Saturday, 12 February 2011


About 5 or 6 years ago the Klezmer band chap and I were in (Klunk) played at the wedding of Helen Ivory and Martin Figura - both poets. I did wonder at the time what the home-life of a pair of poets would be like. Metaphors, wit and concepts over the washing up? The odd ode or stanza dedicated to daily functions? I reckon it'd be rather lovely.

Anyway. I have never been into poetry. It's not that I do not enjoy how it plays - I do - no it's because I can't read very well and my auditory function is disabled. My barrier to poetry means the stuff I do encounter tends to be read aloud and I can never get past the first two lines before I'm extrapolating and have stopped receiving.

However, recently chap encountered Martin somewhere (chap described this somewhere as a stop everything bad and promote everything good 'thing' - he's not a poet) and chap returned with a little book of poems by Martin called, 'Boring the arse off young people'. And chap read it and chap clearly enjoyed it. I know when chap is enjoying things because he shares them. So, this was recited to me first thing this morning.

Talking (by Martin Figura)

I just talk too much I talk too much
never shut up if you cut me in half
with a spade I'd continue to talk
for up to nearly an hour from both ends
I'm more send than receive have never
had an unexpressed thought in my life
the path behind me is littered
with the hind legs of donkeys
those times when you should just shut up
that's when I talk even more let it tumble out
no matter how incriminating
there would be no need to tie me to a chair
and slap a rubber hose into the palm of your hand
for I will sing like a canary at the politest enquiry
tell you more about myself than you ever wanted to know
give up my own children just for a chat
in fact I can guarantee that the most hardened torturer
will soon be sewing up my mouth
to stop me telling him what I know
but I shall only rip my mouth open
spit out my tattered bleeding lips
and what I don't know I don't let worry me
for I never let lack of knowledge get in the way
of giving an opinion why should I
I've a habit of repeating myself
I've a habit of repeating myself
that was pretty obvious right,
but you try talking non-stop
and not saying something pretty obvious along the way
and if you're one of those quiet people that just looks
then you're just asking for it without actually asking
if you see what I mean but you can't just stand
and look at each other right
and if you're not going to say something then I have to
simple as that simple as that so it's your own fault
don't glaze over when I'm talking to you
if you want this poem to stop sometime
in the next hour then for God's sake
do something useful
go fetch a spade

Bloody brilliant. So now my introverted chap is using somebody else's well crafted and witty poetry to tell his extraverted wife to shut up. And first thing in the morning before I have even warmed up to full force.

So, at this point I have decided I like poetry - certainly the funny stuff. (Am I coming across as a little flighty?) So I pick the little book up and enjoy this.....

Acrostic (by Martin Figura)

Now the birds sing
I am gifted each
Clear note

The start of each day
Is your song, your scent
This heaven
Sweet and sure

....all on my own and with an 'out loud' giggle.

Friday, 11 February 2011

FoodCycle Norwich

Since last September I been one of the project leaders for the Norwich branch of a charity called FoodCycle. Here's the national website - FoodCycle

It is a charity with a simple concept that was once an impossibility because of the fear of litigation.

FoodCycle simply organises volunteers to:
1) take fruit, veg, bread and dried foods a supermarket, cafe or shop would otherwise have discarded (because it's slightly past its best),
2) transport it to a community venue via a bicycle with a trailer and
3) cook a meal for anyone to eat. (targeting those in need but not excluding others)

It does this to:

tackle food waste and more importantly (and effectively) highlight the issue of food waste and what fussy consumers come of us have become.
• tackle food poverty (we only scratch the surface of this currently). I am not sure what we create will ever be really easy for some disadvantaged to access as it's a large hall full of people.
• provide CV fodder for young people
•create a community space each week that everyone and anyone is invited to (that's special!)
• attempt to tackle prejudice towards homeless people (an aim the Norwich branch has added)

Its a simple idea that has instant appeal to most people and that's reflected in the 200 or so in our bank of volunteers and the successful bid for some funding.

It is an absolutely fantastic project to be involved in and today we will be cooking our fifth meal. We usually feed between 70 and 100 people and there's always a wonderful buzz in the place. I am personally surprised by how well it always seems to come together!

Donations of food were slow to come initially. The first contributor was a small food store on St Benedict's street. Then we hit lucky with Brandbank - a company that photographs food for online shopping. They have been wonderful but of course their supply is somewhat erratic and unpredictable. There were also small independent shops bringing food to the venue: namely 'Wholesome' on Swann Lane, Rainbow Wholefoods and 'The Metfield Bakery'. A veg stall (Holland Organics) on Norwich Market also donates a few bits and pieces and the spice stall gives us price reductions. But now we have hit really lucky. This week a fruit and veg wholesaler: McCarthy's will be donating food along with the Budgens store on Prince of Wales Road. We could not be more chuffed! That's a lot of food travelling round Norwich by bike power.

We will eventually have a 'launch.' We have had a lot of media interest and local celebrity chef (not Delia!): Galton Blakiston has offered to attend. I don't suppose Galton wants to be known as 'not Delia' actually!

We also have ambition. We currently only do one meal a week. With careful volunteer management this could increase. Also, the possibility of a community cafe might one day be viable. Watch this space.

FoodCycle Norwich

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Sustainability ...oh I don't know

Back in 1980 I wrote to Margaret Thatcher expressing my outrage about the destruction of the ozone layer by CFCs. The Department for the Environment wrote back and reassured me that they were doing their best to see that the UK was not contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer. Ahem. I was just a kid and I wasn't convinced. I was also annoyed that Margaret had not personally dealt with my concern - she was the one in charge.

Six years later I started a degree in Environmental Chemistry. Aside from the fact I learned that environmental has 3 'n's in it the day before I graduated, my interest in protecting and preserving the environment stayed with me throughout my degree. I guess the subject was taught appropriately.

Then venturing into the real world I lost faith big time. The gloom and doom merchants got to me. I developed an 'oh fu*k it' mentality. Humans could be bright individually but as a mass they'd never agree and unite in the common goal of sustaining this planet. And I gave up trying.

Several years later, I met my chap. I shared my despair but he persisted in his green ways and imposed them on me. When I challenged him (after the honeymoon) his philosophy was simple: he wanted to spend his time on this planet being personally responsible for the minimal amount of damage to this world that he could manage - regardless of what everyone else was doing. What a lovely bloke.

And now I am making up activities for children for an educational website about sustainability and so I have revisited the details of the topic big time. When you read the facts how can you not get depressed?
• Deforestation on a mass scale
• Pollution - air, water, earth
• Heaps of unnecessary waste
• Brutal consumption of natural materials
• Farming methods that add to greenhouse gases, damage soil etc
• And a fast growing and developing population that will just accelerate the amount of damage we are doing
• etc

......with nowhere near enough regard for future generations

And you can see why these things happen. There's a relatively small handful of people making a fortune out of practices that do not have the planet's best interests at heart in developing countries. And there's a lifestyle and a whole way of living that us westerners would have to seriously overhaul if we were to really, really try our best for the environment.

I read that if everyone in the world lived as the Australian or Americans did (and why shouldn't they - the western world has had its turn at luxury and convenience) we would need at least four planets. If everyone's consumption was the same as those in Bangladesh, we would need a third of the planet to sustain us. Such glaring inequality feels unjust in itself. Greedy, messy westerners!

The elephant in the room is shouting that it is almost definitely beyond us to sort out this mess and it will probably be a major catastrophe that might eventually force us to do the drastic things that would need doing - or that might force these drastic things upon us anyway. That's assuming anything is still salvageable and that any significant population is left! I am pretty sure most people at least suspect this and this suspicion contributes to some people not bothering to even try towards sustainability.

The whole world which is far too big, diverse and in different stages of development and awareness to arrive at any kind of consensus - is just so unlikely to get there without the jolt of a disaster. It would take huge attitudinal and actual changes in the way society, lifestyle, equality, community, the economy etc functions to tackle these issues. Changes that would currently seem like an enormous infringement on our basic comfortable western rights. (Imagine the Daily Mail's response if a huge magnet stole all the cars in the UK and left a great public transport system) Any 'power that be' trying to implement the changes needed would be seen as far too maverick to be actually voted in by a democratic country. And who is in position to deliver the huge world-wide re-education that would be needed to ensure such a vision would be voted in or implemented? No we need a huge-green-inspirational-benign-dictator-god to show the world the way but I haven't met one yet.

Aside: One question is though - how long have we got and what, if any, solutions might science come up with to temper our impact?

However. I will add. All this gloom and doom isn't me. For one, what does it really matter if we destroy ourselves - I mean that more positively than it sounds. What will be will be and I happily accept that. I'm not worried. But the main thing I want to say is this. I know I am not a huge-green-inspirational-benign-dictator-god and that I alone cannot save the world from itself but I can do what I can do. I have adopted my chap's ways. My conscience will be as clear as it can be in the way the world is currently set up. I will do my best to keep the dollop I personally add to this mess as small as I possibly can and perhaps eventually I'll get to hang out with with the huge-green-inspirational-benign-dictator-god in the sky!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Norwich - Narch - Norritch

I have taken to cycling around Norwich taking photos of roof-lines. I have become a bit obsessed. Anyway, this is my version of Norwich. It's not an accurate representation - the real Norwich is far more magical.