Tag Archives: london

Wrap up Trident

The UK Trident Program maintains a fleet four Vanguard-class submarines armed with Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, able to deliver thermonuclear warheads from multiple independent re-entry vehicles. It is the most powerful capability of the British military forces (I copied that from the above linked Wikipedia article). We are told that this capability somehow keeps us safe because nobody will dare attack us (or our friends) for fear of vaporisation. There are some fairly obvious objections to this theory which I could go into but I will save myself the effort and just remind people of a 2009 letter to the Times in which the former head of armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, backed by two senior generals, said that “Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face”. Completely useless and “virtually irrelevant except in the context of domestic politics”.

Rally for things other than Trident.

Rally for things other than Trident.

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Combined Update

Not long after returning from my Stonehenge trip I was away again for a wedding in Devon. I say a wedding but it was not one that would be recognised by UK law – indeed the ceremony included the words “fuck the state and it’s bits of paper”. The event took place at Landmatters permaculture project near Totnes, which I had heard about but never visited. There were around 200 guests camping for the weekend and I knew a lot of them (including the happy couple) from the 2005 G8 Bike Ride and Bicycology. For music and PA they were keen to use the bicycle towed sound system called Pedals that I helped build nine years ago for the G8 ride, so I agreed to fetch it in my van from its present home in a London and take it to Devon.  I set off a day early to visit a friend Mike in Exeter and slept on his boat before continuing on to Totnes, from where I followed directions down increasingly narrow lanes to Landmatters.

At Land Matters

At Land Matters

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Back in Grosvenor Square

“I think on the whole that Grosvenor Square would be a more healthy place to reside in. There are lots of vulgar people live in Grosvenor Square, but at any rate there are no horrid kangaroos crawling about.” So said The Duchess of Berwick in Oscar Wilde’s play Lady Windemere’s Fan.

Papua Merdeka

Papua Merdeka


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Liquid History

Official Source of the Thames

Official Source of the Thames

My friend Martin is drama teacher who moved from Oxford to London a few years ago and recently gave up full time teaching to work on various projects of his own. One such project was to make a film related to his move and originally it was going to be based around a journey from Oxford to London on a boat called “Old Boy” that belongs to his friend Chris in Oxford. However, it would have taken a couple of weeks to get to London and back and Chris couldn’t spare the time so there was a change of plan. Martin’s new idea was to cycle from the source of the Thames to the Thames barrier, filming along the way. Knowing that I am a keen cyclist he asked me if I wanted to join him and as things progressed I became more involved with the project.
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Cycle Superhighways

Although I live and work in Hertfordshire I often visit London and almost invariably take my bike with me on the train. London is vast but I am getting to know my way round quite well. Sometimes I come across the blue painted sections of road which collectively make up the somewhat misleadingly named Barclays Cycle Superhighways. These are cycle routes running from outer London into Central London and according to TfL they “give you safer, faster and more direct journeys into the city and could be your best and quickest way to get to work”. I tend to ride fast and am confident mixing with motorised traffic on any road in London so these bits of blue paint don’t make a great deal of difference to me, but they do seem to give less experienced cyclists the confidence to use roads they otherwise would have avoided. However, the routes leave much to be desired and there have been a number of high profile fatalities.
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Papua Merdeka

The Lani SIngers

The Lani SIngers

Papua is the historical name for New Guinea – the world’s second largest island after Greenland. The eastern half of the island is a country called Papua New Guinea (PNG) while the western half is occupied by Indonesia. Merdeka is a word in the Indonesian and Malay language meaning independence or freedom. Papua Merdeka is a rallying call of the people of West Papua in their struggle to end the Indonesian occupation and win their right to self determination. For more historical detail you could start with the Wikipedia article about the Papua conflict.
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Bikes and Badgers

I hadn’t been on Critical Mass in London since last year’s Olympic Critical Mass and with a good weather forecast for the last day of May I was quite keen to attend. I also wanted to go to a couple of events on Saturday so when a friend in Highgate asked me to have a look at her garden and offered a bed for the night I decided to make a weekend of it. On Friday afternoon I gave my fixie a good clean and packed a few things in a rucksack then caught the train to Kings Cross. I was early so I stopped off in Brunswick Square to chill out before heading down to the South Bank where a good crowd had gathered. I never normally wear a helmet but I have a GoPro camera that I wanted to try out so I had bought a basic lid and stuck one of the supplied mounts to it. When the Mass seemed nearly ready to leave I hit record and strapped it to my head, hoping it was pointing in more or less the right direction. We started out by going round the IMAX roundabout and across Waterloo Bridge before diving down into the Strand Underpass and emerging on Kingsway. After that we just basically kept going straight up Southampton Row and Eversholt Street into Camden and on to Chalk Farm. The first turn was a right onto Prince of Wales Road, at which point I decided to drop out because I was relatively close to where I would be sleeping. I pulled over and waited for a friend who only appeared after several hundred other bikes had passed. I got some reasonably good footage with the GoPro but there are lots of boring bits so if I am going to upload any of it I will have to do some serious editing first. We rode back to Camden Lock together to get something to eat at inSpiral then I said goodbye and cycled up past Kentish Town to Highgate. I got there about ten thirty and found my friend somewhat the worse for wear after an ill-advised Thursday night bender, so we just had a cup of tea before crashing out.
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All Aboard the Stubnitz

In October last year I read about the Greenheart Project to develop a modern zero-emissions small cargo ship powered by wind and sun alone and able to land cargo on a remote beach using a mast which doubles as a crane. If you have been following my blog you will know that this sort of thing is right up my street so when I learned that they were crowdfunding on indiegogo I created an account and made a contribution of $100 in exchange for a ‘share’ in the maiden voyage. At the end of April it was announced to supporters that the building contract for SV Greenheart had been signed and a series of events was arranged to celebrate the occasion, the first of which was aboard the MS Stubnitz in London Docklands on May 16th. I wanted to learn more about the project anyway but the choice of venue clinched it because I had been aboard the Stubnitz once before and was curious to see her again. The first visit was back in 2005 after I had been on the G8 Bike Ride and decided to visit Amsterdam with four Americans who had also been on the ride. On our last night there was a big party on the Stubnitz with live music from the Seattle-based Infernal Noise Brigade

Infernal Noise Brigade on MS Stubnitz

Infernal Noise Brigade on MS Stubnitz


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Reclaim Love

Me at Reclaim Love 2009

Me at Reclaim Love 2009

I have mentioned Reclaim Love in passing a couple of times on this blog. The event occurs on the closest Saturday to Valentines Day and has happened for ten consecutive years in London. I have been present on seven occasions, normally with a sound system. I didn’t make it in 2012 and this year Venus got in touch to say that I was missed, and to ask me to come back for the 10th anniversary. Well how could I refuse? I was only going to talk about this year’s event but I started thinking back to earlier ones and decided to do a post about the history of Reclaim Love, or rather the history of the London event from my perspective.
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London Anarchist Bookfair 2012

The 2012 London Anarchist Bookfair took place on October 27th at Queen Mary, University of London but I have been too busy to blog about it – until now. I went to London on the Friday evening where I met up with some fellow members of Bicycology who were also in town for the Bookfair. We ate at Indian Veg on Chapel Market and then cycled to Torriano Meeting House in Kentish Town where we had been offered crash space. In the morning we cycled to Kings Cross to pick up another Bicycologist and then rode together along the Regent’s Canal towpath to Mile End, arriving at Queen Mary before noon.
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