Book review – Displacement

The story of  a man resigned to being a victim because he does not realise he is a victim

Author Derek Turner

Obtainable from  Amazon

Review by Robert Henderson

In his last work Sea Changes Derek Turner offered a large canvas on which he painted both the predicament of the illegal  immigrant and a Britain afflicted with a paralysing political correctness with which traps both the British elite and the ignored and secretly despised  working-class into an ideological web far removed from reality.    With  Displacement, a novella rather than a novel,  we have a more intimate work which illustrates through Martin Hacket  a dismal deracinated England which has left the English with no sense of  national feeling or any sense of having a land they could call their own. It has even robbed them of any sense that their predicament is in some way wrong or even just plain odd .

Displacement is set in South London. Martin is young , blond and  a member of  the white working class, an endangered species in his London.  Like the rest of his class Martin has been robbed not only of his sense of historical and territorial  place  but  materially deprived. He  has a job as  courier on a bike and, because he knows no better,  he thinks himself lucky to have the menial job  because  such jobs normally go to graduates.

The world Martin inhabits is unreservedly  tawdry. Everything  that once gave the white working class a sense of belonging, worth and respect has been removed by the massive  postwar immigration. A  surreptitious colonisation of Britain has occurred. His family is one of the few white English faces left in the road in which he lives.  Their  few white English neighbours  are not of his class, merely  the advance guard of a possible gentrification.   Martin wishfully thinks of a life in the suburbs.  He used to dream of somehow finding the money to move there when he  had a girlfriend Kate,   but  allowed that dream to die after they broke up because he  knows  he could never  afford any sort of  property.

Martin  lives with his father and elder brother Mike.  His father is a vessel  adrift from its anchor. He worked on ships as a deckhand until the company  which employed him  went belly up. Since then he has been unemployed.  But it is not just his work which has gone. A natural Labour voter he no longer has a meaningful Labour Party to vote for or a union to which he can belong .   Mike is a drug addict and minor criminal.

Martin’s  release from the  dreariness of  a  London in which  the native English have been reduced to just one ethnic group is twofold. The first means of escape is  free running.  This frees him from the clutching mediocrity of his social and physical world, giving him not just a physical release but a sense that he is above the fray the society in which he  lives.  His second release is through  poetry which he both reads and writes.   Martin  is not academically inclined and never got much out of school, but he has  a desire to express himself  and free verse  can be like free running,  something which is not constricting,  something he can bend to his will rather than being bent by circumstances.

Against all the odds Martin becomes a sort of celebrity, or  at least he has his fifteen minutes of fame.  Whilst free running  Martin is seen by  people in the buildings he scales.  This causes alarm amongst some, because he  runs in a  white hoody which with his blondness  gives  him a ghost-like appearance.  Martin  is also seen on a building housing a senior politician, something  which attracts the notice of the police who fear he is a security risk. The media takes up the story without knowing who  is  the   person  responsible.  Martin’s ex-girlfriend  guesses that he is responsible .  She is excited by Martin’s sudden if so far anonymous celebrity, reconnects with him and  arranges for a public school educated journalist by the name of Seb to interview Martin about his free running.

Seb visits Martin and his family  in the spirit of  an anthropologist visiting  a tribe of hunter gatherers.   Except for Kate , whom he tries unsuccessfully to seduce , Seb  does not have any real interest in Martin and his family and friends; they are  merely props for an article which will validate his ideas about the white working-class, an out of date , redundant species, Morlocks robbed of their purpose,  with  Martin cast as the ugly duckling who is changed into a swan by his free running exploits, something celebrated in prose of excruciating pretension  such as ’From  his concrete eyrie he can discern the essential unity of humanity’.

The article is deeply offensive but  Seb diffuses the anger  of Martin and his friends and family  by introducing Martin to a publisher of poetry .  What Martin does not appreciate is that this is an act of heavy patronage, a re-enactment of that extended to working-class authors in the quarter century after the Second World War, which is a continuation of the offensive patronising  tone of Seb’s newspaper article.

The real  tragedy is not the mean circumstances in which Martin  finds himself, but the fact that he accepts his lot without questioning : he does not ask  why he  cannot set up home in decent circumstances because housing is beyond expensive; why he cannot get the sort of job his father’s generation could get,  manual most probably but paying well enough for a man to raise a family; why his father has been reduced to idleness through no fault of his own. Most   importantly he does not question how it is that where he lives is almost entirely  dominated by people who are not like him when only  a few decades before the place he lived in had been solidly white working class.

Martin is a man resigned to being a victim because he does not realise he is a victim. He  sees the mediocrity of the world he lives in but accepts it as just how things are. He does not even have what Winston Smith in 1984 had,  vague  memories  of what  was before the  dismal world  in which he lived.  Winston however ineptly had an urge to challenge the status quo; Martin has  no urge to change things  only to find a way to escape the grind of his daily existence with poetry and free running, which both gives him a focus on something  untainted by the rest of his life and literally lifts him above it.  Yet even that consolations will be fleeting enough because free running is for the  young.  It will not be too many years before Martin is too old to find his freedom there.

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3 Responses to Book review – Displacement

  1. Peter Brown says:

    Sad, but oh so true of the young today in England. Scotland, at least, has the Nationalists to remind them that they have a country.

  2. david brown says:

    re the Emma West case . A black female Simone Joseph who also had a history of mental problems had a bus rant at two Muslim women. It was much more abusive then Emma West and even had a threat of violence to a pregnant women . She was granted bail and on the 11 November was given a suspended sentence and 60 hours community service. Contrast this with the treatment of Emma West.

  3. Pingback: Book review – Displacement | icelandicdefenceleagueidl

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