Saturday 26 February 2011

Dr Nawal-el-Saadawi on Egypt

The Root has an interview with the irrepressible Dr Nawal El Saadawi, the Egyptian feminist, doctor and activist, amongst other things - "Now 79, she has lived in exile off and on for the past 15 years, teaching at Duke University and Spelman College. For the past year or so, she's been back at home in Egypt, writing and organizing young activists."

In the piece Dr Saadawi talks about the hopes for women coming out of the current revolution in Egypt, saying "...Of course if you know the history of revolutions, you find that after the revolution, often men take over and women's rights are ignored. In order to keep our rights after the revolution, women must be unified. We must have our women's union again. We cannot fight individually." She also talks about the USA ("I don't expect the power or support or interference of anyone, of any government. We here in Egypt are fed up with U.S. colonialism") and dismisses the power of the Muslim Brotherhood ("All of this talk about the Brotherhood is an attempt to use religion to divide the people. Do not worry; the Muslim Brotherhood will never rule Egypt.").

One of the compelling factors for me about Dr Saadawi is her secularist hopes for Egypt.

I was lucky enough to attend an 'in conversation' event with this woman a couple of years ago locally at Goldsmiths, University of London, as part of a three-day Race in a Modern World conference there. She was inspiring. You can read my post about that here 'Nawal El Saadawi in conversation'.

Related previous post: 'The women of Tharir Square'

Tuesday 22 February 2011

'Walkit' around Eltham

Can you believe it?  Just discovered that the seemingly endless long walk from Shooters Hill (almost) right down to Eltham Station only loses you 163 calories (a packets of crisps)!

Not that I would walk, but you know, it's shocking, in theory, if you know what I mean ...

You can find out the calories involved in any walk, along with distance, steps, etc.) at this nifty site, 'the urban walking route planner':

It could become a serious obsession, in theory...

Saturday 19 February 2011

What did the Romans ever do for ... Greenwich?

Fascinating-sounding exhibition (and free!) just opened at the Greenwich  Heritage Centre:
"Have you ever thought about what Roman Greenwich was like, and how it impacted life in the borough today?

Now you have a chance to go back in time and experience our first ever exhibition curated entirely by young people from Tuesday 25 January until Saturday 19 March 2011.

This is part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World: London World City, which is the largest youth engagement project ever undertaken by UK museums."

I've not been to the Centre yet though I've often read about things going on there, especially children's activities. Time to top up the kids' Roman history I think...

Greenwich Heritage Centre
Artillery Square
Royal Arsenal
Woolwich SE18 4DX (sat nav: SE18 6ST)
020 8854 2452

Thursday 17 February 2011

The fate of Lewisham's libraries

Well, all the protesting didn't work, for Lewisham at least. Lewisham Council today announced the closure of five libraries - Blackheath, Sydenham, Crofton Park, New Cross and Grove Park - with effect from 28 May 2011, subject to 'alternative arrangements' ie. someone/thing stepping in to run them. A lot of people expressing their anger about this on Twitter.

According to one twitterer, the UK is "on the verge of shutting down 450 of its libraries". It is heartbreaking to think of the closure of libraries - many people have written moving stories about the value of libraries. I've written previously about how dear my own local library in the Eltham Leisure Centre is to my family.

Lewisham are reportedly only saving about £1mil through the library closures, out of the £60mil or so budget cuts they need to make. So it seems a lot of public pain for too little budgetary gain - not even enough to give opportunities to make points about Eric Pickles' 'machismo' or Tory cuts (valid though they may be...)

But Councils would have had to make some cuts even faced with a more public services/Council-friendly government - unfortunately that is a reality. Though I applaud the noise that is being made about the depth and speed of the cuts which the government is compelling local Councils to make. Should Lewisham have agreed at their meeting this morning to raise their Council tax instead of holding steady? I suspect that people wouldn't want that but that each will have their own view on where the cuts should alternatively be made ie. Council 'propaganda' / Council salaries / Council *substitute your own word* / various other groups in society which we're not that keen on, etc.

So far as us in the Borough of Greenwich are concerned, we can only look on for the time being - I haven't read anything about their plans for libraries. The Eltham library which I mentioned earlier though is embedded in a Leisure Centre, alongside a swimming pool, cafe and Council offices, and in a new building - let's hope all that makes it more viable.

They're not giving up in Lewisham though - this Saturday, 19 February sees Lewisham's 'Carnival against Cuts' with protests and marches taking place all over the borough.

Hopefully for Lewisham there will be some groups, or 'social enterprises' who will step in to run the libraries, but even this feels like a half-way step to the eventual death knell. Afterall, 'Big Society', nice idea but with jobs, kids and aged parents, who has the time?   I did spot this one though on Twitter - so if anyone can help....

If there's anyone in a position to take on Lewisham's 5 libraries pls get in touch as we've got ideas from proposal for planned NXG library

Other posts I've spotted on the Lewisham library closures:
Lewisham decides to hand over libraries (esp. on Crofton Park, and over-hyphenation)
Lewisham Council pushes through library closures
Breakfast with Bullock
What-to-do-with-five-closed-lewisham-libraries (from before the closure announcements) 
New Cross library occupation: inside story (from the 6 Feb occupation of one of the Lewisham libraries)

Eltham Then and Now

If you're in the High Street on Saturday, you might want to drop by:

Saturday 19 Feb 2011
"Eltham Then and Now" Exhibition
10.30 to 4pm

Admission is free and refreshments will be available
Venue: St Mary's Community Centre, 180 Eltham High Street, Eltham, London SE9
Contact: Laurie Baker, email:
by The Eltham Society

Wednesday 16 February 2011

The Rebel Queen

I've been hopelessly late in blogging about this short film by Michael Singh which appears to be having a one-off showing in London tomorrow evening.  In the Guardian's own words, in a piece last December:

"The film Rebel Queen tells the remarkable story of the last Sikh ruler of Lahore – a fearless Maharani who waged two wars against British rule in India. She is an inspiring figure for young Asian women today... 

... Her revolt began when her husband, the last Maharaja of the Punjab, died of a stroke in 1839 and the British tried to wrest the kingdom from the heir to the throne, her infant son, Duleep Singh. During her rule as regent, Jindan waged two disastrous wars against the British that led to the annexation of the Punjab. She may have made huge strategic errors due to her military inexperience and young age (she was in her early 20s), but Jindan was a fierce ruler....

... Nine-year-old Duleep was taken to England where he converted to Christianity, living the life of a typical English gentleman, with Queen Victoria among his friends. The Maharani Jindan, however, was dragged from the court of Lahore by her hair and thrown into the fortress of Sheikhupura and then Chunar Fort in Uttar Pradesh."

I've written before about this amazing story when I visited the painting of Duleep Singh at Queen Victoria's Osborne House on the Isle of Wight.

The Rebel Queen (37 min) is showing on Thu 17th February, 6.30pm, free, at:  Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street, London W1K 1HF

There will also be an Q&A after the showing. I don't think I will be able to get along - I wonder if there are any plans to show it in London again? - let me know what you think of the film if you've seen it.

Related posts:

Sunday 13 February 2011

"The women of Tharir Square"

After the events in Egypt this week, it was interesting to read this piece from The World about the role of women in protests in Egypt.
A 21-year old university student is quoted as saying: “Women were at the forefront of the 1919 revolution in Egypt right before Egypt got its independence, in the struggle against the British; women were prominent at the time of the French occupation as well ... So Egyptian women have been involved in protests for many, many years this isn’t something new.”

Of the situation now, women's involvement is said to be "bigger than any religious or political affiliation." “There are Christian girls here, there are girls with their hair uncovered ...We’re all volunteers. We’re all Egyptians, whether we’re Christians or Muslims, whether we’re religious or not, we’re all good people. We’re all sacrificing for our country.”

The piece continues:

"But the authoritarian governments that have governed Egypt for the last 60 years have curtailed the autonomy of women’s organizations. Just as they have tightly controlled all freedoms of assembly and expression.  Women, like most Egyptians, have been frightened away from politics."

Read the rest of this article at The World.

Saturday 12 February 2011

Royal Artillery Barracks as 2012 Olympics venue

The Telegraph have a quick guide today to the Royal Artillery Barracks as a London 2012 Olympics venue during 28 July to 6 August.  It says:

"Some 7,500 fans will be able to view the events from temporary grandstands erected at each shooting range."  Wow, that's a lot - good chance for the area to promote itself. Hope the local cafes will have enough buns in.

Also, "There is still a considerable amount of uncertainty as to what legacy the event and venue will have, with organisers working alongside the government to identify any opportunities". Look forward to hearing more about that.

They've also got a piece here about 2012 Olympic use of Greenwich Park for:
Equestrian jumping, dressage and eventing: July 28 – Aug 9
Modern Pentathlon: Aug 11 – Aug 12

Friday 11 February 2011

Eltham councillor in the spotlight

I know you're all busy with Egypt at the moment, but listen up...

Here's news of a (relatively) new local blog and podcaster of things related to our glorious borough of Greenwich. 'In the Meantime' is, in their own words:
"a local news and sports radio discussion programme. It is broadcast on the hospital radio station at the Woolwich Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The programme broadcasts every two weeks and can only be heard at the hospital. However, each programme is immediately podcasted and put on this website for residents of Greenwich Borough to listen to."
It's a lovely clean blog, and there are three podcasts already waiting for you. Here's news of the next one this Sunday 20th February - a must for Eltham-ites, an interview with a local, Eltham councillor:
"Our guest this Sunday will be Councillor Nigel Fletcher. Nigel is the councillor for the Eltham North ward. He first gained the seat at a by-election in February 2005, and was re-elected at the Borough elections in 2006 and 2010.  He is now Deputy Leader of the Opposition and is the Conservative Group‘s spokesman on Culture and Olympics.  He has a particular interest in heritage issues, and has been an active supporter of the Cutty Sark restoration and other local preservation projects. He is a member of the board of the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich.
He has kindly allowed us to collate questions from the general public to pose to him when he’s on air this Sunday. Therefore, if you have any questions that you would like to put to Cllr Fletcher then please comment on this blog post or contact us in the usual ways. Please bear in mind that Cllr Fletcher is part of the Conservative opposition party in Greenwich Borough. Therefore his job is more to scrutinise policy rather than make policy. Your question may be about a particular concern within the Eltham North ward or indeed about Greenwich Borough in general."

Saturday 5 February 2011

PM in trouble turns to an old favourite

Wake up today to the BBC headline "Multiculturalism has failed - PM" about "his first speech as prime minister on radicalisation and the causes of terrorism." He is making this speech in Germany, of all places. Perhaps he's trying to impress Merkel given her recent foray. Mostly I'm dumbfounded about his timing - he's making this speech on a day when thousands of people like this:

are marching in Luton today, along with right-wing fascists from all over the country. There is certainly a debate to be had about terrorism and the disengagement of young people in all communities, and we'll have to see the full text of his speech later but the constant equation of Islam and terrorism is wrong. And today of all days? (Wonder what the Baroness Warsi will have to say about this...)

Liked these tweets from earlier today:

sunny hundal
On a day of the EDL demo when Cameron could have made a more interesting speech abt what binds is together, Tories go back to hectoring tone

Anthony Painter 
by sunny_hundal
Oh and as Mr Cameron lectures Muslims today, the EDL will be threatening them with their biggest ever rally in Luton.

Debt Generation
by LewishamNoCuts
Shared British values Mr Cameron? How about the NHS, public libraries, national parks and woodlands and universities for a start?
Kate B
by GoldsmithsUCU
RT @: Cameron turning to racism when government in trouble. Racism always used to divert attention from what's taking place.

Friday 4 February 2011

Police station gay flag shocker!

While we're on matters to do with the police...The Daily Mail earlier today claimed that the flying of the 'Union flag' outside a police station had been forbidden.

But lo and behold, guess what...that turns out to be rubbish. See this brilliant forensic job by Tabloid Watch. Couldn't the Mail just celebrate the police recognising its different communities?

Eltham police again

Oh dear, Eltham police again. 
"Two police officers who sledgehammered their way into a south east London house and tried to frame a squatter on a drugs charge have been sacked.

Sergeant Marcus Garvey and Pc Wayne Campbell threw cannabis-smoking Ben Thacker off their patch in Greenwich in January 2008. But when he appeared in court accused of possessing cannabis the case was thrown out and the spotlight shone on their actions.

Mr Thacker revealed he had recorded evidence on a voice recorder hidden in his pocket, and the two men later lied about the circumstances.

Garvey and Campbell, based at Eltham Police Station, were acquitted of perverting the course of justice by a jury in May last year. But an internal police misconduct hearing concluded they deliberately gave inaccurate accounts of the arrest and used unlawful force.  The move followed an investigation managed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). The arrest took place on January 26, 2008, at a house on Tudway Road, Kidbrooke."  Read more here or here.
Eltham Police didn't get a great press only last December when, in separate cases, an Eltham policeman was being investigated for a shooting, and another was found guilty of nine charges of indecent assault against three young girls. I'm sure there are good officers at the Eltham station but news like this doesn't instill confidence.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Save our Libraries Day, 5 February

From yesterday's Guardian:

"Save Our Libraries Day: find your nearest protest

This Saturday, 5 February, libraries around the country will be playing host to read-ins, author appearances and story-telling events to protest at the threatened closure of 400 branches". To find your nearest participating library, take a look at the map published on the Guardian site.

Here are the London libraries participating, so far. Let the Guardian know about any others and they'll update the map:


Blackheath, Lewisham

Brentford Library

Coombes Croft Library

Crofton Park, Lewisham

Grove Park, Lewisham

Kensal Rise

Marcus Garvey Library

Muswell Hill Library

New Cross, Lewisham

St Anne's Library

Stroud Green Library

Sydenham, Lewisham

Tate Library, Brixton

Wood Green Library

York Gardens Library

Tuesday 1 February 2011

Eltham's Direct Health Clinic in liquidation

This question has been posted on Netmums yesterday. Can any Eltham-ites help?
"Can any one help with Direct Health 2000 Ltd clinic in Eltham new contact details?

I have recently found out that the vaccination clinic in Eltham has gone into liquidation. I understand from other websites that if you have paid for the vaccinations, like I have before 2008 then the company will honour their agreement to vaccinate your child.
Does anyone know their new contact info, can't seem to find it anywhere."

Mapping crime in Eltham

A new 'crime map of Britain" has been launched today.  The new Home Office crime maps allow users to input any place in England and Wales and see what reports of crime and anti-social behaviour have been made to local police within a mile of that point in the previous month.

I've just tried it for Eltham - it's very easy to use. You just enter a postcode. The snapshot above shows the figures for one part of Eltham (click to enlarge, and then ctrl plus +, if needed)

As the the site says, you get "instant access to street-level crime maps and data, as well as details of your local policing team and beat meetings." What's difficult to know is what to think about the data - is it high, low, anything out of the ordinary or not? Perhaps this is available elsewhere on that site.
I did find out about some upcoming police events in the Eltham area are:

'Have a say' day. 3rd February 2011, 4:30p.m. at "Westmount Road shops (SE0)"
Drop-in surgery. 3rd February 2011, 11:00a.m. at Averyhill Community Centre Averyhill Estate SE9 Drop-in surgery, 17th February 2011, 11:00am. Eltham Centre Archery Road SE9

The Association for Police Officers fears that the map might distort policing, whilst some 'young mums' interviewed by the BBC said they'd rather not know or feared what it would do for their house sales.

Will the Home Office's Crime Maps be a one-day wonder or an helpful architect for future policing decisions?