Wednesday 29 June 2011

The King Wants Our Last Potato

Mum is flicking through a posh catalogue of LED lights.
They come in a roll much like sellotape. You can cut off a strip and stick it where you like.
The catalogue shows a kitchen plunged in near darkness, with a blue glow coming from under the cupboards.
“You’d have to stick them around your head to see what you’re doing,” Mum says.
What they’re lacking is a bright, sparkling chandelier – we still make them, but from upstairs.
I’m a Shop Girl without a shop.
As there’s no shop, this blog will have to change.
“You’re not going to start writing a political blog are you,” someone tweeted worriedly. “Because I think you shine more in your other stuff.”
I’m excited by the buzz of people coming together in solidarity.
It gives me hope after last week’s The Apprentice where Lord Sugar showed his approval for the ‘tiger’ Melody.
She ‘eats them up and spits them out,’ he said, (‘them’ being her fellow colleagues), ‘that’s why I like her’.
It’s a value system that will be difficult to change.
A new democracy would require us to evolve into nobler human beings.
Lord Sugar...How very feudal it sounds.
Our democracy has a feudal air to it too.
We have ‘Lords’ that rake money in to feed a gambling habit.
They win a lot, then suddenly lose a lot.
The ‘King’ needs their support and approval, so to keep them happy he makes sure the peasants get their wages cut and hand over whatever’s left. He doesn’t spare the old peasants either, who are already living on one turnip a week.
The peasants hand over their last potato.
But the Lords whine and say it’s not enough. They are accustomed to at least one million gold-plated vegetables and can’t stomach the idea of less.
The King asks for more.
The peasants hand in the mud that clung to their last potato.
A few Lord’s increase their salary because of the stress. They toss and turn on their 100% Egyptian Cotton bedspreads and worry they’ll have to postpone the purchase of another golden goose.
The King asks for more.
The peasants are high on hunger and indignation. They gather together and sing peaceful protest songs.
The King doesn’t listen.
“If they don’t have bread. Let them eat tiramisu,” the queen says.
The peasants throw rocks and are hanged for treason.
And meanwhile, the King declares war after war on any country that doesn’t copy his own, and watches everyone kill each other, while making millions through corruption and an autobiography.
But I digress.
This is obviously not a political blog.
I am just an intrigued Shop Girl.
Come the revolution I’ll be pinning crystal beads together.

Friday 17 June 2011

It Began in ***land

I’m behind with my revolution updates.
I keep meaning to buy a newspaper to catch up with things.
I pick up a freebie on the tube and am delighted to see they’re actually covering the Spanish protests.
Oh no, my mistake.
It’s just a few ‘gentlemen’ having a brawl over some ladies at Ascot.
But the #greekrevolution has made it to the headlines at least.
Not in Greece, but here in England.
The Greek media are reportedly treating the protestors like naughty children e.g ‘Hush hush, give back all your toys and stop being silly.’
When it’s not money it’s usually oil that lures international attention.
Evidently the olive variety doesn’t count as events in Spain are still being largely ignored.
The disgraceful leader of the Catalan police, Felip Puig, won’t resign despite thousands of petitions against him.
Last week he even handed out medals to his men for doing such a great job.
A great job of beating unarmed citizens with batons that is. Well done guys!
Puig has also ordered that the undercover videos of police brutality be taken offline.
Mysteriously, videos that previously had thousands of hits have now less than a hundred (though they continue to have thousands of 'likes').
That should give him an inkling that something went very wrong.
What era does he think he’s living in?
Can someone remind him that Franco died in 1975 please?
To add insult to injury, telemadrid are trying to manipulate the public by showing videos of fighting Greek protestors and pretending they’re Spanish.
‘Not such pacifist are they? Judge for yourself,’ the smug presenter says, happy to ignore the obvious Greek flags and Greek police in the video.
On the bright side, the beatings by the Mossos d’ Esquadra, probably injected a fresh batch of energy into people, who may have felt their spirits dwindling after a week camping in the city.
The demonstrations will continue.
This Saturday 19th June people are set to take the streets once again all across Spain.
It's coordinated by Democracia Ya (Democracy now), which has composed a manifesto for 'real democracy'.
Their web pages include long lists of participating cities across the world.
I’m curious to see how the day will unfold. Will it be covered by the newspapers?
Mostly, I hope it's peaceful.
Peaceful demonstrations are powerful.
Look at Iceland.
The extraordinary People’s Voices movement led to Parliament being dissolved in 2009 and elections being held.
The Icelandic government didn’t bail out the banks.
They held a referendum and the people voted against it. Their government drafted up a new constitution which allowed citizens the opportunity to be involved in its writing process through social media.
The Spanish press is still being criticised for keeping quiet about that story.
Fortunately in these times of internet it is harder to keep people in the dark.
“When we grow up, we want to be Icelandic!” the Spanish protesters cried when they took to the streets on 15th May.
It's harder to keep things quiet now, but judging from the mysterious disappearance of online videos and eye witness accounts, it's not impossible.
We must stay switched on!

The Video from Saturday 19th July
by Oli Benet

Monday 13 June 2011

Stimulate Your Writing - with Stimulus!

I’m very grateful to this blog.
Without it I wouldn’t have got my first book published.
Or been asked to write a film script and witness it come to life.
I wouldn’t have gained such encouraging readers and I wouldn’t have been contacted to write articles for other publications.
And of course, without the blog, my husband would never have proposed as he did!
Blogging is a hugely valuable tool to get your writing on the map.
Publishers prefer to take risks on writers that already have a readership so if you dream of being a published author then it’s time to be proactive.
Next month I’ll be running a blogging workshop with Stimulus.
If you’ve been meaning to start up a blog but want some guidance first then this is for you.
The two and half hour workshop will cover all the basics of beginning a blog from the big idea, choosing content with real appeal, to spreading the word and staying motivated.
For more information, please visit and fill in a contact form.
I look forward to hearing from you!

DATE: Saturday 16th July, or Sunday 17th July
TIME: 5pm – 7.30pm
LOCATION: Westbourne Studios, 242 Acklam Road, W10 5JJ
FEE: £35.00

Monday 6 June 2011

Switch to Syntagma Square

The mysterious media blackout continues.
The big bosses in charge of our news seem keen on keeping us ignorant of the wave of protests sweeping through Europe.
Forget corruption of governments, the only corruption we must concern ourselves with is the corruption in Fifa.
We must strive for honesty in football above honesty in politics.
Don’t worry.
If the Fifa story is too difficult to follow, then there’s always Cheryl Cole and her awful humiliation at being sacked from the X-factor.
Football and reality TV. Our daily bread. Not even bread, more of an unsalted cracker that’s decades old.
There are better stories than these and we want to hear them.
In Greece a staggering 500,000 people took to the streets yesterday in protest against their government.
I watched live streaming from Syntagma Square and it made the hairs on my arms stand on end.
It comes after 12 days of crowds gathering in the city centres and towns to show their anger at the proposition of new austerity measures.
Public sector pay, minimum wage and pensions have already been cut.
Unemployment has reached 16% and is still rising.
Now the prime minister is talking about taking more drastic measures.
The sentiment of the Greek people is clear and spreading.
‘We are not commodities in the hands of bankers and politicians,’ a banner reads.
At 9m each evening The People’s Assembly begins in the centre of the square.
The Greek news is reported to be focusing on the nationalist minority chanting racist slogans and choosing to ignore the largely peaceful and united movement.
The same happened in the UK with the march against the Cuts.
The news focused on a disruptive minority and undermined the largest UK march since the anti-Iraq war where a million came out in protest and a million voices were ignored.
If the established media won't let us know what's happening then it's up to us to spread the word.

Friday 3 June 2011

The Dirty Side of Mr Puig's 'Clean Up'

"I only felt afraid after the moments captured in the photos, when thousands of supporters surrounded the square and booed at the police. I was afraid they would jump at them and that the police would respond and there would be a tragedy. Those were moments of great, great tension. They were moments from another era, one which I believed we had overcome long ago. " Sebastian Ledesma Moran (man in wheelchair - full account below)

I don’t feel like being cynical.
These demonstrations may die down eventually but I believe a significant seed has been sown.
It might just take a while to germinate.
Right now, all I want to do is raise awareness of the injustice that has been committed.
Felip Puig, the leader of the Catalan police, has shown no remorse after his brutal ‘clean up’ operation.
The memo he passed onto his loyal team on the morning of the 27th May must’ve read something like this:
1. Steal all their stuff
2. Beat them up (even if they are really old!)
3. Don’t give away your identity (even though the law says you have to!)
The police confiscated computers, microphones, speakers, cables and other personal possessions.
Owners who tried to retrieve their belongings were told they must present a receipt to prove ownership and if they didn’t the items would be destroyed.
Despite footage showing brutal beatings of individuals, attacks on passive youngsters and elderly, and police vans swerving dangerously into people, Mr Puig maintains that the police were protecting the population from a violent group.
Judges are unable to investigate complaints because police have been ignoring the law that requires them to wear an identity number.
Puig is currently trying to abolish this rule so that police can remain anonymous.
One image has become symbolic. It’s of a man in a wheelchair holding a flower.
In front of him a police man is lashing out with a club at the people behind.
When asked about this incident, Felip Puig said that the policeman was defending the man in from the violence behind him.
This man was so disgusted with the counsellor’s lie that he wrote to the newspapers.
And this is what he said:

(I have translated from Catalan to English) Click Here for the Original.

"I am the person in the wheelchair who appears in a number of photographs of the attempted eviction of Plaça Catalunya and I want to name the issues in this controversy. My name is Sebastian Ledesma Moran, I am 55 years old and I want to clarify three things:
1) That the images are a true reflection of what happened there.
2) That the Mosso d'Esquadra (Catalan police) was not defending me as Felip Puig and some of the media have claimed, but that he was attacking me, as the bumps and scratches on the left side of my wheelchair caused by a club can prove.
3) That I did not receive any blows to my body because the Mosso who was threatening me with his club (as seen in the photo) was stopped by another Mosso who said, ‘No, fuck, not that one, because they’ll take us to court.’
I also want to make it clear that I am neither a hero nor a victim, not a "yob" or, much less an idiot. I am just one more ‘indignant’. Every day I participate in the activities of Plaça Catalunya, especially in the functional diversity committee, which among others deals with issues of disability.
And you can rest assured that we will continue our protest and peaceful struggle until the situation changes.
I will have to take my chair to the workshop for repair, because if they don’t paint over the scratches they will begin to rust. I do not know or care about whether this cost will come from my account, mind you. What really worries me is that when I was young I had to run away from ‘los grises’ (national police) and that these policeman, who I believed were on my side, had made me run away from them. How will I explain to my daughters that this is the police we asked for?
During the police charge I heard several Mossos d'Esquadra saying: "What is this man doing here? Take him away! Take him away! " I am fed up of people questioning why I was there: I have every right and every duty to be as outraged as the next person. Why didn’t they want me to be there? Is it because it makes it difficult to dole out blows with pleasure? And I think it’s very serious that controversy was generated by the possibility that I was struck and that it doesn’t seem to matter that other people were harmed or suffered severe panic attacks. We are all equal before the law and have the same right to protest and defend ourselves, especially against the senseless aggression last Friday.
Those who were behind my chair, who the police were trying to hit, were there because Iold them to hide th tere, convinced that they wouldn’t do much to me. Nobody manipulated me or told me to protect my fellow ‘indignants’, as has been reported. It is only I who felt manipulated by the version given by Felip Puig about the police action.
We were carrying out peaceful resistance at the entrances of the square to prevent the trucks leaving with all our belongings. As you have seen, we were not able to recover anything that they took, not the signatures we collected nor our mobile phones, or anything at all. Added to that, they have now left our belongings in a type of dump.
I only felt afraid after the moments captured in the photos, when thousands of supporters surrounded the square and booed at the police. I was afraid they would jump at them and that the police would respond and there would be a tragedy. Those were moments of great, great tension. They were moments from another era, one which I believed we had overcome long ago. "

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Wake Up! There's a Revolution Going On!

I’m disturbed.
Not by the news but by the lack of it.
There’s a revolution taking place in Britain’s most popular holiday destination and no one seems to know anything about it.
I’ve scoured the papers and found nothing.
If my brother didn’t live in Barcelona I might still be ignorant.
Lucky there’s such thing as facebook.
Some still think social networking sites are a waste of time but today facebook has provided me with more news than all the national newspapers put together.
The spontaneous demonstration I’m talking about began in Madrid on the 15th May.
A group of citizens, deeply frustrated with the government, came together to demand political, economic and social change.
They felt there was no one standing up for them.
They had had enough of carrying the burden of the economic crisis on their shoulders whilst the politicians rushed about saving banks and the most powerful companies (all the while paying themselves a handsome wage to literally last a lifetime) and letting the rest face 20% and increasing unemployment and consequent loss of homes and livelihoods. Youth unemployment in Spain is even higher than in Egypt and Tunisia at 45% and the choice for many is leave the country or face homelessness.
On the first day there were 24 arrests in La Plaza del Sol.
Still, 30 people remained overnight.
On the 17th May, two days later, there were 200 people camping in the plaza.
Hundreds turned to thousands.
Officials tried to illegalise the protest in preparation for the local and regional elections, but the demonstrators reminded them that they weren’t there to ask for a vote.
The torch was lit and its light spread rapidly to Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla.
My brother told me about the thousands of people camping out peacefully in Plaça Catalunya, organising food and wash areas for the masses.
Hang on a minute!
If there were hundreds of thousands of people peacefully protesting on the streets of all the big Spanish cities, why isn’t it on the news in England?
On Friday 27th May, things turned nasty.
A decision came from the top to clear up.
The Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan Police) were sent in.
Did I mention it was a PEACEFUL demonstration?
There were families, elderly and children.
The police fired rubber bullets and beat people with clubs.
121 were injured.
Watch the video.
It makes my hair stand on end. It makes me feel sick.
In Madrid came the message: ‘We are with you Barcelona’ – a rare show of solidarity between the historic rivals.
The demonstrations continue.
What disturbs me is that this attack on human right was not shown on the news.
Why not? What are they trying to hide?
It makes me all the more inquisitive.
I want to be a part of it. Something inside me has just woken up.

EN ESPAÑOL (traducido por Miguel Barreto)
Estoy perturbada.
No por las noticias, sino por la falta de ellas.
Hay una revolución que está teniendo lugar en el destino de vacaciones más popular de Gran Bretaña y nadie parece saber nada al respecto.
He rastreado los diarios y no he encontrado nada.
Si mi hermano no viviera en Barcelona yo aun seria ignorante.
Por suerte hay cosas como facebook.
Algunos todavía piensan que las redes sociales son una pérdida de tiempo, pero facebook hoy me ha dado más noticias que todos los periódicos nacionales en conjunto.
La manifestación espontánea de la que estoy hablando se inició en Madrid el 15 de mayo.
Un grupo de ciudadanos, profundamente frustrados con el gobierno, se reunieron para exigir cambios políticos, económicos y sociales.
Ellos consideraron que no habia nadie luchando por ellos.
Habían tenido suficiente con llevar el peso de la crisis económica sobre sus hombros, mientras los políticos se apuraban a salvar a los bancos y las empresas más poderosas (a la vez que se pagaban un atractivo salario literalmente por el resto de la vida) y dejar a los demas enfrentar un desempleo del 20% y aumentando, y la consiguiente pérdida de hogares y medios de subsistencia. El desempleo juvenil en España es aún mayor que en Egipto y Túnez en el 45% y la opción para muchos es abandonar el país o enfrentar la indigencia.
En el primer día hubo 24 detenciones en La Plaza del Sol.
Aún así, 30 personas pasaron la noche.
El 17 de mayo, dos días más tarde, había 200 personas acampando en la plaza.
Cientos se convirtieron en miles.
Los politicos trataron de ilegalizar la protesta en la preparación de las elecciones locales y regionales, pero los manifestantes les recordaron que ellos no estaban allí para pedir un voto.
La antorcha se encendió y la luz se propagó rápidamente a Barcelona, Bilbao, Valencia y Sevilla.
Mi hermano me habló de los miles de personas acampando pacíficamente en la plaza Catalunya, organizando áreas de alimentación y de limpieza para las masas.
Espera un minuto!
Si había cientos de miles de personas protestando pacíficamente en las calles de todas las grandes ciudades españolas, ¿por qué no aparecía en las noticias en Inglaterra?
El viernes 27 de mayo, las cosas se volvieron desagradables
La decisión de desalojar vino de arriba.
Los Mossos d'Esquadra (Policía catalana) fueron enviados.
¿He mencionado que era una manifestación pacífica?
Había familias, ancianos y niños.
La policía disparó balas de goma y golpearon a la gente con los garrotes.
121 heridos.
Vea el video.
Se me ponen los pelos de punta. Me hace sentir enferma.
De Madrid llegó el mensaje: 'Estamos con ustedes Barcelona” - una rara muestra de solidaridad entre dos rivales históricos.
Las manifestaciones continuarán.
Lo que me molesta es que este ataque a los derechos humanos no se mostró en las noticias.
¿Por qué no? ¿Qué están tratando de ocultar?
Me hace querer saber mas.
Quiero ser parte de ella. Algo dentro de mí acaba de despertar.