I met Michelle for lunch today and, whilst waiting for her to arrive, stood and watched the skaters going in circles on the outdoor ice rink at Somerset House. The sound of the ice swooshing and scraping is a deeply atmospheric one.They were playing classical music on a loud speaker; silly things like the Flower Duet, and a few tracks from epic film scores, but the whole impression was one of great elegance and beauty, which moved me. I guess the surroundings helped. Somerset House is so historically important and skating is such an ancient sport. Pepys, in his diary, talks about being quite astonished by the people skating in St James' Park and there was something about today which transported me to the 17th Century. I guess it's the nearest thing to self-propelled flying that humans have.
My mind, of course, drifted away to Torvill and Dean, and the magic of Bolero. As a child I'd never seen something so curiously beautiful. The lilac floaty costumes, the desperate sadness of the story they were telling and the intricacies of Ravel's iconic ostinato. Tack ta-ta-ta tack ta-ta-ta ta-ta-ta ta-ta-ta...
I came home from Central London, went for a run, did some writing, and then hot-footed it to Shepherd's Bush where my Tales Of the White City film was being screened (twice) at the Bush Theatre. About 100 people must have come in total, which was lovely, although I was devastated that they'd opted merely to screen a downloaded version of the YouTube version. It looked okay, but the sound was two frames earlier than the visuals, and we'd shot the film in high definition, so it was really disappointing not to see it at its best in such a lovely environment. The new Bush Theatre is absolutely beautiful. It's my dream to be the artistic director of a place like that.
Still, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and people said lovely things at the Q and A session afterwards. I met the MP Andy Slaughter in the theatre bar and we tried to encourage him to do something about the dreadful situation that Sagal, our anti-female genital mutilation campaigner from the film, has ended up in.
Despite the fact that she has founded a charity, and works around the clock taking Somalian women from the White City area to sexual health clinics in the borough of Hammersmith, because of the housing benefits capping system, she's now been forced to move with her family to the very far north of London. It takes her daughter an hour to get to school, and Sagal cannot now afford to travel back to White City to do her important charity work. Sometimes this government makes me want to throw a trifle at someone!
What kind of a message are the government tying to send out about FGM? It is totally illegal in this country and yet countless British children are sent off to places like Egypt to be butchered in their summer holidays. It is utterly disgraceful that not a single conviction has been made against any of the parents who opt to have their children "done" in the many years since the practice was made illegal... It's time to stop pussy footing about and nail the bastards who do this to the wall. Quite why people make such a big deal about paedophilia when young girls are being ripped apart like this, I'm not sure... Oh yes, that's right, it's little black girls who have it done. Half the country doesn't care what happens to the little black children, and the other half doesn't think we should get involved in issues which are so obviously culturally sensitive. God forbid they accuse us of racism.