Comunication works

It has been a truly magnificent day. Today was the day of communication works – a type of exhibition hosted by the school I work at, based around communication. There were all sorts of cool things there: there were stands by toby churchil, Dynovox, tellus, and so on, as well as a load of new things like music systems controlled by moving your hands below a sensor. Most of it was geared towards the LD market, but that was still pretty damn cool.

My job was to make sure the students were doing their assigned tasks, like manning the sign-in desk, but that was simple enough. I had great fun looking at all the stands, talking to the exhibitors, learning all kinds of interesting stuff. I was frequently fascinated At one point Lyn came along with Dan, and they had a great time talking to a guy about music technology. Lyn met a couple of teachers and a rough plan was hatched to get her teaching music at school, which, frankly, would be the coolest thing ever.

I got home about 3 30, tired, feeling very pleased with how things went, and in need of a cold beer. I found the books I ordered waiting for me on the living room table. All told, it’s been a great day.

biggotry is biggotry

I love London. To be honest I never thought I would. I’ve always lived in a small town, on an estate backing onto fields, where I rarely saw a face a colour other than white. But here I’m surrounded by peoples and cultures from all over the world: around the corner there is a shop owned by two guys from turkey; a little bit on from that is a pub run by an Italian with a woolly hat, and so on. I love the feeling of being surrounded by such diversity.

But I’m concerned that it’s becoming increasingly acceptable to question immigration. We know the economy relies, in large part, on the flow of people in and out of the country, yet the right is stirring up fear. Almost every day, I hear tosh about migrants taking British jobs. Well, perhaps they are, but that’s only because there are just as many people leaving the country as there are coming in.

The Tories want a cap on immigration, but why? There have always been immigrants into this country, be they Jews fleeing persecution, Irish fleeing famine,

Jamacans aboard the MV Empire Windrush, or Polish people seeking a better life. The people who were already here have never suffered due to their presence, but our culture has been enriched by it. Thus, given too that the number of people coming in is roughly matched by the number going out, the fear of immigrants can be expressed simply in one word: xenophobia.

Of course, the Tories don’t like this: they fool themselves that, as Iain Duncan-smith put it, ”it isn’t racist to worry about immigration”. IDS was wrong, as both are born of the fear of the Other, of difference. They worry that our culture will somehow be diluted by immigration, but instead it is enriched. Brown got into seriously hot water for calling a woman a bigot when he thought his mic was off;* while it shows him to be a bit of a hypocrite, in the car brown was speaking the truth. That woman is a bigot, for her fear is irrational and panders to the most base of instincts.

I hope the tide changes back. I hope people realise sometime soon that immigration is good, and diversity is something to be cherished. I hope they realise that to utter the words ”I’m not racist, but…’ is a hypocrisy. And I hope middle class Tories stop talking about the immigration ‘problem’ around their dining tables while fooling themselves that they are still progressive and tolerant.

*I bet you any money Sky deliberately left that microphone on to frame him, by the way.


In Woolwich today I popped into a charity shop and picked up a book on Mesoamerica for a few quid. I’m not sure why, but my bibliophilic tendencies have returned recently. It could be connected with having to return to work on my thesis, but I have been thinking about books and wanting to read. Yet it has effected me in the oddest of ways: the other day, I decided to look up the biggest book I could find on one subject. This turned out to be Martin Gilbert’s biography of Winston

Churchill, with 8 main volumes (each about 800 pages) and 16 companion volumes, each containing thousands of pages of source material. Now, I have no intention of buying this gigantic book – at the rate I read, I’d be dead before I finish it – but it impressed me anyway.

Churchill aside, this morning I ordered a couple of (somewhat shorter) texts I need to work on for my thesis off the net. Not having a decent library or book store around rather sucks, but it was about time that I, as a cinephile, bought my own copy of Keathley’s The wind In The Trees anyway. They should come in a few days, so to keep my thirst for the written word satisfied, I bought an interesting-looking tome on the Americas before Columbus. When I got home, I settled down to read. It’s written in a chatty style common in populist American history books, and partly reads like a travelogue, but I was instantly fascinated. Far from being just a realm of hunter-gatherer, the Americas before Columbus may have been far more populated and complex than previously thought. I spent a good couple of hours just reading.

I think I need to re-engage with art and literature; to start reading again, thinking again. I’m not sure why I feel like this – it’s not as if I stopped thinking, and perhaps I’m being too pretentiously self-critical – but I have missed the feel of a book in my hands.

CaMoron attacked on segregation

Blimey! I was just lying on the sofa watching the news, having just done a couple of hours on my thesis, when I saw a report of a guy herranging CaMoron on inclusion. It took me quite by surprise. Apparently, the man was angry because his kid had been excluded from mainstream school and had to go to a special school. Rather amusingly, CaMoron was trying to claim that he agreed with the guy, trying to tell the guy his usual speel about ‘reversing the trend’, but the guy was telling CaMoron what he had put in his own manifesto. He pointed out that, under the Tories, the closure of special schools would be reversed.

Doesn’t this say a lot about CaMoron? Trying to be all things to all people, pretending he’s some kind of champion for disabled people, yet actually intending to repress us. He even distorts what he has in his own manifesto. The guy is a joke – a shallow, despicable joke. Inclusion must proceed wherever possible – my voluntary. work has made me more certain of this, although it has made me more aware of the problems involved. It is not a simple problem, but what is certain is that we cannot reverse the trend towards inclusion.

the NHS isn’t safe under the toories

I was just watching Brown speaking to the royal college of nurses, and I must admit I was very impressed. He paid tribute to the NHS. I agree with him that it truly is a great institution, and the best insurance system in the world. It is a system worth fighting for and protecting. But, the question is, how do we protect it against the recession?

We all know that, these days, the economy needs injecting with money to keep it afloat. As far as I can tell, this can be done in one of three ways: raise taxes, cut services, or both. The Tories want to stop the so-called job tax, and cut services instead. The planned rise in tax would the economy would inject 6 billion more quid, meaning services wouldn’t need to be cut so drastically. So, basically, the Tories intend to make us all suffer just so they can keep tax lower for the select few. This is why I do not believe the nhs is safe under CaMoron, as such cuts would inevitably effect it, despite his claims.

Sorry I keep going on about politics. This isn’t supposed to be a political blog. I’m just petrified that, on may the seventh, CaMoron will enter number ten, cut spending, and turn this recession into a depression.

lifts or the lack of them

Is it illegal for shops with two or more floors not to have a lift? If it isn’t it blooming well should be. I was in Woolwich yesterday, and I thought I’d go into WH smiths to look for some books. I need a couple for my work as well as for pleasure. So I went in, only to find there were no books, only magazines and sweets. I was beginning to wonder when smiths stopped being a book store, when I saw a sign: the books were upstairs. I thought: ‘fair enough’ and began to look for a lift…

Only, I couldn’t find one. thinking that there must be one, I asked an assistant. ‘Sorry sir’ she said ‘we don’t have a lift’. I must say that I was taken aback. Surely under the DDA that’s illegal, isn’t it? Okay it might have been an old building, but it wouldn’t have been hard to install a lift. I left the shop feeling quite disappointed.

already failed

If you think about it, from a certain perspective, CaMoron has already failed. I’ve always believed that he wanted to be the next Tony Blair. Look at his style, the way he presents himself: young, vivacious, energetic, forever claiming that his was the team with the new ideas and fresh impetus. It’s clear that he wants to emulate Blair, and do what Blair did to the Tories in 97. if you look at the polls, I think that it’s pretty clear that that’s not gonna happen. The 1997 pre-election polls show huge support for new labour; polls today still show us heading for a hung parliament.

This means that CaMoron has essentially failed in winning over our hearts and minds. The Tories have not convinced us that they are fit to govern by a long shot.

Look at the debate last night: when asked about Europe, CaMoron got his butt kicked. He was shown to be a euroskeptic with alliances to far right European parties. And when clegg pointed out to him that, despite his open-minded pretences, the parties he’s in bed with are homophobic anti-Semitic climate-change deniers, he evaded the issue completely. No wonder he hasn’t won over the electorate: we can all see he’s unfit to rule the country. CaMoron needs to be winning these debates – I thought he would be. But despite the idiotic claims of the Murdoch controlled media, he is being shown to be the hypocritical liar he is.

On a brighter note, I kind of want a hung parliament. I think a lib-lab coalition would be great. Brown saved us from recession, but he’s old; I’d like to see brown stay as PM, but with clegg’s dynamism as his second in command. That would be the fresh start we need without having to go back to the oppression of the Tories.

Of tthe coming of steve and chris unto charlton.

I ad forgotten how witty, clever and anarchic my friends Chris and Steve are. They came to visit today – they seem to be doing a hair-brained tour of Britain this week. Forgive my language, but it was fucking awesome to see them. They both seem possessed of this anarchic sense of humour which you often find in – and here you must forgive a touch of snobbery – clever people. I was showing them the local animal park, and we were walking and talking, and they were referencing things as diverse as Albert Camus and Red Dwarf. They also have a twisted sense of humour.

It has been ages since I saw them, and even longer since I saw them together. Back at uni, they rented a house together, and I used to go round to theirs for drinks once in a while. In fact, if memory serves, I first met Steve the first time I went to a brandies disco dressed up, and from then on I’ve classed him as one of my best friends. We were saying, though, how hard it has been to keep in contact with everyone: it’s been ages since anyone heard from Emma, for example. That strikes me as very sad indeed.

Well, the guys are in town for the next two days, and we plan to hook up again. We parted company far too soon. I’m sorry if my blog has become more diary-like recently; I’ll write more analytical entries soon. it’s just that I tend to write about things which are on my mind, and it seems that Steve has barged his way to the front of my cerebral cortex.


I have a bit of good news today: last night, after blogging I received my examiners report, and it wasn’t quite as bad as I feared. I have quite a bit of work to do, but at lweast they didn’t use the words ‘crap,’ ‘written by an idiot’ or ‘doesn’t know what he’s talking about’. I feel confident that, given time, I can put it right. The problem is, I could do with a half decent library nearby. My sister-in-law Yan told me how to get to the British Library, which would be ideal if it was a little closer. Before I go there I’ll check out the local library in Charlton housel the problem with that is you have to traipse through a tea room full of old biddies. Should be interesting; I’ll let you know how iget on.

back to school

I went back to school today after the Easter holiday. I spent most of the day there, uni still not having got back to me about my master’s. Preparation began in proper for Communication works, a conference-cum-exhibition held at school about AAC technology. I have been set the task of organising a class to do stuff like making sure everyone signs in and gets to the right place. Nobody seems to have told them that my organisation skills are practically non existent. Luckily, a few of the staff are helping too, so we should be okay.

I think the students I work with are getting used to me. The teachers are staring to let me speak to the whole class, telling them to ‘listen to what matt has to say’. I think they think I can be a useful role-model and tutor. For my part, I hope so. Mind you, I and the staff are going to have to be pretty firm if we’re going to pull this conference thing off, and my aim is to function as a firm but friendly influence.