Food banks

Love hurts

There is very little art about modern poverty, because who wants to know? It is barely acknowledged, unless there is redemption, or salvation, as in A Christmas Carol. Those most suited to make it — those who are actually poor — are usually too busy doing something else, such as surviving. So, it is remarkable to learn that Alexander Zeldin’s play LOVE, a success at the National Theatre in 2016, is now a film and will air this weekend on BBC2. The closest thing to it recently was Benefits Street, which was exploitative and, therefore, an instant hit. Zeldin is 33. He read French at Oxford University and is artist-in-residence

Hedda Garbler

Hedda Gabler is one of the most influential plays ever written. It not merely illuminated an injustice, the enslavement of women within marriage, it fomented the revolutionary achievements of feminism. It deserves to be done as Ibsen intended. This updated version from Ivo van Hove locates Hedda in one of those posh urban dream homes that resemble an art gallery. Stage left, buckets filled with flowers. Centre, an abandoned plinky-plonk piano. At the rear, a lamp the size of a traffic bollard. Scruffy off-white masterpieces deck the walls. Everything looks chic and scaled-up. Tesman is a penniless American academic married to tetchy Hedda who pads about barefoot, in her nightie,

Jonathan Coe’s raucous social satire smoulders with anger behind the fun

When Rachel, one of the unreliable narrators of Number 11, wants to ‘go back to the very beginning’, she starts with the death of Dr David Kelly, the former United Nations weapons inspector, discovered dead in woodland on Harrowdown Hill in Oxfordshire on 18 July 2003, shortly after casting doubt on the government dossier that claimed Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Rachel was ten at the time, staying with her grandparents and school friend Alison in the nearby village of Beverley. For the next ten years — during which she gets into Oxford from a state school, graduates with a 2:1 in English, and becomes a private tutor

Why are there so many fat people in pictures of food banks?

Were you aware that the famous actor Andy Garcia was born with a foetus growing out of his left shoulder? It was removed from him when he was a toddler. I had not known this and I am unhappy that some sort of conspiracy, some wall of silence, was constructed to keep this news from the paying public. I watched The Untouchables in blissful ignorance of the fact; had I known I would have picketed the cinema. Come clean about the dead foetus, Garcia! I am aware of the foetus business now only because I stumbled across an excellent website entitled ‘25 Celebrities With Hideous Physical Deformities’, and Garcia was

White Dee’s diary: From Benefits Street to Downing Street?

There’s no reason why you should have heard of me. No reason why you would have watched a Channel 4 television series called Benefits Street — with a title like that, I’d have changed channel if it came on my telly. But they didn’t tell us the title when they wanted to spend 18 months filming on our street. For reasons I can’t pretend to understand, five million people tuned in. It’s supposed to be the biggest hit Channel 4 have had since The Snowman. A fairly normal bunch of people — myself, Fungi, Black Dee, Becky and Mark — have become reality TV stars. It’s like Big Brother, except

Why it’s wrong to be ashamed of Britain’s food banks

The very existence of food banks is taken as proof of something rotten in Britain. If Brits are queuing for charity food parcels, the state has failed. Labour MPs brim with righteous anger: they call the rise of these charitable centres a ‘scandal’. David Cameron, for his part, wishes people would stop talking about them. The political consensus is that having anyone depend on charity handouts is a disgrace. But that’s not what those who use the food banks think. Nor is it an opinion shared by those who run them. The Trussell Trust, now the biggest food bank provider, regards its growth as a sign of success. Standing in