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Of course Begum should get legal aid – Derry Girls helps explain why

3 23 10

As we squirm with joy at Channel Four’s Derry Girls, Muriel Spark’s brilliant novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie comes to mind. Spark brings to life a gaggle of girls, the “Brodie set”, all of whom have fallen under the spell of their teacher. The troubled Derry in the nineties is replaced by 1930s Edinburgh with the Spanish Civil War providing the backdrop.

As with the Derry Girls, religion bumps along with political tensions in the Brodie set’s world. The genius of both is how they capture the headstrong spirit of adolescent girls who remain children at heart. The parallels with Shamima Begum are obvious.

Carefully knitted into Spark’s storyline is the plight of Joyce Emily Hammond. Girls can be cruel. The Brodie set don’t allow Joyce to join their gang, but she remains bewitched by Brodie. The most gutting moment of the book is when we hear the news that Joyce has been killed in Spain. Inspired by Brodie’s fascism, the teenager runs off to Spain to fight. She’s collateral damage for Franco’s forces, but ultimately she dies for Brodie.

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That story seems very familiar. Now we are struggling with the aftermath of a deluded teenager scurrying off to join up in........

© Independent