Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Things That Happened When I Was In Turkey

Firstly, the death of Sam Hoare, the journalist who blew the whistle on the News of the World phone hacking scandal. It appears that his death was self-inflicted, according to police reports, but I believe investigations are still going on.

Secondly, the Poetry Society EGM. I had arranged my proxy vote before I left for Turkey. Since my return, I’ve been catching up with what happened. My jaw has dropped on several occasions. In a previous post, I asked whether the lack of transparency had been caused because either:

1. The Poetry Society had something to hide
2. The Poetry Society was beyond useless at public relations
3. The situation was much worse even than it seemed, so bad that things couldn’t possibly be made public [without severe embarrassment]

It now looks as though all three of these possibilities were accurate! What has happened has been much worse that I could have believed and several questions remain unanswered. The best (and most chilling) summary I have read has been that by George Szirtes. There is a petition to reinstate Judith Palmer as Director, which I have signed. Clearly, the PS needs to get back in line with what the Arts Council expected of it. Whether it can do this with the current board over the next couple of months is open to serious doubt. Also, the question of Poetry Review and of the Editor’s line management both clearly have to be resolved without delay, but I have no confidence in the current board to deal with these matters properly.

Thirdly, the death of Amy Winehouse. I feel sadder about this than some of my friends might expect. It is, of course, the death of a young person in circumstances common to many families and every one of those is a private grief and torment. But, in a more public sense, I feel sad because I don’t think Amy had reached her peak, in contrast, say, to Kurt Cobain – I doubt Kurt could have improved on the final two Nirvana albums if he’d lived to 100. Amy’s Back to Black, on the other hand, contained a few brilliant songs, showing immense talent, but also several fillers. She might have fulfilled her potential if she hadn’t fallen into bad company, bad drugs etc. We’ll never know now.

Fourthly, Norway was all over the Turkish TV channels, as elsewhere. Watching the reports in Turkish, not understanding a word but understanding the images all too well, was a sad and sobering experience.