Thursday, 5 March 2009

David Peace: Cometh the Hour

If you want to feel a bit sick before bedtime, take a look at this skimpy nonsense that the BBC News site has posted up to mark the 25th anniversary of the walkouts that began the last Miners' Strike. Maybe one wouldn't feel so scornful if they hadn't decided to pour a skipload of rubbishy period pop music over the still images; but the effect of same is trivialising at best, and actively loathesome at worst - after all, somebody picked and sequenced that execrable music, just as they picked and sequenced the still photos and the newsreel soundbites, which culminate ('Everything Must Change') in Margaret Thatcher's characteristically deranged, myopic and evil comments on the subject of industrial relations.
But if you turn the sound off and just look at the photos, I daresay one visual element, one creeping stain across all things, will strike you hardest, and that's Uniformed Police, legion upon legion, outnumbering striking miners, any hour of day or night, yes sir. What can one think, but that these officers must have been sorely committed to that cause, or else were being handsomely paid for their pains?
Tonight I was originally minded to pen a few words about the TV adaptation of David Peace's Red Riding which has just begun its run on Channel 4; but thankfully there's plenty more to come on that score. I imagine anyone who watched Episode 1 this evening has come away with somewhat charged feelings about the 'thin blue line' and where it cuts through our body politic. And since all those writers who are truly worth the candle are plugged into currents that run deep and fierce under the endless banalised surface of our society, so it seems fitting that Red Riding is airing to coincide with the miners' unhappy anniversary, since David's novel GB84 is also lying out there in wait for anyone who fancies an account of the Strike that is free of the customary image repertoire (or the strains of the Style Council) and who cares to give some serious thought to the question of who or what is our nation's Enemy Within.

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