In this week’s episode of Bed of Lies, which you can listen to on the audio player above, we learn more about the backgrounds of the men in our story – Mark Stone (pictured below), Jim Sutton, Mark Cassidy, Carlo Neri, and newcomer Andy Davey. There are some interesting similarities, which I hope you’ve started to pick up on. I don’t want to give the game away just yet but I’ll go into some more detail here – see if you can figure out what’s going on.
For one, they all have a van. Quite a few listeners remarked on the significance of Mark Cassidy’s red van in episode one – why does Alison sound so enamoured with that red post office van? Well, for these men, their vans are integral to their personality. It’s the source of their work (they’re all handymen, after all) and they make the most of them in social situations. They drive their friends to protests, bundle equipment in the back, and convert them into campers when they want to take their girlfriends away for a romantic weekend.
Their vans are so important, they’re even nicknamed after them – we have ‘Andy Van’ Davey, ‘Jim the Van’ Sutton, and ‘Transport Mark’ Stone. That last Mark, the Nottingham eco-activist, becomes a key organiser thanks to his van. In 2005, he co-ordinates the mass movement of people and vehicles at the protests outside the G8 summit in Scotland. Their aim is to block the roads around the Gleneagles Hotel to prevent world leaders from getting in, so his skills in transport and logistics are vital. Then, he sets up the Activist Tat Collective with a friend who we’ll be hearing from later in the series. It’s an equipment-for-hire service for protestors, and it helps connect Mark with left-wing groups across the country.
Second, these men all have difficult pasts. Jim was adopted, while Mark Cassidy lost his dad in a car crash with a drunk driver. Carlo Neri has a young boy he doesn’t see, and Mark Stone is tight-lipped about his dodgy background in drug dealing. That means, the men never introduce their girlfriends to their families.
And lastly, they’re keen activists. To help you follow the series, now is probably a good time for a short breakdown of the different groups each man is involved with, and the types of protests they engage in.
Like the many of our characters, Mark Stone is an environmental activist. He campaigns around issues like climate change and the destruction of nature. It’s a loose world made up of lots of smaller groups but some of the main ones are Climate Camp and Earth First! The former are responsible for planning the shut down of Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station in 2009. Before that, they also manage to stop a coal train heading for Drax. On one such protest, Mark is injured by the police and his friends fear he could have broken his back.