Monday, 11 December 2017

Killing the killer

The death penalty still exists in America.

I've never seen the process before.

A man not just pleading the case of a guilty man, but pleading the case of a man who is certain to die.

The man has done something grotesque.

He's done something grotesque for a romantic reason, but there's nothing romantic about killing people and everyone knows it.

I am not trying to defend the action of the killing in any way, it looked bloody and awful and real.

Only I look at the culprit and the world is turning up with a crying face to condemn.

The woman who the man has undone with killing is weeping and cursing he should have any happiness after doing such a thing.

I hear what she is saying and if I was her, I would feel exactly the same way.

Only my eyes hate killing and my heart knows that killing never brings the killed back, ever and it does not win the dead victim a better spot in heaven.

It ruins another life completely and I do not mean the killers.

I mean the mother's, father's I could go on.

Sure, send him to prison, bang him up for the rest of his natural life.

But prison versus death can still speak and can still speak might one day give an explanation, an apology, even dare I say it an answer, for how to not have anyone die in that way ever, ever again.

He is not Satan, he is human gone wrong, reach, teach, learn.

Stop.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Impossibly cute theatre

If you happen to be in the states at the moment this is the theatre you didn't know you needed to see.

Dear Evan Hansen tells you about a boy so impossibly sweet you will look at it and curse the writer as the biggest liar in the world, but I guess Evan Hansen was never, ever, ever, ever in my class when I was at school.

Cue a selection of impossibly sweet songs from a boy I don't believe could ever exist that I can't see because I'm not in the states.

It looks fun though and if like me you are spending or spent your teens with boys who lit their farts, this film will be a lovely trip nowhere near memory lane and all the way to fantasy land, enjoy.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

Curry smells heavenly

Honestly, it does.

When presented with racism that equates pervasive food smells to just one race of people.

I find my mind is full of rants.

Until I come to put pen to paper and then it all seems so absurd I can only write the words.

Curry smells heavenly.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Tongue in cheek dating

As there is so much to sadden around at the moment I thought I'd share this piece of free art I found online, I suspect it will resonate with some of you.

Not my own work




Tuesday, 7 November 2017

The wrong example

British people have an increasing habit of looking at America as a shining example of how they want to live.

Indeed there is a lot in the country to be admired and it has spawned many great men and women too numerous to count.

But news of the latest gun violence in Texas reminds me why I am more reticent in blindly running after an American example.

Banning hand guns in this country may have been one of the wisest political moves we made in modern times.

It is high time America found the strength to act collectively on their gun laws.

All of us stand to gain in a world where gun ownership is more restrictive.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Peeking out of the pit

In a dizzying world where sex pests can get on in life without an eyebrow raised for years and Catalonian democrats face prison at the insistence that all is still democratic.

You would be forgiven for giving up.

But take heart.

The painfully low minimum wage has been raised in Britain to a level most people would consider a bit more liveable.

Fights remain, but clearly progress on this one.

Knock back a seasonal beverage and have a listen to this.




Friday, 3 November 2017

Catalonian fractured beauty

Illness and sadness have a funny way of halting the lyrical muse.

Brexit is painfully negotiated and years of agreements initially inspired to cement European peace are squabbled over by some politicians in a way to shame even the most head strong.

Trump turns American politics into a heartbreaking farce that sees a man given power who wields it seemingly only to self aggrandise.

And so it is the turn of Catalonia to raise it's head and fight about what politics is really about, the freedom to democratically define our own futures.

I have never known what it is like to be a Catalan, but there is a strength of purpose always having given it a strong voice within Spain.

And so their leader in Exile looks to me a little bit like an older Democrat fighting for something bigger than themselves in a time when Brexit and Trump have made us knowing and disillusioned.

Catalonia seems to be saying in a mass of ballot boxes, a quieter and humbler yes we can be bigger than our times.

Yes, democracy does mean something.

They are at the turning point of something uncertain to us all.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

All crooked

A while back now it was decided by the great and the good to make legal highs not so legal.

One of the legal highs reported was laughing gas.

Hideous stuff, affects your brain function, makes you giggle like a hyena.

Nasty, nasty drug...

That they use to help women in giving birth...

The legal high tobacco and coffee still very much on the shelves.

I think the police must have thought they needed more work.

Friday, 15 September 2017

London attack

My thoughts with those caught up in today's attack.


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Press freedom: here and there

The protest of the killing of an Indian journalist has now been widely reported.

Gauri Lankesh was shot down outside her house, police are investigating the murder.

This event, tragic as it, crystallised an argument for me.

There are reports of online abuse from Hindu nationalist organisations who she strongly opposed for what she saw as a disruptive agenda.

This is the sharp end of all press freedom is about, disseminating a message despite risk.

Yet currently in the U.K. the press has got itself into hot water for phone tapping and become embroiled in a celebrity charade damaging nearly everyone involved.

However, this over step of the mark is having real repurcussions in the state of media law and the dialogue about it, affecting the reputation and freedom of more than those involved.

It is easy to write off celebrity journalism as frothy nonsense, especially within the context of what has just happened in India.

However, the same premise still applies, they are still conveying information to an audience and if they choose to do it well and ethically we all become winners.

They play fast and loose with how they approach engaging with their subjects, the whole thing descends into a damaging farce and we all lose.


Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Sinking ship

The Good Ship looks to be the latest casualty in gig venue closures.

As Brexit sweeps a wave of nationalist yes we can through half of Britain, the agenda seems to be more about having a public political fight with the continent than examining anything as interesting as reviving the live British music scene.

Small venues have been being closed and co-opted for over 10 years now.

There was a time when the Brixton Academy had no sponsorship in its name.

In an international context of war, flooding and economic hardship talking about a venue closure seems inconsequential.

However, the smaller venues have historically provided a musical voice for many economic losers and an alternative agenda.

Wigan is not heaven, all credit to The Verve

Much as food is important if you turn every old venue into a Tesco not many local communities are going to be able to come together to celebrate and commiserate.

Believe me meeting someone to change the world with is not easy in a supermarket, I won't get into laundrettes.

The music scene brought us acts who thrust AIDS, poverty and war into the mainstream pop discourse.

While the old adage of the guitar killing the enemy may be a bit tired, you have to remember Tchaikovsky.

Please go out, before all that's left is your TV.

Or you could Instagram your sandwich again, I guess it's your choice.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

A long time ago...

In a galaxy far, far away.

A princess called Diana died.

Was it:

a) The paparazzi's fault
b) The driver's fault
c) The British public's fault
d) Diana's fault
e) The car's fault
f) Everyone's fault
g) No one's fault
h) Is it helpful to blame people?

If you get really angry and blamey about something do you go to court or torch someone's house in a blamey mob.

Or do some people just cry.


Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Pass the salt...

Seriously.

SALT people.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

"We'll save Australia...

...don't want to hurt no kangaroos."

All credit to Tim Minchin and his team.

Japan, long may the sun rise.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Carnival's revving up

Stay safe and have fun if you're going.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

The death of the court reporter

With local press funding disappearing at a rate of knots someone is fast disappearing alongside, the court reporter.

British courts are very different to American ones on one important point.

No recording devices are allowed inside.

Public justice

The OJ Simpson trial...

Couldn't have happened here in the same way.

This means the only way to find out quickly what has been going on in the courts is to actually read court reports.

Valuable work

There was a time when a court reporter was a major feature of most local papers.

Ensuring justice was seen to be done, one of the principles on which our system hangs.

Court reporters still exist, but are dwindling in number.

They do one of the journalistic jobs I most admire.

While on the box

As they are cut to beyond the bone I find myself looking at the Judge Rinder show in a different light.

Sure, the show is entertainment, it is not the justice system as such.

However, increasingly it is offering an open forum to prompt reflection of fairness and justice where we hear less and less of the story unfolding behind the court room doors.

It is not a substitute, but if this is the way we are headed, perhaps it's needed.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

iMom futures

A short sci-fi for modern times.

All credit for this work goes to Omeleto

This is not the most complex of offerings, but it's worth a watch.

If you enjoyed please remember it's media, also remind Donald Trump. 

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Own goal

After trying to pull down an unwelcome statue in response to equally unwelcome real world events in Charlottesville now someone has been arrested for trying to blow it up.

Please remind me what it was the Taliban tried to blow up...

Meanwhile Trump has decided to about turn and send troops into Afghanistan.

Talk about offering an own goal America...

Monday, 21 August 2017

Perspective

Many of you will already know about the terrorist attack on La Rambla in Barcelona, the youngest of the victims was reported to be just eight.

Barcelona is a truly beautiful place with a welcoming spirit and a creative culture.

Why anyone would want to attack it indiscriminately is beyond me.

Strange contrast

Yet within days of this lectures are reaching me about increasing regulation of online bullying.

While I do not agree with all the online abuse that has become a larger and larger feature of our everyday reality.

I am cautious of an over reaction.

The suggestion was that online abuse would lead to a Charlottesville situation.

Scars

I realize mental abuse builds up in a person and can too be truly damaging. 

Only, you can turn a computer off, you can ignore the comments, you can delete the e-mails.

I would rather focus still be focused on more traditional bullying, which leaves faces bruised and families missing a loved one.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Erasing history

The events in Charlottesville have brought world attention to the far right in America.

Yet now there are reports of a statue being torn down in the area by anti-racists.

Leaving me absurdly siding with Donald Trump on this particular point.

By all means condemn what has happened in Charlottesville, call people to account.

Only don't just start tearing down all remenants of painful history.

There are statues of people everywhere who a modern generation may have cause to question.

One day a school kid may point up at one of those statues and ask you to explain it.

What are you going to say to one of those children in years to come?

Yes  there was a statue, but we were angry and we tore it down because we don't like to remember any history we find difficult...

There are museums to the Nazi and Soviet eras, with good reason.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Malala has gone to Oxford

Not much else to say really.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Big Ben's on strike

The final chimes of Big Ben ring out today, as the old London clock goes in for repair.

We can look forward to a surreal world of silence in the centre of town, as a clock not silent for 157 years ceases to chime.

Big Ben will be back after a very long illness due to end in 2021.


Meantime, as you were London.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Independence Day

It may come as an antidote to the events in the states that today marks 70 years since Indian independence.

A curry to celebrate sounds like a good plan for your evening.

If you're in Glasgow they have an exhibition on.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Freedom as farce

It was with true sadness I heard of the incidents surrounding far right groups in the United States.

It is even more painful to see someone come out and try and defend the violence.

I have no rights to this content, all work credited to IBTimes

I can understand the anger causing a mob to descend on this man, but it puts any sense of political debate and progress into the most painful farce.

America, the land to present us figures like Martin Luther King, Aretha Franklin, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott and countless others seems to be descending into a kind of tragic fight where all lose.

I would urge you to look on the BBC website for a full report on these incidents.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Don't ask!

There are a litiany of comedians and journalists at the moment making shows and documentaries around the theme of don't ask X this.

The X's involved are sometimes Vegans, Bisexuals, Black people, hispanics, I could go on.

Now while this may seem like a great idea for a skit or show exposing the ignorance of certain questions and statements, bizarrely I'm not sure it's so helpful.

Why?

Because it closes down the conversation.

Ok, you may have spared yourself the fifteenth question on this topic, a cringe worthy exchange or a downright insulting Trump style assault, but who was enlightened?

You get to walk away feeling certified in your knowledge of the area, but the person asking the question is left just as clueless as before.

If in all innocence someone is trying to understand you and asks you something a bit awkward, try to answer.

If it shows them up, makes them smile or leads to another question someone now knows a little bit more about how you or the people you like identify.

Better world, no?

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Patient X

A spate of mental health stories have emerged in the last few days raising serious questions over how the system is managed in this country.

Investigations of deaths in care are being flanked by high ranking doctors lambasting the current care of suicidal patients.

Added to this Theresa May's promise she was going to funnel more money into the issue you have to question whether there are any clear answers.

In the wash of charities, public bodies and celebrities that tackle the issue a different message seems to emerge each time.

While an overarching focus about sharing and caring is perhaps welcome, it is hard to unpick whether any of these initiatives will have the affect they intend.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Medicine Now!

Ever pondered those tablets in your hand?

The welcome collection hosts a permanent exhibition dealing with medicine through the ages.

If you're bored over the summer months and would like some cheap thought provoking fun this is worth a look.

The exhibition Medicine Now covers two floors and touches on ages of medicine from the mystic to the scientific.

You can cast your mind back to before the NHS and before quaint ideas like patient choice and even pain killers.

Worth a look.

You'll find some very cleverly inspired art too.

Exit via a tongue in cheek science shop for extra silly.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Ahaad Alamoudi

Last Friday Ahaad Alamoudi exhibited her artwork at The Mosaic Rooms in West London, with the events at Grenfell Tower I was slow to collect my thoughts on the piece.

Alamoudi said the piece is inspired by a viral protest video that emerged several years ago examining the inequality between those in the Arab world.

Alamoudi had remade the video and paired it with many other renditions of the same song, looking at the Arab world through the lenses of those at the bottom.

Given what had just happened at Grenfell to the mind of a Londoner there was an added element to the piece as it was hosted so close to a disaster rocking one of the richest London boroughs.

The piece was continued downstairs with an emersive audio pairing and video.

However the most interesting piece was the video of the dancer overlaid with a song of looking up at the wealth of another.

A dancer was also a feature of the event, this self effacing man performed three times with an interpretative dance based on the minimal direction of Alamoudi.

His dancing was lovely and it was lovely to see something happy and vibrant added to what in essence was quite a sad reflection on the state of the world.

It will be interesting to see what Alamoudi presents next.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Anti-privatisation fight

A small group of activists turned up today at the Department of Health building to present a petition from We Own It, another of the anti-privatisation groups.

The petition is currently 16,000 strong and is expected to grow.

The We Own It group deals with a number of anti-privatisation campaigns and has recently waded into the NHS campaigns, saying they had not acted in this area before due to a desire not to step on the toes of other activist groups.

The say they are looking to counter myths about the benefits privatisation is alleged to bring.

The size of the petition shows there is still significant feeling associated with the issue of health care privatisation, despite the hard fought NHS bill of the last coalition government.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Housing hopes

Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly planning to build accommodation for his employees in a bid to counteract the Silicon Valley housing crisis.

Like London rents in Silicon Valley are spiralling making it more and more challenging to balance work with rents.

Zuckerburg's plans underline the importance of housing for business success.

As the London mayor roles out his plans for so-called affordable housing in the capital, it is well to remember a city stands and falls on its population.

The rub

You can offer all the perks in the world to public servants and business people alike and it will flounder if you can not provide affordable local housing.

In order for business to thrive you need an affordable city.

If all a workers pay is spent on rent there is no spare cash to spend in local businesses and the service sector.

Resulting not only in an unhappy work force, but in a sluggish tertiary economy.


Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Weaving beauty

If you haven't got down to the Chris Ofili at the National Gallery I would highly recommend it.

Made famous by his Turner Prize win in 2003 with a painting made of Elephant dung, his latest offering is a commission by the Clothworkers' Company.

A beautiful water colour by Ofili has been painstakingly transformed into a huge woven piece of breathtaking serenity.

The cool of the main room adds to the feeling of peace and beauty that the piece evokes.

The exhibit is free and well worth the time, even if you are not normally a lover of this form of art.

Take the time to stand and marvel.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Terror and Tommy

Some may find it sickening that after the attack on the Mosque in North London that Tommy Robinson feels the need to throw in his half penny.

He is asserting he never called for violence and has called those who have launched on him on Twitter all kinds of names.

Meanwhile Piers Morgan is calling him bigoted.

I throw my hands up.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Remembering Jo Cox

A year on from Jo Cox’s murder the family are calling for people to get together and connect with their neighbours in her memory. Presumably to nurture the spirit of British culture she hoped to represent before she was killed.

Though I suspect some communities will be more able and willing to get together in this respect than others, as the hung parliament is indicative of a divided mood and the events of the last few years have created conflicts that will take a while to heal.

Though heal I hope they do, as Britain is at its greatest when we come together to celebrate and achieve. At our best we have a generous and peaceful community.

After so many violent attacks in recent weeks I suspect many will be seeking to connect in a positive way, though it is sad we clearly have so far to go in persuading people not to attack each other.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

London attacks

Godliness has nothing to do with the latest attack on London.

It was a horrendous and violent attack on innocent and defenceless people.

Jesus was a Muslim prophet.

One of the commandments in the Bible is thou shalt not kill and one of Allah's alleged directions to the prophet Mohammad was to go to the mountain.

As far as I can tell neither of these directions from God had anything to do with hurting people.

They have everything to do with building a peaceful community and in the case of Mohammad in encouraging people to forge their own destinies.

And no Theresa May, Britain is not tolerant of extremism.

I would argue some of us are tolerant of freedom.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Jobs vs the Environment?

As Manchester dusts itself off and attempts to move through their grief and pay respect to lost lives, Donald Trump has a hissy fit over American jobs.

He is pulling America out of the climate deal, citing a threat to jobs as the problem.

Yet America has been involved in a trade war with China over solar panel production.

So. It only do they have the potential to produce and market environmentally friendly energy sources they can seemingly do so competitively.

Perhaps he should re-think his reasoning.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Rowetta

After crowds flooded to the streets of Manchester to sing Don't Look Back in Anger and Peers Morgan was chastising Ariana Grande into a benefit concert.

Rowetta appeared on the BBC to sing a tribute to the victims, choosing instead a song fitting to her end of the music scene You've Got the Love.

Rowetta was part of the Happy Mondays many years ago.

A band associated with heavy partying.

When she appeared to play in a cheap club gig in London in the early noughties and was slow to perform, many accused her of excess.

She insisted instead that she was ill and put in a great performance.

It was clear she was ill and sober and judging from her voice it was amazing she had put in a singing performance at all.

Hopefully Manchester appreciates her.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Mourning in Manchester

A suicide bombing attack in Manchester has killed men, women and children.

The attack focussed on a Ariana Grande concert where many teens would have been expected to be in attendance.

This senseless attack is more barbaric as the attacker intentionally takes some of the youngest with them.

Suicide when you feel you have lost faith with the world is tragic, but to take the hope of the world with you is maliciously wrong.

Bombs see no race or religion.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The road to La Llorona

This play has come from a series of one day festivals and week long festivals that started in 2012. Both Amy Solis and Sainte Marine Hernandez wanted to do something to celebrate their shared Mexican heritage.

They had been involved with the back community and black history month, but there wasn’t much happening. With a grand of funding from the council for the writing our legacy umbrella, a community organisation promoting diverse story telling and literature, they went onto create a platform for celebrating Latin culture.

They stopped doing festivals as they didn’t just want to create parties for the Latin community, she said people say: “all Mexican people do is party”, asserting “and it’s not true.”

Having a Mexican family she grew up with the Myth of La Llorona, she says: “It was sort of our version of the boogie man, where if you stayed playing outside too late Llorona would come to get you and snatch you away in the dark.”

The myth has different meanings: “So for instance when I was growing up La Llorona was kind of a spirit that lived in the rivers, but also she was kind of could be found in like the old ladies or the people who were just a bit weird or you kind of stayed away from their houses, so there was a sense of kind of witches, magic and you know stories really.”

"I got some arts council funding to do a very small kind of R&D in 2014 I think. Where are we now 2015... And I pulled together a very small team of collaborators and I wanted to work with, including Rikki Tarascas as the director, Hannah Baker and Billy Mather as artists. And Linda White as education person who involved with Latin Voices live from the beginning an we spent four days working together all day long in the studio, creating and sharing and kind of trying to come up with ideas around this, you know the Myth that we could explore as a new production."

"La Llorona puppet made kind of a structure of her by Hannah and Billy did a whole bunch of really cool visuals, artistic visuals with strong iconography. He was the one that designed our poster and then for the second R&D we wanted to make it into an actual Theatre production."

“We really want people to think about the theme of the play, which is about migration, economic migration and kind of what happens also when people go to America looking for the American dream and trying to make a better life and sometimes people are really abused by the system, by the capitalist system and not treated well and chasing after false dreams, which is all very relevant.”

"I wasn’t conscious of wanting to tell this story, but I was conscious for a long time of wanting to share my experiences of growing up in Texas in the kind of the Mexican experience, both the Mexican and the Mexican American experience is sort of a spectrum really. I feel like I had a really unique upbringing, because my family are third or fourth generation."

Rikki, dealt with picking actors, "he’s a very, very experienced Theatre director he was looking for Mexican actors, there were none, so he found people who were Spanish people who were kind of different Latin backgrounds."

“The ambition of the of the artists who we’ve been involved with in making huge kind of gigantic puppets, really detailed costumes, just kind of incredibly you know time consuming kind of making. Everybody’s sort of thrown so much of their personal time and energy into everything with the making of this and it’s kind of gone from something that was meant to be a very short production and kind of it’s truly grown into this epic kind of thing you know on a very small budget, so I’m just really proud of the achievement that they’ve made.

"They’ve created something really big and there’s a real sense of strong community everybody feels very invested in this show and you know I know everybody does in Theatre, but this is something that when you see it you’ll understand it’s something that’s visually quite stunning."

She credits the interest by saying: "I think it’s mainly because I find that people who are interested in the culture are maybe not even from it, it really, really inspires them and also the main motivation is that I’ve in Brighton huge, huge talent… people really wanna make this vision happen."

“Yeah I think there will be more interest in kind of more Mexican experience… I’m really looking forward to taking this show on a bit of tour. People want to take this tour up north and Manchester and regionally and we’re really up for doing all that.”

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

La Lorona The Myth of the Weeping Woman Brighton

Showing in Brighton Preston Manor for the first time at 7pm tonight is La Llorona a Mexican Ghost story, an ACGB development project that began with a group of artists throwing ideas around in a room.

The production has grown way beyond what was expected with the limited budget as has the size of La Llorona herself and this is due to the time, commitment and energy of all of the artists involved in the process – some of whom were volunteers.

Salvador Dali said that he considered Mexico to be the home of surrealism and in devising and directing this piece as the design team led by Hannah Barker began to create epic mythical beasts, part of Amy Solis's job was to facilitate these ideas and to integrate them into the existing story.

What has emerged is the fusion of the surreal landscape and mythical beasts of the ancient Aztec stories and the modern story of Rosita set in the 1980’s on the boarder towns of Mexico and Texas. 

Mexican history

This myth is said to have been inspired by the Spanish invasion of Mexico. 

In 1519, Cortés' ships reached the Mexican coast at Yucatan. Cortés had set sail with 11 ships and more than 500 men. 

He burned his ships to make retreat impossible. 

Natives were quickly overpowered and surrendered. Cortés set out to rule them. During the march through Mexico, he encountered a group of natives called the Tlaxcalans, who were enemies of the Aztecs. 

They became an important ally for Cortés during his siege of Tenochtitlán, the Aztec capital city. 

A myth in creation

Unbeknownst to Cortés, his arrival coincided with an important Aztec prophecy. 

The Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, whom they credited with the creation of humans, was set to return to Earth. 

Thinking that Cortés could be Quetzalcoatl, Montezuma greeted the party with great honour.

They provided the Spanish with food, supplies and 20 women, including an interpreter known as La Malinche or Doña Marina. La Llorona (The weeping woman) is sometimes identified with La Malinche the Nahua woman who served as Cortés' interpreter and who some say was betrayed by the Spanish conquistadors.

In one folk story of La Malinche, she became Hernán Cortés' mistress and bore him a child. 

Only to be abandoned so that he could marry a Spanish Woman. 

Aztec pride drove La Malinche to acts of vengeance. 

A shrouded message

Did she drown her children and herself as an act of rebellion against the Spanish invasion of her indigenous culture? 

Part of Cortez's master plan has been said to have been to create a biological alliance created of the Conquerers and the conquered. 

The great power of the meaning of these stories, to the culture in which they developed, is a major reason why they survive as long as they do. 

Such is the power of La Llorona the myth of the weeping woman.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A three man job

Everyone's used to ticket inspectors, there have even been fights about ticket inspection cuts.

What I'm not so used to is seeing a police escort.

Two policeman, one ticket inspector.

Your address please sir

I have paid for my ticket, the guy behind me hasn't though.

Apparently it is also ok to ask for his personal details to chase down what is currently less than £2.

It is not uncommon for a ticket inspector to ask for details like this on a train, not so much on a bus.

But a police escort, I swear this is the first ever time I have seen them accompanied like this.

Policy, move along

Yet I call TfL and they assure me it's been happening for years, though they can't tell me exactly when it started.

There have been reported physical attacks on ticket inspectors, but largely I've seen them deal with it themselves, even really tricky people.

This was even after riots and terrorist attacks in the London area.

Only the guy they're taking details from hasn't even been aggressive, he's just sticking up for himself, as he claims he's paid anyway and as far as I can tell gives said details.

Wise resourcing?

Just to remind you, he is handing these details over for allegedly failing to pay less than £2.

And there are not a lack of seats on the bus either, so he isn't taking up someone else's seat on the bus.

So that is the man hours of three people, to chase down under £2.

I understand ticket inspection isn't the cushiest of jobs, but I largely see them go about their business unscathed.

I did enquire from TfL if it was a response to something, but they claim this, which I have never seen before, is common practice.

I apologize this has become so Gonzo.


Thursday, 23 March 2017

A sombre day in Trafalgar Square

I decided to join the vigil in Trafalgar Square this evening, to commemorate three deaths at the hands of a violent extremist.

Around a thousand were in attendance at the short vigil in the square.

Amber Rudd and Sadiq Khan were among those of a selection of elected representatives, police officers and those of different faiths and ethnicities at the event.

The mood was sombre and quiet as the speakers painted a picture of London as brave and united in the face of terror.

I hope this peaceful unity against horrific events represents more than just those standing in the square, but many, many hard working and quietly heroic Londoners who have in total been a reason for joy in my life.

I hope coming days bring more joy to those people than they do pain, as truly many of the kind acts and courtesies I see replayed every day deserve to be rewarded.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Keeping students bright

Amid promises of a mental health overhaul Student Minds outlines the challenges of student mental health.

Theresa May promised a mental health overhaul. 

However, these measures largely do not cater to students, who are a high-risk group. 

The measures mainly focus on secondary school students, by improving teacher’s education in the area and increasing focus on community care among other initiatives.

Student Minds, the UK student mental health charity, has welcomed these changes with caution. 

Rachel Piper a spokesman for the organisation said: 

“We would agree mental health currently does not have parity of esteem with physical health, and we hope funding is put in place alongside the promises to rectify this.”

Future measures

When asked what government could do to further improve student welfare Student Minds pointed us to the University Challenge report, which picks out issues affecting student mental health.

The report recognises because of their age students find themselves at a transition between services and this is further complicated by the fact they are often moving to new areas of the country, Rachel said: “transitions can disrupt a student’s care at a time when they are already particularly vulnerable”. 

She continues: “moving between home and university creates a unique set of challenges for maintaining continuity of care”.

The University Challenge report also points to accessibility as an issue. 

“Waiting times often mean students’ appointments are at inaccessible times during the holidays and treatment is disrupted by vacations.”

High risk group

Students are at high risk of mental health problems, with 29% of students experiencing clinical levels of psychological distress. 

With anxiety and depression being the main problems.

Between 2007 and 2011 the number of students taking their own lives rose by 50%. It is estimated as many as one in eight students feel suicidal while at university. 

A further two in three will feel down at some point in their studies.

Why so down?

Possible reasons for this distress could be: “For many young people these are the first years they will spend away from established networks of family support.”

Adjusting to student lifestyle also brings challenges, with an associated poor diet, work pressures, lack of exercise and alcohol consumption often being a factor. 

The years spent at university often coincide with the peak age of onset for a range of mental health conditions.

These days a tough job market also adds pressure for high attainment, while many who suffer with mental health problems conversely at ‘considerable risk’ of academic failure and dropping out.

Seek support

Despite these worrying statistics it is estimated 50% of students don’t feel comfortable admitting they are not coping. 

So don’t feel alone, you aren’t, seek support, it is there for you. 

Take the advice; everyone wants you healthy and happy.

You can seek a referral to a counselor through your GP, or contact a mental health charity such as Mind or The Samaritans for support. 

And Student Minds are also a great portal of support if you go to http://www.studentminds.org.uk/find-support.html

Stay happy.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The lady inspires

If you haven't seen Michelle Obama's farewell to office, have a look.


I wish more leaders would believe in their people as much as this woman did.

Shame on the Republicans for repealing Obama care.

Monday, 2 January 2017

A late Happy New Year

Everything feels tougher than ever before.

So have a boogie to this.