Monthly Archives: September 2008

London Bicycle Film Festival

London October 1-5

20:30 | BFF Opening Night Press Preview
11:00 15:00 | LBFF/Rollapaluza City Heats – Register
20:00 | Program 1 – Fun Bike Shorts
BIKES ROCK at Jaguar Shoes
11:00 15:00 | LBFF/Rollapaluza City Heats – Register
19:00 | Program 2 – Road to Roubaix ***SOLD OUT***
21:00 | Program 3 – Les Ninja du Japon
20:00 | Rollapaluza Roller Race
15:00 | Program 4 – The Six-Day Bicycle Races
17:00 | Program 5 – The Way Bobby Sees It
19:00 | Program 6 – Urban Bike Shorts
21:00 | Program 7 – Repeat of Program 6
Afterparty at The Slaughtered Lamb
Bike Polo Competition
18:30 | Additional Screening of Road to Roubaix at the Horse Hospital ***NEW***
20:00 | Closing Party at Electricity Showrooms

Citizen Journalism awards for Bicycle Activists?

When I look on YouTube and other bicycle blogs, with their photos and videos, often putting their lives at risk, not to mention the abuse they get on the streets whilst cycling, in order to show the world, what’s ‘happening on the street’, I think some of them really deserve to be recognised in some form.

There are Citizen Journalism awards, but have any bicycle activists ever won them? Some of them work tirelessly, in their freetime, to highlight problems of dangerous driving. No, No, No! I am not talking about myself.. as hell, there are loads of other cyclists who really deserve some recognition for what they are doing. I mean, they could be having a blog on fluffy cycle touring instead, but no, they choose bicycle advocacy as they want things changed.

New Sculpture in London: The Day the Slave Trade Ended

J & I came across this sculpture when we were going to Freewheel the other week. In fact, I was just taking a short cut to Sainsburys. I don’t think I would have seen it otherwise.

I was absolutely amazed when I discovered what it was all about – all the the more intriguing when I discovered why it was here, and not anywhere else, where it could be seen better.

For me, I think it was very moving. In fact, it feels to me ‘what a sculpture should be about’. It tells us a very important part of our history, even how it was ‘accepted’ in the past as the ‘norm’ and how ‘ the norm’ was challenged – and how the minority won. Sometimes it is important to ‘challenge the mainstream’ and here is a great success story, even though it took years to abolish the Slade Trade.

It also gives the souless, ‘fat cat’ country of the City a ‘Heart’ in London. Sometimes, ethnics is more important than tons of money. We all leave footprints behind, and we should be conscious of this.

For me, it adds extra meaning. For one thing, I used to work in ‘commodities’ and if the Slave Trade would have continued, maybe we would have still dealt with ‘slave’ and not just the cocoa we were bringing into this country. (Actually, I would have refused to work there!) Secondly, one of my relatives (Irish) was a plantation owner in the East Coast of America and his wife was an abolitionist and anti slave trade journalist, who was born in the UK. (It wasn’t just Wilberforce who was involved in the Anti Slave Trade Movement.)

To think that years and years after her death, London has finally provide us with a sculpture in memory of the End of the Slave Trade, which makes us think to the past and to the future and to remember what were like once.

I found the sculpture incredibly moving, although it would have been nicer (more publicity perhaps) to have it where everybody could easily see it, but still, there was a very good reason why it was there, and perhaps that adds an extra poignancy to it. I thought the sculpture was very well thought out.

J thought the poles could be ‘slaves’ or ‘sugar cane’. Indeed, the sculpture could be ‘read’ in many ways.

I think this also makes a good Critical Mass place to visit, particularly as Black History Month is in October and everyone needs to see this. .

To add my own relative’s comments (she has a plaque in the US but not in the UK). Written by Fanny Kemble, in 1863 in Philadelphia. She used to write to her friend Elizabeth because her husband didn’t let her talk about abolishing the trade. This comes from her journal ‘Journal of a Georgian Plantation’:-

“You know very well dear E——­, that in speaking of the free blacks of the North I here state nothing but what is true and of daily experience. Only last week I heard, in this very town of Philadelphia, of a family of strict probity and honour, highly principled, intelligent, well-educated, and accomplished, and (to speak the world’s language) respectable in every way—­i.e.
rich. Upon an English lady’s stating it to be her intention to visit these persons when she came to Philadelphia, she was told that if she did nobody else would visit her; and she probably would excite a malevolent feeling, which might find vent in some violent demonstration against this family.”

This gives you an idea of how much pressure there was to not get involved with the Movement. You would be ostracised.

Now, about this new London statue:-

Published: 05/09/2008 (by an online paper)
UNVEILED: Archbishop Desmond Tutu reveals the sculpture, Gilt of Cain, to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery

ARCHBISHOP Desmond Tutu unveiled a memorial yesterday (4 Sep) to mark the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.

The sculpture, Gilt of Cain, was designed by Kirriemuir artist Michael Visocchi and made by Aberdeenshire-based Bon Accord Granite.

It stands in Fen Court in the City of London, close to St Mary Woolnoth Church, where the Rev John Newton delivered his anti-slavery sermon that inspired William Wilberforce in the 18th century.

The sculpture is a group of columns around a podium, which suggests both a pulpit and an auctioneer’s platform.

A poem called the Guilt of Cain written by Lemn Sissay appears across it, weaving the language of the Stock Exchange with Old Testament biblical references.

The archbishop was joined by a crowd of at least 100 well-wishers as he unveiled the statue.

He said: “It is an amazing monument and it combines so many messages: the pulpit, the church, and the site where trading took place.”

Mr Visocchi, 31, who now lives in Edinburgh, said he was “deeply touched” that the archbishop had seen his work and said he felt the event was “a real part of history”.

The sculpture was built in partnership with Black British Heritage.

“It’s a way to help all people understand the nature of the slave trade. It’s a symbol of reconciliation and reflection that will create calm and remind everyone that the slave trade still exists today and we must try to destroy it.”

City of London planning and transportation committee chairman Christine Cohen said: “Fen Court has a direct connection to the history of the slave trade.

“It was here in the 18th century that John Newton, himself an escaped slave, encouraged and advised William Wilberforce, the great campaigner for the abolition of slavery.

“The City is also where shipping and trading of commodities took place and, in past times, both of these were connected with slave transport.

“It is therefore fitting that this monument should be situated here.”

Cycling round Leytonstone

Distinctly odd Cycle/Pedestrian path road marking spotted today!

Route for Fat Pedestrians?

I stopped in my tracks when I saw This One:-

Great aren’t they?

Sh_tty Cycle & Train Ride!

Well, it was perfect until I reached London Bridge at 5pm ie in good time and I knew about engineering works ie trains up the swanny.

Firstly I missed two connections, because at the last minute, South Eastern announced that the train would be on another platform and we had to cross the footbridge. This means, if I took the the bike up the footbridge, I would not be able to make the train! Another pedestrian bias.

At the third attempt, I asked the guard whether it’s worth staying at the ‘new’ platform and he said yes. Fortunately, his hunch was right.

But the train was packed! I couldn’t even get on the bike compartment but I finally found another compartment to go on with the bike. People crammed in. Worse was to follow because this mother, at the very last moment, decided to shove her pram in. She didn’t want to wait for the next train and she was quite happy to block everyone else in the crowded compartment, so people could not get out.

The next station was fine but, at St Johns (South London) in the middle of nowhere, I had to let off a woman who wanted to stop there, so I had to get my bike out. Unfortunately, the train would not wait to allow me to get on (this stupid 30sec policy!) so I was stuck there for about 3/4 hour. No one else was at the station. Finally I got on at Orpington and then hung around for another half hour (luckily it wasn’t cold) and then finally to another station. I had a further nightmare to get home as there were no lights on the main road. I took a short cut (and got lost because it was dark!) and then thought it best to end up on the main road again. God, I couldn’t believe there were no lights. I ended up cycling in patches of light and then getting off and walking on the dark footpath, which I could hardly see.

I finally got home at 2230. 2230!! That’s my bed time!! Next time the trains are up the creek, I won’t be taking my bike and will use the engineering works bus instead. A Brompton would be handy in those circumstances, ahh, maybe one day, when I win the lottery!

I need a cuppa tea! What an awful journey.

This Weekend

Just a quick blog as I have ‘done stuff I need to do’ (phew!), I just want to mention that this weekend in London will be exciting as there is Open Rehearsal (where people can join in various arts events’ or watch for free or take part in for a small fee.

There is also this for cyclists (and anyone else for that matter) who like to draw:

Drawing on Life: The Big Draw Launch 2008 Dates: 26 September 2008 to 28 September 2008
Times: 26th 7pm – 10pm, 27th & 28th 11am – 5pm.
Venue: Wellcome Collection

The Campaign for Drawing and Bow Arts Trust present Drawing on Life at London’s Wellcome Collection on 26 to 28 September and at UCL on 27 September.

Big Draw in London
Do you love to sketch? Mad about making pretty pictures? Dotty about doodling?

Then join others with a similar passion at the launch of this year’s Big Draw, a celebration of drawing.

Drawing on Life: The Big Draw Launch 2008
Drawing on Life: The Big Draw is a free interactive festival celebrating drawing and life.

Leading artists and scientists are taking part in a jam-packed programme of events and activities exploring what it means to be human. And you’re invited too!

Join the programme to delve deep into our understanding of the human mind and body in a series of free creative events, workshops and talks suitable for all ages.

Highlights of The Big Draw Launch
Event highlights include:

Renowned illustrator Steven Appleby drawing in response to the music of Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee
Drawing and singing workshops with Rhizome for Choir culminating in a major performance
London’s Cultural Olympiad: The Big Draw
The Big Draw is part of the launch of the Cultural Olympiad and coincides with a last chance to see Skeletons: London’s Buried Bones.

About Big Draw 2008
From 1 to 31 October, 1000s of venues across the UK will take part in the 9th Big Draw. This annual event aims to show that drawing is the perfect medium for observation, self-expression and fun.

Look out for wide-ranging events and themes for all ages spanning art and science throughout October this year.


I am thinking of ‘having some time out from blogging’. It can be quite timeconsuming and I like to think ‘I don’t want to be wasting my time.’ Cycling Advocacy is a very hard business. People just will always speed and motorists will carry on killing people and there is not a lot I can do, I suppose that is the frustrating bit.

I am missing out on My Other Stuff that ‘I need to get on with, like some of my creative stuff and including playing the piano. I played the piano and guitar but blogging seems to have ‘got in the way of that’! Writing a blog is very addictive but I am one of these people who like ‘to see an end result’. I am also doing a course and I’d like to do a few more, to keep the old brain cells going. I will keep these blogs going occasionally but I do need to focus on learning and improving my skills.

By the way, I was talking to someone about Freewheel and they said they loved it. Turns out they just went to Pall Mall and cycled for 3 miles car free and got loads of freebies including a bag. Looks like the trick is to go early, be at Pall Mall for 11pm and avoid the hubs.

I am bit tired from work… so I have to go…..then I have to start some arty farty stuff..

Review of London Freewheel

Well, we cycled to Victoria Park at about 1500 by which time there was hardly anyone there. (I had to get there from the provincials). Still, it wouldn’t finish until about 1700 so wasn’t too worried.

Last year, I started I think at Battersea or Clapham Junction (or one of those places!), so thought it would make a nice change, particularly as ‘I tend to be an East End Cyclist now’ and quite like that area as it is less touristy.

We collected our bibs and J had a whinge about wearing it because he ‘doesn’t like Sky’ because of something to do with Football and how it’s their fault why footie is so expensive for football fans. I sort of switched off at that point but got the gist. Football isn’t my thing even though J promises to take me to Leyton Orient one day. (I will be only there for the grub and people watching aspect. I find footballers really boring!

After a picnic in Victoria Park, we cycled towards Stepney, then went on the cycle path along Cable Street (where the Cable Street Riots were (Fascists v Socialists), Tower of London and towards the Embankment and Pall Mall.

We were a bit disappointed that most of the route was Not Car Free and young kids, at the age of 4, were cycling there amongst the buses. In fact, I didn’t enjoy a lot of the ride because of were were cycling with the cars. It sort of defeats the object. I may as well have cycled without Freewheel. Fortunately the Tower of London area was fine though.

There was fresh water on the ride but we didn’t see any banana stalls on the way. Luckily we had some food first and brought our own.

Then we arrived at Pall Mall and there were hardly any cycle stalls (at about 4ish). In fact, J couldn’t get a bicycle bell at all and I couldn’t see any cycle clothing stalls. Even Evans wasn’t there. Why? What was going on? Were the fees too expensive?

Fortunately, the London Cycling Campaign was there so I tackled them on The Aldgate Gyratory and they will investigate the fact that ‘there are no improvements!’.

Last year Hovis (Come back All is Forgiven) gave us loads of free healthy Hovis Sandwiches, decent cycle stalls and generally made the event less ‘fit for children’.

Some of the stalls were naff and unsuitable for cyclists who want to keep fit and healthy. A number of stalls sold crap greasy burgers. There were no Organic/Health stalls, Pasta, Smoothie Stalls or Health Stalls – such as gyms etc (as far as I could see). Now, if you are cyclist who eats tons of junk, then you have no problem.

I am not sure whether I will participate next year (although may be I will if I dress up perhaps!). In comparison to last year, it was quite ‘tacky’ and the food offered was ‘unhealthy’. The trick is to bring your own food which we did, and make sure your bicycle is equipped with a bell, before you go!

The Victoria Park hub

Cable Street Mural (I was quite surprised the cyclists just went past this wonderful feature)

and a close up!

Sky expect some of us to be Olympic Champions, yeah right, if we eat this crap! Give us pasta, jacket potatoes, salads etc… and fruit!

I think we would get a better Freewheel if anyone who signed up would chip in a few pounds.

Review of Sky Freewheel: 6/10)
(Last years – Hovis 9/10 (better organised)

Trafalgar Square.. Happy Chaos at Freewheel

A Message to Boris from the LCC at Freewheel