Georgia's blog

Posts Tagged ‘London

On Being a Book Giver

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I grew up with books; they were (and still are) my food, my happiness, my refuge, my world. I met the most important people in my life because of books. And naturally, I have always wanted to share this love, this secret of happiness if you want. Being a book giver at the World Book Night on 23 April 2012 was a unique experience for me. Why is that? Even though I have been spreading the love in a different context by teaching Literature at University students, taking it a step further and talk to strangers was an entirely different thing.

The point of World Book Night was to reach audiences that are not normally passionate or even exposed to books, so this excluded giving out the books in libraries or bookshops, which would have been of course easier for me. In my book giver application I suggested that I wanted to give out the books at Lewisham Shopping Centre, which is a meeting point for a lot of people and sadly has no bookshop inside or even around.

Following the suggestions at the World Book Night blog, I gave out some books on the 21 bus to Lewisham. In an enclosed space like a bus, I was able to explain what it was all about and people even asked me questions about the book I had chosen. They were eager to find out. The greatest pleasure was when later in the shopping centre I saw a young boy passing in front of me, reading while walking, absorbed by the book I had given him earlier in the bus.

In the shopping centre however, the experience was almost terrifying. People would not stop, not even to see what this was about, even though it was clear from my self-made banner with the World Book Night logo that I was not trying to sell them anything. It is saddening to realise how suspicious we have become of each other, that the simple gesture of giving without demanding anything in return does not even occur to us anymore as a possibility. So those who finally stopped and talked to me did not just receive a beautiful book, but also the live confirmation that unconditional giving still exists. Maybe this triggers them to give unconditionally, too; and this makes me happy.


Written by Georgia

April 30, 2012 at 17:21

On a sunny February Sunday in Deptford

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Deptford, London SE8.

Blitz time sign on the bridge on Tanners Hill pointing to Shelter in 160 yards.

Lower end of Tanners Hill, one of the oldest streets in Deptford.

































The Wellbeloved butchers are there since 1829. Here is a map of 1833. If you click and enlarge you will see that Tanners Hill was densely populated, while everything else around was pretty much fields.

Deptford High Street

















Deptford High Street, a street with far too many betting shops and pawnbrokers.

But it also has The Deptford Project:

The Deptford Project, a train wagon turned into a cafe.

Street Art near The Albany theatre

Deptford Lounge

Deptford Lounge










































And this is the brand new Deptford Lounge, a very nice space to read and socialise. The new library, which belongs to Lewisham Libraries, has ordered 1000 new titles covering all tastes, including those of difficult readers like myself. To give you an idea, seeing Bolaño and Houellebecq staring back proudly from the shelves gave me a smile that stayed all day on my face.

Deptford Creek Rail Bridge
































The walk continued towards Deptford Creek. This is the famous Deptford Creek lift bridge, reconstructed in 1963, but originally in use since 1838. It is one of the very few opening bridges in Britain, used for the ships to pass to the Royal Dockyard, which was in Deptford since 1513.

The Laban Dance Centre














































The Laban and new apartment blocks.
















Where the Deptford Creek (the tidal reach of river Ravensbourne) meets the Thames:
















Along the Thames in SE8:
















You can see the Cutty Sark from here:

Opposite Canary Wharf











































































New apartments at the former Pepys Estate, named after author Samuel Pepys, who spent some time in Deptford.



































Here you can find a lot about Deptford’s history.

If you haven’t been there yet, go have a look before it becomes too popular.

Written by Georgia

March 1, 2012 at 01:10

The end of the ‘human rights culture’

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This is what David Cameron thinks should come next, including rubber bullets, social media restrictions and whatever else. The London riots was just the beginning. It won’t stop there.

Unfortunately we have all been infiltrated by the media industry to perceive and interpret events and people in a manicheistic sort of way. And now all this disinformation industry are in heaven, dividing us all into the good and the bad. You have to know where you stand. With the police or with the looters. Really?

Melodramatic interviews with people whose houses were burnt during the riots, video footage of angry hooded looters, breaking and stealing, the ‘other’ crowd that helped clean up, a confusion of messages. Who is to blame? The police who shot dead a young black man, the gang culture, crowd psychology, the government cuts, the closing down of libraries and youth centres? People filmed looting say ‘we are taking our taxes back’. While other British taxpayers feel they have to pay for all this damage. But who caused the original damage? And is it just such an easy one-way explanation?

Let’s play the black and white game they want us to. I am a PhD student and a MA graduate of one of the best universities in the world, speak 8 languages or 10 if you count the dead ones, have 10 years work experience in different fields and still cannot find a paid (important clarification) job in London within my expertise. What chances does a young black man from a council house without higher education have? Try to put yourself in his shoes. I know it’s difficult, we are perfectly trained to ignore, but give it a try. You could never study because you can’t pay the fees, you face social and racial discrimination when it comes to jobs, so where would you turn to? You get regular police checks because of the way you look and the place you live. Your family is poor and cannot support you. You are angry and afraid and hopeless. There is no security, nothing you have that you can lose. So you find yourself within a crowd that throws stones at window glasses. And here is the question: would you throw that stone? Would you let that anger and fear come out this way?

Now to the other side. Put yourself in the policeman’s shoes. Your duty is to protect citizens, human lives and property. To restore order into chaos. Most of the times you do paper work, but when worse comes to worst, you might find yourself in the midst of an enraging crowd. You don’t like these confrontations, but it’s part of your job and your orders are to restore order. So you catch this youngster looting from Carphone Warehouse and you have to arrest him. That’s the other question now: would you hit him with your baton? You have to arrest him and he resists, so you have to do something.

Would you throw the stone or would you use the baton? That is the question we are all expected to answer. Tell me with whom you identify most and I’ll tell you who you are, like a TV magazine quiz. Because if we invest our time answering this sort of questions, then we miss the point and Mr Cameron gets the ground he wants to rip us off our ‘human rights culture’. As far as I know there’s scarcely any place in the U.K. without video surveillance cameras; photos of youngsters stealing crisps from supermarkets are immediately first page news. When people -including 15-year-old kids- demonstrate peacefully against the rise of university fees, they find themselves kettled in the cold for 10 hours, plain torture. How worse can it possibly get? I wonder if the U.K. will be able to fulfil E.U. human rights standards in the near future.

But the real question is do we want to understand and change things or do we want to blame and condemn and get back to our lives? And how do you condemn something you do not understand? There are many good attempts to explain the context of the London riots, like the articles of Nina Power, Tariq Ali, David Harvey and many others, as well as this article published in the Guardian days before the riots started. Sometimes the context is even more important than the events themselves. And our context is that of a society that tolerates to be looted by bank bailouts, but is deaf to the angst and fear of the poor and the weak.

Yes, Mr Cameron, there are sick parts in our society, nice metaphor, well done. But when someone is sick, you don’t let them die, right? Or is it this what you want to do with the NHS? When someone is sick, you diagnose him, find the cause of the sickness and cure it. The sickness is not the problem, it is only the manifestation of the causes. And big part of the causes you’ll find if you take a good long look in the mirror. Your ‘Big Society’ is a ‘Sick Society’.

Written by Georgia

August 16, 2011 at 18:04

Education makes a nation

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One week after the march to defend education.

I have to admit that I had my doubts if by marching I would change anything at all. But then I read all those twits of people coming down from Scotland and Northern Ireland and all over England and Wales just to be there, just to show that what is happening is NOT alright and I felt ashamed of my second thoughts. What I saw was heartbreaking: students, academic staff, parents with children and old people, they were all there; peacefully and determined to show that if education is harmed the downfall of a nation is next to follow.

“I marched with the 50,ooo not the 200”. And I was so touched that in that crowd I still kept bumping into students and academics from UCL, SOAS, King’s College, SAS. Yes, Mr. Cameron, WE are all in THIS together. What I saw and read in the news afterwards was disgusting. Nobody mentioned what the 50,000 were there for, the power of their presence. I couldn’t find a single newspaper that showed the truth and therefore I could trust to read after that. The only hope in the midst of this new media fascism is twitter and blogging. It presupposes however that one has the time and is determined to find out what is really happening out there.

See for yourself:

London Boroughs decided to close down public libraries in order to save money. Till recently I thought I could read that only in an end-of-the-world scenario science fiction novel. It seems however that the price that has to be paid in order to wash away the mess that (b)ankers made in this country, is education cuts and closing down libraries. Welcome to the future; you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.