Tuesday 30 November 2010

Monday 29 November 2010

November snow

With one day of November left, snow falls in Lewes - the earliest I can remember it in the 20 years I've been living here. We're probably the last part of the country to get it. A bit of a change from the 30ºC I left in Israel a week ago :-).

Brighton students say no to Posh Boy cuts

Students at the University of Brighton have been occupying a lecture room since last Thursday, in protest at the Coalition Government's plans to raise tuition fees and slash funding for teaching. Similar occupations are taking place at a number of other universities around the country, and more are likely after tomorrow's Day of Action.

I was at the Falmer campus this morning, for the lecture I do on Contemporary Spanish Cinema, and as I came away I was approached by a couple of students with petitions and leaflets.

- Excuse me, are you a student?
- Erm, well, no, actually I'm a retired lecturer . . .
- Great. We'd like to ask for your support for the action we're taking over the cuts.

None of the students taking part in the occupation have been involved in anything like it before. No-one has, since 1968. So they're learning as they go along, and they're learning fast. Marches, demonstrations, leaflets, petitions, banners; food, cleaning, and doubtless sleeping arrangements; discussions, debates, lectures; they're also reaching out to other sectors hit by the cuts. They've only been there a week but they're going full-swing.

So the Posh Boys look as though they've managed to politicise a whole new generation, in just five weeks since the cuts were announced. Big Society indeed.

The Brighton students are using social media to good effect - they have a blog: Brighton Students Against Cuts , a Facebook group: Brighton University Stop The Cuts, and a Twitter stream: UoB Occupation; the picture above comes from their image site: Pavilion Parade Occupation, and they have a video channel too: Brightonstopthecuts - see Brighton drivers honk their support:

Saturday 27 November 2010

Brick Lane and beigels

Brick Lane
Sun 14 Nov

My brother Brian and I had a look round the Brick Lane area a week or so ago, with our second cousin Jeff, who was on a visit from the US. It's where our grandparents settled, and where our Dad was brought up, along with all his brothers and sisters, getting on for 100 years ago. Grimsby Street is still there, though the terrace they lived in has gone, unsurprisingly, and the looming red-brick railway arches have been replaced by a characterless, but probably safer, viaduct. There's barely a hint that for the best part of a hundred years this was a teeming, thriving Jewish area, the hub of East European Jewish immigration to London. We did manage to munch a beigel (pronounced 'beigel' where we come from) in the street, though, for old times' sake.

We'd never met Jeff - or any of his family - before, and until a a few years ago were only vaguely aware of their existence. This was the start for me of an intensive week of family encounters - the following day I set off for Israel, where I saw more relatives I'd never met before. I'll post a bit about the trip here, and the pictures are finding their way gradually up onto Flickr.