Not so happy new year, and other thoughts.
When this web site was built for me the designer said that I should have this section and use it as a blog, but I haven’t. I really, really struggle to fit the things that I have to do into a day already, so I just don’t have time for blogging, or facebooking or tweeting. Today is the first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar so I thought I would rise up nice and early and write something in this space. Then I got a phone call. After that call I rushed to The Queen Elisabeth Hospital in Birmingham to see a man dying. The man is not a blood relative of mine, but for many years he raised me like his son so I’m very close to him. I have more memoires of him than my ‘real’ dad, and although his mind and body are shutting down he recognised me, and tired (although it was very difficult) to speak to me. We have been warned that these are his last hours, so we were told we should say our goodbyes. I could not say goodbye to someone who is clinging on and fighting for his life, the best I could do (as I was leaving) was say that, somehow, somewhere, we will see each other again. I know that can be interpreted in many different ways, but I just couldn’t say goodbye to someone who is trying not to say goodbye. He is not going gentle into that good night.
My original plan was to tell you that in September I will have a new novel for young adults published. It’s called Terror Kid, and will be published by Hot Keys. All my past novels have been published by Bloomsbury and I really loved being with them, but my editor left and I had to go with her. Any writer will tell you that a good editor is priceless. I would fall apart without mine; I’ll go wherever she goes.
I should also be releasing a new music album this year. We don’t have a date fixed yet, and I don’t have a title, but it’s going well. I’ve gone back to my reggae roots, with a touch of dubstep. I know the times they are a changing, but I don’t want it to be released as download only, I am going to insist that the label release it on CD and possibly vinyl too.
I’m reading three books at the moment. I say reading, I really mean dipping into. They are;
Irki by Kadija Sesay.
This woman is amazing, but my biggest criticism of her is that she has two names that keep confusing people. She is also Kadija George, one of the greatest champions of black literature living in Britain today. She is everywhere. It would be impossible to say how much she has done for writing in Britain without writing a book. But she is also a great poet. I’m no good at reviewing, but I can tell you that if you like poetry that is well written, thoughtful, sometimes playful, with storytelling qualities, then check her out.
Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen.
Not much to say really. You know what Leonard Cohen does, you either like it or you don’t. I love his work. If you know his work by his music alone, then give this book a try.
Prisonomics by Vicky Pryce.
I know that prisons don’t work. They do very little in terms of rehabilitation, they do very little in terms of cutting ‘crime’, and they therefore do very little for victims. Prisons just don’t deal with the serious underlying problems in society. I also know that they don’t make economic sense, and this is really what this book is about.
Not very long ago I was in Holloway Women’s Prison making a film, and I couldn’t help but notice how vulnerable many of the women there were. As Vicky Pryce points out many women in British prisons are there for failing to pay television licenses, or rent arrears, or because their children have played truant. I would add to the women who have been forced into prostitution, or forced to carry drugs, or even forced to hide stolen goods for men. I could never understand why the powers that be can’t see that it’s a false economy to lock these women up. Well Vicky Pryce exposes the economic stupidity. It is well known that she got sentenced to eight months for accepting her ex husband’s speeding penalty points so one could ask if she would have had written such a book if she didn’t go to nick herself. But we’ll never know, unless we ask her. The point is she has now been inside, she has a good understanding of her subject, and she makes her arguments well. Again I can’t review it, I don’t know how to review books, I just don’t have the language, but I do know that she makes a lot of sense, and it’s about time someone articulated a common sense alternative economic strategy to prisons. But I’m still a revolutionary, and I still believe that if we are to keep the prisons we have we should be locking up many more politicians, bankers and hunters.
I’ve had a few enquires from the media asking me to comment on the new year’s honours’ list. I have very little else to say about the subject. If need the queen and the government to give them a badge for being good citizens, that’s their problem, but I did notice the two NHS whistles blowers got gongs. I think the government will be fine with that, because that want to give the impression that they are somehow cleaning the NHS up. You can’t argue that the women weren’t right to do what they did. But what about the other whistle-blowers? What about those that expose police corruption, and those women and men that expose war crimes, you will never see someone getting an OBE, MBE or any gong for exposing political corruption. Those that expose violations of the law are violated by the law. Nuff said.
So that’s it. Maybe this is not a real blog, just me ranting, but at least it’s something.
I should also just say that today I have been in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, and Peterborough, and I really looked hard, but I couldn’t see a Bulgarian – Romanian invasion.