RMSYL 14: The Gun by Mark Haddon (read by Ted Hodgkinson)

I’m hoping I might get a few complaints about this podcast. Firstly, as this is a nominal tie-in with the new Granta 119: Britain issue, nothing really says Britain like a good old whinge. But also because the internet (as a buzzing, virtual gestalt of ourselves) is often driven and impelled by the energy of expostulation. Complaints turn into clicks, and maybe even a Listen, and we all want more of those. The amazing Humans of New York Facebook page is currently ablaze with 1000 comments (463 outright complaints, I counted*) surrounding just one photo of an Orthodox Jewish man and a Sudanese woman. The photo and story ascribed to it has raised interesting questions around race, religion, hypocrisy, citizen journalism, and trial by social media. So what am I hoping you might complain about? You might have a go at myself and Ted for forgetting to switch off our mobile phones. At a certain point, you can hear a a few seconds of bumble-bee action as one of us is sent a text message during the recording. Even better, I’m hoping that you will bemoan the fact that the story @TeditorTed reads and discusses with great care and insight is not given in its entirety. You might even wonder whether this is some marketing ruse dreamt up by Granta and myself to get you to go and buy the new issue in which this quite incredible piece of fiction can be found. If so, unwittingly. Ted was happy to read it all, but then we wouldn’t have been any time for discussion, and what a cracking discussion it is, on everything from childhood boredom and excitement (the building blocks for our adult template of these two states) through to the “weapons” we use against each other (physical and psychological), and the moral conundrums that shape our lives. The other great thing about complaints though is that they offer the opportunity for connection and reconciliation between the person complaining and the person receiving the complaint. So here’s an offer you simply can’t refuse: read me something you love, and I will happily, after our recording, read you the rest of the story, whilst you tuck into the fine flour-based food products I also bring along for these meet-ups. BTW: this story would go particularly well with a nice cup of tea and some Custard Creams. *I didn’t.

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