Friday, June 30, 2006

T Shirt Designs

Some of my Designs for T Shirt Printing ...

A Story

This is a story I wrote quite a few years ago, its pretty raw, has lots of typos and was at a time I had just learned to do copy and paste, do watermarks and text boxes and how to scan drawings . I don't remember giving it a name.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Young Parents

I had two choices. I coulda had 'em or not had 'em. I had 'em so that's the choice I made. I'm his mum an' I'm gonna act like that and its up to you if you're gonna be a dad to 'em.

The hands free phone conversation travelled the air between this woman on the street and the rest of us. Her hands were free to push the buggy holding a baby boy and toddler girl.

It reminded me of a Guardian article: When lads become dads. It talks of how usually they are regarded as 'feckless' and how we 'expect so little of them'. The article gives an insight to three young men’s lives as fathers.

It talks of the young fathers trying to break the cycle of the poor parenting and opportunities they had received so that their children might have better lives.

'Some fight so hard, they are positively heroic', says a young father's worker from Northampton.

Daniel tells us about his little boy, 'When he's older I'll have to explain, 'If you want to read you'll have to go to your mum.' Kim's all right, man. She's really clever. She's going back to college when she's older. People call me mongol,' Daniel adds, shrugging. 'I don't let it get to me.'

'I'm looking for the key to open my brain,' he says smiling. 'I always say my mum left it at the hospital when she had me. People have said to me about Tyler, 'You're dyslexic, how are you going to bring this kid up?' I said it's not just about reading, it's about what's in your heart and the love that you give him.

John is ‘determined to be the best kind of father - unlike his own.’ John’s mother chucked him out when he was nine, 'I reminded her too much of my dad and he's an arsehole - a thief and a wife-beater. He said he'd come on a Saturday to take me to McDonald's. He never came. My mum used to say I was rubbish just like him.'

In another article The stigma of being a teenage mum, Hannah, having had a baby in the middle of her GCSEs (7 As -1A*, 2 Bs & C) brushes it off as 'just comments and looks, that's all'. What did hurt her, though, she says shyly, was the universal presumption of commiseration among people she knew. 'When I told people I was pregnant they'd always say, Oh! Are you keeping it? Ebony was never a baby, she was always an it. There was no, Oh how great! You're pregnant. It sounds awful, because I shouldn't expect it, but there does come a point when you want it, you want congratulations, you can't help wanting the same thing people 10 years older than me would get.'

Like the woman on the street said...most people choose whether to have a child and then they have the choice to act like parents...but its up to us to treat them like parents.

***Roz, Tom & Jane***

My mum was 17 when she had me and my dad 19.

I was 20 when I had my daughter.

She is 18 now and she has known her great grandparents and should have her grandparents for many more years to come.


As part of our session last night looking into graffitti art we talked about Banksy, local graffiti (took some photos to work on) , some graffitti from around the world and had a look at Hundertwasser and his organic colourful architecture as well as the Tate has an exhibiton of his work at the moment.

This piece of Kandinsky's work is displayed in the youth club entrance and much of the colour scheme of the club, created by Dean in consultation with the young people and workers is similar to this painting.

There is something about circles and how they bring people of the reasons that there is a big red circle in the orange carpet of our main room. Its a great space for games, gathering together and performing on.

Kandinsky could visually represent sound, to provide a multi-sensory experience - a kind of sensory fusion in his art. Synesthesia is more prevalent in individuals with artistic or musical backgrounds and 6 out of seven synethetes are left handed (Dean can you hear colour?).

Here is my version of the above painting using some everyday items, a camera and some photoediting software....

Here is the original photograph:

The original photo consisted of:

  • 5 chopsticks
  • a trade union box of sweets
  • a container of black dye
  • 3 old ceramic ink bottles
  • a ring and 2 earrings and a bracelet
  • 2 badges
  • a spirograph piece and teddy in half the 20p egg container from a toy dispenser
  • a joke eye
  • a watch face
  • a curtain ring
  • a wax seal

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I made a pretty big one Monday night. I lost my keys. Saying that, I lose my keys most days and they always turn up. Its not really very responsible of me to put my keys down and forget where I have left them. I do the same with my phone but there aren't the health and safety issues associated with that as there is with the keys of the centre and anyway as I always say 'my phone is so cheap no one will nick it.'

Monday night however, it was where I had left my keys that was particularly bad. For an hour and a half while club was on, my keys sat on the step in front of the door of club. I don't know which I was more amazed about, the fact I had left them there or the fact they were still there at the end of club.

Sadly I haven't even learned from this mistake. I already knew that I shouldn't leave my keys on the doorstep for just anyone to find.

Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

Mahatma Gandhi

Mistakes are the portals of discovery

James Joyce

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

George Bernard Shaw

Okay I have had some experience, some freedom, checked out the portals of discovery and had a life, so far that has been marginally more useful than a life spent doing nothing....
And thinking about it I have learned something - I'm not afraid to make mistakes!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Instead of the World Cup

I am not alone. According to a Guardian article '[a] third of Britons avoided the England game on Thursday'. What did they do instead?

Here are some of the things I did instead of watching the World Cup:

I watched Hard Candy at the cinema.I went to the Greenwich & Docklands Festival.I read Small Island and The Bookseller of Kabal and started re-reading Ninteen Eighty Four.I supported a friend in a time of crisis.I went swimming.I read blogs and blogged.I went to the West End Live Weekend.I worked as a youthworker.I had conversations with friends and family.I took photos and worked on some in photoshop (ie. above photo of today at Greenwich)

Tom has been following the World Cup and got Togo in his work sweepstakes. They all agreed that whoever won would have to come into work in the national dress of the country and wouldalso be subject to some kind of forfeit. Tom is thankful that Togo is out as he would have had to ride across the desert on a unicycle. As is another colleague who would have had to have had the national dish of Equador - Guinea Pig. If they had won, it wasn't the local supermarket she would have needed but the local pet shop.

I wonder what guinea pig tastes like. If you are wondering too, see this BBC site:

And before you turn on the 'shocked & outraged' switch, according to the site, 'Spanish colonial paintings of the Last Supper in the old Inca capital of Cusco even show Christ and his apostles feasting on some roasted cuy.'

cuy = traditional guinea pig dish

I still don't understand why people think its okay to eat one living breathing creature and not the other...I'm not against eating one or the other just against discrimination. The poor chicken, cow and pig get a raw deal...not to mention the fish.

Like it says in Animal Farm:


And we humans are the animals at the top of the food chain...for now.


Checking my email, having read Keeley's post I found an email from Thomas saying...

hey guys, i was looking through my contacts and i decided to send an e-mail to everyone i think is great. and you are one of them..................YAY

I'd read her post talking about the above email she had received and I wondered if I had one too. I had...YAY!


The big orange inflatable caught my eye. It brought to mind the Lostism 'Love is orange', of the orange marigolds in the Bookseller of Kabal but mostly it reminded me of the fact that my bright orange T-Shirt had got me caught jumping the queue the previous Friday night at the Greenwich & Docklands Festival.

It is a sad tale of how easily we can be led astray (I blame the parents and tabloid journalism...tut..tut)
This is how the story unfolds.....

Dean & I were on our way to see Il Cielo Che Danza at the Royal Navy College.

We saw the ridiculously long queue to get in.

We discussed how we would like to jump the queue but that it would be wrong and we would be too scared to do it anyway.

We then went on to talk about how we would do it if we were going to jump the queue.

Like this, keep walking , u-turn as we walked to slide in to join the fast moving queue, keeping on walking.

We found that we had done it.

Then two women commented on me skipping the queue.

Dean said to them that I was with him.

They were ok with that and that was it.

Now how come they didn't notice a big guy like Dean jump the queue and they did me? I blame my orange T-Shirt...and the parents and tabloid jounalism.

Note to readers: Yes I do know that I shouldn't queue jump and that such actions may be the slippery slope to all kinds of other deviant behaviour but rest assured that I have learned from my mistake.

So back to the big orange inflatable ...another part of the Greenwich & Docklands festival. The pictures below tell the story. For most of the performance I didn't notice something. I wonder if you did.

I learned from this performance that you don't need legs to dance.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

To Cult or Not to Cult

Reading Thomas' blog it made me think, about cults, comments about the small folded up piece of paper and a conversation at club about starting a group up.

I'm a bit wary of the origin of the word cult coming from latin cultus meaning worship/adoration which in the context of organized religion doesn't have to have the obsessive quality I associate with the term but sometimes can. It has an intensity to the word which can create a very narrow focus closing off other possible views. From a sociological perspective being a 'self-identified group of people who share a narrowly defined interest or perspective' again works as long as that interest or perspective is positive.

I prefer the word 'cultivate' it is wider and more organic, something which inspires growth, is open to change, prompts action rather than a way of thinking because that is where we see the beliefs of the person, in their actions...its less elitist, narrow in perspective and less cut of from that which is different to it.

cultivate (Encarta Definition)

cul-ti-vate(past and past participle cul-ti-vat-ed, present participle
cul-ti-vat-ing, 3rd person present singular cul-ti-vates)
transitive verb


1. prepare land for crops: to work land or prepare soil for growing crops
2. grow plant: to grow a plant or crop
3. loosen soil: to break up soil with a tool or machine, especially before sowing or planting
4. nurture something: to improve or develop something, usually by study or education: cultivating her interest in science
5. develop acquaintance with somebody: to develop an acquaintance or intimacy with somebody, often for personal advantage
6. make somebody cultured: to civilize or educate a person or group

So if I was to start a cult it would be one be called The Cultivators... (The Growing Cult!)

Friday, June 23, 2006

No Competition

Its Friday, so from 11.30 to 1.30, a group of young people from the Complex Needs Department of George Green Secondary School come to club. They spend time playing games, socialising and doing anything from glass painting or cooking to simple life skills like turn taking and sharing.

Today S, one of the young men showed me how to choose and steer a car in a computer game. After the instruction then we began to race.

When I got stuck he helped me.
When I was behind he waited for me.
When he couldn't see me on the screen he came and found me.

He kept checking to see if I was ok and we finished the race together side by side. If only more people could be like him. I learned a lot from him today about competition...its very hard to win or lose if you spend your time caring about and for other people in the race.
All you now do is pursue your private objectives within society. Instead of us being a community, everybody is asked to seek their own personal ends. It's called competition. And competition is antagonism.

- Edward Bond

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away.

-Henry David Thoreau
Being a youth worker I am privileged to meet many people who hear different drummers and step to the music they hear...I hope sometimes I am one of them...and sometimes we can share the same music...

The first (and only so far) Lostism up in club is, appropriately:


Thursday, June 22, 2006

Feel the Force

Force 1 - Evil Forces

A phone caller was worried about an issue which I gave him some advice about. He continued...'You all believe in God and the bible and stuff don't you because I think evil forces are at work.' To which I replied that I could help him with regard to his issue but if he wanted to talk to someone about evil forces at work that he would have to phone back the next morning after nine and someone could accomodate him.

All a bit matter of fact really when you come to think of it, I could have been talking about anything....ring back later and someone can help you with your evil forces at work...and he didn't even phone back next morning.

Force 2 - The Unknown 'Them'

Emma told me about P who standing outside our building told her about 'them', the people who were always 'up there' pointing upstairs, who never invited him...never let him 'up there'. Emma explained that he wasn't being 'left out' or being kept in the dark, 'up there' was the youth centre and that it was for young people and the downstairs was for him, there was no conspiracy.

Force 3 - Gordon felt the Force

Mary's spur of the moment reflection, before club was to gather the 5 other workers (all women) around Gordon, place their hands on him and each in turn wish him well in his move from our centre. It got very hot in the office, especially for Gordon with all those hands on him.

Force 4 - Gale Forces

We didn't really finish club tonight, it kind of continued to the point we invited the young people to participate in our evaluation. Sarah came up with a good evaluation theme tonight. She thought seeing as the weather has been a recent topic of conversation that we could describe our night in terms of the weather. We had lots of sun shiney days, a few clouds, sunny intervals, showers, a thunder storm which clears, a cool night and a high pressure area with cumulus clouds...and there were references to wind which had nothing to do with weather.

Force 5 - Armed Forces

Re-reading 1984 (because Keeley is reading it and I want to be reminded of it so we can discuss it ...while in the middle of The Bookseller of Kabul, borrowed from Gordon and recommended by both Mary & Gordon) I thought of how the four Ministries of Truth, Love, Plenty and Peace names were a contrast to what they actually perpetuated ie. lies, fear/hate, rationing and war...there is a similar contradiction in the name Ministry of Defence.

Force 6 - Force of Nature

Man with black and white dog, was every time I had seen him on the street or at the centre, a force of nature...he seemed impelled to behave as he did and all the behaviour I saw was that of someone drawn to doing the opposite of what would have been the right thing to do in every situation. So when I saw him about to cross my path again on the street, I took a deep breath and prepared for the onslaught. But instead, a very different man, when he noticed me, quietly said 'Thank you' to me with a half-apologetic-smile and a flourish of his hand to show me how it had healed, 'No really, thank you'. And that is all he did and I was relieved and pleased that I got to see this side of him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Small Island

A book by Andrea Levy about Britain and Jamaica and the meeting of people from both these small islands in London at the time of the second world war. It talks of relationships, love and war, empire, prejudice, all coming together to give an insight into a time of change.

The stories of the characters are wonderfully wrought and keep the reader interested in their progress in the novel. Incidents are well observed by the author, such as the following recollection of something which happened while a character was away at war:

Maxi had woken us all in the basha in the middle of the night. 'Snake, snake,' he's yelling. Struggling about on his charpoy. 'Big bugger', he's telling us, thrashing this way and that. We're all up, knives, guns at the ready. Snake. Big snake. Maxi going at it like Tarzan to get it out of his bed. The legs of the charpoy collapse. Everything falls on the floor, including Maxi. He screams he's been bitten and runs off to the MO clutching his leg. Leaves us all turning over this, prodding at that. Scared as hell, we all admit, hunting this big snake in the basha. Turns out Maxi fell asleep on his arm. Woke up, grabbed it, felt nothing. Concluded it was a snake. Cut himself on a piece of sharp bamboo in the struggle to throw his own arm out of bed.

Check out the author's website here

A Small Folded Up Piece of Paper

Today I picked up a small folded up piece of paper from the ground. Why? Because it was there. Because I was curious. Because it was a folded up piece of paper on the ground.

It suddenly made my day a whole lot more interesting... I tried to think of why it would be so sounded like Joyce

I wonder who wrote it and I wonder why.

Monday, June 19, 2006


Craig (young person volunteer) ran an evaluation session after club tonight using Lego. We had to show our night in Lego, whether it was a happy face or people playing different games and interacting in different ways it proved to be a useful medium for expression.

Wayne (volunteer) shared Kipling's If with us for our reflection before club sounded well when different people read a verse and the sentiment remained as strong as when heard for the first time.


Rudyard Kipling's VerseIf you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And-which is more-you'll be a Man, my son!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Free London

Today we had the Summer Sale and it was such a beautiful day that the best place to be was definitely on the stalls outside. It was great that Josh & Craig not only contributed to the stall stock but also manned it and drove some hard bargains with our seasoned sale attenders to make 56.38 for the club out of stuff we would have either thrown away or given away to charity shops.

We also got some more people to sign up to get a blood donor unit onsite ...we only need 300 people!

As well as which the Da Linchi Code went down well but remained unbroken keeping its secrets hidden. For 20p people had 2 minutes to try to open our Rozlin Box and get the contents inside...13 people tried to no avail...and 1 person wanted to buy the box for a tenner as it matched her sideboard...and I would have sold it had my dad not brought it back from Cyprus for me.

Afterwards I went into Leicester Square for the Westend Live weekend extravaganza....actually it was pretty good...there were performances from lots of the West End there just in time to see Blue Man Group (see in background of girl with baloon)...hadn't even known they were on...and on the way bumped into a big Sri Lanka Festival in Trafalgar Square.

After, on the way to some falefal at a place Dean introduced me to, called Maaz, on Old Compton Street, checked out the Soho Parish Summer Fayre...

At the risk of sounding like a tourist infomercial...I love that in the summer in London you can turn a corner and find something unexpected and that I can have a whole day of fun for the price of a bus pass and falefal...See here for other free or inexpensive ideas for June & July

Friday, June 16, 2006

Legal Killing?

"The death penalty is no more effective a deterrent than life imprisonment... It is also evident that the burden of capital punishment falls upon the poor, the ignorant and the underprivileged members of society." - United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Thinking on the death penalty I remembered The Ballad of Reading Gaol, by Oscar Wilde which made a great impression on me in my teens.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain's heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God's sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man's face was white with fear,
And that man's face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were spick and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at,
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by day,
It eats the flesh and bone by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer's heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God's kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope's sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison-air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man's despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who tramp the yard
That God's Son died for all.

And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Amnesty International says the Death Penalty is not a deterrent.

China, Iran, the United States and Viet Nam account for 97% of the executions recorded by Amnesty International in 2004.

In a US survey of the 'presidents of the country's top academic criminological societies, 84% of those experts rejected the notion that the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder. (Radelet & Akers, 1996)'

In 2004, like other years the FBI Uniform Crime Report showed that although the American South has 80% of the executions of the US they also have the highest murder rate. The North East has only 1% of the executions in the US and has the lowest murder rate.

Death Penalty Fact Sheet

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Da Book & Da Film

I didn't want to jump on the bandwagon but sometimes a youthworker has to do things in the name of duty. I read the Da Vinci Code and went to see the film.

I enjoyed the film more than I thought...because of the company, Gordon (UrbanArmy), Keeley (Still Deciding) & Thomas (Just Another Hippie) and because of the popcorn and because we sat up front...the only place to sit in a cinema to get an 'in your face experience'. The film was enhanced by the fact that Thomas and I played the 'spot the dramatic deviation from the book game'...a long convoluted title for a game befitting the long convoluted nature of what it was based on. My bum was numb by the end of the film but I didn't get bored and it did make me jump, more than once...although it only elicited one scream from my lips (this was pretty good going considering I knew what was going to happen next having just read the book this week).

Oh and I did check if I was sitting on the Grail or if it was under my seat...(hint:my full name). I will read though Holy Blood & The Holy Grail and Sophie's World I had forgotten how good they were and The DaVinci Code reminded me.

Check out differences between the book and film here.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Some of my favourite poetry...

Had I the Heaven's Embroidered Cloths

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

W. B. Yeats


Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
Nowhere below us
Above only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

J. Lennon

Monday, June 12, 2006

I Will Never Be Old Again

My mum is 55 today...I was old at 22. I have never been as old as I felt then with a two year old and the weight of trying to achieve what I thought was important to have - security. I thought for a moment that it came in a couple of well paid jobs and all the extras money could buy.

We spent two years handing our daughter either to each other at opposite shifts or to the childminder. We both gave our notice the same month both to the jobs and the childminder. I felt the weight lift from my shoulders.

At 27 I became the age that I had first known my mother to be. She was 27 and I was 10. And 27 was old to me because that was my mother's age. So when I hit 30 it didn't register really. And I expect 40 will be the same.

I look at my 18 year old daughter now sprawled out on the sofa having fallen asleep finally in this clammy weather and think, maybe I'll feel old when she turns 27.

I don't feel young either mind you...I stopped feeling young when my grandfather died. "The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.(A N Whitehead)" Maybe the secret to eternal life is not being touched by tragedy. Its not possible in this world.

I'm lucky I got to my teens...others aren't so lucky, they have to grow up much faster...they are the child labour, child soldiers or child prostitutes of the world and some don't even have the resources to get to live long enough to grow old.

Save the Children

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Street Encounters in the Last 10 Days

1. He was thrashing a derelict building. I said Hi. He dropped his head so that his baseball cap peak hid his face. I haven't had that done to me before. It would have been ingenious had I not already known who it was.

2. She appeared on the platform, possibly with her boyfriend. We acknowledged each other. He asked her (supposedly out of my ear shot) who I was. I didn't hear what she said, but there was no avoiding each other as the train pulled in. She wore a summery smock dress. I looked at her and on my mind was - u look pregnant, I said: You look lovely. She beamed and breathed out, saying thanks for that, that's sweet of you and continued onto the train smiling. Whyever she was wearing that dress, she did look lovely.

3. On a bike he circled the 3 community police around his mate. I asked if his mate needed back-up. He told me no that they were questioning him about something he didn't do, so he should be ok. Around the corner I saw two girls trying to look casual in a neighbours front garden. We smiled at each other. A male voice from behind them calls my name and says hello. I see him half hidden. I didn't need to wonder why.

4. She called my name from across the road. She told me of her trip to Rome with her partner. They retraced the trip we had done years previously when she was a young person on one of our clubs residentials, even staying at the same youth hostel. As well as being a club member she used to also be a volunteer working with the younger children and now her full time job is still working with young people.

5. He stopped me in the street asking, can I have a word. He asked me what he should do if he is worried about how a child is being treated. I tell him what I think. He listens. His friend listens. We are all saddened by the world together. We all want it to be a better place and they want to do something about it.

6. She bumped into me in the market and said I hope you don't mind I put your name as a reference. I replied, not to worry, that she could use my name anytime she needed it. She was concerned to hear club was moving, when I said that we weren't she was relieved, despite the fact she hadn't been in years. She seemed to just need to know it was still there.

7. He says Hi while waiting for a train and rings me later saying that seeing me reminded him that he wanted to ask me if I would sign his photos again for his passport as he had lost the ones I had already signed. We arranged to meet twice before I did and after he realised he had given me a blue pen instead of the required black. He expected me to be at club every time he called there. I told him that despite some evidence to the contrary I didn't live there, I had a life outside club and arranged for him to come when I was there. He did and gave me the photo with the blue writing as a memento.

Sometimes it can take me an hour to walk the 7 minute walk from the club home. Sometimes I see things I don't want to or hear things I shouldn't. Whether they are young people who are current or past members of the club they are all part of my community and we are linked together even if only in terms of geography. We travel the same streets. And as Tennyson said:
I am a part of all that I have met.

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Today I got away from it all, not very far away from it all.

But just far enough away to hear the birds over cars

Friday, June 09, 2006

Dragon Boating

Last night, with a sky full of City Airport planes landing and taking off on one side and the golden glow of a sunset on the other, I raced in a dragon boat for the first time. I been to training 5 or 6 times before but there were never enough people for two boats. Last night we had 12 in each boat, did a bit of timing practice (so we all paddled in time), some pyramids(in twos took turns to paddle)and some practice starts culminating in a best of three 250m set of races.

We took 2 strokes forward to get in line, we were told 'Down and ready', I took a deep breath and off we went. I ignored the pain in my shoulders and concentrated on trying to keep in time. That was what we had to focus on we were told. I watched down the middle of the boat to the front to get my timing. We were urged on by the person at the helm. 'Make it count', he told us.'You can do it.' I looked at the other boat to the left of us. We were edging ahead. I spotted the finish. I looked down the middle of the boat to keep in time. 'Dig deep', he said. We did. We won.

I hadn't really started paddling to be competitive, just to get fit and try something new, but when we patted each other's backs and congratulated each other on a job well felt good.

The helm of the other team complained that we had been a fraction ahead at the start and when our helm agreed, given the phychological advantage the boat in the lead has, I felt somewhat deflated. The next race was harder, we had just used a lot of energy in the last race and then to feel we had had an unfair advantage weighed heavily on my progress, but I still went for it...and just concentrated on keeping in time with the other 11 people in the boat. We were neck and neck. Our helm told us to concentrate on the people our own boat not theirs and keep time. We got a fraction ahead, our lead widened and we won again.

Even though we got best of three, we still did the last race. This time we gave them a head start, which meant we had to work even harder. I would have thought we wouldn't care about the race, having already won the requisite 2 out of 3, but no we were still putting our all into it and keeping time we managed coming up to the finish to pull away from them and just pip them to the post.

I barely knew the people on my boat. I knew the names of four of them, the other's I had met for the first time...yet we worked together well as a team. We had good leadership from the helm, everyone supported one another and worked hard towards a straight forward achievable end.

And although it was my first race...this is what happens everytime I go training. At the end of every session we congratulate each other for a job well done. We don't have to win to get a sense of achievement.

What's On June/July

June 10-11: Coin Street Festival - Carnival De Cuba (FREE) Cuban street party - music, dance & food on the South Bank

June 18: Coin Street Festival - Celebrating Sanctuary (FREE)

June 22-25: Greenwich & Docklands Festival - Lots of FREE performances & music

June 24: Family Day on Hamstead Heath including kite making and flying (FREE)

July 6-10: A Festival of Resistance on in London...looks good but not free.

July 8: Rise Festival (used to be Respect Festival) on 8th July in Finsbury park(FREE)

July 15-16: Coin Street Festival - Turkish Festival (FREE)

Until August 28: Che Guevara: Revloutionary & Icon @ the Victoria & Albert Museum! £5 or £4

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Death Counter

"Every two minutes someone has a heart attack", the TV has just told me.

Today people ran around Canary Wharf in aid of the British Heart Foundation. They did 1 to 6 laps of 1.5 km for the charity. I wish I had. I can see the link with running for this charity because fitness is an issue when it comes to heart disease.

I do though think about how we see charities and issues and whether we practice a sort of triage on them. We sort out who we can help with our limited time and resources. Unfortunately if we don't know about the issue or problem we can't deal with it which is why we have the adverts... and even they cannot tell us the full story...just the edited highlights...or lowlights.

For as much of the full picture as you can get, check out the real time Death Counter . This is the World Health Organization Statistical Clock Based on Annual Death Rates For Listed Diseases and Traumas.

Some believe....

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

However Elie Wiesel believes...

The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference.
The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference.
The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference.
And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.

Lets not be indifferent.

I Was Lost

I was lost without my mobile watching Lost. I had left it at club and felt left out... I wasn't able to text when I heard a good Lostism or get any from others (the new phenomena called TV Texting sweeping the world or the East End in a very localised area around me) . It just wasn't the same and I felt bad because people probably thought I was ignoring them or not watching. I missed the sharing...I'd lost that sense of community.

My viewing tonight was spoilt as was my ability to spot the Lostism. So here are the few paltry lines until I check my phone and talk to other people.

We're not there yet
What are u - a boy scout?
I'm in the Peace Corps
Nathan wasn't a good person thats why he wasn't on the list
We're safe here now

Saying that I had a lovely session tonight at club looking at our area and what improvements we could make to it and looking at previous projects on the subject at Poplar Futures and critiquing them (first time I've ever written that word...hmmm 'critiquing').

In 2004 the young people designed improvements to the area on paper and 3D (the wall to the left would have a mural and 3D items coming out of it ie. sofa so people could sit on it).
In 2005 other young people looked at identity and placed themselves in the context of their environment in a poem Me, Myself and I (Part 1, Part2, Part 3)

This year who knows what will happen...I expect something interesting knowing this group. There may be blogs, graffitti, political discussions, round-the-table, debates, coffee, chocolate, biscuits...there may even be a revolution.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

6/6/6 & 7

I noticed when I filled in a form today that it was the 6th of the 6th of the 6th. The Omen remake is out today. I've never seen it but remember a friend of ours seeing such a likeness in our daughter to Damien that he checked under her hair to see if 666 was written on her scalp.

Today I went to Hackney to check out a Red Cross open day for prospective volunteers. I especially liked the: Seven Fundamental Principles


Proclaimed in Vienna in 1965, the seven Fundamental Principles bond together the National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, The International Committee of the Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. They guarantee the continuity of the Red Cross Red Crescent Movement and its humanitarian work. In a world with increasing isolation, tension and recourse to violence, it is clear that the Red Cross Red Crescent must champion the individual and community values which encourage respect for other human beings and a willingness to work together to find solutions to community problems.

I thought of the 7 Commandments of Animal Farm which were eventually reduced to the final...


but if not treated so end up with the addition


And why does 7 present itself so often...

seven wonders of the world

the seven seas

the seven deadly sins

the seven daughters of Atlas in the Pleiades

the seven ages of man

the seven levels of hell

the seven primary colors

the seven notes of the musical scale

the seven days of the week

Maybe it's because of what Miller describes as how many chunks of information we can store in our short term memory .....7+-