mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-07-01 12:51 pm
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Green Borders

I had to go to the CAB today, and saw a flier on their board for an organic-fairtrade-vegan place in Leytonstone—obviously newly opened, since I hadn't heard of it before. Their website is here; apparently they're "not officially open" yet, but the initial outlook is promising.

They have O-F-V jam/juice/snacks/pasta/&c., all the usual things one would expect, at a less-than-excruciating markup, and apparently will be getting a refill station for household goods soon. Also serves good coffee, though I would've preferred unsweetened soya in mine; if I wanted apple juice in my coffee, I'd say so. Fortunately, he was very receptive to the idea of something besides sweetened soya milk, even if he did start talking about trying coconut milk out tomorrow. He also makes vegetable soup, which I didn't try, and vegan chocolate & carrot cake. A comfortable sofa exists, and several small tables.

The lack of visible signs is a bit depressing (presumably he'll put the name of the shop up somewhere, eventually), but it's a pretty inviting place, and he did comment to me that he knew "going into a new shop can be a bit intimidating"—it's always refreshing when shop owners actually understand that!
mirrorshard: (Default)
2010-05-21 05:59 pm
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Wenlock & Mandeville

The iconography involved is quite amazing. They're "born from molten steel", made from vinyl and CCTV cameras. And the names are utterly typical upper-upper-middle-class English.

It's as though someone had put out a casting call for the Home Secretary and Prime Minister in one of those uniquely British dystopias that were so popular in the 1980s, and after rejecting everyone who turned up decided that the best thing to do would be to put Tinkywinky and Po through a Cyber-conversion unit.

These guys have the names, they have right air of faux-benevolent omniscience, they have the smooth PR-friendly lines, and steel? When it comes to images of state control and oversight, that has unfortunate implications.
mirrorshard: (Default)
2009-06-01 11:30 am
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Expedition for today

Am in the V&A. Have learnt, among other things, that Ronald Pickup played Rosalind in 1967. In quite a modish white dress.
mirrorshard: (Rose Theatre)
2009-02-06 03:53 pm
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Readthroughs at Westminster Arts Reference Library

Just had a very nice chat with Rossella Black at the Westminster Arts Reference Library, who was very keen on the Sodom readthrough. We're not going to be using the space there for this, but I intend to arrange something there next month, after Sodom and the Woodhouse Players triple bill (which I'm doing lighting for) are over and done with.

What they normally do, apparently, is hold readings by actors, open to the public, during the day or the evening. Socially responsible ones and ones with interesting themes and so on given preference - you know the left-liberal drill. They typically offer refreshments, but don't charge, unless they can get sponsorship to tart things up a bit.

[Edit: their Facebook events diary is here.]

Who fancies joining me in this?
poll below cut )
mirrorshard: (Default)
2008-07-06 06:15 pm
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Pride security

Yesterday, at the Pride rally in Trafalgar Square, transgender campaigner and journalist Roz Kaveney was told she couldn't use the women's loo, and that transwomen would have to use the disabled loo instead.

I'm not going to go into why this is so incredibly wrong on so many levels, because others have done that admirably already. On the other hand, since I reviewed the relevant security legislation on event management as part of my work for Colchester Festival (a few years back, but it's still valid) I'll just make a few points. Probably over-explaining them, but bear with me.

1. These events are absurd patchworks of overlapping and interlocking jurisdictions. The principal organisation (Pride) take main responsibility for running the event, but will generally contract out the security to another firm. This is usually a really good idea, both because security is Not Easy, and because the Private Security Act 2001 means that people performing front-line security jobs have to be licensed. Depending on the size of the event, they may or may not be subcontracting a bit. There are also quite a few other organisations with a professional interest in making things go smoothly - specifically, the police and the local council, but this also includes residents' associations and every single commercial business fronting on the area - which means there are also important and complicated liaison jobs to do.

2. This basically means that the jobs which need to be done (both for legal reasons and common-sense reasons) get done by the people who are certified and employed for the purpose, rather than the people who are dedicated to and invested in the event. In other words, you either get the security you can buy, or you spend ca. £5000 setting up your own fully-trained and -certified team[1].

3. Communication, both beforehand and afterwards, is never as good as it "ought" to be. Someone clearly didn't have the right diversity training (or a clue, but then that's probably congenital) but that doesn't mean that either

3.1 they were carrying out an actual policy of any organisation with which they were affiliated, or

3.2 they had been stationed in that specific place in order to carry out that policy.

4. The event organisers generally never come into contact with the guys at the sharp end in the vis jackets, either on the day or beforehand. Any diversity training they have (or haven't) received is from the security firm employing them, and the quality of that varies widely. (Obviously, if I'm wrong here and they did get behaviour briefings from Pride personnel, much kudos to Pride for that.)

4.1 In fact, legally, people without SIA certification are not allowed to give specific directives to security personnel. (There are some caveats and complications, of course, but this is the basic thrust of it.)

So basically, something went very wrong, and it has to be improved for the future, but it's a systemic fault and not a personal one. There are undoubtedly a lot of people trying to work out what went wrong where, and trying to make it clear that This Isn't Them, but there are also a lot of (rightfully) enraged people boiling it down to "London Pride was transphobic".

Questions we could usefully answer:

  • Who were the security firm contracted there? In fact, was the person responsible event security, or a Council employee?
  • What sort of diversity/awareness training do their staff get, and who provides it?
  • Would they be open to having more provided, free of charge, under the aegis of some convenient organisation?
  • Are there a useful number of people within the LGBT community who already have SIA certification[2]?

[1] SIA licenses cost £245 per person, and the training can cost £150-£250 per person. Added to that, you have the infrastructure expenses and operating expenses for the day. On the other hand, once you have this, you have a very marketable asset indeed.
[2] I don't, despite having done event management, steward training, and front-line work in the past - this was (just) before the SIA licensing requirement came in, and I didn't have the money or real inclination to get trained and licensed.

[Edited to add in banner & link]

mirrorshard: (Default)
2008-03-18 02:23 am
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Neal Stephenson at Gresham College in May

Thursday 8th May - keynote speaker, Symposium: Science Fiction as a Literary Genre.

Given the amazingness-density of The Baroque Cycle, and the intricte overlapping with history and mainstream fiction, this looks fascinating.
mirrorshard: (Terrella)
2007-07-08 07:46 pm
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Various & assorted

Bear with me while I brain-dump. Lots of things happened to blog.

Royal Society, with herrings and shiny things )
Who stole the mutton? )
party, & home the long way )
minutiae, vanities, &c. )
mirrorshard: (Blue flower tea)
2006-10-08 03:39 pm
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[London] Sliding at Tate Modern

From today's Observer, the new installation in the turbine hall at Tate Modern will be opening on Tuesday.

It's a giant playground with slides by Carsten Holler, and visitors will be encouraged to slide down them. At least one uses the entire five-storey height of the turbine hall.

I plan on going ASAP, most likely Tuesday or Wednesday, and would be delighted to have company.