With the ever increasing take over of North Kensington real estate by the socially detached, we’ve seen learning facilities invade our community that are not even close to home-grown.
Not so with The Lloyd Williamson Schools. It’s probably the most local private school in the area with most students living within a mile or two of the school. On observation, it seems to express more of an interest in the teaching of ethics, cultural diversity and also, equipping the students to tackle the changing world, with an entrepreneurial spirit of open-mindedness.
I find their strict mobile phone rule fascinating. As insignificant as it may sound, I can say with confidence that you will never see anybody neglecting one and other distracted by a mobile phone, neither staff, parent or student. I don’t think the reason needs an explanation. For those who realise the distraction that devices have been on children and adults, you will be thankful for this little policy in your child’s surroundings, rest assured. The unique way that kids of all ages gender and race interact is very Montessori-ish, though it is not a Montessorri school.
Lloyd Williamson open days Wednesday the 14th March (10am to 7pm) and Friday the 16th March (10am -3pm).
Who would have guessed that the most attractive currency in the world could be something that you cannot touch, taste, smell or hear? In fact, you cannot physically experience it outside of seeing it represented on a digital screen.
Cryptocurrencies are not yet the most powerful currency but as people become familiar with the circulation of bespoke non-physical coins, it seems to be heading that way, ultimately killing the dollar and decentralising the money system.
But this will not be immediate, the Queen B on the block is Bitcoin and she means different things to different people. As she flirts with investors and anarcho-capitalists alike they all want a bit.
I have often pondered on how today’s world of escalating dishonour, in every facet of trade, could be reverted back to good old trust. And suddenly, from the least likely place, my questions are answered. A catalyst for change in the form of a coin. What have we done to deserve this? Nothing really, I guess the heavens showed mercy on those of us who actually want a fairer world. Or maybe it is a curse for those who get paid from its imbalance. All we really need is a little gratitude, to say thank you and to make sure that the security of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain is upheld as a standard for mankind. Hopefully, before extremists succeed in resetting this crooked world.
What’s All The Fuss About?
It’s a very, very big thing, even if you don’t know it yet, you soon will.In 2010 I was baffled by the concept of E-gold so I became curious. Virtual gold backed by real gold? How can you trust it, who, what, where, why?
I was lead to discover that people were beginning to use an alternative currency called Bitcoin. Immediately I thought that this may be the beginning of my ideal – A world of unregulated, free trade. Being a traditionalist at heart, a currency that you cannot touch seemed well abstract and wasn’t easy for me to accept, but on the other hand, a currency owned by the people: understandable. All this caused me to delve deeper into a more abstract concept called cryptocurrencymining which basically involves virtual miners (manned computer hardware) solving a digital request in the form of an algorithm and a complex equation verifying transactions on a blockchain. With this done successfully, the miner is remunerated in Bitcoin. The request normally aims to verify a ledger entry.
Even after reading numerous articles, and watching as many videos, it all still made no sense to me. My interest suddenly disappeared after realising the amount of processing power needed to generate a substantial amount of Bitcoin (more here). It was an investment that I felt was too expensive, time-consuming and risky; it didn’t quite weigh up.
Fast forward five years, I only recently returned as what I call, a late-early adopter as this was just before the period of mass awareness – 2016 to the present. My interest soared. I now see that I was clueless (and still am) as to how many fresh possibilities cryptocurrencies offered. It’s almost a sin not to know.
Although much about this new type of money has become common talk, I still couldn’t grasp a full understanding of it. I put this down to the complexity, the huge scope of this money of account thing, the volatility and the many huge unanswered questions surrounding it. But now, I think it’s safe to say that four years on, many of the initial issues, such as the convenience and transfer times, have been addressed with its natural evolution. By the growing amount of startups and the thousands of crypto exchanges emerging online right off of its back, you can see that the world is shifting.
We’re in an atomised society, but you’re not an atom, you’re a social, interdependent human. So, with the demise of the extended family system, the weakness of the nuclear family system and the rise of the lone individual consumer system, finding community is necessary.
Where’s your group? What’s your group? Who’s got your back when you’re down, out or lonesome? We whittled matters down to one question and asked it to a load of Londoners. One respondent told me that the breakdown of the family system is “actually against natural law as it leaves most people desperate and stressed with feelings of redundancy, unworthiness, detachment at the cost of a feeling of separation rather than attachment” – well put.
The question was the same to each person: “What do you get from your group that you wouldn’t otherwise have in your life?”
Agathe told me about her meditation group:
“Whenever I walk in to ‘our’ room I am enveloped with a feeling of welcoming and acceptance. A feeling that I have a place there, so it’s a sense of belonging…a feeling of support from others. It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling, how I’m meditating, those in the group do not judge me and often they can also relate to me. I know this because we talk openly about things that matter to us and that we wouldn’t talk about so easily to others. What a treasure and comfort it is to be able to talk about who we are, to be able to connect – in an unstable and constantly changing world – to our unmoving and unmovable self in a safe and supported environment. What we have in our group is friendship based on truth and compassion”.
Antonio talked about group psychotherapy:
“We are very interested in each other’s pain, we become kind, loving and compassionate…Without the group I would be less accepting, less tolerant. I’ve learned acceptance and tolerance in my group”.
Alice participates in a variety of groups – addiction recovery, yoga, employment:
“Connection – identification and closeness to people with who I share a common bond and/or interest (the purpose of the group). Group participation takes away a layer of separation between people, and brings those who might not otherwise socialise together under a common purpose or interest. Groups remove the superficial reason for separation – gender, age, race etc. between people.
From this connection stem opportunities for intimacy, the sharing of thoughts, ideas and where appropriate feelings, which, in my experience, reinforce the sense of connection between people… From intimacy stem a whole load of emotions – hope, excitement, sadness, fear, love – all of which ultimately result in a sense of fulfilment – the acknowledgement that I am alive and living”.
Martin talked about his family:
“I feel that being part of my sibling group gives me a support and a feeling of value. Inside the family, because we are totally familiar, there is an awareness of the full capacity of my commitment the group. So, when help is required I am asked only what I am capable of. I feel happy to be of service and have a sense of value because I am useful to great people that matter to me. To me, the family group is a symbiotic relationship that feeds everyone involved and expands the spirit. Groups outside of this can feel contractual and draining, without the end feelings of voluntary service. I imagine the difference between receiving a letter from a friend in need and a letter from the tax office. One group leaves you feeling useful”.
So the key to success could be getting as close to a healthy family dynamic as possible…
Jason: “I’ve been going to men’s groups for the last three years”:
“The feelings I get within them are a mixture of frustration, challenge and at times a sense of deep connection. On the whole, they are something that nurtures my soul, rather than just banter or goal-orientated back slapping.
One is a Ritual Group. Men who come here are looking for deeper or spiritual exploration to see their life anew. Men are part of the group, but somehow go beyond it, going into a deep personal space, which may or may not be shared.
Usually a key function of all these groups is a talking circle. Or more accurately a listening circle. Men take turns to speak without interruptions. The intentions are to be lean of speech, talking from the heart and only saying what is most essential. There is no direct feedback. This would shut down and close off what the speaker is going through.
This is the most important thing we can give to each other, to be heard. Only I am in a position to help myself, and I know more about my problem than any of you. Advice is useless. Empathy is useful.
Sometimes it’s powerful and enough to hear someone talking about their own story instead of talking about mine directly and seeing the parallels to find solutions. Hearing their struggles can sometimes help me find strength in managing my own tribulations.
With women in the group, unconscious power structures come into the dynamic, which is not useful for heart speaking.
In support groups, I am usually challenged on my intentions and thoughts. Men will actually say to my face that they think I am wasting my time, or avoiding important decisions based on what they know of me. Very useful; who in the world actually tells us what we need, due to fear of offence or because they can’t be bothered?
In the support group I currently go to, we initiate each other and de-initiate each other, challenging ourselves on why we are entering or leaving the group, what we offer to it. We have a charge circle, putting out into the open things we feel are uncomfortable about each other, and what they in turn say about us. We take turns to lead and give each other feedback on our leadership. We spend time in nature as a group.
Above all, men’s groups give me a chance to be brotherly towards other men, in a deep and caring way. A form of love which is not idealised or sexualised. Something plain and solid like a shaker chair”.
The Dalai Lama
(no quotation marks, this is me writing, not him) When DL first visited the United States in 1979, he was shocked to hear how much self-loathing was implied in the questions he was asked by his audiences. He attributed the self-hatred to the alienation brought about by the dominance of the nuclear family system, in contrast to the traditional extended family in India and Tibet.
A retreat into a world of one is a safety blanket but the atomization of our culture is shaping our ideas and attitudes about ourselves. How do we habitually see ourselves? Dignified and noble? Or very negatively? From nagging pessimism about our value to the depths of darkness and loathing, my thoughts are often turned against myself.
A disconnection between the internal and external is exposed and hope lies in recognizing and nurturing the internal. This cannot be done alone. Where is your group in 2018?
Urban Dandy Meditation will take place for the first time on Thursday 15th February, 7:30pm in the Library, downstairs at Essex Unitarian Church, 112 Palace Gardens Terrace, Notting Hill Gate, W8 4RT.
Free meditation class for the North Kensington community, learn/practise transcendental meditation, there will be readings of literature and poetry, information, discussion…All faiths/no faith, come as you are, everybody welcome,
It may or may not be something that caught your attention but if you live in Notting Hill, there is a conflict going on in your neighbourhood that’s similar to a tug of war and it’s been going on ever since the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June. Although technically the issue was alive way before the fire, the events surrounding the tragedy seem to have exacerbated the situation. It appears at first glance to be the community’s reclamation of property from the corporate real estate community killers, but it’s more accurate to describe it as the community trying to hold on to their right of abode and seeking some kind of guarantee that their landlords give a …(explicit)… and actually want them there.
While you sleep, groups of regular people like you that do not own property in London are awake at ungodly hours printing flyers, writing letters, emails, creating banners and appealing to any government official that will listen to them to secure YOUR homes. That is of course if you are a tenant of Notting Hill or Genesis Housing.
Two of the largest housing associations in the country, Notting Hill, and Genesis, both members of the G15 (an amalgamated group of UK housing associations), have decided to join forces merging their tenancy obligations into one big soup. On tacitly agreeing to this with no disclosure of the pros and cons underlying the merger, tenants are pretty disgruntled. Why? Well, to start with they have not consented to it and feel marginalised in such a major move. Also, there’s a resounding feeling that their acquiescence plays a large part in them moving this forward in a swift need-to-know only basis. The suspicious manner in which this is being executed raises questions as to the legality of it all especially in the way it was sprung on the community right after the fire.Continue reading →
North Kensington in West London changed forever following the Grenfell Tower fire disaster of June 14th this year. Already known for its street art, the area’s walls have become a canvas for tributes to those lost in the fire, a space for free expression and to vent rage, without a media filter. A semiotics expert and local resident, Chris Arning, looked at the possible meanings and genesis of a striking example of post-Grenfell North Ken street art… What is Semiotics?
Semiotics derives from the ancient Greek word semion, meaning ‘sign’ and is a subject devoted to evidence-based analysis of signs and meaning. It is a field that encompasses culture, communication and meaning and includes logos, branding and street art.
North Kensington is replete with street art. Of course there is always a flurry of artists before carnival every year, but since Grenfell in June, a lot of other types of pieces have appeared: the modified London Underground Love sign and a great Grenfell RIP on the corner of the Acklam Road on the left as you turn off from Ladbroke Grove towards Portobello – done, I think, by Code FC. Street art is the medium and message of anonymous resistance. It is done to show that whatever the official story, the streets is watching and people know what is going on – sgraffiti means ‘scribbilings’ (from the Italian sgraffio, to scratch) something that goes back at least to ancient Rome.
On the way home a few weeks ago, I happened upon a strange sign on a wall off Powis Square. It sort of stopped me in its tracks because there was an uncanniness about it, both familiar and eerie. I’m writing a book on semiotics at the moment, as you do, and I was intrigued so thought I’d take a pic and have since pondered what it might mean. I deciphered the letters tangled up together as RBKC. This is the old logo of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. You can still see it on some of the street signs of the borough.
I have reproduced the street art above, alongside an embossed version on a local street light.
Carlos Santana, Prodigy, Grand Master Flash. Whitesnake and Jellybean Benitez. What’s the connection?
The band Babe Ruth.
♩ ‘Chico Fernandes, Sleepin’ on his gun’… ♪
I’m honoured to have been able to conduct this interview for Urban Dandy and for DJs and music lovers everywhere as it is very personal to me meeting with a group that contributed to such a joyful time in my childhood. In fact, the whole thing turned out to be more of an insightful and flowing discussion with lots of laughs and a journey down memory lane really, making sense of musical things that at the time I was too young to understand. After listening to over two hours of raw audio, time constraints forced us to edit down some of the gems we received. That, coupled with the compromised audio (my fault) made it a task to expeditiously deliver these wise and inspiring words, but luckily, in no way did this affect the essence of our interview with the legends. We hope you enjoy.
Janita Haan is the lead singer in the band. Along with David Punshon Keyboardist, the two of them make up a significant portion of Babe Ruth. Both of them co-wrote and/or performed major parts in the composition of a host of great songs they released including the classic of 1972 ‘The Mexican’. Not that it’s all about The Mexican but that song, in particular, is a very important part of the band’s identity. If you’re not familiar with the cultural reach of the genre fluid masterpiece, it’s high time you explored it further as it is a cultural study in and of itself. Me: the song pierced my soul through a window called Hip Hop, for some it may have been Rock, Latin or maybe even a house mix. Yet the unintended world B Boy anthem was recorded here on UK soil, which makes it even more fascinating and dissident in its form, much in accord with the band itself-Babe Ruth.
Janita Haan: I‘m from England but my formative years were in California.
UDL: Do you think that had a lot of influence on your music?
Janita Haan: Oh yeah. I mean for me it was. I think I’d just finished high school but I wanted to sing, really wanted to sing, and around that time I was in the Bay area around Santana, Janis Joplin, Miles Davis,Sly And The Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane. It was lovely, it was just fantastic, musically for me, you’d get the feel of Candlestick Park, I used to bunk off school and go down with a frisbee to the park.
It was a magical time, especially when I came back to England the thirdSantana album had just come out,so all I had with me when Icame back was the album to make me break my way through, (laughs)I didn’t know anybody.
So I had to start from right at the bottom to make connections, I was only 18, it was pretty scary for me.
UDL: Was there a level of Intrigue about you coming from America to England? People are normally fascinated with someone being from somewhere else. Were you the American girl?
Janita Haan: Well, I suppose with California because I was a California hippy. At that point, I was back with my English family and that freaked them out cos I was just this wild child. They kicked me out after a bit so I had to find my own way, that was a bit scary but I knew I wanted to sing. I came across some lovely people along the way. Once I came across this little studio I can’t remember where it was but they would allow me to come after sessions at night because I had to work to earn some money to pay my rent, but I hadn’t much left after that (laughs) I had about two quid to get food and everything which wasn’t much. Back in the day, the tubes were not like they are now, you could hop on and off.
So this little studio place would let me go in after hours and practice with their mics, then I got enough confidence to answer ads in the Melody Maker. It was very scary I hadn’t been in a band before then.I answered an ad for a Band called March Hare, I nearly got the gig for that. I didn’t quite get it and the next one after that was for Shack lock… Babe Ruth used to be called Shack Lock. Dave Hewitt answered the phone and said ‘What are you like’? and I said I’m 5ft and I play the congas (laughs). Cos I hitched up and down California and one time I was out there with these Hells Angels and they had me play congas. So they came to… where did you come to, Finch House was it?
Dave Punshon: I think so, we turned up and all I remember is your tea set it was like really, really Mary Poppins, all quaint China and I thought ‘Wow! That’s ornate’. Continue reading →