The High Tea Cast in Festival Mud Shocker!

30 Aug

You may have noticed the HTC lasses have been a little quiet over the past few days – perhaps taking a Bank Holiday hiatus you thought? Putting our feet up and planning Episode 2 maybe?

No. We were actually rolling about in mud, sleeping in a tent and rocking hard to some awesome bands at The Reading Festival!

We packed up our things bright and breezy on Thursday morning, grabbed friend of HTC and honorary festival virgin Eleni Cashell and headed fast into the pouring rain that awaited us.

Check back all this week for festival highlights, fashion faux pas, top tips and new music to watch out for here on The High Tea Cast blog, and look out for the Reading Festival special section on Episode 2 of the podcast next week.

In the meantime…have fun with these!

How To Be A Woman: The Boy’s View

22 Aug

Episode One of the High Tea Cast was influenced a whole lot by the new age feminist that is Caitlin Moran. She provoked a risqué comparison of body part naming, an in depth discussion on who should be wearing what underwear – and when – and exactly how much the dreaded Brazilian wax SERIOUSLY smarts.

We appealed for a boys point of view… And now we have one. Introducing the HTC’s first time blog contribution from Dom Stevenson: the male feminist that every girl hopes to find.

How To Be A Woman: A Contribution by Dom Stevenson.

 

It is scary being a man. I have been both condemned and thanked for opening doors for people and offering seats on the tube. I have occasionally been scowled at for apparently seeming to suggest that someone was not capable of opening a door for themselves and I have been thanked for my tube seat by people who have very obviously had a much more strenuous day than myself. It’s nice to be nice after all.

The confusion about feminism is that no one has ever explained it to me in language that I can actually compute, until now.

I come from an area where there is no discrepancy in pay. The biggest employers in Grimsby are a temporary job agency who provides staff to factories where frozen fish is packed. The agency offer a flat rate for anybody who so chooses to apply and that is that. In the supermarket where I used to work, everyone was paid the same low wage for doing their job.

My career so far has not scaled the dizzy heights to the level where some are paid more than others for doing the same job and therefore the arguments about men getting paid more than women fell on slightly sticky out deaf ears.

Since I graduated I have worked for four bosses, three women and one man. All of these managers have been employed by the NHS and so as far as I am aware, they are on the same rigid banded wage structure that I still find myself languishing at the bottom of. Wage increases in the NHS, at the levels that I know of, occur through length of service and promotion. I have never witnessed somebody being discriminated against because of their sex.

To me sexism is like racism and homophobia – foreign concepts that I cannot quite get my head around. It should never ever be justified to discriminate because of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation and that is why I loathe filling out those forms where I have to list all of that information so that employers can ensure that they recruit a cross section of society. As far as I am concerned every job should be recruited for on merit and I fully suspect that if it was, then there would be a much wider variety of people employed by all employers.

Those are my thoughts and a bit about where I come from. I hope that you don’t think I am a raging sexist for opening a door for someone and I hope you don’t think I am a sap for offering my seat to a tired/old/pregnant/disabled person on the tube.

When I picked up Caitlin Moran’s book, ‘How to be a woman’, I expected a lot but only because I had previously read some of her work and enjoyed it. She writes with the elegance that both people with a similar background to her can understand and comprehend, and those who perceive themselves to be above her, are in awe of.

I look upon her as one of ‘my’ people. We come from some of the less exciting places in the country but it doesn’t mean that we have nothing to say, nor does it mean we do not have the skill to say what we want to say.

The first thing that struck me was the honesty. She was fat, she wore her mothers underwear and she used to (may still do) masturbate with an extraordinary reverence to library books. She has a very clear idea throughout the book of the issues she wants to address and does it in some of the most delicious language that a blank page has ever been blessed with.

Men often want to know what is going on inside a woman’s head. We want to know because sometimes we just have no idea. Books like The Female Eunuch have led men to believe that all feminists drink their menstrual blood, burn their bra’s and try to kick men into the gutter. Though inspired by Germaine Greer, Caitlin is very keen to stay away from the ball breaking stereotype of a feminist whilst still making sure that everyone knows that feminism is their responsibility. It is up to women to pursue the life that they want and for men to pursue the life that they want and all that she is really advocating is to be nice to each other and realise that neither party are the enemy.

At this juncture I don’t quite know what you, the reader, will think of me. Maybe I am a simplistic and idealistic fool but despite my unadulterated enjoyment of the book as a piece of writing, I wish there was no need for it ever to have been written.

Arguments against a fifth wave of feminism, as Caitlin puts it, are very weak. Yes women have the vote, they have the right to education, employment and the like but that isn’t enough. The more I read the more I understand how the playing field isn’t really level. It is a perception because the majority now are not in the position where they will bear witness to prejudice. As I previously said, I have not witnessed sex discrimination over wages but I know it must be happening. You only have to listen to how some people talk to know that given the opportunity, they would begrudge a woman a fair shot at the top.

I do believe that although my generation didn’t create all of this, it is our role to end all of this. Men and women must stand up for what they want, learn from each other and most of all, be nice.

When I am older, I don’t want my children to be throwing stones at a girl in the park because she is fat and I don’t want them to expect sexual gratification by threatening to tell everybody that a girl is frigid is she doesn’t offer it. I want them to be nice.

 

Five things men think:

1. That the woman they love can look incredibly sexy wearing big knickers. There is NO need to force string around your crotch to persuade us of anything. Although as Caitlin correctly points out, a nice bra can distract from the parts of a woman that they may have the biggest complexes about;

2. We don’t like watching porn where a faked titted woman produced shrill squeals that only dogs can truly pick up. We (don’t tell anyone) actually like it when women enjoy themselves too;

3. Women make better bosses and we would quite like to see them shoot up the career ladder because it makes work a much more enjoyable experience;

4. A lot of the time, we do just think of everyone as ‘the guys’. We don’t mentally separate men from women;

5. We wish there wasn’t a need for feminism, we weren’t the generations past that created the need for it and we will fight as hard as anybody to ensure that feminism, racism, sexism, homophobia and the like are things read in history books, not things that occur in our society.

 

‘How to be a woman’ is a book that everybody should read, firstly because it is a bloody good book, but secondly, because you might learn something. I thought of myself a liberal sort but the further into the world of Caitlin Moran I get, the more I am self-reflecting and realising what an utter idiot I have been in the past.  I was selfish beyond belief, arrogant beyond imagination and all this whilst moaning that I was hard done by.

We must fight the good fight for equality together.

 

On a final note, I will end with a twitter anecdote:

@dom_stevenson “Man on tube gave me funny look for reading @caitlinmoran so I mouthed ‘I am a feminist’ at him and he looked scared”

reply

@caitlinmoran “@dom_stevenson I love you. Very sincerely”

 

I hope I can keep it up.

 

People we love: Bangs and a Bun

18 Aug

We HTC girls have lots on our plates. Alongside our pretty pod, Sam is head of Catch 22’s volunteer unit and balances blogging with baking on an epic scale. Lea juggles Apple communications with magazines, lingerie and soon a little blogging for Old Spitalfields Market. We nurture and baby our lovely HTC blog in our own time. Wouldn’t it be just perfect to make a living out of our beloved blogging? What we need is a little something to show us how to brand, plan and publicise a blog that brings in the lolly and a career all at once.

Oh, hello Bangs…

Bangs and a Bun is a London based blogger of the most prolific kind. She’s smart, funny, gets thousands of hits every day on her blog and – most enviously – that is her job. She is a full time blogger.

The beautiful Jo Gifford of Cherry Sorbet hosted a Cyber Savvy event at our beloved Drink Shop Do so that Bangs – real name Muireann Carey-Campbell (pronounced Mirren) – could tell us how to make our blogs a real success… with a couple of epic stories thrown in (death threats for dissing Madonna… Only Bangs!). We tweeted live from the workshop under #CSBANGS about the key points you need to consider to be seriously blog and brand savvy. They are:

  • Have a plan! Bangs planned her blog posts for months before starting (so, my Digital Manager at work was right then!)
  • Be prepared to talk about your blog to everyone, and everywhere. Get blog business cards
  • Go self hosted – far easier to create your brand and image
  • Look at the posts that are getting the most attention, and work out why – maybe they are the ones that will keep your audience coming back
  • Tweet about your blog incessantly – if you are not annoying yourself, you are not tweeting enough! *
After a couple of hours chatting to the inspiration that is Bangs and consuming our fair share of tea and cake (what else?), we left with a handful of new friends, a massive girl crush on Jo – event hostess extraordinaire – and a big fat catalyst to make The High Tea Cast bigger and better as we build up episodes and attention.
Thanks Bangs – with you’re help, we plan to stick around for a good long while!
*Points taken from Sam’s blog: All things good and proper.

Tea, Cake & Cocktails – Cox, Cookies & Cake

15 Aug

For the first The High Tea Cast episode, we wanted a double header of seriously good cake shop reviews. I’d heard some pretty mixed messages about Cox, Cookies & Cake, but as we were going to be only 5 minutes around the corner conducting our first podcast interview, it seemed liked the perfect place to try and check out for ourselves.

Sandwiched between the various sex shops of Soho, and in fact looking itself like a fluro-lit purveyor of all things illicit and sex-like it isn’t exactly the sort of place where you might expect to find decent cake and a coffee.  But we were up for it none the less – and anyway it was pouring with rain and we wanted to get inside!

The lighting was absolutely hideous for photos, but you get the idea from these I hope. We were presented at the counter with a selection of highly decorated, quite big cupcakes in a variety of flavours for £4, and then some slightly smaller, less ostentatious ones for £2.50. £4 is an awful lot to pay for a cup cake, but we were there, and we hadn’t eaten much so we went for it nonetheless.  We managed for find somewhere to sit (note – Cox, Cookies & Cake is really only good for takeaway.  There are 5 bar stools under 2 high bars, but that is the only seating available.  We were very lucky to get the set of three bar stools on that cold and rainy day!) and settled in for the sugar high.

As you can see, every cupcake came with a shot of hot chocolate on the side – a nice touch, and I presume one you only get if you order to “eat in” – but we appreciated the sentitment after paying £4 a cake and the hot chocolate was actually really tasty.

I selected a banoffee cupcake, complete with a chocolate male torso on top. Banoffee is my favourite flavour of anything, and I was really pleased to see they had some different selections at Cox Cookies & Cake.  I had heard in other reviews online that the cakes were tasteless, a little stale and the frosting to cake ratio was off, but I was pleasantly surprised. Bearing in mind it was nearly 4pm when we got there, there were a lot of cakes left and they were beautifully moist – I wonder if they have learnt from early reviews?

Lea went for a delightfully kitsch bicep/arm combo, which reminded me of one of the 1950’s adverts for soap or something. Or Popeye. Either way this beauty was a hazelnut and chocolate combo, and again moist and tasty.

Eleni selected a chocolate and raspberry skull-adorned cupcake – the bright pink icing looked like it was on fire it was so lurid, but it tasted lovely, and the glitter on the skull was a nice touch.  All the pieces on top of the cake were made of chocolate, a bit like the old fashioned white mice sweets you got as a child.

Cox Cookies & Cake opened in September 2010 and is located in Brewer St, London. It was set up by famous shoe designer Patrick Cox, in partnership with famous patissier Eric Lanlard, known as the Cake Boy (his wedding cakes are to die for). It is open 11-8pm Sun-Thurs and 11-11pm Fri & Sat for all your late night cupcake needs.

You can follow the goings on of Cox Cookies & Cake on Twitter.

* you can hear more of our thoughts on Drink Shop Do on Episode 1 of the podcast, “Embarrassing Things, Embarrassing People”.

** edited from an original review from Sam’s blog, allthingsgoodandproper.wordpress.com

Moving Forward: The final contribution from Sid Phoenix

14 Aug
Our final post concerning the London Riots is the third contribution from A Winter Road‘s Sid Phoenix: Moving Forward.
Us High Tea ladies went to do good deeds and volunteered in Portobello Road for Operation Cup of Tea. We mingled with kind locals, served biscuits and brought together the community through tea donated by Tea Pigs, cake donated by Hummingbirds and all served by volunteers rounded up by Chelsea and Kensington Volunteers.
In the aftermath of disaster, watching locals and non-locals alike come together and relax was a wonderful thing to behold. When Londoners take a stand, the sheer display of neighbourly love is really something astounding. Now let’s look to the future… cuppa in hand!
Moving Forward – Sid Phoenix:
In the past two days I have written two opinion pieces which The High Tea Cast have been kind enough to publish on their blog. The first was an appeal to rioters for perspective, the second a critique of a society that ignores the problems of its youth. The first was met with fairly universal agreement, often tempered by statements to the effect of “it’s a pity they won’t hear it” – the “they” being the faceless, nameless rioters. The second was more controversial, with people often trying to heap blame on government and “the system” as opposed to focusing on the lack of societal parenting that I believe to be at the core of the riots.In the calm (whether before the storm or not) after the past few days, I feel it is important that we gather around the things we agree on rather than descend to partisan disagreements as we all try and claim the riots for our own political agendas.This is the greatest danger of the aftermath. I tried to stress the point that society as a whole must take responsibility for the upbringing of its individuals if we are to move forward. Individuals are fallible – there are bad parents in the world – so when we see a child being rude on a bus, we as a society have a responsibility to tell them to stop; not to hide behind our papers, books, and iPhones. Whatever your criticism of government – and trust me, I have many, oh SO many – surely you do not disagree with this. Regardless of whether or not you agree it is the cause of the riots, you must agree that it is in and of itself a good idea.

In the next days, weeks, and months many, many people will come forward with their particular “cause for the riots”. With the best intentions in the world, they run a very strong risk of drowning each other out and homogenising in to one deafening mass that will go completely unheard by government. So government will continue to do whatever it wants, caving only to the most hysterical of requests.

Why? Why do we all feel the need to dig our heels in and shout our particular answer and suggestions as indignant gospel? Because, much like the rioters, we all feel that government is not listening to us – that they seem to be working to some agenda of their own which is not completely in line with anyone except themselves.

This is the very definition of the issues inherent in the current system – NO ONE is happy. We all feel very strongly that things should be very different, very quickly. We are all disillusioned with those in power. We all feel that the current state of affairs is completely unsatisfactory. We are all frustrated by how little we feel we can change. This is universal, and completely irrelevant of upbringing – hence my point that the issues in government are not the root of the riots per se, as the riots themselves are a warped, horrific, immature and underdeveloped manifestation of feelings we all share. What is so tragic is our apparent inability to look at the bigger picture and put differences aside to work on the points we agree on.

The one thing that seems to be increasingly apparent to us all is that at its very core capitalism as we know it does not function. Some of you advocate a resource based economy such as the one proposed by The Venus Project (www.thevenusproject.com), others take a more moderate approach and simply believe that we need to reign in the absurd levels of corporate power. Myself, I believe we should utterly remove the fallacious legal assumption that a corporation has the same rights as an individual: it does not, nor does the legal system owe it the same protections.
Regardless of which end of the spectrum you lean towards you cannot help but acknowledge that the current state of affairs is unsustainable and requires change.

Yet as soon as change is proposed, what happens? We all decide our way is best, refuse to listen, to compromise – we come up with our own ideas and then decide they are infallible – and so the machine grinds on. When the opportunity for substantial change finally presents itself, no one is entirely satisfied with it, meaning the horrifically simplistic argument of “better the devil you know” proves alarmingly effective – and so the machine grinds on.This is the danger we face in the aftermath of the riots. The danger that despite all the debate, all the yelling, all the analysis, all the reporting, all the discussion, all the suggestions – nothing will change. We will continue exactly the way we always have, only slightly angrier, slightly more paranoid, slightly more mistrusting of our neighbours.So I beg of you, do not pick one idea and fight hand tooth and nail. Do not succumb to the erroneous notion that there is one universal answer – there is not. Immerse yourself in the myriad of suggestions that are bound to emerge and grab hold of any and all that appeal to you. There are petitions springing up everywhere, they take less than two minutes to fill out – do so. Any idea that you find that you agree with, take a minute to share it on any forum you frequent. This is how we will find common ground – the ideas that speak to us all WILL be heard. If we all vote for everything we believe in, everything we agree with, certain universally held beliefs will emerge.This is the true nature of democracy – we do not vote for an individual, or a party, or a policy – we vote for ideas.And ideas can come from anywhere.

Who is covering the Woolwich riots? – a contribution from Jellyfielders

13 Aug

Our second-to-last post covering the London riots is our podfather Mike’s eyewitness account from the studio which was, unfortunately, in the centre of Woolwich and therefore in the centre of the riots. As it appears news sources are shunning the night of terror in our beloved South London Jelly-borough (too close to the Olympic site maybe? Hmmm…), our boys filmed the evidence and strived to put right any oversight or mislabelling of the real events that took place that night.

When the trouble in London started the weekend prior to Monday 8 August 2011, I wasn’t fully aware until the following Sunday evening. Twitter had naturally sprung into overdrive and the situation in North London was obviously very serious. We Jellyfielders used to live in Wood Green, and hearing such stories made it difficult to put into a realistic context. 

As the events in Woolwich unfolded on the Monday night, we found ourselves living  directly above the clashes between rioters and the police. We had felt safely locked-up indoors, until the streets below us became dangerous. From my bedroom window, I could see people swarming into the jewellery store beneath. Passers-by would stop to grab a souvenir, while peripheral looters helped themselves to the pavement pick n’ mix. 

I had already begun filming on my iPhone. As a filmmaker, it’s habit. They say the best camera is the one you have now. My iPhone has captured some interesting events over the last year  –  from beach holidays to ferrets mating – but this was something happening to our community. Already, I had started tweeting the videos I’d captured, tagging with #Woolwich #londonriots to make people aware that it was happening here too.

At 22:05 the surge of violence began. From the balcony, we could see that when the instigators were satisfied the eight riot officers were not able to intervene, they began to amuse themselves with the Great Harry pub. By now, Chris and Lu had started filming, as the windows and doors we’re forced in and the fire ignited. I went down to street level to make the small band of police aware of the fire. They we’re honest enough to admit there was nothing they could do, being so clearly outnumbered and out-armed. Their advice was to get people out of the building then at least we would be safe. 

During this time, one of the postings had begun cropping-up elsewhere online. I had only sent it through yfrog, yet users on YouTube had posted it and the retweets we’re relentless. Messages of support were also coming in from other Londoners, Woolwich residents and concerned folk form overseas. It seemed as though we we’re the only outlet for  news on the occurrences in our corner of South London. 

Local councillor Nigel Flecther (@nigelfletcher) was also getting in touch, resending the video links and helping make people aware of what was currently unreported elsewhere. We were later able to meet Nigel in the cold light of day for an interview.

At around 1am, Sky News had started using our footage under the guise of events happening in Liverpool. Frustrated, I had no idea how to get word out that this was false, but many had already spotted the mistake and had begun tweeting as such. There was a genuine call for the truth to be heard. 

The yfrog hits we’re piling up as the film went global. I don’t know if it can be considered as such by those that coined the phrase, but it was going viral. By the very early hours of Tuesday morning, it was being used on both Sky and BBC News channels. Having watched much of Charlie Brooker’s work, I’m aware of how outlets use and manipulate news footage to their advantage, and it was happening with our little film. 

Having already passed-off Woolwich as Liverpool, Sky News decided it was now Bristol (thanks to @jitstark). Other tentacles of the Murdoch empire began to be just as careless throughout the day, with the Sun posting the video online, attributed to YouTube pirates. Sky News also refused to credit or acknowledge errors, until well into Tuesday afternoon. Alas, in the age of User Terms & Conditions it’s hard to have any control over where and to whom your footage goes once released into the wild online.

Storyful and the BBC went about everything correctly. Having given permission for BBC Breakfast to use the YouTube films, what followed was an email from Australia. ABC – the BBC’s antipodean cousins – requested a telephone interview to accompany the riot video that the world was watching.

If I could stay awake, this seemed like a reasonably achievable compromise. Or at least in a coherent state. We were approaching 24 hours of being awake but the adrenaline was still flowing. Thanks to Chris, so was the Red Bull. 

Suitably wired, I was plugged into live Australian television, to tell them what was happening in England. Thanks to TheAnimosityGuild for taping it, or I wouldn’t be sure it existed outside of my own mind. I’m the voice on the phone three minutes in. Outside of the media, reality was starting to take hold. By now, the locals had began to venture outside to start their morning routines, only to be confronted by the destruction. 

In the Jellyfielder Studios edit suite, we gathered-up our extensive footage of the pub looting and burning. We wanted it to be available where ever possible, as Woolwich was being under-reported by the media. Our video was being looped in part and in full, under a general London heading, whilst all other boroughs and neighbourhoods had name-checks. We didn’t believe this was fair and felt only a credible source was worthy of the truth being accurately retold. 

We spoke with ITN and Sky News about rights to our additional material. Mostly, they wanted more violent and dangerous scenes, such as those taken of Ian Tomlinson’s tragic death in 2009. This was completely unacceptable to us and the earlier misrepresentation by News International made any such agreements impossible. By now, other sources had claimed our first video as their own, and it had a existence all of its own. The drama of the night before and the activities of the daytime were overwhelming. So is consuming 24 hours of 24 hour news channels.

As of now, there have easily been over 1 million views of our videos in various YouTube forms. 153189 views have amassed on Twitter alone. The clip has become  part of the 24 hour rolling news wallpaper, seen by millions of people worldwide. The retweets and the comments are still coming in.

Thankfully, nobody lost their lives here that night, but the overall quality of life has suffered. The quest to make the truth of what happened in Woolwich apparent is also gathering support. Our extended footage can be seen at  

http://www.citizenside.com/en/reporter-photo-video/jellyfielder.html 

Mike Jelves

Scum on the Run – a new TV phenomenom? A view from Simon Button

12 Aug

We’ve covered all sorts of angles on the riots here at HTC HQ but as it is Friday, and as everyone I think needs a little light cheer in their lives to remind ourselves what a dry and cynical race us British are, here is a witty and VERY whimsical take on the riots, with a potential new career for our regular newscaster Simon Button.

Grab a cup of tea and enjoy – we’ll be back tomorrow with more eye witness reports, just as soon as Sam has finished handing out cuppas as a volunteer for #OperationCupofTea!

It all started with a single bullet and that one bullet has seen England plummet
into a semi-anarchic state of violence and destruction that will taint our country and the perception of youth for many years to come. Ultimately, the police shot a man carrying a gun. I could never condone a shoot-to-kill action except for themost extreme circumstances, but if you carry a gun, this is the risk you take.

The victim’s family embarked on a peaceful protest and then it all went to hell,
well, Tottenham.

The peaceful protest I can understand, but the events that have followed are
inexplicable and inexcusable. Rioters have roamed the streets of our cities at
night causing widespread violence and damage, but why? Zeinobia, an Eygptian
blogger and activist who took part in protests against Hosni Mubarak, recently
wrote, “I am sorry but you do not loot to object the murder of a young man, you are using his murder.”

The following is a transcript of two “rioters” telling the BBC their “reasoning”.

Idiot 1 “Everyone was just gonna riot, chuckin’ things, chuckin’ bottles”
Idiot 2 “Breakin’ inta stuff. It was good though. It was madness.”
Idiot 1 “It was good though. Yeah course it is”
Reporter “You’re drinking a bottle of rose wine..(interrupted).”
Idiot 1 “At half nine in the morning, yeah free alcohol”
Reporter “Have you been drinking all night?”
Idiot 1 “Yeah, it’s like the government’s fault. I dunno”
Idiot 2 “Conservatives”
Idiot 1 “Yeah, whatever, who it is, I dunno”
Idiot 2 “It’s not even a riot, it’s showing the police we can do what we want”
Idiot 1 “Yeah that’s what it’s about, it’s showing the police we can do what we
want”
Reporter “Do you think it will go on tonight?”
Idiot 1 “Hopefully, yeah hopefully”
Reporter “But these are local people, why are you targeting local people?”
Idiot 1 “It’s the rich people, the rich people who ‘av got businesses, and that’s why all of this has happened cos of rich people. So we’re just showing the rich people we’re doin’ what we want.”

So it’s doing it for fun, no wait, showing the government who’s boss. Or is it
the police? No it’s the rich who are at fault. These are the kind of people we are
dealing with here. Morons and cretins. If you find yourself in a riot zone, seek
shelter in a Waterstones, these people have no interest in books. While next
door in Currys Digital, everything is gone, even the D cell batteries. Maybe if
these people had ever picked up a book in their lives, we wouldn’t be having
these problems. If these people keep burning Footlockers and JD Sports to the
ground, where will the chav scum get their hoodies from then? They need some
perspective (heavily intended sarcasm).

So to solve their problems they will destroy homes and businesses and kill. Five people have now been confirmed dead from the riots. One shot in a car and three run down in cold blood as they tried to protect their homes. A Malaysian boy who’d been attacked and had his jaw broken, left slumped on the ground in a pool of his own blood was helped to his feet by a passer by only in order to mug him and empty his backpack. These people are sick and they do it because they think they can get away with it, well one man has been arrested over this incident now.

But sadly, many will get away with it. But action is now being taken and
consequences are becoming real. One man has been arrested and is facing
a murder charge for killing the three men in Birmingham and unimaginable
numbers people have been arrested. The luckiest of this lot are now already
being provided with food and shelter at Her Majesty’s leisure and can look to
enjoy such surroundings for a part of their youth. Hope it was worth it.

As soon as we find out arrests and convictions are being made, it turns out quite a lot of people are getting away with fines of a few hundred pounds or a few days in prison. I guess you can’t really throw the book at people who’ve never seen a book before, such a shock could prove fatal. Manchester and Salford Council are threatening that convicted rioters will be evicted from council homes and a petition has been passed to have the concept of withdrawing all benefits of rioters discussed in the House of Commons. Naturally this is all just posturing. If you make these people homeless or even poorer, I’d fathom a guess that crime rates would increase. I’m not judging these people, only men and women in wigs can do that, I’m only hypothesizing. But my solution is simple.

We look to the model of England’s greatest ever success story, Australia. Many
years ago, our fine country had a problem with convicts. Our solution back then? We sent them to this far away place where they couldn’t bother us. And look at Australia now, it’s lovely! I plan on using the base concept of that idea with a combination of our love for reality TV. The show will be called Scum on the Run. We drop convicted rioters off in the middle of the Australian Outback with nothing more than a straw, a wooden spoon and an umbrella. Those who make it back to civilization will be neutered and can take the remaining prison spots back in England. The rest is natural selection.

The idea may need fine-tuning, but I have a meeting with ITV executives next
week.

Simon Button, aka Soft Hands McG

An eye witness view of the riots – a contribution from Jellyfielders

11 Aug

This week has been a strange old week – not just in London, but across England the rioting has dominated every conversation and even most of the tweets in the HTC timeline. So as you will have noticed, we’ve dedicated the blog this week to thoughts and views of these happenings.

On Monday night, we heard that our fantastic producers and filmakers Jellyfielders were placed right at the heart of one of the worst hit areas. Here Chris (@geektothechic) from Jellyfielders Studios gives his eye-witness account of what he saw.

Having seen the news over the weekend, we had heard through Twitter that something was said to happening in Woolwich on the evening of 08/08/11. After the weekend’s riots, I think everybody was naturally nervous about further disturbances, dismissing the rumours as just that: rumours.

I was walking through the town centre at around 5:30pm on Monday. I had only nipped out to get some cash and do a bit of shopping. I was on the phone to fellow contributor Eleni Cashell when I suddenly became aware that over thirty hooded youths were about 10 ft behind me. When a single police car pulled up at the end of the road, the crowd behind me started to run towards it, throwing missiles at shop windows they ran through the town shouting. Other members of the public got out of their way and could only stare on, appalled that the trouble had found its way here.

Everything quietened down for a little while and police started to leave the area. We heard through Twitter that the high street had been raided and badly damaged. This was sadly just the calm before the storm.

The view outside our living room window looks out onto Thomas Street. This includes the Great Harry pub, that until that evening, fellow Jellyfielder Lu had worked in for a number of years.

Mike, the final member of Jellyfielders, was standing on the balcony with some of the other residents and he filmed the now infamous footage of the eight riot officers backing away from the throng of rioters. Before the fires broke out, myself and Lu were filming as much as we could from out the window, there were times when rioters had spotted us and threatened to throw objects, so some footage had to be shot behind the glass. It’s important to say this now: filming a riot isn’t big or clever, but as clearly no news crews would be able to get here, we in part felt obligated to film the unfolding events. Obligation, and healthy mix of stupidity and gusto all round.

The riot in Woolwich started with just two individuals trying to get into Cash Convertor (no class); violently kicking the heavy metal shutter, which drew the attention of other rioters. It wasn’t long before a large crowd had amassed and started on the other shops. We live in a ten-storey apartment block, and below us are shops and a Wimpy restaurant on the corner.

It took parts of the now hundred strong mob fewer than three minutes to smash their way into the jewellers shop a few doors down from us. Using a shopping trolley and brute force, they decimated it as quickly as they broke in.

I can only describe it as something out of a zombie movie. Hordes of people everywhere, shouting, screaming and laying waste to everything in their path. Feverishly grabbing at handfuls of stolen goods as though it were human flesh. I’ll admit that at this point, the fear really started to kick in. It was pure chaos, the police were outnumbered as the streets were overrun and without sounding over-dramatic, it felt like the end of the world. Fires started to be break out on the ground, law enforcement powerless. It was anarchy. That’s when a thought ran through my head that stopped me cold in my tracks: they are burning the businesses they break into and we live above a string of shops. We were all becoming genuinely afraid for our lives as there was no safe way out of the complex, we were essentially surrounded with no chance of the police or fire brigade reaching us.

More rioters joined them and shortly after they turned their attention on the Great Harry pub, it took them no time at all to smash through the windows and doors. One rioter punched the glass on the entrance door until it smashed, once inside they started taking the alcohol and shared it around. Laughing, joking and posing for pictures, they were all utterly blasé about the surrounding carnage.

The rioters inside the pub set fire to menus and left them on the tables, when this failed to ignite they poured spirits over chairs and set them ablaze. Within a few minutes the fire was spreading throughout the pub and out of control. Rioters continued to drink and take pictures of the pub being consumed by flames.

I could feel the heat from the fire against my face, growing hotter and hotter. The mob’s attention then turned to the burger restaurant next-door. Smashing through the windows with ease, a fire broke out almost instantly that was hard to see from our window. People in the crowd below shouted “Your building is on fire”. My heart sank. Not only does the restaurant have gas cylinders, it’s directly below the corner or the tower block. If it went up, it could take half the building with it. It’s an indescribable feeling: the town ablaze; lying in ruins; people shouting at you to leave the building; screaming from the residents echoing throughout; panic setting in and people fleeing to the car park.

We grabbed a handful of belongings, Mike took a backpack of things as Lu rounded-up the ferrets Grub and Daphne, and beloved pet rat Mr Smith. I grabbed a few family photos, my MacBook, iPad, video-camera, my lucky penny (my priorities are all fucked up) and a roll of toilet paper. Now, I can’t explain exactly what was running through my already tired brain at this point. Maybe it was a subconscious way of expressing just how much I was shitting myself (not literally, I can’t stress that enough), or that if the world was ending, at least we had loo roll.

Residents packed up their cars and clutched onto hastily packed bags and suitcases. Others called friends or family and a few struggled to comprehend what was happening. This sort of thing doesn’t happen on your doorstep on a Monday. It still ceased to feel like it was real. You watch it on the news or in a movie, you don’t live it.

Through another resident it was suggested that the building wasn’t on fire, and it was looters trying to get into their now empty and unguarded homes. We received a tweet from a gentleman the day after, who was not a rioter, but just a citizen trying to get somewhere safe. He was one of the people who entered the building, knocking on doors to raise the alarm. As suspicious as events may have been that evening, it was genuinely an act of kindness by these people to take it upon themselves to help.

The rioters moved on to destroy the newly opened Wilkinsons store, burning the precinct out entirely. also, a poundshop and branch of Barclays bank were badly damaged. It’s believed that they then returned to the main high street and set fire to clothing store Blue Inc. They broke more shop windows while they were at it as well.

In this time the police and fire brigade were able to get to the fires and thankfully extinguishing them. Returning to the flat to see what was going on, I was so relieved to see police standing where rioters were a few minutes earlier. I asked one of the officers if the building was on fire or at risk. I was told the fire was out and the building was safe. In the car park I told the residents what the police officer had said and slowly most of them returned to their homes or ventured out to speak to the police themselves.

As you can see from these exclusive screen stills, Woolwich was hit just as badly as other areas. It was left off maps published in the Telegraph, on BBC and in the Metro newspaper. We suffered just as much destruction as other areas.

I don’t wish to throw in my two pence worth about why this is going on, and I don’t mean to trivialise any of these events, but the film Super, which I watched recently, contains a brief monologue, of which the words are not that applicable, but the sentiment is more than fitting:

“YOU DON’T BUTT IN LINE. YOU DON’T SELL DRUGS. YOU DON’T MOLEST LITTLE CHILDREN. YOU DON’T PROFIT ON THE MISERY OF OTHERS. THE RULES WERE SET A LONG TIME AGO. THEY DON’T CHANGE.”

Chris Suffield

An(other) Offer of Perspective: A Follow-up from Sid Phoenix.

10 Aug

Here at HTC towers, the tweets are rolling in, we’re choking up over images of riot cleanup volunteers, gestures of support for the emergency services (we’re voting that EVERYONE who sees a riot policeman, paramedic or fireman offer them a cup of tea and a thank you on behalf of the city from ANYWHERE! No hesitations!). We’re happy to see that communities pulled together to strive for a peaceful London last night, though now cities in the North of England have faced the deterioration of their livelihoods. Our love, wishes and kisses go out to those affected, and we encourage the uniting of communities like we’re seeing in the aftermath of all of this, and makes us proud to be lucky London ladies.

Yesterday, A Winter Road’s Sid Phoenix wrote a heartfelt plea to rioters. It was met with a stupendous response, and made our blog hits rocket overnight (and counting!).

In a potentially controversial new plea, he is addressing the victims of the London Riots.

An(other) Offer of Perspective.

To the Victims

You are angry. You feel molested and abused. You feel attacked and wronged. You are confused, blindsided, indignant. Your world is being ripped apart at the seams. You are fighting the urge to demand revenge, retribution, punishment. You may be calling for it outright.

You are not alone. You know this. You can see for yourselves the strength and resilience of your community, society, culture, country. You have done what you can to help, you have done what you can to contribute. You have seen the solidarity that surrounds you. You are proud. You should be. You know you are in the right, and you are.

Yet where does the responsibility for this all lie? The individuals perpetrating these acts are children – the argument “old enough to commit the crime, etc” has been used. Many of you agree, but none of you think so simplistically as to believe that the people doing this were born evil. You all know that the issues run deeper than that. You have many, many ideas and suggestions as to the causes of all of this.

We can talk about the problems of parenting, we can talk about youth pregnancy, we can talk about the lack of father (or mother) figures, we can talk about poverty, the welfare state, laziness, a sense of entitlement, lack of employment, people manipulating and feeding off the system, the complete failure of the system. We can talk about all of these things and never once have to take responsibility.

Government is not a parent. Society’s values cannot be taught by government – that is indoctrination. The responsibility for raising children lies with parents, but so often a parent fails – either through their own faults and weaknesses or through their circumstance – and then what? Do we ignore the children? Do we blame the parent? Surely not.

Surely when society as a whole takes responsibility for the behavior of its young as individuals a child cannot have a failed parent. During the extensive time I have spent in Paris I have seen entire tube carriages turn on children for not standing to allow an old woman to sit. If there were no child present any individual would stand, but there is – and the child must learn.

This is a cultural phenomenon by no means restricted to the French, but it is utterly missing from the English. How many times have we been on buses where children are loud, brayish, play music, refuse to stand, throw food on the floor – behavior that we would never tolerate in our children.

They ARE our children. Yet we turn a blind eye – myself included – we pretend we do not see or hear, and so we do not speak.

You may say you are scared, or that you fear retribution. You only fear this because you feel alone. You know that you can stand up in a crowded bus and no one will come to your support. Brave individuals cannot take responsibility for an entire society’s desire to say “I do not want this problem”.

We accuse these people of being greedy, demanding, taking what is not theirs, having no respect for authority, but we have never taught them “no”. We have never made them feel ashamed.

A police officer arresting you does not make you feel ashamed if you have never learnt the shame of crime. It merely makes you feel angry. A busload of people from all walks of life turning on you and demanding that you pick up your drinks can – that is shame. That is more powerful than any number of faceless men and women with batons and shields.

This is a temper tantrum. It is a child desperately demanding its parent’s attention.

It is entirely, unequivocally, and completely our problem. So I beg you to take your earphones out, stand up and raise your young.

Or these problems will never go away, no matter how much money the government gives and takes, or how many advantages it proffers and then removes, or how many freedoms it grants and then denies. The only difference the government will ever make is a child being spoiled or deprived. It will never make a child feel noticed.

Only we can do that. Pay attention. Do not turn away.

For the sake of all of us, help raise your kids.

Sid Phoenix

An Offer of Perspective: The London Rioters – A contribution from Sid Phoenix.

9 Aug

No doubt, the truly traumatic London Riots are going to be on the lips of every city dweller for a while, and we won’t bore you with all the same ins and outs that the BBC has and the papers will for days to come.

Instead, Sid Phoenix from A Winter Road has a heartfelt contribution to make – beautifully written and truly touching. The High Tea cast girls hope you and your loved ones are safe, and encourage you to support the friends and neighbours who have suffered at the hands of mindless violence.

Peace and love x

An Offer Of Perspective:

To the Rioters

You are angry. You have had enough. You feel forgotten and marginalized and mistreated. You feel that the government and the police have wronged you. You hate them for it, and you are seeking your revenge.

You are not alone. Over the past few months people in countries throughout the Arab world have taken to the streets to protest the injustices their governments have perpetrated against them. I ask you to remember what happened. I ask you to remember the blood that was spilled in the streets as governments told the police to open fire upon the people.

In the four days that you have attacked London, the only person confirmed dead was killed by rioters, not police: a 26 year old man attacked in his car in Croydon. The people of London have grown more and more vocal in demanding that you be stopped by any means necessary. Some call for rubber bullets, others for the military to be involved.

Yet they are not. Why? Do we enjoy having our property attacked, our homes and businesses burned and looted? No. Are we weak? No. It is because we know that you are people. You have hopes and dreams and fears the same as we do. We remember this about you although you seem to have forgotten it about us.

We remember this, but more importantly the government remembers this. You are not stronger than the police. If they choose to they can pass out assault rifles and gun you down in the streets. This is the power they have. If you were in one of the countries where people fight for their freedoms even now, this is the power they would have used. You would not be at home with a new TV, new shoes, or a new watch. You would have been shot at, attacked, beaten, and would very possibly be lying in the roads, dead.

But that is not who we are. You live in a country that will not forget you are people. That will suffer a weekend of horrific destruction rather than sink to the levels of an authoritative regime.

So many of us want to help, want to fix the things that are wrong, and want to listen to what everyone has to say. Including you. Even now.

But you are rapidly running out of time. You cannot wantonly destroy what people have worked so hard to build without suffering the consequences. Some of you may escape punishment, but you will have made even the people who would have listened to you hate you. The government will still be in power, and you will still be at the bottom of the food chain. No amount of rioting can change that. If you continue, people will get seriously hurt. Most probably you.What is worse, you are allowing the dictators around the world to relax. They want you to keep going. They want you to force the police to clamp down. The second that they do and it appears on YouTube – the second we see water cannons, or rubber bullets, or tasers – they will turn to their people and they will say “look at what happens in England. What is the point in fighting us? They are no better.” You will have robbed the people who have fought for their lives of hope. If the police are forced to bruise you, the police elsewhere will have the excuse to kill. You will have condemned people to die by abusing the freedoms you have.

You have our attention. It is entirely up to you what you do with it. If you want violence, you will get it, and we will all lose – here and across the world. So please, before you break and smash and loot and steal and burn and destroy, think. Think about what you want to say.

We are listening.

 

 

Sid Phoenix.

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