Monday, February 28, 2011


So during Monday Club... the youth centre where you work...
you ask a young person to guess how you came to work that day...
...and they ask you, "Where do you work?"
...and you tell them, "At Club." (hadn't they noticed?)
...and they then say, "Wot, all the time - what do you do during the day?"
...and you explain and realise that they think that you have another 'real' job....
...and you watch a whole new world unfold before their eyes of young people going to a youth centre day and night and even during school time...
...and you hardly get a reaction at all when you go back to telling them how you got to work that day...
... even though,
....unlike other days when you just take 5 minutes to walk to work,
...that day got up that morning
... in Ireland
...and took a car, plane, bus and train to work!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Spirit Level on Imprisonment

In Wilkinson & Pickett's book The Spirit Level (2010) we hear that:

"More people are imprisoned in more unequal countries"

"In the USA prison population s have been increasing steadily since the early 1970s...In the UK...numbers have doubled since 1990...Only 12% of the growth of state prisoners [in the US] ...could be put down to increases in criminal offending...88% of increased imprisoment was due to increasing likelyhood that convicted prisomers were sent to prison rather than being given non -custodial sentences and due to the the increased length of prison sentences."

"In California in 2004, there were 360 people serving life sentences for shop-lifting"

"About forty prison sentences for shoplifting are handed out every day in the UK"

Does it work?

According to the book " there appears to be a trend toward higher rates of re-offending in more punitive systems " USA and UK, re-offending rates are generally beween 60 and and 65% with lower rates in less harsh envoronments like Sweden and Japan between 33 and 40%.

"Societies that imprison more people also spend less of their wealth of their citizens."

Criminologists Downes & Hansen talk of the changes that come to a society with the phenomenon of 'penal expansion and welfare contraction' and sociologist Currie discusses the fact that since 1884 California built 1 new college and 21 new prisons.

"In more unequal countries money is diverted away from positive spending on welfare, education, etc., into criminal and judicial systems."

Sounding familiar?

QI on Imprisonment in the US

Check out The Equality Trust for more info on the benefits of equality and disadvantages of inequality

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QI is QS

I watch QI on TV and find it Quite Interesting.
However, sometimes it's
Quite Shocking!

Having read The Spirit Level on Imprisonment and Punishment I shouldn't have been so surprised...

So, anyway, here's a couple of QI facts to ease you in...

1% of American Adults are in Jail
5% of the World is American
25% of the World's Prisoners are American

"No society in history has imprisoned more of its citizens"
(Stephen Fry from Qi)


  • Could it be because prisons have turned into busineses using prisoners as virtual slaves to compete with cheap overseas labour?
  • Could it be because of prejudice, discrimination, racism & deprivation?

In the US
more 17 year old black males
are in prison than in college

Why else would the 3 Strike Rule be abused so much?
Why else is Leandro Andrade serving two x 25 years for shoplifting 9 videos?

Why else is Keven Weber serving 26 years for stealing 4 chocolate chip cookies?

The small print of the above picture reads:

More Californians are serving
life sentences
under the 3 strike law
for drug posession
than for

second-degree murder, assault with a deadly weapon and rape
- combined.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Housing Emergency

Individuals, groups and organisations
have joined together to form Housing Emergency ... a campaign for tenants rights and affordable housing...

...and today the campaign went to Westminster

Article in Morning Star

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sales Call

The call went something like this....

Me: Hello?
Salesman: Hello. Is Mr O'Brien there please?
Me: I'm afraid he's not in. What is it regarding?
Salesman: Some information Mr O'Brien has shown an interest in. When will he be in?
Me: What is the information regarding?
Salesman: As you must realise Madam, due to data protection, I cannot give you that information.
Me: Well then due to my data protection I cannot give you infomation about Mr O'Brien and when he will be in.
Salesman: (Bursts into laughter)
Me: Thank you and goodbye :-)


Monday, February 07, 2011

Table Tennis Health Check

I have decided that I will be monitoring my improving health by counting the number of games of table tennis I can play at club without feeling like collapsing:

Until recently it wasn't even half of a game.

Tonight I played 3 in a row...

I am on the mend!

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Saturday, February 05, 2011

Let it be!

I could remember today for the unwarranted verbal abuse I got from a stranger in a cafe...but instead I will remember the laughter & conversation with Gordon that preceded it & the walk around Covent garden after, where we enjoyed a peaceful protest from a smiling, dancing group from UCM singing - Let it be!

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Friday, February 04, 2011

Future Me

Today I saw myself
on the path ahead of me

I thought, in twenty years
Thats how I might look and be

I passed her out today
And as far as I could see

One day I will slow down

So she catches up to me

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Thursday, February 03, 2011


We sat at Breakfast Club in the Cafe talking about University Interviews and Youth Work Comprehension tests, when we were interrupted by Patrick, his eyes shining with excitement.

"I'll have a surprise for you tomorrow" he told me,
"...a bag of la-dee-dahs."

This is one of the many perks of working where I do - bags of la-dee-dahs!

(btw for anyone who doesn't know what 'la-dee-dahs' are - they are anything Patrick decides they are or puts in place of a word he may have forgotten and on this occasion I think he meant clementines)

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011


I walked home passing stationary police cars with blue lights flashing.

"So that's i - double n - i - t," said the police officer being careful to take down the exact witness statement of a young person.