Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah. Autobiography of the performance poet, from his troubled childhood and life of minor crime, to political activism in the Eighties, to his success as a dub poet. Well-written and with some interesting content.
Rastafarian audiences who liked what you were saying didn't just clap, they made gunshot sounds or stamped their feet; some would even shout biblical passages that would praise the poet or remind people of the importance of the poet. Punks, on the other hand, would spit at you and throw beer. I was never spat at, and I was never wetted with ale. I think they respected the Rastas and knew they weren't keen on this kind of cross-fertilisation... There were two informal organisations from that time that I had a great love and respect for: Red Action and the Sari Squad. Both would protect our gigs and events whwn the police woudn't. Red Action was almost exclusively young left-wing white kids... Then there was the Sari Squad who were quite incredible. They were a group of Asian women based in east London -- each one a wicked kung fu fighter, each one willing to defend their community to the end, and some of them actually did wear saris. They started by guarding women's gigs, but would then guard any gig where fans might need protection from racists.In Jamaica:
First couple of days I'd have kids giggling at me in the street saying, "Why the man walk so fast?" When I spoke to them they understood: "Ah, you from a Inglan." People found it highly amusing when they saw someone moving at what I thought was a normal pace but seemed comedy-quick to a local.
Another thing people found curious was my bedtime routine. I'd make myself a little bed, put my alarm clock beside me, get a drink of water -- things that seemed normal to me but which came across as incredibly mannered to the young men I was mixing with... If a Jamaican man wanted to sleep, he would just fling himself any which way on a chair or sofa, or even a log, no covers or anything, and snooze away. "Jus sleep, man!"
What I'm Reading 2
The Enceladus Mission by Brandon Q. Morris. Old school hard-SF about a manned space mission. Not that original but well-executed with plausible science and engineering. Characters are basic but mainly OK, though there are a couple of wincingly tone-deaf bits of human relations. Worthwhile for a hard SF fan who wants decent problem solving.
What I'm Reading 3
The Night Raven by Sarah Painter. First in a series about magical extended crime families in London. Slightly less cosy than her other books but not exactly gritty. I wasn't so keen on this one: the plot was pretty perfunctory with not much happening. Felt like even minor stuff was being delayed to the sequels.
What I'm Reading 4
Hired by James Bloodworth. Non-fiction book which I had been waiting to read for a while. The author takes a series of precarious jobs around the UK and writes about his experiences.
The stories are not unexpected but grimly compelling. The rough-sleeping cancer patient he meets was particularly disturbing. His account of life for care-workers under the pressure of relentless targets, rushing from patient to patient with hardly any time to clean or help lonely people in distress, was pretty harrowing.
I had grown so accustomed to reading media exposés of negligent care workers that I half-expected case-hardened abusers to be lurking around every corner. I was constantly on the lookup for the "bad eggs" one is forever hearing about. Yet I soon learned how they were to some extent a convenient scapegoat for the failures of how work in the sector was commissioned and the problems that often occurred as a consequence.Also makes some good points about the role of Eastern European workers in Britain's labour markets: it's hard to unionize people who only plan to spend a few months in the country.
The fact that a growing number of British people are unwilling to be treated like animals by unscrupulous employers is often viewed as shameful, when it really ought to be considered a sign of progress. British workers have minimum standards with respect to waht they will put up with -- standards that many of the precarious and poorly paid jobs our economy now relies on fail to satisfy.Overall, an informative book. Well worth a read if you want an insight into employment at the bottom end of Britains' labour market.
What I'm Reading 5
Finally got around to reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. Definitely a classic book: it's compelling and disturbing to be trapped in the mind of a monstrous man. There's a lot of grim irony to the contrast between the airy romanticism of his style and the sordid exchanges of treats for sex acts.
What I'm Reading 6
The Dark Side of the Mind by Kerry Daynes. Autobiography of a forensic psychologist who works with criminals and victims. Quite interesting for its anecdotes but not that unexpected.
What I'm Watching
Saw Captain Marvel on disk. Above average superhero movie, treads a familiar path but has some decent scenes and plotting, and some Nineties nostalgia.
What I'm Watching 2
Shazam is another good superhero movie, lighter and more fun than some but saved from being too saccharine by the stuff about an orphan searching for his family. Entertaining.
I've signed up to run the 55km London Ultra along the southern half of the Capital Ring footpath in a couple of weeks. Pretty worried as I've never raced more than 10km before, and have a bit of a niggle in my right calf. Just hoping to stagger to the end somehow. I've run both halves of it to get familiar with the route, so I know I can do half of it.
I did a one mile "family run" with the kid. He's a good sprinter who won races at his sports day, but I wasn't sure he'd be able to run all the way as I've never seen him run fast. I spent ages trying to prep him about pacing and explain we would go faster at the end. For the first half kept saying "slow and steady", "take it easy". When I told him it was halfway he took off and ran fast all the way to the end. He really loved it, especially overtaking all the puffed-out grown-ups. Amazing that he can run a whole mile without any training, don't think an adult could do it but running around playrounds must keep him fit.
Work is a bit grim. Several good people have quit. A big, vital project which I'm not on is struggling which is a problem for the company, and also sucks a lot of resources from everwhere else. I feel drained and battered from struggling to cope with far too much work and not enough people, time, or hardware. Kind of wish I was just a developer, as Scrum Master I get a bit bombarded by stuff, would be nice to just get my head down and code instead of endlessly having to negotiate X and Y and get A to talk to B and harass P into doing Q...
Socioeconomics. People aren't actually much busier than they used to be.
Ask the Past: How to Interpret Forehead Wrinkles, 1562.
Sci/Tech. Normal Distributions in the Wild.
Articles. Picard Probably Likes Coffee Just as Much — If Not More — Than Earl Grey. The adults in the room: incompetent capitalists. The Princess Bride fight scene.
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