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To Dan, An open letter of love / 25 May 2014

Dan (or maybe Nick Saunders) in Trafalgar Square, on the International Day of Disabled People 2008

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Dear Dan

I'm home now, sorting through some old photos. I come across several from the time i knew you.

I loved you for the good and bad things that you were to me. I adored the conceit of spelling your name in capitals and the statements that you said it made about you. You said you were Direct, that you took Action and that you Network. You could have been any old DAN but you weren't. You said you were the Disabled People's DAN and they were  like you. They were direct, took action and networked.

I see the faces that were representative of the you that you were. Snaps fall to the floor. My we were serious then, Stern even. Open mouthed, loud, proud, angry and strong. We pissed on pity but we smiled often and sometimes shed a tear. We, together, were all this and more. Singers, players, redolent of culture. We linked with art and artists and came from these. But, we were crafters too and builders. We created traditions and built on values.

Remember Cat or CAT? I do. I met her once in a newspaper cutting or a text book. I'm told she came before us. Was something of a mother to all the little Danners that followed soon after. They say that Telethon gestated the body that you became. I don't know. I wasn't there of cause. But, i was close by. Going through these photos, i find other texts and there is an interview I did with one of the midwives who later became a friend.

And that's interesting DAN because a friend is what you were, You were wise. OK we looked like harbingers of better transport as we rounded up buses, tubes and trains but we built that into a demand for civil rights and we made a poor version of condescending legislation work well enough for some before; itself transmuting. And we were hip enough, when young, to say, that bus that stops outside  our door is a first step to the community we want to put in place, where we are independent, included, free. But, not free alone because we seek to free our people, all the friends we were, all the friends we could become. Brothers. Sisters. I heard you talk about wanting family.

I loved you very much DAN. I see some faces sometimes on these photos that I am sorting, on other social networks. I know their names yet everyone of them said they were Spartacus that day in Whitehall, but they also said they were DAN and many of those DAN's I loved too.

I was with you for the first time DAN. And i may have been there for the last time too. I cherish what we had. You were great. And i think of those times now, as the colour images and the black and white ones shuffle through my hands.

I think you changed your name again DAN and that you have become all multicultural now and hang out from time to time with some other fellow called Deepac.  I hope Deepac puts as much chagrin into the right wing bigots and placatory idiots as you did DAN.

DAN, i'll say it again. I loved you. You were my friend.