Saturday, 29 May 2010

Free Steven and Tiwonge Protest


On a wet Saturday afternoon outside the Malawi High Commission in Hampstead, north London, about 250 people gathered in support of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a Malawian couple sentenced to 14 years for being in love.

The chants included: '2 4 6 8 spread the love not the have. 3 5 7 9 they should not be doing time.' 'True love is not a crime, why should they be doing time?' and "we are standing in the rain cause homophobia is a pain."

As we got home we learned that they had been pardoned by the Malawian president. Not that there should be anything to pardon.

More pictures are available on my flickr account here. Several of these pictures were used in this youtube video



A couple of weeks ago, as I was walking on the SouthBank with a friend, we walked into the Gallery@oxo to take in a bit of art. The exhibition, organised by Affordable Art, was of London Printmakers.

There were many lovely and colourful works there but the prints by Martin Ridgwell were the ones that caught my eye. While some of the images go perhaps a little too far in the artist's internal life for my taste, I enjoyed the superb craftmanship and the obvious queer sensibility. The pieces are beautiful but also playful and witty.

And I went home with the one above: Chicken...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Big Move - Strata SE1

On 14 January, following a slightly convoluted series of events, a friend of mine referred me to attend a focus group session for a housing association wanting the gather the views of the gays on marketing themselves to the community.

At the event I heard about an organisation called Housing Options which has been tasked by the government to administer affordable housing in London. I also learnt that I would probably eligible for the shared-ownership scheme in which one buys a share of a flat and pays rent on the rest until one can afford to buy more of it or the totality.

And so on 6 February, I registered.

Today, less than four months later, I had a meeting with a broker, organising an application for a mortgage to buy (45% of) my very own one-bedroom flat (featuring a triangular bedroom!).

And it's not any old flat either. It's a flat on the 9th floor (see picture) of Strata SE1; the tallest residential building in London (42 storeys and 147 metres high) and the first in the world to incorporate wind turbines in its structure.

Having only visited the show flats and information being rather thin on the ground, making a decision (something that had to be done in 3 days from the moment I was allocated a flat on 17 May) was not easy but eventually I have decided to simply go for it and try and enjoy the new opportunity that is offered to me. Living in my own space and on my own for the very first time (apart from a year-long stint in a studio at uni).

5 July will mark the tenth anniversary of my arrival to London and it seems that roughly at the same time, all going well, I will become the owner and moving into a part of the London skyline.

What better way to celebrate?

Friday, 14 May 2010

Stop all the clocks - W H Auden

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

-W.H. Auden (1907-1973)