What a difference a day makes! Yesterday night there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Today, everything's gone drizzly and murky, and I'm sweating in my duffle coat!
The newspapers this morning were filled with the story of the three missing East London teenagers who have gone to Syria to join ISIS. It's terribly sad that three young girls have felt the calling to do something which could ultimately make them so miserable, but at the same time, their absconding raises a number of serious issues...
It is clear to me now that many young British Muslim kids do not think of themselves as British. In fact, worse still, many think of Britain, the place where they live, as an enemy nation. I find myself struggling to do anything but assume that the majority of imams in British mosques are not doing enough to alleviate the situation. For me it is wholly unacceptable to live in a country whilst eschewing its values. If you want to be in the UK, you simply shouldn't be allowed to barricade yourself inside an inward-looking sub-community. If you want to take advantage of free trade, free speech, a relatively high standard of living and all the other trimmings which come from living in a Western nation, it is your duty to integrate. This means, amongst other things, that you have to learn English, you need to respect women and LGBT people, and you have to acknowledge that free speech means all British citizens have the freedom to poke fun at whatever or whomever they consider fair game. If you don't like these rules; head to another country. Just as those teenaged girls seem to have done.
I listened to a programme on Radio 4 which interviewed a member of the infamous Biradari in Bradford. The word Biradari means brotherhood in Persian, and in Pakistan, members of the Biradari are almost more important than politicians or religious figures. We're told that a Biradari exists in Bradford; a group of men who wield what many would describe as an unhealthy amount of power over the large Pakistani community in that particular city.
The man who was being interviewed was basically boasting that if he told the community to vote for a certain party, then that party would almost certainly be elected. It didn't work with George Galloway's Respect, who were actually elected based on an open opposition to the Biradari, but it certainly raises deeply uncomfortable questions about corruption and the potential for corruption among minority groups within the UK. There was a genuine sense that, at least in Bradford, the Biradari were operating the strings of whichever politician-puppet they had chosen to support. This, of course, begs a question; who turns a blind eye in gratitude, and for what?
I'm afraid to say that the man being interviewed, though claiming to have been in the UK since the 1960s when he was a boy, was utterly unintelligible. He had the thickest Pakistani accent, which, for someone who effectively grew up here is an indication, possibly, that he'd not made integration into the UK a high priority, and that it's possible to live entirely within a mono-cultural ethnic community within the UK.
It's been quite a busy day today. Whilst working on Brass with PK in Worthing, a lot of activity was happening on Our Gay Wedding: The Musical, which was being broadcast in Australia. There were lots of lovely messages on Facebook and Twitter, and a nice review in the Sydney Morning Herald:
"If ever there was a compelling argument for legalising same-sex marriage, this is it. If only every wedding were as passionate, heartfelt and thoroughly entertaining as that of composer Benjamin Till and actor Nathan Taylor, who got married in Britain on March 29, 2014, the first day that same-sex marriage became legal in England and Wales. With an emotional introduction by narrator Stephen Fry, this is a hilarious and brilliantly penned musical about 21st-century love rights..."
Simultaneously news came through that the show has received it's fifth award nomination. This time for a prestigious Royal Television Society Award in the Best Arts Programme category. We're up against Grayson Perry with his wonderful "Who Are You?" series. I'd almost be offended if we beat him! His show fits the brief of the award so much better than ours...
Our trouble, of course, is that Our Gay Wedding: The Musical defies genre. Is it a documentary? A musical? Structured reality? An art film? A political statement? Perhaps unsurprisingly we've had nominations for music, entertainment, innovation, TV moment of the year, and now art...
I, of course, am still no closer to finding my next job! My mate Matt always used to say that a career in the arts alternates between taking a step forward and consolidating the ground you've covered. I'm not really very good at consolidation!