Inside Out

Highlights from this year's festival.

The New Statesman is proud to be a media partner for this year's Inside Out Festival, which starts next week. Here are some highlights from the programme.

Monday 22 October

University Challenged

Anatomy Lecture Theatre, King College London, The Strand, London WC2, 7pm

Marking the 50th anniversary of University Challenge, academics will respond to questions on life, the universe and everything in a cross between University Challenge and Question Time, with quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne.

Free.

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Tuesday 23 October

Death and Space

The Deadhouse, Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2, 6.15pm for a 6.30pm start

"Death and the Contemporary" is a series of site-specific  discussion events organised by Dr Georgina Colby and Anthony Luvera .

Confirmed panellists for the first event  include Professor Robert Hampson and artist Tom Hunter, together with a rare opportunity to visit this venue.

£5 full price; £3 students, unemployed and over 65s. A glass of wine in included in the ticket price.

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Tuesday October 23

On Some Threshold of the Air

St John’s Waterloo, London SE1, 8pm

Songs of Viktor Ullmann with English Touring Opera, the composer of The Emperor of Atlantis, composed in Terezin concentration camp.  Followed by a discussion about the work and its context with Professors Robert Eaglestone and Erik Levi.

£10; students £5; WDS £5.

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Wed 24 October

Al-Qa’ida Resurgent?

City University, 10 Northampton Square, London EC1, 6pm

This forum will feature Abdel Bari Atwan talking about the subject of his new book After Bin Laden: Al-Qa’ida, The Next Generation, with Dr Shane Brighton providing his thoughts on the implications of a resurgence in Al Qaeda activism for Western policies to counter the phenomenon.

Free, but booking required.

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Thursday October 25

Book as Artefact

Free Word Centre, 60 Farringdon Road, London N1, 6.30pm

A discussion of the influence of digitalisation on the book  hosted by artist Sam Winston.

The panel of illustrious researchers, academics and practitioners from University of the Arts London, make  responses to a series of provocative questions, images and statements related to the changing face of the book in recent times.

Tickets £11.25 in advance; £13 on the door (cash only).

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Friday 26 October 

London’s Lost Playing Spaces: Walking Tour

Fix Coffee, 126 Curtain Road, London EC2, 5pm

Visit the sites of some of Elizabethan and Jacobean London’s most important theatres in east London: the recently rediscovered Curtain, where Henry V was first performed; The Fortune, for which the original dimensions still survive; and The Red Bull, notorious for attracting rowdy and occasionally criminally violent audiences. Today, with its clubs and pubs, galleries and shops, east London remains a centre for entertainment and this walking tour will seek out its origins as a place of play.

Free with £3 returnable deposit.

To book, visit www.insideoutfestival.org.uk

Saturday 27 October

Conrad’s Secrets: London and its Others

The Johnson Bar, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet Street, London EC4, 12pm for a 12.15pm start

Join Professor Robert Hampson for a drink and a talk based around his new book, “Conrad’s Secrets”.

Conrad’s Secrets explores various secrets relevant to Conrad’s fiction – naval secrets, trade secrets, sexual secrets, urban secrets and medical secrets. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is a Fleet Street landmark. Rebuilt back in 1667, it has strong connections to Conrad and his work.

Free event.

Explore the secrets of Joseph Conrad at the Inside Out Festival (photograph: Getty Images)
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How Donald Trump is slouching towards the Republican nomination

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb.

In America, you can judge a crowd by its merchandise. Outside the Connecticut Convention Centre in Hartford, frail old men and brawny moms are selling “your Trump 45 football jerseys”, “your hats”, “your campaign buttons”. But the hottest item is a T-shirt bearing the slogan “Hillary sucks . . . but not like Monica!” and, on the back: “Trump that bitch!” Inside, beyond the checkpoint manned by the Transportation Security Administration and the secret service (“Good!” the man next to me says, when he sees the agents), is a family whose three kids, two of them girls, are wearing the Monica shirt.

Other people are content with the shirts they arrived in (“Waterboarding – baptising terrorists with freedom” and “If you don’t BLEED red, white and blue, take your bitch ass home!”). There are 80 chairs penned off for the elderly but everyone else is standing: guys in motorcycle and military gear, their arms folded; aspiring deal-makers, suited, on cellphones; giggling high-school fatsos, dressed fresh from the couch, grabbing M&M’s and Doritos from the movie-theatre-style concession stands. So many baseball hats; deep, bellicose chants of “Build the wall!” and “USA!”. (And, to the same rhythm, “Don-ald J!”)

A grizzled man in camouflage pants and combat boots, whose T-shirt – “Connecticut Militia III%” – confirms him as a member of the “patriot” movement, is talking to a zealous young girl in a short skirt, who came in dancing to “Uptown Girl”.

“Yeah, we were there for Operation American Spring,” he says. “Louis Farrakhan’s rally of hate . . .”

“And you’re a veteran?” she asks. “Thank you so much!”

Three hours will pass. A retired US marine will take the rostrum to growl, “God bless America – hoo-rah!”; “Uptown Girl” will play many more times (much like his speeches, Donald J’s playlist consists of a few items, repeated endlessly), before Trump finally looms in and asks the crowd: “Is this the greatest place on Earth?”

There was supposed to be a ceiling above which Trump’s popular support could not climb. Only a minority within a minority of Americans, it was assumed, could possibly be stupid enough to think a Trump presidency was a good idea. He won New Hampshire and South Carolina with over 30 per cent of the Republican vote, then took almost 46 per cent in Nevada. When he cleaned up on Super Tuesday in March, he was just shy of 50 per cent in Massachusetts; a week later, he took 47 per cent of the votes in Mississippi.

His rivals, who are useless individually, were meant to co-operate with each other and the national party to deny him the nomination. But Trump won four out of the five key states being contested on “Super-Duper Tuesday” on 15 March. Then, as talk turned to persuading and co-opting his delegates behind the scenes, Trump won New York with 60 per cent.

Now, the campaign is trying to present Trump as more “presidential”. According to his new manager, Paul Manafort, this requires him to appear in “more formal settings” – without, of course, diluting “the unique magic of Trump”. But whether or not he can resist denouncing the GOP and the “corrupt” primary system, and alluding to violence if he is baulked at at the convention, the new Trump will be much the same as the old.

Back in Hartford: “The Republicans wanna play cute with us, right? If I don’t make it, you’re gonna have millions of people that don’t vote for a Republican. They’re not gonna vote at all,” says Trump. “Hopefully that’s all, OK? Hopefully that’s all, but they’re very, very angry.”

This anger, which can supposedly be turned on anyone who gets in the way, has mainly been vented, so far, on the protesters who disrupt Trump’s rallies. “We’re not gonna be the dummies that lose all of our jobs now. We’re gonna be the smart ones. Oh, do you have one over there? There’s one of the dummies . . .”

There is a frenzied fluttering of Trump placards, off to his right. “Get ’em out! . . . Don’t hurt ’em – see how nice I am? . . . They really impede freedom of speech and it’s a disgrace. But the good news is, folks, it won’t be long. We’re just not taking it and it won’t be long.”

It is their removal by police, at Trump’s ostentatious behest, that causes the disruption, rather than the scarcely audible protesters. He seems to realise this, suddenly: “We should just let ’em . . . I’ll talk right over them, there’s no problem!” But it’s impossible to leave the protesters where they are, because it would not be safe. His crowd is too vicious.

Exit Trump, after exactly half an hour, inclusive of the many interruptions. His people seem uplifted but, out on the street, they are ambushed by a large counter-demonstration, with a booming drum and warlike banners and standards (“Black Lives Matter”; an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe, holding aloft Trump’s severed head). Here is the rest of the world, the real American world: young people, beautiful people, more female than male, every shade of skin colour. “F*** Donald Trump!” they chant.

After a horrified split-second, the Trump crowd, massively more numerous, rallies with “USA!” and – perplexingly, since one of the main themes of the speech it has just heard was the lack of jobs in Connecticut – “Get a job!” The two sides then mingle, unobstructed by police. Slanging matches break out that seem in every instance to humiliate the Trump supporter. “Go to college!” one demands. “Man, I am in college, I’m doin’ lovely!”

There is no violence, only this: some black boys are dancing, with liquid moves, to the sound of the drum. Four young Trump guys counter by stripping to their waists and jouncing around madly, their skin greenish-yellow under the street lights, screaming about the building of the wall. There was no alcohol inside; they’re drunk on whatever it is – the elixir of fascism, the unique magic of Trump. It’s a hyper but not at all happy drunk.

As with every other moment of the Trump campaign so far, it would have been merely some grade of the cringeworthy – the embarrassing, the revolting, the pitiful – were Trump not slouching closer and closer, with each of these moments, to his nomination. 

This article first appeared in the 28 April 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The new fascism