Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Poverty & Racism

Is the the government's strategy to wipe out poverty; an easily accessible source of bankrupcy? Today, CBB news, which I otherwise have studiously avoided here! Jade enters The Priory sobbing uncontrollably. I do now feel sorry for her, as she appear to have all the indicators of depression, & she must feel like she has lost so much. Just because I can't see the point of the life she was leading, it was the one she wanted, & it was a long way from the one she had before it seems. Despite the publicity, The Priory group is not a celebrity hang out, but a serious psychiatric establishement, & perhaps she will be able to think about the slightly less emphermeral things which make her happy.
The irony is not lost on me that her career was built on the ignorance which is also putting paid to it. The tabloids have decided that the brand of racism in the BB house was unacceptable, & I am glad it brought it to light, but I wish there was more of the same about the taxi driver beaten to death by men who thought it was funny to find "paki juice" on their shoes. My disgust is palpable, & only ever matched by the police survellience video of those not convicted of killing Stephen Lawrence. It is a bright light that those men had their photographs paraded on the front page of The Daily Snail, one little glow in their otherwise grimly right wing editorial.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Stuff I Like

& Now for something a bit more cheery? I really like this painting, which can be found on the Saatchi Gallery website & the blurb below is directly lifted from the gallery.
Labelling her sultry and seductive models with German political party vanity chains identifying the joint Christian Democratic and Christian Socialist Union, Jospehine Meckseper spin-doctors a media savvy image parodying the right wing. Meckseper’s enlarged faux magazine spread updates traditional allegorical painting via woman’s fashion advert, drawing veiled reference to Angela Merkel, the party’s leader and Germany’s first female chancellor. Raising uneasy questions about class, power, nationalism, and feminism, Meckseper portrays her homeland as a twinned stealth-like beauty: Arian perfection garbed in democratic coloured designer gowns, languishing in extravagance and oblivious to the proletariat maid lingering in the distance.

I am a big fan of painting, so I like this from ARTISTS IN TRIUMPH OF PAINTING section should you care to take a look for yourself.
& I think, since girl with a pearl earring, we shall all get this Vermeer reference. The photograph is of a squatter in Hackney reading a possession order, with a surprising dignity & calm.
& this one is just a rebel!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Another Victoria Climbé?

2 Children die in Hackney, did anyone know they were at a risk? Rather than fear the predatory peadophile that they do, parents could do with knowing that their children are at greater risk from them, especially when it comes to murder.

A murder investigation has been launched after two young children were found dead in a house. Police investigating the deaths have arrested a 30-year-old woman at an address in Hackney, east London, where the children, a three-year-old girl and 10-year-old boy, were found. She remains in custody tonight.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said police were not looking for anyone else in connection with the murders. He said officers were called to the house in Pembury Close at approximately 9.25am. An ambulance crew also rushed to the address but the children were pronounced dead at the scene. Detectives from the Child Abuse Investigation Team are leading the investigation.

Risk avoidance is impossible, but I do fear this mother will have come to the attention of a social worker who might have been trying to keep the family together, despite the desperation this woman must have been feeling. She may have known she was unlikely to be able to keep her children, felt the pain of being unable to care for them adequately, or maybe they just shouldn't have been left with her at all. Speculation is useless, & I shall pray for her & her children tonight, as well as anyone who has been working with her.
I will also be hoping that the public lynching of a social worker can be avoided, it might be deserved, but Hackney has some of the worst economic problems of all the London Boroughs & I know the Pembury Estate well; it would challenge the best of us.

This time I do know we don't need any new law or guidance, the 1989 Children Act is a sound piece of legislation, & there is no ambiguity about the process which should be followed for a child at risk in guidance. Any falling through the cracks is the result of caseloads, which are often overwhelming in such a borough. This leads to high staff turnover & the problems which accompany it.

The social services team who will take your call, should you ring about a child, is called the Access team. In a much quieter (than London) countyshire office I learnt that the Child Access team can recieve 150 calls a week & the child protection team could cope with about 2 of those being passed on, maybe. Some calls can be screened out; people can't have their children being taken into care because they left the windows open again! Some are malicious ex-es or neighbours, & some require a follow up which happens within 7 days. It does happen, but after that, the Access team keep as many cases as they can, because can't refer them all on, even child protection is a concern.

Family Aides & Family Centres are fantastic, often supporting children & their families in very practical ways. Sometimes services can be put in place, referrals made to other agencies, & families emerge from their crisis. But the threshold for making a referral to the Child Protection Team is too high, because there are no resources, & cases escalate while people work very hard to keep the family together. Sometimes communciation fails in a way which really fails a child, & I hope that isn't what happened because we should know better.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Bard of JFS

Listening to Daljit Nagra on Front Row was a delight, particularly when he spoke of his year 13’s who love Larkin. I don’t think it is at all sad that one of his 6th formers wrote his 1st Amazon review; 'Puts Keats to shame" and "A wonder to behold" are not bad verdicts for the first ever review of your debut volume of poetry. And this five-star critique gets better. "If you enjoy poetry, genius, or PURE UNRIVALLED QUALITY of any kind," runs the customer review on Amazon, "buy this 21st-century bible of poetry and bask in the teachings of The Nagrameister." The Guardian did. I think it is wonderful, I feel sure he is an inspiration. I also find it amusing that he works at the Jewish Free School, where Larkin wouldn't like most of the class or him! Like his class, I suppose I wondered why he was still in the class room, what with books being publised and all, but poets don't earn a fortune.
Cleverer people than I can tell you that "Look We Have Coming to Dover" alludes to Matthew Arnold's famous poem Dover Beach. Nagra's "Dover" recently won a British poetry award for best single poem.

Look we have coming to Dover!
Stowed in the sea to invade
the lash alfresco of a diesel-breeze
ratcheting speed into the tide with the brunt
gobfuls of surf phlegmed by cushy,
come-and-go tourists prow'd on the cruisers, lording the waves.

Seagull and shoal life bletching
vexed blarnies at our camouflage past
the vast crumble of scummed cliffs.
Thunder in its bluster unbladdering yobbish
rain and wind on our escape, hutched in a Bedford can.
Seasons or years we reap
inland, unclocked by the national eye
or a stab in the back, teemed for breathing
sweeps of grass through the whistling asthma
of parks, burdened, hushed, poling sparks across pylon and pylon.
Swarms of us, grafting
in the black within shot of the moon's spotlight,
banking on the miracle of sun to span
its rainbow, passport us to life. Only then
can it be human to bare-faced, hoick ourselves for the clear.
Imagine my love and I,
and our sundry others, blared in the cash
of our beeswax'd cars, our crash clothes,
free, as we sip from an unparasol'd table
babbling our lingoes, flecked by the chalk of Britannia.
• First published in Poetry Review
So various, so beautiful, so new - Matthew Arnold, "Dover Beach"

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Mini Me

& look Rocco screwing up his eyes, against the flash maybe, but spoiling those photos fine! These happy family snaps were taken the same day that the daily snail printed a whole story about Madge's marriage falling apart...


Thursday, January 25, 2007

Deep & Shallow Thoughts

Today I have been thinking about this; & wondering how Courtney Love managed to look like this... I like the girl, she has b***s, & it is a definite improvement on this;But still how! I also really liked her telling Jenni Murray that her daughter wasn't as bothered about anything except when mummy got fat, then she was mortified & Courtney bemused.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

That Funny Little Gold Man

There will be much written about the British coming; Welland's vainglorious speech at the Oscar ceremony which didn't herald a new dawn for British cinema at all. Soon after, Puttnam became the first Brit to run a Hollywood studio, but I think he has told of the miserable time he had, & his tenure at Colombia was brief. This time around Kate, Judi & Helen are doing the running & I almost don't want to choose who I would like to win.
If I were to pick by parity, Kate has been nominated 4 times but not won, Helen appears to have been nominated for Gosford Park & The Madness of King George, and Judi won in 1999 for an 8 minute performance in 4 scenes in Shakespeare in Love; 8 minutes of Judi = at least 32 of lesser mortals! I think I would rather like Kate to win, just to say that you don't have to be 'Hollywood' to be great on celluloid, even if she is rather a twiglet now.

In a not so nice moment, I anticipate the luscious competition there will be between these 3 leading ladies though; whilst the rhetoric will be all about how brilliant it is for 3 British actresses to be nominated, there will seething under the surface. I can't wait for the rictus grins of those whose name is not announced, especially if it is another of their compatriots. Given that the subtext of the awards are to give a little gold man to someone who has been overlooked previously, rather for their actual work in the film their name is nominally attached to, I expect Penelope will win for Volver; Pedro Almodóvar's is a real talent which deserves recognition.

Meryl Streep The Devil Wears Prada

Kate Winslet Little Children
Judi Dench Notes On A Scandal

Helen Mirren The Queen

Penélope Cruz Volver
Babel seems to have the most nominations for any film, so must check that out when it arrives in Leicester, & I do want to see Little Children. Otherwise I didn't really want to see The Devil Wears Prada, maybe because I've worked on a women's magazine, albeit of a lowlier status but bitchy as anything. Volver didn't appeal, & I don't actually like Almodóvar's films very much despite finding him talented, although I loved Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. I could imagine The Queen being worth seeing but not enough to desert my dissertation post.
Notes on Scandal was a book I loved, but it has made a very different film, as Zoë Heller diplomatically explained in an interview. I suspect I have to accept that it won't be the book, what film is anyway, and know it will be good anyway. That the screenplay is by Patrick Maber, the director is Richard Eyre, & it would be hard to fault Judi & Cate's performances, will be enough to ensure quality. I was lucky enough to see Cate Blanchett in Plenty because someone else couldn't make it, and feel sure she is a proper actress, as opposed to all those Hollywood 'stars' who are names but can't do the actual acting at all, how does that happen?!
There, that is my confession; I'd love to base my views on the actual quality of the films, but I haven't seen any of them, so here on my blog I exert the right to air my hidden shallows ... again. I'm still suffering from bemusement about Mrs Twinkletoes anyway, we've been planning what we'd wear for about 25 years, but where is her nomination?


Monday, January 22, 2007

Mona Becomes Less Mysterious!

Thanks Fifi.

Friday, January 19, 2007

How To Ruin A Face?

Having just watched 10 Years Younger last night, I was thinking about plastic surgery again & the show does some good work. BUT, oh there is always a but, it is always surgery & I liked it better when the transformation was more attainable & the procedres less invasive. + the make-up on the programme really annoys me, they all wear too much, or rather Ruby puts too much on the women. You can see the foundation/concealer in all its glory, both in the harsh light of the make-up studio & the softer light later. It is very odd that the deceit is not covered up as thoroughly as their features.
Not such great results have been achieved by Kenny & Clint... whose faces have most their character.
I should credit these pictures but I can't remember where they came from, but will let you know when I track it down.
On the same site, I found this strip on Robert Redford, but I don't really think he has had anything done. We all have our vanities, but I don't think he cares that much, although he does think he is the best looking grandfather around!On his appearance in Havana: "All everyone talked about was aging. It took me by surprise because I have not thought of myself that way. I assumed I would age naturally, as time went on." He also feels there is a difference between the way he looks and the way he feels inside, which makes me think he might just think aging has made him look more interesting. Some pretty actors have a character actor inside just waiting to be free.

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Graffiti or Vandalism?

So little time & so much to do that I have nicked this in its entirety as an excuse to show off more from Banksy.

"The public are not impressed by graffiti. It is just a bit of a mess," said Keith Elgar, the father of Daniel Elgar, a 19-year-old who was killed last week after he went out, late at night, to tag or, depending on your point of view, vandalise, District line tube carriages in London. Elgar asked his son's friends not to risk their lives tribute tagging. "We are totally against the type of thing they were doing on Friday night."

But, of course, not everyone shares his reservations. The market in Banksy, for example, the street artist whose ephemeral stencils have become such a popular fixture in the homes of pop singers and Hollywood stars, was again in evidence this week, at the London Art Fair. Within minutes of its opening, frustrated connoisseurs of anti-establishment art were contemplating the red dot adorning a £700 Banksy print; the one of a rat holding a banner reading, "Get out while you can."

Presumably, such acclaim, and prices, will only intensify graffiti production at the risky tagging end, with artists demonstrating that their art has an anarchic integrity that transcends its investment potential, before responding to this vigorously expanding market with yet more subversive work in the £5,000-£50,000 bracket.

But how much safer, and simpler, it would be if the artists could cut out the galleries - and the police, the street cleaners and the magistrates - and take their art straight to the buyers, applying their stencils and colourful aerosols directly, and on a scale that is more appropriate to the inviting outer surfaces of their clients' homes and offices.

Not only would more senseless deaths on railway sidings be avoided in this way; graffiti critics, in their housing estates, would be spared this particular form of vandalism, while the bankers and lawyers, copywriters and estate agents who are now emerging as the tagging community's most enthusiastic patrons would surely find the messages conveyed on their extensively graffiti'd premises to be the envy of neighbours and clients alike.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Golden Balls?

Victoria Beckham arriving in LA caused a pap swarm. Some people tell us that Victoria made the decision, perhaps because David was as depressed as others write, but they are both sticking something up to someone. I loved the fact that everyone thought DB was dead in the water, & he may prove to be as a footballer, but he has had the courage to do something completely different & earn loads into the bargain!
It is said that Victoria didn't like Spain, what's not to like I say, but she had other things to be getting on with at the time, some misguided adventure into clothing? When things went awry, they moved fast, & the family were ensconced in the city which lies in the centre of the Castillian plain. A long time ago, David said that he would have loved Victoria if she had worked on the checkout at Tesco, I don't suppose that has changed, except for the competition she faces.

Successful athletes are not only flattered by the attention they receive from beautiful women, but they do also have a lot of time on their hands, often to get bored. A wise decision, after all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to find that there must be a huge contrast between how empty a footballer's life can feel during their free time, compared with the adulation they feel from thousands when on the pitch. It isn't really surprising to find that they try and fill up some of that space with company.
I suspect that sitting on the bench at Real Madrid has been difficult for Beckham; training to perform with no stage, especially when he had to send his wife on her own to the Cruise/Holmes wedding because he had to fly back for that training. He wasn't well treated by Alex Ferguson in my mind, perhaps 2 too big egos in one stadium? Now the new Real coach seems to have taken a dislike to him. Perhaps Beckham doesn't have long to play, but he was never going to be anything other than a surreal presence at Bolton Wanderers, even if he would have liked to spend his final years in the game playing the one he knows & maybe his talents will be really useful to his American team.
Victoria is house hunting with a vengeance if we are to believe the Daily Snail, & it seems America welcomes the couple, who suddenly remind me of another golden couple. Looking at my little collage I find myself feeling bitter about Brad/Jen/Angelina. I know stuff happens, I know I know nothing about this stuff at all really, & nobody knows what goes on in other peoples relationships anyway. We only just know what is going on in ours methinks. But Mariella Frostrup said they seemed really sweet together, when she was visiting with George Clooney, & I bet Jen is funnier. In fact, I hope Jen is still friends with George because I bet Victoria & Jen could be great mates, Posh is funny too; it's a well kept secret but I bet Mariella could tell us all about it. I can just see them all hanging out together on the shores of Lake Como.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

On Set With Mrs Twinkletoes

I don't even know if I'm allowed to post this, but just got an email from Mrs Twinkletoes which lit up my inbox, & contained some photos. Hopefully she will tell me if it is all top secret & I need to take this picture down. On set helping Renée Zellweger to draw, I suspect you could probably who was who without my little device, since there are no other girls in the picture.
It is one of those odd coincidences that I had always intended to ask Mrs T to draw me a tailor of Gloucester type image for my business card, should I ever have cause to carry one, see I knew she could draw like Beatrix before it was an idea in anyone's head! How delightful it all is.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Raise the Roof?

More than 130,000 children in Britain will wake up tomorrow in a place they can't call home. Find out how you can Raise the Roof and help homeless children. Shelter has teamed up with online property portal whathouse.co.uk to raise awareness among the home-buying public of the devastating impact homelessness has on children's health, education, and life chances. The Raise the Roof campaign will help fund a new Shelter service for homeless children that aims to end child homelessness for good.

Designer Cath Kidston, best known for her cheerful, vintage-inspired homewares, has created an exclusive product to launch the campaign.
Buy a Cath Kidston key ringThe money raised will help Shelter fund a new service to help homeless children in Britain. The enamel key ring costs £3.50, and all proceeds from its sale will go to support the new homeless children's service. Kidston, who used her Gloucestershire home as inspiration for the key ring motif, said:
'As a designer I am highly aware of the importance of home and lucky enough to take my own for granted - a safe, cosy place where I can spend time with my family and my dog Stanley who features in the key ring. But for the thousands of homeless children, a safe and secure home is a distant dream. So I'm asking people to join with me to Raise the Roof and end child homelessness once and for all.'

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Not a Games Person

"Not a Games Person" is an illustrated, abridged version of Julie Myerson’s memoir, which spends 45 minutes immersed in the sights, sounds and smells of a school sports day in the late 1960s. It is a poignant, funny memoir, capturing the dread experienced by any schoolgirl who's not at their best on the games field. You can listen again to this drama starring Claire Skinner and Nina Sosanya.
I think I was actually good at lacrosse, not that good, but chosen for the team. Although, on reflection, I suspect there weren't that many takers for the 8am practice sessions which took place on a frozen pitch and left our thighs mottled because track suits were forbidden.
I had moments of brilliance in those things which matter so much at school, I think there was a rounders moment, but it was rare, & I really can't remember what it felt like to be part of the team. I wonder. Actually, a friends reunited primary school friend once said he remembered me being a very nice child, and I couldn't remember what I was like at all, I know it is a long time ago, but I think it was more a sense of never getting things right at home which meant I couldn't possibly of thought of myself as nice. I do hope I was though.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

London Life

One of the secrets of London life is how green it is. For all those who find it dirty, noisy & busy, this is my defence and I really miss walking those unpopulated routes through garden squares in my lunch hour. It was Stephanie Klein who prompted me to think (again!) of where I used to live, & I do have to remind myself of the daily battle commuting can be, though I think I took some perverse pride in the daily challenges of city life, and cycling around the backstreets was bliss when possible. I draw your attention to the Open Squares Weekend which I hope to make room for this year.