Gonna change my way of thinking. Make myself a different set of rules.
Going to put my good foot forward. Stop being influenced by fools.

“Gonna Change My Way of Thinking”, Bob Dylan.

A Slow Train’s Coming is musically, according to Jann S. Wenner’s 1979 article in Rolling Stone, Dylan’s best album to date. In essence, “Slow Train” is a new kind of “Blowin’ in the Wind”, he writes, in time, it is possible that it might even be considered his greatest, a rare coming together of inspiration, desire and talent that completely fuse strength, vision and art.

It was never one of my favourite Dylan albums. Coming across Wenner’s article last week was one of those browse-through-the-library-shelves experiences you can at times have even on the internet: ‘collateral’ findings when looking for something else.


The article made me listen to that album again, Mark Knopfler’s superb guitar playing, Dylan actual singing, the brilliant rhythm and drum solos.

Wenner writes that Slow Train is a bit like a state of the union. And it’s universal and timeless.

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted
Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions
Are they lost or are they found?
Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

No doubt, there’s a slow train coming around the bend and we’ll have to change our way of thinking.

Last week, the Muckamore abuse inquiry opened in Belfast after a long campaign for answers in what is most likely going to become the biggest case of institutional abuse in the history of the British and Northern Ireland Health Service. 72 staff members are being accused of abuse in Muckamore Abbey Hospital in Co Antrim, the “jewel in the crown” of mental health facilities supposed to serve highly dependent and vulnerable residents.

The scandal came to light because of the persistence of one father, Glynn Brown, who says he stopped counting after his son Araron was assaulted for the 150th time at this care facility, reports Seanín Graham in the Irish Times last Monday, 06 June. Glynn was also interviewed by Miriam O’Callaghan on Primetime last week. When Glynn found out that his son ‘Aaron’s been kicked on the groin, punched on the shoulder, trailed across the ground with his genitals exposed…’ he called the police.

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted

Last week, I met with a desperate mother of a severely brain injured young man who told me about the many occasions that she had found her son on unannounced visits with injuries and being left unattended in a closed, dark, and hot room lying in his excrements. She told me that she did not hear how or even whether her complaints were investigated, never mind what the outcome of these investigations had been; with one exception when one member of staff had been suspended. Her son is kept a large distance away from his family home and when she asked for a letter to support her application for travel assistance this letter was denied. She comes from a minority community.

Instead, it was strongly suggested to her to discontinue her unannounced visits, she was portrayed as a troublemaker by the care facility, and her son was made a ward of court just over a week before the High Court stopped accepting new wardship applications. Wardship is based on a 1871 Lunacy Act, which is about to be repealed by the 2015 Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act, to be commenced later this month.

The mother is now legally written out of her son’s life, with the High Court and the ‘Committee’ taking on the role of the parents, so to speak. The mother was not appointed by the Court to the Committee as she was not seen to be neutral enough to look after her son’s ‘best interest’. Instead the Court appointed the Solicitor General’s Office to the ‘Committee’.

It seems as if the 1871 Lunacy Act might have been used here to make it even more difficult for the mother to follow up on her abuse and negligence allegations against her son’s care unit. If that was really the case, it could mean that the wardship decision was taken to protect the system, not the rights, health, and safety of the young man placed in what the mother considers an unsafe care unit, a far distance away from his family. And not the mental and physical health of the family who have suffered untold loss and tragedy.

Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions

I mentioned last week that Pádraig went to a Roaring 20s party. Here is a taste of how wonderful it was.

How wonderful it is to be with friends, having fun, having a laugh, even being a bit silly perhaps. Life is all about being together and sharing happiness. And there is no reason for anybody to be excluded from that life, being separated, away from the people they love and whose company they enjoy.

Are they lost or are they found?

At this weekend, there was a bit of sunshine, and loads of wind, and Pádraig went out for a long walk in the Botanic Gardens.

Looking at these pictures, wouldn’t you want to be there? It’s fantastic. Full of colour and scent, light and shadows, breezes and dead calm, prickly and super smooth. Just like people. Just like life.

Last week, I really admired what no doubt was proof of more than just a bit of creativity. I had not seen this transfer before, had never even thought about that it could be done this way. It worked like magic.

What cannot be done with imagination and teamwork to make life good, to remove stress, and to make all feel alive!

A ‘manual’ transfer without any lifting but lots of sensory boundaries, action, participation, and satisfaction. Why not move away from the practice of passive lifter transfers when people are literally moved helplessly through the air, wherever that is possible?

Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down
All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?

Let’s do this together. Let’s agree that there is a ‘right’ and that there is a ‘wrong’ – even if that might change or bring down an existing practice or system.

“It is time for change. It is time for a revolution in rehabilitation”, said the person appointed by the Government of Ireland and the HSE as the National Director of Clinical Strategy and Programmes, Dr Áine Carroll. (Irish Examiner, 03.02.2011).

I have not seen a revolution in how those directly and indirectly affected by severe and devastating brain injuries are being treated by society, the judiciary and the health system.

But definitely,

There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend.

And, like for the Masters of War, the Times They Are a-Changing, there is hope because When He Returns, maybe on the Slow Train?, there will be an answer to the question…

How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness

Ok, I agree, if you put it as bluntly as this, and without the music, it might sound a little “born again” – but, I have no doubt that wrong will be replaced with right. There will be no more unnecessary dying, no more unnecessary suffering. After all, we are living in what could be, again, the Roaring 20s.

Don’t you cry and don’t you die and don’t you burn
Like a thief in the night, he’ll replace wrong with right
When he returns

Is love male or female or both or neither?

In any case, it is the greatest, a rare coming together of inspiration, desire and talent that completely fuse strength, vision and art.