helenic: (London rooftops)
Hello internets,

The lovely [personal profile] denny will have a room available to rent in his Shoreditch flat from 1 March. It's a really nice flat, well-located, and he's a bit stuck if no-one takes it. Plus I would (for obvious reasons) end up seeing whoever takes the room a certain amount, so am quite strongly motivated to find someone awesome. This post and his are both public, so please do point people at them if you know anyone looking!

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My current flatmate is moving out at the end of February, and I'd like to find a new flatmate to move into the second bedroom from 1st March. I'd prefer it to be a friend, or friend of friends, for obvious reasons.

The room is about 9' x 11' - it currently contains a double bed, a large wardrobe and a medium desk, with room to walk between them. There's also a built-in cupboard in one corner. It's painted a fairly inoffensive shade of orange, but if you want to redecorate it to suit yourself, I'm open to the possibility. I can probably arrange for it to be either furnished or unfurnished, whichever suits you best.

The bathroom is small but does have a bath with reasonable shower, and bonus funky black tiles. The kitchen is large, and contains a fridge-freezer, washing machine and dishwasher, all of which are new. Also a small microwave, a vegetable steamer, a George Thornby grill, and any other food-cooking gadget I tripped over lately (not that I can cook, but I keep thinking the gadgets will fix this). The hallway is quite large for a flat, so there's some spillover storage space there too.

The flat is ground floor, with no shared entrance hallway - the front door opens onto the car park. It's double-glazed, partially centrally-heated, and it belongs to me - which means if something breaks, the landlord has plenty of motive to fix it as soon as possible :) There's a separate garage, which is mostly full of my car, but has room to stash a push-bike and other odds and ends if you want. Residents parking permits are cheap, but parking spaces can be hard to find sometimes.

The building is here: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=N1+6LE - as you can see, it's a 5 minute walk from Old Street tube (or a 10 minute stroll, if you're lazy like me). Being in central London it's also well supplied with buses heading in all directions. It's a reasonably attractive building, with a good green space behind it and Shoreditch Park a short walk to the north.

I'm kink/poly/queer-friendly, and generally liberal/lefty/etc. There is a cat in residence. I don't smoke, and therefore the flat and the immediate surroundings are non-smoking areas. Most other vices are either well-tolerated or positively encouraged. :)

Rent is £600 a month, including all bills - that's gas, electric (both with Ecotricity, for bonus hippy points), council tax, water, phone line (including free national calls evenings and weekends), and 20Mb ADSL (from Be).
helenic: (Default)

Last August, thousands of people camped out at Kingsnorth power station to protest against the continued use of coal power in the UK. Despite eye-witness reports and video evidence that police abused stop and search powers, removed their badge numbers, employed sleep deprivation tactics, harassed journalists, arrested any protesters who tried to demand their legal rights, and engaged in unprovoked violence against peaceful protesters and their private property, the police were not meaningfully challenged by anyone with the authority to do so. In fact, it wasn't until after events were repeated at the G20 protests in April 2009 that official questions were asked about the policing of dissent in the UK.

Early this year, cyber-liberties activist Cory Doctorow wrote an article for the Guardian about the Kingsnorth camp.

We've known about all this since last August - seven months and more. It was on national news. It was on the web. Anyone who cared about the issue knew everything they needed to know about it. And everyone had the opportunity to find out about it: remember, it was included in national news broadcasts, covered in the major papers - it was everywhere.

And yet ... nothing much has happened in the intervening eight months. Simply knowing that the police misbehaved does nothing to bring them to account.
Transparency means nothing unless it is accompanied by the rule of law. It means nothing unless it is set in a system of good and responsible government, of oversight of authority that expeditiously and effectively handles citizen complaints. Transparency means nothing without justice.

Ironically, the article was delayed due to an administrative error, resulting in its publication shortly after the G20 protests. It was already true, even before the same mistakes were made all over again: and in April, it could just as easily have been talking about the events earlier that month. The Met have lied, again and again, about events on the day and the strategies that led to them. The Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner have placed blame solely on 'rogue' individual officers, denying all knowledge of deliberate and systematic use of violence. Hundreds if not thousands of officers were pictured engaging in unprovoked and disproportionate violence, but almost none have lost their stripes or their jobs. The senior officers in charge of the operation have got away scot-free. No officer who illegally detained or criminally assaulted a member of the public has been arrested or charged.

Next week, the Camp for Climate Action is returning to London for a week-long gathering of sustainable living and activism training. The campers are braced for the worst; Legal Observers, MPs and journalists will be present, and you can bet that if the police engage in unprovoked violence, YouTube and Flickr will instantly be flooded with evidence. But will that transparency lead to justice?
For a host of reasons - the death of Ian Tomlinson certainly, changing media attitudes towards police seen to have 'got away' with shooting Jean Charles de Menezes perhaps, or even that battering articulate middle-class liberals rather than working-class black teenagers is always a more high risk strategy - whatever they may have been, the political landscape had clearly changed.

The events of the G20 were a turning point in public opinion. The press has largely abandoned its original campaign of misinformation, and the Evening Standard, which published some of the worst of the pro-police propaganda, has officially changed its colours, and recently ran a ssympathetic story about a woman whose complaint was upheld by the IPCC.

Although the various committees (such as the new Civil Liberties panel formed by the MPA, which seems to be more interested in future policy than justice for past wrongs), investigative bodies and reports commissioned since April have not resulted in any substantive consequences for the Met or TSG, the former does seem to realise that all eyes are on them this time.

The police's new, all-smiles approach to the August camp, conspicuously lacking any apology or admission of previous guilt, has been called a "charm offensive" by journalists. The Metropolitan Police's PR campaign includes a twitter account (presumably in response to the Campers' successful use of live social media to co-ordinate their event), a change in senior personnel, and meetings with Climate Camp legal advisors. A bitter pill, one suspects, to the police liaisons who tried repeatedly to engage with the Met before the April camp, and were not only rejected, but subsequently blamed for the "lack of dialogue" cited as a factor in the escalation of events.

Common sense suggests that the police are going to behave next week. The camp will probably not obstruct a major road or airport, and nor is it likely to take place in the heart of the City. Of course, similar circumstances didn't help the Kingsnorth protesters, but the Met are doing their best to convince the activists - and the world - that "the policing will be reasonable if the Camp is reasonable". But if it isn't, nothing we've seen so far suggests that those responsible will be brought to account.

If the Met's PR campaign extends to not engaging in mindless violence, as well as just saying they won't, then the August camp could be seen by some as an anticlimax. But the primary narrative for activists is not one of a street war between protesters and police, but one of raising awareness about the issues of climate change and sustainable energy. When the media isn't pretending that nothing happened, coverage of protests gone wrong generates more discussion about policing than it does of these issues. The police have proved themselves keen in the past to silence inconvenient dissent; next week's activists can only hope that the greater public scrutiny focussed on the Met will enable their voices to be heard.

(originally posted on Police State UK)

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I'll be joining the Climate Camp swoop next Wednesday with a few friends. I'm not camping (work, boo), but we'll aim to stay until the camp is established, and defend the location if necessary. I'm going half as an eco-activist, half as an amateur journalist/observer. Click here for details of how to be involved on the day, and sign up for text alerts.

helenic: (what's the matter lagerboy?)

I have a whole bunch of new art to post! I've had a successful week, artwise, although it doesn't feel it, for some reason. I spent Tuesday evening having dinner at Straylight and finally getting round to play with ink with [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet and [livejournal.com profile] cyrus_ii. Then Wednesday afternoon was spent painting with Simon, although sadly not for long enough as I was late arriving and he had to head out at 4pm to each his evening graphics class, and on Wednesday night I decided to stay up and see how many of the half-finished little paintings I have lying around my room I could finish by the morning, when I was finally going to hang some paintings in the Pembury Tavern, in honour of which I am using my Real Ale icon. This has been on the cards since the start of the year, but given my own disorganisation and [livejournal.com profile] timeplease's hectic schedule, I didn't manage to get the paintings there until a few weeks ago, and it took us until yesterday to find a morning when Steve and I could both go into the pub before opening, drill holes in the wall and hang everything.

However, this is now done, and the Pembury is pleasingly colourful :) A lot of the artwork in there is for sale, which is the first time I've had a long-term exhibition space in London. The paintings are all a bit mismatched, including several unsold works from K~nesis, and collaborations with both Stef and Kristen alongside my own paintings. It's basically everything I've had sitting around in my room unsold, apart from the two nude paintings from K~nesis which were deemed NPS (non-Pembury-safe). Not exactly a coherent body of work, so I'm not calling it an "exhibition" and there's no exciting launch party or anything. Just a space for me to hang art, which makes [livejournal.com profile] timeplease happy because his pub is bright and happy and he gets free decor. And I'm hoping that maybe the people who visit the Pembury might possibly include people with money to spend on art, and perhaps, even, more money than the clientele of the Foundry. (Etsy is, sadly, not as helpful as I'd hoped, mostly due to the exchange rate.) Lovely and generous and supportive as my friends and friends-of-friends are, I think most of them who could afford to buy one of my paintings already have, and lovely as you lot are, I should really have expanded my customer-base beyond you by now.

Not all of the art now taking up space in my favourite pub is for sale. Two of them are the property of [livejournal.com profile] hairyears, who has failed for about ten months to collect them from the Foundry or my house, and if he doesn't take them home from the Pembury by August 21st (the anniversary of the K~nesis exhibition) then I think he'll have missed his chance, after which I will feel perfectly within my rights to offer them for resale. [livejournal.com profile] hairyears - consider yourself warned :)

Two others are the property of a friend of Denny's who paid for them via him, but whose life circumstances have since changed, meaning she's not able to come to London to collect them. Denny will be keeping them for her at his place on a medium-long term basis, but until he has a car and can pick them up I thought I may as well show them off.

Staying up all night to paint on Wednesday was a huge success. I completed three new/old paintings, had a lovely time pottering around listening to music, and managed to chat to my parents for the first time since they moved to Belize by dint of being online at 5am when they'd just finished dinner. I crashed out at 6.30am and had a 90-minute powernap which was eerily refreshing; despite only having had an hour and a half's sleep, I felt pretty much normal and awake for all of yesterday. I was expecting to have to sleep lots today to catch up, but after crashing out at 11pm last night I woke up at 9am and feel absolutely fine. Win! I'm not sure if the sleep dep is going to land on my head at an inconvenient moment, like during my shoot on Sunday/Monday, but I'm going to have any late nights this weekend, so I think I might actually have got away with it. I'll post the new paintings in a separate entry, for the benefit of any unfortunates who don't drink at the Pembury. The rest of you can feel free to skip it :)

helenic: (branches and air)

When I got into work this morning I knew how this entry would begin. The first sentence was going to be There is a kind of wildness in me. A freshness, fierce and fleet of wing. I stayed in London last night and adventurously commuted to work from Kings Cross, on the Cambridge stopping service that wanders through fields and past small, misty, sunlit villages. I finished my book just moments before the train pulled into Meldreth station.

I've been re-reading the Earthsea quartet, which my parents gave to me when I was ten and which I must have read at least fourteen, fifteen times over the next few years. I found it the other week in one of the old boxes my parents brought up for me from home, and opened it for the first time in at least six years. To read it now is like revisiting any of one's old haunts of childhood; it seems smaller somehow, more familiar and less momentous, and fragments of it rise up before you like remembered glimpses of dream, the patterns of plot and character slipping comfortably and rightly into place as you progress through it. And yet the sweet keen of escapism is as poignant as it ever was, the yearning awoken by her prose for wind and forest and sky, for the old songs. And then there were the wholly new discoveries, the adult references and socio-political themes that I failed to really notice when I was reading it as a naive, self-absorbed, daydreaming pre-pubescent.

So, I finished it as the train drew in, and I manouvered the bike I'm borrowing from [livejournal.com profile] elise onto the platform with some difficulty and started riding it with surprising ease, considering the after-effects of the more rigorous of the weekend's activities and that I'd got up at 6.30am that morning. And flying down the High Street in Melbourn village, the only vehicle on the road, the ending of the novel singing in me still, aching and satisfying and sweet, I felt a delicious sense of freedom rising in me, an exhilaration.

Unfortunately, three hours in work has pretty much deadened it. Tiredness, computer hum and caffeine are making my head throb; I've switched roles to cover for someone's leave and have barely anything to do, and what I do need to do, I can't, because I can no longer receive my emails. My new piercings managed to get themselves slept on and pulled over the weekend, and hurt like buggery. My entire right ear is pulsing. But. The memory of that lightness this morning, flying on a borrowed bike through the cool summer morning of an English village, that's worth holding on to.

April 2016

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