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The Warp

Ken’s fundamentalist attack

Something that did not appear in this newspaper account was how Ken, when his turn came to speak, delivered a remarkable and withering attack on the councillor responsible for housing in Birmingham, who had spoken earlier in the meeting.

‘This was a tissue of mendacity and fudge,’ Ken fulminated, and added that the councillor had been devious and misleading and had not even had the wit to see that he had not bamboozled us.

Ken has always looked younger than he is and, I think in the view of most of those present, his oratorical style was set at an inappropriate level of grandeur for the meeting. There was not a great deal of applause when he sat down. His words would however have read extremely effectively if they had been reported in the Birmingham newspapers next day, but they were not.

His outburst came as a surprise but I was later to get used to, even to expect, unexpectedly grandiloquent public outbursts from Ken, at variance with his extremely youthful appearance and mode of delivery.

It was as if fate, which had given him so sure an instinct for communicating through the medium of his films, had balanced this with a curious haughtiness and inappropriateness in his personal communications with his fellow human beings.

This quality was evident at its most extreme many years later when, as guest of honour at a university event whose participants were mostly either teachers or students of media studies, Ken arrived late and, taking his place on the stage, ringingly denounced and called for an immediate ban on all media studies.

It was a week or so after the Birmingham meeting that Ken told me that, despite the importance of meetings like that, he believed his role in life was as a film maker rather than an activist, and appeared on the campaigning trail no more.


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