Category Archives: Bristol

The Village of Chillage

Coexist vs COVID: cheap food to raise funds for free food

At times like these, I really miss Bristol… This Thursday (2nd October) the Coexist Supper Club takeaway will be a Kurdish feast courtesy of guest chef Arash:

Kurdish Dolma- rice stuffed Trinity Centre Garden vine leaves cooked in a rich, tomato sauce

Green falafel and charred asparagus, leeks and courgettes

Hummus

Kurdish shepherd’s salad

Samoon – Kurdish flatbread (g)

Not too shabby for barely a tenner!

Funds raised through the supper club go towards Coexist Community Kitchen‘s ongoing COVID-19 food provisions service, providing hundreds of ready-to-eat or easy-to-reheat meals to people in the city facing hard times thanks to The Fucking Pandemic And General Imminent Societal Collapse.

Definitely worse things you could do, and the idea of a cheap feed for a good cause from a kitchen in East Bristol rings the nostalgia bell for me – having spent many a Thursday night yarning at the Kebele Kafé. Thankfully I see that whilst Kebele changed its name to BASE, the community food angle lives on, with its own COVID food solidarity efforts and the much-loved Sunday lunch continuing.

It sounds bad when you write it all down together

I’m not sure why but the other day I started idly pondering some of the ropey scenes that I had witnessed and sketchy scenes in which I had found myself in my Bristol days. When you put them down in one long, non-chronological, decontextualised paragraph, it doesn’t half make it seem post-apocalyptic.

Hit over the head with a payphone the day I moved in by a complete stranger impatient to make a call as I rang my mum to give her my new address; saw a man stabbed in the arse stagger up the road outside my flat until he collapsed; threatened by a neighbour the same night she murdered someone; jostled by a man with a gun as I came in my own building’s front door; watched two separate low speed police pursuits of cars on my road; saw a friend being beaten by half a dozen cops as they threw him into the back of a van (and subsequently attacked him in the cells whilst his hands were cuffed behind his back); watched a disagreement between two street drinkers develop into one stabbing the other in the time it takes to cross the road; watched as a cop pepper-sprayed a man who had followed his instructions to ‘turn around and walk away’; attacked in a dark alley whilst walking home skint from the pub with a flatmate one evening by someone who claimed to have a knife and said that he had just been released from prison and needed money for crack; same flatmate was then robbed at knifepoint by the same crackhead a few nights later just twenty yards from our front door; pushed down a flight of stairs by riot police and threatened with a dog; had a window by my face smashed with a baton by a cop trying to break in; narrowly missed a near-lethal shooting which maimed two women as I left a club; arrived home just as the club next door emptied in panic due to a shooting inside; threatened by a man who attempted to rob me as I walked home down a not-deserted street one night; chased up a hill and forced to vault over an eight-foot wall to escape a pissed posse of glass bottle-throwing vigilantes; had to exit our block of flats through a smoke-filled stairwell during a national fire strike and whilst all our windows were obstructed by scaffolding thanks to some arsonist; threatened by security guards who had already tried to throw a friend off a wet, slate-covered pitched roof in the dark; had to drag a friend visiting from London away from some guy who had randomly punched him in the face one night; had to escort a visiting midwife out of my building when she freaked out at a huge pool of blood that had appeared in the communal stair way; came out with the rest of my street to investigate the noise when a verbal between exes quickly escalated into a duel between two cars on our residential road; had a pair of snaggle-toothed middle-aged drug addicts outside threatening to ‘come back with a shotgun and burn the building down’ in an argument with one of the neighbours; had to fend off an adrenalised horse cop with a shopping trolley when he tried to lead a cavalry charge into a crowd of people; watched as a street sex worker was calmly stomped into the ground by two men in an argument over money before they casually walked away when an unmarked police car pulled up; saw an aggrieved, drunken man smash the bedroom window of his ex’s ground floor flat and then climb in, causing the terrified former partner to run out the front door; had police raid, at various times, a flat above me and two flats below me (in a block of 8); chased a crackhead down the street in the dark after he pissed through my letterbox; involved in a car chase through central Bristol pursued by cop cars after being spotted in an abandoned building before an event the police wished not to proceed; innumerable fracases involving Shouty Crack Woman; got barricaded in a friendly boozer by a quick-witted barman throwing across the door bolts when a phalanx of angry riot police turned up with the intention of entering into baton-ended discussions over party-planning legislation; saw police attack a man on crutches whose leg had recently been broken by police in London; observed police retreating from three separate widespread disturbances in a single summer (whilst also picking off individual stragglers with extreme prejudice); saw police attack a random black bystander during a full-on riot; had an estate agent spit on me from a first floor window; narrowly avoided a kicking from a huge crowd of angry sports fans after an ill-advised fake blood-related disruption to their event; had a stranger pull a trench bayonet from their coat sleeve in my front room; looked on in horror as a slightly unstable acquaintance swung an axe into my next-door neighbour’s front door one night; twice got caught up in a hospital lockdown when stab victims turned up after knife-involved disagreements; had some random but scary-looking dude threaten to kill me and stab out my kids’ eyes when I explained that no, I can’t just give him a methadone script; had a member of the public punch some dude next to him on my first day on the front desk just because he was angry enough he wanted to hurt someone, but too lazy to vault the counter and twat me or my colleague (also green juice-related)…

Community policing, Bristol fashion

Bristol’s answer to the Keystone Kops, the ‘Avin’ It Somewhere Constantly, is in the news today after a couple of its finest managed to Taser a sixty-three year old man, Judah Adunbi, in the face outside his own home on the entirely-legit-honest-guv grounds that ‘he looked like someone on their wanted list’.

Needless to say he was arrested for assault on a police officer and detained for ten hours at Patchway nick after receiving medical attention at the BRI. Charges (“assaulting a constable in the execution of their duty and a public order offence”) were later mysteriously dropped, possibly around the time that a video of the incident filmed by a neighbour surfaced, and probably after some high-flyer in Potting Shed HQ realised that the man in question was in fact a member of one of the ASC’s own Independent Advisory Groups. These are made up of “volunteers drawn from our communities from various backgrounds [who] have an interest in policing and its effect on our communities and offer independent advice.”

Zee Feelth are having a good old crack at turning that frown upside down and presenting this as somehow a win for the force, with Bristol Area Commander Ch Supt Jon Reilly making much of ASC “voluntarily” referring the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission in a manner which suggests he thinks we’re incapable of reading the IPCC’s own clear guidance on the issue. (The Commission, meanwhile, is already asking for witnesses to come forward.)

With much chutzpah Reilly even claims that “I’ve met with Mr Adunbi and we had a constructive conversation”. Clearly this protégé of (now retired) Acting Chief Constable John Long will go far!

It all reminds me of an incident a few years back when I watched a copper pepper spray some alkie walking away from him on Stokes Croft. Different weapon, same attitude – no come-back for an unnecessary coshing…until the pictures/videos turn up.

(Oh, and the comments section under the Post‘s Facebook page post on this functions as an excellent fuckwit-detector.)

The Bristolian is back! (slight return)

The Bristolian returns (again)

So, it seems that Bristol’s “favourite muck-raking scandal sheet”, The Bristolian, has returned (again).

Now in its third iteration (lovingly retconned to v4.0 through a quick history lesson that drags in James Acland’s 19th century anti-establishment rag serendipitously of the same name), there’s also a website to back it up, plus Twitter account and Facebook page. How terribly modern!

One gripe: first issue seems to be rather council-focused (I know, it does say ‘CRAP COUNCIL SPECIAL’ in big letters on the cover) – hopefully they shall be casting their net a little wider with future issues.

Anyway, there’s stuff on outgoing council capo Graham Sims getting a sweetheart deal from new Mayor George Ferguson, a new crap legal supremo replaces old crap legal supremo, and some righteous anger at adventure playgrounds & youth centres being dumped as large swathes of our public play facilities and services are privatised…

There’s a growing list of places to pick up paper copies (I suspect it will take a while to get it out though, so might be best to contact the Bristolian people first before trekking out).

What’s your poisson? Best April Fool’s pranks of the day

A couple in particular have tickled me today.

First off there was Bristol Culture with its ‘Costa Coffee takes over Brunel’s Buttery‘ story – just all too believable! I worked myself into a proper rage before I realised…

Then there’s arthouse video specialists Criterion, who went with a pair of Arnie-themed chain-yankers – firstly with a picture of Akira Kurosawa visiting Arnold Schwarzenegger on the set of Kindergarten Cop, and then the exciting news that that very film would be getting the full on three disc special edition treatment (“New audio commentary featuring Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, author of It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Can Teach Us”).

Any other decent ones you’ve come across?

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You’re Shit #001: The (ex) landlord

Hey, we’re on a roll tonight – got this email yesterday from our last landlord, nearly a week after I asked why we’d not got our deposit back…

Hi KRS,

Thanks for the e-mail. I don’t know why but I haven’t received this until today.

There is no problem with the deposit. It will be with you shortly. It always takes a week or two to be transferred, and key exchange and end of tenancy inspection was [REDACTED].

As a gesture of goodwill there will be no charge for the oven cleaning, general cleaning, or waste disposal from the outside shed.

Thank you,

[REDACTED]

A beautiful touch, that passive-aggressive bit at the end.

Just to flesh it out a bit for you, the oven was cleaner than when we moved in; and unlike when we were due to move in there was no need to pay a professional cleaner to scrape the shit off the floors.

And the “waste” in the shed? That would be the microwave destroyed by the leak in the kitchen ceiling, initially reported to the landlord a month into the tenancy, but never properly repaired.

When I say “leak”, that’s actually shorthand for “seven or more leaks”. Above every available kitchen workspace, over the toaster, the fridge, the freezer and the aforementioned microwave (RIP). Oh, and the unswitched, circuit-breakerless four-way the landlord plonked on the worktop.

Did I mention how the landlord even tried to drag us in to an insurance fraud to pay for the roof repair?

Or the rotten floors (which we had pointed out before we’d even done a second viewing, d’oh!) that the landlord has promised to get fixed, but which – can you guess? – were never properly fixed?

Or the bodged macerator that vented out a delicious shit-burp after every flush?

Still not had the deposit back yet…

Bristol: A tale of one city, two worlds

The LLF spotted these two contrasting jobs on the Bristol City Council website…

Festivals, Community Arts and Film Manager

  • Reference: 23103
  • Department: Corporate Services
  • Working Hours: Full time
  • Employment Type: Permanent
  • Salary: £35,430 – £38,042
  • Closing Date: 08 February, 2012
  • Location: Council House

 

In community arts, our work ranges from promoting dance projects to opening up empty shops as temporary arts venues – and to achieving benefits in terms of health, community development and regeneration, as well as helping grow Bristol’s headline artists of tomorrow. Our festivals team is behind small and large events across the city – none larger than our annual Harbour Festival, which in 2011 celebrated its 40th year with crowds of over 250,000. Our events licensing team has made Bristol the official ‘street party capital of England’ with more external events here than any other city council area (over 400 last year alone). Our film office team are the people who make it easy for TV and film crews to film in the city, bringing in millions of pounds to the local economy.

Social Worker

  • Reference: 23100
  • Department: Children and Young Peoples Services
  • Working Hours: Full time
  • Employment Type: Permanent
  • Salary: £25,472 – £30,851
  • Closing Date: 08 February, 2012
  • Location: Redfield

 

This is an exciting opportunity for a qualified Social Worker to join a well-established and experienced team working in the fields of long-term, short-term, kinship and private fostering. You will be required to supervise and support foster carers, undertake fostering assessments and annual reviews and present your reports to the fostering panel.

It’s always good to see what priorities we’re subject to.

Just what is Junket Janke hiding? The mystery of Bristol council’s Eurocities 2010 gravy train

For some reason Bristol City Council has been dragging its feet over a Freedom of Information request relating to a trip to Zaragoza for the Eurocities conference back in early November by council leader Barbara ‘Junket’ Janke, her £72,000 per year ‘director of place-making’ Mike Bennett, and possibly other hangers-on.

With the suspicion that this little four day jaunt to sunny Spain cost a pretty penny or two and serves little to no purpose at a time when the city council is threatening massive cutbacks to services and jobs across Bristol, it seems curious that the council has not been keener to wheel out its no doubt entirely valid and deep-ranging justifications – I am sure we are all waiting with excitement for old favourites like “value for money”, “strategic partnerships” and even “post-industrial destination economy”.

But, despite being legally obliged to respond within a month, the council still has yet to even acknowledge the original FoI request, so requester Steve Woods has politely resubmitted it:

Dear Bristol City Council,

I have not yet received a reply, or even the courtesy of an acknowledgment, to my FoI request for information on the visit of Barbara Janke and the Director of Place to the Eurocities 2010 conference
in Zaragoza, Spain.

A full reply should have been received by 6th November and Bristol City Council is therefore in breach of the law by not having responded within the stipulated term.

I set out below verbatim the text of my original request for your information, just in case it has slipped into oblivion down the back of the municipal filing cabinet.

“Dear Bristol City Council,

I understand that the Leader of the Council, Barbara Janke, and the Director of Place recently attended the Eurocities 2010 conference in Zaragoza, Spain.

My queries under the FoI Act are as follows:

1. Did any other representatives of Bristol City Council attend this conference, apart from those mentioned above?

2. What was the overall cost (registration, travel, accommodation, etc.) to the City Council of its representatives attending the Eurocities 2010 conference.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods”

Can you please advise by return just what the current position is with this request, as well as when I can expect a reply.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Woods

Exuding the sense of opaque entitlement often found with a certain kind of ‘knowledge economy’ technocrat, somewhat cantankerous servant of the city Bennett – formerly the chief self-facilitating node at Bristol Media – has not even mentioned the Eurocities event on his blog since October (before it took place!), much less than offered any insights on what ‘the team’ learned there to us, the Great Unwashed of the city… Could this be because he and Babs got up to some unsavoury Spanish practices of their own at the taxpayer’s expense out there?

The youth are revolting! #dayx2 – DON’T CHAT TO FEDS!

Banner at Trafalgar Square from today’s London end of the #dayx2 anti-cuts protest, screencapped from excellent vid by The Gabber:

Plenty of great, inspiring, take-no-shit-from-cops action across the country.

Here in Bristol around 2,000 people played cat-and-mouse with police, streaking across town from College Green, through the University precinct, into Broadmead and Cabot Circus, taking over roads and streets… I hear there was something of a kettle towards the end, but for the most part it was a highly mobile and militant mob which one step ahead of attempts to contain it. Well done people!

UWE occupied – momentum builds for Wednesday’s nationwide student walkout protest against fees & cuts

No, this isn't UWE, it's the Wills Memorial Building at the University of Bristol. Nice image, though - from isnotnecessary.wordpress.com

 

A group of students has occupied part of the University of the West of England (UWE) campus at Frenchay in Bristol.

The occupation has taken place in protest at rising fees and cuts at the University. Spokespersons for the protest say that it is in solidarity with staff and students across the country as well as for future generations who will be squeezed by the cuts.

On Wednesday 24 November there will be protests led by students – at universities, colleges and schools – across the country.

In Bristol the action timetable for Wednesday looks like this:

11am – University of the West of England Walkout begins across all campuses
12am – University of Bristol Walkout begins
12:30pm – All students (school, college, university) from across the city to assemble opposite Senate House, Tyndall Avenue
1:15pm – March to Wills Memorial Building

Links & contacts:

See you on the streets!

“Andy Coulson is guilty” says Roy Greenslade

So I went to the ‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘ event at the Watershed I mentioned earlier. Bit of a curate’s egg, really – some interesting panelists, but very little chance to actually talk about blogging, the social web or much else. Frankly it was not worth the seven quid I paid to go.

Ex-Mirror editor-turned-Guardian media pundit Roy Greenslade had a stab at being a bit quote-worthy on former News Of The World boss-turned-Tory spin king Andy Coulson and his involvement (or otherwise) in the hacker scandal*:

Just go to Coulson now… The only reason anyone can get hot under the collar about Andy Coulson is because The Guardian have exposed him. Because they have exposed him, because The Independent have taken it up as a big cause as well.

Now that’s a perfect example of the way in which the other press, self-interestedly, because they either support the Tories, or they support Rupert Murdoch, covertly, allow this to go forward.

But there’s plenty of stuff on the net about Coulson, plenty of material available, and I think that… By the way, we haven’t dropped the Coulson thing, none of us have dropped the Coulson thing. I mean, I know the guy is guilty. Is that being tweeted?

I know, I know, I know an editor must have known. I do, I do, I did say on a public platform recently that it is either a case that he knew, and therefore is lying, or it is a case that he didn’t know, and is therefore the most incompetent editor Fleet Street has ever known. Is that being tweeted? Because that’s the truth of the situation.

So he’s either a liar or incompetent, and therefore he shouldn’t be director of communications of our Prime Minister’s office. And we will pursue this.

I think that the line-up went something like this…

Chair/moderator:

Panel:

2nd table:

Download Greenslade’s Coulson soundbite | Download audio of whole event (approximately 2hrs/107MB)

I’ve been mulling over tonight, and will back up a few thoughts tomorrow if I get the chance.

* The scandal being so many papers – tabloids and broadsheets alike – were/are at it.

ETA:

I’ve been out of the blogging saddle awhile, so that I’ve been tweaking this post so much I’ve given it jogger’s nipple, soz.

Bristol Festival of Ideas: What’s The Blogging Story (tonight, Watershed)

Afternoon there.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. Things have been rather hectic on the home front, happily so I hasten to add. The reasons why would be clear to anyone who’s endured the photos I periodically throw onto my twitfeed, so I won’t compound the saccharine assault here with further explanation.

Anyhow, I think i shall be getting back into the blogging in coming days. Plenty to rabbit on about – a new Evil Empire, rather a lot of new films (thanks to my eBay penny bid DVD strategy), a vast backlog of screengrabs, local shenanigans, the usual stuff really.

If you are of a blogging persuasion, you may be interested in the Festival of Ideas event at the Watershed tonight. Terrible name (‘What’s The Blogging Story?‘), greatly overpriced (seven squiddlies!), with the wrong names too high up the marquee (Greenslade, Belle de Jour).

But Sarah Ditum from Paperhouse and Anton Vowl from Enemies Of Reason will be speaking, so I think it could be moderately interesting. I may see you there.

Need free legal advice in Bristol? Check the Advice West website

A nifty website that provides info on all sorts of free advice providers across Bristol and surrounding has been launched recently:

Advice West

Bristol EDO Decommissioners: Anti-war crime activist trial begins today in Hove

The trial began today of the EDO Decommissioners, a group of people from Bristol who wrought an estimated £180,000-worth of damage on a factory involved in production of bomb release clips used by the Israeli Defense Force to deliver lethal munitions into densely populated areas during Operation Cast Lead, its offensive on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

The five-strong group from Bristol which carried out the “citizens’ decommissioning” on the night of the 17th January last year is joined in court by three Brighton people who did not take part in the damage. The Decommissioners argue that their actions are lawfully excusable on the grounds that they were preventing Israeli war crimes. One of them, James ‘Elijah’ Smith, has been on remand since the action – seventeen months in gaol without a conviction.

The trial is taking place at Hove Crown Court
in East Sussex, just the other side of Brighton to the Moulsecoomb-located EDO MBM factory which was the subject of the defendants’ actions, and is scheduled to last seven weeks.

Operation Cast Lead led to a United Nations investigation, culminating in the Goldstone Report, which was highly critical of the IDF’s conduct of the war:

We came to the conclusion, on the basis of the facts we found, that there was strong evidence to establish that numerous serious violations of international law, both humanitarian law and human rights law, were committed by Israel during the military operations in Gaza.

The mission concluded that actions amounting to war crimes and possibly, in some respects, crimes against humanity, were committed by the Israel Defense Force.

There’s no question that the firing of rockets and mortars [by armed groups from Gaza] was deliberate and calculated to cause loss of life and injury to civilians and damage to civilian structures. The mission found that these actions also amount to serious war crimes and also possibly crimes against humanity.

The Gaza war was marked, amongst other things, by IDF use of white phosphorus.