Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

‘Art saved my life’ – pal of Oasis star has brush with success – Manchester Evening News – 17/09/13

In Art Reviews, Charity, Features, Leeds and Manchester Local News Contributions, Newspaper Contributions on September 17, 2013 at 2:36 pm

art saved

The article is on page 6 of the Main Edition South/City – 17/09/13

Online version here: 

Reflections on Yom Kippur: The importance of admitting that people make mistakes – The Independent (IndyVoices)

In Comment and Opinion, Features, History Reviews, Newspaper Contributions, religion on September 14, 2013 at 7:15 am

That’s the one thing all religions have in common


According to biblical tradition, when Moses descended Mount Sinai to find his people had built and deified a golden calf, he shattered the Ten Commandments in anger.

Today, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, Jewish people all around the world will be fasting and praying to God to forgive their sins, just as they did when they built the calf. It is the most sacred day for Jews who use this High Holy Day reflection and repentance.

It’s also the forty-year-anniversary of the Yom Kippur War/ Ramadan War/ October War or the 1973 Arab-Israeli War – depending where you draw the lines. I am Jewish and I will be fasting. I will turn my phone off. I may attend synagogue. I definitely will be asking for forgiveness for my many sins. I believe there are lessons in my religion, and in others’ that can be learnt by everyone.

The one thing all religions have in common is admitting that people make mistakes. That’s why they put precautions in place – Catholics have confession, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists have their karma and Muslims will have their Day of Judgement.

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Prostitutes and the recession: How David Cameron’s cuts are affecting British women – The Independent

In Comment and Opinion, Features, Interviews, Newspaper Contributions, Women on May 25, 2013 at 7:40 pm

indy pic

The sex industry like most others is feeling the effects of the credit crunch. But in a grim role-reversal, it’s not the booming industry that’s suffering but its workers. As the cost of living rises and wages remain ruefully stagnant, increasing numbers of women have turned to prostitution in order to support themselves.

Its lucrative potential to put a meal on a plate or a bill in an envelope has meant that from the depths of these Dickensian hard times re-emerges the archaic truism: women are driven to prostitution by economic misfortune.

I spoke to a member of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) which campaigns for the protection and decriminalisation of prostitutes, without endorsing or morally sanctioning prostitution itself. They told me that in light of Mr. Cameron’s cuts, “every time there’s a benefit cut, it forces women onto the game.”

The sucker-punch effects of the economic climate and the scathing cuts to welfare and benefits are even driving many women who had left the trade and turned their lives around to return in order to feed their families. As one travelling sex-worker who works with the ECP explains, “Prostitution is certainly not the worst job I have ever had. I have worked on the fish market and as a cleaner where I was working for people who didn’t care if we were cold or tired or how we were spoken to. I was fed up of being a cleaner, bar maid and shop assistant, often all on the same day.”

There is a gross misconception about prostitution in the UK; about what type of person a prostitute is, and who could never be one. Many have been thrown out of their homes, raped, and are not yet old enough to claim benefits. Many others are women who are forced to supplement their incomes. As the think-tank The Resolution Foundation reported in October 2011, more than one in five employees earn less than a “living wage”.

Another member of the ECP’s network, a part-time street worker, blames benefit cuts and job losses for driving women onto the game, along with negative stereotyping for the lack of awareness surrounding prostitution today: “Everybody has their own view of what a prostitute is. In reality it is your sister, your neighbour, your mother, that has struggled to feed, clothe, heat a home and provide a safe environment for the people she loves. This is becoming more apparent with all the benefit cuts and job losses. The reason it has been so well hidden is because of the criminality of it. That is it.”

Most sex workers are mothers who think “just this once”, “just this week” to cover a heating bill or make something a bit special to eat. Then we get stuck in something we can never get out of. I never thought the first time I went out that I would still be here at my age. Now I have a record so can’t get another job. It was because I care that I did go on the street.” Read the rest of this entry »

My Life in Food: Ken Hom – The Independent

In Features, Food, Interviews, Newspaper Contributions on February 8, 2013 at 12:20 pm

‘If I ever feel the pang of homesickness, I eat something with rice. It’s my comfort food’

ken hom

Ken Hom almost single-handedly introduced British people to Chinese Food and the joys of the wok. His first TV programme, Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery, in 1982, was a huge success and the book of the series sold millions. Still a regular feature on our screens, his documentary on the noodle for Korean TV won a Peabody award and in 2012 he presented the BBC series Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure. His guide to Chinese New Year is available from and his Chinese meal range on sale in Tesco.

What are your most and least used pieces of kitchen kit? Most used?

My cleaver and my wok. Simply because that’s really all you need. I grew up very poor, and we had a tiny kitchen and my mum made everything with just those two pieces. She would make fabulous three-course meals. A Chinese cleaver and a wok are really all you need to cook anything. It’s also the reason why I don’t have anything I don’t use. If you had only £10 to spend on food, where would you spend it and on what? With £10 I would go to a fresh market and just get all the fresh vegetables I could. I would start with onion and garlic, because once you have those, you have a base. I would stir-fry vegetables, throw in a couple of eggs and have a wonderful meal.

What do you eat for comfort?

A little bit of rice. I think if I ever feel the pang of homesickness, I would have something with rice. There’s something comforting about eating rice. I love salty things. I’m not one of these people who craves sweet things. I love savoury
things, and so anything salty is really wonderful. So, stir-fry a bunch of Chinese greens, with garlic on top of rice – delicious to me.

Read the rest of this entry »

The 10 Best adventure playgrounds – The Independent

In Features, Newspaper Contributions, Travel on February 7, 2013 at 10:13 am


No matter how chilly it is outside, come half term, you’re going to need to tire out the children. Try one of these for size


{1} Toffee Park, London

Winner of the London Adventure Playground of the Year Award in 2011, Toffee Park is an open-access playground that encourages children to engage in creative and physical play. The playground includes a tree house, allotment and nature garden, clay oven for firing pots and making pizzas, aerial runway and a multi-sports area.


playground 2

{2} Creepy Crawlies, York

This playground offers something for everyone: mini animal farm, high-ropes course, wacky swings and a quad-bike racetrack. The inside play area features one of the biggest Astra slides in the country and lots of dressing up for keen thespians. Also on site is a hair and beauty studio, nursery, fitness suite, pottery barn and riding school.

From £5.50, Read the rest of this entry »

Austen’s Powers: ‘Pride and Prejudice’ turns 200 today – and the girl’s still got it – The Independent

In Features, Literature Reviews, Newspaper Contributions on February 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

By Gabriella Swerling Arts Monday, 28 January 2013 at 4:00 am

Our favourite literary characters may have worn bonnets and top hats, but they’re not so different from us.

Today and for the rest of 2013 bookish bonnet-lovers all over the world are celebrating the bicentenary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which was first published on 28 January 1813 by Thomas Egerton of London.

The 2003 BBC poll The Big Read placed the novel second after Tolkein’s The Lord of The Rings in a top 100 list of Britain’s favourite books. It has never been out of print and has spawned numerous screenplay and literary adaptations.

To mark the anniversary, Jane Austen’s House Museum is creating a database of the worldwide celebratory events and has a travelling exhibition that considers the popularity of the novel throughout its two-hundred years. The BBC is also recreating Netherfield Ball – the turning point in the romance between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy.


The curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum, Louise West, says that: “the universal themes of Pride and Prejudice such as dilemmas for women about their role in society and their future happiness are still as relevant today as they ever were”.

“While we understand the attribution of the chick lit label, this book is so much more than this and always was. Today more people are able to engage with the story through print and other media and so it is relevant to each new generation that encounters it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sixty-eight years after Auschwitz: Why we still remember – The Independent

In Features, History Reviews, Newspaper Contributions on February 5, 2013 at 11:11 am

By Gabriella Swerling Notebook Sunday, 27 January 2013 at
12:49 pm Every year on 27 January since 2000, this day has been
known in the UK as Holocaust Memorial Day. This day honours the
memory of the Holocaust’s victims and marks the Soviet liberation
of the concentration and death camp, Auschwitz-Birkenau, 68 years
ago on 27 January 1945. Every year the world says “Never Forget” to
genocide. But Cambodia, Ethiopia, Darfur, Indonesia, Rwanda and
Bosnia are just a few examples that serve as reminders that the
world forgot its promise. history As the mass
media once again turns its annual spotlight onto the
Holocaust, academics, museums teachers and communities prepare
special activities and events and the remaining Holocaust survivors
tell their stories once again. The theme for this year is
‘Communities Together: Build a Bridge’, honouring the communities
that have been destroyed and ravaged by genocide, as well as
reflecting on the significance of stamping out discrimination in
our communities. Today and all last week in the lead up to
Holocaust Memorial Day, there have been events all around the
country – in schools, universities, town halls, community centres –
to educate people about the Holocaust and its contemporary
relevance. On 22 January the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET)
hosted an event with David Miliband MP and the Executive
Editor of The Times, Daniel Finkelstein discussing their personal
connections to the Holocaust.

Read the rest of this entry »

Underground Poetry Feature – The Cadaverine Magazine

In Features on November 4, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Underground Poetry, a grassroots movement, is using guerrilla tactics to deliver poetry to the commuting masses of London. Their aim is to bring everyone closer together through shared experience. Founded in March 2010, and not to be confused with Poems on the Underground (which is celebrating its 25th year) the one man operation has since expanded into a team of ten. Underground Poetry distributes around 1,000 A5 flyers once a month of poetry, each presenting five to twenty poems – snapshots of someone’s life captured in a few lines; written by travellers for travellers. Every leaflet and poem allows you to really wonder whether the stranger sat next to you could have written it. Today, it is more common to see people scrolling through messages on their phone, listening to their iPod and reading a book or paper rather than engaging in musings of the poetic kind. Instead, we choose to plug in and tune out to the real people around us. We become somewhat disconnected from ourselves, from each other. Within the core of London city life, deep underground in the realm of the scheduled, regulated machinations of Tube-people who run like clockwork checking their watch, dusting their jacket, checking their watch – why would they care about a bright, eager face whose hand extends to give free poetry?

Taking public transport enters you into a social contract, one in which you are complicit with your fellow passengers for the duration of your journey. But that does not stop the Machiavellian pushing, elbowing, biting and clawing that allows us to get to where we want to go. If that means pushing the mother and three kids out of the carriage then so be it. The concern with Underground Poetry as a currently self-funded organisation is whether or not it will be able to negotiate some sort of deal between its hope to grow whilst covering costs of its website, free leaflets and aspirations. But what does the future hold considering our fervent dependence on electronic media? Is it really possible for us to pause and take the time to empathise with others on their journey instead? This begs the question as to whether or not there is any difference between a flyer containing poetry and litter yet to be binned. Even for those who do read it, where will it end up when they’ve finished?

The point is not so much where the poetry will literally end up, as opposed to its potential to trigger some sort of response which will swirl around your head for a while. It wants you to embrace other people, cultures, thoughts, yourself. Underground Poetry’s founder, Nina Ellis, explains how despite the ‘fantastic’ and ‘great’ direction of online media ‘we’re going to stick to the personal, physical, tangible leaflets […] we want it to feel personal.’ It is this emphasis on the personal that adds so much personality to the movement. Nina continues to emphasise one’s anonymity in a city like London and offers Underground poetry as a helpful cure:

‘Receiving a tangible leaflet of poetry from a well-meaning stranger can make them feel less alone, and less lonely… And that’s because the touch involved creates a sort of bond between two (or more) people that can’t be recreated electronically. It’s sort of like the difference between getting a letter in the post and getting a mass-sent-out email.’

Every day, millions of us use public transport, sharing an allocated portion of our time in a confined space with complete strangers. Of course we often think about those characters that are bound up and thrust in our direction such as that person you shared a smile with that one time, when you were on your way somewhere. But now there is finally a way to bind us together, ratifying and closing our contract in order to solidify that unspoken connection. You are allowed a glimpse into the psyche of that old man who sat in the very seat you are now sat in eight days ago, just before he got off at Goodge Street to meet an old friend. Underground Poetry stamps its mark on every flyer, leaving you with contact details to submit your own poetry, if you so desire.

Underground Poetry’s ambition for a world of interactive, interchangeable perspectives reaffirms our natural curiosity about fellow strangers that catch our eye. The Movement is moving. Having requests to set up in Bristol and Toronto, along with their own small yet expanding team, Underground Poetry is generating great interest above the surface. The burning question surrounding all the hype is ultimately, will it last? The idea that Underground Poetry is merely an idealistic, kitschy fad is negated by the sheer passion of those running it. Their mission statement explains their goal ‘to bring London Underground travellers into meaningful contact with each other through poetry.’ And so they should. It is strange, that you can spend months, perhaps years of your life not even thinking about who you share that time with. It is a quintessentially British characteristic to uphold stoical etiquette when taking public transportation. But surely, today, in our beautiful, messed-up country which is fighting two wars, what we need is unity, empathy – or at the very least, something to cheer us up and add a little meaning to the humdrum routine of things.

Underground Poetry deserves to thrive and continue encouraging our poetic sides to emerge. The test will come in the form of whether it can stand up and face the power of the iPad, the Kindle and all other distractions that only serve to isolate ourselves from each other. So next time you are sat on the Tube and you hear an old man coughing, you could be reading his poem about the trauma of war, what he thinks or thought constituted love or his favourite TV show, and really empathise with the people of poetry.

Underground Poetry –

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