Monthly Archives: October 2009

Reasons For Writing

There are lots and lots of reasons that I wanted to write Reasons For Listing – both artistic and intensely personal – but I think some of the reasons are encapsulated in the story of Gary McKinnon. If you don’t know McKinnon hacked into the US’s military computer system and, as a UK citizen, is fighting extradition to the US (and has been doing so for the last five years, some sort of fast track extradition there then).

Oh, and he has Asperger’s Syndrome.

Now I’m more than aware that saying someone has Asperger’s Syndrome still leaves the proverbial ball park fairly open. But the alarm bells should be ringing. Particularly when it has been voiced in America that McKinnon will “almost certainly be exposed to neglectful care” in the American prison system.

There’s a whole ball of issues here – not least the UK’s extradition policy and how the legal system deals with those with Autism (and indeed other related conditions).

But there’s also the fact that I can’t help but feel totally appalled by how a vulnerable person is being dealt with.  Which is not to say that I condone McKinnon’s actions but that he is vulnerable. Full stop. After he was today refused permission to appeal to the UK Supreme Court McKinnon’s lawyer called the treatment “inhumane”. And that’s certainly not hyperbole.

I can’t begin to imagine the impact that this is having on McKinnon and his family – or will continue to have. I was saddned but not surprised to hear McKinnon’s mother report that he is “suicidal”. And a glance at the statistics of suicide of those with high-functioning autism (of which Asperger’s Syndrome is a form) should suggest that is a real, and frightening, possibility.

In writing Reasons For Listing I’m not writing about the specifics of anyone other than the fictional Joseph but I am writing about some of what McKinnon’s story suggests.

As for McKinnon – make your voice heard.

il miglior fabbro

Really I got in a little too early with my T S Eliot quote on my last post (the title is stolen from Eliot’s The Four Quartets) – for today is National Poetry Day and apparently Tom is the nation’s favourite poet. Tom’s got a lot to answer for in my own life – reading The Waste Land when I was 16 was the reason I made the decision to do an English Degree – but I was a little surprised, I confess, by his win (please, please don’t tell me it was for the cat poems…).  He’s bloody brilliant – but you can’t exactly hug him to your heart.

But then any list is going to be subjective and lacking many more worthy winners than it can possibly hold – me, I was a little sad to see Ted Hughes and W H Auden missing. Not to get me started on Wordsworth and Byron. Or indeed Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage. And since I’m here, where was Seamus Heaney (who I would have thought would have been a shoe-in for the top ten)?.

And then – well, how does one ever see past the spectre of William Shakespeare?

If all time is eternally present/ Then all time is unredeemable 1

It’s pretty standard for me to have ideas float around in my head for a few years until something happens and then – bam, out they come. At the moment – possibly because I’m actively working on one project that popped out in a reasonably formed state a few months ago and another that has gestitated in my brain for less than a year – I’m indulging in some free form research for a nugget of an idea that quite possibly won’t surface in any concrete form for some time yet. But it’s still getting me excited nonetheless – especially when I read this:

“Although we think of the Universe we see through our telescopes as existing now, this is a mistaken view. We can never know what the Universe is like at this instant. The farther across space we look, the farther back in time we see. If we look far enough across space we can actually see close to the Big Bang itself, 13.7 billion years back in time. Space and time are inextricably bound together”.

Quantum Theory Cannot Hurt You, Marcus Chown.

Which is all  a little bit terrifying. But also a little bit beautiful.

Slight Return

Just over a week ago I packed my bags, bundled myself into a National Express coach and (once the seemingly never-ending journey had finished) spent what turned out to be a slightly longer than anticipated break in Leeds. I’d vowed to have a work-less, theatre-less week and though I was nearly distracted by a production of The Caucasian Chalk Circle at  an old haunt of mine I actually managed it. Then I ended up re-visiting years gone by first on a friend’s then on my parents’ bathroom floor and, well, nice end to a holiday and all that.

But now I’m back in London and it does mark, I suspect, the moment where I pick up in earnest everything I need to be doing. A year ago this week I started my MA and now, as I returned the last of my library books, it’s another sort of challenge.

First up? The 513 new theatre related blog entries that have collected in my RSS reader in my absense. I may be some time…