Category: On the move

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. Thanks.

Raul Detained.

via Raul Detained.


A State of Superposition

‘I was in a state of superposition. I was everywhere and nowhere. But I felt like somebody going somewhere.’

This is a film my nephew Joe made with his friend Raul. I watched it on Sunday and it has lodged in my mind.

Raul tells the story of getting from Somalia to his current location in terms of being in a state of superposition – a term taken from quantum physics that relates to existing in multiple states at once. Describing his experience of sitting on an aeroplane to an unknown destination, Raul reflects that he was ‘everywhere and nowhere.’ While he retells this story Raul moves through a definite somewhere, the landscape of Newcastle – the Tyne Bridge stands in the background. The film powerfully evokes his journey, the experiences of displacement, placelessness and arrival, while simultaneously placing him in his current location. For me, the film raises questions about power, mobility and place. How Somalia and Newcastle have been brought together through this story. And how being thrown into motion violently, like this young man, can play out across global and local scales.

‘the architecture of hurry’ or how I ended up tutting at a person after being back in London for only 30 minutes

The train is delayed. Not one of those straight up ‘the train is delayed for an hour’ situations but one of those creeping ones where it starts with 10 minutes and gets progressively extended as you approach your destination. I have arranged to meet my ex-workmates for lunch within an hour of getting off the train and so I am getting progressively more annoyed every time the delay gets extended. The train arrives at Euston. I hurry out, up the ramp, across the concourse. The family in front of me are moving slowly. I’m instantly back in London-mode, weaving around people and hurrying. I cross Euston station and head for the corner by the church where I know I can get the 91 bus to the Strand. The ex-workmates ask if I want them to order for me. I order masala dosa.

I run to catch the approaching 91 bus, but it pulls out just as I make it to the bus stop. I can see another bus coming. This one goes to Aldwych not the Strand but I calculate that it will be quicker to get this and walk than wait for the next 91. I get on the bus. We are behind a road sweeper and the traffic is terrible. We chug down Kingsway. Then at the next bus stop I see one of those school parties of very cute multicultural children in high visibility vests, about 60 of them. This is a London sight that usually warms the cockles of my heart. No cockle-warming today. The bus pulls over and they all shuffle on, marshalled by a strict teacher ‘No talking!’ This takes some time. Then the road narrows into one lane of traffic, road works. I’m imagining my dosa getting cold and my annoyed ex-colleagues. I start to develop an eye twitch. Eventually we get to Aldwych. I leap off the bus and start jogging, pulling my suitcase along as I go. I’m wearing a big fake fur coat and it’s a few degrees warmer in London than in Glasgow and so I am instantly too hot.

A man waves a leaflet at me ‘Excuse me, excuse me, Can I ask you about your hair?’
I look at him with an exasperated face and make this noise, ‘Pfffft.’

Two days later at a conference on ‘Mobile Urbanisms’ I will enjoy a talk by Richard Dennis on the ‘architecture of hurry’ (a quote from Howards End) and the speeding up of late Nineteenth Century London. He describes how:

‘the consequences of acceleration have been congestion, gridlock or a practical slowing-down: more ‘haste’ leads to less ‘speed’, and the psychological consequences of ‘hurry’ undermine expectations of enhanced productivity and efficiency.’


Stevie Nicks

He has never been to a concert before. He had a ticket for one once when he was seventeen. It was for Fleetwood Mac at Wembley. He was told he couldn’t have the day off work and that if he went he would lose his job.

[He breaks off his story to wind down the window and shout at his pal, who has just become a grandfather for the 5th time and is driving a taxi in the parallel lane. ‘Shouldn’t you be going hame now, grandad?!’]

After that disappointment, he decided that any other concert would be a letdown. He owns the complete Fleetwood Mac back catalogue and everything by Stevie Nicks (his favourite) and Lindsey Buckingham. He has a lot of their videos too. He hopes to see them play one day.