Once I was on the road I could cycle into town. It's the pavements that are slippery in the cold. I had a meeting with Martyn Allison. He'd contacted me a few months ago:
I am now national advisor for culture and sport at the IDeA. We are doing some interesting work in political and managerial leadership and I wondered if you were still in the market...We are running a leadership programme for managers from the culture and sport sector in conjunction with City University ... I wondered if you might be interested in discussing the opportunity of making a contribution.This morning, over coffee near Birmingham Council House, Martyn and I enjoyed working up a programme on Managing in a political environment next February, drawing on some of my Australian experience, finishing with a snack at the German Market, editing the draft by e-mail once we'd got home.
I cycled around the crowded city centre, then headed back up the Walsall Road feeling content. It was cold but crisp. Good to be outdoors pedalling by the familiar confused architecture of Handsworth and Lozells. Richard took this photo the other day of boarded condemned tower blocks on the edge of the dual carriageway - managing to convey something of what I like about these unpromising structures.
He'd help to remind me how unlikely things can be beautiful. The last memory of an event I have in connection with these grim buildings was a bottle being hurled from one and missing me by several feet as it shattered on the surface of the bus lane on which I was cycling. You could hardly imagine Birchfield towers in any poem of Wordsworth's, yet cycling one morning across the Hockley Flyover on a winter morning a rising sun turned two such blocks into upright bars of shimmering gold - all bright and glittering in the smokeless air. Richard caught the setting winter sun reflecting from shop windows onto the edge of the subway and with some editing shared what he saw.
At one point several police cars and a police wagon came hurrying down the Lozells Road lights flashing, sirens sounding, then dispersed down side streets, one car rushing back the way I was going. Another day. I spent an hour in the Red Cross Shop in Newtown looking for bargain books, for myself - The Education of Hyman Kaplan - some gifts for others. I like that shop - to buy things; to donate things too. Lin, who goes there a lot, has been known to buy things back I thought I'd got rid of there.
I cycled via paths between houses to the Lozells Road. Treated myself to a veggie samosa, and gazed some more. Flâneur. I was happy but irritated before I turned homewards down Hamstead Road to discover that the Villa Road Post Office stopped trading last Saturday.
Villa Road, HandsworthDanica Radovanovic has written in Digital Serendipities about the social web campaign to get Rage Against the Machine to top the charts against the expected topper - the winner of the X-factor - in Christmas week. Lyric includes:
Killing in the name of! Killing in the name of. And now you do what they told ya. And now you do what they told ya, now you're under control. And now you do what they told ya! Those who died are justified, for wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites. You justify those that died by wearing the badge, they're the chosen whites. ... Come on! Fuck you, I won't do what you tell me! Motherfucker! Ugggh! [music starts at 4.00 on this 9 minute YouTube]Danica sees this apparently trivial event (she doesn't watch TV) attesting to the 'power of social web' creating 'not only the public sphere in political, economic and global context after all' but also 'influencing the music business industry where corruption’s time is coming to an end.' Lin's tidied up Amy's old bedroom so we have room for Danica to stay with us over Christmas.
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A guide to the acronyms. 'CMP refers to 'the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties'.
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** ** ** Christos Lambrakis died today [back to the future 4 January 2010 obit]
An e-mail via the family from Vaggelis Chronis dated Monday 21 December:
I regret to advise you that Yiannis Moralis passed away yesterday...his funeral is taking place this morning at 11.30 at a cemetery in Athens...
Yiannis Moralis had been husband to my Greek step-mother Maria Roussen before she met and, later married, my dad. I only met Yiannis Moralis once (as I wrote here) but he’s someone whose art has run through my life. I’m glad to have even a very distant connection with him through the family. He was and will remain a great artist who lived a long good life. I've promised myself one day soon to visit his birthtown Arta and see its beautiful bridge across the Aracthus.