Journalists Alex Kane, Tim Brannigan, and Andrea Dymus will join Professor Greg Philo at the University of Ulster, Belfast, to talk about the media representation of refugees and asylum seekers.
The event, which takes place on Thursday 12 December in room 82C02-4, is part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival and has been organise in partnership by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities and the Centre for Media Research.
The media representation of refugees and asylum seekers will be the subject of a talk given by Professor Greg Philo of the Glasgow Media Group as part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival. Professor Philo has just co-authored a book on the subject, entitled Bad News for Refugees.
The event is organised by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities and the Centre for Media Research and takes place on Thursday 12 December t University of Ulster Belfast Campus
Professor Philo’s talk will be followed by a panel discussion with practitioners and journalists.
Trauma is a free film reading group based at the University of Ulster in Coleraine. We screen films every Thursday during term time, with each season lasting three weeks. These themed seasons generally deal with films which are extreme in filmic practice, theory or content, all constructed and delivered by people who attend regularly. Each screening consists of a ten to fifteen minute introduction, followed by the film and then a group trip down to the Senior Common Room (SCR) bar for a few drinks and a discussion about the film. Screenings start at 7pm and are usually held in LT1 (South Building). Everyone is welcome and admission is FREE.
So, welcome to Trauma film screenings at the University of Ulster, showcasing films from around the world that offer a vibrant alternative to the boring daily diet of mainstream multiplex fodder. Although we are launching Trauma with some fairly mainstream content, we aim to choose films that explore strange ideas in radical new forms, films that push at the boundaries of realism, comedy, satire, and horror. In the first five seasons, you will find films from Canada, Finland, France, the United States and the UK. made by directors with a unique and distinctive style, following few rules, but their own.
Today, films that are extreme in filmic practice, theory or content have become widely available. At present, our censors consider that, in most cases, adults should be able to choose for themselves what they watch, changing their primary focus from censorship to classification. Yet censorship still remains in the form of exhibition and distribution, with films that exist outside the mainstream being increasingly marginalised and silenced by the rise of multiplexes. More and more screens are showing fewer and fewer films.
We don’t have an independent cinema here in the North coast of Northern Ireland, yes; we have access to digital 3D, bucket-sized drinks, and 10 simultaneous showings of the new Twilight film at the local Movie House, but an arty Polish abortion drama, for example, would likely be off limits. So, we present you with a wide, wild, and wonderful world of films, available to anyone willing to venture beyond the mainstream.
Trauma film screenings on the Coleraine campus will constitute an important outlet for students and faculty interested in cinema, whilst fostering the study of film. The club will provide a further framework within the Centre of Media Research for viewing and discussing films, for developing theories and for making films. Indeed, it is hoped that Trauma will promote the appreciation of the art of film and re-emphasise the social dimension of film in culture.
Keep an eye on the Centre of Media Research blog for the latest Trauma seasons. You may love some of the films, you may hate some, but none of them will leave you unmoved.
In an important contribution to the debate about Media Studies, Dr David E. Butler argues that contemporary Media Studies needs to deliver a critical practice curriculum that should combine history and analysis of the media; contextual understanding of technological, economic and cultural developments; and a mastery of craft-discipline and production.
I: Introduction ‘Should you consider this Utopian, then I ask you to reflect on the reasons why it is Utopian.’ – Brecht, 1932 Speaking-up for a sharpened focus on what was once fondly referred to as ‘the Project’ of Media Studies – i.e., to show things as they really are – the aim of this discussion paper is to consider the future of media curricula in respect of trends in the broader sector of arts, humanities and social science education in UKHE, in particular with reference to changing forces and relations in the economy and society. To my mind, the educational priority has to be to ensure delivery of a critical practice curriculum designed to produce makers of things (2D, 3D, 2D2), trained and qualified to a professional standard in the application of hand skills, critical skills and contextual skills.
To read more click the following link: The Project
About David E. Butler
David E. Butler was Associate Dean in Art, Media & Design at London Met until the summer of 2012. Since then he has been operating as a consultant on projects including the development of a degree in Criminology, Psychology & Social Justice, validated by University of Sussex, and auditing the Creative Industries portfolio at UWE. Prior to London Met he was for eight years Principal Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies at UEL and before that taught for ten years at UUC. David also completed under and postgraduate studies at Coleraine – DPhil published as The Trouble with Reporting Northern Ireland (1995). While at UUC his commitments latterly included teaching at Maze prison.
This blog post started with a promise to Scott Stulen from the Walker Art Centre in the Residents Bar at the Da’Vinci Hotel, Derry at 4AM on the 12th September to try and write about practices that I, and separately he, have been working on. Scott was in Derry for Culture Tech Festival to present the Internet Cat Video Festival and talk on the opening plenary of the festival conference; “The Culture of Technology”. We discussed the similarities and differences between the Internet Cat Video Festival and the /v/IRAL /v/IDEO /d/ISCO that I was presenting at the festival. I would like to write some of the reflections we had on our curatorial practices down to give context to what often seems like videos from the Internet playing in a nightclub or an Art Centre. I can only write about my project and our conversations.
For me it is important to understand the form the project takes, it’s starting points and what exists in the space when the project is “performed” or “enacted”.
The Website: The project uses a Tumblr Blog to aggregate content from the public, this mean that new videos or tracks can be suggested by visitors to the site and the content and playlist updates regularly. For me, it is important that the Tumblr is used as the brand, and format of Tumblr has become synonymous with throw away internet culture, fan art, memes, porn, and teenage scrapbooking. It would be easier to use other tools, and give both more control over the process and the aesthetic, but the Tumblr is important to the ethos of the project as a whole. It would also be easy to remove for instance the .tumblr suffix to the URL, hiding or masking the Tumblr origins of the system but it is important to retain links between the project and the cultures of “Tumbling”. This site is more that an archive, crowdsourcing mechanism or advertising mechanism. The Tumblr in its form is part of the structure of the work and part of the process of producing.
The Club: The project has run a couple of times and is still developing. At present the work plays on a big screen which fills the stage, and the sound blares out across the club PA system. The mix is a back to back mix, lasting roughly 2 hours, of music based “viral video” taken largely from Youtube. As a bench mark figure I usually take over a million hits, and I usually use external sources such as Unruly or Buzzfeed to confirm reach and “cultural penetration”. There is no DJ booth, only the screen, the dance floor and the club, which is important to me in terms of the emphasis on the video content and also that the project is not authored or collaged from a visible place (this often leads to “can you play NUMA NUMA that’s my favourite”.
All of the mix is preauthored, and premixed, the project is not a VJ or DJ project or set, and is not a demonstration of the craft and skill of beat synch and track transition, but instead hopes to focus on something different. I have tried to strip the project back and make it as simple as possible to produce and interpret. I have worked on a number of Club Nights and have DJ’d (not very well) on a number of occasions but this process, project and experience is supposed to be something different both for me and the audience.
For me, it is an experiment, I am interested in what happens when the videos are taken out of their context and given a new purpose. The videos are often music parodies, and as such use the same temp, structure, beat and melody as the original tracks with often altered lyrics. There are obvious exceptions to this such as the work of groups like Auto-Tune The News, Lonely Planet and a lot of the news remix work I use in the mix. I am interested with this project, not in how the videos fit together but how they work within the club. What does this music do in the club, how do people dance to it, is it still funny.
Often these videos are designed and produced to consume singularly at your office desk over a cup of coffee, on a bus over wifi, or through social media sites and our relationship to the text is on an individual basis. These are then shared (so I can claim some cultural capital) but they are often experienced not as a group. I am interested in situations and occurrences which unfold both on the dance floor and around the tables when these are videos are played out in a new context with a group viewing. For instance, the work of parody artist Baracka Flacka Flames and his video Head of State based on the track Hard in The Paint by Waka Flocka with its crude parodies of race and gang life, depicting President Obama as a “one hood ass nigga” features in both mixes of the project. The depictions in the video seem different when the video plays out on a large projection screen and 2, 60 inch plasma screens in the club, the joke becomes lost in the club and the video and track becomes something different, maybe closer to the media it is parodying but it in the recontextualising of the video it both loses and gains something when it enters the new setting. This is one example of a track that is used but for me it is about seeing how the audiences and media change as the media is recontextualised, reconfigured and remixed. This work rarely makes it to other reconfigarings of the internet viral video such as RudeTube, or Clipaholics, and in some instances such as Dramatic Look Gopher is already appropriated, remix and reused content.
When chatting to Scott Stulen we ruminated on the similarities and differences between our approaches on some of the same topics and the future of both project. We discussed the “internet offline” and how internet videos operate in different spaces (given that a large majority of views on Youtube Videos come from Embeds in other sites which gives them new contexts and configurations). We discussed remix, video collage and bricolages but after all musings maybe /v/IRAL /v/IDEO /d/ISCO is a party but I am currently working on a paper to formalise some of these musing and make some situated claims about reconfigured, recontextualised and remixed videos, balancing context and situe to content and audience to submit to ROFLCon this year.
For more on the project the is a project Tumblr and the original mix is available online on Vimeo and there was also an unperformed mix in the form of a playlist made for the last American Election based on Henry Jenkins work on Remix as a way to understand the political in America.
Urban regeneration in Belfast is the subject of an article just published by Dr. Phil Ramsey, a graduate of the Centre for Media Research. Entitled “‘A Pleasingly Blank Canvas’: Urban Regeneration in Northern Ireland and the Case of Titanic Quarter” it looks at how the site on which the Titanic was built has been redeveloped as an area for tourism, business, education and the creative industries. He considers its development using a significant inflow of private capital, with the additional support of local government and public finance. In the article Phil takes a critical look at how these economic and political forces have coalesced in Belfast to the point that the violent period of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland can be said to have created a ‘pleasingly blank canvas for regeneration’.
The article is published in Space and Polity and can be found by clicking here. Coming in its wake is the forthcoming Culture, Economy and the Contemporary City symposium in Belfast on the 20th September, where participants will be discussiing how the contemporary city ceaselessly trades on and monetises its culture as commodity. Phil’s article makes an important contribution to than on-going conversation.
Phil Ramsey is currently Assistant Professor in Digital and Creative Media
in the School of International Communications, The University of Nottingham Ningbo, China.
Culture, the economy and the contemporary city are themes under discussion at a forthcoming symposium to be held at the University of Ulster. The event is organised by the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and Trademark, a trade union based organisation responsible for the Labour after Conflict project. The day will be an opportunity to reflect upon the challenges that face cities such as Belfast and Derry, and they hope to attract community activists, trade unionists and political representatives to join in the conversation. The event takes place on Friday 20th September 2013 in the Courtroom (82D23) at the University of Ulster, York Street, Belfast, and it starts at 12 noon. Full details are below and if you would like to attend RSVP: Sally Quinn: email@example.com Tele: +44 28 70123361
The contemporary city is one which ceaselessly trades on and monetises its culture as commodity. We see this very explicitly in the cultural and creative industries, and in the emergence of an open competition between cities and regions as they continually seek to secure inward investment from significant global or transnational economic players. In this respect, the city is a crucial unit of economic and political analysis, showing us how transnational capital moves through particular spaces and places, how it transforms these spaces and places accordingly. The question of how the particular cultures or forms of cultural production in a given city connect up to the economic forces that play through it is a hard one to pose with any real clarity and purpose. This is one of our key ambitions for this one-day symposium, bringing together, as it does, a range of scholars to talk about how culture and economy connect up in the contemporary city.
12.30 pm. The rebranding and redevelopment of Belfast: Stephen Baker, Robert Porter and Daniel Jewesbury from the Centre for Media Research at the University of Ulster will invite participants to reflect upon the cultural re-imaging of Belfast as a city ‘open to business’, its physical transformation and the economics that underscore these processes.
1.15 pm. Culture policy and regeneration: Dr. Susan Fitzpatrick from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, has researched Liverpool’s hosting of the European Capital of Culture in 2008. While heavily couched in the language of the ‘peoples bid’, of community, increasing participation, Susan links the bid to the increasing interest which land development corporations, multi-national accountancy and consultancy firms as well as local and state actors began to take in the land the city centre rested on around at that time. In the face of this regeneration she argues for the presence and the importance of already existing spaces of cultural expression in the city and the need to reassert their political significance.
2.30 pm. Work, Work, Work: the view from the ‘City of Culture’: Aileen Burns & Johan Lundh from the Centre for Contemporary Art in Derry, reflect upon how Northern Ireland is the poorest part of the United Kingdom, with a disposable income of just £13,966 per household in 2012, according to the Office for National Statistics. Both Belfast and Derry had significant industrial infrastructures in the 19th and 20th centuries, which in recent history have moved or become obsolete. Still rebuilding after decades of conflict, the cities and its citizens are looking for new means of sustenance. In recent years, Northern Ireland has turned to tourism and so called culture led generation in order to make the region more attractive to businesses and individuals alike. Belfast’s Titanic Quarter and Derry’s City of Culture celebrations are two of them most prominent examples of this trend.
Because of urgency of examining the issues underlying this development, the Centre for Contemporary Art has dedicated our programme during City of Culture to different aspects of art and labour in our post-industrial society. As writer and scholar Marina Vishmidt, who we are working with for the autumn exhibition, which departs from the centenary of the Dublin Lockout, writes in the publication accompanying the show: “The relation between art and labour is perennially vexed, whether art identifies its own practice with labour, takes labour’s side against the depredations of capital, or ridicules the self-evidence of labour as useful activity.” Under what conditions are we working today? For whom and to what end? Ultimately, what kind of society we want Northern Ireland to be?
3.45 pm. The economics of the new Northern Ireland: Dr. Conor McCabe, historian, author of Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy (Dublin, 2011) and a research fellow with Equality Studies, School of Social Justice UCD, will talk about Northern Ireland’s ‘double transition’. It is moving from a situation of conﬂicted democracy and conﬂict to one where democracy is supported and broadly participative. However, Northern Ireland is also moving from an economic framework that is formulated upon social democratic ideals to one that is dominated by market agendas and neo-liberal principles. What are the key characteristics of this transition and what is this transition’s potential for stabilizing the peace and ensuring a more just society?
4.45 pm. Closing remarks and future plans
The government’s proposal to restrict appearances on TV by terrorists follows the murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last week, the bloody and gruesome aftermath of which was widely broadcast on TV and via Twitter. It reminds us of the broadcast ban that affected coverage of the Northern Ireland conflict from 1988 to 1994; and of the corresponding Section 31 ban in the Republic of Ireland. But censorship of this kind doesn’t work. In fact, it is an assault not on terrorism but on democracy.
The broadcast ban in Northern Ireland shifted the onus of censorship from the state onto the broadcasters, making it so troublesome to include interviews with proscribed individuals that it was easier to exclude them altogether. There is some evidence to suggest that it had an immediate impact on coverage. A study in 1990 by the Glasgow Media Group showed that in the first year of the ban, appearances on TV by Sinn Féin politicians such as Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness decreased by 63 percent from the year before. Some readers may take this as evidence that censorship works but they might also want to ask whether it had any impact upon support for Sinn Féin during this period. There was certainly no corresponding drop in the party’s vote.
But we should also look beyond the politics of a ban like this and consider its wider implications for democracy and free speech. Far from protecting democracy from terrorism and political extremism, censorship allows bad ideas and bad politics to go unchallenged and unexamined in public debate. It stymies the free circulation of information, news and opinion – the lifeblood of a healthy public sphere. But perhaps its most far-reaching effect is that it sets a dangerous precedent. It makes the censorship of any form of controversial opinion suddenly thinkable and justifiable. The question any democratic government must ask itself in that eventuality is that posed by John Milton in 1664: “If you would have us slaves, you must be tyrants. And then, who will stand by you?” (Areopagitica)
Prof. Máire Messenger Davies reflects on this week’s coverage of the Margaret Thatcher’s death.
I’ve recently joined Facebook and I felt it was an appropriate medium to voice a few thoughts on hearing of the death of Margaret Thatcher. I wrote:
‘Need to acknowledge the death of Margaret Thatcher and the torrent of media comment.’ The prospect of trying to make sense of it all struck me as daunting, and I added: ‘Good luck sorting that lot out, pundits.’
It was revealing (to me anyway) that my first written comment on hearing of the death of a person with whose politics I deeply disagreed, was not ‘ding dong’, (nor ‘tramp the dirt down’, as offered by several other FB Friends). And, with due respect to grieving Thatcher relatives and friends, neither was my response sympathetic. My first response was to note the ‘torrent of media comment,’ which shows how thoroughly indoctrinated a career in Media Studies has made me.
It could be one of those moments when people remember where they were when they heard the news. On the morning of Monday 8th April, I had heard on BBC radio news that there had been a massive, almost 9/11 type explosion in Damascus, and I thought – that’s going to be the lead at 1 pm, make sure you tune in to find out more. So I did – and heard that Margaret Thatcher had died. On with the TV, to get the BBC TV News version of it and there was nothing about Damascus: the whole bulletin was devoted to Margaret Thatcher.
The initial TV coverage seemed flat and predictable; most of it, including live pieces to camera by reporters such as Nick Robinson, consisted of obviously pre-prepared packages. So we got childhood in Grantham grocery; Cambridge; Denis; election as MP, twins, first woman leader of Tories, first woman prime minister, St Francis of Assisi, Falklands, miners’ strike, Irish hunger strikers, Brighton bomb, City ‘big bang’, tearful departure, and so on – all with carefully selected archive footage. It was clearly acknowledged in these pre-prepared packages that it was her own colleagues, in her own Tory cabinet, who finally brought her down in 1990 – cue Geoffrey Howe and his broken cricket bat.
But no-one would think that this had been the case from the even greater torrent, the positive tsunami, of hagiography from Tory spokespersons and the right-wing press that has followed, and which continues.
Ding dong about the ding dong song
All I can do – since this is not a scholarly content analysis (and good luck to future scholars attempting that) – is to point out the highlights of the media coverage that most caught my own attention. First, it’s impossible to ignore the ‘ding dong’ about the dingdong song – the song sung by the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz (1939) to announce that Dorothy’s house, uprooted in the Kansas hurricane, has landed on the wicked witch of the west, and killed her. A group of anti-Thatcherites decided to organise a mass download of this song (written by Yip Harburg, a ‘left winger’ who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era in Hollywood, one of many ironic aspects to this affair), so that the song would get into the top ten of the download charts. This meant it would have to be played on the BBC’s Radio 1 Chart countdown on Sunday afternoon.
Daily Telegraph seized this opportunity to criticize the BBC:
‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead, a song from the Wizard of Oz, has sold 20,000 copies this week …Friends of Lady Thatcher said the corporation would be guilty of a “serious dereliction of duty” if it aired the song.’
The Daily Mail front page was headed: BBC WITCH SONG INSULT TO MAGGIE and reported: ‘in a decision that will cause widespread outrage, the ding dong song will feature in Radio 1’s Sunday evening Top 40 countdown.’ Many on Twitter drew attention to the irony that ‘the Daily Mail that campaigned for press freedom over Leveson wants the BBC to censor something’. The Sun even found 91 and 94 year olds, who had played Munchkins in the movie, to express disapproval, in a front page splash headed ‘Wizard of Oz stars speak: MUNCHKIN FURY AT MAGGIE DING DONG SONG’.
The BBC, mindful of recent scandals, came up with a compromise, which like many compromises, doesn’t seem to have pleased anybody – but, as they’ve noted before, when both sides attack you, (cue Nick Cohen, The Observer, vs the Mail Online) you know you’re doing something right. The Radio 1 controller announced they would play a short clip from the song with an introduction from a newsreader explaining the context of the controversy. This seems to me to be an extremely astute move on the part of the BBC; the controversy is there, partly because the press are making so much of it, so they can’t ignore it. True to Reithian ideals of informing and educating, they decided to give listeners a short media education lesson, putting the song in context. Good for them.
‘All but a state funeral’
Plans for the funeral, with full military honours similar to that for the Queen Mother, were revealed; at the same time calls for ’personal respect’ continued. But if, as we are constantly reminded by her supporters, (and interestingly also Ken Livingstone, on PM on Tuesday) that she’s basically just ‘somebody’s mother and daughter’, many questioned the point of giving her a funeral so different from the average mother’s. The grandiosity of the funeral implies a great national leader – in which case, we have to comment on her effectiveness as a national leader, and, even for those who supported her, as such, she is found wanting. Peter Oborne, in the Daily Telegraph, 10th April, 2013, described the decision to have ‘all but a state funeral’ for Lady Thatcher, a worrying ‘constitutional innovation.’ He quoted with approval the Mirror’s description of her as the nation’s ‘most divisive prime minister’ and pointed out:
‘Defenders of next week’s funeral arrangements say that she was a “transformational” prime minister. This is true. But so was Clement Attlee, who introduced the welfare system and the National Health Service, thus fundamentally changing the connection between state and individual. Yet the Queen did not attend Mr Attlee’s funeral, a quiet affair in Temple Church near Westminster.… all one can do now is hope that next week’s funeral is not allowed to turn into a triumphalist Tory occasion that inflicts permanent damage on the monarchy and also our system of government.’
Oborne reminded his readers: ‘The dockers dipped the cranes when Churchill’s coffin came up the Thames in 1965. Would they have dipped their cranes for Margaret Thatcher?’ He knew the answer to this: No, they wouldn’t, not least because there are no dockers left in London’s Docklands; they have been replaced by the Canary Wharf financial district.
Many drew attention to the rewriting of history of the 1970s and 80s, including John Prescott in the Mirror, Saturday 13th April. But the best journalistically factual correction to this rewriting was a reprint of a Seamus Milne article from May 2009, the anniversary of her election in 1979. (And, on the point of effective journalism, what a curiously prominent silence there has been from her 1980s ally in helping to reduce media pluralism, Rupert Murdoch): Milne pointed out some facts and figures:
‘You’d never guess from all this fevered snobbery and retrospective catastrophism [about Britain in the 1970s] that average economic growth in Britain in the dismal 1970s, at 2.4% a year, was almost exactly the same as in the sunny Thatcherite 1980s – though a good deal more fairly distributed – and significantly higher than in the free-market boom years of the last two decades. Nor would you imagine that there was far greater equality and social mobility than after Thatcher got to work. Or that, while industrial conflict was often sharp in the 1970s, there was nothing to match the violence of the riots and industrial confrontations of Thatcher’s Britain.’
Thatcher the woman
Inevitably there has been reference to her feminism, or lack of it, and the undoubted fact that she was a very exceptional woman. Feminist Deborah Orr acknowledged:
‘she was the outstanding female politician of her generation, of any generation. Like it or not, that’s just how it was. Thatcher, the politician, was a nightmare. Thatcher, the woman, was more exceptional than any human being perhaps should ever dare to be.’
Self proclaimed feminist, ex-Tory MP Louise Mensch gave Twitterati a good laugh when she noted the almost perfectly equal division, rare in statistical polling, between 52% (pro) and 48% (anti) comments about Thatcher, as evidence that she ‘wasn’t divisive.’ There’s nothing you can do about this kind of idiocy except sigh.
Dancing in the street and leaping in the air
There have been celebrations and dancing in the street in Glasgow and in Trafalgar Square, which I felt no inclination to join. Quoting my own Facebook comments again: for me, the key moment when the ‘witch’ (if we must use the sexist labels of 17th century religious primitivism) ‘died’ was when she resigned, back in 1990, when many who are expressing authoritative opinions now, including members of the Government, were children, and could have no meaningful memory of her. Her resignation was the moment when those of us who had lived through the social depredations that she introduced, who had always opposed her politically, and who had disliked profoundly her personal, bullying style, felt it was appropriate to rejoice. And I did rejoice; I was teaching at Boston University in Boston, USA at the time; it was, aptly enough, Thanksgiving Day, and I was so moved by hearing the news on the 8 am bulletin on National Public Radio (it was 1 pm in Britain), that I tried to leap in the air and fell out of bed. Most of my American colleagues did not share my reaction. She was – and still is – a celebrity figure to them, the Hollywood Iron Lady, portrayed by Meryl Streep. Not to me.
But now, as a much older woman than my leaping self in Boston, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to rejoice at the death of someone who’d been in failing health for years, and who had undergone the awful tragedy of losing her once powerful memory, something that’s also happened to my own 94 year old mother, and a fate that could be awaiting the rest of us. An unexpectedly touching and sensitive piece by Russell Brand in The Guardian described seeing Thatcher in the Temple Gardens being helped to water the roses.
‘The blunt, pathetic reality today is that a little old lady has died, who in the winter of her life had to water roses alone under police supervision. If you behave like there’s no such thing as society, in the end there isn’t.’
Coming back to the personal theme of mother and child: my favourite media exchange has to be Glenda Jackson’s powerful, theatrical, oblivious (to braying Tory insults and to her Labour colleagues’ absence), speech in the House of Commons debate on Wednesday, and her more conservative son, Dan’s Hodges’ response to it in the Daily Telegraph.
“There was a heinous social, economic and spiritual damage wreaked upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents. … not only in London but across the whole country in metropolitan areas, where every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom for the homeless.”
Said Dan, responding to a barrage of critical tweets telling him how disapprovingly he should think about this:
‘I’ll tell you what I think. I think the House of Commons assembled on Wednesday to honour a woman of conviction. And like it or not, a woman of conviction was what it got to see. Am I Glenda Jackson’s son? Yes, I am.’
Good for Dan. And to conclude with the Munchkin theme, a last, more hopeful word to writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, in the Observer, 14th April, drawing attention to more positive aspects of British identity, as he and Danny Boyle had done in the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony:
‘It’s time to stop going on about the witch being dead and start imagining what might lie over the rainbow.’
The yellow brick road beckons….