Tag Archives: society

On the kindness of people, and the violence of the state

If I had known how hard a 10 week trial on terror-related charges for a peaceful protest would be, I don’t know how I could have faced it. It was the support people offered from the most surprising places that got us through it.

I’m one of the Stansted 15 convicted, controversially, for a terror-related offence following a peaceful blockade of a Home Office deportation charter flight, for which we narrowly escaped prison sentences last Wednesday. We thought it might be an endurance test in the courtroom which would last as long as four weeks – but it turned out to be a gruelling 10-week ordeal that showed me just how scary it is to face the threat of state intervention into your life. … Read the rest

Inside the UK’s most radical indie publishers

Fitzcarraldo Editions. You’ve seen their books about. The deep blue covers with the white text; just title and author. Or the cream white covers with blue text; just title and author. The same design for each release. Super collectable, in fact – some bookstores line them up all in a row on special shelves.

Fitzcarraldo entered the literary scene with a seismic earthquake, shaking up the slumbering ‘big’ publishers and showing them exactly what happens when you take serious risks. They threw their weight behind European fiction in translation, great works in English, and illuminating non-fiction releasing books such as Mathias Enard’s one sentence novel Zone, Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich’s Second Hand Time and Olga Tokarczuk’s international Man Booker award-winning Flights. Reading Read the rest

How technology transformed long-distance relationships

Last year, I was obsessed with the internet. I spent months writing and thinking about online intimacy, a whole summer meeting nobody in person, relying simply on apps. Most of my romantic encounters took place online, many of them never crossing over to ‘real life’ at all; my phone was littered with names like ‘Richard Hinge’, ‘Simon Tinder’, ‘Sophie OkCupid’. Dutifully putting them in my phone on Friday nights, Sunday mornings, by Tuesday the conversation was dead: I had no idea who these people in my phonebook even were.

So it was a surprise to me, too, when I met someone at a party and we fell in love. There was no preamble, no holding each other at arm’s length, no weeks or months of online Read the rest

Horsing around: a wild weekend at Appleby Fair

One week every year, the tiny town of Appleby in Cumbria host the largest gathering of Gypsies and Travellers in Western Europe. Around 10,000 members of the travelling community pour into the Eden Valley to trade horses, party, gamble, meet friends, and even find love.

Increasingly, horses are being brought to the three-day fair for leisure rather than for trade, and the vast majority of visitors are there as part of a traditional family holiday. Hundreds of horses are seen being ridden around the town, washed in the river, groomed, and exercised (the best way of showing them off).

I’d known about the Appleby fair for years – it’s been around since 1775 – but last year was the first time I got to visit. It … Read the rest

Meet the African chief who leads a double life in Germany

Céphas Bansah works as a self-employed car mechanic in the German town of Ludwigshafen. But in his spare time, he oversees the development of his hometown – Hohoe, capital of Ghana’s Gbi Traditional Area – through WhatsApp and Skype.

“Being a king is not a profession, it is my life’s work,” says the 70-year-old. “My happiest moments are when I can help in Ghana through my efforts here in Germany.”



Technically, the Gbi Traditional Area is not a monarchy and the title Ngoryifia literally translates as ‘development chief’, an honorary position bestowed on people thought of as respectable and believed to be capable of helping an area.

For Bansah, that could be securing sources of clean drinking water, redeveloping prison infrastructure for women and young men … Read the rest

What Netflix did next: brats, bodyguards & sociopaths

Close

The first five minutes of this bang, and I maintained hope for it quite a long way in. But,no – I’m sorry to report that it’s a load of toot.

This is a boilerplate 90-minute action film centred around a bodyguard, but the twist is – gasp! – it’s only a bloody woman! That’s right folks, it’s that Flashdance opening sequence all over again: there’s a welder, welding away, being a man, as per usual, nothing to see here, until the welding mask comes off and – wait, what??? It can’t be… it is! It’s a WOMAN!

Spoiled poor little rich girl, Zoe (Sophie Nélisse) has just inherited her father’s phosphate mines and must hang out in a safe house in Morocco for a Read the rest

Documenting the unseen side of the Black Panther Party

In 1968, the Black Panther Party (BPP) stood 2,000 strong; armed not just with firearms, but a knowledge of the Constitution, state, and local laws. Initially organised to fight police brutality, the group quickly organised to institute community social programs. Leadership understood the power of the press and began working with writers, artists, and photographers to get the word out.

That year, Kathleen Cleaver met husband and wife photographers Pirkle Jones (1914-2009) and Ruth-Marion Baruch (1922-1997), and gave them unprecedented access to the inner circle of the BPP.  Of the work they made, Baruch said: “We can only tell you: This is what we saw. This is what we felt. These are the people.”

The photographs – first printed in The Black Panther weekly newspaper – Read the rest

Where sex therapy meets art: the magic of Shelby Sells

Talking to Shelby Sells is like catching up with an old friend. Squirting hot sauce into an avocado, she spoons at it with manicured fingernails painted the same fiery shade as her Sriracha. “I’m gonna stalk your Instagram for beach pics!” she cackles, after learning that I’m calling from vacation.

Speaking over Skype from her cluttered New York flat, the 27-year-old is disarmingly open and animated. Every so often, she waves a green juice around to emphasise a point. It’s easy to see why Shelby Sells (her real name) has become Internet Famous for intimate interviews with people about sex and relationships: she’s a great talker, and an even better listener.

What’s harder to believe is that frank communication didn’t always come easily. Having grown Read the rest

The Disgusting Food Museum

A new museum aimed to assault the olfactory senses of visitors and churn their stomach opened yesterday in Sweden’s third largest city, Malmo. Inside are various exhibits that some cultures supposedly eat, such as fermented shark meat, bull penis, fermented herring, maggot cheese and ant larvae. It’s so bad that the museum provide visitors with vomit bags before they enter.

“I want people to question what they find disgusting and realize that disgust is always in the eye of the beholder,” said Samuel West, the founder of the Disgusting Food Museum, who is also known for the Museum of Failure. “We usually find things we're not familiar with disgusting, versus things that we grow up with and are familiar with are not disgusting, regardless of … Read the rest