Ipswich: Father and daughter PULSE tale looks at the power of opinion

Hannah Nicklins A Conversation With My Father

Hannah Nicklins A Conversation With My Father - Credit: Archant

Hannah Nicklin’s a protester, her father’s a retired policeman. This is a story about them, not Them and Us.

A Conversation With My Father, a snippet of which she’s presenting as part of this year’s PULSE festival, came from questions she’d wanted to ask her father for a while.

“In a way it was an excuse to have that conversation with him in that way that, sometimes, there are questions you have in a family that never get around to getting asked,” she says.

Hannah knew he’d been a policeman all his life, that he was a very fair, working class, quite left-wing man brought up to see things from both sides. She wondered how those values squared with him being a police officer; particularly one involved in policing the miner strikes and a couple of riots in his time.

Did he struggle to reconcile his job with his views?

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“I think that assumes a police officer is inherently a right-wing or authoritarian position. Police, just as protester, is a label that doesn’t actually tell you anything about the person doing it. You get ****head police officers and you get ****head protesters if you’ll excuse the turn of phrase,” she laughs.

“But you also get good and fair police officers and considered and fair protesters. We’re real people; you can’t reconcile us through those ideas you see in the media.”

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She talks about her first protest, her father’s first riot. The clothes she wears to protest, the clothes he would’ve worn to police a riot.

How there were questions she didn’t want to ask him, like if he’d ever stood by while something bad happened. How frightening a protest can be and how she’s done things she’s not necessarily proud of to escape being hurt. How proud he is of her for standing up for things she believes in, how bravery is being scared but doing it anyway.

The underlying theme to their story - which also has some jokes in it, because serious things are worth laughing at a little bit - is the importance of fairness and resisting reducing people to labels.

“There’s a really interesting article online which I recoil from, the title of it which is ‘You’re not entitled to your opinion’. Actually, what it talks about is you’re entitled to the opinion you can reasonably argue for.

“Calling someone scum at a protest denies even that small part of dialogue, that in-between space where you can argue for things, open them up for discussion. I’m disgusted by the idea of dismissing someone to that degree.

“They’ve come to their political decisions by just the same degree of reasoning as I have... it’s about understanding where they’ve come from, why they think that. There’s no chance, no ability to change the world if you don’t admit the other person is entitled and able to come to an opinion.”

You can voice your opinion about the show, at the New Wolsey Studio on May 31, on Twitter @PulseFringe.

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