How’s this for a first blog post?
A woman laughs at a baby that has just died in her arms. Behind her a soldier is slumped on the floor, his brain splattered across the bottom of the wall. Close by, the woman’s abusive lover is shuffling on his knees, his arms stretched out in front of him reaching desperately for the touch of her body. He is blind. His eyes were sucked out by the soldier, who swallowed them and then raped this rapist using first a gun and then a part of his own body, and then stuck the gun in his gob and pulled the trigger. Later the woman buries the baby in a hole in the floor, and then leaves the room to hunt for food. While she is out her blind lover eats the dead child and shortly after that he, too, dies. The woman returns. She is humming and singing. She sits down, swinging her legs, gazing out at the emptiness.
This is how Blasted, written by the late Sarah Kane, ends. The play is a hopeless reflection on war; its achievement is to show the truly miserable detail of conflict and how acts of great violence are within us all. The individual quest for survival will in the end always defeat our dreamy desire to be humane…
Lara Pawson, whose blog opens with this post, is a talented journalist and an alumnus of the Wolfson Press Fellowship Programme which I run. She’s a specialist on Africa (especially Angola) and has seen some horrible things in her time. And she’s good at telling it as it is. I’ve been encouraging her to start blogging because I thought she’d be good at it. Looks like I was right.