Monday, 20 July 2009
Abbeyfeale to Athens to Albury via Stratford UA & Newham!
It's often easy to say "I'm very busy at the moment" but my carbon footprint over the last 2 months could easily have been mistaken for the footprint left by a sizable Yettie with extra foot growth issues. Stratford seems a distant memory, but going to the home of the bard to perform Equality Street at UK Youths national Youth work conference was some highlight.
The team performed well, despite British rail making the challenges of travel even more challenging. The performance went down very well and was even seen as being a bit 'controversial'? I'm not sure it really was but my guess is that this is because of our starting point being that Inclusion = All Means All, no ifs, buts, or might have beens (cue for a song).
The band has been extremely busy, starting off with a gig with our furry womble friend Haydon at Hyde Park, despite the mightiest of early morning thunder storms, the sun came out for Rockinpaddy in the Park. Then off on a small-scale tour of Ireland, playing around the wild west, including my cousins wedding in Adare and two gigs in our hometown of abbeyfeale. Any time playing at home is special, but our acoustic set in 'Jacks -The Corner house' had to be up there. A few Guinness's were sunk & Roland & Dave made their Irish debut's with Rockinpaddy. It was a very quick trip in the sense that because we were playing, we were busy, but we tried our best to recapture the peace and serenity that 6 blokes sharing a country house full of brandy, can have. The Rock & Roll moment of the tour, apart from the wedding, fixing the water filled stage roofing, feasting in Leens hotel or listening to the sad death of MJ on the radio as we returned from a gig, had to be drinking Brandy at breakfast as dad wanted to clear the cupboards out!
After Abbeyfeale I squeezed in a a few CIL meetings, a session in Camberley and a music workshop before heading off to Athens to help lead the music element of a European Performing Arts Seminar. I have to admit working self employed, I was nervous about pulling this one off, but i worked with a brilliant team and together we had an amazing experience, definitely a moment of moments. The participants, particularly the young woman and girls of Amalion made the whole event a special, fun and creative experience and the quality of work in the final show was absolutely amazing.
The picture heading this blog was taken from the roof garden of our hotel where we stayed for a few days after the seminar to chill out in Athens. the garden overlooked the Acropolis (still not finished!), where each morning Barry & I would sit drinking strawberry iced water, ooh it was lovely. The city of Athens was busy and hot, any blank space was covered in graffiti, some good, some not so good. what amazed me was for an Olympic city, the access, apart from the brilliant Metro, was so inaccessible. Dropped curbs were rough and inconsistent and it made me realise the efforts the team went through to make the seminar venue as accessible as it was.
I think the nerves actually spurred me on and thanks to our workshop participants we created some great original material which reflected the good time we had. I made some very good friends out there, particularly my 2 co-facilitators and a number of individuals who have stayed in touch since my return.
My time out there re-enforced the importance of music in influencing change and also the need to develop young disabled people as leaders. The experience got me questioning the impact we had and I felt there was more potential from this event to grow and touch elements of change desperately needed in Europe for the inclusion and equality movement.
On my return it was straight into a second equality & inclusion session with Newham youth Service who are on the journey. Finally a small acoustic set at the Albury Festival rounded up a very busy period. I have to say I had hoped for more in the Ferret race but at least we had a bigger dressing room than the little fury creatures!
An amazing few months and I'd like to thank my PA's & family for supporting me through this busy time, if I'm busy then they too are busy! Most of all thanks to all who joined us in Hyde Park, Stratford, Newham, Camberley, Merton, Abbeyfeale, Adare, Albury & Athens. There's more to come over the next few months, not to mention the party of all party's my 75th birthday (Well that's how I feel today anyway)! Now what does my house look like again?