The Windrush scandal, in which bags of immigrants who came to the UK accurately from Commonwealth countries afterwards the additional apple war were afterwards bedfast and in some cases deported, was effectively dramatised in the Bafta-winning BBC ball Sitting in Limbo (2020). The biographer and biographer Stephen Thompson, who has died of blight age-old 56, based the calligraphy on the adventures of his earlier brother, Anthony Bryan.
In 2015, the Home Office began its efforts to deport Bryan to Jamaica, a country he had not visited aback advancing to alive in the UK with his mother in 1965, at the age of eight. The activity was taken adjoin him as allotment of the Conservative government’s “hostile environment” policy, which was evidently set up to abate actionable immigration, alone to become aimless and avenging in its sweep.
Bryan, a painter and decorator, absent his job and his appropriate to work, as able-bodied as all alms to allowances and the NHS. He was again bedfast in clearing abatement centres afterwards there was begin to be no official almanac of him as a British citizen. He was on the border of actuality abandoned aback an admonition was anchored preventing his removal.
Thompson and Bryan initially affected this to be a one-off case. The advertisement of Amelia Gentleman, who interviewed Bryan and added associates of the Windrush bearing for this newspaper, appear it to be allotment of a concerted action by the government to accommodated displacement targets by agriculture “low-hanging fruit” – a byword acclimated by clearing admiral and again in Sitting in Limbo. Bryan was bargain to “having to beg to break in my own country”.
It did not action to Thompson to address about his brother’s agony until the furore seemed in crisis of dying down. “We capital to affectionate of authority [the government’s] anxiety to the fire,” he said.
Thompson’s admission novel, Toy Soldiers (2000), declared by this cardboard as “assured, accelerated and tersely convincing”, was based on his own agitated adventures of growing up in east London.
The son of Wilton and Lucille, he was built-in Steadman Thompson in Hackney, and accomplished at Hackney Downs school, area his behaviour sometimes gave annual for concern. At 13, he was abeyant for two months afterwards he and addition adherent berserk attacked a abecedary who had challenged them for smoker marijuana in class. “We alone came to our senses aback we noticed the claret decrepit from his burst nose,” Thompson wrote in an commodity about his book in 2000.
Leaving academy afterwards qualifications, he drifted into ambidextrous and application drugs. It was alone afterwards a suicide attack in his 20s that he entered rehab. While there, he encountered VS Naipaul’s atypical A Abode for Mr Biswas. “Long afore I accomplished annual it, I knew what I capital to do with the blow of my life,” he said. “My admiration to address was so able it acquainted like a sickness.”
His alone antecedent autograph acquaintance was basic belletrist to ancestors in Jamaica on annual of his mother, who was semi-literate. She would ask him to apprehend the accord aback to her afore sending so that she “could adjudicator whether or not her blubbery argot had been abundantly translated into accepted English. Sometimes she begin the belletrist to be too polished, the accent a little too ‘speaky-spokey’, and she would ask me to accent them bottomward a bit.” He declared this as his ancient assignment in autograph and redrafting. “Unwittingly, Mum was advancing me for my approaching career.”
While still in rehab, he began putting bottomward on cardboard the adventures of his adolescence and adolescent adulthood. Over 10 years and abounding drafts, these antecedent scribblings acquired into Toy Soldiers, about a able aficionado aggravating to leave abaft his activity of crime.
Immediately afterwards abrogation adjust in the backward 1980s, Thompson was accomplished by the biographer and biographer Hanif Kureishi on a 12-week artistic autograph advance at the Riverside Studios, in west London. Kureishi was an aboriginal best of Thompson’s work, auspicious him to accelerate it to his own editor at Faber & Faber. He additionally accomplished him at the Royal Court Adolescent People’s theatre in the aboriginal 90s, area one of his classmates was Joe Penhall, afterwards the columnist of plays including Blue/Orange and Mood Music.
“Steve was one of the best accomplished guys in the group,” said Penhall. “He could acutely write. We acclimated to accept to apprehend our things aloud, and he could perform, too, so I’d get him to apprehend my being out. We were on the aforementioned wavelength, annual and autograph about the aforementioned capacity – outsiders, the aftereffect of colonialism on London, England, the world. He had a absolute accuracy of vision. He could see through all the bullshit, which was absolutely abnormal at that age.”
Three added novels followed: Missing Joe (2001), Accommodated Me Beneath the Westway (2007), which had a affected ambience fatigued from his Royal Court days, and No Added Heroes (2015), a abstruseness that begins with the 7/7 agitator attacks. Several television alternation based on his books are currently in development.
He had initially advised autograph Sitting in Limbo as a novel, but was abiding by his abettor to use it as the accountable of his aboriginal television drama. Thompson, who by now had added an S antecedent to his name, bass bottomward some of the added abominable capacity in his partially fictionalised account.
For instance, Bryan and his partner, Janet, had been beneath surveillance for weeks afore badge and clearing admiral alleged at their abode in the aboriginal hours of the morning armed with a battering ram, admitting on awning the scene, admitting still distressing, occurs with a scattering of admiral accession at a added civilised hour.
Other facts were tweaked for arch reasons. “Stephen took the mick by autograph me as a Spurs adherent like him, aback he knew abounding able-bodied I’m Liverpool,” said Bryan.
Thompson was additionally editor of the online arcane account The Colverstone Review, and accomplished artistic autograph at Winchester University and the University of Edinburgh, as able-bodied as screenwriting at the Central Film School, London.
He is survived by his partner, Kass Boucher, and four siblings, Anthony, Viola, Kenneth and Uriah.
Stephen S Thompson (Steadman Thompson), writer, built-in 23 February 1966; died 26 May 2022
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