Government Panders to Mephedrone Hysteria

So there we have it! The government is finally going to make mephedrone illegal due to the outcry of people who think they know something about it from reading a few articles in the Sun.

Of course, while it will mean that the drug is harder to acquire and more expensive and therefore less people will take it, it won't solve the problem. It only means that the drug will hit the streets resulting in a form diluted heavily with God-knows-what. Besides, given time, interest in the drug will subside.

We must also look at the incidences of deaths resulting from the drug. In all cases it was mixed with alcohol, which is a definite mistake. Some might think it wrong of me to criticise the dead, but in order to seriously debate the issue we cannot get sentimental. Naturally, the families and friends of those who have died will want the drug banned, but they missing the point that making it illegal will only make the problem worse. It is the responsibility of those who take a substance to research it as thoroughly as they can. A fundamental rule with drugs is DO NOT TAKE THEM AND GET WASTED. This is especially important with something we know so little about, such as m-cat. However, some people will not do their research and end up either hospitalised or worse but we cannot suppose that the whole of the drug-taking community operates similarly.

To say that these deaths accurately reflect the dangers of mephedrone is a complete non-sequitor: they represent the fraction of the community that have been least responsible.

This is just another instance of the government pandering to mass hysteria. They cannot be unaware of how the situation will worsen if the substance is banned (see article), and yet they must be seen to be doing something, especially in light of the upcoming elections. This is a clear case of self-interest masquerading as altruism and is one of the most damaging things a government can inflict on its people.

If the government did not act, however, it would be allowing the legal sale of a substance stronger and more dangerous than other drugs that are illegal, and would be massively hypocritical.

The problem is the whole stance our government takes on drugs. It doesn't act in the interests of the country, but rather in the interest of its image. It's paltry excuse for an information website FRANK is a laughing stock among drug-users, who recognise its clear bias and lack of research. It is the government's duty to provide accurate and unbiased information about drugs as people are always going to take them.

The slogan 'Mixing drugs with alcohol can be highly dangerous' is one that would make far more impact than 'kids, don't do drugs'.

While I think this drug can be dangerous and addictive, it is not as huge a problem as conveyed by the press, but due to people's blind faith in the media we are now bombarded with people who think they know something about the problem and deserve a voice in the debate. I'm sorry, you don't. Do some research and make an intelligent and individual point or shut up.

And one final point: please, newspaers, stop calling it 'Meow Meow'; nobody calls it that, and they especially don't spell it 'Miaow'.


On the power of the thespian's voice.

As a playwright I am deeply interested in the power that actors hold over us. To be a star in Hollywood is to be a star all over the world. You would be hard pressed to find someone in this country who does not know the names Tom Cruise, Jude Law, or Johnny Depp. These mere mortals are raised to the height of gods on the podia of smash-hit movies, and I myself find several actors on my list of admirable people.

I think that one of the reasons I am so drawn to writing plays is the thrill of a live performance, and my characters are completely at the mercy of the actors who play them. When I am writing the characters develop their own distinct voices in my mind, and as I spend most of my time writing the dialogue (where a novelist has to fashion whole worlds and images) these voices are my only medium for communicating to an audience. Of course, there will be sets, costumes, lighting, make-up and so on, but once you have established a visual style in the script it is then left in the hands of the directors and designers. To me, a play is the dialogue in it.

And the actors I admire: Alan Rickman, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Bill Nighy, and others, are united in one area: their voices.

A great actor can be recognised solely from one word of dialogue. He can draw in an audience from the simplest line. 'What time do you call this?' is a line that could be said hundreds of ways. It is a simple, commonplace sentence. But in the throat of a fine actor these words can convey a character's history, his attitudes, his state of mind. From Alan Rickman's smooth melismatic drawl to Patrick Stewarts from-the-diaphragm style, each lexeme is a luxurious palace that the actor inhabits, and displays to an awed audience.

And there is something unusual in the way these actors speak, especially in the case of Rickman, that is both strange, intriguing, and fascinating. When Rickman says a line it is with a stress and melody that I could never have imagined. And it gives life to even the dullest line. I opine that Rickman could make even the most uninteresting play spring with new life.

So, in writing my most recent play 'Plato Lays Weeping' (I realise the gramatical error, but it is for the effect of a PUN!) I was dominated by the sounds of the human voice and its sheer possibilities, and when we cast it I will be seeking a voice to raise the hairs on the back of my neck!