‘This will never stop,’ writes playwright Anders Lustgarten in the introduction to his critically-acclaimed drama Lampedusa which, unflinchingly and without a trace of sentimentality, deals with the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. I saw it last night at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, co-producer of the play with the Soho Theatre, where it was first performed. ‘This is … Continue reading Lampedusa: ‘Fucking hell. Why are people kind?’
Three years ago I left the GP practice where I’d been a patient since my student days because Princes Park Health Centre, once the practice of the redoubtable socialist and councillor Cyril Taylor, was being privatised – handed over to a company called SSP Health which now runs more than 40 GP practices across Merseyside and … Continue reading Private Island: how privatisation turned us into peasants
In the library last week I chanced upon Bob Holman’s biography of Keir Hardie: a curious coincidence since only that morning I had read an article by Melissa Benn written to mark the occasion of the centenary of Hardie’s death (on 26 September 1915). Though I have always had an interest in the exciting political … Continue reading Keir Hardie: a message for today from Labour’s past?
Last week, at Budapest’s Keleti station, the Observer’s Emma Graham-Harrison mingled with the refugees hunkered down on the concourse there. In today’s paper she retells eight of the stories she heard from those fleeing persecution and war. This is one of them. Mary Al-Aboud fled the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor as it was surrounded … Continue reading From Keleti station, Budapest: one refugee story
During the last few days a poem has been cropping up frequently in Facebook posts. Written by the young British-Somali poet, Warsan Shire, Home speaks with the utmost clarity of the reasons why the many, many thousands now risking their lives on the Mediterranean, tramping through the Balkans, or along inhospitable roads in Hungary leave … Continue reading no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark
This must be what it was like in the 1930s when Jews fleeing Nazi Germany created a major refugee crisis to which the response of Britain, the USA and other potential safe haven countries was a collective shoulder shrug of indifference – or outright hostility. This summer we have witnessed an unfolding crisis on a … Continue reading This must be what it was like when German Jews were refugees
Seventy years after the city of Hiroshima was destroyed by one atomic bomb what puzzles me is this: where has the fear gone? Like most of my generation, growing up in the fifties and sixties my thoughts and night-time dreams were haunted by the bomb. During the Cold War years, as the nuclear stockpile grew … Continue reading How we stopped worrying and learned to forget The Bomb