She courted controversy with her books on Treblinka and Albert Speer. With her look at the life of Mary Bell, Gitta Sereny had seen nothing yet. How does a well-respected international journalist end up being the subject of 198 articles during a tabloid feeding-frenzy? Simply by Spending many months interviewing Mary Bell, writing an in-depth study about her and then having the nerve to pay her. This, of course, is the same Mary Bell who, aged eleven, killed two toddlers in 1968.
But Gitta Sereny, author of Cries Unheard, claims nothing she had ever written, or that Bell had ever said could be interpreted as an excuse for what she did. And what Bell received was not only fair, but also necessary. 'Mary was determined to speak, and she was determined to find some money to change her life,’ recalls Sereny. ‘She needed to get out from under the social benefits system, she needed her partner to be in a place where he could work, and she needed her child to be out of this atmosphere of being supported by the state. If she had not given her story to me, I know she would have given it, as a series, to a reporter on one of the big tabloids, who would have paid her far more than I could. That would have being appalling.’
But isn‘t torture by tabloid hack- pack part of the price Bell has to pay for the terrible crime she
committed? Perhaps, but the type of childhood Bell survived somewhat redefines the term 'victim'. Physically and sexually abused, and reviled by her prostitute mother, she orally serviced her mother’s clients before she reached school age. This procedure involved having her throat stretched until she lost consciousness. So when she 'played dead' and squeezed
Gitta Sereny: tabloid target
her first victim's throat, one can see why she thought he’d come round again in time for tea.
To the tabloids she’ll always be a monster. 'I want to speak of this phenomenon, this curious and unprecedented tabloid hysteria,‘ says Sereny. She'll get her chance on Saturday. (Gabe Stewart) at For details, see Hit list, right.
Laurence O'Toole: sex machinations
68 THE UST 27 Aug—10 Sep 1998
'Porn doesn't lead to rape — we all know that what porn leads to is a good wank, half a lager, a‘ sandWich and a good night’s sleep.’
Try shouting that on a college campus ten years ago and you'd have been barred from the Nelson Mandela Student Union quicker than you could have a hand shandy. However, it IS one of many views expressed by Laurence O‘Toole (no, not his real name) in Pornocopia, an exploration of pornography and the issues surrounding it.
’I felt that that the arguments about pornography that had been trotted out previously, be they moral or political, weren't especially persuasive and I certainly didn't think that they said all
that could be said on the subject,' explains O’Toole. 'I thought that there was also an absence in porn debates of the presence of sex workers and consumers.’
Pornocopia sets out to plug this hole With nearly 400 pages of well-argued and closely researched discussion ab0ut the role of pornography, who creates it, who uses it, who wants it kept illegal and why. ’We've got to raise the level of debate about pornography,' insists O'Toole. 'It’s ludicrous and ab5urd to continue to talk about it as though it were some sort of snuff Video fest. The American porn industry is a regulated, multi- million dollar industry and it is selling a lot of it's product to the masses via household-name telephone companies.’ Could Britain go the same way? (Jonathan Trew)
a For details, see Hit list, right.
,; f" , aside=yogciig.,festival fatigue ﬁlth this magnificent seven Gitta Sereney See main preview, left. Gitta Sereney (The issue) Spiege/tent, 29 Aug, 3.30pm, £6 (£4). Duncan McLean The Shetlands-based writer joins the acclaimed Norwegian author Petterson, to offer their version of being on the outskirts before taking the stage with Orkney bluegrass band to read from Lone Star Swing, his 1997 cult travelogue. On The Edge Of Europe - Per Petterson And Duncan McLean (The Bigger Picture) Studio Theatre, 28 Aug, 3.30pm, £5 (£3). Lone Star Swing With Duncan McLean And The Smoking Stone Band, Spiegeltent, 28 & 29 Aug, 9.30pm, £6 (£4). ’ n.
Joyce Carol Oates Exploring the boundary between the socially unacceptable and the insane is a key theme in the work of this renowned American author. This, as well as dependence, punishment and finding some path to redemption are also touched on in her new novel, Man Crazy. See preview on followmg pages. Joyce Carol Oates (The Bigger Picture) Studio Theatre, 30 Aug, 3.30pm, £5 (£3).
Laurence O'Toole - Pornocopia: Porn, Sex, Technology And Desire See preview, left. Laurence O’Toole (The Issue) Spiege/ten t, 28 Aug, 3.30pm, £5 (£3).
Paul Burston Marc Almond biographer and co-editor of A Queer Romance, London-based Yorkshireman Burston gives a descriptive tour of the country’s hot gay spots — from Derbyshire’s Young Conservatives to Bromley beach parties and on to our very own Calton Hill. Paul Burston - Travels In Gay Britain, Studio Theatre, 30 Aug, 7pm, £5 (£3).
Michael Dibdin Gold Dagger award- Winner Dibdin is a different kind of crime-writer. For one thing, his key coo has the name Aurelio Zen. Take your chance to meet this acclaimed and inspired author. Michael Dibdin (Meet The Author) Post Office Theatre, 37 Aug, 17.30am, £6 (£4)