Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Here is an interesting blog posting about James T Bone, author of The London Perambulator - the book I stole the title from for my film
Green Living - Out and About - Will modern-day flaneurs help rebuild fragmented communities? - The Ecologist

Friday, January 09, 2009

Studio Idealyc’s pyramid scheme - Building Design

This article came in on the National Psychogeographic newsfeed - looks at a new development in Spa Fields Islington and how the structure relates to the psychogepgraphy of London. Spa Fields is somewhere I keep being drawn back to - the collision of radical history, mythology connected to springs and wells, pleasure gardens and transgression and how this seems indellably imprinted on the landscape.
Studio Idealyc’s pyramid scheme - Building Design

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Community chest - New Satesman

by Liana Wood (Published 11 December 2008)Observations on local organisers

More than 1,300 people crowded into York Hall in November for the 12th Annual Assembly of the East London Communities Organisation (Telco). Among the groups represented at the venue, an old Victorian baths in Bethnal Green in the East End of London, now transformed into a modern leisure centre, were churches, mosques, trade unions, charities and schools.
This kind of community organising, not limited to labour groups or religious affiliation, appears to be gathering momentum. London Citizens, a grass-roots charity that acts as the umbrella group to Telco, South London Citizens and West London Citizens, has 120 affiliated organisations. A similar group in north London and others in cities across the UK are being planned and tried out by the Citizen Organising Foundation - the national training institute.
"Politics does not just exist in Westminster," says Neil Jameson, lead organiser of London Citizens. "What we are doing helps counter the feeling that politics is far removed from people's lives."
The media may give it very little recognition, he says, but London Citizens' Living Wage campaign has achieved unprecedented success. The London Olympic organising committee has pledged to pay a living wage (at present £7.45 an hour in the capital) to those working on the 2012 games, and Barclays has set a private-sector precedent with a similar agreement.
Further afield, the next occupant of the White House is the world's best-known community organiser. Barack Obama, director of the Developing Communities Project on Chicago's South Side in the 1980s, has brought recognition to the occupation. And during the US election campaign, as Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Rudy Giuliani mocked community organisers, it seemed only to raise their profile.
Dave Smith, 23, who works on Telco's campaign for affordable housing, says: "Reading about Obama first interested me in the concept of community organising. The theory behind it made a lot of sense. People lead such multilayered lives these days, so grass-roots politics has to organise around all aspects of citizenry."
"It's great to have one of us in the White House," Jameson acknowledges, "but we have to raise all the money for what we do ourselves. This kind of politics is tough, but is also alive and real."
original article here:

Monday, September 22, 2008

Buyer Found for Newcastle United

An end is in sight for the Geordie Nation's woe. A Nigerian businessman says he is leading a bid to buy Newcastle United. "The consortium has raised £350m," said the chief executive of NVA Management Chris Nathaniel in an email requesting bank details into which to transfer the necessary funds.
Sounds like an offer too good to refuse and he is even offering a 1% bonus and shares in the Toon for anybody willing to provide their full banking details.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Russell Brand Neo-Situationist Revolutionary

I've long been of the opinion that had Lenny Bruce found his way to Paris and mated with a drunken Guy Debord then the resulting child reared in front of a flickering screen irraditing the infant's brain with images of 'Ripping Yarns' and 'Pete and Dud' followed by 'Black Adder' and 'Filthy, Rich and Catflap' for dessert with Radio 4 on in the background and books on the English Radical Tradition lying around open on the floor - then that child would be Russell Brand the comedian. To prove my point have a look at this footage of him leading the audience from one of his shows onto Hastings Pier.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The New Wave of the Free Spirit

A new wave of protest movement is emerging in Europe that does much to harken back to the "revolutionary millenarians and mystical anarchists of the middle ages" (Norman Cohn).
The Hamburg and Dresden for Free collectives engage in bold, often humorous actions underpinned by a belief that goods should be held in common. They raid expensive supermarkets dressed as superheroes stealing goods which are then redistributed among the low-paid workers and unemployed. In another stunt they marched into an exclusive Hamburg restaurant dressed in carnival masks plucking food from the plates of the millionaire diners and hoisted a banner aloft proclaiming "The Fat Years Are Over". Their slogan of , "Everything for everybody. And everything for free" recalls the English Ranters of the 17th Century who declared "All Is Ours" as they preached against contemporary morality and private property.

The call of the ‘For Free’ movements for "the reappropriation of privatised previously public spaces" is an echo of Winstanley’s Diggers setting up camp on St George’s Hill in the belief that the land was a common treasury.

The Spanish anti-consumer activists YoMango! say that their politics is "the politics of happiness, of putting the body first. Be happy, insultingly happy. YOMANGO: feel pretty!" and extol people to liberate goods from shops, creatively shoplift in the name of the higher ideals of their cause. They are also summoning up the same form of antinomianism that adepts of the Free Spirit used to justify their displays of public nudity, fornication and blasphemy in the medieval streets and squares.

So why are we falling back on ideas and forms of protest 500 years old? Probably because the problem remains the same, that capitalism still commodifies the spirit, the wealthy still insist on stealing our space and seek to further encroach upon the few freedoms we have left with pervasive surveillance and biometric ID cards. Public land is sold off and turned into shopping malls and luxury apartments. Even the building blocks of life, the DNA of living organisms is being patented by multinational corporations. In light of actions such as these, donning fancy dress costumes and entertaining corpulent diners for free seems to be quite a mild response.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Marsh Lane Land Grab - appeal for help

I received this by email from the New Lammas Land Defence Committee.
"As we expect you already know, on 12th June the LB Waltham Forest’s Planning Committee granted approval for part of our former Lammas Lands at Marsh Lane Fields on Leyton Marshes to be fenced off from public use in order to relocate some of the Manor Gardening Society allotment-holders from Eastway Allotments in LB Newham.

About a third of the plot-holders at Eastway have, sadly, given up; others are still trying to get permission to remain where they are, which we also believe they should be allowed to.This was the third major land-grab of open spaceoutside the currently designated Olympics site.

What happens next at Marsh Lane Fields will influence what happens in the future elsewhere in green open spaces surrounding the actual site - especially in the part of Leyton that falls in the Borough of Newham (where Major Road Open Space has been fenced off for relocating a Gypsy Traveller community) and Hackney Wick (where yet another part of Hackney Marshes on Homerton Road has been taken for families from another displaced Traveller community) as well as in other parts of Waltham Forest.

Any help would be very welcome indeed - if we were to give up without a squeak it wouldn’t be much inspiration to others in the future - however, this is not a likely prospect and we are preparing to fight this all the way !

We would welcome any offer of help, even if just over the coming week or so when we are all so very busy and the deadlines are so urgent?

The situation is serious and we really do need to work at it NOW if we are to save our Lammas Lands on Leyton Marshes!

For a view from the allotment-holders’perspective (bearing in mind that not all hold exactly the same opinion about what course to take) please see their www.lifeisland. com website, or visit the Games Monitor website which has in-depth analysis from a number of perspectives.

There is also a nascent NLLDC website under construction at but there’s very little on it at present and it has not yet been officially launched.For more information please contact marshlane@umbilical ukMany thanks for any help you can give us!!
New Lammas Lands Defence Committee.

Also have a look at this short video I made about the Lammas Lands back in December when the threat first emerged.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Taking Liberties

You must go and see the film 'Taking Liberties', essential viewing. It's far from flawless, in fact technically it's all a bit sloppy. But the film is driven by a strong and compelling polemic that the Blair government are slowly eroding our basic civil liberties. Whether you believe that we are already living in a police state or not the argument put forward in this film will leave you very unsettled.
It covers such shocking incidents as the Fairford Peace protestors who were locked on their coaches and forcibly taken back to London. An act that contravenes the government's own Human Rights Act. And the arrests of the two students arrested for reading out the names of dead Iraqis at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.
The situation is even grimmer than the film suggests with the introduction of new stop and search powers for the police and PM-elect Gordon Brown voicing support for a 90 day dentention period without charge - things that would have been abhorant (and illegal) even in the Middle Ages.
But don't just go and see the film, join the fightback. I shall be going down to Parliament Square on June 20th to join Mark Thomas' Mass Lone Demonstrations ('Return Tothill to the Druids!' will be my protest). Or sign up against ID cards with the NO2ID campaign (ironic that they want a lot of details from you to join the campaign though). Or just write a lot of annoying letters to your MP.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A parasitic blog on Oliver Kamm’s "A parody of democracy"

A good day for political bloggers. In Oliver Kamm’s Guardian column instead of justifying slaughter in Iraq and the genocidal policies of the IMF he turned his myopic sight on the desperately important question of the quality of political blogs.
Brilliantly crap stuff it is too. I shall critique it and in the process prove both us right – that blogs are parasitic on the traditional media (good material just can’t be turned down).

Kamm gets indignant that blogging "is a democratic medium, allowing anyone to participate in political debate without an intermediary, at little or no cost. But it is a direct and not deliberative form of democracy. You need no competence to join in." This would go completely against everything that establishment politics seeks to deny. From the Guardian to The Monday Club the message pumped out is "leave it to the experts…we were born, bred and educated to do this". Blogging circumvents the old boys networks and factional politics that would have Kamm, Paxman, Blair and Cameron where they are today. That’s why they hate it. The intermediaries that Kamm refers to are the gatekeepers and whips who control the paradigm, make sure that the argument, Right or Left, stays within the parameters that protect the status quo.

"A self-selecting group of the politically motivated who have time on their hands." Who’s Kamm referring to here? MP’s, journalists, broadcasters, CEO’s. That sentence would neatly sum them up, but no, he aims this jibe at me and you, the bloke(ess) at home or work with a PC and about 25 minutes to bash something out before doing the washing-up, looking at a flickering PC screen in a badly lit office, or whatever other mundane, soul-destroying tasks occupy our day.

"Blogs are providers not of news but of comment. …they are purely parasitic on the stories and opinions that traditional media provide. If, say, Polly Toynbee or Nick Cohen did not exist, a significant part of the blogosphere (a grimly pretentious neologism) would have no purpose and nothing to react to." This is firstly a bit rich for a fella writing, for cash, in the comments pages of the newspaper. So what if we provide comment, so do you, you fraud.

The next bit I took personally because on this sparse blog I’ve managed to respond to both of those fake-lefties Cohen and Toynbee. But of course bloggers respond to the opinions of columnists on mainstream media platforms. That’s one of the blogosphere’s purposes, as a form of rebuttal. Does he want all response to go via the letters editors. Toynbee and Cohen generate so much blog-space because they write such utter tosh that needs to be corrected, and we can’t expect that editors who share the same class and cultural interests to do that for us. Blinking obvious I’d have thought and something that any half-decent media intermediary might have pointed out to Kamm-chops.

To hold bloggers responsible for the poisoning of democracy is utterly ludicrous when the traditional media becomes ever more unquestioning of the official version of events and a reliable source for misinformation. It is left to the bloggers to expose to gaps and inconsistencies in their stories - the red mercury plot, the Fay Turney fiasco, inconsistencies of 9/11 and 7/7, hypocrisy of the Jade Goody racism hysteria etc. etc. etc.

And to make it worse….where does Kamm post most of his drivel? On an effing BLOG!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Is it time to rejoin The Labour Party?

I received an email from the Labour Leadership campaign of John McDonnell MP today urging non or lapsed Labour Party members to rejoin the Party in order to vote for him in the forthcoming Labour leadership election. Unlike in the past, there is no cooling off period between joining and voting - i.e. they're no longer worried about entryism by Trots. The only condition being that you need to join before Tony Blair finally bloody announces his departure (I think Blair's enjoying the attention, like the kid brother who won't leave the room alone to his sister and her boyfriend who want to have a snog). I suppose this provides an added incentive to join in that there will be an obvious surge in membership figures at the end of the Blair Regime as it appears the tyranny is about to end, in the way that dissidents and exiles return home after the fall of a dictator.

And to make it better you don't even have to pay a full year's sub - you can do a monthly direct debit for about a quid a month. So with Blair due to go after Labour get stuffed in the local elections on 2nd May and with the seven week election fandango that's about £3 to have a vote for the next Prime Minister. No, democracy is never free (neither is a peerage apparently).
A friend gave me a 'John 4 Leader' T-shirt last night and I fantasised that for the first time in history we were only about 50,000-100,000 votes away from getting a socialist into No.10 (ok I suppose Clem was a socialist but it weakens the drama of the moment).

Having said that, in 2005 I berated a pair of Labour canvasers for being members of the political organisation that had committed crimes against humanity and compared them to members of Sadam's Ba'ath Party. I still stand by that, but I am tempted.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Overheard the Choice FM afternoon show the other day in a shoe shop on the Lea Bridge Road (about 2pm). The DJ was complaining about what he perceived as racism in a chewing gum advert where a white woman sings in a mock Jamacian accent. He got quite worked up about the issue (possibily quite rightly) and urged his listeners to complain to Ofcom "remember what happened with Shilpa", he implored.
He then, without any discernable irony, played a track by the legendary homophobe, Beany Man, a signer who has written songs urging the burning of homosexuals.
I thought of taking the DJ's advice and making a complaint to Ofcom myself.

Confessions of a climate criminal - #1

Ordered takeaway from local Thai restaurant. This was delivered to my door in a thick plastic carrier bag and consisted of 6 plastic containers with lids (which I have rinsed out and intend to re-use somehow to assuage my guilt – not sure whether this is more ethical than recycling though), two small polystyrene tubs (one containing sweet chilli sauce, the other peanut sauce), and prawn crackers wrapped in the kind of plastic bag that gets stuck in the throats of swans and more endangered forms of wildlife. The meal was delivered by car from a distance of less than a mile away. I washed it down with a large bottle of imported lager bought from Tesco (the walk to buy this item from the temple of climate crime was roughly equal to the distance to the Thai restaurant, a distance I was unwilling to walk to collect my dinner).

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What’s left of the Left?

I turned out to the splendour of the ICA’s Nash Room on a Monday night for the same reason as I assumed other people would go – to see that traitor of the left Nick Cohen publicly crucified on the painted stucco walls. The title was a ruse, the 1968 New Left sub-plot merely to draw this Quisling out into the open to be held to account for his support for the invasion of Iraq.
To fast forward to the end of the event the only thing keeping me awake is the desire to ask the panel how we’ve managed to talk about the left for nearly two hours without mentioning the working class once. Not once did Hilary Wainwright, Mick Hume or Cohen mention the working class. Martin Kettle talked about how the New Left of 1968 was a rejection of workerism – well as an Oxford grad that would have appealed wouldn’t it.

Nick Cohen predictably enough saw it as the point at which the left dabbled with the dark forces with the non-western extreme right such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Mick Hume seemed to think the left owed its inheritance to the Enlightenment.

None of this was a left that I recognised. My inheritance came via my grandfather who went from the coalmines of Co. Durham to the trenches at Vimy Ridge and back to shifts in the Wycombe paper mills. I’d grown up thinking my political inheritance went back through the Trade Unions (another word not used) to the Diggers and the Peasants Revolt via religious non-conformists.

It ended up, contributions from the floor included, as posh people talking about the Third World and postmodernism, intervention, environmentalism and multiculturalism. Nobody mentioned class or property or ownership. These were the bedrock of the left, not interventionism. Not Iraq – I know plenty of people down in Devon who are pro-hunt and anti-war, bloody hell even the Daily Mail are against the war now, it’s hardly a left issue. But class is a Left issue, when Nick Cohen bangs the drum for war it's working class men who'll fight it, just as my step-grandfather did in Iraq in the 1920's (before seeing out his days in the engineering works).

The question I was left with at the end, was not to Nick Cohen about how he lost the plot and joined the Neo-Cons and became one of the people he writes about who calls themselves Left-wing whilst supporting the far right. It wasn’t to Mick Hume the supposed Lefty who takes the Murdoch dollar. But to all of them, was this New Left legacy that they supposedly represent a Non-Left, a splintering into bourgeois single issue groups, the politics of the farmers market, a smug belief in property and investment and that we’re all better off than we used to be.

I withdraw, frustrated, to the pub with Jerry (we met at Hilary's 'Socialist' paper in '92 - I made tea and opened the post) and over the next couple of hours and pints (excuse the typos, blame the Stella) found a left that we recognise, one in which the event of '68 are a blip. We talk about Venezuela not in starry eyed, distant terms but as "well if they can do it why can't we?".

Whilst you're here why not have a look at Islingtongue>Leytonstongue

Thursday, February 08, 2007

No 10 rejects police state claim

Tony Blair has rejected claims that the UK is a "police state for Muslims" as "categorically wrong".
Abu Bakr, who was arrested, questioned and then released without charge over an alleged kidnap plot, made the remarks on BBC Two's Newsnight. But the prime minister's official spokesman said anyone arrested in a police state would not have been freed and allowed to appear on television. He said: "It is a gross caricature of the political process in this country." Chancellor Gordon Brown described Mr Bakr's comments as "unacceptable".
Commons leader Jack Straw also attacked the claims during business questions in the Commons.

Methinks they doth protest too much!
When was the last time that the PM, the Chancellor, and Jack Straw all spoken out on something within hours - and all agreed! Well not since the Celebrity Big Brother racism row, and that was the first time.

Politics in Leytonstone

At one entrance to Leytonstone tube station the Socialist Workers have a stall with their papers on and a lady is giving out fliers for a meeting organised by Respect starring Gorgeous George Galloway MP (I thought the SWP didn’t believe in bourgeois democracy). Titled "British Politics after Blair", it’s taking place at the al Badr Hall on Lea Bridge Road on Friday 9th.

Through the underpass at the other entrance a member of the Labour Party is giving out leaflets (no stall note) entitled "Labour, the Leadership and the War. This meeting boasts 3 MPs (Labour have an unshakeable belief in bourgeois democracy) and takes place at the Welsh Church on Leytonstone High Road.

The leaflet, and the man giving them out boast that "all three MPs are anti-war". You know our democracy is a bad state when our elected representatives try to impress us with the fact that they voted against an illegal war against a sovereign state that has cost the lives of over 600,000 people – surely any sane person would do the same.

What else can I read about the politics of the nation from this encounter? Both groups seem to gravitate to religious buildings. Respect/SWP to an Islamic venue adjoined to a mosque, in order to show that they are no Islamophobes and can communicate with the ‘Arab Street’ (they never believed in gender politics anyway).

Labour are drawn back to their Celtic roots, still more comfortable with Methodism than Marx.
What ever happened to Working Men’s Clubs?

Monday, February 05, 2007

RAF in Iraq in the 1920's

The Guardian reports that the American forces in Iraq are concerned that Iraqi insurgents (who would be called 'freedom fighters' in any other scenario) have acquired anti-aircraft missiles. This development is deemed newsworthy enough to make the lead story in the International section of the one of Britain's leading papers. Now considering that the US and Britain have been dropping bunker busters (a "final solution type weapon" in the words of one American GI), cluster bombs, cruise missiles and lord knows what else on the Iraqis for the last four-and-a-half years as well as strafing them with machine gun and rocket fire from helicopter gunships it is quite incredible that it has taken them this long to get hold of something to hit back with.

Reading about such stuff always make me think of discussing the first Gulf War with my Step-Grandfather, Sid, who of course corrected anyone calling the 1991 conflict the "first Gulf War" because he'd been fighting with the RAF in Iraq in the 1920's. Sid's memories of his time in what was then called Mesopotamia were almost wistful and happy and incredibly lucid for a man in his 90's. He used to correct the newsreaders pronunciation of Iraqi towns and villages. He told me how his mission was to sit in the back of his By-Plane and shoot at Kurds in the mountains.
So in fact, it's taken the Iraqis about 80 years to get fed up with having people drop things on them from the sky. Now that's what The (so-called left-leaning) Guardian should be writing about.

This story in the same paper put a smile on my face:
A diplomatic gaffe marred the inauguration of a China-financed stadium in Grenada when a band performed Taiwan's national anthem.
Chinese ambassador Qian Hongshan and scores of Chinese workers who built the new £20m Queen's Park stadium as a gift from Beijing were visibly uncomfortable as Taiwan's anthem echoed inside the 20,000-seat venue on Saturday.
Describing it as a blunder, Grenada's prime minister, Keith Mitchell, pledged an investigation into how the Royal Grenada Police Band could have prepared the anthem of Taiwan instead of China.

I only hope that rather than being an innocent mistake it was a politically motivated act of subversion.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Letter to the Guardian

this is a letter I sent to The Guardian - a futile gesture as the paper is a front for a bourgeois conspiracy to suppress the voices of the oppressed - but it made me feel better anyway.
Re: Payback time for those who gained in the housing boom
Dear Editor
Ms Toynbee has fallen into the trap of narrowing the debate on housing into those who own property, so-called key workers, and people on benefit in social housing.
There are many people in the same situation as myself: low-income families living in expensive private sector rented accommodation, with too few points to qualify for social housing and not deemed to be a key-worker (for the record most key workers earn far more than those of us in the arts and service industries).
The advice I was recently given by one representative of a housing association in London was to desert my wife and child for a few months if we wanted to stand a chance of being housed.
A local authority advice worker told my wife to go the doctor's feigning depression in order to aid our cause.
Ironically, our private sector flat is on a council estate where we pay more than double the rent of our neighbours.
It is very easy in our situation to feel that if you don't fit into one of the neat demographics I've outlined above then you don't exist in this debate.
You don't need to go to a sink estate in Hull to find the socially excluded, they're far more likely to be selling you your theatre tickets in Islington.
John Rogers
link to the original article,,1398606,00.html