SDV volunteer coordinator, Shirley Gillan, and members of the Life After Detention Group share some thoughts and pictures from a recent trip to the Edinburgh Book Festival
Last week our Life after Detention group went east to take in the Edinburgh Book Festival. We met a street writer, wandering the world with his typewriter. Could his story be as bizarre as some of ours? Could telling our stories be a way to escape them? Maybe – if enough people tell enough stories and enough people hear them.
‘We all have our own Everest’
We listened to writers tell of their experience. A Palestinian refugee who climbed Everest inspired one of us to push ups in the gardens after lunch. Arthur’s Seat..? Maybe next time.
We heard writings from Syria at The Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series, where we’ve been invited to take part next year.
Perhaps you are more free in some places to write if you are already in prison? Out of prison there is no right to write – your words could land you in jail. Are words freer in prison?
‘The prison of democracy’
The Scottish Parliament feels like a parliament in Africa – it is stronger than the Home Office building. It feels like a prison – surely the design for parliament should be different from the design for a prison? Did the architect get his brief confused? Harsh concrete and spiky metal, cold sunless spaces harshly lit by undimmed fluorescence restrain and contain. No sense of freedom.
‘The Queen won’t take Azure’
‘Azure’ conjures up peace, solace, beauty; calm seas of aquamarine. Until it is contained in a card. A card that is your only currency. A card that dictates where you shop and what you buy. A card buses don’t take and trains refuse. A card that locks you out of a cash based society. A card that stops local shops and palace gates opening to you.
The Queen probably doesn’t know it even exists.
“The Cheese Police”
We met a writer who wrote us a story for us. We asked him to give us a subject and he chose ‘the cheese police’. Here is what one of us wrote :
“We, the cheeses of the world, have resolved at our recent meeting, to set up The Cheese Police Force. This is in an effort to protect our kind from being devoured by mice. Full details of The Cheese Police’s responsibilities will be set out in a memorandum to follow. In the meantime, let it be known to all mice that they will brie prosecuted if they are detected eating cheese.” The Cheese Board.
If you are interested in the Life After Detention group, especially if you have been released from detention and are living in Glasgow, please contact Shirley Gillan: firstname.lastname@example.org