Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The sad thing about mobile phones is that they don't work following their immersion in water. And the other sad thing is how much they cost to replace. Ow!

Anyway here's an attempt to embed a video, in this case one I shot ages ago in Kent. Lesley Claire and meself were booked to go to Venice. Unfortunately a half inch of snow prevented the airport workers from going to work, so instead we ended up in Kent on a beach near the Dungeness Nuclear Power Station. The resulting video is either utterly boring or a bit like Tarkovsky Goes To Margate, you decide.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Devon Way Back In The Day

If you're a net cognoscenti there are ways of imbedding video into a blog via Youtube.

But I'm not so if you want to see my video of an idyllic trip to Devon a couple of years back you'll have to click on this:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Kids grow up...

Scarily fast. Here's Hugo who'll be doing his GCSEs soon. He's nearly 2!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I love the hippos

The hippos in the middle of programmes may have cost the BBC 1.2 million but they're cheap at the price.
I already like them much more than the skateboarders on the tankers and the smug people doing the tango.
Hurrah for the Hippos!

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Gun Meeting

...we are all journalists now. is carrying my reporting!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lambeth's Gun Crime Meeting 4th Oct...

Posted originally by me at Urban75's excellent Brixton forum...

The meeting was attended by upwards of three hundred people at the Town Hall, some professionals, some with axes to grind, others simply concerned residents sick about what's happened.

It was firmly and competently chaired by Devon Thomas who introduced himself as a long term Brixton resident, a businessman, and Chair of the Brixton Forum. We were here, he said: "to discuss how to build a safer Lambeth". He was joined at the top table by Cllr Mark Bennett, the 'Cabinet Member for Community Safety', the Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Martin Bridger, and Jan Forson who was billed as from the 'Gun Crime Programme', more of which below.

Cllr Bennett described the recent shooting at McDonalds as 'a terrible event'. But the council was committed to working with the police, other agencies and the local community to improve the situation. He added that "Street Lighting is to be completely changed over the next couple of years" and claimed that "within three and a half years we will have changed people's perceptions of how safe they feel in Lambeth".

But he admitted that "as a Council we have been weak in Community Safety Issues" but "we will deliver services engaging young people". At this point he returned again to the idea of clean and well lit streets, and then remarked that the local authority was committed to working together with local agencies to stop "vulnerable people" in Brixton getting into problems so that "people just walking down the street will actually feel safe".

Then it was the turn of Chief Superintendent Bridger. Firstly, he said that the incidents at the Fridge and McD's were NOT connected. At the Fridge there were two Vietnamese victims who had been hurt in an incident based around what he called "a respect issue". He took great care to say that the incident had happened outside the club, the weapon was sourced and used outside the club; there was "no evidence that the firearms were in the club" and explicitly pointed out that there was no suggestion that the Fridge door security staff were incompetent.

He then turned to McDonalds and admitted he'd been "extremely shocked" by what had happened there. It was "a dreadful, dreadful thing". Two people had been arrested; his officers were continuing their investigation. But people in Lambeth should be proud of themselves, he said. "The response from the community has been superb".

Then he turned to the more general problem of firearms in Lambeth and said that when taking up his job he'd made a meeting laugh by saying that his intention was to rid Lambeth of guns. Why was that so, he asked. "There is nothing more debilitating to a community than the fear of gun crime".

"We do have a problem". But the police and others were trying something unique here that was not being tried elsewhere.

Over a year ago it seems that there was a review of some kind into the way Lambeth's various agencies (police, community workers and others), were dealing with Gun Crime. The resulting report was harshly critical, and had apparently made difficult reading for those immediately involved with the situation.

But out of this had come forth the Gun Crime Programme, until now a secret project, aimed at engaging young people either involved in or on the cusp of being involved in gun crime. The objective is to draw them back into the community, educate them and remotivate them.

"It is in the main young black boys who find themselves involved in this criminality" he said. But the courts were now signed up to the project, which seems to identify either actual or potential offenders and when/if they've been bailed, get them involved in retraining and into legitimate employment.

This programme was described as unique.

Jan Forson from the Gun Crime Programme explained to the meeting that her efforts were targetted at around fifty young people who seen as most at risk. "Young people had been disengaging" she added "their needs were not being met". In the past public money had been spent but the results weren't being made accountable.

Talking about other projects in the past which engaged young people in music making, she said: "Music, CD's...these were false promises. Young black males need educating, training and employment".

Time and again it was stressed that this new project had its roots in the community, involved people from the community, and wasn't simply being foisted on people.

Then the father of one of those shot in McDonald's rose to speak. People here "were living in despair and fear". He appealed to "each and everyone here to open our eyes and support the police in their work of reducing gun crime to zero". There was warm applause.

A lot of community workers and councillors then made sure they got their turn with the roving mike. One councillor claimed that the "Adventure Playground" in Railton Road, which another speaker said had been allowed to fall into disuse, was going to have significant funds spent on it and then claimed that it could be a site where London children could start their training for the 2012 Olympics - once Health and Safety Issues were sorted out.

A businessman asked why there were so many drug dealers allowed to work freely on CHL and in other places; the Chief Super replied that 570 people had been arrested since last December and that at virtually any given time in Brixton police station someone would be under arrest and being processed for drug dealing.

But he said the police faced a challenge from what he called "the wider court system". Time and time again offenders would be released, he claimed.

One resident who said he was confronted regularly by dealers on Somerleyton Road operating as early as 4am asked if Brixton was effectively a zone of tolerance for drug dealing, and at this there was a sound of lots of people around him agreeing. But the police officer denied that completely.

"I have taken a Positive Arrest Approach to Cannabis dealing" he said, and there had been significant seizures of crack cocaine in Lambeth recently.

The meeting broke up at just after ten; lots of things were said that were worthwhile and interesting by people dealing with young people involved with drugs and guns which I haven't recorded here; I certainly felt enlightened, but also aware that people in South London face a massive challenge, from education right through to law enforcement and the courts, if this dreadful situation is going to be sorted long term.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

On facing up to the latest Scorsese Movie...

I think people around Scorsese have long since stopped saying 'No' because it's gospel in Hollywood that he's possessed of a god Like genius. With no limits on his artistic licence he's burdened us with expensive self indulgent crap like 'Gangs Of New York'.
It's all a shame because Taxi Driver, King of Comedy and Raging Bull are three peerless films, and Goodfellas is without flaw.
But I just have to admit to myself that he's off the pace. I quite liked the thing about Howard Hughes, 'The Aviator' but it was clear that he's forgotten how to edit - at least half an hour too long.
Now he's doing a remake of Infernal Affairs, which is a silly macho film which worships guns. DeCaprio is in it, and he's the very embodiement of an over rated talent and we know from 'Cold Mountain' that poor Ray Winstone struggles with accents.
I'll go, of course, and I hope I love it, but I fear the worst.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Monday, September 18, 2006

People are Tight Bastards

Holy Moly's take on the London newspaper wars:
"Free Newspaper Readers"
If you cunts can spend £200 per month commuting to work whilst listening to your £150 iPods and wearing your fuckknowshowmuch designer gear and drinking a £2.75 chocafuckingmochalatte coffee, then surely you can spare 35p to buy yourself a fucking newspaper, you tight, metro reading cunts."
This is a site that tells it like it is. Go and add your own observations.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Friday, September 08, 2006

Going or Staying

Why does Tony Blair feel it's worth risking humiliation to remain Prime Minister? It's an irony of the position that the very things worth doing the job for make you steadily less suitable to do it. But being PM is addictive and holders of the job generally have to be prised out of the door.

The perks are sensational. The houses spring to mind; Chequers is reportedly fabulous in the Summer, with its staff and swimming pool, and of course there's the convenience and centrality of Downing Street. When the PM picks up the phone he can speak to anyone he likes, with the possible exception of Osama Bin Laden. If you want to go anywhere, cheerful plain clothes detectives bring up a convoy of Range Rovers, or an aircraft of your own can be used. Want to meet a celebrity? Anyone interesting can be invited for lunch by your office. Dinner at the Ivy? That's very fixable too.

Against this amazing access to life's finer things and people has to be set the continual scrutiny by opponents and the media; the constraints on one's personal behaviour (it's unacceptable for a PM to lose his temper or even express himself honestly with anyone other than a small number of people who won't ring the papers or pop the incident in a memoir) and the fact that a variety of terrorists and nutters would love you to meet a bloody end. Indeed, some are possibly conspiring to make it happen.

The effect of these distortions is to set the leader apart from the swing of natural life. He never sits in a traffic queue. He virtually never buys anything in a shop, and he was in opposition the last time he experienced the pain of paying for petrol himself. It's unlikely the postcode lottery for health care has an impact on the PM's life, or those of his immediate family members. He spends no time in a pub where he might meet disgruntled voters. In short, he's in a bubble. Bubble Blair.

Of course things do get through to BB; the papers, provides he bothers - John Major infamously gave up looking at them. TV plays its part, and I've never believed Prime Ministerial expressions of naivety when it comes to the Internet. He knows what a browser is for, I'm quite sure. His family see more of real life and Blair says they inform him of it at breakfast.

But the addiction lies not so much in the perks as the centrality of the role. When the phone rings, it could be George Bush, or Kofi Annan, or Jacques Chirac. Blair knows phone traffic after BB bursts will be very dull by comparison. He'll give lectures and be well paid, but what's that next to PMQ's? Then there'll be the temptation to be a back seat driver and whine at Brown's moves; even Thatcher gave vent at times, appearing on ITN to demand policy changes on Bosnia.

It's easy to snipe and meddle; and as nostalgia overtakes the party for the man they dumped, he'll be tempted to become the focus of alienated backbenchers and peers.

And disturbingly, Blair doesn't strike me as a man with a hinterland; indeed apart from tennis I have no idea if he has any hobbies. He'll write the book, and again he'll be well paid. But he'll be in a wintry landscape and he might give way to bitterness. I'd reflect though, if I were him, that Churchill too had wilderness years. And when his country needed him, the phone rang.

Monday, September 04, 2006

This is me in Miami last year, look into my eyes, see the corruption and despair.

A remarkable Poem

Five years ago this week Ms T and I flew to the States for what we were quite positive was going to turn out to be the holiday of a lifetime. Events the following morning changed all our lives; ending some three thousand prematurely and fully raising the curtain on a war of contrasting beliefs which we may not see the end of this century.

Occasionally I think: this is the one that does for us all, but then that's what participants and bystanders have thought about most wars for centuries.

We were staying in a small hotel in the Nob Hill district of San Francisco, which wasn't en suite. I was padding back from the loo and I could hear people's TV's on, talking about some sort of air crash. I'd promised Ms T that I'd try to cold turkey off my news addiction but on the telly went and we sat with the rest of the world and watched it all live.

Eventually we tore ourselves away and went to have breakfast with stunned and quiet Americans. We walked into town, to find one of the most vibrant cities in the world deserted and the shops shut or closing.

Bars that had the previous night shown American football now all had TV news on in the corner, with the same dreadful set of images. A transistor radio relayed the words of a president utterly at sea. He got into his stride later, but for those hours it felt like the World's most powerful country was in a panicked spin.

Even though I was in the States at the time I've always found it easier to empathise with Americans generally rather than the people in the Towers; not sure why - too big a leap of imagination for me to make.

That was until today when I came across this extraordinary poem by Simon Armitage, which will no doubt become famous in the weeks to come.{bc1915ab-648e-4fb8-94ef-12f9747146a7}/{bca8e807-2006-4fde-93e3-d9127254014f}/outoftheblue.pdf

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Thoughts about the Cricket

When institutions are in trouble - and Cricket is an institution - mistakes by individuals reveal weaknesses in their organisations. At the Oval last week poor decision making has revealed the game to be in the hands of immature personnel.

We the ticket buying public will never really find out the truth about the orginal ball ball tampering allegation because the offending object has been locked in an ICC safe.
But it was a mistake by the umpire Darrell Hair to rush into the situation without discussion with the Pakistan captain Inzamam, and the skipper then compounded that mistake by making another, which was to keep his team in the dressing room. This led to the forfeiture of the match and, incidentally, the robbery of cricket fans of their afternoon's entertainment. Everyone involved with the game should be ashamed that this breach of trust happened; even if the various officials can patch this mess up, the cricketting public will feel quite rightly that while they may be paying for the circus, the clowns are doing their own thing.

Having created an explosive row with racist dimensions, Hair then compromised himself with the offer to walk for $500,000. He's since characterised this as a rush of blood to the head; but if you read his e-mail closely it transpires that far from being a three line offer it's infact a many claused document which was almost certainly written with the assistance of a lawyer. Significantly it takes pains to leave Hair the option of legal action against everyone involved, even after he gets his pay off. And amazingly the ICC's initial response was that it might have some merit. There are figures in the Cricket establishment who are arguing that we needn't have been shown those e-mails. I'm glad we were.

Of course, nobody will resign, and this morning's papers even contain the fantastic notion that Hair might even umpire again somewhere. Nobody at the ICC seems to be considering their future, and of course Pakistan are laughing - they've no need to fear the disciplinary procedure after the people imposing the rules are now such ludicrous figures.

This is business as usual in Cricket which is played and run by many eccentrics with a taste for the good life. But it's paid for by real money earned by you and I; and if you sat in the fading light at the Oval wondering what was going on, or in front of an expensive subscription TV box looking at a closed dressing room door, you have a right to feel annoyed this morning.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Out and about in Chelsea..

.,Ms T manages to find her Nirvana- a farmers market. Happiness is an organic carrot.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ms T's veg box

My other half's veg box is a weekly collection of colour and texture. But as you fondle the tomatoes one can't help wondering about the nationality of the picker and his likely pay rate. This is a modern ethical dilemma for the middle class, though not as big as 4WD ownership, which has them lying awake in Notting Hill.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

At the Cricket

The rain barely interfered with the bacchanalia. Sadly england underperformed, perhaps because they'd already won the series.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006