‘The houses are all gone under the sea. The dancers are all gone under the hill.’
East Coker, The Four Quartets. T S Eliot
In the beginning, I sobbed. At the denouement, I howled. I cry routinely at the telly. But this was different. These tears came not just from shallow, passing sentiment but deep, permanent scarring. A place beyond the space between remembering and forgetting. Not just of grief, but shame.
When my partner and our friends died, a part of me went with them. Under the sea, under the hill — to a place I thought was the…
Russell T Davies’ forthcoming series on Channel 4, It’s a Sin, could not be timelier. This is NOT the first plague in living memory. We have been here before.
For almost a year, I have bored anyone who would listen about the relentless familiarity of the current pandemic’s lexicon. The resonances we have repeatedly tripped over. I am not about to let up. And yet the arrival of It’s a Sin has stopped me in my tracks. I am impatient for it but pulsating with apprehension.
I cannot think of safer hands for a small screen AIDS drama to be…
“I’ve asked so many people if they know anyone who has had Covid. Hardly anyone. Two people knew someone (not close) who’d died. Without daily news would we even know there was an epidemic?”
I don’t know which world Allison Pearson inhabits. I’m sure, once upon a time, it collided with mine as the viewer of a late-night chat show about art and poetry. Nice stuff. I’m not usually given to calling out individuals, either. Nor piling on. Nor responding to clickbait on Twitter or anywhere else.
But I live in this world. A world where this year, 60,000 people…
“I guess the last lesson I’ve learned as an AIDS activist and the hardest one to learn, is that fights are never won. They just go on and on. They are. And yet they must be fought. They must, must, still, continually, and forever, be fought. Over and over and over, they must be fought.”
Almost the final words from Larry Kramer’s updated and expanded Reports from the holocaust: the story of an AIDS activist, published in 1994. And then the book’s parting shot: “I’ll think of ways to continue to raise hell.”
He did too. The man who had…
Half a lifetime ago, on a bright, crisp December day in Harrogate, I was reunited with an old friend. We had first met 12 years before at university — as politics students, fellow Labour Club members and union hacks.
Tragedy had brought us together again — the premature death of a mutual friend who had been killed in an air crash in Kathmandu. It wasn’t that we’d not seen each other in the intervening decade. But even the best friendships can be messy and ours had been just that.
We had arrived on campus just five months after the election…
“Go for a long hard run, take a cold shower, and avoid the occasion of sin.”
My dad’s closing words in a letter he wrote to me 40 years ago. And the first that came to me as I read this afternoon that Pope Francis has said he thinks same-sex couples should be afforded legal protection for civil unions.
There will be those who say he’s late to the party, even that he’s missed it. But make no mistake about it, tardy though his arrival maybe, he’s a star guest. What he says matters.
I was in my first year…
I have only ever met Andrew O’Hagan across a signing table. Such meetings are odd, often full of anticipation for the reader, sometimes mild exhaustion on the part of the author. Occasionally they are memorable too.
The signing may be no more than the briefest of exchanges to confirm who you’d like the book dedicated to. Sometimes there’s a conversation. It’s never lengthy, even if you know the author. There is a queue behind you waiting for their moment too.
Sometimes you come away feeling embarrassed by your gaucheness — as if it would even be remembered. Other times you…
‘This is not a set of recommendations, it’s a call to action’, said Jim McCormick introducing the final report of Edinburgh Poverty Commission’s report today.
With characteristic calm candour, McCormick, the commission’s chair, levelled with us. That call to action is not merely for officialdom. It is for all of us — the citizens of Edinburgh.
The report, A Just Capital: Actions to End Poverty in Edinburgh, is an outstanding piece of work and required reading for anyone who cares about the future of our city and its people.
As I listened to the commissioners and the city’s respondents speak…
‘I’ve always assumed suicide’s the way I’ll go.’
A short sentence from a conversation with someone I used to know. Those words have stayed with me. How could they not?
I have thought about him a lot these past few months. And now it’s World Suicide Prevention Day. So, of course, I’m thinking of him today.
The day he uttered those words, we were comparing notes about suicide. He’d tried to take his own life several times in the past. I’ve only tried the once, 18 years ago.
But, like his words, my suicide attempt has left its mark right…
How old were you when you first knew you were straight? If you are straight, I wonder if anyone has ever asked you that question. You may be the exception that proves the rule but I’d hazard a guess they haven’t. Because that’s not how it works.
But as the tragic death of Jamel Myles has reminded us, it’s a question that still gets asked all too often if you’re gay. It’s a reminder that the question we actually need to be asking — still — is why the disparity and what should we do about it?
And actually, the…
Chair @SAMHtweets, Non Exec @socsecscot & runner @EdinburghAC, Views my own