Thursday, June 14, 2007

Headed towards the delightful Swiss Cottage yesterday in order to find an afternoon showing of Taking Liberties. Described by lazy people as 'a British Fahrenheit 9-11' it took us through the steps the British Government has taken, mainly since the 11th of September 2001 to create not exactly a fascist state, but a state in which anyone, including fascists, will find it gratifyingly easy to shut down any form of dissent or disobedience. We are taken through the UN human rights declaration and shown how Tony Blair, David Blunkett and John Reid have been ever so busy chiselling away the rights we were given, taking away the right to demonstrate while telling us we lived in a free country characterised by... our right to demonstrate. Mark Thomas and the Mass Lone Demos got a look-in, as did Rachel and the 7/7 bomb survivors. The demonstrations in Brighton against EDO showed the malevolence of the police, as did the War Against Terror attacking Asians in Forest Gate or Guantanamo.

This film is not a hysterical lefty polemic against authority. It's a calm, measured and sometimes bleakly funny reminder of what we have lost, taken by those that would claim that in doing so they are saving us from fanatics. Check the website, if you can find a showing you can attend it's well worth a few hours from your life to watch this film and let it anger up the blood. It also suggests some easy, low-impact ways you can start to help the fight back, some of which I intend to follow myself.

I'm currently reading We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, which I'm finding a rather annoying read. Pitched somewhere between Frankenstein and The Omen a middle-aged woman reminisces in letters to her estranged and, I suspect, possibly dead ex-husband about her life and the upbringing of her son, Kevin. From the moment of conception he's been a little bastard causing misery and pain to all around him and somehow his mother puts up with him long enough for him to reach his teenage years and shoot up a classroom of kids at his school.

The language the mother character uses is ridiculous but thankfully calms down after a few chapters and resembles English as used by real human beings. I suspect that this book is supposed to be read by people who don't believe that children can be malevolent creatures when it suits them, it's a horror story for middle-class yummy mummys to read while their little darlings are wrapped up in bed. While Daddy is away at work all day Mummy has to put up with Kevin and his permanent malicious behaviour, Daddy minimises every single act of bad behaviour and blames Mummy for overreacting, even when Kevin starts causing injuries to other people. I've just got past the midway point in the novel and Mummy is now pregnant with baby number two. She's a lot more positive about this child and Daddy is not happy, so I expect a hundred pages of Daddy regarding the girl child as the very spawn of Satan's loins. Sadly we know already from the text that we aren't going to have both children fighting on the Golden Gate Bridge with the fate of humanity in the balance, which is the sort of level this story is going for.

I'm not anticipating the second half of this book being the part that shows me why this book won the Orange Prize several years back.

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