Day 80 was adopted by John, variously known as Busker John or Kid Rage! John’s piece is one of two this weekend that offer a personal perspective from people who knew LB, and the lasting impact he has had on them. Here’s what John had to say:
So many of the contributors to 107 Days are so experienced and knowledgeable about learning disabilities and autism. I would like to add something about ignorance. I met Connor in 2007 and was, like most young people who didn’t know anyone like Connor, pretty ignorant about his experience or other young dudes like him. I learnt a lot within five minutes of meeting him; he liked asking questions, he had a sharp sense of humour and knew where my nearest coach company was. I didn’t know how to speak with Connor, (as if there was a way to do so that was different to anyone else). I was not wilfully ignorant, but had considered very little about people with learning disabilities due to having so little to go on. There’s very little air-time for people like Connor or their relatives. When there is, it’s usually about something terrible happening.
Due to a change in jobs two years ago I’ve learnt a fair bit about services for people with learning disabilities. I’ve learnt a lot from reading Sara’s blogging, and more recently other people’s. Among other things, the Justice for LB campaign sheds light on a health and social care system that revolves around the rhetoric of person centred care. From all these contributions and what I have seen myself, the system is not always good at hearing and more importantly considering the voices of people who are very vulnerable, or those who know and love them. I’ve seen how this allows ignorance to exist where people who are ‘voiceless’ need empathy and understanding in order to make sure they are looked after, safe and feel safe. If a dent is made in that ignorance due to 107 days then that’s one success.
I am proud to say I did know and learn from Connor…. we made each other laugh on a few occasions. The last time I saw Connor he had some more questions for me and we’d just had a big breakfast in Headington. A good last memory!
Last week I busked for a while in Oxford.[youtube http://youtu.be/HJwFI-EFZ6o]
I played some songs which Connor and his family like and which remind us of him. Apparently I looked a bit angry and gained the stage name ‘Kid Rage’ in time for the gig with The Amazing Geoffrey at Connor’s party on 31 May.
One song I played always makes me think of what Connor’s reaction would have been to a red route-master pulling up outside his house on a hot July day last year. The song is about a young man who stole a car and “drove it like our days had been stolen.”* I think Connor would have wanted to take that bus and ride a long way with his family with no thoughts of the future or consequence.
The lyric that John references above is from ‘Headlong into the Abyss’ by Billy McCarthy, more on that tomorrow….