It’d be difficult to get a coherent description of the sensation from, say, the bull, eight dogs, and a Welsh sheep (nicknamed Sparky) who, according to Freedom of Information Act statistics, are among those who have been Tasered by police since the introduction of the 50,000-volt stun-guns in 2004. But human victims have been more forthcoming. One, David Sylvester, a grandfather who owns his own security business, last year told the Independent’s Johann Hari how he suffered indescribable pain when Tasered in the head by police in London.
Another Taser target said it was “like someone reached into my body to rip my muscles apart with a fork.” And a third London man, attacked by muggers using a stun-gun – which can generate an electric shock as great as the police Tasers – says: “I felt like I’d been stabbed in the back with a knitting needle. My knees went from under me. It was really frightening. It left burn marks on my skin, even through my clothes.”
Civil liberties campaigners have called for a ban on use of the weapons, but 6,000 more Tasers are due to be issued to UK police. The London Met are the most trigger-happy force, and have used Tasers 254 times (of 1,181 nationwide).
Unlike one Gwent officer – who checked to see if his weapon was working, only to shoot a barb into his own finger – the Met have managed to avoid Tasering themselves. Tim Walker
It's Shakespeare, sister
Hollywood star Anne Hathaway is to play Viola in the Shakespeare in the Park production of Twelfth Night opening tomorrow at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, New York. The Oscar-nominated actress says this is both her first Shakespeare and her first major theatrical production, so “just staving off a nervous breakdown has been the main thing for me.” Anne, you sound like you’re in need of some tips on tackling the Bard...
1. Everyone will advise you to read the “Speak the speech I pray you” lines from Hamlet as a short-cut to acting in Shakespeare. Ignore that advice. You’ll spend ages trying to figure out what “spleet the ears of the groundlings” means.
2. In every interview you give, say how much you love working in an ensemble. That’s what always attracted you to doing Shakespeare. But avoid actually socialising with your fellow actors. They’ll only whinge about how little they earn.
3. If you are playing a servant, nurse, clown or wench, remember that it has been unarguable house style in both America and Britain that anyone from the lower orders must have a “regional” accent – always but always north country in Britain, often mid-west or the Bronx in America.
4. The reviewers will compare you with a host of actresses who have played the role of Viola on stage. But after concluding that you are no Peggy Ashcroft, Joan Plowright or Fiona Shaw, they will be stunned at how good you actually are, theatre critic expectations of Hollywood stars being anachronistically low.
5. You have chosen well. Twelfth Night is one of Shakespeare’s most delightful, funny and poignant plays, and the cross-dressing role of Viola has ample scope for both laughs (she is loved by a noblewoman who thinks her a man) and lyricism on the nature of love. It’s the ideal role for the girl who’s marginally too old for Juliet and too feisty for Ophelia.
6. Don’t try too hard to see the point of Feste the Clown.
7. Don’t freak out because this is your first Shakespeare. Shakespeare debutants can often bring refreshing and insightful accounts to their roles. Trevor Eve was known for years in Britain as a TV star, then made his Shakespeare debut on stage in The Winter’s Tale and was a revelation. Sienna Miller was less well received in As You Like It, but it didn’t do her cultural street cred any harm.
8. Shakespeare in the Park, on the other hand, isn’t always easy. Central Park is a short distance from Kennedy Airport and 747s fly overhead at all the wrong moments. Take your cue from the experienced players at London’s Regent’s Park Open Air theatre. Introduce thoughtful, introspective pauses where Shakespeare never intended them. David Lister
A Tale of Two Twitties?
You could say Perez Hilton was beaten-up for disturbing the Peas. Or that he was given a black eye by the Black Eyed Peas. In the cold light of day, a bored headline-writer might even declare it a Tale of Two Twitties.
We don’t yet know exactly what occurred in the three-way skirmish between Hilton, the singer Will.i.am, and his manager Polo Molina in Toronto on Sunday. But thanks to grainy paparazzi video, plus the Twittered and YouTubed testimony of protagonists, we can take a pretty educated guess.
Hilton, a Hollywood blogger and creator of innovative celebrity-bashing slang, dislikes the Black Eyed Peas, their singer Fergie (who he declares “fugly”) and their new album. Will.i.am and Molina take exception to this. After bumping into him at a celebrity party, they tell him so; fisticuffs ensue.
Shortly afterwards, Hilton Tweeted the epic phrase “I am bleeding… This is no joke.” Then he posted a video on his website calling Will.i.am “a disgusting human being,” claiming (and here H&R paraphrases) to have been beaten to within an inch of his life. Will.I.am’s video response accused Hilton of calling him a “faggot.” Later, amid a storm of digital accusations and counter-accusations, cops charged Molina with assault. The next time both sides meet could be in court. Hilton’s lawyer says he’ll sue “at least” Molina. He may win that battle. But the famously-vituperative blogger could lose a bigger PR war. For, as the saying goes, there’s nowt so unappealing as someone who can dish it out but can’t take it. Guy Adams
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies