Friday, February 29, 2008

Throwaway Women

"You can't remove the abuse and coercion from prostitution, whether legal or not," he says, so "the answer is to clamp down on the punters, while helping the women to get out and stay out." Roger Matthews has been studying street prostitution for more than two decades, but his latest book was inspired partly by the murders of the five young women in Ipswich. "All the evidence of the Ipswich case shows us that tolerance zones would not have kept the women safe," he says, because "it is about where the punters take the women to harm them, not where they pick them up." As he points out, "the killer was a trusted regular", which is why the women went with him.

In the book, Matthews describes most women he has met on the streets as "extremely desperate, damaged, and disorganised". "Many of these women, who are supposed to be 'working', are obviously off their faces with drugs and drink," he says. "Which other 'profession' would that be tolerated in?" He has interviewed women who have carried on selling sex immediately after being stabbed, raped, beaten, and in once case, hours after giving birth. "Entry into prostitution is often as a result of physical and sexual abuse, parental neglect, a history of local authority care, and drug addiction," says Matthews.

"I think that speaks for itself."

As one of the few men doing research in this sector, do his views on the women involved ever prompt charges of paternalism? Matthews is resolute. "The women involved in prostitution - particularly street prostitution - are not only among the most victimised group in society, but many of them are multiple victims. If the term 'victimisation' is to have any meaning, then those involved in prostitution must be prime candidates."

According to his research, street prostitution is the most dangerous occupation you can be involved in. "The majority of street women have suffered life-threatening violence," he says. "Ipswich confirmed this." Such women are 18 times more vulnerable to homicide than other women, and suffer regular abuse from pimps, punters and passers-by. Over the past decade, at least 89 women in prostitution have been murdered, and that number is thought to be a low estimate.

Those who argue that the women enjoy it, and choose it, are completely missing the point, he says. "Murders such as those in Ipswich are actually the tip of a very large iceberg. Women I have interviewed told me about leaping out of cars to escape being murdered. We cannot justify anyone living in such a dangerous situation ... I've never met a 'happy hooker'," he says. "All the women I have interviewed, from every scale of the industry, are damaged by it in some way." What other "work", he asks, involves occupational hazards such as murder, HIV, rape, and having your children taken away from you?

Matthews' work on this issue began in 1985, early in his academic career, when he

'These women are just seen as throwaways. They service the men, serve their purpose, and can then just be disposed of.'"

"The Ipswich murders have exposed the reality of prostitution - that it is abuse and a life of hell for these women," says Matthews. "It is high time to expose and challenge the liberal consensus"·

I make no apology (again) for plagiarising the Gruaniad today; follow links to read full version.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Xavier & Honor

When Xavier and Honor were born
A special star shone in the sky
And their reason for being was clear
When they opened their eyes
And Matilda was lost in the spell
And John was adrift on the sea
With Xavier and Honor together
Just happy to be
In this world of make believe
There's so much that they can't conceive
As they lie......there sleeping
In this strange new wonderland
There's so much they can't understand
When they're crying.......
They will walk through the fields in the sun
And will gaze at the stars in the night
Their reason for being
Will always be seeing the light
When Xavier and Honor were born
When Xavier and Honor were born

Gerry Rafferty

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Identity Examined

I saw 2 plays about identity this week; one at WAC about what it means to be British, and the other at Birmingham Rep about what it means to be a black man in contempory British society. It is an interesting contrast between the newer waves of immigrants, and the experience of the Windrush generation, and their descendants.
Angel House is an Esclipse Theatre production and it was simply wonderful to see so many great black actors not playing Othello. Testing The Echo is from Out of Joint, a play about the test immigrants will have to take to become British citizens, and not a test I would pass, I don't think.
Written with charm and a sense of wonder, David Edgar's play is a fascinating tapestry about the twisting road to becoming British. Secretly, Tetyana wants to escape her marriage. Mahmood gets kidnapped for his own good. Chong is fine on football but fails on Guy Fawkes. And the motley crew in Emma's English class are all looking for something, whether it's a passport or a fight. As the day of their ceremony approaches, Emma's students begin to challenge some of her dearest-held beliefs.
Eclipse Theatre is back in 2008 with its 5th production, the world premiere production of Roy Williams' new play Angel House . How can two brothers with the same upbringing take such different paths?
Fifty years ago, the Vincent family arrived from the West Indies and settled in the West London tower block Angel House. They brought with them suitcases full of hopes and dreams for themselves and future generations. But life has not worked out the way they expected. Jean's son Frank, the ‘big man' of the estate, is heading for prison, while her other son Stephen is a successful lawyer with political aspirations. Frank's son Adam and the rest of the teenagers on the estate are all struggling to cope with life's choices and their consequences.
Testing The Echo is touring at;
26 Feb - 1 Mar
Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford 01483 440000
Library Theatre, Manchester 0161 236 7110
18 - 22 Mar
Oxford Playhouse 01865 305 305
26 - 29 Mar
Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds 01284 769 505
1 April - 3 May
Tricycle Theatre, london 020 7328 1000
7 - 10 May
The Rep, Birmingham 0121 236 4455
The Tour Schedule for Angel House is;

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sentencing for Shelly

Having just blogged, I find out that Adrienne Shelly's murderer just got sentenced to 25 years.

Leaving London @ 6am

From my friend who arrived at work for 9.30am San Francisco time...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Baby Had a Song

Happy Everafter In Your Eyes

Lyrics by Ben Harper (written for Matilda)

The morning sunrise spread her wings while the moon hung in the sky held the sea in your hands and happy everafter in your eyes couldn't leave you to go to heaven i carry you in my smile for the first time my true reflection i see happy everafter in your eyes every star in the night promises the dawn i will be there if you fall to ever so heavily rest upon all that i can give you is forever yours to keep wake up every day with a dream and happyever after in your eyes happy everafter is in your eyes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Your Cheatin' Heart?

John Byrne probably fell in love with Tilda Swinton in 1985 when she walked through the door of the Taverse Theatre to appear in a play he had designed the set for. He wrote a part for her in "Your Cheatin' Heart", they moved to Nairn and had the most striking twins. I once spent a valuable writing tutorial talking to him all about life with Tilda, which was fascinating, and they are both utterly extraordinary; a word he uses a lot.
Now she appears to have a new painter & I was intrigued to see how he painted her.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Happy + Sad = Heath

"The sun goes down on our love but it will never go down on Heath."

Friday, February 08, 2008

All About Adrienne

It was the Goldblum connection that took me back to Hal Hartley after some years. Fay Grim is circulating, stars Jeff, and I hope it will be distributed in the UK.

Hal made a phenomenal number of films in a very short amount of time, always quirky, and always interestingly cast. He makes me think of sitting in the Rio in Dalston with carrot cake and coffee for a double bill of Trust & The Unbelievable truth. Simple Men was the treat that followed a couple of years later & then I saw nothing more of his appearing. Maybe I wasn't looking properly.

I was thinking about Martin Donovan and Adrienne Shelley when I remembered something I am surprised I forgot &, instead of this being all about Hal, it is all about Adrienne.

At about 5:45 p.m on November 1, 2006, Shelly's husband found her hanging by a bedsheet from a shower rod in the bathtub of an Abingdon Square apartment in the West Village section of Manhattan's Greenwich Village, in what at first appeared to be a suicide. Shelly, who lived in Tribeca, used the apartment as an office. Ostroy had dropped her off at 9:30 a.m. that day, and as the building's doorman told journalists, "He hadn't heard from her and he said it was odd not to hear from her, so he was nervous. And he asked me to go up to the apartment with him, so we went to the front door, and it was unlocked".

An autopsy was performed the following day. The New York City Police Department was suspicious of sneaker prints in the bathtub that did not match Shelly's shoes (she was found wearing only socks). Shelly's husband also indicated that there was money missing from Shelly's wallet. He vigorously denied allegations that she could have committed suicide.

Press reports on November 6, 2006 stated that police had arrested construction worker Diego Pillco, a 19-year-old illegal immigrant who confessed to killing Shelly after she complained about the noise he was making in the apartment below hers. Pillco said that he "was having a bad day." Police said Pillco had made videos implicating himself in the murder, and as of November 7, 2006 was being held without bail for her murder.

Following his wife's death, Ostroy established the Adrienne Shelly Foundation, a non-profit organization that will award film school scholarships and grants to women filmmakers.

Shelly died before her film, Waitress, was accepted into the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The film, starring Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion, Cheryl Hines, Jeremy Sisto, Andy Griffith and Shelly herself, was bought during the festival by Fox Searchlight Pictures for somewhere between $4 million and $5 million (accounts vary).

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

An Irritating Audience

I got to London late for my mamogram, rang and they told me that they had cancelled my clinic appointment anyway, I just seem not to have recieved the letter. I was advised to go for the X-ray anyway but it seems that NICE; a misnomer if ever I heard one, has decided that clinical examination is not the best diagnostic tool. It wasn't really what I needed to hear, having gone wildly wrong getting to town, even with Sat Nav. I'd booked car parking in Butlers Wharf, a real bargain in life, and ended up parking at Euston Station just because the car was beginning to overheat, having been in stationary traffic more than it appreciates.

After being squished into a machine, I had a fabulous time wandering around Fulham/Chelsea before I got fed up with wondering how exactly people do manage to look so rich and became envious of their gloriously stuccoed houses. I headed off to see Marc Quinn, but White Cube is closed on Mondays. I went to get my brows threaded but they were fully booked. It wasn't looking good, would the play be cancelled.It was a great perfomance of a really challenging play, probably great because the cast made it look so effortless. The female role was sketchy but Jeff Goldblum was mesmorising. The only thing I didn't really like was the audience. Call me a snob if you like, but I like a bit of reverence at the threatre, for the fact that there are real life people standing in front of you speaking. Maybe the movie star in front of us made people feel like they were in front of the TV at home, or at the cinema, but you still need to hear him.

Got even more lost leaving London, drove around the Tower of London twice, and really don't know what route Sat Nav decided to bring me home. Next time I'm taking the train.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Will Mamet Ameliorate?

Once a year I have a kind of MOT; the BDU at the Royal Marsden started taking care of me because my mum had breast cancer when she was 35. Hard to imagine that I am nearly 7 years older than that now. A GP with little time on his hands took time to read my notes once & passed me on to their next of kin screening programme.
Every so often I have a cyst drained, & I worry until I know the outcome, as well as suffering discomfort in the process. Sometimes they don't know there and then & I have to go back. Then I am frightened &, that time, I couldn't go back to work to do the oh so important things I had planned to attend to. The pressures of work returned the next day, & they remained important, but I remained scared until I had the results.

Ameliorate is my favourite word, & to ameliorate the fear I feel as I travel down for this screening, I plan around it. I book tickets to a play, I plan to have my brows threaded, & I hope to fit in a bit of Marc Quinn.

I am in row G, 5 or 7 rows back in the middle. I hope the play will take me out of myself. I know I am a starf*****k, anyone who has ever read this blog knows that. but hey, Jessica Lange was really good in Streetcar. & if this is what it takes to not have a musical on in London I am all for it. I love Spacey & am dead excited about this Mamet Play being brought to life, the last time I saw it it was definitely a stiff, but more of that another time!
I hope to be distracted, I hope to not be waiting for results, I hope to be completely reassured instead. I also know that I will have been in exactly the right place if things are not right, which is why I bother to use a precious day of my annual leave to get this precious hospital in London despite the hassle of driving down from the Midlands.