SNP’s Second Try

SNP wants to launch another independence referendum after losing the last one in 2014

One of the the most horrifying political gaffes ever made has to be Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister demanding another independence referendum for Scotland, where it is to ask for independence from the United Kingdom, just two-and-half years after the previous one. It is far too close to the last independence referendum for Scotland. It does not matter if Scotland hasn’t been allowed enough room to be a part of the EU single market, following Brexit because there is no need to cry for independence over that – unity over political decisions is a good thing.

Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, post David Cameron, is horsing around with the statement, it seems. At one point in time, May is against it, and at another point in time, her office, Number 10, sends out mixed messages that another independence referendum could happen but not before Brexit is officially wrapped up. When the SNP wrote in their manifesto pre-elections that another independence referendum could be called in the future if the situation dictated it, did they think it would be this close to the past one? It’s unclear but the party had stated that 2014’s referendum was a rare event.

There is no doubt that what the Tory government did was very wrong because Britain’s place is really with the EU, not independent from it, and it is truly asking Scotland an awful lot of getting along to do, when the nation overwhelmingly voted against a Brexit. However, when differences of opinion arises, compromises are necessary because the two countries did choose to remain united only recently and having unity isn’t always easy in the face of political decisions of whoever, or whichever party is in power. Politicians in both Westminster and the Scottish parliament should really be doing their jobs in government instead of running after independence referendums for the billionth time.

Meanwhile, Scotland is to learn of the conditions of Brexit later than when done because of how EU negotiations are carried out. So far, the idea of another Scottish independence referendum doesn’t seem to have picked up momentum anywhere else but in Number 10 somewhat, but if it were to happen, it is a little bit vague as to why because SNP is contemplating thoughts of Scotland, if the EU gives approval, joining the European Economic Area (EEA), in a manner similar to Norway’s, which would permit the country to be a part of the single market – this is despite the fact that the UK is Scotland’s biggest trade partner, so if this new independence referendum is supposed to be about the economy then it’s not supposed to be in favour of the Scottish economy doing very well.

The Witchfinder’s Sister

A real life tale about an English witch-hunter

A witch hunt is happening in the 1600s in an otherwise sleepy English town and the culprit is called Matthew Hopkins. Based on the actual real life story of the witch-hunter, is a sensational novel, The Witchfinder’s Sister, attempting to piece together missing clues in Hopkins’ terrifying acts. To that end, Hopkins is made to have a fictional sister in the book, the widowed Alice who returns to Manningtree from London, following the death of her husband. Through Alice’s experiences of her brother’s misdeeds, the reader is able to gather a coherent idea of what drove Matthew to become a witch-hunter. At the height of religious fanaticism, there is a special book in the talks by Matthew, which lists names of many women. It is unclear if these names are suspected to be witches but Matthew and his comrades have already hanged somewhere around three hundred women, as part of the witch hunt. It was the biggest number of deaths since the last 160 years, and the scene of this event is set amidst a civil war and plenty of battlefield-related deaths.

Matthew, shockingly, is no longer the same person he was to his sister – he now has a fortune and it is suggestive that the Hopkins were born into an impoverished state. Matthew is also a grain merchant, with an enterprising nature and he has managed to turn his whole life around – previously, whilst growing up, he was the subject of other children’s ridicule because he was perceived to be odd. Alice, who has come to depend on her brother after her husband’s death in an accident, spends half of her time trying to be as less of a burden as possible to her brother, and the other half trying to figure out Matthew’s plans as a witch-hunter, and maybe even save herself and a loud and artless friend of their mother’s, Bridget, who is also her mother-in-law.

Matthew, who seemingly defying convention has managed to make himself a member of the upper class, with the accruing of wealth, is an emblem of how because of some people in it, the class can inextricably be associated with witch-hunters and witch-hunting. It’s not difficult to underline the reasons behind it because difference of behaviour in society might not always be looked at pleasantly but I suspect it’s more of the town’s circumstances than anything, which collides with the witch-hunter’s life and influences Matthew to change and keep the darkness alive. The book is at times mysterious, and at other times very raw in caricaturing disturbing elements of a famous witch-hunter. The tapestry of history associated with Matthew Hopkins, the witch-hunter, unravels beautifully and it is a thrilling story.

Mud and Ice

When the first drops of rain falls in winter, the feeling you get from it is hard to pin down. Ink , sitting on her very broad (and brown) window pane discovers she has always enjoyed the rain. It’s one of her favourite things in Sheffield, besides of course stories of ‘The Great War’. In the Williams household, war stories are huge. It’s almost as if everyday there is a new story to tell of a war, which feels so long ago to her. Smiling at the thought, Ink notices that a bright ray of sunshine has suddenly taken over the skies following the rain. It’s one of those aftereffects of a weather downpour she absolutely detests but sunshine is often rare in winter, and it reminds her if she can ask her mother to go to the grocery store now, instead of in the evening when she really wants to reserve some time for learning.

At the kitchen…

Mother Williams: I am certain you can. What do you want to get for yourself?
Ink: Apples and chicken.
Mother Williams: We need a loaf of bread, bell peppers and some sugar. But that seems like a lot to carry. Why don’t you ask the butler to accompany you?
Ink: Sure! Anything else?
Mother Williams: No, I think that’s it.

Trodding on muddy ground littered with snow speckles, Sebastian (the middle-aged butler in the Williams household) and Ink Williams are trying to get to the grocery store.

Sebastian: Master, how can you even walk today? Even wearing the right shoes won’t help. It’s muddy every few feet for the roads, and…
Ink: Icy sheets on the pavements everywhere.
Sebastian: Yes, that’s why we should go back.
Ink: But I really need chicken for tonight. I have got absolutely nothing in the fridge apart from cheese and leftover toasties. Try to keep up!
Sebastian: Oh…

When Ink and her butler reach the grocery store, it’s packed.

Sebastian (glancing at the crowd): Well, this is just ridiculous!
Ink: I know. Why does everyone have to be out today? It’s not even the weekend.
Sebastian: Maybe they got fresh produce?
Ink: I hope. Although, I am not really buying much.
Sebastian: Maybe you should.
Ink:…I could use some bell peppers of my own.
Sebastian: Alright, Ink, let’s walk to buy apples. Lord save the Queen!

Two hours and two pairs of muddy trousers later…

Sebastian: Master, do you have everything you need?
Ink: Yes, I do!
Sebastian: Well, then let’s head right back home. Our trousers are muddy as it is.
Ink: I think I overheard some neighbourhood gossip while shopping.
Sebastian: What did you hear?
Ink: A young maiden has eloped and her family is in deep shame (and a lot of tears) for it because he is a good-for-nothing.
Sebastian: Am I hearing this right? You actually heard of a story like that?
Ink: Yes. Why?
Sebastian: Well, people ought to know better than to air their shameless dirty laundry in the air like that, when children are about at the grocer’s too, don’t you think?
Ink: So what if I heard it? Don’t you think it makes me wiser?
Sebastian: Tales like that?
Ink: Sure. I now know there are kinds of women who elope with idiots.
Sebastian: Wow! You do?…and what family is this?
Ink: The Rogers. They live close to where Dimitri does. Oh! Maybe he knows about it too. I can’t wait to ask him if actually saw anything up close.

Patriotism in Films

What is patriotism to South Asian cinema?

In India, films with a patriotic theme seems to bind the whole nation together. It portrays nationalistic sentiments, love for one’s nation, and in a sentimental albeit heroic way. Patriotic Indian films also have the power to liven up spirits, teach new thoughts to people irrespective of the class they belong to, their religious or socio-economic background, and these Hindi movies appeal to both the educated and the illiterate.

On another train of thought, since the early seventies, leaving out films with an obvious Pakistani (or Pakistani-minded) slant, Bangladeshi films have often made the Bangladeshi film industry an important one. On the subject of patriotism, in internationally acclaimed director Zahir Raihan’s Jibon Theke Neya (1970), for example, which fictionally depicted the atrocities committed by Pakistan against Bangladesh, pre-independence, the story plays out like a tale of struggle for freedom for a husband, two boys, who are brothers, and some servants, from the clutches of an oppressive woman controlling her family.

In the landscape of the film, it is shown that protests erupt in East Pakistan (Bangladesh) against oppressive Pakistani rule, which signifies the days of Bangladesh’s language movement but the portrayal of the oppression was more symbolic than anything else, imprinted into a family drama. The turmoil of the oppression reflects in the lives of this family who begin to protest against the oppressive woman and her brand of family-regime by speaking loudly against her. The home front then gets more tangled inside a protest-theme, when a marital angle is thrown into the narrative: the two boys bring home two wives, who plot to snatch away sovereignty of their new family from this oppressive woman in power by obtaining the keys to the house – it symbolises gaining control of the house.

What was also rather interesting about the movie was the specific, symbolic caricature of former Pakistani President Ayub Khan’s autocratic rule in East Pakistan as a despotic female head of the house, with an ill-tempered nature – marriages and schemes for control tragically follows in the lives of the Bangladeshi family for it. Meanwhile, patriotism in Indian filmmaking is often proclaimed through the tense subject of Kashmir. Since 1947, a dispute has been happening at the shared border between India and Pakistan which has spelled out into three separate wars to claim Kashmir.

At the moment, India controls a majority of Kashmir, and I have always felt Kashmir as an entire state belonged to India, not Pakistan. In Hindi films, such as Mission Kashmir (2000) and Roja (1992) the theme of the Kashmir conflict is woven together with a major love story. It’s hard to picturise a romantic angle to a story in the theatre of war but that is what the narrative is often like for South Asian cinema – if it’s not romantic, it must be a family drama of all things, heavily reliant on symbolism to depict patriotism rising in the face of oppression.

Sleeves with Drama

Sleeves with Drama