Friday, January 11, 2013

Reading The Runes - The Boys From The Blackstuff


Earlier this week I read an article in a major British broadsheet newspaper where the citizen-writer expounded upon his  degrading experiences at a UK Job Centre following redundancy. The online public commentary associated with the piece was corroboratory in the extreme by way of collective short-term memories of threatening environments and so-called advisors trying desperately to manipulate claimants out of the system through pure despair, anger and self-respect.

It is essentially a given nowadays that any form of constructive employment is realistically better for one's mental health than deliverance into that particular pool of human misery yet of course this rationale creates by default a fundamental jigsaw-piece lodged within the structured landscape of compound problems affecting modern British life in the past decade. As discussed beforehand several of these are of nation-destroying consequence in themselves by way of internship abuse, property hyperinflation, interest rate manipulation, the credit famine and the inability to fund private pension provision through cost of living rises.

Alan Bleasdale's extraordinarily moving The Boys From The Blackstuff  plays from 1982 covered similarly irreversible social changes within the remit of a deindustrialised Northern Britain and the fracturing of local communities and regional self-containment. The focus in this instance of course being the dehumanising effect of long term unemployment upon the working class of Merseyside.

It is indeed a sobering thought to consider how such a benchmark of British dramatic art was not just a reflection of hard times in itself but indeed prefigured a fundamentally broader wave of social disruption and financial insecurity ahead for the clear majority of people in the British Isles. This by way of another cultural revolution of dread consequence and yet again with radical financial deregulation at its core.

The BBC transmitted Bleasdale's plays four years after the original Play For Today drama The Black Stuff in 1978 - halcyon days when terror tended to emit from scary terrorist quarters, bankers were still associated with the ubiquitous George Mainwaring and a time when a neutered press and cowed workforces only existed within the remit of television documentaries about the spooky Eastern Bloc.

But now this is our present and this is our future - the framework within which we must live our todays and plan our tomorrows. A total blanket dissassociation from time and place for millions and millions of British people being the foregone consequence as our communal sense of worth, pride and hope disappears year upon year leaving the land of shadows we see around us today.

...the eyes fill with tears that sting not from the cold but the hurt, the lies they tell and the pain they bring, the loneliness and the ugliness, the stupidity and brutality, the endless and basal unkindness of every single person every single minute of every single hour of every single day of every single month of every single year of every single life - David Peace "1983"

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