Saturday, 29 November 2008

Little Black Gallery Chelsea - JUST OPENED . . .

WOW . . . This is one of the images at the new gallery in Clehsea. I read about it in the Guardian this morning
(Centre spread, EYEWITNESS - Most Wanted), and there is an informative link in the Independent at

It look fab, and seems to be just the place to visit on a grey afternoon, but only when my coursework is up-to-date . . .

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Personal Identity Hijack

Franz Kafka wrote about this sort of thing.

It is very creepy to know that there's another person you've never met, who has all your identity documents, living a parallel life, doing all sorts of things you would never do.

Someone pretending to be me (complete with fraudulent passport and driving licence, so that he could open a bank account in my name) has just made £ 12,000 from a national government department. A bank where I've never had an account is where he keeps his money. When I rang that bank, they suggested I go immediately to the police, and report a crime.So I did.

Read about this sort of thing at
and at

I mentioned to the constable at the local nick that I was worried about how to clear my name (I hadn't taken the money, but someone using my identity has), and he couldn't tell me how I might explain to the Tax office, prospective employers, or indeed the courts, that it wasn't me who stole the money.

The Times covers this briefly in an article at

This raises the question "How can I prove that this person standing before you is really me, and not an impostor ?"
Unless my fingerprints are on a file somewhere (unlikely) then anyone who says they are me, can indeed act as me, until the real me comes along and challenges him.

It's not over yet. I am awaiting a call from the CID, who may take an interest in my case . . .

Did anything exciting happen to you this week ??

Thursday, 20 November 2008

WOOLIES is on the way out. Some are bothereed more than others.

If you grew up buying your pocket-money Christmas presents for loved ones, Woolies holds a place close to your child-heart. And now's the time to shed a tear, as they are leaving rapidly. But, so are the rest of the retailers, if you read today's Guardian.


Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Autumn EXHIBITION by Islington Art Society

Yes, I have put in four photos at the Art Society, and invite everyone to come and see.
Details are :-
Thurday 20 Nov '08 for the preview
18.00 h to 20.30 h.
The Gallery, Edwards Lane, Stoke Newington, London N16 0JS

Directions - Finsbury Park tube and National Rail, then a 106 bus along Lordship Park , alight at Lordship Road, then look at the thumbnail map I've attached,. the big red X is the gallery.

Highbury & islington tube and Overground, then a 73 bus up Albion Road. alight at Stoke Newington Church Street, turning left and you're almost at the gallery. see thumbnail map attached.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

I passed . . .

After a really busy day at college, I went to the local St John Ambulance office this evening and re-took my First Aid. It hadn't lapsed, but there's a new regimen whereby one 're-validates' the certificates annually, rather than every three years.

And, I was offered to re-take my Advanced Skills, which I did do again. And I passed it all. I am chuffed. I am again a fully-fledged Advanced Skills First Aid person, but it's got to be renewed again in one year.

it's all about helping to keep a casualty well enough until they get to hospital if they are seriously ill. So, I can do the defillibration (electric shock to the heart) and administer medical gases( usually oxygen), which is really useful if the casualty doesn't have a pulse, or has difficulty breathing. So, well done me !

Sunday, 16 November 2008

I need a new ISP . . .

I'm asking all my buddies to tell me what they might recommend as an alternative Internet Service Provider, as my Tiscali connection is expensive (£ 17 per month) and 8 kbps. I get to keep my BT line, but get no extras. What can you recommend ??
I've been to
but I'm still not sure . . .


Nope, I ddn't know what it was either. A very good friend has asked me to put a note on my blog, to let the 89 people who read it fnd out more about Movember. It is at

It is about supporting particular mens' health charities. My buddy's dad died from prostate cancer, so go to the link to find out more. For those who don't know, it is precisely because men don't do the exam as often as they need to, and because prostate cancer is VERY slow to appear once it starts, it is often too late to save you, when you find you have it.

My neighbour across the road had it for five or ten years before the doc said he had four months to live . . .

WACOM graphics tablet . . .

Just when I thought I'd blogged about all the computer bits I use (eg. PC or MacBook, laptop or desktop, printers and scanners) a friend rang up and asked about recommendations for a graphics tablet.

I have a LOVELY Wacom Intuos3 A5 tablet. It's about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, and it is 100 times better than a mouse for adjusting stuff on diigital images.
So I've lent it to Steve, and hopefully he won't leave the country before I get it back . . .
it was £ 300, but I see they're only £ 182 on e-bay now . . .

My buddy Maciej goes here, so why not share it with you . .
Hundreds of photos and captions to [hide] for . . .


There's a lot of chat about FAT.

Susie Orbach (wrote about fat & feminism) in the Sunday Times has a review of recent government policy, and her own comments at

Enjoy that Kit-Kat. which by the way, is reducing the habitat for Orangutans [see ]


I use an hp Photosmart 8750 ( I paid £ 325; PriceRunner listing is at
it's working well after three years of hard use.
One advantage of hp is that every time you change the inkjet cartridge you change the nozzle, which keeps the prints razor-sharp. I can print up to 13" x 19" (bigger than A3). I have printed say 20, 000 A4 sheets, many of them photos, over the past three years. It never stops . . .

The only niggle is that colours are not according to a profile, so blues and greens are not exactly to the correct range. Only one or two people have complained, so it's good enough for everything except gallery art . . .
reviews are at

Other makes which are in the same 'under £ 500' range are those made by Epson and Canon. Many friends say Epson and Canon are 'better' than hp, but you'll have to do your own homework on initial cost v. running costs to make your own evaluation. Please let me know what you find out.

Oh yes, I also use a laserjet (hp 2550, cheap and reasonable and FAST), but it's decided it doesn't want to work with my MacBook. I used it hard for three years with the Asus laptop, 30, 000 prints.

Scanners . . .

I use an hp G4050. it scans docs, it scans 35 mm. negs and 120 mm. negs. The film scanning is S L O W at high res, but it's cheaper (£170) than a drum scanner. Find specs at

Canon make a similar scanner range, as do Epson, but whether they also do 120 film is something you'll need to check. it is difficult to find these at places like PC World, but they are out there in London . . .


There's still a debate about which is best. I use a laptop for everything, and wouldn't go back to a big clunky thing on the desk. In my opinion there are exceptions, such as an iMac, but what if you need to work at the library or Starbuck's ??

I use a MacBookPro (the old version) and LOVE it.

To find reviews of LOTS of PC's and laptops, I use PC Pro magazine listings. these are on the 'Web at
They've even got a MacBook review . . .
I paid £ 1,500 for an AJP/ ASUS laptop in 2003. You can buy a GOOD high-spec cool-looking laptop for £ 400 now . . .

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday in Islington . . .

photo copyright A Eglin Nov08

Apparently this has been the best-attended Remembrance Day service in decades. Lots and lots of children and teen-agers from the Scouts, the Girl Guides, the various services cadets (Air Force, Territorial Army, Sea Cadets, etcetera), St John Ambulance, Police cadets, and a few more marched in the short parade from the Town Hall to the local war memorial, stood to attention for 45 minutes whilst Last Post was played and tributes read out, the hymns were sung, and then we marched back to the Town Hall. There were, of course, some very old service-men and women who survived the chaos of war and who joined us there today.

It was electrifyingly quiet for the TWO Minutes silence, and we all had a think about what it all means, for us and for those who never made it back. What did you do today, to remember ?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Much Beloved Martin Parr . . .

the Grauniad commissioned Mr Parr to shoot British cities. The FABULOUS results are now serialised in the Saturday paper, starting on 01 November. The link for that date is

Of course anyone can buy the book, either outrageously expensive, or merely a bit expensive. Either way, it will look pretty good, in my opinion . . .


Hugh Pearman writes in the Sunday Times on 02 November about this stunning garden designer Sarah Price; she is VERY VERY good at what she does !!
She has developed, for only £ 5 million of the £ 200 million total Olympics cost, a garden about the size of St. James Park in London which will showcase 400 years of horticultural plant-hunting from around the world. Read about it at in London -TAKE TWO

It's still on, and I can still go to a few more events [ see ]. Last week I heard Tom Hunter at the Whitechapel Gallery; he explained his vision of Renaiissance re-enactment in his series of photos inspired by life in Hackney in the '80's and '90's. His new film is out in January, we had the preview (dark and dreamy, it has touches of Renaissance leit-motif in it, as one might expect).

Several of us went to the POLAROIDS preview at the AOP Gallery, and lovely it was too, Our tutor Nana had her series of polaroids of Athens Bauhaus up for grabs; I wish I had the money, as they've at once both evocative and atmospheric.

I went to the PhotoChats at Chat's Palace, where I was overwhelmed by the street documentary images of Tasser Alwan. All black and white, and all questioning the place of representation and imaging in a public place. It's beautifully crafted and curated.

In the Chat's Palace bar there's gob-smackingly huge black and white Art-Deco and Constructivist style images of London by Colin O'Brien. There are also slightly smaller cheeky photos of cheeky residents. It's a worthwhile expedition, and easy to get to on the London Overground, Homerton station.

Brighton Photo Fringe - AWESOME

On the Web, it's at
It seems to be so tightly woven into the Biennial as to be indistinguishable, apart from the content. Now, there's a lot of different types of image, it all depends on where you go.
Bell's Gallery on the seafront is shockingly good, we spent a half-hour mesmerized by the 1.2 m square large-format landscapes. Sydney Street gallery is tiny, but has super music photos, in black and white.

There's another 57 venues, and it'll be a hard day's work doing it all; there's a very good map and handbook, available for free from lots of places in Brighton, which makes getting around a doddle. We met enthusiastic gallery-owners and shop-keepers; It is they who pump up the vibrancy so visible in this sleepy seaside town, and make that festival come alive. Yes, and the quality of the superb photos everywhere. Do go, you will enjoy it. And, there's the official Biennial, to sober you up.

bpb - Brighton Photo Biennial

We went as a college group. I downloaded lots of info from the official WebSite [ ], on artists, venues (it was at ten different places, some well outside Brighton), and the conference in a week's time. The Biennial is still on for another week or two. Having read through the on-line blurb, I was well prepared for the images of horror and destruction which the photo-essayists compiled on Vietnam and Iraq. I didn't have nightmares, but the aftermath of a B-52 bombing raid (32 tonnes of very high explosive per plane) was never seen by the pilots; we saw it up close in the photos from Vietnam on show here.

LIGHTHOUSE is a must-see, especially the super-creepy cellar video, FABRICA is rather unusual, UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON gallery is where the KEYNOTE exhibition is, and that kept us busy for a while.

Interwoven with the official shows was the un-official Fringe. The official set of shows is superbly curated and displayed. I do recommend it, although you'll need a good sense of direction to hit all the venues in one day. The rail fare is a steal, £ 6 for an advance-purchase fare. Brighton is a lot of fun, genteel and crisply-edged modern at the same time. We had fish and chips on the beach, and a coffee at the Pavillion later on. A few smiles and jokes along the way, and lots of smoke breaks (for the smokers, not for me), as we had a day off. Yes, we did enjoy ourselves, a lot like the best sort of sixth-form outing.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Wild Billy Childish in the Sunday Times magazine . . .

There I was, describing this article to Leila, and I thought, find it on-line and post a link. Now everyone can find out who this exciting guy is . . .
First there was the headline, then the photo stopped me cold. I still cannot quite make out how the lighting effect was achieved. The article about him (founder of the Stuckists, and 'former' close friend of Tracey Emin) is at
It's interesting as it describes not only an eecentric artist but the mad days of BritArt in the recent past.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Down and out in a cheap supermarket . . .

Yep, I went shopping this afternoon. I only needed a few things, not a big shop.

And I stopped at Lidl. It is not new, but boy oh boy is it ever cheap . . .
Everything in the shop is a loss-leader, by the look of it. There are no frills whatsoever. I spent six pounds, and if I’d gone to Morrison’s (another ten minutes walk farther) it would have easily cost ten quid. So, that’s four quid I didn’t spend. If I did that every other day, I’d have, let’s see, about . . . . hmmm… by the end of the month.
That explains why there’s always a parade of Lidl’s shopping bags down my local high street (Blackstock Road) at going-home time. Are there Lidl’s where you go ??

American Football in London

I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but yes they do play it here . . .
I’ve got a photography exhibition at the local Sobell Sports centre. It’s a golden opportunity for someone like me (aspiring photographer) trying to be noticed above the sea of other snappers.
I’m arranging to take sports images, to make my show more relevant to the sports centre’s users. They play American Football at the local park (Finsbury Park) and if everything works out I’ll start shooting at the club’s training sessions. All I need now is a few more sports venues to say ‘yes’ and I’ve got an exhibition. Shall I ask the guys at Arsenal Emirates Stadium, or do you think they don’t need the publicity ?

Running in the Park . . .

Now, most everyone, including myself until this summer, thinks running in the park is easy-peasy. I’ve just been for my first jog in a year. Earlier in the Blog I’ve introduced you to my Cardiac Rehabiltation programme, all the circuit training and aerobics at the Sports centre. It’s all a phased return to cardiac fitness, and it’s overseen by lovely instructors (Hello Angela and Martin !) Well, I’ve been bugging them to say its OK for me to start running. Not proper fast running, but gentle slow plodding running . . . on Friday they relented . . . so long as I didn’t go any faster than I had last been able to go when I had the untreated Angina (run for 100 metres, slow down and walk, run even more slowly after that . . .) I walked around the park (one mile), I did some aerobic stretching exercises (no-one gave me a second glance) then I got on with it. So gentle that it was less strenuous that the fast walking I’ve been doing lately.
That’s it then. Another barrier down, and I’m that little bit closer to being able run a marathon. Don’t laugh . . .

There's a local police force in North London

The Metropolitan Police do lots of jobs here in London. but patrolling local parks is not usually one of their jobs.

What if the Council disbanded the Parks Police ? Would anyone notice ?
Find out who they are at
Well, shall I ask another question to put that in perspective ? Who knows that there’s a local Parks Police in north London ? They’ve been going for six or eight years. Because the London Metropolitan Police are so busy and over-stretched on the streets and highways they never have a chance to go into the parks. Every borough has ten to fifty local parks, and we have thirty-two local authorities in London. That’s a lot of parks, where the police never patrol. There’s a bit more about the local Haringey Parks Police at .

There’s a nasty rumour that Haringey Council is going to disband this small but effective local police force . That would be a shame, because they do a much-needed job, actually walking and cycling and driving across the parks and footpaths (they patrol part of the London Walking ring [ see - that’s 75 miles long !!]).
I used to work in Tottenham (in Haringey) and the park behind that school was notorious for knife-toting gangs going there to settle their differences. Yes, the Parks Police patrol there, as well as the other twenty-five or more Haringey parks. The ones I visit regularly are Finsbury Park, and the Parkland Walk [ see more at ].
So, when push comes to shove, I’d like the Council to find a way to keep the police force in place. They do too important a job in the community, to get rid of them just to save money.

What if I hadn't stopped . . .

Cruising down the road in a friend‘s car, just at the start of the evening rush hour. And we stopped in traffic; because there was a bus blocking the road. Cars between us and the bus overtook that bus, but it pulled out just as we came up to it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a rag doll lying on the pavement just by a bus shelter. I might have missed her, as we were going pretty fast, but she was wearing scarlet trousers and a green coat. I asked Jerry to stop, and ran back. That’s because I do First Aid, and it seemed like the right thing to do, leap out and see what I could do to help.
You know how it seems at the time : you ask the two women standing over the casualty “Do you know First Aid?” and no-one looks at you. One is busy chatting on her mobile ‘phone, the other is staring at the one on the ‘phone. It seems like minutes pass, but it was only ten seconds. The ambulance screams its arrival, and I leave the casualty (she is quietly having the end of a Grand Mal epileptic seizure. No-one is cradling her head, in case she bangs it on the pavement).
I speak to the Para-Medic getting out of the ambulance; I tell her the score and then walk away. There was now nothing for me to do. The teen-aged boys and girls huddled at the far end of the bus shelter have been texting and chatting quietly, and I guess they’ll carry on after the ambulance leaves.
I feel that it’s the little actions we take that make a difference. Not to anyone else, just to ourselves. What if I hadn’t asked my friend to stop the car. The casualty would still have been OK, wouldn’t she . . .

Friday, 10 October 2008


Anna on my course sent this. It is so bizarre I thought it would lighten your day just to see the wild dancing, on location everywhere.
The WebLink for the video is

Thursday, 2 October 2008

PHOTOMONTH is zillions of exhibitions in the East End . . .

PHOTOMONTH is the 'East London Photography Festival' and it's on now.

I'm definitely going to see Tom Hunter at the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. He's also at There's examples of his work, and he talks about his fascination with Renaissance painting and its re-creation using photography.

There's lots of awards going :-
Amnesty International Media Awards
British Journal of Photography International Awards

There's Festival Highlights including Robert Capa at the Barbican,
the Karsh Centenary,
Errol Francis Contemporary Art Projects,
Eve Arnold Magnum,
Angela Stapleford, Photochats,
Stephen Gill, Round Chapel,
and the afore-mentioned Tom Hunter.

And there's seminars, workshops and photo-walks. The website is chock full.

See you there. Several times, at least !!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Life doesn't wait . . .

Gosh, six hours to re-write my CV and send it off on the WorldWideWeb to various teaching supply agencies here in London. Then it was Barry from the Sobell Sports Centre who wanted permission to quote from my letter to the local borough councillors, in his meeting about possible re-furbishment for the due-to-be-demolished centre (see earlier blog).

It was a beautiful day, sunny and mild, and I watched it through the glass. I then had to sort out the usual work references and a character reference, just as soon as the agencies rang me back. Big lentil lunch (several bowls, I've got to finish a kilo of them by tomorrow !).

I sorted through a mountain of un-filed paperwork (amazing how it covers the entire desk when you look away for a couple of weeks), and that will get put into files tomorrow.

It was seven miles cycling around the local park in ninety minutes on Sunday past. Today it was five miles in forty-five minutes; I stopped a lot on Sunday, and didn't pedal hard on the down-slopes. I didn't stop at all and I DID pedal on the down-slopes today. That's the difference, and, the hamstrings are OK.

Tomorrow it's Aerobics at the Sobell Centre (nope, I haven't bought a leotard yet !). Later it's a visit to the two photo exhibitions at Homerton hospital. I'm taking a photographer around, as he's interested in the unique opportunity to see two amateur collections in such an unusual setting as a hospital. And, you'll see from reading my earlier blog on these just how much I like what's on display. You still have time to see them, as the one in the Education building is there until November, and as far as I know there's no time limit on the other in the 'Chapel' corridor.

In quiet moments I remember that I've got homework from college (this week it's choose a photo you like, and be ready to speak about it for
T E N minutes . . .
yikes . . . I MAY use the Gloria Swanson photo from the Vanity Fair collection, as I know it pretty well, and I made a beautiful re-creation of it last term (the beautiful model Katarina helped quite a bit with that . . .).

In many ways I am very happy indeed to be too busy . . . it was rather dull just sitting quietly reading a book and waiting for my convalescence to speed up. Was that only four weeks ago ??

I am even looking forward to cycling when the weather gets horrible, as I have done that many times in the past . . . I reckon the 'bad hair' day cycling is when you have a puncture in the rush-hour in the rain . . . I haven't had that misfortune for ten years, but then I've not been on the bike much until recently . . .

Monday, 15 September 2008

I'm getting fit -You can as well !!

Another two weeks and I should be fit enough to be back at work. Another six weeks until I’m able to get back to volunteering at St John Ambulance; the First Aid does involve shifting casualties, and you MUST be reasonably fit to help shift a fifteen or twenty stone person onto a stretcher or into an ambulance (for the Canadians reading this, fifteen stone is 210 pounds, or 94 kilo’s).

I’ve been whizzing around London on the bus and Tube for nearly the entire past four weeks; no-one offers me a seat, but I guess that’s because I still look the same as before the ‘procedure’. The ‘cardiac rehab’ at the Sobell Sports centre is going really well, and I will pop in for the Circuit training tomorrow morning; I have been doing all the Aerobics training on a Friday morning. The instructors work really hard to keeping us up to the ‘heart-rate limit’, and this maximises our ‘back to full fitness’ state.

My diet has changed dramatically from before; no more bacon butties, and now porridge for breakfast every day. I eat five lots of fruit and veg every day. I seem to have fish for every meal except breakfast. No drinking (alcohol) two days a week; three units a day MAX on drinking days [see ]. I haven’t drunk much coffee lately, and it’s China tea, unless I’m out with friends.

Really, I don’t seem to mind. One or two of the relatives here are on the “Hey, let me lose weight with you’ bandwagon, which is all good fun. I’m trying to get them to stop smoking as well, actually . . . I haven’t smoked for three years, and have lost about nine pounds (FOUR kilo’s, for the Canadians) since I left hospital. I still have two boxes of lovely Cuban cigars on the kitchen shelf, if you can suggest a polite use for them; they are hand-made, and smell delightful.

I’ve cycled around my local park (Finsbury Park), a distance of about a mile, on several days recently. I made seven circuits yesterday in a hour and a half; plus I did the half mile there and then back. I’ve managed to get up to my ‘seven miles distant’ target. Now I know that I can cycle all the way to college in Paddington (for the Photography course on a Tuesday.), which is, strangely, just seven miles away. [For cyclist in London, see ].

I saw my doctor at the general practitioners’ group practice this morning. I DID remember to say ‘Thanks’ for all the super-duper treatment I’ve had on the NHS; she said ’ . . . . That what we do’. I’ve got to go for liver and kidney tests this week, as I’m going to be put on Beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors [see ]. I’m currently on blood-thinning and cholesterol-reducing drugs, some for only one year, some for life.

Of some concern to me are the several of my friends and acquaintances who have told me about their health-care problems. One or two have said they’ve got illnesses such as Breast cancer or Prostate cancer, and I have commiserated, asked about treatments and prognoses, and told them about my care and rehabilitation. But the friends who cause the most consternation are those who’ve said’ . . . Well, I was diagnosed with Angina ten years ago, and I’ve had no treatment’. Or those who’ve said ‘ . . . Well, everyone on my mother’s side of the family was diagnosed with heart problems, and all died from heart attacks.’ I tell them, print out my blog and show it to your doctor; say you too want to be put on the Fast Track Cardiac Care programme which I’m on. It WILL change your life; you’ll be able to do all the things you want to do, just like I am doing. You don’t have to be a ‘cardiac cripple’, just because you’ve had Angina or a Heart Attack.

Right, I’m now going to cook lunch for the week, a large pot of lentils (some ham, but not fatty), and then cycle to Walthamstow (slightly uphill, five miles. I’ll have a rest and then go on to Stratford (slightly downhill, three miles). I shall take the train home from there. It is a beautiful sunny morning here in North London, and I shall make the most of it.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Controversy . . . local Sobell Sports Centre to shut ?

Gosh, I was well upset the other day to hear that my local sports centre is to be either re-furbished or rebuilt . . . It's a product of the 1960's 'system'' building techniques, and the fabric is really showing signs of wear and tear. I have just last week started my Cardiac Rehabilitation there (see earlier blog post).

Well, there's a public meeting at Islington town hall on Thursday 11th September, if you want to see how the Council deals with this matter.
There's a url link for information about the meeting and reports; there's apparently four different options. The link is
There's apparently four different opions.
I've sent a personal letter to ALL forty-something councillors, and copied it to my local MP Mr Jeremy Corbyn and to my local member for the Greater London Assembly Ms Jenette Arnold.

Sports Centres are a force for good in the community : they can be a meeting place, a place to socialise, a place to receive therapy (as myself, although I have previously uaed it for activities like rock-wall climbing), a place for competiitive sport, as well as restful aerobics and circuit training. and it has an ice-skating rink, the only one for miles; that may NOT be replaced . . .
I've posed SIX questions in my letter. These are "-
"Who 'owns' the Sobell and its facilities ?
Who has agreed to be responsible for upkeep and refurbishmnent/ renewal ?
Who is responsible for selecting and promoting the range of sports and leisure facilities on offer at the Sobell ?
Is the current dilapidated state of the Sobell a result of neglect, or is is 'wear and tear' ?
Will the Sobell be part of the 2012 Olympics, in a similar way to the nearby Emirates Stadium, eg. will Olympic athletes be using these facilities to train or compete ? if so, is there funding available from an Olympic-affiliated body to improve these facilities as a 'legacy' ?
In the event the Sobell was to close, what alternative facilities would be available to Islington residents, especially young people ? How far away would these alternative facilities be, and what usage demographics would then apply ? "

I've finished my letter by saying " . . . A phased programme of fabric renewal whilst some activities continue might be explored as an option to closure during refurbishment.
In conclusion, the facilities on offer at the Sobell are too valuable a resource to local residents, and especially to young people, for these to be discarded or minimised. Complete demolition is not a useful option, UNLESS a full replacement was fully funded before demolition, and unless a definite timetable for completion was agreed."
That's it for my social activism for this week. I intend to go to the meeting tomorrow evening, and will try to put my questions to the meeting's Chair. Wish me luck . . .

Gallery visits in the West End . . . FABULOUS !!

First day back at college, doing the BTEC HNC Photography . . . the tutors promised we'd have a visit to a few galleries, and so we did. We whisked ourselves away to The Photographers’ Gallery [ ]and then to the Getty Images Gallery [ ].

The Photographers’ Gallery is a microcosm of luscious images and exhibitions, talks, books, and a coffee shop. Everyone seems to be ‘ooh-ing’ at the superb displays. I always riffle through the brochures at the front (to see what else is on in town), and I always wish I had all day to visit.

The hidden turnings-around corners I find a delight, as I never see what’s coming until I get there. There’s something new about to start, or just finishing, so it’s very ‘buzzy’. It’s well placed, in Covent Garden, to be right near another destination, so I can and do visit it pretty darn often.

It is a venue, but it’s also an event in itself. I missed my chance to sign up for a Monday night course on History of Photography, but that’s life. There was lots to see and do here to make up for it.

Getty Images Gallery is an altogether different type of space; it is a bit closer to Mayfair and Bond Street, one empty room and a big console desk in the middle. Eye -level black and white scenes of London, London people, London landmarks, London celebrities. Gosh what a theme !

There wasn’t only the Time Out show there, however. In the back room there’s a range of magnificent framed ‘iconic’ shots : Biba’s in its heyday complete with high-fashion slinky model and several of Mr S Connery Esq in what looks like film stills. The walls are festooned with fashion and movie-land images. They have an eye for commerce though, as each photo has is name-tag, which also says that it may be purchased framed or unframed, at any size you want.
I found myself chin-wagging with a bunch of first and second-year HNC bods, and it seems the gallery is a big hit with us.

The Time Out ‘London through a lens’ exhibition is also a book, which three of us rushed out to Foyle’s to buy. It’s easy to flip through the pages admiring all the views of the London I love, but I took a few minutes to read the Introduction. This gives a quick history of the archive now part of Getty Images, and the capricious fate which nearly befell this archive at the end of WW I; the glass negatives nearly turned into greenhouses !
Time Out’s connection is that they edited the book, and also ran a photo-submission link for a while, eg. send in your images of London; my friends and I did do so. It’s still going, as Time Out magazine still wants us to send our photos to the Big Smoke at . The ‘London through a lens’ show was due to end on 27th September, but has now been extended through November.
In conclusion, this gallery visit afternoon was fabulous. I have loads of memories of crisp sharp images neatly tucked away in my head, ready to inspire me on my next photo-shoot.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Cardiac Rehab ONE: What FUN !!!

This Cardiac Care comes in FOUR stages, apparently.

The FIRST stage is when you take yourself to the doctor, usually with chest pains.

The SECOND stage is when you have your ‘procedure’, usually either ‘open chest’ surgery or ‘keyhole’ surgery [ see for loads of info on heart ‘procedures’ ].

The THIRD stage, or ‘Level III’, as the cardio and physio bods call it, is well-supervised exercise, and a fair amount of dietary information from a dietician, of all people !
You also get ‘lifestyle tips’. Since most of us are 50 + years old, this is less about relationships, and more about smoking and drinking (less or none !) and exercise (lots and lots, apparently !). Even before I had the ‘procedure’, the Cardiac Rehab nurse at Homerton Hospital had a word with me; a letter then dropped onto the mat at home, and I received a ‘phone call as well from the Whttington Hospital, which is part of the same UCH training trust consortium. This was the Health Projects Manager calling, from the Sports centre; she is the ‘front woman’ for the Whittington Rehab team [,3918,249,400 ].

I was invited to Level III induction on Tuesday (blood pressure check, and a walking test (starts at ‘very slow’, works up to ‘less slow’, nothing too demanding)) and I passed. On this past Friday I had supervised group aerobics for an hour, followed by an informal chat in the boardroom about Level IV. All ten of us had something to say about the instructors’ expectations for the relentless march of improving fitness levels; most were in favour. All of us appreciated that the NHS was paying for us to attend the local Sports Centre [ ] and have proper professional athletics training in aerobics and circuit work; some of us are scheming how we might get our twenty-week contract extended.

The FOURTH stage, or Level IV, is when you stay on at the sports centre but do more rigorous training, and have looser supervision. Unfortunately, it’s only the first eight sessions which are free, the rest are charged. It’s a good deal, if only I had a job at present . . . if only I was a couple of years older, I would qualify for a concession . . .

Level III is the latest stage of my rehabilitation from a condition which I didn’t know I had four weeks ago, and which was ‘fixed’ only two weeks ago. I intend to cycle where formerly I drove or took the bus; college is six miles away at Paddington, so I cycled around my local park [ Finsbury Park, see or ] which is 1 mile around. I made it twice at very slow speed, and look forward to improving.

I have been walking relentlessly over the two week since I’ve come home, and have improved both my stamina and endurance.

I am OK, and getting better. I checked with the instructors yesterday and they tell me that of those who accept the invite to do Cardiac Rehab Levels III and IV none drop out; however MANY people who've had the heart 'procedure' then feel that " . . . that's it, I don't need any more care." and carry on with 'life as before'. I am also very, very surprised that I know several people who’ve been diagnosed with Angina (YEARS ago !!) and they’ve not been offered any Fast Track Cardiac Care. Print out my blog and show your doctor; perhaps he or she doesn’t realize this facility exists for ‘ordinary’ patients.

There will be more to come, but that’s it for today. I look forward to your comments, either on the blog reply for comments, or back by e-mail.

Art Shows !! at the Homerton Hospital

The Homerton Hospital [ ] has a service NOT advertised on its website, nor within the hospital.


Now, when I was recently a patient there in the ACU (Acute Care Unit, home to 35 boisterous individuals, and as many staff around the clock) I felt the need to vacate my comfortable bed from time to time, and wander the building and grounds. A quiet corridor near the Main Entrance has the Chapel. It’s very restful indeed, having lovely wooden pews, prayer books, indirect lighting and quiet, it is a wonderful contemplative environment. BUT, along the quiet corridor outside the Chapel (thirty metres long) on either side there is a beautiful collection of beautiful photographs.

How to describe these ? They look like a superior sort of holiday snap, all taken by various different bods working at this hospital, the nurses and doctors and whom-ever. It looks like the photos have been submitted, chosen and stuck into frames with glass, some with mounts. The cumulative effect is wonderment. These aren’t by one person, but by lots of people. This exhibition must have a theme, but I haven’t yet found anyone who can tell me what the theme might be (perhaps ‘faces’, or ‘places’, or’ holidays’, who knows ??) Very uplifting, and I gazed at them more than once during my stay. To see these, you just walk in, go to the ‘Chapel corridor’, and you’re there. I have another look every time I’ve been back, to revel in the beauty of the amateur photographers’ images.

Now, an Art Curator works at this hospital, and he looks after the considerable number of proper works of art littered about the hospital. Homerton Trust didn’t apparently buy all these; some are gifts, some are on loan, etc. As I walked about the place, up and down corridors and outside when it wasn’t raining (Londoners know it was a record for maximum rain and no sunshine at all last month) I encountered statues in courtyards (lovely, bronze, life-sized), urns in gardens, gazebos here, there and everywhere, paintings and prints and ceramics works liberally distributed up and down the many, many corridors. There is yet more artwork on the stair landings. Altogether this brought a sense of lightness and charm to what for many visitors and (temporary) residents must be a forbidding place, the hospital.

Saving the best for last, the PROPER exhibition . . . I accidentally met the Art Curator on my last day. I enthused to him about the corridor exhibition (the ‘holiday photos’, NOT the usual prints and paintings which look like they live there). He said ‘Have you seen the exhibit in the Education Building ?” Well, I had to say ‘No’, because that’s ‘off limits’ to mere patients; the doctors go there for lunch, and for lectures. As a bona-fide ‘visitor’ however (sign in at the front desk, get a name tag and go to the Education Building) you’re straight in there.

A retired cardiologist, Mr Tunstall-Podde, has a collection of framed and mounted images over two floors of the naturally-lit common space. It’s all photos, some in black and white, and many in colour. The older ones (from the 1950’s) and the more recent are of children and landscapes, some in London and the South-East, some from abroad, especially Belize, C. A.. The majority are macro-shots (close-up’s) of insects. Now some may say “Euch !! Who wants to see ‘life and death on a small scale’ ?” But looking at the clarity of these images, their composition, and the breadth of his images on display, it engenders wonder and awe. If you find yourself in the neighbourhood (London E9 – loads of buses, and London Overground rail)) do go. There’s a visitors’ book; myself and my friends have been, and we’ve signed the book with appreciative comments.
His show is on until November. He has an e-mail to which you may write.

Yes, I know, you're not supposed to enjoy your stay in hospital. What can I say ? I was in a 'well-appointed with lovely artworks' hospital . . .

Devora's 'Stonesetting' tomorrow

Devora died within the past few months. I didn’t know her very well, as we only met twice. She was the ‘three score and ten’ and more years, and when we last met in August 2007 she was looking forward to continuing her studies on ‘Morality’, which she explained as the quest for ‘justice’ in society.

She had pursued lots of activities, as well as bringing up her family in Stretford; she had been active in Circle Dancing for many years [ ], as well as photography. I met her only because in August 2006 I had mentioned to her daughter that I’d started an evening class in photography, and was needing to buy a fully-manual 35 mm. film camera. Her Mom, Devora, immediately offered me her Asahi Pentax K-1000 camera which had been lying around the house for a while. She also offered me a fully-kitted-out photo-processing darkroom. I seized the opportunity and drove up to Manchester, and ‘Hey voila!’ [ ].

We chatted incessantly about all sorts of things; illnesses (she had a few chronic ailments, and I’d just had an operation, so we traded symptoms), photography (she started early on, and by the 1960’s and ‘70s, she knew that she wanted a 35 mm. manual camera. The camera shop in Piccadilly told her about the excellent abilities of the Pentax K-1000 so she bought it. And she really enjoyed taking photos, and developing and printing), and families and religion and relationships, in a general sort of way.
She introduced me to China tea [ and ] which I have drunk assiduously since (China tea (the Yunnan, Jasmine and Lapsang variety) is MUCH more refreshing than coffee, which I had been drinking lots of for the previous forty years !), and I find Waitrose is my best supplier in London.

So Devora, thanks so much for giving me the Pentax K-1000 camera. I have used it frequently in my search for better photos. I am especially proud of the colour transparencies I took in Docklands a year ago; I used Fuji Velvia 50 ISO film with the f 1.2 lens (see my earlier photo blog from July 2008, where one of these photos of Canada Water has been included). The vibrancy of colour, and the depth of shading makes that image very appealing to me. Yes I have other cameras now (a Pentax ES II 35 mm. film, Canon digital SLR, and a Lubbitel medium-format film (120 mm. x 120 mm. size negative) but the K-1000 remains my favourite. This is partly because of its provenance (I got to meet Devora, and to chat for hours that weekend) and partly because it is such a fabulous piece of equipment.
I am going to Manchester for Devora’s ‘stonesetting ceremony’ [ ] tomorrow morning. I will take a few minutes there to contemplate friendships, and life and accomplishments, and ideas and dreams. Then I’ll make my way back to London.

ANGINA - Fun with my Echo-Cardiogram

I am NOT a medical person, so my blog entries are only from a ‘normal patient’s’ point of view . . .
This is about how Ultra-sound is used to see ‘real-time’ heart activity. Medics use it to check the ‘structure and movement’ of the patient’s heart muscle. [ & ].

I had one yesterday at Homerton Hospital [ ]. You lie on a comfy bed for a half-hour while the cardiologist uses a probe (a small thing with a stethescope-type end) to look at the heart from outside the rib-cage; they take readings from various points on the patient’s chest and back, and it’s all stored on the hard-disk drive as a ‘film’. We had a great time, chatting about all sorts of things (heart ‘procedures’, education in our respective home countries, teenagers’ behaviour in various places we’d lived, etc, etc.). After what seemed like no time at all, he said ‘Sit up, it’s all done’. He showed me clips of the moving film; it looked like a pulsating bit of tissue, back and forth, back and forth, symmetrical valves opening and shutting in perfect syncopation. The Echo-CG doesn't just look at the outside of the heart, it gives pictures from half-way through, like a sliced-open view. How cool is that !!

The cardiologist explained that from his tests he could say that I had “ . . . come to the hospital in time.” One of the tests I’d had early-on was for a particular ‘protein marker’ in the blood, which if it had been there would have shown that I’d previously had a heart attack ( ). That protein wasn’t found, so they concluded that I’d not yet had a heart attack (heart attacks can damage the heart, which is a muscle and therefore can be damaged, just like any other). So I had no apparent tissue or nerve damage from that possible cause; the various valves and other bits were in good working order.

I am very confident now that I’ll be able to get on with my cardiac rehabilitation, which I started this week. Cadiac Rehab is exercise and diet and ‘lifestyle advice’, in my case at the local Sports centre [ ], and it’s paid for by the NHS. I’ll try and generate a new blog post on the rehab. It is hard work, but it is a lot of fun (something to do with the instructors).

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Before & After ECG's

The top ECG shows my heart rhythm at rest the morning of the 'procedure' (operation, to you and I). Blood Pressure BEFORE was something like 130 over 90.

The bottom ECG shows my heart rhythm within an hour after the successful procedure. Blood Pressure was something like 120 over 73 after the procedure.

To put this in some type of perspective, before I went to hospital my blood pressure was something like 155 over 97. It meant that my heart was working a lot harder BEFORE, just to do the same job, pumping blood around. Lower blood pressure means a more relaxed heart. And, the big picture about blood pressure is at , courtesy of the nice people at British Heart Foundation.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

ANGINA - My story

I didn't realise how ill I was, and it took ages for me to get around to seeing the doctor . . . I guess I didn't want to make a fuss. In retrospect this was very silly of me. But read on . . .

It all started about a year ago . . . in July the two of us went on a walking holiday in the Lake District, which involved trotting up and down hills across fields and meadows, and taking lots and lots of photos. We enjoyed ourselves, and went on to stop in Manchester and then Bridlington, always walking and seeing lots of scenic views. In September I bought a new pair of trainers (Asics, just the thing for joint support on hard surfaces, for an overweight runner) but I found that I could only run/ jog for 100 metres before I was out of breath, with tightness in the chest . . . this went on for a few weeks after which I stopped, thinking I was just too unfit and should try something easier. I was feeling depressed about this, but life being what it is, I got so busy doing college one day a week and working four days a week as a teacher that fitness slipped right down the agenda. What I didn't do AND SHOULD HAVE DONE THEN WAS TALK TO SOMEONE . . maybe even the doctor. So, fast-forward to May/ June, I’d been taking public transport to work and college, and I found I had to stop and rest when I walked to the Underground station, after 200 metres.
At this point I felt alarmed because I had never been so unfit before. I still didn't notice the increasingly fast progression from being able to do normal activities (swimming, cycling, running) slowly, to not even being able to walk from A to B.
In July I went to the GP, and things REALLY changed with the ONE HOUR time-slot he gave me. He asked the right questions, and he then worked out how serious my case was. I had an ECG at hospital; they said ‘Everything’s OK, but come back after your holiday’. So, when I got back from Cornwall I went to hospital, where they kept me in for a day to get ready for the ‘treadmill test’ (walking up an incline, faster and faster until you get chest pain). I didn’t last long (three minutes) but with that and lots of blood tests, readings of this that and the other six times a day over a week, they had all the information needed to say that I had ANGINA . . . and they could fix it, because I was on the Fast Track Cardiac Care programme [ ]. I went to the Heart Hospital at Harley Street [ ] on a Monday morning, had the procedure at 13.00 h and was back at the original hospital again by evening. I had an Angiogram [ keyhole surgery, a catheter put into top of leg and pushed up to heart along artery , see, the booklet download called Angina ] with three Angioplasty’s [ tiny steel mesh tubes, stuck in where the artery is clogged up, and these are enlarged to help the blood flow faster ]. You are conscious the whole time, and you can see the entire procedure (operation, to you and I) in ‘real-time’ on huge TV monitors overhead; it sounds weird, but works fine. I was sent home the next day, with three types of meds. The Cardiac Rehabilitation nurse had advised me there is an exercise and diet programme for recovering heart patients, and I am due to join it [,3918,249,400 ].



WOW . . . so far, two weeks after I returned home it’s a new lease on life, much better mobility, no more acute chest pains, no more stopping going up stairs.
That’s the story, and there is only one more comment to add. This made my hospital stay very enjoyable, and made me think again about the commitment of regular medical staff, as well as the specialist doctors and nurses I met.
Starting with the GP’s and the support staff at my usual doctor’s group practice office, and running through my stay for a week at the Homerton teaching hospital in the University College Hospital NHS group, and my ‘procedure’ at the Heart Hospital, I felt that my treatment and well-being was at the centre of everyone’s concern. Yes, there were another 34 patients in the Acute Care Unit, and they all had various treatments and procedures, but I felt the analysis and treatment given to me was the very best. I thanked all the doctors and nurses, and the lovely support staff as well. I’ve just rung the press office at the British Heart Foundation asking them about how my blog might be useful for others awaiting treatment for heart conditions; I’ll e-mail them my blog-link, in case they might want to add it to a ‘case study’.

Yes, if you want to find out more about heart complaints, go to They’ve got lots of downloads on diet, conditions, treatments, exercise, smoking, and on and on. I have printed out the full-colour poster on ‘Foods to watch out for’, 'Foods to eat occasionally’, and ‘Healthiest choices’.
I’ve started my Cardiac Rehabilitation programme today, and hope to write a new blog about this. There’s likely to be yet another blog about how I’m losing weight [ BMI of 33 at present, calculated at ] but I know I need to drop from 215 pounds to 163 pounds to get the CORRECT BMI of about 24.9. Your comments are indeed welcome. I am sorry there’s no pictures in this blog, but more later . . .

Sunday, 20 July 2008

I love these shots . . . what d'ye think ??

These images are in the exhibition but haven't sold yet. The square one is a medium-format fllm negative shot of Spitalfields, London, June '08. The 'underbelly' shot is a DSLR shot of Heron Quays DLR station, and the reflection shot is colour transparency (Fuji Velvia 50), taken at Canada Water, Albion Channel. Both shots below taken on 06 September '07.

Hey, I actually have a photo order book . . .

These four sold today. The square one is a medium-format film negative shot of Finsbury Circus, City of London, June '08. The rest are shot with the Canon 350 DSLR, 24-105 mm lens. The biplanes were part of an air-show at Clacton, Essex last August, the boat is beached in St Osyth, near Clacton, last August, and the weird clouds are at 1/3100 second from a high-speed train zooming in the Midlands last July. They were all sold as surface-mounted images.