Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Student protests

Half an hour ago I got accidentally caught inside a police defence line. Batons raised up against me it was a wall of black and yellow - like angry wasps blocking my way. I had gone out from work to collect my contact lenses (yes I'm obviously very dangerous) at Oxford Circus and bumped into a student protest. They were banging drums, holding a few protest signs, shouting a bit. There were almost as many police officers and riot vans. When even more police arrived the protestors sensed they might be being kettled and began to move....

(Kettled by the way is the police tactic that sees them trap and contain protestors in a small area. Protestors, finding they are trapped, get very angry and violent, then they calm down and just want to go home. This tactic is supposed to be only used when protestors are already violent. last week my friend Max who is doing a phd got caught in such a holding and was there for 10 hours in the cold with no food or rest).

...anyway as soon as they started trying to move the police, sensing they might loose their opportunity to contain the students went mental, running, and driving riot vans across the central road island to block their path, straight into protestors. I saw an unarmed man who looked like a geeky mature student grabbed by three police officers and pinned against a police man roughly while he held his hands up in a gesture of peace.

The scene was too much for me. I have huge sympathy for the students and I hate to hear about peaceful demonstrations that are brutally controlled by the police. I started crying. At that point I found myself faced by the wall of police officers with batons. It was threatening and frightening. I walked straight at the line slowly and looked at the floor, they let me pass.

Max told me that last week while the papers reported the bad behaviour of the student protesters and made them seem like extremists, they didn't report that there was a protest held by older graduates with their children, as well as younger school students that was charged by police on horses.

The police force should be ashamed. David cameron and Nick Clegg should be ashamed. In a democratic country this should not be happening.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Berlin! Ich lieber dich!

In November I went on a trip to Berlin. When Fiance and I were looking for a hotel we came across this insane artists' hotel. Fiance was desperate to stay. I was not. Now I don't want to be a spoil sport - I love art. It's part of my job. But I don't want to sleep in it! I want a nice comfortable hotel room that I can relax in. Check out some of the rooms:

2 cages and a toilet at the top of a tower

Impression of being inside a kaleidoscope

Sleep in coffins or the bed underneath.

A friendly prison cell complete with toilet in the bedroom.

The bed is suspended from the ceiling so fat people can't stay here.

Here the bed appears to float because of the strange slanted floor.

The furnishings hand from the ceiling and beds are hidden under the floor.

The floor is hilly like being in a mine.

I didn't stay but if anyone chooses to go please let me know what it was like.
And just a litttle word about the people in Berlin - they were soooo lovely! And very polite about our lack of German. So thank you Berlin!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Poems for her.

One Moment

Once, when she tucked me into bed,
standing on her tiptoes to hug me in my top bunk,
I closed my eyes.
Memorized her arms about me.
Her hair soft on my cheek.
Her warmth.
The darkness of the room, the mobile hanging from the ceiling,
The ragged curtains, the bed against the wall, the globe’s subtle glow.
I held her close.
That moment, like a photograph of feeling,
still fresh as dew.
7 years wise.
I knew that I couldn’t catch her forever.
So I took the picture.
And locked it in my heart.

She said

“Shall we walk back along the shore, just you and me?”
she said.
Surf washed our feet with smiles, we dreamt our runaway dreams.
“Come with me to the party! I don’t want to go on my own”
she said.
I soaked up a new person, glowing with friends.
“Would you like to come to Tescos?”
she said.
I ran to fetch crusty bread, bring her tarragon, tangy cheese.
“How was your day?”
she said.
Cross-legged on the cold granite counter everyday I told her my fears.
“Jazz-club! Niceeee”
she said.
We giggled, made faces, conducted twiddly solos with fingers.
“You’re not listening”
she said.
So I cuddled up close, loved Austen’s beautiful words.
“Let’s ask them to play True!”
she said.
We twirled, swayed, tapped, sung our breath out, sole owners of the floor.
“It doesn’t matter if you fail everything”
she said
I worked safely into star-light, got straight A’s, made her proud.
“When you’re older you’ll live in London”
she said
So I fell for the lights, tall buildings and glittering promises.
“My head hurts”
she said
So we speeded in soup fog from Cornwall.
But she said nothing at all.

The wait

In that hot white bloated bed she lies.
Her skin is unwrinkled perfect.
But her hands are fat with tubes.
Aunty Julie reads her the last pages of Maeve Binchy.
“She’s got to know what happens”, she says.

In the morning, I tell Kate to help make sandwiches.
We make sure everyone has their favourite.
There’s strength in sandwiches.
Outside the crows circle. Like they can smell blood.
Pathetic fallacy says my English teacher father.

I wear the same big thick teal wool jumper every day.
It’s comforting.
In the corridors, we are all there.
We haunt the hospital, red eyed.
We are the dead, inside.

Taking turns to look at her.
We tell each other stories of flickering eyes.
Spasms of fingers.
We see each other full of hopeless hope.
The nurses say nothing.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Barbie debate goes on

If anyone would like to see the videos that my friend Giles mentioned in his reply to my post about Barbie advertising then here they are.

The first is the Nike campaign for children being encouraged to play Sport:

The second is the scary video which hows you how to look like a perfect plastic Barbie doll.

I would like to stand up for the way girls play with dolls. While I am in no way saying that Barbies are good roll models, playing with dolls is a learning experience. Personally I am the type of person that role-plays scenarios in preparation for confrontations, issues etc. Even now I talk to myself when I'm alone and play out what I would say to someone in my head if a situation arose. This helps me straighten out what my view is and sometimes even stops me from saying things I could regret.

The problem is that if little girls learn and practice for life with dolls, they won't ever chose dolls that are ugly, or over-weight, or have muffin tops. Children are naturally drawn to beauty. It's hard-wired into all of us. So what can Barbie do? I'd say that Barbie are making the right moves. If only they would stop making everything pink.

So is Barbie a good role model as they claim? Or is it manipulative? Or both perhaps? Please send me your thoughts.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Barbie - when I grow up...

And a slightly different version:

I can't help think that as lovely as this ad is it should have shown a Barbie that wasn't a ballet dancer. Not that ballet dancers aren't wonderful and that it isn't a magical impressive career - it's just that it's so barbie and so girly. I'd like to have seen vet Barbie or doctor barbie at the end.

In any case it's a wonderful advert, a lovely idea and a break-through for the brand. When I was growing up my Mum wouldn't buy me Barbies because she said that they were an unrealistic view of women - with their huge boobs, tiny waists and feet. She didn't want me to think that's what I should look like. I love my Mum and her feminism. This is an advert that seeks to talk to women like my mum. Clever move Barbie. Clever move.

London restaurant recommendations

Grab em while they still have tables! Here is a list of great restaurants in London as picked by advertising folk:

Le Trois Garcons, Shoreditch: like a surreal, dark fairytale.
Hawksmoor, Shoreditch: melting steaks, amazing cocktails.
Village East, Bermondsey Street: Go for Chateaubriand or brunch.
Odette’s: Primrose Hill. Welsh chef Bryn Williams trained with Marco Pierre White.
Bistroteque, Bethnal Green, beautiful food with Tranny Cabaret to follow.
Gourmet San, Bethnal Green: cheap, unassuming, authentic Szechuan food.
Andrew Edmunds, Soho: Cute French restaurant, good for a date.
Fino, Soho: Spanish tapas, seafood and piglet!
The Wapping Project, Wapping: art and food in a warehouse.
Gaucho, Hamstead Heath: expensive but wonderful Argentinean.
Le Mercury, Islington: chefs in training for top restaurants = good food, cheap prices.
St. John’s, Smithfield/ St Johns Wine and Bread, Spitalfields: famous for their meat (whole pig anyone?).
Tsunami, Clapham/Soho: fashionable Japanese.
Levant Restaurant, beautifully decorated tasty Moroccan.
Boho Mexica, Shoreditch: Mexican food at its best.
Maze Grill: Grosvenor Square: Gordan Ramsey’s steak house.
Stingray’s café, Tuffnall Park: cheap wholegrain pizza and pasta etc.
Rasa, Stoke Newington: Famous Southern Indian restaurant, lauded by critics