Monthly Archives: April 2011

Stokes Croft, and why Northcliffe should wish for a riot in Clifton

banksy sniper

I keep bumping into blog posts about the riots that took place in Stokes Croft this past Thursday and the one before that. I don’t have much of an impassioned opinion on the events themselves. I live maybe 15 minutes away by foot and feel it’s local story but I can’t really relate to the events with as much interest as others. See Kerry MP, Don’t Forget The Sun, Nancy Knits, Tigerlilyquinn, Bristol Culture, Eugene Byrne and Something Doing among others.

The thing to which I do relate and enjoy is the way the conversation about Stokes Croft took place. Crises are one of the best ways to get people talking to each other and not only because we all have the same thing to talk about but that helps.

I heard about it on Twitter first where it all became very lively. People were taking pictures and getting involved in a way which, had it taken place on a Northcliffe hyperlocal site, would have counted as a success. Anyone ready for Stokes Croft people yet?

I chatted to the guy in the lift on the way to Swinky’s the next morning. It made for conversation over coffee and cupcakes, then over lunch, then over the next few days.

Twitter kept updates going even when the BBC and the Evening Post failed to report. The UK bombs Iraq and we get instant coverage but at 1.30 in the morning there was apparently no one in the office to cover a riot just down the road (or close enough).

All the talk is a positive sign. I once sat in the central plaza in Amsterdam while the government drove by to resign and no one had any idea what was going on. I found out when I returned to Athens.

At university, during exam time, people were the friendliest and most communicative than at any point in the year. External stresses that bind us together are even better than drugs at making a social atmosphere and there’s no come down.

To tap into rational choice theory again, the ties that bind us together socially are theorized as the concept ‘social capital’. It’s the value we place on our relationships with others. There are weak ties and strong ones and various researchers have defined these in numerous ways but it all comes down to that distinction, pretty much.

Strong ties can be found in close knit communities and can be good and bad. Good because there can be reciprocity and support and bad because it can be hard to break out. For example, the ghetto sections of England where ethnic divisions are reinforced by voluntary segregation, i.e. areas that are predominantly Pakistani or Greek communities whose members interact only with each other. A great example of the latter is My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the difficulty in bringing in a non-Greek to that group. Exaggerated somewhat, obviously, but not by as much as you’d think.

Going back to the topic of Stokes Croft, all the elements were there to bind people into a community. External forces, such as Tesco and the police; lack of media coverage which meant the conversation wasn’t redirected; and the violent attack against protestors and the police.

As I mentioned before, there are hyperlocal sites set up by Northcliffe which are designed to get people talking but they don’t have the same vibe as Twitter did on both those Thursdays. I could take a guess as to why but what do others think? Will it take a riot in Clifton?

Arnolfini, Bristol Artists Book Event 2011

Just when you wondered what else could possibly be happening on this extended bank holiday, it turns out that the Arnolfini will be playing hostess to a chill out event post- royal wedding frenzy, the Bristol Artists Book Event 2011.

Spread over three floors and two days there will be more than 80 artist bookmakers, dealers and small presses from Bristol and around the world showing and selling their work.

BABE provides a relaxed and friendly space to meet and chat to artists about their work and buy works of art. Prices start from just a few pounds.

It is an event organised in conjunction with the Centre for Fine Print Research at the University of the West of England.

Sat 30 Apr, 11am – 6pm
Sun 1 May, 11am – 5pm

Free entry

Imi Maufe: World Atlas
Also, if you get a chance you can take part in creating a World Atlas from memory during the BABE weekend. This work in progress will be on view during the weekend, before being bound into a book at the end.

Arnolfini, 16 Narrow Quay, Bristol BS1 4QA, +44 (0)117 9172300 / 01,

Melbourne, all the memories ‘Eat Me’ didn’t write about

My lovely friend Martin came back from London recently and brought me a magazine with a feature on Melbourne. Now bear in mind that I haven’t been back ‘home’ since the Sydney Olympics and nostalgia doesn’t take long to hit.

The writer, Ruby Rockwell, spent seven days documenting her eating adventures in a lovely little article. I think I could have done a better job, so any editors out there, if you’re looking to commission a piece then feel free to get in touch:

The following is a list of only some of the things that I could add.

Melbourne Airport – I practically grew up there. My mother was station manager at an airline and my sister and I would spend our Saturdays or Sundays there. I once found a game of Frogger with unlimited credit and had the most amazing afternoon.

Lygon Street – Pizza by the metre and New Zealand waffle cone ice cream. On hot muggy nights, we would drive to Lygon Street and just get out and about.

Carlton – a particularly European area and I know we visited many family friends there but can’t remember if we stayed in a flat on top of someone’s shop for a while in between moving houses.

The alleyways in the city centre make up some of my favourite memories. Book stores, boutiques, jewelry stores, domed roofs and amazing tiles. Coffee shops and restaurants and windows with displays of lingerie.

Bourke St, Melbourne

By 小强@Melbourne

St Kilda with its Luna Park where I’ve been at least once and ridden on the roller coaster. I also went to a Simply Red concert with my sister just near there.

Queen Victoria Market is where my dad used to take us and we’d come away with a box of manderins and Spanish donuts. There were so many aisles and so much food

China town. Swanston Street. Westfield. Chadstones with my grandparents. Phillip Island to see the Penguins (not quite Melbourne obviously but still).

Myers, David Jones and the food hall for the fudge and random treats. Brunch on Keilor Road. Coffee at Pellegrinis.

Brunswick Street in Fitzroy became cool only after I left in 1993 but my sister showed me around and we went for a drink at a bar on a terrace. Smith Street has much the same feel to it, nothing to me, but plenty of cool for others. Vague familiarity with Clarendon Street in South Melbourne.

loving the light

By mugley

A quirky thing about Melbourne that could keep me entertained for days was the price of petrol. There is no (or at least there was no) blanket pricing schedule with slight variations. There were dramatic differences between service stations and days of the week. Petrol could be 70 cents a litre at one station and up to 90 or down to 50 cents in another.

Another Melbournian peculiarity is that pizza from local places has a layer of ham – not flat slices but small cut up bits. Bizarre.

Favourite memory of going to the independent Cinema Kino and watching Gas, Food, Lodging and then having lattes in small water glasses, as was the fashion, somewhere in the city with my sister. We also saw My Mother’s Castle.

Eat Me on Facebook and on Twitter.


From the ground

Ephemeral Baby: a week of posts

Sunday: little M not quite getting there yet.

Friday: Sweet, yes. Dessert, no.

Tuesday: A review of one of the best and most child friendly restaurants in Bristol.

Monday: The Bristol 10k is taking place in three Sundays from now but not sure I’m ready to run yet.

Sunday: Not as many lonely times as you’d expect

Scheduling my time

Last September I decided that I needed more structure in my writing so I chose three subjects which I knew somewhat and posted on them three times a week.

I lost interest in transport as soon as I stopped commuting so the Transported column pretty much drifted away. The data column disappeared when I couldn’t find the motivation for writing about a subject which I spent all day looking and analysing.

The only subject that kept my interest was the baby column and that really took over most posts so I moved it to its own home.

So here I am, seven months later and all the routine and structure I had attempted has disappeared.

I think it’s a good time to set up a new routine and a useful way to work towards some goals.

My last opportunity for NCTJ exams is in November and I need to work on my shorthand, portfolio and studies. I would like to write a novel or at least publish a book. I plan to go back to posting more photographs and I also want to write at least one review – of something cultural – once a week and keep up with the read-a-long I have been doing.

First attempt at setting a schedule:

Monday: something to do with the NCTJ course, not sure what yet; photograph;
Tuesday: photograph;
Wednesday: novel update? Writing? Photograph;
Thursday: not sure
Friday: um.. opinion piece on something political maybe?
Saturday: book related post;
Sunday: cultural review.

I’ll finalize the schedule and play around with it until May, then follow it for a month and see how it works out.

Any thoughts or suggestions, dear readers?

I also want to post one question to you each day. I am terrible at interviews so this will be a chance to work on that too. I hope you don’t mind being part of my experiment.

Thoughtfully yours, as ever.


Bristol: looking through

Read-a-long week 4: Bolaño’s 2666

Section four – The part about Fate (week four)

I’m not sure if it’s on purpose but this chapter helped me understand that it is people who are depressed or who feel hopeless that end up in Santa Teresa. The two professors who have lost the woman they love, Amalfitano who is depressed and now Fate who has lost his mother and doesn’t seem to have anyone else. The only other people he gets in touch with are his colleagues.

The Italian Morini, week 1, was always settled emotionally and Norton was lost but escaped half way through. She found her compassion inside herself from when she was little and realised she still had some love. With love comes hope and we’re back to the dementors in harry potter or more accurately, Dante’s purgatory.

All hope abandon ye who enter here.

This section read a lot easier because it was more plot based rather than internal like the Amalfitano section. There is a more obvious focus on the women who are disappearing and Fate decides they are a story worth telling. The previous sections hinted at this background event of the murders but now we are being directed to pay closer attention to it.

I liked the story about Seaman and especially the sermon with its practical recipes alongside his philosophies for life. I’m not sure where the story of the Black Panthers fits in but they represent hope against the odds perhaps.

Ephemeral Baby: posts over the last week

Review of how child friendly I found the new gastropub, the Botanist

A welcome to Mersina from her grandfather on his blog Efimeris

Spreading the baby news in Australia

Saturday in the park with Martin (and little M)

Shopping as a non-yummy mummy around Bristol

A tribute to cous cous, the miracle food, and a recipe

Talking about the future

London from the Tate Modern, a view

My sister and I were talking about travelling a while ago and she described it as exciting. Who knows, you could end up sitting next to the man of your dreams, soulmate etc.

I think of travelling as exactly the opposite. It is the one time I get to be on my own and do exactly what I want to do. My biggest fear is that I’ll end up on a journey without pen or paper or even a book. I prize my time alone.

So when Steve Bavister sat across from me on the train from London Paddington I didn’t pay him much attention. I was sitting at one table that seats four and he sat diagonally opposite. He was with another guy who sat across the aisle at the other table where another young woman was sitting.

Bavister and his companion chit chatted for a while and I noticed that he had a copy of every newspaper. They were both inclusive and friendly but I kept on reading my book The Universal Journalist* and eating my M&S quinoa salad.

There was then a mention of vegetarians and he apologised with a look towards my salad. Then they discussed the papers he was carrying and said something about the media. He then said sorry in case I was a journalist and nodded towards the book. I said I wasn’t and after that we got chatting.

Bavister is an NLP trainer and had previously edited a magazine so when I said I’d like to be a journalist he gave me some suggestions and then we discussed some things we’d both read in the papers over the last few weeks including a comedy stand up act.

He’d been trying to get me to say what my goal was for the future. I said I didn’t know. We circled back to a different topic and then his stop was approaching at swindon and he tried to get me to say it again and I avoided the question. As he stood to get hs bag he asked if you did know, what would it be? I answered ‘ I’d be a journalist in Brussels working for the Telegraph’. ‘Then do it’ he said and he left.

I was amazed. The Telegraph? Really? But it felt real and I felt energised and full of clarity.

That was two years ago. I signed up to do a distance learning course in news reporting. I even applied for a job in Brussels that wasn’t realistic but it was a beginning at least. I was aiming for August 2010 but that didn’t work out.

I would love to meet Mr Bavister again to figure out my next goal. I’m not sure it’s Brussels anymore.

* affiliate link to Amazon.