Watch...Finding Vivian Maier (Cornerhouse, Manchester) a fascinating documentary about a woman who was a nanny and a photographer. She didn’t just take photos but made films and recorded her own thoughts on life. The families she worked for and in particular their children were her subject of her camera lens as well as some of the poorest communities in the New York area. Over the years she took thousands of photos but it was only after her death that some of these were bought by John Maloof who decided to find out who Vivian Maier really was. The film really keeps you on the edge of your seat as more and more details of Vivian’s life are revealed and her friends and the children she looked after piece together the life of a very important photographer.
Do something….concerned about bombing of Gaza?.. then sign this petition see Listen to interview with PLO Executive Member Hanan Ashrawi who believes that this is a massacre, not self defence by the Israelis. The interview was done on 21 July and since then things have got much worse. See
Listen to…a song that Sarah Gillespie has put up on her website that has become associated with the brutality experienced by children in Gaza see
Read…The Sixties by Jenny Diski. Books about this era have been dominated by a small group of middle class people who led a very hedonistic lifestyle, quite removed from the lives of most people in the 60s who just have to get on with the realities of working for a living. Jenny’s book is different because she did do the whole drugs scene but she did also care about the poor children she lived around. She was living in Hoxton in the East End of London which was then a very poor area although it had a close knit working class community (see May Hobb’s biography Born to Struggle). In 1971 she opened up a free school in her two-roomed flat with eight students and two teachers. Unbelievably a local social worker encouraged her to set up the school to stop the children (seven were from one family) from going into local authority care. Jenny was at the time training to be a teacher and she got other people including a local architect, a carpenter and a drop-out physics graduate to teach weekly sessions. It seems incredible nowadays that this could happen without any child protection screening, concerns about health and safety or the content of the curriculum! It isn’t surprising to me that the free school didn’t work out. Life in the 60s was harsh, although there were more jobs, but the reality was that an education does give working class children some chance of getting a better job and life. I have never believed that people taking drugs and dropping out changed anything, history shows us that this is not true. Interestingly whilst Jenny and her friends were trying to prove there was an alternative to state education other activists including socialist feminists such as Sheila Rowbotham and trade unionists were supporting working class women from Hoxton including May Hobbs of the Nightcleaners Campaign to get better wages and conditions. I enjoyed reading this book because of Jenny’s honesty in challenging her own ideas about what being radical really means.