Dear Ms Abbott MP,
I am writing to ask you as my member of parliament to sign 2 early day motions. These are issues I believe are important to the people of Hackney. They are:
EDM572 FREQUENT FLYER LEVY CAMPAIGN and EDM 591 VOTING SYSTEM FOR GENERAL ELECTIONS
The people of Hackney are under flight paths and come from countries which will be most adversely effected by climate change. Also people in the more deprived areas often cannot afford regular air travel which is a leading cause of climate change. In our efforts to curtail climate change they shouldn't be adversely targeted, the frequent flyers should be discouraged rather than rewarded.
Many of the people of Hackney would appreciate a proportional voting system which would mean that their vote counted whoever they vote for. The influence of a vote on the outcome of a general election in Hackney is far less than in a more marginal seat elsewhere in the country meaning that not everyone's vote is equal in determining the make up of the parliament and vast swathes of opinion are under represented or not represented at all. A PR system would help rebuild trust in our politicians and democratic system.
I fear that you will rely that the convention states that as a shadow minister you are unable to sign EDMs, whoever I would argue that that is a convention and not a rule and until we have a written constitution then the convention isn't worth the paper it isn't written on. It would be a good way of making up for missing the Article 50 vote by being a maverick and ignoring a convention that is designed to maintain the status quo rather than improve the system we have.
Please take my request into consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
225 Evering Road
I’m off to join an old social network. It’s called Facelook. You interact by looking people in the face. I’m also joining the rebel alliance. I hope you’re already part of it too or are thinking strongly about joining!
You can find my face by email: firstname.lastname@example.org (where most of my freelance work email goes).
You can see my face if we skype. My skype name is: alastairis
You can arrange to meet me or just have a chat by phone.
I will also be trying to text as much as possible over Signal which is more secure and facebook-free than Whatsapp. Please keep in touch. Think of me as you do event invitations or have something beautiful or important to share. I love and deeply value the friendship and support of everyone who is officially designated 'friend' by this site.
I’m not yet going full-Face-cognito and deleting my profile because I want to retain the messaging aspect (though I will never install their horrible apps on my devices). I will continue to use Disa for FB messages and Whatsapps on my phone. I will also be logging in periodically to see what events I’ve been invited to. But I won't look at notifications so there's no point tagging me if you want my attention over the next year.
I will also probably click “share to facebook” on petitions and possibly the occasional article, this means if I’m reading something interesting I can share it without going onto the Facebook site and the clickhole it’s designed to instigate.
You can drag one to your bookmarks bar from this website: http://justsoyouknowandetc.blogspot.co.uk/…/share-on-facebo…
I will use this feature to share blog posts that I make on my website:www.alastairis.co.uk. I used to blog a lot and I really enjoy writing, hopefully I’ll spend more time doing this.
I’ll probably also put a call out for people to help me in my campaign to get elected to the Hackney Council in 2018.
If after a year I feel better, more connected with the world and less insecure about the world I’ll seriously consider deleting my profile all together. I've made a few big life decisions over the last couple of years and so far listening to and following my heart has left me feeling more balanced and mentally sound; I've gone vegan, I've had a vasectomy, I've committed to not flying unless totally necessary. Let's see if this is also a marked improvement in my life and in the life of those mine touches.
So why am I doing this? Many reasons. Here are 5 decent ones:
1. Not endorsing Facebook
I love my friends and family I connect with on here. I will miss the occasional virtual catch-ups and interesting points of view. However I can’t abide how it’s almost always on the terms of Facebook’s secret algorithms. By using Facebook I’m endorsing their monopoly on information and relationships. I don’t want privatized information and certainly not relationships. By being on here I’m endorsing them both to advertisers and to my friends, and seemingly more and more to governments too. The fact that it is completely unaccountable and we’re exchanging our very powerful and previously private data for convenience worries me deeply. It’s a great web-site in that it’s well made but it’s not designed primarily to serve us, it’s designed to serve the bottom line. Which is why from now on I’m going to refer to it as a website rather than as a service. Of course it’s not a website so much as it is an advertising platform and labyrinthine corporation which has immense unchecked power over our lives, which it can wield to emotionally manipulate us or feed us fake news for the highest bidder.
The government of these United (for now) Queendoms (for now) has recently passed some horrible draconian privacy legislation The Investigatory Powers Bill (no thanks to Labour) that retroactively makes everything Edward Snowden risked his life to tell us about ‘legal’. As we’ve seen recently all over the world it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that fascists and dictators can get elected, and if they do I don’t want them to be all up in my shit despite the fact I’m not likely to be in one of the first groups targeted. I however fully intend to be fighting for the people who are. By being on Facebook and other services we’re agreeing to be tracked whatever we do on the internet, wherever we go, even outside of Facebook. This is designed so we will buy stuff, they want us to keep buying stuff to keep the economy growing (an insane economy which is built around infinite growth on a finite planet) and ignore the fact that we’re doing massive harm around the world and to the world and that karma is getting ready to bite back. I’m not saying that having nice stuff is bad in itself, just that we’ve allowed ourselves to live in a world where a high percentage of the messaging we receive is in the service of consumerism rather than something like humanism, equality and liberty to do things other than shop.
Addiction isn’t a choice, it’s a disease that other people push on other people (usually using their sadness as leverage) to make money. I’ve seen it first hand and seen how it ruins lives. I worked briefly in a high-street ‘amusements’ arcade filled with gambling machines. There was nothing amusing about it. The exploitation for profit of fellow human beings’ beautifully evolved bodies that respond to certain stimulus by kicking out fucking lovely adrenalin and dopamine disgusted me to my very core. People I saw were reduced to unthinking animals by shiny machines that made noises, flashed lights and responded to button presses that created the illusion of control that was missing from their real lives. People from that industry have been hired TO MAKE US ADDICTED to this website. Too many mornings I’ve woken up and began scrolling without thinking why or what else I could be doing to improve my life of the lives of others. When I do realise I've been doing this it makes me sad so I turn to a known source of dopamine to make the sad go away; scrolling my news feed. A vicious cycle that rewards our evolved desire for novelty. Which leads me to...
I want to spend my limited time here on earth experiencing it, engaging with it, protecting it and sharing it. I’ve found recently that I’ve snapped out of a mindless scroll through the news feed having wasted what must now be cumulative days of my life. I’ve been lucky enough to have won the life lottery which has meant I’ve had tremendous largely unearned support which has meant I’ve managed to achieve and do many of what I would consider amazing things, be creative and see a multitude of wonders. However I still want to spend my time better because LIFE IS SHORT. The past couple of years have been marked by some heart-breaking deaths which have brought home to me that it’s vital that we use our time to do life, not to watch it slip through our fingers like sand on a beach. I’d rather be on the beach. Reading a book is an exercise in mindfulness so I’ll do more of that (maybe on a beach). I’ll meditate. I’ll play boardgames with buddies. I’ll make more beautiful things & videos (editing requires great mindfulness). I’ll write more and I aim to blog semi-regularly. I’ll hopefully dance more too.
5. Better news
The algorithms of Facebook are designed to keep you in your bubble. It will only show you things it thinks will keep you on the site for longer. Maybe that will mean the occasional thing you disagree with so that you can impotently rage post replies and come away feeling satisfied like you’ve earned another 10minutes scrolling on the ‘newsfeed’. Well you know what? I hate 24 hour news. I see people getting addicted to watching it too, and it makes for worse news. New news is rarely fact-checked and the truth is stumbling around with its pants around its ankles right now. I want slower news. I’m going to try find some slow, quality news sources and support them with some dollar dollar bill ya’ll.
My top tips for quality news at the moment are:
My mate Dave Pickering curates great social media and is the source of most of the thoughtful articles I’ve shared. I’ll be following his twitter @goosefat101 and listening to his brilliant podcasts that are about real people and real stories.
Novara Media – Especially my little sista from a different mista Ash Sarkar who is smashing it and the patriarchy these days. She’s a boss intellectual.
I quite liked The Week magazine when I found it on the train the other week and might start buying that on the regular.
If you have any suggestions of good media I should be checking out and supporting please email suggestions to me.
I should recognise what I have gotten out of this website so here’s a few thanks to facebook. Thanks for:
Letting me see photos and having a better memory than I generally have.
For keeping me in touch with friends I was too lazy to keep up with properly otherwise.
For letting me know about bits and bobs of freelance work.
For letting me know when an acquaintance was selling a bike, dirt cheap.
For making events a little easier to find and promote.
What I would be saying for the rest of the year so I'll just say them once now emphatically:
Join the rebel alliance. Join the Green Party (Lab and Con are 2 sides of the same coin that relies on an unsustainable and exploitative economic model for funding). Also join and actively support some campaigns you think are important and that don't directly benefit you.
Come to Hackney and help me get elected to the council for the Green Party
Be lovely to each other and stand up to those who aren’t being lovely. You might have noticed that this is more important now than ever. Get out of the echo chamber and make quality time, take risks, be healthy.
Go vegan. Spare a thought for the lives of those that are subject to your power. Show some radical compassion and free yourself from the cognitive dissonance that comes from being a compassionate being who loves animals who is simultaneously and paradoxically a consumer that is told that it’s right and your right to consume them and their produce no matter the cost to the environment or their quality of life. If you don’t think you can do that then try only using some of the many non-dairy milks. Actually only eat meat once a week instead of just telling a vegan you do. Actively advocate for better conditions for farmed animals. The indignity and suffering we’ve heaped on our fellow beings is a shame on us and a sign of how the corporate industrialized world would like to treat us and like us allow each other to be treated.
All the love in the world.
1 Feb 2017
2016 eigh. What a stinker. It’s been a constant reminder that the struggle for a better world is constant and we must remain vigilant and supportive. Because as we lose people who fought for a better world or who brought a smile to our faces or inspiring music to our ears, we need to redouble our efforts to take up the slack.
Personally I’ve had a rollercoaster of a year, but I’d like to take this time to reflect on how privileged and fortunate a year it has been for me despite the several heartbreaks. I’ve been in a lucky position where I’ve been able to take risks, to develop my skills and to express love freely. I don’t take any of that for granted so here is a bit of a run down of what’s been occurring in my life this year and it’ll be followed by a few thank yous to the magical individuals who have been so supportive, collaborative and kind. As well as a TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read summary) at the bottom of this post.
Here's to you having a conscious and joy-filled 2017.
(I full don't expect anyone to read this so if you do please prove me wrong and leave a comment below.)
I'm probably going to be taking the year off Facebook from February so I'll probably post more things here in future.
On the 5th of January I spent the night at the Hackney Winter Night Shelter. I’ve been volunteering with them for the past 5 years, I’ve got the easy but unpopular shift which is the overnight stewarding, which basically means closing the door and dosing off in a room full of blokes without at roof of their own, then putting on the kettle in the morning. For sure it’s helpful to mitigate that helpless feeling you get when you see someone sleeping rough, but it still never feels like enough.
The next day I went down to Homerton hospital to have a vasectomy. This is a procedure I’ve wanted since I was 15, a fair while before I was sexually active. It was such a relief to finally be given the go ahead by the NHS and the procedure itself was easy peasy and painless. It’s a great weight off my mind and it feels great to know it’s one of the greatest things I can do for the planet.
January is when the London Short Film Festival is on, this year I didn’t have a short in the festival (I’ve had two films in it in previous years) but I took my good friend and cat-obsessive Gill to a cat-themed film evening. It was great and as a bonus I got to hang out with my buddy Jim from the Lost Pictureshow afterwards, as he is the technical manager for the festival. I also got gifted a big load of pizza dough from the pizza van which was outside the screening at the Lower Clapton Round Chapel.
Talking of animal based screenings, I put on a packed out screening of anti-animal agriculture film Cowspiracy at Passing Clouds.
This was the Hackney Green Party’s 3rd screening at Passing Clouds. The previous two were of Franny Armstrong films McLibel about grass roots anti corporate legal resistance and The Age of Stupid about our incredible knowledge about climate change and our stupid unwillingness to act or demand change.
I became a vegan in October 2015 having watched half of Cowspiracy and I was eager to see the rest. I became vegan because it was pointed out to be at a demonstration against the arms fair that takes place in ExCel in the docklands, by a little old lady that I, by eating meat, eggs and drinking milk, was subject to the same kind of cognitive dissonance that the police were when they focused on protestors not on illegal and immoral arms dealers. Cowspiracy added the vital environmental aspect to my thinking on the subject. I didn’t like how Cowspiracy had a go at environmental groups for not foregrounding the issue, but I understand why they did, as it was an effective shock tactic and a good narrative device as well as helping the film reach beyond the converted. We had a great discussion after the film including with people who had worked for Greenpeace in the past and I read a statement that was issued by the organisation highlighting their work in this area. I think in the fight for the planet we should respect all tactics and recognise why some organizations like Greenpeace don’t raise certain issues for fear of alienating the members they have acquired and use for clout on the world stage. As someone concerned with population issues I understand why organisations and even political parties might shy away from issues surrounding traditional lifestyle choices, diet and reproduction. I think we need to have a dialogue as a society about these issues but it needs to come from the bottom up. So lets get at it!
It was lovely to meet the Green London Mayoral candidate Sian Berry Ridley at Road Market to talk to the stall holders about proposed plans and ways in which the council and London should be protecting traditional markets like Ridley Road.
Phew what a month! I’m starting to doubt that I’ll be able to get through the year at this rate, and I’m even more convinced that no one will read this all the way through. I began the month with another night at the Hackney Winter Night Shelter. You can volunteer with them or donate some dosh.
To make some extra dosh to supplement my freelance work I was back briefly working at a plus size woman’s clothing warehouse I worked at many years ago, a nice bit of relatively mindless data entry. I also finished editing a HIV awareness video made with students at Parkview school in Haringey. I did a bit of market research on E-bikes at the Excel Centre (boo hiss). Suffice to say I signed a non-disclosure agreement but I now really want an electric bike!
On Valentines day my grandfather Eric Lubbock (AKA Lord Avebury) passed away having been a total indestructible boss during his lifetime. He was passionate about human rights and dogs and cats and wasn’t slowed down by a quadruple heart-bypass, removal of half a lung, a hit and run riding his bicycle, leukemia and double pneumonia. Please check out his blog for all the gory details and for information of some of the campaigns he supported with all his privilege and might. http://ericavebury.blogspot.co.uk/
As a Hackney Winter Night Shelter volunteer I got priority access to tickets for a comedy gig so I got a bunch of tickets for a bunch of buddies: Simon, Jo, Jake, Gill, Jack, Georgia, Adam and Jess and my mumma. It was a great gig with some of my favourite comedians Daniel Kitson, Stewart Lee, Francesca Martinez, Lewis Schaffer, James Acaster, Sofie Hagen and Earl Okin!
I rust proofed my VW, still lots of work to do on the Gaia bus.
I went to my first ever Hen Do in bath. It was great, we rented a nice house and went to a spa, as well as playing booze pong. As a gift for then bride-to-be, I and the other hens put together this completely insane video:
I also edited together an actor’s showreel for my old uni-mate Oli Bennet.
First wedding of the year, my buddies Lucy and Paul tied the knot with a lovely humanist ceremony in Oxford.
My grandpa Eric’s funeral was a lovely event which I and his youngest son JW documented. You can see the full hour here:
At the end of February sadly we had to march again as part of the Stop Trident Protest. The insanity of us having these weapons is beyond explanation. It seems to be the only population control method that states are willing to talk about and fund. I spent all night making a big banner and adorning it with the papercraft skulls I made for last year's Standon Calling festival. I think they combined to create a powerful reminder that these weapons cannot bring peace. They are designed only to bring death.
March started well as it turned out I didn’t need a filling after having one booked in.
I helped out at the UK Gift Card and Voucher Association conference, assisting delegates and exhibitors. I even got to stay the night in a swanky central London hotel after spending the evening stuffing delegate bags.
I filmed a performance poetry video for the excellent poet Hannah Gordon at Kew Gardens, which was fun despite the fact that Kew is under a one a minute flight path which made sound recording a bit of a nightmare.
On my way back from filming I stopped in on HMV on Bond St and met Peter Capaldi as he was signing DVDs. He was charming and we spoke a little bit about how he had written off for Patrick Troughton's autograph as a kid and Troughton had sent him a personal snap in return.
I went to see the Carol Churchill play Escaped Alone at the Royal Court theatre with my ol’pal Becky. It was a pretty great play with some fabulous and powerful performances.
I also got to see and document my friend Paula’s show called Show me the Money about how artists make money. Well worth checking out.
In a month apparently full of shows I also went to James Ross’ Quantum Leopard to shoot some pick-ups for his stand-up DVD. It was a fun night of comedy and highly recommended to those who like their comedy not to punch down.
I watched Chanel 4’s new Sci-Fi show The Aliens with my buddy Leonie. My friend Carla worked on the props for the show and it was a really good bit of sci-fi fun with the requisite amount of social commentary and some good performances.
The Hackney Greens were representing at the Refugees Welcome Here march against Islamophobia and anti-Semitism and we held another Hackney Green Party screening: Under the Dome, a film that had been banned in China after an initial successful release. The film shone a light on the crisis of air pollution in China’s cities, an issue that is becoming worse in the UK with no sign of any official plan to curtail the thousands of deaths it is contributing to.
I was also treated to a lovely vegan Dinner at my friends’ Maria & Zacks. Since becoming vegan my dinner party invites have shot up as people want to show off that their culinary skills aren’t reliant on the things we steal from other species.
April kicked off with some canvassing for the upcoming London mayoral and council by-election which I was standing in. It was great to meet so many neighbours and get a glimpse as to what concerned them about Hackney and how much they love it here.
In the evening I went to a charity quiz in honour of my friend James who died abroad last year after being hit by a car. The night was lots of fun and raised a ton of money for the charities he supported including the deaf/blind charity Sense. My team didn’t win but we mad a good stab at it. If you’d like to support Sense you can be in with the chance of winning Star Wars autographs if you donate here, you winning star wars autographs is what James would have wanted: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Autograph-Book
I got another vegan dinner party invitation at Gill’s house full of teachers in Kensal Rise. It was a proper delicious multi-course curry in excellent company!
There was more canvassing for London, Mayoral, Local and EU elections. Knocking on doors was lots of fun and a fantastic way to spend an afternoon. If you’ve never done it before you don’t know what you’re missing out on. This is the one thing the jehovah’s witnesses have right. If it looks like I spent a lot of the first half of the year with Green Mayoral candidate Sian Berry I guess that's because I did. Perhaps she was stalking me :p
One great victory this year came in April when the court date came around for the anti-DSEI arms fair protesters. Campaign Against the Arms Trade put on an excellent demonstration in September 2015 and the protesters who were arrested were vindicated by the judge who ruled that they had tried all legal means to get the police to act on the probably illegality that was going on inside the arms fair. I was pleased to go down with my papercraft skulls which I hung outside the court to represent the victims of the arms trade. Sian Berry and other Greens were there too in support of the defendants including some Green members, proving that Greens acknowledge that the change we need can’t just come from within the system we already have but must also come from outside. (Note our very green reusable sign whiteboards!)
I shot a video for Garance and the Mitochondries with my uncle JW. It was a fun if slightly insane super lo-fi shoot.
I helped write and co-hosted the Hackney Green Party Pub Quiz which took place at my local boozer the Crooked Billet which raised a few bob to help us with out campaigning. The Hackney Greens held a stall in Dalston for the upcoming elections, I delivered the leaflets and talked with a bunch of the passers by about the issues on the line.
I took part in the Resign Cameron protest (which I guess we won eventually sort of), I was interviewed on RT about why we were protesting whilst wearing a fetching Hawiian shirt to highlight the governments total failure to act on tax havens. I also gave support to the junior doctor strike at the Homerton hospital.
I had an interview for a job at the Green Party which I was offered really quickly, though it went from a full time post to a part-time one, which actually worked quite well with my freelance work.
The month finished up with my housemate's raucous birthday party.
The 5th May saw the London Elections and Hackney Downs By-election which we did pretty well in. The by-election I stood in saw us increase our percentage of the vote by 1% which I’m quite proud of considering Labour were getting everyone out to vote for Sadiq. London wide we did well too with two assembly members elected to the GLA.
My friend Maria got me a gig shooting a gig put on by some kids who are in a covers band from an American school. They were pretty accomplished musicians so that made it quite enjoyable, especially when it came to editing.
The 11th of May was my first day working at national Green Party, which was well exciting, however it was somewhat annoying that they had recently moved their head office from Old Street near my ends to Bermondsey, however it is a decent cycle and great fun if you’re blasting Don Letts 6 music radio show out of a minirig speaker all the way there and back.
The video I shot and edited for Garance and the Mitochondries made its debut on the 17th of May. It went down really well with the band and the video's participants and friends at a really fun variety night at 14 Bacon St off Brick Lane.
My old uni crowd nipped across to Broadstairs to celebrate the birthdays of my housemate Matt and ol’pal Becky & Matt. It was a lovely time and we even collected enough arcade tickets to win this Hindu Womble.
A fair bit of May was spent sorting gear and practicing for my visuals debut at Glastonbury. I had a lot of help from a very kind mentor Clarisse who my oldest buddy Toby put me in touch with. Serendipity squared.
In June there was more referendum campaigning. I knew things were not well when a few days after the murder of Jo Cox a pair of neo-nazi skinheads were verbally abusive towards us campaigners in Stoke Newington.
My favourite cafe in Dalston closed. Betty's Coffee had been a tiny hub of joy run by good friends and full of joyous community and creativity. But rising costs have squeezed them out, so it was farewell to another venue full of spirit and life. At least Betty herself was off to have a baby who no doubt will be full of spirit and life too.
I voted in the EU Ref before setting off to Glastonbury with my oldest pal Toby and his housemate in tow. On the way, while filling up at a petrol station we managed to pick up a couple of hitchhikers, who had hitched all the way from Poland. It was a European miracle. We shared music, chat and their existence and young beautiful lovers stopped me from despairing too hard when the referendum result came in. The music I caught was pretty good, I saw ELO, Will Varley, Earth Wind and Fire, The Mystery Jets, Abandoman, Tourettes Hero & Captain Hot Knives and my forever favourite Don Letts.
Then there was the silent disco. A 7 hour long gig with 3 channels and the great Matt Black doing the visuals with me. It was epic and super fun. Well worth the hours put in in advance to throw up some visuals on one of Glastonbury’s main dance stages (Sonic) for Greenpeace. The highlight for me was during Purple Rain I rocked out a clip I had made of some of the great people we lost up to that point in the year. It was all clips of them laughing with purple tinted rain over the top. I think it was respectful of those lost talents and of the crowd. There was a lot less Prince and Bowie on the mixes than I had anticipated so I was doing a lot more improvisation but that was fine. It was a good Glastonbury but I did miss camping in my van. It was the first time I was in a tent for a while.
At the end of the month we held my grandfather Eric’s memorial at the Royal Institute. I put together the videos and slideshows for the event, which was a moving tribute to a man who helped, so many. One measure of his impact was that during the coup that took place against Jeremy Corbyn in the wake of the EU referendum he came to give a speech praising my grandfather for starting the all parliamentary group on human rights.
Passing Clouds was celebrating their 10th anniversary and they kicked off July with a great gig from soul legend Dawn Penn. No no no? Yes yes yes! Great gig at a fantastic venue! The next day I held a vegan BBQ party at my gaff. It was predominantly salads and skewers. My housemate Matt cracked out a massive rack of chicken and the like towards the end of the BBQ which would have been fine but most people were sated by the deliciousness of all the vegan goodies that a bunch of the chicken went to waste. Otherwise it was a joyous summer celebration.
My birthday was a great day. I went along to a protest at Science museum where the Farnborough arms fair was holding a dinner reception. The protest was incredible as we actually managed to get the science museum to turn away arms fair delegates. I spent a lot of the time lying on the floor being stepped over. There was one shocking element which was that one of the other protesters was a torture sufferer from Bahrain, it was also his birthday. I was sat with him and another protester a white quaker lad and shockingly the police pulled the young arab man from the floor and arrested him despite the fact that he had done nothing different to what we had.
Later that month the Hackney Green Party screened a fantastic film called On the Bride’s Side about Syrian and Palestinian refugees trying to get across Europe by pretending to be a wedding party. It was a fantastic documentary that I’d recommend to anyone, beautiful personal stories and a real life adventure story.
I spent some evenings in July looking after my granny Kina who was having trouble with mobility due to a brain tumor.
My van passed her MOT. Huzzah!
I helped out with another by-election in Hackney Central which I was the campaign manager on. Great learning.
My cousin Vanessa had a BBQ. It was really nice to see her and her boyfriend as she was pregnant and it was a nice chance for my granny to see them as she was declining healthwise quite rapidly.
This year’s Standon Calling festival was the first in 5 years that I wasn’t managing the Autumn Shift area. We decided to take a year off due to some crew absences and because we didn’t want to scale backwards after last 2015 extravaganza of a show. Some of our tech crew took the mantle and created the excellent Octopia. It was nice having a year off but I went along anyway to see what the rest of the festival is like and to see how the new crew would operate as they are festival pros, not enthusiastic amateurs like Autumn Shift. They got a bit of a bum deal in terms of location but rocked it otherwise. I didn’t get a swim like I usually do though, I guess I didn’t feel like I’d earned it :p
Ever busy at the Hackney Green Party we held a new members meeting with out-going leader Natalie Bennett. It was a great way to welcome new members and activists. It was a great way to welcome new members as well as look back on the growth of the party and a chance to thank Natalie for overseeing it so well.
Sad news came in mid-August that Passing Clouds, probably the best venue in London had been seized by bailiffs again. This was gutting as it was a cornerstone of alternative culture and of the vibrancy of the London community.
Talking about vibrant and diverse culture one of the things I’m proudest of this year was coordinating the photography team at the Tribe of Doris festival. It’s got to be one of the best events I’ve ever had the privilege to be involved in. Later in the year I helped put together a calendar for the festival using the pictures from the event, many of which I made into collages, so that was pretty fun! Rather than give you a massive run down of what this event was like please check out this facebook gallery of a few (hundred) select pics taken by my absolutely smashing team:
Day 4 part 1
Day 4 part 2
The second wedding reception I attended was the beautiful Hayley & Matt’s. Lots. Of. Dancing. Very enjoyed.
At this year’s Shambala Festival I was once again wearing two hats. I was again leading the decor team for the KouKoo’s stage. It looked totally fabulous, with the birds coming out from hibernation in my attic.
I was also helping put together some unique projections in the woods as part of an off shoot from the Lost Pictureshow: Cinema in the Woods. Creating 2 giant isometric 3D star shapes that we projected onto. It was tough working out in the elements with new materials but it came together in the end, producing some of the most visually arresting visuals on site so far as I could tell. Watch this quick promo video and see what you think. The big stars kick in about 17 seconds into this vid:
August was rounded off with the Green Party Autumn Conference which I went to with my uncle JW. We filmed a promo for future conferences focusing on first time attendees. It was really good as I too was a first time attendee and it is really a massive part of what the Green Party is all about, full engaging members in the creation of policy and strengthening the national network of Green activists. I had one bad night as the Birmingham university accommodation folk double booked my room so I ended up sleeping on JW’s floor. I woke that morning to the news that my granny had passed away so it was a sucky day. To top it off it was very grey and drizzling.
There were Hackney Mayoral Hustings that our Green candidate couldn’t attend so I took his place. It was fun to be on the hustings panel however it took place in an area which has been experiencing some problematic issues with its regeneration so most people were just critical of the Labour candidate as he had been the head of housing which made the hustings pretty easy for me.
There was also an 'accountability' hustings event organised by Hackney Citizens which the Greens weren't invited to despite regularly getting more votes across the borough than 2 of the other invitees. I went along and handed out flyers outside and explained the bizarre situation and tweeted at the other attendees two of whom agreed not to participate if the Greens weren't invited in future. In the end we came second, although to all our dismay the BBC originally reported it as the Tories coming second. I went along to the Town Hall for the count which was as interesting as ever.
Later that week I went along to the opening of a venue on Morning Lane where they’ve recently opened a swanky new fashion district. I was there because my visuals mentor Clarisse was doing some projections. It was a laugh and I had a play with the visuals but I caved from my usual non-drinking stance at the sight of my mortal enemy; a free bar! The Labour mayoral candidate and his husband also happened to be at the event so we had a nice chat and the DJ was pretty good so I had a decent boogie.
My buddy Alex had a birthday and asked if I’d host it. It was great because it was basically a salad party and I didn't have to leave the house!
The campaign to save Passing Clouds culminated in a march through Hackney which me and some of my Hackney Green Party colleagues helped to steward. The march finished up in Gillett Square where I gave a short speech of support.
Afterwards I bopped along to my ex-housemate Adam’s housewarming around the corner in Lower Clapton. It’s lush to have another buddy living in such proximity and his housemates are all lovely teacher folks.
I did a re-edit of Oliver Bennett’s showreel to include some new footage.
Haringey Greens held an action day for a by-election which I went down to help with. Along with my lil’sister Roshi we put posters up for local hustings in shops on Green Lanes and we even by chance met the mayor of Haringey.
In response to the government’s push to renew Trident’s nuclear systems there was another CND protest I went along with my banner and thought Nelson Mandela wouldn’t mind holding it for me.
Following my Granny Kina’s death a requiem mass was held as per her wishes. It was attended by lots of the members of the community that she touched. She was a marvellous woman and the tributes were really touching. There were two opera singers as well which really made the event special and it was lovely to see members of the family there despite it being a very sad occasion. In keeping with her Irish roots the wake was a fairly boozy affair for most, which was nice to see, and as usually I got to be the hero/designated driver.
Talking of being a hero and having unintoxicated blood I gave blood for the 9th time. Always a pleasure and never a chore.
I had the absolute pleasure of seeing the new Almodovar film Julieta with my good pal Ellie at Curzon in Soho. It was definitely one of his better deft melodramas, with top performances and really subtle artistic flourishes.
The 1st of October saw a fantastic anti-Heathrow expansion protest. There was a die-in action inside the airport and a massive cycle ride which was really heartening. I really loved three parts of the day; 1: cycling to Heathrow from London along Regents Canal. 2: the solidarity vigil outside the immigration detention centre. 3: socialising and bonding with other activists at Grow Heathrow.
Not long into October I got the very sad news that my kitty Poohma ‘Balerion the Black Dread’ Pants had been run over and died. I think I’m still in morning as I sort of had to hit the snooze button on my grief as I was in the white heat of preparations for the Green Party’s big art exhibition Green Creates. But when I found out I was pretty inconsolable as Poohma was very much my boy as I’d socialised him from the street as a kitten and he was the most placid affectionate little critter killer. RIP lil’boy. Always in my heart.
The below is not a picture of me eating my deceased cat. My folks buried him in the garden. No this is a picture taken when my vegan buddy Zoe and myself celebrated our one year veganniversary by going to Fed by Water, the vegan Italian restaurant in Dalston. My calzone was delicious, but I'm still of the opinion that vegan pizzas are better without cheese and meat substitutes.
October was taken over by Green Creates. I was leading on this project for the Green Party and we managed to get some great support from some fantastic artists to create something really unique and raise thousands of pounds for the cause. I would have liked if the event had received more press but otherwise the exhibition was really great. Here's a promo video I made that highlights the fantastic artists that came on board. They were all wonderful passionate people who made fantastic and much appreciated donations to the party.
With my ex Maria being back in town we decided to have a Halloween house party. It was mega fun with some great dressing up and dancing. I came as Luigi sitting on Mario’s shoulders. Other favourites were a bunch of witches, a bunch of grapes, pop-art girls, little red riding hood, a voodoo doll and Mr Potatohead. This year I carved a Trumpkin, though looking back I fear that might have just added to his power.
Back at my old work many of my ex colleagues at the Hackney Picturehouse went on strike to demand a living wage and better conditions. As annoying as it is to have to picket for things you’d think were basic entitlements it was nice to be there with them.
A couple of friends were heading to Calais and asked for donations. In addition to some food and clothing I decided to donate a couple of Game Boy Advances, a bunch of games and a battery charger I had knocking about from my Once Upon a Console days as I imagine that some of the young people there could easily get bored out of their minds.
Towards the end of the month I dreamed of Poohma. It was one of those hyper real dreams in which I could totally feel him as I picked him up. Then he ran away, leaving my other aged cat Ziggy. He has been a real source of solace, doubling down on friendliness in his old age.
I was scheduled to be a witness for the defense in the trial of the Bahraini protested arrested on our birthday at the science museum. We spent the whole day at the court but the trial was adjourned because the crown had failed to provide the full evidence as they are obliged to do. Annoyingly the case wasn’t thrown out of court at this point. Fortunately for everyone involved the CPS dropped the case on Christmas Eve to little fanfare, understandably.
After the washout of the trial and sitting around all day I was keen to move about a bit so I went down to Brixton to the Hootenanny. Another great venue which has a good mix of music and this evening it was playing host to Family Atlantica. A fantastic cross-cultural band led by my bud Luzmira. It was a great party, but it mean that I didn’t get much sleep before...
The following morning I was elected vice-chair of the Hackney Downs Users Group, affectionately know as HUG. The main conversation within the group at the moment seems to be about whether we should proceed with plans to turn the disused bowling green into a community garden or whether it should be restored as a bowling green.
I began Night Shelter again. Same old same old.
I joined an early morning Campaign Against the Arms Trade protest against a detention trade fair. Many of the organisations present including G4S are profiting from the privitisation of the prison system, contributing to a fall in standards, making equipment that is exported for inhumane detention or support our cruel and dangerous immigration detention and removal system. #NoHumanIsIllegal. #WhoKilledJimmyMubenga?
I was out on the picket lines again with my ex-Picturehouse colleagues. This time dressed as a character from Harry Potter (which I’ve neither read nor seen) who was appropriately called Alastor Moody from the Ministry of Malcontent.
One of the Hackney Green coordinators Charlotte is a director and was having an episode of Hollyoaks she directed as part of a scheme to get more female directors into the industry premiering. It was great to watch it over at hers with other Greens and her friends with snacks and chit-chat. Annoyingly for her though they mis-credited the show to another director. Doh!
One of my favourite singer songwriters Will Varley played a gig at the Union Chapel which is one of the loveliest venues in London, with great acoustics. I went with my buddy Maddy and it was as expected quite lush.
There was another protest at Heathrow that I went along to support Rising Up organised it and they’ve got some very interesting ideas about how to escalate the various social movements so they can be more effective and gain broader support. It got a fair bit of coverage in the mainstream media so hopefully that will act as a good recruiting tool for potential activists.
Another vegan dinner party invitation came from my ol’buddies Ben and Mickey. It was delicious and I even got to help with the preparation which I very much enjoy. There was some super tasty kale crisps too which is definitely one I’ve got to try.
We held our Hackney Green Party AGM in the basement of Well St Pizza. We got to know new members, discussed our plans, and had a very interesting talk from 2 organizations (Unlock Democracy and 38 Degrees) that are working to promote a more proportional system of voting and a national and local level.
There was a new animation of the classic but lost Dr Who story Power of the Daleks released so I sat down with my most ardent Whovian buddy Thom to watch it whilst eating a mountain of popcorn. It’s a really good story with some memorably creepy and chilling moments, however the animation was quite basic and of course could never capture the subtleties of a performance that’s not been seen for 50 years. But it was good to have some of the mental pictures filled in to help imagine what it was like.
The first of my university friends to settle down, marry and have a kid Lou was down in London so I joined our old film posse for a dinner, the steak restaurant we went to was almost as bad as the fish restaurant we went to last time she was down in terms of limited vegan choices but it was a fun evening and was full of old-times banter. One of our old lecturers even liked our selfie while we were still out so we had a good laugh about that.
Talking of films I went to see Paterson at BFI with a Mariale who I met for the first time at our Halloween party. It was a decent Jarmush movie but I think I was slightly put off at first by the fact that it is an Amazon Studios production.
My good friend Alex works at Sotheby's and invited me to the opening of a sale of predominantly Russian works. It was really nice to see some pieces of art that would otherwise probably be hidden away in some private collection. Some really beautiful and inspirational stuff very well displayed.
Right at the end of the month I was at the Night Shelter again instead of doing one in December.
Also at the end of November my household (myself, parents, housemate and cat) met Baraa, a Syrian refugee who has since moved in while he finds his feet. It’s a really nice guy and is involved in lots of interesting theatrical endeavors and is looking for translator work. His point of view is really great to get and we’re very privileged to have him here and to have a house and circumstances that can accommodate him.
The month began with a demonstration in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock. The event was held outside RBS bank in the City and lots of the employees there expressed an interest in what we were protesting about and seemed genuinely concerned that they might be contributing to the wrong side of the argument. Soon after it looked as if a significant victory was won at Standing Rock, but it's a fight we're going to have to take part in again and again, espeically with the new administration going great guns for oil in the States.
That evening I was pleased to have been invited to the opening night of Big Deal no.7 a carpark art show just off Orange St where I used to work in the West End. It was a fab show with a good variety of work, themed around sci-fi and space. Some incredible images and imagination on display in a great venue.
I got to have a lovely early Xmas dinner with my Tea Fuelled gang at Khan’s in Brixton. They were celebrating winning the London 48 hour film competition for the first time. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help out this year due to standing for election but I was dead pleased for them, they made a film that really hung together well.
The Hackney Green Party held an action day surveying residents about what issues they were concerned with. There was a really good response rate which gives us a good idea of what we should be campaigning for on their behalf.
Another early christmas party (or perhaps it was a very late festival season one) was with the Lost Pictureshow gang. It was lots of fun, especially as they rinsed out a smoke machine in a tiny room with disco lights in which made everything into a lovely pulsating cloud every 5 minutes. People standing in front of the light ended up looking like Bowie in the music video Heroes. Appropriately enough considering the Bowie vs. Prince disco that we put on in the Cinema in the Woods at Shambala.
The first HUG committee meeting for the new committee members was held the next day and despite little sleep once again, I was able to help move the conversations on and make sure appropriate actions came out of the meeting which I was pleased about.
The estates behind my house are being threatened with regeneration that would turf many out of their homes and possibly not offer like-for like leases and homes so I went along to their community meeting which was very heartening as they had already formed a great community and they had a speaker from a Lambeth group who had recently been battling the same developers come and speak. I put together this video for them
An old buddy of mine Brendan, was due to leave to New Zealand to start a new life. He asked if he could hold his leaving party at mine and I was happy to oblige. I’m sad to see him go but I was happy to help send him off well.
I was dead chuffed when Mariale said that she had a ticket for me to come to see the Chemical Brothers at Hammersmith Apollo live. I’ve wanted to see them for ages and I wasn’t let down by their stunning visuals and it was amazing to be in that space with so many people getting into the music. It was brilliant to see some visuals which could well help inspire my future forays into the live visuals world.
The brother of one of my Hackney Green Party colleagues invited me to shoot a short promo for a dance based around ping-pong. It was really fun and I’m looking forward to seeing what he edits together from our afternoon session down in Deptford.
I had some holiday to take so I went on a little solo road trip. The first stop was Dorset where I picked up a full-sized replica Dalek which I’d bought on Gumtree. As I’ve not gone abroad this year (and I’m endeavoring not to fly from now on) I thought I could treat myself to one of my life time ambitions: to own a Dalek. I was not disappointed and after a little haggling I think I got a right bargin, considering that a built in mobility scooter is included in the deal as well as the office ring-modulator voice synthesizer.
I continued my road trip down to visit my 94 year old Grandma who is still living a relatively independent life down in the sleepy and picturesque village of Lustleigh. It was great to spend time with her and I also managed to do a few errands (like getting new tires for my van, and new mobility scooter batteries for my Dalek!). I also gave my Dalek its first outing to promote the village Christmas fair.
Next stop on my road trip was Bath to visit the Hollises, my ex-Maria’s family. We had a grand old time and I cooked a vegan curry off the top of my head which went down well. We played a version of lounge vollyball played with a ballon and as we went to sleep we told ghost stories. The next day I surprised the family with a Dalek in the living room. It was good japery and all the little kids had a go driving it, under supervision.
The final leg of my road trip was to Lucy & Paul’s house in Oxford where we held our traditional Warwickers Christmas party and brantub. I pulled a very tasteless duck with a dick from the tub. We were all disgusted by it but it made a great edition to our alter-nativity scene at home.
On the way home I had a bit of van trouble as one of the fuses exploded and it looked like the lights were going to be a problem but trusty the trusty ol’Gaia bus was road worthy after a little bit of bodgeing.
The protesters who had blocked the road to Heathrow were due at the Ealing Magistrates court so I went down and spent the day in solidarity. The defendants who pled guilty were all given conditional discharges and ordered to pay court fees which is pretty good and meant they didn’t get criminal records. Which is a win in my book. The other defendants will be in the dock making the case for their not-guilty pleas early in 2017.
Then came X-mas or Dr. Who Day as I call it. It was my first vegan Xmas and it was a treat. My ma cooked me a special nut roast as well as vegan gravy. Doctor Who didn’t disappoint after a year off screen it came back with an excellent episode that everyone enjoyed even Baraa who had never seen an episode before. The house was full of lovely people over xmas, family and extended family and we played games and laughed and the whole season was stress free, just as it should be. In the evening we went for a short walk around the block. There were 2 cats in the road, they were both small black cats like Poohma was, one of them came right up to me and let me pick him up. It was exactly like seeing 2 little Poohmas and it felt like my dream and a Xmas miracle.
Between Xmas and new years I had a couple of quiet days in the office. New Years eve rolled around which is when I began writing this, but then I got distracted as a fire broke out down the road gutting a neighbours house. It was very dramatic and sad to see a home ablaze with fire fighters drenching the front room through the window. But somehow it seemed like the most appropriate fireworks to be watching to mark the end of 2016.
I then headed out to see my pals Gill and Jake, we stopped off at Scenario bar where we played some games and some Dr.Who Pinball before jumping on a bus to meet up with Mariale at Tropicalista vs the Lizard Stage st the Rich Mix. It was brilliant with live music from London Cumbia Allstars. We all had a grand time and it was a great way to see of 2016 and see in 2017
A few thank yous
I’d like to thank my parents Alan and Vix for all their love and support throughout the year. You’re the best. Clarisse, a great mentor and collaborator. Thank you Bob for hooking me up with the maddest debut visuals gig. Matt Black for being my partner in visual crime and James Barnett for making it all happen. Thanks to the Lost Pictureshow gang for a whirlwind of creativity and emotions at Shambles. Big up to Halita for hiring me at the Green Party and being the wind under Green Creates wings. To Gordon for helping take it to the next level and word up to my colleagues who’ve made me feel like part of the family despite only being there half the week. Love to all the HGP crew, especially Zoe, Samir, Charlotte, the Heathers, the Dans, Duncan, Nick, Julie-Ann and Mark; you folk are my neighbours and a great community who make it all worth doing. Big up to Maria Del Mar for some epic collaborations and fun times this year. Super thanks to Leonie for watching Aliens with me, I really appreciated that time. Bottomless thanks to everyone who works in the NHS. You peeps are the bedrock of compassion in this country. Thanks Garance for asking me to collaborate on your music video. Massive shout out to the Octopia crew for holding the fort for Autumn Shift, you did us proud, especially Jim, Callum, Paul, Maki, Jules and the whole AL/SM team who were to die for. Super pros. Thanks to Matt for being a brilliant housemate and great bud. Thanks uncle JW for being a great collaborator and being my go-to film guy this year. Thank you to both of my grandparents on my mothers side for being such excellent inspirations and kind people, I'll miss you with great affection and pride. Thank you Poohma for bringing me such easy going hedge-cat joy. Thank you Mariale for spending your extended birthday watching Dr. Who with me, and for sharing Hallaca with the gang at Xmas. Thanks again to my old state-side buddy Kenzie for the magic blanket that keeps my feet warm at night and make the best, colourful crochet photo backround.
Big love to all of the friends I’ve spent time with; some are old, some new, some renewed, many are inspirationally active and activists, creative and creatives. Name checks: Sophia, Ellie, Richard, Sam, Kat, Will, Brendan, Alex, Adam, Gill, Jake, Simon, Toby, Karim.
People like doing resolutions so here’s a few to try and hold myself to:
Resolve to try harder, and take more risks.
Work harder and produce more interesting and valuable creative work and experiences.
Avoid flying, convert more vegans.
Cut back on social media and create a digital manifesto/declaration.
This year will easily be better than last year as instead of a singular Xmas special we’re blessed with a whole new series of Dr Who. Also I think now people will believe me when I say we need some radical, challenging and possibly complex solutions to the problems we face in our global and local communities to move towards equality and save us from ourselves.
TLDR (Too Long Didn't Read):
Night Shelter, Vasectomy, Cowspriacy Screening, Campaigning
Freelancing, Granpa Eric died, Comedy gig, Hen-do and Wedding, Anti-Nuke march
MET DR.WHO! Saw lots of shows, Refugees Welcome march, Under the Dome air pollution film screening.
Campaigning, protesting, getting a part-time job at the Green Party
Stood in local elections, finished a music video, went to the seaside, practicing live visuals.
EU Referendum :( 1st visuals gig at Glastonbury :) Grandpa Eric’s memorial :*]
Protesting the arms trade at the science museum, Screening of On the Bride’s side a touching story of refugees migration. Spending time with Granny Kina. Standon Calling year off.
Tribe of Doris, Shambala yurt decor and trippy stars visuals installation in a woodland cinema, the Green Party conference.
Mayoral election, Save Passing Clouds march, Anti-nukes march again, Granny Kina’s requiem mass.
Anti Heathrow expansion protest, Poohma Pants died, veganniversary, Green Creates art exhibition. Halloween party
Abandoned trial, Elected to Hackney Downs Users Group, Anti private detention protest, Picturehouse Strike, Will Varley gig, Heathrow direct action protest, Hackney Green Party AGM, New old Dr.Who, seeing uni buddies, Sotheby’s, new lodger.
Standing Rock solidarity protest, christmas/leaving parties, community meetings, dance shoot, road trip, Dalek, Grandma, Bath, Oxford. Court solidarity. House fire and NYE
STLDR (Still Too Long Didn't Read)
Did lots of campaigning. Spent time with amazing inspiring people. Did come creative projects that I'm dead proud of. Made up for lack of Dr. Who on telly by meeting him and acquiring a real Dalek.