Tongue Tied

Hello one and all….

Today’s post is the second blog about another member of my family that I am very proud of, extremely proud.

On 24th May 1920 my great great uncle was born, Joseph John Deacon. Joseph known to his family as “Joey”, he was born with severe cerebral palsy and a neurological condition that left him unable to flex and straighten his limbs. Some of you maybe be aware of the condition and are familiar with the impact that it has on the individual and also on the family. +Cerebral Palsy. Joey could walk with assistance but spent the most of his life in wheelchair.

When he was child, Joey was hospitalised at Roehampton, Queens Mary’s Hospital after several operations,  as it was more comfort for Joey to have round the clock care for him and even through the war, Joey’s family visited when they could.

Joey became best friends when Ernie was moved to the same male ward as him at Queen Mary’s Hospital. Ernie and Joey were working in the mat shop 1941 and when Joey wanted something he made noises to make Ernie understand. Eventually Ernie learnt Joey’s way of talking and was able to translate things for Joey and gave him a voice. Joey’s family were shocked and couldn’t believe that someone could understand him and was thrilled that it gave Joey a voice he never had.

Joey made life lasting friends in Ernie Roberts, Tom Blackburn and Michael Sangster and they all went on to help Joey write an autobiography called “Tongue Tied“.

In 1970 Joey said to Ernie “I’m going to write my story” and Ernie arranged things so it could be done. Ernie obtained pen and paper but was completely illiterate but Michael wasn’t. Along the way the charge nurses of the men’s ward encouraged the four men to continue writing Joey’s story and helped with grammar correction and spelling. They helped where they could bearing in mind they still have to look after 40 other severely physically and mentally handicapped men.

After a long time of writing Joey’s story it was suggested that they were to type it and they asked Tom to type the already written work. Tom was also illiterate and had never used a type writer before, nonetheless Tom taught himself to type laboriously, letter by letter, using one finger of each hand. Then in order to communicate to Tom, Joey took the script and read out each portion (letter by letter) carefully noting where punctuation marks were and Ernie would repeat Joey so Tom would understand.

The book took 14 months to complete and was published by +Mencap UK 1971.

After reading Joey’s autobiography I was touched to understand his world from his point of view, it makes a very humble read and I wish that I could have met him. If you ever get the chance to read his book then do, although it’s not professionally written it just goes to show you that if you believe in something enough then the sky has no limits and you can achieve anything.

Don’t give up on your dreams 🙂

Thanks for reading



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