Six things we get wrong about refugees

After initial public sympathy for drowning asylum seekers, the backlash has begun and it’s been a week of anti-refugee rhetoric in Europe. There are more than 50 million forcibly displaced people in the world. More than 27,000 refugees have died on their way to Europe since the year 2000. Why do we so quickly forget our first, instinctive feeling of empathy?

(1) We’ve forgotten that migration is heroic

We have to keep going. This is the pulse that beats in our blood as human beings. The drive to set out for some distant idea of home: this was the howl of the wind in Odysseus’s sails and the creak of the timber in Noah’s ark. It was the crunch of the gravel under the sandals of Moses’ followers as they crossed the bed of the Red Sea.

We are all the offspring of refugees. We are the descendents of those who fled from danger, and thus survived. We are an adaptable species, and our survival comes from our ability to imagine a condition of refuge, and to set out for it. We are all, as I’m sure Noah remarked at the launch ceremony, in the same boat.

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Darkness and the gloomy shade of death

Henry VI at the Rose Theatre


A lovely, moody set for Sir Trevor Nunn’s epic staging of Henry VI at Kingston’s Rose Theatre last night. Shakespeare’s story of the tender Henry’s doomed reign is less of an arc than an unravelling, and Nunn plays it out to the desperate end in this fitting darkness that seems to become darker still.

Nunn is a generous director, badging Lancaster and York in their home colours in England and their away kit in France, and otherwise using all kinds of ingenious devices to make life easy for theatregoers such as this one – who might otherwise struggle to follow treacheries within treacheries. Right from the start John Barton’s adaptation is on your side, beginning with the reading aloud of the late Henry V’s will: an elegant idea that sets the scene and establishes the principals with efficiency and style. Continue reading Darkness and the gloomy shade of death