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February 22 , 2011

Because it is Written

Two short stories of Revenge and Redemption


Two very different short stories about revenge and redemption:

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The context for Because it is Written

I was inspired to write the short story Because it is Written after reading Witchfinders: a Seventeenth-Century English Tragedy (2005), a vivid historical account of the witchfinding campaign by Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne, written by acclaimed historian Malcolm Gaskell.

Overall, more than a hundred people are said to have been hanged for witchcraft in the county of Essex alone between 1645 and 1647 - often after being tortured into confessions. Torture was theoretically illegal in England even then, but witchfinders found ways of torturing which left no marks and generally combined these with sleep deprivation. They drew on texts from the Bible to justify their actions, particularly Exodus 22.18: ‘Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live’ but also Deuteronomy and the Book of Revelation.

The context for Hoodies

This story was based on the aftermath of a drug dealer shooting I saw when I was working on a housing and regeneration project in south London. The project was at the time one of Europe’s biggest regeneration projects, demolishing several thousand run-down and problem tower block flats and replacing them with new homes, many with gardens. The regeneration scheme included employment, training, education and health projects in an attempt to address all aspects of the deprivation in those estates. However, while that segment of the area was indeed to some extent transformed, in the wider area, drug-dealing and gang violence remain real problems.

The road in which Hoodies is set was once included in a national newspaper’s exposé of shops which sold drugs in the area and the wider area is still notorious, especially in more sensationalist press articles. It has featured, for example, in the Sun’s Broken Britain series, being described as ‘an area of south London riddled with crime, where drug dealers stalk the streets and regularly battle over territory using knives and guns.’

So much for the ‘outsider’ view of the problems and violence. Hoodies focuses on an ‘insider’ view, the perspective of those who live there.

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