2016 Character Profiles

Pius Batcher

Softly-spoken reverend of the local Methodists in Rockham. Member of the liaison committee with Cathy Mason. Provided mediation and support within the Lovelace community and believed to have been a key figure in pacifying local anger in the early stages of the Rockham disturbances. Formed local committee that held candlelight vigil for deceased IC3 male with Lyndall Mason.

What do you think?

To what extent do you think we need to empathise with people in order to understand their motivations?

What others say

Hardbackers Reading Group (Redbridge Central Library):
We think that you need to empathise with people to understand their motivations. But it's hard to empathise if you haven't shared the same situation as them, or share similar interests, or had similar experiences. For example noisy neighbours; if you've also had them, you can understand others' motivations or actions - or lack of!

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Who do you consider to be the pillars of your local community?

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Twickenham Reading Group (3rd Wednesday evening):
The ordinary people in the community - e.g. volunteers. We felt that there is more 'community' on an estate than in the local streets in this area.

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Read the extract and listen to the audio

Do you think the role played by teenagers in the riots was reported fairly amongst public opinion at the time? Do you think this view of teenagers is any different today?

What others say

Ham Library Reading Group:
Yes, it was fairly reported at the time and we're not sure if anything has changed or if it is any different today.

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What part can protest or community actions in public play in modern democracy? Is it important?

What others say

Whitton Wednesday Reading Group:
It is important. It's a way of bringing to the attention of the powers that be that there is a groundswell of opinion that they need to take note of. However, protests can be hi-jacked by troublemakers, giving the wrong impression, particularly if it's picked up by the media.

Bushy Park Readers (Hampton Hill):
Protest is the only way attention can be drawn forcefully to issues of acute concern to the community; it sends a message about public expectations, frustrations and resentment to those who have been appointed through the ballot box. Public protest is a vital freedom and it is critical that protests are skilfully and respectfully handled by those whose task it is to respond to civil disobedience and disorder. This includes not only the police but also the politicians who are in the positions of ultimate responsibility and the media who have the power to influence public opinion, negatively or positively and to put pressure on the politicians to resolve issues. The book presents the events through the eyes of both the powerful and the powerless, but with very clear sympathy for the latter and cynicism about the former.

Richmond Reading Group (3rd Wednesday):
Yes - it can be a catalyst for community involvement.

Castelnau Reading Group:
The group felt this was very important ; that protest is essential in a modern democracy and everyone has a right to protest. For every action there is always a corresponding reaction and it was important to see how all the characters fell into play in the book.

Whitton Reading Group:
A protest or community action gives strength to each and every participant - united we stand! The voice of many must be louder and thus more powerful than a single voice. The heard voice plays and important part in democratic decision-making.
N.B. In a recent BBC 4 programme (Natalie Haynes stands up for the classics) it was said that a recurrent theme of Metamorphoses was: a loss of voice is a loss of power.

Annie's Reading Group (Kew):
People who strike or go to protest rallies always hope that they will change the situation for the better and they also feel they are acting democratically: for the greater good of the whole. But subversive elements can behave undemocratically or dangerously thus damaging the democratic intention of the majority.
The ability to protest is part of belonging to a democratic society. It is an important freedom, but because it is a freedom it is open to abuse and subversion .
Community actions and protest can be effective and helpful, but not if violence is involved.
There are dangers that protests can be manipulated by others, for example when filming members of the media have been known to orchestrate chanting and passive resistance to make a good news programme.

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Riots across the world often occur on hot days. Have you seen the weather spark social or political action?

What others say

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This Character is featured in...

Ten Days

It’s 4 a.m. and Cathy Mason is watching dawn break over the Lovelace estate. By the end of the day, her community will be a crime scene. By the end of the week, her city will be on fire.

In this gripping thriller by Orange Prize-shortlisted author Gillian Slovo, ten unpredictable days of violence erupt from a stifling heatwave. And, as Westminster careers are being made or ruined, lives are at stake. Ten Days is about what happens when politics, policing and the hard realities of living in London collide.

Listen to extracts from the book by visiting Audible’s dedicated channel on Soundcloud.

About Gillian Slovo

Gillian Slovo is a playwright and the author of thirteen books, including five crime novels, the courtroom drama Red Dust, which was made into a feature film starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the Orange Prize-shortlisted Ice Road. She co-authored the play Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which was staged internationally. Her research for her play The Riots inspired Ten Days. Gillian Slovo was President of English PEN from 2010 to 2013 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was born in South Africa and lives in London.

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