A parcel arrives, inside which is a replica of Kay Dick’s dystopian novel of 1977, They: A Sequence of Unease, and a letter informing me that Faber is to reissue it subsequent month. Crikey, however isn’t this wonderful? Dick, who died in 2001, is one thing of a minority curiosity at this level. She didn’t write a lot and what she did is both fairly peculiar or fairly unhealthy, although I’ll all the time be keen on Ivy and Stevie, a set of interviews with Ivy Compton-Burnett and Stevie Smith that wears its eccentricity like some loopy hat (“I realised that she had pretty legs as a result of, very often, she would delve underneath her skirt for her handkerchief, which she tucked into her knickers,” Dick writes of the previous, on whom she first “known as” in 1950.)
But when this guide’s reappearance is shocking, it’s additionally ironic. In They, Britain is within the grip of a mercilessly merciless group of philistines: a mob that burns books and work, punishing all those that resist. Faber hopes, very laudably, to deliver it to a “new era” of readers and to assist it achieve this, its edition comes with reward from Margaret Atwood and an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado.
The depraved thought happens to me, nonetheless, that it’s actually publishing itself that the majority wants this guide proper now. As Machado notes: “Censorious impulses… and mushy bigotry are hardly the unique property of the fitting.”
Dick’s novel is reborn in a world during which some imprints (not Faber, I hope) are content material to excise utterly writers they have been delighted to publish solely 5 minutes in the past; during which social media appears an increasing number of totally to terrify editors; and during which, at sure moments, the Society of Authors falls oddly silent. Oh, properly. The excellent news is that this scary little novel can now be theirs – or anybody’s – for simply £8.99.
Preying on our fears
Out on this planet once more, all the things is without delay the identical and subtly completely different. On the tube, I discover myself transfixed by the adverts in my carriage, which now converse with one voice of the pandemic. Like a dandelion poking by a crack in a paving stone, capitalism determinedly locates our weaknesses and anxieties, the higher that it would overtly exploit them. Personalised nutritional vitamins (“we all know you’re weary”), a wierd concoction for the turbulent intestine, mindfulness delivered to your door in just a little cardboard field. Be warned: the snake oil retailers are out in drive.
Come to the Cabaret…
By the point you learn this, I’ll lastly have seen Rebecca Frecknall’s new manufacturing of Cabaret, starring Eddie Redmayne and Jessie Buckley, an evening out I needed to remortgage the home to afford. (These ticket costs actually do evoke the Weimar, I can inform you.) Will I be as excessive as a kite or affected by the mom of all anticlimaxes? I don’t know. However both approach, not less than my pre-show nerves will finally be gone.
The emails from the theatre final week have been sufficient to deliver on an assault of the vapours, their anhedonic tone considerably at odds with the very fact they purport to be from the Equipment Kat Membership, as if the place actually exists. “Motion required!” they command, after which there follows an extended checklist of directions involving Covid assessments and arrival occasions. We now have been informed to look a full 75 minutes earlier than curtain up, which appears utterly mad, particularly since I couldn’t get two seats subsequent to at least one one other. Will we each be allowed to go to the identical bar? Or will one in all us find yourself – I’m studying the small print now – on the place that solely serves schnapps?