I have some mild coronavirus-like symptoms. Its probably nothing, but now everyone in our household needs a test. Life and work are on hold while we struggle to get an appointment, and then wait for the results.
Yesterday morning I spoke to Vanessa Feltz on the BBC Radio London Breakfast show about my frustrations. You can listen below or on SoundCloud. The full show is available on BBC Sounds for 30 days.
Continue reading “Talking About Coronavirus Testing Inefficiencies on the BBC”
Lavie Tidhar is a World Fantasy Award winning author. In the beforetimes, I was due to interview him at English PEN’s Literary Salon at the London Book Fair… but the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus. Instead, we conducted the interview online, and its just been published on PEN Transmissions.
Continue reading “Holding Up a Funhouse Mirror – My interview with Lavie Tidhar”
Re-posted from 1001.recaps.org
So long as you are prepared to admit it, ignorance is an opportunity rather than a weakness.
— Ann Morgan, 31 December 2019
Why this book and why now?
Why do any of us read anything? I have been meaning to read the Arabian Nights, or The Thousand and One Nights, for many years. Whenever I tell anyone that I have an interest in non-linear fiction, they usually mention the nested, story-within-a-story structure for which the tales are famous. In response, I have always said that I would get around to reading the collection “at some point.” Continue reading “My Introduction to ‘A Thousand and One Recaps’”
Some good news! Remember the local campaign against propsed feeder schools? The Langley Park Learning Trust responded to the consultation, and have decided not to proceed.
I spoke to Monica Charsley, Bromley and Bexley correspondent at the News Shopper, about the decision:
Robert Sharp, a spokesperson for the Fair Access Langley campaign group, said: “We are delighted with the decision.
“So many people worked hard to raise awareness about the consultation, and the number of people who responded was a factor in the decision.
“But it is also pleasing that the trustees have engaged with and accepted the social, educational and environmental arguments raised by the community.
“However, we remain concerned that the Trust chose to consult in the first place.
“We urge them to be transparent about their reasons for doing so, and to reassure the community that they will not re-consult on this issue in the near future.”
Read the whole thing here.
Yesterday evening (25th January) I was pleased to be invited on to Alexis Conran’s TalkRADIO show to discuss the #NoToLangleyFeeders campaign. Continue reading “Discussing #NoToLangleyFeeders with Alexis Conran on TalkRADIO”
I’m pleased to report that I have written a book review for Tor.com, one of the world’s foremost science fiction / fantasy websites.
The book is Palestine +100, which (according to its publisher, Comma Press) is the first ever anthology of Palestinian science fiction. It features a dozen stories of speculative fiction, all set a century after the establishment of the state of Israel—an event that Palestinians call the Nakba (catastrophe).
The book’s authors seem to be in dialogue with each other. They ask, first, the extent to which their people must let go of their past in order to secure a future; and second, how much their past defines who they are. Moreover: how does the presence of the Israelis and their nation-building project impact on what it means to be Palestinian?
You can read the entire review on Tor.com, which I hope prompts you to read the book.
Following the Lachaux case at the Supreme Court earlier this week, I wrote an op-ed for Press Gazette on its implications for free speech and press standards.
After a period of uncertainty, the Lachaux judgment returns the section one standard to that applied in Cooke. The publisher’s response to a complaint can really make a difference to the “serious harm” assessment.
You can read the entire op-ed on the Press Gazette website.
I was at the UK Supreme Court yesterday to hear the judgment in Lachaux v. Independent Print Ltd and another. It was a significant challenge to section 1 of the Defamation Act 2013, which long-term readers of this blog will recall was the (successful) end result of English PEN’s Libel Reform Campaign.
Section 1 of the law introduced a test of ‘serious harm’ before a claimant could sue. It was designed to expand the space for free speech by weeding out trivial claims.
A statement is not defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.
The Lachaux case hinged on the semantics of that section of the law. Do the words “has caused or is likely to cause” refer to real world effects, past or future? Or do they just mean that the words have a tendency to cause serious harm to reputation.
As Bishop Berkeley might have asked: If I call you a domestic abuser in a forest, and no-one hears, have I caused serious harm to your reputation? Continue reading “Quoted in the Guardian and the Bookseller discussing the ‘Lachaux’ case at the Supreme Court”
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuter’s journalists unjustly imprisoned in Myanmar, have been released.
I have written a short piece for the New Statesman, commenting on how presidential pardons do nothing to tackle the underlying injustice, and perpetuate the chill on freedom of expression.
Pardons have a particular place in judicial systems. There may be unusual circumstances where a person has indeed broken the law, but the sentence imposed is inappropriate. A pardon asserts that the conviction was correct, but alleviates the punishment.
That is wholly unsatisfactory in cases where the law has been abused, as it was in the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Although they are out of prison, there has been no acknowledgement by the state that the convictions were a clear miscarriage of justice. In fact, the pardon reasserts the just opposite – that there was nothing wrong with the imprisonment.
Read the whole thing on the New Statesman website. Continue reading “‘That Bastard Pardon’ –Writing on Myanmar Journalists for the New Statesman”
Nick Barley, director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, has warned that the UK visa system alienates cultural visitors and is in dire need of an overhaul. In recent years, participants in the EIBF and other major UK festivals have had trouble getting permission to enter the UK – a huge freedom of expression issue for them, and for British audiences who have a right to hear them speak.
I’m also quoted in the piece, noting the many ways in which the UK visa system conspires to discourage cultural visitors.
“Here, I’ve noticed that the issue with visa refusals is not just the culture of ‘suspicion’ which leads to some authors and writers, usually young and usually from countries that are poor or which have security or human rights issues, being refused. The visa application system itself is too complex and it’s too easy to make a mistake or to provide incomplete information, which can also lead to a refusal. And the Home Office never provides any opportunity for the applicant to clarify or amend an application.”
He added: “The system is a combination of hostility and complexity that turns people off as well as turns people away. That this is a case is absolutely a political choice – yet another way in which antipathy towards immigration hurts British culture.”