Thursday, 30 August 2007

Honouring Mandela

Nelson Mandela
The following comment was left on the picture above on my flickr account:
Hi, Zefrog.
I salute your promptness in getting these photos up and running. This is a great shot, and so I have borrowed it for a piece on www.londonist.com
Thanks.
You can read the article in question here.


Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Madiba

Richard Attenborough, Wendy Wood (widow of the artist, Donald), Ken Livingston, Gordon Brown, Nelson Mandela, Dame Graça Machel (Mandela' s third wife) and the statue
This morning I put my legs on and got myself out of the house for a short walk up the road to Parliament Square where a new statue of Nelson Mandela was being unveiled.

The ceremony was scheduled for 11am but the blog on which I found this information suggested to get there at about 10. This is what I did and was grateful for it as people were already waiting when I got there.

While a short film on Mandela's life was shown on the giant screens, we watched as guests arrived and were directed to their seats by GLA staff (I recognised the Mayor's LGBT advisor, on the breach). Most faces were unknown to me though I spotted (Dr) Brian May (former Queen), Darren Johnson (leader of the Green Party at teh GLA), David Cameron, John Prescott and Peter Hain. There was even a representative of the BME LGBT community which was a nice touch.

Jesse Jackson was there too but he arrived late. The ceremony had already started. He was quick however once it was finished to step up to the statue itself in what I could not help but feel was an attempt to crab people's attention. Soon, a group of people including journalists had joined him...

When Mandela arrived the seated guests stood and everyone cheered. At 89, he had to be helped and walked very slowly but he still seemed very perky.

The poet Benjamin Zephaniah welcomed us and after arendition of Something Inside So Strong (a favourite song of my choir) by the London Gospel Community Choir (who sang with us at Singing River), Richard Attenborough (chairman of the Nelson Mandela Statue Trust) took the stand and introduced the various speakers as their time came to speak.

First is was Wendy Wood, the widow of Donald Wood originated the idea of a statue and designed it. Then it was the turn of Ken Livingston who had given his support to the project several years ago. Finally Gordon Brown took to the mic before unveiling the statue helped by Livingston and Wood.

Brown actually seemed a little star-struck, even muscling in on the wife a couple of times to take the great man's arm and help him along.

Mandela speaking
Mandela said a few words after this, saying how Oliver Tambo (his companion of struggle) would have been proud to see the statue of a black man in Parliament Square, a few metres away from that of Jan Christiaan Smut. He informed us that he intended to be back in London during the summer next year when a concert would take place in a park to celebrate his 90th birthday and raise fund for his anti-AIDS charity: 46664.

The events was closed by a performance by a group of young dancers (Notting Hill Carnival style) and another three songs by the London Gospel Community Choir.

Although the guests had by now left, the crowd seemed to linger on enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Quite unusual to be honest: strangers talking to each other. Rather unheard of in London. The Mandela Magic, I am guessing.

I walked back home.

This is of course not the only picture of Mandela that can be seen in London. There a giant head of the man on the side of the Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank.

The picture at the top shows Richard Attenborough, Wendy Wood (widow of the artist, Donald), Ken Livingston, Gordon Brown, Nelson Mandela, Dame Graça Machel (Mandela' s third wife) and the statue. The second picture shows Nelson Mandela speaking to us.

You can view my pictures of the event here.

See also:
* Nelson Mandela statue is unveiled - BBC News
* Mandela 'honoured' as statue unveiled - The Guardian

Saturday, 25 August 2007

High Ranking Islam

Just when I said I had nothing to blog about, I had a look at the traffic counter for this blog (to be found at the bottom of the sidebar) and realised that a picture I uploaded in February 2006 is ranking second (out of just under 2M) in the Google Images search for Islam. I am getting quite a few hits from there.

This was at the time of the controversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published by a Swedish paper. I had used the pic to illustrate one of my posts on the subject (the others can be found here, here and here).

So far, I haven't received any comment or reaction but I am fully expecting some nutter to take offense of my western liberal anti-religious views on the subject. This extra traffic will probably not even bring me any extra readers since, just like the other high ranking pic on this blog (number 8 out of about 4.5M), it probably won't be the favorite search term for people who would be interested by the content of this blog.


Blank

After several weeks without a computer, I am indeed finally back online and I know I should be blogging like there is no tomorrow. However, and please note that I am not moaning or being depressed (or even asking for help) about it, my life is currently a complete blank. I have no social interaction to speak of with any one and I spend most of my weeks at home. I went out only three times this week. Once to Tesco for my food shopping, a second time was a lovely outing of the Southwark LGBT Network at the National Portrait Gallery for a queer view of a few of their paintings. Finally, yesterday, I had a meeting with my business partners. The rest of the time is more or less a blur of nothingness.

If you are really missing reading what I can come up with (although you won't find opinion pieces), you can find me on the LGBT History Month blog of which I am the editor. The blog provides information and events details of events linked to LGBT History. I hope you find it interesting.


Monday, 20 August 2007

It's New, It's Shiny and it's Mine

After 8 weeks of customer service comedy, phone calls and toing and froing of all kinds, I received on Saturday a voucher to replace my laptop which had been deemed irreparable after having been lost and found (more on this later). So today, I went to PC World on the Old Kent Road and gave myself over to the dark side.

TADDAAAAH!

A Macbook!

In the first few weeks of my troubles, I had been lent a laptop running Vista and I have to say I was not impressed. What I like(d) about PC's is that you can fiddle. You can tweak things, go behind the screen and adapt. To an extent.

Mac on the other hand runs smoothly, is all about integration and in many ways is for people who are more interested in results than in learning how to use a computer.

Vista, in my few, unfortunately and unhappily sits on the fence and ends up to be more frustrating than anything else. This herralds the end of the fiddly PC as I liked it.

Mac is also the machine of choice for people working in the creative industry (as I do now), so that should make things easier at work.

Last week, Slightly was on holiday and he lent me his own Macbook, which gave me the opportunity of a test drive before buying. There are a few things, nagging little details (and those are always the most annoying ones) which I am going to have to learn with. There is also an issue with some PC-based software I am used to (and can't do without) with no equivalent on Mac... Bootcamp, here I come!

Technical specifications:
* 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
* 4MB cache
* 1GB RAM
* 80GB hard disk drive
* 13.3-inch screen
* Height: 1.08 inches (2.75 cm)
* Width: 12.78 inches (32.5 cm)
* Depth: 8.92 inches (22.7 cm)
* Weight: 5.1 pounds (2.31 kg)
* up to 6 hours of battery life
* More