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Advice for the fight ahead (please add your own)

10 May

So the Tories are in and they’ve already cut fire stations and they have the Human Rights Act on the chopping block. It is going to be horrible, but it will come to an end, eventually.

In the meantime, it will likely get really shitty for a lot of people.  Here is a list of tips and bit of knowledge off the top of my head, and some of my friends’ suggestions, for things which might make it easier to get through the next five years.  This is based on the charities I’ve worked for, and the stuff that’s helped me or friends of mine at various times. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments, and share this wherever you think it might be useful.  Knowledge is power and we’re going to need each other.

  • You can get job centres to refund transport costs to and from interviews.
  • If you organise your job hunt into a spreadsheet, and stick the deadline as one column, link to a job ad as another column, and then all the other stuff that’s important (salary, length of commute, sector, etc) and filter by deadline you can easily prioritise the most promising apps.
  • If you are homeless, job centres have a ‘discretionary easement of conditionality‘ to lay off the jobseeker rules about how many apps you’ve done while you sort out your housing situation.
  • Join a union. Find out which one is best for you here. Join now, ’cause often you need to have been a member for 3 months to qualify for help.
  • The phone number for Green and Black Cross legal support for demos is 07946 541511. Put it in your phone now. Write it on your arm before a demo. Get in touch with them about becoming a legal observer for demos.

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New poetry video: No Spoons Left

2 Feb

A while ago I wrote a poem about what it’s like having limited energy, using the Spoon Theory which comes from this brilliant post by Christine Miserandino who has lupus.

My own spoonie-ness comes from Continue reading

Press release: Royal Wedding appeal cases dismissed by Court of Appeal

22 Jan

The Court of Appeal has today ruled against the test cases of ‘precrime’ royal wedding arrestees.

The Metropolitan Police pre-emptively arrested dozens of people shortly before and on the day of the Royal Wedding in 2011, including a people from a ‘zombie’ flash-mob in Soho Square, a group of 10 republican protestors at Charing Cross Station, and one man who was ‘a known anarchist’ walking in central London. Many were detained for hours, and all were released without charge.

Some of the arrestees pursued a Judicial Review against the Metropolitan Police in 2012, arguing that their arrests were evidence of a policy of pre-emptive political policing designed to keep dissenters – both real and perceived – off the streets.

The High Court initially found in the police’s favour in July 2012, but the Court of Appeal found in that the arrestees had grounds for appeal Continue reading

Occupy, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Sneering at Activists

15 Oct

This post might be a bit of a fudge, but it’s of the moment. It encompasses Occupy, Jesus Christ Superstar, and the historiography of activism. Please bear with me.

Today is the two year anniversary of Occupy London beginning on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral. I never camped but I know a few people who did, and I was there on the first night – I saw the riot cops, the snatch squads, the police dogs brought out in an attempt to intimidate a peaceful group of protestors. I was also there on the last night as the community that had grown there prepared to split apart and tried to work out what to do next.

Throughout the time Occupy were camped there I couldn’t believe the levels of vitriol being pointed towards people trying to bring the system (which everyone knows is screwed) into sharper focus. People camped out were angrily denounced by people who had much the same opinions as them. This Daily Mash article at the time of the eviction just about sums it up: Millions back removal of dirty hippies with whom they are in complete agreement

 “I don’t know who I hate most – the bank that sent my business to the wall while awarding huge bonuses to its failing management
or the human sewage who have been pointing out what a fucking disgrace that is. 
Look at them, with their hair.”

This Sunday, I took my Fairy Godmother to see Jesus Christ Superstar. The choice was hers – I wanted to treat her, she loves Tim Minchin who’s playing Judas, so off we went to see Jesus Christ Superstar.

timminchinjudasI hadn’t read any reviews – I’d seen a production when I was 11 and liked some of the music but wasn’t that eager to re-visit either soppy musical numbers I’d swooned about early crushes to, or Christian doctrine which is not really my bag these days.

After the first number I was breathless with excitement: the stage for Jesus Christ Superstar was just grey steps with banners and tents all over the place. The crowds had black bloc hoodies, jeans, and dreads. The Roman soldiers were cops with riot shields who suddenly loomed behind the crowd from the top of the steps exactly like the riot cops had on the first night of Occupy.

I cannot begin to explain how excited and grateful I was to see the story of scrubby radicals from 2,000 years ago portrayed in the clothes of scrubby modern day radicals. Continue reading

What I See Project

25 Sep

I was asked to take part in the What I See Project which is asking women all around the world to talk about what we see when we look in the mirror. I poeted* my response, because that’s what I do. Looking back I want to tweak quite a lot of it, but the video (and typed out words) are below.

http://whatiseeproject.com//story/what-do-you-see-when-you-look-in-the-mirror698

I was disappointed but unsurprised that I couldn’t completely side-step weight and various other body hang-ups – but I firmly believe I have much more going on than what I look like, and I’m forever grateful to my mother for not fucking me up about body image. (I didn’t know this was a rare thing ’til my late teens/early twenties, but the more I learn of other women’s relationships with food/their bodies, the more I realise I dodged a bullet.)

I have felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin ever since I came out as bi… because frankly it just suits me. I’d been happily self-identifying as “a slightly dykey straight girl” since my teens, so when I actually started fancying girls in my early twenties: everything just fit. It felt like a missing piece of a puzzle had finally settled into place. The idea that I was failing at femininity just evaporated when I realised I wasn’t straight. It almost felt like I’d been given an opt-out clause to all gender clichés. Suddenly a wealth of other possible female identities opened up to me. “If I don’t fit the trad femininity model then: Shrug. Fuck it. Nyah-nyah-nyah: I don’t need to.” Continue reading

Activism

17 Nov

‘Activist’ is no more a cohesive term than ‘voter’ or ‘customer’ – it is an activity which many people do and should be free to do. However, lately it seems that the mere act of protesting is getting the Jim Crow treatment .

While it isn’t illegal to protest per se, the authorities are increasingly employing dubious tactics to stop people from doing it. This covers both herding protestors into as small (and invisible) a space as possible, kettling them to stop their movements/punish them for coming out, brute force such as repeatedly dragging a disabled man from his wheelchair, horse charging an already kettled group which included pregnant women. And that’s just on the day. Later protestors can look forward to punitive, Kafka-esque charges for activities which have not broken any laws, bail conditions which restrict movements, and being prosecuted with trumped-up charges such as ‘violent disorder’ as the police try to cover their own arses for nearly killling someone.

I first became active when I had some first-hand experience of the very thin end of this wedge. (Background here if you’re not already sick to death of it.)

The two things I keep hearing from various acquaintances when I wax lyrical about any particular case in the huge portfolio of police abuses are:

a) “Well, what did they think would happen, being there/dressing like that/holding that placard?”
and
b) “Well it’s hardly Guantanamo/a police state/Nazi Germany/any other facetious example”

To the ‘what did they think would happen’ argument indicates that the person saying this already considers protesting to be a kind of war zone, or at least a state in which assault, threats, and abuses of police power are to be expected Continue reading

Found Feminism: Kulcha Jammin’

1 Oct

This post originally appeared in Bad Reputation – a feminist pop-culture adventure – on 1 October 2012

This post is belated – I thought I’d lost these pictures on an old phone – but wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, I found them on my computer the other day.

Some time in 2010 or 2011 (I’m dating this by my handset) the Harley Medical Group started advertising plastic surgery on the tube. Images of pert models told women that they needed ‘new year, new confidence’. Plastic surgery is nothing new, but pushing that advertising on people as they go up the escalators was a new and unwelcome assault. “You’re on your way to work, by the way, have you considered that your tits could be better?” Then something wonderful happened: people started answering back. (Click on images for zoom.)

I was tickled to see a few with red printed ‘sexist shit’ stickers which I’d seen sold at a feminist event a couple of weeks before… but then more appeared. People were writing their own slogans on stickers and whacking them on as the escalator sped them past. At first I just saw them at Kings Cross where I commuted through every day. Then, little by little, I saw them in more and more places. More handwriting, more slogans. This was… a movement Continue reading