tezzer57 posted a photo:


Balham, South London

This Balham woman has been selected to compete for the title of Miss Swimsuit UK - Wandsworth Guardian

This Balham woman has been selected to compete for the title of Miss Swimsuit UK
Wandsworth Guardian
A Balham resident has been selected to take part in the London heat of this year's Miss Swimsuit UK. The event, which takes place at DSTRKT at 8pm on May 25, will have 20 girls from across the country competing to become Miss Swimsuit UK, the final of ...

and more »

News: Manford, Pascoe, Lycett & More For Balham Comedy Festival - Beyond The Joke

Beyond The Joke

News: Manford, Pascoe, Lycett & More For Balham Comedy Festival
Beyond The Joke
Banana Cabaret's annual Balham Comedy Festival, produced by the comedy club's Dave Vickers and comedy legend John Moloney returns in 2017 to The Bedford in Balham from 29 June – 8 July. The 2017 line-up includes Stephen K Amos, Mary Bourke, ...

Get ready to laugh your socks off as big names line up for Balham Comedy Festival - This is Local London

Get ready to laugh your socks off as big names line up for Balham Comedy Festival
This is Local London
Banana Cabaret's annual Balham Comedy Festival is back for its sixth year running with a dazzling line-up. Hosted by Radio 4's John Moloney, and produced by the comedy club's Dave Vickers, the line-up includes Stephen K Amos, Mary Bourke, Ed Byrne, ...

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Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

cwiss posted a photo:

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

Meet the brewer event at We Brought Beer, Balham with Northern Monk's Vas

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

cwiss posted a photo:

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

Meet the brewer event at We Brought Beer, Balham with Northern Monk's Vas

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

cwiss posted a photo:

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

Meet the brewer event at We Brought Beer, Balham with Northern Monk's Vas

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

cwiss posted a photo:

Northern Monk at We Brought Beer

Meet the brewer event at We Brought Beer, Balham with Northern Monk's Vas

Opentech 2017

(The reason for the picture of Tower Bridge will become obvious later.)

The Opentech conference took place yesterday. It’s fabulous conference where people get together and share stories about using technology to make the world a better place. I always find it really inspiring.

I think I’ve been to every previous Opentech conference and I’ve written blog posts about most of them, so here’s  what I saw yesterday.

Standards for Private Browsing — Hadley Beeman

We all like our incognito browser windows, right? Hadley pointed out that these private browsing sessions are subtly (and sometimes not really subtly) different across browsers and no-one can be expected to remember exactly what each browser does. She is on the W3C Technical Architecture Group and says that they would like to introduce standards in this area.

Getting to fairness in the platform economy — Rachel Coldicutt

Rachel is the CEO of DotEveryone and talked about how and why we need far more equality in the digital arena. For example, not everyone has the same access to the internet. Sounds like DotEveryone are about to start making a difference in this area.

People Before Pixels? — Rose Rees Jones

Rose runs the People Before Pixels Meetup group for people who are designing public sector web sites. There was plenty to think about in her talk and she ended with four questions that designers can use to help frame their work. I’m hoping that her slides go online soon, as I can’t remember what the questions were.

Real headlines of 2016 — James Ball

James was really plugging his book, Post-Truth, How Bullshit Conquered the World, but it sounded like a really interesting book. I’ve bought a copy already and I’m looking forward to reading it.

Real headlines of 2022 — Wendy Grossman

Wendy had a lot of fun producing some headlines that we could be reading in five years time. She also touched on mindset lists (what people born in different years see as normal). Her slides are online. Sadly, I had to leave this session before Wendy’s talk was finished as I was speaking in a different room during the next session.

Hidden Local History — Antony Carpen

Antony showed us some of the interesting things he had discovered when researching Cambridge (the town, not the university) history. In particular, he’s a big fan of the British Newspaper Archive (as am I).

Freeing Tower Bridge — Dave Cross

I talked about my project to make data feeds of Tower Bridge lift times available.

Curators vs Robots — Mia Ridge

Mia works for the British Library and talked about some of the very interesting problems they have curating such a large collection. She also touched on the ways that robots (by which she mostly means computer software) can help.

The State of Public-Interest Digital Technology — Tom Steinberg

Tom is a long-term contributor to Opentech. He founded MySociety and was their chair for a very long time. So he usually has very interesting things to say about the kinds of projects that Opentech is about. And this talk was no exception. One interesting point he made was that the Opentech old-guard like him are now, in many cases, the establishment and they are now being disrupted by a new generation in exactly the same way that we wanted to disrupt things fifteen years ago. This, in case it isn’t obvious, is a good thing.

Ada Lovelace in 2017 — Suw Charman-Anderson

Suw gave a brief history of Ada Lovelace Day, before talking about some of the things they have planned for this year. Something completely new is an online recruitment fair for women in STEM. It sounds like they also have some interesting research to share – for example, women only apply for job if they match all of the requirements; men will apply if they match 60% of the requirements.

Climate Symphony — Leah Borromeo and Jamie Perera

Leah and Jamie have taken various data sets pertaining to climate change and converted them to MIDI data which produces music driven by climate change. To be honest I would liked to have heard less about the whys and hows and heard more of the music (but I left before the end of the session – so perhaps I missed it).

Open Democracy Discussion — James Smith, Sym Roe and Ed Dowding

This was slightly different to what I was expecting. Instead of people talking about their interesting projects (Something New, Democracy Club and Represent.Me), they all gave a five-minute introduction and then the discussion was thrown open to the floor. Some interesting opinions were shared, but I’m not sure that any real conclusions were reached.


And that was it. As always, it was a fascinating and thought-provoking day. Thanks to the organisers and to all of the speakers. I look forward to hearing the recordings of the sessions I missed.

P.S. Kevin Marks made some much more detailed notes of the sessions he was in.

The post Opentech 2017 appeared first on Davblog.

Three Cheers takes on eighth site and plans £2m refit -

Three Cheers takes on eighth site and plans £2m refit
Three Cheers Pub Company has announced that it has grown its portfolio by acquiring the Bedford in Balham, south London, taking its total number of sites up to eight. The pubco, which operates sites in south London, said that it plans to keep the site ...

London pub The Bedford sold to Three Cheers Pub Co - Bar Magazine

Bar Magazine

London pub The Bedford sold to Three Cheers Pub Co
Bar Magazine
Three Cheers Pub Co is planning a multi-million-pound refurbishment of landmark south London pub, The Bedford, after acquiring the lease. Taking the group's estate up to the eight, The Bedford in Bedford Hill in Balham features a variety of different ...
Three Cheers Pub Co. announce eighth siteHospitality & Catering News

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John Cross 1940 – 2017

Last Wednesday, we said farewell to my father. I always knew he was a popular man in the local community, but I was astonished to see just how popular. As we pulled up in the funeral cars, there was still a queue of people trying to squeeze into the crematorium chapel. There must have been a couple of hundred people there.

As part of the ceremony, I delivered a eulogy. This is what I said:

How do I start to tell you about Dad? Actually, there’s one really obvious way, isn’t there?

What a bloody nice man.

Isn’t that why so many of us are here today. Because at some point in the last seventy or so years, Dad did something nice for us. Or we helped him do something nice for other people.

My childhood memories are all about Holland Carnival. Do you have any idea how much time and effort Mum and Dad put into that? It’s not just running things on the day of the carnival procession. There was weeks (months, probably) of preparation. There was an evening event to choose the annual Carnival Queen. There were many evenings and weekends spent building the Carnival Queen’s float. That float wasn’t just used in the Holland Carnival. There must have been a dozen or more other local carnival days that the queen was taken to. And a lot of the time she was taken by Mum and Dad – often with my siblings and me tagging along. There’s a memory of men playing football dressed as women – but I’m trying to suppress that.

And at the end of Carnival day, the money would need to be counted. Volunteers would be round at our house until the small hours putting coins into piles and then bags. Of course, nothing could be done with the money until Monday morning, when the bank opened, so it was often hidden inside our washing machine. I feel I can tell you that now, as I believe Mum has stopped keeping her money there.

At other times of the year there were coffee mornings and jumble sales to organise. Not just for the Carnival, but for the Boys or Girls Brigades or for many other charities later on.

Later, of course, he joined the Lions and met many other people who were just as committed to charitable works. I remember him organising street collections or carol singing or driving elderly people to communal Christmas dinners. Or borrowing the Father Christmas costume to surprise his grandchildren. I remember being impressed by the international nature of the Lions. I seemed that everywhere Gill and I would go on holiday, we would find some kind of plaque about something that the local Lions had done. I always took a photo to show Dad. The furthest away was a park bench in Taupo, New Zealand and the most recent was a hotel we stayed in in Ljubljana last year where the local Lions group held its meetings.

Dad didn’t get any school certificates (I don’t think I ever saw him reading a book), but his deep, instinctual, knowledge of practical subjects like geometry often amazed me. When I was young, I had a plank of wood that needed to be split in three lengthways for reasons that I have long forgotten. But the width of the plank was some annoying number that refused to be divided by three. Dad showed me that I could hold my ruler diagonally across the wood to make the width a far easier number to deal with. I would never have thought of that.

Or there’s the time that Gill and I had bought a new house and wanted a display wall with a number of small shelves on it in a pleasingly symmetrical pattern. I started all sorts of complicated calculations to work out where the shelves needed to go but, within seconds, Dad had drawn a complicated pattern of lines on the wall and where some of them crossed marked where the screws needed to go. I’m still not really clear how he did that. I do, however, remember the look on Gill’s face when he started drawing all over her freshly painted wall.

That had a flip-side too though. It was always tricky for people coming to do work at my parents’ house. Dad was always keeping a close eye on how the work was being done and checking that it was being done correctly (by which I mean, the way that he would have done it). Even just a few months ago, the care home where he was staying had some new fire doors fitted to in the day-room. All of the residents were kept out of the room for the day, but Dad managed to get in to supervise the work.

All of which is just a rather long-winded way to make my original point. What a bloody nice man. A man who is already badly missed by everyone here. A man who, and I speak for all of my family here, we were all honoured to know.

We held a collection for The Lullaby Trust which has currently raised over £700.  If you would like to add to that total, money will be collected by P. G. Oxley for the next few weeks.

The post John Cross 1940 – 2017 appeared first on Davblog.

Top of the Pops and Me

In 2011, the BBC started repeating old episodes of Top of the Pops. Initially, they were showing one episode a week, as close as possible to thirty-five years after the original broadcast (starting with shows from 1976). More recently, they’ve been showing two episodes a week, so we’re currently in early 1983.

I’ve been watching them avidly since they started, but I’ve been even more interested in watching them over the last year or so – since the repeats hit October 1981. That’s because that’s when I moved to London to go to university and I started to watch fewer and fewer episodes as I, increasingly, had better ways to spend my Thursday evenings. So I’m seeing many of these broadcasts for the first time.

Over the summer of 1982 I pretty much stopped watching completely. I managed to get myself elected as Social Secretary at City University and many of my evenings were spent running gigs, discos and various other entertainments for the students.

I’ve written before about a couple of things that happened while I was Social Secretary (here’s me being threatened by the lead singer of Bad Manners and here I am booking Marillion at the start of their first major tour) but recent episodes of Top of the Pops have reminded me of a few other incidents.

There was the time that I was mildly censured by the London Student newspaper because I had booked Toto Coelo for a Christmas Party. Or the time I booked the Hee Bee Gee Bees (featuring Angus Deayton and Philip Pope) and ended up inviting Philip Pope back to a hall of residence party[1].

A few recent episodes of Top of the Pops have featured Blue Zoo singing “Cry Boy Cry”. I’m not sure I realised what a big hit that was. They played a few gigs at the university – including a “Blue Party Night” at a hall of residence where I painted my face blue, using dye that took days to get out. And I’m pretty sure that they were the band I cancelled when I was offered the Marillion date I mentioned above.

But a recent Top of the Pops reminded me of the biggest mistake I made while I was Social Secretary. I turned down the chance to book Culture Club.

To be fair to myself, no-one had heard of them when I was offered them. Well, no-one who wasn’t really in tune with the London music scene. Of course, you could say that someone who was running entertainment for a London university should really be in touch with the music scene. And I’d have no answer to that.

But when their agent called to offer me the gig, I hadn’t heard of them.

They were just about to start a tour and wanted somewhere to play a warm-up gig. Back then (and, I suppose, it’s still true now) bands used to like using student unions for warm-up gigs. Student unions were like private clubs – you couldn’t get in without a union card. Acts could get their performances right without making fools of themselves in front of the general public. That was how most student unions got most of their decent acts.

So Culture Club’s agent called me and offered me a warm-up gig for their first national tour. And I turned them down because I had never heard of them.

I thought that was the last I would hear of it. But I was wrong. A few months later, at the end of October 1982, they made their first appearance on Top of the Pops. I think this is it (warning, a few seconds of Jimmy Savile at the start of this clip).

Of course, these days we’re all used to seeing Boy George on the telly. But in 1982, this wasn’t the case. It was a sensation. He was all over the tabloid front pages the following day. People talked about it for weeks. Instantly, everyone knew who Culture Club were.

Oh, and the date that I had been offered for the warm-up gig – it was, of course, the day after this Top of the Pops. If I had taken the booking, it would have been a great night. I would have looked like someone who really had his finger on the pulse of the music scene.

Instead, I’m the man who turned down Culture Club.

[1] Although looking at the dates, it seems more likely that this was during the previous year – when I was just a member of the entertainments committee.

The post Top of the Pops and Me appeared first on Davblog.

2016 in Gigs

Time for my traditional round-up of the gigs I saw in the previous year.

According to Songkick, I saw 39 gigs in 2016. That’s the lowest number since 2012 (when I saw 36 – but had the excuse that my leg was in plaster for six weeks and I didn’t get out much).

Let’s start with the disappointments. I left two gigs at the interval. I had wanted to see Marc Almond for a long time, but when it finally happened it was all just too torch song for my tastes. I’m told the second half was much better.

Then there was Barclay James Harvest (or rather, John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest – the two surviving members of BJH both have their own touring version of the band). Sometimes going to see an act for the first time for thirty-five years isn’t a good idea. They just didn’t hold my interest the way they did back in the early 80s. When they took an early interval (after only half an hour on stage) I ducked out. I hope the second half was longer.

I didn’t leave, but I thought the Björk show at the Hammersmith Odeon was pretty disappointing too. I think I’m in a minority there though.

I only saw two bands twice – Sunflower Bean and the Magnetic North. And this might be the first year in living memory that I didn’t see any members of the Carthy clan playing.

I ticked off four more acts in my “acts from my youth that I never got round to seeing” list – Toyah, ELO, ABC and the Human League. I already have a ticket to see ABC again.

Usually, Amanda Palmer gets a free pass onto the top ten list, but in 2016 I only saw her as a special guest at a Jherek Bischoff show that didn’t quite make the cut.

Here, in chronological order, are the ten best gigs I saw in 2016.

  • Sunflower Bean – the first show (at the Dome) just trumps the second (at the Scala) proving once again that smaller venues are better. I reckon 2017 will be your last chance to see them in a smallish venue. That’s them in the photo.
  • SOAK – I’ve loved SOAK since I first saw her support Chvrches a couple of years ago. And live, she gets better and better.
  • ELO – Yes, incredibly cheesy, of course. But great fun. They have so many fabulous songs.
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – This was the night they played Architecture & Morality and Dazzle Ships. Not really their best-known material – but the fans loved it.
  • Laura Marling – You can’t go wrong seeing Laura Marling play whenever possible and this show was no exception. I already have a ticket to see her in a couple of months time when she launches her new album.
  • Belle and Sebastian – Only the second time I’ve seen them, but they are now a must-see. This show had them playing all of Tigermilk. I’m seeing them again in 2017.
  • The Orb – The Orb playing all of Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld. What’s not to like?
  • The Magnetic North – The show at RIBA was the second time I saw them in 2016. Their new album, Prospect of Skelmersdale is even better than their debut and I highly recommend seeing them live.
  • ABC – In the first half, they played random hits along with selections from The Lexicon of Love II. But in the second half, they played all of The Lexicon of Love. Everyone in the audience knew every lyric and sang along with gusto. It was sublime.
  • Christine and the Queens – What an awesome act. One of the best live performances I’ve seen for a very long time.

I’ve just deleted Marianne Faithful and The Staves from this list as it was too long. Other shows bubbling outside the top ten include Barenaked LadiesSt. Etienne and Hannah Peel. It’s mark of the quality of the shows I’ve seen this year that I haven’t found space for SavagesPixies or Billy Bragg.

And let’s spare a thought for acts we’ll never see performing again. I will alway regret never seeing Prince live and it’s over twenty years since I saw David Bowie play. But of all the talented musicians who died in 2016 I think it’s the two Leonard Cohen shows I saw (in 1993 and 2013) that I will treasure the most.

There are “year in gigs” posts for every year since 2011.

The post 2016 in Gigs appeared first on Davblog.

Listening to Leonard

Over the last week, I’ve re-listened to all of Leonard Cohen’s albums in chronological order. And, most importantly, I’ve rated them.

  1. recent_songsRecent Songs (1979)
    Sorry, but this is the one that I really didn’t get. In “Humbled in Love” it contains one of my favourite Leonard Cohen songs, but the rest of the collection really doesn’t do it for me. The received wisdom is that this was a major return to form following the rather dodgy Death of a Ladies’ Man – but I can’t see it. If I wanted to play someone an album that reinforces the stereotype of Cohen songs being depressing dirges, then this is the one I’d choose.
  2. leonardcohendearheatherDear Heather (2004)
    I’m generally a big fan of Cohen’s more recent albums, but this is an exception. I don’t actively dislike it in the way I do Recent Songs, but It’s very rare that I’ll choose to listen to it over any other Cohen album. There are some flashes of Cohen’s dark humour here, but you have to go looking quite hard in order to find them. And then there’s that version of “Tennesse Waltz”. I’m really not sure what to make of that.
  3. leonard_cohen_you_want_it_darkerYou Want it Darker (2016)
    This was released just a few weeks ago. And it’s only so far down the list because I haven’t listened to it enough to really know how much I like it. As with Bowie’s Blackstar, the fact that it was released so close to Cohen’s death means that it will always be linked to that tragic event and will inevitably be seen as his farewell to his fans. On listening to it this week (for what may have been only the third time) I enjoyed it. If I revisit this list in a few years, there’s a good chance that it will be higher.
  4. leonardcohenpopularproblemsPopular Problems (2014)
    Another album that I really haven’t given the attention that it deserves. To be honest, I’m surprised to find it came out two years ago. It seems like only a few months. I don’t know the album well enough to recognise particular songs, but while listening to it this week I was pleasantly surprised by how familiar it sounded even though I can’t have listened to it more than half a dozen times.
  5. leonardcohenoldideasOld Ideas (2012)
    It’s astonishing to me how productive Cohen became in his final years. There’s an eight year gap between his previous album (Dear Heather) and this one. But then he releases this, Popular Problems and You Want it Darker all in quick succession. It’s like he’s determined to get as much material as possible out there before the end. And like the other two albums in this loose “trilogy” I don’t know it particularly well. I suppose I should count myself lucky that there are still three more Leonard Cohen albums that I need to listen to a lot more.
  6. songs_from_a_roomSongs from a Room (1969)
    From Cohen’s last three albums, we leap back to the beginning of his career. This was his second album and it built on the success of Songs of Leonard Cohen. It opens with one of his best-loved songs, “Bird on the Wire”, and closes with the impressive run of “You Know Who I Am”, “Lady Midnight” and “You Know Who I Am”. First albums can be a fluke. But a follow-up of this quality marks you as a real talent.
  7. new_skin_for_the_old_ceremonyNew Skin for the Old Ceremony (1974)
    By 1974, Cohen is firing on all cylinders. Many of your favourite Leonard Cohen songs are on this album – “Chelsea Hotel #2”, “There is a War”, “A Singer Must Die”, “Who By Fire”. Only the closing “Leaving Greensleeves” strikes a slightly jarring note.
  8. leonardcohentennewsongsTen New Songs (2001)
    How do you follow an album like The Future? In Cohen’s case, the answer is you go away for nine years (five of which you spend in a zen monastery) before surprising your fans with a great new album. Songs like “In My Secret Life”, “A Thousand Kisses Deep” and “Here It Is” are as good as anything he ever recorded. This album is often overlooked, but is well worth investigating.
  9. various_positionsVarious Positions (1984)
    Another largely overlooked mid-career album. Or, rather, it would be if it wasn’t for one single track. This is the album that includes “Hallelujah”. I used to believe that it was impossible to record a bad version of “Hallelujah”. But that was when only talented people like John Cale and Jeff Buckley had discovered it. Now I’m not so sure. There are plenty of other great songs on this album too though. The first track, “Dance Me to the End of Love” was the usual opener to Cohen’s live shows.
  10. songs_of_love_and_hateSongs of Love and Hate (1971)
    Back to the early part of Cohen’s career. This was his third album. It didn’t move much from the successful formula of the previous two albums, but that’s no bad thing as that still makes for a great album. In “Famous Blue Raincoat”, this features my favourite Leonard Cohan song, but there are other great songs too – including “Dress Rehearsal Rag”, “Diamonds in the Mine” and “Joan of Arc”.
  11. death_of_a_ladies_manDeath of a Ladies’ Man (1977)
    This is likely to be controversial. Not everyone likes this album. Cohen himself is on record calling the recording a “catastrophe” and he only ever played one song from the album (“Memories”) in concert. But I like it. I think that “True Love Leaves No Traces” and “Paper Thin Hotel” are two of the loveliest songs that Cohen ever wrote. Ok, “Fingerprints” is a bit cheesy, but surely it’s impossible to listen to “Don’t Go Home With Your Hard-On” without smiling.
  12. songsofleonardcohenSongs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
    There are very few debut albums as good as this one. Even almost fifty years after it’s release, most of Cohen’s best-known songs are from this album – “Suzanne”, “Sisters of Mercy”, “So Long, Marianne”, “Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye”. And the songs that aren’t so well-known are just as good – I’m particularly fond of “Stranger Song”.
  13. im_your_man_-_leonard_cohenI’m Your Man (1988)
    When I first discovered the joys of Leonard Cohen, this was his latest album. And it was completely different to the other examples of his work that I had come across (things like Songs of Leonard Cohen). This was certainly different, but it was just as good – perhaps even better. I immediately loved things like “First We Take Manhattan” and “Everybody Knows” but later on the less immediate songs also gripped me. “Tower of Song” is now on of my favourite Cohen songs.
  14. leonardcohenthefutureThe Future (1992)
    This was the first album that Cohen released whilst I was following his career; the first of his albums that I bought as soon as it was released. And it’s a nearly perfect album. It’s hard to choose a favourite song. The title track is great. “Democracy” and “Anthem” are both wonderful songs with lyrics that really resonate. And I will always love “Closing Time”. I would recommend this album to anyone. If you don’t love it then your musical taste needs serious recalibration.

This is all purely subjective of course. And if I made the list again in six months time, it could well be completely different. What do you think? Have I put you favourite Leonard Cohen album high enough?

The post Listening to Leonard appeared first on Davblog.

London Perl Workshop 2016

Magnum Solutions are proud to be returning as sponsors of the London Perl Workshop in 2016.

Dave Cross will be running a two-hour “Modern Perl Catch-up” at the start of the day and also giving his “Error(s) Free Programming” talk in the afternoon.

YAPC Europe 2016

Magnum Solutions will be represented at YAPC Europe 2016 which is taking place in Cluj-Napoca in Romania at the end of August.

Before the conference, Dave Cross will be running a one-day course on “Modern Web Development with Perl and Dancer” and during the conference, he will present a talk on “Error(s) Free Programming“.

FLOSS UK Spring Conference 2016

Magnum Solutions’ owner Dave Cross will be giving a talk at the FLOSS UK Spring Conference in London in March 2016. The talk is entitled “Writing Books (The Easy Bit)”.

Perl Training in London

In February 2016, Magnum Solutions will be running their annual public training courses in London in conjunction with FLOSS UK. The courses will be on 8th-12th February at the Ambassador’s Hotel on Upper Woburn Place. There will be one-day courses on “Object Oriented Programming with Moose”, “Database Programming with DBIx::Class” and “Testing Perl Programs” and a two-day course on “Modern Web Programming”.

Full details are on the FLOSS UK web site.

Christmas minus four days

Listening to Billie Holiday on Apple Music

Reading Bernard Cornwell, Samuel Richardson, Balzac, Dickens, Ferrante

Watching Force Awakens

Thinking about how when I retire I'm going to live in small spare flat with a small spare garden with a terrier and a couple of turtles and learn how to write poetry, paint pictures and play the trumpet

Christmas hols

Hooray I'm on holiday for two weeks!

Yesterday I made and put the marzipan on the Xmas cake.

Today I'm going to Sisters using my Cineworld Unlimited card.

Tomorrow we're going to see the Force Awakens

Other stuff I'm doing:
- trying to find O2 Floor tickets for Strictly 2016 tour (we love you, Jay McGuinness, the human equivalent of the Andrex puppy)
- trying to get day tickets for Dominic West in Dangerous Liaisons at the Donmar Warehouse
- trying to get returns for Nutcracker, Cavalleria Rusticana at Covent Garden and Jim Broadbent in A Christmas Carol
- going to look at the West End Xmas windows with Laura
- going to Go Ape in Battersea Park with Alice
- going to Hampton Court as I've just realised I've got Historic Royal Palaces membership
- read, read, read!
- listen to unlimited music on Apple Music
- make mince pies (Delia)
- make Chana masala (Guardian)
- update this blog daily

Happy days

Safeguarding: Southwark diocese

Tea and coffee turns out to be a kettle, some tea bags and a pint of milk.

Then there's a big kerfuffle about where you sign in: at the back, at reception, "I've signed in three times now"

Then someone wants to open a window, but the windows don't open

Oh God someone I know is here. I'll make like I haven't seen her

Three hours later: actually it was really informative, if hair-raising. Obviously some parishes are a lot more problematic than others

Things We Argue About

Driving down to Bristol for sister's wedding. We pass an estate agents window which has little model houses in the window like at Bekenscot.
Me: Laura, look at the cute little houses. Which one would you live in?
Laura: I can't really see them.
Me: I like the white one best, but the green one has bigger windows.
Laura: oh those houses. I thought you meant the houses they were advertising in the window. I was wondering how you could possibly see them.
Chris: I thought you meant the ones in the photos.
Alice: so did I.
Me: how could I possibly have seen the ones in the photographs? What, have I suddenly developed super eyesight?
Chris: that's what I thought. So I thought you must be talking just for the sake of saying something.
Me: when do I ever do that?
Chris: exactly. So I thought you must have gone mad.
Me: so you'd rather ignore everything you know about me and assume that I'd gone mad, rather than entertain the possibility that I might have been talking about the cute little model houses, which only that estate agent has, rather than the photos of houses, which every estate agent has?
Chris: I didn't think they were cute.
Me: surely it's more plausible that I meant the model houses but that what I think is cute is different from what you think is cute, rather than that I'd suddenly developed super eyesight and also lost my mind?
Chris: your position is indefensible
Me: my position is defensible. I am defending it, unfortunately I appear to be dealing with a bunch of dopes
Laura: we can't all be dopes
Me: well, apparently you can
Laura: the families in cars in adverts are never like this

Fall Out Boy

I'm in the grip of several slow-burning obsessions at the moment. Fall Out Boy, for one, I'm sort of crushing on them collectively. What a difference a live gig makes! It's hard to say why as most of the time you had to watch them on the big screens (and why is that different from watching them on YouTube?), but that is the mystery of human presence. Being there, in the same air as people, makes a difference. Why? Maybe they seem more real. Maybe you see everything, not just what the cameraman directs you to see, which helps to fill in the reality of someone.

Then I've started my new Elena Ferrante book. I wonder if a Lila really existed, or if the author is simply applying herself into two and writing about both halves. I wish I could get the girls to read it: it's such an eye-opening validating piece of work, especially for women. Some woman in the paper was worrying that it wasn’t really literature. Why? Why not? What is
unliterary about it? The fact that it’s enjoyable? The fact that it acts as
though what two young girls in Naples in mid-twentieth century thought or
felt is important? I don’t see how you could find a book more serious intelligent and authentic than these novels are turning out to be.

On a more trivial note, I've been reading about Kate Moss’ new squeeze in the Telegraph: Nikolai von Bismarck, who from a quick piece of deductive work via Wikipedia, must be the second nephew of Gottfried von Bismarck (the first cousin of Nikolai’s father Leopold, who was the younger brother of Gottfried’s father, the
Prince von Bismarck). I knew Gottfried from Oxford when we were both in a
Ionesco play, The Lesson, being directed by an acquaintance from New College. I didn’t really know Gottfried, what with him being such a posho, but he seemed perfectly nice. He moved with the Olivia Channon set and died himself a few years ago, essentially from his lifestyle (drugs, gay orgies etc). All rather sad: gilded youth! This was all post the ITV Brideshead craze. Little did I think, as I was living through it, that people would be looking back at the eighties in a haze of nostalgia.

At lunch I went out and bought some Vichy Aqualia Thermal Serum because it
was on a Guardian list of best skincare products and I’m running out of
face cream. I don’t even know how to use it! It was £5 off. I wonder if it
will have any detectible effect on my skin, that wouldn’t be just as well
achieved with a £5 pot of generic moisturiser. Anyway, when I went to pay,
instead of the self-service checkout asking whether I wanted to buy a bag,
there simply were no bags. There was only a little Boots man wandering
around with a handful of bags. I told him I wanted to buy one, but I had no
change. He shoved a little paper bag into my hand and whispered, “Go, go,
run away!” which I promptly did. Hilarious.

Shopping on a real tight budget (again).

Went for a walk earlier because like Old Mother Hubbard my cupboard was bare .Didnt have a lot of cash so first stop was the fruit/veg market as they were packing up looked through a few boxes and ended up with about 40 apples.a pineapple,6 nice carrots,garlic and all for the bargain price of £0.00.Next stop a Health food place that every night puts out a few bags of goodies just reaching the sell by date ,its all perfectly good food.the haul was 200g of Cornish Camembert,125g of goats cheese,18 Glenilen Farm probiotic yoghurts 160g jars I kept 6 and redistributed the others to homeless people on my journey home.I called at Sainsburys and was able to splash out on Normandy butter ,a sunflower+honey bloomer loaf,Youngs fish ,a £4 ham and pineapple pizza so its good eating today.After washing/scrubbing the free fruit/veg it was juiced and produced 4 pints of juice better and fresher than the stuff bought in the shops.It still amazes and pisses me off the amount of good food throw away and destined for landfills while so many people are havuing a hard time and starving.Just grateful Im not one of them.

SELLING BIG ISSUES ,a honest profession.

   Its my opinion that selling Big Issues is a honest honarable way to make a living.Ive been doing it on and off from the very begining, sure Im critical of the way its run but the benefits far outweigh the negative aspects.So the wages are not the best in the world but your rewards come in the form of the great orduinary people that you meet.Im not the sort that pushes it in peoples faces,I like to think that people who buy from me do so because they want to not because Ive put pressure on them or made them feel guilty in any way.In the past year Ive had a professional fundraising org headhunting me,telling me I could make 4 times as much for less effort.Truth is if I was to shake a bucket claiming the money was for starving third world children well thats where it would have to go,not in my pocket.Im no angel and while selling Big Issues if anyone asks I tell them the money is for me and if asked I tell them my housing status.Like I say Im honest like all the other venders, we dont make a living from other peoples misery - only our own.My advice before parting with money to a charity think about how much reaches those that need it.

If hostel systems work,why do so many end up back on the streets.

My apologies for ranting about time spent in the  hostel system but in my opinion it was 6yrs of my life wasted.6 years where I had to have a keywork session with a moron every week and awnser the same questions over and over again.FFS how long does it take to asses someone and see if they are suitable for housing.Im of the opinion its a deliberate conspiracy to prove to society how essential they are in the rehabilitation of poor unfortunates like myself.Only thing is Ive never thought of  myself as unfortunate no matter what apart from the times I had to sit and listen to all their fucking crap.I put up with it because I wanted a permanent place of my own without them having acsess to my room or supported housing unit so the nosey fuckers could snoop while I was out.I often used toleave little notes for them to find but only offensive ones.They couldnt say anything about this as they shouldn have been snooping .Its a fact if I had a key to their houses and did to them what they do to their residents I would probably be branded a pervert and locked up for a long time.In a nutshell hostels dont work as most residents end up back on the streets or are kicked out for raising hell about their draconian rules.

The Drugworker

Not all of the people working for homeless orgs are money grabbing careerists,or worse stupid.sOME ARE ANGELS i DONT HAVE TO NAME THEM THEY KNOW WHO THEY ARE its a tradgedy that they are more often than not in a surbordinate position and stick with their job to genuinly help.
 I know a girl ,I say girl even though shes in her mid 40s now,she was a teenager when I met her begging on the Hungerford Bridge in the 80s.For over 20yrs she was a hard core heroin user,she knows everey trick in the book that drug users follow,maybe she even wrote it.She got of the drugs sorted her life out got a job with an org that deals with rough sleeping drug users,shes very familiar with the problems and bigotry and difficulty these people face when sorting their lives out or trying.Happy ending - no way,all she gets todo is the donkey work she feels and justibly that she is more qualified than her co-workers,she thinks she has been hired as the token ex-junkie.What a criminal waste of what could be that orgs most valuable asset.Is this her 2nd chance at life,and who could blame her if she went home everynight and stuck a needle in her arm.

  So it been established that rough sleepers have a pretty rough time,one night a outreach worker eventually finds them hidden in some out of the way place,they say I can get you a hostel place,meet me tomorrow.Let me tell you it feels like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.So you meet you go through all the procedures you think peace,safety ,escape from alcholuism ,petty crime,drug addiction  and all its related baggage,you feel exstatic but that soon wears off when you are in your cell like room ,it begins to dawn on you that what you are holding in your arms like a new born baby is not as you envisaged a pot of gold but in reality its a bucket of shit.You are so run down tired you dont care anymore so you sleep.You awake to the sound of footsteps in the coridor,keys getting pushed intolocks door slamming obcenities being shouted,youre half asleep thinking shit slop out already,you rush to get dressed looking for the bucket there is none.The door opens you have one leg in your trousers a voice booms room check ,it then dawns on you again you are not in the Holiday Inn ,but a hostel ,you dont yet know youve been sentenced to 6yrs.

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