leave our trolls alone

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Awww, look at the ickle troll!

Since the media uproar about the whole ‘Twitter abuse scandal’ (which I wont validate with an explanation as this is not my point here!), the term ‘troll’ has been used incessantly.

In fact, just this morning, BBC Breakfast asked the question on their Facebook page:  “What do you think needs to be done to tackle Twitter trolls? At 0720 we’ll speak to a senior police officer about threats and abuse on the social network.”

Now, I have been ‘social networking’ on internet sites for about 20 years (Yahoo! Chat anyone?) and I am fed up with seeing ‘troll’ used in this way.

An entry on the ever amusing Urban Dictionary sums up how normal internet users view a troll:

1a. Noun

One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.

1b. Noun

A person who, on a message forum of some type, attacks and flames other members of the forum for any of a number of reasons such as rank, previous disagreements, sex, status, ect.

A troll usually flames threads without staying on topic, unlike a “Flamer” who flames a thread because he/she disagrees with the content of the thread.

1c. Noun

A member of an internet forum who continually harangues and harasses others. Someone with nothing worthwhile to add to a certain conversation, but rather continually threadjacks or changes the subject, as well as thinks every member of the forum is talking about them and only them. Trolls often go by multiple names to circumvent getting banned.

For example, on our local newspaper website, there have been a number of stories over the years about the campaign to save our local cinema.  There is a troll on the site currently calling himself ‘Cornbeefur’ that flames on almost every story, but especially anything to do with the cinema campaign, using the same language all the time, mentioning people dressed as ‘darleks’ (sic) etc because he KNOWS that it is going to get a rise out of all the people that have been passionately supporting a campaign that he doesn’t consider worthwhile.

That is a troll, and I have to admit, I have trolled in the past.  I would be surprised if the majority of people that spend a long time on the internet haven’t trolled at some stage.  Have you never been contrary just to annoy someone whose views you don’t agree with? (especially those that you don’t know, so don’t necessarily care about their feelings).

So, now that there have been high-profile online abuse cases (forget all the internet abuse that has come before that, they weren’t marginally famous feminists, and therefore unimportant), the media are branding these people trolls.  They are not trolls, they are online abusers.

Although trolls aren’t fluffy, they are rather amusing if you can get out of your own arse long enough to see them for what they really are.  Threatening and abusive people are not really funny (although often blockable) they are exactly what they are.

Don’t take away our trolls BBC and other media.  Learn what social media is, accept what a troll really is, and report criminal harassment and abuse for what it is instead of making the internet (and especially Twitter) out to be some out of control crime-fest to those who don’t use it and have never intended to!

PS – this post is not intended as trolling.

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the nigella and saatchi thing

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The photos that shocked us all

Like most people in the UK, I was absolutely shocked on Sunday by the photos that appear to depict Charles Saatchi with his hands around his wife’s throat.

I phrase it that the photos of him and Nigella Lawson ‘appear to depict’ because we all know just how deceptive photos can be – but it certainly looks pretty damning.

I asked the question (again, probably like many others), why the hell was someone just photographing it, and why doesn’t it look like anyone at all (including the photographer) tried to intervene.

I saw many utterances on the subject saying “Don’t blame the people who didn’t help, blame Charles Saatchi for being a wife-beater” etc etc but bollocks!  I am also looking at those people (or at least ONE person) who witnessed this despicable act and apparently did nothing!

This brought home to me a rather harrowing moment when I was stood on the tarmac at Faro airport with the man that I had been uncontrollably in love with for many years and he put his hands around my neck and squeezed.

I have no idea at all what would have happened if two men hadn’t stepped in and dragged him off of me.  Well, actually, I do know what probably would have happened, but I don’t really want to think about it.  It DIDN’T happen.

Now, like Nigella, I am not exactly ‘a delicate little flower’ incapable of holding my own, but this man was the most powerful guy I have ever known (one of the reasons I was attracted to him in the first place I will admit).  I was also shocked, dazed, embarrassed, heartbroken and absolutely livid.

Of course, there is a hell of a lot more to my story, and I could bore people to death with it, but my point is PEOPLE STEPPED IN.  They saw what was happening and they did something about it.  I can honestly say that I am eternally grateful for that. Especially the poor guy who took a punch for his troubles.

But surely that’s human nature, isn’t it?  I’d like to think so.

So, yes, if what appeared to happen in those photos did actually happen, then Charles Saatchi is an evil, despicable, power-hungry man who deserves his dick cut off – but I would also quite happily lightly maim the photographer and any other witnesses who just sat and watched and did nothing to help or comfort a violated woman – no matter who she was.

my 2012 blog review

48,000 views of my blog in 2012 – not bad going really, I think!

What IS bad however, is it was this fateful post from 2010 that brought about my busiest day…and why was that? Because there was a TV segment about bloody mantyhose back in March, and people were Googling it! More than 400 people landed on my blog that day due to that!

Sometimes I despair!  But in the meantime, thanks for sticking with me.

My blog in numbers for 2012
My blog in numbers for 2012

making life just that little bit sweeter

We were on the front page of yesterday's local paper (and yes, I AM in the pic)

I mentioned in a previous post about the fantastic work that was happening at the St Mary’s Respite Centre and Pop-Up Canteen in Walthamstow for weary and hungry policemen 🙂

I went along Weds, Thurs, Fri and Sunday.  I meant to go in on Monday & Tuesday this week (which was the last day it ran) but with everything that happened on Monday, I had actually just shut myself away and cried for two days solid!

I enjoyed every single minute that I was there – it was a fantastic opportunity to show the police how much the work that they do is appreciated, and to feel that we had managed to do something so good that it felt like it made up for the attrocities of the looters.

There was one two-hour stretch on Friday evening where we managed to serve about 250 hot meals to various police officers – including riot squad, dog unit and street pastors…the place was absolutely buzzing!

On Sunday, we put out a Tweet for more cake (police can get through a LOT of cake – as per this BBC article that our centre was mentioned in but not named).  Every time a tweet for supplies was put out, we would get innundated with donations really quickly, so it came as a bit of a surprise when over an hour later we still hadn’t really received any cakes.  It became obvious WHY pretty soon after that though – that was the time it had taken locals to BAKE the cakes!!

Some of the vast array of homemade cakes on Sunday

Oh no, no Mr Kiplings for OUR coppers, they get homemade lemon drizzle cake, malteaser cake, lemon polenta cake, apple muffins with fresh cream, blueberry muffins, aubergine cake, beautiful little cupcakes with E17 iced onto them.  THAT was why there was a delay!

Cops love cakes!

It’s been a totally uplifting experience – and I am in complete awe of the people who put so much work into it, rushing around handing out food and serving the police and generally giving a massive morale boost to everyone they came into contact with – so a special mention to Dean, Wifey, Frances, Jess, Faye, Carolyn, Mel, Ali, Ann-Marie, Amy and Hannah who were amazing! (I know I’ve probably missed someone important out, but I am emotionally-crippled at the moment, and I’m sure I will be let off!)

We also made the front page of the local Waltham Forest Guardian, which was nice!

And finally to just part of our amazing wall of thanks from the police.

Thanks to the people of Awesomestow

doing our community bit

Search for 'London riots' and this is the police image you are likely to see!

Well, it’s been a funny old week for the UK, hasn’t it?  Luckily, since my last post, there hasn’t really been any more trouble in London.

A lot of this has probably been due to the heavily ‘advertised’ huge police presence on the streets of London – 16,000 police have been enlisted across the capital – 10,000 than there were on Monday night, which I believe was double the usual amount as it was!

We still haven’t had any trouble in Walthamstow, but there has been a massive number of additional police (not surprising considering our close proximity to Tottenham (our house is less than a mile from where Mark Duggan was shot, to put it in perspective).   I had heard that the local police (I can’t speak for others) have had their canteens closed over recent years (don’t know when exactly) and so our MP suggested to a local church group that they open their building as a respite centre to give tea and coffee.

The wonderful Andy jumped on the idea, and it just grew from there – it didn’t take much to convince our fantastic local community to donate both food & drink and their time.  On Tuesday, the St Mary’s Respite Centre was up and running and serving many tired, hungry policemen (and other emergency services).

I managed to get along Wednesday night for 2.5 hours, making sandwiches, serving police and getting to know some of the others who I hadn’t met before – always great to meet community-spirited locals!  I even managed to get a chance to chat to our lovely Borough Commander Steve Wisbey who told us what had been happening locally, and what plans for the immediate future were.  It was great to have our minds put to rest – and he was a jolly nice fella too!  It was great to be able to come home and tell The Girl what was going on, as she had found the whole situation ‘a bit scary’.

Cater for the police and they will come! Such a good feeling 🙂

I went along again last night for about the same length of time, and this time saw more people that I knew, as well as others from the previous night – and there seemed to be even more police there tonight.  It was a fantastic atmosphere, even when it got extremely busy and I didn’t have a momen’ts respite from preparing  jacket potatoes, chilli, sausages or paninis (yes reall – we are THAT sophisticated in our charity here in the Stow!)  I was surprised how much I enjoyed it all!

Volunteer Jess tries on a rather cumbersome police vest

Last night the police wrote a load of thank you messages for us, which were really touching – especially a couple who wrote poems – it was great to feel that our efforts were so appreciated (photo of the board from Martin’s pics)!

A particularly warm fuzzies giving message 🙂

I will definitely be going along again tomorrow, and probably on Sunday too.  I’d love to hear if anywhere else in London has been doing similar.

You can read Andy’s blog on it here.

Fantastic set of photos from Martin here.

Much kudos to the church group – especially Andy, Dean, Nic and Frances who have been tireless in their support, organising the volunteers, getting the word out, gaining the support of local businesses etc and actually making this happen – an amazing bunch of people!

london riots

There is so much I could say about my thoughts on the London Riots (probably starting with the fact that I don’t believe they are ‘riots’, they are the reuslt of sick opportunistic thieving hooligans) but it’s too ‘now’ – too raw.  My beautiful city is being ripped apart at the seams, and it’s just way too sad…

We are lucky that we have appeared to have missed the worst of it (so far) in Walthamstow and the rest of Waltham Forest, but lying under my duvet the past couple of nights (as you know from all horror films, duvets are the ultimate protect-all), and hearing the sirens going along Hoe Street, my heart has skipped many beats, worrying that we could be next.

Beautiful old buildings and people’s businesses, homes, vehicles and livelihoods have gone up in flames or been totally ransacked, for no discernable reason.  This is nothing to do with Mark Duggan whose family must be going through hell at the moment – this is just people seeing the police stretched to their limit and thinking they could get some good gear out of it!

Out of all of it, this photo seems exceptionally poignant.

89 year old assesses the damage to his hairdressing salon after riots on Tottenham High Road

And yet this photo gave me a little faith in humanity.

Turkish shopkeepers in Dalston protect their community from looters

And this woman should be given a knighthood – or made an MP!

yes, prime minister – apollo theatre

Simon Williams & Richard McCabe

On Monday, me & my mate went to see “Yes, Prime Minister” at the Apollo Theatre.  We went as part of a What’sOnStage.com ‘Group Outing’, which meant we only paid £25 each (in the stalls – 10 rows back) including a programme!  Not a bad deal, I reckon.

The play was still written by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn the same as the original 80s sitcom. On stage however, Simon Williams played Sir Humphrey Appleby (Nigel Hawthorne’s part) and Richard McCabe was Prime Minister Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington’s part).

They were both actually really good, although Williams didn’t come across as quite as self-assured and scathing as Hawthorne (although he was for a lot of it) and McCabe wasn’t quite as clueless and bumbling as Eddington.  Chris Larkin was brilliant as Bernard Woolley – the Principal Private Secretary.

The writing though felt very true to the original, but with enough changes to give it a far more contemporary feel – in fact there were even a few phone-hacking asides thrown in for good measure to bring it bang up to date.

However, the main storyline was a little controversial to say the least.  I had read a couple of reviews, so knew what to expect, but there was a hush over the audience when the whole penny finally dropped and everyone tried to work out whether they should feel offended, or if it was still OK to laugh.  It all felt a bit subdued, and I was worried that they wouldn’t pull out of it.

***Highlight the white text below to read the spoiler – make sure you DON’T if you want to go and see it and don’t want the surprise spoilt!***

The main thrust of the story was of a foreign diplomat staying as a guest at Chequers whose country was offering enough money to bail Europe out of the current financial crisis in exchange for the EU allowing them to lay an oil pipe.  However, the diplomat in question was currently demanding an underage call-girl for the night, or all deals were off. What a dilemma for the PM!

Personally, I think the very strategically placed interval meant that they DID manage to pull it off, and there were laughs a plenty in the second half – along with a lot of obvious spin that everyone appreciated as ‘just like real life’!

I’d love to see how much they change daily considering the current Hackgate scandal.

I would recommend it, even though I’ve seen it get some pretty mixed reviews.

the important things in life

Knock, knock at the knocking house...

I am currently watching BBC London News, and there has just been a rather lengthy piece on the police raiding a brothel.

The Girl is eating her dinner and watching the news and has been making loads of comments and asking questions about previous stories, so I was a little concerned what she was going to ask me during this particular segment.

There were pixelated faces and loads of words being bandied around such as ‘prostitute’, ‘brothel’, ‘sex-worker’, ‘madam’, ‘client’ and I was gradually getting more and more wary as she looked as if she was concentrating rather intently.

Suddenly, there was a quick soundbite from the slightly chavvy looking, heavily pierced next-door neighbour of this particular brothel, when The Girl finally decided she had something to say.

“Do you know, you can get an infection from having your ears pierced twice.”

“save our cinema!” – the walthamstow protest

UCKG crowd already in, Cinema crowd trying to get in...

Last night, I was extremely proud to be part of my community.

For those who don’t know, Waltham Forest is one of only two London Boroughs without a cinema (the other being Lewisham, I believe).  We had a lovely cinema up to 8 years ago.  A beautiful art deco building where the Beatles and the Rolling Stones had played gigs and where Hitchcock had seen films as a boy.  It is a Grade II Listed Building and the last remaining British cinema with its original Christie organ in situ.

However, in 2003, the then EMD owned cinema was in rather a state of disrepair, seemed to have restrictions on films able to be shown, was starting to smell rather heavily of wee and was therefore not as well-frequented (a bit like the Rose & Crown before that got taken over!).  So, it was sold, to the United Church for the Kingdom of God.

Over the years, we have been told various tales of how the building is unsuitable to be re-opened as a cinema, but this has been challenged at every stage of the way.  For the past 8 years, UCKG have petitioned to change the building use to a place of worship.  Plans have even claimed to use the building as ‘a community meeting place’ with an apparent ability to show films.  Are the majority of local people going to go to church to watch The Fast & The Furious 5?

What we're trying to save (box office)

So, 18th May was a huge day for local residents, as it was Decision Day -the planning committee of local councillors was due to hear the arguments from both sides at a public meeting at the Town Hall and reject or accept the planning application from UCKG.

Being a proud member of the E17 ‘Awesomestow’ Twitterati, I had been really happy that so many of us were empassioned by the plight of the cinema, and arranged to meet up to show our support on the night.

When I got there though, there were even more familiar faces than I was expecting – I saw friends I know from the pub, members of my Book Club, neighbours, and even teachers from The Girl’s school.  Being able to mill around, mix in different circles and just recognise familiar faces in a huge crowd made me feel so ‘belonging’.

And there really was a huge crowd.  But from both sides.

With the meeting originally taking place in the Town Hall, the plan was to meet on the Town Hall steps.  However, the veune was changed, and the meeting took place in the nearby Assembly Rooms.  this meant that the ‘Cinema crowd’ were outside the Town Hall, and the UCKG were outside the Assembly Rooms.  And as they had generally had to come from further afield, they had a large crowd very early, which felt quite intimidating.  Our lot WALKED from home generally and arrived in dribs and drabs, slowly forming a HUGE crowd of support, which was incredible.

UCKG crowd assembled when we arrived

But of course, when the doors were opened, all the UCKG were already there, and got in first.  The hall takes over 1,000 people, but we were still left with about 2-300 people (guesstimate) outside, along with a couple of bagpipers, shouting our support through the windows to those within the meeting.  Luckily, the social bar just outside the building opened and helped fuel our morale as we were there for over TWO HOURS chanting, singing, waiting for the decision, and checking our phones and Twitter feeds to find out what was going on inside.

Photo from @essgee91 of inside - all the UCKG stood up and put on hi vis vests 5 mins into proceedings. Cultish?? (That IS an 'L' btw)

And the result was unanimous – 7-0 to reject the planning application.  It was a fantastic result for all involved (from our side of course!) and puts us one step closer to getting our cinema back.

After chanting “Save Our Cinema” for two hours, it was nice to chant “We’ve SAVED our cinema” and then the police moved in to hold us back as the UCKG people came out.Obviously they all had long journeys back home, buses to catch etc and so we were quite happy to shout”We live HERE, where d’YOU live?” for a while – at which point some of them seemed to want to have a dance-off.

Perhaps the greatest moment of the night was about 1,000 people waving “Byeeeeeeeee, cheerio, safe journey…” as they made their way home, and we all went to the pub.

Of course, UCKG still own the building, but there has been a Trust set up to try to raise the money needed to buy it back and refurbish AND the UCKG are extremely guilty of letting a listed building fall into a disgusting state of disrepair.  It has had illegal raves, has been flooded, has been boarded up and covered in scaffolding for years and they have done NOTHING to look after it.

And they must now know how opposed people are locally to yet another church (I believe we have over 230 already!!).

So, the first skirmish has been won – and now the battle proper shall commence.

Other links:

And – last but not least, my favourite response from the UCKG

The Churchy response...

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