26th February
The Sue Napolitano Social Club

" I want to live in the pulse-hot thick -of-it, Where the nights jive, where the streets hum," S. Napolitano.
A place to meet and share. Contact & work together.

Welcome to the June Newsletter!

Inside this issue :

Introduction and Sue Ley Memorial
New Film Project
Crip Stirring Poetry
Contact details

This week's events

It would be almost impossible to compose the Newsletter without recognizing the horrific events of Tuesday's disaster in the United States. The full impact of what must be regarded as a terrible tragedy for all those involved has yet to emerge. As we watch news broadcasts announcing that the World is again at war there are many thoughts running through everyone's heads. The pages of the Newsletter are open for comments from anyone wanting to discuss what's going on.

We have heard people from all over the World talking about the need for the World to rid itself of terrorism. Some people may have heard Gore Vidal on Radio4 this Wednesday saying with the greatest of his respect to everyone involved in this appalling event, that, unfortunately much of the United States foreign policy over many years may have helped lay the ground for what is happening now. What do you think? Write and let the Newsletter know.

In solemn remembrance of all those who have died and in solidarity with those who have lost loved ones.


Remembering Sue Ley
We have lost many valuable comrades in the struggle for our rights. Recently Sue Ley has also been lost to us. However, Sue was such a great person to know, always a positive influence on all those who knew her, that we are all shaped by what she shared with us and we will take these parts of Sue with us in to the future struggles. Here we carry an article from John Ley, Sue's husband and partner for many years. Remembering our heroes, and heroines gives us strength to continue the fight for freedom and rights for disable people.

In the early hours of Tuesday August 1 Sue Ley died of Cancer in Greenwich & Bexley Cottage Hospice below is a modified version of the piece John Ley, her husband, wrote for the funeral.

Just over fifty years ago a little girl was born and her parents called her Susan. She was disabled and from the beginning Susan's parents had to listen to people warning them that she would have a sad, short life. They and her grandparents were determined to give her all the love and encouragement they could and today we remember the very special person Susan became. To most of us she will be remembered as Sue but to her mother & father she will always be Susan a daughter any parent would be proud of.

Of course Sue was more than just her parent's daughter she was my wife, mother to our three children and our granddaughters Nanny. She was also a loving sister to her parent's younger daughter who sadly died several years ago.

Sue was an aunt, a sister-in-law to my brothers & sisters, a mother-in-law, a special friend, an unobtrusive yet friendly neighbour, and a member of the disability movement.

Sue had also been a brownie & a guide. She then went on to become a guide lieutenant. She was also a St. John's Ambulance first aider, a committee member for a local Spina Bifida Association, and at one time was Greenwich Association of Disabled peoples CIL's bookkeeper and treasurer.

But it was not simply being all these things that made Sue special it was the way that she did them. Sue had a unique style that influenced everything she did a sheer delight in living, a bubbling mixture of determination, honesty, humour, compassion, liveliness, and love.

Sue also was blest with the ability to touch people, to affect and influence them merely by being who she was. There was one occasion when I was attending a British Association for Counselling Annual Conference. I had been invited to give a talk about the rights of disabled people both as members of BAC and as clients seeking counselling. Sue had gone with me as my enabler & support.

Whilst I gave my presentation Sue mingled with other Conference delegates chatting in her quiet friendly way about life and the world as she saw it. Sue's audience included trainee counsellors, top flight counselling professors and folks in between. They all listened to her talking about her life and to this day I don't know whether my carefully planned and rehearsed presentation achieved as much as Sue's friendly little natter.

Possibly Sue's strength was her ability, when necessary, to be not only gentle and friendly but to also be straightforward and direct or even bold and daring.

On one occasion in her early twenties a hospital consultant wanted to try yet another operation on Sue's leg. To her mind the previous ankle bone fusion's had both failed so when he suggested putting a steel rod up her leg from heel to knee Sue knew it was time for some straight forward talking. In fact when the surgeon said there was only a fifty-percent chance of success she was not direct she was downright blunt.

"Why don't you try it first?" Sue suggested, adding "If you still think it's a good idea after you've had it you can do it to me!"

That surgeon never spoke to her again.

When it comes to being bold and daring there are so many examples but one of my favourites is the tale of the redundancy day surprise. It was about eleven years ago when Thorn Lighting told staff it was moving from Charlton to Romford and laying off most of the workforce. Sue thought that I was putting on a brave face about the redundancy notice so she planned a little surprise to cheer me up. Sue came to my work place at about 4pm, officially to give me a lift home on my last day. She popped into the loo that was just outside the large open-plan office and emerged moments later in a stunning devil costume carrying a bottle of sparkling wine, with a huge, wicked grin on her face. Wearing red fishnet stockings, a figure hugging red leotard, red horns and a flowing cape Sue walked through the office to my desk. Seemingly unaware of the stir she was creating amongst my thirty or so colleagues Sue put the bottle on the desk, sat herself on my lap said "I'm your dirty devil kissagram come to cheer you up," and then she gave me a huge kiss. What a woman!

Perhaps what really made Sue special was the little loving things she did that had such a huge impact on the people she cared about. Knowing that she had incurable cancer Sue had secretly obtained little gifts for her husband, children and granddaughter to have after her death.

Each came with a little card containing a personal message from Sue. I would like to share with those of you who knew Sue part of what my dear wife wrote in my card because I think Sue meant it for all of us that knew and loved her.

"I know it's going to be silly to say don't grieve, for of course you are going to grieve, just don't be sad too long."

With love to you all and thanks to those whose kindness & support I am blest to receive. Sue has been taken from our sides but never from our hearts!

John Ley


New Film Project
British Film Institute: Disability Action Plan

The BFI is developing a disability action plan as part of its cultural diversity strategy and is working with Ann Pointon and Irene Whitehead to produce this.

A first-stage document is being produced that outlines what the BFI is currently doing in terms of disability access. If you are a film enthusiast and would like to comment on this and contribute to the consultation process please contact Ann who will ensure that you are on the BFI's mailing list to receive the document, which should be available next month.

Any comments or input you would like to make prior to seeing the first draft, would also be welcome, particularly if you have had any contact with the BFI, for instance as a film-maker, a visitor to the NFT or any regional film theatre, a would-be employee, or as a user of the BFI's education, publication or film and stills services.

Contact: Ann Pointon, 95 Hotham Place, Millbridge, Plymouth PL1 5NE, Phone/fax
01752 563459, email pointon@which.net


Crip Stirring Poetry
This month we are publishing a poem from Sue Brackenbury, who is now coming on the scene as a poet and writer about disabled people's rights.
You can find more of her poetry on the website http://www.johnnypops.demon.co.uk/poetry/poetry/
Have a look and enjoy more of Sue's writings.

Under The Bus

Look, look, look under the bus!
Look! Where? Under the bus!

Gather, gather, go the people.

Look - there - under the bus!
There, that person,
they must be mad - he's under the bus

Gather, gather, go the police.

Look I'm sure they're DAN
Look, the people handcuffed to the bus!
They must be crazy, they must be DAN!

Gather, gather, go the journalists.

Rumour has it they aren't giving it back,
they won't do an all nighter under that bus!
They will cry off, says the bus driver, they give it back.

Gather, gather, go the students.

Students in support of our campaign.
out come the barriers to keep them away!
we have our hands full with these, without them joining them too!

Sue Brackenbury
Copyright 1998

Just to show that you should definitely check out Sue's poems (some more next issue!) you must have read much of Clair Lewis' poetry and song in the newsletter. This year Clair was one of the big hits at the International Disabled People's Festival in Leeds. Good to see your songs getting a wider audience, Clair! Here is another one of her songs for readers enjoyment.

Show Us Your Genius

the power of thought
creeping forth from scarce sources
will make mighty waves.

so move into the light,
soak up it's life energy,
so you may flower.

show us your genius!
come and share what you got with us.

a battle's up ahead
we need all women, men and
disabled children.

got to make some room,
use every way to share our truths
to sell our culture.

show us your genius!
come and share what you got with us.

what you have to share,
is all bubbling in there -
so get it out here!

show us your genius!
come and share what you've got with us.
show us your genius!
you know you are one of us.

copyright 2000
clair lewis, Disabled activist.


Contact details
Sue Napolitano Social Club Newsletter,
Roy Webb,
4 Walsham House,
Bronti Close, East Street,
London. SE17 2HG.

Tel : 020 7703 6442
Mobile : 07958 678882
E-mail : roy@sicilia.freeserve.co.uk