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Trains, trains trains and an Early Day Motion

30th April, cold and grey

Dodgy ads:

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That is Iggy Pop, isn't it?

Treacherous automatic barriers at Victoria:

It ate my ticket to Manchester, honestly it did.
The man opens the machine, and cannot find my ticket in its bowels
But it did! It did! Or the person ahead of me took my ticket along with his. Look, look, here's my receipt, here's my seat reservation voucher
The man, kindly to a fault, rushes me to the inquiry office
Mais non, says the young frenchwoman at the desk (only in English). One cannot reissue without a signed form from the ticket barrier teamleader.
we rush back and find the teamleader
Mais non, we still cannot reissue, as this ticket was bought from a travel agency.
She takes all the surviving parts of my ticket, and my proof of purchase, and rushes off somewhere else anyway
Will she ever return? Her colleague eyes me uneasily from behind the glass, as I pace and pace, looking at my phone every ten seconds. I'm going to have to pay full fare. I'm going to miss my appointment. . .

This story has a (relatively) happy ending. Owing to my seldom-used-these-days power to run up Underground escalators, I actually caught my train from Euston.

The story outlined below won't have a happy ending unless a convincing number of MPs are persuaded to show that they care. Do you care about the use of secret evidence in UK courts? Or will you wait until you're made to care, by a knock at midnight from the secret police?, Do you think it's about time we called a halt to the frightening erosion of the rule of law in this country? Check this link, read the motion, contact your MP:

EDM 1308
Abbott, Diane
That this House believes the use of secret evidence in UK courts is fundamentally wrong; notes that secret evidence is evidence held by the Home Office against an individual that neither the individual, nor their legal representation, may see; further notes that in recent cases secret evidence has been used to detain individuals in prison for up to three years without charge or trial; further notes that these individuals may also be put under a control order or severe bail conditions, greatly limiting their movements and ability to lead a healthy life; believes that the use of secret evidence by the state against individuals runs entirely contrary to Habeas Corpus; recognises the European Court of Human Rights' ruling that detaining individuals on the basis of secret evidence is unlawful because detainees had not been able to effectively challenge the allegations against them; and calls on the Government to begin an immediate independent review into the use of evidence that is not ever heard by the defendant or their lawyer but which is used to justify indefinite detention, severe bail conditions or control orders.

Not sure who your MP is? Check it out on

Don't Panic?

Monday 27th April, rain

Rain and cool grey skies, after the fine weather. Yesterday we took Milo and went for a walk in King Death's Garden, first time we've visited for a long tim. A beautiful day, beauties of spring all around, the primroses fading, bluebells in flower (more bluebells than ever before, I think), the elm trees so burdened with green-gold blossom they seem already to be in full leaf. Not much contest between the oak and the ash this year, the ash is definitely lagging, which means (may I remind you) a dry summer.

Something to mourn. One of the great twin copper beeches on the primrose slope in the valley, the prettiest place of all for early spring flowers, is gone. A huge stump sealed by wire netting. Ah, when did that happen? It used to be that one could say, well, never mind, nature always renews itself, it's humans who are ephemeral. Now no longer.

I'm reading The World Of The Shining Prince, in preparation for the readings at Fabrica this Thursday and being reminded of the two obsessions I found I shared with this eleventh century Japanese court lady. The passing of the seasons, with their different beauties; and the essential melancholy of life. Meanwhile, I'm finding fellow feeling with Shostakovich, and the compulsory optimism of the Terror years: you must rejoice, you must rejoice. Yeah, I get sick of socialist realism too.

An email from Rami Shal'heveth, Editor of Bli-Panika, asking may he translate 'The Tomb Wife' for a Hebrew sfwebzine. Yes, of course. I'm not in favour of imposing cultural isolation on Israel; hope I'm right. I would hate to be seen as encouraging racism and sanctioning the inhuman treatment of Gaza's helpless population. Try this site for a fresh view

Another London Road

Wednesday 22nd April, another beautiful spring day.

Down to the Duke's yesterday evening, to the benefit showing of Man On A Wire, for the AnotherLondonRoad show. Got to be there. I did help out at the streetstall last winter, and went to the Christmas do, but local activism became casualty to the gothic affair in Manchester, and I never got back on board. . . Couldn't get away before six, but sadly that's no problem, it's a benefit for a town-planning action group, on a minor issue to most (idiots); probably lightly booked. . . Thwarted! Hordes of people, queuing round the block. I joined the line, in hopes that maybe the afternoon audience had not yet left the theatre, but no. Dukes sold out, and I had to be content with donating a tenner to the raffle.

Maybe there's more interest in town planning around here than I thought. I really hope so. I'd like to see my part of Brighton get some care, thought and attention, something to tell me this town (sorry, City) isn't just for tourists. I definitely don't need another huge Tescos in my life, in my face, killing off all the human-sized shops and businesses and suffocating the traffic. So, if you're reading this and you live in Brighton, please check out this site another london road. Do something, if it's only signing the petition

After Easter. Turning, turning

Monday April 20th, beautiful day, a bright clear morning after a chilly night.

I can never get straight to work after a break from the core task. Turning and turning, like a cat preparing to sleep, I fidget around the house, finding ridiculous little things to do, and finally settle, nose to tail, in the nest of the keyboard, the screen, the story.

Blood, Ink, Let The Right One In

Friday 17th April, rainy and mild.

Easter week, full of flowers disjointed and muddled days, chocolate eggs, gardening, The World At War, Prokofiev and Stravinsky, and me struggling with the never-ending gothic novel of my family's affairs, recalcitrant small tasks at my desk, pining to get back to Grasshopper. Saw Let The Right One In at the Duke's, loved it. Such a great idea to tell the story of where Igors come from. I love people who love the rules; who find new ways to work within a classic imagination-space. Especially an imagination-space so exhausted, so over-fished, as the Vampire story. Admirable.

Blood and Ink is a series of literary events at Fabrica, an exhibition venue in Brighton, at present displaying two medium-sized works by Anish Kapoor, one of them a bronze bloodbath with an incised text commenting on the Arabian Nights, by Salman Rushdie. We went to the first last night: my friend Maude Casey giving a fascinating, wide-ranging presentation on the many faces of the Thousand And One Nights. Decor to match, charming refreshments provided, sweetmeats and pomegranates on lordly dishes. And not forgetting Guantanamo Bay either. The rest of the presentations are an eclectic pick and mix, Chinua Achebe, Ovid, among others. I'm kicking in with Genji on 30th April. I wonder if the gathering will get sushi? Veggie sushi, I hasten to add. This is Brighton!

Seems like the keynote is going to be an intro wherein the writer at the desk disparages Salman Rushdie's contribution to the art work. It's okay. Apparently Anish Kapoor has had second thoughts too.

Splendours And Miseries. . .

Thursday April 2nd, sun through haze, the blackbird singing.
That's thirty five days straight, thirty six counting the official day off on the 4th Sunday. I get asked, hopefully (by male respondents, women have this issue nailed) "did you lose weight?" No, mate. Alcohol fasts only make you lose weight as part of the proverbial calorie-controlled diet. If you drop a dress size without trying, just by leaving out the booze for a week or two, I'm afraid you have a drink problem, my friend.

I didn't watch the City of London situation yesterday, just checked it at my desk every now and then. 86 arrests, in the end (or so they say). Protestors harrassed and cattle-penned, police provoked, and someone died, while the Met were tending him. . . It was going to get ugly,because our police are like that. That's why I stayed at home. The surprise will be when (if ever) the English police, or rather their masters, start cleaning up their act, and turning all Gilbert and Sullivan because the voters en masse are getting behind those four horsemen. What will it take? Wait and see.

Splendours and miseries of having your son home for the holidays:

Mother: Gabriel, Gabriel! You have to get up! You've got to get up and go to London. The agency just called, your landlord is chucking you out because of that rent strike. . .

Son: Gnnfh Guugnth... Wha, wot. Sits up, eyes focusing in panic. Wot, today? They're chucking us out now??

Mother, urgent and beginning to panic: Yes, right now. Your things are all on the pavement! And I just had a phone call from Gab's mum (that's the other Gabriel, currently asleep downstairs and making the place look even more untidy, were that possible). He's getting thrown out as well. His stuff is outside too!

Son: (SCRAMBLING OUT OF BED, WILD EYED) Ohmigod! Ohmigod, I knew it, I told him! I told him! And Gab is getting chucked out of halls? What did he do? Oh, Oh, Oh, God, what shall I do???

Mother, growing calmer: Well, it's pretty bad. But you should allow for the fact that it's April 1st. And you left the basement in a horrible state last night.

(At three am, listening to the drinking games and the wild piano music down below, I was contemplating having him scramble and panic as far as the doorstep before letting him off, but I had relented a little.)