Crucial Camping Equipment Collected from Wadebridge

Amazing work!

UK Action for Refugees

The Wadebridge Cornish Refugee Aid Collection passed on a mini-van full of tents, tarpaulins, roll mats and sleeping bags earlier today. After a warm reception, Marion Willets and Emma Harris showed us to the wealth of donations which were kindly given to them by their local community.

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This equipment is crucial in sheltering refugees on their arrival from Turkey, especially crucial when you consider that #winter is coming.

A huge thanks to the guys in Wadebridge, let’s keep the ball rolling!

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Tourists

I work in Piccadilly, right next to Piccadilly Circus. There are always loads of tourists frantically photographing.

Although sometimes tourists can be frustrating, especially if you’re in a rush, I really like the fact that I get to see so many people trying to take a piece of Piccadilly home with them. Taking their selfies or pictures of their loved ones to try and remember this moment later on. All the different snapshots of the same scene, the same moment, but taken back to different homes and remembered in different ways.

Here are some photographs from my walk home.

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Shambala

After years of hearing from lots of people I love and respect that Shambala is the ‘perfect festival’ we spent this August bank holiday having our own Adventures in Utopia.

Taking the shuttle bus down to the site was encouraging as it seemed to be full of interesting lovely people, which is always a good sign. As we approached I got my first burst of full on excitement. Although I had been vaguely looking forward to this, I hadn’t gotten properly excited until we were actually walking in. You can really see the efforts that the organisers have put in just walking up, it really feels like a lot of love, thought and attention have gone into it.

First impressions were of glorious sunshine, people meandering about all looking genuinely pleased to see everyone and anyone and lots of glitter and dressing up. You walk through pools of live music, bass and engaging conversations. It feels like as soon as you get on site everyone’s barriers just drop and we can all revert back to being the friendly lovely creatures we all should be.

I managed to kill my phone battery before we arrived (HOW??) so used a disposable camera. My logic being that if/when I lost it it wouldn’t be as painful or expensive as losing my DSLR.

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On our first night we poked our heads in to the Wandering Word tent and found John Fairhurst playing – bloody brilliant as per.

The next day was glorious and we really explored the site. We found a tent filled with board games and couches, so Matt of course sat down to play chess. For 3 hours. There is a real nice family feel to the festival with lots of stuff for kids to do. I think the fact that there are so many kids and families means people are on better behavior. Nothing like a child’s youthful glow to make you pause before racking up a line.

We also stumbled across the People’s Front Room and saw a wicked sick band called Toyface – Completely captivating and strangely comforting for content that at points managed to upset me. So yeah, that was delightfully confusing.

Eska also really impressed and we grabbed an EP. Clever and brilliantly put together, these guys were amazing.

Night time is always a little more blurry but at some point we definitely ended up at the top of a tree in the woods with Walk. We met a lovely girl who looked like she had collapsed on the floor, it turned out she was just having a very intense trip. We stayed with her and found her friends. Having someone insist that they can see your love dancing between your eyes is always enjoyable to be near, even if they do think that we’re currently in Kyoto. Karma decided to full on reward us and we ended up getting free whiskies at the bar, seeing some amazing bands we wouldn’t have, bumping into a friend from Matt’s studio who was DJing and generally having an incredible night.

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Sunday was a bit of a struggle, a highlight definitely included being in the Social Club with some friends listening to Captain Hotknives. Classic one liners and getting group of children screaming ‘I hate babies!’ – hilarious and warming. The Social Club also were responsible for the cutest thing I saw over the weekend which was a line of kids learning to beat box.  We then rounded the whole thing off with some good old Honeyfeet. I have already expressed my love for them here so will keep my gushing to a minimum but it was a special way to end the whole thing.

Everyone was on a really similar wavelength and I felt so free and accepted there. To the point where sometimes I’m on the tube now in London genuinely sad that life cannot be Shambala everyday. What I took from it though is that it is possible to create and build Utopia ourselves, everyday. Especially when we collectivize and treat each other with love and kindness. Usually after a festival I’m completely wiped out but after I got home I actually felt invigorated and full of positivity. I don’t know about ‘perfect’ festival, but better would be difficult.

Facebook as a platform for expressing our politics

As most of you probably do, I have a very mixed bunch of people as ‘friends’ on Facebook. I have people I went to school with that I haven’t seen for years, people I met on random nights out in uni and have only met in person once and other humans I have come into contact with. It is a great tool for staying in touch with people.

There is a huge range of views and opinions held by this number of people. Recently, with the election and then with the latest refugee crisis, people are using it as a platform to express their political beliefs. Whilst it is great to see people getting politically engaged, it is very difficult to see people expressing opinions that I genuinely think are abhorrent. Seeing people express things that do not seem to be based on facts or research, but instead appear to be based on gut feelings and a frenzied media. I want to comment on their statuses with links to articles, or other opinions but I know that this will rapidly devolve into an internet argument with people that I don’t want to hurt or cause offense to.

I find it difficult to know how to act. The way I was raised is to question opinions that you think are based on prejudice and fear rather than facts, as these opinions can fester into dangerous and irresponsible actions. Also, I may be mistaken, so the general idea is to provoke reasoned debate. Tricky to do through words on a screen which can be taken with so many different tones and feelings, many of which the writer has never felt or meant to imply.

Often though this will devolve into a petty, frustrating and public argument with someone instead of opening up a rational dialogue.

So then, what can you do? Hide them from your feed? Only let your opinions that bolster up your own into your line of sight? I don’t want to be narrow minded. I don’t want my opinions to never come under influence from those that are hugely different. The thing is , at the moment, most of the stuff I see being expressed that makes me feel bad doesn’t seem to have any basis in research. I’ve seen statuses which start ‘I reckon’ and then say stuff about refugees. You reckon?? With all of this knowledge available to you through the internet, you haven’t even tried to learn the truth?

People I have known for years posting things like ‘share if you agree that our homeless veterans should be looked after before refugees’. Mate, I have known you for over a decade, when people suggest helping homeless people you say ‘what about pensioners rather than drug addicts?’. Instead of seeing us all as one beautiful tribe, when it comes to actually putting someone else’s interests before your own you will narrow the scope of ‘us’ own until it’s just your immediate family, if they’re lucky.

I am frustrated. I am so frustrated. And I bet I’m pissing people off and frustrating them with my statuses as well. I wish that Facebook lead to us actually meeting up and talking our different views.

The main problems with this in my mind seem to be:

  • Facebook is a public platform. Who wants to have an opinion that they are passionate about ripped to shreds in front of someone they went to school with, their mum’s best mate and all of their friends from high school? You feel a pressure to not look like a tit because everything is there in black and white for people to read and reread.
  • Facebook doesn’t have established etiquette to help guide our communication. As a relatively new medium for communication different people tend to have different ideas of what is acceptable to say to each other on here. For some people unfriending someone is a huge deal and for others it isn’t. Nothing is really standardised so it can be difficult to know how to communicate without causing offence. Even when we type something politely because there isn’t the tone and body language that we get from a face-to-face interaction the subtleties of the message are often lost.
  • The image we present on Facebook isn’t a true reflection of who we are. There are some people who will share a picture on Facebook without having looked into where the actual images are from and without considering it’s implication. Britain First are brilliant at doing this, creating seemingly innocuous memes and getting people to share them. There is often a generational difference in this, I have noticed that younger generations tend to be more skeptical about what they read on the internet. Often then, an image of someone’s character is being created which doesn’t really exist. This can go both ways, someone can be a clicktivist all they want and actually never going out of their way for anyone.

On top of all this, people are used to posting statuses and not really thinking about it. For so long Facebook has been a way for us to express whatever we’re thinking at the time, whether that’s about night’s out, what you had for dinner or how much you’re enjoying your holiday – it’s not exactly stuff you need to back up with research. When you are expressing opinions about extremely complicated issues on a platform you are used to expressing opinions about how your hair looks, it is less likely you will give those issues due consideration.

I am trying to be more understanding of people whose opinions are at total odds with my own, I hope they’ll try to be more understanding too.

Woodburner @ Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

Last night we spent a warm August evening at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden for Woodburner.
The previous Woodburner events we have attended have been at Chats Palace in Homerton, the music quality is always brilliant. First time at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden and it is the perfect setting for this time of year. The garden is nicely designed with a wooden pavilion and seating scattered amongst the flowerbeds. The whole event was really nicely done and really made me appreciate the fact it was summertime. Everything was beautiful; the music, environment and people.
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There was also amazing pizza. Seriously good. A big queue and we had to wait over an hour, but it was actually worth it when it got here.

Felix Hagan was first to play. I was a bit gutted to miss some of his performance but what I did hear was a quality musician and clever writer.

I did catch Swallow and the Wolf who treated the floor-seated audience to a lovely set. A two piece based in London, I’ll definitely be seeking them out again – their performance felt oddly intimate. Both comforting and refreshing, I’m keen to hear more.

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Very beautiful sounds, you can get their 3-track EP Fire in the following places:

i-tunes – http://goo.gl/3NoOxz
youtube – http://goo.gl/P0CoAd
spotify – http://goo.gl/Oq0AMJ

Next up was Shyfinger! It was a welcome surprise for us to see some familiar faces, although Matt now claims that there is a direct correlation between my proximity to people I know from Manchester and how Northern my voice is. It was my first time seeing Ellis and Biff in this particular incarnation, Shyfinger are dangerously strong – as to be bloody expected.

Here is a video of them for your ears and eyes to feast upon! It was recorded as part of the Sessions of March (a killer project created by some of my favourite people as part of a cause close to my heart).

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden is a wicked space for Woodburner and they are there every Tuesday for the rest of the summer – check out the line ups here and get yourself over!

Have a listen to – Parshmaune

With the sad news that PITP would not be going ahead this year, I have been revisiting some of the bands from last years fundraisers and the festival. If the festival itself cannot happen then let’s try and celebrate the music that goes into it.

One particular favourite from last year is Parshmaune. I first heard of these guys because of Party in the Park and then coincidentally met Zuri (part of the collective) whilst volunteering at a different event.

They are a collective working from London who have been writing and playing together for a while now. Their music is pretty intense, deep jazz foundations with a modern flavour.

They are deliberately ambiguous in how they describe themselves – preferring to do this through an absence of labels and expectations. I like that as it means you have to consider their music without help and if you are the type of person who needs to put things in boxes, you’ll have to build your own.

I find Jazz as a genre intimidating to wrap words around as I lack the nomenclature and knowledge to describe it properly. However in basic terms I can say there is a lot about these guys I like. I like the way that there is no compromising to make it more commercial and no fear of stepping outside prescribed boundaries. I find the video less considered than the music, but to me it makes the music more evocative as it gives me a reference point to latch the music onto. I feel like it expresses my own feelings at living in and travelling through London. There are a lot of complicated thoughts tied in with that, but basically feeling stimulated past saturation and rushed through something beautiful. As you can see from my crude attempts to express that through words it is extra-linguistic!

Please give them some love and attention:

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My thoughts on ‘Girl destroys feminism in 3 minutes’

There is a clip doing the rounds on social media called ‘Girl destroys feminism in 3 minutes’. As a feminist, I am naturally curious about how anyone can deconstruct and ‘destroy’ what seems to me a rational and ethical idea. It is important to me to challenge my own views and opinions, especially ones that have an element of intuition rather than being purely empirical.

After watching the video, there are a few main elements that bother me.

Firstly, the video is being circulated as clickbait. The person who created it had given it a different title. However it seems that she has the same goals as the people who have renamed it – gain attention. This is common on the internet, as James Gleick said; when information becomes cheap, attention becomes expensive.

It almost, but not quite, goes without saying that the title of this video is designed to aggravate, as well as gain attention. There is a current trend for overly emotional language in clickbait social media articles. This is particularly annoying to me, things like ‘The first 3 pictures brought me to tears, but the last destroyed me’, ‘wife cheats on husband but he has the ULTIMATE revenge’ ‘what this son does for his dying father is unbelievable’. This video follows a similar trend. The woman in the video is not destroying feminism, not even slightly. You can’t destroy an idea which has had such positive wide reaching social and legal implications. Well, you can, but not in three minutes.  This constant frivolous use of language that is meant to describe the pinnacle of human emotion means we all gradually become numb to it, it starts losing all meaning. It is like being exposed to anything extreme for long enough; drugs, booze, violence in films – you build up a tolerance.

By framing this video under that title you are classifying it as content that is designed to make us click and move on. Not as content to be taken seriously and raise awareness for the issues it contains.  The other thing contained within the title is a time limit – 3 minutes. Why bother to read reams of literature, reports and statistics to formulate your own opinion when for the low time investment of 3 minutes you can learn everything you need to justify a gut feeling! We are in the spasms of an age which is seeking to reduce our attention span. Complex issues, like gender equality and the history surrounding it, take a good deal of concentration to consider. It is increasingly common that people cannot hold their minds together to read to the end of an article. Even once it has been read, time is needed to digest it, to reflect upon it and then come to your conclusion. In our information age, you can just keep endlessly scrolling down for new images, videos and soundbites to entertain you.

The video starts by the speaker introducing herself. She explains that a few years ago she held up a sign which said ‘I don’t need feminism…’ and was then surprised when it went viral. She also mentioned that she has had a lot of hate and criticism for doing this. Creating a deliberately controversial image of yourself is obviously going to be a pathway for criticism. However, I do not think that there is really ever an excuse for hurling hate and vitriol at someone from behind a keyboard. Lots of people do it. It is cowardly. As with most things though, I have to consider – what were her motives in making this sign? We all have lots of opinions that we don’t feel the need to write on card, photograph and upload onto social media. To me, the goal was to get attention. That’s fine. It’s actually completely understandable when so many of us have confused feelings about approval, attention and validation wrapped up in social media. However, do not then feign surprise when you get stick for it.

After introducing herself, she then makes a new statement ‘Third wave feminism is not a movement for equality’. Why didn’t her sign say this? Why isn’t this the video’s title? It will not get the same attention. She then lists instances of positive discrimination and highlights societal issues that are more prevalent for men than women. As far as I can tell, this is the ‘destruction’. The clarification of the original statement she held up on card tells me that she has, since writing it, read up and educated herself. Fantastic. If you are going to post deliberately controversial images of yourself on the internet then learning about the subject you are criticising is wise.

This is the other thing that bothers me about the video. She mixes in unreferenced facts, statements without context and genuine issues. As if the truth and humanity behind concern for male rape victims somehow justifies and validates the rest. It doesn’t.  For most of her statements there is a complete removal of context. What is equality? This in itself is a huge thing to consider. To some, apparently including the creator of the video, equality is treating everyone the same. Women have been viewed, and in a lot of places still are viewed, not only as different to men, but lesser than men. Placing less value on a woman than a man is still extremely common globally. I have seen this video shared in places on the internet with disgusting comments about women following it. Did the author know when she made this video that it would be used to encourage negative views about an entire gender? Feminists are not campaigning because they hate men, they are doing so because there is a huge difference between how a person is valued and how the law say they should be treated. It is only recently that we have legislation to try to promote equality between genders; it is short-sighted to think that this legislation can completely turn around how society values women.

I saw a response recently to the attempt by some to change #BlackLivesMatter into #AllLivesMatter which struck a chord. ‘Do people who change #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter run through a cancer fundraiser going ‘THERE ARE OTHER DISEASES TOO’. There are societal problems facing both genders, if you feel strongly about the issues facing men then by all means campaign on their behalf instead of trying to tear apart what others are doing. The reason that there are things like safe houses for women is that yearly 100 women are killed by a current or former partner. (UK) The figure is for men is 30, under a third of these are killed by women against whom they have a documented history of abuse. There should of course be more support for men in these terrible situations, so why not put your efforts and energies into that instead.

The video is classic inflammatory clickbait disguised as one person ‘telling it like it is’. Three minutes is not long enough to properly consider the history of these issues; it is dangerous to make statements without context and to actively engage in creating media that attempts to undermine movements created for equality.

Small White Elephant

Deep in the heart of Peckham, just off Rye Lane, lives our favourite coffee shop – Small White Elephant.  It was one of the best things about living in Peckham, which is saying a lot as the place is starting to contains a lot of coffee shops and artisan bakeries…

There is nothing wrong with an abundance of coffee shops; café culture has been a traditional part of European social culture for hundreds of years. People have used them to write, read, discuss ideas and entertain. As with many proponents of commercialism, multinational coffee outlets have appropriated this rich and positive aspect of our culture and reproduced it at a much lower cost but at the same time stripping it of its original charm through their inherent homogeny.  Small White Elephant is a welcome relief from these bland identikits.

Orange on the outside, cosy and tropical on the inside it is like being inside a secret treehouse. I particularly enjoy all the toy dinosaurs and large novelty mushrooms. Matt likes the constantly changing art and their choices in music. Especially the music.  Through this place he first heard one of his now favourites, Karen Dalton.

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The food is hearty and healthy, think lots of avocado, chorizo and brownies. Many a morning have we sat there trying to quell our hangover’s rage by tricking it with vitamins and caffeine. The Vietnamese coffee is delicious. You have to wait for it to drip, so it takes a little longer. The coffee is dark and rich, served with a little condensed milk in the bottom of the glass. It is a wonderful combination of sweetness and stimulant.

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They also have the occasional late night there, we went to a couple of jazz gigs, and they have poetry evenings.  There is also a big bookshelf right at the back, which operates a policy I usually see in hostels of ‘give a book, take a book’. I’m a fan of these magical bookshelves with unlooked for treasures.

What I like the most about this place is the eye for quality with lack of pretensions. There is interesting art, killer music choices and a warm, friendly environment. The whole place seems to have been carefully designed to replenish the body and refresh the mind. Jen and Dale are lovely and make you feel completely welcome.

My laptop still proudly bears the Small White Elephant sticker, although it’s looking a little bit worse for wear these days…

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If you live around the Camberwell/Peckham area, go and have a nosy – it’s bloody lovely.

Isle of Wight

London in summertime is great and all but it does feel good to get out of the city. We planned to go and visit Matt’s mother at her home on the Isle of Wight.

A characteristically stuttered start, Matt nearly missed the train, but soon we were sat down with a couple of cans of G&T (classy…) and some pasties with golden fields rushing past us. It’s a surprisingly short trip to Portsmouth and it feels like you’re in a completely different part of the world once you arrive.

The houseboat is beautiful, as you would expect when two artists built the thing themselves and then decorated it. It sits in a harbour, the sea facing end is a wall of glass doors. You sit on the balcony and let the sky, sea and wine take their effect.

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It is such a relaxing place to be. Matt took me there back when we still lived in Manchester , it’s the perfect place to heal.

A couple of days after arriving we went out in the boat to Portsmouth for lunch, and then to watch the annual ’round the island’ race. Started in 1931, this is a 50 mile race around the island and people compete with varying degrees of seriousness. Over 1700 boats regularly attend from around the UK, Europe and parts of America. An impressive spectacle, it’s a lot of money and privilege to witness all in one sitting.

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This little guy was there to wave us off…

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Due to some massive oversight, I was allowed to drive our little boat. Feeling like James Bond, I took us into Portsmouth and managed to catch a lot of sun. Apparently even James Bond is not immune to a little sunburn.

There was a lot of walking to gorgeous places, everything smelt slightly sea stained.

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We had breakfast in the sunshine and just generally chilled out, as well as working on plans for our next venue project.

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Cannot wait to go back!