New Statesman | Jeremy Corbyn is a risk the middle-class can afford to take


I know I’m middle class, because the day I needed to claim benefits and burst into tears because the queue was too long and I knew I would be going home without the money to pay the overdue electricity bill, the security guard took me aside and told me that if I came back early the next day, someone would be able to see me. I know the family in front of me were not middle class because the buggy they were pushing was a lesser brand than the one I was pushing, and because they were smoking, and because they had strong Sheffield accents, which I heard when they started to remonstrate with the security guard about the special treatment they (rightly) suspected I was getting. I hurried away, their threats to give me a good slapping echoing behind me.

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The unpacking

From the age of ten to 20, I wrote a diary most days. When each volume was full of scratchings, I’d put it away – first on a shelf, then as I got older and more privacy-conscious in a drawer, and eventually in an old leather suitcase that I could keep clipped shut on top of my wardrobe and out of my eyeline. When my childhood bedroom got dismantled and my effects put into boxes and stowed in the spare room, the suitcase went too. Continue reading

[Guest post] Growing up in words

Nathan Ditum is a man who writes words about films and games, and is married to me

“But daddy, it’s sad. Because Eleanor Gale says she had a sister called Lola, who was killed.”

“Well, that is very sad.”

“By a whale.”

The first time I can ever remember being truly bowled over by something my children said – rather than by the fact they were saying anything at all, instead of sitting pinkly and staring – was when we were living in Sheffield. My son and I were playing football in our back garden, a small square of grass, and I asked if he wanted to go to the nearby park to play there instead.

“But daddy,” said Jay, who was two at the time, “we’re already at the park.” “No, Jay,” I replied patiently. “We’re in the garden, but we’re going to the park, aren’t we?” “We are in the park,” he insisted, “because the park is all everywhere, under the ground.” Oh, I thought, suddenly seeing the grass we were standing on as a canvas upon which the roads and pavements had been scrawled. Shit. Continue reading

Snooze button

All the best things happen when everyone else is asleep. That’s what I used to think, anyway – that by straining myself to stay awake past midnight and sometimes through to dawn, I was accessing a special realm of secret genius. It wasn’t yesterday and it wasn’t tomorrow, it was just mine.

In my four-channel youth, the best films were on TV at antisocial hours. (Well, the most antisocial ones, anyway, and that’s about the same thing.) The best radio shows carried you past 12, and then there were all the other furtive teenage things to do – that, obviously, and reading difficult and dirty novels, and filling endless sheets of A4 with my hormonal inspirations.

Continue reading