Thursday, October 26, 2006

Can I just say much I HATE estate agents?


That is all.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Acid Burn, meet Zero Cool!

Dude. I've only ever met someone off the internet once before, but it was nothing like last night. Have you ever met a large group of bloggers "in the flesh" for the first time? It's like that scene in the (now charmingly dated) movie Hackers where the two main characters meet up, then realise who they really are by discovering their screen names. "YOU'RE Zero Cool?" etc.

So yes. Quite by accident, I found myself being introduced to the minds behind Dave's Part and Stroppyblog by the man behind Gauche, who then took it upon himself to explain to them that "M**** is Lady M". The whole thing had a clandestine feel to it that was in turns nerdily enjoyable and vaguely disturbing. A bit like being in the Druids, I expect. Still, the company was good, a fun time was had by all, and I learned more about who works where, who knows whom and who's shagged whom than I ever expected - or indeed wanted - to know. Bonza! I look forward to Round Two when I have a bit more cash to spare on copious volumes of alcohol.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lessons from Cable Street - 2

That'll teach me to treat my blog as a diary rather than a proper publication. In my last post I asked why Oona King, Shami Chakrabarti and Trevor Phillips weren't at Cable Street on Sunday. Note to self: Always research an event before writing about it, even if you were there in person. It turns out that both King and Chakrabarti were among the patrons of the Cable Street celebration, and would have likely showed up at Shadwell Town Hall, not a million miles away from the famous mural where I was standing. Durrrr. I still feel the event could have been better, but I withdraw criticism where it was not merited.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Lessons from Cable Street

We were in Cable Street yesterday afternoon to mark 70 years since the legendary clash between Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts and the Jewish, Irish and Communist groups of East London. There were some things that we missed, namely the procession down the street itself, but by and large it pains me to say that it was a missed opportunity.

Consider the facts...

  • Apart from a man who had taken part in the Battle of Cable Street all those years ago, there was a distinct shortage of strong speakers at the event. Where was Oona King, Trevor Phillips, Shami Chakrabarti? There was no one there to show the relevance of the original event to life in London today. This was also true in the way the event was promoted, but more on that later.

  • A strong MC would have made the proceedings waaay less cringeworthy. I wasn't living in England during the 1980s, but I tell you what yesterday reminded me of. Remember that TV movie The Deal that came out about three years ago, about Tony and Gordon's rise to the top? And remember all the flashbacks to various dire-looking Labour events from the late 70s and early 80s? Badly-dressed crusties singing the Internationale, etc? Well, yesterday was pretty much a carbon copy of that, with (slightly) better clothes. And the closest we got to an MC was a tired old codger in a red velvet jacket who entertained us with a "magic trick" designed to symbolise the exploitation of factory workers in a capitalist society!!! I ask you!

  • There was a strong People's Front of Judea element to the afternoon. Inevitable I suppose, and I'm not saying that representatives of the Communist University of Britain et al should be banned from such events, but it did seem that the majority of those who turned out were not so much curious bystanders or locals but members of some fringe syndicalist or anarchist movement or another. Again, there's nothing wrong with those groups in themselves, but if it's only them who are attending, what does it say about getting the message about Cable Street to the wider public?

  • Which brings me right to my next point... where the hell were the local community? And don't bang on about the local Bangladeshi dance troupe that performed - where were the Bangladeshis in the audience, watching the performances, buying snacks for their kids, looking through the excellent photo exhibition (much of which focused on the communities of today's East London)? I saw about three Asian families in the hour and a half I was there. Considering the makeup of the surrounding area, I'd argue that was hardly representational. Why wasn't the event better promoted, better explained, more adapted to suit families?

So that's it, really. Did you go to Cable Street yesterday? What did you see and what did you think of it?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


The official launch of Orwell in Tribune takes place tonight at the Wheatsheaf, Rathbone Place, W1. Be there or be square, dahlings! And remember, the more books are sold, the more free beer there will be. See you by the bar.

* * *
UPDATE: Smoky, noisy, jam-packed, full of people I hadn't seen in ages. And many more who I had never seen at all. Michael Foot was a no-show, but I suppose that was to be expected. Tribunites, ex-City students, ex-girlfriends, Little Atoms co-hosts, journalists of all stripes. All packed into a tiny upstairs room where Orwell himself would have once sat. Man-of-the-evening Paul Anderson did the honourable thing by splitting all the proceeds from books sold on the night between the beer fund and the Tribune Fighting Fund, and left the pub feeling full of love. A grand evening all in all, marred only by my impeccable comic timing (read: full-on klutziness) of dropping my half-full glass of beer in shock when someone told me they had actually read my blog. Sigh. Do finishing schools still exist?