Plays by Deborah Freeman

I have completed `Remedies,` a play about M E.  Background research...

Writing Groups

I am setting up a new writing group in East Finchley, to be held in the atmospheric location of an East Finchley...

Novels by Deborah Freeman

 A few years back. I answered an ad on the Radio 3 website, from the conceptual art company, Blast Theory...

Poems by Deborah Freeman

These appeared in the journal Jewish Renaissance, 2008.  `Fish.` `Fasting.` `Open a Gate for Us. ` `After the...

And now for something not different at all.

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Saw I am Daniel Blake yesterday.

I worked as a Psychiatric Social Worker, at Withington Hospital in Manchester, between 1985 and 1988, during an early season of Thatcherite cuts in public services. I particularly remember something called Discretionary Furniture. When I started work, people being rehoused, usually in association with chronic and enduring mental illnesses, got items under this heading - such as fridge, bed, table, chairs. By the time I left (my first episode of ME ) Discretionary Furniture had disappeared. Wiped off the welfare map.

Much has changed since then, and not for the better, in terms of what the state can or will do to help people bordering on destitute.  

I Am Daniel Blake told a powerful story that needs to be told.  It was well done and heart-breaking. 

It almost seems irrelevant, but I have started now and there will be no going back. I have agonised, grumbled, joked, and noted for two decades, but not kept a record. After the intriguing play R & D at Hampstead Downstairs (last blog but one) I finally recorded my puzzlement and fury at just how many profound and/or unprofound stories get told which include the theme of a dead, often recently deceased...wife. I am Daniel Blake is yet another of these. Is it really only because it`s hard to find women of a certain age able to perform well? Daniel Blake loved his wife, and she gets a mention. She suffered, I presume from Bipolar Disorder, and he was a saint, caring for her, and holding down his job. Of course there are countless fine men in the world like Daniel Blake. But it`s the sheer regularity with which wives are killed off in stage, film, and fiction, that bothers me. 

For the sake of balance..I knew a struggling actress (59) in the northwest who used to regale me with horror stories about her encounters with benefit officialdom. `There are jobs available,` they would say to her. `Receptionist, cleaner, classroom assistant, B&Q, and so on...` `But I am an actress! That is my profession!` she would scream at them, and then repeat to me later on the phone. 

What should I have said?

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