kettling whitehall

December 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Police kettling has to stop” – this phrase really caught my attention, with “what’s that?…kettling…what does that mean….?” There wasn’t much of a clue in the news item except that it was to do with student protests in the UK, so I did what we all do, I went online. The setting were student protests in Whitehall about government fees, and kettling meant penning student protestors together, so they are confined, can’t move about. So it’s a form of control, and one that bloggers said made them feel uncomfortable and angry (no water, no toilets), but then small, scared and frightened, as their cries to be let out were drowned out and just considered part of the noisy protest. That all sounds awful, and really concerning…. and  a point of view that we don’t often get access to

 But before I went online I wondered why the word stuck in my mind – is it the sound structure of the word (the voiceless plosives?), the fact that it is an old word (like kindle) that has re-emerged, or the fact that I wanted to map my sense of the work on to what this may mean now….. Pressure cooker, for example, would not stick in my mind the same, but maybe that’s because the meaning is less opaque.

 So this was a real case of being captured by the form, meaning and significance of a word…..and it’s still preoccupying…..”

picture from this interesting blog



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