. Brilliant as ever, Mark.

    Excellent statement of the problem. I work with some people who want to try to do something different, led by users, about all this shit.

  5. Reblogged this on arthur~battram… and commented:
    Attention, Red Quadrant and Rory Heap. Let’s para-burtzorg this…

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