Sunday, July 30, 2006

Tipping the Balance

Just finished The Motorcycle Diaries (this is probably my last post on the subject, for now). I didn't want to finish the book. I loved it. Particularly for the insight to the young man Ernesto Guevara (or Ernie Lynch). I liked this person. I don't know what the older man was really like but I intend finding out.

It was like meeting a young person at club, going on a journey of discovery with them and then meeting them years later. You want to know what they have become. I see the iconic image of Che Guevara and wonder how far away from the young man he was he ventured.

I look at myself and see the young person I was...reminded of my time hitching through Spain and getting a lift from a guy on a motorcycle (it was probably a moped!) and hopping on with my rucksack only to tip the bike back to land on my rear, partially cushioned by the rucksack on my back.

I wonder how much I have changed in 20 years. I can't think that I have and that I haven't in some ways. I am me and all that has changed about me is everything but incrementally over time and not all at once...there seems to be always a constant theme though, like a theme song in a movie. I can't hear it - but on days like the day that I struggled to keep balanced on the motorbike for a few miles towards a church where I planned to meet my parents, I could hear a faint tune which I couldn't make out clearly, but knew was there.

I try to find that song.
Some days other music drowns it out.
Some days noise pollution makes it impossible.
Some days I forget its there.
Some days I have to try really hard to remember what it sounds like.
And some days I could just as well be riding that motorbike in Spain...struggling to keep balanced but enjoying the sun on my face and the cliched wind in my hair, exhilarated with life and looking forward to a bright future...with my theme tune playing in the background.

'Wish I knew my theme tune - if i did I'd play it all the time. Do you know yours?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 1

Its only day 3 of summer club and it seems....more. Juniors (aged 5-9) in the mornings have Poplar Pirates and seniors (aged 10+) in the afternoons and evenings have Urban Escape 2006

So far Emma, with her trusty shipmates Josh, Craig, Thomas, Sarah and Keeley and the below deck crew Rhonda, Wendy and Daisy have taken the Poplar Pirates on a fabulous adventure to Egypt, the Rainforest and Australia, with games, activities and creativity along the way.

See Emma's blog for details, hi-lights and the rest of the adventure and great ideas for activities for 5-9 year olds - link to follow.

Urban Escape hi-lights so far:

The Smoothie Bar run by Craig & Ainslie producers of the infamous Johnski and Webski

Original Designer Mugs by Bukhila, Bethan, Rebecca, John, Ainslie, Kelly, Rejoice, Runtendo and Loriamah.

Round the Table - table tennis (becoming an obsession of all) developing the Kevin 'change' and the Craig 'twist' - sure to become an olympic sport for 2012.

Bethan starting the new fad - Lucky Sox...socks painted with a shamrock on them and the word Lucky in out Sock Shop

A magic taster from Kevin which rivalled anything Thomas had seen or ever hard he tried. Magic school to start next week...Harry Potter need not apply.

Bugs and Butterflies by many and a Hammer-head Shark papier-mache skeleton by Keeley, Ricky & Josh to be finished & added to wall/sky or the net hanging from the cabin on Paradise Island - unless wanted on loan by the Tate Modern.

Drama workshop run by Keeley with some great improvisations, a pilot workshop for future ones in autumn and leading to some possible performances - which will obviously take the West End by storm.

Diane had Thomas and Craig and then Ainslie, Josh and John in the kitchen throughout the cooking of enough pasta bake, BBQ and Southern Fried Chicken and fruit custard tart to feet 18...although the multitudes could have been fed had we not had second and third helpings.

An impromptu outdoor comedy club evening enjoyed by Canary Wharf and the only four cockneys in a crowd of picnic rugs - Thomas, Keeley, Josh & Craig...on a picnic rug.

Josh (disappointed that he did not get a frozen chicken for his birthday) received with grace his Superman shield poster, Tangfastic Haribo and clothes line pegs...and cheesey tag-line explanation - they were chosen as presents because he is Super, Tangfastic and a Peg above the rest.

First radio production session with Cameron and Rob, in which John, Craig, Ainslie and Ricky's radio show One Time Boogie began life and Thomas, Keeley, Kelly, Sarah and Bukhili developed Explosion: The Real Music Hour...sure to be rivals to leading radio shows on leading radio stations like Radio 2 (Wendy listen out)

We Will Rock You at the Dominion only outperformed by 16 people from the Paradise Zone (who had just been to see it), 7 Spanish people, some Chinese people and other sundry tourists on a Number 15 bus singing a varied repetoire of The Wheels on the Bus go Round and Round, We Will Rock You, Reach for the Stars, We are the Champions, Happy Birthday to Josh, Summer Holiday and many more.

Here's Urban Escape 2005

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Puma Sighting

The conversation went like this...

Vicky: You will never guess what I saw today?
Me: A leopard?
Vicky: No, but once I thought I saw a puma but it turned out to be a black dog.

And the conversation continued with ribbing on my part and then when Vicky finished voluteering with us a leaving gift of a Children's Encyclopeia of Animals with book marks at the pages with illustrations of a puma and a dog.

Now I feel bad about the ribbing - I just read an episode in Che Guevara's Motorcycle Diaries where he was woken by the sound of scratching on the half door of the barn on land where there had been puma sightings. The scratching got louder. He saw two fierce eyes come at him from the dark. He raised his gun and shot the creature...only to find it was his hosts dog!

Sorry Vicky...seems its an easy mistake to make...

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Probably Misspelled

I just realised that I probably misspell 'probably' most of the 'probabley' and I don't know why.

This has prompted me to post something on misspellings.

I love the way we all have tricks for remembering how to spell words. I remember when I learned the word 'together' - it was a revelation that it was made up of three words I knew I like the trick of the 'lie' in 'believe' and rhymes like 'i before e except after c'. I was able to tell 'their' and 'there' apart only because I thought that 'here' was part of 'there'. I used to have terrible problems with 'necessary' and anything beginning with 'dis' and could only remember that Wednesday had a silent 'd' by pronouncing it in my head. I haven't got a way yet for distinguishing between 'stationary' and 'stationery' .

As for 'probably' , it isn't even in any of the's probably not a common misspelling...just mine.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Ernie Lynch

...Ernie Lynch you know are you and him related??

I give my contact details to the course co-ordinator. One of the other volunteers notices my surname.

So are you related to Ernie Lynch?
I haven't got a clue what he's on about and my face expresses this. Who?
Ernie Lynch, you know, are you and him related?
Who is Ernie Lynch?
He's really famous, most know him as Che Er...
I finish..Ernesto Guevara Lynch. I laugh as I take the book The Motorcycle Diaries out of my bag.

Now if he had said Ernesto I would have gotten it immediately. But really I laughed at the coincidence whereby within a week of me reading the opening pages of The Motorcycle Diaries and announcing my new found link with Che Guevara (being both Lynchs) to all and sundry at work, this stranger asks me for the very first time in my life (thats the first time in 38 years) if I am related to Ernie Lynch otherwise known as Che Ernesto Guevara Lynch - Che Guevara.

Not only that - my book was the only one of Che Guevara's books he hadn't read - I'm gonna loan it to him when I am finished.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Turn the Mirror

So here's the scenario we were given:

There's been a car crash. There's a person in the front who is injured. The passengers in the back are dead. What's the first thing you do?

Turn the mirror.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Art Head

Today we put our art heads on (me, Craig & Keeley) and went to a local exhibition of art, for some ideas to develop ourt mural at club into something which is a bit more 3D.

Saw some great pieces which weren't at all conventional in their content or presentation - they weren't all just slapped onto a wall to display them, some hung free (like the one to the left), some stood in the middle of the room, round a column, in a cupboard or in a book.

A piece we particularly liked was the one to the right which at first glance appears to be a being with wings then on closer inspection, as Keeley pointed out, you can see that the wings are made up of shredded cigarette boxes. Craig then concluded that perhaps the wings were lungs. Aren't these two clever...nearly as clever as the artist.

We also liked some of the following work in particular either because of its simplicity, inventiveness (not really a word is it?) or just because it was big (like the one K & C are pointing out below.

Free London

For the bored, skint, adventurous and living in London checkout the London Free List. It has most of what is going on in London which is free (or nearly free), from music to comedy to art to festivals, all on one site.You can scroll through categories or get a list of what is free in London this week.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dumbledore & The Wobbly Leg

So Tom is about to sit down outside a cafe. The free chair has a wobbly leg. He turns to sit opposite the other person at the occupied table to find it is Dumbledore. People come up and ask for Dumbledore's autograph. Tom tells Dubledore that he hadn't picked the chair just to stare at him - it was just that the other chair had a wobbly leg.

Note: Dumbledore = Michael Gambon

Monday, July 17, 2006

Captive Learning

Lessons I learned during my captivity:

The back door which can stick and remain unlocked even when you close it only needs a small gust of wind, when your back is turned taking out the recycling, to do the job.

It is possible to be both locked in and locked out – locked out of the building and locked into the car park.

It is hard to break into and out of our centre. I tried.

When things don't go according to plan sometimes I should go with the flow rather than fight it. I need to choose my battles.

Young people like Ricky will go out of their way to help you and in this case purchase for me a Guardian and bottle of water and check later to see if I'm ok.

The Guardian can pass an afternoon of captivity very nicely.

Captivity is better in sunshine.

Tshirts rip quite easily when you are hot or if you want to avoid the 't-shirt tan'.

A newspaper can be a cushion against the arm of a hard metal bench.

Sandals can smell.

People while laughing at you can also sympathise.

I needed a break.

It is good to stop and sit and read for a few hours in the sun…and I should do it more often.

It is good to be free.

It is good to be able to laugh out loud to yourself when you are in a predicament.

It is good to take your watch off and not count the minutes or hours.

I also learned:

  • Roughly 100 Britons a year die from diseases caused by Subeds (Guardian)
  • There have been 3583 recorded pirate attacks around the world since 1992. (Guardian)
  • Bow Street Court saw its last cases this week including that of a woman who was fined for sticking cards in phone boxes and her blu-tac confiscated. (Guardian)
  • Sadly I also learned that honour killings are still rife and not just in farawayforeign countries but in here in the UK in Middlesex. (Guardian)
  • Money in education is being spent on a school fingerprint recognition entry and exit system trial!(Guardian)

Not bad for a 'wasted' was quite an education.

What I appreciate mostly from my afternoon of captivity is how fortunate I am that I have so few worries and that I am free.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.

Albert Camus

Don't cry because its over, smile because it happened.
Dr Seuss

My Inner Kid

Keeley ran a reflection session before junior club on Wednesday where we had to act like kids (different personalities according to shopping bags we might have). I loved it. I really have an inner kid that wants to get out. I'm not really suited to being a grown up I have realised.

It has been interesting seeing people from club grow up. This week has been a time when we have reflected on the passing of time in this respect especially with regard to people leaving and looking back on their time with us. We have been measuring the passing of time in terms of 'do you remember him at junior club'...'they started when we did'...and other such parameters.

I thought of how my own daughter has grown up knowing many of these people and how knowing people changes all the time anyway...we never know the same people in the same way...they and we are changing all the time. We see it more easily in children and young people but none of us are the same people we met years ago.

At times of big changes I have felt anxious but the biggest changes I hardly noticed because they have happened slowly over time.

I found this poem I wrote when Jane was nearly six...she is eighteen now...where did the time go?


I don't want a bath, I want a shower.
I don't want a shower, I want a bath.
I don't need to wash I'm a flower.
Let's play a game instead and have a laugh.

Your pulling my hair out by the roots.
My teeth will fall out if I brush them any more.
I don't like my welly boots.
Going shopping is such a bore.

My nails are fine as they are.
What's wrong with what I'm wearing?
I hope we don't have to walk far.
Here, let's do something daring.

I don't want to wear a hat.
My socks should be this way.
Come here little pussy cat.
I've been really bored all day.

I want to splash in the puddle.
Can't I have a sweet?
I'm always in a muddle.
I don't want to stay on this seat.

There's something scary under my bed.
I've got a tummy upset.
I don't like the colour red.
I think my pants are wet.

Can I stay up late?
Do I have to eat my greens?
I'm so excited I can't wait.
I don't know what this means.

Just one more game.
I'm really sleepy.
I always get the blame.
Ugh, that's creepy.

Lift me up I can't see.
I need to go to the loo.
I don't know what I want to be.
Can I play with this goo?

I won't scribble on the walls again.
Bet I can stand on my head.
When is it, when is it , when?
No I don't want to go to bed.

I don't want to play on my own.
I can't sleep.
I want to go home.
Can I have just one peep?

No I can't sit still.
You know that nice vase, well..
How long is it til...?
I was running and fell.

What did you say?
I want my favourite cup.
Can I go out to play?
Is it time to get up?

What? Why? How? Who? Where? When?

I'm hungry. I'm thirsty. I'm tired. I'm sad
I'm scared. I'm confused. I'm not all that bad.
I love you and I'm sorry for all that I did.
But I' can't help it, Cos I'm only a kid.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Scheduled outrage at 4:00PM.

(or at least thats what i thought it said along the top of the tool bar but it was actually 'outage' ...i prefer my version and I plan to schedule an outrage for 4pm today...join outraged...there are plenty of issues in the world to outrage us...just pick one)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bollocks To Poverty

Press the Big Pink Button to find out more

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Do not believe in anything...

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
- Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

What a man believes may be ascertained not from his creed, but from assumptions on which he habitually acts. - George Bernard Shaw

Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around. - Henry David Thoreau

In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery and death. - Anne Frank

I believe in a thing called love - The Darkness

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Langdon Park to Finsbury Park

A day for dancing

A day for people

From Langdon Park to Finsbury Park

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Black Socks 'n Birkenstocks

This image is a visual representation of my weekend...possibly even my life (sad I know but at least I'm not the one wearing the black socks n' Birkenstocks).

The photo, to me, has the ideals of doing a table top sale and games to make money to do some work in Africa next year with some young people and the promise of sharing and caring of the Rise festival celebrating diversity.

But it is a bit of a contradiction like Birkenstocks...nice, earthy and possibly what hippies like me would wear if we could afford them...and I won't even go into the whole 'sandals and socks' debate...and black socks?

Its all starting out by trying to do something for the environment, the world etc and then we spend money on stuff we don't need, end up selling to other people who don't need it, albeit for a good cause then we go to a festival to celebrate diversity while calling itself Rise the small print says 'against racism' we are as the Tshirt says 'intolerant to intolerance' all gets a bit hazy...out of the photo.

I know I want a better world.
I know I want to be tolerant.
I know I want to work to do both.
But if I keep getting stuck on issues like black socks n' Birkenstocks...I'm not sure I'm gonna achieve a whole lot.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Suitcase Packed

I've packed my suitcase...well Jane's actually because its got wheels.

And I wish I could say its to go somewhere nice like...anywhere.

Instead it is only to go down the road to the local school fayre.

We have a stall - to fundraise for club.

And Thomas txted me saying he had a suitcase full of stuff to sell.

Lightbulb-like reaction...but delayed because it didn't occur to me until later.

I thought to myself: Self, that is how you can transport all those videos.

So, I've packed my suitcase...well Jane's actually because its got wheels...and I don't have a suitcase.

(I used to, a little blue one which I used for going on holidays to my Nanna and Granda but all the videos wouldn't fit in it...even if I still had it...and it didn't have wheels)


Thursday, July 06, 2006


1/3 of the world is at war

Every 138 seconds there is a war related death - that's about 30 people an hour - over 700 a day.

"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?" Mahatma Gandhi, "Non-Violence in Peace and War"Indian ascetic & nationalist leader (1869 - 1948)

"Never has there been a good war or a bad peace." - Benjamin Franklin

"War is a poor chisel to carve out tomorrow." - Martin Luther King Jnr

"Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind" - JFK

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light cando that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love cando that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." - Martin Luther King Jr.

"When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace." - Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) American Musician, Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter


Yes, this is London Arena...or was.
Just in case you haven't noticed its nearly gone.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Noel Hackett

As I walked home tonight in the warmth of 11 at night, feeling the heat radiate from the brick buildings I passed and talking to the young people playing football while their meal cooked upstairs and waving to some neighbours sitting outside talking in the semi-darkness of the night...I knew I wasn't going to sleep.

So I got together what I needed for tomorrow's trip to check out plans for the summer residential. While I was doing this I found amongst my certs some old references. One was from a teacher who had supported me and my friends setting up a junior club at our school as well as in the Debating society. His name was Noel Hackett. I didn't have to read it to know. I never forgot the name.

I would like to thank him. He opened my eyes in the same way that I would hope to with the young people I work with as a youthworker. He encouraged, challenged and informed me. He spoke about what mattered - everything. He made me question - everything. I would like to be to the young people I work with what he was to me.

There is a certain irony in the fact that he was a lay teacher teaching Religion in a school run by nuns. We didn't just learn about Catholicism, we learned about other belief systems...our horizons were broadened. The nuns told us pull up our socks and say our prayers. He discussed the hows and the whys and let us sit on our desks and taught us what revolution was.

I don't remember him advocating one set of beliefs over another. I don't remember him telling us what to think. I don't remember him trying to manipulate us or mould us to a standard set of rules.

I remember him accepting us as we were. I remember feeling that everything was open to us, that we weren't shut out because we had different opinions, we weren't less important than anyone whether adults, teachers or the clergy and we weren't bad if we didn't pull our socks up or say our prayers.

However he might have had something to say about being still awake when the birds are singing and the sun is coming up...he'd probably say 'Appreciate it!'

I'm going to. Then I might even get a little sleep.

To Flood, Save, Build a Bridge or a Dam

A taste of my week...some of the hi-lights.

- Club

For international Joke week we had the Paradise Zone Stand-up Comedy half hour. We had a contest to find the best and worst joke with a cheer-o-meter to judge. Some great and awful jokes and brilliant participation...what guts to get up and speak into a mike in front of everyone.

Out of two different sadnesses came a great outcome - Keeley to run a drama workshop as part of the summer scheme as a possible pilot/taster session for an Autumn term drama group to look into issues around confidence and self-esteem.

Tuesday - Creative Arts/Social Action Group

After discussing Banksy, Kandinsky and Hunderwasser and some graffiti from round the world, we looked round the market and took pics of the graffitti & mosaic art round the playground. Noted it looked a mess and wanted to do something about it. Keeley was up for getting some brushes out and inviting the community to help. Wandered down Brownfield St. Were observed by some other young people who thought we were going to report their vandalism/graffiti to the police. I was threatned with a Mr Freeze. We invited a young woman, who Thomas identified as being a loner, to come to club next time. We took some more pics.

Wednesday - Junior Club

I was asked to play! Sang karaoke syle songs including Suspicious Minds by Elvis with an 8 year old...she chose the song and knew all the brought me back.

Josh said he is up for running a football workshop in the summer scheme (later changed to outdoor games).


Got a call from Emma at Leaside Regeneration asking if I was interested in an art project…finishing the mosaic round the playground in the market...has she spies?

Was having such a good time at club forgot to do joke competition (for international joke week)which Gordon made up for by telling the longest winded joke which many of us got drawn into without realising...

Friday - George Green Complex Needs Group

Shwilli came to club eager to engage...we had found the & Syed took home a mirror and glass they had painted...she was looking forward to the next time.

Craig called to tell me the good news - having missed passing his maths on Wednesday by one point (23 out of 40) ( after which he practiced on a paper at club on Thursday) - on Friday he got 36 out of 40!

Jon came round to talk about doing the youthwork course had wanted to do last year which is at the last interview stage of this year.

Saturday - East End Explorers

We checked out Virginia Quay - where the first permanent settlers left the UK for America, the Bird Sanctuary and Thames Views on the way to Trinity Buoy Wharf. We checked out the lighthouse (playing a 1000 year piece of music since 2000 - we didn't hear it - we may get another chance in the next few 100 years) and Container City, recycled shipping containers converted into artists studios and galleries.

We took a break and had milkshakes and cream sodas at Fatboy's American Diner . They used to make great cream sodas from scratch and when we pointed this out they said they would tell the owner to get the ingredients in then gave us a card with the diner's phone number on so that we could check in a week or so to see if there had been a change.


For most of Sunday see post

Crashed Lil's Birthday party...then got invited.

Diane when asked said she was keen to run some more cookery workshops at summer club and plans to bring some young people from home (the US) with her.

On the way home....

Watched children dance in the shower of the burst or opened water pipe. Paddled in the pool of water created. Watched as groups of young people who may not have mixed in different circumstances work together as a team to create a dam.

I asked: Whatcha trying to the world?

Yeah said one guy...we can do it.

Another said, No, we're trying to flood the street.

I person's flood is another person's saving.

Then one young man commented: Aren't you supposed to be stopping us?

I thought about this. The thought had crossed my mind already. I couldn't stop the water being already was. There wasn't a chance that they could flood the street. They weren't damaging property or in fact when I pointed to the nails on a piece of wood they hammered them in to prevent someone getting hurt.

I wasn't afraid to tell them to stop. I wasn't trying to get in with them. I wasn't trying to be a rebel.

I just thought about what they would remember about the day, how they had tried to stem the tide...and how they might apply what they had learned from the day in the future...the same way we all have experimented with tree houses, camps, building, making things...they made a dam together as a team...

As one young boy crossed on what he saw were stepping stones...I saw Bridge Across the River Kwai...

How appropriate - it was a bridge after all.

One person's dam is another person's bridge.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

June 2nd 2005/6

Its a year to the day since Thomas, Keeley and Sarah went with Emma, Gordon and myself and another couple of hundred thousand to Edinburgh to march to Make Poverty History.

Today as on last July 2nd it was a scorcher. Today we still wore our wrist bands. And today Thomas, Sarah and Keeley (this time with Josh & Craig) were still protesting against poverty and injustice in the world, this time on camera for a documentary looking at social inclusion which will reach schools, youth groups and politicians all over Europe.

We hadn't even realised until we were hours into filming that this was the anniversary of the march...maybe it was the standing around in the heat for hours which reminded us...or the Scottish accent of the filmmaker...whatever it was we couldn't have planned an anniversary activity any better if we had tried...the filmmaker was even from Edinburgh!

Saturday, July 01, 2006


Today while England played their last match in the World Cup the Euro Pride march came to a close. And throughout self-expression meant accessorising, whether with your St Georges cross flag or hint of pink Union Jack, your shirt or lack of it.

When did it all become about the accessories?

Is this how we show our pride? What are we proud about? Our struggles against oppression? Our football teams? Some pride seems more justified, earned almost.

Pride seems to be able to be positive and negative. If it comes with negative attributes such as arrogance and vanity it can engender negative behaviour as in when national pride turns to xenophobia.

As Charles Dickens put it, 'Pride is one of the seven deadly sins; but it cannot be the pride of a mother in her children, for that is a compound of two cardinal virtues -- faith and hope.'