Watch…..Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)…we are not used to artists being politically active in this country. Weiwei is a superstar artist in his home country of China, at first loved by the party apparatchiks, for whom he designed the Birds Nest in the Chinese Olympics. But Weiwei has proved to be more of a politician than an artist. He challenged the Chinese state and took the side of the victims of their corruption. He championed political prisoners such Liu Xiaobo
In this documentary we are shown how Weiwei has been increasingly harassed by the Chinese authorities as he uses all forms of the digital media to expose the increasing human rights abuses of the regime. His home is watched by government agents and a cctv camera is placed outside his front door. Weiwei responds by watching them watching him, so we see every move against him, leading to his detention in 2011 for 81 days. Bravely, he responds to this harassment, by continuing to oppose the regime. The Chinese authorities want him to shut up or leave the country. He is doing neither of these things. This documentary is a fierce rebuttal by him to a regime that is facing increasing opposition in the country.
Read…Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth. A northern writer, this book tells the story of three working class teenagers as they are on the edge of womanhood, their families and school life. It is hard being a teenager and the book recreates those feelings of loneliness, friendship, hatred and fear. It’s a brilliant evocation of how many young people feel, but this has a dark element of impending doom. It’s a scary, spooky book that will keep you firmly gripped as the lives of these young women go into freefall. Brilliantly written, my only criticism of the book is its lack of humour and hope. Life is tough for the working classes of all ages but they still have some sense of community, where people help each other and care about each other, which is harder to find in the more affluent areas of this country.
Eating…one of my favourite hobbies and no place better to do so than at the Topaz café at the Mind Centre in Ashton-u-Lyne. A hidden gem of vegetarian food in a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere. Topaz has won awards for its food, which is bought and grown locally.
Agitate……….Disabled People Against Cuts and UK Uncut are protesting against Atos sponsoring the Paralympic games. Atos “test” sick and disabled people on behalf of the Government to drive them off welfare benefits. Some people have killed themselves because of the harassment. But DPAC and UK Uncut are going to expose this hypocrisy on Friday 31 August, they will be shutting down Atos’ London HQ for the Closing ATOS Ceremony. Please join them. Further details here