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Monthly Archives: October 2011


So.  There’s November.

The first sign of Winter in Ireland, a time to celebrate the dead in Mexico and a chance for Fathers and husbands across England to put their DIY skills and green fingers to the making of the greatest firework show the street has ever seen.

Well it’s hard to miss when the shed catches alight and the cat goes yowling across the roof with singed whiskers.

And then there is Movember.

Nope not a typo, but the month in which men all over the world sprout moustaches in order to raise MOney (geddit) and awareness about men’s health and cancer that affects men.

Righto. The moustache.  Shall we talk about it?

No, don’t go cowering away in fear, hissing at the very prospect of the hair that haunts a man’s lip…COME BACK!  Come on, it’s been around since Jesus’s time  (and the ladies loved the J man) and has reared it’s furry face throughout history since then. And the moustache speaks volumes; it’s a character onto itself!  No one can deny the presence of a mo, it’s impossible to ignore; from the bushiest handlebar to the sprinkling of bum fluff on a pre-pubescent (reminiscent of the fuzz inside a hoover), each moustache graces the owner’s top lip with the subtlety of a meerkat face warmer.

And don’t we know it!

Dali went for the whole pencil-thin-sometimes-uses-curlers-but-sometimes-straightens-probably
gels-it moustache, whereas Charlie Chaplin was more classic; thick-felt-triangle.  The Beatles thought that strength lay in numbers when all four of them developed their all-you-need-is-love-and-a-groovy-moustache-like-an-imaginary-seargent-pepper mo’s.

But this November, real men in real life will don a moustache that stands for more than a face accessory; the moustache-clad men will act as walking billboards for men’s health.  If it makes you feel any better, a trusted source claims it’s only about eight days of looking foolish whilst the moustache is in the awkward in-between phase.  But once it’s there, it’s there to do your bidding!

So why not try sprucing it, moussing it, blow drying it, combing it, plaiting it, finger-waving it, dreading it….the mo’ is your oyster.

When my little sister has just learnt to talk (I think she was about three) she decided she wouldn’t love my Father anymore unless he grew a moustache.  This, she announced this to him one weekend.  I’m not quite sure who her moustachioed hero was (maybe the Chuckle Brothers?) but my old Pop went away for the week and returned five days later sporting a brand new mo’.

My normally noisy little sister took one lookat the white and ginger-flecked caterpillar resting on his upper lip and went very quiet.

He shaved it off that evening and my sister never mentioned it after that.

But don’t let that put you off!  There are millions of cool cats who wear their mo’ with pride and here are just a specially selected few!

Don’t they look great and oh-so happy??

So Mo Bros.  It’s time to make the most of all that extra testosterone God gave you and grow yourself a moustache this coming November.  You may believe it will hinder your chances of finding love this Winter, but straight from the horses mouth, the ladies love a man with a mo’.

It makes them look handsome.  Like a policeman.

And it will keep your upper lip warm.

AND you can save delicious morsels in the bristles for later.

Plus, however whispy or nail-brushy it may be, each and every mo’ is special and will help raise awareness for men’s health with every Mo Bro telling an average of 60 people about the cause.  So, people of the world unite!  Wear your moustache with pride and together, we can style our facial hair like our heroes and raise money for men’s health!

Thank you and goodnight!

For more Movember info and to register your own MoSpace see



With government cuts threatening just about everything culturally fun and useful, such as art galleries and museums, the issue that is causing me my current heartache is the potential slashing of libraries and books throughout the UK.  I say slashing, because that is what I see.  In my mind.  Picture this; a massive government hand swooping down from the sky, scythe in tow, and attacking.  Paper and brick fly asunder.  It’s gruesome.  What’s worse is that whilst over 370 national libraries face closure or cuts, the government’s cutting criteria seems somewhat biased, aiming the severest hacks at those visited by a lesser volume of people.  So regardless of how important a library may be to a small village, due to the lack of public buildings or low income, their libraries could be hit the hardest.  And this is happening all over the country.  You just have to see the map of the library closures to see that this is a serious problem.

Children’s author, Helena Pielichaty explained that villages without public spaces except from pubs (and how often can one go there without people thinking you have a problem), the library is regarded as not only a cultural and educational sphere, but gives individuals and groups the opportunity to gather there for discussions and organisations.   If the slashed opening hours go through, the users will not be the only ones to suffer; the librarians will be at a loss, too.


With libraries becoming less available, children and adults will no longer have access to reading materials, those without access to PCs will become digitally excluded, overseas students will find it harder to contact home and levels of litaracy may well decline.

But there is something we can do.  Take a leaf out of Ross Bradshaw’s (of Five Leaves) book, who organised a letter to the council signed by 100 writers, academics and booksellers pledging their support to stop the cuts.  Or follow the lead of Calderdale and Wirral whose protests have seen a reversal of planned library closures.  The more we protest to our council, the more they have to take notice.  So, write to your MP’s, stage a protest, dress as a book and parade around the streets.  We can’t let them close our libraries.

As Sir Andrew Motion, former poet laureate said, libraries are the places “you go into to discover yourself and the world.  They are a vital part of every community, providing avenues of learning that goes far beyond books.”  They must be saved.  Without wishing to go all Martin Luther, I have a dream that protests and petitions to stop library cuts will spread throughout the country like orange juice on kitchen roll.  But we need to do this together.

So listen up.  Oxfordshire, I speak to you.  There’s a chance you may lose 20 out of 43 of your libraries.  Think of the children.  Northern Ireland, hear me.  Think of the knock on effect of losing ten libraries, it’s enough to turn you to drink.  Brent, open your eyes to the fact that 6 out of 12, that’s HALF, of your libraries are under threat.  Plus, one of the planned closures is Kensal Rise Library which was opened by Mark Twain in 1900.

And as the man himself said, “apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today”; so let’s keep those libraries open, if not for ourselves, for our children.  After all, with depleting numbers of tuna, there’s a chance future generations will have no knowledge of the fish; let’s not allow them to miss out on anything else.

For more library closure and campaign information see:

Voices for the Library , a pro-public library website for everyone who needs and uses the library and who they should remain open.

Public Library News, a survey of public libraries under threat in the UK.

Show you support and write to your local council or newspaper, like Helena Pielichaty, a children’s writer who is adamant that libraries should not be cut or closed.

London Fields Lido: Squatters Delight

In the summertime when the weather is fine, it’s fair to say you just want to be somewhere half-naked, surrounded by people in a similar clothed state with the opportunity to dip if and when you choose.  Which is why, when the sun peeps its cheeky little face out from the curtain of clouds, the wise amongst us flock to the lidos of London.  And whilst the lidos in Brockwell Park, Hampstead Heath and Tooting are all very well and good, there’s a particular lido that has an extraordinary history and a special place in the hearts of the locals.The longest surviving lido of its kind, the London Fields Lido deserves the kind of admiration and respect that you show your elderly grandparents.  After its’ birth in 1932, the lido lived through World War II, celebrated with the Festival of Britain and saw the arrival and departure of the mullet.  What were they thinking?
But it has also suffered like no other lido before.  After closing in 1939, reopening in 1951 London Fields Lido had a good 37 year innings before it was closed again.  Er, hello???  This lido survived the war!  And in the same way as avoiding the flu that caused your boyfriend to sniffle only to get food poisoning from your delicious jerk chicken, the lido ended up being shut anyway in 1988 due to a lack of staff and  lack of income that provoked the government to suggest tearing the place down and putting the area back to grass.But like true pioneers, the people of Hackney stood their ground in order to fight for the right to party.  And swim in the Lido.  But protesting and presenting alternative options to the council wasn’t enough to halt the bulldozer from crawling up on its unstoppable wheels, like a mad, giant slug with a hammer.  But luckily the small group of Hackney citizens who stood between the lido and monster machine was.  After that, it was on!  For 18 years the people of Hackney battled in true community spirit arranging proposals, meetings, petitions, clean-up projects and media events to stop the lido from being destroyed so that one day, it could be reopened.But whilst the lido remained closed, it was far from abandoned and unused.

The lido had been closed for ten years before the squatters moved in.  Providing a living and creative space for anonymous travellers, political activists, down and outs and a whole range of creative folk, the lido became very much occupied.  In all senses of the word.  The changing rooms became sleeping chambers, the old cafe was a kitchen, the front area became a boot sale site, the cages used for storing shoes became storage cages for vegetables; for the first time in years the place was alive!

But the lido squatters were so much more then the Daily Mail tax-avoiding malingerers, breaking and entering an empty space to use it for their sordid affairs, that so many assume.  Rather, the lido was used to its full potential.  Holding the world’s smallest nightclub, The Miniscule of Sound in one of it’s changing rooms, the squatters not only held raves for the community but also built creative spaces within.  One squatter built himself a rehearsal and recording studio, nailing mattresses to the walls and ceiling in order to soundproof and another built a big, heart-shaped potato patch.

And politically, the squat was home to animal rights activists, peace protestors as well as providing a meeting place for action groups, such as Rhythms of Resistance; a pink-block drum band that plays at demonstrations and direct actions throughout the world, focussing on carnivals and costumes to get their point across instead of more confrontational means.

But as much as the lido became a creative and active squatting community, it wasn’t all samba drums and feathers; it was hard too.  The winters were freezing and most of the women left, leaving only the most hard-core males.  There was no hot water so the squatters took “firebaths”; lighting a fire beneath a bath found in a skip, filled with a hose and sitting on a block of wood to protect the delicate regions from a scalding.  Food was taken from skips, people got sick from the cold and damp and you had to find and chop your own firewood.  It was hard but the squatters built up and maintained an unlikely spot, making the lido home.

And together with the squatters occupying London Fields Lido and the Hackney citizens fighting for it to be saved, the council had no choice but to re-open it or face a mutiny!  But it wasn’t all a fairytale.  It took 18 years of fighting (both inside and outside the lido) for the council to reconsider their decision, but golly, was it worth it!  So next time the sun is out and you turn into a melting Fab, check out the London Fields Lido and take a swim in their Olympic sized swimming pool, remembering the history and those who fought to keep it open.

They’re probably sitting there next to you in their swimmers.

Ground Floor Left: Art Gallery in the Grove

Whilst the people of Hackney and beyond flock to Tudor Grove for the wide variety of drug help the Elizabeth Fry Centre offers, for those of you who’ve kicked the habit, there may be something else more appealing then the golden brown.  From the outside, it just looks like any one of the warehouse-style buildings along the road but inside any number of things could be happening.  From fashion shows to private views to simulated animal surgery nights, Ground Floor Left is fairly open minded when it comes to using their space.

After moving into the space, the artists of Ground Floor Left spent months making it liveable, putting walls up, building bedrooms and a living area whilst creating a large exhibition space not only for the artists in residence to present their own works but also inviting other artists, film makers, designers and collectives to hire out the space for whatever reason they do so desire.

Filled with an eclectic mix of furniture, a chalkboard and a stuffed fox called Harriet, Ground Floor Left has enough character to set it apart from other galleries without being overwhelming.  Look out for the HUGE beautiful bath with little metal feet when you go to the loo!

Past events include: group shows, Nowhere Near; a true and candid portrayal of each individuals artistic exploration and discovery, and Under Grey Skies, a passionate and spirited finger up to the government arts cuts.  Art collectives involved with Ground Floor Left include The Robin Collective, who specialise in theatrical, interactive and edible installations, as well as Silently Revolting, the political party pioneers who chose Ground Floor Left to hold their super fun and super cheap Crisis A La Mode.

Frida Kahlo at Crisis A La Mode.  By Christa Holka.

Heads up: look out for the second Colour Space Exhibition by artist in residence, Josh Jeavons.

So whether you fancy yourself as something of an artistic big-shot, the next J-Lo or Average-Joe-with-a-big-idea, then it may do you some good to head down Hackney way and hire yourself a space to exhibit in.  And if you’re off your noggin, head to the drugs centre across the road, clean yourself up a bit and then pop in.  They are very nice and may make you a cuppa.
Ground Floor Left,
Enterprise House,
Tudor Grove,
E9 7QL


Ladies Lido

My Uncle songed it.  He songs everything.


Everyone thinks the lady’s pond in easy,

Never any queue nor male eyes a-sleazy

But what they don’t know is what lurks within

Alcohol free, tits out, lack of din.

We arrived at midday with beers and a vest,

To a warped utopia, old nakedness

Lez-be friends I wanted to be

But non of the ladies wanted to friend me.


But the Victorian water will always be fair

Bottomless, bottomless but thankfully not topless.

Swim like they did in the 1920s, yeah

Let’s get hysterical and talk about Freud!

Should I strip off my protective bikini

Mother Goose and chicklets, dreamy scenery

Thrilling conversation, laughing is a riot

She’s looking at me and saying “be quiet!”

Ok, Yes I will obey the sign

I’ll keep the noise down, my sounds will be mine

But in return, you naked old prune

Respond to the signs that say you can’t be nude.


But the Victorian water will always be fair

Bottomless, bottomless but thankfully not topless.

Swim like they did in the 1920s, yeah

Let’s get hysterical and talk about Freud!

I like nakedness as much as Eve and Adam

Before God came down, like a clothing madman

Get naked if you wanna, at least for a while

Everyone would be happier wearing nothing but a

But a note to the naked, the ones at the pool

I accept your lack of clothes, let this be the rule

So on this day, when I want to laugh at the ducks

Let me do this in peace, without your look of muck


The Victorian water will always be fair

Bottomless, bottomless but thankfully not topless.

Swim like they did in the 1920s, yeah

Let’s get hysterical and talk about Freud!

Bentcousin Press release, 15th November, Prince Albert, Brighton. By Uncle Benton.

press release – for Prince Albert gig, 15 November

‘bencousin are unusual. The two lead singers, Whalesun
& Pat, (described by a Canadian music critic as ‘like Lee & Nancy
fronting the Velvet Underground’) are twins. Brother and sister with a decade
between them. Whalesun, the bossy older sister, born at 11.58pm on 31 December
1989 and Pat coming along 3 minutes later at 12.01am on January 1st 1990.

‘I think that’s part of the bentness’ says Whalesun in
her South Coast/South East London slur, ‘cause of the twin thing, me and Pat often
have shared dreams, we then exchange texts and the words and tunes fall from
that, but he’s defiantly more 90’s than me, I love all things 80‘s, its gully’.

The ‘bentness’ is how the cousins refer to the magic that
surrounds the band. Benton is the twins uncle, after an unfortunate incident at
the twins baptism, Benton missed the twins growing up. They were reacquainted
at the twins 18 birthday party, when he heard them sing the Human League on karaoke,
he said they had to form a band. Whalesun takes up again ‘without Benton,
bentcousin wouldn’t exist, he’s our driver, he has conversations with David
Bowie in his head, it was David who gave him the name for the band, he’s got a
heart of gold, and would give you his last fiver, if he ever had a fiver’ she
giggles. .

The band has been making significant waves in the
American bible belt over the last 6 months. Mainly playing to Mormon audiences,
the band have gained a healthy stateside following, described as ‘the best
British band since The Smiths’ by Utah’s Hot Wax. Whalesun explains, ‘it’s been
a trip in the States, but Brighton is special to us, some of us grew up here,
this is a homecoming. Our songs celebrate every aspect of life, the ups &
downs, the confusions and surprises, but to tunes people can dance too, dancing
is bentest thing us little humans ever get to do in public’ she laughs, a full
belly laugh this time. With Gilbert and George among their growing UK fan base bentcousin
are likely to be everywhere in 2012. Catch them while you can.

bentcousin play the Prince Albert, on 15 November.’      .