Thursday, 16 September 2010

in parts

So today I have finished editing the conversation between Jane Prinsep and I.

(If you want to read Jane's own words I heartily recommend her site Splintered Reflections to you.)

Jane was raped when she was a teenager and in June this year I went to Switzerland and recorded the conversation we had about that time in her life. And a few other times in her life.

Since then, the first edit of what we called why not me? has had many hundreds of listens.

It's a tough story to listen to but an important one.

It's about someone who's survived something.

Someone who's learning to be the fullest version of herself she can be.

Most conversations I record comfortably come down to a short edit of around 15 mins.

But not this one.

After I first let why not me? out of the bag at Latitude Festival this summer, it attracted a lot of attention.

Mostly for very good reasons.

Mostly because Jane's voice is one that people wanted to hear. Because (I think) it's a voice that's capable of bringing hope to anyone whose life has contained some kind of catastrophe; an event from which you might think there is no coming back.

But there is coming back. Plenty of it. And Jane is an example of someone who knows that's true.

So - partly because there was so much interest and partly because the conversation was such a rich one, I've now edited it into four parts.

In Part 1 Jane describes to me in graphic detail the rape itself. It's not an easy listen, so please if you're not in a robust place, think twice before listening to it.

But if you are in a robust place and you choose to take time to listen to someone describe an extraordinary event that you've probably never experienced, I urge you to listen to it. Your understanding and appreciation of what it is to be violated sexually will be that much greater if you listen. And that might change the way you consider things in your own life.

But if you listen to it - or you can download it here - you'll hear more than just a description of an event. You'll hear another human being dealing with what she's describing as she describes it. Change is happening in the conversation.

And it's a dialogue because that's happening.

In Part 2, Jane talks more about the immediate after effects of what she calls 'the attack'. She talks about her reaction to it. Her decision to survive. Her immediate and unconsidered defiance. She talks about the court case. The moment the perpetrator of the rape was convicted. The moment her eyes met his. And of her collapse in the court room as he left.

And then, she describes the realisation - even as she toasted the demise of the prisoner with her friends and family - that her recovery hadn't even really begun.

It's a powerful and compelling unfolding of a life beginning again. There are more details of the rape, more things remembered. Almost nothing forgotten. And a sense of a woman talking so clearly about herself that you can hear the way in which she consciously carries her journey with her every day.

Every day.

You can listen to Part 2 here.

And now today... I'm putting Part 3 out into the world. You can download it here.

In a way, this is the most 'listenable to' part of the conversation. The most ordinary.

In another way it's the most shocking. Precisely because it's the most ordinary.

Jane talks with seering honesty about what might well be construed as an ordinary marriage - is there any such thing? - on the surface. But just beneath the surface, she reveals that there are extraordinary things happening.

Jane describes to me a relationship that's unhealthy, destructive and ultimately doomed to failure but it's a relationship perhaps that many people who haven;t been raped will recognise. A relationship in which one person feels that everything is their fault. The resonance of the rape was ringing into Jane's adult life.

But again... Jane finds the courage to step out of one place and into the next.

She acknowledges that her attitude to men, sex and her own self esteem wasn't what she wanted to be. So she moves on...

And Part 4, is now here.

And after starting our conversation by talking about the act of violence that traumatised Jane as a teenager, we ended up talking about the gentleness of childhood and how she now talks to her children.

There's a short Audioboo here where I talk briefly about the title we've given to our conversation - why not me? - and how it's resonated with me personally.

But now, I just want to say thank you again to Jane, for sharing time with me and for allowing our conversation which felt so intimate and private - to be made public.

Already many people have told us both that just hearing your voice and your 'story' (which of course is not a story but your life) has been an inspiration to people. As life continues to throw its challenges towards you, I wish you all the love in the world.

Let's hope that other people keep thinking. And imagining.

And listening.

And sometimes asking the question: why not me?

Monday, 13 September 2010

green thoughts

I had a very enjoyable day last week working with the good people of Green Alliance, a group of (mostly) young men and women - mostly women actually - whose everyday job is to harness the thinking and energy of various partners and help them to bring big green issues to the ears of those who need to listen.

It all happened at the beautiful location of Bore Place (what a place).

It was fascinating and surprising to see, hear and experience how in some ways they're facing some very old fashioned problems. Issues that you might hope were things of the past but in fact are very much things of the present.

About getting taken seriously.

About getting an inconvenient truth through to a public who'd rather believe a more comfortable set of reassuring lies.

And how to recognise that while your own environment might be one in which trust, respect and open-mindedness are rigorously and consciously applied... the very people you need to reach out to and create dialogue with may not have the same culture.

So that makes your job hard. Really hard.

But it's a job worth doing.

10,000 times over.

So - power to your elbows Green Alliance.

And I'm happy to help you again. Any time.

Oh and I promised you all access to all the podcasts on dialogue...

And here they are.

Now go dialogue the hell out of a few people.