Tag Archives: stereotypes of mental illness

Accommodation for lunatics at UCU National Congress 2013 in Brighton – an asylum, or individual padded cells?

Dear Fellow Lunatics in UCU

(Apologies if you’re not a lunatic – I may as well email this query to all the Union’s mailinglists, given that it turns out our Union is absolutely riddled with lunatics.)

Does anyone know what the Union’s accommodation arrangements are for lunatics at UCU National Congress in Brighton this May? Will there be arrangements made for us to be securely housed in a Brighton asylum, or will the Union arrange for us to be put in individual padded cells within our own Regional Delegations’ hotels?

Do we need to bring our own straightjackets? Or will they be included in our delegate packs?

I’m just wondering, ‘cos I’ve been elected the National Congress delegate for my branch (I know! I TOLD them I was a lunatic and therefore not fit to hold elected office but they WOULDN’T listen!) and I’ve just been filling in the Delegate Registration Form.

I got a bit unstuck in the section asking whether I needed any special requirements in relation to the hotel… I realised that there are some obvious difficulties that arise.

So I gave a rather lengthy explanation in the little box, which I reproduce below. So I’m just wondering if the Union’s made any special arrangements for where it wants us lunatics (other than a police cell?)

Many thanks,


What I wrote in the Delegate Registration Form box thingy:

Please could I be put in the same hotel as the Leeds University delegation, and NOT with the Wales Region delegation.

My comrades in UCU Wales would find it most distressing to have to share a hotel with me: as an unfortunate unavoidable consequence of having a mental health condition, I am an unhinged lunatic prone to physical violence and am a serious fire hazard.

My comrades in UCU Wales therefore had to be complicit in PCS setting the police on me a while back. This no doubt caused them immense distress, and I am therefore keen to avoid putting them in a position, by imposing my presence upon them, of them having to experience the distress of having to set the police on a fellow trade unionist again.

So it would be better all round if I were to not impose my combustible self upon my Wales comrades. (And, more to the point, I would have a better chance of sleeping through the night without having the police set on me).

Fortunately the Leeds lot are somewhat less medieval in their views on mental health, and are quite welcoming toward lunatics.

Or perhaps they’re just equipped with better fire extinguishers.

Or possibly they’re of the view that, however great my risk of physical violence may be as a self-evident consequence of having a mental health condition, they are not (unlike our strong, manly UCU and PCS comrades in Wales) particularly concerned about the physical-violence threat posed by a short, fat, forty-ish woman who has the physique of a person who’s spent a lifetime in academia and whose most strenuous sporting activity is a daily game of sudoku.

Many thanks.

Oh, and, for the same reasons as given above, it would probably also be best to not put me in the same hotel as the General Secretary.



A proposal to postpone the next meeting of UCU’s Commission on Trade Union Democracy until the Rhubarb Season

Dear Fellow Commissioners,

I’d like to move that we postpone the next meeting of the Commission to when rhubarb is in season. For two reasons.

Firstly because there have been a number of objections from Women Members Standing Committee members to a proposed Commission meeting on the 12th April clashing with the Equality Standing Committee meetings on the 12th April.

Secondly, because it was pointed out by UCU NEC members from Rhubarb Triangle constituencies following the post and picture that I circulated on Facebook earlier, below, that horticultural constraints would make it impossible for them to prepare me the outfit I propose to wear to the next meeting of the Commission:

rhubarb pic

Awesome! WHERE can I find a splendid full-length rhubarb outfit like the one shown here for the next meeting of UCU’s Commission on Trade Union Democracy on 12th April?? In one of life’s great ironies I’m a member of this 10-person body, given that as it turns out trade union democracy does not apply to trade unionists with mental health conditions. (The Union was rather remiss in not informing Congress of this fact when I was elected to the Commission – or perhaps Congress this year should legislate that those of us with mental health conditions should in future at all times carry a warning bell, like medieval lepers had to to?)

As a notorious public lunatic (cheers PCS!), I’m always looking for ways to live up to my rather extraordinary reputation and I feel the rhubarb outfit would make an interesting variation on the theme of lunacy in trade union office.

Who’s up for starting an organisation where we all randomly pose as parts of the landscape in public places, or attend trade union meetings, dressed like this?

The discussion following the Facebook post raises some interesting points which the Commission may wish to add to the Agenda for debate at the next meeting.

Firstly there appears to be an issue of conflicting approach between Union Committees to the to the issue of lunatics elected to membership of Union Committees.

From the number of objections from members of the Women Members Standing Committee that arose in relation to the Facebook post above that implied I would not be attending the scheduled meeting of the WMSC on 12th April, it would appear that some Union Committees are quite adamant that lunatics elected to them be available to fulfil their elected remit and participate in the meetings and work, and that when the dates of Equality Subcommittee meetings have been published in the Union’s Calendar of Constitutional Meetings for months, other bodies of the Union should respect these dates.

For other Union Committees however, notably UCU Wales Council, it does appear to be strongly felt that lunatics should not hold Union office nor be involved in the work of that Committee even if they have been elected to that Committee by the sovereign body governing that Committee, in this case UCU Wales National Congress, see https://loonylefty.wordpress.com/2013/02/27/which-trade-union-is-more-atrocious-at-disability-equality-pcs-or-ucu/ , which does raise some rather interesting Constitutional paradoxes with regards the practical remit of trade union democracy.

These are clearly Constitutional matters and are therefore within the remit of the Commission. And given UCU’s outstanding good practice when it comes to the matter of dealing with lunacy in elected trade union office, it would make sense for the Commission’s work to encompass an investigation of these interesting Constitutional anomalies between committees.

Finally, given that the Commission’s work has focused very strongly on the matters of equality and gender representation in relation to trade union democracy, it may be of interest to the Commission to note that there also appears to be an issue of gender that we may need to consider with regards the issue of lunacy and trade union democracy. The national Women Members’ Standing Committee (perhaps unsurprisingly) has the highest representation of women of all the Union’s Committees, while UCU Wales Council has the lowest (an achievement it holds jointly with the NEC’s Recruitment, Organising and Campaigning Committee).

Whether this apparent marked difference in Union Committees’ approach to lunatics elected to trade union office, on the basis of Committees’ gender representation, is a casual or causal correlation, is a fascinating question. But it cannot be answered on the basis of the data currently available to the Commission.


Loony Lefty

*picture credit: http://www.sadanduseless.com/2013/03/old-people-wearing-vegetation/