Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Carnival Captured exhibition

The Carnival Village Trust have just held a multi-media art competition to mark 50 years of the Notting Hill Carnival. 

There is a free exhibition of selected entries at the Tabernacle, 34-35 Powis Square, W11 2AY, until 5 March 2017, 10am-9pm.

I won second prize in the 18+ category with these five drawings. Elimu Carnival Band and Paddington Arts kindly allow me to draw people getting ready in the morning. It's indoors, and quiet, with a proper chair. 

This photograph, taken in 1994 by Chandra Prasad, is the competition winner. It looks at skin but is the only image in the show which gets under the skin of the carnival. No one is smiling. Hard to date (and hard to photograph in the gallery lighting), it's in one of those parts of Notting Hill haunted by Peter Rachman.

And do you know who this woman is? She was dancing at last year's carnival. It would be nice to find her before the exhibition ends. This photo, by Denise Turley, shared third prize.

Thanks are due to the competition benefactors - Arts Council England, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Tabernacle and the Westway Trust.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Job application

Dear Ms Hawkins,

We are writing to apply for the post of President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom on a job-sharing basis.

We note that high judicial office is a requirement for the post [it isn't - ed]. We sit at a height of five feet on our retail display point, which gives us an advantage over other applicants. Our bench, being made of glass, offers complete transparency.

We have observed with pleasure the Court’s thoughtful gesture in placing the TV monitors so that, while fulfilling our duties in the cafeteria, we can hear the oral submissions.

We exist in multiples, so we can be in more than one place at a time – something denied to the present incumbent although we believe he would find it extremely useful.

While we have travelled in the briefcases of many senior legal entities and shared their boudoirs, we are noted for our discretion, even though our eyes really do follow you round the room.

Our contribution to debate would be modest; our judgments would be noted for brevity, or even for total absence; and we would find the interview stage of this application rather challenging; but the role which we are proud to uphold in society would make it impossible for us to be defined as ‘enemies of the people’.

As some of our friends in the USA may need to be reminded, we represent a voice, albeit a very quiet one, for unity: E PLURIBUS URSUS.

Yours respectfully,

The bears of the Supreme Court and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

PS We regret that our application was unsuccessful, so we have been busy with our helpful book, The Supreme Court: A Guide for Bears.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Supreme Court: council policy out of the window

Blind cord, Court 2
First up, phobias. Poshteh v Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is about post traumatic stress disorder, not phobia, but I’m going to link them as they both enrage people who apply terms such as ‘reasonable’, ‘objectivity’ and ‘pull yourself together’.

My first memory is of being scared witless by some geezer with a fake white beard and red hood. Later, as a student, I was being paid to chop vegetables in a private house on Christmas day. The grandfather crept up behind me in costume and said, ‘Don’t peek, it’s Santa Claus.’ I spun round in terror and to this day I marvel that I didn't stab him as a reflex.

This case also involves an asylum-seeker. The Royal Borough once asked me to draw at an event for looked-after children, some of whom had been asylum-seekers or refugees. Some were from Eritrea. Some had arrived in this country alone. They were a great bunch, and they will always be ambassadors. 

So, as a nation, let’s not turn our back on more kids like these, eh? While we allow rich people from overseas to buy properties and leave them empty?

Empty or full, the housing stock in Kensington and Chelsea is varied. Slapdash Victorian speculators, Peter Rachman and the Luftwaffe have all left their mark

Nowadays, casual violations of planning and conservation rules pop up like weeds. Together with legally permitted vanity projects. And don’t get me started on the basements. If there isn't enough room for you and your cigar storage around here, go to Bracknell.

Today’s case concerns Vida Poshteh who was tortured and imprisoned in Iran. She applied for asylum in the UK; she and her child were housed temporarily by RBKC. 

She was offered permanent accommodation in a housing association flat with a round living-room window but on viewing it she had a panic attack and turned the flat down. She suffers from PTSD and her prison cell had a round window. No one is suggesting that she is lying. The council says she should just live there anyway.

The bench proffers suggestions – that she should maybe put a curtain over the round window or never go into the living room. 

This is kindly meant, but to a PTSD-sufferer it is likely to have overtones of the bloody chamber.

For a couple of seconds we see a photo of the living room
The council says that the window is three feet in diameter, set in a wall five feet three inches wide. There is a rectangular window in the same room. It sounds like some unpardonable jeu d’esprit on the part of an architecture student.

Ms Poshteh’s undoing in the Court of Appeal seems to have been that she had initially agreed to live in that flat on a temporary basis. The council wished to construe this as permanent. But sometimes you might just say things to get authority figures off your back. Ms Poshteh has been served with an eviction notice. Happy Christmas.

Window fastenings in Court 2 look like handcuffs