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Category Archives: charity

Soho Pub Landlord Launches Campaign to Feed Calais Migrants

A soho pub landlord’s launched a crowdfunding campaign to help feed the hundreds of migrants currently living in makeshift camps in Calais.

Coach and horses sign, Soho

‘Living’ might be too generous a word, as being holed-up in a tarpaulin jungle, taking nightly risks to cross the channel and being regarded as vermin rather than than people (thanks for that, Katie Hopkins) hardly constitutes a life (and that’s without the rumours of harassment from French police).

Alistair Choat of The Coach and Horses pub, Greek Street has decided to approach the situation with a decidedly more human approach to well, humans.  It sounds like a no-brainer – you know, be nice to your fellow man and all that, but between the hostile reaction of the government and the toxic reporting from your right wing press, Great Britain ain’t looking so great.

The idea’s to raise £5000, cook up a storm in the pub’s kitchen and drive over to Calais and feed as many people as they can.  It’s an ambitious venture, but it’s probably what Julia Child would do.

Julia Child

Choat said: “Ideally I want to take good food to as many as possible and through that demonstrate real British values.

“I suppose to feed hungry people who are, let’s face it, only about a hundred miles away surrounded by barbed wire , guns and oppression. Pretty much what they have mostly escaped from. Well done Cameron!”

These real ‘British values’ are the campaign’s raisons d’etre – treating others with ‘dignity, respect and kindness’.  Something Choat reckons hasn’t been happening and why he’s trying to show that not all Brits are mannerless oiks even if our government and media hasn’t been setting the best example.

right wing press media

Aren’t the right wing press a friendly bunch?

Choat said: “It’s not the immigration issue per se that has spurred me to try and do something positive but perhaps more in the little our government has done and this searing branding they and much media have tainted these people with.

“The statements they have out and their choice of words I believe we’re carefully picked to help further demonise these stranded people and maintain their stance of fortress Britain.”

And for publican, Choat, perhaps the very essence of these ‘British values’ leaks straight out of the beer barrels and wood paneling of the Victorian boozer.  A time when you could roll into an establishment and be greeted with more than a nothing-y nod, and there was more on offer than just a mass produced lager and microwaved meal, served to you by a dead-eyed student on minimum wage.

Getting down and boozy in VIctorian times

Getting down and boozy in VIctorian times

My local drinking hole in Elephant and Castle sums up the sentiment of pub-outings perfectly.  Yes, from the outside, it looks scary – all mock tudor panels and flushed, unsavoury afternoon drinkers – but inside it’s a different story.  Old school charm and South London banter is ripe and the hand written scrawl above the bar sums it up perfectly – ‘A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet’. It’s attributed to ‘Anon’ but of course, we all know it’s from A Streetcar Named Desire.  Not that it matters.

The campaign seems less about the politics of entitlement and the ‘why should they come over to our country, take our money/jobs/women/seats on the bus’ rhetoric that’s tattooed on the lips of the ignorant, and more about remembering our manners.  People are people and deserve to be treated as such – even more so if they’re struggling or in need. Simple as that.

Support the campaign here: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/coachandhorses-soho

RNIB Neon Fun Run at Mile End Stadium; Get Ready to Glow

Ever since the first London Marathon in 1981, long distance running has become a solid form of fundraising.

It’s not only a way to support a good cause, become a lean-mean-fast-moving-machine but it can also be a way to stop yourself spending too much money at the pub or the chicken shop, where you’ve become somewhat of a regular. So much so that you’ve been invited to the chicken-man’s four-year-old daughter’s birthday, when you last popped in for your spicy wings.

Chicken-shop Dave when you're not there

Chicken-shop Dave when you’re not there

Whilst some marathons have attempted to break up the monochrome and monotony of the standard road run with barbed wire, dress codes and wine pit stops (that’s America for you), the majority remain concrete-grey and could hardly be described as a party.

Nor do they often happen at night.

Which is why the Royal National Institute of Blind People is holding the first Glow Neon Fun Run on 25 October at Mile End stadium, a pumping-party run complete with a large sound system, to raise money for blind and partially sighted people.

Whilst night runs are popular in the US, Daniel Larcey, the fundraising innovation manager from RNIB says that the UK tends to stick to night-walks. That’s the English health and safety attitude, all over.

Keeping sign loving folk safe

Keeping sign loving folk safe

But RNIB are trying to make a point. Daniel says: “Doing something in the dark could help people appreciate some of the challenges for the blind or partially sighted people. It is for this reason that we want to hold a night-time event in the first place.”

Inspired by the full moon parties in Thailand, participants are invited to walk, run, hop, skip or dance around the track whilst being sprayed by luminous paint-spraying canons. And I’ll bet there’ll be someone who attempts a three mile moonwalk.

Training for the RNIB Neon Glow Fun Run

Training for the RNIB Neon Glow Fun Run

Motivated by the DJ spinning hits of the 80s, 90s and current chart numbers whilst the canon squirts out luminous colour, could this be the most fun night run in the UK?

Event details:
25 October
Mile End Stadium, 190 Burdett Rd
7pm – 9pm
£25 donation

For more information see the official RNIB page.

World Naked Bike Ride: I’ll Do It Next Year

On Saturday 8th June, hundreds of naked cyclists took to the streets of London wearing little more than a smile and a pair of sunglasses.

bike2

The cyclists baring all. I hope they’re wearing suncream.

Taking off (pardon the pun) from five stations (Marble Arch, Regent’s Park, King’s Cross, Clapham Junction and West Norwood), the cyclists of the annual World Naked Bike Ride literally put themselves out there, protesting against car culture and oil dependency, before converging at Hyde Park Corner.  Having caught up with the WNBR cruising down Haymarket, it became evident that “burning fat, not oil”, was not the only burning that was taking place; bare cheeks on sweaty seats could anticipate a fair bit of bum chaffage, after a few miles, to be sure.

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A WNBR seat cover

I was more than tempted to do the bike ride this year, however in order to do so, I would have had to get over my fear; not of nakedness but of bicycles, or rather the riding of said bicycle.  Having crashed one of those dodgy mopeds in Laos a few years ago, I have since avoided all locomotives apart from my legs as I just can’t be trusted to operate any moving vehicle.  However, after seeing two naked pensioners being pulled along in a makeshift chariot, I’m sure there will be other ways to participate in the World Naked Bike Ride next year.

But before that day comes, I have some burning questions.  Where does one leave their clothes; are there special naked bike race day lockers put up at various points around the route?  I remember finding myself dancing next to a naked man in a club once and thinking the same thing; does he turn up in clothes and check each item in at the cloakroom once he’s unrobed and ready to rock, or does he just queue for the club, naked bar a suspect trench coat, and stash it under one of the tables?

It's all about the body freedom

It’s all about the body freedom

Where does one keep their phones, keys and cash?  Without wishing to be vulgar, perhaps it gives an all new meaning to the term, “bum bag”?

What about the actual moment of undress?  When you go the doctor and end up having an examination of your bits, they always leave the room, as if undressing in front of them is more intimate than the internal examination; well it is a bit.

And then there’s the end of the race; does everyone just hang around, slapping each other on the back having completed the nine mile ride, in true naked camaraderie?  Or is there a dash to the nearest pile of clothes, a flurry of hurried dressing and the potential of ending up in a stranger’s jeans?

I was glad I saw the race in all its naked glory plus all the added extras;  bow ties, masks, body paint and their own messages of protest.  One such gentlemen (accessorising his nakedness with a hat and pair of walking boots) had “free the naked rambler” attached to his bicycle and had no qualms about getting his point out there, dismounting his bike to ask a passer by to take a photo of him on the West End street.  Outside Pizza Express; very political.  I also very much enjoyed sharing the pavement with him.

The real naked rambler

The real naked rambler

There was plenty to see and learn in order to be fully prepared next year.  The most important thing to consider came from seeing the panic stricken face of one cyclist as he raced to catch up with the naked mass.  It would seem that the WNBR is like the fire drills you have at school; the key is to never get left behind.  Otherwise, a fantastic way to make a statement quickly becomes the equivalent to the walk of shame.  There’s enough of that in Piccadilly Circus as it stands, so keep up with the race and leave the shame to the hen parties.


For more information see the official website.

Remember, Remember The Month of Movember

I’m raising money for Movember this year by writing “moems” (poems about moustaches).  I’ll do you one if you send me a photo.  All for the good of the cause (donations are always welcome!). My mospace: http://uk.movember.com/mospace/4045929

A rusty fuzz covers your face

A bristling coat, a prickling embrace.

Now Movember is here, it’s time to get rid,

And get that face fluff off your head.

 

Josh Jeavons at Jack The Clipper

So lather up, rub the foam in good,

Or go to the barber (like gentlemen should).

And little by little, the fur comes away

Till your naked face is in full display.

A scratch and a wipe and a scrape of the blade,

The foam is all gone, slap on the aftershave.

An “ooh” and an “argh” as the astringent stings,

A pat down and a rub; it’s the smooth face of kings.

 

As the days go by, your top lip may itch,

But don’t worry, it’s your mo and it’ll be a titch!

And as your mo grows, more people will ask

“What’s that on your face, is it coffee from your flask?”

And you can reply, with your chest puffed out,

“No, it’s not my drink, I’m no incompetent lout!

Rather, it’s my mo, he’ll be around for Movember,

Whilst I’m busy raising moolah for a cause you’ll remember.

 

Coffee Moustache

“This thing on my face is not a slug or a rat,

It’s my very own billboard, how’s about that?

I’m raising money for men’s health and my mo is my tool,

I’m Ghandi, Dali and Selleck – but a zillion times cool.

“I’m doing it for Movember, a worthy cause I say,

My moustache may look silly, but by golly, it will pay.

Plus it’s getting chilly and my face is getting cold,

Luckily, my mo keeps me warm even if it does make me look old.”

 

So gather, MoBros and MoSisters, unite in hairy bliss,

We’ll spread the word and won’t mind if we get refused a kiss.

For more information and how to get involed see http://uk.movember.com/