androktone: (old)
When I moved to Luton, it was an awful shithole. The Marsh Farm riots (dead policemen; blood everywhere) were still in recent memory. I moved there because I had got a job straight out of university; and living there cost about the same as living in Nottingham (which should have rung alarm bells). I stayed because shortly after moving there I managed to get impregnated by a local anarcho punk.

At one point I tried to move out to London, but I could only afford to live near Bruce Grove, which was exactly the same as Luton but a lot more expensive, and much further form my kids, so I moved back. When you've been seeing your kids every day, seeing them at weekends only is painful. There was no question of my ex husband moving out of Luton with the kids; he loved it.

I've had some terrible times in Luton. I've lived in some of the worst areas. Friends have had their arms broken and their faces mashed up. Friendly local newsagents have been stabbed. My house/flat has been broken into several times and there have been some amusing-in-retrospect incidents where people have tried to break in while I've been asleep, or in the bath, and have been repelled by me flailing nakedly towards them screaming "get off my land!" or similar.

I have spent many wakeless nights listening to sounds of inappropriate behaviour from near neighbours and promising myself that when I had enough money I would move the fuck out of this godforsaken shithole, and take my children with me.

In between times, I made some good friends; Luton has a lively band scene and a history of punk and socialism. Some of the people we met were really awesome. It was a bit of a pay off for living somewhere so dangerous. Every now and again you'd exchange a smile with a neighbour or somebody in a shop, which would reassure you that the place wasn't entirely evil.

Three years ago we had saved and borrowed a small deposit; enough to buy a house. But the only place within 50 miles we could afford to buy a house was Luton. Because of the awful image, the constant news of terroist plots and EDL marches and riots (and I am waiting for a child grooming revelation a la Rochester), houses here still cost the same as a house in Nottingham or Wales. So we got the smallest house in the nicest bit we could manage, and tried to settle in. The area still wasn't very nice. The houses are very small little coronation street terraces. Most of the Neighbourhood Watch pamphlets were about prostitution. But our little bit was OK, we felt safe letting the kids go to buy pie and chips, and people put window boxes and hanging baskets outside their houses, and they didn't get vandalised. I thought when we first looked around the area that this was somewhere normal people lived normal lives and tried to make the best of things, and I was right. Our neighbours are not exciting people but they are friendly and supportive. I began to be able to sleep at night and walk down the street without having a big bunch of keys clenched in my fist in case I needed an emergency weapon.

Steve got a job in Richmond, I got one in Central Bedfordshire, and the kids went to school in St Albans - the good thing about Luton is its transport links. None of us went near the town centre if we could manage it. For three years. We had one pub we went to, sometimes, where all our friends went.

But in those three years the little bit of Luton where I live, High Town (and Round Green) has been undergoing a gentle revolution. There has always been a decent pub there - the Bricklayer's Arms, which opened in 1824 and sells nothing but ale and crisps - but for ages that was it. First Marjorie's Kitchen opened. A little cafe selling home made bread and posh coffee and pizzas and salad, and in the evening they'd have some music nights. Then a hat shop opened. An antiques shop. Shop 33, which is where artists (including me) get to sell all their home made stuff to open minded locals. Another restaurent, the Mediterranean cafe, with a little basement pizza bar. Houses have had For Sale signs up and the people who buy them have been replacing their nasty looking old plastic and aluminium front doors and windows with things that look nicer on their little terraces (ours is still nasty plastic... we're saving up..).

A couple of weeks ago I saw a chap in hipster uniform walking down the street. I thought he would get mugged.. but he didn't.

The band scene has moved from pub to pub and it's still lively, there are still things to go to every night where you'll see nice people ineptly creating stuff. There was a Fun Palace and a High Town Festival last year. Nobody got stabbed. The council pedestrianised a few places and knocked down the nasty bus station.

The rest of Luton is still a bit scary but this bit has become a nice place to live. It's still cheap but I wonder how long for..

I think what I'm trying to say, is that in some places, a bit of gentrification goes a long way. I like living here for the first time in fifteen years. I see elderly people walking about looking.. not miserable. People are talking to each other in the street more. I hope it carries on.

I realise what's happening in London is way off the scale with existing nice neighbourhoods being taken over by rich people leaving no room for normal people. But for normal people living in a ghetto, seeing little cool businesses starting up and nice people moving into the neighbourhood who care about where they live, seeing a reduction in nasty fuckwits brutalising the place, it's a breath of fresh air. And that only happens because nice peopel are being pushed out of central London and seeing an opportunity in places like this.

So, you know, it's not all bad.

P.S. the subtext here is: You should all move to High Town and buy a 2 bed house for £150k and go to the pub with me. Or buy a shop for £200k and start a business. And go to the pub with me. It'll be awesome. I promise.
androktone: (old)
I decided to start writing more short stories with a view to trying to do something else I think is good enough to submit. I am 37 years old godammit I should be able to conjour up something good enough to go in a science fiction magazine.

Here's the first attempt. Comments are welcome! Particularly any errors or inconsistencies.

Lala )
androktone: (old)
I am saddened to find that there is no such thing as a camping bicycle. So I thought I would describe it and put it on the internet and maybe somebody will make one and I can buy it.

I anticipated it being a chain driven electric bike (of the sort which recharges it's own battery when you go down hill). These things go about 50-70 miles on a charge.

It would have a bike trailer with one big wheel which contains a decent double skin tent, and inflatable bedroll with sleeping bag. The bike itself could be used ingeniously to anchor and add structure to the tent, while also protecting the bike from the weather.  Maybe the tent and bedroll are inflatable by means of an electric bicycle pump running from the battery. Is that possible? It would be nice and warm. I expect there would be solar cells on the roof of the tent for passive charging.

The bike trailer would have a little camping stove in it and a cooler box for your food, with a squishy bag for your clothes which you could remove and use as a backpack. The cooler lid would have things like bottle and can openers and  puncture repair doodads set into it and would fold out into a table.

You'd be able to use the battery to run an LED light overnight and charge your phone; you could switch it to dynamo if you wanted to stay put and charge your stuff on a rainy day, and it would have adaptors so you could plug it into charge from a friendly car or camping site hookup. It would probably also have a spare battery for emergencies. Maybe it could have a fold out portable mini windmill so that it could charge by itself on windy nights? Do those exist? If not why not?

When the bike trailer is all folded up neatly it would make a comfortable chair - in fact somebody light could sit on it and be towed by you for short distances. It's an aerodynamic shape like a little pod. It comes in neon pink or camoflage and it has a flag on top so people don't trip over it.

Obviously the tents would be designed so they tesselate and zip together into a tent city in case lots of you want to go camping at once.

Anyway nothing of the kind seems to exist and I am very disappointed. Maybe next christmas!
androktone: (Default)
Privatise the post office
Constitutional reform - reduce number of MPs/constituencies by 50, add loads of Torys to the House of Lords, making it harder for them to be unelected.
End the right for appeals to be launched against boundary changes.
Push through bill for 5 year, fixed term parliaments.
Accept millions in funding from overseas tax exiles - including the brothers who own JCB and Lord Ashcroft.
Introduce the use of unmanned spy drones throughout UK airspace, facilitating an expansion of covert surveillance that could provide intelligence on future demonstrations.
"Militarisation" strategy to counter the threat of civil disorder, involving private defence firms.
Arrange £10bn (and rising) of loans to Irish banks (not to the irish people..)
Kettle under 18s for 9 hours when they try to march peacefully on whitehall.
Then use horses to charge them when they can't get out of the way (the police later swore this hadn't happened until footage made its way onto youtube)
Refuse to limit bankers bonuses or implement the Tobin tax despite clear pre and post election promises that they would do so.
Cut funding to charities
Cut legal aid on divorce, housing, debt and immigration
Cut funding to build social housing
End tenancies for life in social housing
End cheap rents in social housing
Reduce housing benefit to levels lower than rent, then redefine homelessness so that families made homeless won't need to be housed.
Give job centre employees the chance to remove benefits from families for up to 3 years.
Reduce tax credits for working families, including scheme to pay contribution towards child care
Remove child benefit from women whose partners pay higher rate tax regardless of how little they earn themselves
Allow councils to decide whether they will give council tax rebates to the unemployed or not
Remove index link to out of work benefits so they don't go up with inflation
Assume anybody is fit to work if they can move their arms and legs (including people receiving treatment for cancer)
Reduce obligation on Councils to look after seriously ill and disabled people
Redefine "seriously ill" and "disabled"
Take mobility allowance away from anybody living in any type of care home
Cut council budgets by a third putting at least half a million people out of work
Re-brand anybody who is out of work as a "scrounger"
Stop councils from raising council tax or any other funds (except borrowing)
Stop councils from recording performance so that the public can't easily see what services they are losing
Raid the pensions of public sector workers
Put the pension age up
Introduce "NEST" - a compulsory pension scheme for low paid workers with 2 percent in fees, no choice of fund, and no guaranteed income at retirement.
Reduce employment rights
Reduce Health and Safety obligations on businesses
Increase VAT to 20%
Reduce corporation taxes (including letting Vodaphone off a tax bill of over 6 BILLION pounds)
Change planning laws to enable big developers to build all over green belt land
Sell off the country's forests and waterways to businesses
Cut funding to universities and require them to make all of their money from business and students fees..
..resulting in fees of up to £9000 a year and more places offered to overseas students leaving less places for UK students.
Cut funding to Further Education colleges by about 25%
Cut Educational Maintenance Allowance EMA which paid £30 a week for poorer students to buy books and transport.
Stop budget for building schools even though there are not enough places in 20% of schools for children in their catchment area and most schools have at least some lessons in portacabins already.
Break up the NHS and force hospitals to bid against private companies to provide services
Remove NICE, the body which checks that new medicines are safe and work, allowing pharmaceutical companies to directly market to GPs.
Abolish the Food Standards Agency and invite Diago, McDonalds and PepsiCo to help write UK Health policy
Privatise anything public that hasn't already been privatised.

Ambitious lot aren't they.
Have I missed anything?
androktone: (Default)

Dunstable Downs 15 April 2010 Dunstable Downs 15 April 2010
Painting on dunstable downs - interesting because of the haze you can see on the horizon - normally you can see much further. I got in from painting and read in the paper that planes had been cancelled because there is a cloud of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajoekull in Iceland which erupted yesterday - I'm wondering if that is what I saw..?

androktone: (Default)
the UK Decay gig was fucking epic they're just a wall of sound, I could feel the kick drum in my breastbone. Its such an honour to get to play with them.
Our set went really well too, Loopy and I had this kindof cypress hill thng going on singing, I'm glad now we don't practise much because it was all adlib and came out sounding pretty fucking awesome. Lots of old punks came up afterwards and said they liked us. I wore my tin army hat and jumped up and down. Matt had a policemans hat with a flashing light and Steve had a tiny bowler hat. Loopy was all pink leopard print and mohawk. Sparrow came up on stage to do ASBO kid and there was a lot of camp showboating going on. I'm relying on nicola to have taken photos of it all for posterity.

Haven't done so many gigs recently but they've all been top notch, we don't really make many mistakes anymore and it's so good to just do it and have it work and be able to enjoy it while it's happening rather than concentrating so hard that it's all gone in a blur.

Really good night although I do think in retrospect I might have had a little more energy if I hadn't got twatted at the George last night. These days I need to conserve my energy :)
androktone: (Default)
I have been putting off going to the allotment since before Christmas when it started getting cold and muddy. Yesterday we finally bit the bullet and it looked terrible; the weight of snow on the roof of the shed had broken it a bit and the pigeons had eaten all of the cabbages down to the stumps. We spent the whole weekend digging in soil improver and clearing and steve fixed the roof and built a compost bin and it all looks neat and tidy now. We even bought back a big bag of onions and potatoes which we found by accident! There are also absolutely loads of artichokes which I would dig up but I haven't figured out how to cook them yet. The strawberry plants have gone mental and now cover a huge area so we should get enough for bowls full in summer.

A sharp contrast was going food shopping where we'd spent 30 quid in the fruit and veg section (and that was just for the basics we need for the four of us for a week - the cheapest packs of potatoes, peppers, leeks, onions, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, bananas, oranges and pears - nothing particularly exciting. I had to tell the kids we couldn't afford grapes or strawberries.

I think this year I'm going to make an extra effort with the allotment, I really resent spending so much money on fresh food :( As Tony was saying.. how can a turnip from norfolk cost twice as much as a pair of scissors which have to be mined, smelted, formed, assembled and shipped half way across the world?!
androktone: (Default)
Ha ha ha we#re in the paper :)
androktone: (Default)
I just went into the bathroom and noticed one of the children had stuck a post it note saying "TURN BACK NOW!!1! on the bathroom mirror..
androktone: (Default)
In a ray of hope though, I have just realised we have a decent independent candidate for Luton South. Young, idealised, and will probably get eaten alive. Still, though, I think he's getting my vote. At least he lives here, and went to our schools, and people already know him from Filmstock.

Fuck off Esther Ransome you patronising cow, you're not fucking wanted.
androktone: (Default)
My beautiful crazy friend nicola has convinced me to make a coat out of teddy bears to auction for the Pasque Hospice at LutonAid in July (which will also be in the local papers as a sort of protest against fur making a comeback in fashion recently).. halfway through the prototype and it looks pretty good!

If anyone has any old teddy bears (or any type of soft toy) they would like to contribute for this noble endeavour please post to 141 Kingsland Court, LU1 3DR. If postage is an issue drop me a line and I can maybe paypal you a couple of quid.

Ta :)
androktone: (Default)
I just made the nicest chicken soup. I don't think i will ever buy chicken soup again!
androktone: (Default)
Radiation and Reason By Wade Allison - if you have time to read this book, there is a limited preview on google which gives you the gist of what he's talking about.. I'd be interested if somebody else would read it and discuss what they think!

This is a very reputable academic who has re-analysed the threats and dangers of nuclear power (ie as a source of electricity) in the light of what we know now, and contends that it is substantially safer than we realise..

I'm having trouble picking holes in his reasoning although I would quite like to as my knee jerk reaction is to be terrified of nuclear power, the same way as everyone growing up in the 60s and 70s was. I used to work designing the logic for safety systems (one of which was used in sellafield - after the meltdown I hasten to add) and the level of care in design, maintenance and calibration was intense.

Anyway, it is interesting - and topical, in that Britain will most likely be getting a lot more nuclear capability over the next few years. Thoughts?
androktone: (Default)

..and another one.. think i'm going to give these instead of christmas cards.. i'm really enjoying drawing at the moment.

androktone: (Default)

From a sketch I did at work this morning

androktone: (Default)

Don't say I never get you anything..

androktone: (Default)
Harry has decided to call his rabbit "Blaster"...
androktone: (Default)

Fuckin 'ell, I'm shag related to a famous author ;)

Really envious and proud. Well done miss piss you thoroughly deserve it x I hope you sell millions of copies and become a billionairess. a copy on amazon..
androktone: (Default)
.....The Leonid shower occurs each year when the Earth passes through streams of debris ejected by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, which often leaves behind dusty trails as it passes through the inner solar system every 33 years.

Earth will cut across the first such stream around 0900 GMT on 17 November, an event that is expected to produce dozens of meteors an hour. But the spectacle will reach its peak between 2100 and 2200 GMT, as Earth passes through two debris trails left by Tempel-Tuttle in 1466 and 1533.
androktone: (Default)
It's 20 years since the berlin wall came down.. I was 12 at the time, I don't think I really understood the immensity of it..
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