Manchester and more

Been distracted by the emotional, physical and other work involved in changing jobs and leaving our beyond loved, comfy, tatty home of 20 years. Grubby, sticky finger prints, lego bits, detritus, memories invisibly tattooed in every space. Dust. Stuff.

Still. Job done. Belongings in storage in Southall. Currently in a rented flat 10 floors above central Manchester. Our lives involve scooping up Bess several times a day for a blitz around a newly landscaped area just off the Oxford Road. Trip tropping along a small section of the River Medlock, dodging diggers, picking up shit, passing the soon to reopen Fac251 and a long line of Ubers dropping off food to the students in the block opposite.

We roam the compact city in awe of the friendliness and vibrancy, density of buildings and building work, sights, sounds, smells, broken glass, canals, trams, buses. Manchester Met too is quite the revelation. Grounded, ambitious, enthusiastic, lively, committed. It feels a good fit. State school (first-generation university) hovering in exclusionary spaces can be uncomfortable despite good intentions.

Catching up with this week

I’m not sure what to write about learning disability related stuff this week. It feels suffocating. Reviews published documenting horror and brutality (again). Recommendations responded to in a woefully incoherent way by Helen Whatley, Minister for summat. Empty wordage?

Evidence around the ways in which people with learning disabilities have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic (mirroring how they are disproportionately impacted more widely in life) continues to be published.

I sat in on a Court of Protection hearing earlier. 

A person with learning disabilities detained for over 20 years in an Assessment and Treatment Unit. [Can we ditch this nonsensical name for what are effectively prisons?] Ready for discharge in 2013 while a home – with stuff, memories, more memories and dust – has yet to be sorted. The unfolding hearing involved a stand-off between a well thought through plan for a home/support by a specialist provider working with the family, and business as usual cruelty by the other ‘interested’ parties. Including commissioners and NHS England and No Improvement.

The judge was an odd mix of righteous anger and irritation about the lack of progress, and apparent carelessness about the ongoing brutalisation of lives. [Paraphrasing] ‘I would have said this was glacial progress but recent global warming has made glacial movement faster. Do we have an end date in mind or an end of decade date…?’

The hearing leapt to discussion about an adjournment. No decision today. More information was needed. Eight years on. Diary talk. The end of October for one day. November for two days? Busy, important people. Would new witnesses need cross-examining? Yes.

X’s [sorry, (no) transparency order in place] parents sat in court, barely visible through the Microsoft Teams lens. Their mum fiddled with something throughout. A tissue? I almost can’t begin to imagine the pain of listening to a set of well oiled, privileged bods treat someone’s life as a thing to poke, prod, describe as clinical presentation and dismiss. And then of course I can. I well up again writing these words. Nine hours later. The sadness in listening is indescribable.

Towards the end of the hour, after (dis) interested parties talked about adjournment like the moving of a Hermes delivery, X’s mum spoke up. Disrupting the proceedings. The order. The power. Unruliness. A smirk from one counsel. Teams court unusually offering the view of the judge.

Her frustration, disbelief and despair were palpable. She asked how this delay was possible. She and her partner were in their late 70s and early 80s. They would be dead before their child was released and living in their own home. Their lives had been destroyed.


Adjourned to November 8-9.


A brief grief note.

In a different city now, mate. We’ve finally scattered. Or scarpered from home.

Belongings in storage.

The usual countdown to July 4 disrupted. Places and spaces stuffed with memories, family and friends, distant and muted. The annual, chaotic nosh and booze gig halted by a pandemic you know nothing about. Though I think of those years you’d ball your fist tight, shove it under our noses, ask ‘Did I sneeze on you?’ and wonder.

Losing well worn, familiar grief spaces I worry about not missing you with the intensity and pain that is the lot of the bereaved parent. With so much new to see, hear, smell, absorb, distract I almost forget at times.

That’s ok, right? We’ve carried on, smashing life in our different ways. As we always did. Celebrating the joy, brilliance and laughter you brought to the party.

I just miss you so fucking much.