Sunday, September 29, 2013

Financial Training

Last week I attended a course at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Central London that was designed for those who are going to   deliver financial capability training sessions  in the community, and already have a basic understanding of personal finance issues. I was really impressed with the course leader and reckon that the  course helped me to develop the skills for  planning  and delivering effective financial capability sessions. I was given a fantastic opportunity to develop my understanding of trainer skills and also try them out in a series of practical tasks.
Having been along to a session for older people in West London I'm very aware of how these sessions can be of value and am keen to use my experience where I can.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The artist Nick Pearson presents his own work ..

A piece of the Sky
Hatched etc.
Last night as an adjunct to the Modern Art course held by the OPEN Ealing Art director Nick Pearson held a session on his own work where his insights into the creative process were also revealed.
Again Nick spoke about how art can answer questions - how would a paint can coated with its contents look? How can a dustpan be made  a luxury item? Nick's work even grappled with that thorny philosophical concept Trigger's Broom (aka Ship of Theseus or The Sugarbabes).
Many of Nick's works start from a premise of 'found' items (quite literally as objects from the side of the street and skips were vital elements).
Much of Nick's work also plays with language and meaning like his bed-head  related to gravestones and equally a bed-head that alludes to a grave and the ideas around this.

Nick is looking to run a course on Modern Design this autumn if it's anything like as good as his tour of Modern Art then it'll be worth West Londoners checking it out - details when I get them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Chilli And Kohlrabi

At the weekend I recovered more potatoes (Maris Piper) and also we used our first Chilli in a Pumpkin Soup on the left you can see a Kohlrabi.
Kohlrabi is a versatile root vegetable which translates from the German as turnip cabbage - here are some tips on cooking this vegetable.
 I also staked up 'Sweet California Wonder' peppers which are beginning to swell.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Happy Birthday Len and Labour renounces 'Bedroom Tax

Len and Sharon
So September 21st and Leonard Cohen  hits 79 - he reckons when his 80th comes around he'll be back on the fags it really is a birthday to celebrate and I'll be raising a glass to the man later today.
Here's a lovely picture of Leonard with Sharon Robinson (from an article) with who Leonard has successfully collaborated with on many great songs (including I'm Your Man) and who has supported him on multiple tours.

Hopefully Leonard learnt from Joshi on Mount Baldy the technique of living to a ripe old age (Joshi is a controversial Zen master clocking in at 106).

Party Season.

The political parties (in the UK) are having their annual love-ins and the UKIP media storm has shown Nick Clegg to have been relatively gaffe free with his recent outing, today the news that Ed Milliband has committed his party top rescinding the so called bedroom tax looks like good news but  (and I don't like this tax) will it help a leader who looks increasingly out of fashion and time to get votes?
Winning a popular mandate in the UK is about a few things problems here include Labour voters are more difficult to mobilise, many people who will struggle with paying rent in the 'social' sector might not go and vote.
Not a great winner
Labour stalwarts might think a return to pre Blair-ite ideas is the way forward, in fact (I think) this is not the case and more change and modernisation is needed certainly the true nature of Gordon Brown's reign is likely to reflect badly on his lieutenants who included Balls and Milliband minor.
If Cameron's Tories have a good conference Labour will look seriously marginalised and out of step and a Foot like disappointment at the election in 2015 will be on the cards he needs reminding that he needs to convert floating voters and enthuse the rank and file Labour supporters to have a chance to win.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Clegg and the 'bedroom tax' (not one of the things he said no to)

Today when I was paying for my groceries the assistant looking at The 'i' asked me about the bedroom tax headline asked me " what's that about?' we had a brief discussion and the comment from her was very clear 'that's not fair'.
Already there's a swell of people (claimants) who have had their support reduced who are moving into rent arrears and the councils need to handle this issue.
The UN's Raquel Rolnik (their rapporteur on housing) has made the judgement that  UK's "bedroom tax" should be abolished as it punishes the most vulnerable in society.
What are the savings likely to be at the end of the day, well according to some it might end up costing the government money by forcing some tenants out of public sector housing into more expensive private properties.
So what do Nick Clegg and his group of refuseniks think about it - perhaps it wasn't in his list of  things he'd not countenance -here's a great piece of background from the 'Huffington Post' which will give you the chanve to hear Nick speaking to a sick lady who is being impacted.
Nick claims he got these things removed  but there are vulnerable people who are being coerced into moving home and labelled (again) as scroungers - not sure if it's too late to reconsider this hard hearted policy.

Yeo in front of a painting

Tandy on the Radio and Yeo on the Telly

Having mentioned recently what an interesting artist Michael Tandy it was great to hear him amongst other artists talking about what accompaniments they have to their creative workings on BBC radio 4Sound Painting.

Another good arts programme, this time BBC2 TV was the reflection on Jonathan Yeo's portraits on The Culture Show.

One last cultural highlight for now- this Autumn season's Tate Etc. magazine  has a nice article by Alain de Botton on some things we can get from Art...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Len's Old Ideas at the O2

Last night we had a treat.
It's about a year since we saw Leonard (he's a sportsman and a shepherd) in concert last year at Wembley Arena this year (again) the O2 .
For a man of 78 (79 next Saturday) he has a fantastic amount of energy and an amazing memory playing songs both old and (relatively) new for around two and a half hours is not something too many people of his age could do.
For me it was nice to feel that I was again one of the younger members of an audience but his appeal does seem cross generational with many young and nimble amongst the throng.
Highlights for me were Sharon Robinson, 'Going Home' (the song not the journey) and 'Amen' both from The Old Ideas album - lowlights no acrobatics from the Webb Sisters! Set-list can be seen here, interesting to see that there's a new unreleased song -I've got a little secret

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Allotment show at St Mary's 14th September 2013

My three veggies
The welcoming sign

Having become more aware of Saints in the last day or so it was interesting to visit the Allotment show held at St Mary's in South Ealing, St Mary is Mary Magdalene who was a close friend of Jesus with a fascinating back story.
Just some of my apples
Although I've seen this allotment show publicised before this was my first visit and I was glad I went, free admission and the opportunity to buy tea, coffee and cakes made this feel quite nostalgic. I  really like seeing the produce on display and felt 'I could have been a contender' in the vegetable and fruit categories perhaps next year?
Well done to those who organised the show and took part- very community spirited  

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Michael Landy and The National Gallery

That Plinth
Michael Landy is an interesting guy and YBA (still?) as well as being the guy who destroyed everything he owned (Break Down) and being  the partner of Gillian Wearing (another YBA?).he's the National Gallery artist in Residence.
Nice shop- helpful assistants
  On Friday the weather meant that I would be limited in what I could do on the allotment so I decided to use the time for a gallery visit and found that rather surprisingly for me (and it seems for him at some level) he has a display of works under the title 'Saints Alive'  in the Sunley Room of the National Gallery in the heart of London's fashionable West End .
The exhibition and accompanying film are a great experience and as Landy observes the Saints have some amazing stories which are for many of us forgotten or never known - before seeing this I only associated St Catherine with the fireworks seen on November 5th in England.
It's sometime since I'd visited the National Gallery and it was for me a bit shocking to know that Michael Landy was not a visitor ahead of his appointment.
Highlights from this particular trip (apart from the 4th plinth outside) were Joachim Beuckelaer's 'The Four Elements and The Execution of Emperor Maximilian  by Edouard Manet what fascinated me about this was they way the painting had been rebuilt.
Also pleased to give some trade to Cass Art in Charing Cross Road here's a youtube about the Four Elements.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Chris Ofili and the Brother 1080 labeller

Not sure about the scarf
On Monday Nick Pearson gave one of his contemporary art lectures on the YBA Chris Ofili, Ofili although British born has explored the use (quite heavily) of Elephant dung as a component part of his works.
Ofili was born in Manchester to Nigerian parents and studied in London during his studies he visited Zimbabwe and later Trinidad where he now lives his early work centred on black identity issues
including his emotional tribute to the mother of the murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence -  Doreen Lawrence, this painting was called No Woman No Cry - I have seen the painting in the Tate Britain and like many other works it is difficult to appreciate the craft and work until one is in front of it.

We all label stuff..

I think I've mentioned that the horticultural enterprise had been challenged by my lack of ability to keep records and label seedlings as I've grown things, am hoping that the bargain purchase of a Brother P-Touch 1080 device at the bargain price of  £16.99 from Robert Dyas will help me with this. We're hoping we can use it to label food in the freezer too as it has a neat method of adding the date.
Here's a review of the unit

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Is it a Jobs Fair just because that's what it was called?

Home of Jobs Fair in Acton
Today as a presumptive Financial CapabilityTrainer with  the CAB I went along to the Acton Jobs Fair – seemed to me that for the time I was there couple of things missing one being Jobs (I reckon a craft fair would be expected to have some crafts?) the other was people (perhaps they all knew about the missing ingredient).

Strange thing to see was various voluntary and 'third sector' organisations networking with one another shame the people who really need the assistance were under represented – it's sad to report how so many people especially the vulnerable (I'm thinking here particularly of those living with mental health problems) have been marginalised in the last 25 years or so, I don't know what the cure is but I did notice that when I googled 'The Old Oak Jobs Fair' (which is what it was called) not much came up but here's some news about the March 2013 event.

Reliably informed that local residents had been leafleted, perhaps not the most effective targeting though, I don't wish to decry efforts that people are making but unfortunately they're not good enough - problem is as I was discussing with a friend at the weekend I (and he) expect more from others than ourselves and are (of course) repeatedly disappointed!

And in the News..

The Labour Party  -it seems that Ed Miliband  after a jittery start to his leadership of the British
Labour Party has now resumed with a jittery middle - there's areal need for some engagement and vision but Labour (to me) is far too concerned with looking inwards and addressing its own structural issues.

Syria - my personal take on this is that firstly the avoidance of UK troops/advisors is good news and secondly the possibility of the Russians helping to broker a deal on the Chemical weapons that will avoid US military involvement is good news - a policy of negotiation with the awareness of  the USA  ultimately backing up a UN position (hopefully) against use of Chemical/biological weapons is also good news,


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Monday, September 02, 2013

Tomato Sauces, Old Ideas and philosophy w/e

Tomato Sauce

Pumpkin Alley
We're having a good year for Tomatoes and Debbie's a big fan of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipes so we're using the tomatoes to make a variant of his sauce- it's worked well with minced  beef and we'll give it an outing with Meatballs and maybe a vegetarian variant too.

They're small
On the plot - today I've planted out carrot seedlings, Aubergines (baby ones) look like they can be picked but anything more than a starter will be pushing it but the Pumpkins will be a different matter!

Old Ideas

Having finished Big Ideas book I'm onto Old Ideas - Leonard's last album it really is good, the voice is quite something and the words (I think) mean something. Somewhat intriguing that the Going Home track (the most commercial I would say) is co-written with  the French Canadian Patrick Leonard who worked with Madonna on some of her biggest hits (For example Like a prayer).
It is interesting that the name Cohen means High Priest and Len is according to this site 'a heck of a guy'.

Philosophy Tomorrow and Now

Couple of events that have caught my eye are one is on Tuesday 3rd at Hero's Café Kingston (seems appropriate) it's entitled 'George Tomlinson on The Philosophy of Marx' and starts at 6:00 PM the other is an all day-er  (12 hours of Philosophy!) The Philosophy Now Festival 2013 at Conway Hall Red Lion Square on Sunday 8th  details here.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Apples and Pears as well as cauliflowers and Aubergines along with new reading materials

Pears and Apple
Nice Cauliflower
Apples and Pears is a well known cockney rhyming slang  term and ..
I have been forced to pick an Apple which might have been targeted by birds and also harvested a
load of Pears, one really nice looking Cauliflower and Aubergine (small) to follow as well as a pound or two of Tomatoes each day  - it's a great time on the allotment.
I am making plenty of mistakes which I should learn from and am hoping that for year 3 I will be much better organised, main things I will do (I hope) are plan, keep records and label.

More Reading

Len and his biographer
Having finished Ian Crofton's Big Ideas in Brief I'm able to read other books and ahead of our upcoming visit to the O2 Leonard Cohen Old Ideas gig this month I'm reading 'I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons' it's a lovely book (so far am around 6 chapters in) the style is reverential and well researched with some laugh out loud moments - once this is finished
might apply myself to another self improving list exercise - the project of considering a varied list of 'ideas' has been of value to me- any (polite)  suggestions where I should go on  the next quest?