Penny Pepper has lived an extraordinary life. She is a writer, an activist, a punky pioneer. She also happens to be disabled.
In a few weeks, Penny Pepper blocked Whitehall with radical group DPAC, talked disability sex at the House of Lords and appeared on The Channel Four Brexit Debate. In her younger days she won an Erotic Oscar, got a Christmas card from Morrissey, and Diane Abbott was her sound roadie. She had help from Ken Livingstone to move to London and wrote to the Pope about animal welfare… and had a reply.
In this absorbing memoir, Penny paints a raucous picture of her earlier life, of intense friendships, of love and loss, of music and misadventure – from Thatcher’s battleground of the mid-1980s through to the early Blair honeymoon years.
Craving freedom from the home counties council estate where she grew up, Penny dreams of moving to London and finding her way as a writer and singer in the city’s burgeoning indie music scene.
Without what others take for granted before the days of genuine community care, she sets out armed with her raw, burgeoning talent to fight the social demons of indifference and bigotry – while having as much fun as she can. Dressed in leather bondage skirts, fishnets, her hair extensions flying – with vodka in hand, a song on her lips and always ready to rant a poem.
There are parties; there’s sex; there’s music. She exchanges letters and letters – with Morrissey and Robert Wyatt, amongst others. Her cult 12” single, Live Your Life is reviewed in the NME and played on the radio. Her album Spiral Sky is No. 1 in Greece for a week.
And there is opportunity to be a founding voice of the radical beginnings of the disability rights movement.
This is not a memoir about the disability experience written in a traditional way. First in the World Somewhere is a unique portrait of the UK punk-indie and activist scene of the eighties and nineties. It is the chronicle of Penny’s early years of activism, of her desire to write and sing – and her struggles – told with startling honesty and a razor-sharp wit, fearless in the face of prejudice.
About Penny Pepper
A versatile, witty and candid writer and poet, she performs and reads across the UK and once further afield, in New York. Her first poetry collection, Come Home Alive, is published by Burning Eye Books in 2018. She wrote the taboo-breaking book Desires Reborn in 2012 and in 2013 she won a Creative Futures Literary Award. She writes regularly for the Guardian and guests on BBC TV & Radio including Woman’s Hour. She has been included in the Disability Power List three years in a row.
She is currently finishing work on a novel Fancy Nancy. She lives in London and is available for interview, events, and to write features.