Thinking Writing

I’ve got a mate. A spirit friend. A soul sister.


She’s been saying for some time. I’ve got a book you must read.


Then she sends it through the post to me.


Translations by Brian Friel


August 1833

an Irish speaking community in County Donegal.

A ‘hedge-school’ and troops of English soldiers sent in to create an English language map of Ireland. The task: to translate place names into English.


The hedge-schoolmaster’s son, Owen, back from Dublin after 6 years, is the go-between, translating for the non-Irish speaking English soldiers Captain Lancey and Lieutenant George Yolland.


When Captain Lancey announces the purpose of the map, Owen deliberately mistranslates to make the purpose more acceptable to his family, friends, community.


Owen’s lame brother, Manus, assistant at the school, realises the bluff and later comments,

‘There are always the Rolands, aren’t there?’


The Irish soldiers call Owen Roland for some unknown reason.


Owen hasn’t corrected them.


There’s always a collaborator with the spirit of adventure who makes personal gain


Not striving nor agitated

but at ease

with their own conviction

and assurance.


This is Lieutenant’s ideal of the local Irish in their community.

He toys with the idea of staying with them.

He hears the music every night from the neighbouring house.

‘Why don’t you drop in?’

‘Could I?’

He asks for permission

He falls for Maire – they escape from the dance together. They don’t have words for each other. They talk at cross purposes. Repeating each other in their own language. Making suppositions.


Yolland goes missing after walking Maire home after the dance.

In revenge, Lancey threatens the community with killing their animals – and if that doesn’t bring forth Yolland or news of him, he threatens to start evicting people from their homes.

A baby is baptized. No one knows who the father is. A baby is baptized with his father’s name. 

The baby dies.

There is a woman with a speech defect and she can’t speak. She goes to the hedge-school to try to learn. She manages My name is Sarah at the beginning of the play. She is speechless at the end when Lancey threatens the community.

To remember everything is a form of madness.

 Translations was first performed by Field Day Theatre Company, which was formed by Brian Friel and Stephen Rea, in Derry on Tuesday 23 September 1980. The book is dedicated to Stephen Rea, who played Owen.

A co labour of love. A co-love.

By listening to friends, we can hear the direction that we need to turn to.

They provide us with the books.


When I chose the name for this site and as a name I like to write with, openbracket sprang to mind and I’ve never really thought through what this was all about?  There was something about the concreteness of the symbol which appealed but thinking through it today, there’s something about the curve/kerv that I like. The ( feels like a symbol of my womanity, it leaves a trace of the moon. The ( is a symbol of openness. The brackets that never close, that never close off information or material that is considered not essential to the meaning of the sentence, material that can be deleted if a tight word count was called for. The ( is about never being excluded, never cut from the proceedings.

When I finished the Slackers zine, I wanted to put a charm on the piece to protect it from the ravages of mind over body criticism that it risks by going out into the world. I want it out in the world. I would like it to be received in the spirit it was written, with love, with passion, with dedication, with careful consideration, but I can’t command the quality of its reception, so this little spell will protect it from the goolihans out there.

despairing writers & columnists.

The desire to say


even venom

even women on women

neon curry illumination of gob & arse

in the multicultural war

take care of reactionary mini-mobs.

What is Germaine Greer doing?

Attacking women’s writing and the imagination

siding with the patriarch

trying to score multicultural points

out out manouevered.

Why not descend into silence

from this point on high.

Brick Lane itself is silent for women

I do not not know this

& Salman Rushdie settling an old score

Why not & & & & & & &

If homogenous block of a culture

then men men men

Please don’t decapitate women.

Hide the Bengali version under the veil

& read the book.

Beware of card tricks

Henry Porter / Harry  Potter the G2 11.07.06


You have no right to take my photograph without my consent. And you most certainly don’t have it.


What bothers me is when someone puts my image, my name, the place and time together. That is information of a personal nature, and is an invasion of my privacy.


National Identity Register (NIR)


I have no objection to identifying myself when it is my choice. I don’t mind taking my passport along to the bank or showing my driving licence to collect a parcel from the post office but I am preternaturally against the state forcing me to supply biometric measurements and 49 separate pieces of information about myself to a database


I am genetically incapable of submitting to such a process.


The government is selling the ID card scheme to the public on a false prospectus. The government began by saying it would prevent terrorism. When that wasn’t tenable, it said it would prevent ID theft. When that didn’t work, it said it would prevent benefit fraud and when that didn’t work it resorted to claiming that it would help control illegal immigration.


The Spanish ID card did not stop the
Madrid train bombers and a British ID card wouldn’t have stopped the
London July bombings of 2005. ID cards will not deter home-grown terrorists or suicide bombers. Martyrdom is pointless when it is anonymous.


Ministers stirred up fears about ID theft as the great scourge of modern society. It is a problem but nowhere near as large as the government has been making out. In January 2006 when the Home Office published a report which said that ID theft cost the public 1.7b, this figure was exaggerated by almost 50% because it included 396m for money laundering and 504m for total lost of plastic cards.


Rather than stopping ID theft, ID cards are likely to increase the problem, because this single unified and trusted identifier will be something really worth forging.


In Feb 2004, the government published a report saying that a campaign against benefit fraud had cut losses by 400m. the report said the government was on target to slash fraud and error by half by this year. Then the boasting suddenly stopped.  Because the government’s success at meeting its own targets militated against the argument for ID cards.


Like crime, benefit fraud has decreased. But it suits the government to keep us in a state of near frenzy about both.

Anyway, benefit fraud is generally people exaggerating their sickness and the extent of their disability rather than organised individuals using multiple identities.  The ID card will do nothing to stop someone faking depression or lower back pain.


Finally, the ID card won’t stop illegal immigrants. It will make their lives more difficult but it won’t deter people smugglers and desperate migrants.


Dragoon – coerce


And of course, the ID card scheme will not remain voluntary. This is like saying


The system only works if everyone is forced to carry a card and submit their details to the NIR. Already, 55m has been granted in contracts to set up 69 enrolment centres across the country. The bill includes provision for a system of heavy fines for non-compliance.  The government intends to enforce its will.


If you don’t give the authorities 49 pieces of information about yourself. If you don’t, you may be fined up to 2,500

If you fail to inform the police or the Home Office when you lose your card, or it if becomes defective, you face a fine of up to £1,000.

If you find someone else’s card and do not immediately hand it in, you may be imprisoned for up to 2 years, or pay a fine, or both.

And you will be fined £1,000 if you fail to inform the NIR of any change of address.

If you don’t inform the register of significant changes to your personal life, or any errors they have made, you will face a fine of up to £1,000.


And you will have to pay for this, between £30 and £93 to be registered, with further charges to change your details and to replace a lost or stolen card.  The government is charging you so that it can charge companies that wish to confirm your identity


Badge of citizenship embodying the idea of a contract between citizen and state bollocks


Terrible potential for intrusion and control. The idea of a contract is ridiculous when one party is being forced to sign or face penalties. You are too impressed by authority and too weak to oppose it.


When reading the ID card bill I am constantly struck by its minatory (threatening) tone – the threats of fines and the general contempt for the average citizen

Every time you,

Get a library card

Make a credit agreement

Buy a piece of property

Apply for a fishing or gun licence

Withdraw a small amount of money from your bank

Take a prescription to your chemist

 Apply for a resident’s parking permit

Buy a plane ticket

Pay for your car to be unclamped

You will be required to swipe your card and the database will record the transaction.


From the moment the database goes lives, we will become subjects not citizens and each one of us will be diminished in relation to the state’s power.


Something enormous and revolutionary is about to happen to us. We are giving the most precious part of ourselves to the government, allowing it complete freedom to roam through our privacy.


And it’s not just to this government, but to the governments of the future, the nature of which we cannot possibly know.


And it’s not just our privacy, it’s the rights and privacy of future generations.  We have a duty to those people.


The prime minister asks us to trust him and implies that abuse of a database would be unthinkable in
Britain. But after the lies before the invasion of
Iraq, the revelations of the Hutton inquiry and the evidence about rendition flights using British airspace, I would suggest that we treat these sorts of assurances and appeals with the utmost suspicion.


Nor do I trust the government’s competence. The past decade is littered with failed government IT project, the child support agency, the immigration records, the working tax credit database, the farmer’s single payment scheme


The NIR will have thousands of entry points where the information on your file can be assessed.


A few weeks ago, the Criminal Records Office wrongly identified 2,700 people as having criminal records; people’s reputations were damaged, many were turned down for jobs as a result and could argue for a serious loss of earnings.

But the Home Office didn’t even apologise. It is exactly the arrogance that I fear will come to charaterise all government dealings with the person in the street once this database is operational


I am politically opposed because as the government database grows, I believe there will be a commensurate lessening in the state’s respect for each one of us.  The government will gradually become less accountable and less responsive to the needs of the people


Philosophically, in a free country, I believe that every human being has the right to define him or herself independently and without reference to the government of the time. This is particularly important in a multi-cultural soc like ours


It will remove the right of those who for whatever reason wish to withdraw from society, to enjoy solitude and privacy without inspection from a centralised authority.


Privacy, anonymity and solitude are rights, and we are about to lose them forever.


The register will take on a life of its own. Once you set up a system like this it becomes ineluctably compelled to find out more and more about your. That will be its hardwired purpose.

We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us

What do you think about this then?

I’ve been thinking a lot about:

Border crossings, (as ever, it seems to be the only thing I do think about, there are so manyborders to be crossed and each one is a challenge to the sense of integrity and ethical action i hold so dear as i try to love ethically, work ethically (ie in ways that don’t subsume me to the demeaning trap of wage labour that has killed me off so many times before but the cat is spritely) consume ethically (an impossible task i know & the ethics of a self-organised production seem a more irresistible hanger to drape my second hand clothes over) and resist in a way that pleases my ethical bones.

Cross the borders of silence

The possibility of no borders

always excites me.

Cos you & I have seen some unbelievable things.

a tussle with immigration forms

a Hassle – my touseled head, a computer, a pen, lots of paper, trips to the lawyers

doing the opposite of what they say

playing it safe is no way to bring a loved one into the country.

Not to romanticise the taking of risks.

this is no time to lose one’s tousled head

which are for caressing.

but i digress, my tigress (with black nails)

for we are one in precarity

you, and I and my young Spanish friend who works in menswear departments and my angolan friend whose husband refused to fight a war, not a nation, but found himself without one, with not even the right to human rights, for these, if you follow Slavoj Zizek’s logic (which I don’t always, i resist the way he repeatedly posits the inversion of a situation as its truth, as if he is seeing what no-one else is seeing. the limits to this lacanian model of communication are stark. Truth, power, hierarchy, analyst, parent, boss, politicians, philosopher, man, car, petrol. can we resist the temptation of truth and just analyse how the utterances operate?). but if we follow zizek’s argument – and he is working out of Etienne Balibar who is in turn working from Hannah Arendt’s work on the condition of refugees … Man (and i don’t know where this leaves woman) is made by citizenship and not citizenship by man (Balibar).

The conception of human rights based upon the assumed existence of a human begin as such broke down at the very moment when those who professed to believe in it were for the first time confronted with people who had indeed lost all other qualities and specific relationships except that they were still human. (arendt)

So that when I have been stripped of my socio-political identity through war, displacement, economic neo-liberalism, terror and borders, all i am is human and then I am denied human rights and am taken to a detention centre outside London or Paris.

Andwhat is the link between this and the brutal transformations that have transformed labour relations as a result of a succesful capitalist response to the struggles of the 60s and 70s. I am a white, educated, european woman and I have no choice but to live as a marginal in this city of mine. Therein lies my freedom but it’s a rocky road and i don’t count my battery chickens too triumphantly because this blip of arts money won’t last. In fact, I’m neatly caught in a horrible paradox, this world is rich because the other world is poor and the fat trickles down.

The history of Capitalism has been a series of attempts to solve the problem of worker mobility .. indenture, slavery, coolie systems, contract workers, guest workers, innumerable forms of border control. Recent movements of throught and protest, despite being labelled as mobilising around themes of anti-globalisation, are precisely the opposite when elaborated into the area of border control. Free market ideology is a myth. If we are truly to globalise, then let’s do it properly and open up borders for EVERYONE, not draining anyone’s brain and not indulguing the rich in this selective protectionism which is killing half the planet.

etienne Balibar has also drawn attention to the new apartheid in Europe. He says that you can see it in every European city – you can see it in the conditions of territorial, social and economic segregation that most migrants live in.

Migrants’ everyday practices are attempts to open up the borders of citizenship, to win new spaces of freedom. It’s a constant struggle with daily rewards and hourly frustrations.

To claim and affirm the right to mobility against the reality of labour and existential precarity seems radical and life-affirming. As I was reading this, i looked up from the page and saw this,

“Now, when, where and how you work is entirely up to you” – an advert for a Microsoft windows mobile.

but the point is that the european migration regime is aimed not just at keeping refugees and migrants out of europe but in promoting a process of selective inclusion.

there’s always someone being relegated to a 2nd class citizen

and there’s always someone for whom the borders are shifted according to a hierarchy of preference based on sameness.

Basic demands of groups working in this area are:

Freedom of movement

The right to stay

a Europe-wide legalisation for all undocumented people living in Europe

The CLOSURE of all detention centres in Europe

the uncoupling of the residence permit from the labour contract. (against the global border) (against camps and detentions outside and inside EU) (Brides without borders)

15 acts that attact individual rights and freedom
in favour of vastly extending powers of ministers
making them
less answerable to Parliament. a minister
can declare a state of emergency to
seize assets without
(ie stealing)
set up courts
ban assemblies
hold people in particular areas on the belief that an emergency might be about to occur.

The government is actively
promoting the fear of terrorism and crime
to persuade people they must exchange their freedom
for security.

Boring as fuck but violently powerful
Protection from harassment Act 1997
Civil Contingencies Act 2004
Inquiries Act 2005
Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill (trying to be smuggled in, 2006)

This first was designed
to combat stalkers and campaigns of intimidation
but is being used
to control protest.

This last in its original draft
would have allowed ministers to make
laws without reference to
elected representatives.

Did you hear about the woman who sent 2 emails to a pharmaceutical company?
She was prosecuted for repeated conduct.
Who is she? I want to hear her story.

ASBO legislation makes hearsay admissible as evidence

standards of evidence
than in a normal
court – a pre-emptive strike
a fast track to prison

small measures of control and censorship
add up over time
to a society of a completely different

the threat of terrorism is being used to justify measures
which have no relevance to attacking terrorism effectively


We live not in a police state but a controlled state.
Who are you controlling?
How happy / stressed does that make you?

Blair now wants legislation to limit thepowers of British courts
to interpret the human
rights act

even Churchill said that the point
of human rights is that they treat
the innocent, the suspect, the convict
e q u a l l y

Helena Kennedy accuses ministers
of seeing themselves as the
embodiment of the state

Simon Davies
LSE pioneering work on ID card scheme
then the government did not agree with
his findings

Every now and again, a protest happens that functions on many levels, turns the city into a party and has a potent, temporary effect on the city. This happened on Saturday when between 600-700 people took off their clothes to ride naked through central London to say no to oil dependency, to encourage people to get on their bikes, providing their own means of transport in a car-clogged culture.

It just so happened that it was the day of England’s first game in the world cup.But why decide to do this bike ride naked? Why expose one’s own body to laughter, ridicule, and unwanted attention. Surely these people don’t think that the freedom to be without clothes is as important as the freedom to earn a decent living without exploitation, to live free of violence, trauma and environmental disaster. Before today I had thought the link between pollution, the world’s petroleum power struggles and the naked human body tangential, even haphazardly conceived, but after the flesh feast of today I doubt if there is a more potent symbol of human fragility than the naked body.

It is the site of the differences of gender, race, sexuality and physical ability.

The forced removal of clothes involves violence and torture.

The voluntary removal of clothes is an empowered act and makes us smile.

The covering and ‘discovering’ of the body is such a fundamental part of our daily working, leisure and sex lives. Yet the naked body is considered so inalienably other to ‘modern’ life; which let’s say for argument’s sake began with the expeditions of Columbus and Vasco da Gama. What if, as anarchist anthropologist David Graeber argues, that the people who these travellers ‘discovered’ on their expeditions were just us? Or certainly, just as much ‘us’ as Columbus and da Gama ever were? What illusions has the West been constructing – scrupled on the conception of some random sense of superiority over other people and other lands – ever since?

But why protest naked? Cycling through central London naked is obviously exciting and liberating for the protestor through that beautiful mixture of weirdness and normality which makes one suspect that the act isn’t actually so difficult after all. But this protest works on another level. It was immensely popular amongst the shoppers, tourists and football watchers. We were irresistibly cheered, applauded, and endlessly photographed. A woman in a wheelchair on waterloo bridge clapped us by, enraptured, repeating ‘This is so good. This is so good. On the other end of the bridge, three football-kit clad men raised their arms into the air and dropped their shorts and pants to the ground in a riotous salute; an old lady shielded her eyes as the ride halted to let her cross a pedestrian crossing on Westminster Bridge, and everywhere mouths dropped open or sprung into beaming smiles.

There was embarrassment, ridicule and alienated attempts to humiliate of course, the coincidence of England’s first game in the world cup finishing as we were starting meant the regimented, leering, drunken masculine found it difficult to cope with the penises and testicles that were on the street. One guy who was holding a large golf-sale style advertisement for a South American restaurant didn’t think twice. He abandoned his advert and tried to grab the breast of a rider in front of me, a rider whose beautiful bum I happily cycled behind for most of the ride. But these people were in the minority. The majority sang and cheered. One football fan hollered ‘Good on ya’ with such an aggressive intensity that it seemed beyond doubt that the bikers were articulating something that the shopping, working, football-worshipping, oil-dependent, profit-subservient Londoners were loving and needing. Most fans couldn’t believe their luck that such a parade was cycling past them to extend their victory celebrations. In fact, this seemed to be something real to celebrate, something physical, palpable, unmediated, something that struck at the heart of the illusions which sustain the lifestyle of the majority, and this something was joyous; much more joyous than a dreary one nil victory over Paraguay, from an own goal to boot.

And this mixture of football and protest made me think of how when Argentina won the World Cup in 1978, the people took to the streets, celebrating their win and reclaiming the national sport for the people’s enjoyment from the sinister and bloody machinations of the military dictatorship. When football manages to free itself from the clutches of power … government, media, idolatry, gender division, propaganda for a reductionist masculinity, it can become part of the party towards a more equal world.

To create the world we want to live in, there needs to be a massive shift in the daily priorities of a huge number of people. For this, we need actions that gobsmack and delight people, seducing them into pleasure of a living that strives to refuse the enslavement of themselves and others.

And did I go naked or not? Well, if you weren’t there, you’ll never know.

(I started off at Whitechapel at 6pm … then legged it across town … in the rain … to arrive at the Square at 8.45pm … all snippets have been rendered autonomous from a person’s name … I suppose the main difference between the two discussions is that in the first people were speaking from a variety of ideological perspectives whereas in the second … which I missed most of … the vast majority of participants would have had some kind of interest in or commitment to creating the freedom necessary to organise horizontally … obviously all words selected are shot through with my particular political and artistic preferences …. but i can assure you that every note i took on the night has been reproduced here)

Choose some words for us to talk about!

It’s difficult to speak on behalf of a group of people who are always arguing ( Dismantling the oil industry ( How can the Iraqi oil industry be kept in Iraqi hands ( Supporting community in the Caspian ( Black atlantic ( Does it matter if I call myself an artist or an activist, a teacher or a campaigner? ( The tools may change but the intention is the same ( “I do, I undo, I redo” ( longevity is one of our strategies ( 5 – 15 year time span ( Timing is key ( Longevity affects the integrity of a project ( We don’t subscribe to the service model of activism ( We like to work in solidarity ( We are not happy to work with the people Shell or BP would send to us ( Networks of groupings ( Our manifesto, except we don’t have one, would emphasise process ( How do we work in solidarity over distance? ( Communities of place ( Communities of interest ( Communities of the dead ( Communities of the unborn ( These last two have assisted us over the years in thinking generationally ( How will I act differently if I’m working with 7-generational thinking from my great-grandparents to my great-grandchildren and if I don’t have children, then someone else’s children ( It was done in such a way as to interrogate what it’s doing as it is doing it ( Community grows outwards then comes back in again ( Huge failures of humanity ( slavery ( the holocaust ( We’re not very good in the cultural sector in remembering what’s gone before ( Theatre in Education doesn’t have the potency it used

to have ( Explicit political content in our schools ( Thatcher ( TIE companies began to die out ( Scare stories ( Baa baa black sheep ( Black bin bags being banned ( Branded ( Loonie left activism ( Self- appointed community reps ( Predominantly male ( Behind closed doors ( Domestic violence ( 18 months ( using photography as a tool for tackling ( sari hanging of asian wife ( went to Delhi and presented aspects of it ( however, the academics from Delhi ( the women returned to Bolton pretty disappointed ( memorial places ( the whole thing folds up and tours very easily ( south asian queer culture ( black british punk aesthetic ( I want to talk about Lenin ( March 1921 to the Transport Workers Congress ( The reign of the workers and peasants will never end ( He pointed out step by step the errors in this phrase ( The supportive statement that was wrong ( I’m not saying I want to identify with Lenin ( I think Lenin took this opportunity to split the room ( Politics is about precise division in any particular community ( Encouraging conflict ( Not smoothing over differences ( Political art means taking sides ( Art contests culture ( Creating tensions and conflicts within the artwork itself ( I want to contest what an artist is ( There is no alternative ( Thatcher ( Dialectic ( Try with all of your might to keep things the same ( Letting things change ( Pledge ( Advert get in touch with gallery favourite political slogan from history to a daily walk convert that walk into a private march turn the slogan into a chant chant it in your head ( A map of pledges rather than a map of actual events ( I don’t work individually any more ( “The function of public art for regeneration is to sex up the control of the underclasses” ( billboard ( Lenin – his part in my downfall ( We’re very fickle that way ( Raising issues of slavery through multi-cultural cookery classes ( never get on ( Feel too compromised by the entering the system ( How paranoid one must be about checking where your funding comes from ( My organisation was radical 20 years ago and now it’s mainstream ( If we get what we want we won’t want it ( Take the money and run ( It’s our money, take it ( Early black film makers funded their work through gambling ( Ethics will be the aesthetics of the future Lenin again ( Early totalitarianism of the future ( My response would come from Kant ( The hungry don’t make aesthetic judgements ( I hate panel discussions ( University of adversity ( Strong roots in the Italian autonomy area ( Tore up our final papers ( Never regretted it ( Went out into the world without degrees ( Everyone is bowed under to the nth degree ( A weight of administration that is crucifying them ( Political conformity ( No-one wants to rock the boat ( Proposed academic boycott of Israel ( Thank you and

good night ( Arabic and Hebrew medieval poetry ( No one can supervise me ( That’s kind of depressing ( Cutting a paper on the music of the middle east ( In times like these ( I decided I was going to set up my own university ( It’s not a real university ( Bring in networks of people ( Immaterial labour ( It exists in the USB key ( Worldwide ( The role of the donkey in the Mediterranean ( It was the best conference ever ( We don’t go asking for funding ( Well we do but they say no ( It’s amazing what you can do without funding ( Establishment of free universities in the UK ( Big on dissent and being alive in the wicked times in which we live ( Hermit crabs climb into other shells and live there for a bit ( Content is entirely up to you ( There will shortly be a free university of Cambridge ( Using the reply to all button one of the most radical technologies we have at our disposal ( Hello we are taking over this space ( I’m a member of the railway workers social club in Venice why because its lecture hall is one of the best in Vienna ( Once you say it it exists ( It doesn’t take a lot to get it moving ( This is family ( A free university structure ( Regardless of whether this building is here ( The pursuit of knowledge as a human activity ( I’m not sure if I’m satisfied with my answer ( You said I have to do that do I really have to what happens if I don’t ( The students took the lead ( Put an a in front of the logo auel ( I hate this word ( I never use this word ( Leadership ( We want to do something for YOUR jobs ( Solidaristic ( Grounded union culture ( The measuring process we’re subject to ( Knowledge takes place despite ( Analyse a movement as part of your struggle ( It tells me something about my life and my struggle ( I’ve given a lot of thought to the vanguardism thing ( Sectarianism in the way that intellectuals think ( I like to think of a gift model ( There are such great people here ( Stay and talk ( Re-examining the very form of their work and how it has been influenced by sectarianism ( Knowledge as output not as outcome ( I mean that’s what value is ( Black black black black sheep