Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Kitchen Table

You know those conversations that you have with good friends, over a drink and some grub, sat around the kitchen table, putting the world to rights? Well Greenbelt's Table group is a small collection of folk from different parts of the organsiation who attempt to replicate that effect once a month through most of the year.

We discuss, dream, plot, laugh and generally provide a space where thoughts and ideas can be thrashed around a bit.

Once a year we hold a wider session called the Kitchen Table where we look at a few key areas and get input from a wider range of folk.

Somehow my small 'grace' piece in front of eight people around a table has got out of hand and this afternoon I find myself cacking myself in front of a room of about 100 people (rough number, I was attempting not to focus too much). I cannot convey how much this puts me outside my comfort zone.

Small meeting where I know my topic, not an issue. Big room, not speaking on my forte, absolutely nerve ridden.

I *think* it went ok.

Sincere thanks to the people who said nice things about it afterwards - I suspect many won't imagine how out of my depth I feel doing stuff like that and their kind words meant a huge amount.

After rest of the event was wrapped up and we cornered DC and gave him his leaving gift, it was off to Brick Lane for a curry and some drinks. Time to wish another Dave bon voyage. I'd kind of got used to his Tigger like ways - there'll be a hole.

Curry eaten, pints downed, J, G and I head with E back to her lovely flat in Lewisham. Obviously we all go straight to bed and don't sit up giggling and drinking.

Personally I blame Steve, who frankly promised to ring us at 3am and tell us to "shut-up and go to sleep!".

Friday, January 30, 2009


One of the visits that moved me most in my time in the West Bank, was the Crow's Nest Children's Playground outside Beit Sahour.

In a district encircled by an imprisoning wall, increasingly overcrowded and with little open space of any kind, a simple playground provided a small glimpse of hope and positivity.

Since our return, we've been exploring ways of raising money to provide a proper toilet block to the playground (cost circa $10,000).

I'm regularly very proud of my adopted bruv Stuart and tonight is one of those times. He's managed to organise a gig for Garth to play, with proceeds going to the playground appeal.

The turn out of nearly 150 is fantastic and between ticket sales and raffles, around £1500 is raised.

Boy . done . good .

Post-gig a group of us head with the wonderful G&G to the Punjab for a curry. Next thing I know it's 1am.

Just as well I was organised and prepared everything I need for tomorrow's trip to London, presentation thing and overnight stay.

Aw buggeration.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gaza DEC Appeal

Seeing as how the BBC won't show it...

The truth makes no claim of impartiality.

Do we then chose comfort over truth?

Better surely we change the reality and thus change the story; and whilst we fail to do that, let us at least attend to the wounds of those who continue to bear the brunt.

Donate on-line at or phone 0370 60 60 900.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love on the Dole

A massive migraine attack has taken out much of my week and hence I didn't finish this week's book Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood.

What I have read has me drawn in though, a fascinating insight into a time and place that now seems in many ways so remote, but in others ways the underlying cycles of a neighbourhood crippled by poverty still ring eerily true to those of us familiar with the less salubrious end of inner city life.

Alongside the overarching questions it asks of society, are the delightful little glimpses of everyday detail of a bye-gone era; like how did people wake up for work in a world before alarm clocks were prevalent?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

London Redux

Back to London for the second time in a week (God bless the newly improved West Coast Mainline and the final end to tortuously slow Sunday journeys).

Two events bring me south.

Firstly on Saturday the Palestinian trip folk have a reunion at MW's house. A time to regather, discuss our post-trip experiences/actions and plan for what we do next.

The events in Gaza have obviously effected all of us deeply - anything we can do seems like a drop in an ocean. At times it's hard to remember that oceans are built up of tiny drops.

Amos Trust have long supported Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza City which is administered by the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem. The news coming out (when it can) is devastating.

Amos have launched an emergency appeal - if you can spare anything to donate to this please click here.

Post meeting G, G, G and I (hmmmmm I seem to have the wrong initial for this), enjoy a lovely meal at Tower Hill, which affords some much to be appreciated quality time.

I then I head south of the river to my folks place and after a good night's sleep, we celebrate my dad's birthday with a lovely lunch out. So lovely to spend time with Mum and Dad, even if it is just for a few hours.

Come the evening it's time to head home. It's a good job I arrived at Euston in good time as the train had been rescheduled and left a few minutes earlier than the time on my ticket stated.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Creating Holes

With little time for preparation I had to rather throw together the opening thought for this evening's festival meeting in London.

Once in a blue moon however, an idea just descends instantaneously.

Whether thoughts about how art reveals truths, challenges us to look at things in different ways, managed to transfer from my head (where they made sense) to the wise souls gathered is hard to judge. I often fear with these things that such thoughts only make sense in my fevered brain.

The general thrust was about "creating holes" in the walls that exist in our lives, society, world. This piece of art from the separation wall in Bethlehem particularly spoke to me.

It reads: "When the Bay Bridge fell in the last San Francisco earthquake, we learned that structures resonate to a frequency. A vibration that matches their internal rhythm can bring them down. Massive structures tremble and a fence is only as strong as its point of attachment to its base"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Meetings, meetings and more meetings

After a week of work meetings it's a relief to make it to the weekend...even if ironically my Saturday is to be taken up by a Greenbelt Venue Management team meeting. Definitely more pleasant than the work variety however, and the team seem to be forming well and have good plans for the future.

There's a lot to be done however and it's great that I'm now joined in 'line managing' the team by G, that time bandit of yore, coaxed out of Greenbelt retirement to join us FOMs.

Over the years G and I have worked together a fair bit, but rarely found time for proper get to know each other type catch-ups (a situation possible related to the fact that in rare moments of downtime, he inexplicable seems to delight in running around having people smash items on his seemingly indestructible head). Accordingly, it's an utter delight that he managed to make it up to manchester last night in time for a lovely evening at the Dog Collar and Rabbit Corpse house where K seems to be responding well to Chinese cookery lessons from her neighbour C (mmmmmm salt and pepper chicken...).

An extension to a second night away was granted by G's lovely spouse T, on the basis of risk of snow making travelling unwise. Strictly speaking the forecasts weren't particularly predicting arctic conditions, but one never can be too careful (thanks T!)...

A fine evening in the Punjab (amusingly with drunken 'entertainment' spilling in from the streets at one point), good food, even better company.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Angela Carter's collection of Fairytales is an unusual book. None of us at Book Group had waded through the full tome and I suspect it's best sampled in chunks rather than one monster read.

I find the tales from around the globe fascinating. Common archetypes and themes intrigue and gruesome story lines remind us that fairy tale endings are always of the Disney variety.

Definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


My job regularly takes me here and there and presently quite often to Cumbria.

As we head up the M6 theres a point where the Lancashire plains give way to the majesty of the hill country. The light shining on the summits has more than once caused me to consider bunking off whatever meeting I have scheduled and fishing the walking boots out of the boot.

Today, however, with the peaks shrouding in mist and drizzle the temptation is not so strong.

Which is a shame really, given how the meeting panned out. Visibility poor all round.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


It takes about two days for my glow of feeling on top of things due to working between Christmas and New Year to disappear.

Two days and a heap of incoming queries, meetings and emails.

There is a vague light at the end of the tunnel, that I'm choosing to believe is the long-awaited cavalry, just a shame that these days the cavalry require numerous hand-over meetings that temporarily only add to the strain.

Eyes on the long term though, eyes on the long term...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

New Year Visiting

Recovered (/sobered-up) after an excellent NYE, I head to the Black Country for a couple of days with the much missed P&S.

Curry eating, frosty country walks, ice-cream parlour exploration and very fine company - a very good way to start the new year.

Determined to get better at keeping in touch with folk, I take a long detour on the way home and find myself in Llangollen. I didn't manage to catch up with K this time, but it was fantastic to see M and the 3 little lovelies. After feeding them far too much chocolate (as only an errant 'aunt' can) and seeing them tucked up in bed, I head home, cold, tired but reminded of what excellent friends I have.

Now if they could all just please stop pissing about and move back to Manchester...

Thursday, January 01, 2009


After a somewhat surreal Christmas and a workload that found me back in the office this week, a proper night-off for a party at the hosts-with-the-mosts was just what I needed.

I drank far too much bubbly, ate far too much spectactular grub (got to love a friendship ring that includes people endeavouring to out chef each other) and generaly had a fine old time.

Taxi home around 3am (or was it 4am?) turned up within 10 minutes of making the call and I slept the long, deep sleep of the just (or the just plan knackered/tipsy).

Here's to 2009.