New Statesman screening at BFI Southbank

A few tickets still available for No Man's Land and panel discussion.

A reminder of the New Statesman film screening and panel discussion at the BFI Southbank in London tomorrow (13 February).

Danis Tanovic's 2001 film No Man's Land will be shown in NFT2 at 12.45pm. A panel discussion on the way the media handle conflict, chaired by the New Statesman's culture editor, Jonathan Derbyshire, will follow at 2.30pm.


James Gow is professor of international peace and security at King's College London, and director of the International Peace and Security Programme. Between 1994 and 1998, he served as an expert adviser and expert witness for the Office of the Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, where he was involved in establishing subject-matter jurisdiction. He was also the first witness to give evidence in the Trial Chamber and the first person ever to give evidence at an international criminal tribunal. Professor Gow has subsequently continued to work with the tribunal. His most recent book is War, Image, Legitimacy: Viewing Contemporary Conflict (with Milena Michalski).

Dr Gregory Kent has written about the break-up of Yugoslavia both as a journalist and as an academic. He is the author of Framing War and Genocide: British Policy and Media Reaction to the War in Bosnia. As director of graduate studies in human rights and international relations at Roehampton University, London, his broad research interests include historical and political issues in war and genocide, and the problems of political communication in such contexts.

James Rodgers is Europe regional editor at the BBC World Service. He spent ten years as a foreign correspondent, during which time he reported from Chechnya, Gaza -- where he was the only international correspondent permanently based in the territory -- and Iraq, where he was one of the first journalists to get to Saddam Hussein's bunker following the Iraqi dictator's capture in 2003. He is currently writing a book on conflict reporting.

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For the first time in my life I have a sworn enemy – and I don’t even know her name

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

Last month, I made an enemy. I do not say this lightly, and I certainly don’t say it with pride, as a more aggressive male might. Throughout my life I have avoided confrontation with a scrupulousness that an unkind observer would call out-and-out cowardice. A waiter could bring the wrong order, cold and crawling with maggots, and in response to “How is everything?” I’d still manage a grin and a “lovely, thanks”.

On the Underground, I’m so wary of being a bad citizen that I often give up my seat to people who aren’t pregnant, aren’t significantly older than me, and in some cases are far better equipped to stand than I am. If there’s one thing I am not, it’s any sort of provocateur. And yet now this: a feud.

And I don’t even know my enemy’s name.

She was on a bike when I accidentally entered her life. I was pushing a buggy and I wandered – rashly, in her view – into her path. There’s little doubt that I was to blame: walking on the road while in charge of a minor is not something encouraged by the Highway Code. In my defence, it was a quiet, suburban street; the cyclist was the only vehicle of any kind; and I was half a street’s length away from physically colliding with her. It was the misjudgment of a sleep-deprived parent rather than an act of malice.

The cyclist, though, was enraged. “THAT’S CLEVER, ISN’T IT?” she yelled. “WALKING IN THE ROAD!”

I was stung by what someone on The Apprentice might refer to as her negative feedback, and walked on with a redoubled sense of the parental inadequacy that is my default state even at the best of times.

A sad little incident, but a one-off, you would think. Only a week later, though, I was walking in a different part of town, this time without the toddler and engrossed in my phone. Again, I accept my culpability in crossing the road without paying due attention; again, I have to point out that it was only a “close shave” in the sense that meteorites are sometimes reported to have “narrowly missed crashing into the Earth” by 50,000 miles. It might have merited, at worst, a reproving ting of the bell. Instead came a familiar voice. “IT’S YOU AGAIN!” she yelled, wrathfully.

This time the shock brought a retort out of me, probably the harshest thing I have ever shouted at a stranger: “WHY ARE YOU SO UNPLEASANT?”

None of this is X-rated stuff, but it adds up to what I can only call a vendetta – something I never expected to pick up on the way to Waitrose. So I am writing this, as much as anything, in the spirit of rapprochement. I really believe that our third meeting, whenever it comes, can be a much happier affair. People can change. Who knows: maybe I’ll even be walking on the pavement

Mark Watson is a stand-up comedian and novelist. His most recent book, Crap at the Environment, follows his own efforts to halve his carbon footprint over one year.

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood