Raul Detained

A while ago I blogged about a short film that my nephew and his friend, Raul, made. The film is called ‘A State of Superposition’ and chronicles Raul’s experience of leaving Somalia and coming to the UK.


Now Raul has been threatened with deportation on Wednesday, to Tanzania where he knows nobody. He is 18. He has only had a few days warning and a campaign has been mounted to halt this. If you could take a few minutes to help us, all the details are here. http://freeraulally.wordpress.com/how-to-help/. Thanks.

Raul Detained.

via Raul Detained.


The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Mice on toast, a whole room of women who collected cat’s cradles and their disembodied hands floating over books, the telling of the bees, portraits of Russian space dogs, sculptures on the eye of a needle, more specifically, Pope John-Paul the second on the eye of a needle, trailer park models, the European mole, letters Mount Wilson Observatory 1915-1935, sublimation through purification, the opera singer with amnesia and her tragic death, tea served Russian style. On the roof, birds and a man playing a stringed instrument.

On Sunset

‘A husband is different to a boyfriend. A boyfriend can just go ‘bye bye’ and leave.’

‘Husbands do that too sometimes. It has been known.’


The run up was like this. I was talking about the weather and saying there was snow on the hills near the airport this morning. He replied that there was snow in his country as well. I asked where he was from. He said Armenia.

I asked how long he’d lived in Los Angeles. He said 25 years. I asked whether he liked it. He said ‘not so much’. I asked if he thought he would ever go back to Armenia. He said it was impossible, he has three children and six grandchildren now. It’s different when you have a family, he said. And anyway, he is used to America now.

‘Are you married?’…

The breeze comes through the window and blows dust into my eyes. I watch the street numbers increasing towards my destination. Bits of palm trees blow across the road.

He offers me some gum. I take it. Equilibrium is restored.





Dancing backwards

1. Dancing backwards: Glasgow 2013

The man in the high visibility jacket and the Scotland baseball cap sits in a mobility scooter decorated with anti-bedroom tax and ‘no cuts’ slogans and some small flashing lights. Big band music emanates from an attached megaphone. In the passing crowd of protesters, a girl of about nine starts to dance. She twirls her red Unite flag like a baton and kicks up her legs and laughs. She is dancing backwards down Ingram Street, right on the edge of the march. She doesn’t see the shopper coming.  The shopper looks in a rush and is not amused at being poked in the legs by a twirling flagpole. Near to the girl, two grown-ups are talking. ‘You look at the city in a different way moving through it slowly, like this’.

2. Maggie Maggie Maggie: Durham 1980s (repeated)

Being waist high, walking though the centre of Durham, squashed. The sound of brass bands and ‘Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out out out!’ All that excitement and anger.

In amongst the family slides, (the babies, the birthdays, Christmases and holidays) sits one of the Durham Miners’ Gala. Judging by the clothes it’s pre-Maggie, Maggie, Maggie and indeed pre-me, but this is what it brings back. And here we are again (‘They say cut back…’).


Crane and Distillery

‘It’s not that what is past casts its light on what is present, or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with the now to form a constellation.’

Walter Benjamin [Arcades Project, N2a, 3]

Everything points to the crane. The crane, the regeneration workers tell us, is the focus of the development. The challenge is to link up the waterfront with the town. But private developers own a patch of land between the crane and the town. The deal was done during the boom and the developers were meant to build houses for sale. But this hasn’t happened and now the developers want to build a supermarket instead – which the regeneration people worry will suck people and money away from the town. For now, the crane stands on one corner of a big triangle of unused land containing only a pile of dirt that we are told just keeps getting moved around. At the far side of the triangle sits a further education college and a little further up the road, a small well-designed block of Housing Association flats. But because of the empty patch in the middle, none of these things fit together in the way that was anticipated. Standing on the top of the crane my stomach rises into my neck- it’s only when you are back on solid ground that you are aware of its slight motion. I shuffle around the edges of the jib, following the reassuring blue line that lies under the metal grid. Looking east, the Clyde twists around back to Glasgow. It is getting harder for these projects to the west of the city to access money as the Commonwealth Games have turned heads eastwards. Down below, the physical traces of ship-building are still written on the river, the slip where the QE2 was launched has been left in place. The developers gave the regeneration project the crane, but 4 million had to be spent on its renovation. Everything points to the crane.

In another town up the road is another remant of the industrial past, although this one is not restored. The whisky distillery stands with a patch of wasteland on one side and the river on the other. Across the river is ‘the rock’, popular with climbers and home of an under-promoted castle – the oldest fortified castle in Scotland, apparently. The ground that is wasteland and occupied by the distillery was meant to be covered in houses by now but the developers went into administration. The council want the distillery to be pulled down in order to create sightlines to the rock from the town. This ruin has not taken on the role of symbolising an inheritance, rather it is cast as a blotter-outter of views, the obstruction between the town and ‘real’ history. Looking across from the football ground towards the distillery, glowing orange, in front of the town and with a snow-covered Ben Lomond in the background, while listening to the aspirations of the regeneration workers for this place, pulling down the distillery seems not only like an act of vandalism but also at odds with their aspirations. They want to get the climbers to come and spend money and for tourists en route to Loch Lomond to stop by. The distillery looks like it could be converted into any number of things that could serve that purpose but maybe the issue is money rather than sightlines? We drive down a road that we are told is the success story, a private development of houses and flats, only the flats have declined 30% in value and have not proved popular.

The high street has a lot of vacant shops. One empty shop-front is mocked up as a deli. ‘It could be yours!’ promises the poster over the backdrop of pretend rows of olive oil.