Monthly Archives: May 2010

Stop Israel’s War Crimes in Gaza

‘Stop’, originally uploaded by still awake.

A poster displayed at the Bristol Leaders’ Debate

Israeli Commandos Attack Aid Convoy, Bristolians On Board

At 4:51 in the morning, Israeli commandos attacked an aid convoy on its way to Gaza, killing at least 10 activists and leaving the fate of others unknown. According to Bristol Indy Media, two Bristolians, Sakir Yildirim from Fishponds and Cliff Hanley from Southville, were on the convoy. They are both members of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and as yet there is no information on their whereabouts. In Bristol, England, a crowd of around 100 people had gathered from 3pm on St Augustine’s Parade, outside the Hippodrome.

Along with civilians being killed in international waters, Israel states that five personnel were also injured. Today’s deaths and injuries were condemned by the UN, EU and other countries. Public protests have been organised in countries all over the world. Greeks, on Facebook and through other online means, have been invited to gather outside Israeli embassies.

The online world has been actively tweeting the #freedomflotilla hashtag making it the third most popular trending topic. Gaza Flotilla is second. Al Jazeera shows the live storming by Israeli Commandos and the Guardian has a link to the video as well.

Almost out of the frame

Almost out of the frame, originally uploaded by still awake.

Swinky’s Sexy Cupcakes

I took Bristol Bites’ suggestion yesterday, and on the way up Park St, stopped off at Swinky’s for a special treat of a cupcake. Swinky’s is a sweet lovers delight of a shop. The home made candy motif has now spread to imported American goods such as Reece’s Pieces, Junior Mints (£1) and Lucky Charm cereal boxes (£7.95). Adventurous flavours such as Moroccan Mint and Deep Dark Chocolate Orange and Chilli have been joined by Cosmopolitan, Dirty Martini, Chocolate Three Ways and one more which I will leave for you to discover.

The four new flavours have been created to celebrate the second Sex and the City movie by representing each of the female lead characters. The two that I bought to taste were the following:

Blitzed cranberries infuse vanilla sponge cake with a hint of lime zest to stand up to the sweetness. Topped with a Cranberry, Orange and Lime Frosting, the only thing missing is the Vodka! An ode to Ms Bradshaw.

Dirty Martini (Salted Chocolate Caramel)
Light chocolate cake is wrapped in salted martini-chocolate frosting and drizzled in caramel. Elegance with a feisty kick and a potential classic. Samantha perhaps?

I saved the sweet treats to enjoy with my Indian Monsoon Malamar coffee from Extract Coffee. I preferred the Cosmopolitan cupcake and didn’t like the idea that the dirty martini was made up of cake, not dense enough. The coffee was great.

I must mention that I don’t intend to watch either of the Sex in the City movies. I find the concept of them sexist and stereotypically cliched – so it’s not the movie that caused my excitement. I just love variety and new flavours.

Swinky Sweets Ltd, 20 Park Street, Bristol, BS1 5JA


Overlooking, originally uploaded by still awake.

Bristol Happiness Lecture: the fifth

St George’s music hall played host to the fifth Bristol Happiness Lecture this year in a session about positive psychology responses to depression. On May 18, 2010 the speakers were positive psychologist Miriam Akhtar, GP / broadcaster Dr Phil Hammond and addictions specialist Dr Chris Johnstone. Chris Johnstone initially developed the series of lectures as part of his positive psychology programme at the University of Bristol.

Positive psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The focus is on people wanting to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Chris Johnstone now focuses on teaching, training and writing but has previously spent years working as a doctor and an addictions specialist in the NHS. He fought for the rights of junior doctors and found an interest in studies that empower the individual and bring about positive change. He has written the book Find Your Power which was launched at the lecture, has co-produced the self-help audio CD, The Happiness Training Plan, with Miriam Akhtar, and edits the free newsletter The Great Turning Times.

This year’s programme has already been and gone but there is a summary on the Positive Psychology News page. Last year’s lecture was on Resilience in a time of Recession and past speakers have included Oliver James (2008), Ilona Boniwell (2007) and Raj Persaud (2006).

Dot to Dot: the beginning


Waiting in line at Thekla for the first act of our evening: De Staat. Then Peggy Sue and the Pirates at 5.30. Off to the Academy for the next session.

The Colour and the Sound, Stokes Croft Streetfest

The Imperfectionists, anticipation

Rome is the setting for some quirky characters and an English language newspaper around which eleven short stories are based. The book is the Imperfectionists and it is the first one by English born Tom Rachman. The author was raised in Vancouver and spent his professional life as a journalist. He was stationed in Rome when he worked for the Associated Press, and lived in Paris, where he was editor for the International Herald Tribune.

The description of the book reads as follows:

The English-language newspaper was founded in Rome in the 1950s, a product of passion and a multi-millionaire s fancy. Over fifty years, its eccentricities earned a place in readers hearts around the globe. But now, circulation is down, the paper lacks a website, and the future looks bleak.

Still, those involved in the publication seem to barely notice. The obituary writer is too busy avoiding work. The editor-in-chief is pondering sleeping with an old flame. The obsessive reader is intent on finishing every old edition, leaving her trapped in the past. And the dog-crazy publisher seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer.

There have already been some reviews: DJ Taylor wrote in the Guardian: “Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognise The Imperfectionists’ high degree of authenticity. So – you hope – will quite a few people beyond it.

Jonathan Sale at the Independent is a little punchier with his opinion. ‘Tom Rachman has worked as a foreign correspondent and his characters, although exaggerated, ring only too true. To avoid former colleagues who might recognise themselves, he would be best advised to stick to the novel writing. They might take a dim view of the hackette’s sneering verdict that “Journalism is a bunch of dorks pretending to be alpha males.”‘

Finally, Charlie Buckley at the Scotsman is a little more positive than the other two: “THIS first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off”.

The hardback version was published in March 2010 and the paperback is due to be released in September of this year.

If you do end up reading it then please let me know what you thought. I will do the same when I get a chance to read it.

Stokes Croft Streetfest photos (2)

Some more photos: