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ESTABLISHED 1991
EVERY MONDAY
�50
MARCH 27?APRIL 2, 2017 NO.1249
A HAND UP NOT A HANDOUT
WIPE OUT
The tax debt scandal
forcing people from
their homes
SPECIAL REPORT
vk.com/stopthepress
FRESH MAGAZINES EVERYDAY
?????? ??????? ?? ?????????? ????? ? ??????
VK.COM/STOPTHEPRESS
CONTENTS
EST. 1991
EST
Damian
I?m enjoying selling The Big Issue ? it
gets me out meeting the public and
having a laugh wiith people. If I won
the lottery, I?d loo
ok after all the
people who have looked
after me ? there a
are
so many people in
n
my life who have
helped me out.
Read more of my
story on page 46.
THE BIG ISSUE MANIFESTO
WE BELIEVE in a hand up, not a handout...
Which is why our sellers BUY every copy of the
magazine for �25 and sell it for �50.
WE BELIEVE in trade, not aid?
Which is why we ask you to ALWAYS take your
copy of the magazine. Our sellers are working
and need your custom.
WE BELIEVE poverty is indiscriminate?
Which is why we provide ANYONE whose life
is blighted by poverty with the opportunity to
earn a LEGITIMATE income.
Photo: Sean Malyon
WE BELIEVE in the right to citizenship?
Which is why The Big Issue Foundation, our
charitable arm, helps sellers tackle social and
?nancial exclusion.
WE BELIEVE in prevention?
Which is why Big Issue Invest offers backing
and investments to social enterprises, charities
and businesses which deliver social value
to communities.
REGULARS
CORRESPONDENCE 4
EDITOR & NEWS 6
STREET ART 8
JOHN BIRD 11
COMMENT 12
Phil Ryan
MARCH 27?APRIL 2 2017
NO. 1249
ROBERT MACFARLANE: WORD HOARDER 18
Curricks? Knotts? Feetings? Celebrating the
lesser-known nooks and crannies of language
TAXING TIMES 20
Council tax debt ? a homelessness
crisis waiting to happen
PAUSE 15
LETTER TO MY
YOUNGER SELF 16
BETTER LITERACY,
BETTER FUTURE 26
Alan Arkin
CHARLOTTE RAMPLING 28
WIN!
BUMPER
HBO
O COMEDY
BOX-SE
TURN
N TO
PAGE 44
THE BIG ISSUE / p3 / March 27?April 2 2017
Librarians on the frontline
Acting?s queen of the ?jade gaze?
on her victory over depression
E ENLIGHTENMENT
BO
OOKS 32
FIL
LM 35
EVENTS & MUSIC 36
OT THE BALL 45
CORRESPONDENCE
Write to: The Big Issue, Second Floor, 43 Bath St, Glasgow, G2 1HW
Email: letters@bigissue.com Comment: bigissue.com
@bigissueuk
facebook.com/bigissueUK
COMMENT OF THE WEEK
Libraries are the key to another world
I always took libraries for granted because I feel that I almost grew up within the world of
libraries. Whenever I have travelled abroad I have sought out a public library ? just to see and
compare. Nothing has ever compared to the libraries that I once knew, which are now under
serious threat of closure. I did not have a good time at school and so, slowly but surely, I became a
product of further education and, to cut a long story short, I now teach English to speakers of other
languages (Esol). I have found that access to English, through reading English, opens a whole new
world to Esol learners. Reading is a direct line to citizenship and active participation in UK
culture. My job satisfaction comes through learning through my students. As they read, they open
a new perspective to me. They see the books through ?non-native? eyes. I have learned so much.
Louisa Piccirillo-Kadri, email
Turn to page 26 to read about the librarians standing up against closures and cuts
Battle of the books
Our group, Friends of Market
Drayton Library, was excited to
read about your campaign to
keep libraries open. For months
we have been on tenterhooks
regarding the future of the
local library in our small
market town. So far, the losses
have been limited to shorter
opening hours but we know
that current services may
survive intact for only a year
Among many initiatives by
library staff is the outreach to
local people who can no longer
visit the library in person.
Recently we?ve marked the
40th anniversary of Market
Drayton?s Home Library
Service, where volunteers
deliver books to readers? homes.
?It?s about keeping
communities together and
libraries open.? That was the
vital sentence in The Big Issue
[February 13-19]. The library is
the one inclusive place in our
community where anyone can
freely walk in to make use of
safe space and resources.
At the moment, we have the
good fortune to have our
library in a central location in
our town, just as it should be: at
the heart of the community. We
also have library staff who are
smart about the various library
resources and ready to apply
their skills to a challenging
range of requests for help.
But there are dark clouds on
our horizon. We want to grow
our library services and we
know it is imperative to secure
the necessary support for the
library?s long-term future.
Jean Bell, secretary, Friends
of Market Drayton Library
Health disservice
In a previous issue you looked
at how prevention would deal
with the spiralling problems in
the NHS. I have worked in the
care sector for many years
and am very concerned about
over-prescribing of medication.
Many people, particularly
older people, are put on
medication and remain on it
for years. Doctors continue
with repeat prescriptions
without checking whether it is
still needed. Also, some meds
have quite serious side-effects.
Overuse of antibiotics is
another issue.
Drug companies would not
be happy about this but our
NHS could save a huge amount
if prescriptions were reduced.
This could enable the NHS to
pay for other services, more
GPs and hospital facilities.
L Blackie, Edinburgh
@tonymarron
really enjoyed this
week?s edition and
your man in Pocklington is
great ambassador for your
mission ? he?s a lovely man
BOB PURRTRAIT
@bigissue
@spidermonkeydom
Loving the literacy
campaign @BigIssue!
Reminds me why I studied
librarianship. Reading develops
empathy + community spirit
#whybooksmatter
I love EU
It is so encouraging to hear
a Brexiteer like Keith Lucas
espousing an appreciation of
Europe [Letters, March 20-26].
Good to know not all of the 52
per cent made their decision
last June with a complete
disregard of what a privilege
unfettered access to the 28
countries for 60 years has been.
I hope his voice of reason will
help two of my best friends
(one an Irish and one a Scottish
immigrant) sleep sounder at
nights post-March 29.
I?m guessing fellow
correspondent and antiwindow-smasher Michael
Basman would class the
suffragettes as terrorists.
I thank those brave ladies
every time I enter a polling
station. Sometimes peaceful
protests just don?t cut it.
Carolyn Hughes, Lewisham
Celebrating vendors
The Big Issue seller outside
Leicester Square tube station
is a credit to his profession.
He welcomes everyone with a
smile and a ?good morning?.
Cheered me up on this wet
start to the day.
John Chapman, Facebook
No cross words
I quit after the head was
done as he?s wearing a
scarf in the photo and
I knew I would just make
it look weird if I tried to
carry on. It was more just
to try some coloured
pencils and drawing
in general?
Jacknal?esmum,
Instagram
THE BIG ISSUE / p4 / March 27?April 2 2017
I won the crossword and
received a dictionary, which
was very handy, as mine?s
really old!
Jakki Gillett, London
@carriedaway789
vendor Ollie put a big
smile on my face today
outside Birmingham Bullring
telling me about himself and
some Lee Evans jokes :)
NEWS
THE EDITOR
FROM THE VAULT...
MARCH 29?APRIL 4 1999 NO.328
8
Late library
books can wait
outsourced companies ? so the
overheads for councils are cut ?
but a request for a human within
the council to act with clemency
or just common sense doesn?t ?y.
Computer, as Little Britain put it
in one of their most telling
scenes, says no.
This aggressive cost-cutting
and subsequent human toll is
playing out in ever-clearer sight.
Last week it was revealed that
a quarter of the UK?s 2,500 home
care providers were at risk of
insolvency. Ninety ?ve councils
? 95! ? had contracts cancelled
by private companies struggling
to deliver on the funding offered.
Are these shocking ?gures set
to continue? Are there ways to
find an adequate solution, one
that doesn?t involve councils
who need pounds but who are
fighting to raise pennies from
ludicrous library ?nes?
I?ve pointed before to social
enterprises and I do it again now.
If private companies who need
to deliver profit to keep shareholders happy can?t make it, then
organisations who genuinely put
people first can. Social enterprises, and some charities, spot
what is needed, work to that and
reinvest pro?t to keep helping.
Big Issue Invest several years
ago invested in Sa ndwell
Community Caring Trust to
help them provide residential
community care for dementia
sufferers in the West Midlands.
It was a big success and neatly
illustrated a third-way solution
when government agencies fail.
Big Issue Invest has grown and
become a shining light around
this way forward.
As budgets collapse, it?s time
to stop footering around the
edges. Radical thinking on new
approaches, like those led by Big
Issue Invest, is essential.
Criminalising people who
forget library books is not going
to work.
BSME British editor of the Year 2016
@pauldmcnamee
?LET
THEM IN?
Illustration: Lauren Crow
A
sign that appeared in a
Lincolnshire library last
week raises an interesting question.
How?s that for an opening
line!
The sign, posted on social
media by a library campaigner,
said that from April 1 library
?nes across Lincolnshire County
Council, above � and for more
than 70 days, would be passed to
a debt collection agency. There
would be associated costs too,
increasing the debt.
Should we automatically be
up in arms? After all, as our
literacy campaign keeps illustrating, libraries need money.
Huge numbers of people use
them. If we want to keep them
open, we all need to pay the bits
we can ? like for overdue books.
Actually, who am I kidding?
This is outrageous. The idea of
throwing people to the mercy of
debt collection agencies, the
courts and a shocking acceleration of debt over a library book
is beyond reason.
W ho hasn?t forgotten a
library book from time to
time?! Yet, here is a council
suggesting a massively
draconian over-reaction.
What message is this?
Older folk ? feeling lonely?
Never feel lonely again! We?ll
send people round to your house
to make you worried beyond
belief, and enter you into a
judicial system that you may be
very unfamiliar with, increasing
the debt and the fears and
allowing no means of escape!
It?s part of a bigger picture
that has taken us to the cover
story in The Big Issue this week.
We reveal the rabbit hole that
missed payment of council tax is
increasingly leading down.
Part of the core problem here
is a lack of human interaction. As
local authorities implement cuts,
they look for ways to slice costly
wage bills and bring through
automated responses. And these
responses frequently then go to
In this week?s furry special we ask
who?s doing what, where and why
for the animal welfare movement.
And Absolutely Fabulous star
Joanna Lumley tells us: ?I love
glamour. People are drawn to it
like moths to a ?ame.?
Public demand
change after a young
father froze to death
in a city centre
street, the UK?s latest
shocking homeless
death this winter
THE BIG ISSUE / p6 / March 27?April 2 2017
Matthew Bloomer
ON BIGISSUE.COM THIS WEEK...
?
?
?
?
?
?
Blondes, booze and Peculiar People, it?s BERNARD CORNWELL?S YOUNGER SELF
Overcoming fear with documentary-maker ADAM CURTIS
West Coast boy MARTIN COMPSTON is juggling Hollywood and Greenock
?It is always right to give help,? says THE POPE to street paper vendor Antonio
Food and books ? the ROCHDALE LIBRARY DISHING UP MEALS to hungry youngsters
And don?t forget to check our NEW SPRING LINES at bigissueshop.com
TRIBUTES TO BIG
ISSUE?S DANNY
POPULAR SALES WORKER HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT
ON HUNDREDS OF LIVES
The Big Issue is mourning the
loss of much-loved sales and
outreach worker Danny Derby
after his sudden death at the
beginning of March. Danny was
hugely popular with vendors at The
Big Issue?s Nottingham office, where
he had worked for more than seven
years. His colleague Holly O?Connor
said he was a calming presence who treated everyone with
fairness and respect. ?Danny was one of the most kind and
thoughtful people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
In the eight years of knowing him I never once heard him raise
his voice or show anger towards anyone.?燭he Big Issue sends its
condolences to all Danny?s family and friends. Donations in his
memor y are being accepted at Linden Lodge Neuro
Rehabilitation Unit at Nottingham City Hospital.
THIS CHARMING MAN
W
hen we launched our Fill ?Em Up campaign
last year The Big Issue called for empty
buildings to be deployed as shelter for
homeless people, to stem the rising tide of rough sleeper
deaths in the UK. Last week, the horrifying cost of
failing to use the ample resources of vacant shops
became all too apparent when 28-year-old Matthew
Bloomer, a young father who was sleeping rough in
Glasgow, apparently froze to death overnight in a main
shopping street. It is the latest in a shocking spate
of deaths of people sleeping on the streets across
Britain this winter.
After Matthew?s death a vigil and protest were
organised, and calls were issued that the city?s many
unused properties be opened up as temporary accommodation. The next day, this graffiti scrawled on
Glasgow?s massive empty city centre BHS store ?燼
brand that has become a symbol for the public?s disgust
at corporate greed after it was bled dry and run into the
ground making thousands redundant ? says it all.
Next week?s Bi g Issue
s
will be a very special
collectable Art Edition,
guest-edited by top Brit
artist Charming
Baker. He has lin
ned
up a stella r ca st
of contr ibutors
including Jonathaan
ke,
Yeo, Sir Peter Blak
R achel How a rd ,
David Shrigley, Sir
Paul Smith, strreet
artist and ffriend of The Big
Issue, Stik
k, and a host of our
regular Sttreet Art contributors, who
o Baker himself
worked with. Don?t miss
out on your copy ?燼nd
a ch
hance to win an
excclusive limiteded
dition Charming
B aker artwork in
our ?Golden Ticket?
sur prise prize
co
ompetition!
PERIOD POVERTY PLEDGE
The Big Issue has regularly
highlighted campaigns to end
the archaic tampon tax and
backed calls for free sanitary
products for homeless women
at shelters and foodbanks.
Now Bodyform has pledged to
provide free products, donating 200,000 packs to charities across
the country working with women� affected by homelessness,
poverty, disability, illness and domestic violence.燭he Prince of
Wales? organisation, In Kind Direct, is distributing them.
THE BIG ISSUE / p7 / March 27?April 2 2017
STREET ART
S
LOONYPIC
BY CHRIS GRAY
?I?m 49 years old and have paranoid schizophrenia which is largely under control by the correct
medication,? says Chris. ?I grew up in Littlehampton and I?ve lived in Brighton for over 20 years.
I?ve been using computers to create images, animations, interactive pieces and music since
the early 1990s. These images are hand-drawn then treated and colourised in Photoshop.?
See more of Chris? work at: chrisgrayartist.com
W
THE FIBBER
BY JOHN SHEEHY
John was born in south-west Ireland in 1949.
He emigrated to London in the 1950s and has
worked as a builder and roofer but endured
lengthy spells of unemployment. He has
experienced periods of homelessness and
suffered mental health problems. In 1999 he
discovered his natural ability and enjoyment of
painting, encouraged by The Big Issue. He has
since exhibited at Somerset House, The British
Museum, The Royal Academy and in Europe.
John is also highly regarded by art journal
Raw Vision and art charity Outside In.
BUY
STREET ART!
You can buy prints of some
artworks featured in Street Art
through The Big Issue Shop.
At least half of the pro?t from
each sale goes to the artist.
Order at
bigissueshop.com
I KNEW ALL ALONG
BY MARC CARVER
I don?t know why it took me so long
to leave that job
with all the money.
Or to see those people I thought
were my friends
were nothing to me at all.
Or those poets I met along the way
who would sell you and their own mothers
for ?ve extra minutes on stage.
They were all nothing.
Or that doing what society expects
of you gets you nowhere.
All I ever needed to be was a poet
I don?t know why it took me so long
to work it out
After all
I knew all along.
Homeless when he started writing poetry
seven years ago, Marc has written hundreds
of poems since. ?I really owe my life to poetry,?
he says, ?and have tried very hard to promote
poetry in various places but alas to not very
much success. I recognise the importance of
poetry as an outlet and a way to express yourself
in a very positive way.?
Street Art is created by people who are marginalised by issues like homelessness, disability and mental health conditions.
Contact streetlights@bigissue.com to see your art here.
THE BIG ISSUE / p8 / March 27?April 2 2017
MALI IN OAK
Tunde Jegede
Derek Gripper
?Sublime? Music, recording and
presentation is rarely as beautiful as this?
Evening Standard
Two of the world?s most unclassifiable string players join the new Globe Music
label to commemorate their sold-out performances in John Williams?
widely acclaimed 2014 and 2015 concert series at Shakespeare?s Globe.
Recorded in the intimate, candlelit ambience of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse,
Mali in Oak features a combination of duets and solos in an expansive and loving
journey of West African songcraft.
DOWNLOAD AT GLOBEPLAYER.TV/ALBUMS
JOHN BIRD
This mother of
parliaments must
prevent misery
before it begins
Illustration: Lauren Crow / Photo: PA
A
t strange times I miss my
father, although he has not
been with us for 34 years.
Especia lly when at
Westminster Bridge and
Parliament last week
murder struck. He had this habit of describing even grown men as children. When
someone died he would always say
something like ?poor child?. I found myself
thinking of PC Keith Palmer as a poor child
who had been struck down in his prime.
A father and husband, and a mate of many.
And the injuries and deaths of the
innocent strolling people who were simply
crossing a bridge. And when you look at the
casualty list you can?t help feeling that the
world was crossing that bridge on that day.
And were killed or injured for it.
Keith Palmer was a working man
working his shift at keeping Parliament
safe for all. The fact that he gave his life for
that is a tragedy that should never have
happened. And we seriously need to look
into that event to learn why such a highly
venerable target as the Parliamentary
estate was vulnerable at the point where
Keith stood sentinel.
I joined Keith on the parliamentary
estate over a year ago, so I was one of the
people he was trying to keep safe. I would
have spoken to him the day before the event
because I left through that exit. But I did
not know him. He made an investment in
me and the many others like me who come
and go through what has been called ?the
mother of all parliaments?. And that
investment cost him his life.
Times have changed and my father
would have been the ?rst to remind me of
that. He as a boy would get the bus and get
off at Parliament before the war, just to look
at it. He never quite understood it. He lived
in a slum and had a dead father and poverty
surrounding him; and a mum who had four
jobs to keep the boys alive.
Thirty years later I would skip off school
and get the bus to go and stand and look at
Parliament and wonder at what it was and
what it meant. Later I ended up washing up
in it. And even later, much later, as a member
of the House of Lords. As a part of that estate.
My father was aware that British
democracy was a bit like a Swiss cheese,
with many holes in it. He lived and breathed
that unevenness, that ugly lopsided side of
it. Yet I hope he would have understood that
the reason I went in was to change that
democracy as radically, as fundamentally
as I could. To help dismantle the poverty
he and I were born into.
An officer lays ?owers next to a photo of PC Keith Palmer
And that Keith Palmer did his best to
protect our experiment in doing a better
job next time.
My father would always be up for telling
you what job he was working at. We lived
a few miles from Westminster proper,
although both of us were born in its poor
western parts; the slums of Notting Hill
and Bayswater. And his job was to move
around the capital, sometimes putting in
windows in Old Scotland Yard opposite
Parliament. Or doing roofs or shop-?tting
a stone?s throw from Buckingham Palace.
His stories created a fascination for me for
?I joined Keith at
parliament a year
ago. I was one
of the people he
was trying to
keep safe?
THE BIG ISSUE / p11 / March 27?April 2 2017
this important centre of the British Empire.
And that this big empire, renamed a
commonwealth, had its epicentre up the
road from where dad and I were born.
The day before the tragedy struck I went
to see Theresa May. I went to talk about
what the PM had written in The Big Issue:
that she was going to make prevention the
very centre of her government?s thinking.
That she was going to put time, effort,
resources into putting a fence ? so to speak
? at the top of the cliff, so you did not have
to have ambulances at the bottom. That the
government would look at anything that
helped prevent poverty forming, so that
you then did not have to be too ingenious
in unravelling it later.
I have tried to work with every government since the formation of The Big Issue.
I have seen brilliant initiatives come and
go, renamed and moved and created
departments, projects taken up and
trumpeted for a week, a month, a year;
and then parked up. Warehoused like we
warehouse most of our poor.
I told the PM that governments always
think they are doing the right thing
but not recognising we fail 30 per cent of
our children at school, and that they
become the bedrock of much poverty, crime
and disorder.
The clock was ticking and I did not know,
nor did any of us working in Parliament. A
day later the tragedy struck. And the luckless
visitors to London who only came to look at
the mother of all parliaments but ended up
dead or injured; and Keith Palmer went on
his last shift; all this was about to happen.
Draining the swamp, driving out the
uglinesses of poverty and empty lives, the
alienating effects of much of modern life
that drives a grown man to want to kill and
maim and be killed himself; these have to
be addressed.
If my father was around he would have
had something to say about it. And like me
would have been appalled at the death of
Keith Palmer, who died doing his duty.
John Bird is the founder and Editor in Chief
of The Big Issue. @johnbirdswords
john.bird@bigissue.com
PHIL RYAN
?They killed the
music business?
T
he headline is a quote from choices? Here?s part of a current list for you
the legendary Mr Quincy and for them:
Jones. The genius behind ? Play for free and try to sell CDs that have
millions of record/CD/song
cost you money to record and print
sales and major music stars. ? Try to get into the corporate entertainment sector playing business dos
He was referring to the
and conferences
collapse of traditional record companies
and the explosion of download music sites ? Find specialist venues if you?re in certain
that don?t pay musicians for their work.
genres, ranging from heavy metal to rap
etc. Cut a door ticket sale deal (often
They offer a cut indirectly linked to ?plays?.
entirely related to who the band bring!)
The YouTube video platform offers a
similar deal dependant on ?monetisation? ? Play weddings/parties
or carrying adverts.
? Join online music sites and try to sell your
I have another quote for you: ?They
music for advertising/jingles/TV and
killed the professional working musician.?
?lm; very few people make a decent living
That?s from me. Simply put, it is virtually
from this
impossible to make a genuine living from ? Get a record/production/publishing deal;
being a live musician any more. A few
these are very rare nowadays and mostly
months back a young musician I know
come with no money upfront to live on
asked if I wanted to come and see him play ? Become a busker or street performer
a pub gig in north London. I realised I?d
Why don?t we pay for music any more in
played the same pub in around 1984. I knew the UK? Back to Mr Jones on this one. Since
this guy well so I asked what they
were paying ? �, he said. I got
paid �0 in 1984! Rapid
de?ation I think.
A tiny bit of my background for
you. In around 1994 I ran a
music venue in central London.
We paid our featured artists
anything from �0 to �0.
When we had young bands, some
we paid a fee to, others we gave
or split the door money with
them. We promoted our club
ferociously. And we paid the
musicians. Paid them properly.
Here in 2017 virtually no one
pays musicians to play any more.
We now have the ubiquitous
?open night? in virtually every
place that runs music. Bars. Pubs.
Even Pharrell Williams gets a relative pittance for ?plays?
Restaurants. But no one gets paid. In many
ways I support fantastic open nights that
provided experience and social networking. It?s a paradox, however. Because the
open-night explosion has in fact unfortunately taught venues not to pay musicians
any more.
In my local area there?s a brilliant music
college. A good friend of mine is a tutor
there. He tells me of the super-talented
youngsters he meets and teaches. Every
few years it turns out a whole crowd of
highly quali?ed amazing players/writers/
performers. But then what? What are their
?Let musicians
give you
memorable
life-moments.
Let them write
your song. But
pay them please?
THE BIG ISSUE / p12 / March 27?April 2 2017
the advent and explosion of smartphone
and tablets, people mostly access their
music online. They don?t pay the musicians
who create the songs ? they pay small sums
for ?the service?.
Recently, the artist Pharrell Williams
was paid approximately $25,000 from
the 43 million plays of his song Happy
downloaded on the Pandora music service,
according to industry analyst Michael
DeGusta. That?s a major artist with
millions already from sales, and a global
marketing campaign.
The knock-on effect of free downloads
etc has also been to destroy the concept of
buying a ticket. People pay quite a few
pounds for a drink but not to see the
music they are drinking to. So promoters
struggle to make money to pay and promote
the band.
I have a friend whose ?ve-piece band
earns each player � for four hours? work.
Then take away petrol, travelling
times, cost of equipment and
time spent rehearsing. The bar
staff get paid more than the band!
Will it change in the UK? I
simply don?t see it. Currently,
most music initiatives to help
players/performers, especially
here in London, are all about
busking! This is not supporting
musicians. If the authorities were
honest about supporting musicians they would ?nancially, and
through law, halt the erosion of
small music venues. Instead they
carry out constant PR exercises
with various bodies that, as far
as I can see, haven?t created any
paying work for musicians.
We all know the strong
economic arguments about how much
money the music industry generates for the
economy. Sadly not so much of that now
reaches the very people who are the reason
there is a music industry. The musicians.
Musicians will always continue to strive
and try. Help them earn a living. Let them
give you memorable life-moments. Let
them write your song. But pay them please.
Phil Ryan is a musician, writer and
entrepreneur. He was part of The Big Issue
launch team and co-founded the 12 Bar Club
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Illustration: Mitch Blunt
PAUSE
CORDELIA FINE
Don?t take it out on testosterone
W
hen we say ?blame
the testosterone?, we
are usually pointing
the finger at this notorious
hormone for some kind of
stereoty pically masculine
misdemeanour: licentiousness,
aggression, jostling for status, or
bringing down the global ?nancial system. We?re also generally
referring to the actions of boys or
men. When, after all, was the last
time you heard someone say
despairingly ?it?s the testosterone? of something a woman
did? Unless her transgression
was to grow a beard, probably
never. But is testosterone the
powerful differentiator of men?s
and women?s behaviour that we
often assume it to be?
First of all, consider the
differences in behaviour we
often draw on testosterone to
explain. While often differences
between women and men certainly do exist, they are much
smaller than the differences in
testosterone. This already tells
us there is no simple ?more Testosterone certainly affects
testosterone = more masculin- the brain but the circulating
ity? equation that applies across level of testosterone is just one
variable in a highly complex
the sexes.
Also, ?masculinity? doesn?t system. Potentially, other parts
appear to come as a package of this system may also differ
deal. For example, although we between the sexes in ways that
think of risk-taking as a quintes- to some degree counter-balance
men?s higher average
sential masculine
circulating levels.
t r a it ( henc e t he
(Different species
express-ion ?grow
l i kely t we a k t he
some balls?), people
system dials in the
a re id iosy ncratic
s exe s i n v a r iou s
when it comes to
ways.) Testosterone is
which domains of
also just one of many
r isk s appea l: t he Cordelia Fine
factors that feed into
physical risk-taker is an academic
decision-making.
isn?t necessarily a psychologist and
Even in some
financial risk-taker, author. Her new
for instance. So what book, Testosterone
non-human animals,
kind of risk-taker do Rex, is out now
social context and
we expect a high- (Icon books,
experience can
testosterone person �.99)
override its in?uence
to be: a horse-rider or
on behaviour ? or
an entrepreneur?
stand in for testosterone?s
Should we be surprised by the absence.
lack of a tight link between
And although we?re used to
absolute testosterone level thinking of behaviour as ?testosand masculine behaviour? terone-fuelled?, testosterone
THE BIG ISSUE / p15 / March 27?April 2 2017
levels can be responsive to our
subjective perception of a
situation, and behaviour itself.
For instance, young men?s social
background or developmental
history seems to in?uence both
the aggressiveness of their
response to a provoking incident
and the reactivity of their testosterone level to it. Meanwhile,
intimate fatherhood seems to
lower testosterone levels.
This ?ts with a scienti?c conception of hormones as helping
animals to modulate behaviour
to the situations in which they
find themselves. And while
there?s been less research of this
kind with women, one recent
study found that displays of
power increased women?s testosterone levels. As sociologist Lisa
Wade puts it, hormones are ?a
dynamic part of our biology
designed to give us the ability to
respond to the physical, social
and cultural environment?.
It gives pause for thought
before blaming the testosterone.
LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF
Alan Arkin
Actor, activist, friend for life
Photos: Rex Features
I
thought I?d be discovered by the time
I was 12. My family moved to LA and I
thought my life would be perfect. But
nothing happened to me whatsoever.
I joined organisations that
hired children. I did a little
theatre. I studied in school.
It was my whole life. But I couldn?t get any
kind of professional acknowledgement
whatsoever. Failure rarely spoils a lot
of kids; [if successful] they get used to
having people kowtow to them and be a
little bit two-faced. I think it kept my feet
on the ground.
At school I did nothing but cut
classes and look out the window.
I just lived in my head, in my imagination.
Sometimes it?s wonderful to live there.
I was just pretending I was acting a lot.
I?d draw and I?d be writing stories. Making
up songs. All kinds of different things.
I would have done anything in the
world to get away from who I was when
I was younger. I didn?t like myself. I don?t
think I was a bad kid but I just didn?t get
any attention from anybody. I thought, as
a result of that, that nobody thought much
of me, so I ended up thinking not very
much of myself. But not now. I have no
interest in running away from myself.
I didn?t realise it at the time but
looking back, I think I had a lot of
courage. Politically I stood up for a
lot of the things that were dangerous.
Experiencing the sharp end of McCarthyism in the 1950s sours your view of
the American Dream. My father was a
victim of the McCarthy period. He was a
great believer in the American Constitution. He worked in the Los Angeles school
system and they wanted everybody to sign a loyalty
oath. He refused. He said he wouldn?t because he felt
they had no right to ask him. It was none of their
business. He hadn?t done anything wrong. He was
not a criminal. He got ?red and couldn?t get a job
for 15 years. We were all kind of anxious as we had
to be careful about what we said and to whom.
I stuck my neck out at the risk of never working
again. It felt like it was something I had to do and I
was very proud of that.
I had a hit with The Banana Boat Song as part
of The Tarriers in the 1950s. I thought it was a
nice stopgap and it gave me enough money to coast
for a few years. I thought it would help with my acting
career but it didn?t do anything of the sort. So I ?nally
quit and became an unemployed actor again.
My big break into acting was giving up any
hope of a big career in New York and moving
to Chicago with a tiny improvisational group.
I thought that no one was ever going to hear from me
again so I?d just join this little group in Chicago and at
least make a living. I did that for two years. It allowed
me to ply my craft for the ?rst time in my life. In
From the top: Alan Arkin
as Captain John Yossarian
in Catch-22 (1970); starring
with Morgan Freeman and
Michael Caine in new ?lm
Going in Style; alongside
his wife Suzannne
IN 1950
THE YEAR
ALAN ARKIN
TURNS 16?
Charles M Schulz?s
Peanuts comic strip
is ?rst published /
The Archers, the
world?s longestrunning radio
soap opera, begins
six months, this little tiny group became nationally
famous. Instead of being a stopgap it became the
most important I ever did in my life.
I thought my career would solve all my problems. I would have tried very, very hard
to make myself understand that the only
problems that the career would solve
would be the career problems. If you don?t
like yourself to begin with, you?re not going
to like yourself any better with money. You
can only buy yourself distractions.
I had, for a couple of years, been
working as a professional actor but
hadn?t got an enormous amount of
attention. We were playing in New York
and an important critic at the time wrote
a review of the show and said: ?Mr Arkin
is playing a different game.? He went on
to describe my work in glowing terms and
it was the ?rst moment in my life where I
felt I might have something really to offer.
It gave me a sense that I was maybe in the
right profession.
To start to appreciate myself it took
a lot of therapy, a lot of meditating
and a lot of working on myself. It was
very, very hard. Until I was able to think
I wasn?t such a bad person. When did I
?nally come to peace with myself? About
a week ago! I didn?t discover meditating
until I was in my middle 30s. I would have
encouraged myself to begin that practice
much, much earlier.
If you meet your heroes, don?t
be afraid to make them cry. I met
[director] Jean Renoir and I basically
threw myself at his feet and told him how
much his work meant to me and that he
was a genius. I went on and on so much
that he started crying. It was one of the
most interesting and vivid moments of my whole life.
I would have swept ?oors for that man.
I had a group of ?ve friends in high school that
stayed friends through college and one of them
is still alive and we are still friends 65 years
later. We have respected each other?s differences.
That is very difficult to do sometimes. We were
very politically active in those days, the two of us.
My friend stayed very politically active and I have
become increasingly more interested in Eastern
philosophy. I am not as interested in his politics
and he is not as interested in my interest in Eastern
philosophy but we are still interested in each other.
I?d not change a single thing about my life.
I think I am a pretty happy person. I have my wife and
I have a good career. If things worked out different, I
don?t know if things would be as good as they are now.
So I think I?d leave everything alone. Everything has
worked out pretty well. I have no complaints.
Going in Style is in cinemas from April 7
Interview: Eamonn Forde @Eamonn_Forde
THE BIG ISSUE / p16 / March 27?April 2 2017
?When did I ?nally come
to peace with myself?
About a week ago!?
THE BIG ISSUE / p17 / March 27?April 2 2017
Carling Knott, Loweswater
We won?t protect what we don?t love, so writer Robert Macfarlane
began hoarding little-known words that celebrate our environment.
The result is a glorious list that brings together the best of landscape
I
n 2007 on the Outer Hebridean Isle of Lewis,
I was given an extraordinary document.
It was entitled Some Lewis Moorland Terms:
A Peat Glossary, and it listed Gaelic words
for aspects of the moorland that ?lls Lewis?s
interior. Reading the glossary, I was amazed
by its glittering particularities: 鑙t refers to ?the practice of placing quartz stones in moorland streams so
that they would sparkle in moonlight and thereby
attract salmon to them in the late summer and
autumn?, while rionnach maoim means the ?shadows
cast by clouds on moorland on a sunny, windy day?.
Reading that Peat Glossary set my head a-whirr
with wonder-words. But it seemed to me an anomaly.
For our available language for and knowledge
of everyday nature
is, surely, becoming
depleted ? especially
among children.
A 2016 research
paper by Cambridge
University conservationists found that
eight- to 11-year-old
schoolchildren were
?substantially better? at
identifying common
Pokemon characters
Top of Haystacks in Buttermere fells
than common species
of British wildlife. Out
?CURRICK?
of the 53 million words
Cairn of stones to guide travellers
used in the 120,000
(origin: Cumbria, Durham and
Northumberland)
submitted stories for
the BBC?s 500 Words
competition (open to
Snowy ground, Lakeland fells
children aged ?ve to 13),
words for nature were
?FEETINGS?
notably rare. ?Acorn?
was used just 293 times,
Footprints of creatures as
for instance, ?buttercup?
they appear in the snow
167 times and ?conker?
(origin: Suffolk)
155. This retreat of both
knowledge and experience of nature has corresponded with a drastic loss of species and habitat in Britain
and beyond ? 53 per cent of species in the UK are in
decline but 52 per cent of the British public are
unaware of this situation.
In response, I decided to set out and gather as many
place-words for aspects of nature, landscape and
weather as possible, from the many dialects and
languages of our islands. Once gathered, I wanted to
?nd ways to release these words back into imaginative
circulation, in the hope of enriching and diversifying
our language for the living world.
So I travelled to meet the users and keepers of such
place-words around Britain and Ireland: crofters,
farmers, sailors, ?shermen, naturalists, artists and
countless everyday people who knew and loved their
particular landscapes. I pored over glossaries and
dictionaries in archives and on the web, and I sent out
letters and emails to hundreds of people.
Wild words came whirling in. Foggit: a Scots term
meaning ?covered in moss or lichen?; shuckle, a
Cumbrian term for ?icicle?, or pirr, Shetlandic for
a ?light breath of wind that ruffles the surface of the
THE BIG ISSUE / p18 / March 27?April 2 2017
?KNOTT?
Craggy hill or rocky outcrop (origin:
Cumbria, from the Old Norse knutr)
and language
water?; zawn, Cornish for a wave-smashed chasm in a to tiny detail rather than grand spectacles, and took
sea-cliff; smeuse for the ?hole in a hedge made by the joy in noticing subtleties: plays of light on the fells,
repeated passage of small animals?. Some of these textures of moss on stone, ?an under-grove of hollies?.
words were beautifully poetic, some dramatic, some In her prose, the Lake District appears as what she
thrillingly precise ? and some unspeakably rude.
memorably called ?a living prospect?.
My word-hoard ?lled up. By 2014 it held over 3,000
In the exhibition, individual words are placed in
terms from more than 30 lanrelation with striking photoguages, dialects and idiolects,
graphs illustrating the aspects of
from aftermath (the ??rst fresh
the living world they name, taken
growth of grass after a meadow
by my photographer parents,
has been cut?) to zwer (used on
John and Rosamund Macfarlane
Exmoor to denote the ?sound
? who live in the northwest
made by a covey of partridges
Lakes. On display are also
original manuscripts by the
taking ?ight?). These were published in the spring of 2015 in a
Wordsworths, and some of the
book called Landmarks. I?ve also
thousands of letters and posttaken to tweeting out a Word of
cards I was sent while compiling
the Day as another means of disthe word-hoard.
Why does any of this matter?
persing this old-new language.
The word-hoard project has also
The
American essayist, farmer
Fleswick Bay, St Bees
inspired nurseries, schools, charand activist Wendell Berry gives
ities and festivals up and down
the best answer: ?People exploit
?FREITH?
the country, and comparable gloswhat they have merely concluded
Foam on the sea (origin: Scots)
saries have been begun for landto be of value but they defend
what they love, and to defend
scapes including the Florida
Everglades, the Swiss Alps and the Vermont hills.
what we love we need a particularising language, for
Now that word-hoard forms the basis of an exhib- we love what we particularly know.? Amen to that.
ition at Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, Cumbria
? childhood home of William and Dorothy Wordsworth, Robert Macfarlane?s new exhibition, The Word-Hoard:
both famed for the sharpness of their perception. The Love Letters to Our Land, runs until September 3;
poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge noted that Dorothy?s nationaltrust.org.uk/wordsworth-house. Show your
?eye [was] watchful in minutest observation of nature?. copy of this Big Issue for one free adult or child entry
Her writing shows her to have been especially attuned per full-price adult. @RobGMacfarlane
THE BIG ISSUE / p19 / March 27?April 2 2017
All photos
on this page
were taken
by Robert
Macfarlane?s
parents,
John and
Rosamund
COVER FEATURE
ot since the witch trials of the 17th
century, or the ill-fated poll tax
which ended the premiership of
Margaret Thatcher in 1990, have
so many vulnerable and impoverished people ended up being taken
to court at one time, as is now happening with the
council tax. Not only has council tax debt become
Britain?s biggest personal debt problem ? eclipsing
credit card default in 2014 ? but it is also a cause of
homelessness, with the danger not con?ned only to
those in rented accommodation. It is also striking
homeowners as cash-strapped councils implement
ever harsher recovery tactics.
The period 2013-2016 saw a 40-50 per cent increase
in the number of people taken to court for council tax
non-payment, as revealed in the Ollerenshaw
report on council tax support schemes, presented to
parliament in
March last year.
Now, in 2017,
more than three
million people
can expect to be
issued with a
liability order
made by magistrates? courts in
England and
Wales or by the
sheriff court in
Scotland.
Unsurprisingly, the liability order is now the most
commonly issued court judgment in the UK. Relatively
few debtors actually attend their hearings, and in the
absence of representation, the few who do can seldom
effectively defend themselves, or seek adjournments
or appeal. Councils discourage attendance, and cornercutting can be rife, most hearings providing little more
than a rubber-stamping of the debt and an opportunity for the local authority to impose extra costs.
The actual cost of summonsing is � yet councils
are routinely adding amounts of �0 or more for
undefined ?court costs? on to the amount owed
in tax, for what is an almost entirely computerised
process. Worse still, many debtors may not even realise
a liability order has been granted until a bailiff comes
knocking ? frequently the first human actually
encountered. But the use of bailiffs is only one of a raft
of severe enforcement measures. When pursuing
council tax, local authorities have extraordinarily
wide powers, including methods
that result directly in the
taxpayer losing their home.
Once armed with a liability
order, not only can a local
authority send in bailiffs but it
can deduct from your wages or
bene?ts and, if you are a homeowner, pursue a charging order
to sell your house or ?at or make
you bankrupt. In England and
Wales (though not Scotland)
defaulters with means may be
imprisoned for up to three
oss
liabilities unsustainable or by ba ru
ing orders, which trigger further costly court action.
Such is the complexity of the council tax system and
recovery that local authorities often lose control of
their own processes. Mistakes easily accumulate, a
product of fragmented decision-making involving a
long line of seemingly small steps, which the beleaguered debtor is unable to correct or alter. With bankruptcy and charging orders, the sums owed spiral to
pay fees claimed by insolvency practitioners and debt
lawyers, and courts themselves often do not properly
understand the law. It is ultimately enforcement costs
? far exceeding the tax concerned ? that lead to
debtors losing the roof over their heads. Furthermore,
recovery proceedings can be begun in error, often
concerning alleged overpayment of bene?ts from
earlier periods which taxpayers struggle for
months or even years to resolve.
The long, drawn-out nature of enforcement
means it seldom receives media attention
or comment, save where death occurs. One
instance that did make the news were observations by a Dunstable coroner in June 2013, at
the inquest of Peter Williams, a 63-year-old
inventor who killed himself after losing his home
following a council tax bankruptcy. Although
not blaming the council, the coroner commented that the increase from a disputed sum of
�350 to �,000 with costs ?may strike the
man in the street as remarkable?.
Sadly, cases of wrongful enforcement, including
imprisonment, are far from uncommon. In January
2017, the High Court quashed the imprisonment of
Melanie Woolcock, an unemployed single mother
wrongly jailed by Bridgend magistrates. She had
already served 40 days of an 81-day term before being
freed on appeal. This was despite the law having been
clearly established for 25 years that imprisonment is
not a punishment and should not be utilised against
those who have no money to pay. That those lacking
means should not be jailed for local tax default was a
point previously hammered home by the High Court
in more than 1000 appeals and judgments between
1991 and 2001, the ?rst arising from the wrongful
jailing of an unemployed and homeless man, Steve
Benham in Poole, Dorset, in 1991 (a case that also
went to the European Court of Human Rights). E
Adults of working age
face paying up to 45%
of annual council tax,
even if unemployed or
on means-tested welfare
The actual cost of summonsing is
� yet councils are routinely
adding amounts of �0 or more
IRUXQGH篞HG癋RXUWFRVWV�RQWR
the amount owed in tax
THE BIG ISSUE / p23 / March 27?April 2 2017
In the world?s poorest
countries, girls spend their
days walking for water. They
don?t have time to study or the
chance to ful?l their dreams.
Registered charity number: 292506
㎎ulie Edwards
REGISTER AT:
careint.uk/walkinhershoes-bi
OR CALL: 020 7091 6100
c ually has powers
ebt. But it seems both the council and
court were entirely ignorant of any of this when jailing
Melanie Woolcock in July 2016.
Unfortunately, although council tax recovery is
fraught with the risk of errors, legal aid restrictions
have signi?cantly reduced the chances of representation and challenge for taxpayers. Furthermore, free
advice services are simply not trained or equipped to
deal with the mounting volume of complex cases
reaching their doors.
There are some important truths that have to be
faced about what is going on.
The vast majority of people failing to pay council
tax simply cannot afford it. Many of them have been
affected by the welfare changes and reductions in
benefits introduced since 2009. Failures in the
administration of bene?ts meant that the numbers in
default were already on the increase before 2013
but the problem has escalated after the removal of
national council tax bene?t which ? in theory at least
? protected lowincome adults.
In its place,
fol low ing t he
Local Government
Finance Act 2012,
more than 300
loc a l suppor t
schemes now
operate, varying in
detail between
authorities, and
which may require
a ll adu lts of
working age to pay
anything from zero to 45 per cent of the annual council
tax, even if unemployed or receiving means-tested
welfare. Yet at the same time, these same adults are
the ones who have seen their bene?ts cut as a result
of the housing bene?t caps, the overall bene?t cap, the
bedroom tax and sanctions on Jobseeker?s Allowance,
or their wages frozen.
For them, council tax is now less a system of local
taxation but rather a mechanism for creating debt.
It is also one that is currently going unchecked as
councils set about drawing up council tax bills for
2017-2018, due out around now.
Photo: Getty
In the case of
inventor Peter
Williams the
disputed sum
of �350 rose
to �,000.
Alan Murdie, LL.B, Barrister, is editor of the Council
Tax Handbook (published by CPAG), chairman of
Nucleus Legal Advice in Earl?s Court and director
of Council Tax Legal Services
Poll tax riot
in Trafalgar
Square, 1990
COUNCIL TAX: WHAT IS
THE ALTERNATIVE?
Is council tax fair? The bills coming through your door seem
like a fact of life as unavoidable as quiz shows or the weather.
Yet mounting bills, compounded by spiralling costs, are causing
misery, dragging low-income families into the courts and piling on
unpayable debts. Could there be a different way for local authorities
to raise funds? A way that would share the burden more equitably?
In Scotland there has been intense ?爄f limited ? debate over
council tax. In 2008 the SNP forced a freeze on council tax rates.
Scottish Labour attacked them for preventing councils from raising
funds to pay for vital services. Now local authority bosses have been
?freed? to raise them again, with most opting for a three per cent
increase. Eight Labour-led councils are maintaining the freeze to
?protect? people ahead of local elections in May.
More fundamental is the regressive structure of the tax: the
ludicrously outdated property valuation bands, and the fact incomes
are not considered. Thresholds across Britain were set in 1991 ?
a quarter of a century ago, before the boom in the housing market
? and are now grossly archaic. A decade ago the SNP favoured
replacing council tax with a local income tax north of the border,
before it was deemed too difficult. MSPs in Scotland ? of all parties
? have now voted to slightly raise rates on the top four council tax
bands, E-H, from April this year.
But in England and Wales the difference in payment demands
on rich and poor remains scandalously slight. A bill for a top-end
band H home is only three times that of a low-end band A home,
even if the band H home is worth 10 or 20 times as much. Wealthy
oligarchs and poor little old ladies living in the same west London
streets are asked to pay exactly the same amount.
But reforming any property-related tax is a tricky business.
Memories of Margaret Thatcher?s poll tax experiment ? the last serious
attempt to change the nature of local taxation ? haunt all attempts
to tinker. When Labour under Ed Miliband proposed a ?mansion tax?
? an additional tax on properties worth � or more to address the
inadequacy of the council tax ? it was picked apart by columnists
and Conservative politicians as cumbersomely unworkable.
Is there an alternative? There has to be. As courts continue to
be brought to a standstill by council tax debt cases and bailiffs make
more visits to desperate families, Westminster needs to wrestle with
the issue as Holyrood has tried to do, to ?nd a way of updating
council tax for the post-property boom age, and make the wealthy
pay their fair share.
Words: Adam Forrest
THE BIG ISSUE / p25 / March 27?April 2 2017
@adamtomforrest
#WHYBOOKSMATTER
WHO YOU GONNA
CALL WHEN ALL
THE LIBRARIES
ARE CLOSED?
Our Big Issue literacy campaign has received huge support ? especially
from those on the frontline. Librarians from the West Midlands contacted us
to reveal proposed closures in their area, where nine branches and one mobile
library face the axe. Despite being gagged from discussing the closures, they
are standing up to shout about what the cuts really mean. Here is their story?
LIBRARIAN A
Photo: Rex Features
T
he joy I felt as a child being allowed
to wander the books and feed my
imagination should be passed onto
my children. After nearly 20 years
working in libraries, I feel that they will
not get the chance to see and experience
a library service that I did when I was young. They
will not be motivated to follow in my footsteps and
enter a profession that seems to have gone the same
way as the dinosaurs. Sad times.
There is a lot of talk about libraries and their
important impact on local communities but then there
are the librarians ? people who have chosen this as a
vocation and believe in it. In the debate about library
closures it is often the voices of librarians that are
heard the least.
Parts of this council?s library services have been at
risk since 2010 ? this has meant constant threat of
redundancy for staff for years. We have been repeatedly told that we are not allowed to ?campaign? for
our jobs. This means in practical terms that we are
not supposed to engage in discussion about changes
to the library service, branch closures, job losses, etc.
It also means that while members of the public can
say what they like about the service or the staff, we
are unable to reply. This has led to increasing
THE BIG ISSUE / p26 / March 27?April 2 2017
#WHYBOOKSMATTER
frustration as we have no way to tell anyone how we
are feeling. We are even banned from discussing it on
our own social media pro?les. Volunteers can celebrate
the gain of a community library (as it gets passed over
to them) but we can?t lament it.
Councillors are unable to see the service as a whole
and have always campaigned to keep ?their? library
open. We have a couple of libraries that could have
closed with barely a whisper in the past but instead
have had to keep all open because election years make
councillors work hard in their patch. Sensible suggestions for streamlining the service have fallen on deaf
ears, which means now we are faced with a total
devastation of services.
LIBRARIAN B
I have almost 15 years? experience working in
libraries. It is a vocation. It is not the ?rst job
I?ve done but the one I thought I would do forever. It?s
devastating to see the decline, not in use but in respect.
A consultation was put in place last year but was
designed following market research guidelines not
local government ones (for which there is speci?c
guidance available on Gov.uk). The consultation was
only available online and was extremely difficult to
locate. Paper information sheets (not many) were sent
to library branches but staff were given instruction
not to hand them to members of the public unless
they speci?cally asked for them. There was no offer
visible for the consultation to be available in other
languages or large print. Library staff were told that
we were not allowed to undertake the consultation
ourselves ?because there are so few staff you won?t
have time?.
When the information paper about the consultation was published, it reported that ?borrowing books,
?nding information and ICT? were the top uses of
libraries, yet the conclusion drawn on the same report
declared that: ?It would appear that libraries are not
actually about literacy and books, nor necessarily
about ICT access? but? more as a community space
for people to meet and a space people think other
people ought to have access to, even though they don?t
use it themselves.?
At least two thirds of libraries in the area will be
closed. The ?rst we heard of this current plan was a
message from the leader of the council stating that
he would be brie?ng the press, and the ?rst facts
any of us learned were read in local newspapers.
We were not offered any kind of staff meeting to
discuss concerns.
The consultation seems to have been a fait
accompli. We have seen emails that were sent to
community groups about taking over some libraries
before the official vote to close them had taken place.
It is almost as if they knew what the outcome would
be, which is one thing, but then effectively sharing
that knowledge with the community groups they
emailed? That?s messed up.
Meanwhile, it took eight days for us to hear anything
official about what happens next from our head of
service.燱e are now in limbo. To close the libraries at
the end of June we now only need be given 45 days?
notice. Putting most of the above aside, though, there
is the human impact of the decimation of our library
service on those who use us every day.
LIBRARIAN C
I ?nd it abhorrent, what?s happening before our
eyes. I have over 10 years? experience. I don?t use
leisure centres but I don?t want them closed because
I understand the contribution they make to society.
Libraries offer so much more, yet they?re being
decimated.
This borough is not a wealthy one. High unemployment, low literacy levels and a dying high street
combine to make this a place where libraries are
essential. Job seekers are supposed to spend seven
hours a day (according to the government) searching
for jobs on computers when they do not own one. We
help people who have never used a computer before
in their life ?ll in a myriad of online forms in order to
provide for themselves. We are asked to watch children
while the parents shop (no, sorry!), to sign passport
forms, scan vital documents to government departments. Staff do their best to support the homeless
people who come to the library to get warm because
there is nowhere else to go. Our mobile libraries visit
people who don?t see anyone else in their homes
from month to month. That human interaction is
vitally important. We are there when relatives die and
people need consolation.�
Throughout these years of uncertainty we have
always been expected to continue to provide the same
excellent service that we have always given. The staff
numbers have dwindled down to a skeleton crew and
these days we scrabble around to ?nd enough staff
just to open all of the buildings we have got. Customers
have no idea about this, of course, and continue to
demand, and receive, a huge amount of assistance.
Library staff in this borough, and I am sure
elsewhere, care. We care that someone looks hungry
or upset or confused. We put up with abuse from some
of the more demanding customers and the blue lights
in the toilets to prevent drug use. We cope with the
verbal insults because we have stopped someone
looking at pornography on a public computer. We put
up with all of that because we want to provide a service
and to help.
Colleagues and some customers have been in tears
because the library they use is closing. I have tried to
comfort when all I really want to do is cry myself.
How on earth do you convey to people who only care
about money the true importance of libraries?
To quote the writer Anne Herbert: ?Libraries will
get you through times of no money better than money
will get you through times of no libraries.?
To protect the librarians? identities we have
omitted names from this article
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
IN OUR CAMPAIGN?
Inspired by these librarians ?ghting
cuts? For more ideas on how to save
your local library see our Better Literacy,
Better Future campaign at bigissue.com
THE BIG ISSUE / p27 / March 27?April 2 2017
THE INTERVIEW: CHARLOTTE R AMPLING
?I?M NOW THE
WISE WOMAN?
The suicide of her sister aged 23 didn?t catch up with
Charlotte Rampling until her 40s when depression set
in and she disappeared from view. Now, the actress
tells Liz Thomson, she has found a way through it
Photo: Getty
F
rance has been Charlotte Rampling?s home
for 40 years. In her duplex in Paris? 16th
arrondissement there are high ceilings
and paintings everywhere, hanging and
leaning. A small black-and-white TV is
tuned permanently to a classic movie channel, the
sound off. Classical music plays in the background.
She moved here in 2002 with her long-time companion, Jean-Noel Tassez, who died in 2015. Following
Tassez?s death, she had thought it would be too difficult
to remain alone in the apartment. Instead she discovered that the rituals of death ? a ?good? funeral ? make
it possible to integrate the past with a new present.
?The funeral was amazing,? she says. ?My sons
looked after everything and we chose all these incredible things and a huge number of people came.
And something happens, something that will live in
you afterwards. What I found out, which was very
positive, is that you?re accompanied for a very long
time by your dead friends and dead loves, which I?d
never had before. It?s been the most amazing companionship. Eventually you feel them go? Then it?s about
getting back into the land of the living. It is just that. on Valentine?s Day 1967, shaped her life. The book is
I do know, now, about grieving.?
slight, just 109 pages, yet paradoxically heavy, ?a walk
Rampling has never made any secret of the darkness in the wilderness?, the ultimate unburdening.
It is also the story of a happy if rootless childhood
that enveloped her 40s when she all but disappeared
from view. What was a secret until not so many years in an Army family where friends were necessarily
ago was the reason for it: the death, at 23, of her beloved transient and the little girls were thrown back on their
elder sister Sarah, who shot herself in her home far away own company. Rampling remembers a brief period in
in the Argentine pampas, her premature
Fontainebleau, when she and Sarah ?
F
son not yet home from hospital. Their
aalways somehow frail, ?my big little
father decided the true story was too
ssister? ? played in the nearby forest for
awful to be told so having taken the call
hours and hours with their real-life dog
h
from his cattle-rancher son-in-law he
aand imaginary ponies. ?You just get on
told his wife, and Charlotte, that Sarah
with it,? she re?ects, ?but even now I
had died of a brain haemorrhage. The
don?t keep friends. I have friends but I
?ction was easier to maintain in the
think they?re going to disappear so
unwired 1960s but two years later Sarah (left) and Charlotte Rampling I don?t contact them and then I don?t
Rampling learned the truth. By then a
have to worry about it.?
stroke had almost totally incapacitated
Her father ? who?d taken gold in
her mother and when she confronted her father it was Hitler?s notorious 1936 Olympics, appearing in Leni
agreed the truth must remain unspoken. You don?t need Riefenstahl?s Olympia ? told his surviving daughter
great psychological insight to link Rampling?s to ?go out and live your life?. Her star quality had
unresolved grief for her sister with her breakdown. already been spotted: she?d made her screen debut in
?It?s like post-traumatic stress. You go on for ages. You The Knack and played a lead in Rotten to the Core.
haven?t seen anything. Someone has just disappeared. ?He said, I will be there for your mother.?
And they?re not going to come back. Apparently.?
Georgy Girl made her a star in Swinging London.
The story of Sarah?s short life, and death, are told in She was a hot chick who hung out with The Beatles at
Rampling?s memoir, Who I Am, its emphatic title an the Ad Lib club and knew Jimi Hendrix (?the sweetest
acknowledgment, if one were needed, that a single event, man, so kind, so sensitive, so fragile?) but the druggy
THE BIG ISSUE / p28 / March 27?April 2 2017
scene wasn?t for her. LSD was ?exhausting?, eight hours
of ?heaving and vomiting. Besides, I had my survival
trip. I had to survive!? She laughs grimly.
By decade?s end, Rampling was in Italy, and
embarked on a series of ?lms that cemented her reputation, including The Damned and The Night Porter,
both with Dirk Bogarde, who was mesmerised by her
?jade gaze?. She came to France at 30. In her 40s the
inevitable happened. ?I couldn?t cope with having to
cope. That?s what depression is. You lose it. Literally.
Everything stops.? Like most people in such situations,
she encountered wariness (?people don?t want sadness
around them, they don?t want people going in to a funk?)
and incomprehension. ?What have you got to be
depressed about is always the question. I used to think
I?d rather be anybody ? anybody ? than what I?m going
through now. Any disease, any poverty, just anything.
It?s a non-life because you don?t have any life at all.?
How she beat it she won?t say, only that ?it?s a slow,
slow process and it?s saying to yourself I?m going to
come out of it. Because if you?re not strong enough
to say that you?re not going to come out of it. You?ve got
to get up every morning and say I?m going to get through
this day. I?m going to get through my life. I?m not going
to?? She pauses. ?Sarah gave me something in a sense
because I wasn?t going to do what she?d done. I was not
going to put my parents through that. I could be gone
but I?m not going to put my parents through what I?ve
seen happen to them because of Sarah. I said: Sarah, I
can?t do that, can I? You just forge your way.?
Was there a sense in which Rampling felt she had
to live for both of them? ?Yes, I suppose there was a
bit of that, although I?ve never thought of it.?
After her mother died in 2001, Rampling was able
to grieve with her father, to discuss the horror they?d
been through. ?He wasn?t driven mad. My father in a
sense became another person. He came to be able to
love because he?d said he couldn?t love ? he didn?t know
how, he?d never had an example.?
The past 15 years have seen a rebirth. She was a
muse to Fran鏾is Ozon, with whom she made four
?lms, and in addition to screen work there?s been TV
series such as Dexter, London Spy and Broadchurch.
The Sense of an Ending is poised to open and two
further ?lms are in the can, a spy thriller, The Red
Sparrow, with Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Irons,
and The Whale, which she describes as ?a portrait of
a woman?, written and directed by Andrea Pallaoro.
?I?m working well now because I can,? Rampling
concludes. ?Before I couldn?t. If good stuff comes up
and it corresponds with what I feel I want to do,
that?s fantastic. There?s a lot that?s of interest. There?s
obviously not the great lead roles because they?re for
younger women. I?m now the wise woman.?
Who I Am by Charlotte Rampling (Icon Books, �.99)
THE BIG ISSUE / p29 / March 27?April 2 2017
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THE
ENLIGHTENMENT
B O O K S / F I L M / T V/ M U S I C
THE SELFIE
SAY CHEESE!
From Rembrandt and Van
Gogh to this Celebes crested
macaque, artists have often
found inspiration in themselves.
A new exhibition at the Saatchi
Gallery explores the history
of the sel?e, which has truly
come of age in an era when
everyone carries a camera
around with them on their
phone and people seem more
self-obsessed than ever. To
return a little artistic integrity
to the sel?e, a competition is
being run for people to submit
their own creative self-portrait,
which will go on display
alongside the old masters
in the exhibition.
X Saatchi Gallery and
Huawei present From
Sel?e to Self-expression,
March 31?May 30;
saatchigallery.com/sel?e
THE BIG ISSUE / p31 / March 27?April 2 2017
BOOKS
A teenage heart throb
David Keenan had his eyes opened to life?s possibilities through music and literature
I
n 1987 Psychotic Reactions and Bangs called Reed a ?death dwarf?. At ?rst it was heavy metal but then I discCarburetor Dung by Lester Lou ? and Lester ? became my ideal of the overed punk rock, The Velvet Underground
Bangs was published with the street intellectual, equally at home with and ? most seditious of all ? the industrial
subtitle ?Rock ?N? Roll as the sounds of Sixties girl groups and death disco of Throbbing Gristle.
I fell in love with everything about them.
Literature and Literature as howling ampli?er feedback as they were
Rock ?N? Roll? and the scales fell with the poetry of Delmore Schwartz and They were very consciously anti-rock ?n?
roll yet they looked like the greatest
from my eyes. Hiding out in Airdrie, a small the prose of William Burroughs.
Music and literature present us with rock ?n? roll band ever. They dealt with
working class town on the outskirts of
Glasgow, I had spent much of the late 1980s possibilities. They hint at the shape of the seriously heavy subject matter ? serial
trying to join the dots between all of my future. But more than that: they activate murder, pornography, concentration camps
disparate enthusiasms ? crude rock ?n? roll, suppressed personas, functioning as a sense ? they used provocative imagery, they
psychedelia, free jazz, garage rock, Lou of permission, to become who we are, or talked in interviews about deprogramming
Reed, Russian novelists, psychotronic more properly, who we might be. For me it and short-circuiting control. So much of
movies, the Beats, post-punk and gonzo was the sound of the music that was most my favourite literature did the same. And
music journalism. Then Bangs laid it out, transformative, the sound and the image, every press shot of them looked like a crime
with all of the iconoclasm and intensity of really, more than the words. I looked to scene photo, as if they were perpetrators
my favourite records. Up until then I had literature and poetry for the words with of something unspeakable. Through
been following stray clues, watching what which to crack open my own skull, and to Throbbing Gristle I came into contact with
records the guys with the self-ravaged music for the energy that would sustain me. other like-minded kids ? I almost said
I fell in love with feedback. I saw myself freaks ? kids like me who were heavy into
hairstyles were buying, the paperbacks
they were reading, how they walked down more keenly in dissonance, in noise and in literature and who saw rock music as the
the street, even.
uproar than I did in a melodic pop song. greatest, most democratic and most avant
With the discovery of Lester
garde popular movement of the
Bangs, I started to make sense
age, and who realised its potento myself.
tial to function as a kind of
lightning rod and alternate
Now when I look back and try
information source for weird,
to de?ne what it was that I was
looking for, I see it as a particusmart, disaffected kids in small
lar articulation of energy. An
towns across the world.
energy that transforms itself
Years later, when I wrote my
into prose and music and
debut novel, This is Memorial
life without ever losing any of its
Device, set in Airdrie in the
post-punk years of the late
projective force. And I was
1970s and early ?80s, I wanted
looking for believers, believers
it to read like a fantasy account
in the power of art to transform
life, writers who stuck a pen in
of the lives of the older kids that
their vein and who testi?ed to
I looked up to and the vision I
had of the future that was refthe awkward reality of their own
existence in blood, musicians
racted through Bangs and Lou
who smashed guitars across
Reed, Throbbing Gristle and
amplifiers because they had
torn black leather jackets. Most
lived more than they could
of all I wanted to underline just
express in pop terms alone.
how transformative a stray
Of course, as a kid everyone
encounter with art can really
is looking for peers and exambe. How it can change the way
ples but for so many people
you see your own surroundings,
around me it seemed more like
how it can function as a sense
?They looked like they were perpetrators of something unspeakable?: Throbbing Gristle
a strategy for navigating the
of permission to become everywilds of adolescence so they
thing you believed you could be.
could retire when they became adults. But
Ultimately, I wrote the book to say
I was looking for lifers. I saw punks in the
thank you to music, to literature and to the
street with coloured Mohicans and thought,
punks of Airdrie and Coatbridge
if you still have that same haircut when
for taking me by the hair and
you?re 50, then I will respect you.
dragging me, kicking, screaming
And then there was Lou Reed. Lester
and cheering, straight into
Bangs and Lou Reed had a famously
the爁uture.
combative relationship. The section in
Psychotic Reactions? dedicated to their
David Keenan?s This is Memorial
Device (Faber, �.99) is out now
interviews is titled ?Slaying the Father?.
?With the
discovery of
Lester Bangs, I
started to make
sense to myself?
THE BIG ISSUE / p32 / March 27?April 2 2017
REVIEWS
5 SCI-FI NOVELS
FOR DEEP
THINKERS
JAROSLAV KALFAR
2. THE LEFT HAND
OF DARKNESS
Ursula Le Guin
Along with an intricate plot
of intergalactic politics,
Le Guin explores Gethen, a
planet of ?ambisexual? society.
Gripping science-?ction epic
and a brilliant exploration of
themes very relevant today.
3. WAR WITH THE
NEWTS Karel ?apek
A newly discovered breed
of intelligent newts revolt
against humans, using
them as slaves. A study of
the dangers of the political
movements during ?apek?s
lifetime, the book is satirical,
unsettling and entertaining.
4. BLOODCHILD
Octavia Butler
In this brilliant short story,
a colony of Earth escapees
live under the protection of
an alien race named Tlic while
carrying Tlic eggs. As one
boy faces impregnation, he
questions the true nature
of this relationship.
5. OMON RA
Victor Pelevin
A boy named Omon
dreams of the skies growing
up in Soviet Russia. He is
trained as an astronaut and
sent on a one-way mission to
the Moon in a pedal-powered
spacecraft. This hilarious and
nightmarish novel takes on
the Soviet regime, all whilst
Omon?s warm humanity
shines through. A mindbending ending.
Spaceman of Bohemia
by Jaroslav Kalfar is out
now (Sceptre, �.99)
Look back, honky cat
Flawed, funny and supremely self-aware, Elton is biographical gold
A
t the height of his
?70sfame,Elton John
found himself in his
Hollywood swimming pool with the unlikely triumvirate of Stanley Baxter, Katherine Hepburn and a dead frog.
This anecdote, while ostensibly little more than a colourful
aside in the grand narrative
of Elton?s superstardom,
neatly encapsulates the bathetic ?avour of Tom Doyle?s riveting
account of the lad from Pinner?s
head-spinning ascension to rock
royalty in the decade of excess.
Doyle decided to write this
de?nitive portrayal of Elton?s
creative and commercial peak
following an extensive interview with his loquacious subject
for Mojo magazine.
Forced to leave so much gold
on the cutting room ?oor, he
realised he was nibbling at the
foothills of an epic.
Underneath this propulsive
blizzard of pop wizardry, ?ngersplitting toil, cocaine-fuelled
hubris and inevitable breakdowns lurks the cautionary tale
of a shy music obsessive whose
hunger for stardom played
havoc with his insecurities.
In that sense its trappings
are familiar. Most superstar
sagas involve sensitive souls
discovering fame doesn?t buy
happiness, just drugs, private
jets and an even more pronounced sense of loneliness.
The key difference is that
Elton was always self-aware
enough to comment on his
foibles with humour and
honesty: a gift for any biographer
diligent enough to trawl through
every available archive interview. In doing so, Doyle illuminates the paradox of a performer
caught between sincere artistic
expression and an anxious need
to camouflage himself with
outrageous showmanship: plain
Reg Dwight vs glitzy Elton John.
While clearly fond of the
music Elton made during his
insanely proli?c imperial phase
? on average he and lyricist
Bernie Taupin produced three
Illustration: Dom McKenzie
1. SOLARIS
Stanislaw Lem
Lem combines language
of science and philosophy
with a constant sense of
dread and psychological terror.
This novel about humans
exploring a planet covered in
an ocean with possible neural
capabilities is unlike any other
literary experience out there.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC / CHARLTON HESTON
hit albums a year ? Doyle offers
perceptive criticism whenever
it?s due. This is no hagiography.
Self-critical Reg will presumably recognise the ?awed, likeable neurotic depicted herein.
When the elderly Charlton
Heston made his notorious
?from my cold dead hands?
speech on behalf of the National
Ri?e Association, his tarnished
reputation as a right-wing
lunatic was frozen in aspic.
This, argues Marc Eliot in
his appropriately heavyweight
biography of the stentorian
Hollywood legend, is an unjust
simpli?cation of someone who
deserves to be remembered in a
more nuanced light. The Heston
who emerges from this thoroughly researched tome isn?t a
bogeyman. Rather, he comes
across as a decent and intelligent
man whose na飗e, if sincere,
commitment to old-fashioned
values eventually clouded his
Captain Fantastic
Tom Doyle, Polygon, �.99
Charlton Heston Marc Eliot,
Dey Street Books, �.58
THE BIG ISSUE / p33 / March 27?April 2 2017
judgement. Eliot, an authoritative yet droll biographer, reminds us Heston once campaigned
for Kennedy and marched alongside Martin Luther King. A patriotic World War Two veteran,
his shift to the right occurred
when he fell out of step with the
anti-Vietnam war movement
and liberal Hollywood. Though
never regarded as a truly great
actor, Heston was dedicated to
his craft and possessed a stoic
charisma suited to his roles as
Moses and Ben-Hur. By his own
admission, he was always a man
out of time.
However, to his credit,
though admittedly triggered
more by career concerns than
artistic impulse, in the late ?60s/
early ?70s he became an unlikely emblem of the pessimistic
zeitgeist with starring roles in
three sci-? classics: Planet of the
Apes, The Omega Man and
Soylent Green. Those ?lms are
enjoyed more today than the
earnest biblical epics with
which Heston carved his name
but one suspects he?d gladly be
remembered for his work ? any
of it ? than the overshadowing
political controversy that Eliot
attempts, with commendable
sensitivity, to dig beneath.
Paul Whitelaw @paulwhitelaw
FILM
FREE FIRE
Bad shot
Maverick Brit Ben Wheatley fails to make the Atlantic crossing
I
can?t say I liked Free Fire but for the underlings, and local associates to the
sake of fairness I should point out that deal Ord (Armie Hammer) and Justine
this 1970s-set thriller arrives in the (Brie Larson). A brief prelude of
UK in the wake of good reviews and macho posturing, semi-ironic tough-guy
reports of lively screenings. Hey, there was badinage (mostly about the reliably
even some spontaneous cheering in the horrendous 1970s casualwear the costume
audience I saw the ?lm with. Towards the designer has forced on the actors) and light
end of British director Ben Wheatley?s ?rst intrigue over potential double crosses
US-set movie, a slow-moving van collides occurs before the inevitable: one of the
with the head of one of the main characters. hot-headed drivers in Vernon?s employ
The results resemble an anatomy exper- settles a feud with his opposite number by
iment gone wrong. But for those caught up shooting him. Cue the start of an extended
in the campaign of mayhem that Wheatley gun-?ght, for the next hour or so.
has spent the preceding 80 or so
Bullets whizz overhead,
minutes orchestrating, this gory
crack the surrounding concrete
close-up must count as some
and occasionally do damage to
fabric (Vernon?s shoulder pad
kind of outrageous pay-off.
Hence the applause.
sustains the brunt of it).
Myself, I didn?t get it ? any
Naturally, the mortality rate
slowly creeps up but throughout
of it. This slick, handsomely
the tone is jokey and cartoonish.
resourced picture, featuring
It would be prudish to object
an array of very ?ne actors, is
to the violence. The real problem
essentially one long shoot-out
scene, a single set-piece stretched Soulful: El Hedi ben Salem is the lack of variation in pace,
out way beyond breaking point. stars in Fear Eats the Soul
and the sheer relentless monIt?s the late 1970s and in a
otony of the action. Avoiding the
dusty, abandoned warehouse in Boston a over?ying bullets, the gun?ghters spend
group of armed Irish republicans, led by much of their time on their backs, a position
Cillian Murphy?s Chris, make a rendezvous that may have inspired Wheatley?s supine
with gun salesmen Vernon (Sharlto Copley) directorial approach. Free Fire is boring;
and Martin (Babou Ceesay) to buy and when it?s not boring it?s confusing. The
some assault ri?es. Also along are hired muddy editing makes it hard to follow who?s
THE BIG ISSUE / p35 / March 27?April 2 2017
where, and exactly at whom they are
shooting. ?I forgot whose side I?m on,?
remarks one character. Yeah, I know.
Free Fire is being touted as Ben
Wheatley?s breakthrough ?lm, the ?rst he?s
made in the US (and with no less an executive producer than Martin Scorsese). But
it?s a mis?re. I?ve never been an unquali?ed
fan of Wheatley?s early work but at least it
had ambitious reach and swaggering assurance. His early horror Kill List exudes some
of the lasting disquiet of the work of masterly British director Nic Roeg; his English
Civil War ?lm A Field in England was a
trippy blend of Hammer and Jodorowsky;
and he accomplished a deft balancing act
between serial-killer movie and Mike Leigh
comedy of embarrassment in Sightseers.
But with his new ?lm he sets the bar low.
A tiresome blend of comedy accents, drivetime soundtrack choices and A-Team-style
gunplay, Free Fire felt to me like a talented
and intelligent ?lm-maker deciding to
pastiche Guy Ritchie in his pomp. If that?s
what he wants to do, ?ne. But as with that
juvenile close-up of the exploding head,
I don?t think it?s wrong to expect more.
Free Fire is in cinemas from March 31
FINAL REEL...
A landmark of German cinema and one of
the crowning achievements of director Rainer
Werner Fassbinder, the 1974 ?lm Fear Eats
the Soul is rereleased this week. Telling of the
relationship between a youngish Moroccan
migrant worker and a German cleaning woman
in late middle-age, it combines melodrama
with sharp social commentary, and is at once
both highly stylised and politically poignant.
Words: Edward Lawrenson @EdwardLawrenson
TV
OUT AND ABOUT
MADE IN AMERICA
The gloves are off
T
he People Versus OJ Simpson
only recently came on Net?ix,
allowing us to watch the whole
epic 10 hours in one gigantic, absorbing,
breathtaking and hilarious binge.
The fact that it?s about fairly recent
events, has a daft-sounding name
and stars John Travolta and David
Schwimmer wearing extravagant wigs
could trick you into thinking this was
one of those naff TV cash-ins. Which
would be a shame because it is one of
the ?nest dramas I?ve ever watched.
It is a sprawling, operatic saga that
takes one of the most spectacular news
stories of modern times and helps us
understand it as a
parable for the age
we live in. In other
words, it?s a right
rollicking watch.
Put it this way,
me and the missus
were bereft when it
ended. You all know
that feeling, right?
When an intoxicating TV drama comes
to a conclusion and
you struggle to remember how you
dealt with life before it started?
Well, that. But the good thing is that
there was so much more OJ to learn
about once we were done with the
show. Like, who the hell was OJ?
Like most Brits, I knew him ?rst and
foremost as the bloke who killed his ex
then went on the run in a white bronco
on the freeway at a bafflingly slow pace
while a bunch of nutters cheered him
on with placards from an overpass.
And, of course, Nordberg from the
Naked Gun ?lms. It turns out that there
is an Oscar-winning documentary on
BBC iPlayer right now that tells you
the rest. I know I?m a bit late to the
party on this, what with it happening
22 years ago and everything, but OJ
was a really big deal.
Anyway, this documentary is
seven hours long. It is meticulous in
its piecing together of Simpson?s
life and how it played out in the
context of America?s racial politics.
Made in America is about more than
OJ Simpson; it is about the United
States itself. I have spent my entire
life in thrall to the magic and the
madness of American
pop culture but I
basically relearned
everything I ever
knew about the place
in the course of those
seven hours.
By the end, you
not only understand
what happened to OJ
but begin to comprehend everything else
that ever baffled you
about the States: how Trump got
elected, how the Oscars went so wrong
this year and why Happy Days did that
episode with Fonzie and the shark. The
place has got total insanity hard-wired
into its veins. Bad luck for the people
who live there; great luck for those of
us who can watch it unfold on Net?ix
from the comfort of a foreign land.
?I?ve spent my
life in thrall to
the madness of
America. It has
total insanity
hard-wired into
its veins?
Words: Sam Delaney @DelaneyMan
THE BIG ISSUE / p36 / March 27?April 2 2017
GO WITH
THE FLOW
The Oxford versus
Cambridge Boat
Races (April 2, various
locations along the
Thames, London;
theboatraces.org) sees
the two elite colleges
battle it out along
the murky Thames,
a tradition that dates
back to 1829. Up to
250,000 people will be
craning their necks to
see, so get there early
and wrap up warm if
you want to catch a
?eeting glimpse of
bellowing people in
boats whizz by.
From river bends to
rail tracks: the building
of Crossrail seems
to have been going
on forever but the
end is ?nally in sight,
with the ?rst part of it
opening in May. The
Treasures of Crossrail
(until April 12,
Docklands, London;
museumo?ondon.
org.uk) lets kids see
what the massive
project entails,
including recreating
archaeological gems
the digging has
unearthed. In the
process, truths about
the capital?s past and
future are revealed,
The London Games
Festival (March 30
to April 9, various
locations, London;
games.london) is back
for its second year.
New games and new
gaming technology
(invariably with a
heavy emphasis
on virtual reality)
will be showcased,
offering you plenty of
suggestions for your
Christmas wish list.
Stepping away from
the future and digging
into the past, Tudors
and Stuarts History
Weekend (March 31
MUSIC
ZARA LARSSON / THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN
So far, so good
T
to April 2, Canterbury;
canterbury.ac.uk/
tudors-stuarts) has
speakers including
Anna Keay, Janina
Ramirez, Glenn
Richardson and David
Starkey dissecting
the political, military,
economic, religious
and cultural impacts
of these two royal
families. Broken into
four themes ?燢ings
and Queens; War and
Politics; The Church;
and Social History ?
you should be able to
walk away an expert
on the 16th and 17th
centuries in Britain.
On an art theme,
When the Heavens
Meet the Earth (until
May 21, Cambridge;
dow.cam.ac.uk)
is the ?rst major
public exhibition of
works from Robert
Devereux?s Sina Jina
Collection. Among
the artists whose work
will be on display at
the free exhibition is
Rotimi Fani-Kayode
(whose photograph
Grapes, from 1989,
is below).
Zimbabwean artist
Moffat Takadiwa
(until May 6,
Marylebone;
tyburngallery.com)
exhibits his work,
which draws on
found objects ?
like computer keys
and spray canisters
? to comment on
the consumption
of foreign products
in Zimbabwe and
across Africa.
Glamorous
Brides: East
End Weddings
Between the
Wars (March
31, Barbican;
museumo?ondon.
org.uk) shows
off the museum?s
vintage wedding
dresses from the
1940s while experts
explain how they
were made and
what they tell us
about the pursuit of
a normal life during
difficult times.
Eamonn Forde
here?s little that leaves much to
the imagination about Zara
Larsson?s not exactly selfdeprecatingly-titled album, So
Good. The young dance-pop Swede?s lyrical
candour is nothing if not ear-pricking: ?No
one?s ever touched me like I touch myself,?
she sings in the chorus of Only You, one of
six tracks from the album that have been
released as singles over the last two years.
The half-a-billion times Spotify streamed
Lush Life was the sound of not just last
summer but the summer before that.
So Good was only ever going to feel a bit Swede spot: Zara Larsson, 19, is the voice of her generation
so-so, then, if for no other reason than
because it has already long since given up Jim and William Reid, the East Kilbride
most of its best goods. But this package still brothers at the band?s volatile core, admit
does justice to comfortably one of the more that they almost killed each other while
interesting pop stars of Larsson?s Beyonc� touring 1998?s Munki, prompting a probably
and Rihanna-reared post-modern genera- wise split and spell of sobering up.
tion. A socially, politically and sexually
A reunion since 2007 has seen d閠ente
frank and aware young woman, who shares maintained but new material has until now
words and opinions over social media come distant second to touring the classics,
unvarnished by PR and management, and including an extensive 30th anniversary
sings to an audience of her
celebration of 1985?s seminal
mostly teenage and earlyPsychocandy. Damage and Joy
feels not unworth the wait,
20-something peers in the same
packing all the Stones-onplain-spoken language with
which they speak to each other.
downers whacked-out fuzz and
Larsson even gives the mandrone you?d expect but with
datory boring ballads a bit of an
some strong hooks and funnily
unexpected twist. Between the
self-aware lyricism.
outwardly saccharine choruses
Even if the Reids are off the
of I Can?t Fall in Love Without The Jesus and Mary Chain drugs, they?ve still got them on
You, she magnanimously asks bring some brotherly hate
their minds. ?The two of us are
her ex to keep a place for her in
getting high, we don?t need drugs
his heart even as he gets with other girls, ?cause we know how to ?y,? drawls Jim on
adding scornful devilment in the kiss-off: The Two of Us, while Get on Home is know?I hope you can get it up.?
ingly puerile electro-blues about a night
Such is the way of these sorts of albums, spent with ?a blow-up girl and some LSD?.
the featuring credits stack up not always to Just as she did on the Mary Chain?s friends
the record?s obvious betterment. MNEK Primal Scream?s latest album, Sky Ferreira
lends some ?zzing UK garage beats to lends a guest vocal to one track, Black and
Never Forget You but the quasi-dancehall Blues, bringing a bit of the youthful miscre?avoured Sundown, starring Wizkid, is less ancy the Reids once possessed in such
appealing than it might have been hoped. abundance. These days they?re just happy
More surprises would have been welcome to be together without killing one another,
on So Good but there?s little doubt that as Facing Up to the Facts admits: ?I hate my
Larsson has plenty more up her sleeve yet. brother and he hates me/That?s the way it?s
Arriving 19 years after their last LP, feed- supposed to be.?
back junkies The Jesus and Mary Chain?s
seventh album carries no little baggage. Words: Malcolm Jack @MBJack
THE BIG ISSUE / p37 / March 27?April 2 2017
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THE BIG ISSUE / p38 / March 27-April 2 2017
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ADVERTISING CLASSIFIED
To advertise: Jenny Bryan / jennifer_bryan@dennis.co.uk
Are you the Special Person
we are looking for?
Journalist for
homelessness
campaign
�,668 per annum
Crisis is the national charity for homeless people. We are dedicated to ending
homelessness by delivering life-changing services and campaigning for change.
Our innovative education, employment, house and wellbeing services address
individual needs and help homeless people to transform their lives.
Location:
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Contract type:
1 Year Fixed Term
One in every 100 babies worldwide are
born with heart disease
Chain of Hope is a children?s cardiac charity, which runs an International Child Referral
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or no access to cardiac care. We bring children to the UK for surgery and we are
looking for Host Family volunteers to help care for the child and their parent whilst they
are in London.
Do you have a spare room in your home to host a child and their guardian?
Do you live within 1 hour of central London?
Are you passionate about helping others?
If the answer to any of these is YES, get in touch today!
Contact Jennie via jennie@chainofhope.org or
020 7351 1978 for more information.
www.chainofhope.org ? www.facebook.com/ChainofHopeUK
Chain of Hope is a registered charity in the UK no. 1081384
Full/part time:
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Hours per week:
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Closing Date:
21/04/2017
Interview Date:
05/05/2017
Have you had experience of being homeless? Do you want to help create a
campaign to change the way people think about homelessness?
In this exciting role as the campaign journalist, you will support people who are
and have been homeless to share their experiences. You?ll interview a wide range
of people, and write up their stories to share online.
You don?t need to have been a journalist before. But you?ll need to have good
writing skills and understand what makes a good story. It would be ideal if you
have photography skills, or be willing and able to learn them. You?ll have the
con?dence to talk to a range of different people to invite them to share their
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You?ll always treat people with dignity and respect and will make sure that
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If you?re interested in the role and would like to ask any questions that are not
answered in the job description found online or above, we would encourage you
to get in touch for a more in depth chat with Garry Lemon, News and Media
Manager. However, for all initial enquiries please get in touch with the HR team on
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To apply, please visit our website www.crisis.org.uk/jobs and complete the online
application via the recruitment portal.
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THE BIG ISSUE / p41 / March 27-April 2 2017
ADVERTISING CLASSIFIED
To advertise: Jenny Bryan / jennifer_bryan@dennis.co.uk
ALWAYS
HaM
Give Us
The List
Wolfchilde.com
Group PR Manager
Finsbury Park, London
Full time 35hrs per week
Salary on application
Ref: BIC/PRM
The Big Issue Group is looking for an experienced PR Manager to join our team.
This is a new role, and comes at an exciting time in the growth and development of the
UK?s foremost social enterprise Group. The Group PR Manager will play a central role in
communicating The Big Issue?s mission, activities and achievements to the media and wider
public, with the objective of expanding our reach and in?uence. You will be responsible for
ensuring the Group is fully across the news agenda and is maximising all relevant opportunities.
This role requires excellent writing and editing skills, and experience of planning and
executing high-pro?le PR campaigns. You will be required to work closely with a broad
range of internal and external stakeholders, including Big Issue magazine sellers, staff,
partners, investees, journalists and other key in?uencers. You will also assist in the
planning and coordination of events.
Reporting to the Group Marketing & Communications Director, you will be required to
work both as part of a small team and on your own initiative. You must possess excellent
communication skills, a positive attitude and an ability to work well under pressure. An
in-depth knowledge of the media landscape and understanding of how different channels
interact to in?uence stakeholders is crucial. As is a commitment to the social objectives of
The Big Issue.
www.greekcats.org.uk
This is a great opportunity for an experienced PR professional to work across a range of social
enterprises, including a publisher, an investment business and an e-commerce platform.
Staff bene?ts include a generous holiday entitlement, membership of a healthcare scheme,
childcare vouchers, paid leave to care for dependents and life cover.
To apply, please go to www.bigissue.org.uk and click on ?Work For Us? or
alternatively send your CV and covering letter, explaining why you are the right
person for this position, to personnel@bigissue.com.
Closing date: April 14th 2017
The Big Issue thanks all applicants for their interest and
will reply only to those invited for interview.
The Big Issue is striving towards Equal Opportunities
THE BIG ISSUE / p42 / March 27-April 2 2017
WRITERS BUREAU CREATIVE WRITING COURSE
???????????
?????????
?I?m currently working on my fourth
book, have been paid for my writing
by at least 15 different magazines, and
now earn half my income from writing
? all thanks to The Writers Bureau?s
course."
Sarah Plater
?I enrolled in The Writers Bureau?s
Creative Writing course in the hope
of building my confidence as a writer
and ending my cycle of publishing
failures. I currently work as a content
writer with a writing agency and have even won a
writing competition."
Walter Dinjos
?I won the 2015 Flirty Fiction Prima
Magazine and Mills and Boon
competition. The prize was �0, a
three page feature in the magazine and
the chance to work with Mills and Boon
on my book. Also I have three stories in three
anthologies with other authors ? we?ve raised almost
�000 for cancer charities?
Rachel Dove
??I have been published in different
papers and magazines and am now
producing around 250 articles a year.
It?s going a bit too well at times!
Seriously, it?s very satisfying, stimulating
and great fun ? and thanks again to the WB for
launching me on a second career. I meet so many
interesting people and count myself mightly lucky.?
Martin Read
?If you listen to the tutors and take
time to read the material you can be a
working writer, it really is an excellent
course. I've found part-time work as a
freelance writer for Academic
Knowledge. I've earned just under �00 in the past
year.?
Steph Thompson
?I am delighted to tell everyone that
the course is everything it says on the
tin, excellent! I have wanted to write
for years, and this course took me by
the hand and helped me turn my
scribblings into something much more professional. I
am delighted that my writing is being published and I
am actually being paid. All thanks to the
Comprehensive Creative Writing course.?
George Stewart
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What our students say:
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28
Years of
Success
Members of BILD
and ABCC
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?? ?????????????????!!???# ???# !?????#??!???????????%%%+% ??? !?# ??#+???
COMPETITION
FOUNDERS
John Bird and Gordon Roddick
Group executive chairman
Nigel Kershaw
Managing director
Russell Blackman
WIN!
A LAUGHTER-LOAD
OF HBO COMEDY
EDITORIAL
Editor Paul McNamee
Deputy editor Vicky Carroll
Senior reporter Adam Forrest
Features editor Steven MacKenzie
Social media editor Andrew Burns
Web content manager Theo Hooper
Books editor Jane Graham
Television editor Adrian Lobb
Film Edward Lawrenson
Radio Robin Ince
Music Malcolm Jack and David Fay
Special correspondent Mark Hamill
Business support manager Robert White
PRODUCTION
Art director Scott Maclean
Designer Jim Ladbury
Production editor Ross McKinnon
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Production co-ordinator Terry Cimini
ADVERTISING 020 7907 6637
Group advertising director Andrea Mason
Group advertising manager Helen Ruane
Display Brad Beaver
Classi?ed and recruitment: 020 7907 6635
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Senior sales exective Imogen Williams
Marketing and communications director
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THE BIG ISSUE FOUNDATION
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Are you having a laugh? After this particularly grim winter, we wouldn?t
blame you if you weren?t. But don?t worry ? HBO are here to banish
those blues once and for all. The cable and satellite network is known
for its top-quality comedy shows, and this spring it?s releasing a
cacklesome cache of both brand-new and much-loved shows on
DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.
Fresh this year is the ?rst series of Insecure, co-written by and
starring Issa Rae (below), best known for her web series, Awkward Black
Girl. Also making its debut is teachers-at-war comedy Vice Principals
(above), from the outrageous minds behind Eastbound & Down.
Ballers is back, with Dwayne ?The Rock? Johnson this time ?exing
his comedy muscles as a retired American football star now immersed
in the murky world of player management. And to complete this
veritable gag-bag of giggles are withering US political satire Veep
and Mike Judge?s computer geek-com Silicon Valley.
We have ?ve sets of all ?ve HBO
hit comedies ? Insecure, Ballers,
Vice Principles, Veep and Silicon
Valley ? to give away on DVD.
To be in with a chance of winning,
answer this question: Who is the
co-writer and star of Insecure?
PPA
Cover of the
Year 2015
PPA Scotland
Cover of the
Year 2015
Paul McNamee
British editor of the year 2016, BSME
Still time to win?
THE NEW ADAPTATION OF
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES ON DVD
Enter at bigissue.com/mix/competitions
THE BIG ISSUE / p44 / March 27?April 2 2017
Send your answers
with HBOCOMEDY
as the subject to
competitions@bigissue.
com or post to The Big
Issue, 43 Bath Street,
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Include your name
and address. Closing
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GAMES & PUZZLES
SUDOKU
SPOT THE BALL
A
B
C
D
There is just one simple rule
in sudoku: each row, column
and 3 x 3 box must contain
the numbers one to nine.
This is a logic puzzle and you
should not need to guess.
The solution will be revealed
next week.
ISSUE 1248 SOLUTION
F
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
To win How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees
by Paul Tobin, mark where you think the ball
is, cut out and send to: Spot the Ball (1249),
second ?oor, 43 Bath St, Glasgow, G2 1HW,
by April 4. Include name, address, phone
number. Enter by email: send grid position
(e.g. A1) to competitions@bigissue.com.
8
9
10
(Last
week?s
Spot
the Ball
revealed:
QPR v
Spurs,
1982)
PRIZE CROSSWORD
QUICK CLUES
CRYPTIC CLUES
Across
1. Spotless beauty
queen (4,5)
8. Attorney leaves
girl with gun (4)
9. Going out of one?s
way to be amusing (9)
11. Followed with
obstinacy (6)
12. Duty performed in
the workplace (6)
13. In a low place he is
found clinging (8)
16. Negligently depend
on including young
lady (8)
20. For the greater part
lost out within my
clutches (6)
21. Inserted piece in
bogus settlement (6)
23. Potter in Greek
capital repairing
ineffectually (9)
24. Vessel holding liquid
from the brewery (4)
25. The debtor became
engaged (9)
To win a Chambers Dictionary, send completed crosswords (either cryptic
or quick) to: The Big Issue Crossword (1249), second ?oor, 43 Bath Street,
Glasgow, G2 1HW by April 4. Include your name, address and phone
number. Issue 1247 winner is Jakki Gillett from Greenwich.
Down
2. Fix record with
handy trimmer (4,4)
3. We get the wrong
beetle (6)
4. Impetuous people
getting out of the
shade, keen ?rst (8)
5. Nurse in attendance (4)
6. Twice endlessly grip
an African amulet (6)
7. Very nervous near
the brink (2,4)
10. Blood on triangular
piece let into
garment (4)
14. Quite a blow for
the farm worker (8)
15. Leo possibly held
by Vincent using
unjusti?able force (8)
16. Rough-edged sort
of dagger (6)
17. Seafood but it
sounds like beef (6)
18. Susan by the junction
had fatty tissue (4)
19. Tripe?s being
distributed with
liveliness (6)
22. A picking-up point (4)
Across
1. Show exaggerated
response (9)
8. Before long (4)
9. Disturbing (9)
11. Wig (6)
12. Net income (6)
13. Obscenity (8)
16. Went up (8)
20. US currency (6)
21. Book size (6)
23. Hostile feeling (9)
24. Prison room (4)
25. Schedule (9)
Down
2. Energetic (8)
3. Con?rm (6)
4. Quali?ed (8)
5. Insincere talk (4)
6. Duo (6)
7. If not (6)
10. Virtuous (4)
14. Walking like a duck (8)
15. Celestial beings (8)
16. Assert positively (6)
17. Bovine animals (6)
18. Exploding star (4)
19. Domesticated llama (6)
22. Heavy blow (inf.) (4)
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
Issue 1248 solution
CRYPTIC: Across ? 1 Blunderbuss; 9 Idaho; 10 Sel?sh; 11 Dais; 12 Potholer; 14 Wiggle; 15 Salaam; 18 Minutiae; 20 Adam; 22 Annulus; 23 Dinar; 24 Whitechapel.
Down ? 2 Leaving; 3 Noon; 4 Euston; 5 Billhead; 6 Skill; 7 Sit-down meal; 8 Short memory; 13 Platelet; 16 Andante; 17 Parsec; 19 Ninth; 21 Idea.
QUICK: Across ? 1 Philatelist; 9 Eilat; 10 Trainer; 11 Tact; 12 Downcast; 14 Nutmeg; 15 Asking; 18 Betrayal; 20 Tern; 22 Organic; 23 Crass; 24 Predominate.
Down ? 2 Hellcat; 3 Loth; 4 Tattoo; 5 Leanness; 6 Santa; 7 Newton Abbot; 8 Protagonist; 13 Detained; 16 Inexact; 17 Talcum; 19 Tiger; 21 Scan.
THE BIG ISSUE / p45 / March 27?April 2 2017
Photos: Action Images
E
MY PITCH
Damian Davies, 30
MARKS & SPENCER, BROADMEAD, BRISTOL
?I was in a car crash in 2006 and
smashed my head in. I died three times?
FACTS ABOUT ME...
WHERE IN THE WORLD
I?ve never been abroad, I?ve never
even been on holiday. I?m trying to
get a passport ? I?d like to ?nd out
what the rest of the world is like.
IF I WON THE LOTTERY
I?d look after all the people who
have looked after me. There are
so many people and charities in
my life who have helped me out.
ON MY
PITCH?
I?m at M&S, Broadmead,
from 9am to 2pm, and
sometimes I do a few
hours at Pero?s Bridge
in the evening
I
?m not long out of hospital
so I just do a few hours a
day on my pitch, enough
to make some money. I nearly
died after an operation and
I was in hospital for a month
but I?m getting better now.
Before I went in I had a pitch
on the other side of town,
at Pero?s Bridge, but the
customers here are nice too.
My work background is
removals and labouring, and
that?s what I?m trying to get
back into but I?m waiting till
my leg?s ?xed up. I?m on a jobs
programme so they can help
me out with quali?cations,
like a CSCS card, so I can go
back on a building site. I want
physical work, the kind that
knackers you out.
I?ve been on this pitch for
four weeks and I?m enjoying
it. It gets me out meeting the
public and having a laugh with
people. The staff are really
good ? they?re helping me get
a bank account and a passport.
I struggle a lot because I didn?t
do much school, so forms
are difficult.
Mine was a bad start in life.
I got involved in drugs and
from there I had problems with
work and housing. Then I had a
car crash in 2006 and smashed
my head in. I died three times.
I woke up with no memory and
they thought I?d be a cabbage
for the rest of my life. I couldn?t
talk and just watched kids? TV
? but I?m doing pretty well for a
cabbage now.
I was on the streets for six
or seven years but now I?m
living in a hostel. It?s lovely,
really posh. The people are
lovely too but I don?t see much
of them. I?m not used to being
inside so I don?t spend that
much time爐here.
THE BIG ISSUE / p46 / March 27?April 2 2017
My daughter is my life.
She?s 12 and lives with her
mum in Bath so I haven?t seen
her since I moved to Bristol
three-and-a-half years ago. I
used to have money, so I could
afford to look after her. Now
I?m trying to start afresh but
it?s a lot harder when you?re on
the right side of the law. I?ll be
seeing her soon though. She
hasn?t got the con?dence up,
so I don?t know when exactly,
but when it happens I?ll take
her out and spoil her as always.
It?s something to look forward
to and focus on.
These days I?m behaving
myself, selling The Big Issue
and trying to sort myself out.
I?ve died too many times for
my liking and I?d just like a
quiet life now.
Words: Sarah Reid
Photo: Sean Malyon
A kettle,
cutlery,
a toaster.
A few simple things that help make
a home. And a big difference from
living on the street.
If you want to make a big difference
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with a pen and a pair of scissors.
Thank you.
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Text TBIF44 � to 70070 to donate to The Big
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ibraries offer so much more, yet they?re being
decimated.
This borough is not a wealthy one. High unemployment, low literacy levels and a dying high street
combine to make this a place where libraries are
essential. Job seekers are supposed to spend seven
hours a day (according to the government) searching
for jobs on computers when they do not own one. We
help people who have never used a computer before
in their life ?ll in a myriad of online forms in order to
provide for themselves. We are asked to watch children
while the parents shop (no, sorry!), to sign passport
forms, scan vital documents to government departments. Staff do their best to support the homeless
people who come to the library to get warm because
there is nowhere else to go. Our mobile libraries visit
people who don?t see anyone else in their homes
from month to month. That human interaction is
vitally important. We are there when relatives die and
people need consolation.�
Throughout these years of uncertainty we have
always been expected to continue to provide the same
excellent service that we have always given. The staff
numbers have dwindled down to a skeleton crew and
these days we scrabble around to ?nd enough staff
just to open all of the buildings we have got. Customers
have no idea about this, of course, and continue to
demand, and receive, a huge amount of assistance.
Library staff in this borough, and I am sure
elsewhere, care. We care that someone looks hungry
or upset or confused. We put up with abuse from some
of the more demanding customers and the blue lights
in the toilets to prevent drug use. We cope with the
verbal insults because we have stopped someone
looking at pornography on a public computer. We put
up with all of that because we want to provide a service
and to help.
Colleagues and some customers have been in tears
because the library they use is closing. I have tried to
comfort when all I really want to do is cry myself.
How on earth do you convey to people who only care
about money the true importance of libraries?
To quote the writer Anne Herbert: ?Libraries will
get you through times of no money better than money
will get you through times of no libraries.?
To protect the librarians? identities we have
omitted names from this article
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
IN OUR CAMPAIGN?
Inspired by these librarians ?ghting
cuts? For more ideas on how to save
your local library see our Better Literacy,
Better Future campaign at bigissue.com
THE BIG ISSUE / p27 / March 27?April 2 2017
THE INTERVIEW: CHARLOTTE R AMPLING
?I?M NOW THE
WISE WOMAN?
The suicide of her sister aged 23 didn?t catch up with
Charlotte Rampling until her 40s when depression set
in and she disappeared from view. Now, the actress
tells Liz Thomson, she has found a way through it
Photo: Getty
F
rance has been Charlotte Rampling?s home
for 40 years. In her duplex in Paris? 16th
arrondissement there are high ceilings
and paintings everywhere, hanging and
leaning. A small black-and-white TV is
tuned permanently to a classic movie channel, the
sound off. Classical music plays in the background.
She moved here in 2002 with her long-time companion, Jean-Noel Tassez, who died in 2015. Following
Tassez?s death, she had thought it would be too difficult
to remain alone in the apartment. Instead she discovered that the rituals of death ? a ?good? funeral ? make
it possible to integrate the past with a new present.
?The funeral was amazing,? she says. ?My sons
looked after everything and we chose all these incredible things and a huge number of people came.
And something happens, something that will live in
you afterwards. What I found out, which was very
positive, is that you?re accompanied for a very long
time by your dead friends and dead loves, which I?d
never had before. It?s been the most amazing companionship. Eventually you feel them go? Then it?s about
getting back into the land of the living. It is just that. on Valentine?s Day 1967, shaped her life. The book is
I do know, now, about grieving.?
slight, just 109 pages, yet paradoxically heavy, ?a walk
Rampling has never made any secret of the darkness in the wilderness?, the ultimate unburdening.
It is also the story of a happy if rootless childhood
that enveloped her 40s when she all but disappeared
from view. What was a secret until not so many years in an Army family where friends were necessarily
ago was the reason for it: the death, at 23, of her beloved transient and the little girls were thrown back on their
elder sister Sarah, who shot herself in her home far away own company. Rampling remembers a brief period in
in the Argentine pampas, her premature
Fontainebleau, when she and Sarah ?
F
son not yet home from hospital. Their
aalways somehow frail, ?my big little
father decided the true story was too
ssister? ? played in the nearby forest for
awful to be told so having taken the call
hours and hours with their real-life dog
h
from his cattle-rancher son-in-law he
aand imaginary ponies. ?You just get on
told his wife, and Charlotte, that Sarah
with it,? she re?ects, ?but even now I
had died of a brain haemorrhage. The
don?t keep friends. I have friends but I
?ction was easier to maintain in the
think they?re going to disappear so
unwired 1960s but two years later Sarah (left) and Charlotte Rampling I don?t contact them and then I don?t
Rampling learned the truth. By then a
have to worry about it.?
stroke had almost totally incapacitated
Her father ? who?d taken gold in
her mother and when she confronted her father it was Hitler?s notorious 1936 Olympics, appearing in Leni
agreed the truth must remain unspoken. You don?t need Riefenstahl?s Olympia ? told his surviving daughter
great psychological insight to link Rampling?s to ?go out and live your life?. Her star quality had
unresolved grief for her sister with her breakdown. already been spotted: she?d made her screen debut in
?It?s like post-traumatic stress. You go on for ages. You The Knack and played a lead in Rotten to the Core.
haven?t seen anything. Someone has just disappeared. ?He said, I will be there for your mother.?
And they?re not going to come back. Apparently.?
Georgy Girl made her a star in Swinging London.
The story of Sarah?s short life, and death, are told in She was a hot chick who hung out with The Beatles at
Rampling?s memoir, Who I Am, its emphatic title an the Ad Lib club and
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