“Raining Stones” is a film about surviving in a modern hell: a gray, often cruel realm where hope has been squelched, lives wasted. The film centers on Bob, his wife Anne, his daughter Coleen and the parish priest, Father Barry (Tom Hickey). It tells the story of a man who cannot afford to buy his daughter a First Communion dress. A struggling self-employed ‘sole trader’, Bob Williams (Bruce Jones), staggers from one ill-fated endeavor to the next and falls, finally, into the clutches of loan sharks.
Bob’s misplaced idealism, his sense that not earning and buying his daughter’s communion dress would shame him, is what triggers his woes-and that makes us both smile at and respect him. Early on Father Barry offers Bob a used, but immaculate, dress from the parish donations, and, almost maddeningly, Bob refuses it. Faced with this awesome stubbornness, Father Barry seems his only sensible adviser.
Proud, though poor, Bob wants his little girl to have a beautiful (and costly) brand-new dress for her First Communion. His stubbornness and determination get him into serious trouble as he turns to more and more questionable measures to raise the needed money. His desperation leads him to risk all that he loves and values, including his immortal soul and salvation.
The film takes place in Manchester, but these days a scenario like this could be taking place anywhere in England. Lets face it, there is little distinction between struggling to purchase a communion dress and being unable to afford a university education. When David Cameron talks about Britain never having had it so good, he’s ignoring the impact low wages and zero hours contracts have had, on the ability of those affected to do more than simply subsist.
Lest we forget, there are university students who have rejected the zero hours contracts (wherein work might or might not materialise) in preference for prostitution. They have come to the conclusion that the only way they can afford to fund their higher education and eat, is by renting out their bodies for sex.
This in spite of the fact that more than half of UK women in prostitution, have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted and at least three quarters have been physically assaulted (Home Office 2004b). Here’s another appalling statistic,68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as torture victims and combat veterans undergoing treatment (Ramsey et al 1993).
In fact, whilst I’m thinking about it, how many wealthy people do we the general public personally know, who have had to resort to prostitution in order to complete their studies? Harry Windsor? Kate Middleton? Sarah Ferguson’s daughters? None of them have, have they? For these are the ‘difficult decisions’ the wealthy and their children remain untouched by. To take a payday loan or visit the loan shark for the money to pay for a First Communion dress…or not. To join an escort agency or become a sex worker….or not. It’s the poor being belted left, right and centre by raining stones and not the wealthy. Still, not to worry, illegal drugs and prostitution have contributed £10 billion to the UK economy –more than £5.3 billion of which was attributable to prostitution. Britain truly is booming, in the worst of all possible ways.