Tuesday, 20 May 2008

May flower

Spent Sunday walking part of the upper Thames near Kelmscott, home of the great William Morris. if I had my way I would be somewhere like that every day this month. England in May is a wonder. Well, parts of it: Swindon I can take or leave at any time of the year. But somewhere like the upper Thames, with the spring flowers in boom, the cygnets on the water, the air full of insects and the smell of water and blossom - it can't be bettered. Living in Oxford, one of the signatures of the month is the flowering hawthorn - the ancient, mythical May tree - which grows all over the landscape round here. Just seeing this tree in flower seems to lift the heart.

Tomorrow, after my evening event, I'm off to make the most of it. I'm away for two weeks, so there'll be no blogging until early June. See you then.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Sent to Coventry (and London)

I've added a new event to my talks schedule for next week, for all of you lucky people who live in the midlands. I'll be speaking in Kenilworth, near Coventry, on Wednesday evening: details here.

The night before, on Tuesday, I'll be in Newham, speaking about the book with some of the campaigners to save Queen's Market, who feature in it. Fortunately, they seem quite pleased about it (you never know how people are going to react to you writing about them, even if you're trying to be nice). Those of you who've read the book might remember market trader Danny Woodards and green campaigner Saif Osmani. Here they are expressing approval of the result:


This should be a lively event: come along if you're in the area. There's more about it here.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

What's Dave up to?

Some news just in: David Cameron, in a speech about localisation yesterday, quoted extensively from Real England.

This is intriguing; and, of course, flattering. Does he mean it? Leaving aside both my ego and my doubts - the Tories have never been my cup of tea - the speech is full of intriguing suggestions: not least the idea of shoring up local shops against the supermarket onslaught. Mood music or potential policy it is, either way, a sign of how the political landscape is shifting. Watch this space.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Bedding in

It's a hot day and I have been planting beans on my allotment. May is my favourite month, just edging out October. It seems a crime to be inside.

Still, here I am. And I've enjoyed some of the book-related stuff that's been happening in my absence. In the next few days I'll post up more local campaign news that I've been sent from around the country from readers and activists. There's so much going on, it's actually quite exciting. If we could get together we'd be unstoppable.

Among my favourite things online at the moment, and possibly worth reading once the sun goes down are a review of the book on openDemocracy - the latest in a gratifyingly long line - a bizarre reference in a theatre review in the Guardian (maybe I should be writing plays instead) and - best of all - what is apparently supposed to be some sort of attack on me.

This latter is published on the Guardian's site too, and is written by an academic who - judging by her surname - needs to be a bit more careful with the class analysis. I confess that I can't actually work out what her point is, but perhaps this is because I don't know what 'normative' means. What I do like is how she has bracketed me with Billy Bragg as one of two people who clearly need to be taken on. Little does she know how flattered I am!

Finally, my next speaking event is coming up this Friday, in Bristol. Come along, if you're in the area. A few people have emailed me asking why I'm not doing many events in the north of England. To which I reply: I'd love to, but no-one's invited me to do one yet! If you'd like to, let me know.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Culture in decline

I'm back, trawling through emails and post. Much to post here, which I will do soon. But just for now, I notice someone has written a nice review of the book on Amazon, to which they tag on some lyrics which turn out, on investigation, to be by Joni Mitchell:
In every culture in decline
Watchful ones among the slaves
Know all that is genuine
Will be scorned and conned and cast away
We are, I suppose, the 'watchful ones among the slaves.' Somebody's got to do it. It's not a bad job.