Yes, I’ve been reading. But we’ll come back to that.
When I got talking to people in Granby in Liverpool, about seven years ago now, they asked me to help them get over a very specific problem:
“We all know what we don’t want. We don’t want our houses to be knocked down. So we’ve got very good, over many years, at opposing any and all plans to do this. The trouble is though, we can’t agree between us on exactly what it is we do want. So could you help?”
I said “Yes, maybe” and we began to work on something together, loads of us, that has largely worked. Not perfectly and it’s not finished. But we moved beyond that skilfully confident “no” to a curious and more friendly “yes,” and in so doing changed a piece of the Earth very much for the better.
What I hadn’t realised until this week was that in learning that lesson in Granby, that yes is stronger than no, we were beginning to learn something that may yet help to create a better future for the whole of the Earth, if we could be fairly quick about it. Continue reading “Moving beyond ‘No’”
Ten years ago today Sarah and I got up worried and early to begin one of the longest days of our lives. We travelled to the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool, to the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic, to find out what we found out.
And ten years later part of me finds it hard to travel back to what Sarah has written here. But most of me is immensely relieved, and grateful, that she is alive to write it. And that the years have in no way dimmed her fire and passion for our National Health Service, or her determination to keep it safe from officious predators, as you’ll see when you read on.
This is me on the 22nd of February 2007. It is the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, age 43.
So today, the 21st of February 2017, marks ten years from that diagnosis. There is no whoop of delight, no fist pumps here. No, this is not a celebration. It is a mere observation of a fact, a fact that I am still here to observe. And of all the questions I asked that day ten years ago during the hours in the hospital, the main question, the one I remember the most, was when I said, ‘Will I die?’
But thanks to modern medicine and surgery, some great doctors and surgeons, a hefty dose of luck and some of my own tenacity, I did not die of breast cancer. At least, I haven’t so far. Continue reading “Ten years”
In this last week or so of January 2017 there has been much talk of dystopia. Living through these bleak days in the opposite of a world any of us would want to live in. Waking up in a science fiction novel you never thought you’d actually have to live through.
All of which has reminded me of a science fiction story I wrote a few months ago about libraries and their future in a world where we are free to have opinions, travel freely and generally be a planet of cultured and tolerant human beings.
It’s a story that starts and ends in Liverpool, where else? But as of this week it could be pretty much anywhere. Unlike most of my blog posts it contains no new photographs. Being, as it is, a radio broadcast back to those left at home from the not that fictionally distant Planet Zogg, some time in the imaginable future.
“The Libraries of a Different World”
It was like this, we knew things were going to change for us in a big way and a few of us got together to discuss it all before we left. Before we left for the new planet.
You’ve probably heard this basic background a thousand times before, but just in case this story ever gets picked up, say in a library somewhere because, hey, this part of the story is going to be mainly about libraries, here it is. Maybe for someone who’s never heard of Earth, never mind Zogg, here’s the background once again. Continue reading “From the Planet Zogg: The Libraries of a Different World”
It’s been a confusing week in politics. The Referendum and its European aftermath that I’ve already written about on here. Followed by the spectacle of our two main political parties choosing consecutive days to appear to tear themselves apart. No one I know was very surprised to see the Tories behaving so badly, but when the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party decided to turn on their own recently elected leader I was, to put it mildly, disappointed.
But we’ll come back to that after a bus ride to town.
I do the houses, it’s what I’m best at. And through that I do my best to help with the economy and the quality of life in the place where I live. I have very little time for some of the campaigns to ‘save’ this or that which others get very exercised and excited about. I’ve written before that if I had a year to live, even though they’re ‘quite nice’ I’d put none of my dwindling energies into saving Sefton Park Meadows, as they’re now known. I feel much the same about The Futurist.
Since publishing late in August of 2015 this post has been viewed by more people than anything else I’ve ever published. Strong evidence of how welcome this new café is in Liverpool. However, as our Real Junk Food Café is only open at the weekends for now, most of these blog views have happened when readers couldn’t show their support by actually going to the café. So as the weekend arrives let’s put that right? See you there.
It shouldn’t have needed to happen, but I’m really glad it has. There’s a Real Junk Food Café in Liverpool. In Everton, in fact.At 117 Shaw Street, on the corner of Everton Brow.
If you’ve been reading this blog since we visited the founding Real Junk Food Project in Leeds you might remember that in one of the richest economies on earth we’re throwing away 35% of our food, in a country where austerity politics is causing many people to go needlessly hungry. And so a movement has started that is intercepting this food at the moment it is pointlessly thrown away – and retrieving it on behalf of us all.
I’m not sure if being away from home helps me think more clearly but certainly being in Leeds for a few days this past week has been full of education for me. Education of the in your face kind that I wrote about at the Real Junk Food Project of course. But also gentler learning through visiting other places doing good things as part of my work, plus other learning and thinking whilst there from long conversations about life and the living of it in a time of austerity with friends new and not so new.
Back in Liverpool now all this education has led to one of my Sunday afternoon musing rambles to see if I can work out what it all amounts to, for me anyway. Here goes.
Learning from austerity the last time around
The first thing I should clarify immediately is, of course, that I don’t for a moment believe that this really is austerity that’s being visited upon us in these years. It’s a cold blooded political attack and I could fill the rest of this post with the names of the guilty. But enough said. The guilty are calling it ‘austerity’ and I’m going to think through how we might move from widespread paralysis to recovery by thinking about the last time there was real austerity. Continue reading “Waste Not, Want Not?”
‘In this country we throw away something like 35% of our food, most of this throwing away being done by the big supermarkets and that’s just wrong.’
I’ve been talking with the Real Junk Food Project.
In fact a whole group of us have been talking with them and getting a direct experience of what they’re about.
You might remember us visiting the brilliant Severn Project urban farm and much more in Bristol a few weeks back? Well the same group of us have just been in Leeds, me and a group of front line staff from social enterprise bus company HCT, bus drivers mostly. From London, Bristol, the Channel Islands, Wakefield, Dewsbury, here in Leeds and me from Liverpool. Here to learn, here to question. Here to find out.