On Poverty

Disclaimer: I have been trying to write this for almost a year and I’m tremendously dissatisfied with the result. It is three and a half thousand words long and has been drafted and revised so many times that I give up and release it from this endless, painful gestation.

I have never owned a table.

Sure, the place I live in has a table. It’s a glass table and it’s considerably better than the slightly wobbly wooden table in the previous place I lived in but, being glass, I’m perpetually terrified it will break and then I’ll have to pay for it. Then I’ll have paid for a table and still never have actually owned one.

I couldn’t tell you how much a table costs, but I did buy the cheapest and most basic desk for £50 once. I have a feeling I’d be charged a lot more than that if this table broke.

That philosophy extends to everything around me where I live, where I have lived: I don’t own it, but I will be paying for it if something goes wrong. There is a special sort of added excitement to this, since most of the places I’ve lived in have had all sorts of things wrong with them already, things from faulty electrics to ill-fitting windows to no doors that will close properly anywhere, that are never addressed. I’ve feared these things as well because I’ve wondered if I’m going to be the tenant who is deemed to be responsible for them, particularly because landladies and landlords seem to be curiously divorced from the properties they own. They always live far away, or they’re out of town or they’re overseas again. One landlady looked around a flat I was renting from her with surprise and awe and bafflement, failing to recognise many of its features.

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My local barber has it pretty much covered.

My local barber has it pretty much covered.

Why I am terrified of the Olympics

On the front page of the Daily Telegraph’s website there is a countdown to the London 2012 Olympics. For me it’s a sort of Doomsday Clock, and as yet another digit flips over to a zero, as that row of zeros lengthens from left to right, an event which I still view with a sensation somewhere between vague disbelief and abject terror inches ever closer.

There’s all kinds of reasons why I feel this way. I’ve tried to unravel them all, to gently tease them out from the furious ball of frustration they exist as, all bunched up in my head. They boil down to three things…

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I knew how to use a camera before I could ride a bike. I don’t mean point-and-click photography, I mean how a camera actually works.

I have a Flickr account and, though I don’t use it as frequently as some, I like to give it a quick pimp sometimes. That’s exactly what I’m doing now.

Head this way to see more. I’ve been uploading images for five years and have captured all the clichés, including animals, old buildings, food porn and the odd macro image. Photography tips and feedback are always appreciated.

Kaya Mar

Way back, not long after I started this blog, my girlfriend and I ran into this gentleman on the tube. We talked to him about his picture, but it never occurred to me to actually ask his name, and we only travelled with him for a short time. I was quite surprised to see that he’s painting at the London protests today.

It turns out he is Kaya Mar, an artist with quite a collection of work, much of which you can look at on his website here.

All properties are theft?

Click here to visit Shelter and help them raise awareness of and tackle housing problems and click here to watch Channel 4’s revealing documentary on the increasingly poor state of some of the country’s rental housing (and the legal problems behind trying to rectify this).

  • M&F Properties is pleased to offer this well-presented studio flat in the heart of busy Woolwich. The property benefits from central heating, a fitted kitchen and a separate WC and shower. Rather than the WC and shower actually being in the same room that is the rest of the flat. Which costs £500pw. Unfurnished. No pets. No men. No smokers. No SNP or Plaid Cymru. Professional women only. Please note this is a shared property.
  • Buttbunt and Partners are excited to offer for rental this double-bedroom in a modern shared house in Crystal Palace, nowhere near anything. The room features a bed and a window for just £675pw and shared use of a corridor and WC. Good access to local shops, facilities and BNP member’s hall, although please note some of these were bombed in the war and haven’t yet been rebuilt.
  • Fudgeplug and Co. are somehow delighted to offer this spacious three-bedroomed property at the heart of vibrant Walthamstow with good views of the local industrial estate. The house has excellent transport access, with bus routes, rail and tube lines running adjacent to (and sometimes through) the property. This lively neighbourhood benefits from a busy nightlife and the property enjoys a regular machine-gunning at least once a week. £2,500pw ono.

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See How They Run

Diagrams of London Underground stations (among others).

Take a look at Camden junction…

Highlander was filmed in Kilburn? Well, some of it was. I was led to this site after watching Jack Nicholson walk around Notting Hill in The Passenger. If, like me, you keep spotting things you recognise in films, you might also like this. It documents many of the locations and neighbourhoods featured in films past and present.

(I wish I could just mouseover things rather than click on them, though.)

What a riot

The great thing about these riots is that absolutely everybody everywhere knows what caused them, how to prevent them and how to fix the problem behind them.

Fantastic. Good to know.

Getting to the bottom of the issue.This much is evident in the gush of commentary on the subject which has been endlessly spurted across every blathering broadsheet, blog and blank page from here to the horizon. No page has been left unturned, no column remains empty. The enormous verbal vomit retched up in response to this unprecedented national unrest is so enormous and so authoritative that one can only wonder how these riots were ever even allowed to happen, as so many people have suddenly demonstrated an intimate familiarity with every aspect of their cause, context and consequence.

Since the first riot, the Guardian has had a field day and, indeed, also a field night and a field week. The Guardian is a paragon of comment and has worked its staff night and day to produce and endless stream of consideration and criticism, climaxing in a well-meaning but rather meandering feature by, of all people, Russell Brand. The Telegraph has reacted with sternful scorn and, as it usually does whenever it runs out of words, always has plenty of shiny pictures to show off, though this time most of them aren’t about people’s dresses. The Daily Mail has, of course, reflexively reacted to everything in the manner of a spasmodic sneeze that has left everything within range covered in an unpleasant film of snot.

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Smashed up or shut down

Tottenham has been measurably quieter today. There was no shopping for Paul. Tottenham High Road is still closed off and the retail park was boarded up as if a hurricane is coming. Which perhaps it is.

Still, the general mood among people here is friendlier than usual. Everyone I met and spoke to was positive and I think there was a general effort among a lot of people to support each other with, if nothing else, a few good words.

I think tonight will be the make-or-break moment of these riots. With the increased policing, rioters and looters will either rise up to the challenge or instead melt away and call it a day (or three days). Let’s see.