Wednesday 31 March 2010

Animal Farm

I recommend Winston Smith's blog . It's this year's Nightjack. Given both its quality and the writer's nom de guerre it is apt that it has been chosen for the Orwell Prize blog shortlist.

Winston's diary is subtitled "Working with the Underclass".  It is an occasional but harrowing journal of his professional life as a care worker for young people. It's really more Hogarth than Orwell. He portrays the gallery of grotesques he encounters working with troubled, out of control, and -- peculiarly to me -- often obese teens. I say peculiar because my imagination always gives me skinny and rat-like when I hear the word "feral" and that is one of Winston's favourite epithets.

Like Nightjack it is compelling because it is real life -- stories not statistics, grassroots not theory,  reportage by someone on the frontline in some of the places we would generally not know about. It is genuinely disturbing. Not so much in its descriptions of unruly, unpleasant, a-social young people -- anyone who walks the streets, travels public transport, lingers in a school or A&E in our big cities will recognise the cast of characters. What is shocking is how "authority" deals with them. What is truly shocking is the complicity of councils, social workers, procedures and ideologies in creating these miserable lives that go on to inflcit misery on those around them. The failures of these "systems" and the System are abject.

We may not agree with all of Winston's analyses or proposed solutions but his witness has to be heard.

No comments:

Post a Comment