Cultivating spaces for extraordinary artists

BLOG: In praise of Awkward Bastards - Mike Layward DASH

I just read an article by Ashok who is a neurodivergent artist/thinker and came across this statement I love the optimism of it, as outsiders it is rare to feel this, but good to remember this when life gets difficult.
So why do I praise Awkward Bastards? I am sure as Disabled people we all have known those times when you ask the difficult question, you won’t be quiet etc. That’s an awkward bastard moment.
There are three awkward bastards I want to praise (though I know there are thousands of us)
Doug Paulley: Doug took first group bus company to court in 2012. Doug is a wheelchair use and when he got on a bus he found the wheelchair space had a baby’s buggy there and the parent wouldn’t move it and the driver wouldn’t intervene, so Doug had to get off the bus. The court case was settled in the Supreme court in 2017 and means the drivers will have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users, but it will still not be a legal requirement for non wheelchair users to vacate the space! Doug has many youtube videos showing his battle with train companies and National Express coaches. He doesn’t give up.
Greta Thunberg: Greta is a 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist who started the climate change school strike last year. She is neurodivergent and for someone so young, she has no difficultly telling the truth to the elite. She went to the Davos meet in Switzerland and told the billionaires there, how they had made the billions while knowingly destroying our planet.
Kat Harrison and her 5-year-old son: Kat related this story on twitter of how a while ago a stranger asked her what is wrong with her that she needs a mobility scooter at her age of 27. Her son replied that ‘mum got poorly legs from kicking all the rude people who asks questions’
I reckon Kat’s son is an awkward Bastard in the making.
In these times when Disabled people are at the forefront of the cuts and austerity we all need to be Awkward Bastards to keep the rights that we have.

written for Shropshire Disability Network (May 2019) by Mike Layward Artistic Director of DASH