REVIEW: The Social Distance Between us by Darren McGarvey at Eden Court, Inverness
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“Scotland has the highest number of drug deaths in Europe”, Darren McGarvey says for the fourth time on stage at Eden Court, last week.
“There are no names in the paper, no vigils by candlelight”, he continues.
The Orwell Prize winner is keen to leave this stark reality with the packed out crowd that are sitting on their hands with their ears peeled listening to every word he says.
The author, poet, rapper and social commentator – also known by Loki – is currently on tour promoting his new book, The Social Distance Between Us. It is a provocative study of how remote politics has wrecked Britain, and an analysis of the disconnect between classes.
Having grown up on the south side of Glasgow, navigating homelessness, addiction and poverty there is an authenticity to everything McGarvey says. On stage he discusses the confusion and disconnect he has felt as he has become socially mobile, now navigating his way in a middle class world.
His talent in communicating what is the true picture of life for many people, is nothing short of extraordinary. Rules that are laid down by those in charge, with no reality or concept of what it is like to be in the shoes of the ordinary working class. He asks: “Why is the gravy train never delayed?”
Within the first half of his show, he manages to bring everyone on a journey that was at times comedic but within a breath he moves into a poem that addresses the deepest concerns of society; changing the whole atmosphere of the room so that you can hear a pin drop.
His aptness to rouse anger and provocation about the state of things is a call to shake people out of their complacency at the system that is currently at play.
McGarvey's ability to connect with the crowd is strengthened further as he opens a time up for questions from the audience during the second half. Having quipped earlier that middle class people have no problem in being confident enough to ask questions, there is a slight hesitation at first by those not wanting to admit that they perhaps do not know the truth of life on the fringes of society.
One of the questions he asked was if he would ever go into politics. With a gift for communication and an ability to stand on common ground with people, he would certainly be a mouthpiece for the many that are left behind by politicians. He replies that he has been in politics since he was tiny - part of a mobilised and radicalised scheme. However, to go into professional politics would not be for him, that it would not be worth his mental health and people would end up not caring about what he had said, but instead that he had just said something.
His show leaves the audience with a sense of fire in the belly to do something, to say something about the state of our country; but in a way that connects and lifts people up, not pushes them down. That is not patronising, or disingenuous and certainly not with a belief that those with more money know better – but perhaps that they know the least.
He finished the show with a signing of his book outside, his down to earth nature allowing those with an admiration of his intelligence, and awareness to come forward for a word.