Archive for December, 2010

Lincoln Stonebow and Guildhall

December 31, 2010
Lincoln Stonebow

Lincoln Stonebow

Lincoln Guildhall

Lincoln Guildhall

If Lincoln is the County Town of Lincolnshire then the Stonebow is the centre of the city centre.

The Stonebow is where the VE Celebrations took place. It is where the New Year Celebrations used to take place, though now it is up by Lincoln Cathedral.

The Stonebow lies at the southern end of the Roman city of Lindum Colonia (from which Lincoln derived its name). It was here the southern gate of Lindum Colonia stood, beyond which flowed the River Witham. Part of the Roman wall which ran along the north side of Guildhall Street and Saltergate still exists. The Roman North Gate still exists at the far end of Bailgate Newport Arch.

Saltergate was the medieval successor to the Roman road that ran along in front of the city wall.

At this location stood a medieval city gate.

In 1390, Richard II ordered the city to construct a new gate as the medieval gate was in dire state of repair. The good citizens were somewhat slow in obeying this Royal Command, the present Tudor arch was finally completed over 100 years later by city freemason William Spencer in 1520.

The name Stonebow is Scandinavian meaning stone arch. The streets that run nearby often end in -gate. This does not mean gate, it comes from the Scandinavian for street.

The east wing of the Stonebow used to house the City Gaol. It now houses the Guildhall Treasury.

The upper floors of the Stonebow are the ancient Guildhall where the City Council has met for centuries, and still meets several times a year.

The city has had a mayor since at least 1206 and the council has been summoned by the Mote Bell since the 1377. The council is still summoned by the same Mote Bell.

New Year’s Eve I had my own private personal tour of the Guildhall. Serendipity played a part.

I was on my way to the Central Library. I annoyingly found it closed. As a result I find myself walking past the Stonebow at 10-25am. I saw a sandwich board that said it was open at 10-30am. The first time I have ever found it open, though I knew it was occasionally open to the public.

I had five minutes to rush to the bank and back. I somehow made it and was back just gone 10-30am. The door was not only closed, it was locked. But luckily someone answered the door and I was in. I was the only one.

An impressive stairway led up to the council chamber. Half way up the stairs on the landing, two old strong boxes or trunks, the sort one used to see on ships. These were used to store the councils’ money.

The Council Chamber is dominated by a long wooden oak table. It is a little wider than two sword lengths so warring factions either side of the table can do each other no harm.

At the end of the table the impressive Mayor’s chair, an old sedan chair.

Looking out of the Council Chamber windows southwards down the High Street is a view along the ancient Roman Road of Ermine Street. In medieval times this route was lined with churches. Sadly many have long been destroyed. One of the oldest St Mary le Wigford still remains. The highest number of medieval parish churches in Lincoln was forty-six.

Within the council chamber two buckets, a standard gallon and standard half gallon, calibrated by the Imperial Gallon. These in turn were used to calibrate local gallons. The Guildhall also contains standard weights.

Lining the wall are paintings of monarchs who have had some connection with Lincoln.

The Council Chamber has also served as a Court.

It was then down to the Guildhall Treasury. Probably the most impressive exhibit the sword presented to the city by Richard II in 1387. The collection is claimed to be the most important civic collection outside of London.

It was then grateful thanks to my guide, who I have not done service to his excellent guided tour, then through the Stonebow to the top of the High Street, up The Strait and Steep Hill to the Bailgate and Lincoln Cathedral.

Sometimes we get time shifted for a reason. As Paulo Coelho learns in The Valkyries, we should pause and reflect. We were jolted out of the path we were following for a reason.

The Guildhall is open 10-30am and 1-30pm on Friday and Saturday, but please check the noticeboard as not always open. Group visits outside of these times available by prior arrangement.

Also see

Capturing Lincoln Cathedral

Bailgate Pound

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More hypocrisy from LibDems

December 31, 2010

Please try not to throw up when you watch this video featuring a New Year message from the loathsome Nick Clegg.

On of the first few words to pour forth from the mouth of the loathsome Nick Clegg is power,and that is what it is all about, power and clinging on to power.

Clegg claims the credit for what the LibDems have not done, he claims things being done that are not being done. We have all noticed the clampdown on tax dodgers which is why Vodafone, Sir Philip Green, Boots and many others are laughing all the way to their banks in off-shore tax havens.

He claims hard choices. No, there were not hard choices. You were there to represent people who were lied to, who were conned into foolishly voting LibDems on a pack of lies and false promises.

The hard choices are faced by those on benefits who are faced with a choice of eating or heating.

The hard choices are faced by those now denied a chance to go to university because LibDems like Clegg voted for a threefold increase in university tuition fees and a scrapping of Education Maintenance Allowance for the poorest students.

It is not only Clegg. The Telegraph interviews with LibDem ministers showed they do not support or agree with the policies they are voting for but nevertheless vote for them to keep themselves in power.

We had Vincent Cable, the man who forced through the hike in student tuition fees bragging he could bring down the government if he walked out. The next day grovelling to remain in power, clinging on by his fingertips.

We have seen Simon Hughes, opposed to the hike in student tuition fees, but not having the guts to vote against, now appointed by the ConDem government to promote the very same policy he claimed he was against.

‘Scuse me, I think I need to be sick.

The good news is the LibDems will be wiped out at the next election

Also see

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

Liberal Democrats: Say goodbye to broken promises

A sad day for democracy

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

UK Uncut Brighton – Sir Philip Green’s Christmas Payday

We are not the Topshop generation

December 30, 2010
Vodafone protest

Vodafone protest

Peoples’ reactions of surprise when I tell them that I’m balancing studying for my GCSEs with actively fighting the recently announced public sector cuts never fail to shock me. After all, the student demonstrations that were recently held nationwide when it was announced that the ConDem government was pushing for an increase in tuition fees, throwing the life plans of many young people into uncertainty, received widespread media attention and were one the main reasons for the gap between the majority voting in favour of the rise and minority voting against the rise being slashed by 75%, proving that not only do teenagers have a voice but we are being listened to, especially when we’re fighting to defend our rights.

I’ve been interest in politics for as long as I can remember. My dad was involved in politics and often took me along to Stop The War meetings and demonstrations all over the country, encouraging me to develop my own political opinions. However, when he left England for work when I was 14 I became less involved, until this September, when, furious over the Tory’s plans to cut NHS funding, I went to the demonstration in Birmingham outside the Conservative Party Conference were I met the wonderful Anna (@thespyglass) on the bus there who told me Twitter helped her get involved in political events. I joined immediately, and its become my main platform for finding out about new events and planning them as well. Its also how I found out about UKUncut.

The appeal of UKUncut is obvious, not only does it oppose the cuts that will effect every section of society, particularly the most vulnerable, but it also provides solution to the cuts: getting the money back from the big businesses like Arcadia and HSBC who have taken it from the tax payers’ pocket. The direct action protests are creative, effective and, perhaps most importantly (for me at least), not violent. Despite what some newspapers and David Cameron would have you believe, the majority of people my age do realise that smashing up war monuments and throwing fire extinguishers off of tall buildings is not the most effective way to get people to empathise with us.

Also, UKUncut is easy to get involved in. You can post an event on the website just a week in advance and people will come along and join you, regardless of who you are, it doesn‘t even require a great deal patience, with social networking being such a key part of spreading the message its likely that someone will let you know they‘ll be joining you within hours. The movement is snowballing and everyone, from OAPs to housewives to GCSE students like me are being heard, with over 50 events across the country held yesterday, it doesn’t matter where you live, anyone can stand on the front line and oppose the tax avoidance and Tory Cuts that are damaging our public sector.

Of course, I sometimes question whether this is the right time of life for me to be so politically active, especially when I’m in the run up to so many important exams, but the way things are going I’m not going to able to get into university anyway, regardless of exam results, and my doubts never last long, although it did worry me when I arrived home from the Pay Day warm-up protest I’d organised on Thursday to revise for the French GCSE I had the next day to find the majority of my anxieties had lifted – I was more worried about people turning up and what I’d say to the Guardian than I was about doing well in an important exam (fortunately my exam went well, and hopefully next time I‘ll be just as lucky). Whilst some people in my year at school do think its weird that, at the weekend, they’re getting off with people at parties whilst the only parties I’m gossiping about are the political ones, I’m greeted with support everywhere I go, my parents realise that it’ll have a good impact on my future, my friends think its really interesting, and even my teachers are more likely to wish me good luck than send disapproving glances my way, and I really hope that other people in a similar situation as me are just as lucky.

Because its not just me, I’m certain there are loads of other 15-year-olds across the country who are fuming about the way the politicians (whose university educations were paid for by our parents and grandparents) aren’t seeing us as capable people with bright futures but merely as drains on society. No, we are the future, and we are fighting for our future, not because we want to but because we need to, because we’re mad as hell and people need to know about it, of course its difficult but, for me and the hundreds of other teenagers who think like me, because there will be others, sitting down and taking it is simply not an option.

An excellent article by Anna Mason (@magiczebras), member of Liverpool Uncut, originally posted on UK Uncut.

Also see

UK Uncut Brighton – Sir Philip Green’s Christmas Payday

Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

Shop a Scrounger

Captain SKA – Liar Liar

Tax dodgers shut down again

Nigel Kennedy – The Unknown Soldier (The Doors)

December 29, 2010

From the Doors Concerto. Brilliant!

Ancient Christian site opens in United Arab Emirates

December 29, 2010

The only known pre-Islamic Christian site at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, located at Sir Bani Yas Island, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, has opened to tourists for the first time.

A Christian church is the latest attraction in this conservative Muslim nation. Christian monasteries have already been discovered in nearby Saudi Arabia, though rarely publicised due to reluctance to embrace pre-Islamic religions in the region.

An absolute must read Jesus Wars which looks into the first 500 years of Chrisianity.

Muted Christmas in Iraq

December 29, 2010

Threats against Christian churches in Iraq forced the cancellation of many Christmas celebrations. Religious leaders advised worshippers to mark the occasion only with prayer. Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to safer areas for the festive season.

But still the churches in the West remain silent.

Even worse than the silence is the hypocrisy shown by St Mary’s in Guildford which had on sale the pre-Christmas Israeli so-called Peace Oil. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Also see

Christmas in the Middle East

Tragic plight of Christians in Iraq

The plight of Iraqi Christians

End of Christianity in the Middle East?

Bailgate Pound

December 28, 2010

“The essence of the contemporary monetary system is creation of money, out of nothing, by private banks often foolish lending.” — Martin Wolf

The day before Christmas Eve it was a freezing cold day in Lincoln, the County town of Lincolnshire. It must have been cold as the River Witham was frozen, something I had never seen before. OK covered in ice. I have seen the Brayford solid with ice, but never ice on the river.

I was cold, chilled to the bone. I decided to walk up The Strait and Steep Hill to Lincoln Cathedral for no other reason than to keep warm. Though having said that it is a worthwhile walk, away from the ghastly Clone Town of the city centre to interesting shops and an attractive environment.

On my climb up, with a stop at Readers Rest where I picked up a copy of New Covent Garden Soup Company’s Book of Soups, I noticed many of the shops on my climb up and in Bailgate when I got to the top had notices in the window saying they accepted Bailgate vouchers. What were these I thought, has Bailgate set up a local currency, or are they as it says merely vouchers something like Book Tokens?

On my way down I looked in the Jews House Restaurant and had a chat with a very helpful and friendly Samantha. She explained no it was a voucher not a local currency. She had no information and suggested I visited the Tourist Information Centre as they should have some information. But as that was at the top of the hill, I did not fancy climbing back up again, but said I would look in another day.

The difference between a voucher and a local currency is that a voucher is spent once, whereas a local currency, ie a genuine Bailgate Pound, circulates within a local economy, it stops money leaking out of the local economy.

You spend it in the butcher, he spends it the baker and so forth.

I suggested that they take the next step and establish a local currency. I suggested she looked at the Totnes Pound which has been a huge success since its launch by Transition Town Totnes. It is one of many local currencies which have been introduced.

If you spend one pound sterling in a High Street store or a superstore, that pound goes straight out of the local economy, its buying power lost to the local economy. A local pound may only be spent within the local economy, and thus has a multiplier effect, which benefits the local economy.

For example. I spend ten Bailgate Pounds in the local butcher. He pops across the road to the florist and spends it on some flowers. They walk along to the deli and spend it on some cheese. They go down to the butcher and spend it again. The ten Bailgate Pounds I originally spent have not only benefited the butcher, but several other retailers too by circulating within the local economy.

Other local currencies are the Lewes Pound, Stroud Pound and Brixton Pound.

The Bailgate Pound was a local initiative by Bailgate traders, Lincoln Business Improvement Group, The Bailgate Guild and the Lincolnshire Echo following the collapse of the Lincoln Christmas Market due to adverse weather conditions. Having seen its success let us hope they now go that one step further and introduce a genuine local currency.

The support is there, critical mass has been reached, awareness raised, the Bailgate Pound should be turned into a fully fledged local currency. It is important this is done as soon as possible not to lose momentum.

There are local symbols which can be used for the Bailgate Pound – Lincoln Castle, Lincoln Cathedral, Lord Alfred Tennyson. Could even use characters from the poetry of Tennyson.

An attractively designed Bailgate Pound would become a much sought after collectors items for visitors.

Local currencies have been a success in Totnes, Lewes, Brixton, they retain money within the local economy, essential when the economy is deflating, so why not Bailgate?

The Bank of England injects money into the economy through Quantitative Easing. In reality they are creating money, but if not backed by real resources, real growth, they are creating debt. The underlying problem beside the debt, is the money goes to the banks, they use it for speculation, commodity prices go up. Creation of money not backed by real resources causes inflation. Rising prices, inflation, transfers money from the poor to the rich.

We need money injected into local economies by local councils. Not easy at a times of cuts, but all the more important when the economy is deflating. But the money injected into the local economy has to be retained within the local economy. One way to do so is by the local council acting as a Central Banker to the local economy through backing a local currency.

Stop Press: Top story in The Currency Daily on New Year’s Eve (Friday 31 December 2010)!

Stop Press: Front page news on Lincolnshire Echo on New Year’s Day (Saturday 1 January 2011), with full page coverage inside on page 3. And top news story on their website for New Year’s Day! It looks like the Bailgate Pound may go ahead as a fully fledged local currency. My own talks with local retailers shows a great deal of enthusiasm and support. [see Bailgate currency could be here to stay following success of Christmas initiative]

Also see

Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds to help traders hit by market cancellation

Shoppers cash in their free Christmas cash as Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds

Echo prints 100,000 Bailgate Pounds to help traders hit by market cancellation

Shoppers have only a few days left to redeem their Bailgate Pounds

The Totnes Pound – going well and considering its evolution

Town poised for its own currency

Buy a Totnes Pound and Help Maximise Its Potential

How the Totnes Pound works

The Totnes Pound – going well and considering its evolution

The Totnes Pound is far from spent

Good start for the Lewes pound

Lewes Pound – sparkler or damp squib?

Do local schemes such as the Lewes pound have a future?

Will the Brixton pound stick around?

Let’s not put all our pounds in the one basket

If the state can’t save us, we need a licence to print our own money

Beginning of a monetary revolution?

The Lewes Pound: A Transition Network How To Guide

Local Money: how to make it happen in your community

Localisation: A Move Away From Globalisation

Hundreds of lollipop ladies to be fired

December 28, 2010
hundreds of lollipop ladies to be fired

hundreds of lollipop ladies to be fired

Not satisfied with scrapping Bookstart, not content with increasing student university tuition fees three fold and scrapping Education Maintenance Allowance for the poorest students, the latest slash and burn of public services is to fire hundreds of lollipop men and women who help kids safely across the road as they leave school.

At what cost in terms of maimed and killed school kids?

Every day in 2009, 12 children were killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Hundreds of lollipop ladies to be laid off

The black tunnel

December 27, 2010
black tunnel

black tunnel

“I saw only a tunnel, with a man pointing a gun at me and telling me to get out of the car.”

I saw a tunnel too, except this one led to a hotel in Rio de Janeiro, the Glória Hotel. I looked at that hotel, expected the worst and thought to myself: “it’s not fair, I’m only 26 years old!” Fair or not, in the early morning of 27 May 1974 I stood before death and could not see what was happening beside me. Just the tunnel and the hotel. But my story does not matter, it serves only to say that I understand perfectly well what Sorin is telling me in a bar lost in the middle of the Carpatian Mountains.

Sorin Miscoci’s calvary began on 28 March 2005, near Baghdad. He had been designated to spend a week there at the request of a Rumanian TV station and ended up being kidnapped for 55 days.

“Later on, when they freed me, the American security agents asked me how many people were there. And I told them: one. They laughed and said that just wasn’t possible. It was the psychologist who helped me, explaining that in situations like this, nothing in the surroundings has any importance. All you see is the focus of the crisis, what is threatening you, and you simply forget the rest.

Sorin has just got married to Andrea, who strokes his hand. We have been traveling together for three days and we will continue for another week. Cristina Topescu, an old friend who worked as a journalist in the same TV as Sorin, says that when the time came to mobilize the country, few colleagues came forward to speak to the President of the Republic, for fear of losing their jobs.

“I asked God for only one thing: to die with a bullet in the heart. I had already seen videos of prisoners being decapitated; I asked, begged to be shot,” adds Sorin.

Andrea gives him a kiss. He smiles, asks if I want to stay in that restaurant or if we should go to the only karaoke in Sibiu. I prefer to interrupt the conversation at that point – it was better to go and sing together.

On the way to the discotheque, I think about the black tunnel: without wanting to romanticize a dramatic situation, I felt that this happens to everyone. When we are faced with something that really threatens us, it is impossible to look around, although this is the correct and safer procedure. We can’t see clearly, use logic, gather information that can help us and those who try to get us out of that situation.

We reach the karaoke, drink some more, sing Elvis, Madonna and Ray Charles. Ours is an interesting group: Lacrima, who was abandoned by her mother when she was only two months old. Leonardo, who has just got over a depression that lasted two years.

Cristina Topescu, who recently overcame difficult moments. Sorin and his 55 days in captivity, and Andrea, who almost lost the person she loved. And me, with scars all over my body and soul.

And even so we drank, sang and celebrated life. To have friends like these gives me more than hope, it makes me understand that the true survivors will never be victims to their torturers, because they manage to keep alive the most important thing in human beings: joy.

Posted by Paulo Coelho on his blog.

Synchronicity: The Girl on the Landing, a chilling portrayal of schizophrenia. The autostrada, which had been travelling through Mediterranean landscapes of cypress trees and vineyards, plunged back into the blackness of the tunnels.

Also see

The Alchemist Himself

A Warrior’s Life by Fernando Morais

Iraq

The Vicar of Baghdad

The Girl on the Landing

Veronika Decides to Die

Nativity scene at Lincoln Cathedral

December 27, 2010
nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

This wonderful almost life-size nativity scene can be found just inside the main door of Lincoln Cathedral.

Also see

Capturing Lincoln Cathedral

Midnight Mass at St John’s

Christmas in the Middle East