Island Story: Journeys Through Unfamiliar Britain, JD Taylor

JDTaylorJust started JD Taylor’s book, bought in Waterstones sociology section yesterday. Brilliant. I mean, the placing of this book in that shelving – shame its four floors up from ground. If there were two copies I would have moved the one I did not buy down to the new books section at the entrance, alongside stuff from Owen Jones and Russell Brand…

Dan by bicycle around Britain – possibly the last book to Unite the disparate multi Island nation (not one nation, emphatically not):

“I reach Leith, a port town now absorbed intoEdinburgh metropolis, but still retaining its own independent spirit. It’s a bustling though evidently impoverished place, by no means as grim as the early-90s immortalisation in Irving Welsh’s Trainspotting. The Banana Flats cotch over the scene like a piece of Thunderbirds’ concretopia, as colourful as a stubbed out snout. The old docks have now been gentrified by posh restaurants, luxury apartment blocks and a moronic Ocean Terminal mall, a non-place inflicted on Leith for once having any kind of character”

So in 20 years this will be the first of the many travel volumes of the by then portly, but still adjectively agile, latter day Jonathan Meades, William Dalrymple, Bill Bryson, Ian Sinclair. Only he will still seem precocious and young – eat your heart out Owen Jones.

“David meets me in the centre of Nottingham. A friend of a friend, he’s kindly offered me a place to stay and help repairing my bike. He smiles, is gracious and issues wise observations as I tail him up to Canning Circus. A local man, bike enthusiast and university researcher, his insights are as consoling as the porters we clink in the beer-garden.

In the Midlands, these working class communities where things were once made now seem abandoned of political importance. Poverty creeps. There’s a danger of seeking out some master to put it right, David warns. ‘We’ve found a problem, do something about it.’ He remembers the riots of 2011, the local police station getting firebombed. ‘For one small moment’, something important happened. Young people were out in the streets, talking politics and the future. They felt like they had power, that for a moment they might be heard…”

Reasons enough to buy the book. Info here:

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…\

<note, May 2016, the next Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016. More details on this blog soon. This is just a date holder>


A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (possibly in a footba-oriented venue). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – in Soho. Mostly harmless, but its cup final night]

Previous trots = and here:

Pics of the houses:

Other links:

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:

Dancing the first international!

A pub crawl with Karl

Counter-Mapping Universities

Good to see Ex-Zeppelin and new Hamburg students take up the QM Counter Map:

From the QM collective interview:

What has been the reception to this project, as best you can tell. Have there been unexpected or unintended responses? Has it inspired kindred projects/mobilizations?
The reception has been good, and quite diverse. Some people like the map, some the game, and people stress different aspects of both. In general people really appreciate the fact that it looks very different from most activist and political material. A staff member at Queen Mary in the International Student Admissions Office asked for copies to help her explain to her British colleagues the issues faced by many international students. A presentation to a group of professors highlighted how little our own lecturers knew about the difficulties faced by their own international students.

The game has worked very well as a tool that forces people to discuss their own and others’ experiences of education and border crossings. We specifically designed it as a relational device to get the players to share their experiences and frustrations, and to imagine alternatives. The colourfulness and playfulness of the map has brightened up many a grey bureaucratic political meeting, and inspired others to invent similar tools of mapping, acting and organising in relation to other institutions. We’ve had requests for people to use our InDesign files for making their own maps (the ‘code’ of the map is open and free), and given workshops to other groups making their own maps of the university.

Meeting tomorrow morning (22nd) near Hamburg hafen:

During this meeting we will be focusing on counter mapping using a map project that John Hutnyk presented to us developed by Queen Mary University PhD students a couple of years ago. He has recommended us the following ‘literature’, which we would kindly ask you to prepare for Sunday in case you are interested in taking part.




Afterwards we are planning a small walk through the Hamburg Hafen with the focus on ‘contested spaces’ in order to link the breakfast session with Hamburg.


Rustom Bharucha reports that the Progressive Writers Association has its origins, according to ‘its most distinguished founder- member Mulk Ray Anand’ in ‘the expatriate community of India students in London, who had charted their first manifesto as “progressive” writers in 1935 in a Chinese restaurant’ (Bharucha 1998:29)

Bharucha, Rustom 1998 In the Name of the Secular: Contemporary Cultural Activision in Inidia Delhi: Oxford UP

Metropolitan Factory

From the good folk at Minor Compositions, a project for hipsters, creatives and others with too much to lose (please share widely):

Surviving as a cultural or artistic worker in the city has never been easy. Creative workers find themselves celebrated as engines of economic growth, economic recovery and urban revitalization even as the conditions for our continued survival becomes more precarious. How can you make a living today in such a situation? That is, how to hold together the demands of paying the rent and bills while managing all the tasks necessary to support one’s practice? How to manage the tensions between creating spaces for creativity and imagination while working through the constraints posed by economic conditions?

In a more traditional workplace it is generally easy to distinguish between those who planned and managed the labor process and those who were involved in its executions: between the managers and the managed. For creative workers these distinctions become increasingly hard to make. Today the passionate and self-motivated labor of the artisan increasingly becomes the model for a self-disciplining, self-managed labor force that works harder, longer, and often for less pay precisely because of its attachment to some degree of personal fulfillment in forms of engaging work. And that ain’t no way to make a living, having to struggle three times as hard for just to have a sense of engagement in meaningful work.

This project sets out to investigate how cultural workers in the metropolis manage these competing tensions and demands. The goal is to bring together the dispersed knowledges and experiences of creative workers finding ways to make a living in the modern metropolis. And by doing that to create a space to learn from this common experiences that often are not experienced as such while we work away in different parts of the city.

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