Thursday, 18 June 2015

These Dangerous Women

"On the 28th April 1915, 1300 women, who had been organising internationally to get the vote, met together at the Hague to try to find a way forward to peace. They advocated continuous mediation as an alternative to armed struggle. Envoys from the Congress visited 14 Heads of State, the King of Norway, the Pope and the President in their attempt to halt the War. Churchill called them These Dangerous Women. They were influential in the forming of the League of Nations and formed an organisation - The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom which is still active today, giving women a voice at International level.

These Dangerous Women is a community project bringing together members of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom and young volunteers to celebrate and uncover the heritage of the women who tried to stop World War 1. Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we trained in oral history recording, archive research, exhibition skills, re enactments and documentary making to create an exhibition, documentary and set of oral history recordings."

- With Thanks, Helen Kay

You can see the Flickr gallery of the day of filming here, and the full film here. Website coming soon!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Relaxing Holiday Continues!

So my month off work coincides with major MAJOR renovations downstairs, including lots of bashing, sawing and requests for buckets of water and tea. Occasionally, plaster rains down from the top ends of old water pipes and small holes appear in the wall on the stairs. Peace and quiet is not happening.

From THIS to a flat in Dorset.
The poor builders are most apologetic, but I assure them it's only Karma. As a family with three teenage boys who grew up wild, we have disturbed many an English neighbour. There is still a tendency to leap and whoop around here. And, we have a drum kit.

I know.

The other thing that has coincided with my holiday has been NOT SUMMER. Come on, Summer, it's MAY for heaven's sake! We had hail this week, and that's just not good enough.

So my secret plans for catching up on filing and paperwork, interspersed with nice private afternoons bikini-clad with my book in the back garden, have not come to pass. I have read some good books though. The Tao Te Ching : A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way, a beautiful edition by Ursula Le Guin. I highly recommend this, especially for reading in the garden while the bees buzz among your weeds, despite occasional drizzle.

I read The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of a Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, with fascination. This book explains so much of the history of conflict in Afghanistan, while looking at the trend for girls to be dressed and raised as boys. Of course. If I had a daughter there, I would probably dress her up as a boy and let her go to school too.

I'm now reading Radical: My Journey Out Of Islamist Extremism, and so far so good.

Now, that's enough procrastinating for me. Have you read any good books lately? Do recommend!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

There were so many things that she wanted to do, That whenever she thought it was time to begin, She couldn't because of the state she was in...

- Title Adapted from 'There Was an Old Sailor my Grandfather Knew',  by A. A. Milne.

It's been a week like that, I'm afraid. Even the poor cat has been ignored. I have been hopping from one project to another, decluttering, studying, dancing, jogging, painting and repairing my home, and loving every bit of it, but the really important things that have deadlines are starting to loom out of the mist and cackle nastily. Paperwork and such.

So I'll just leave you with a few thoughts, that do tie together:


  • Pope Francis' recent statement on War as a money-maker. Obviously, people who manufacture arms would not market peace.
  • Madeleine Rees' Statements at The Hague last month.1.776 TRILLION dollars were spent on arms last year. That's 480 years' worth of the UN's regular budget. Not that the UN is perfect, but wouldn't it be interesting if everyone stopped spending money on weapons for one year and gave the money to an existing peacemaking and mediating force:





  • Medicine manufacturers pay doctors to prescribe their drugs, and marketers come up with sneaky way to make us feel bad about speaking up about corporate abuses of power. The 'natural remedy' market, my goodness that's a clever one, dividing society into mad science deniers and drug addicted morons, both camps spending a fortune to cure themselves. 
I am all for capitalism. I like that you can sell just about any thing, any idea, any clever gadget. But maybe some checks and balances need to be put in place, like the laws that govern infant formula marketing. Of course formula companies ignore these laws whenever they can, giving free supplies to new mothers in the third world so that their breastmilk will dry up and they will have to continue buying the product and so on. But at least the laws exist there, so the 'judgy lactivist breastapo hordes' can keep bringing marketing abuses to the attention of the WHO.



Maybe similar checks and balances need to be in place in other areas where a product kills. Arms and drug manufacturing, for example. 
I haven't got the answers - but I'm seriously asking the questions. We should all be. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Testing... Testing...

UPDATE: Edited to add links and more info... Blogging on the iPad was a little limiting! 

Well hello people! I know, it's been a long time since I've blogged. But life ticks along pretty much the same as ever here. The mango yellow wall has been re-painted deep red, teenagers grow taller by the minute.

I have been involved in a few pretty amazing projects, including research and training with a group of dangerous people - "These Dangerous Women" is the story of the founding of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The project was National Lottery funded and produced and directed by the amazing Charlotte Bill of Clapham Filmunit. We have had excellent training in archive research at the London School of Economics, as well as training in collecting Oral Histories which will be stored at the Women's Library - and other training! We got to dress up and wear fabulous hats, too. This project is ongoing and epic. I was so lucky to be invited along! You can read all about it HERE.
I may be in London for some more training soon - and I have other things to share with you, if you haven't been keeping up on facebook, twitter, and so on. (Is Blogging Dead? Discuss...) So you see, what with a demanding job, kids, and cool projects, I sort of have an excuse for not blogging!

Now, my long-term temp job has ended (20 months at the Arts Uni, and never was there a more lovely place to work!) and I am taking some time off to support various teenagers through various exams. Hopefully the sun will shine! And no doubt, in my month of unemployment, I will blog. Prepare for much cat-related news.

Friday, 19 September 2014

On My Bookshelf

Yes, my bedroom wall is MANGO YELLOW.
And the orchids are all flowering madly. 
At home with a cold with time to blog! I have quite enjoyed the peace and quiet this week. It would have been better to have a few days off and NOT have a cold, but hey. I have been catching up on my reading this week, and realised I haven't updated my book list here for EVER. So without further ado:

The Cosmic Serpent by Jeremy Narby and Dancing Naked in the Mind Field by Kary Mullis -  Two mad scientists, wonderful to read. Both authors are into DNA - Mullis won the Nobel Prize in recognition of his improvement of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique, which allows the amplification of specific DNA sequences.

The Cosmic Serpent is anthropological, and studies how the wisdom of ancient people and primitive tribes has always explained that all life comes from twinned serpents, which looks exactly like our current understanding of DNA. When I finished that book I decided to learn more about DNA, so I bought Kary Mullis' book. *Disclaimer* - I didn't learn much more about DNA from Kary Mullis' book. But I was highly entertained and his writing, like Narby's, is thought provoking.

The biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A Life, by Gerald Martin. Anyone who loves Marquez' novels will enjoy this, as it is well written and will take you al over South America and Europe with some of the best Latin American authors. History buffs will like it too. I started reading this a few years ago, got about half way through, and then put it aside while life got complicated for a bit. I picked up where I had left off a few weeks ago, and it was like seeing an old friend again.

While life was complicated, I read two lovely stories by Melissa Westemeier: Kicks Like a Girl and Whipped, Not Beaten. These uplifting novels are fun and readable, and make you feel like everything's going to be ok in life and love.

Two Writers
Max and I are reading the final instalment of Skulduggery Pleasant together, and we GOT TO MEET DEREK LANDY!!!!! Max's tooth fell out while we were standing in the very long line and Derek said "OMG please don't let any more bits fall off here," was the exactly perfect thing to say to a boy who loves funny books about zombies.

This month I finished reading Goddesses: Mysteries of the Divine Feminine, by Joseph Campbell. I love, love Joseph Campbell, and this new collection of his Goddess lectures is wonderful. It makes me want to go back and re-read all the old fairy tales and myths.

And then, since I was in a myths-and-symbols mood, I bought 'The Book Of Symbols: Reflections On Archetypal Images'.

A friend lent me Zen in the Art of Archery recently, which helped me to understand the importance of ritual and the little things in life:
'As in the case of archery, there can be no question but that these arts are ceremonies. More clearly than the teacher could express it in words, they tell the pupil that the right frame of mind for the artist is only reached when the preparing and the creating, the technical and the artistic, the material and the spiritual, the project and the object, flow together without a break.' - Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery
Zen in the Art of Archery is short, sweet and insightful.

I have also enjoyed That's Not It and How are You, Sugar? by the lovely Nancy Ellen Row - The first a novel and the second a collection of recipes and wisdoms from the past, and both set in the Southern USA.

And lastly, for laugh-until-you-die hilarity, there's Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson. Don't try to read this when other people are trying to sleep, your guffaws and screams of mirth will keep them up.

I've got quite a heap of other books to get through, so I won't be bored this winter. Have you read anything good lately? Tell us!!