Tuesday, 30 June 2009

These are gardens

'These are gardens, landscapes on a human scale'

These are gardens, from the collection 'Our needs are very small' a series of Ltd edition postcard size photo/poems from our archive. They show the view from older people’s hospital beds, wheelchairs, or their accommodation in residential housing. These photos were taken by the participants themselves, or else directed by them. Their words were selected from conversations with each participant – offering sidelong, poetic views on how it feels to be in a care environment.

Friday, 26 June 2009

the jargon

the jargon

I’m registered blind
others like the words visually impaired
some prefer totally blind
the word blind is very final
people appear frightened of saying I’m blind
get embarrassed by words
but I’ve always faced it: blind
it’s not written on the face, but its part of life
there are occasions when trauma gets you
an old lady shouting across the road
is he blind?
people asking questions about you, talking over you
(I’m bloody blind, not deaf)
I can see a little, but not much
blurred, mist

word between
blind and stone blind
we’re all different love
you haven’t enough paper to write it all
everyone has individuality
if you term yourself disabled
people label you
disabled to the average person
nasty terms, offensive
we are disabled by society
certain government departments
things done down on Mercy Street
(more people are kind
than obnoxious)

visually impaired
a catch-all
some boys came and kicked
the stick out of my hand and said
now go look for it
unacceptable words
spastic mongol
it’s always interested me, the words
I am totally blind and
a spade’s a spade
an indicator cane
a symbol cane
a guide cane
a long cane
measure it from your foot to your breastbone
tap to either side or sweep
don’t trip your guide up
a cane with red and white stripes will tell you
the person carrying it is
blind and deaf

each one of us around this table
has our own opinion
was blind but now I see
blindness is used as a metaphor
glare and brightness
tinted glasses
the problem with language altogether
is the idea that language can describe perfectly
it’s merely pointing at some idea
just as blindness means absence of light
and darkness is scary
language is a difficult thing
and you are not being 100 percent scientific
when you use
the harbinger
of terrible things
blind beggar pew always bringing
the black spot

born blind
I went to the sunshine homes
went to boarding schools for the blind
I’m one of the few who can read Braille
colours mix with words for me
anger with red traffic lights
biggest problem with vision is
it’s so personal you can’t describe
what you can see and what you can’t
I don’t get any older
in the shaving mirror

wake up, feel depressed
stop feeling sorry for yourself
see a pin drop
there’s always someone worse off
see them kiddies in hospital
go through a grieving
lost vision
lost independence
some go through it a long time
the bitter twist
it fills a void
we are all learning
talking heads
that’s what we do
loss of eyesight is a great leveller
all the
way round

how small my disability is:
blind from the foot
to the top of the breastbone

how much can you see?

speak poem
June 2009

Thursday, 25 June 2009

To try

to try

if you can get home I’ll be ok
can’t do it yet
takes time
it’s hard
connection to outside
(I’m on my own back home)
try and take it easy
to try and do it yourself
my daughter she’s hurting
got to do it in your own time
do it
she’s trying but hurting; at times
it hurts but you have to do it yourself
got to try
don’t cry
cancer 17 years ago
keeps saying there’s something there
try to tell him - there’s nothing
she was crying
don’t cry
don’t cry

doesn’t hurt
there’s something there
but it doesn’t hurt
its there, it won’t go
but I’m better
breast cancer
they’re hurting
they’re all hurting
the mastectomy
I don’t let it hurt me
I’m not going to die
not yet
not yet
I’ll just fuzzle it up
It’s there even at night
don’t let it
hurt you
let it go
let it go
something there, but let it go
this breast fine
it’s only that one
don’t get upset
don’t get upset
it doesn’t help
doesn’t help

takes time but you get better
cry at night
but I don’t show it
don’t let them see it
don’t show it
keep it to me
I know it’s there

Mary Mitchell
June 2009

Wednesday, 24 June 2009



I’m a patient in Stepping Hill
Where doctors are supposed to make you well
Unfortunately I have found
That it has been a source of hell.

Ray West
11 June 2009

Monday, 22 June 2009



a box of chocolates
a little boy running back
down the ward
to say goodbye to grandfather

(in here it’s)

waiting, all this waiting
captured, a refugee, loss of furniture, loss of house
you can’t make a bed a home
I don’t want to be unconscious
in their presence

(in here it’s nice)

hallucinations come with the pills
enjoy them, visitors are medicine
taking the mind to some other place
if you don’t have a dream
you’ll never have a dream come true

(in here, it’s nice a little)

uncertainty is my home
a lost person, a dispossessed person
you don’t feel the bed is yours
I’m interested in life
I’m having to change my life

(in here it’s nice, a little bit, but)

waiting to die it seems
spend the day getting the button right
getting the zip right
learning to

Raymond West and Mary Mitchell
11 June 2009

Thursday, 18 June 2009



Parkinson’s (face it)
face it, get involved, take part
in sports: the adrenalin temporarily
overcomes the Parkinson’s

(face it)
don’t take the pills as gospel
at 1am in the morning
you can be flexible

get a consultant who knows
about Parkinson’s (the bad doctors
do damage)
when I got diagnosed

I dropped out into sulks
refused meals
then decided
this was a waste (face it)

have a bout with life
live to the full
an incurable disease.

Ray West
11 June 2009

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

no hassle medicine

two tranquillisers
that’s what they say they are
a no hassle medicine

put them in my mouth and swallow
swallow them and hope for the best

Gladys Hall

This poem is part of the 'Patience' collection, for more information on this project please visit http://patience-project.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Friday, 12 June 2009


spring starts its inspiration
we are locked up in hospital
we are cooped up canaries in submarines
people go potty in submarines
lack of green

we are Birdman of Alcatraz
we are four square walls
looking out over the bay
watching others’ enjoyment
(me, I’m keen on the birds)

trees ring a hospital, an industrial estate
we are dead loss
green is the motivator to go
stifled in a wheelchair
raise your sight, your expectation

wrap us all in cotton wool
like the brontes we must
break out of the parsonage

we are pyjamas all day
we are institutional
lack of freedom to choose, lack of freedom
to choose - when you’ve lost choice
you’ve lost.

Raymond West
11 June 2009

Photo of Raymond West copyright Lois Blackburn. for more photos please visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/arthur-and-martha/

Thursday, 11 June 2009

With your children

with your children on your shoulders
here we go again

Hilda Hewitt

Part of the Brackenhurst Series.

With your children

with your children on your shoulders
here we go again

Hilda Hewitt

Part of the Brackenhurst Series.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Trees

The trees are in their Autumn beauty
someone is thinking of you.

Rennie Venus

Part of the Brackenhurst collection

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

And for the peace of you

And for the peace of you I hold such strife
now counting best to be with you alone
sometime all full with feasting on your sight
then do I pine and surfeit day by day

Hilda Hewitt and Rennie Venus

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Make Summers Welcome

Make summers welcome, thrice more wish'd, more rare.

Shakespeare, re-written
David 2008

Brackenhurst series, postcards kindly provided by Sam French

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Many thing

I know full well we’ll never leave this place
there’s a law in chemistry that says
you can never create or destroy matter, no matter
if they cremate or bury – your remains
will become part of the strata of the rains
and winds will blow you across
the face of the agnostic earth
you the atoms cannot be destroyed
will be here doubting Thomas for millions of years

perhaps we are all the figment of someone

don’t need to dig down if you
drop by a graveyard
the bacteria come up to become
more stars in the sky than there are
grains of sand in the
oceans are not burning
me it’s an overcoat for your spirit:
do I believe in anything, do
I believe in many things?

(I never go to bed ‘til I’ve said me prayers at night:
whisper that)

David Smith, Harry Wantling, Phyllis Hollinshead, Hilda Hewitt

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Want my bed

in cagelike beds, in my white cage

smoky as if it isn’t there
blood rushes from head roses
a heavy smell, heavy breathing
a smell you’d want again
would’ve thought roses

figures floating friendly trying
don’t want them, not highly

in my cage, in cagelike beds

high pale blue walls
some glass affair
inspired torture racks
see it different ways but
the same figures going round
waiting for it to crash.

Maude Counter and Muriel Hardman

photo/poem 'Half Asleep' Allen Whittaker 2007 for more photo poems, please visit our portfolio site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arthur-and-martha/sets/72157607699825490/

Tuesday, 2 June 2009


1947: nothing more unusual than
coming home
fitted with civvy suit, shoes, raincoat and shirt
searching for something
I’d left
people were the same
culture was different
sit down for a meal at 6 or 7
still there 10 or 11

so different
life was easy
work finished for the day and well
tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow
too, a life varied of its own
not-organized army

everyone having such a good time
never saw a war
not many people saw what
never so much noise, explosions

then it cleared and
the birds came

Patrick Lannon
25th May 2007

Labelled children socks, created by Patrick Lannon in collaboration with arthur+martha 2007.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Of Note

of note

have you been back
where you used to go?
to the old part of town
a drawer full of

clothes, flat dancing shoes, fate
got so many wrinkles I can
screw my own knickers on
what I remember is

saw the Mayflower
coming in here on a Friday
I have memories of long washing lines
stretch from one place to

field: it’s good to be put on earth
money doesn’t come into it
learning to slow down: a hard lesson
working in kitchens of

I’ve not composed any music
nothing of note
what have you and I done
except the pas de

Phyllis Hollinshead, Harry and Beaty Wantling, Hilda Hewitt, Bob Mather

For more examples from our project 'Patience' please visit http://patience-project.blogspot.com/


"...there is ample evidence that many elderly people
regard themselves as happy and well, even in the presence
of disease or disability. Doctors should be aware
that many elderly people consider themselves to have
aged successfully, whereas classifications based on
traditional medical models do not..."

(From What is successful Ageing and who should define it? by Ann Bowling and Paul Dieppe, British Medical Journal 2006)

weblinks http://eprints.ucl.ac.uk/1559/