March 23rd marked 3 years ago that 23 strangers (one of them being me!) walked into ‘Eden’ for the first time – a 600 acre remote site on the west coast of Scotland – where we intended to live off-grid and cut off from the world for 1 year. A year later, the 10 of us that stayed returned to ‘The Real World’.
Except, it seemed pretty unreal. We walked back out into a post Brexit and T***p world. It was pretty overwhelming, to say the least.
When you’re concerned with getting back to your life and catching up with friends and family etc, it’s easy to brush over what a unique perspective we had, coming back to a world that had been changing so much politically in the year we were gone. Somebody highlighted this to me at a writing workshop I attended recently…
‘Who are we now?’ A project by Katy Massey has been running life writing workshops across the country, inviting attendees to write about their personal experiences of the changing political landscape since the Brexit referendum. Back in January, Katy ran a Life Writing workshop in Brighton in collaboration with ‘Hidden Sussex’, a project by Writing Our Legacy exploring Sussex from a BME perspective.
Through discussion, readings and short exercises we reflected on how incidents connected to Brexit had impacted our lives and the people around us.
Once we got chatting, it soon got out that I was living off-grid in the woods at the time of the referendum. With the cat out of the bag, I couldn’t really write about anything else.
The work I began in that workshop became a piece, entitled Silenced, Hungry and Furious about the day we found out some of the unbelievable and deeply concerning News that we’d missed. I submitted it to be part of the Who Are We Now? collection and was thrilled to have it accepted!
(Photo © Keo Films)
I really enjoyed writing the piece, it was fun and healing and it encouraged me to look back through my Eden diaries and brainstorm other story ideas. I envision a collection of some sort in the future…
Here’s a little snippet from Silenced, Hungry and Furious:
“Everybody gather in the living room at 3 o’clock. We’ve got something to show you on the TV.”
The production team – or ‘Production’ as we call them – say and we do, it’s second nature now. It’s slightly strange to see the order being spoken by the lips of a human and not to hear it from the Voice of God booming across the sand dunes of Ardnamurchan, but it is done in their usual style at least – they give us a teaser and some time to gossip about it while lurking with their cameras. After all, they never know when a broadcast-worthy conversation might happen. Maybe it’s the alcohol going to our heads or maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome, but we still actually think that Production might consider our wellbeing when deciding what our first experience of looking at a television screen in twelve months might be. Maybe they’re going to show us some clips from the show, or a montage of bloopers, or maybe it’ll be videos from our families.
Sinking into the long-forgotten and unbelievable depth and comfiness of a sofa, I try to work out whether this an especially large TV screen or if it’s really quite average and I’ve just forgotten how big they are. I look around at the nine people I know like I know nobody else, all now dressed in the plain tracksuits that Production have provided us with and all looking unexpectedly new after a proper wash. We look like we’re in a rehab clinic, and maybe we are? Production position themselves on the same side of the room as the screen and aim cameras at our faces, waiting for juicy reaction shots. I’m thinking about what sort of video message my family might send and imagine my Mum fussing over her outfit.
The video starts and it’s soon clear that this exercise is not intended to be fun.
To read more, and the other varied and brilliant pieces in the collection, buy the book! Here :)
There was a book launch and Life Writing event – with talks from Katy Massey, Miranda Doyle and Hannah Lowe – in London. It was lovely to meet some of the other contributors and encouraging to hear successful life writers sharing their stories.
And very exciting to see a physical copy of the book for the first time!