Today, Thursday, 3rd August, my poem ‘Dark Days’ is has been published by that excellent online poetry mag ‘Poetry 24. This poem is a response to the present government’s cynical and unprecedented attack on the chronically sick and disabled. Having suffered a period of ill health myself I am all too aware of how stressful – and, indeed, further debilitating – it can be to find one’s illness in the public domain. I found, for example, that I quickly became the object of patronizing – and sometimes snide and nasty- remarks that implied, or even openly suggested, that what I needed to do was ‘man up’, stop ‘making excuses’, and, of course, in the words of those two wonderful old chestnuts, stop ‘taking things so seriously’ and ‘pull myself together’.
That was bad enough. Such attitudes made me thoroughly unhappy and did nothing to aid my recovery. Now, however, we are hearing that some people whose lives are already made difficult by the effects of sickness and/or disability are encountering abuse from strangers in the street who call them unpleasant names and suggest that they are ‘fakers’ and ‘scroungers’. I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that such cruel and inhumane behaviour is a direct consequence of a) the attitude of our present government towards the sick and disabled and b) the damning tone of some ‘news’ reports that have appeared in the popular press. It was partly in an effort to counter such attitudes that I wrote and submitted ‘Dark Days’ which you can find at Poetry 24 by following the link provided to the right.