Inside Out

A week of talks, exhibitions and performances with the New Statesman.

The New Statesman is delighted to be associated this year with the Inside Out Festival, an annual week-long feast of discussion, debate, art, film and performance. Inside Out 2010 takes place between 25 and 31 October at a number of venues across London, including Somerset House, the Barbican and the National Portrait Gallery, as well as rarely used spaces in nine of the capital's institutions of higher education.

The festival director, Sally Taylor, said: "There is certainly no shortage of festivals in London, but this is an arts festival with a distinct twist. The sheer breadth of talent in the nine universities involved is staggering.

"We want as many people as possible to come and enjoy the fruits of this talent and passion in October. From the art of Cézanne to the art of war, from the abuses of contemporary history to the history of men's underwear, this year's Inside Out Festival will be a feast -- a cultural 'pick'n' mix' -- for bright thinkers and art lovers, young and old."

And the New Statesman editor, Jason Cowley, added: "As a magazine, we like to look beyond the obvious and seek out the unusual, the witty, the irreverent and the thought-provoking. In this festival we have found all of these things and more."

The festival will open at Senate House at the University of London on 25 October with a high-profile debate: "Should the university continue to exist in its current form?"

Among the many other highlights are a debate on the literature of the New Labour years with the novelist Blake Morrison and Professor Robert Hampson; a panel discussion of the "uses and abuses of contemporary history" with Peter Hennessy (author of the recently republished Secret State), the Labour MP and former cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and the constitutional expert and regular NS contributor Vernon Bogdanor; and "The Art of War", a debate chaired by Philippe Sands, QC, on the idea of war as entertainment.

For a full programme, see here, and keep an eye on for further updates.

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Jonathan Derbyshire is Managing Editor of Prospect. He was formerly Culture Editor of the New Statesman.

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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