'Poor Places' series

Poor Places series 1 - the school

The Guardian, July 17 1995

There is a small boy in the playground, probably about eight years old, and he is crying while his young mother stands and looks away. In a flat voice, she says “Shut your mouth”. He cries on. “Shut your mouth”. He cries on. She turns and leans into his face. “Shut your mouth or I'll slap you.” He shuts his mouth and starts to cry through his nose instead, and his mother looks away...

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Poor Places series 2 - the courtroom

The Guardian, July 18 1995

Mr Bourke is a magistrate of the gentle school, courteous to the point of deference, rather like the old English character actor Wilfred Hyde White with his air of barely suppressed confusion. He sits on his high-backed wooden chair, peering over the top of his spectacles at the ceaseless flow of wretches and rogues through the dock below him and, from time to time, he likes to shake his head and...

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Poor Places series 3 - the doctor's surgery

The Guardian, July 19 1995

At first, when she walks in to see Dr Dowson, her problem seems quite clear: she has two small boys who are as mad as monkeys. They slide and wrestle around the floor, they yell and scream, they drag anything loose off Dr Dowson's desk and start a tug-of-war with his stethoscope, while she sits with her shoulders slumped and says that she gets headaches and needs some tablets.

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Poor Places series 4- the church

The Guardian, July 20 1995

The Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool is like a mountain. Its great brown bulk soars up over the life below and, high above the houses with the boards across their windows, beyond the sight of the shops with grids of steel across their glass, the summit of its spire is lost in the clouds of a grey English evening. It is the biggest Anglican church on the planet and, tonight, it will be full.

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