St John's Church

Mural outside St John's Church, Edinburgh, August 2007

This is the latest in a long series of murals to appear outside St John’s Church in Edinburgh. Positioned at the corner of Lothian Road and Princes Street, the church and its paintings are a memorable sight for anyone who has lived in, or visited the city.

I’m not quite sure what Ahmadinejad is doing in the picture. I think maybe he is walking towards the table that Rev Paisley and Mr Adams have already reached.

It is because of places like St John’s that I can never quite get behind the likes of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens as they denounce religion. These authors rail against the intolerance and the dogma of religion… but the people who run St John’s church seem to be of a different ilk. When they campaign, their objections are not related to heavenly crimes like blaspheme, but against more human ills such as poverty and injustice. And where some fundamentalists encourage a divisive mentality, St John’s is a centre for interfaith dialogue and multiculturalism. It has a Fair Trade café, a bookshop, and a hall for meetings. It is a place where civil society actually happens.

Day Light

A street lamp ablaze at 3pm

This is a street light in Embankment Gardens, at 3.45pm on Saturday. It is fully switched on and drawing electricity, despite the clear blue skies and impeccable visibility that one might associate with a mid-summer mid-afternoon.

There must be a cheap piece of technology that solves this inefficiency. The logo on the public bins says City of Westminster Council, so I assume they’re responsible. I wonder who I should write to?

Some people may argue that excess streetlighting is barely an issue when London has so many other problems, such as gun crime and poverty. To be clear, I’m not whining from a climate change point-of-view, so much as the general administration of the thing. How can we have confidence in local authorities to tackle the more complex social problems, if they cannot tell the difference between day and night?

FOUND and Kimho Ip

Artists mixing tunes, live, while Dim-sum is cooked

The artists/musicians from FOUND remix some of the melodies created by Kimho Ip’s Yang-chin, a traditional chinese instrument.

We were at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Leith for a content gathering event, watching a chef prepare some Dim Sum (which we then ate). FOUND will use the audio and video they captured for a new composition, to be performed at the end of the Fringe Festival.

In the meantime, they will be launching their Ettiquette project at the Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop this Saturday. I can’t make the event, but it will apparently feature an entirely new set of music. Its always fun to see what these aimiable and slightly hairy “pop chancers” come up with…

One interesting (although highly incidental) aspect of FOUND’s various projects is their use of a blog to document their activities. The advantage of this is that they do not need to write a lengthy essay at the end of each project, justifying their activities to their funders and sponsors. The blog acts as this documentation.
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WOMAD, Charlton Park

A very muddy Charlton Park during WOMAD 2007.

I did hear a few voices of dissent about the organisation of this year’s festival, and how those in charge should have better anticipated the wet weather. However, I think this was probably just teething problems at the new venue. Thank goodness the festival was not at Rivermead again – I hear the Thames has flooded there and the entire festival would have been cancelled.

I am in agreement with Stephen Dalton at The Times:

But it was the Senegalese hip-hop trio Daara J who virtually hijacked his show, bounding around the stage in flowing white robes like hyperactive Jedi Knights.

Seth Lakeman and Dhol Foundation also had me jumping.

Cool for Cats

Close up of the note about the cat

Dear Owner,

Yesterday my cat fell out of the window and ran up to your car where it proceeded to climb into your engine. It is a new cat and is very timid and nervous of people. I beg you not to start your car before you open the bonnet or before you open the bonnet please could you phone me at my work which is just around the corner… The cat may have already disappeared but it is better to be safe than sorry.

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I’ve never done any ‘Live-blogging’ on this site, primarily because I’ve never been in a situation where I thought my presence at a computer provided anything new to an event or news story in progress.

Anyway, I happen to be sitting in the Qupi Café on Leith Walk, and it seems a carnival procession is passing me by. I have my camera-phone, and I have a Bluetooth internet connection. Allow me to present The Great Leith Festival Carnival Procession LivePhotoBlog!

First up: A big yellow bus promoting Corona Beer.

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Bank Holiday Sardines

GNER train

An overfull service from Kings Cross to Edinburgh yesterday.

Despite the fact we were packed like sardines in a tin, I found the journey passed quite quickly. Probably something to do with everyone being in the same situation, which breeds a certain camaraderie. One kind family from Portsmouth even shared their chapattis with the other passengers.

Attempts On His Cake

Layers of sponge, layers of meaning: My mother does a fantastic line in meta-cakes. Last year, we had the Famous Blog Cake. This year, we have a representation of the theatre production I have been working on, rendered in the medium of icing and lego.

Attempts on His Cake

The show combines film and live performance, where the characters conjure “seventeen scenarios for the theatre”. So my birthday cake is, in fact, a rendering in icing of a rendering on film of a rendering on stage of an imagined story. That’s at least four layers, which works out at two-per sponge tier.

I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of the little man with the beard and computers, standing off-stage/cake. It is meant to be me.

In fact, I was presented with the cake by means of a short video, e-mailed to me while I was at work. Given the context, it was the perfect combination of medium and message. It is unfortunate that the sublime wit might not be apparent to anyone other than myself, but I sincerely believe it was a very clever creation.

That fabulous painted cavern

It was the rejuvenation of London in the late seventeenth century, after the Great Fire of ’66, which moulded the character of Westminster, The City, and West End through which I now walk. But to celebrate this mess is not to say that the London of today has become stagnant. The public, authors of the city, find new uses for old spaces.

Spectators watch the skaters and bikers

The skate park underneath the Hayward Gallery has become a much photographed hang-out for youths on two or four wheels. “That fabulous painted cavern” as a friend of mine calls it. In many respects it is just like the other venues along the South Bank, drawing audiences from out of town for a regular showcase of talent, visual and kinetic.