Quiet stroll

A paper mache Blair figure at the protest

John, Gianni and I joined a couple of friends in a quiet stroll through Manchester city centre yesterday.

By “a couple of friends”, I mean upwards of 20,000 and by “quiet”, I mean we had ringing in our ears for about an hour afterwards.

It was a good day though. John took photos with a selection here.

Recycle This!

How can I recycle this logoJohn and I have a new little project. It’s called “How can I recycle this?” –

It’s a community-driven site, coming up with creative and fun ways to reuse and recycle various bits and bobs from around the home and garden. Each week, there will also be a green dilemma to discuss because we constantly find ourselves in a tangle about which out of two green or ethical options are best.

As it says on the site’s about page, we decided to set it up after eating a big pile of pistachio nuts. There we were, enjoying the sodium high but at a loss about what to do with the leftover shells. We thought there must be a million uses for them but we just couldn’t think what.

The design isn’t finally finalised yet but we thought we should get going on it since the content is the important bit.

Anyway, go over and leave some suggestions!


A pink flowerI grew up in a house filled with flowers and greenery: there were dozens and dozens of plants around the place and as far as I can remember, fresh flowers of some description around the house each week. For a while, my mum worked in a florists and my dad has always been a keen gardener so the flowers either came from the garden (in season) or via my mum’s job. Plants and flowers felt like home.

Needless to say, I’ve always tried to replicate this in my post-home living situations. When I moved out into my first student house, I took a bunch of daffodils from the garden to christen my new vase in my new room and I’ve always tried (wherever possible) to have green-facing windows (to the trees in the cemetery in the flat in Liverpool to the trees in the park now). Living here, I’ve always tried to fill the house with plants and I get sad everyone time one dies after failing to survive the cave-like conditions we face (hurrah for being north-facing). We’ve still managed to keep a few though: some leafy green ones in the kitchen, along with a rubber plant and some cactus-wannabes; some actual cactuses in the living room; and some orchids and Trevor, a yukka type plant that Katherine gave me for my birthday this year in the bathroom.
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Six people arrested then released

Stack of newspapersPolice hunt three over PC killing

“Five men, all Somali, and a woman were arrested in London over the weekend and brought to police stations in West Yorkshire but have all now been released.”

The men have been released so why does it matter that they’re Somali? Could it be that emphasising their nationality/race allows people to kick up the illegal immigrant debate again (even though they’re not necessarily illegal or immigrants)?

And also, why should their gender matter? In every report about the group I’ve read, they’ve consistently made a note of the fact that one of the group was a woman. Why does it matter? It just helps maintain the idea that only men kill people and that’s just dangerous. People kill people. Six people were arrested and now released. That’s all that’s required.

This report is just an example: the BBC are far from alone in their reporting in this way. I also don’t think it’s deliberate on behalf of the journalists (or the sub-editors and editors to let it through): it’s just used so often, without thinking, that people stop thinking. It’s inherent. People only state to someone’s race or religion when it is different from their own and because the vast majority of institutions in this country are white- and Christian-(or pseudo-Christian)-led, we hear about “black suspects” and “Islamic terrorists” but not so much about white ones (they’re just “suspects”) or refer to Christian fundamentalists for those fighting from Protestant/Catholic positions. The constant repetition means skin colour and non-JudeoChristian religions get tied to negative words or acts in our minds and that helps us form a bigger, negative, view of our world. Either everyone’s race and religion should be stated or, preferably in my opinion, no-ones – because most of the time it has no bearing on the case and doesn’t really matter.

But it’s ok, because Tony’s said that any suggestion that people in this country are oppressed because of their religion is “rubbish” and we’re “at least as good” as the rest of Europe on promoting equality. Yay for Europe!

Be Nicer, Please

Unite Against Fascism placards
I marched against the BNP this morning. Well, when I say marched, I mean I stood around in the cold for about four hours and yelled “nazi scum” several hundred times but saying “marched” is so much neater.

The demo was organised by Unite against Fascism and Yorkshire and Humberside TUC to counter the support the BNP were scheduled to provide for leader Nick Griffin and Mark Collett during their a preliminary hearing for their upcoming trial. They’re up on multiple charges of inciting racial hatred, related to the BBC “Secret Agent” documentary about the BNP shown last year.
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Post-1945 British history: two books

Icon for book related blogsBy coincidence, I’ve read two books on about British social history since 1945 back to back recently. (Actually, I read the excellent “The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold in between but I was ill and got through it in less than a day so it didn’t really feel like a long break between the other two books.)

Anyway, the books I read were “Our Hidden Lives: The Remarkable Diaries of Post-war Britain” edited by Simon Garfield and “Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-racial Britain” by Mike Phillips and Trevor Phillips.
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