e17 storywalk

As part of the Words Over Waltham Forest literary festival currently being held, there was an E17 Storywalk event yesterday.

Over two hours an audience visited six venues in Walthamstow and at each they heard a short story created especially to feature the place where they were standing, read out by the story’s author.  the walk was free, but voluntary donations of a suggested £5 were collected for Lloyd Park Children’s Centre.

A couple of weeks ago, one of the authors unfortunately dropped out, and I was aksed whether I’d be interested in taking their place. Rather nervously, I agreed – my reasons at the time purely being to help the group out (of which I only knew one) rather than for myself.

The venue that I was given was Lot One Ten – a curious little antique shop less than five minutes walk from my flat.  Due to current personal time constraints, I literally had about three to four hours to write my story, which I did last Saturday.  So, that was the main obstacle out of the way.

However, the thought of reading my own work out to a group of strangers absolutely terrified me. I tried it out on my lovely mate – but I know he would have said it was good even if he thought it was crap!  I didn’t get a wink of sleep the night before, and woke up a bit sniffly, which didn’t help at all.

It also didn’t help that the others reading their stories out were all ‘writers’ – unlike me!

Filled with trepidation, I wandered down to the library where the walk was due to start.

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Reading my story, with the other writers, my venue and the poster

The authors and venues were:

Each group had about 20 in the audience – and it was especially cosy on my one – but we fit everyone in.

The other five stories were fantastic, and I think we all relaxed after the morning group as the readings felt even stronger the second time round.

Poor Ken gave himself the short straw as his was the only outdoors venue. The first time round we were ambushed by a drunk piss-drenched Polish guy who demanded a tenner off the group to make him leave us alone. Luckily he was convinced to leave us alone without getting a tenner!  I’d like to think that it enhanced the colourful atmosphere of Ken’s story.  The scond time round it started raining pretty heavily and the wind really picked up – literally JUST for the time that Ken was reading.

All other readings were pretty uneventful in comparison!

I hope that anyone who did come enjoyed it – unexpectedly, once I’d resigned myself to the fact that I was actally there and just had to get on with it, I really, really enjoyed myself. And I met a great bunch of people, which helps! I’d totally be up for something like that again.

Paekakariki Press are printing a booklet featuring all six stories in the next 2-3 weeks, which some of our audience have already ordered. I’m very excited about this as I see it as my first instance of being ‘published’.

I must say, although he originally got me into this, I couldnt have done it without Simon’s help. He waded in and helped edit my brain-dump first draft and was brilliant at it!

So, despite my fears, it was a brilliant experience – what next?!!?

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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.

a disgrace to my gender?

I'm All For Girl Power!
I’m All For Girl Power!

I know that by posting something like this I am prone to open myself up for attack, but I am genuinely interested in hearing the ‘other side’ of my argument on this subject.

I don’t understand women-only groups.

I am quite loud online (I hate the word ‘prolific’ – I just think of myself as being noisy), I have met quite a lot of people in various circles.  Although I suffer from chronic shyness (ARGH! STRANGER DANGER!!), I have found that a swift couple of vodkas and a huge deep breath (and probably a little too much laughing) gets me through these initial meetings, and I then really enjoy myself, and love meeting such a wide variety of people.

Due to me spending so much time online, and often meeting people in ‘real’ life, I seem to be invited along to quite a lot of stuff.

Today is a case in point.  I received four email invites today.  One for a local group, one for a blogging group and two for general networking / ‘thought platform’ (??) opportunities.

And each one of these four was for a women-only group.  So, I wont be going to any of them.

I like women, I think they’re great.  I do think that in certain areas they seem to be over-shadowed by men or not taken quite as seriously, but I honestly believe that women-only groups in these situations serve not to empower women, but to prove that they ARE different to men.  They highlight the differences rather than proving the similarities.

I’m not saying that there should be no women-only groups at all – I can understand groups where women want to talk / act freely, especially for religious or cultural reasons, but for example one of the group meetings I was invited to today is supposedly to give women a stronger voice in media roles and has many ‘prolific’ women speakers.

Surely women already think that they need a stronger voice, so you’re kind of preaching to the converted.  Wouldn’t it be better all round if all of those women were just meeting with a group of people working within the media (apparently including bloggers I’m guessing, otherwise I have no idea why I was invited!) whether they are male or female?

If there is some kind of re-education about gender equality needed, then why aren’t the men being included in this?

Perhaps I am completely missing the point, but then I have never even seen the point of ‘girls nights in/out’ either.  As far as I’m concerned, if I fancy a party, I want to ask my friends along.  that may turn out to be all girls just due to circumstance, but I have never felt the need to seclude them from proceedings.

Come on – I would love it if someone could really tell me why I am so very very wrong on this matter.  I am totally for girl power (I’m in no way an anti-feminist) – but I’m all for boy power as well – if they’ve got what it takes!

the twitter diaries – imogen lloyd webber & georgie thompson

The Twitter Diaries

Seeing as Twitter has been around for almost 6 years now, I guess it is hardly surprising to find a book almost entirely composed of tweets between two people.  In fact, it is probably more of a surprise that it has taken this long – although I am not altogether sure that it’s the first…it is just the first that I have come across!

The Twitter Diaries begins on New Year’s Eve when a society party in New York held by Peter Mignon enables is the setting for a meeting of 30-something Brits Stella Cavill (wannabe shoe designer to the stars) and Tuesday Fields (sports reporter).

When Tuesday returns home to London, they start tweeting regularly as @StellaCavill and @TuesdayFields (the book was released on 21st May, and the accounts have been active since then).

Over the next 365 days, they talk about everything – love, life, their careers, family and pop culture.

This should be totally up my street – I am an avid tweeter after all (22,000 and counting!) and in the main, it was fun, light, frothy stuff.

However, there were a few little niggles I had.  Eg:  EVERYTHING was done by Direct Message…so in theory, not exactly tweeting.  And considering it was all done by DM, there were a fair amount of Retweets (RT) going on, which you can’t do within a DM.  It would just be a standard cut and paste.

Also, there was a lot of stuff about existing tweeting brands, which (as I am not a celeb-follower or a brand guru, I didn’t particularly get).  There was also a lot made of a twitter feud between Peter Mignon (@PM_TV) and @LordTw1tter which I assume is Piers Morgan and Lord Sugar – especially as the authors were introduced to each other by Piers Morgan!  (And yes, if you were wondering from one of the authors’ names, she IS his daughter!)

As I said – light, frothy and very ‘now’…especially as the year it’s set in I believe is 2012, and we’re not even halfway through it yet.

This isn’t a new idea by any means.  I remember the small trilogy Chat, Connect and Crash by Nan Mccarthy that came out in 1998 about two people who had met in a chat room, and then of course there are countless email-based books – probably one of my early favourites was E by Matt Beaumont in 2000.

But this is an enjoyable enough summer read, that you could speed through in hardly any time at all – and then follow the main characters on Twitter!

my day, by twitter

It’s been a funny old day – and I only realised when I popped onto my blog page and noticed my Tweets stripped down excluding any with mentions in them.

This has apparently been my day – there must be something in my water…

My tweets today!

However, i DO still think that I’m funny. Just occasionally!

the world through my eyes (part 2)

Further to my previous post, here is another time that my (lack of) height always becomes an issue – in an ‘audience’.

This is my view of David Lammy MP last night at the House of Commons.

Just a teeny-weeny bit of David Lammy was visible to me!

Luckily, his voice carried incredibly well – which is good, because he had some good stuff to say about the riots, what had obviously happened in his constituency, some lovely words about what we had all achieved etc.

By the time Yvette Cooper came to speak to us, I had managed to move forward.  But to be quite honest, I think I would’ve preferred to hear David Lammy speak a bit more 😉

I could see almost ALL of Yvette Cooper! (ooer)

(PS – although this was in the House of Commons, I do NOT want to get into any political discussion (hate it!) this is purely meant to be about my literal view point, not my political one!) 😀

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!

“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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