Head full

This morning I drove across London and sat next to somebody in order to rehearse some filming. I’m not sure if that makes me a murderer or not. We’ll do it again on Saturday. We are both very careful about contact and about our bubbles. We didn’t make positive human contact with each other the whole time we worked. We made sure we were remote and uninvolved. It’s horrible. Utterly horrible. But we have to.

We are meant to be filming some excerpts from a book. It’s an interesting book – an observation of conversations overheard by a hitchhiker. Many thoughts within it push towards how we think we’re tolerant and we aren’t. But lovely humanist thoughts made by somebody who took the time to stop for somebody who needed to get somewhere, damaged by bad inherited thinking. I’m happy to embody it. I did a similar thing for Index on Censorship once, and ended up having to read excerpts from a manual about how to effectively torture women prisoners. Dimbleby was compere. Then it was me and an actress friend, telling the guests where best to attach the electrodes to female prisoners based on the handbook.

“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this..” – that wasn’t really an option. “This award and this publication is about keeping an eye on Censorship. Your personal comfort is secondary.” Big lesson. Huge lesson.

I was paid to publicly read parts of a torturer’s manual. Sure I hated it. It was nominated twice. They found another section for me to read. It was horrible to read. But I still kind of think I should’ve read the original ‘censored’ one even if it made me feel slightly sick. The whole purpose of the Index on Censorship is to prevent moral standpoints from influencing what can and cannot be published – something that is getting more and more relevant the deeper we go into our bubbles.

I guess this stuff needs to be publishable or otherwise we live in a fettered world. It’s better to have free speech. Even if the “left” desire for free speech is frequently coopted by the “right” : ‘well you want us to be able to say anything, so your mum and her whole family and race are evil and should be exterminated painfully and I’m free to say that or you’re a hypocrite with going on about free speech, get yourself out of that Ha!’

I’m sad about the guy I’m playing. He’s not the sharpest tool. He thinks he’s switched on but he’s kind of missed the point. But I’m happy to embody him, partly because his accent isn’t mine so it can never be spun as a genuine Al vox pop, and partly because it’s just fascinating to take these unheightened voices that you get in verbatim pieces and to put them out and remind us all.


Right now I’m playing backgammon with a friend. Nice to go back to analogue. I’ll likely stay over tonight, as I have a toothbrush here. But yes… My head is full of stuff. Not sure what order. Just … stuff.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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